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Letting Go

Letting Go

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One morning a few weeks ago as I was walking to school, one of our staff kids ran by me. I looked behind, but did not see his father, who is usually walking with him. Okay, I thought. Then right behind came another staff kid on a scooter whipping right by me. Again, she is normally with her parents, but they were nowhere in sight. What’s up, I thought? Then I realized that these kids were now in grade four or five, the time when they start to have a bit more freedom, by possibly taking public transportation themselves or being able to go to a friend’s house – stuff like that.

I’ve been around for a long time, and I’ve seen some changes in parenting over the years. You will probably cringe when I tell you that when I was four years old and my sister was nine, we would walk to school alone. We had to cross a six lane highway during our walk of about half a kilometer. We would go trick-or-treating at Halloween by ourselves and not return until well after dark.

Times sure have changed. It’s no longer safe to allow kids as much freedom as I experienced. But I’ve also noticed over the 35 years that I’ve been in education, that many parents today find it difficult to let their children make mistakes and then have to pay the consequences for those mistakes. I actually have a quote on my wall that says, “ICSV Motto: We make NEW mistakes.” What does that mean? Mistakes are a part of learning. If we are afraid to try because we are paralyzed by the thought that we may not be right, then we will never learn. Taking chances and making mistakes is part of the learning process. I’m taking another German class (yes, I’m still trying!), and I make tons of mistakes. What I enjoy so much about this class, is that it is made up of ICSV staff, so we can laugh at our mistakes and encourage each other in the process. What I’ve found is that sometimes I can learn from someone else’s mistake, but often I must be the one to get something wrong before I really understand what didn’t work with the way I figured it out. I need to make the mistake for myself.

I guess what I’m trying to do is to encourage you that you are doing the right thing when you allow your kids to make their own mistakes. It’s so hard to not try and bail them out if they procrastinate and then lose points for turning in an assignment late. It’d be so much easier to just do the work for them so that they can get a better grade. So, stand strong, as it is more important that the teacher sees what your child understands so that he or she can be helped and can then improve. Be there to support them if they ask questions, but give them enough space to learn and grow on their own. 

As we conclude two days of parent-teacher conferences, I wanted to express just how much we appreciate our ICSV parents. You demonstrate your love and concern for your kids while also giving them increased independence as they grow. I want to acknowledge that I know it’s not easy allowing them to make mistakes. You so want to protect them from making the same mistakes that you did growing up. But be assured that no one at ICSV expects your kids to be perfect students or for you to be perfect parents. Try and remember that we’re in this thing called “education” together. And what a privilege that is!

Because of his Faithfulness,

Sharon Brobst, Ed.D.

 

 

Letting Go

Every Breath I Take

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A couple of weeks ago, I was awakened by a horrific sound coming from the kitchen. I ran in to find my husband unable to breathe. It was just past midnight, and he had been suffering from a terrible cough, when he woke to find himself unable to get enough oxygen into his lungs. Obviously, he was in a panic, for without air, one cannot live. After a time of struggle, he was able to calm down, but he still knew that something was terribly wrong. During all of our years together, we have never had to call an ambulance, so here I was in a German speaking country during the middle of the night trying to communicate what had just happened.

I have to say that the two EMTs were wonderful! They spoke good English, were calm and professional, and were even able to joke with us Americans, knowing that we’d have huge bottles of over-the-counter meds that we had brought back from the US. ☺ It turns out that Greg’s vocal cords were so inflamed that they were blocking his airway. He also was suffering from a viral infection in his lungs, thus compounding the problem.

This situation got me to thinking about a little girl that was born to some of our friends. She had been diagnosed while her mother was still pregnant with a birth defect that was so severe that it literally made life outside the womb impossible. Even so, the parents carried their little girl to full term, and gave birth to her in the hospital. They thought that she would only live for minutes or hours, but she hung on for eight days. One of the family’s friends wrote a poem at that time, stating that her very breath was praise to God. I’ve remembered that for all these years, and just recently found a post by a lady named Daje Morris from 2017. Its title was “to breathe is to worship God.” She said that the Hebrew term for God is YHWH (Yahweh/Jehovah), which are the two syllables in the sounds of breathing in and then breathing out. In other words, every time that we breathe, we are giving praise to God with our very breath! 

There are numerous times throughout the Bible where breath is used almost as a synonym for life. In Genesis, we are told that “the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the BREATH OF LIFE.” In the book of Acts, the Apostle Paul says that “He himself gives to all people LIFE AND BREATH.” In the book of Psalms, we read, “I will pray as long as I have BREATH!” So, yes, breathing is basically synonymous with life, so as long as I have the BREATH to live and to speak, I will praise the Lord. 

So, that horrific night where I watched my husband struggle for every breath, was a visible reminder that it is God who gives us every single breath that we take. 

This is the air I breathe, your holy presence living in me.
This is my daily bread, your very word spoke to me.
And I, I’m desperate for you, and I’m lost without you.

Because of His Faithfulness,

Sharon Brobst, Director

(to listen to the song, “Breathe” by Michael W. Smith, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZHN46gsbLc)

 

 

An Act of Grace

An Act of Grace

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Last week’s news included a knife attack in Paris, 20 deaths in Iraqi protests, unrest in Hong Kong, hurricanes in the Atlantic, a shooting at a retirement community, and the list goes on. But one news story really caught my attention. In the US, there have been a number of police shootings that have involved white policemen and black individuals. This week there was an article about an off-duty cop, Amber Guyger, who had just finished a double shift, when she entered her apartment building on the wrong floor. She went to the apartment directly above her own where a black man, Botham Jean, was seated watching TV. She mistook him for an intruder in her apartment and proceeded to shoot him. It was really his own apartment.  This week she was sentenced to ten years in jail for murder.

