Being Grateful for "Full"
As the school year winds down – where did it go? – I have tried to sit down with some SJCS families and talk about their experience this year. I recently had a sit down with a family new to San Jose, and when I asked how they would describe the year, the reply I got was FULL. Full of transition. Full of adjustment. Full of challenges of arriving in a brand new place. Full of JOY. Part of that joy, they said, was the fact that God brought them to SJCS and they have seen their children THRIVE here. Not just get by, but thrive under the direction of, as they said, “Godly teachers who love the Lord and my kids.” Of course, my smile grew as they validated what we do each day in the lives of our students.
SJCS is an extremely special place. Our students are not simply bodies in chairs. In our eyes, they are image bearers of God, and we all want to celebrate their successes. Nothing brings us more joy that to see students learn, grow in their love for God, and serve others both on campus and around the community. God has richly blessed us this year. Let’s all be grateful together.
One of the reasons that God puts us in community is to be able to support and encourage each other as we navigate the journey on which God has put us. It brings great joy and honor to God as we, the SJCS community, come together to celebrate each other, pray for each other, and support each other as part of God’s family. It is an honor and a privilege to work alongside you as we seek to educate and engage your sons and daughters to transform the world for Jesus Christ.
SJCS is a unique and special place where children are challenged to think and grow as students as they develop their God-given gifts and personalities. You have trusted us with your children, and we appreciate the partnership in which we LOVE-LEARN-SERVE together. You have many choices for your child’s education, and you have chosen very well! Thank you for your commitment and investment in a Christ-centered education where we seek to be faithful stewards of our resources in raising up a generation of children who will stand for Christ in a culture that often does not.
Receiving the sea of re-enrollment packets at this time of year encourages us that our partnership with your family is as important to you as it is for us. Keep them coming! God calls us to live in Christian community, and San Jose Christian School is committed to your family as we live out Philippians 2 together.
"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."
Last week, I had the opportunity to reconnect with the faculty and cohort from the year long executive management program I am taking through the Van Lunen Center at Calvin College. The Van Lunen Center provides training to school administrators in their first ten years of service, and this week’s topics ranged from strategic planning to HR, from spiritual leadership to advancement, and from marketing to the technological impact on teaching and learning. It has been amazing learning from peers, mentors, and experts, and I truly thank the Board and faculty for allowing me to pursue this and be o campus a few times this year.
An added bonus to this week at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale was to very intentionally “be in the desert” and find time to fill my soul spiritually. Some of my personal time alone with God included walking the labyrinth. One of the attendees briefly told us that labyrinths have been used for centuries as a “pilgrimage” of prayer, refocusing at each turn on God- praising, listening, and unburdening ourselves. For me, I often lose focus while I pray, and as I took each turn, it reminded me of the many turns our lives take and that in ALL THINGS, God is beside us. When we are busy, when we don’t stop and rest, and our time with our heavenly Father can be hurried and unfocused. As a Christian school leader, it really is critical that I spend quality time with God and listen well to His leading.
All of us are leaders – as parents, employees, in church etc. – and we truly need this time with God. As you serve God in the areas in which He has called, may you be blessed and encouraged. Let us continue to rest in God and pray with and for each other.
100 Meets 4 Months
As many of you know, I spent New Year’s weekend celebrating my grandmother’s 100th birthday. Family gathered from all over the US, with great grandchildren Face-timing in from Australia and Ireland. It was a wonderful gathering and celebration and a true vision on God’s goodness and faithfulness to our family. As my grandmother said in her brief remarks,” the best thing in my life is my family and even better, that they all belong to the Lord.”
It struck me, though, that we often wait until a milestone birthday or a special occasion to share with those in our lives how much they mean to us, how much they have impacted us, and how grateful we are for them. We should not wait! This should be a common practice. This is how we can SPEAK LIFE into our family and friends on a regular basis. No waiting for a special occasion - just do it.
The Bible remind us of this fact often, but the word picture that Proverbs 16:24 gives is pretty awesome:
Kind words are like honey—
sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. (NLT)
Oh, that our mouths would drip with words that show gratitude and encourage.
Happy New Year!
Life Is Grand
On December 30, 2016, my family and I will be celebrating my grandmother’s 100th birthday. All five generations will gather, and she can’t wait. (Yes, she is a great, great grandmother to my grandson, Nolan.) If I had to name the greatest influencer in my life, it would be her. She continues to be a marvel, a true prayer warrior, and a blessing to all who know her.
Back when my son Matt was in high school, he wrote the following:
Now, almost 88 years old, my great grandmother is still thriving. She loves life, her family, and mostly, our Father in heaven. I believe that my children will also be able to have stories told and adventures to experience with Gigi, if not first hand, certainly through the memories we have made together. Looking at her life and how she has lived, through joys and sorrows, yet always relying on the Lord, motivates me to live my life to its fullest and never let opportunities pass me by. She will always have a special place in her heart for me, but I know in my heart that my love for her can overcome anything. She will inspire me and my family for years to come. After all, she is the one and only Gigi.
Come to GrandFriend’s Day on November 22 to celebrate family and friends, and the godly influencers in your life and in the lives of your children. Be that influencer in others’ lives. Enjoy and be grateful for God’s gift of family.
We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:4
Thanks and Giving
I love November. There is something about the turn of the calendar that helps me push a personal reset button. It comes from breaking down the word THANKSGIVING into two words -- Thanks and Giving. Let’s consider those two words as they relate to SJCS.
