Saturday, January 30, 2010

In The Morning When We Rise

Many of you might not know this, but I am taking a class that makes my Friday 14 hours long and drags me out of bed on Saturday morning at 6:30. Tired and groggy, I drive right back into the inner city that I left less than 10 hours earlier. It is a class to help me teach the gifted kiddos that are in my classroom. It is a class that is making me a better teacher. It is a class that is challenging me to grow and change. Now please don't get me wrong, this class is important to me. I have sacrificed to be in it ... my weekends, time with my family, time with my friends, and even going to the Beth Moore Siesta Scripture Memorization Weekend ... so I do not begrudge going ... it is just so early in the morning on a day that my pillow calls to me so very sweetly that it is difficult to resist. Most days I lament leaving it behind, but not today. When I walked out of my front door I was greeted with the most amazing sunrise. Splashes of yellow and pink filled the cloud sprinkled morning sky, it was amazing to say the least. I could barely take my eyes off of the splendor of dawn as I was driving towards class - until I saw a large puddle on the side of the road. Quickly I parked my car and ran back to the puddle which was mirroring the sunrise in the most magnificent way. Wouldn't you know that I just happened to have my camera on me?

This is what I saw:

God must surely have an artist's heart ... or maybe he just really enjoys how much something as simple as a sunset can amaze and captivate ours.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

When Nature Calls

One thing that I love, is taking pictures ... so much so, that it is really pictures that take me. They take me down streets, around corners, on quick little jaunts ... or drawn out adventures. They call my soul, and I must answer. Today was such a day. I was driving home from school, and was summoned to witness and capture the beauty of nature's mirror ... water. Enjoy.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Out of the Hearts of Children

As most of you know, I teach 3rd grade in the inner city here in Phoenix. It is what I believe my calling is ... my mission if you will. I just love the kids I work with. I love their families. I love what I do. (Even in the recession, even with a possible pay cut because of the deficit, even with the bureaucracy that seems rampant.)

Today was an amazing day. Not because my kiddos immediately caught on to what I was teaching. Not because their test scores on the post test for standard S1C3P02 were great, for the most part. Not because I work with great people on my team. Not because we are on a collision course with a THREE day weekend! But because of Haiti. Before you totally freak out at that thought, let me explain. The horrible tragedy in Haiti gave me a chance to witness the most tender hearts of the children in room 12.

We had just finished tossing around a few different ways to multiply that beat the age old algorithm hands down in speed and ease. (Let's just say that over half of my third graders were able to multiply two 2-digit numbers correctly within the space of 20 minutes.) One of my sweetest little girls came up to the desk and asked, "Mrs. Day, have you heard about Haiti?" I told her that I had. She explained that her mother and her had found a site that they could use to donate money to help the people of Haiti. She then asked if we could do something. "We, like this class, this school?" I asked. She confirmed that this was indeed what she was asking. "What would you like to do?" I said, not sure just what she had in mind. "A coin collection. Mrs. Day. We could have everyone bring in their coins. We could send them to them." Heart touched beyond measure, I asked the class what they thought, explaining that they would have to do it all. They screamed, "Yeah! Yes!" in one loud exclamation.

We began by visiting carefully screened photos of the devastation together on the Internet. (I did not want them to see the pictures of death that I felt might be more of a parent's choice, but in screening them I saw them all.) The room was still and the children looked at each image, commenting on each image briefly ... sharing their feelings about the rubble, the packed hospitals, the people looting in the streets, the children ... children just like them .. who were suffering. Then we watched a video that explained earthquakes so that they would understand just what had caused all that they had seen. When we were done, I set them to the task of making a To Do List for tomorrow. On their list are, making posters for the hall, researching facts about Haiti, writing announcements for the mornings next week, figuring out what to keep the money in, and creating a flier to send home to parents. So that is what we are doing tomorrow in room 12. 21 little kids are working to make a difference ... to help ... and I had nothing to do with it.

Oh, I saved the best part for last. During the food drive at Thanksgiving the classes that collected 2 complete food boxes received a Hot Cheetos Party. I asked my class if they wanted to offer a prize for the classroom at each grade level that collected the most money. One little voice rang out, "No Mrs. Day. No prize. Helping is the prize."

