Teachers

Whoever welcomes a child, welcomes me. Jesus

Lord God who created the vocation of teaching, shower your servants with grace and peace, and give them the desires of their hearts. Amen


This week, the evening drop of hope is dedicated to the class of 2020. On Monday, we stared into the face of being chosen, and yesterday I shared an open letter to Amy and the class of 2020. Today, I’m thinking about how much our grads will miss their teachers.

In honor or teacher appreciation week our Crossroads Family Ministry Team had a poignant conversation with Kim Terry, an elementary school teacher who also volunteers with Crossroads Kids. The team asked Kim a couple of questions, and her answers explain why the student-teacher relationship is so important.

1. What is one of the most rewarding things about teaching? Why do you do it?

There are so many things that make it rewarding! In my 18 years I have always worked with primary students, kindergarten- second grade. Seeing their daily excitement about new things and the energy they bring every day is so fun!

I have chosen in my career to always work at Title schools usually in low income areas. I find the partnership with families to be one of my favorite things. Most parents want better for their kids than the path they had and want to support you as they can. My current school is a social emotional elementary school here in Loveland that contains many kids from trauma. I chose this school because I truly want to make a difference and be an advocate for all students. I know that they cannot feel safe or successful at school if their basic needs are not met. I have extra food, clothing, toys, toiletries, etc. to pass out as needed.

It also has warms my heart that my passion to work in this field with this population and trickled down into my own kids’ heart. They happily help out and seeing their eyes opened to differences with empathy, not judgement, is a true blessing. 

2. What have you noticed families need during these COVID-19 times, and how have you seen educators help meet those needs?

As I mentioned earlier that many of these families need to feel safe and secure before they can even imagine trying to complete any school work at home. The struggle of dealing with job loss, no income, no food, and even in some cases no place to live has made completing school virtually near impossible.

It is tough to even try to make it an equitable experience. I have seen educators getting very creative with trying to reach families with a variety of communication tools, regular check-ins, working into the evening to help students because they just can’t figure it out during the day, and so much more. There have been yard signs delivered in front yards, food bags delivered on porches, and books with fun activities, just cause, dropped off. We LOVE our students and miss them tremendously.

I feel nostalgic every time I walk on the campuses where I once attended school. There is Lincoln Elementary, Conrad Ball Jr. High, Loveland High School, CU Boulder, Colorado State University (Yes, I am both a Buff and a Ram), and North Park Seminary in Chicago. When I’m able, I like to go into the buildings or walk the grounds. My mind is filled with pictures of the teachers, coaches and administrators who invested in me and cared about me.

Spiritual Practice

Graduation from high school or college is a jarring change for most people. And in this Covid-19 reality there are fewer festivities and rituals to soften the transition and prepare the young adult to let go– especially of treasured relationships with teachers who have invested so much in their lives.

There are a few days left in teacher appreciation week. Let’s find a way to acknowledge the value of our teachers as the difficult losses of our grads. We can hold them in our prayers, celebrate them in our social media feeds, send them a card or shoot them a text. Let’s not get hung up on making it perfect. Find a way to reach out and just do it!

Cheers to the teachers and the grads who love them!
Katie

Global

Go into all the world and share God’s Love with every creature. Mark 16

God who is able to open the eyes of our hearts: Give our graduates the special ability to share their compassion and talents during these trying times. Amen


This week’s evening drop of hope is dedicated to the class of 2020. Yesterday I wrote about the reality of being chosen. Today I’m thinking about the significance of global compassion within our graduates.

My youngest daughter Amy graduated from CU in December—not quite the class of 2020, but close enough! So, here’s an open letter to Amy. Some of these ideas are inspired by a recent editorial written by Melinda and Bill Gates.

Dear Amy: Your grandparents were just coming of age at the end of WW2—over 70 years ago. In 1947, then Secretary of State George C. Marshall gave the commencement address at Harvard University. He urged the graduates to rise above their own comfort and security and assist our European neighbors despite being “distant from the troubled areas of the Earth.”

