Sunday, May 3, 2020

We all want students to learn what we teach. We really want it to stick. As educators during this "new normal" pandemic world of teaching and maintaining professional goals, the "hours of operation" have decimated work-life balance. I see so many people on my social media feeds posting about their day with kids hovering around and the hours being so much longer, and their work space being spread all over the place.
I get it. I have been working from home for almost 9 years now. My husband too. There are so many mistakes to work-life balance that I thought I would write a few down to keep others from the same time wasting traps I fell into.
Working into the evening goes both ways. It can be a blessing and a curse. I will often wake up at 5 AM during the work week to answer emails and I will also sneak in more at 9 or 10 PM as well, But I also get to walk to the mailbox holding hands with my husband...everyday. About 2 years ago we made a pact to do this simple 1 min task together. I also find time throughout the day with this trade-off to fold a load of laundry or empty the dishwasher. Placing a silver lining on the time exchange is necessary. BUT - here is the big BUT. The work will always be there. I was in a trap several years ago where I thought if I could just clear this inbox, or if I just mine the data tonight, then tomorrow will allow me to go into a deeper level of productivity. That is a lie. There will be more emails tomorrow and there will be more _______, insert whatever you thought you were getting ahead of.
There are also the immediate wins that we see people joke about. Like no commute, being able to wear pajamas to work, not wasting the time to slap on make-up or tie that tie, but there are lies that hide beneath these too. I learned very early on that not dressing for the day can still leave you empty at the end of it no matter how productive you thought you were. You can actually trick yourself into a sort of self loathing after some time. Dressing for the day sets the tone. Even if you enjoy jeans and a t-shirt, get up, shower and put them on. The commute time for me was always about growing myself. Whether a podcast, a book, or talk radio the drive time was quiet time spent on me. That time is harder to find now.
Taking time to plan your day will make a huge difference. There are many people that are to-do list adverse because we all know things come up and not getting to the last box or two are a real downer. Creating a to-do list each day can keep you from falling into the "what? It's-2-o'clock-and-I-havent-accomplished-anything" trap. To-do lists are good, but don't over fill it. If my kiddo comes to me mid-day, because they do and will, I want to be able to enjoy the art, game or thing they feel is important. I try to make sure that whatever time I am flexing for work, that it is a priority to keep my family time in place. Kids are only kids for so long. Insert the classic Cat's in the cradle, by Cat Stevens here.
The last pitfall I'll bring up of the work from home life is workspace. I have tried the bedroom, the living room, I even bought a she-shed to work out of. It boiled down to needing to decide on a space and make that space THE SPACE. Moving the office around the house gets taxing. You cant find a pen or sticky note. Having a private or confidential phone conversation will need to happen, so plan ahead when thinking about where to lay down your work roots in the home. TV will be a distraction. Kids playing will be a distraction. Food being readily available will be a distraction. Set boundaries with yourself when it comes to workspace and be strict enough that you can remain productive.
At the end of the day, this is where we are. Places will open again, but in my opinion enough companies were on the fence about moving this direction that a portion of the new normal will remain in tact. Will you be prepared?

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Quarantine Zine

Are you home? You should be...

Are you bored? Really, bored is a state of mine. 

I have seen so many things. All the "things" people have been doing to pass the time. You should have click on that link to see them too. If you do #5 send it to me and I will pass it through the webiverse.

In this time I have binge-watched the television show Alone. After watching I felt the need to walk into the wood in my backyard and build a teepee. I have refined a few skills in videography...I am no master of this skill, but I am trying to get better. I have written. I have finished a book and began another. I have finished a plan on the Bible app. I have downloaded an app to learn a new language. I found a way for our church to come together in worship during the first Sunday morning in isolation. Oh, and I still have a full-time job. Here is a pic of that teepee.

I am been super impressed at my own kids. They have spent most of this time outside. We run a one-room schoolhouse here at the house, so the idea of not having friends over every day hit them pretty hard at first. These girls hate summer break because they don't see their friends as often. They have built paper rockets, built roller coasters out of Legos...Here is a fun Lego challenge if you want to have some fun.

I also like to throw out fun Facebook posts to see how many fun ways to get people engaged. Some bring 100-200 comments like the best Coronavirus memes post...and others fell completely flat on their face, but produced some laughs like this picture. I asked everyone to find a pic of animals on the Googles and then recreate the pic.

Nothing...but that's ok. I am NOT bored. 

Monday, March 2, 2020

What is OneHub?

I heard the announcement in the church over the last several Sundays, the talk about a new type of small group, but maybe a small group on steroids. Elliot Freeman had mentioned it and Ricky Bowlin told me as someone heading up the social media, that I just had to go.

Now, I am a busy gal. I have a full-time job and I have about 4-5 side hustles. This one thing was going to be ANOTHER thing. I say all of this now, knowing full well that I told a group the other night...and now I tell you...that if I have the capacity, I will offer more of myself. All I would really be missing out on are some of the guilty pleasures, like endless-without-a-point internet nothingness or television watching. So I went.

