Archive for ‘BCS Blog’

Have Fun With Summer Learning

Posted on: August 6th, 2017

Need to get your kids back into the swing of things before school starts?  Try some of these fun learning activities!

Read the Book, Watch the Movie

If you’ve hoping to encourage your kids to open a book and read this summer but it’s been a struggle, then this might do the trick. Pick out a book that is also a movie and then pick a date for a movie night. To view the movie, they have to read the book. 

Then, have a family movie night where you watch the movie together.  Since the movie is often a creative interpretation of the book, talk about the differences that you noticed and what you thought was more interesting in the book and what was more interesting in the movie.  Ask your child to be a movie critic and critique how the movie portrayed the book (characters, plot, scenes, imagery, etc.).  Make sure to have some popcorn, too!

Dive into a DIY

Find a project for your kids to do and have them follow the step by step instructions online. Pinterest and YouTube are great resources for finding fun project ideas. This allows kids to use a screen but to also create something and learn about how different things are made. You could also have your kids create their own DIY project and publish it online or email a tutorial to a family member.

Photo Hunt

Plan an outdoor photo scavenger hunt! Make a list of all planets, rocks, bugs etc. that you want your kids to find and ask them to photograph each item they find with a camera, iPod, smartphone or tablet. Afterwards you could use the photos to create a photo book together. Great for those end of summer camping trips and vacations!

 

Screen Time with a Purpose

Encourage your kids to dust off those word processing, graphic design and keyboarding skills! Create flyers for a rummage sale or lemonade stand and give proceeds to a favorite charity. Create cards for missionaries or soldiers. Volunteer to help a senior citizen with computer skills.  Create a photo book of summer vacation photos for the family to enjoy.

Summer Safety Tips

Posted on: June 14th, 2017

Summer Safety Tips

This is part of a series of posts providing practical information for parents and families while highlighting the talents and expertise that we have within our school community.  Here one of our parents in law enforcement shares some tips for keeping your family safe in large crowds.

1. Encourage your children to memorize your home address and phone numbers for parents. Make a game of it!

2. When your family goes to Summerfest, Six Flags, a local church festival or any other crowded venue, take a minute and snap a photo of your kids after you park your vehicle.  If your child goes missing, you have a photo of what they’re wearing and don’t need to struggle to try to remember their outfit at a time when you are already panicked.

3. Have a “reunion plan” in place for crowded venues, i.e. “if we get separated we will meet up at the Spinning Teacups.” (This is more appropriate for older children.) Make sure your younger children understand what staff members wear and know to ask them for help if they get lost.  Depending on your child’s age, it may be prudent to have a reunion site in and outside of the venue.

4) Remind your children that adults shouldn’t try to get them to go places away from their parents and that if someone does try to get them to “see a puppy”, “get some candy”, etc. that they should immediately tell an adult with kids, an employee, a police officer, etc.

Stay safe, and have a great summer!

 

To learn more about Brookfield Christian School, contact us today at admissions@brookfieldchristian.org.

Improving Your Everyday Photography

Posted on: June 2nd, 2017

This is part of a series of posts providing practical information for parents and families while highlighting the many talents and expertise that we have in our BCS school community.  Here one of our talented parents shares some tips and tricks everyone can use to improve their everyday photography.  Read on, and put these to use capturing your family this summer (maybe wearing BCS spirit wear….)!

The end of the school year is fast approaching which means one of the best times of year – summer vacation! This time of year also means more time outside enjoying the beautiful weather and celebrations with family and friends. If you are anything like me, you can never have enough pictures of your children. They grow and change so fast and it is fun to document them at the stage they are in. However, having professional pictures taken on a semi-regular basis to keep up with tracking these changes can certainly get expensive.  So here are some quick and easy tips you can use to improve your photography, whether you are using an expensive DSLR or your iPhone!

1) Consider Your Background
When you prepare to take a picture, I am sure you are focusing mostly on your subject. This makes complete sense. However, right before you snap the picture, take a quick minute and look at what is behind your subject(s). Clutter can be a very distracting element to a picture. You want to try to keep your main focus on the subject, not the background. Are there any small changes you can make to your background to make it more visually appealing? Is there a pile of clothes you can move to the side? A stash of toys you can shove behind the couch quickly? You want your background to distract as little as possible from your main subject and sometimes simple changes can really help take your picture from blah to great in a very short period of time. You may even be able to change your position or angle just slightly to remove a distracting object from your photograph.

