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Entries in Julie Sanders (11)

Thursday
Aug152019

Praying Through Our School Problems

Julie Sanders, a teacher, cares about students. In this Prayer UPGRADE, she calls us to pray for our students, especially as they struggle in school or face tough circumstances in their education.

"It doesn’t take long into a new school year before problems emerge," Julie says. "No education format is exempt from trouble to sort out, so how do we find school solutions in spiritual ways?"

I (Dawn) know Julie is right. Whether our children are in public school, private school, or even homeschool, when problems arise, we need to know the best way to move forward.

Julie continues . . .

When the first sign of a school problem appears, with speed unique to moms and grandmas of students, we can assess an issue, create a list of options, and find the school office number.

In the moment when our learner faces a fear, challenge, obstacle or conflict, it’s easy to forget about being quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19).

Education questions today raise issues related to curriculum, requirements, pacing, classmates, special needs, transportation, and cultural exposure, to name just a few. Parents face challenges to ensure students receive academic opportunities they need, while shaping their spiritual perspective and relational patterns.

Keeping the school formula at home has its benefits and challenges, while traditional classrooms, Christian or private, invite their own opportunities and obstacles.

Thankfully, God doesn’t call us to bow to problems, but to bow to Him.

Rather than being a fearful woman, I can be a prayerful woman.

In The ABCs of Praying for Students, I wrote, “What our learners need more than anything is our prayers—prayers fueled by your genuine love and a heart full of hope for the student on your mind.”

In Paul’s explanation to his learners about the essence of his prayers for them, we find guidance for how to pray for students on our hearts and minds.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:16-19).

We want children:

  • to learn according to their ability,
  • to respect their teacher,
  • to develop healthy peer friendships,
  • to make wise choices, and
  • to have a friend at lunch.

Those things matter, and God cares about every element in our child’s education.

But most of all, we want our learners to intimately know the love of Christ, so deep and wide that no vocabulary describes or defines it.

Back-to-school problems have a powerful ability to turn our thoughts toward things we can touch, people we can email, supplies we can get, and assignments we can review. Earthly things (Colossians 3:2).

But in God’s greater curriculum, these things come under a bigger plan to help learners know the love of Christ. This truth applies from cradle to college and career.

Whether you school in a traditional classroom, a co-op, homeschool, or a one room schoolhouse like my mom, God wants to use the experience of education to teach our child the truths that matter most.

May our kids and grandkids know we pray for their concerns, but most of all we pray for them to know the concern and love of God toward them. There is no greater lesson to learn.

The most powerful thing we can do for our students will never be found on a school supply list. 

Engage what your child’s education needs most: the great power of your prayers at work.

As the learners we love start a new school year and problems emerge, what is your default action? Resist the urge to whip up a list and type an email. Instead, stop and pray for God to use hard things to lead to holy things.

Julie Sanders has been teaching students of all ages for thirty years. She loves Back-to-School season and how learning leads grown-ups and children to God’s deep and wide love. Julie is the author of The ABCs of Praying for Students, available at Christen Price Studio. Learn more about Julie at her blog.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Open Clipart / Vectors at Pixabay.

Thursday
Jun132019

Leaving & Being Left Behind: An Upgrade in Transition

Julie Sanders has a special gift for helping people find peace in their lives, work, relationships and family. In this Relationships UPGRADE, she helps us find peace during the transitional separations in our lives.  

"When it comes to leaving," Julie says, "life includes an equal portion of arrivals and departures. How can we deal with departures and help both who leave and those left behind?

I (Dawn) moved many times in my lifetime. I know the pain of separation and the process of change. I wish I'd had Julie's good advice back then!

Julie continues . . .

Sometimes separation results from our decisions, and sometimes it’s imposed on us by another. It may be the result of a long process of release, or it may be sudden.

A change in relational routines and familiar life functions may leave us feeling unsettled, insecure, or disoriented.

Since separation includes loss, there may be grieving.

Departures come with job changes, health trials, and life choices. Whether we say goodbye to a family member, co-worker, friend, or pastor, emptiness may seep in where security once lived.

What response lifts up the leaver and the one being left?

1. Say Something

When a significant person leaves, there may be an urge to explain, weigh in, or oppose it. After all, if we have a connection, it will be uncomfortable at best or painful at worst.

Sometimes the only message needed is a silent one: a smile, hug, handshake.

But if the response is audible, it helps to speak wisely. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

Feelings rise in separations, so it pays to be alert to rotten, poor quality words escaping with emotion.

Whatever the delivery of our talk, messages should be useful, of good quality to “build up” the one leaving and those being left behind.

Positive, true words promote growth in times of transition.