What is OneHub? The subheading tells the story. It's about reaching the lost. When I accepted the role I have in the church with social media it was about one thing only...reaching the lost. I wanted to have a bigger reach than myself to find those that were completely lost or searching. The meeting was opened by Elliot saying that this group would be about disciplining people...and more. I was hooked in the first line. This is exactly what I wanted to do, become equipped and make disciples of men. It's one thing to have your quiet time and read God's word daily. It's quite another to turn his words into application and spread the Gospel. I have read, and as long as someone comes to me and asks the right kind of questions I might be able to have a conversation with you, but being PROactive?
As he went on he talked about a temperature check given monthly to gauge our involvement in reaching out but also where we were in our commitment to spreading the Gospel; how often we were thinking about it. Not only will be learning how to be better witnesses and cultivators of those we are trying to bring to Christ, but we would be held accountable monthly as to whether or not we were trying. I got really excited and on fire for what we could do as a community if we really got into this.

The next item for discussion was a 9/11 rule. Several have probably already heard of this because there are a few Sunday school leaders who have already been going to this group for some time. The point here is you set a daily reminder on your phone. You can incorporate your Alexa or Google Home devices here too if you prefer.
- At 9:00PM 
- you pray for 1 person
- for 1 minute. 
You pray for the one lost person in your life. It can literally be "the lady in the checkout" if that's who you want. You pray daily over that person with the hopes of reaching them. Who would your one person be?

You know the premise, do you really have to join? Probably not. But why wouldn't you? You can do all of those action items on your own and at your home, but here is the long and short of it - we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. The finger cannot and should not operate apart from the hand. We should be in fellowship with each other and encourage one another. We should hold each other accountable to living out the Great Commission. So won't you join this next month? We will meet again on the 5th of April. Its Palm Sunday and you will have every excuse not to be there...but ask yourself if those excuses are good enough. Meet with us at 3:30 and become fishers of men.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Coming Home

Day 10

Today, our last day in Israel and the feelings are mixed. On the one hand, I am ready to get home to see my husband and youngest kiddo. I know the rest of my fellow travelers feel the same. On the other hand...I have learned so much here and I could probably stay another 10 days and still not know enough. I look forward to the familiar, but I love the broken box I have escaped. We have tried new things and seen sights that our small town, small state, or large country just cannot provide.

We started our day at Garden of the Tomb. This is the second candidate for where crucifixion of Jesus could be. It’s disputed because we are 2000 years later and many people have ruled this city between then and now. The Romans, Byzantine, Muslims and Crusaders all had a say in the destruction and rebuilding this land. We had an on special guide to walk us through the different markings around the site Showing why this was the actual crucifixion place and tomb. One thing he said that I love and it was something I thought all week long...
We do not worship the site. We worship Jesus. That can be done here at the rock or back in Sapulpa OK.
You do not need to be in Israel to know my God. You do not need to touch or kiss the rock to make you feel closer. We read again the chapter of Isaiah 53 talking about the sacrifice that would need to be made.
Psalm 22: 30-31 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn - for he has done it.
We met together in a small section within the garden where Pastor Smokey gave us a lesson on unleavened bread and the pressing of grapes to make wine. His lesson brought us to the partaking of Holy communion together. It was simple, quiet, perfect.

Our next stop was at the museum, Friends of Zion. It was interesting to see how many people came together...non Jews, to save the Jew and Israel. One room we entered had the largest digital mural with 36 interactive touchscreen displays. When you touch on a single image it comes to life and it gives you a few lines of information about that person‘s history. In another room we heard about the different people trying to save different Jewish communities and families during the Holocaust. At the end of the presentation they were beams of light across the room shooting out of the ceiling. When you reached your hand out into the beam you could see the name and face of a person that was saved. It was like holding a life in your hands.

The question we were left with...and the question I will ask you to ponder too...What does it mean to say, “Here am I”? Is this something you are willing to say at God’s request? What if it means sacrifice? What if it is hard? What if you have to die completely to self?

We began the long drive back toward the airport. Another stop along the way...Caesarea. This is where the Gentiles first heard the good news and were baptized by Peter. King Herod built another site that also went the rough the same takings over and destruction that Jerusalem met. This city, however, is by the Mediterranean Sea. He could go to Greece or Rome very quickly. Say I love you and come back more powerful. This place was huge. Thousands of workers/slaves to build.
Smokey offered us another lesson about Jonah who left from this port to run as far away from his calling as he possibly could. He also reminded us that God calls us to love those that are those that hate us, our enemies...from here Paul went to spread the gospels. From this port the Word and the story of Jesus left Israel and went out to the world. We sat in the oldest theatre in Israel. We walked along the beach of the Mediterranean Sea finding sea shells and searching for remnants of the past. We posed for last day photos and tried to soak in the views.

Old Jaffa for supper. It was another amazing spread of food this time with some kabobs. Best falafel I have ever eaten. And y’all, I have eaten a lot of falafel this week.

