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August 17, 2018, 8:00 AM

10 Ways To Pray For Your Children's Teacher This School Year


 

By Shane Pruitt

(In Consultation with actual current and former teachers: Kasi Pruitt, John Rogers, Bri Malone, Chelsea Perrin, Audrah Romero, Debbie Smith, Tammy Baldwin, Katy Smith, Alissa Tubbs, Jennifer Aldrich, Jennifer Smith, Hannah Paulling, Beth Stalnaker, and Jillian Palomino)

There was once a very, very ignorant time in my life, a time when I believed that teachers had the easiest job in the world, because they only worked nine months a year, not to mention they had all holidays off. Wow, was I wrong!

My wife is a former 2nd grade teacher. We’d just had our second child right before the start of a new school year, and she still had two weeks left on her maternity leave, so I volunteered to be a substitute teacher for her class for those weeks.

Let me just say, I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever do that again. It was like The Lord of the Flies in that classroom. The kids had taken over the island! But, one positive element that came out of that experience is that it gave me a whole new love, admiration, and respect for teachers.

Webster’s Dictionary defines a teacher as “one that teaches; especially: one whose occupation is to instruct.”So what does it mean to teach? To teach means to,“Cause or help (someone) to learn about a subject by giving lessons. To instruct someone on new knowledge, or to help cultivate a knowledge that is already present.”

One of Jesus’most common titles was Rabbi, a Jewish title meaning “teacher.” Being a teacher is such a wonderfully-stressful, joyously-difficult, low paying-highly-rewarding calling that only precious few can take on. The great ones don’t look at it as their job, but rather, their passion. Teachers literally shape and mold future generations. When people are asked, “Who was the most influential person in your life?”The number one most common response is a parent, and a very close second is a teacher.

As your children head back to school, you’re entrusting them to a teacher. These men and women are simply human beings; this means that they’ll make mistakes, they value encouragement, they appreciate patience, and they desperately need your prayers.

We asked several real-life teachers the following question, “How would you want the parents of your students to pray for you this year? ”Here is what they shared:

1.       Pray for us to be constantly reminded of the reason we were called by God to pour into the next generation, especially, on difficult days. Also, for us to be able to find effective time during the day to get alone to pray ourselves, take a breath, and regroup to effectively continue to engage with your child.

2.      Pray for an overwhelming sense of peace and calmness to come-over us in moments of stress, chaos, or rebellion by a student. Remember, it’s one teacher with many students. Pray for us to possess the wisdom to show grace and mercy when necessary. But, also be able to discern when discipline and sternness is fitting.

3.      Pray for our ability to effectively and clearly teach the subject-matter to all students in a way that they can understand.

4.      Pray for us to have patience, strength, and understanding of each child’s journey. Being able to know where the child is coming from, and their background. That we as teachers would have ears that hear each student. The ability to hear the heart and need of each student. Always remembering that their words are very intentional, and they always have a reason for speaking them. After all, each child in that class is someone’s baby.

5.       Pray for your acceptance of us as teachers, realizing that we’re not last year’s teacher, and that this is a completely new year.

6.      Pray for unity. Unity within the teacher-parent relationships, and within the teacher-student relationships. Also, for us to experience unity and effective teamwork with the administration, faculty, and fellow teachers. We’re unified it makes a better learning atmosphere for your child.

7.       Pray for us not to be overwhelmed with the pressure of standardized testing. To avoid the temptation of looking at the students as scores, marks, and numbers. That we would help the students find value in a year-long process of hard work, sharpening their strengths, and celebrating their individuality, rather than, being defined by one test.

8.      Pray for our physical, emotional, and spiritual endurance. That we would be able to maintain consistent momentum throughout the entire school-year, and not lose heart.

9.      Pray for our personal life. Please, don’t forget that we have responsibilities outside of the classroom as well. We have interests, hobbies, to-do lists, spouses, children, friends, and churches we serve.

10.   Pray for us who may be Christians. Many times we believe our primary task is to love your children like Jesus would by reflecting the Gospel to them. And, that is often very, very difficult for us to do in a non-Christian environment.

If we take the time to stop and intentionally pray for our teachers, we’ll be amazed at how efficiently the school year will go for our children, the teacher, and the impact it may have on the entire atmosphere of the classroom. When you’re praying for someone, you can’t help but feel compassion for them, and a connection to them.

