When you hit the produce aisle at the grocery store, distinguishing between good and bad fruit is pretty easy to do. You pass over the bruised and green pieces and focus on the fruit with vibrant color and a pungent smell. But how do we check our spiritual fruit? All school year, VWCS students have been learning the fruits of the Spirit. And now that the year is coming to an end, they’re doing a ‘fruit check’. But fruit checks aren’t just for children. Can these statements be said of you?
I gave something away that was valuable to me.
I helped someone even when I didn’t want to without any promise of reward or payback.
I felt glad when I forgave someone.
I felt joy even when I was sad.
I got along with others.
I felt calm and “just right.”
When someone hurt me, I waited and prayed before I did anything.
When someone did something that made me angry, I waited and prayed about my response.
I was kind to someone who did not deserve it.
I tried to make others feel comfortable and welcome.
I liked to listen to what others think and feel.
I gave gifts above what was expected.
I was loyal to my friends.
I showed devotion to God.
I shared my ideas in a way that calms others.
I treated others with honor.
I asked God what He wanted me to do.
I asked God to help me.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galations 5:22-23
National Day of Prayer
How old were you when you first learned about the National Day of Prayer? Unless you’re older than 62, there has always been a National Day of Prayer in your lifetime. President Harry S. Truman signed into law a joint resolution of the United States Congress in 1952, setting aside one day each year for Americans to call upon God and intercede for our nation.
Because prayer is such a vital part of VWCS, students took time out last Thursday from their studies to pray for America. Some students prayed in their classrooms; others gathered in the Victory World Church sanctuary for a special prayer service. At such a young age, these children are learning that no matter what problems face America, God is always the answer.
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14
In chapel this past February, students placed their hands on a map of the United States and interceded for people across the country. The National Day of Prayer is just an extension of the burden so many of them already have for America.
All VWCS students are leaders in their own right. Imagine how this undergirding of prayer will continue to mold these prayer warriors as they grow and impact their world for Christ
All week VWCS students have been working hard on their Terra Nova Tests. We sat down with a few test takers to get their thoughts on this mentally challenging ordeal.
Did you do anything different this morning than normal?
I did eat a different breakfast. I ate eggs but I’m supposed to eat rice. – Joshua Rony
I woke up early. – Jayce Laurenceau
I had a better breakfast – eggs and a tuna sandwich. – Ezana Gebremeskel
I left home early. – Tolu Adewumi
I was praising God to help me do my testing right. – Christina Daniel
Why do you have to take the tests?
So we can remind ourselves about what we did a long time ago. – Jayce Laurenceau
So we can be smarter. – Brighton Gunawan
It tells them that you know it or you don’t know it. – Rhyanna Smith
If you had to give advice to someone who was going to take the test, what would you tell them?
You can do a good job. Have fun and do your best. – Rhyanna Smith
Just relax. Don’t stress. – Brighton Gunawan
Do your best on the test so you can have a good life and be really smart. – Jayce Laurenceau
Polish your nails the night before so you won’t be stressed and bite them. – Kayla Slack
Beg your mom to go out and eat breakfast somewhere. – Tolu Adewumi
Relax. – Ezana Gebremeskel
Get enough rest, eat a good breakfast with a lot of protein. – Johanan Abraham
Good luck. – Deborah Adeojo
Don’t be nervous. – Marlee Cooper
Do your best. – Tomisin Salako
Concentrate. – Joshua Harris
Drop out of school and then reenroll after the tests are over. – Nicolas Villamizar
Think hard. – Asa Patterson
Don’t be afraid of the test, just do your best. – Aaron Wilson
I would say you could do all things through Christ which strengthens you. – Christina Daniel
Shoe Drive Benefits Ugandan Orphans
When you look on the floor of your clothes closet at shoes you never wear, chances are slim that Ugandan orphans come to mind. But all those too-tight sneakers, forgotten slippers and gently used ballet flats took on a whole new life this month with the VWCS Shoe Drive. Nearly 200 pairs of shoes were donated in chapel last week to Jeff and Susan Moore of the Lighthouse Thrift Store in Doraville, with all proceeds going to His Kids Orphanage School in Bugadee, Uganda.
Founded in 2007, the school accommodates approximately 400 orphans, who walk long distances daily to attend class. A project is currently underway to build several houses on the property so some of the children can live there full time. One home is almost complete, minus the flooring, already housing 25 children, sleeping 10-12 per room on floor mattresses. The Moore’s desire to help the school was birthed when Jeff took a trip there 6 years ago. “God has directed us to open a thrift store to help finish out the one house and then continue to build more houses,” he said.
Seeing this need, VWCS students cleaned their closets with fervor. They brought in boots and heels, loafers, wellies and flip flops; and piled them on a table they deemed ‘Shoe Mountain.’
“We were so excited to be part of the chapel service this morning,” beamed Jeff and Susan.
That same day, the shoes were on the shelf and selling well!
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans…” James 1:27
If you would like to help His Kids Orphanage School, take your gently used clothing, shoes and household items to Lighthouse Thrift Store; and tell them VWCS sent you.
When a 2 year-old has his newborn baby sister or brother placed in his lap, some of the first words you’ll hear out of his parents’ mouths are, “Be gentle”. The child may love that tiny sibling to pieces and want to give them a good, hard squeeze, but Mom and Dad are there to temper that affection into a form the newborn can handle – a soft hug, or a kiss on the head.
So it is with us. Our Heavenly Father knows what’s best for us, which is why He instructs us to “let [our] gentleness be evident to all.” (Philippians 4:5) Gentleness is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit that in our world, seems to be in short supply, like an exotic fruit you rarely see in the produce aisle.
We’re careful with a newborn and tiptoe around when it’s sleeping, but we often fail to show that same gentleness to our children and each other. There is a time for firm discipline and a time to speak the truth in love. But as believers, we are called to “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
Sometimes we mistakenly think of gentleness as being weak or fragile rather than having extraordinary strength and power. But Scripture tells us a gentle and quiet spirit is the key to a woman’s unfading beauty (I Peter 3:4). The wisest man on earth wrote that a gentle tongue can break a bone (Proverbs 25:15). And it was our omnipotent, gentle Savior who was led like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7).
In what areas do you need to clothe yourself with gentleness?
What can you do to nurture this fruit of the Spirit in your life?
The Discipline Bridge
As a young boy, Benjamin wanted to become a physician but the odds were stacked against him. He lived in a single-parent home with dire poverty, poor grades and low self-esteem. Today, he is a full professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He’s also directed pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center for more than 25 years.
How was that possible?
At age 10, Benjamin Carson knew that discipline was the only way to bridge the gap from where he was to where he wanted to be. His path to discipline began with reading. With only a third grade education, Sonya Carson routinely took her son to the library, requiring him to read two books per week and write book reports. And so began a love for reading.
“Reading expands your mind and your imagination,” said VWCS Librarian Mary Greene. “You can go anywhere in the universe you want to go and not leave where you are.”
So what if your child doesn’t love to read?
“Find what your child is naturally interested in and don’t worry about it being good literature or classics,” said Ms. Mary.
Ms. Tracy agrees. Last year, one of her students had an aversion to reading. “So I had to find books on subject matters to which he could relate,” which for him, was sports.
“He started to have a thirst for reading,” she said and then disciplined himself to read about subject matters beyond sports.
Today he is an avid reader. Who knows? Maybe one day, he’ll become a physician too.
I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 1:13
Testing 1, 2, 3…
It’s that time of year again. Terra Nova testing time. How can you get your child ready?
Some students have test anxiety, so at the mere mention of a test their heart rate increases and they lose their concentration. If this describes your child, sit down and talk with them. Listen to their concerns and then pray over each one in detail. Rather than just asking God to bless them and give them courage, remind them of His promise: “Never will I leave them, never will I forsake them.” Hebrews 13:5
Consider praying that they would:
- immediately feel the presence of the Lord in the classroom
- clearly understand each question
- focus without distractions and recall information
- realize they’ve not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7)
- know that God loves them unconditionally, no matter how they perform
- do their best
Even if your child doesn’t have test anxiety, there are things you can do to ensure they have the best start possible each day of the test. First, students need plenty of rest. Second, give them good proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the week and a good breakfast every morning. Skip the junk food as this can create ‘brain fog’. Third, bring them to school on time. Being tardy is detrimental since it’s prone to make students frustrated and anxious. Finally, lavish love on your child and congratulate them each day, no matter how they think they did!
Fifth Graders Head to Space Camp
This morning Mr. A.O. and his 5th grade students boarded a bus and set out for a 2-day space camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. To say the students were looking forward to it would be an understatement.
“I’m really, really excited that we’re going,” said Mackenzie Williams.
Students have been anticipating this trip for months. And they’ve definitely done their homework. The cost to attend the camp for Mr. A.O. and his class is $2,451. Students worked hard to raise that and more by doing odd jobs at home, sharing their talents at the Valentine’s Day Dance and even selling candy to neighbors.
“It is the first field trip we’ve ever been on out of state,” said Mary-Ruby Oteju.
Students left this morning, not just with excitement, but with expectations.
“I really want to learn more about astronomy,” said Jedidah Titus, admitting, “I’ve always been more interested in the human body (anatomy).”
“I want to be able to understand science better,” said a classmate.
The camp offers a unique, hands-on experience to learn science, math and technology. Students will learn more about space flight and take a tumble in the Multi-Axis Trainer.
Asked what kind of personal change she’d like to see as a result of the trip, Jedidah answered, “A sense of independence because really, I want to see something that will help me face my fears.”
Since the class will spend more than 50 hours together, a couple of students are hoping for other outcomes.
“I hope that I’ll cooperate better with people,” said Hourie Gebremeskel.
“I want to learn how to stop talking so much,” added Anthony Frant.
He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Psalm 147:4
Creating Works of Art
Each Wednesday afternoon, 4th and 5th grade students gather together and let their imaginations run wild. By the time they arrive for Ms. Ilene’s art class, they’ve already tackled spelling, history, math, language arts and science. Now they get to use a different part of their minds.
“It brings out their creative skills,” said Ms. Ilene Grey, who’s been teaching art at VWCS for three years. “It relaxes them. They’re more focused on what they’re doing.”
