Thursday, February 26, 2009

I have a Shelter - Soveriegn Grace Ministries

I have a shelter in the storm
When troubles pour upon me
Though fears are rising like a flood
My soul can rest securely
O Jesus, I will hide in You
My place of peace and solace
No trial is deeper than Your love
That comforts all my sorrows

I have a shelter in the storm
When all my sins accuse me
Though justice charges me with guilt
Your grace will not refuse me
O Jesus, I will hide in You
Who bore my condemnation
I find my refuge in Your wounds
For there I find salvation

I have a shelter in the storm
When constant winds would break me
For in my weakness, I have learned
Your strength will not forsake me
O Jesus, I will hide in You
The One who bears my burdens
With faithful hands that cannot fail
You’ll bring me home to heaven

Words and Music: Steve and Vickki Cook and Bob Kauflin
You can download it free at Sovereign Grace Ministries here.
Guitar Tab/Chords here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Brandon - A Story From a Teacher Who Loves Her Job and Her Kids

Four years ago, February 17th became a sad day for me. It has become a day that I will always step back and remind myself that teaching is not just teaching, it is so much more than just that. It is about loving the kids that sit in our classrooms, respecting them, smiling with them, making them feel special, and most importantly, realizing that they are not annoyances or a test score…they are people. People that will leave our classrooms and become someone…mothers, fathers, friends, and professionals. At least that is what we hope for them.

Four years ago, I taught at Murray Fly Elementary school in Odessa. That is where I met Brandon. Brandon did not get to leave my classroom to go on to be a father, or even a high school graduate. Brandon passed away.

He was hit by a car while riding a motor bike on February 9th. I found out the morning of the 10th. The kids were running to me and telling me that Brandon was hit by a car and had to be picked up by a helicopter. At first I didn’t know how much to believe so I waited for more information. My principal found me a few minutes later, telling me that he was air lifted to Lubbock from the middle of the street. I was scared.

Brandon was a tall, skinny cutie pie with glasses. He did not come from a wholesome family. He did not come from money. He was proud of everything he owned. In fact, the day he was hit by the car, he was showing off his shoes to me and refused to get them dirty. I will never forget that conversation as long as I live. I even remember that his mom bought them for him outside of Lowe’s grocery store. Brandon was a second year fifth grader. He did not pass his TAKS tests the year before. The day I got my class list that year, I remember a teacher coming to me saying “oh, you got Brandon…well, good luck with that”. I try to ignore those comments. Brandon did great that year. I loved having him in my room. I once told my team-teacher, “You know, I love that kid”. I really did love him.

On February 11th, I decided that I needed to go to Lubbock. I asked my mom to go with me because I knew that with her support, I could do anything. She drove me there. I walked in to the hospital that night, with absolutely no clue of what I was about to see. When I turned the corner of the room in children’s ICU, my jaw dropped. There lied Brandon, lifeless Brandon. He was attached to every machine you could imagine. There were tubes everywhere. The worst part…his glasses were gone. I walked up to him and was proud to announce the 87 that he got on his benchmark his last day of school. His parents beamed. I just wish Brandon could have known. He would have been so proud of himself and walked a little taller that day! Oh, and he would have told every teacher in that building about his 87! He had two nieces that he walked to class every morning. He spoke to every teacher along the way.

While I was there, the doctor walked in. I introduced myself as Brandon’s favorite teacher! The doctor got a surprised look on his face. He asked me if I would join him for a few minutes. I obliged. He begins to explain to me that Brandon’s parents did not understand the seriousness of the situation. He showed me the x-rays and explained that the left half of Brandon’s brain was dead. He explained that it was not coming back. Then, he asked me to explain to this to the parents. What!? How was I going to do this?
My mom put her arm on my shoulders as I sat with them in Brandon’s room. I explained to them the situation and expressed how sorry I was. This was the hardest thing I had done. I kept thinking, “They didn’t prepare me for this in college”.

I drove home that night. And back the next. I would go to school, check on my students there, and then my mom would pick me up and we would head to Lubbock. This became a routine for the next few days. Our school took up collections and the kids made Valentines for me to take him. His room was full of colorful Valentine’s from his classmates…and teacher!

