Thursday, March 18, 2010

Desert Song

Sometimes we walk through valleys in our walk with God. Sometimes we find ourselves dry and empty. I know I have felt this way many times these past months. That is why I love this song - it so wonderfully captures how regardless of where we are, feeling low or high, "I will bring praise." Regardless of the situation, regardless of how we are feeling - our God still deserves our praise.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Fruit, not the kind you use in smoothie, but the kind that you see as a result of your work, is an interesting thing. Sometimes God chooses to reveal the fruit in your life, sometimes its just not the season. We all long to see the fruit of our is the most joyful time and often puts meaning into all the labor.

Why does God choose to reveal fruit sometimes and not others? If we know anything about God is that His timing is always punctual. He knows when and His time is always with purpose.

I ponder upon all of this because lately I have been feeling rather bogged down by my life efforts working with youth. Working with youth is one of those things where fruit is desired, but seldom seen. The pressure to produce it is enormous and the passion behind the work is strong, but like with any human, it is ultimately the choice of the youth. I have seen many youth get very close to success, very close to overcoming great barriers and then again, very close doesn't count. Or does it?

There are days when I am in love with the youth - days when I am so proud of their accomplishments and rejoice in their growth. There are days when I want to rip my hair out and never go back to work again. Youth :)

I know God is looking at my situation and smiling. He lovingly, in the past month has given me glimpses of the fruit He has grown to full term, and has shown me how I have been a part of the growing process. Efforts made years ago have come to fruition and have been confirmed by those who have experienced the growth.

I say this not to boast, but rather to bring encouragement to you (and remind myself) that it does not take one to plant and bring a fruit to its maturity. It takes a team, it takes time, and mostly it takes God. Every small effort, every seed, every watering, every pruning, is all a part of the big picture and the big plan. Even as we are contemplating whether or not our efforts are making any difference, the Spirit is stirring. Perhaps years later you will hear how that kind word or random interaction you thought was forgotten and wasted, it may just come back and be revealed that it was that moment that made a big difference.

Its a beautiful complex reality that God created. I think He made it that way to keep us humble and completely depend and trust Him to see everything through to the end. I thank God for the fruit He does bless us to see, and also for the fruit we do not see. I thank God that He knows when to lift our spirit and how. I pray that I will not be bogged down with the "need" to see change and fruit all the time. Its not easy, but thankfully our Lord is much bigger than our imagination.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Senior Year Options

Many students are not content with the typical 4 years of high school, sitting in class learning lots of theory about the "real world." Some, knowing they don't want to still be sitting in school by the time they are 17-18, plan ahead and graduate early so they can pursue their higher education goals. Some get bogged by senioritis and barely graduate. Regardless of where one is at, senior year is tough - you are on the edge of "real life" and making "real decisions" while still conforming to pre-designed requirements. Things can quickly become meaningless.

Of course there are senior students who are fine with going through the motions of the regular high school life, but that is increasingly becoming less popular. Students today are seeking more choices and opportunities to take charge of their education and direct it towards areas they are interested in.

When I was a senior in high school, I was attending a charter school named CAL (Center for Advanced Learning) which gave me the freedom to pursue my interests and further my professional goals. At the end of my junior year, I came to the principal and told him my situation - I loved CAL and its philosophy, but I was no longer interested in the web design program I was in. I was interested in exploring education and vocational ministry. The principal didn't scold me for being out of the box. He encouraged me and said he will set me up with a mentor. By the time I came back to school that Fall, I had a completely different curriculum that was personally focused on my needs and interest. I had a mentor who met with me weekly and provided opportunities to explore teaching at a local elementary school as well as meeting with professors at local universities. I felt like my senior year was purposeful and by the time I graduated I felt confident and prepared to pursue my interests.

It is a growing trend. According to USA Today, more and more high school seniors are re-inventing their senior year to be more personalized and more applicable. Students are taking advantage of opportunities to simultaneously get college credit while getting their high school diploma, finding internships and other opportunities to explore future careers.

So far, it has been the more "academically advanced" who have taken on these opportunities, but I think the educational system should compare their current method and consider the benefits of allowing all seniors to pursue their interests during their senior year. I know it is much more complex then just giving kids the option of mixing up their senior year - there must be standards and requirements, but there also must be an open opportunity for exploration and choice for students to feel they are in control of their studies and pursuits.

What do you think? Did you feel your senior year of high school prepared you for college? For the real world? Should students have alternative options during their senior year? Please voice!
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