Jeremiah Study: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World~ Week One

your life message

I just started another Bible Study; I have a habit of doing several at a time. I bought the book last week, and kind of flipped through the pages but had not sat down to dive into the content until this morning. The study is called “Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World” written by Melissa Spoelstra. I must tell you that I am completely blown away at the depth and content of this study! It is really good!

The first chapter talks about Surrendering, “raising the white flag” which I thought was really interesting. It is quite obvious that we are in a world of sin, of defiant behavior and a turning away from God. Reading the newspapers every day proves that theory.

God is very detailed in his Word; He has always given us clear instructions and an excellent guide of instruction, the “Bible.” He calls each and every one of us and gives us each a gift and a purpose. Our role in life is to follow his leading and direction and complete the task that He has given us. He knew our capabilities even before we were born. (Jeremiah 29:11). The study goes on to say that, “God’s mission for us as followers of Jesus is to go when and where He sends, to speak His words, and prepare for action without fear.” That is the key, He is given us all the tools that we need for his mission, but we must overcome and put away our own insecurities and fear. Fear is a show stopper; it will paralyze us in our tracks, preventing the completion of things that we are fully capable of doing. It is Satan’s main strategy along with self doubt to try and stop the work of God. Satan knows he cannot stop God, but he can use his vessels to stop the completion of our purpose.

Pride is another thing that often gets in the way. God has also covered that problem with a solution: “in Luke 9:23 he instructs us to turn from our own selfish ways. Take up the Cross daily, and follow Him.” Note the word daily, I guess he knows that we need to do this on a consistent basis!

The author made one statement in the first chapter that really drew me in, “Delivering and obeying God’s message of surrender takes faith and obedience. Once we’ve taken that step, it is often tested by fire.” In the study of Jeremiah, it gives a good example of that in Jeremiah 38:4-6 when it discussed Jeremiah’s result even after he was faithful to God’s direction. Jeremiah was dropped in the cistern, and sank in the mud.

“Sometimes even when we obey completely, we end up in a pit. Life still happens, friends may betray us, husbands leave, jobs are lost, health declines instead of improves.” “

“These are the times when we need to trust God’s greater plan even though our circumstances are screaming foul”

That should not happen right; I mean we are doing what we are supposed to do? The answer is knowing God, and who He is, and trusting with obedience to see that God has the overall plan, the “big picture” even when it makes no human sense. Oh and by the way, God didn’t leave Jeremiah in the pit, he actually sent thirty men to get him out, and there was no water in the cistern, it was only mud to hold him temporarily. So even though Jeremiah didn’t know what was going on, God did, and Jeremiah just kept being obedient.

To sum it up remember this, “God wants to give us rich, satisfying abundant life (John 10:10), and He knows we won’t find it apart from Him.” The key is for us to realize this as well. Trust in Him, no matter what you think or see in your mind, and know that “Our ways are not His ways”, His ways are better!

“Our reward waits for us in Heaven”

The Things that Grief Has Taught Me.