On February 17th, his parents decided to turn off the ventilator. He died in minutes. He died. Even as I type that, my arms go numb, it hurts so badly.

The days after were a blur. On the morning of the 18th, counselors came into my room and told the kids that Brandon had passed away. Some cried, some doodled on paper the whole time, some didn’t understand. I did not cry…I just hugged. The counselors talked with them and let them grieve.

At the visitation at the funeral home, we walked into a room with a small casket. Brandon was wearing his favorite shirt and…his glasses! A slideshow played above him and hanging on the skirt of his casket was a card that had his name in very bright colors. It was the Valentine that I had made him. His parents told me that he loved me. I loved him too.

The next day at the funeral I saw all of my students. All dressed up and holding hands with their parents. I still felt the need to be strong. So I would turn around and wink at them or reach behind me and hold their hands. It was not easy. At the graveside, a very tall boy walked up to me and gave me a big bear hug. When I got a good look at his face, it was Gabe, a student in my first class of fifth graders. I realized how grown up he was. It was so great to see him and hear of how great he was doing. I was a proud teacher.

Since that day, it hit me that these kids we teach are people. I had always known this, but it never HIT me. We only get a snapshot of their lives. We should do all we can to make a mark. They are people. They are future wives and husbands, mommies and daddies. It always makes me think of my first year of teaching. I would hear all of the teachers discuss students with words that bothered me. I would hear “oh, you will love her, she made commended performance”, or “he’s sweet, but didn’t pass that math test”. Our students are not just a score.

Brandon reminds me of that. Brandon made a good mark on my heart. He was a sweet, sweet boy. He cared. He was proud of what he had. He loved his teacher. I am glad it was me.

A few days later his parents and sister came to get his stuff out of his desk. I asked if I could keep his paper clip holder. He loved that paper clip holder. I keep it on my desk now. I also kept his lunch-punch card with his picture on it. As his family was leaving, I looked down. His sister was wearing his favorite shoes that he and I shared a conversation about the day of his accident.

I am so thankful to get to be his teacher. I am thankful for this entire experience. I, at the time, was not living as a Christian. I know that Gods Grace is what got me through this experience. It was at this time that I began to pray again, to trust in Him again. I had so many questions. Was Brandon in Heaven? I knew that he was not a Christian; he had never been witnessed to. This experience drew me closer to God. It taught me that living my life as a Christian is so important. Walking in the Christian lifestyle with Christian values is a witness to people.

My relationship to Christ is strong now. I know that this is the time that it became evident to me that I need Christ in my life. That Christ died for me. He died for me to take away the burden of my sin. He carries that sin for me. He forgives. Please don’t let your relationship to Christ surface due to a terrible situation you are in. Let this story, my experience; open your eyes to Christ. Let me be a witness to you. Let me sing of his praises and teach you of His grace. God is good. None of us are good people, we are born sinners. But, he forgives. He SAVES.

God is sovereign. God created everything. He has plans for us. All happens for a reason, His reason. Sometimes we may never understand why things happen. I don’t know the reason for Brandon’s death. I do believe that it was supposed to happen. God’s timing is perfect. I trust in Him and thank Him for the opportunity he gave me four years ago. I thank him for Brandon’s smile, I thank Him for the opportunity to be Brandon’s teacher, and I thank Him for opening my eyes to what teaching really is.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Divine Support - The Valley of Vision

“Thou art the blessed God, happy in Thyself,
source of happiness in Thy creatures,
my maker, benefactor, proprietor,
Thou hast produced and sustained me,
supported and indulged me,
saved and kept me;
Thou art in every situation able to meet
my needs and miseries.
“May I live by Thee,
live for Thee,
never be satisfied with my Christian progress
but as I resemble Christ;
and may conformity to His principles, temper,
and conduct grow hourly in my life.
Let Thy unexampled love constrain me into
holy obedience,
and render my duty my delight.
If others deem my faith folly,
my meekness infirmity,
my zeal madness,
my hope delusion,
my actions hypocrisy,
may I rejoice to suffer for Thy name.
“Keep me walking steadfastly towards the country
of everlasting delights,
that paradise-land which is my true inheritance.
Support me by the strength of heaven
that I may never turn back,
or desire false pleasures
that will disappear into nothing.
As I pursue my heavenly journey by Thy grace
let me be known as a man with no aim
but that of a burning desire for Thee,
and the good and salvation
of my fellow men.”