Helpful messages give good will and kindness for hearts churning in change.

If life is upset by a leaving, good words will give good will. Words can give life or death. In a time of change, life is needed, “as fits the occasion.”

You could say nothing, but transition creates space and time where words of life are helpful to release the leaver to the next place and settle those who stay.

Say something, and make it good.

  • Put into words how the person influenced you and share it.
  • Consider how the person impacted your life in positive ways and state it.
  • Think about how you helped each other and say thank you.
  • Reflect on how God worked in the moving and affirm His movement.

2. Do Something

No matter if you’re the one going or staying, loss that accompanies leaving creates need.

Whether you chose the departure or find yourself caught up in someone’s choice, do what you can to be the salve in the separation.

Do something practical to meet a present need.

  • Is your heart hurting? Spend time talking to God or reading His word for encouragement.
  • Is packing needed?  Get boxes and help your significant person to do the work.
  • Is the pathway unclear? Use your skills and network to help make connections.
  • Is the departure having financial impact? Give a gift card or buy lunch.

3. Be There

There’s an undercurrent in separation that feels like rejection. It makes us wonder if we’re being abandoned for better things.

It applies to losing a loved one, seeing a spiritual leader leave, or watching a friend move away. Leaving for more can feel like not being loved anymore. In those times, it’s tempting not to be with the one who prompted the pain to begin with. That’s when it matters just to be present.

God’s path for me has most often assigned me the leaving role, instead of the one staying behind.

In one particular leaving, a wise man told me pain in departing is surpassed by sadness for the ones left behind.

From those who have loved me well, I have learned the value of saying something, doing something, and just being there.

  • Be present and be grateful to be together in silence.
  • Be present and say something good.
  • Be present and do something helpful.

Life includes departures and arrivals in equal measure. As sure as there is coming, there is going.

When those you love let you know it’s time to leave, say something good, do something helpful, and be there.

When it’s hard to let go, what do you think it says about the bond you share? What words could be expressed to lift up the one you are leaving or leaving behind?

Julie Sanders, from her home in the Pacific Northwest, is in a season of both leaving and being left behind. She is grateful to know God never leaves us, and she believes He helps us be fully present where He has us each day. In July of 2019 Julie will release a devotional guide for moms whose children leave for school, The ABC’s of Praying for Students. Learn more about Julie and her book at http://www.juliesanders.org/.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Alexas Fotos at Pixabay.

 

Tuesday
Dec182018

Have a Merry Macro Christmas

With insight and compassion, Julie Sanders reaches out to help people in need. She seeks to see the world through the eyes of the Lord, and in this Christmas UPGRADE, she encourages us to look through a "big picture" lens.

"We don’t want to miss a single detail of the Christmas season," Julie said.

"Sometimes, we find ourselves on overload with the details we see, hear, and know. What would we see if we stepped back?"

Stepping back is something I (Dawn) do occasionally to move beyond surviving tough circumstances to thriving in them, so I truly appreciate Julie's encouragement to shift our focus during the craziness of the holiday season.

Julie continues . . .

Since the year 2000, cell phone cameras have enamored us with close-up images. Micro glimpses call us to look closely at what’s overlooked.

We’ve photographed baby feet, latte art, water droplets, Bible passages, candle flame, and flower petals.

In our effort to focus on small things, we easily forget the big picture.

The Invitation to Look Up

The greatest Gift Giver knows we have a human leaning toward small things—so much that He repeatedly invites man to look at the bigger picture.

  • Abraham, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” (Genesis 15:5)
  • To His people, “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens" (Isaiah 40:26).
  • When Stephen’s life was taken, he “looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God” (Acts 7:55).
  • The Psalmist said, "I will l lift up my eyes to the mountains”—he wanted to remember where help comes from. (Psalm 121:1-2)

Our attention is captured by a micro-scope, but we miss much when we lose the macro-view.

The Capacity to See

Today we have the ability to see small acts and needs around the world. It’s a lot to take in, and we become numb. Our exposure exceeds our capacity.

God’s capacity is infinite, sufficient to be all-seeing and all-knowing for the multitude of small things only He can be fully aware of and responding to in full. 

For us, it’s more than we are meant to see and know and touch.  Too much micro is just too much.

We are limited in our knowing and our capacity to know, but God is all knowing and able to know it all. If we look up, we see beautiful things.

The Benefit of Big Picture

As Christmas approaches the Northwest coast, ferries cut through cold Puget Sound waters from Seattle to a destination in the San Juan Islands. Outer decks empty as passengers find warmth inside around tables. 

A walk through with a broad, macro view reveals random tables where puzzles have been left for strangers and would-be friends.  Simply walking past with a “big picture lens” reveals missing pieces, matches, and images taking shape.

