Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Sunday, August 30, 2015

It's A Family Tradition

My scripture today is from Mark 7:1-7:23
Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. 
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, through the power of your Holy Spirit, open our hearts and minds to your Word for our lives, that has been revealed to us through your Son, Jesus the Christ. And through the same Spirit, give us the courage and wisdom to embrace your will for our lives, that we might truly worship you in spirit and truth, and serve your kingdom through the witness of our lives. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.

I think every family in the world has adopted a set of rules, which may be spoken or assumed, to help to define what is acceptable behavior within the home. They are rules or customs that actually help to shape family identity. And one of the areas that these rules come into play, are as we gather around the table to share a meal together. In our home, there are certain expectations that as a mother, I established for proper family etiquette.  These rules needed to be followed if you wanted to eat without being the recipient of “The Look”….you know the one that let you know you  crossed the line. One of those expectations was that you only had about a minute to show up at the table when I announced that the meal is ready.  Now that my children are grown they have grown to understand my position. I spent time preparing this meal, I felt as if the rest of the family should have had the courtesy to come to the table when called. And when they came to the table, they had better present themselves with clean hands, a shirt on their body, and no hat on their head. I am a real stickler on the hat issue. Even when we would go into a fast-food chain to grab a bite of lunch, whoever ate with us would be asked to remove their hats, even if everyone else in the restaurant had one on.  Of course, families are not the only place in which rules of etiquette are seen to govern and define group identity. Most social clubs, including the VFW and American Legion, require that you must remove your hat in order to be served, as a sign of respect for those who have served and gave their lives in defense of our country.  But more importantly, in light of our Gospel lesson for this morning, rules of etiquette have often been established to define and govern religious identity. According to our text, some scribes and Pharisees noticed that some of Jesus’ disciples were eating without washing their hands. And then Mark adds an editorial comment, saying: “For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.”  There are a couple of points about this text that I would like to comment on. First, notice that in Mark’s editorial comment, he is not just speaking about the Scribes and Pharisees observing these traditions of the elders. He says that all Jews in that day observed those traditions, which shows that they were more than simply rational hygiene practices about washing one’s hands and dishes before eating. They were a part of the kosher laws that helped to define and govern Israel’s religious identity as a people of God.  In fact, Orthodox Judaism to this day continues to follow the kosher laws that defined Judaism at the time of Christ. And if you have ever eaten in an Orthodox Jewish restaurant, you will notice that not only are the dishes clean, but the dishes are changed with each course. The reason for this is, that dairy products, such as butter, are not to be served with meat products in the same course. Thus, in some Jewish homes today, you will find double sets of dishes used for each meal.  **Tell Rosita Franks story.  Thus, when the Pharisees and Scribes asked Jesus why his disciples did “not live according to the tradition of the elders, but ate with defiled hands,” they were not just concerned about their neglect of good hygiene. At issue was the disciple’s neglect of the traditions that defined and governed their identity as a religious community – their identity as God’s chosen people.  Jesus goes much further than addressing the issue of hygiene. In verses 18 and 19 Jesus says, “Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” And then Mark concludes this statement by stating, “Thus, he declared all foods clean.”  According to Gail Ramshaw, in her commentary on our scripture for today, “Most likely, what is going on in this passage is that the community to which Mark wrote his Gospel was engaged with the first-century controversy… about whether Christians were to maintain Jewish dietary laws… For the Christian, all foods are clean. That is, ancient practices about which foods and which eating habits render a person unclean do not apply to the resurrection community.”  If this is the case then the controversy between Jesus and the Scribes and Pharisees expresses a fundamental difference in religious philosophy. From the point of view of the Pharisees and scribes, the dietary laws of Israel not only defined them as a religious community, but by following these laws they were set apart from sinners and outcasts and the rest of the Gentile world.  On the other hand, when Jesus ate and sat at table with sinners and outcasts, he was asserting that the grace of God extended beyond the respectable Jewish community.  Instead of setting himself off from the rest of the world, Jesus wanted to reach out to the world. In other words, Jesus wanted to expand the concept of what defined the people of God.  But it is not that Jesus simply wanted to embrace an “anything goes,” “I’m OK, you’re OK” standard, as to what constituted the defined the community of the faithful. Every community needs to have some defining principles, which shape their identity, and regulate their existence. And I believe that verse 8 of our text gives us Jesus’ defining principle, when he said to those who questioned him, “You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”  But just what is this “The” commandment of God that is to take precedence over human tradition in defining our existence as the people of God? I doubt that a prohibition against the list of evil intentions that come from the heart, which concludes our text, is what Jesus is referring to. After all, there are certainly many more things that could be added to this list that would qualify as “evil intentions of the heart,” than what are mentioned.  But later in Mark’s Gospel, I believe Jesus defines what he means by “The commandment of God. In the twelfth chapter, “one of the scribes comes to Jesus and asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is ‘Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” This, above all else, is what should define our Christian community. This is what led the early church to abandon the kosher, dietary laws of Israel, and sit at table with people of all races and social classes, eating foods that had since been taboo. It is most likely what has brought about the human tradition of eating ham on Easter – in defiance of the kosher laws of Israel, in celebration of Christ’s resurrection.  However, if this is the defining principle of the Christian community, that we should love God above all else and love our neighbor as ourselves, then we need to uplift these principles as what defines us as the Christian family. Too often, we, like the scribes and Pharisees, fail to live by the guiding principle of our faith, to rise each morning, and end each day, in prayer and worship of God. Too often we fail to embrace those who are different from ourselves, as our neighbor and as people for whom God cares. When you stop and think about it, we are not so different than the scribes and Pharisees. It is easy to embrace our traditions, but much more difficult to actually embrace and live out the defining principles of our faith community. May God’s Spirit awaken our hearts, and give courage to our actions, that we become the people of God.  Amen

One + One Can Equal A Lot Over Time

Sunday, I called my little munchkins up for time for children.  I always give them candy at the end of the mini-lesson....but today I had a bag of pennies that seemed to interest them a whole lot more than the candy container.  My lesson was on growing a Sunday School.  I preach at a small rural church.  If we have 40 in church we have a good crowd.  Sunday school consists of somewhere between four to ten.  One of my children invited a friend.  Now that friend and her grandmother and mother are faithful attenders.  Out of the mouths of babes....don't you think.  Why can't we as adults step out and do the same?
The Lesson:  Today I am going to talk to you about just how fast a Sunday school class can grow when God's Word is shared.

