School of the Week, Uncategorized

Christian Central Academy {School of the Week 2017-18}

Central Christian Academy

This week we thank God for and pray for Central Christian Academy!

Fast Facts:

  • About 400 Students (K-12)
  • Founded in 1949
  • Mascot: Crusaders
  • Colors: Blue and White

Prayers:

  • Pray for all the students of Christian Central Academy, but especially our First Trinity high school students: Brendan and Tommy. Ask God to walk with them each day and give them opportunities to live out their faith at school, in extracurricular activities, and in their homes.
  • Pray for their administrators, faculty, and staff.
    Head of School: Mr. Thad Gaebelein
    Assistant to the Head of School: Mrs. Lori Williams
    Ask God to give all who lead the students wisdom and grace.
  • Pray for the students who are sports teams or in music programs that they would perform to God’s glory, stay safe, and have fun.

SOTW - CCA Banner.jpg

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Christian Academy of WNY {School of the Week 2017-18}

Christian Academy of WNY

Fast Facts:

  • Founded in 1993
  • Students representing 36 different churches attend
  • Mascot: Eagles
  • Colors: Green and White

Prayers:

  • Pray for all the students at CAWNY, but especially our First Trinity students: Maria and Liz. Ask God to walk with them each day and give them opportunities to live out their faith at school.
  • Pray for their administrators, especially their principal Mrs. Cindy Lichtenberger, that they would have wisdom in their leadership.
  • Pray for sports, music, and drama activities this week that the students would do well, have fun, and be safe.

SOTW - CAWNY(1).jpg

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Dwell On These Things

Today my devotion has me reading Philippians 4:8-9. It says,

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, dwell on these things. And the peace of God will be with you.”

Every time I come across this verse I try to think of one thing for each category as a way to dwell here a while. In a world lately where everywhere I turn I find more tragedy, disaster, and heartache, this was a helpful exercise to pause and do today. And yes, it did being so peace!

  • True – God loves us… all of us… even me.
  • Noble – Firefighters working countless hours to battle fires in CA; first responders running toward the hard and messy and dangerous to save lives
  • Right – taking time for self-care
  • Pure – a little kid’s giggle
  • Lovely – Bright purple and yellow flowers on my table from beautiful friends
  • Admirable – Teachers doing the hard work of showing up day after day to love on kids as well as teach them and prepare them for life
  • Excellent – An amazing team I get to serve alongside
  • Praiseworthy – All the youth and young adults I see serving around the church and world impacting greatly the lives of those they serve.

What would be a few things that would make your list? Comment below!

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Charter School for Applied Technologies {School of the Week 2017-18}

Charter School for Applied Technologies

Fast Facts:

  • Largest Charter School in New York State
  • 2,090 students K-12
  • Mascot: Eagles
  • Colors: Blue and Gold

Prayers:

  • Pray for all the students at CSAT, but especially our First Trinity students: Manda, Katie, Kassie, and Katie Jo. Ask God to walk with them each day and give them opportunities to live out their faith at school.
  • Pray for their administrators, especially Ms. Ann Morgante (principal),Mr. Frederick Cristens, and Mrs. Tralina Middlebrooks (Assistant Principals) , that they would have wisdom in their leadership.
  • Pray for sports, music, and drama activities this week that the young men and women would do well, have fun, and be safe.

SOTW - CSAT

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As Seasons Change…

As I write this, the rains pour out my window on a cool Fall day.  Just a few days ago we were setting record temps and it’s supposed to warm up again tomorrow, but for today, Autumn has arrived.

In this changing of seasons, I’m finding myself reflecting on various seasons of life. The fact that I went almost a year without a single blog post is one small piece of evidence that shows me the most recent stage had been one of survival.  It was a wonderful year and a half with so many adventures and joys, but with full schedules, new challenges, and more responsibility, my focus centered on the moment right in front of me. Sometimes, I think we see seasons of “survival” as a bad thing… as if we should be doing more than just survive. We must “thrive”, right?!? But just as each season of the year has its place, I find myself thankful for this last season I found myself in.

As mentioned above, seasons of survival give focus. I couldn’t plan everything out or control what might happen next; I had to stay centered on the present. That is a gift.

I also find that seasons of survival teach me dependence. Whether I have to depend on other people to help me, depend on what I know or have experienced to get me through a tough situation, or simply depend on God for all the things that are just too much, seasons of survival are seasons of dependence.

One final lesson learned in this most recent phase is one I feel like God finds ways to teach me in every phase: Grace.

