What a blast it was to welcome my little brother home from a 10 month tour of duty with the ARMY in Afghanistan. As grateful as we are to have Kevin back home, our thoughts and prayers are with many families whose soldiers didn’t make it home. Freedom isn’t free.
I have already done a blog post about our Spring Break adventures. Since I was on a mission trip in Guatemala with North Cobb Christian School the first week of April and Spring Break was the second week, the last two weeks of the month really flew by! Looking back through the pictures and my calendar, the theme for the month of April has definitely been friends and family. We have visited with all of our parents, my sister and her husband and their precious daughter, and several of our awesome friends. My brother is returning from 10 months in Afghanistan this next weekend and we are all so excited to see him! Emma has promised to “run and jump in his arms.” Now that my sister’s daughter Nora is around…the competition for “favorite niece” is definitely on!
We enjoyed a wedding shower for one of Clint’s cousins and our first day out on the lake for this season. We have really enjoyed our pontoon boat these past three years. The boat has become somewhat of a vacation for our family most weekends from April-October and we feel confident that this tradition will continue for many years to come! We sold our first pontoon boat back in March. We were happy to sell it to a family that was buying their first boat…and had saved up to pay cash for it. That was our story also! Once we sold our boat, it was time to go shopping. We have continued to save money and were able to pay cash for a newer pre-owned pontoon boat. We’ve been out on it once already and are so glad to be back on the water! It’s also a blast to see how excited Emma is about inviting her friends to join us. She has dreams of bringing 8 friends. I think Clint’s job is to drive and pull the tube and my job is to pack plenty of snacks. What a joy…we love it!
The weather outside has finally turned warm and beautiful. That means lots of long walks, bike rides, bubbles, and grilling for the Strange crew. As school is winding down…the schedule will become a lot more relaxed around our house. We are all excited about that! I’m currently in Vancouver at a conference, but was so glad to have a chance to play Chutes and Ladders over FaceTime with Emma the other night.
Emma keeps getting taller and smarter. She is really doing a great job of starting to sound out words and she can’t wait to read all of her books to herself! I can’t believe that she is only a few weeks away from the end of K3. We have been so blessed with her teachers…two of the godliest, amazing ladies that we know. They have invested in our sweet daughter in a way that we never could have even thought to pray for. Emma is so excited about summer camp and starting K4 in the fall.
Clint had a chance to play his banjo at our church this past Sunday. Emma and I were so incredibly proud of him…he did a great job! Due to some of my travels for Spring Term and this conference, there have been a lot of Daddy/Daughter date nights this past month. Their favorite hangout these days is to play 9 holes at Bentwater golf course down the street from our house. Emma and I also enjoyed our special girls trip to Memphis and she has enjoyed coming as Mommy’s special guest for a few school activities over the past few weeks.
Here are a few pictures from our April adventures!
Here are the notes from the Freshen Up Your Toolbox presentation that I gave along with Tifini Lozano at The Vancouver Symposium on Christian Education for the 21st Century. I will keep adding links as people offer comments. Keep the conversation going!
Click here to see the Introduction to Technology Integration Video
Click here to see our presentation from last year’s Symposium
Click here to go to the Doceri website
Click here to go to the Socrative website
Click here to go to the Learnist website
Click here to go to the Slide Speech website
Here are a few blogs that we have found to be helpful…feel free to make some additional suggestions!
It’s not about technology…it’s about learning.
“You aren’t what’s been done to you but what Jesus has done for you. You aren’t what you do but what Jesus has done. What you do doesn’t determine who you are. Rather, who you are in Christ determines what you do.” Mark Driscoll, Who Do You Think You Are? Finding Your True Identity in Christ
I am a selfish person. Sadly I often identify myself with what I have done or who has noticed. This is a merry go round that I would love to get off of permanently. The gospel promises true fulfillment that can only be found in the person of Jesus Christ. Who Do You Think You Are? Finding your True Identity in Christ by Pastor Mark Driscoll is a remarkable challenge to quit trying to do it yourself…to quit worrying about what they think…and to run hard after Jesus. This book was recommended by my pastor as a powerful reminder of where we should find our true identity.