About that time, your Grandfather Eusebio Martinez was your age and living with his Mexican, immigrant family in north Denver. Grandpa Chepo was deployed under the Marshall Plan and served with the U.S. Army near Munich. It was there that he met a 19-year-old Bavarian villager, Anna Höecker.

Your grandparents fell in love in war-torn Germany where Chepo was serving the vision of the Marshall Plan. This strategy, which helped Western Europe recover, also spurred a turning point in history from global war to an era of peace and prosperity.

Today in 2020, we again face mass suffering and uncertainty. Again, groups will need to work together to recover and rebuild. Only now, we look to a generation of young adults who are extremely tuned in to the world. Unlike the Harvard grads of 1947, you are well acquainted with what is happening all over the globe! You’ve been online since you were toddlers. You consume popular culture from near and far. Your thinking has been shaped by a multiplicity of mentors who speak various languages. You have access to the truth about our cruelest problems such as racism, economic injustice, mass incarceration and hunger.

I am hopeful, because your access to cross cultural information and experiences has made you exceptionally compassionate and aware. You know that you are inextricably connected to the whole human family—across generations, ethnicities and access to resources. There is no limit to how you might serve humanity well—public service, teaching, writing, parenting, researching, healing, feeding…

It’s true. You’re entering the workforce in a time of global suffering. For some time, you and your peers will grieve the loss of rituals and rites of passage like grad parties, family memorials, weddings and birthday celebrations. Your sister Anne will give birth to your nephew, and there will be no baby shower– perhaps not even a hospital or home visit. These are big deals that will change us forever.

You and your peers have a hike ahead of you. So, don’t accept any pressure to answer the big questions about jobs, housing plans or graduate school on anyone’s timeline but your own. There are so many ways you can use your voice and share your talents, wherever you are. Oswald Chambers said that prayer is the highest form of social justice. Jesus said that sharing food and water with the hungry and thirsty proves that one is close to God.

The willingness to connect and serve the world led your grandparents to overcome global tragedy and create a better world. Now it’s our turn. The same spirit that empowered Jesus is still healing the world from generation to generation. I treasure every moment we have to love and serve together. Love, Mom.

Spiritual Practice

Friends: If you have endured this mercilessly long post, will you also join me in serving the class of 2020? When we write out our graduation cards, can we do the following?

  • Empathize with the graduate. It must be terribly disappointing and weird to miss the rituals and festivals of graduation.
  • Affirm the graduate. Graduations mark a very special passage from one stage of life and learning to the next. The world needs brave and brokenhearted young adults more now than ever. “We have the highest confidence in your talents and your courageous heart, and we can’t wait to see what you teach the world in the next decade and beyond!”

If you live with a graduate, please affirm them NOW. Say, “Word on the street is that you and your class are going to be a very special influence in the next decade. I’m not sure what that will look like, but I can’t wait to see how it turns out.”

God bless you, and please encourage a graduate this week!
Katie

Chosen

For many are called, but few are chosen. Jesus

God who calls everyone to live in the light of your love, help the graduates of 2020 to realize how special they are. May this bizarre circumstance result in them leading us more deeply into Your Love.


This weekend Tom Hanks delivered a virtual commencement address that moved us to tears. Good! There’s healing in our tears, especially the hopeful ones. And God knows we need to shed some hopeful tears these days.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the graduates who are grieving the loss of pomp and circumstance—the collective pride and joy of a stadium brimming with parental hope, grandparental love, friendships, educators, coaches, flowers, cameras, brass instruments and inadequate sound systems!

So, I was planning to dedicate the evening drop of hope all week long to the class of 2020. Now, inspired by Tom Hanks keen choice of words, I want to write about the hopefulness of being CHOSEN.

“I’m here to say congratulations,” Hanks said. “Congratulations to you chosen ones.”

The chosen ones. On the one hand the phrase has an exclusive ring to it. To be chosen is to be privileged. But in Hanks’ mind and the mind of Christ, “chosen” is not something that puts you above the crowd. Being chosen makes you an essential steward of God’s gifts, which are meant for everyone.