Bedrooms can be tricky as there is a lot of stuff that can get in the way of the picture and be a distraction. Just keep moving around (or move stuff out of the way) to make sure the background is visually appealing in your photo.

2) Get Closer
One easy way to remove distracting or unappealing objects from your photo and bring the focus to your subject is by getting closer and filling your frame with your subject. When you are ready to snap your photo, take a few more steps closer to your subject. Yep, even closer. Try to fill your frame with your subject, not the background.  This may take a little getting use to but I promise you will like some of the resulting pictures. Yes you may cut off or remove some parts of your subject from the picture but you will create a much more intimate picture.

Moving in closer to your subject allows you to focus on the details as well. Not every picture you take of you children has to be standing and smiling at your camera (not like this is even possible most of the time). Instead, try to think outside of the box and focus on some of the other details that are equally important to capture. Think about ways to get creative with the shot you are taking and the story you are trying to tell.

3. Watch the Light
Good lighting can really make or break a picture. While this can get pretty technical, a few basic things you can learn about lighting that will dramatically improve your pictures.  Summer time is of course a great time to get outside to take pictures of your kids. However, with the longer days and warm weather comes bright sun and harsh shadows. These two factors do not make for the best pictures. In fact, overcast days are ideal for shooting outside pictures because colors stay true and your subjects won’t be squinting instead of smiling.  Many photographers like to photograph during what is called the “golden hours” – the hours right after sunrise in the morning and right before sunset in the early evening because this time of day nicely lights your subjects and creates a warm natural glow. However, as a parent, I know very well that taking pictures during this limited window of time is very hard with kids. So what can you do if you want to take pictures in the middle of the day? The key is looking for open shade. Basically you want your subject out of the bright sun in a shady (but not too shady) area facing towards the light. This will help give you nice even skin tones and a better overall result.

For these pictures I waited until the sun was setting (maybe around 7 pm) so the colors were nice and even and there were no harsh shadows falling on their faces.

Now let’s talk for a minute about taking pictures inside. When taking pictures indoors, as tempting as it is to use your flash, I would first try to find the most natural light you can from your window source. Spend some time watching where and when the sun comes into your home for a few days and figure out the best spots to use for natural light. Open up your blinds and curtains. I like to position my subject facing the window (such as near a window or an open door) at a 45 degree angle while I stand in the doorway or as close to the window as possible to actually take the picture. By positioning your subject towards the light source, you will also get a nice little sparkle (also called a catchlight) in their eye which really helps make your picture feel alive and bright.

This picture was taken in the dead of winter in our dining room. I simply positioned my son facing the window and stood with my back facing the window to make sure there was that sparkle in his eyes. If you aren’t sure whether you are getting good light, just keep moving your subject around until you see that nice little sparkle in their eyes.

4) Compose Your Picture
There is a concept in photography called the Rule of Thirds. This is a timeless technique that will help take your pictures from boring snapshots to wow photographs. Here is how it works. Think of placing a tic-tac-tow grid over your picture. You want the most interesting part of your picture to fall on one of the lines on the tic-tac-toe grid. When taking portraits, the eyes usually are the part you are aiming to place at one of the interesting lines. This is not a hard and fast rule and can certainly be broken. It is just something to consider when composing your picture. 

5) Do Some Basic Editing

You don’t have to have fancy editing software to improve your photographs with editing. Many iPhones comes with basic editing features right in the camera. You can even add filters for more artistic looks. Play around with a few and see which one speaks to you.  You can also add light, color, contrast and saturation pretty simply to your photographs that will help make them look a tad more professional. Just play around with the little levers until you get your picture to a place you like. Also, check out picmonkey.com for a free and easy editing software program that allows you to quickly and easy doctor your photos.  

I snapped this picture on my iPhone and with a few small tweaks – tightening the crop to remove the shadow in the bottom left, adding some light to brighten everything up, and saturating the colors a tad the edited picture is much better than the original and it only took me a minute!

6) Improving Group Photos
We’ve all been there. You are celebrating at that special family reunion or bridal show and you attempt a group picture to capture the special day. Afterwards, you check out the photo and realize there is not one picture with everyone’s eyes open! Here is an easy trick when taking a group shot. If you are acting as the photographer, tell everyone to close their eyes. Tell them you are going to count to three and then they need to open their eyes and smile.  As they open their eyes on the count of three, start snapping pictures. Those first few are bound to contain a few good shots!

