My fourth grade friends and I are learning a lot about writing during our weekly writing lessons. Shhh! What my young friends don't know is the more I have to break down and explain writing strategies, the better I understand how to integrate them into my personal writing. It's win-win, with everyone learning.
It's also a lot of fun getting to know them as individuals. On Halloween I offered to cover their teacher's plan period so the students and I could have a little recreation together.
It blew my mind that only three kiddos out of 20 said they'd seen "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" Sprawled on the floor to watch this classic, they were soon actually rolling on the floor. It was GREAT to listen to their laughter and pleasure!
Afterwards, I thought about the timeless lessons of this half-century old holiday special. Charlie Brown's devotion to his trusting friend is tremendous! Sally's loyalty is inspiring. (Yes,well, she does kind of flip out at the end, but initially her intentions were good.)
We can probably agree that even if Lucy is a cynical bully,but she's also consistent.(Now, if Charlie Brown could get a handle on that one, maybe his life could be slightly better.)
And who doesn't love Snoopy, the flying ace? He reminds us to dream and to dream big. I, for one, can use a little of that kind of encouragement fairly often.
Would anybody think it weird if I watched Charles Schultz's ode to Halloween and friendship at least once a month?
Here's a sampling of what God's Word has to say about the value of friends:
Friends come and friends go,but a true friend sticks by you like family.
Dear Reader, I pray you have at least one friend with the devotion of Charlie Brown. How have you seen loyalty demonstrated in relationships lately? What inspires loyalty in you?
My daughter, Mary, has been officially writing longer than I have. When she told me she goes to Panera Bread it made perfect sense, for her. Her husband, Mark, works nights and seems to be a light sleeper.
At the time, I didn't see any real reason for me to hit the bakery. I like my writing spot in Tom's recliner. There's a place for my drink, my phone, my cat, and the remote.
This school year, I have the luxury of not going to school most Fridays. Please note, I DIDN'T say, "not working". You know what it's like. There's always laundry to do, or bills to pay, or meals to prep. (And in my case, a very spoiled cat who insists on being stroked at least every thirty minutes.)
Panera started sounding pretty good. I've only made the trek a few times so far, but here's some pointers I've learned so far:
Dear Reader, what are you working on these days? Are there distractions that interfere with your productivity? What works for you when it comes to staying focused? Shall we pray with the psalmist for favor, help, and success?
May the favor[a] of the Lord our God rest on us;
I'll be hanging out with Crystal, Mary, Kelly, and Holley this week. There's always lots of fun and inspiration with these gals!
Our friend, Donald Duck, was probably never known for his humility. On the contrary, he usually seemed to be doing things to draw attention to himself. Is there anyone who hasn't deliberately tried to get the attention of others?
This is me trying not to make a comparison between Donald and any of the folks currently running for public office. (No, of course it's not really me. But I love her red nail polish and smiling eyes. And you get the point of working to keep at least a few of my ideas to myself, right?)
As I've been reading the gospel of John the apostle,I've tried to see its accounts of people and events through new eyes. Chapter three jumps from the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus to a description of John the baptizer.
While Nicodemus played cloak and dagger, John (the baptizer) was loud and proud about the need for repentance, for the forgiveness only God can give. But it was only the message he shared that was proud.
When some of John's disciples can to him about Jesus's growing number of followers, he wasn't bothered in the least.
26 Then they came to John and said, “Teacher, remember the man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan River? He is the one you were telling everyone about. He is also baptizing people, and many are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person can receive only what God gives. 28 You yourselves heard me say, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only the one God sent to prepare the way for him.’
Dear Reader, may I tell you a secret? Once in awhile I like being in the limelight. (I know that's a big shocker, right?) Attention and applause can be fun. Let's chalk it up to being the baby in the family.
The more I read about John the baptizer, the more I think I want to be like him. He was motivated by one thing, preparing the way and pointing others to Christ. John wasn't in it for the attention, or the applause, or the numbers. I'll bet he would have cared less for how he was polling with his constituency.
It used to be John's apparent arrogance that I found intriguing. Now I understand it to be confidence, single-mindedness. His fervor for his God-given mission seem only matched by his humility.
The only bow John the baptizer seemed interested in taking was in deference to his Savior:
29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
Dear Reader, can we humble ourselves to cast our worldly rags before the King and bow to his Sovereignty? Are we brave enough to be humble?
For the past few weeks, I've been happily going to visit my 4th grade friends on Wednesday afternoons. It's exciting when kids and adults learn from each other. I've begun setting my timer because my young friends and I get so absorbed in exploring the craft of writing.
To help students explore the text, I donated a handful of copies of Life with Bobby and Bonnie to their classroom. The books lay dormant for the first couple of weeks, then they began showing up on desks.
Last week I was glad to see all the copies scattered around the room. A frown darted across my forehead when I noticed some of the pages were dog-eared. Covers were definitely starting to show the effects of handling.
Dear Reader, I'm embarrassed to admit I was initially aggravated at the students' seeming disrespect for a book (especially my book, of course). But God is so good. He doesn't want to leave us in the place called "Self". Jesus spelled it out for us up front:
Then Jesus called the crowd and his followers to him. He said, “Any of you who want to be my follower must stop thinking about yourself and what you want. You must be willing to carry the cross that is given to you for following me.
What I thought was a gift to the class, was turning into a gift to me. If I think I'm writing Bobby and Bonnie's stories to share the gospel with kids, why would I want copies of Life with Bobby and Bonnie to stay bookstore pristine? What was I thinking?
Thanksgiving began bubbling up in my spirit in a new way. I was no longer thankful just for the stories and talents I believe the Lord has blessed me with. The greater gift is in the giving. Dog-eared pages meant students were reading about God's great gifts of love, hope, and forgiveness.
I continue to be a work in progress. Continue to be thankful for God's word. And continue to be thankful he plainly spells out his expectations:
3 When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. 4 Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.
How about you, Dear Reader? In what unexpected way has God gifted you recently?
It seems like the political arena has been even more of a hotbed of controversy than usual. It also seems like everyone is taking sides. We shouldn't be surprised.
Long before political parties, before the United States, before just about everything, the writer of Ecclesiastes gave us a heads up:
"That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun."
Ecclesiastes 1:9 NASB
In Luke's gospel, Jesus breaks no bones about the conflicts and controversy that would arise from his ministry:
49 “I came to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to receive, and how distressed I am until it is over! 51 Do you suppose that I came to bring peace to the world? No, not peace, but division.
Luke 12:49-51 GNT
Political tensions didn't deter Jesus from completing his mission. His great love for his friends, Lazarus, Mary, and Martha (and us), was shown as he raised Lazarus from the dead.
In one corner was the love of a Savior and the joy of his friends. And in this corner, Pharisees and chief priests who used Lazarus' resurrection as an excuse to plot the death of Jesus, although Caiaphas, unwittingly prophesied God's plan. (John 11:45-53)
Dear Reader, have you had to take sides or make a hard decision lately? It's comforting to know in God's Word, he gives us counsel and wisdom for decision-making.
And it keeps getting better! Even when I'm comfortable and confident in my choices, it can be easy to worry about the crazies in this world, or the "powers that be". But God doesn't want us to worry: "Now I know the Lord is greater than all the gods. They thought they were in control, but look what God did!” (Exodus 18:11 ERV).
Just to keep the record straight, no matter what the outcome of this year's elections, I'm proud to be an American, and praise God to live in a nation where we have a voice and a vote.
Hi, my name is Alice. A Way with Words is about sharing faith,
fun, & encouragement. Thanks for stopping by! I hope you find a little something to take