Tag Archives: United States

A Simplified Life

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This week I read a blog that someone wrote about living in Africa.  Her main point was that life is simpler but more complicated at the same time.  For example, she wrote about a man riding his bike down the road loaded up with a 6 piece bedroom set.  Simple, yet way more complicated at the same time.  She said in Africa a dishwaher is a person.  Simple, yet more work.  I related to everything she wrote… except the part about the hippos growling in the river.  I felt like she could have been talking about Costa Rica.

This week I had conversations… electronic conversations… with two professional teacher friends back in the United States.  One teacher friend is teaching in a huge school.  He is one of 6 third grade teachers!  They have 1,400 students in Kindergarten to 8th grade.  I tried to wrap my brain around that.  We have 6 teachers FOR THE ENTIRE PRIMARY DEPARTMENT at our school.  We have 126 students between Kindergarten and 12th grade.  My son is one of two Seniors.  We have one lone 9th grader.

Photo credit: boltron- / Foter / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: boltron- / Foter / CC BY-NC

The other teacher I spoke with was telling me that her district is starting an new 1 to 1 iPad instruction program.  Every kid will get an iPad and the teachers will use technology to teach them.  She has 45 kids with iPads and she’s looking for ways to use the technology.  She asked if we could set up pen pals for her students.  Can you imagine giving an iPad to a Kindergartener?  How many minutes will it take for them to drop it the first time?  How many will be ruined with spilled juice or sticky fingers?  What a waste of money.

So I was talking to my kids about this in the car on the way to school.  I explained that many parents in America wish that their kids had smaller classrooms where their kids could get one on one attention from the teacher, not from an iPad educator.  Many parents wonder why schools don’t just use books to teach kids.  In our school we use a combination of two popular, high quality Christian school curriculums, all book based.  Parents are lamenting the loss of a simpler life.

Can you image a world where the largest class in the whole school is 14 kids?  That’s our school.  Can you picture what a classroom looks like with real books in the desks and on the shelves.  Do you wish your kids had one on one attention throughout the day?  It happens here.  I pointed out to my kids that they have the kind of education that many people in the United States WISH they had for their kids.  Sure they have to wear hot, scratchy uniforms every day, but they have small class sizes, personalized attention from their teachers, and real books to use.  It’s all a matter of perspective. The simple life can be the good life.

America in my rear view window

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Happy Independence Day, America!  I’m off to the Embassy Celebration with my family and friends, so I’m not blogging today.  I’ve put together a collection of photos of what I feel represents America for me.  Obviously there’s a lot more to it than just this, but these are pictures that move me and stir my patriotic heart.  Enjoy your day with your family and eat a cob of Iowa Sweet Corn for me!

I was born in the 70’s.  I still don’t understand how anyone ever fell in love in that decade of fashion disasters.

And this is what it’s all about for the kids…

The most patriotic day of the year!

Photo credit: The U.S. Army / Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: The U.S. Army / Foter.com / CC BY

For all you Duck Dynasty fans out there…

Bursting with pride!

 

The best part of the day for me is the family time spent eating sweet corn in the backyard and sitting on blankets in the grass waiting for the firework show to start.

Photo credit: kretyen / Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: kretyen / Foter.com / CC BY

 

 

Thanksgiving in English and Spanish

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This past Monday I taught a little lesson about Thanksgiving for the Chapel at the school where I teach.  I wrote it in both English and Spanish.  My neighbor, the 4th grade teacher, is a Costa Rican and the two of us tag-teamed reading the lesson.  I thought it would be fun for some of you to see the lesson in both English and Spanish.  Now I warn you, I have not had anyone edit my Spanish this time, so if I really screwed up… don’t tell me.  So here goes nothing:

Thanksgiving

It is one of the most popular American traditions to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Next to Christmas, Thanksgiving is the most popular holiday of the year in the United States.  The traditional story says that the Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest with an Indian named Squanto and his tribe.  They feasted together and gave thanks to God for their friends, the Indians, who helped them and taught them to hunt, fish and farm in the New World.  But most of this story is just a myth.

The first official Thanksgiving was declared by President Abraham Lincoln, during the American Civil War.  In 1863 Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving to be celebrated on the last Thursday of November.  It was a day to thank God for his mercies even while the nation was at war.  The people were to ask God for forgiveness for their sins and to pray for the families who had lost a loved one in the war.  And finally, they were to pray for peace.

Today Thanksgiving has become a time to gather with family and give thanks to God for his blessings.  Even people who don’t believe in God celebrate Thanksgiving.  For them it might be more about the food and football, but they also focus on the blessings of family, friends, and prosperity.  As Christians, we do thank God for his many blessings and for our families, but we are most thankful for Jesus Christ who brought us peace with God himself.  As we eat turkey and celebrate God’s goodness to us, let’s talk together about all the things we have to be thankful for.

Día de Acción de Gracias

 Para celebrar ‘El Día de Acción de Gracias’ es unas de las tradiciones más popular en Los Estados Unidos.  A lado de Navidad, este día es la feria mas popular del año.  La historia traditional dice que los romeros la celebraron su primera cosecha con un idigena se llamaba Squanto y su tribo.  Ellos comieron juntos y dieron gracias a Dios por sus amigos, los indigenas, quien los ayudaban y los enseñaban a ellos para cazar, pescar, y cultivar en El Mundo Nuevo.  Pero la majoria de esta cuenta es solo un mito.