I highlighted (and tweeted) several things while reading and have pasted those thoughts below…
- This world’s fundamental problem is that we don’t understand who we truly are—children of God made in his image—and instead define ourselves by any number of things other than Jesus. Only by knowing our false identity apart from Christ in relation to our true identity in him can we rightly deal with and overcome the issues in our lives.
- You aren’t what’s been done to you but what Jesus has done for you. You aren’t what you do but what Jesus has done. What you do doesn’t determine who you are. Rather, who you are in Christ determines what you do.
- You were created by God, are on the earth to image and glorify God, and when you die, if you are in Christ, you will be with God forever, imaging and glorifying him perfectly in a sinless state.
- When we reflect something of God with our heads, hearts, and hands out of love for him and others, we do what we were created for. This is joyful for us, helpful for others, and worshipful toward God.
- Best synthesizes his thoughts on worship by saying, “I have worked out a definition for worship that I believe covers every possible human condition. It is this: Worship is the continuous outpouring of all that I am, all that I do and all that I can ever become in light of a chosen or choosing god.”
- All of humanity can be divided into two categories: those who worship the Creator and those who worship created things.
- The truth is that you’re not what you do. You have God-given natural talents, Holy Spirit–endowed gifts, and unique abilities. You also have duties, but these duties do not define you, because your identity is not determined by what you do. Rather, who you are in Christ helps you faithfully pursue your duties and use your abilities without them becoming the essence of your dignity and identity.
- Obtaining an identity from our relationships can manifest itself in the idols of independence or dependence.
- While it’s not a sin to plan and strive for a better tomorrow, it is a sin to set one’s joy and identity on who we will be, what we will do, or what we will have tomorrow in our own efforts rather than on Christ today and who he will make us, what he will have us do, and what he will give to us tomorrow.
- In the Bible, Paul called Jesus the “last Adam”d because he is the remedy for idolatry and the redeemer of humanity, whereas the first Adam was the source of idolatry and the downfall of humanity. The first Adam turned from the Father in a garden; the last Adam turned to the Father in a garden. The first Adam was naked and unashamed; the last Adam was naked and bore our shame. The first Adam’s sin brought us thorns; the last Adam wore a crown of thorns. The first Adam substituted himself for God; the last Adam was God substituting himself for sinners. The first Adam sinned at a tree; the last Adam bore our sin on a tree. The first Adam died as a sinner; the last Adam died for sinners.
- As Christians, we live from our identity, not for our identity. We are defined by who we are in Christ, not what we do or fail to do for Christ.
- The two words “in Christ” changed the world and are the summary, essence, and totality of a believer’s identity. Simply put, either our identity is in Christ or in idolatry.
- It’s wrong for Christians to simply have their identity as a sinner, nothing more and nothing less, living as pathetic people counting the miserable days until heaven, when they will finally be perfect. We’re created as God’s image bearers, we’re fallen sinners, and if we’re in Christ, we’re truly redeemed, made new, and given a new identity.
- Sin may explain some of your activity, but it’s not your identity. Your identity is in Christ, and because of your new identity, by God’s grace through the Holy Spirit’s power, you can change your activity. Because you are a new person positionally in Christ, you can live a new life practically by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- In Christ, you’re graced. You’re chosen by grace, saved by grace, kept by grace, gifted by grace, empowered by grace, matured by grace, and sanctified by grace. You persevere by grace, and one day will see Jesus, the best friend you’ve ever had, face-to-face, by grace.
- Journaling and reflecting on God’s blessing daily or weekly will keep you aware of the care and affection God has for you and fuel your worshipful gratitude in response. In times of struggling, you can go back and recollect the ways in which God has blessed you. And this record of the legacy of God’s blessing in your life is the kind of thing you will want to one day hand off to your children and grandchildren. Imagine how amazing it would be if your parents or grandparents had done this and you could read in detail how God had blessed them throughout their lives.