Today they’re learning how to examine pictures of flowers and draw them based on their observations. Rather than a quick scribble of a tulip or daisy, students were encouraged to pay close attention to various sized petals, stamens, stems and leaves and create pencil drawings of every detail.
In addition to flower studies this year, they’ve painted in warm and cool colors, worked with symmetry, studied value (the range of lightness or darkness of a color), and torn paper portraits.
Some students are naturally gifted; others take the lessons in stride. But regardless of their level of talent, art tends to be something on which many can agree.
“I don’t think anyone doesn’t like it,” said Jacob Ferguson. “I think it’s somewhat fun.”
Perhaps the reason is that within each student, a part of their Heavenly Father as Creator God comes out.
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. Isaiah 40:28
Springing for a Break!
There’s an epidemic at VWCS – spring break fever. Students’ eyes frequently dart to the windows while sitting in class. Lining up after recess proves difficult and in some cases, students’ listening skills are quickly diminishing to summer levels.
Thankfully, the cure is within arm’s reach – Spring Break! A break from homework, tests, waking up early and studying.
“I’m going to Myrtle Beach,” said Alyssa Johnson.
“I’m going to the aquarium,” said Deborah Adejo.
One student will play in his first golf tournament. Another will be planting at a farm with her family. A fifth grader will spend the week in Savannah while a third grader will attend a spring break camp and learn to swim. Other students are going to just hang out at home.
Regardless of their plans, 100 percent of students surveyed agreed that spring break was very important.
“You just want to play,” said Meagan Turner.
Marlee Cooper agreed. “It gives time to rest and have fun.”
Their favorite spring break activities run the gamut. Lorelei Mulcahy can be found swimming in the pool while Meagan loves to practice gymnastics. Deborah enjoys spending time with her grandmother while Kameron Shorty loves all things sports. Hourie Gebremenskel is all about having fun with his friends and Anthony Frant tries to pack as many sleepovers and parties in the week as possible.
Parents should note that children may relapse once they return to school following spring break. However, keep in mind that if this occurs, summer break is just around the corner.
And the Winner is…
Ms. Michele’s 4th grade class surged to the top and won the March Mission Madness competition last week, collecting an average of $29.45 per student to benefit the LifeLink School in Nicaragua.
“We may be small in number,” said Ms. Michele of her eight students, “but we’re mighty!”
Ms. Irene’s 2nd grade class came in 2nd place, averaging $16.34 per student. Giant jars were placed within each classroom for students to bring in “Change for Change” – earned by doing chores at home or collected on behalf LifeLink School students.
Altogether, VWCS students collected $1,442.45.
“We’re helping a lot of children in Nicaragua that don’t have the benefits we have,” said 4th grader Johanan Abraham, “so they can have an education and the kids can have a better future.”
His classmate Liam Barbeau earned $28 for extra chores. “I took out the garbage and unloaded the dishwasher.”
The first place prize is a pizza party this Friday, but according to one student who donated his own money he’d been saving for months, pizza was not the motivator.
“We worked really hard and we really didn’t care about the party,” said Nicolas Villamizar of his classmates. “It’s so important because I get to help people from Nicaragua out.”
So why does a 4th grader think helping people is so important?
“Because helping other people is like helping yourself,” said Ezana Gebremenskel. “If you know how to take care of yourself then you know how to take care of others.”
A Most Unusual Day
What’s the word?
Haven’t you heard?
Things are a bit weird today.
Mr. A.O.’s class is
Throwing football passes,
Very unusual for a Monday.
Ms. Michele stopped teaching
Her students started preaching
They’re taking over chapel this week.
Now they’ve started dancing
A couple are even prancing
And yelling out “Blessed are the meek.”
This just isn’t prudent.
Mr. Reggie’s students
Are dancing a conga line!
They put Mr. Bones first
I s’pose it could be worse
Perhaps they dance all the time?
I haven’t a clue
Why 2nd grade is a zoo
Ms. Irene brought in snakes, parrots and monkeys.
The birds are flying low
Those snakes have got to go!
I think she’s an animal junkie.
Over in V1
They’re having lots of fun
There’s a slip-n-slide in the hallway.
Ms. Debbie’s kindergarteners
Are playing extra harder
Later on they’ll have a parade.
Ms. Doris and Ms. Tracy
Are just a little spacey
It’s first grade like I’ve never seen.
The adrenaline is pumping
The students are all jumping
With their teachers on a giant trampoline!
It’s never a bore
Next door in K4
You might think they’re all little saints.
But today would you guess
They’ve made one royal mess
And covered each other in paint.
Today no tests
Everyone just wants to play
In classrooms and halls
They’re having a ball.
Happy April Fool’s Day!
He is Risen!
Easter is upon us and that give3s us reason to celebrate! We know the story. God came to earth as a man to reveal Himself and His love to us. The sins of the world were placed upon His Son, Jesus, who endured the worst death possible so that when we repent, we are forgiven and adopted by God as His children. Easter isn’t new. It’s on the calendar every year. But because of Easter, we are new.
Therefore, if man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. II Corinthians 5:17
Every spring, nature is reborn. Trees that lay dormant for months sprout tiny, green leaves and flowers awaken to give us splashes of exquisite color: cherry blossoms, tulips, amaryllises, apple blossoms, roses, sweet peas, freesia, gardenias and birds of paradise.
When spring bursts forth in all its glory, we don’t think about how the plants looked in winter. So it is with us. When we trust in Christ as our Savior, God doesn’t look at our old nature. He sees Jesus within us in all His glory.
Easter reminds us that when we allow God to prune our hearts, He brings about the richest fragrance and fruit from within us. And because that fragrance and fruit is of the soul, it’s more glorious than any spring garden imaginable.
If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior and want to learn how to become a Christian and have peace with God, click here or give us a call at 678-684-2030.
He is not here; he has risen! Luke 24:6
“Make Sure That You Listen”
Life is full of pop quizzes – unanticipated tests given when no one else is looking that measure our character or lack thereof. Ms. Michele’s 4th grade students know a thing or two about pop quizzes. Their reactions are varied once they learn they’re about to be tested.
“I freak out!” said NicolasVillamizar.
“I like to study a lot,” said Ezana Gebremeskel, “so I wouldn’t really care.”
“I pray,” said Daijah Figgures.
Whether you’re 9 or 90, we’re always being tested and those tests provide excellent gauges for where we are. Are our motives right? How well do we submit to authority? Do we have integrity? How do we handle conflict? Are we teachable? Life gives us lots of opportunity to find out.
Sometimes we pass the test.
“One day in church one girl was being mean to me,” recalls Tolu Adewumi. “I wanted to smack her but I walked away.”
Sometimes we don’t.
“A boy threw a ball in my face,” admits Daijah.” I wanted to slap him but I kicked him.”
But as believers, we receive God’s forgiveness and grace and learn from our mistakes.
Since pop quizzes are inevitable and test us on things we’re supposed to know, how can we prepare?
“You can’t because you don’t know what’s coming,” said Liam Barbeau.
“You don’t prepare,” said Tolu. “You just make sure that you listen.”
“The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.” Proverbs 17:3
One has to admit that fluffy bunnies, plastic eggs and jellybeans can be fun. But as a parent, how do you help your child look past all that and focus on the true meaning of Easter?
You and your child can make a miniature empty tomb that will serve as a visual reminder of Christ’s death and resurrection. You will need:
1 medium-sized clay flower pot
Twine or string
Small plastic cup
Dirt or topsoil
Small rocks or pebbles
One rock larger than the circumference of the mouth of the cup
Lay newspapers on a table to use as a work area. Place the plastic cup in the middle of the clay base and begin pouring dirt over the cup, leaving the mouth of the cup open until the entire base is covered in 1 inch of dirt. Scatter the grass seed on the dirt and layer another inch of dirt on top of the seed.
Fasten three small crosses together, using twine and small sticks. Place small rocks or pebbles in front of the mouth of the cup. Water the entire surface of dirt so that the grass seed is well-watered. Place the three crosses behind the “tomb” and press into the dirt. Place the large rock beside the tomb. Water daily as needed and make sure your empty tomb gets plenty of sunshine for grass to grow.
Use it as a table centerpiece and talk about it each time your family sits down for a meal.
This will help your child better understand the reason we celebrate Easter. He is risen!
“You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.” Mark 16:6
“Mow and Go”
Students get excited about Fridays at VWCS. They get to wear jeans to support missions, it’s the beginning of the weekend and sometimes they don’t have much homework. But for Ms. Michele’s 4th grade class, the weekend can come just a bit earlier…it’s all up to them.
Referring to it as “mow and go”, Ms. Michele knows how eager her students are to start their weekend. So she gives them the option every Friday to efficiently plow through their work and if they have any time left over, they get an extended recess or the chance to watch at least part of a G-rated movie.
“We work harder on Fridays,” said Johanan Abraham, “because it’s the last day of the week and we want to have fun.”
No subject is skipped. Students still identify prepositional phrases, add fractions with common denominators and learn about China’s role in the Boxer rebellion. They just pick up the pace and choose not to dawdle, saving those extra earned minutes for the end of the day. It’s a hit with students.
“You get to have time that your face is not slammed in a book,” said Kayla Slack.
“[It’s] easier for me because my mind works better toward the end of the week, explained Johanan.
“Last Friday we went to the other playground and spent time with the other kids,” said Tolu Adewumi.
Today they munched on popcorn while watching part of “Underdog.” Whatever the treat, it makes Fridays that much sweeter.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:7
Students Know their Bones
Mr. Reggie’s 3rd grade class has a mascot. Measuring just over 2 feet high, he stays at the front of the classroom and he’s all about learning.
“His name is Mr. Bones,” said Kofi Sissuh.
Made of durable plastic, Mr. Bones is a skeleton used to teach third graders all about the skeletal system. Whether it’s the humerus, radius or tibia, the fibula or the vertebra – Mr. Bones has them all.
“He’s helped us in a lot of things,” said Tomisin Salako. “We looked at his body parts and we…studied him to see if we got A’s on our tests.”
“Mr. Bones is how we learn all about bones and joints,” said Zazy Chensritong.