7) Don’t Pose Your Kids
I know we all love the pictures of our kids standing and smiling perfectly at the camera, right? But let’s be honest, they are hard to come by.  Try experimenting with “non-posed” pictures. Those pictures of your kids playing and exploring; taking a bath; building with Legos; having breakfast; snuggling watching a movie. Take pictures of things other than their smiling faces. They help tell your story and share more about your son or daughter than any posed picture ever will.

And while you are quietly documenting these moments, softly whisper their name. When they look up from whatever they are doing, snap the picture. They may even smile when they hear their name. Or say something funny when you call their name. These are the moments you will get the genuine expressions we are all looking for.

With older children, I also like to play the “no smile” game. This works with most kids over the age of 4. Make it a game for them NOT to smile. Play it up as best you can — “don’t smile. Oh no, I see you smiling.” They will generally start laughing (and smiling) and a nice, genuine smile is almost always the results. They just can’t help themselves.

There you have it, a few quick and easy tweaks you can make to instantly improve your photography. If you are looking for a great resource to improve your photography even further, I highly recommend the book Mamarazzi: Every Mom’s Guide to Photographing Kids by Stacey Wasmuth.

 

Thanks to Kara Hilburger Photography for these great tips!  To learn more about how you can join the Brookfield Christian School community, contact us today at admissions@brookfieldchristian.org.

The BCS Buddy Bench

Posted on: March 27th, 2017

Earlier this year, our first graders were having a discussion about living out our Christian faith, and a “Buddy Bench” was an idea that they really got passionate about. The idea is that students who don’t have anyone to play with, who are having a bad day or maybe who aren’t getting along with their normal friends can go sit on the Buddy Bench. Other kids on the playground would keep an eye on the bench, and would hopefully go over to invite kids sitting there to play.  A school family generously donated a bench to be used, and it’s ready to go on the playground!

The first graders prepared a script and then went to the other elementary classes to explain the concept and get others on board with the Buddy Bench.  (Our K-5th grade students have recess together.) They even visited the Middle School classes to talk about it!  If you’d like to learn more about Buddy Benches, check out this site. This slide show is a great resource that goes over some of the expectations for the kids sitting on the bench.  We’re excited to see how kids respond to the BCS Buddy Bench!

 

To learn more about Brookfield Christian School, or to schedule a time to visit, contact us today!

 

Open Doors

Posted on: March 25th, 2017

Except on rare occasions like when I’m on the phone or having a meeting, my door is usually open.  Part of it is due to the fact that I’m a busybody who likes to move around and get up and down and out of the office and feel connected to the students and the activity of the school day.  Another reason is that I want to be approachable and have people feel welcome to pop in and talk with me.  And then there’s the recognition that God uses open doors (or opens closed doors) to accomplish his plan.

As a school, we strive to carry out our mission every day, but we also believe in strategically planning for the future to ensure the vision of BCS continues for years to come.  Dreams are realized, decisions are made, and plans are put into place.  At the end of the day, though, it takes people to make it happen.

There are some occasions where I wonder, based on the demands and skill requirements of the project, how those plans will be brought to fruition.  Yet I continue to be amazed at how God provides the right people at the right time.  And they often walk through my open door.

For instance, a few years ago we made the decision to use a new student information system.  A couple months after the decision was made, a parent volunteer walked through my door and shared that her expertise was in the area of software training and deployment.  She offered her skills to help us transfer our data, learn the system, and train our faculty and staff on how to use the system.  Thanks to her, we had a smooth, successful transition.  She continues to serve as a resource for us, tirelessly researching answers to questions and keeping us informed of the best way to use our system.

Similarly, two years ago, after we went through the reaccreditation process and evaluated ourselves as a school, we determined that we wanted to improve our professional collaboration as a faculty.  The next fall, a member of the broader school community walked into my office and told me that she had experience in leading staff development and asked if she could be of service to us.  Her work has enhanced teacher collaboration and collegial conversations at BCS.

Other times, I am made aware of possible opportunities for our students but need funding and/or a parent volunteer to make it happen.  One of the most requested programs I am asked about is Lego robotics.  Last spring, I had an acquaintance inform me that he could help us launch a team at BCS if I could find someone to head it.  I thanked him for the offer but placed the idea on the back burner due to the busyness of the year and not knowing what it would take to find a volunteer leader.  I totally forgot about it until a week or two ago when, after a committee meeting, a parent came up to me and asked about the possibility of starting a Lego club at BCS.  I told him I could get the funding, but I needed a coach for the club.  He responded, “Well, I’m saying that I would be that person.”