John 1:16 says, For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

This past season was no exception. Day upon day, moment upon moment, God poured out His grace upon grace. I find myself beyond thankful for this sustaining, restoring, peace-filled gift in the midst of this season.

But as seasons often too, it’s time for a change. I’m not sure what word may categorize this next phase, but I’m excited to see what the Creator of the Seasons has in store!

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Crossroads, First Trinity, School of the Week, Uncategorized

Canisius High {School of the Week 2018}

This week I’m kicking off a “school of the week” program connected with our High school ministry. Each week I’ll highlight one high school and our students that go to that school! I’ll spend the week praying specifically for that school, it’s students, teachers, and administrators, as well as the families of our students that attend there. Whenever possible, I hope to “represent” the school on Thursday by wearing school colors, or even better a school t-shirt if I can find it.  First Up:

Canisius High School

Fast Facts:

  • About 825 students
  • Founded in 1870
  • Mascot: Crusaders
  • Colors: Blue and Gold

Prayers:

  • Pray for all the students at Canisius, but especially our First Trinity students: Andrew, Jonah, Noah, and Wisken. Ask God to walk with them each day and give them opportunities to live out their faith at school.
  • Pray for their administrators, especially the principal Ms. Andrea Tyrpak-Endres, , that they would have wisdom in their leadership.
  • Pray for sports, music, and drama activities this week that the young men would do well, have fun, and be safe.

SOTW - Canisius.jpg

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A Rope To Cling To

Recently I’ve found myself enjoying the show “Call the Midwife.” For those that haven’t seen it, basically there is a group of nurses and midwives who work alongside a group of nuns (who are also midwives and nurses) to care for the people of East London in the 1960s.

In an episode I watched a while back, one of the nurses was going through a particularly hard time in her life as she helped her own mother who was near death.  One night, one of the nuns came out and sat next to her on a bench and offered her an invitation to join them in their evening prayer service to help sort out her thoughts.

The nurse replied: “I’m afraid I can’t even think of what to think just now.”

The older nun’s response struck me (make sure you read with a strong English accent): “A conundrum that has ailed me much.  But in chapel, we need not choose our thoughts.  The words are aligned like a rope for us to cling to.”

This put words to one of the very reasons I am thankful for gathering in worship with other believers.  Whether at my church on a Sunday morning or Saturday night, in a large setting with hundreds or thousands like a worship festival I went to a few weeks ago or in a simple chapel with a few dozen at the conference I was at recently, I am thankful for these chances to gather.  I’m thankful for the words that “align like a rope” giving something to cling to.  I’m thankful that I don’t always have to know what to think or pray or do. Whether written ages ago or led by the Spirit in that moment, the next thing in the liturgy, the next prayer on the page, the next song to sing, leads me into God’s presence and leads me into peace.

Even a step beyond what may be written on a page, I am thankful for my fellow worshipers, the ones who gather alongside and cling to that rope as well. There are some weeks where my heart is joyful and ready to praise… my song, my words, my presence can stand in the gap for someone who “can’t even think of what to think”.  And then there are the days that’s me… the voices of those uplifted around me carry me into that throne room of our God, the place where we find great grace and strength for the week, the day, the hour ahead.  As the author of Hebrews puts it,

“Let us then approach God’s throne with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. … we take hold of the hope set before us [so that we] may be greatly encouraged.  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.”  (Hebrews 4:16, 6:18-20)

One last picture that comes to mind is of the preschoolers in our school. Near the beginning of the year, especially in the younger classes, the teachers use a rope to lead the students.  Spaced throughout the bright colored rope are different cloth shapes the students can hold on to.  This keeps them in line, less likely to wander off, as the teacher leads them where they’re going next.

God’s rope may not have colorful shapes, but the outcome is the same. As I’m led into worship, He then can lead me back out into the world with freedom to live the life He has for me.  When I don’t even know what to think, worship becomes a rope to cling to, an anchor for the soul.

rope

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Re-Member Me as I Remember You

I’m currently in a study with a few of students who are away at college. This past week we’ve been daily looking at scriptures related to embracing Sabbath. This is one of my favorite topics that I could write so much about, but this week one word stood out to me:

Remember.