The class learned that babies are born with over 300 bones but by the time they are adults, they only have 206 bones. They rattle off names of bones with ease.
“Ulna, radius, patella, mandibles,” said Tireni Ogunlana. “Sternum, skull, ribs, femoral and phalange,” added Deborah Adeojo and Lauren Graham.
Students also learned how the hinge joint, pivot joint and the ball-and-socket joint give Mr. Bones such flexibility.
“We actually control him like a puppet,” said Tomisin.
“We make him dance. We make him laugh, said Kofi.
“He’s our friend,” said Deborah.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them… Genesis 1: 27-28
Hunger in Our Own Backyard
VWCS had a special chapel guest this morning from the Atlanta Community Food Bank, or ACFB. Chris Ferguson serves as the Education and Outreach Coordinator there and stopped by to talk to kids about hunger in our community.
Students have regularly donated to food drives for the Norcross Cooperative Ministry. But today, they learned that children and the working poor are the two largest groups of people who suffer from hunger in Georgia.
“Has anyone ever been to a Falcon’s game,” asked Mr. Ferguson.
Hands shot up throughout the room.
“Nearly 1.8 million Georgians are living in poverty,” he said. “That number could fill up the Georgia Dome 25 times.”
The ACFB distributes 3-4 million lbs. of food each month and also provides pet food, medicines, school supplies and beauty items. More than 1,000 people volunteer each month and for every dollar donated, the ACFB is able to distribute $8.47 worth of grocery products.
Students brainstormed ways food comes to the ACFB: food drives, farms, grocery stores, farmer’s markets. Then they discussed how they could make a difference. They could hold a food or fund drive, start a garden, raise awareness or volunteer.
In just 3 days on Saturday, March 23rd, VWCS families have the opportunity to volunteer at the ACFB from 1 – 4 pm. Children must be 8 years old or older to volunteer. It’s not too late to sign up! For more information or to register, contact Vicki Jones at email@example.com.
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38
Give Change for Change
March Missions Madness is well underway at VWCS and this year, students are pooling their change together for the LifeLink School in Nicaragua. Each class is given a giant pickle jar to fill with loose change throughout the month and the class that has the highest giving average wins a pizza party.
So how do students get extra change for their class jar? Many students do extra chores around the house: mowing lawns, babysitting, helping to clean out garages or doing some spring cleaning. K4 students are no exception. We asked them what they were doing to earn extra money:
“I help Mom with my baby sister for change.” – Hannah
“I help my Mom to clean dishes and to clean clothes and I wash pillows and blankets and I cook and I help my Mom make cookies.” – Jeremiah
“I put my shoes on.” – Joshua
“I help my Mom fold clothes.” – Kemeel
“I help Mommy do the laundry and the dishes and the baby. I play with her and I sing to her. I wash the chairs and I get a thing and wet the table.” – Isaiah
“I fold my clothes and I clean up my room and help Mommy with the dishes.” – Olivia
“I helped move some stuff and I helped clean up the backyard and I helped do some other stuff at our house.” -Ethan
God loves a cheerful giver. II Corinthians 9:7
Time to Volunteer!
On Saturday, March 23rd, VWCS parents and students have a wonderful opportunity to help the least of these in our area. We’ll be partnering with the Atlanta Community Food Bank from 1 – 4 pm, working in their Product Rescue Center, or PRC.
The PRC is a clearinghouse for thousands upon thousands of perishable and nonperishable items, as well as health and beauty supplies. It is in the PRC where volunteers sort through and inspect all the goods donated by grocery stores, manufacturers and food drives. The food and supplies are then packed up and distributed to more than 600 nonprofit partner agencies in Atlanta and North Georgia.
Volunteering at the PRC has become one of the most popular outreach activities in the Atlanta area so that groups often have to book months in advance for their chance to serve. Next Saturday is our chance to volunteer!!! Don’t pass up this opportunity for you and your child to participate in a hands-on project to help the needy. Register today! To register and for more information, contact Vicki Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org
The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40
The Power of Joy
Last week, special guest speaker and former VWCS parent Amanda Dance posed a question to students in chapel, “How can you have joy when nothing is going right?” Good question!
“Joy is more than just happiness,” she said. “And joy is not just a feeling.”
Children can easily identify with joy when they earn an A on a test, hit the jackpot on Christmas morning or get to spend time with a favorite cousin or grandparent. But understanding how to have joy in the midst of difficult circumstances is a mature concept to learn.
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit based on something much deeper than your circumstances. It is a choice. Am I going to focus on what’s going on in my life? Or am I going to believe what God’s Word tells me and remember that “the Lord has done amazing things for us.” (Psalm 126:3)
Students listened as Mrs. Dance explained that joy is an attitude of hope, peace and love. She then called a few students to read several Scriptures aloud and as they declared God’s truth, you could feel the encouragement and joy building in the room. What a lesson to learn as a child!
As teachers reinforce joy as a fruit of the Spirit this month, students will continue to grasp this powerful concept and learn that the joy of the Lord is their strength.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!
Do you have a little Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Danica Patrick in your family – always careening down the hall bumping into siblings and already asking when they’ll get their driver’s license? If the answer is yes, then you won’t want to miss VWCS Family Night on March 22 at the Malibu Grand Prix in Norcross from 7-9pm.
Featuring a game room, batting cages, miniature golf and go karts, the Malibu Grand Prix promises to be a night of fun for the whole family. This is the time of year when Spring Break can’t come soon enough. Your little ones might already have spring fever. So bring everyone and let your kids let off some steam!
If your kids have ever wanted to slam into their teacher – in a fun way, of course – let them get behind the wheel of a Grand Prix car and see who’ll earn bragging rights as the best driver. It’s just 2 weeks away so mark your calendars!
The cost for the evening is $7 per child and adults get in free. Malibu Grand Prix is located less then a mile from the VWCS campus at 5400 Brook Hollow Parkway. For more information, call the school at 678-684-2030
The Youngest Intercessors
“For My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Isaiah 53:7
Can a 7 year-old have a burden to pray for Shreveport, LA? Or a 10 year-old have a heart for the people of Haiti? Absolutely!
Last week during chapel, students scrawled down onto sticky notes the names of cities, states and foreign countries of their choice. Then they buried two wall maps with the yellow, orange, blue, pink and green papers and spent time praying for those places.
There were prayers for Topeka, Ohio, Atlanta and Connecticut as well as San Francisco, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania and Hawaii. Some notes had prayers written out, like Caleb’s “I pray for Canada for the people who are sick” or Alyssa’s request: “Jesus help Jamaica.”
Children interceded for Romania, France, Poland and Antarctica in addition to Iraq, Iran, Berlin and Zimbabwe. They prayed for missionaries serving in India, Madagascar and Peru and asked God to help the people of Africa, Rio de Janeiro and Hong Kong. Their prayers were priceless. They were praying God’s heart for the nations.
“Africa, I hope you have no famines and I hope no starving.”
“I pray for Columbia so people can believe in you and stop doing bad things. Please help them.”
“I’m going to pray for my country Eritrea so all the bad stuff will be forgiven.”
Do you know what countries or states are on your child’s heart? Research any current events in those areas so that you and your child can pray more specifically for the people living there.
Fifth Grade Raising Funds for Space Camp
Most people have love on their mind for Valentine’s Day. Not so with Mr. A.O.’s class. They were too busy thinking about space.
VWCS fifth grade students are taking a field trip this spring to attend space camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The camp offers a unique, hands-on experience to learn science, math and technology. Each student, including their teacher is responsible for the $150 cost of the trip. To offset these costs, the class is holding fundraisers.
“I want the kids to take some ownership,” said Mr. A.O. “I’ve always cast the vision for my students. I told them they have to do all the work.”
So fifth graders shared their talents during last month’s Valentine’s dance and raised about $190. First up was Hourie Gebremeskel and Maxwell Stewart, singing “God is Enough” by Lecrae. Then Jedidah Titus danced to “Get Up” by Planetshakers.
“I was seriously nervous at first,” she said. “I had a bad case of the jitters.”
Students shared several talents and then the class finished with a song and dance number to “Pray” by PK oneday.
“I was very proud of them,” said VWCS parent Kat Creary. “They put on a great performance.”
As the field trip approaches, more fundraising plans are in the works for selling home-made charm bracelets, holding a bake sale and perhaps a read-a-thon. Students are also raising money individually.
“I try to find yard work to do,” said Maxwell. “I sell candy to people in my neighborhood. I have $53 but I’m waiting to get $100 before turning it in.”
If you’d like to sponsor Mr. A.O. or his class for their upcoming field trip, you can send an email to email@example.com
Punch and Who?
Last month when K4 students paraded out of VWCS’s first puppetry workshop with Chinese dragon shadow puppets and K5-1st grade students danced out with Malian rod-style puppets, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th graders were curious as to which puppets they would make and their country of origin. It seems they needed to look no further than across the pond.
Jeff Domke from the Center for Puppetry Arts dazzled them with his collection of Malian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Slovakian, Turkish and Japanese puppets. And then they turned their attention to Mr. Punch and his wife, Judy, or more commonly known as Punch and Judy, a pair of popular British puppets that star in their own show.
More than 50 children sat down to tables of tape, glue, chipboard and construction paper, slowly morphing these and other materials into a small legion of glove puppets. With protruding chins and noses that could rival that of Pinocchio’s, the puppets were given beards, crowns, earrings, goatees and dozens of different colored garments.
“How can I give mine a Mohawk?” queried Kameron Shorty from the 2nd grade.
For those who had never made a puppet before, the workshop made quite an impression.
For those who weren’t new to puppet-making, the challenge was equally rewarding.
“I like how we made it with the cloth,” said Madison Jenkins, who says she’d already made four puppets before this workshop, which was made possible by a grant from Target.
As students put the final touches on their puppets, there was no lack of creativity.
“I’m giving her a beard,” laughed Johanan Abraham.
International Dress Up Day
“In a little while I will shake all nations and the desired of all nations will come and I will fill this house with my glory,” says the Lord Almighty. Haggai 2:7
Fridays at VWCS are typically days when students wear jeans and raise money for local missions. But today, children skipped the denim and reached deeper into their closets for attire to celebrate International Dress Up Day.