128 pennies


Jesus told us to "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation" (Mark 16:15) In Romans 10: 14,15 the Bible says, "How then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news?"

(Put one penny on the table.) This penny represents the very first kid to come to children's Sunday school. After church, this kid went home, told a friend the Good News about Jesus Christ, and asked a friend to come to church the next week.

(Take another penny and place it next the other.) Now there were two kids in children's Sunday school. After church, these two kids went home and each told a friend the good News about Jesus Christ and asked those friends to come to church the next week.

(Take out two pennies and place then next to the others) Now there were four kids in children's Sunday school. After church, these four kids went home, told a friend the Good News about Jesus Christ, and asked a friend to come to church the next week.

(Take out four pennies...then eight...then sixteen...then thirty-two...then sixty-four, each time repeating the following:) These kids went home, told a friend the Good News about Jesus Christ, and asked a friend to come to church the next week.

(When doubling the sixty-four pennies, simply dump out the rest of the bag.) Now there are one hundred and twenty-eight kids in children's Sunday school. In just eight weeks, the size of the class grew from 1 to 128 kids. (Give each child five pennies and two pieces of candy each) Here is a reward for hearing about what it means to go into the all the world and preach the good news. Enjoy one piece, and share the other with a friend.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wednesday Hodge Podge - Behind The Times

It's that time again...time for The Wednesday Hodgepodge. If you've answered this week's questions, add your link at the end of Joyce's post, then go see what your friends and neighbors had to say. Here we go-

1.  It's hard to believe, but next week's Hodgepodge will find us in the month of September. What's one thing you want, need, or hope to do still before summer officially ends?  I surely would love to put my toes in the sand.  I have been to the beach...but never made it to the sad.  Sometime between now and the end of the year I am going to do just that.
 2.  When were you last at 'your wit's end?'  Last week when I was trying to do a birthday dinner for my son, a shower for a friend's daughter, lesson plans for the week, and a sermon and bible study.  Too much stuffy.  I will learn to say no....or at least schedule better.
3. Describe a time you were figuratively thrown into 'the deep end'?

My first month at RCHS/Wadley.  I had taught for 25 years at one school and in a two week span moved 25 years of my life to a new place and started over with a different book, different students, and different co-workers. I felt like I was drowning that first month, but then found my head above water and discovered I was treading water just fine..
4.  Does the end always, ever, or never justify the means? Explain.

I think it may never....but for the most part...sometimes.... in an extreme situation where someone's  life is in danger justify the means. 
5. What makes your hair stand on end?

Scary movies, dangerous stunts, being penned between two semi's on the interstate.

6. I read an article on the website Eat This! Health, that listed 11 foods we can eat to help end bad moods. Basically it's a feed your brain so you're less anxious, grouchy, and lethargic. The foods are-mussels, swiss chard, blue potatoes, grass fed beef, dark chocolate, greek yogurt, asparagus, honey, cherry tomatoes, eggs, and coconut. Which of those do you think would most help end your own bad mood? Which do you fear, if forced to eat, would put you into a bad mood?

I've never had blue potatoes, but since I never met a potato I didn't like I'm sure that's true. I am not sure I like everything listed, I have never had swiss chard. I don't think it would send me into a bad mood though, as long as you served me some grass fed beef and asparagus too. I am not a huge fan of coconut.  I LOVE Greek yogurt and use it in a lot of foods....or by itself.  It quietens the hungry beast in me often.
7. What project around your home, office, or life in general feels like there is 'no end in sight'?

cleaning the junk room out, clearing out my parents things we brought home, and doing something with all their pictures.
8. Insert your own random thought here.

I am ready to wear long sleeves and hoodies.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Why Is The Eucharist So Important To Me?

My scripture today is from John 6:56-69

Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.  Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, in Jesus the Christ your Word became flesh and dwelt among us, to reveal your steadfast love and faithfulness. Jesus is the bread of life, who gave his life in obedience to your will, that we might come to know your redeeming grace for our life. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, open our hearts and minds to receive him with thanksgiving, and strengthen our faith, that we might embrace him with true devotion. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.

This morning we will be looking at the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel, which has been labeled “The Bread of Life Discourse.” Jesus expressed that the miracle of his feeding the multitude was a sign that revealed that in him, God’s Word had become flesh. In addition, we looked at several ways in which these teachings of Jesus helps to define the significance of the Eucharist in the worship life of the church, and in particular, our proclamation and participation in Christ’s death for our redemption.

Today, the specific focus of the text centers on the choice of the community to receive the life that Christ has to give, or not. As our lesson indicates, “many of those who had followed Jesus to this point in his ministry, turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve if they also wished to go away, but they, and presumably others, continued as our Lord’s disciples, claiming through the words of Peter, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

As author Gail Ramshaw points out in her commentary, there are similarities to this event that are recorded in both the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. And in both Matthew and Mark, Jesus questions his disciples about their faith, following his miraculous feeding of the multitudes. And in each case, the disciples come to grow in their faith and understanding of Jesus.  As Matthew states it, “When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ The disciples said to one another, ‘it is because we have brought no bread.’