In the tradition of Bible literature, to be chosen by God is to be selected by God as an ambassador of everyone’s status as the beloved children of God. Moses was chosen to help the children of Israel understand their belovedness. Peter, Paul and Mary were all chosen to help Jesus bring all of humanity into the blessing of God’s love.

As Father Richard Rohr puts it: “It’s not that God likes anyone better or that they are more worthy than the rest. God’s chosenness is for the sake of communicating chosenness to everybody else! You lead others to the depth to which you have been led.”

Can we help our graduates live into their unique vocation of being chosen for leadership at a time like this? The class of 2020 is stepping over the threshold from childhood to adult vocational service during a global health and economic crisis. These young adults and their families have been led into the depths of disappointment and uncertainty. Is the universe picking on them; or have they been selected for something special?

Bravehearted people simply know that they are a unique minority. In the Jesus-sense they know they are being used as starter yeast, flavorful/healing salt and vitamin-D rich sunlight. (See Matthew 5 and Luke 13.) Remember that yeast is not dough, salt is not a meal and light shines to illuminate something else.

Jesus knew whom to call. What if we help our graduates understand the highness of this calling and the unique way that Jesus thinks?

Spiritual Practice

When we write out our graduation cards, can we do the following?

  • Empathize with the graduate. It must be terribly disappointing and weird to miss the rituals and festivals of graduation.
  • Affirm the graduate. Graduations mark a very special passage from one stage of life and learning to the next. The world needs brave and brokenhearted young adults more now than ever. “We have the highest confidence in your talents and your courageous heart, and we can’t wait to see what you teach the world in the next decade and beyond!”

If you live with a graduate, please affirm them NOW. Say, “Word on the street is that you and your class are going to be a very special influence in the next decade. I’m not sure what that will look like, but I can’t wait to see how it turns out.”

God bless you, and please encourage a graduate this week!
Katie

Pilgrimage

The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121

God who leads us safely through the varied terrain of life. Help us travel with wonder and purpose. Amen


This week’s evening drop series has been dedicated to the biology and spirituality of movement. Why does walking make us feel so good? What does it mean to “walk by faith?” Where do runners get their strength? This Friday evening, I want to celebrate the power of pilgrimage.

I spent my 50th birthday on the tiny Island of Iona, off the western coast of Scotland. The trip was a pilgrimage with a close group of scholars and spiritual directors. That morning I took a solo walk to the north coast on the Irish Sea. It was raining, and the wind was blowing hard. I remember talking to God and saying, “The first 50 years have been been quite a climb– growing up, raising children, learning a vocation– I’m ready now to walk downhill, with the wind on my back and sunshine on my shoulders.

Well, my life still feels like ‘climbing mountains in rain gear’, and I suspect I will feel that way for as long as I have air in my lungs.

Life is a climb—a journey of constant growth, sacrifice, and trusting God for what we cannot see. Eugene Peterson said, we are pilgrims, and we are also disciples—always moving and always learning. The Pilgrimage Psalms (Psalms 120-134) were sung by traveling families as they made the journey up to Jerusalem for the annual feasts.

It is my opinion that travel changes a person and strengthens a family. In all my travels I can feel my pilgrim’s heart. What does this journey mean? Who might I meet? What can I experience in this new place that will open the eyes of my heart? Perhaps I just love traveling-with-a-purpose so much that I make it one of the highest priorities of my life.

Don’t misunderstand. We’re not a fancy family with lots of funds. Neither Dave nor I had parents who took us places other than National Forest campgrounds and southern Minnesota! (Things we love and visit to this day.) Most of our travels have been with a pop-up trailer and four kids. We were pilgrims to the Grand Tetons, the Olympic Rainforest, the Canadian Rockies, the Outer Banks, Yosemite and Big Sur…

I think God saw how happy we were on these trips, and God helped us reach for more. Somehow we found a way to visit friends in England and family in Bavaria. In seminary I got to know South America. When Sarah was studying in Spain, the two of us made pilgrimage to Rome one Holy Week. And then I was hell bent on Iona. And last week I got hell bent on Jerusalem.

