Not Quite Molting

Grading Midterms is a mixed bag. I look forward to them in most classes and always have one or two pleasant surprizes. But always, every semester, there are at least a few students who ‘strain out gnats and swallow camels’. Each time such evidence presents itself I fret wondering what more I could have done eventually reminding myself, or being reminded by the designated colleague, that I can’t care more about ‘their’ education than they do. Yet, caring more, impossibly, immeasurably more is in fact my job or mission – or at least that is how it has habitually felt all these years. Now however it’s as if a new paradigm is emerging and unseating the other. Something is coming untethered. Something else is emerging in its place. There will be consequences.

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T-Mobile System Error?

A prefatory note for context’s sake:

A few months back I terminated my out of contract post-paid T-Mobile service because my bill changed every month despite the fact that my phone usage did not. Why, after all, would one want to pay upwards of $200 for two lines on an unlimited family plan when $110 for two unlimited everything plus international talk and text (though not to the darker skinned nations – Japan yes, Jamaica no) is included on one line.

So I go to pay my prepaid bill in a T-Mobile store this weekend and am told to check back later as the system is down. I go to another location later in the day and succeed because a representative enters the information manually. Payment confirmed, I leave with a sense of mission accomplished. I get a text message confirming the account status and go happily about my business until this morning. I attempt to call my husband’s doctor and receive an automated message saying that this type of call is not permitted. Three reps and 35 minutes later I am told that my account was suspended because I was charged for an international photo text sometime between when the account status was updated and the bill was paid. Who knew State College Pennsylvania was a foreign country! I bring that detail to the attention of Rep #2 along with a reminder that I have an unlimited talk, text, data and international plan and am assured all has been restored – including the 25 cent fee for the incorrectly labeled international text that started the mayhem. I proceed with my workout at the gym. Timing is everything.

Leaving the gym I check my phone to find the following two texts from T-Mobile. The first arrived at 8:24 a.m., the second at 9:37 a.m.

Free T-Mobile Msg: Great news, your Monthly Plan has been paid & renewed for another 30 days effective 10/18/2011. Plan good through 11/17/2011.

Free T-Mobile Msg: Due to insufficient balance, your plan is inactive. Apply a refill to renew your Monthly Plan. Visit http://My.T-Mobile.com for plan details.

What do you make of it? I invite anyone else caught in the confusion of Sunday’s system error to comment.

Experiencing God

It is an awesome thing to have an encounter with God. Foundations shake. Emotional and psychological furniture is permanently rearranged and we are forever changed. The G.L.O.W. conference this weekend focused on experiencing the faith, hope, love, joy and peace of God. It’s aftermath rocked my world and the blessings are pouring forth faster than I can record them. Everything seems so much clearer, simpler and elemental now. I was sorely tried and purified by The Refiner’s fire. I am a living witness of what Oswald Chambers writes in today’s devotional:

Obey God in the thing He shows you, and instantly the next thing is opened up. One reads tomes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when one five minutes of drastic obedience would make things as clear as a sunbeam. “I suppose I shall understand these things some day!” You can understand them now. It is not study that does it, but obedience.

I pray that I can remain mindful of this lesson and pause, wait on God, to make every little and big decision for the rest of my life. The resulting clarity spilled over into my home life and college classroom. Today’s discussant invited us to select one of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits and write about its influence on our lives. Highlights from what students said are recorded below.

Habit three: Put 1st things 1st I get distracted.
It’s my best and worst one.
I have to leave my house to get work done.
Fifth Habit: Seek to Understand, then 2B Understood It’s the one I’m good at except when I’m at home. They [my kids] have to understand me first.
Habit 3 I wait to the last minute to do things like my homework.
Habit 6: Synergize The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I like that quote. I put that on my FB.
Habit 3 Once I do it, I’m in the zone until I take a break or get distracted again.
Getting started and staying focused is most of our challenge.
Motivation is needed. We don’t always see how things are going to come together the way we hope.
I’m going to let my friend(s) know that my schoolwork comes first before anything.

What I wrote about the 3rd Habit: Put First Things First will no doubt form the foundation of the teaching philosophy I was asked to summarize by a publisher’s representative last week. Below is an excerpt of the day’s freewriting.

In my classes, I try to embody the priorities that I think most effective so each class we begin with the individual (freewriting allows us to connect with ourselves and, if the topic lends itself, to the subject and class experience we endeavor to share). Then we move to community – and have a group discussion led by a peer. It’s not led the instructor because it’s OUR class and I am the guide unleashing initiative and imagination so others make take increasing charge of their thoughts and lives and succeed here and in whatever situation life presents. As  guide, I am charged with thinking about the whole until each member of the class can take turns thinking effectively about the whole. Then we move to action. This is where we measure how successful we have been in our attempts to apply the content of our lessons in homework, assignments and in class exercises. Having invited ourselves to enter the moment authentically through freewriting, and used the thinking of others to polish our own during class discussion, we enter the realm of application and move from theory to practice. On a good day this is what happens. Today was a good day.

If I Don’t Praise Him…

The rocks will cry out. Though it seems inevitable that I will forget, today I have proof enough that God is on my side! So very many little things happened around the big victories that it can only be His favor on my life. Evidence of protection, purpose, provision and more than I could think, ask or imagine were revealed to me. Can’t share the details yet so I’m leaving this place marker. Suffice it to say: Let God Arise!

Built To Outlast The Drama

Pastor House brought a word from Psalms 34:18-19 and Acts 17:6 this morning after Senior Eagles ministered in psalm and dance. He mentioned Paul Tillich‘s writings on the necessary balance between courage and fear. Courage, Pastor said, is after all the readiness to take on the challenge our fear has identified. 
He then offered the following talents possessed by all great leaders.

  • forward thinking
  • self-motivation
  • creativity

The Adult Sunday School lesson was also on God’s Call to New Levels of Leadership. In it we were reminded that “we bear the responsibility to discover and fulfill God’s purpose in our lives” through listening that comes only through intimate relationship with Jesus.

Faithfulness is another essential quality of a good leader. In which area of your life are you going to be more faithful this week?

After exaltation on the mountaintop comes the valley of humiliation, writes Oswald Chambers, it is there, in the valley, “where our faithfulness is revealed.

To Conquer Spiritual Selfishness

Abandon that craving for mountaintop experiences. Oswald Chambers’ devotional for today reminds us we were built for the valley.

We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that is where we have to prove our mettle. Spiritual selfishness always wants repeated moments on the mount.

Once we reconcile ourselves to the reality that we are called to witness and to live in the valley as living epistles, all becomes clear: Each life circumstance is designed to make, not teach, us something essential – how to be the embodiment of the Christ we say we love.

A Desperate Hope

It’s been a long, hard stretch. I guess it’s not a stretch if it isn’t hard. It’s been different in kind and duration from previous seasons in my life. Tearful at work and at home, God is polishing and preparing me for His life in me to move to the next level. I can hear the shackles falling off even now, for she whom the Lord sets free is free indeed.

Regarding Hosea 6 Matthew Henry reminds us, “The returns of the favor of God are secured to us as firmly as the return of the morning after a dark night.” Later on in the same commentary he also acknowledges that, “the word of God will be death either of the sin or of the sinner.” I take comfort in both and ask You, Lord, to set up Your kingdom in me, for I know that even wild oats sown must come to harvest and that now, it’s harvest time (MSG).

Oswald Chambers’ devotional today brings further comfort:

The words of the Lord hurt and offend until there is nothing left to be hurt or offended.