Students wore a rainbow of costumes from other nations, many of which were from their parents’ native homeland. Little girls paraded around in red silk Chinese robes with ornate designs while one first grade boy wore a white and golden brocade Chinese silk pant suit, another from K5 donned a sombrero with his brown and red striped woolen poncho and a third paid homage to the fastest man in the world by wearing a Jamaican track team suit.
With a student body representing more than 30 different countries, these children weren’t just wearing costumes; they were celebrating their history and their ancestors.
“It’s a way that I get to express my country,” said Zazy Chensritong of Mr. Reggie’s class, wearing a red silken Chung Mei dress with golden tassels and intricate detail, the traditional dress worn by people along the border of Burma and Thailand.
Students capped off the day by gathering outside to pray for the nations.
“Please be with every nation that the kids are representing,” prayed Anthony Frant, upon whom the day’s importance was not lost.
“Some nations get under attack and we need to pray for those people,” said the fifth grader. “We need to pray for Romania, my country. It has a lot of non-Christian people.”
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
This morning during Chapel, students were encouraged to listen to what God might be speaking to their hearts and respond to Him. They wrote onto sticky notes and index cards names of people they needed to forgive, prayers for the nations and their own personal requests. Those prayers were written from pliable, precious hearts. Here are just a few:
I pray I don’t get angry.
To speak boldly about Jesus to everyone I encounter
I pray that the doctors will find the cure for leukemia.
Lord, I want a toy car.
Thank you God for this day. I just love you. Amen
That our class will stop arguing about small little things
I pray for my brother to get better. And for the homeless.
I want God to bless me in my heart.
I will obey.
That my sister will feel better.
I pray that there will be no fires and I stop dreaming about fires.
People who are hungry, dogs who are abandoned and harshly treated, and to be like Jesus
Kevin has lung cancer and the doctor says he will not live to another winter.
I pray my Mom will be pregnant with a baby boy and that orphans will have a family.
I pray that people can STOP being bullies.
My great uncle is dying because the doctors did something wrong to him.
Lord can you please bless the people who are in the hospital?
I hope my Dad can spend more time with me!
My friends and enemies
I pray that my relatives would believe in you Lord. I want to see them in heaven.
A group of 1st graders sit cross-legged in front of the white board, all eyes focused on Professor B math problems with the same enthusiasm they’d show for a Saturday morning cartoon. Mrs. Doris points to “5+6” and asks, “How many does 6 need to be a teen?” to which the class replies “4”. “And 5 take away 4 is?” “1” shouts the class. “So what is “5+6?”
Professor B has been buzzing through VWCS classrooms for years, telling stories and sharing shortcuts to help children learn their addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Math in these halls isn’t just about memorization. It’s full of creative techniques and methods that give students visual images to engage their minds and increase learning. Math has a story to tell.
While students stare at the problem “13 -5”, Mrs. Doris tells them they have $13 and asks them to put a $10 bill in their left-hand pocket and 3 $1 bills in their right-hand pocket. Students put away the imaginary bills and learn the pizza they just ordered is $5.
“When the pizza guy comes to your door,” asks the teacher, “are you going to give him all $13?”
Enthusiasm for math isn’t the only thing to surge when it comes to Professor B; students’ grades increase as well. How many 1st grade classes do you know where students have mastered reading 15-digit numbers?
As for how to pay for the imaginary pizza, students offer up the $10 bill and receive $5 back, adding it to the 3 $1 bills they still have. Tomorrow, they’ll be right back at it, rushing to the board to work problems and eager to play math games to lock in those key concepts.
A Small Tribe is Born
What’s made of paint stirrers, cardboard, chopsticks, fabric and construction paper and keeps 50 students’ attention for more than an hour? If you guessed a Malian rod puppet, you’d be right!
Thanks to a grant from Target, VWCS held its first “It’s a Small World Puppetry Workshop” a couple of weeks ago with special guest Jeff Domke from the Center for Puppetry Arts and learned about puppets from around the world.
The history of each puppet also made an impression.
“Ever since people were in houses, there were puppets,” said first grader Jeremiah Campbell-Goss. “That’s how I know that puppets are very good things for us when we’re bored.”
After a lesson in rod puppets, shadow puppets, string puppets and glove puppets, children sat down at worktables stocked with glue, markers, tape and scissors to create their very own Malian puppets. Their creative works of art slowly began to take shape as chopsticks held up puppet arms, paint stirrers became heads and swatches of fabric were transformed into flowing African boubou. Pretty soon, what began as a room full of materials became a colorful Malian tribe, each with its own personal touch.
“It made me feel like I was back at my old summer camp doing something that I love to do,” said Kendall Washington of Mrs. Tracy’s class.
The excitement didn’t end with the workshop.
“Now I know how to make a puppet,” said first grader Cecil Bowe.” As long as I can get all the pieces that I need, I can make one at my house.”
This week students learned about the habitude of the Half-Hearted Kamikaze. The word ‘Kamikaze’ is Japanese for “God wind” or “Divine wind.” Numbering up to 4,000 in World War II, Kamikaze pilots had such an impact on the world stage that their military tactics of dying for their cause is forever etched in the human consciousness.
After sharing these facts in chapel Mrs. Elizabeth Johnson asked students about their commitment to Christ.
“Will you be willing to let it cost you everything?”
Anything less and all you’ve got is a half-hearted Kamikaze who cannot be counted upon to carry out the mission. Mrs. Johnson reminded students that Jesus purposefully gave His life on the cross and then shared Matthew 16:24:
“If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.”
These are hard words even for adults, and yet at VWCS, students are already being asked to measure their spiritual commitment, even if it means death. Perhaps this is the ultimate lesson in teaching them true servant leadership.
But sacrificing one’s life isn’t the whole message. Students were asked to make the sacrifices of talent, pride, friends or future plans. Mrs. Johnson then charged them to learn their purpose to worship God, serve Him and be a light to a lost world, and then add determination and obedience to the mix so that they too can have an extraordinary impact on the world stage.
Out of the Mouths of Babes
“What kind of commitment do you want to make?”
We recently sat down with Ms. Yvette’s K4 class to talk about Valentine’s Day.
What do you do on Valentine’s Day? You give people stuff that they want. – Allyson
Why are you giving Valentines on Valentine’s Day? Because my mom said that. – Kemeel
What do people do on a date? They build a bear. – Joshua
The parents go out and have a good time. [They go] out to a restaurant – a meaty restaurant. – Aiden
They eat at Applebee’s – Allyson
What would you do on a date? Go to my house and get dressed up and go to their house and see how they’re doing. – Aiden
How do you show your Mom you love her? She lets me kiss her and then I jump up in her bed and hide under the covers so my sister won’t find me. – Aiden
Give her hugs. – Allyson
Maybe I’ll kiss her. – Isaiah
We love, because He first loved us. I John 4:19
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. I John 4:7
The Greatest Love of All
Valentine’s Day is upon us and if you’re like Charlie Brown, that’s not such a good thing – everyone getting valentines except for you. But if you’re like Snoopy, you’ll need a wheelbarrow to cart around all your loving wishes.
Did you know that you actually do have a smattering of valentines? Only they’re sprinkled throughout the Bible.
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13. And since Jesus did lay down His life for you, that makes His the greatest love of all.
So what do God’s valentines say?
It is My desire to lavish My love on you simply because you are My child and I am your Father. I John 3:1
Every good gift that you receive comes from My hand. James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope…Because I love you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 29:11, 31:3
I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
For you are My treasured possession. Exodus 19:5
I am your greatest encourager. II Thessalonians 2:16-17
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. II Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psalm 34:18
I am your Father and I love you even as I love My Son, Jesus. John 17:23
There are so many more valentines for you to read! So open up God’s Word and bask in the perfect love He has for you!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Mrs. Michele’s Class Goes to the Capitol
Last Friday VWCS fourth graders took a field trip to the Georgia State Capitol to learn more about the peach state. The class has been collecting historical facts and discovering the uniqueness of their state, recording them in a State Notebook. For six students, this was their first trip to the Capitol.
Students learned that a Brown Thrasher is the state bird, the Cherokee Rose is the state flower and the state tree is a Live Oak. When it comes to food, Georgia officially claims grits, peaches and Vidalia onions as the best this state has to offer.
It’s one thing for students to read a book about the state they live in. But it’s another thing entirely to climb the marble steps and learn that the gold used to guild the Capitol dome was mined from Dahlonega, Georgia.
Tolu Adewumi learned there are 207 Representatives. And after the field trip, she “wanted to learn more about the governor and how he did stuff.”
Students sat in on a vote taken in the Georgia House of Representatives for a Medicaid bill and were quick to point out to Ms. Michele those Representatives who were chatting and not paying attention while another Representative had the floor.
Johanan didn’t know that Louisville had previously served as the state capitol. “I want to learn more about the history of that city,” he said. The field trip shed a whole new light on politics for Johanan. Would he consider running for governor or other elected state official?
“Yea – I think I might because I like doing that kind of stuff.”
There’s a dance tonight!
Oh what a delight!
In honor of Valentine’s Day.
Wear your Sunday dress
And look your best
It’s time for us to celebrate!
It’s fun and it’s free
It’s perfect for families
An event you don’t want to miss!
You can come cut a rug,
Or do the jitterbug
Or even do the twist.
There’ll be food, there’ll be cake
To pile upon your plate
And lots of those little candy hearts.
And the students of Mr. A.O.
Will put on a talent show
You’ll want to be there from the start!
Come to V3
Bring the whole family
The dance starts at seven sharp.
We’ll rejoice in the love
Sent from heaven above
To all of us from God’s own heart.
Anointed Nap Time?
Have you ever tried to coax 15 four year-olds to take a nap? Most little ones have more energy in their pinkie finger than adults have in their entire bodies, so getting just one child to sleep can be a challenge.
Ms. Yvette’s K4 class was having a bit of trouble today entering into that rest. Some had the squirmies, others were convinced their blankets were superhero capes while others couldn’t resist talking with their neighbors. So what does one do?
Have you ever had a time of worship where you sensed the presence of the Lord so strongly that peace washed over you and you didn’t want to leave?
