Discounting the current gifts from God

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There’s this ONE prayer and request that I keep asking God for.  It’s the ‘tugging on the Father’s sleeve’ kind.  That heart-filled longing that would consume me if I let it. Over the many years, I’ve learned to compartmentalize it somewhat.  Allotting it very specific time in my prayers each morning.  But I also pray when the occasional acute detailed need arises.

When I’m feeling strengthened by God, my prayers are statements of faith, attesting to God’s goodness and His sovereign control over all events. I KNOW for a fact that our Triune God is:

  • sovereign
  • loving
  • holy
  • wise
  • all-powerful
  • good
  • merciful
  • faithful

Those characteristics of our Father sustain me most days and nights.  I can leave this need in His hands.  But on occasion, there are those tearful prayers when along with David, I cry out:  How long, O LORD!

Like yesterday morning. I felt depleted and discouraged.  Will God EVER answer this request?  The tears flowed.  I had my notebook open and penned my lament. But as I dried my tears, a new thought arrived.

What if I am SO fixated on this one thing that God has not yet provided, that I miss the good gift He already has bestowed?

Like my sweet husband.  We’ve been married 38 years.  And ever since our crisis at the 20-year point, our relationship has been on the upswing.   That in itself is a gift from God.  But over the past year, Michael’s expressions of love for me have distilled into something even more pure and tender.  The notes he leaves me on our frig whiteboard are enough to make any wife cry with humility and gratitude.  How did I end up with such a choice life partner? Only by His grace, for sure.

So here is the new thought that I believe the Holy Spirit of the Father brought to mind yesterday after my Godward plea. I’m going to put words in His mouth:

  • Maria, are you SO fixated on wanting this one thing that you are missing My many gifts designed specifically FOR you, my beloved daughter?

That thought startled me!  What if God is answering my request for X with this other gift because that is what He KNOWS is best for me RIGHT NOW!  In fact, could all His gifts be what He has decided I actually need at this Kairos moment in my life, while I’m seeking X?

Does that mean He won’t ever provide my X?  Not necessarily, but that answer is beyond my ‘ken’ or knowledge.  I can’t predict if He will bring about my desired circumstance.  But He is my good and wise Father.  I can trust Him.  For right now, what He gives is enough.

The Holy Spirit left me with this final realization:

  • Maybe THAT is why our Bible teaches and reinforces gratitude over and over.

Since then, I’ve been pondering and reflecting on what I might have already missed or discounted from God’s hand.  What OTHER gifts has He given me that I have not even VIEWED as gifts, nor as an answer to my Big Request?

How about you?  How is God answering your heart prayers?

Psalm 107:1 ESV – Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

 

 

The blessing of Academic Freedom

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May I never take for granted the gift of academic freedom to teach French the way that is best for my students and for me!

I am blessed to teach in a private school that supports me 100 % in how I choose to teach both French & Logic.

What this means for me is that as I learn through what I read and listen to, I can tailor content to fit my students.  I adjust throughout the week.  As a result, I feel free and affirmed as a professional. I derive immense joy at this unconstrained ability to grow with my students.  In addition, my content in French is driven by my students’ imaginations and interests as well as my own.

For example, after 8 ½ years of using TPRS™ (teaching proficiency through reading & storytelling), I now feel both skilled and competent to go into class and do the following two activities.

a)   As an opener or warm up, I can have a conversation in French with any of my 3 levels of class (French 1, 2, 3) that is both comprehensible to them and personal.  We talk about their weekend, their interests, and their problems.  They learn new vocabulary as the conversation meanders.  I write essential words on the board as the conversation progresses.  Curriculum does not constrain or drive my classes.

b)   As my planned activity, I can go into class with one sentence and let this slim basis for a story grow where it will, emerging from my students’ input.  They then embed and adorn that sentence with themselves and a story emerges that is tailored to that particular class

For example, my sentence last week with my French 1 students was:  “Laura’s grandparents were still living”.  Laura was a character they had made up in the previous week’s story.  Going into this class, I had a phrase in mind that I wanted to teach them the following day (they have the tendency to _____).  But first we had to develop this fictional grandpa and grandma.

This couple became Bob & Cherrie who were both 2 feet, 2 inches tall.  Bob, a former soldier, turns out to be addicted to video games in his old age.  Cherrie, a former buyer for a clothing store, is depressed by Bob’s habit and turns to vodka.  I flow with the kids, making sure to make everything comprehensible. I work the details, so that the new words and details are repetitive enough to stick in their long-term memory.  They provide the personal interest, because the details are theirs.  I learn new words (had to look up how to say “addicted to”) so it’s good for me.

Another example of the blessing of unconstrained curriculum is what has happened when a French teacher in Mulhouse France contacted me.  We have set up a loose exchange between her students learning English and mine.  The other day she sent papers they had written about some pressing issues in America and asked for my students to respond.  I have the time to formulate a plan and work that into my lessons for the following week.  We can spend class talking about issues of immigration and ‘the American dream’ and what French teens might think.  If I had to follow a weekly plan imposed on me from the administration, I would have to let that go.

The methodology and thinking behind TPRS™ guides my daily activity, but in a non-constrained way that allows for expansive growth and unlimited possibilities.  I can do whatever I want as long as the French is comprehensible, repetitive and interesting to my students.  I can incorporate music, history, the Gospel, vignettes from my life, random stories from the paper, ANYTHING as long as I make them comprehensible and repetitive.

I am a very satisfied teacher.  Thank you, Jesus for giving me a passion for language and leading me away from the shackles of textbook teaching.  Thank you, Summit Christian Academy for believing in me and supporting me.  Thank you, Michael for working a job that is not your cup of tea but provides income so that I can work in a private Christian school.  Thank you, Blaine Ray for birthing this method and fellow TPRSers for fleshing it out and sharing unselfishly.

My prayer – Lord, keep me grateful.  Keep me growing.  Keep me depending on You!

 

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