Today is the last day of school. There is a part of me that is very excited and relieved, and there is a part of me that is very reflective. This seems to happen almost every year. I wonder if this mixture of emotions happens to other people?

First, the part of me that is excited – I made it through another year, in another new building, with another new principal, with two new grades. Plus, I still have my sanity. I have found a niche teaching elementary music and I love the addition of the older kids. I feel like I connect with the older kids better but I love them all.

Second, the reflective part of me – Part of it is just my personality. I am a bit melancholy. In the past, however, I have always finished the year wondering if that one would be my last. Because of my work with church ministry and my work with teaching I can never decide what I am going to do when I grow up. I have always committed to God that I would be available to do whatever He wanted me to do, whether that was teaching or working with a church full-time.

Thirdly, for the first time in over a dozen years I do not have a summer job – yet. In the past I have worked with band camps or at the church. This summer I am totally free of any of that responsibility. I’m not even taking summer classes. It is a very weird feeling. There’s a part of me that wants to do something else and there’s a part of me that is saying just enjoy the time at home with your family. A refreshing summer might be exactly what I, and my family, need.

When all is said and done the job will sort itself out on its own. What I know for sure is that I have one more day to finish up school.

“Heigh ho, heigh ho, It’s off to work I go, Heigh ho, heigh ho, heigh ho…”

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A teacher shared this letter with me regarding one of her students. The gist of the letter talked about how the student improved in her recorder playing skills this year. Her letter said something like the following… “I put the songs in my head and they came out in my mouth! Thank you Mrs. So-and-so.”

I thought that was the perfect way to put it and got a great laugh out of it. Upon reflecting a bit I realized there was one thing missing – the heart. Music not played from the heart is lifeless, even if it is note-perfect.

That’s the way it is with God’s word too. Yes, memorize it so you can let it come out of your mouth. Share with people and pour into their lives. But don’t leave the heart out of it. That is a dangerous thing.

Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You (Psalm 119:11, NKJ).

These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me – referencing Isaiah 29:13 (Matthew 15:8, NKJ).

Singing a song like this only gets better when you get to share it with someone who can sing so well. This is a beautiful song by Natalie Grant. What a joy to be able to sing with this young lady. What a joy to have been her youth pastor for so many years.

As you can see, I taught her everything she knows. The rest is pure God-given talent and training.

For His Great Name and not for our glory!

“Bad pastors beat their people up with their failures. Bad pastors are always disappointed. Good pastors know grace is true and Jesus is Lord, so they are ready to challenge every self-despairing soul with the wonderful truth that in Christ we are approved by God. Good pastors tell people they do have what it takes when they have Jesus’ righteousness.”

(from 10 Simple Things Good Pastors Say)

I read these lines above and they cut me to the core. This is terrific wisdom I wish I had known in my early years working with youth (and even later at times!). I have not always responded with grace. I have been easily disappointed and unfortunately I have let those I lead know. How refreshing it is to know we are covered by grace.

How refreshing it is to know that my own sinful life is covered by grace!

Father, forgive me for my shortcomings as a leader. Thank you for the grace you offer. Help me to lovingly extend that to others as both a shepherd of your people and as a shepherd of my own family.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV).

“Believe in the Lord Jesus; and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31, ESV).

I really enjoy this time of year for a variety of reasons.

  1. Winter is almost done – I’m pretty tired of the cold weather by this time of year
  2. All the new growth reminds me of God’s faithfulness
  3. All the new growth reminds me of the opportunity I have to grow
  4. It’s a great time to pray while I’m planting the garden, tilling, or mowing

If I didn’t have to deal with the aching muscles that go along with all this it would be even better!

Here’s the irony… by the end of the summer I don’t feel the same way. Mowing and gardening become a chore. Cold weather and winter killing everything off start to look good. My prayer life become more of a complaint list. However, God’s faithfulness does not change. Just ask the Israelites. They wandered around for awhile after leaving Egypt. God provided for them but their complaining didn’t stop. They had a price to pay for their unfaithfulness though.

Let’s learn from their lesson.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:23-24, ESV)

Teach a child to obey…

  • Without challenge
  • Without excuse
  • Without delay

Easier said than done? Yes.

When do you start? When they are young, very young.

That pretty much says it all.

If you’ve ever had to travel with a young child or baby you know what this post could be all about! If the baby does not travel well no one travels well. We had one of those trips this afternoon. We were visiting family today for a pre-Easter celebration. We decided to go there and back in one day because we have a new baby that is almost 5 months old. She is not used to being in new places overnight and we aren’t either.

Our departure was timed to coincide with our newborn’s nap schedule. Our newborn didn’t agree though. She was overtired and was going to have none of it. About 30 minutes into the trip she started crying something terrible! Nothing we were doing was helping. All seemed hopeless. Then in a blast of brilliance I asked my oldest daughter, six years old, to start singing to her sister.

The result was nothing short of amazing!!!

Within minutes our baby started to calm down and even doze off. After 15 minutes of calm family singing she was sound asleep and stayed that way until we arrived home.

Music has a special impact on people in so many different ways. It is influential physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and academically. Today was no different. It calmed our youngest daughter physically. It kept us from going bonkers mentally. It was emotionally soothing and brought joy to my oldest to help like that. It was an answer to prayer (I know that analogy is a stretch but it’s true!). And finally, I taught my oldest daughter a few new songs in the process (that’s the academic part).

Music does something for the human soul that few other elements can. Thank God for music!