And becoming aware of it, Jesus said, ‘You of little faith, why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How could you fail to perceive that I was not speaking about bread? Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!  Then they understood that he had not told them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  In other words, do not listen to their word, but the Word of life incarnate

In addition, another parallel occurs in the Gospel of Luke, where, following our Lord’s death and resurrection, two disciples come to recognize our risen Lord in the breaking of bread. As Ramshaw points out, “It is as if in God’s gift of feeding, the faithful realize who Christ is and come to affirm their faith.”

Thus, the Eucharist is an important aspect of Christian worship, because it is truly a means by which we receive God’s grace for the strengthening of our faith. In, with and under the forms of bread and wine, our risen Lord continues to be present to us throughout the ages, revealing his gift of life for the forgiveness of sin and for our redemption.

However, if the Eucharist is a means by which we receive God’s grace for our lives, so is the proclamation of the Gospel. Listen again to Peter’s response to Jesus, when the twelve were asked if they also wanted to leave Jesus. Peter said, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

In other words, Peter was stating that through the teachings of Jesus, they had come to recognize that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Word of God in human flesh. They had come to realize that Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God, and that through his proclamation, they were able to experience presence of the grace of God. They had come to realize through his words, God’s promise of forgiveness and eternal life. These words of Peter are words to be taken to heart. They are words that proclaim that through the Gospel lesson that is about to be read, we are in the presence of Jesus, our Lord. They are words that proclaim that in the reading of the Gospel and the proper preaching of his word, God provides the means by which we might receive his grace for our lives.

Unfortunately, some of the newer, popular styles of worship tend to diminish the importance of the reading of Scripture and the preaching of the Gospel, in an effort to make worship more entertaining. This is truly unfortunate, for I believe that our text for this morning, as well as many texts from the New Testament, uphold the fact that the proclamation of God’s Word and the celebration of the sacraments are the way by which we encounter God’s grace.

But the question posed by our lesson for this morning still remains. We have heard our Lord’s words, as recorded in the Scriptures. We will soon receive through the Eucharist, what Jesus tells us is his body and blood, given for our redemption on the cross. Scripture tells us that hearing his words and receiving the sacraments are the means by which the kingdom of God is present to us in this time of worship.

Yet, these words also challenge us to come to terms with our faith. In this sixth chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus makes an incredible claim. He says that he is the Bread of Life, who came down from heaven, who will give his flesh and blood for our redemption.

So many commentaries and sermons have been written and preached as to how the cannibalistic nature of this language may have led many who had been following Jesus to leave him and return to their normal routines. But I honestly believe that the people of that day would have known that Jesus was not speaking literally about consuming his actual flesh and drinking his blood.
The hardness of his teaching, which confronted the people that day, just as it continues to confront the people of our day, centers on the identity of Jesus, and his claim to be the Word of God incarnate, or, as Peter proclaimed, the Holy One of God. Thus, the question that is put before us this morning, as it has been from generation to generation of those who have heard the Gospel, is this – “Do I really believe that Jesus is who he claims to be?”

And I believe that this is a question that never ceases to be asked. I, myself, have gone through moments in which my faith has been tested. Even pastors are confronted, again and again, with the question put to the disciples – do you truly believe that Jesus is the Christ, the very Son of God, and will you place your trust in him as your redeemer. Will you place your life into his hands…Do we simply believe in God….or do we Believe God?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hodge Podging On A School Day

Welcome to the latest edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. Thanks for joining in here today. Answer the questions on your own blog, then add your link at the end of Joyce's post. Be sure you at least say hi to the blogger who linked before you because that's what good neighbors do. Here we go-

1. Way back when (the Hodgepodge bicentennial to be precise) several of you submitted questions as part of a giveaway Joyce was hosting. She went back to that list for inspiration today and found a question  submitted by Marla, who blogs over at Marla's Musings. Thanks Marla!   Marla asks-At what age did you feel like a 'grown-up'? What keeps you young now?   You mean we are supposed to grow up?  Just kidding.  I felt like a grown up when I married the first time and immediately became the mother of two children.  I was ill prepared and not even 21 yet.  What keeps me young is the fact that I teach high school juniors and seniors.  Sometimes I think they forget that I am old enough to be their....grandmother.  
2. When did you last buy a vehicle? Was this by design or because you had no other option? Was the car/truck purchased for your own personal use or was it bought for someone else to drive? On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being delightful and 1 being 'pass the Excedrin') how would you rate the experience?  We bought the HHR in 2007.  My Malibu was starting to have problems so we bought a new one.  The experience overall was a 10.  I loved using the company we bought from.  I love the car and even though they don't make them anymore I will drive this one until I can't.  It has over 256K miles on it.  
3. Corn bread, corn chips, corn pudding, corn on the cob, cornflakes, corn chowder-your favorite of the corn-y foods listed? What needs to be served alongside your selection?  I like all of these....but corn flakes.  I am not a huge fan of them.  I love them with summer grilled food and tomatoes sliced.
4. What's something in your life that regularly requires you to 'put your thinking cap on'?  That's easy-lesson plans for the week.  I teach at two the same system and they both want something different.
5.  Share a favorite movie set in a school or classroom, or whose theme relates to school days in some way.
 Mr. Holland's Opus, Stand and Deliver, McFarland USA, Remember the Titans, list could go on.
6. Reading, writing, and 'rithmatic' are commonly referred to as the three R's. What are the three R's in your life right now?  Road trips, resting after a grueling day at school, reality that school is back in session.  
7. What's something you've learned or tried recently you can say was as 'easy as ABC'?
Folk painting.  I don't know if it came easy or what....I am not artistic...but I am loving this and doing very well at it.
8. Insert your own random thought here.  Friday night football starts this week and we have our first pep rally.  Is Friday Night High School football a big deal where you live?  Here it is the place to be.  If the folks aren't AT they game they are listening to it on the radio.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Heart's Home