Grieving What I have learned Along the Way

  1. Initially everything is a “fog” because we are in disbelief or shock as to what just happened. It is my belief that this is God’s way of protecting us, because if we had to process all the information at one time, it would literally blow our minds.
  2. People move on in life around you, time doesn’t stand still even though you feel like it does for you. You may have emotions centered on other people you care about moving on with their lives, as well as people will expect you to “move on with your life” which can only be done when you are ready. Growth happens, you may not be aware of it initially, but you do process through grieving, and reminders are not necessary.
  3. In the beginning you will want to “save” everything, find a special place to put your loved one’s items, and do save them. You may not be ready to “deal” with them now, and that is okay, just set them aside so that they are there when you are ready.
  4. Initially, your focus is on the date of death, you will focus on the loss, what you were doing, what that person was doing; the “day and time” will be your central focus that is okay. Later on, you focus will shift from that day to days that you had celebrated together in the past, birthdays, Christmas, family traditions. When the time comes, the death date may not want to be your central focus, and that is okay, in fact, that is good, it represents growth.
  5. Remember your loved one’s “treasured items” may simply be that, something that brought them pleasure. You may find that it brings you pain, a sad reminder, and that it does not bring you joy in viewing. That is okay; simply understand to them it was treasured, and that you do not have the same feelings or recollection. Put the item aside in your “special box” and you can process it at a different time.
  6. Initially, your emotional pain is so raw, that it feels “to the bone”, and that you literally will die from a broken heart. You will always have a void, but time does change things, there will be a day when you can smile again. You just have to move through the process.
  7. Grieving is a process. It comes in stages that we all must go through. You may delay it, but you cannot avoid it, embracing the stages and move through them. You cannot go around grief; it will be waiting for you later if you do not process it.
  8. You may feel the need to re-create or re-construct you loved one’s final moments, especially if it is an accident. That is normal, and for some can give closure. It is completely up to the individual. (Medical records etc.)
  9. It is completely normal to “be mad at God” for what happened in fact, sometimes expected. It is okay, and it is a normal emotion. Talk it through and sort out your feelings.
  10. The best thing you can do is share you experience with others that understand exactly what you are experiencing. Find a support group, if you need to talk to someone professionally, which is a healthy step to take. Example, “Compassionate Friends” is a very good group for those who have lost children.
  11. It is completely NORMAL for you to want to talk about your loved one. Expect that after time, those around you will feel uncomfortable talking about it with you. They expect you to “move on, get over it”. The reason is THEY are uncomfortable talking about your loved one with you, because they cannot fix it for you. People who are grieving will always talk about their loved ones; it keeps them “alive” in our mind. People that have also experienced grieving will want to talk about them with you, and will want you to listen to them about their loved ones, that is why support groups are so important.
  12. Compassion is the greatest gift you can give someone, and is given to you through the experiences you go through in life.
  13. Early in your “journey” because that is what the process is, find a special place for your loved one’s pictures that brought you joy, display them, and put up special keepsakes with them. Remember there will be items; including photographs that will bring you pain (pictures of the casket, accident scene, etc). Sometimes it is best to put those things that are extremely painful, feel free to put those things away for a time being). You can always add and put away things as you feel necessary and ready.
  14. Know that God is Good. We may not understand why things happen the way that they do, but that He is always in control and has Mercy and Grace. One of the greatest things for me to realize was that my loved one was not in any pain, even though I would have thought he would have been, the human body has an amazing ability to protect you, with blocking pain.

Are You Making A Child’s Behavior Worse?

Thought I would share an excellent article for teachers and parents:

Are You Making Your Most Difficult Students Worse?

By Michael Linsin

Most teachers are hyperaware of their most difficult students—and well they should be.

It’s smart to know where they are and what they’re doing.

But this awareness can cause you to behave oddly around them.

It can cause you to glare and glower in their direction. It can cause you to hover near the edges of their personal space and tense up in their presence.

It can cause you to label them with your behavior.

Because when you act differently around difficult students than you do the rest of your class, you’re effectively telling them that they’re not like other students, that they’re incapable of being trusted and that you expect them to misbehave.

This is a powerful message you may not even be aware you’re sending. Your most challenging students, however, can see the smoke signals from a mile away.

They know when they’re being surveilled, marked, and followed. They know when they’re disliked and resented—or merely tolerated. They know when you have negative thoughts about them and their future prospects.

And they’re quick to live up to their role as troublemaker, to become the very person you see in them.

Although you should always maintain awareness of all your students, if you were to make it a point to behave the same way around your most difficult students as you do everyone else, you would see marked improvement in their behavior.

This includes the same smiles, jokes, and stories. It includes the same nonchalant way you look in their direction or ask about their weekend. It includes the same belief in their ability to listen, learn, and follow rules.

For many teachers, though, this is far easier said than done.

It’s only natural to be cautious and distrustful around students who have repeatedly disrupted your classroom. It’s only natural to linger and eyeball and use proximity to try and stop their misbehavior before it starts.

The solution, however, is simple: From the very first moment of each school day onward, you’re going to pretend that your most difficult students are already well behaved.

You’re going to assume that they will, of their own accord, follow your rules and expectations just like everyone else. And by pretending, by shoving aside any and all negative thoughts you have about them and their previous misdeeds, they’ll respond in wonderful and miraculous ways.

That isn’t to say that they’ll never again misbehave, but they’ll no longer do it to spite you or get under your skin. They’ll no longer do it because they’re fulfilling a prophecy. They’ll no longer do it because it’s expected of them, because it has become part of their identity.

Although improvement can be immediate, in time, and as the rest of your class begins to take up your cue, those ugly labels and beliefs they have about themselves will gently slide off their shoulders.

Their burden will lift. They’ll look you in the eye, unashamed. And for the first time in their school career, they’ll relax into their skin.

They’ll become an integral part of the whole.

A key ingredient in the soufflé.

A certified, accepted, and valued member of your classroom.