- If we truly believe that God appreciates our service, we can stop boasting and start encouraging.
- Man-made religion in its various forms seeks to have human works entirely or at least partially involved in salvation. In Buddhism, ceasing desire saves you. In Confucianism, education, self-reflection, self-cultivation, and living a moral life save you. In Hinduism, detaching from your separated ego and making an effort to live in unity with the divine save you. In Islam, living a life of good deeds saves you. In Orthodox Judaism, repentance, prayer, and working hard to obey the Law saves you. In New Ageism, gaining a new perspective, through which you see how you’re connected to all things as a divine oneness, saves you. In Taoism, aligning yourself with the Tao to have peace and harmony saves you. What nearly all religions and spiritualities hold in common is the theme that, if there is a savior, it’s the person we see in the mirror every morning.
- Our cultural differences may distinguish us, but they do not define us and should not divide God’s people or allow them to accept the social structures and idols that wrongly divide people. In Christ, while we have great diversity, we ought to live in even greater unity because how we do life is far less important than how Jesus has reconciled us to God and one another. I encourage you to each and every day pray and contend for the unity that you have and that is found in Christ Jesus.
- Jesus suffered greatly for our sins. He was afflicted both by us and for us. Our sin killed God, but his death brought us life. His affliction was for our salvation. But beyond that, the primary purpose of his suffering was to glorify God the Father by at once perfectly revealing true justice and mercy. If you’re in Christ, you can endure affliction as he did, to the glory of God.
- As the love of God increasingly captivates our hearts and we grasp onto his love, we’re changed and become increasingly mature in Christ because our affections determine our actions. As we’re rooted and grounded in love, we begin to love what God loves, and subsequently hate what God hates, namely, sin. This transforming of our affections results in the transforming of our actions. The truth is that there is one answer to all our problems—a full understanding of God’s love for us. Therefore, the experiential love of God is something we must pray for and pursue by the power of the Holy Spirit, both for our church and ourselves, just as Paul did.
- If others listened in on your prayer life, would they hear you praying the kind of prayers that could only be answered if God really showed up in a big way?
- In his book The City of God, Augustine rightly determined that everything flows from the issue of glory. Once the issue of glory is settled—that is, where glory is going and who and what deserves it—then everything else is decided. Once we determine in our souls that God’s glory is our goal, we then stop taking the path of least resistance and start taking the path of most glory to God.
- In Christ, you are new. And Christ is not done with you.
- R. C. Sproul says, “Every sin is an act of cosmic treason, a futile attempt to dethrone God in his sovereign authority.”
- In love, Jesus substituted himself for our sins and took God’s wrath for us on the cross.f Scripture uses a word to describe this: propitiation. This means God’s wrath against sin is satisfied.
- Biblical forgiveness is a revolutionary idea and a gospel issue.
- In this life, we’re loved by only a handful of people, and for some, by no one at all. And even those who do love us don’t do so completely unselfishly, continually, and perfectly. Yet, there is one person who loves us in this way. In Christ, we’re perfectly loved.
- Sometimes, we’re so weighed down by our sin, losing sight of our identity in Christ, that we struggle to believe that God actually and personally loves us. We may believe that God loves the world, or individual people in it, but we’re less likely to truly believe that God loves us. This is because we struggle to accept that God’s love is pure, unmerited, and free grace. Into this doubt Paul repeatedly brought a freeing truth: Jesus loves you. He cannot love you any more. He will not love you any less!
- As a victorious warrior of Christ, your life is about being on kingdom mission with Jesus to help set other captives free.
- In Christ, you are forgiven. In Christ, you are clean. In Christ, your captivity has been replaced with a new identity.