About The Book: This Christmas, a tragic loss at Fort Laramie ushers in hope and healing.
When a young mother dies after giving birth at Fort Laramie, Emmie Croftner is shaken by the death of her dear friend-and reminded of the dangers of childbirth. She won't be able to hide her own pregnancy much longer. She's dreading the day that Isaac Liddle, the handsome soldier she adores, discovers her secret.  Then the young infant's father offers a solution: Emmie should marry him so the child can have a family.  With the Sioux Wars threatening soldier and civilian alike, a ready-made family could be the answer to Emmie's prayers for safety. But at what cost to her heart-and Isaac's?

About The Author:   Colleen Coble has sold over 2 million novels worldwide. Seagrass Pier, the third installment in her acclaimed Hope Beach series, marks a new highpoint for emotion and complexity in Coble's addictive brand of romantic suspense.  Find Colleen online: website, Facebook, Twitter
My Thoughts On The Book:  I have followed these families throughout the whole series and my only disappointment with this book is that the book ended too soon.  It is quick read, around 100 pages and can be easily read in one sitting.  I am delighted to have found Colleen Coble's books, she is a master at developing a story and plot.  The reader is drawn into the action before they even realize they are participants too.  I cannot wait to read her next book/series.  What an amazing writer!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Book Look Bloggers, Litfuse and Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Monday, August 17, 2015


About The Book:  Suspenseful and cinematic, Bittersweet exposes the gothic underbelly of an idyllic world of privilege and an outsider’s hunger to belong.   On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, ordinary Mabel Dagmar is surprised to befriend her roommate, the beautiful, wild, blue-blooded Genevra Winslow. Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at Bittersweet, her cottage on the Vermont estate where her family has been holding court for more than a century; it’s the kind of place where children twirl sparklers across the lawn during cocktail hour. Mabel falls in love with midnight skinny-dipping, the wet dog smell that lingers near the yachts, and the moneyed laughter that carries across the still lake while fireworks burst overhead. Before she knows it, she has everything she’s ever wanted:  friendship, a boyfriend, access to wealth, and, most of all, for the first time in her life, the sense that she belongs.  But as Mabel becomes an insider, a terrible discovery leads to shocking violence and reveals what the Winslows may have done to keep their power intact - and what they might do to anyone who threatens  them. Mabel must choose: either expose the ugliness surrounding her and face expulsion from paradise, or keep the family’s dark secrets and make Ev's world her own. 
About The Author:     Miranda Beverly-Whittemore  writes novels.  Bittersweet is her third and is set at the home on Lake Champlain where she spent summers as a girl.  Bittersweet was written for people who love The Secret History and The Emperor's  Children.  Her first two novels were published in 2005 and 2007.  Her next novel, June, will be out in 2016.
My Thoughts On The Book: This book, my first by Miranda Whittemore,  is the absolute perfect summer read! I was delighted when it arrived the day before we left on a beach vacation.  I opened it, dropped in my beach bag, and when we arrived I was delighted to have it.  This book has everything a summer read needs.  It has friendship, a dream of a setting, mystery and suspense.  It does not get much better than this.  Whittemore is an excellent writer and once I started reading I felt myself drawn into the story and could not put it down.  I was sad when it ended.  I do believe that as the ending unfolded I felt as if I was on a rollercoaster ride and things seemed to pick up speed.  I would have liked to have savoured the ending a bit more.  Great read and I can't wait for another book by Whittemore. 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Blogging for Books as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Friday, August 14, 2015

The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck--101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers

About The Book:  New York Times bestselling author and educator Ron Clark challenges parents, teachers, and communities everywhere embrace a difference in the classroom and uplift, educate, and empower our children.  Read this book to find out why so many across the country have embraced these powerful rules.
· Set the electric tone on day one
· Teach your children how to study—don’t expect it to come naturally
· Don’t constantly stress about test scores
· Not every child deserves a cookie
· Lift up your teachers. No, really, lift them up!
· If kids like you all the time, you’re doing something wrong
· Don’t be a penny parent
Be different. Be bold. Join in.
About The Author:  Ron Clark is widely known as “America’s Educator” and was Oprah Winfrey’s first pick as her “Phenomenal Man.” He is a New York Times bestselling author and has been featured on the Today show, CNN, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia. For more, please visit
My Thoughts On The Book:  This summer some of our reading specialists were allowed to attend a Ron Clark training.  When they got back they were so excited and decided to have a Facebook book study.  We were called Educational Runners.  We were each given a chunk of the book to read and then five questions about that particular chunk.  I had never heard of Ron Clark prior to this and I was sold hook, line, and sinker.  As a teacher of 25+ years sometimes we find ourselves getting stale in the classroom.  Times change.....and things need to be shaken up a bit.  I loved the practical teaching strategies Ron Clark provided in the book.  "No More Molasses Classes" was just the inspiration I was looking for to rid myself of the stales.   Our school is going to do a book study on Moving the Bus next and I was the first one to sign up for it.  I cannot wait!   If you are an educator, parent, or anyone who works with youth, this book is a must read.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I did not receive this book free from anyone.  I paid for it from Amazon.  It was just so amazing I felt as if I needed to write a review so that other teachers would catch the fire and read it too.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” !