A big picture view reveals people gathering and making warmth, jingling with laughter and conversation.

There’s power in the big picture.

The Invitation to a Merry Macro

What if this was a Merry Macro Christmas?

Instead of Insta-posting small micro-glimpses, what if we captured wider landscapes and larger themes? What if we took steps back to scan the scene, taking in the collective gift of a silent night, decked halls, and peace on earth?

Maybe, like shepherds long ago, we would lift our eyes and see creation’s host giving glory to God in the highest.  Maybe the macro-view would reveal what hearts long to receive—the gift of love to the world.

Maybe the big picture would show mankind through us what grace looks like.

Stepping back in this telephoto time takes courage.

If we resist the urge to zoom in every time, will we fit in or be left out?  Is it a big mistake to look away from the small?

Here are five steps to start:

  1. Take pictures of whole scenes, not just details.
  2. Make your exposure match your capacity.
  3. Talk about the themes of what you experience.
  4. Limit social media details to focus on real, macro life.
  5. Physically lift your head, look up and out, and be present.

“This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name:  

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know’ (Jeremiah 33:2).

This Christmas, let’s lift our eyes from the micro-scopic and look to the macro-scope of bigger things God wants us to see.

Have a Merry Macro Christmas!

What small things distract you and hold you captive to details? What micro-scopic concerns could you let go of to invite in a bigger view?

Julie Sanders is a leader with children and families in need, where the big picture of God’s love is always the best gift. During this Christmas season, you’ll find her happy to have her family together again and doing puzzles on cold Northwest nights. Julie writes from her online home, “Come Have a Peace.”

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Pixabay.

Tuesday
Nov072017

Choosing Leaders, Casting Votes & Raising Voices

In this Election UPGRADE, Julie Sanders encourages us to consider godly wisdom when we vote this year.

"Elections raise a lot of questions and stir up even more emotions," Julie says. "Scan social media or listen in to nearby conversation during Election Season, and you’re likely to hear conflict."

I (Dawn) do hear it, and I'm weary of all the name-calling and lies. But Christians can't pull away from the election process. We need to make our votes count.

Julie continues . . .

Casting our vote has become a tense business. To choose wise leaders in hard times, we need truth.

The voter’s guide arrived a month ago. Descriptions of experience, opinions, alliances, and promises filled the pages to help make decisions about who to follow.

People have had to “choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15) since the Garden, but when it comes to elections, one thing is sure. 

We will vote for a flawed human being. 

1. Choosing my Leaders

Passion, rhetoric, or vision may cause us to cast our vote for a candidate.

Since no one is righteous, “no not one,” (Romans 3:10) every leader will let us down. It’s human habit to look for someone to see, hear, and touch (to physically follow); but every human leader will someday be a let down in some way.

If you’re looking for a leader who won’t let you down, look up.

Only Jesus is worthy of our total commitment and confidence. When we look to a man or woman to be what only Jesus can be, we’re on a collision course with disappointment. We won’t find flawless leaders to follow.

Eventually, a leader will stand up or sit down at the wrong time. A world hinging on human performance is a world in conflict.

Human leaders are flawed leaders. Our heavenly Leader is the faithful leader.  Though we cast a vote in our community, our trust remains in Christ alone.

2. Casting my Vote

While a follower of Christ knows her citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), she can prayerfully approach the chance to influence her government with her vote.

After reading the voter’s guide where I live, I am more prepared for God to direct my vote to work out His plan. Nations and governments use varied ways to identify leaders; voting isn’t a Biblical mandate. God allows leaders to rise or fall (Romans 13:1).

In every people group, God lets leaders lead.

Our vote results from who we are.

When our identity is in Christ, the process or results of an election shouldn’t overturn the Holy Spirit as the “incumbent” resident in our heart and mind; He has no term limit and cannot be impeached.

Jesus should never share the throne of our allegiance with earthly issues and candidates.

Whatever the conversation stirred by election coverage, when I am in Christ, I am His follower alone.

3. Raising my Voice

A Christ-like vote should have a Christ-like voice.

Followers of Christ cast their votes and raise their voices as representatives of the Light of the World. Too often, it’s not that way.

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.  Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?” (James 3:10-11)

Inflammatory language and emotion have poured out from those who don’t claim to follow Christ and those who do. Too often, words have sounded the same. Angry. Attacking. Untruthful. Proud. When we have the privilege of a vote and voice to shape government and life, a Christ-like vote should have a Christ-like voice.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom ... But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.  And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (James 3:13, 17-18).

Every human leader will let us down. 

Only Jesus deserves to be followed with our whole heart, to have our identity tied to His.