I remember as a knuckle-headed high school student thinking that some of my teachers were “out to get me.” But, looking back I realize how terribly wrong I was. No one wakes up in the morning and says, “I can’t stand children. I think I’ll be a teacher!” Teachers step up to the call to mold the keys that unlock our future. What are those keys? The minds of children sitting in desks everyday watching the teacher you’re praying for.

And after all, remember, they are not superheroes. They are something much, much more. They’re teachers!

 

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August 15, 2018, 10:00 PM

How To Pray For Your Children As They Go Back To School



A Supply List of Back-to-School Prayers

By Shane & Kasi Pruitt

We have three children, but only one that is “school-age.” She is our oldest, and will be starting 4th grade this year; yes, another treacherous grade with standardized testing. And, believe it or not, it’s already stressing her out. I swear she is nine-years-old going on sixteen. When I was nine, I had a bucket on my head and I was hitting myself with a hammer! I definitely didn’t understand or care about tests.

My wife took our daughter back-to-school shopping for clothes the other day. After all, we all know that the first-day outfit sets the course for the rest of the school year. Can I get a witness? (Ok, I realize there is a hint of sarcasm here.)

However, it caused me think about all the back-to-school preparation that takes place in millions of homes every year: buying clothes, trying to remember when tax-free weekend is, the scavenger hunt of school supplies (Where did that darn supply list go again?), going to meet the teacher, picking the right electives, and if your child is older, helping them find out what classes can be considered dual-credit for college.

As parents, we can be guilty of putting far more time, energy, and effort into getting everything ready for the upcoming school-year than we actually do about getting our “precious little one/ones” ready to enter this new year.

The greatest “supplies” that we can send with our children to school are not Lisa Frank Trapper Keepers and Big Chief tablets (You can tell I went to school in the 80’s & 90’s). Rather, our intentional prayers should be the most valuable “supplies” they will carry with them this year.

Here is a short list of “supplies” that most kids will be asked to bring with them when school starts. I hope this will be a creative way for you to pray for your children, and that you will be reminded to pray for them every time you see or deal with these items:

  1. Backpack: Lord, I realize this is what my child will use to carry things from, and to our house. I pray that our house would be a place of comfort, encouragement and rest. May it be a great place to launch from each day as they go to school, and a better place to come back to everyday after a long day of learning.
     
  2. Pencil: Lord, I pray that You will give my child a desire to work hard. That she would want to apply herself even when its difficult. Father, would You help my child realize that school and hard work is one of the tools that You are using to write her role in Your story, called life.
  3. Notebook Paper: Lord, just like paper starts out blank, then fills with shapes, letters, etc., I realize my child is very impressionable. Would You please protect them? Let them make wise decisions, and discern what is right, good, and acceptable. Would You fill their heart, mind, and soul with Your beautiful handiwork?
     
  4. Markers: Lord, would You live through my child, so that they will leave a mark on their teacher, classmates, and school that reflects what is important to You and to our family? May they leave marks of love, not pain, upon every soul they come in contact with.
     
  5. Eraser: Lord, I know my child is not perfect and will make plenty of mistakes this year. Would You teach them the meaning of grace? I pray that they are quick to understand how you have already erased all of our mistakes forever. And as they understand this, may my child be quick to forgive themselves, their teachers, and their classmates.
     
  6. Crayons: Lord, we praise You for being a beautifully creative God. Daily, help my child appreciate that fact that You make people in all shapes, colors, heights, weights, walks-of-life, etc. I pray my child would be kind and loving to all other children. Not, just the ones that tend to look like them.
     
  7. Folders: Lord, I know that homework, notes, and grades will be sent home with my child from her teacher/teachers. I pray for my child’s teacher right now. Give them patience, rest, and joy in their work as they train up the next generation of leaders. Father, I pray that You remind me often that he or she is just a human being that bears Your image, and is not is going to be perfect. May I, as a parent, be good to them, kind, and understanding that he or she is not “out to get”my child, but is there precisely because they love children.
     
  8. Scissors: Lord, I know that my child will be exposed to things that may not be healthy, agreeable to our family beliefs, or pleasing to You. Would You help them“cut through”the nonsense, and focus in on their main reason for being at school.
     