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wednesday Hodge Podge Volume 231

The Hodgepodge is back after a brief summer holiday.Joyce moved over the weekend, so she is hoping that technology smiles on her poor neglected little corner of the Internet today.
Thanks for stopping by and please be sure to come back after you have answered the questions and  share your answers with the rest of the movers and shakers. Just click here to link up

1. When was the last time you relocated? Did you move yourself or leave it to the professionals? Are you happy staying put or is there a move in your future? Best thing about moving to a new city or town? Least favorite and/or hardest thing about moving house?  We moved 5.5 years ago when Frank was given a church in Rock Mills.  I relocated at the end of last summer when I took a job at RCHS and we had just a few days to move a classroom that held 25 years of stuff.  Both times we moved ourselves.  If we ever move again I am so calling Two Men and A Truck.  I would be happy staying put...but with the Methodist Church itinerant system you never know.  The best thing about moving is starting get new places to discover and new people to meet.  The least favorite thing is packing and unpacking all your stuff.  I have a small rant here....One of my least favorite things about moving.....Your friends tell you they will stay in contact....and they don't.  In the beginning I felt as if I made all the effort to see them....and then I felt as if I had fallen off the face of the earth.  The only time I heard from them was when there was a baby shower or wedding.
2. When were you last 'moved to tears'? Explain.  At a funeral on Saturday.  The woman who died was an amazing woman and something the pastor said just touched my heart so.....I felt something on my face and realized they were tears.  3. Do you have rules about eating in the car...any forbidden foods? What's the last thing you consumed in your car? Your go-to car snack when traveling long distance?  Frank and I travel a lot but we try to eat in the restaurant to rest for a bit....but sometimes we do eat in the car.  Nothing messy!  The last thing consumed in the car was McDonald's chicken nuggets.
4. Share a favorite song relating to cars and/or driving.  409, Little Old Lady from Pasadena, Born to Be Wild.
5. What's your most frequently visited drive-thru...Starbucks? the bank? the pharmacy? some other window?  Ours would be both the bank and pharmacy.
6. "He who hesitates is lost"...would you agree? When it comes to making decisions do you generally act quickly or do you more often than not fall into the 'lost' category?  I have found that when I act quickly something goes wrong.  I am one who wants to thoroughly investigate something to I do not have buys remorse.
7. When was the last time you got lost? Was it stressful or an unexpected happy adventure?  According to my Father, you are never are just exploring.  Being raised that way....I never remember being lost and every trip is and was always an adventure worth enjoying.
8.  Insert your own random thought here.  The kids returned to school on Monday.  Has school started where you live?  Do you post pictures of the First Day of School on facebook?  Did your mom take first day pictures of you?  The first day for us was CRAZY....but then it usually is.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Ups and Downs of My Life

My Bible reading last night was from John 15.  This verse is the one that caught my attention.
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine. You are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing." (John 15:4-5, NASB).
It’s that time of year again. Schools are back in session and there seems to be a million things pulling me apart.  I teach at two school so I have to work games at both schools.  Most of the faculty at each school only work one game of each sport.  I work one game of each sport at two schools.  I have already worked my RCHS volleyball game and will work the Lanett football game on Oct. 2nd.  I am working Homecoming at Wadley on the 11th and then a volleyball game the following Monday.  I don't mind working the games....I want to support the kids....but....there is a limit to my stamina.  I am service oriented and love to do service projects.  Sometimes I love the concept....but when the day arrives I have second thoughts.  I do find that when I complete the project I feel better for it.  So how
do you react when an opportunity for service presents itself?  Are you one of those people who feels guilty saying “no” and gives in to the demands for your time?  That would be me sometimes.  Frank is always telling me, "When will you learn to say no?"  So I find myself wondering why some of us feel as if we have to do it all? I know for a fact I can do anything I set my mind to....but why do I think I need to do it all at the same time.....and that same time is today!  Sometimes I feel as if I don't do service...God will be angry at me....or disapprove of me....but then I read this verse in John and I know that is not so.  He wants me to be productive.....not withered and dried out!  Overdoing and trying to do it all makes me fruitless.  I need to remember that my hand does not always need to be the first one raised.  I need to step back and let God lead me in the way I should go.  I need to stand back and rest in Him so I can have balance.  Balance for me is a big deal.  My middle name is not fact it is anything but.  I think sometimes my life following Christ is like me when my balance gets off kilter and I falter.  When I am off balance in my life...and with God...I find myself at the bottom of a deep and dark well frantically searching for a way out.  I can see the light...I just can't get to it.  It is when I am at the bottom of my well that I look up and stretch my hand towards my Heavenly Father.  I give up....let go....and Let God!  He has never let me down.  While sitting in my self-made pit, waiting on God to swoop in and save the day, I discover that the pit  is a common destination for many....not just me.  Especially if we refuse to measure and balance the elements that demand from know the ones.. home, family, friends, work and personal growth. I find that I have been running the race for the wrong audience. I running on my own power instead of God’s power. I find myself yelling at me, "STOP IT!"  I wish I could say one good time in the pit and I learn my lesson....but that is not the case.  I am constantly seeking balance....and seem to forget from one circumstance to the next what put me there.  I must be a slow learner.  Thank God I serve a loving and patient Father!  It is an every day battle for that I cannot win alone.  So, I find myself seeking God when I am at the end of my rope in life....and I hear His loving words...."Keep On Hanging On!"  "Joy comes in the morning"....and many more.   I never have to fight alone and you know what....neither do you. God is with us always, urging us, restoring us, and giving us rest.   Can I get an Amen this morning?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Working The Polls

Today, is the second day of inservice/training for teachers, but I am not there.  I am working the polls.  I was up and at the fire station by 6:05.  We got the signs out and waited on the clock to hit the magic hour....7:00.  Today we are voting on a one cent sales tax so we can keep a hospital in the county.  This has been pretty controversial and I am interested to see how the voters turn out.  I guessed that only about 75 of the registered voters would show...we actually had 125....but the 125th one did not get to vote....she showed up at 7:01 and the polls were already closed.  We registered 124.  I enjoy the social time with Sherry, Louise, and Kelli.  I learn a lot about what is happening in Rock Mills.  After the polls closed we took care of business at hand and then Sherry and I took our materials to Wedowee.  I got home right at 8:45.  It was a long day.  Sleep came easy for me and I believe I was out by 9:30.  This prep week of school takes a lot out of me.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Is It Or Isn't It?