From the hearts of children ... great truths are spoken.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

When Freedom is Not Enough

My daughter and I had our purity weekend last week. It was the weekend for my daughter to learn about the birds and the bees and to make decisions and commitments about dating, little did I know that I was in for a lesson as well. You see one of the activities in the Passport to Purity curriculum is a little bit of free time in which you are encouraged to do something special. I left it up to KT and she wanted to go to the mall ... the mall of all malls ... Scottsdale Fashion Square. I had not been there in years and it was a little overwhelming for me ... and thankfully for my daughter as well. I am afraid that the stores were just a little beyond what we are used to in the land of Target and Kohl's. Everything was so glitzy and full of bling. The store fronts are extravagant and strategically showcase the treasures that the store has to offer those who are on a mission to buy. One such store was Dolce & Gabbana. I could not help but stop to look at their showcasing of their handbags. I should have taken a picture. I have contemplated driving the 40 minutes to do so ... as a picture is worth a thousand words, but I will try to describe the sight as best I can in as few words as I can.

Imagine if you will huge ceiling to floor windows that reveal gleaming golden birdcages ... showcased in soft lit spotlights from both above and below. Endless, seamless panels of a deep cranberry satin fall ever so gently in the background. Within each birdcage, safely locked inside, was a Dolce&Gabbana handbag. Secure, safe, contained, and protected. Each birdcage also had a 6" golden perch that started on one of the bars and was completely outside the birdcage. Upon each of the non-enclosed perches sat a completely free bird. OK ... fake bird, but the imagery was not lost on me. Because in that crowded mall, I knew that this was a perfect representation of the world.

You see we are so very much like those birds ... so captivated by the bondage of the world that we sometimes fail to realize or even care that we are really free. There is nothing really holding us there, but our own inability to let go of the perch, spread our wings, and fly. Instead, we sit captivated by whatever is really within the cage ... the bondage that is wrapped up in a gilded cage just for us ...tailored to our weaknesses. For some the bondage is business, for others it is alcohol, still others gossip, insecurity, shopping, relationships, forgiveness, pride, worship, church, serving ... the list can go on and on and on because it can include anything that becomes more important to us than the One that we are serving. My heart felt so heavy standing there taking in the image. I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of choosing to sit in bondage. For me, it comes in the form of busyness and insecurity. Looking at the store front, I could not help but hear my Father calling me to stretch my wings and fly.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Sunset over the White Tanks
Surprise, Arizona
Jan. 4, 2010

“The heavens declare the glory of God,

The skies proclaim the work of His hands.

Day after day, they pour forth speech;

Night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard

Their voice goes out into all the earth

Their words to the ends of the world.”

Psalm 19 : 1- 4

Enough said ... or unsaid as the case may be.

In silent adoration

I praise the LORD in His creativity.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Only a Father

Hello there and Happy New Year. I sit here typing resolutionless. Reflecting, I am not sure that I have ever kept a New Year's Resolution. Oh, I set them ... every year. I decide to do something ... loose weight ... do less ... find a way to keep my house clean. The list of past failings could go on and on. This year I decided that, although all those past resolutions are still things that I would like to accomplish, I would resist the urge to make any of them my goal. This year I have decided to make a vow instead of a resolution. I have vowed to God that I am going to read the Bible through chronologically no matter what. There will be no failing this. (She types confidently, while praying that God would make it her heart's desire.)

Anyway, It is January 3rd and I am in Genesis. I have read and or heard this story so many times in my life. Little did I know that there would be something in Genesis 3 that would move me to tears. Let's recap. Adam and Eve have blown it big time. They have listened to Satan and have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They are hiding when God himself comes to walk with them in the garden. Pause with me here for a moment ... The Bible speaks of them walking together. Can you imagine strolling with the Creator of the Universe? Talking with Him face to face? Adam and Eve walked and talked with their Creator ... they saw Him. Fast forward a few verses. God lays out their consequences. In my mind I picture them standing before him painfully aware of their makeshift loincloths ... painfully aware of their sin. Shifting back and forth as their creator began to explain the depths of their consequences. I am sure that it felt like their world was shattering ... it was. They knew the LORD. They had walked with Him and talked with Him ... and now He was about to usher them out of the garden forever into a sinful world. How the tears must have been running down their faces as the started to grasp the full implications of their choice.

It was what happened next though that really touched me to the depths of my soul. After God laid out all of the consequences ... just before they are sentenced to a life outside of the Garden separated from Him - spiritually and physically ... He makes cloths, or tunics, made from animal skin for them. Then He clothes them in the tunics. The original word for clothed is abash (law-bash') which means "wrap around." God wrapped the clothing around them. Even after they disobeyed Him, even moments before they would leave the garden forever, God cared for them and took care of them. The way I imagine it, I can see them (Adam and Eve) in tears and shame as the LORD comes close to them and wraps the clothing around them. There is an intimacy in the act. The kind of intimacy that a Father has with his children, even when they have disobeyed. The kind in intimacy and grace that God extends to each of us over and over again.