You know those tests people take to determine their spiritual gifts? I really wanted to have the gift of hospitality. So when I took the test I changed my answers to try and score on hospitality. I love it when I try to tell God what to do. As if I know better.
As it turns out, when I took the test honestly, I didn’t score high in hospitality. I did read about what Hospitality actually means according to the Gospel. It’s not having the cleanest house and comely decor. Things I thought people who score high in hospitality must have. It has something to do with having the ability to be with people when they desire to be with you. It means being a good listener; understanding that people’s need for fellowship will not be met by my need to impress them with delectable foods. I have learned something after coveting specific gifts; It is called a SPIRITUAL GIFT for a reason.
The gifts are not something we can buy or earn. According to 1 Corinthians 12:7 the gifts are given for “the common good.” When our gifts are used appropriately they build up the members of a Christian community. Using our gifts is proof of God’s spirit at work. The more blessings that come from our gifts the more evidence of God’s spirit there is. While some gifts might appear to be more attractive to have than others, ahem, hospitality. They are equally important in their purpose.
What are your spiritual gifts? How do you use them?
7:30 AM Outside on my porch swing I am there to play and pray with Will. I smell smoke in the air and immediately I think of the fires burning on the Denver side of our state. Will and I pray for rain and safety for families we know and firefighters. But, I felt like God wanted me to do more.
8:00 AM I am taking a shower and I clearly feel God telling me to spend to fast from water and praying desperately for rain and relief from fires. My first thought is, “Can I finish rinsing out my conditioner?” No! Stop now. So I did. I started to think about what it means to fast from water.
I decided to fill the kitchen sink so I have a place to wash my hands. Fill a few water bottles so I have water to drink. For the rest of the day I am going to try not to turn on any sinks, water the lawn, or wash my clothes (flushing the toilet is okay). There is a plan and I am fasting from WATER. Then, what do I do? I turn on the sink while brushing my teeth. This is going to be harder than I thought. The bible says we need to rely on God’s strength to do his work. Clearly I am going to need it today.
I’ve lived in Grand Junction for 630 days, or 90 weeks, which is a good amount of time in my 31 years of life. I am looking for ways to enjoy Grand Junction and one of them has been to grow a garden. I asked for a planter box and my husband built me one. What a hottie! I am not familiar with the high desert climate. So, knowing that tomatoes like sun I started with those. From there I just bought seeds and some flowers that like sunshine.
I visit my garden every day. Sometimes twice a day. This garden has brought a new source of permanence to my home. I can grow my own food! I am loving this new hobby.
What is your American dream? The American dream is interesting because it’s something people used to talk about but it’s not really brought up like it used to be. How have our dreams changed over time?
The American dream has been about many things for many people over our history; religious freedom, democracy, cultural freedom, safety, wealth, health, independence, etc. What do we need to have a dream? It is helpful to have a job or a means to earn what you are dreaming for. I think the most basic requirement of the American Dream is our freedom. Not all Americans feel their freedom because of personal obligations, burdens we bear, things we have done in the past that have cost some of our freedom. Not every American wants to dream. Is it still relevant to dream? Dreams are more powerful when they are shared. We are the only ones who can preserve the type of environment where the American Dream will survive in to the next generation. My mom and dad dreamed they would own a home and cars and raise a healthy family. This was a dream they have achieved, now that kids are married and out of the house they are dreaming about what the next stage in life could look like. My great-grandparents dreamed about moving to America to find work in a big city and raise a family. They achieved their dream by sharing it with lots of other immigrants and moving here with people who wanted something that looked different from their life in Ireland. I know a few people who have recently moved to America from other countries. I wonder what it was like when they learned they would be moving here. I wonder if they dreamed like people used to dream when my great grandparents moved here.
Here is my American Dream: I dream of a future where my child will dream a dream that will come true. I plan to share this dream with my friends and family and pray for this dream to come true. First we have to dream, then we have to share our dreams if we want them to come true.
I was intrigued by a documentary called “Waiting for Superman,” which is about education in the United States. Since grad school, I have been intrigued by solutions to the achievement gap. After teaching in a school where 80% of students are on the free lunch program, I have become more or less worried about the achievement gap problem. How are we – educators and government – supposed to solve the problem that vast majority of poverty kids don’t succeed at the same level as vast majority of wealthy kids in school. We’ve tried a lot of things: money pouring into education, additional nutrition provided, curriculum changes, optional summer school. Nothing is working! There is still a gap.
There are schools in poor neighborhoods where students who came in struggling have reached not only grade level but are above peer schools in wealthy neighborhoods. How did the school do it? Well, these kids, who have parents at home advocating for their child to succeed in school (who often start school as remedial in every subject, malnourished, have abuse issues, and deal with instability) are after two years at this school are above grade level. How did they do it? When I heard the solution it made sense to me. This school has a little different schedule than most schools. These kids go to school 9 hours per day, 5 days a week, and have school on Saturdays. They do not take the summer off; they have year round school. So, they get extra time to learn they need to catch up on, they get extra meals so they’re not hungry, and I bet they get their homework done and it’s correct.
When I heard about this solution to the achievement gap that has been tested now for over 4 years and is still working I had to ask myself, would I give up my summer and Saturdays to teach? I know how frustrating it is to work with students who are struggling and you know every day they are just going to continue to struggle. I always felt like I needed more time with them. As much as I love summer time off, I don’t like the stress of going back to work in the fall after such a long break. Yes I would give up summers and Saturdays. Not because I think I am a good teacher, but because I know that is what the students I’ve worked with needed.
The question now is: When should I go back? Well, not this year. I’ll keep subbing. But, if and when I do, I sure do hope that I get this opportunity to work in a school that has a solution to the achievement gap.
I have lived in Grand Junction for about four months. So far my favorite month was September because it was the warmest. January is cold but because we filled every bedroom with guests for about two weeks it has been my second favorite month. I have heard locals tell me that normally at this time of year it is about 10 degrees colder and there is more snow on the ground. I just realized this the other day: I have not felt a rain drop since October! Back where I come from rain comes almost every day nine months out of the year. Maybe when I prayed that God would provide a sunny place I should have mentioned that a little rain at least once a month would be preferred. I worry about our lawn, it’s not lookin’ so good. When the ground unfreezes we will be able to use our sprinkler system. Apparently if you live in a part of the world where the ground freezes, like Antarctica or Grand Junction, then you shouldn’t have water freeze in your pipes. Needless to say, I am looking forward to the spring and summer for many reasons, but one is warmer temperatures.