These are just a few examples of the many ways that God has blessed BCS and me, personally, and there are many more stories like them.  We dream big at BCS, seeking God’s will for our school.  Moving forward in faith, sometimes the path is abundantly clear and other times it truly seems like a leap of faith.  Yet God always provides, using open doors to reveal his perfect plan and impeccable timing.

Want to learn more about Brookfield Christian School?  Contact us for more information or to schedule a time to visit. 

Music and More: What We Learn From Musical Performance

Posted on: January 31st, 2017

 

6th grade play

Early in my teaching career, I vowed not to be one of those music teachers who demanded all loyalty to music and music performances. I made it a priority to always remember that students are more than one thing. They aren’t just music students. They are mathematicians, athletes, public speakers, readers, writers, artists, sons, daughters, etc. This view greatly affects the way that I teach music and performance. I know that most of my students will not become professional musicians. If they do, awesome! I will support them 100%, but the reality is that most of them will not pursue music as a career. With this in mind, my overall goal is to teach students music so they can pursue it in the future, contribute to their church and community, and think about the world in a different way.

I think performance (musical or theatrical) can teach students life skills, too. After a performance, I always take a few moments to reflect with students on how the performance went. I discuss with them the goals I had for the performance and whether we met them or not. I ask them why they think we do such a project, and then I ask the students three questions: What went well? What could have been improved? How did you personally contribute to the performance?

This fall the BCS 6th graders put on a play, and we did this kind of debriefing after the performances were completed. I was impressed with their deep reflection and the realizations they came to through the process of putting on a play. A few examples:

I learned that acting, even a solo act, is a team effort, from sets to just being quiet.

. . . it is important to work together. . .

The process of putting a play together is not easy – everybody has to put their best into the play – and it will come out awesome.

. . . it gets us to learn how to get over our nerves and to learn how to speak in public.

. . . it has helped me more with confidence on stage.

. . . we can be prepared when we give speeches or presentations.

To work on teamwork and self control.

I liked being “famous” for going to play practice, but it is hard work.

I also like the feeling of accomplishment and knowing and being able to say “I did that.”

It is good to step out of your comfort zone at least once in awhile.

Common themes running through the reflections were teamwork, public speaking practice, confidence building, and hard work. I love that I can provide these lessons for students because I know that it will prepare them for the future. How many people have to work as a team in their job? Speak in front of a group of people at work or in church? Work hard to accomplish a goal?  Some students also learned through this project that they love acting. How amazing to see a student blossom into a skill they didn’t even know they had!

Adding a 6th grade play was a big change this year. However it afforded me the opportunity to teach the 6th grade students the basics of acting, how to be on stage, how to project one’s voice, and so much more. My hope is that next year we can jump right into the musical without spending much time on the basics. I believe that our level of excellence in performance will increase through this process of building.

Though it may seem this way, I’m not just the crazy music teacher who wants her students’ lives to revolve around music and performance. Mostly I want them to learn life lessons and pursue excellence in all that they do. I appreciate the support of the BCS community in allowing this to happen. It makes my job so much easier and a joy!

Generations

Posted on: January 2nd, 2017

Every Monday morning, our staff meets together for a time of devotion and prayer.  Each teacher takes a turn preparing and presenting the devotion for the week.  With their permission, we will be sharing their devotions here from time to time. 

generations

Four generations were present – babies, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents – all clustered in my sister’s house in Michigan. Two walkers were resting in the foyer – one for baby Brooklyn and one for my elderly father. It was a profound moment when I looked at the two walkers. They were sitting side by side, representing the bookends of life. Both walkers were used for support. The walkers were physical reminders of our dependence as babies coming into this world, and our frailty as we near the end of our life. Two generations, in need of extra care.

The middle generations were busy talking, reminiscing and making plans. Our parents had raised us in a Christian home, praying, and faithfully reading God’s Word. They had taught us to depend on our Lord and Savior, and walk in his footsteps throughout our lives. My parents, models of humble Christian living, had always been loving and supportive. Now in their advanced years they were in need of extra support. My father, with Alzheimer’s, and my mother, the caregiver, had difficulty moving about – especially maneuvering stairs in their home.

God graciously blessed my parents a month later with a new apartment where they are now happily settled. Weeks later, four generations were present when I visited. The sign on my parent’s door are the familiar words from Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.

grandparents day generations

Fast forward to a Fall Friday on Grandparents’ Day, several generations (including my own family) were present at BCS – students, parents and teachers, grandparents and even some great-grandparents. Joel 1:3 says “Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.” What a blessing to witness the love and joy between generations, and seeing families who desire Christian education. God has truly been faithful throughout all generations.