What was so astonishing about the case was that the man’s 18-year old brother, Brandt Jean, told the court that despite what his family had lost, if Guyger was truly sorry for what she had done, then he forgave her. He also said that his main desire was not that she serve time in prison, but that she give her life to Christ. Not only did he speak these amazing words, but he then asked to give her a hug, during which time Amber wept at the thought that he would forgive her. You see, Brandt Jean is a Christian, so he  understands what forgiveness and grace are all about. And he doesn’t just understand it. He walked it out in this very visible example of forgiveness and grace. 

Not everyone was inspired by Jean’s actions. Many felt that Guyger did not get what she deserved, which could have been many more years in prison. They also felt that society is wrongfully using the willingness of the black community to forgive. In a way, I can understand their reactions, for it is very hard to get past what is viewed as an unfair consequence for a wrong that has been committed. I’m not saying that she didn’t deserve jail time and that she deserved grace and mercy. That’s why grace is defined as getting what we DON’T deserve, and mercy is not getting what we DO deserve. In this case, Brandt Jean offered forgiveness to his brother’s killer – something that she DOESN’T deserve. He also showed mercy by not wanting retaliation against her by desiring a super long jail sentence, which could be what she did deserve.

For me, this was a very profound example of how we have been forgiven by God who could just as easily have sentenced us to death for our sinful acts. Instead, he treated us with mercy and grace. I am super impressed that this 18-year old could have such a powerful understanding of these deep concepts. May we learn from this simple, yet rather difficult, act of compassion during a most horrific time in their lives.

Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon C. Brobst, Ed.D.
Director

(Click here to see a video of Brandt’s statement)

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That’s the Point!

That’s the Point!

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One day I noticed a post from a friend on Facebook. It was the picture that you see above – “Actually, He will give you more than you can handle.” The first comment about it was “My mother always told me that God wouldn’t give me more than I could handle.” So which is it?

Without even knowing it, we interpret what we see and learn through our own cultural lens. In the United States, and especially in the northeast where I grew up, independence and self-sufficiency are qualities that are valued. So, when we read a verse like John 15:5 that says, “apart from me you can do nothing,” we tend to manipulate it to fit with what we already believe. We change it to be a half-truth. It’s kind of like, “God helps those who help themselves.” Did you think that this is in the Bible? No, it isn’t. Again, this is the very opposite of what the Bible says. In Romans 5:8, the Apostle Paul reminds us that it was “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Not while we were doing our best or helping ourselves. This is the ultimate example of God’s undeserved love and grace.

So, what about God giving us more than we can handle? If that is true, it sure doesn’t sound fair. Again, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth saying, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” Paul says that his troubles were so extreme and far beyond our ability to endure, that he thought he would die. This isn’t a man saying, “I’ve got this.” This is someone who couldn’t do what he was being called to do alone. But Paul knew that God was with him and that God who was able to raise Jesus Christ from the dead was in control of the situation. Paul may not have understood or even liked everything that was happening to him, but he had faith in God who has a perfect plan.

So, does God give us more than we can handle? He sure does! Why? So that His power can be seen at work in us and to grow us to become more like His Son, Jesus Christ. Again, the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth telling them that He begged God to take away what he calls “a thorn in my flesh” and God responded with “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Trusting God isn’t easy. But the more we get to know Him, the more we can trust Him, realizing that He has the ultimate good in mind. So even if we don’t always understand the circumstances of our lives, we can place our trust in the Almighty, Sovereign God who loves us more than we could ever imagine. That’s the point!

Because of His Faithfulness,

Sharon Brobst, Director

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Letting Go

Happiness or Joy?

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This morning when I opened my email, there was an article called, “We’re Getting ‘Happy’ Wrong.” The author, Aytekin Tank, went on to explain why even if you win a million euros, the happiness and excitement that came with winning will quickly fade. He said that being happy is not about reaching a milestone, because our tendency is to adapt to the new normal and then that becomes “the baseline against which further events are judged.” We can wear ourselves out constantly striving for “success” or “happiness.” Tank’s solution is for us to find a new measuring stick that we use to define happiness. His advice was simple: “Here’s the new yardstick: Become aware of what you’re good at and what you like doing, then go do it.” Sounds simple enough. But is it true?

The one thing Tank seems to get right is when he advised us to embrace the process, flipping “our focus from fleeting, external factors to internal ones.” By this he means that as we learn to overcome things we grow in character, thus “becoming the versions of ourselves we want to be as we chase after the things we want to do.” This kind of sounds right, but what he is still missing is that as long as the focus remains on us and what we want and what we do well, we will continue to find happiness only for a time until the situation changes.

The Bible views things from a completely different point of view. In the book of James 1:12 it says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” How is that possible? When our eyes are focused on what God wants to do in our lives, then we know that “the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Similar to what Tank said about focusing on character growth, if we keep our eyes focused on God and what HE wants and our purpose in life, trusting that God is in control and has a purpose for everything, then we can remain in His joy.

Elisabeth Elliot is a Christian author and speaker who became well known when her young husband, Jim Elliot, was killed while attempting to make missionary contact with the Auca tribe in eastern Ecuador back in 1956. After his death, she returned as a missionary to the very people who killed her husband. Elisabeth learned the meaning of joy in spite of one’s situation. She said, “The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.” Circumstances change, but true joy in Christ is eternal. (CompellingTruth.org). That is the difference between eternal joy and temporary happiness.

Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon C. Brobst, Ed.D.
Director

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