My Scripture today is from Ephesians 4:32:  “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  Jesus is known as the “Man of Sorrows.” He endured personal abuse, culminating in His crucifixion. If anyone had a right not to forgive, it was Jesus. If He’d harbored resentment for all the wrong done to Him, there would’ve been no cross. He chose to forgive, even while on the cross. His life and death make our pardon possible--we are declared blameless--our record of wrongs is erased, and the new life Jesus bestows enables us to be forgiving people. No offense by anyone could ever equal our guilt before Christ, Who stands ready to forgive us.  Forgiveness involves self-sacrifice. In order to forgive others we have to surrender our desire for revenge and retribution. We offer the offender free grace, just as God has for us. Grace forgives what it cannot excuse. We receive it and offer it to others.  What does it really mean to forgive? I think many people are unclear on the concept; in order to know what forgiveness is, we need to go over what forgiveness isn’t…
>Forgiveness isn’t forgetting. It’s not amnesia. People claim, “I’ll forgive, but I’ll never forget.” My answer to that is, “Don’t forget--each time you remember the hurt, remember your forgiveness.” This means we don’t bring up the past. The “love chapter” of the Bible, I Corinthians 13, says that “love keeps no record of wrongs.” Clara Barton, founder of the Red Cross, was asked, “Don’t you remember the wrong done to you?” She answered: “No, I distinctly remember forgetting that.” >Forgiveness isn’t pretending. We don’t act like the past doesn’t exist or that a hurt didn’t occur. We no longer use past hurts as a weapon; the past is a dead issue. We can’t ignore that a hurt occurred, but we can’t change the past, and wishing it never happened won’t make it go away. When we forgive we don’t change the past, but we sure do change the future.  >Forgiveness isn’t a feeling. It is an intentional action. It has nothing to do with how we feel. When people say, “I can’t forgive”, they mean “I won’t forgive.” Forgiveness is a clear choice, a conscious decision. We can feel hurt, betrayed, and angry, and still forgive.   >Forgiveness isn’t conditional. We don’t demand change before we forgive. When someone asks for pardon we don’t say, “I’ll first wait and see.” The person who hurt us may hurt us again, but we have a responsibility to forgive. We may need some recovery time, because forgiveness is also not immediate. We may even ask for reparation, but we shouldn’t demand proof that those who hurt us are truly sorry. That’s not our job.  >Forgiveness isn’t weakness. It’s not “giving in”. It takes strength to forgive. The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.  >Forgiveness isn’t partial. The Jewish  standard in Jesus’ day was to forgive 3 times (“3 strikes and you’re out!”); the divine standard is “70 times 7”, according to Jesus. What He meant is that there’s no limit to our pardon. In forgiving, we cancel the debt. It might be useful to write your hurt on a piece of paper, then tear it up, showing that the debt has been forgiven.  >Forgiveness isn’t waiting for an apology. We initiate the healing by taking the first step. Determining who is wrong is less important than restoring the relationship. Sometimes those doing the hurting feel they’ve done nothing wrong. It’s not our job to convince them otherwise but, in our hearts, to forgive them. Telling someone who doesn’t want forgiveness that they’re forgiven can be an insult. It may be better to picture the one who hurt you in an empty chair, tell them how you feel, and that you forgive. >Forgiveness isn’t a one-time event. There is no instant forgiveness in that true forgiveness takes effort. It is a lengthy process of steady growth as a relationship is gradually restored. Trust isn’t rebuilt overnight. We forgive--one memory at a time. The goal of forgiveness is reconciliation. >Forgiveness isn’t condoning wrong. By forgiving, we’re not saying the action was OK; it’s not. Nor does it let the wrong happen again. Forgiveness does not mean turning a criminal loose. When people hurt us accidentally, we excuse them; when they hurt us intentionally, we forgive. But we don’t minimize what was done to us.  >Forgiveness isn’t losing. What do we win by holding onto the hurt and anger that accompany unforgiveness? When we don’t forgive we’re imprisoned by bitterness. To forgive is actually to win.  >Forgiveness isn’t figuring out why we were hurt. When we’re the victims of what seems a senseless attack, we’d like to understand why anyone would want to do such a mean thing. We may never know their reasons, but that doesn’t release us from forgiving.  >Forgiveness isn’t suddenly “liking” the person. We’re to love everyone, but not everyone’s our buddy. Friendship may grow out of forgiveness, but sometimes the best we can achieve is tolerance, forbearance, and peaceful coexistence. Be aware--people with clenched fists can’t shake hands. >Forgiveness isn’t a guarantee of closure. When murderers are executed, the victim’s family members often say they hoped the prison time and capital punishment would bring closure, but nothing can compensate for their loss. Some hurts aren’t resolved till Heaven. There’s no pain on earth that Heaven cannot heal. Even when there are consequences for those who’ve hurt us, it often doesn’t matter. Healing has to come from Above and from within.  >Forgiveness isn’t optional. British General Oglethorpe commented to John Wesley, “Preacher, I never forgive.” Wesley replied, “Then sir, I hope you never sin.” Forgiveness is a bridge we don’t want to destroy…because it’s one we may need to cross ourselves some day. It is risky business praying the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  >Forgiveness isn’t easy. What we forgive too quickly or freely doesn’t stay forgiven. Forgiveness is not cheap or casual; it’s expensive—it cost Jesus His life. Jesus buries our sins and doesn’t mark the grave. The cross shows us what God thinks of us, and what we think of God. To forgive is divine.  >Forgiveness isn’t impossible. The presence and power of Christ in us can do “all things.” God can enable us to forgive.  Let me give you a selfish reason to forgive--you’ll feel better. When we free ourselves from being “the offended one,” we unlock our prison of bitterness. The resentment we’re carrying is a live coal in our hearts. When we choose not to forgive, it’s like reopening a wound. When we forgive, the wound heals; there may be a scar, but the pain is gone. Unforgiveness depletes our strength and takes away energy toward building a better tomorrow. Forgiveness heals the hurts of the past. The word forgiveness in Hebrew is salach, which means “to have anger in one’s fist and to release it, relinquish it, to let it go and remove it forever.” What a release!