God inhabits the praises of His people, or as the psalmist put it, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” Psalm 22:3
So why not fuse together some anointed worship with nap time for your little one who has ants in their pants?
Gifted worship leaders abound online. So Kari Jobe sang over the class via Youtube. Little by little, the restlessness dissipated and students fell asleep as the music washed over them. We played “O the Blood” since there is power in the blood of Jesus – even over the squirmies. Then we listened to “You are Good,” followed by my personal favorite for naptime, “Be Still.” A couple of children just did not have it in their DNA today to nap; however, their restlessness ceased also.
So the next time your little one needs to drift to sleep, why not try instrumental praise or a soothing worship song like “All For Love” or “Rest in You” from Hillsong United or Chris Tomlin’s “Amazing Grace.” It could be just what you both need.
Every Four Year-Old Should Have a Dragon
Mrs. Yvette’s K4 class went on an imaginary trek around the world earlier this week, learning about puppets from other countries. Thanks to a grant from Target, our first “It’s a Small World Puppetry Workshop” was held on Monday for the entire school with special guest Jeff Domke from the Center for Puppetry Arts. K4 students had their workshop first.
Mr. Jeff brought a collection of rod puppets, shadow puppets, string puppets and glove puppets made with materials such as donkey skin, human hair, ceramic, wood, leather, buffalo skin and cloth. Each puppet was a work of art, intricately crafted in countries such as Mali, Vietnam, China, Slovakia, Turkey and Japan.
Students laughed as the puppets danced and let out screams when a Chinese dragon shadow puppet reared its scary head behind a lit screen. But students had the most fun when they got to create their very own puppet.
They raced to sit down at tables laden with tape, colorful foam shapes, chopsticks, scissors and acetate strips. After following step by step instructions, and with a little help from teachers, their pile of supplies was slowly transformed into a menacing group of Chinese dragons. And to add their own creative touch, students then decorated their puppets however they chose.
This wasn’t everyone’s first puppet-making experience.
“I made a puppet before,” said Joshua Solano, “but I cut the body off, so the puppet died.”
“I made a Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer puppet,” said Andrea Pullen, but the pieces came already decorated.
With their creative juices flowing, each student emerged with a uniquely crafted puppet. And if making them wasn’t fun enough, students took turns holding up their dragons behind the lit screen while the rest of the class looked on.
If you look inside the Bible for kindness, you’ll find it: King David inviting Mephibosheth to permanently dine at his table, Ruth’s marriage proposal, Peter healing a crippled beggar. The list goes on and on.
Now if you look inside yourself, will you find it? Does kindness permeate your being or only show up every now and then?
Our first graders took a look inside themselves and shared in chapel this morning what they found. They had shown kindness when they helped without being asked, prayed for people and cared for their younger siblings.
To help their students better visualize this fruit of the Spirit, Mrs. Doris and Mrs. Tracy hung up a ‘kindness bucket’ in their classrooms. Each time a student showed an act of kindness, their name was placed in the bucket with the goal of filling it up. Consequently, first graders gave more thought to their behavior this month looking for bucket fillers both inside and outside the classroom.
One boy showed kindness at a Braves’ game when he caught a fly ball but then gave it to a kid who also wanted it. Another student helped her brother read his Accelerated Reading book while another put away laundry for his mother. One student gave a banana to a homeless woman while visiting Washington D.C. and another shared his snack with a classmate who didn’t have one that day.
We can learn a lot from Scripture about kindness.
“I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 9:24
What about you? Is your kindness bucket empty or full?
Second Grade’s Pseudo Zoo
For three weeks the 2nd grade class has been working hard on animal habitat projects. Students chose an animal and researched where and how they live and what they eat. Today they presented their projects to their classmates, which were made with paper-mache, construction paper, miniature cactuses, cardboard, a stuffed polar bear, and much more.
They learned about great white sharks, leopards, flounder, scorpions, parrots, cougars and of course, lions, tigers and bears. It was quite a collection and covered the continents – a zoo made of paper.
Did you know the African bull frog is also known as the pixie frog? Or that squirrels eat tree bark and cheetahs snack on frogs and lizards? Did you know that white tigers are found mostly in India and polar bears can live in – 29O weather? Bald Eagles descend at 100 mph to attack their prey and rhinoceroses love solitude. And Tasmanian devils really do exist, but not the kind that stalk Bugs Bunny. They live in Australia and store fat in their tails.
Each student ended their presentation by sharing their most fun animal fact that they learned. Because if it isn’t fun…it’s not learning.
Bravo 2nd grade!
Dancing Eggs and Exploding Coke Bottles
What are the odds that every student in a given class gets really excited about science? There may be a budding Marie Curie or Isaac Newton scattered throughout the school. However, there are children who would rather eat brussel sprouts or clean their room than study motion or energy.
That all changed this week when the Traveling Museum of Creation and History made a stop at VWCS and students sat down with eggs, dry ice, borax and bottles for a workshop to learn the laws of science.
When Mrs. Doris’s first grade class walked into the makeshift science lab this morning, they had no idea what to expect. A few students weren’t even looking forward to it. But then the museum’s Executive Director Sean Meek blew up a plastic coke bottle on the playground using dry ice and the workshop took on a whole new meaning.
Every student participated in each experiment (with the exception of the exploding coke bottle), making eggs dance on the mouth of a glass jar, jerking cloth out from under dinner plates, mixing their own silly putty and layering blue-colored water over saltwater to determine which would float an egg. Not only were the activities fun, they gave students a chance to develop their abstract thinking skills.
By the end of the workshop, 14 out of 14 students said they had a really great time. How’s that for odds?
Rain, Rain, Go Away!
It’s our 4th straight day of rain and some of us are wondering if we’ll see Noah and pairs of animals floating by soon. One 4th grader prayed in chapel yesterday for sunshine “so we can go outside and play.”
Rainy days are known to give some people the gloomies and children are no different. They may sleep more, eat less, be bored, moody or even restless in class.
So what do you do? First remember that joy is a choice and that we can take a lesson from Mary Poppins and choose to be cheerful no matter how long we’ve been holding that umbrella. Other ideas:
- Exercise – Children need just as much exercise on rainy days as they do when the sun is shining. Visit a local park that has a gym or an aquatic center and make it a family outing.
- Eat healthfully – Make sure they get enough fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water. Good food makes you feel good. Not so good food makes you feel not so good.
- Be their sounding board – Ask them how they’re feeling and to share what’s on their mind.
- Do something completely out of the ordinary – Have a picnic in the family room for dinner one night. Let them dress up in costume and act out their favorite Bible story. Work on a challenging (but not overwhelming) puzzle together and reward them for finishing it.
Above all, ask God to help you extend grace to yourself and your children. And remember, sunshine is right around the corner.
Garbage in, Garbage out
We’ve all heard the saying “Garbage in, garbage out” – perhaps from Jillian Michaels as she explained (quite loudly) to The Biggest Loser contestants they can no longer have Krispy Kreme doughnuts or Big Macs and expect to lose weight. Or maybe you heard it as a teenager while trying to defend your movie and music choices to your parents. Anyone who’s had an ugly computer virus that wiped out their hard drive is unhappily familiar with the phrase.
As a parent, you’re careful about what your child is exposed to –movies, music, TV shows, video games or websites. Take video games for example. Many parents don’t need studies to show them that violent video games increase aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, heart rate, blood pressure and aggressive behavior in their child, or that these games decrease helping behavior and empathy for others.
VWCS 2nd graders don’t need studies either.
“If it had bad words, then I think that I would start saying [them],” said Kyle Gardenhire of TV shows. “People don’t think about kids when they make movies.”
“[My parents] don’t want me watching bad things,” said Zoe Ellis, “so I could behave properly.”
Jordan Carter is also clear on the matter. “If I do [watch those shows], when I’m a man, I’ll keep doing the bad stuff on those shows and I might go to jail.”
Christians also don’t need studies. We already have the best thing ever written on the subject – God’s Word:
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 NKJV
The Kindness Project
Students learned in chapel this week that the definition of kindness is doing something for someone else in a cheerful and loving way without expecting anything in return, though it may hurt us sometimes. So what does that look like?
Let’s say you and your children decide to do a Kindness Project so you sit down together and brainstorm ideas of showing kindness every day. What would be on your list?
One great idea that’s been circulating the blogosphere is garbage gratitude, where children give hand-made cards to their garbage collectors expressing their thanks. Blogs and websites are chock full of ideas if you have trouble getting started. Here are just a few:
1. Bake cookies for an elderly neighbor or someone going through a hard time
2. Give your mailman or paper carrier a homemade card from your child (or picture if you have smaller children)
4. Help your child sort through their old toys and give some they never play with to a local shelter or church that is ministering to the needy in your area.
Be sure to have your children think up their own ideas so they have a part in the project. If your child is older, you could even make them the ‘Kindness Project Manager’ where they select the act of kindness for each day or week, depending on how frequently you do your project. And have fun flexing this fruit of the Spirit!
What’s your new year’s resolution? What about your children – do they have any new year’s resolutions? We asked our students and they had some interesting responses:
“Stop eating McDonald’s.”
“Stop watching too much TV.”
“Read the Bible more.”
“Stop playing [in class].”
Whether or not it made your list of resolutions, being kind is something to which all believers are called.
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 NKJV
We’ve all seen those bumper stickers ‘Practice Random Acts of Kindness” while sitting in traffic. And while that message is inspirational, kindness for the sake of being kind will only go so far. But kindness flowing from the Holy Spirit within us has no limits because that kindness is building the kingdom of heaven.
Kindness is so nebulous that it’s often easier to explain what kindness isn’t than what it is.
Guest speaker Mrs. Amanda Dance helped our students this morning in chapel come up with a great definition:
Kindness is doing something for someone else in a cheerful and loving way without expecting anything in return though it may hurt us sometimes.
As with anything, teaching kindness to our children begins by modeling it. When you pray with your child, have both of you ask God to help you be kind to others.
Points to Ponder
How often do you think about expressing kindness? How big is this fruit of the Spirit in your life? Your child’s life? What person in your life – adult or child – is a born kindness practitioner and what can you learn from them?
It’s a Small, Small World
With such a diverse student body, VWCS is always looking for ways to help our students learn more about each other’s cultures and backgrounds. This year we’ve found a creative way to do just that!