Finally, Psalm 90:1-2 says “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” If we step back and look at the big picture, our generation is a very small part in this world. A thousand years is like a moment to God. God is God of Creation, God of history, and God of eternity. And yet, living in this here and now, God is with us. He desires a relationship with us.

May we reflect on his goodness and pray that He lives within us each and every day. May each generation be a place where God dwells – a sanctuary.

3 Ways to Grow In Grace

Posted on: November 30th, 2016

2016-17 theme

I can’t count how many times I’ve said “no” to my kids.

“No, you can’t wear your underwear outside. No, you can’t eat ice cream in bed. No, you can’t open your sister’s birthday presents. No, no, no, no.”

And, like clockwork, my answer ignites the fuse of the tantrum bomb. 3-2-1…KABOOM! And they are on the floor, kicking and pounding their fists as if I just told them I ate all their Halloween candy. In the safety of their own home, around loving parents who tolerate, guide and redirect, they know they are free to express themselves and grow from each “no.”

And so it is with us. As we move into the holiday season and pause to remember the grace of our Lord, we can’t forget to reflect inward. Are we growing in the grace He provides?

Communicate and help each other out

We teach our children to “use their words” instead of their hands. We guide them into heart-felt apologies or simple desires to play with a child or use their toy.

In his opening speech on the first day of school, Mr. Ben Fox gave an illustration with two boys and a box of Fruit Loops. As one boy first threw the cereal into the other boy’s mouth, no Fruit Loops were caught and nothing was accomplished. However, when a string was given to both of them, the cereal traveled down to the boy’s mouth and he was fed.

First John 3:17 says, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”  We must effectively communicate and serve others — to be Jesus’ hands and feet — to grow His grace in our lives.

Secure your roots, reach your branches

In a world full of information overload and a spectrum of opinions, it is important to know what you believe.  My dad used to always say, “You have to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.”

Decide to follow and place your roots deep in the truths of God. This will allow you to withstand wavering popular opinion. As the prophet compares in Jeremiah 17:13, a blessed man “will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

And when your roots are firm, your branches can reach without hesitation to worship the Lord and bask in His grace.

Remember the seed

When I was younger, I remember planting a grapefruit seed for the science fair. Each day I would inspect the seed to see if there was any sign of growth. Nothing. After a week of not seeing any progress, I claimed my project a failure. But that’s when, the next day, a tiny sprout appeared and hope returned.

The same is true of spiritual seeds. Seeds, when planted, don’t immediately grow into strong, mighty oaks. It takes time — months, years, decades. And we must remember, we all start out as little seeds with a purpose and plan set forth before us.

We can’t expect others to profess salvation and suddenly be without sin. Nor can we expect ourselves to grow from spiritual infants to mature manna-eating adults overnight.

Instead we must hang on the promise in Philippians 1:6, which states, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” We must trust in his work in us, his timing and his plan and grow in the grace of this promise.

So when we make unrealistic demands on God and hear Him say “no,” we may feel ourselves spin into a tantrum of our own. This is where the Lord meets us, picks us up, pulls us in and says “my grace is sufficient.”

And in that, we must seek to remain and grow.

Lessons From the Band Room

Posted on: October 26th, 2016

band-lessons

Band – it’s not just about playing an instrument!

If you had told me 20 years ago that I would be teaching elementary/middle school band, I would have laughed! My music adventure is completely a “God-story” – and that story may be for another post! Growing up, I was surrounded with music. My mother was a church organist and my father (still, at age 88) plays the viola. I started piano lessons in Kindergarten, was involved in church and school choirs throughout my youth. I went to college and majored in music with an emphasis in voice and piano.  In 1993, I began teaching general music and choir at Brookfield Christian School. At that time, a local music store came into the school to provide instrumental lessons and a band experience for a small group of students.  The school board wisely decided that band should be an integral part of the curriculum and, in 1998, sent me back to school to learn how to teach instrumental music. With the help of others, the “new and improved” band program at BCS (then MCS) took off, allowing students to discover their musical gifts and use them to honor God!

band lessons

As I went to school to learn about instruments, I also had to learn to play them all. (That’s part of my God-story). As an adult, this was no small task! I can only imagine what it’s like as a 10-year-old. Here are some non-music lessons lessons I learned:

Playing an instrument is not easy.  It takes a lot of patience and perseverance to play well. The professionals make playing look so easy.  And yes, for a few gifted people, it does come quickly.  For the rest of us, we work long and hard at it.