Children On Forgiveness

Ephesians 4:32 teaches us about forgiveness....32 Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ.  Have you ever asked someone to forgive you?  Did they?  Have you ever forgiven someone?  Did you forgive and forget?  Today I want to talk briefly about forgiveness so I brought in a cassette tape and a CD. Do you know what these are for?  They are used to record information...and that information can also be erased from them. When we forgive, we are not longer keep records “on file.” Maybe we need to delete some hard feelings!  What do you think?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Twelve Brides of Summer - Novella Collection #3

About The Book:  Love Is Buzzing in the Good Old Summertime!  Spend the sunny days of summer relaxing with an ice cold glass of lemonade and revel in the dreams of twelve brides who are a bit surprised by how the men of their dreams come into their lives.  Journey to the Old West, stay on the prairie, and visit quaint small towns. . .without leaving the comfort of your own front porch!  The dog days of summer are here, but love is still in full bloom with Novella Collection #3:
Dog Days of Summer Bride by Margaret Brownley
Music teacher Miralee Davis and blacksmith Tom Colbert don’t realize they’ve been sharing the same dog until. . .it digs up a stash of stolen loot. The reward will go to the dog’s owner—if only that can be decided.
The Dogwood Blossom Bride by Miralee Ferrell
Gracie Addison is a tree-climbing tomboy, and practical Will Montgomery objects to her unladylike influence on his niece. Will his judgmental attitude come back to bite him?
The Lumberjack’s Bride by Pam Hillman
Chicago transplant, Lucy Denson cooks for a logging crew in the Mississippi backwoods until she can return to her idea of civilization. Can Eli Everett help her rethink her ideals?

About The Authors: 
Margaret Brownley - Margaret is a New York Times bestselling author and past Romance Writers of America RITA finalist with more than 30 novels to her credit. Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence.
Miralee Ferrell -Ferrell started writing shortly after she turned 50, and discovered she loved it so much she didn't  want to stop.  She has 11 books out & four more releasing in 2015, a four book set of horse novels for middle-grade girls. She writes both women's contemporary fiction, historical romance and horse novels for girls. One of her Western romances, Love Finds You in Sundance, WY, was awarded the Will Rogers Medallion for Western Fiction, and Blowing on Dandelions, book one in the Love Blossoms in Oregon series, made the ECPA best seller list in 2013.
Pam Hillman- CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of.
My Thoughts On The Book: 
Dog Days Of Summer Bride  was a most entertaining story and I decided to read them at separate times so I could prolong the delight in the book. and savor the flavor of each novella.  That was a good idea.  I loved the characters Jed and Marilee and thought this was absolutely a perfectly wonderful story!
The Dogwood Blossom Bride was delightful.  The lessons about not trusting our emotions but letting God take control was powerful.
The Lumberjack’s Bride was my favorite of the novellas.  I love stories of lumberjacks, especially after attending a lumberjack competition in the Pacific Northwest.    I could not put this one down.  swept me up in a visual feast of burly lumberjacks and sun-bathed woods with fields of wildflowers proudly showing off God’s handiwork. The palpable romantic tension left me smiling with satisfaction at the close.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from NetGalley as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Reality Hits: Inservice

Today is the 3rd of August and the beginning of the school year for me.  The students don't come until next Monday, but for this week we will be trained in how to be an effective teacher.  We were told to be in our seats by 7:45.  I was at school by 7 because the RCHS Faculty String Band was going to perform before the invocation.  We did Jesus Take My Hand and Rocky Top to get the staff fired up.  I could have sung forever with these guys.  Our band consists of Darren Anglin, my principal, Mary Kelly, my assistant principal, Jeff Thompson, Woodland's principal, Chris Agee, science teacher, Brance Taylor, English teacher, Amy Richardson, our reading coach, Remello, a student, and of course me! We began performing as a group last year and had such a great time.  Our meeting took place in the RCHS auditorium and it was a bit chilly when I got in there.....that would change drastically by 10:00.  We were welcomed by the Superintendent, Rance Kirby, and then we sang.  After the music there was a prayer for the school can tell I live smack in the middle of the Bible Belt.  The new staff was introduced and at 9 our guest speaker, Charles Marshall was introduced.  If you have never heard him speak and get the chance....take it.  He is awesome.  After he finished....we had another 2 hours of training on Child Abuse, Special Ed, Child Advocasy, and the Internet to go....but....halfway through the air conditioner quit working and by 11:00 it was stifling in the auditorium.  My clothes were actually sticking to my skin and I was miserable.  We broke for lunch at 11:30 and when we came back from lunch we were broken into groups and attended three other sessions.  My first one was in the library and it was lovely in there.  The second, was in the lunchroom and things went down hill fast.  The room was cool....but they had sprayed for bugs and the smell was nauseating.  My third session....from 2:30 - 3:30 was back in the auditorium....with still no air....and I can tell you....I was brain dead, and aware of how hot I was.  What did I take from this session?  Be mindful of how longs students have been sitting, be mindful of the temperature, and have them move during the class period....especially after lunch.  Am I excited?  I am always excited for the first week of school.  I cannot wait to do what I love doing.....and that is teaching.  I have missed the kids during the summer.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

What Is The Bottom Line When It Comes To Communion?