  9. Pencil-sharpener: Lord, I pray that my child’s greatest desire is to be a tool that is used for your Kingdom. Help them value this time in their life, knowing that You’re using school, life, and interaction with others as an instrument that will sharpen them to be used for your Kingdom’s work.

May we approach this upcoming school year a little differently by spending just as much, if not more, time praying for our children than we do hunting down bargains and supplies. As they leave our house to trek out into the world, the greatest things we can give them are our intentional prayers.

 

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June 18, 2018, 2:26 PM

Demonstrating God the Father


 

God created three institutions this side of heaven—family, church and government. Family was the first institution He created in Genesis 1-2, and it has been under assault since Genesis 3. Family is the basic unit of society. If you weaken the family, you weaken society; if you destroy the family, you destroy society. Edward Gibbon, in his book entitled The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, lists five reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire. His top ranked cause was the undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home as the basis of human society. That is, the Roman family unit was destroyed, and Rome consequently fell.

Pew Research Center recently published an article entitled “7 facts about American dads.” Although much can be said about each of the facts presented, I want to focus on the article’s opening paragraph:

Fatherhood in America is changing … more and more children are growing up without a father in the home.

To be sure, God’s design for the family unit is under rapid decay in our present society. America is following the trajectory of the fall of Rome. One of the symptoms of the decay is the increase in fatherlessness.

Fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America according to 72.2 percent of the U.S. population.[1] The increase in fatherlessness over a short time period is staggering, as these statistics demonstrate:

  • The percentage of U.S. children living with an unmarried parent has more than doubled since 1968, jumping from 13 percent to 32 percent in 2017.
  • About one in five children (21 percent) are living with a solo mother, up from 12 percent in 1968.
  • Some 7 percent of children are living with cohabiting parents, about double the share that were doing so in 1997.[2]

According to the National Center for Fathering,

More than 20 million children live in a home without the physical presence of a father. Millions more have dads who are physically present, but emotionally absent. If it were classified as a disease, fatherlessness would be an epidemic worthy of attention as a national emergency.[3]

The consequences of fatherlessness are a clear and present danger to God’s design for family. The removal of fathers from the family unit is ripping apart the fabric of society—not a small teasing of the fabric, but a deep, ragged rip. For a sobering review of the social consequences of fatherlessness, view here and here.

Yes, suicide, crime, drug abuse, sexual perversion, poverty, etc. are heart-breaking consequences. However, the penultimate consequence of fatherlessness is the distortion of one’s view of God the Father.

God intended the family unit to be a visible word picture of the Trinity. There is no more critical aspect as a believer than to learn who God the Father is. One cannot truly understand the depth of His love in giving us His Son and the gift of His Spirit without first understanding Him as Father. How can a boy or girl or man or woman begin to understand God the Father if they have no earthly father? When I witness to folks who have experienced fatherlessness, I cannot begin the conversation with “God the Father loves you.” They have no context and typically have a negative reaction to any earthly father figures. Vance Fry, an editor for Focus on the Family, wrote:

Some people may have a difficult time relating to God as a father. Fatherhood is an idea that we’re all very familiar with, and we may project our expectations or experiences of what a father should be, or has been, onto our heavenly Father. A boy who longs for a dad has a hard time seeing God as capable of filling that role. A girl who feels she has to succeed in sports and school to earn her father’s approval may see her relationship with God in a similar way. For others, the word father may bring up memories of abuse or neglect. How tragic that such a beautiful facet of God’s character—that He is not a distant, impersonal ruler, but a warm and welcoming papa—is often tainted by the weaknesses of human fathers![4]

I am the first demonstration of father my four children see as they begin to conceive who God the Father is. This is a wonderful responsibility, but also a weighty responsibility, and one in which I fall short many times. I consistently pray that I demonstrate God the Father’s wisdom, lovingkindness, righteousness, provision and protection to my children and to the watching world.

Men, on this upcoming Father’s Day, consider the following:

  • Assess how you are doing in reflecting the word picture of God the Father to your children and to others. Pray that you first of all can relate to God as Abba Father. Then pray that God works in you so that you demonstrate His fatherly characteristics and not that of the world’s.
     
  • If you have experienced fatherlessness, know that God can heal all wounds. He is a father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5). In addition, your past experience does not have to be repeated. We are made new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and we are to put off our old selves and don our new selves (Ephesians 4:22-24).
     