So much of Sabbath living is about remembering. Back in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 we’re invited and commanded to “remember the Sabbath day”. Specifically, in the second account, God’s people were invited to remember the days they were in slavery, when they couldn’t rest or worship whenever they wanted. Each week God invited them to pause, recall the slavery and then celebrate the choice to rest that wasn’t provided before, to remember God’s powerful redemption and rescue. Each week God invites us to remember and celebrate God’s rescue of us, to pause in gratitude and rest in the realization that our salvation is not dependent on our own work.

In Psalm 95, which we also read this week, the author recounts the things God did for the people in the past and calls them to come and give thanks for what God had done… another way to remember as they gathered in worship.

Within the context of worship, Communion is another space in which we remember.  First Corinthians 11 quotes Jesus instituting this meal saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this is remembrance of me… This cup is the new covenant between God and His people–an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.”

This concept of remembering seems to describe well the essence of Sabbath.

I heard it once said that remembering helps “re-member” us.  All week long the demands and to-do lists, and expectations all strive to dismember us, to fragment our minds and hearts and souls.  And on days like today–when we pause before the altar, pause with our families, pause to rest, pause to recall who He is and who we are–He puts us back together again. As we remember Christ, we are re-membered.

Jesus as we come to your table today, re-member us as we remember You. Amen.

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Happy Birthday to My College Custodian!

Today is the birthday of the custodian that cleaned my dorm in college. That sentence feels a bit strange to write. I haven’t talked with this woman in over 7 years and I bet most people don’t even know the name of the person to cleaned the bathrooms of their dorms. I remember Donna’s birthday not because I’m some amazing person but because she is! I can mention Donna to others who went to my school and many of them would instantly be able to recall a memory of her with a smile on their face as they told it. Donna was a truly beautiful woman inside and out!

Donna’s life calling was literally to clean bathrooms. She believed it with all her heart and it showed. She did her job with excellence and viewed it as a ministry, a way to serve the students in our dorm!

While Donna never slowed down or slacked on the job, she also never missed an opportunity to engage us while she worked. She’d ask us how our holidays were when we got back from breaks. She’d wave to us as we passed her in the halls. She’d listen when we had a hard day and promise to pray as she continued her work and I have no doubt in my mind that she did just that. She’d remember to ask us about those conversations later that week and somehow miraculously remembered which story belonged to which student. The specific buildings she worked in changed from year to year but I know mine wasn’t the only one. She served hundreds of students every day and counted it an honor to clean their bathrooms.

She was also very wise, never pushing her wisdom on us, but instead letting it flow out of her soul. For example, upon returning to my hall after Thanksgiving break the year I was an RA, I found Donna busy preparing for all of us to return. She had Christmas music playing from the radio we had in the bathroom and was joyously singing along. Her comment to me was, “I just love Christmas music! How wonderful that at this time of year, the whole world lets us play music that speaks truth of Jesus all over the place! It’s in stores and on secular radio stations. I just pray that something as simple as one of these songs could change someone’s life.”

This is just one of many profound “side comments” Donna made without really realizing the impact she was having on the young women around her!

I share all of this because it’s a reminder and a challenge to me to live into whatever calling God has for me today. He reminds us in Colossians 3: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord.” What strikes me most is the word “whatever”. Whatever you’re doing today, yes even cleaning bathrooms, is a way to honor God and worship Him.

And who knows, some college kid may remember you 7 years later and their life may be different because of you!

With God’s help I pray I can do this today… that I can make beds and do laundry and talk with the college students God has put in my life and interact with my teammates and spend time with some kids and WHATEVER else he puts before me, doing it with all my heart. I’ll do this today as a way to honor God and also a way to honor Donna on her birthday.

Wherever you are Donna, know that your impact continues on. Your work was not vain! Happy Birthday! I’m so glad you were born!

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Full schedules, full hearts

So, as this month-long blogging journey has gone on, it’s been harder and harder to keep up with this daily task of coming here to write.  I wish I had more time for it as blogging has often been a great way for me to process and celebrate and thank God for the life He’s given me.  However, some days that’s just not reality and I’d much rather just enjoy the moments than worry about blogging about them.  

Truth is I have a lot less spare time these days, and I’m totally okay with that!  At the end of a day where we’ve been going 18 different directions all day, if my daughter wants to talk and tell me what happened in her day, I’m going to sit and listen (no matter how much I’d love to be in bed fast asleep).  If it comes down to it, telling other people about my journey isn’t nearly as fun as living it.  

Two and a half months have already passed. That’s crazy.  As one sports season ended yesterday and Elisa prepares for another (she’s giving Basketball a shot), I look forward to even more days with full schedules, and full hearts!