We are now at the end of February. Hard to believe! We have finished a month in which we focused on the theme of "Love".
How have you shown your appreciation, love, to the special people in your life this month? Did you give gifts, cards, words of appreciation? In our classroom last week, we exchanged a variety of Valentine items.
Have you ever thought about all the meanings of the word love? There are at least eight types of love; from love that focuses totally on ourselves to love that focuses totally on others.
We know the greatest love is that of the Father who sent His Son to be our redeemer. This selfless love is known as agape love. We come close to this as parents, spouses, and teachers in Christian schools.
Have you ever thought of how appreciation and love go together?
It is easy during the day, or month that focuses on love to make the effort to show love & appreciation to others. But how often do we do this the rest of the year?
The Bible tells us where our treasure is, there is our heart. What do you appreciate? What do you value? (Matthew 6:21)
When we place value on something or someone we are willing to sacrifice for what we value.
The parents here at Grace value what we are able to provide for the children they have placed in our care; the Christ-centered education, the caring staff, the safe environment, the quality education, and the extras we offer.
The teachers value what we are able to provide, as they give of their time, their talents, and their treasures to offer more to the children.
Both school and church families make sacrifices for the children to attend Grace.
Our school families make the commitment & sacrifice to give up some things in their lives to be able to pay tuition, so the children are able to attend Grace and receive a Christ-centered education.
There are sacrifices & commitments with both our school & church families.
At the beginning of time, there was also a commitment and later a sacrifice made so that we too would not be without. When Adam and Eve fell into sin, our LORD made the commitment, a promise, to send His Son at a later time to make a purchase - He would buy us back using Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice.
The LORD values us so much that He was not willing to be separated from us. He had created everything with a plan for us to be in Heaven one day with Him. When the evil one thought he had ruined the LORD's plan - our Father revealed how He much value he places on us by offering up His Son as the ultimate Sacrifice - John 3:16. This was not a last-minute plan, but one the LORD knew from before time began - 1 Peter 1:20, He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.
The LORD has shown us time and again He values us - What do you value? What do you appreciate? How have you shown it lately?
This year we were in the unique position to celebrate both Ash Wednesday and Valentines' Day on the same day. This hasn't happened since 1945!
I find this to be an amazing coming together of two great celebrations!
Valentines' Day is the one day a year that is set aside to tell family, friends, loved ones, and really, anyone, that they are special to you.
We get to do this any way we want! There is no set rule. No gifts are expected. Cards are nice, flowers are nice, food, and meals out are nice. The children can make things and they mean the world to those they love.
It's hard to contain the children at school on Valentines' Day. All the other days of the school year the parties don't hold the anticipation that a Valentines' Day party holds. They anxiously wait to hand out what they have for their friends, classmates, teachers, and staff. They get excited not only with what they are given, but with how their classmates and the others react with what they have chosen to give.
I love to watch the tokens that are handed out that day.
The day saddens me as well, as there are children who don't hand out items. They face disappointment with having nothing to give. Their friends don't seem to notice this in our Lutheran School, they simply accept that some children can't give. We have the policy that if you give you give to all, everyone receives something on Valentines' Day.
I like that this year Ash Wednesday & Valentines' Day were on the same day.
This year as we began to study our LORD's journey to the cross, we can see the anticipation that He faced - the knowledge that He was giving out of the greatest LOVE. Christ was going to the cross to give the greatest Valentine of all! He was going to give us eternal Salvation!
We have nothing that we can give Him in return for this salvation. We know that according to Ephesians 2:8-9 We know that it is by Grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.
We see the love that the Father has shone down on us and that the reason we love is because He first loved us! (1 John 4:19)
So, as we go through this Lenten Season, remember this year, it started with not one but two special days, both connected to hearts. One heart bigger than we can imagine and the other hearts connected through eternity by the Spirit of the Living God. (Genesis 1:26-28)
Some God Responses...
Most of you know that I am a camera person. I enjoy being behind the lens, much more than out in front of the lens. This was a passion I shared with my husband of 21+ years while he was alive.
It gives me great joy to photograph the people and places that hold meaning for me. Whether this is family members, favorite vacation places, or the children here at Grace.
I enjoy sharing these photos with others. I especially enjoy sharing our school photos with our families on Facebook, our school website (http://www.graceenglish.org/ ), and the newsletter. After taking photos of the children, I get to work and get them ready for publication. When sharing the photos, I am careful that all identifying information is taken out of the photo; children's names are always removed or blocked. I always tell the children that I only use the photos that show them at their best - what represents them & their family in the best possible light.
How about our own Facebook pages? What do they represent? Do they show the world who we are?
We are instructed in 1 Peter that we are to always be ready to give an account for what we believe, but do our actions truly show what we believe?
What if we could make a Facebook page to represent our LORD?
What do you think it would have on it?
Or better yet....
...What if He could comment on our page and the statements we make about ourselves?
Many of the statements I see on my family & friends Facebook pages are the same statements I hear from our children here at Grace. The children don't come up with these statements by themselves; they learn them from hearing them from those around them. They learn them from the actions of the adults around them. When we use negative statements about ourselves we reinforce these statements in our children.
Here are some examples and what God might say in reply:
You say: "It's impossible"
God says: "All things are possible"(Luke 18:27)
You say: "I'm too tired"
God says: "I will give you rest"(Matthew 11:28-30)
You say: "Nobody really loves me"
God says: "I love you"(John 3:16 & John 3:34)
You say: "I can't go on"
God says: "My grace is sufficient"(2 Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)
You say: "I can't figure things out"
God says: "I will direct your steps" (Proverbs 3:5-6)
You say: "I can't do it"
God says: "You can do all things" (Philippians 4:13)
You say: "I'm not able"
God says: "I am able" (2 Corinthians 9:8)
You say: "I can't forgive myself"
God says: "I forgive you" (I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)
You say: "I'm always worried and frustrated"
God says: "Cast all your cares on ME" (I Peter 5:7)
You say: "I feel all alone"
God says: "I will never leave you or forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5)
Remember John 3:17 says "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
Vicki Helmling is a teacher at Grace English Lutheran School