Playing an instrument and being in band also teaches discipline. It takes practice to get better.  There’s that dreaded “P” word! Many have compared band to an athletic team. Just as at a sports practice, the team must run endless drills to improve their skills, so must the musician.  There are many similarities between sports and music.  Both have many players with varying abilities and roles. Both have a leader (coach/director). Both require technical practice and drills. Both emphasize the importance of the practices in preparation for actual playing (game/concert). It has been said that the team is only as strong as its weakest link.  This is often true and is a good reminder that one becomes better with consistent practice. However, as in sports, drills only improve skills to a point. Putting those skills into a real time application helps players understand why the drill was important .  For a band student who plays the same note twenty times in a song, it may seem boring and meaningless.  But when those notes get put together with other notes, beautiful music occurs. Rarely is there a solo played in band.  It’s a team experience!

bcs-band-students

Playing an instrument teaches the joy of accomplishment – a “job well done.”  There’s nothing like the excitement of a student when they “get” a note or understand how to count a passage. I remember when I was learning to play the oboe.  It was very difficult!  I think my family had to listen to a lot of horrid sounds until one day, I got it!  My notes were in tune and the family could recognize the song I was playing. It’s that patience, perseverance and discipline that gets you to the “well done” stage.

Finally, being in band teaches a LOT of responsibility.  Although this is not a lesson I learned as I was learning to play all the band instruments, it is most certainly something that my students hear about.  Students must remember their instrument, music and practice sheets weekly. Yes, there’s that “P” (practice) word again! I insist that the sheets come in on time with a goal that everyone will learn responsibility and timeliness in band class.

Life lessons of patience, perseverance, discipline, practice and responsibility are lessons I have continued to learn throughout my adventures as a music educator. Perhaps they are the most valuable lessons learned in band class as well.

Choosing Joy

Posted on: October 11th, 2016

Every Monday morning, our staff meets together for a time of devotion and prayer.  Each teacher takes a turn preparing and presenting the devotion for the week.  With their permission, we will be sharing their devotions here from time to time. 

choosing-joy

Recently, my students learned about “The Armor of God.”   One of the pieces is the “Sword of the Spirit” – the only piece that is for offense, or fighting!  You may recall that the sword is the powerful Word of God – the Bible!

We know that all the Scripture in this all-time best selling book is equally true.  However, it is not all equally understood.   One part I struggle with understanding and following is James 1:24.  James says, “Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Ok, I get that “no pain, no gain” thing here, but that testing part?  God already knows how I’ll react to these trials, so the testing is for me to find out how I will deal with the challenge.  I get most of this.  But that little 3-letter word: JOY.  That’s the part I struggle with.  JOY.  When I think of joy, I think of how friends feel after sharing news that they’re expecting a child, or how a dad catching a 26-inch bass with his son might feel.  Now, those things I consider pure joy!

Yet God wants us to embrace the tough times that all Christians are guaranteed to experience.  You see, for Christians, those trials are not a matter of if, but when. Maybe you’re in a category 5 trial right now.  Are you, like me, challenged to have that joyful attitude all the time, even in the toughest times? Why does God allow these things to happen to His children? As parents, we try to help our children avoid tough times. As teachers, we want only the best for our students. So what’s the deal here?  It can be difficult to grasp that part of Scripture.

How quickly I forget that God is God and I am not.  God sees everything while I see a little.  Just as we as parents and teachers want only the best for our children, God too, only wants what’s best for us.  We want our children to trust us because we love them and would do anything for them, but they don’t necessarily trust us, and it always hurts our feelings.  Imagine how God feels, then, when we don’t trust Him.  It’s like we don’t believe His promises.

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2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (My emphasis added.) I’m beginning to see some purposes here.  We are strengthened through the tough times and we are equipped to help others later on after the storm passes.  What can I do in the midst of the trial when I may not be jumping for joy?

  • Help others. Helping others while you are struggling can take the focus off of your own circumstances.
  • Give yourself reminders: encouraging verses, cards, songs, etc.
  • Seek support from those around you to keep you grounded.
  • Pray, of course!  God loves our prayers, and while He doesn’t need them, we do.

Just as in most things in life, we have a choice.  When the storm clouds roll into our lives, and they will, we can choose to be bitter, forgetting the promises of God and letting the circumstances overpower our faith, or we can trust God to make us better and, in turn, help make others better.  So, let’s not waste these times of trial.  If we can’t always be joyful, let’s still be faithful.

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