On January 28th, the Atlanta Center for Puppetry Arts will come to VWCS and hold the ‘It’s a Small World Puppetry Workshop’ for our students. They’ll enjoy a presentation featuring puppets from around the world and get the chance to hold and manipulate puppets from other countries.
The fun continues after the presentation when students make their own puppets! Our K4 class will be making Chinese Dragon Shadow Puppets. Our K5 and 1st grade classes will be making Malian-style rod puppets and our 2nd through 5th grade classes will be making English-style glove puppets.
Kids have such an imagination. Can you imagine how this international puppetry workshop will build upon that imagination? Move over Bert and Ernie!
“In the Beginning…”
Perhaps one of the best things about a new year is the chance you get at a fresh start. Or as Anne Shirley said in the classic children’s novel, Anne of Green Gables, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
There are so many exciting things lined up this year at VWCS for students to explore, create and enjoy! The Traveling Museum of Creation and History will be here January 22-23 to give students a front row seat to the grandeur of God’s creation. Exhibits will feature the days of creation, the flood, the ice age, dinosaurs and other historical events. And then science will come alive for students as they participate in a hands-on workshop with fun activities, experiments and demonstrations. The budding scientist in your child will definitely want to come out and play!
If you have a flare for science, or if you just want to come alongside your child to tour the Museum of Creation and History and observe as they learn, parents are welcome to attend. (No mad scientists allowed.)
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:1, 10
The Real Gift
Christmases come and Christmases go. Presents are purchased, wrapped and exchanged. But amid the carols, Christmas trees, twinkling lights and gifts, something is missing every year. It’s as if the entire world has been invited to a party and thousands upon thousands eagerly come. But only a small group of guests actually knows why the party has been given.
Everyone has brought a gift and gifts are given liberally, but only to other guests. Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. However, His is perhaps the only birthday in which the one being honored doesn’t receive a gift.
Thankfully, VWCS students are among the small band of partygoers who actually know the cause for celebration.
“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11
So what do you give Jesus on His birthday?
“Thanks that He made me,” said third grader Tireni Ogunlana.
“Love and joy,” said first grader Rhyanna Smith.
When this question was posed to a group of students in Ms. Tracy’s first grade class, Jayce Lawrenceau looks up from decorating his tree ornament and answers, “My heart.”
Ayotunde Adewumi says, “I’m Jesus’ number one fan.”
Jayce looks right at Ayotunde. “I’m Jesus’ number one fan.”
“I’m Jesus’ number, number, number one fan,” countered Ayotunde.
“I’m Jesus’ number one, one, one, one fan,” said Jayce.
There are kids who will be fighting over Christmas presents this year. But here, two first graders have a friendly competition over the one whose birthday we’re celebrating. Why? Because they know that Jesus is the real Christmas gift.
Looking to Children
Jesus called the children to Him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:16-17
As a shocked nation still grieves the loss of 26 children and adults from Sandy Hook Elementary, parents across the country are no doubt hugging their children a great deal more than before the tragedy.
Children have a special place in God’s eyes. It was Jesus who held them up as an example of how we should view God and trust, forgive others and give so easily of ourselves.
Last Wednesday, K4 – 5th grade students adorned the chapel stage with Christmas presents for children in Atlanta foster care. Baby dolls and strollers, action figures and board games, the toys were placed on an altar of sorts as students sacrificed the things they wanted in order to give to boys and girls in need of a permanent, loving family.
Saturday morning, some students came to Victory World Church with their parents to a Christmas party for these children in foster care. Our students stood in front of the party room doors with handmade Christmas cards, ready to welcome about 60 kids ages 6 to 15.
So why would they give up their Saturday morning to cheer on a group of kids they’d never met?
“Life is kind of rough [for them]. They need some cheering up,” said 4th grader Johanan Abraham. “I like serving people since they don’t get to see their families very much or at all.”
What lessons have you learned from your child?
As humans, we are drawn to the outward appearance, to what we can see with the naked eye. We tend to rely on our senses, sometimes with little regard for what we cannot see. But it is what lies below the surface that is of greatest importance. Take an iceberg for example. As towering and majestic a spectacle it appears above water, it is the enormous unseen mass of ice lying beneath the surface that sinks ships.
The same can be said of people. Ten percent of the iceberg that rises above the water’s surface represents a person’s skill, while the remaining 90 percent hidden below represents a person’s character. Skill is important, but without character is of little, if any use.
Take the Titanic for example. If you said that an iceberg had sunk this vessel in 1912, of course you’d be right. But it was what came before the iceberg that sealed the ship’s fate. The largest ship in the world of its day, the luxury liner was deemed “unsinkable.” And while the White Star Line, the company who built and owned the Titanic, never made such claims on any of their advertisements, word quickly spread across the Atlantic Ocean that “God Himself couldn’t sink this ship.” It was this arrogance that played a pivotal role in determining the fate of so many lives.
A ship’s crew is responsible not only for the lives of its own vessel, but also in part for the safety of others. Once a ship encounters a problem, such as a storm, immediate warnings are signaled to surrounding ships with coordinates so precautions can be taken.
Such was the case with the Rappahannock, a passing ship that sustained damage from a heavy ice pack the evening of April 13 and warned the Titanic. At 9 am on April 14, the Titanic receives a message from the Caronia warning of a field of ice and icebergs. Nearly three hours later, the Dutch liner Noordam warns of “much ice” in the path of the Titanic. At 1:42 pm, the Baltic warns of an iceberg and “large quantities of ice” lying 250 miles ahead of the Titanic. The Titanic’s officers actually sent this message to their captain, Edward J. Smith. However, Captain Smith was not given the next warning of a “large iceberg” from the German liner Amerika, sent at 1:45 pm.
Captain Smith is attending a dinner party at 7:30 pm when the Californian issues a warning of large icebergs. He retires for the evening at 9:20 pm. Twenty minutes later, the Mesaba warns of heavy ice pack and iceberg, but the message is overlooked.
In one day, six ships had spotted icebergs and warned the Titanic of a field of ice some 78 miles long, lying directly ahead in its path, yet none of those warnings was heeded. In fact, the final warning came at 10:55 pm when the wireless operator from the Californian, less than 20 miles away, called up the Titanic but was bluntly interrupted with, “Keep out! Shut up! You’re jamming my signal.” Forty-five minutes later, the Titanic hits an iceberg and by 2:20 am, the unsinkable ship has sunk. She lost 1,522 passengers, while 705 survived.
Hindsight is always 20/20 and many lessons have been learned from this tragic story. Perhaps one of the greatest truths is how a lack of character in the form of arrogance and pride cost so many lives.
How would you rate yourself from 1 to 10 when it comes to character? What do you do when no one is watching? Can your character be depended upon to ensure other people’s destinies? Their lives? How might you grow in your character?
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18
Looking Through the Eyes of a Child
What does peace look like to a child? A special blanket ready to hold or wrap around you when needed? Perhaps a favorite chair or place to read a favorite book or just think? Or maybe a plate of cookies your mom just baked or your favorite food that makes you feel warm and happy inside?
What does peace look like to an orphan?
On August 4, 2009 our family tree blossomed when my sister and brother-in-law brought home a sweet baby girl with black hair, brown, inquiring eyes, chubby cheeks and a smile that could light up a room. They named her Lara and she had just spent most of the first year of her life in a Russian orphanage for infants four hours east of Moscow.
Like many adopted children, Lara at first was petrified. A new mother and father, a new country, a new language and a new home were a lot to take in. She didn’t care too much for women, identifying them with the orphanage personnel; but she loved men – her father, her grandfathers, her uncle – she felt loved by them and secure. In fact, my brother-in-law was the first man Lara had ever seen. As Lara’s parents continued to shower her with love and care for her needs, her fears dissolved and were replaced by joy. Her vibrant personality bubbled over and laughter took the place of tears. Today she is a happy, spunky 4 year-old that loves Disneyworld and candy and flying high on playground swings.
Little is known about how my niece lived her life that first year. But we do know that when all the babies were placed in their cribs in one room at night, once the orphanage worker closed the door, she would not open that door again until morning. If a baby cried during the night, no one came to hold them. If all the babies cried at night, they were still left alone until morning.
When Lara was transitioning to her new way of life, she was firmly attached to her pacifier, or in Russian, her “bah.” If she was unsure about a situation or a new person, bah would save the day. If she bumped her head or scraped her knee, bah would help the tears go away. Until she learned to receive comfort from her parents, bah was the answer. It was her peace. Needless to say, we kept several throughout the house.
Two Christmases ago Lara was visiting her grandparents and was fascinated with all the Christmas decorations. The Christmas tree ornaments, the picture of baby Jesus, the whimsical figurines painted in reds and greens, she loved it all. At one point I noticed she was staring at a nativity, eyeing the shepherds, the angel, Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and all the animals. We had begun to tell her the Christmas story, how Jesus was born in a manger to Mary and Joseph, how angels worshipped and shepherds stood in awe of the Savior who would take away the sins of the whole world.
Later that evening, I was putting Lara’s toys away and straightening up the room when I noticed something unusual about the nativity.
“Mom, baby Jesus is missing!” I said.
We looked around for the Son of God, thinking perhaps he’d been moved to another part of the room with Frosty or Santa Claus but he was nowhere to be seen. My Mother and I looked at each other and without saying a word, we determined his whereabouts. Lara had taken baby Jesus.
We called my sister that night and sure enough, she found baby Jesus in her purse. When my niece was asked why she had taken him, she simply said, “To give him a bah. He didn’t have a bah.”
I froze under the weight of her words. This sweet child was trying to comfort the Messiah. She had looked past the animals, the people, the angel and in her mind, with all the activity going on around him, all she saw was a baby in a manger who needed peace. Perhaps at such a young age, she’s already figured out what takes many people a lifetime to learn, that Jesus knows exactly what she’s gone through. And as she grows older and learns more about the Savior, we pray she will soon know that Jesus is her Peace.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Do you have peace? To what or to whom do you turn to bring you peace? Are you a conduit of God’s peace to others? What practical things can you do to nurture this fruit of the Spirit in your life?you a conduit of God’s peace to others? What practical things can you do to nurture this fruit of the Spirit in your life?