Spiritual Practice

And that brings me to the whole point. Let’s plan a pilgrimage NOW! I don’t know who you are and what is possible for you. But let’s all pick a place to go for our next trip, put it on the calendar and plan it out.

Safe, close spots include: Steamboat Lake, Chambers Lake, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Chasm Lake, Pawnee National Grassland, the top of Pike’s Peak… Can you travel further away? I love Moab, Santa Fe and the Anasazi Ruins. The moment it’s possible, I’ll be on a plane to NYC to pilgrim-around with Ryan and Sarah.

Life is a pilgrimage, and literal pilgrimage has a purpose in the spiritual life. What kind of travel has changed you? What have been your happiest moments on the road?

Sweet dreams,
Katie

We Run

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12

God who goes first and God who empowers, forgive our tendency to shrink back. Give us courage to risk uncertainty and run the race marked out for us. Amen


This week’s evening drop series is dedicated to the biology and spirituality of movement. Why does walking make us feel so good? What does it mean to “walk by faith?” And tonight, I want to celebrate the strength of runners.

There is a certain bravery needed for running, which doesn’t apply to walking. Running will bring you to places of depletion, pain and self-doubt. Sometimes we enter these states during a single run; other times they come to us over the course of a season. If you’re a runner you know what it’s like to wake up with shin splints or be furloughed by a stress fracture. These setbacks occur in the spiritual journey as well as the running life.

I’ve already confessed that I prefer to walk. Walking is enjoyable for me. I also enjoy trusting God and opting out of the rat race and competition of modern life. My fantasy is to walk the contemplative journey companioned by God and other enlightened people. But the life of faith is rarely that way, because there are relational heartbreaks, vocational train wrecks and financial ruins to deal with. You can’t opt out of running with the bulls, or running from the bears—even if you’re a spiritual advisor, a yogi master or a well-set retiree.

Life is dangerous, and sometimes we must run. Life is also exhilarating, and sometimes God invites you to pick up the pace and run headlong into the face of uncertainty. This is faith.

Spiritual Practice

In the Daring Way™ we talk about knowing our arena—being clear about the setting where we are called to show up, be seen and live bravely with our lives. During the Covid-19 crisis people are showing up in the arenas of parenting, neighboring and laboring. We work from home or we go to work in healthcare, grocery stores and meat packing plants. People are running hard into the arena of businesses and leadership—meeting payroll, forgiving rents-due, making tough decisions, keeping supply lines open, reorganizing for mission. My daughter Anne will give birth to my first grandchild during a plague. Many women are giving birth in an era of social distancing, with limited physical support. Many people have entered the arena of death, separated from their loved ones.

I’m sorry this Spring is not a walk in the park. The cherry blossoms are in bloom, but we’re not there the breathe them in. Whatever race you are running, Christ-in-you is REAL strength. A good spiritual practice is to name your “arena” or your “race.” Take a Post-It note and write, “My arena is ________.” Or, “I am running the race of ___________.” Put that Post-It where you will see it several times a day.

There are no guarantees about the race, and we will always be uncertain of the outcome. Faith means showing up and running anyway. You may not know where the race will lead you and what will happen along the way, but you are on the right track.

Every morning I jog out of my driveway and run at least two blocks before walking downhill to the river. I’d like to become a real runner, but currently I’m a walker who occasionally jogs. I’m waiting for running to become enjoyable, but I have my doubts about that ever happening.

Love you,
Katie

Hidden Strength

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. Psalm 145

God of hidden strength and goodness, forgive our tendency to trust in worldly systems and be intimidated by appearances. Give us faith to keep taking steps. Amen


This week’s evening drop is dedicated to the biology and spirituality of walking. Why does walking make us feel so good? Tonight I want to celebrate the spiritual power of walking by faith.

Walking by sight is an endless temptation. The phrase “walk by sight” means to live by what we can see. And most of what we see is the world’s systems of power and security. In Jesus’s day Rome had the power. Early in the Old Testament days, Pharaoh had the power. Bible stories told in each of these eras illustrate the futility of trying to influence our circumstances by tapping into the visible and obvious systems of power.