We have had the best Spring Break here around the Strange house! I returned home Friday evening from my Spring Term trip to Guatemala and was so excited to see Clint and Emma. Of course, we promptly stopped at Moe’s to eat dinner and then we all went home and crashed. Saturday was kind of a lazy day running errands and catching up before heading to a 40th surprise party for Clint’s best friend. Sunday morning Clint’s mom went to church with us and then we spent the afternoon playing outside and Emma even wanted to play tennis…so we did! We met some good friends for dinner Sunday evening.
Monday was a low key day of working on some projects and we had a good friend over for dinner to catch up. We all stayed up to watch the National Championship basketball game. Tuesday was Emma and Mommy day. We took our change jar and cashed it in at Coinstar. We had almost $100 for our fun day! We had lunch at McAlister’s…using free coupons from a meeting I went to several months ago. Then, Emma and I hit the mall. I was looking for a Kavu bag for the spring and summer and surprised Emma with a trip to Build-A-Bear. We had so much fun together! After a quick afternoon nap, we had dinner on the patio at Pablano’s and then hung out with friends at the NCCS baseball game.
Emma and I got up bright and early to fly to Memphis on Wednesday morning. We were so excited to hang out with my sister Katie, her husband JD, their baby daughter Nora, and my mom for a few days. Over the course of the five days were were in Memphis, we ate at: Memphis Pizza Cafe (my all-time favorite Memphis place to eat), Swanky’s taco shop, Akasaka, Firehouse subs, Perkins, and enjoyed great meals prepared by my mom and my sister. We took a lot of naps and enjoyed a lot of time talking and hanging out. We took Emma for her first visit to Gibson’s donuts…a Memphis tradition. She and I also stopped by Tiger Bookstore to make sure we were up to date with our Memphis Tiger gear. We went for a long bike ride/walk (4 miles) with Katie and Nora and also went to the Good Wind’s nursery Spring Flower show. They had a bounce house, pony rides, and free hot dogs and chips. It was a really beautiful morning and we had a blast…the bounce house was definitely a hit. Good thing they had one…since Aunt Katie had promised We were slightly worried we’d have to crash a birthday party to find a bounce house…but fortunately Good Winds came through and had one.
Emma is at such a fun age and I really enjoyed our Mommy/Emma trip. She and I had some of the best conversations and she is growing up to be so thoughtful and helpful. I love spending time with my sweet girl. We were also so glad to see Clint when we landed in Atlanta today. He took us out for lunch at Tin Lizzy’s in Midtown and we loved hearing what he was up to while we were gone. Our family is glad to be back together. I’m enjoying the Master’s and Clint and Emma are both taking advantage of this rainy afternoon to enjoy long naps!
After two weeks away from school (Spring Term-amazing experience and Spring Break-awesome time with family)…I am ready to head back to school in the morning. The next seven weeks will be busy ones, but lots of great things. I love my school and our family counts it a privilege to be a part of what God is doing at NCCS!
Here are some pics of our adventures from this past week…
“Draw your line today. To live with less, so others can have more. You have the opportunity to gain a lifestyle of excessive generosity. ” Jeff Shinabarger, More or Less
Fresh off a powerful mission trip to Guatemala with my school last week, I dug into Jeff Shinabarger’s book More or Less. On our trip, we encountered extreme poverty, gang-infested neighborhoods, houses made out of sheet metal scraps…and some of the happiest hopeful people I’ve ever met in my life. They seem to have a different perspective on “How much is enough?” That is the question that Shinabarger set out to answer in his book. Throughout the book, he mentions several “Enough Experiments” where people went a period of time without purchasing new clothes, walking to work, growing a community garden, etc. The main idea of this book is to recognize that we are able to be more generous when we desire for others to have more.
This philosophy is important to our family. We are committed to being debt-free. People make this choice for a variety of reasons. Some people make this choice in an effort to build wealth. Our family’s hope in this endeavor is to ultimately give away more than we make for the sake of the gospel and the good of others. Shinabarger gives the example of being intentional about giving things away. We have a spot in our home where we are always stacking things (clothes, books, toys, etc.) to give away. We have found that we are much better about giving things away now that we have a specific place to put these items. When we get to the point of giving them to someone in need, we find ourselves hunting around the house to find even more things to add to the pile!