If King David had a Blog…
If King David had a blog, he would probably fill it with praise to God, recounting His many great blessings and worship His holy name. God loves our praise. He loves our thankful hearts and delights in our total dependence on Him. He gets great joy when we live our lives with gratitude. So in the words of King David, let us praise Him for what He’s done and worship Him for who He is!
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
His love endures forever.
The Lord has done great things for us,
And we are filled with joy.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He restores my soul.
As they make music they will sing,
“All my fountains are in you.”
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!
You have set Your glory above the heavens.
From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise.
My shield is God most high,
Who saves the upright in heart.
I will give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness
And will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high.
Psalm 7:10, 17
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
And I will give thanks to Him in song.
When Deborah Adler was choosing a thesis project for her MFA degree, her grandmother came to mind. Helen Adler had mistakenly taken her husband’s medication, thinking it was hers since the bottles looked identical and a lot of the information was the same. Thankfully, the effects were minimal.
Deborah put on her thinking cap and designed a new medicine bottle with a flat side for easier reading, a pouch that carries essential information and a colored ring around the lid so that each person in the same household can easily differentiate which medicine bottle is theirs.
She knew she had something special and approached Walmart for a potential partnership. At that moment, the number one retail chain in the world had a great opportunity to revolutionize the medicine bottle, increase the safety of their customers and enhance branding.
But Walmart turned Deborah down.
Undeterred, she approached Target and the rest is history.
You can bet your medicine cabinets that Walmart executives kicked themselves for letting a golden opportunity pass them by. Target accepted the offer and after working with Deborah for three years on her design, rolled out the prescription bottle that is now known as, well, the Target prescription bottle.
What do you do when opportunity knocks on your door?
What if the woman with the issue of blood hadn’t seized the opportunity to press into the crowd and touch the hem of Jesus’ garment? What if the bedridden man’s friends hadn’t cut a hole in their neighbor’s roof so they could lower him down for Jesus to heal? What if Naaman hadn’t dipped seven times in the filthy water of the Jordan River as Elisha instructed?
King Solomon wisely said, “Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come?” (Ecclesiastes 8:7) Opportunity always holds risk but our dreams will never be realized unless we take that risk. And look what’s on the other side!
All three of these people had their lives forever changed because they seized the opportunity to press into God. The woman was no longer in pain or considered an outcast from society. The once-bedridden man probably turned cartwheels the rest of his life and Naaman was restored to his position as commander in the king’s army.
One Door at a Time
Who do you think of when you hear the word “faithful?” What person in your life best exemplifies this fruit of the Spirit? Although I do not know him personally, I’d like to tell you about an extraordinary individual whose faithfulness is nothing short of inspirational.
Bill Porter has spent more than 50 years of his life selling household products door-to-door for the Watkins Company in Portland, Oregon. Shoes always shined and briefcase in hand, Bill is the picture of persistency. “If there are ten houses on a street, I knock on ten doors, no matter what the house looks like from the outside.” *
So what’s so special about that you ask?
Bill has cerebral palsy. Born in 1932, he grew up in a single-parent family after his father passed away when Bill was very young. His mother Irene believed in him and encouraged him every day. As a matter of fact, she was the only one to encourage him. As a teenager, Bill went to the employment office to ask for help in finding a job, but was told he was unemployable. Undeterred, he returned to that employment office every day for an entire summer seeking work.
Bill finally persuaded the Watkins Company to give him a chance as a traveling salesman. But they didn’t seem to have much hope for his success; they gave him the worst sales territory in Portland. He would walk an average of seven miles a day, knocking on doors and always returning to the same people who told him never to come back.
He never lost his passion, even when his mother passed away, making his job more cumbersome. Relying on public transportation, Bill would first go to the Fifth Avenue Suites Hotel to have the bell hops help him button his shirt cuffs, adjust his collar and clip on his tie. His next stop was at a shoe parlor, where someone would help him tie and shine his shoes. His third and final bus stop of the morning delivered him to his territory where he knocked on doors and sold cleaners, baking products and detergents from a Watkins Co. catalogue.
Bill Porter was faithful. In the pouring down rain, he did his job. Teased and ridiculed, he did his job. Riddled with debilitating back pain, migraines and arthritis, Bill did his job. And his faithfulness paid off; he became the number one salesman of the company.
A reporter learned of this unshakeable salesman and ran an article about him in the Portland Oregonian, which was reprinted in Reader’s Digest. The public’s response was overwhelming.
His story was picked up by 20/20, which led to a made-for-TV movie starring William H. Macy. The movie won six Emmy awards.
One cannot read Bill’s story without doing a little self-examination. How faithful am I? How faithful are you? To our families? Our work? To God? Do you keep your word when you say you will do something? Do you “check in” once a week with God rather than spending quality time with the Lover of your soul?
We’ve all been unfaithful at one time or another. And thankfully, God’s grace covers our sin when we repent and He mercifully wipes the slate clean. But then do we go ahead and exhibit the same behavior the following day? Or do we give serious thought to our words and actions?
We have the choice every day to be faithful. Faithfulness is one of the fruits of the Spirit and if we yield ourselves to God and rely on His Holy Spirit for grace and strength, He will cultivate and nurture that fruit in us. That is His promise to us. And He is faithful to keep that promise.
“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
As for Bill Porter, the 80 year-old is still faithfully selling Watkins products…online.
* Northwestern Mutual Life Magazine, (July/August 2000). Success: One Door Away. p. 5.
Glossing over Goodness
Have you ever noticed how frequently we toss around the word “good”? We wish people a “good morning” or “good afternoon” and tell our kids “good night” after tucking them into bed. Our dog gets a “good boy” or “good girl” for sitting on command or refraining from biting a guest. “Teachers write “Good job!” atop their students’ papers for work well done.”
“Good” is one of those nebulous words that sits like a fog over a city. So perhaps it’s easy when reading the list of the fruits of the Spirit to go from “kindness” to “faithfulness” and gloss right over “goodness” – kind of like not putting “milk” on your grocery list since it’s something you always need, or not thanking God for oxygen because it’s always there.
But to gloss over “goodness” would be to miss one of God’s greatest attributes.
In his classic “Knowledge of the Holy”, A.W. Tozer writes, “The goodness of God is that which disposes Him to be kind, cordial, benevolent and full of goodwill toward men… [and is] implied on every page of the Bible.” Tozer gets to the heart of the matter when he writes, “The goodness of God is the drive behind all the blessings He daily bestows upon us.”
So what does it look like for us to be good? Isn’t it more than just getting a 100 on a history test or taking out the trash when asked? If the countless blessings we receive daily from God stem from His goodness, isn’t it a matter of allowing God’s goodness to flow through us?
Does your goodness come from a sense of obligation or people-pleasing? Or does it flow from the blessings God has bestowed upon you? How can you nurture this spiritual fruit in your life?
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” Psalm 106:1
The Starving Baker
Take a walk down Bleeker Street in New York City’s Greenwich Village at any given time of day or night and you’re sure to find dozens and dozens of people standing in a line three people deep that snakes around the corner and down the block. What’s all the fuss about?
These hungry customers are patiently waiting to indulge in the famous fare of Magnolia Bakery, a quaint shop that opened in 1996 and exploded five years ago, now with locations in Los Angeles, Chicago and Dubai. New Yorkers aren’t the only ones satisfying their craving for pies, muffins, breads and those specialty cupcakes with buttercream icing. People from Brazil, Korea, Spain, Sweden, Italy and other parts of the world routinely include Magnolia on their tourist agenda.
Imagine braving the crowds to enter the shop and feasting your eyes and your taste buds on all the delectable desserts, only to find Magnolia’s bakers and assistants with sullen eyes, gaunt faces, irritable dispositions and poor concentration. After further investigation, you learn that to keep up with the demands of their clientele, the staff have skipped eating altogether. And it hasn’t been one meal they’ve missed, but many. Without a morsel of food and fueled only by caffeine, their sole focus is to satisfy customers.
This sounds a bit far-fetched, but spiritually speaking, it is much more common than we realize. If you look at every single thing you do for your children, your spouse, your boss, your parents and your church as a loaf of bread to bake, pretty soon, you’re burning the midnight oil so you can knead, bake, slice and deliver to that line of people trickling out your door, wrapped around the corner and staggered across the street and down the block.
Jesus said the second greatest commandment is to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31 Too often when we read this, we zero in on the “neighbor” and skip right over “yourself”. But Jesus is telling us that we should give the same attention and care to our neighbors as we do to our own bodies.
The airline industry has this concept down pat. When oxygen masks fall from the overhead compartment, passengers are instructed first to put on their own masks before helping others. At this point, it really doesn’t matter how much a mother loves her child. If she cannot breathe, she can offer no help to her little one until she receives the life-giving oxygen for herself.
Jesus was the greatest example of this. No matter how loud the crowds, how angry His enemies or how boisterous His disciples, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16 So, too should we nourish ourselves spiritually before we can truly love and serve others.
Every parent knows what it’s like to have their child loudly call out “Mom” or “Dad” over and over again, rarely taking a breath, while pecking them on the shoulder or arm repeatedly to get their attention. This is normal behavior for children because they have no patience. They are not born with it; rather, it is something they must learn.
Now imagine yourself, standing beside your heavenly Father pecking incessantly on His arm. “But,” you say, “I don’t do that. I thank God for His blessings and pray to Him about whatever is on my heart.” Granted, but what if it was a chronic behavior you were jabbing Him with?
We all have areas in which we lack patience. Our tempers flare. We constantly complain when going through a difficult situation or perhaps we aren’t very pleasant to ride with in the car during rush hour traffic.
And have you noticed that some people view patience differently than other fruits of the Spirit? They’ll say, “Well, I’m not a patient person” as if they’re giving asthma as an excuse not to exercise. “That’s just my personality. That’s just who I am.”