Whatever the outcome of Election Day, God is in control, listening for sweet words and attitudes to pour from a heart filled with His Spirit.

Our vote matters and our voice matters, no matter who sits on earthly thrones.

May our Christ-like votes be heard in our Christ-like voices.

Questions to consider:

  • How could I include government and leaders in my prayer life?
  • What are those around me on social media and in person hearing me say about leaders?
  • What kind of conversations am I listening to?
  • How does my voice and my vote reflect my identity?  

Julie Sanders grew up near the Nation’s Capitol, with a front row seat to watch and learn from elected leaders. She has served with her husband on ministry teams around the world, in nations without the privilege of a vote. Now they call the Northwest home, where she is the director of early learning programs across urban and rural regions. Julie writes from her online home, “Come Have a Peace.”

Graphic adapted, courtesy of maialisa at Pixabay.

 

Tuesday
Nov072017

Choosing Leaders, Casting Votes & Raising Voices

In this Election UPGRADE, Julie Sanders encourages us to consider godly wisdom when we vote this year.

"Elections raise a lot of questions and stir up even more emotions," Julie says. "Scan social media or listen in to nearby conversation during Election Season, and you’re likely to hear conflict."

I (Dawn) do hear it, and I'm weary of all the name-calling and lies. But Christians can't pull away from the election process. We need to make our votes count.

Julie continues . . .

Casting our vote has become a tense business. To choose wise leaders in hard times, we need truth.

The voter’s guide arrived a month ago. Descriptions of experience, opinions, alliances, and promises filled the pages to help make decisions about who to follow.

People have had to “choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15) since the Garden, but when it comes to elections, one thing is sure. 

We will vote for a flawed human being. 

1. Choosing my Leaders

Passion, rhetoric, or vision may cause us to cast our vote for a candidate.

Since no one is righteous, “no not one,” (Romans 3:10) every leader will let us down. It’s human habit to look for someone to see, hear, and touch (to physically follow); but every human leader will someday be a let down in some way.

If you’re looking for a leader who won’t let you down, look up.

Only Jesus is worthy of our total commitment and confidence. When we look to a man or woman to be what only Jesus can be, we’re on a collision course with disappointment. We won’t find flawless leaders to follow.

Eventually, a leader will stand up or sit down at the wrong time. A world hinging on human performance is a world in conflict.

Human leaders are flawed leaders. Our heavenly Leader is the faithful leader.  Though we cast a vote in our community, our trust remains in Christ alone.

2. Casting my Vote

While a follower of Christ knows her citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), she can prayerfully approach the chance to influence her government with her vote.

After reading the voter’s guide where I live, I am more prepared for God to direct my vote to work out His plan. Nations and governments use varied ways to identify leaders; voting isn’t a Biblical mandate. God allows leaders to rise or fall (Romans 13:1).

In every people group, God lets leaders lead.

Our vote results from who we are.

When our identity is in Christ, the process or results of an election shouldn’t overturn the Holy Spirit as the “incumbent” resident in our heart and mind; He has no term limit and cannot be impeached.

Jesus should never share the throne of our allegiance with earthly issues and candidates.

Whatever the conversation stirred by election coverage, when I am in Christ, I am His follower alone.

3. Raising my Voice

A Christ-like vote should have a Christ-like voice.

Followers of Christ cast their votes and raise their voices as representatives of the Light of the World. Too often, it’s not that way.

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.  Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?” (James 3:10-11)

Inflammatory language and emotion have poured out from those who don’t claim to follow Christ and those who do. Too often, words have sounded the same. Angry. Attacking. Untruthful. Proud. When we have the privilege of a vote and voice to shape government and life, a Christ-like vote should have a Christ-like voice.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom ... But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.  And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (James 3:13, 17-18).

Every human leader will let us down. 

Only Jesus deserves to be followed with our whole heart, to have our identity tied to His.

Whatever the outcome of Election Day, God is in control, listening for sweet words and attitudes to pour from a heart filled with His Spirit.

Our vote matters and our voice matters, no matter who sits on earthly thrones.

May our Christ-like votes be heard in our Christ-like voices.

Questions to consider:

  • How could I include government and leaders in my prayer life?
  • What are those around me on social media and in person hearing me say about leaders?
  • What kind of conversations am I listening to?
  • How does my voice and my vote reflect my identity?  

Julie Sanders grew up near the Nation’s Capitol, with a front row seat to watch and learn from elected leaders. She has served with her husband on ministry teams around the world, in nations without the privilege of a vote. Now they call the Northwest home, where she is the director of early learning programs across urban and rural regions. Julie writes from her online home, “Come Have a Peace.”

Graphic adapted, courtesy of maialisa at Pixabay.