Oficialmente, el primer Día de Acción de Gracias era declarado por El Presidente Abraham Lincoln, durante la Guierra Cival de Los Estados Unidos.  En el año 1863, Lincoln proclamó un Día de Gracias Nacional para será celebrado en el ultimo Jueves de Noviembre.  Era un día para dar gracias a Dios por sus misericordias mientras la guierra nacional.  La gente tenga que pedir perdon a Dios por sus pecados y que orar por las familias quien han perdidos en la guierra miembros de su familia.  Y por ultimo, ellos debieron orar por paz.

Hoy, este día ha sido tiempo para pasar con la familia y dar gracias a Dios por todos de sus bendiciones.  Incluso las personas que no son Cristianos.  Para ellos, podria ser mas sobre la comida y el partido de football, pero tambien ellos sen enfocan en las bendiciones de familia, amigos, y prosperidad.  Como Cristianos, tambien damos gracias a Dios por sus bendiciones y nuestras familias, pero especialmente somos agradecemos a Jesu Christo quien nos compró la paz a nosotros y Dios mismo.  Mientras comemos nuestra pavo y celebremos la bondad de Dios a nosotros, vamos a recordar juntos sobre todas las cosa que tenemos que agradecir.

 

Don’t get Ripped Off at the Polls

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Happy Election Day America!  Wherever you are, be sure you get you get out and vote.  As you are standing in line at the polls, here are a few juicy tid-bits from the Word of God to chew on.  Meditate on God’s Law and let it inform your decisions about Man’s Laws.

“Don’t look for shortcuts to God.  The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time.  Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do.  The way to life- to God!- is vigorous and requires total attention.

“Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity.  Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or another.  Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character.  Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say.  A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook.”  Matthew 7:13-20 (The Message Version)

Now I know we aren’t voting for a preacher or a spiritual leader, but I thought these words offered a wise standard for the decision-making of the day.  I voted a few weeks ago by absentee ballot, and was it ever a pain in the neck!  But this is important.  I want a good leader for America.  I’m not looking for charisma, I’m not looking to be charmed by a pretty smile, I’m looking for solid character.  I want a leader whose life matches with his words.

 

“I deserve better”

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Being a big Paula Dean fan, I was tempted to transform this title to, “I deserve BUTTER”.  I still might someday make that my personal motto, but for now I better get focused *squirrel!*

“I deserve better” is the call of the wild for egoists everywhere.  It is best described as a sense of entitlement.  You might not actually come right out and say those exact words, but you think it in your heart.  You believe that you deserve something.

Some examples might be, “I’ve been good all week long and stayed on my diet, so tonight I deserve to eat a whole bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough… made with butter.”  What, why are you staring at me?  

And it can get even more sinister with things like money, “I’m working so hard lately that I deserve to buy myself those Louboutin shoes like the ones that Oprah wears.”  

Recently I listened to some old Andy Stanley leadership podcasts that talked about a few different bad behaviors that stem from a sense of entitlement.  (I’ve looked for the podcasts again and I can’t find them for the life of me, sorry.)  Especially in leaders, this sense of entitlement is particularly ugly… and particularly hard to see in yourself.  Normally everyone around you can see it clear as the nose on your face, but you are totally blind to your own faults.

So how do you know what it looks like in yourself?  It looks like jealously, taking the credit for everything, getting a big head,  never saying Thank You, not being able to celebrate the successes of others, and bragging.  It can also look like voting to give yourself stock options and a pay raise when the whole company is tanking financially… but that’s another story.

A Christian with a sense of entitlement might feel like “God owes me” for all the work I’ve done for him.  He owes me for all the sacrifices I’ve had to make for Him.

A non-believer might say  “life owes me” or “Karma owes me” or “someone else owes me”.

This is a super ugly attitude among missionaries, and believe me, I’ve seen it.  I’ve seen some missionaries live like America owes them.  (Maybe they are starting to get a little dizzy up on that pedestal.)  They say, “We’ve sacrificed so much already.  We deserve… fill in the blank with something nice.”  That’s not to say that there aren’t perks to living the missionary life style, there are.  But our attitude should be one of extreme thankfulness to God for each new blessing and humility that we should be so honored to be chosen to serve where we do.  A missionary should never have a sense of being owed something.

This is MY idea of exotic luxury… with a nanny watching my children for me.

Why is entitlement such a Dangerous Attitude?  It was Lucifer’s attitude when he tried to usurp the throne of God.  Lucifer was the most beautiful angel that God created, but he felt like God owed him more.  He felt like everyone owed him praise for his beauty and talents.  Ultimately it lead him to rebel against God and be cast to Earth in defeat.

When it comes right down to it, we should remember our rightful place.  We are servants… indentured servants bought with a price.  We have no rights, and our only “just due” is death for our sins.  We have no right to expect anything good… not even butter.  So we should be thankful for every good gift we DO receive from the hands of our loving Master.

Memorial Day

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Hi everyone, I just realized that today is Memorial Day in the United States.  I can’t remember when American holidays fall anymore.  So since most of my readers are in the USA I’ve pushed my posts all back a day.  I assume you will be using your holiday to enjoy your family  and you won’t be reading blogs.  Enjoy the day, hope you have nice weather!

Thank you to all our soldiers everywhere!  We honor your sacrifice and remember your fallen.  Happy Memorial Day America.