Passing the Test

As a teacher, I recognize tests are important:Tests in my class, standardized tests, AP exams…None are perfect, mind you. But they do assist educators in understanding where our students are and where they need to be.  But did you know that God tests us, too? And, unlike tests we humans devise, God’s tests are perfect and accurate and always necessary. As I look back on this year, I realize it has been a series of tests. And, if I am perfectly honest, I have not done so well. I have chosen to complain when I should have chosen to rejoice. I have cried into my pillow when I should have cried out to God. I have blamed my feelings on others when I should examined myself. I have seen, in short, that I’m not nearly as “great” a Christian...

“Downtown Heaven”

Yesterday, we were almost at Disneyland. For those familiar with the Disneys, Disney World in Florida is truly a “world” in itself. You have to park, walk/ride a tram to the ticket booths, then take the monorail or ferry into the park itself. Disneyland, however, is smaller. You can, as we did, park at the Downtown Disney lot, walk around, then go right up to the front gate. All for $0 (if you leave the parking lot within two hours). We were right there – we caught glimpses of Main Street, heard strains of “It’s a Small World”, smelled the cotton candy. But we did not go in. Not this time. We’re putting our extra money towards helping our oldest pay for college next year. So we enjoyed the beauty of Downtown Disney, but...

My Self Has Enough Help

Go to any bookstore – online or in person – and you will find rows and rows…and rows and rows… of shelves housing books devoted to “self-esteem.” Most seem to focus on loving yourself, forgiving yourself, being good to yourself. Because we just don’t think enough of ourselves. Riiiight. Here’s what I think: our problems with self-esteem aren’t that we don’t think enough of ourselves. Our problem is that we think of ourselves WAY too much. At least I do, anyway. I don’t think a day goes by when I don’t think about myself, my needs, my wants. When I don’t feel frustrated that I am not being treated well enough. I look at people and wonder what they are thinking about me – do they like me? Are they talking about me to their friends? Are those conversations positive...

When People Don’t Like You

No one likes to be disliked. But some people can just naturally tolerate it better than others. My husband, for instance, is slightly bothered when he finds out someone dislikes him, but he can move on. I, however, am incredibly bothered and try to figure out why that person dislikes me, what I did to offend him/her, what I might be able to do to make him/her like me. OR I get angry and think of all the reasons why I don’t like that person, having dozens of imaginary conversations with them in which I reduce them to a quivering pile of tears, giving them a real reason to hate me. And, if I am being honest, in my worst moments, those imaginary conversations become all too real. And they don’t feel nearly as good as I thought they would. The fact is,...

The Blessings of the Broken

I was  on a search committee at church a few years ago. A group of us were tasked with finding a young man who could work with both the worship ministry and with youth – the list of his responsibilities were pretty long. We prayed before every meeting, asking God to direct us to His choice for this position. Early on in the process, the supervising pastor told us, “We need to make sure the man we choose has been ‘broken’.” It sounded a bit harsh, but we knew what he was saying: Brokenness in ministry is inevitable. Recovering from that brokenness marks the difference between a mature believer and a baby. I was reminded of that as I studied the book of Job. Job was broken in every way possible – spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally…In a few short verses,...

Till We Have Faces

C.S. Lewis’ greatest and least-known work is his final novel, Till We Have Faces. We just finished studying this work in my AP Literature class, and, even after years of teaching it, I still finish in awe of this amazing writer and his incredible story. If you are like most people, you’ve never read this book, maybe even never heard of it. I don’t want to give too much away, but I do want to whet your appetite. This is far too good a book for readers to miss out on! This novel is a combination of everything Lewis loved, and it is his fiction writing at its most glorious and most mature. Based on the myth of Cupid and Psyche, the novel’s protagonist is Psyche’s oldest sister, Orual. The novel is a first-person account, detailing...