Divine Support page 212 The Valley of Vision

2 Corinthians 1:3-11 - He will yet deliver us!

God is sovereign over these things, he foresees them all, he causes or permits them all, and when he causes or permits something, he does so with purpose and design. This is not the first time to post these verses. These verses mean so much my family right now. They express our hope, our trust in God, and the promise that He will deliver.

2 Corinthians 1:3-11

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. 6But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer;
7and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort. 8For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, 11you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Caring Love - The Valley of Vision

All-sufficient King,

When I come into thy presence I see
the glory of thy perfections,
the throne of eternal and universal empire
the ten thousand times ten thousand
who minister to thee.
Impress my mind with the consciousness
of thy greatness,
not to drive me from thee
but to inspire me to approach thee;
not to diminish my confidence in thee,
but to lead me to admire thy great
Thou hast been mindful of me and visited me,
taken charge of me from birth,
cared in all conditions for me,
fed me at thy table,
drawn the curtains of love around me,
given me new mercies every morning.
Suffer me not to forget that I look for yet
greater blessings -
a hope beyond the grave,
the earnest and foretastes of immortality,
holiness, wisdom, strength, peace, joy;
all these thou hast provided for me in Christ.
I grieve to think how insensible I have been
of the claims of thy authority,
and the endearments of thy love;
how little I have credited thy truth,
trusted thy promises,
feared thy threats,
obeyed thy commands,
improved my advantages,
welcomed thy warnings,
responded to thy grace;
but notwithstanding my desert I yet live.
May thy goodness always lead me to repentance,
and thy longsuffering prove my salvation.

From the Valley of Vision page 210

Monday, February 02, 2009

God of All Comfort - 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 ESV

God of All Comfort

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

2 Corinthians 1:3-11


Our trust is in You and not ourselves. Our trust is in the One and only God who raises the dead. Cause us to understand these trials and please do not allow us to waste them. Through this difficult time I pray that we will honor you and that others will see Christ through us. Father, glorify Christ through us. Amen

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Repose - The Valley of Vision

Heavenly Father,
My faith is in thee,
My expectation is from thee,
My love goes out toward thee,
I believe thee,
accept thy Word,
acquiesce in thy will,
rely on thy promises,
trust thy providence.
I bless thee that the court of conscience
proves me to be thine.
I do not need signs and wonders to believe,
for thy Word is sure truth.
I have cast my anchor in the port of peace,
knowing that present and future
are in nail-pierced hands.
Thou art so good, wise, just holy,
that no mistake is possible to thee.
Thou art fountain and source of all law;
what thou commandest is mine to obey.
I yield to thy sovereignty all that I am and have;
do thou with me as thou wilt.
Thou hast given me silence in my heart
in place of murmurings and complaints.
Keep my wishes from growing into willings,
my willings from becoming fault-finding
with thy providences,
and have mercy on me.
If I sin and am rebellious, help me to repent;
then take away my mourning and give me music;
remove my sackcloth and adorn me with beauty;
take away my sighs and fill my mouth with songs;
and when I am restored and rest in thee
give me summer weather in my heart.
Page 296 The Valley of Vision

Where are God's men in this day of God's power

"Where are the young men and women of this generation who will hold their lives cheap, and be faithful even unto death, who will lose their lives for Christ's, flinging them away for love of Him? Where are those who will live dangerously, and be reckless in this service? Where are the men of prayer? Where are the men who count God's Word of more importance to them than their daily food? Where are the men, who, like Moses of old, commune with God face to face as a man speaks with his friend? Where are God's men in this day of God's power?"