Funny how we never hear, “Well, I’m not a loving person” or “I’m not a kind person” spoken in the same way. Perhaps it’s because sometimes we see patience as a missing gene from our DNA rather than behavior to which God calls us.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12
So how do we do this? We ask for God’s help and keep in mind His extraordinary display of patience in our own lives. Instead of trying to muster up patience in our own strength, we pull from His limitless reservoir so that we can calmly bear pains and trials without complaint. The more we lean on Him, the more patient we become and the less irritating those jabs and incessant requests from our kids seem.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how patient are you? What is one situation in your life where you need more patience? What can you do to nourish and cultivate this fruit and allow it to grow within you?
Denim and Dollars
Have you ever seen a sea of elementary hands in chapel reaching forward in prayer? Heads are bowed, 120 sets of eyes are somewhat closed and palms are stretching out to join in a chorus of intercessory prayer. The grateful recipient is Mrs. Susan Wing, principal and founder of GracePoint School, a new Christian school for dyslexic students.
Since the 10th of August, VWCS students have been wearing jeans and donating dollars to support local missions. They’ve carefully extracted money from underneath couch cushions, parents’ pockets and purses, and by doing chores at home so they can don their denim on Fridays. They’re not just giving GracePoint School a Smart Board and the $500 they helped raise for Missions Day; they’re accepting the mantle of intercessor. Their gift has come full circle.
Jesus “called a little child and had him stand among them. And He said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’.” Matthew 18:2-3
Jesus’ reasoning had everything to do with the heart. Children are very trusting. They tend to give and forgive easily. They typically think the best of people and are quite willing to help when asked. There is no pretense in their prayers. A child’s faith is big, his love sincere.
Society, however, has disregarded children for centuries. Since children are dependent on others for the basic necessities of life and since they haven’t yet developed to their fullest potential, man often views them as weak. But if man chose to see with kingdom eyesight, he would know that a child’s vulnerability is his greatest strength.
Jesus said as much when the disciples were posturing for positions in heaven. “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4
VWCS students didn’t just participate in a fundraiser. Those denim dollars they raised will help 6 students with dyslexia grow academically and learn more about God as they develop into their fullest potential. And that is pretty great.
What an Eggplant Can Teach You
A few years ago, I had the fortunate opportunity to volunteer with some friends at the DC Central Kitchen, a nonprofit in Washington D.C. that since its founding, has prepared 25 million meals to their low-income and at-risk neighbors. Donning aprons and those lovely cafeteria lady hair nets, we were given a quick tour, important safety rules and then got down to business.
Much of the produce used in this kitchen arrives from local farms in sizes too large to sell to grocery stores. With our trusty cutting boards and sharp knives, we lined up to receive a supply of eggplants bigger than footballs. They were so large, one of them could have easily won a blue ribbon at a state fair. As we sliced and diced, two chefs in the kitchen’s Culinary Job Training Program told us what dishes they would make with all those eggplants.
The DC Central Kitchen provides 5,000 meals everyday to 100 nearby homeless shelters, transitional homes and nonprofits. It felt pretty amazing to know that these enormous eggplants would feed the unemployed, the homeless and the poor. Not amazing because I was doing a good deed, but amazing because one of those eggplants would nourish a family of 5 or 6.
Widely considered a vegetable, the eggplant is technically a fruit. If you’re like me, when I think of fruit, I think of bagging a handful of lemons or picking up a pint of strawberries at Kroger. But what if we thought of fruits on a grander scale? What if the fruits of the Spirit were enormous in us?
If you’ve cultivated love or kindness to the point that it resembles one of those blue ribbon eggplants, has it ever crossed your mind that your fruit could nourish a family of 5 or 6? Or that it could bless the unemployed, the homeless or the poor? If we would allow God to cultivate and grow spiritual fruit within us, there is no limit to the number of people we can bless.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22
It’s amazing what an eggplant can teach you. I learned that I need to switch my Kroger fruit mentality to that of DC Central Kitchen fruit. Rather than viewing fruit as small for personal consumption, I need to see it as capable of enormous size so that it can bless many.
Has God grown any enormous spiritual fruits in you? How might that fruit bless others? How can you allow your smaller, fist-sized fruits to grow into state fair blue ribbon fruits?
Thermostat or Thermometer?
Drive away at night to the country where cows outnumber cars and the sounds of life rushing past are replaced by crickets chirping and people laughing on front porch swings. Look up at the heavens and you’ll see the stars in their brilliance, no longer invisible to city dwellers.
The same stars God flung into place so many years ago are still above us, doing their job and illuminating the sky like a cache of diamonds, crystals and other precious stones tumbling onto a black cloth.
But what if stars grew tired of shining? What if they succumbed to the darkness around them, choosing to blend in with their surroundings rather than stand out? Aside from losing the sheer radiance of the night sky, ancient forms of navigation would cease to exist. No more star-gazing; no more Big Dipper, Cassiopeia or North Star; no more shooting stars.
The apostle Paul understood this well when he charged first century believers to “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-16
We “shine like stars” when we share the light of Christ with the lost. But we also shine when we choose to respond the way God wants us to, not how we might want to. We always have the choice to either reflect the climate around us or to change it – to be a thermostat or a thermometer. Anyone can read the temperature but few have the character and strength to change it. Jesus was the ultimate thermostat, turning the world upside down.
So which are you? When you walk into a difficult situation, do you absorb the environment and allow it to affect your mood and outlook on the day? Or do you take stock of your surroundings, remind yourself of God’s sovereignty and choose to reflect Christ in your attitude and behavior?
Are you a thermostat or a thermometer?
Action Figures and Airplanes
Visit a K-4 classroom when children go down for their afternoon naps and you’ll learn what self-control isn’t. Heads pop up like groundhogs amid a sea of superhero blankets, feet dangle in the air and little hands become action figures, airplane wings and anything that makes a noise. Of course over time, children learn proper behavior and gain self-control.
Adults are not that different. We may not be talking to Buzz Lightyear or Barbie when we should be napping, but we make choices not to control ourselves every day. We gossip about a co-worker, see a movie we really shouldn’t, take one too many helpings at the dinner table or spend money we don’t have.
But self-control is possible! We must surrender our desires to God and live by the Spirit and not the flesh. The key is to rely on His grace for the strength to say ‘no’…and the strength to hear ‘no’ when we don’t get our way.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” Titus 2:11-12
So what about you? Have you learned to still your heart before God and exercise self-control or do you look like a 4 year-old fighting sleep? What area of your life do you most need self-control?
All in a Day’s Work
Three men were working on the same building project. Each was approached and asked what he was doing. The first man answered, “I’m a bricklayer. I’m laying bricks.” The second replied, “I’m enclosing these four walls to make a solid structure.” The third man looked up at the sky, high above the building and said with a smile, “I’m building a cathedral.”
You may have heard this story before, but its truth bears repeating. All three men were doing the same job, yet each had a unique perspective on his labor.
God created work to be a blessing, giving man natural talents and strengths to create or accomplish something. Work can be a delight, but it can also be a drudgery.
Regardless of how you view your work, Paul reminds us: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Colossians 3:23 We may feel our work is unimportant, but when we work unto the Lord and rely on His strength, Scripture tells us that our labor is not in vain. Our bricklaying is really cathedral-building.
Who are you working for? Are you a bricklayer or a cathedral builder? What can you do to keep a positive attitude toward your work?
As we approach Labor Day, let’s thank God for the work He’s given us, and remember to rely on His strength and work as unto Him.
Known by Your Fruit
Take a summer walk through the farmer’s market and you’ll probably see an array of fruits, bursting with all the vibrant colors of the rainbow. Apples, oranges, bananas, limes, blueberries, plums and grapes – the palette is pleasing to the eye.
Fruit is sweet to the taste, cleanses our bodies of toxins and provides vitamins and antioxidants to build up our immune system. The same is true of the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22
When we allow the Holy Spirit to lead and work through us, people can see spiritual fruit in our lives. Our demeanor is “sweet” or pleasing to others; we are being spiritually cleansed of toxic attitudes, behaviors and mindsets; and we are spiritually rejuvenated so that we can stand against the attacks of the enemy and build others up in the faith.
Do you see any “Holy Spirit” fruit in your life?…in the lives of your family and friends? How do you let the Holy Spirit affect the way you act? What kind of fruit does the Holy Spirit want to grow in your life?
Do You Have the Spirit?
Remember as a student at pep rallies being divided into two groups and yelling, “We’ve got spirit, yes we do! We’ve got spirit, how ‘bout you?!” Well? Do you have the Spirit? The Holy Spirit?
When we choose to repent of our sins and put our faith in Christ, God gives us His Holy Spirit. But Jesus also spoke of something more – the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Before ascending into heaven, He told His disciples, “John [the Baptist] baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:5
The same disciples who ran when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane are also the same men who suffered beatings and imprisonment for boldly preaching the Gospel in the book of Acts. What made the difference? They had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
We need the Holy Spirit to live a victorious life. Rather than having a glass full of water, receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit is like placing that same glass underneath a waterfall. Water fills the glass and is immediately poured out, only to be filled and poured out again and again.
Do you have the Holy Spirit? How does the Holy Spirit speak to you? Is your glass full or is it overflowing and pouring out onto your family and those around you? Have you received the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
Are You Connected?
Have you ever noticed a tree limb that has been downed by a storm? At first the leaves have the same green vibrancy as the leaves that remain on the tree. In a couple of days though, they lose that verdant color and begin wilting under the sun. Another day or so and those crunchy, dry leaves are now brown and dead.
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:5-8 NIV
Everything starts with a relationship with Jesus. He’s the light of the world, the living water and the bread of life – all the things we need to survive.
Are you connected to Jesus? Or have you separated yourself from the source of all life? How do we stay connected to Jesus? Are you bearing fruit because of your connection to Jesus?
Do You Have High Hopes?
The first day of school is quickly approaching and with it comes excitement and anticipation. What hopes do you have for your child this school year? We’ve sat glued to the TV this week, cheering on our favorite Olympians as they pour years of training and preparation into competition, hoping to achieve their goals.
Your child may not wish to be an Olympic gold medalist, but their hopes are just as important. Do you have great expectations for them? Are you looking forward to the many things they will learn? – writing their name, memorizing their multiplication tables, exploring ecosystems and the solar system?
The apostle Paul tells us that, “hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5 NIV
God knows your hopes for your child. And if we put our hopes securely and ultimately in God, our imagination is not big enough to contain the things He wants to do.