In this Covid-19 era there are visible systems of power: the economy, business, supply chains, governors, the president, the CDC, congress and the World Health Org—to name a few. To walk by sight in our day is to put our faith in these systems—to hope and believe that these systems have control over our well-being.

Against such a tiresome practice of walking by sight, the Apostle Paul urges us to “walk by faith”—to trust a power we cannot see. This is the gospel (Good News) that there is a hidden Goodness at work in the universe. The proof of this loving presence is the resurrection of Jesus, which is also reflected in every aspect of nature and every aspect of your life.

To walk by faith is to cooperate with a Reality deeper and more powerful than the markets, the government or the health care system.

Spiritual Practice

If we choose to, we learn to walk by faith during a lifetime of practice and growth. When we walk by sight we focus on the visible successes of our outward lives, and we experience regular discouragement. True Faith does not plan her course by those signs. Rather, she walks with a daily confidence that the power of God is always at hand.

Psalm 145 is about the power of God, which is hidden in all things. If you could use a dose of encouragement for your walk of faith, take a minute and read Psalm 145 aloud. Perhaps visualize or write down the worldly systems you are still hoping will come through for you. And then visualize the more hopeful and realistic truths described in this Psalm. If you had access to the levers of power in the world’s governments or the transformational power of God in creation, which would you choose?

Rest well,
Katie  

We Walk

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5

We walk to keep our mental and physical worlds open and to stop the walls from closing in. Dr. Shane O’Mara

Creator God who makes us divinely human, lead me into new worlds of health, vitality and creativity. Amen


This week, the evening drop of hope is dedicated to the biology and spirituality of walking.

Why does walking make us feel good? For me, walking is habit. When I show up in a new city the SECOND thing I do is figure out where I can walk for exercise and what site seeing I can do on foot. (The first thing I do is figure out where I can get coffee.)

During quarantine, I appreciate the gift of walking more than ever.

I’ve been reading how walking elevates our mood. As we walk, we place our heart muscle under positive stress, and molecules are produced that assist with the growth of cells, regulation of metabolism and reducing inflammation.

Walking is also essential to our nature and sets us apart as humans. No other animal does it. Have you ever watched a child learn to walk? One day they make this unique transition from crawling on all fours to toddling around on two feet. When my daughters were toddlers we sang a song: Walking, walking, walking, walking / seems so easy now / but I remember when I was small / and I did not know how! (On the most genius album of baby songs ever, by Hap Palmer.)

And we do NOT walk by sight. Dr. Shane O’Mara observes that walking is how we begin to find our way around in the world and develop an internal GPS and sense of direction. People who are visually impaired from birth still navigate with purpose and direction, because the experience of walking around in three-dimensional space creates cognitive maps. Close your eyes, and point to the door. That is your cognitive map at work, and it was built by moving around—not by looking around.

Movement through the world changes the dynamics of the brain itself, boosting creativity. Have you ever been out walking and had a hopeful time of prayer or an inspired idea for solving a relationship problem? Me too! “A walking brain is a more active brain,” writes Dr. Mara.

Spiritual Practice

So, in this time of “stay at home” and “safer at home” limitations, let’s indulge the joy of walking. Take a walk and say, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!” I love what you do for my lungs; I love how you reduce my anxiety; I love how you help me stay connected with neighbors; I love all the birds and bees and flowers and trees that I walk with every day.

The rest of this week, I will get spiritual and talk about walking as a metaphor for the faith journey: living faithfully, running risks and the art of pilgrimage.

The biggest joy of the quarantine walks? Seeing Dave’s mom, who is 92, walking up my driveway for a little (socially distant) visit. Grandma lives two blocks away, and she walks every day. She is also an artist and a lover of international travel. My own mother lives four blocks away, and also walks by my house every morning. I learned the habit of daily walks from her.

Sleep well and start your day tomorrow with a long walk in the neighborhood,
Katie