My scripture is from Luke 24:13-35
I need to ask you all this morning.....what does Jesus want to do for us at this gathering? When we celebrate communion, what is Jesus’ purpose.  As we walk along on the Road to Emmaus with the two disciples we must not forget that these two disciples of Jesus had heard the two reports of the resurrection – Mary’s and Peter’s. However, because they hadn’t personally seen the evidence, rather, they didn’t want to check out the evidence for themselves, probably because they were afraid of being caught and possibly receiving a death sentence, they decided to pack it in and head home and go back to their old way of living. Incredible isn’t it? They gave up on Jesus … but thank God, He didn’t give up on them. Notice that the text says, “Jesus himself came up and walked along with them.” I like the way it reads in the King James, “Jesus drew near…” The thought here isn’t that these two disciples were simply geographically distant, but that their faith was distant as well. Jesus knew their need and so He DREW NEAR. He didn’t say, “Fine! You want to leave, you want to doubt, you want to turn your back on me? Go right ahead. Don’t expect me come to you. When you clean up your act and smarten up and return to where I am, I’ll consider taking you back.” Thank God, Jesus isn’t like that. He knows our weaknesses and our struggles. We think we’re so much better than those first disciples. We think we would never act the way they did. Fact is we would … and we do … and most likely we will. Life fogs up our vision, our understanding, our faith, our hope… We allow circumstances to over shadow truth.  It’s easy to fall into the cycle of depression.
          It’s easy to lose focus.
          It’s easy to doubt.
          It’s easy to forget.
          It’s easy to fall away.
          It’s easy to reject.
          It’s easy to take for granted.
          It’s easy to misunderstand.
          It’s easy to give up and give in.
Thank God that in spite of:
1. Our clouded situations and circumstance…
2. Getting lost frequently along the way…
3. The times we decide to take the first plane out of town and run away from our difficulties…there is a God who not only comes looking for us, but also DRAWS NEAR AND TRAVELS WITH US UNTIL WE SEE AGAIN!  That is good news! That is grace! That is Jesus!  He spoke with them for hours.  He spent the day with them explaining the truth of the Scriptures; this wasn’t a 20-minute sermon!  He was physically with them until the sun was beginning to set.
They saw him…
They smelled him…
They walked next to him…
And yet, with all this physical closeness they still didn’t recognize who he was! Pretty dull these two. They were so caught up in their own pity party. Wait! Before we begin to cast more stones in judgment, we too must confess that there have been times, even seasons, when we’ve been blind and distant. Times when we’ve given up and lost all hope.  It’s happened with…our children - “This is your last chance!” …with our spouse – “It’s hopeless, it’s beyond repair, I’m getting out, leaving town, getting on with my life.”… with our parents – “There no use, you guys just don’t understand, I’m leaving home!”… at our work – “It’s no use, people around here don’t care, I’m not going to take it any more. I quit!”… at school – “It’s too hard. I’m in over my head. I’m going to drop out!”… And even with God, “I’ve been praying for 8 years and you still haven’t helped me!… I’ve asked for patience and all I get is more problems…I’ve prayed for freedom and all I get is more temptation…I pray for healing and all I get is sicker by the day. Hello, is anyone listening up there?!!!!  We live in such a fast paced society. We have become so impatient, so intolerant, so “me” focused. And as a result we give up way too easily, way too early, and way too frequently. Thank God we are not left alone. I’m not saying that you’ll never feel alone. Truth is you will, but that’s not because God has abandoned you, it’s because you’ve abandoned Him!
People ask,
“So where was your loving God on Sept. 11th?”
“Where was He when my husband walked out on us?”
“Where was He when my loved one died?”
“Where was He when the doctor said it was terminal?”  The answer is, “Right where you left Him.” God won’t go where he is not welcomed.  But thank God that where He is welcomed, where there are those who are genuinely struggling with faith, who are sincerely wanting to believe, but because of a lack of hope just can’t see God in their circumstances, you can be sure that you’ll find Him a lot closer than you think. You may even be blind to His presence right now in this place but, He’s right there sitting next to you or walking beside you on the road you chose to make your escape. Even though we go through season’s of blindness, the good news is that sooner or later He will do for you what He did for those two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Soon or later you WILL see Him.   You see it wasn’t until He broke the bread that finally “Their eyes were opened and they recognized him…” Remember Jesus’ words “…Do this in remembrance of me…” Communion is a very intimate act. It helps us to focus on Jesus instead of ourselves. It points us to the One who has been near all along. In this act of remembrance, HE REMINDS US of His constant love and as we break bread we see that He HAS come near  to enlightenment:
From “…stood still, faces down cast…” (v 17)
and “…we had hoped…” (v 21) to “…got up
and returned at once to Jerusalem…” (v 33)
and “It is true! The Lord has risen…” (v34).
Why the change? “Jesus drew near…broke bread”! Today Jesus continues to draw near. As we gather to celebrate at this table Jesus wants to do something. As we remember this historic fact and eat and drink these common everyday elements we are reminded of an eternal reality – Jesus IS here among us!  God wants our eyes to be opened - the eyes of our mind and the eyes of our heart too. And that’s why we gather on the first Sunday of each month and share at this table… not our table but His table.  Notice the change in the disciples’ attitude:
From despair to hope
From depression to joy
From doubt to belief
From defeat to victory
From dismay to courage
From disillusionment