Although we should be filled with daily gratitude throughout the year, it is in this month that we all refocus that. In some of my previous talks and musings this year, I have mentioned that one way to Speak Life is to say something positive. I believe that gratitude is an important beginning to positivity. My “life verse” has always been Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Note that Paul doesn’t say in some things, but in EVERYTHING. And because Thanksgiving was not a holiday back in Paul’s time, I am convinced that he meant ALL THE TIME. Consider keeping a gratitude journal with your family and celebrate God’s faithfulness and grace regularly. Be filled with daily gratitude and joy.
If you take a moment to look around our campus, you will see giving in action, each day and each moment. Teachers give their heart and soul in order that our students learn at high levels and come to know and love Jesus more each day. Parents are on campus, giving of their time and e ort with helping with activities and events. Both teachers and parents willingly give their talents and their gifts, usually in service to others. Parents, alumni, and supporters give their treasure in big and small ways in order for our school to thrive and plan for the future. The collaboration of this time, these talents, and these treasures that allows SJCS to be the school God intends.
When you consider San Jose Christian School, you see the body of Christ coming together in a similar way to the early church in the books of Acts. We share what we have, whether it be time, talent or treasures, with each other, that we would grow and see lives transformed by Jesus. Thank you ALL for being part of this intentional Christian community. I thank you for sharing. I thank you for giving. Let the attitude of gratitude pervade our school each and every day, not just this month.
Sphere of Influence
I will never forget my son’s first day of first grade. We had just moved from one state to another, and he would be attending a Christian school for the first time. At the end of the day, he greeted me with a huge smile and said, "I met my best friend today, and he loves Jesus, too!"
I knew right then that the sacrifice that we were making for private school was worth every penny. I wanted him to be surrounded by Jesus lovers, in both his classmates and his teachers. Take it from this old mom, IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE to have your children in a covenant Christian school!
Dramatic developmental and social changes happen between the ages of 6 and 14. This statement is probably not an epiphany, however, much research and many experts validate this fact. Add to that the reality that children between those ages spend most of their waking day in school, it is clear that the influence of the teachers and peers at school shape some of those changes. Middle childhood gives children the opportunity to develop competencies, interest, and confidence as they understand that they are God’s image bearers. The sphere of influence in each child’s life is critical. That is why San Jose Christian School is fully committed to strong, Biblically based Christian education for Christian families.
San Jose Christian is where God’s Word and Biblical truths are fully integrated into every part of the curriculum – from athletics to fine arts. Our students know that God’s Word is relevant in all aspects of life. They are passionate about growing their relationship with God. They are transformed in their thinking of who they are in Christ. And the best part? Friends and teachers who support them in their pursuit of God surround them. That is the kind of influence that makes a positive impact on the lives of students forever.
Pray Without Ceasing
San Jose Christian School is a praying community. God calls us to pray without ceasing (Colossians 4:2), and to pray for others (James 5:16) and we do that. Very few things bring me more joy than walking into a classroom and listening to the prayers of our students- for each other, for their families, and for their friends.
Last year, the faculty and the middle school began praying for a young man in South Africa. He was very ill with cancer, with what seemed little hope for recovery. Just a few days ago, Mrs. Coetsee informed the staf and students that God continues to be in the business of miracles. Rayno, who has been on a road of trials, is cancer free. Praise God! And that is exactly what the students did in shared emails. Words of praise and thanksgiving filled the inboxes.
Prayer connects us with God, but it also connects us in community and allows us to celebrate His faithfulness! Being able to share in answered prayer is God’s way of allowing us to see Him at work. Do our prayers alter God’s intentions? No. However, it is through prayer that we build our relationship with God.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4
In the words of the famous philosopher Toby Mac, “Some days life feels perfect. Other days it just ain’t workin.” True words. That song goes on to say, however, that we can “use our words to inspire, joy will fall like rain when we speak life with the words we say. “ Our words, including the ones we text, email, express with our faces and hands, may be our most powerful tools. They can do things like:
Encourage – Discourage
Bring joy – Bring sadness
Show love – Show hate
Bring peace – Disrupt
Give hope – Destroy
Recognizing the power tools that come from our lips and actions can truly help us realize that the choice to SPEAK LIFE can be transformational in our own lives and in the lives of the others around us.
Read through James Chapter 3. Read it in the translation that you generally use, and then read it in The Message for a change. The “hip” language strikes a chord, and then leaves us with the following three Challenges/Tasks:
PLAN to say something positive. Make the choice. Be intentional with your words. Make someone’s day with words of kindness and love.
Realize the Power of words and be sure your words are consistent with God’s Word. James 3:5 says that a great forest can be set on fire by one tiny spark. Just one word can cause an explosion – of joy or of anger. Take time to think about what you talk about and also about the type of conversations that you join. Be sure it is healthy!
Listen to the right voice. To hear God’s voice, we have to recognize it and those words come from God’s Word. We all need to be in the Word to know His voice.
So, the choice is ours. In our circle of influence, each word, decision, glance and action affects someone. We are all influencers. With EVERYONE we come in contact with, we can either offer them life or drain the life out of them. There isn’t any neutral exchange. As children of the Living God, we are called to reflect Jesus through our conduct and conversation. Let’s all commit to make this a priority!
Make your mouth a fountain of life (Proverbs 10:11)
Be slow to speak (James 1:19)
Encourage more than you critique. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Seek opportunities to speak kind, tenderhearted words (Ephesians 4:32)
Seek to only speak words that are good for building up and give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29)