  • Mentor younger dads. The body of Christ has a responsibility to train and equip the next generation. Help younger dads learn from your mistakes and help them grow closer to God the Father. In doing this, you will be having a lasting impact on the dads, their children and their grandchildren.
     
  • Help teach in the preschool and children’s ministry at your church. Children need to see godly father figures in their lives. Children need to see men in the classroom. Far too many of our children and preschoolers have no adult male role model at home.
     
  • Ensure that your family and church have mechanisms to help solo mothers.

Article written by Dr. Patrick. Dr. Patrick teaches in the School of Theology and Scarborough College and serves as Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Communications. He is married to Monica and has four children.

 

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May 31, 2018, 9:00 AM

Sunday School


Are you looking for a place to Connect? I can think of no better place than in a Sunday School Class. Regardless of who you are, or where you’ve been, you can discover your personal significance and experience community with real friends.  We have programs and classes for kids, teens and adults. Come and visit a class next Sunday at 9:30 am.

Nursery (Birth- 4 years)          Dusty Young

2 & 3 years old’s                     Jan McCaig

4 & 5 year old’s                      Jo Ann Beene

1-2 grade                                 Sandy Cole

3-4 grade                                 Janet Thrower

4-5 grade                                 Nhoie Harris

6-12 grade                              


Adults 

*Young Adults                       John & Dana McCoy

*Median Adults                      Steve Vaughn

*Ruth class (Ladies)               Patricia Rutherford

*Men’s Class                          Dale Smith

*Pastor’s Class                        Bro. James

*Regardless of your age, anyone is welcomed in one of our adult classes. You will find a range of age groups in all of our classes, so don't let the name of the class fool you. Why not try one each week till you find the right one. You will be glad you did.

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March 1, 2018, 10:29 AM

Moving Through the Pain of Grief


Recently in a family session, my client’s mother shared with her daughter on the phone that a close family member had passed away. The client was overwhelmed with grief and cried uncontrollably. I felt the pain and the heaviness that the client was going through.

I believe it was a similar uncomfortableness that Job’s friends perhaps felt when they sat in the ash heap with him as he was covered with sores and losing everything. They could see how devastated he was and how deeply he was suffering. (Job 2: 11-13).  His friends knew the greatest thing at the moment was to sit with Job in silence.

Dealing with grief is a challenging thing to do in this fast pace world. We want things to be easy and quick, but grief does not work that way.  The sadness can be like a dark cloud over us for a few weeks, months, or even years. Also, how one person grieves is different than another.  When we hear of a friend or a family member who lost someone, we do not know what to say so we often choose to not say anything at all. We even unintentionally avoid reaching out to them because of that awkward feeling.

Yet, the greatest thing for our grieving friends is to remind them that they are not alone and that we are willing to stand or sit with them in the midst of their loss.  Here are some tools to keep in mind: 

Encourage those who are grieving to find a way to express their loss. Some may just need a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear. I have been amazed at how therapeutic it is for someone to write a letter to the one who passed away especially if they were not there to say goodbye. Another effective way is painting.  Art therapy is an excellent way to express sorrow.

Other ways to help those grieving include:

  • Tell them they need to take some time and allow themselves some space to grieve. 
  • Encourage them to look at pictures of departed loved ones and remember times they had together.
  • Remind them to let others know how they can be of help to them.  We all need community around us to face our losses.
  • Encourage them to engage in self-care such as going to a movie, buying something special, and/or indulging in comfort food.
  • Remind them to engage in practices that strengthen their body and mind.  Regular exercise releases healing endorphins. 
  • Prayer is also a key form of spiritual help in dealing with one’s losses. God is our greatest source of comfort and is already familiar with everything that is going on with us. 
  • Make healthy choices regarding alcohol and other drugs. Some who are grieving want to numb themselves, but this could start a negative spiral.
  • Sometimes seeing a counselor is warranted especially if there are wounds that surface or regrets about past decisions.

Everyone experiences grief and loss. We must do everything possible to get on the other side of the pain. 

 

Curt Spigelmyre is an Associate Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and works as a Family Therapist at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center.  He serves adolescents and adults who struggle with mood disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse, and issues related to trauma. He graduated from Wheaton College with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.

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