Reading this book has inspired me to truly evaluate where in my life I could be more generous. I highlighted several things while reading and have pasted them below…
- Generous people-Instead of making people feel important, they make everyone feel loved. (Bob Goff)
- This is a book of extremes: extreme love, extreme grace, and extreme faith. (Bob Goff)
- An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualist confers to the brooders concerns of all humanity. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- It all starts with one question that changes everything: what is enough?
- Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved. Helen Keller
- What is enough and what is excess? Where do I draw a line? How do I draw a line?
- Our excess can make a difference, but we first have to see need in our society and opportunity for all people. When we see need, we are also introduced to opportunity–opportunity to understand our excess more fully.
- How do I move from luxury to generosity? I must create new habits that challenge my view of enough by forcing me to look through the lens of the suffering and therefore cause me to reexamine my personal lifestyle of excess.
- The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway. Mother Teresa
- There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less. G.K. Chesterton
- When we voluntarily choose the road of downward mobility to raise the social status of another human’s potential, we gain status that is greater than cultural class, false importance, or economic success. Like Jesus, we gain status in a different sort of success matrix by becoming a living and breathing example of hope on earth.
- The fact is that we need to let go of our convenience in order to gain a greater understanding of others’ needs; we need to suffer with others, instead of simply pitying them. This kind of inconvenient practice creates a new paradigm that does more than help; it moves us toward deeper understanding. Helping others through voluntary suffering is a short-term experience that forces us to engage a long-term problem. Understanding others ultimately challenges us to live a life that is more inclusive of others.
- Understanding the difference between convenience and necessity, and how they control our decisions, plays a significant role in determining how we live.
- I want to be able to give time freely to the person standing in front of me. I want to do less searching and contribute more to the present moment. I want to be present with my family, with my friends, at work, and in my conversations. I want to be known as a person who is fully here, fully present. But this kind of presence begins by choosing to be less busy.
- We can’t do everything, we need to understand our own limitations and pursue our true purpose. When we try doing everything, we’re probably not doing any one thing very well.
- Discipline follows discipline.
When we stop being busy, we start being honest.
Solitude is not selfish.
Intentionality makes relationships better.
Quitting (for a little while) makes work better.
- Access is a gift granted to us for the sake of others. What if every time we were granted an opportunity to do something special we first thought about who we could take along with us to experience this special event? In every circle in which we gain access, may we invite another person along with us.
- Generosity is a lifestyle that seeks to understand the needs of others and strives to bring an end to that suffering.
- Out of excess, we can address issues of need and suffering.
- We will be known by the problems we solve.
- Influence is gained by doing something.
- When you have a good idea, people tell you and then they tell others.
- Every social innovation must learn to scale for maximum results.
- Every great idea needs a team of people to help the idea come to life.
- The only gift is a portion of thyself. Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Gifts”
- Take time to learn about your personal struggle of enough.
- I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do. Leonardo da Vinci
- Generous people will consistently choose less to give more.
- Thankfulness is the completion of generosity; it completes a communal experience and giving circle.
- Draw your line today. To live with less, so others can have more. You have the opportunity to gain a lifestyle of excessive generosity.
The main thing on Emma’s mind these day is how tall she is getting to be. She is always checking to see what she can reach without getting on her tiptoes and also wanting to measure how tall she is against everyone. She is a very tall girl and remarkably coordinated. In this past month, she has had a chance to practice basketball, soccer, golf and her bike. Emma loves being outside and loves running. She continues to live at 100 miles an hour…with no fear at all!
March was a great month for the Strange crew. The first weekend of the month was pretty empty, so we made a trek up to Calhoun for some outlet shopping and enjoyed getting to spend time with each other. One of the stores we went to was a camping store and Emma decided she needed a tent. We found a really cool Disney princess tent and that seemed to fit the bill for our little lady. She has enjoyed quite a few naps in there.
