Monday

God with Us

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No Old Testament prophet was more prolific with prophecies concerning the coming Messiah than Isaiah. His prophecies were very specific, and all saw their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. This week, we’ll be taking a look at just a few of Isaiah’s prophecies about the Savior.

Thursday

Jesus’ Family Tree

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So where do you fit in on your family tree? Where does your family really come from? It seems there is a growing fascination with the study of genealogy and genetic makeup. A variety of online services offer to explore the branches of your family tree for you; still others use DNA tests to tell you where your ancestors once lived.

Wednesday

Dark Days and Promises

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Think about your darkest day ever. For many people, these darkest days involve loss—loss of a job, loss of a loved one, loss of a relationship. My personal darkest days involved the loss of both my parents within the span of two years. My father—who suffered from Alzheimer’s—gained his eternal rest within a few months after entering memory care. A mere eighteen months later, my mom died suddenly in her sleep.

Tuesday

Self-Control

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What do chocolate, Netflix, and caffeine all have in common? They are all addicting! One more piece of chocolate turns into the whole candy bar, one more episode of your favorite show turns into the rest of the season, and one occasional cup of coffee becomes a necessity to wake you up every morning. We take pleasure in such things, so we have trouble keeping them to a minimum. They fill the reward system in our brain with surges of dopamine, and we want more and more. Suddenly, one isn’t enough. Then two isn’t enough. How do we know when to stop?

Monday

Gentleness

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Have you ever had one of those not-so-great mornings? From the moment you wake up—if you even woke up on time—you feel like life is out to get you. One morning, I overslept 30 minutes later than planned. I quickly got ready and made my morning coffee. As I rushed out the door with my purse, lunch bag, breakfast, coffee, and keys all in my hands, my shirt suddenly felt wet and hot. In my attempt to do everything at once, I had spilled the coffee down my clothes. Any other morning, I would have been able to deal with this, but that day I simply didn’t have time or patience. I became very frustrated and angry.

Thursday

Faithfulness

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Does your classroom have a pet? If you don’t have one in your classroom, you might have one at home, or perhaps you grew up with a childhood pet. I wanted a dog so much that my sister and I spent years tirelessly nagging my parents, trying to convince them that we were responsible enough to have a dog. Eventually they caved, and we adopted our mutt, Molly. As a seven-year-old, I thought that I was pretty responsible. I said that I would completely take care of Molly. I would feed her, groom her, walk her, pick up after her, and love her all on my own. I’m sure you know how this story ends. I sure loved Molly, but I did not willingly take care of her as I had promised. Thankfully, my parents took care of Molly and set rules for me to do the same. Kids have a hard time living up to their promises—especially when chores are required.

Wednesday

Goodness

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Spiritual goodness means to willingly help our neighbor in need. We act generously toward them and give them what they need without resistance or hesitation. Goodness is almost synonymous with the fruit of kindness we looked at yesterday. However, goodness must have its own special qualities if it is listed separately from kindness. Ephesians 5:8–13 and 1 Thessalonians 1:11 help interpret goodness as faithfully doing good works. Lutherans are often hesitant to speak about good works—we are saved by grace through faith alone! But this does not mean that we should disregard good works as unnecessary or brush them aside as useless dogma. Good works are essential for the life of a Christian because they are outward signs of the inward faith in our hearts.

Tuesday

Kindness

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Did you ever have that one really mean teacher as a kid? Or have you overheard your students talking about a particularly mean teacher or substitute teacher? I remember having a few of those teachers in elementary school. In hindsight, they really were not mean, just intimidating for a young child. The teacher was easily angered and put off by any disruptive behavior. They had strict rules and did not cut the students any slack. As a child, this can seem “mean.” When someone of authority is seemingly mean, you lose respect for them. You no longer take their words to heart or respect their opinion. This is a difficult place for teachers. You want to keep your authority as a teacher but also appear gentle and approachable.

Monday

Patience/Forbearance

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I live by the motto “You can do anything for ten seconds.” This applies to all areas of life. Whether I’m walking to my car in below-zero weather or finishing the last mile of my run, I can push through for a mere ten more seconds. Patience is difficult no matter what the length of time. However, when the end is in sight, you can conjure up motivation to finish. The difficult situation will soon be over and life will return back to normal.

Thursday

Peace

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Imagine your perfect classroom. Close your eyes and picture where the students are, what they are doing, how they are acting and interacting with one another. Compare your vision to the reality of your classroom. Is anything the same? What is different? In my vision of a perfect classroom, the students are all quietly writing out math equations at their desks. They are smiling as they erase their mistakes and try again. Occasionally, one student will go to another for help. The student willingly helps his or her classmate, putting aside his or her own work. They work together, struggling to get the answer, but they calmly persevere until the work is completed.