In the Writing Services part of my business, I have edited several small works of poetry over the years. In the past couple of months, however, I have had the honor to edit, format, and help publish an entire collection of more than 60 poems. The book will be out next week. It is called Bruised and Smoldering. The title is weighty, as are the sentiments expressed through the author’s words.
Because of the depth of emotion found between the covers, I suggested the author write an introduction that gives a glimpse into his heart for dealing with despair. Here is a snippet from that introduction:
“If you resonate with the pain, sorrow, and depression of spirit in any of these poems, then please also resonate with the hope, promises, and Christ’s glorious grace. Seek His face in your affliction. God’s omnipresence doesn’t only span the topography of natural geography, but can also be sighted on mountaintops and in deep valleys of our soul’s experience. He is with us in heights of holy bliss and with us when we’re under severe affliction.
No poem should serve to encourage you to remain in affliction, rather to fly out on wings of faith, but not without first allowing affliction to do its work. Sorrow over sin does a work in us which very few graces can provide. So, lets not ask God to just pull us out of all affliction, but to teach what ought to be learned therein, then jubilantly look at the past sorrow and present victory with divine joy.”
Isn’t that beautiful? The thought of affliction doing a work within us is not something we often consider. Yet, wouldn’t that be exactly why God allows affliction? To build our souls in ways that easy living just can’t do.
Look for Bruised and Smoldering to appear on Amazon and through Barnes and Noble.com over the next week. It is one I plan to tuck away on my shelf.
Have a blessed weekend!
Summer school is hard. The kids don’t want to be there. The teachers don’t want to be there. But here in Texas, if students who have failed the state tests in 8th grade want a chance to move along to 9th grade, summer school is a necessary evil. I say “evil” because that is how it is viewed. Call me weird, but I kind of like it. I like the camaraderie in my little class. “We’re all in this together and we will prevail!” As a teacher, you don’t have many days to build a sense of family in summer school. But kids need to feel engaged and welcomed if you want them to connect with what you are trying to teach them. If you are just there to pass the time and collect a paycheck, you are not doing these kids any favors.
Here is a little secret: if kids don’t like you, they won’t listen to you. This is true for kids and adults. Haven’t you ever been rubbed wrong by a presenter in the first couple of minutes and then you zone out for the rest of his/her speech?
Summer school students have 8 short little teaching days to absorb some nugget of truth that will help them answer a few more questions correctly on their tests. That is not a lot of time! You have to get in there, connect with them, and give them some tips to hang onto when they go in to take that test for the third time. The connection is key. I have attempted this by starting each morning off by sharing Good Things. Good things is a strategy taught through the Capturing Kids’ Hearts program. Kids have the chance to share whatever “good things” are going on in their lives. Kids really do want you to know about them. They want to share their stories. We all have a desire to be known. It is sad, but many of these kids don’t get that need filled at home. They are the strugglers; those kids who act out and get in trouble because they don’t have anyone at home intricately involved in their lives.
So my summer school tips are:
1) Take a few minutes each day to show them you care about them. Ask them about themselves. Then listen.
2) Follow up the next day on what they shared the previous day.
3) Be patient. More patient than comes naturally.
4) They won’t remember your name. (Miss! Miss!) But remember theirs.
5) Bring candy. If nothing else, a well-timed piece of Laffy Taffy will make them close their mouths long enough that you can tell them that tip that you’ve prepared for the day.
Kids need adults who care. If you are reading this, then I bet you care more than a little!
P.S. Nobody likes grape Laffy Taffy!
I recently was a bystander to a conversation about religious beliefs. It was said that, “It doesn’t matter exactly what you believe, but you should have faith in something.”
If you are reading this I want you to know: it matters what you believe! It matters more than any single other thing matters. For truth to be truth, all other things must be false. I can’t decide that one thing is true, and you decide that another thing is true, and both of us are correct.
Christianity holds the belief to be true that Jesus Christ was crucified, He was buried, and on the third day after his death, He rose from the dead. It holds the belief that Jesus is God’s ONLY Son, and He came to earth born of a virgin. It holds the belief that Jesus lived a perfect life while here on earth and willingly died on that cross in order to take the punishment for sin that mankind could not take for itself. By putting Himself in the Devil’s hands for that moment, He freed all who would believe in Him from the Devil’s grasp forever.
If you call yourself to be a Christian, that means you trust that Jesus did this for YOU. If that trust doesn’t change the way you live your life; if that trust doesn’t make you overflow with such gratitude that you WANT to live your life differently; if that trust doesn’t give you an ache and desire to grow more like Jesus, then you may not truly be saved from eternal hell. Accepting Jesus should compel you to live differently because you understand just what you are saved from. Your life is not your own. And if you believe that it is, and if you believe that God wants you to do whatever you have to in order to be happy, and if you believe that you DESERVE anything, then you don’t get it. And if those words make you angry–then you don’t get it. If you think you can be a Christian who “walks on the wild side” and you think that is OK, then you don’t get it. If someone can look at how you live, listen to the way you talk, and see the things you do and not know that you love Christ, then you might not be saved.
Please don’t take this lightly. It matters what you believe. Your eternity depends on it. And although your good deeds on earth are not what save you, if your belief in Christ hasn’t changed your desire to be less like the world and more like Him, then your belief may be in the wrong thing. Don’t wait until you die to find out you were wrong. Then it will be too late.
The tomb is empty. He is risen. He loves you and He wants you to start loving Him.