We were also anxiously awaiting the arrival of my sister Katie and her husband JD’s first child. Their precious daughter Nora was born on March 13 and we were so excited to meet her! We spent a long weekend in Memphis and loved every minute getting to know sweet Nora!
Emma also enjoyed getting to go to the NCCS production of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The morning started with a pancake breakfast with the characters. Her K3 class also had Kite Day that day and then that evening our family went to see the Wonka show. It was amazing! Emma loved it and so did everyone else.
Clint had a deacon’s retreat the fourth weekend of March, so Emma and I enjoyed some girl time. We spent Friday night at a birthday party for her good friend Ella and then got up Saturday morning to celebrate at a princess birthday party for her good friend Aaleyah. Lots of fun with lots of special friends! Our family also made our first visit to Bentwater to try golfing together. Emma is a natural! She loves the putting green and the driving range. That’s all we are trying for now. Emma and Clint have had a few dinner dates to Bentwater after hitting golf balls after school. I love that she loves golf just as much as Clint and I do!
I went on a mission trip to Guatemala with NCCS from March 30-April 5, so Clint and Emma were on their own to celebrate Easter. Clint’s parents came down on Saturday to go to the Cedarcrest Church Easter Egg Hunt with Clint and Emma. They also went to lunch at Henry’s…always a big hit! Clint and Emma went to church Sunday morning and then spent the day with his family up in Summerville. I missed being here with them, but Clint was great to send me lots of pictures of our sweet girl!
Emma continues to be a diligent prayer warrior. Right now she is praying for her uncle Kevin to return safely from Afghanistan in May and also for her sweet brother Eli in Ethiopia that we are anxious to meet and adopt. Emma is full of energy and loves to help. She has a million questions. She is just on the verge of reading as she is working hard to sound things out. Her writing is getting so much better and she has memorized several Bible verses.
This week we are on Spring Break from school and we are having a great time spending lots of time together. It’s nice not to be busy and to see our sweet girls having a blast playing outside, making up new games, and challenging us to guessing games!
Growing up in the state of Tennessee as a female athlete, Pat Summitt has always been someone that I have looked up to. I’ve read her other books and studied her career and her leadership skills closely over the years. Her book Sum It Up is an anthology of her entire career as she confronts the devastating diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Throughout her career, she has relied on a sharp mind, dogged determination, and a quick wit to take her place as one of the most outstanding coaches ever…in any sport…male or female. She holds a remarkable number of records and has experienced every success that basketball has to offer. She quickly points out that she would trade it all in for the chance to continue coaching and permanently defeat Alzheimer’s.
I didn’t highlight a lot in this book…I was too focused on the conversation and the stories. As someone that had a chance to watch many of Pat’s milestones over the years, this book felt like a conversation at a cookout recounting humorous moments, sharing heartaches, learning about the girls she coached, and most importantly hearing about her faith that has become her rock through all of this. This book indeed summed up the outstanding legacy of Coach Pat Summit.
- They wanted an environment of healthy structure, one in which they felt I cared about them and cared that they did things the right way. Deep down they understood there was a relationship between discipline and success, and they wanted me to show it to them.
- Our rules and policies were just another expression of caring.
- I picked up a saying from the legendary UCLA coach John Wooden: “I don’t treat them all the same, but I treat them all fairly.” I asked all our players to achieve the same standard, but I couldn’t ask all of them in the same way.
- Leadership is really a form of temporary authority that others grant you, and they only follow you if they find you consistently credible. It’s all about perception—and if teammates find you the least bit inconsistent, moody, unpredictable, indecisive, or emotionally unreliable, then they balk and the whole team is destabilized.
- God doesn’t take things away to be cruel. He takes things away to make room for other things. He takes things away to lighten us. He takes things away so we can fly.