We are at the airport now awaiting our long flight home. This time, this airport we sit as friends, not as the acquaintances we were 10 very long days ago. We shared tonight at the dinner table some of our favorite moments of the week, our highlight reel. It’s a semi-romantic end to a trip of a lifetime. See you all at church this Sunday. If you see us in the halls ask us about the trip. If you are on the fence the next time the opportunity comes up, talk to us. I took an informal survey of the group and the overwhelming consensus was yes, take the trip.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Prophecies Fulfilled

Day 9

Today started it with a little bit of a world history lesson for Tatum. She had heard of the Holocaust but only by name alone. Debbie and Gene Presley helped me teach her about all the things she was about to see at the Holocaust museum/memorial. It wasn’t like life was floating around and all of a sudden concentration camps… There was a lot of buildup beforehand entire anti-semantic movement began. A brainwashing of a nation to decide to abolish a group of people.

Walking to the museum I tried to explain the best I could to Tate why people were the way they were and what they did and how the Nazi ideology invaded country by country. The countries who excepted it were scared so they conformed to become just as brutal. There were many images I couldn’t look at and I told her not to look at them either. Not to turn a blind eye, but because it was enough. It was too much. I interviewed a couple of our church family members after and Mark had said, “...evil can sneak up on you and you better beware”.
No pics allowed inside the museum. Roni snapped this one on the way out.

We walked into a church that was built upon the hill where Jesus was crucified (possibly). Steps led us to a rock...”the rock”. Roni lead us back down the stairs where there was a line waiting to get in to see what was considered THE tomb. We did not wait in the line he took us around the corner to see another tomb.

We were led all around the tiny storage locker shops in the streets of Jerusalem. We made a few purchases here and there and then went back to the heart of the Jewish quarter for lunch. 
Mark, Becky, Tate and I had an extra 20 mins at lunch so we went back to the shops to grab one more thing....well...we got all turned around. My fault. There I said it. With the help of a few amazing locals we made it back.

Walking through the streets on our way to the south wall to sit at the steps of the temple we ran into Michael Cohen… Writer of the song El Shaddai.

On the steps of the south steps, we stop to read. John 8. Jeremiah 17:12-13 is a connection to John 8...Writing in the dust. Smokey pointed out that everyone wants to speculate what was it he was writing in the dust. That wasn’t the point. The point was...prophecy fulfilled. Boom.

From here we walked the Via Dolorosa backwards. This meant we walked down hill...the easy route. Our final stop was St Anna’s church. Pastor Smokey offered another lesson in John 19 there is the courtyard, which used to be the sheep baths before the people offered their sacrifices. One after another after another after another we read of prophecies from the old testament fulfilled with the crucifixion of Jesus. We kept flipping back-and-forth between old testament and new testament to read with the prophets wrote and then back to see how the apostles told the story.

After Smokey was done preaching we went into the small church and sang again. When I said we sounded like a choir yesterday, it pales in comparison to the acoustics in this place. We sand “Amazing Grace” together and our voices just traveled up and around. 

We all huddled into one space tonight to debrief on the happenings of the day. You all already know this and I do too, but we have a pretty special church family. The bond that binds us together at FBC Sapulpa is pretty strong. I am only about three years new to this church and after this week the list of people that would get on their knees for me (and I for them) has grown.

 If you are reading this and feel like you are sitting on the outside looking in at church find me. I am Erin. I would love to get to know you and make you feel the love that I have for my church family. 

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Away in a Manger

Day 8-

Roni took us to the Israel Museum today. When we walked in, there was an enormous 50:1 scale stone village replica of the city of Jerusalem. A person would be the size on a matchstick. I mentioned to a friend of mine, that this trip not only is an amazing experience to walk through a living textbook, but it solidified for me learning styles when it comes to a child’s education. I can read the scriptures and know that Jesus had to walk a ways with people spitting on him and hitting him. I have read that he had to carry the cross for a while and grew tired and someone helped him... I have read the research and it goes back and forth. I have taught on it even using music as an anchor. I know that I am a tactile and auditory learner...turns out living the education is a game changer. Y’all, a ways is a ways...and the hills are fierce. The streets are narrow and filled with people. This was a heart wrenching ordeal to see to scale what it was for him.

In the pictures I tried to show it the best I could as Roni took us on around the replica town. Jaffa Gate was the edge of town. They would have taken Jesus with his cross through this gate to Golgotha for the crucifixion. There was a second site that some people believe this happened just around the corner. Roni said and I quote...

I know what is under the ground. Because of my job taking television crews under ground. My opinion isn’t influence you if I had money to bet it would be where the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is. 

Walk to to the Shire of the Book
Important artifacts archeology and history. Inside was a replica cave built to show the inside of the cave where the Dead Sea Scrolls were located. No pictures were allowed inside, but I used my voice memos to record some of the writings on the scrolls. In the middle of the room was a model of a giant scroll. Incased in an air proof glass display was a single scroll of the book of Isaiah. Oldest known book of the Bible in existence.

The artifacts inside these museums were pretty amazing and brought to life many concepts in my head.. here are pics of what the tombs were like. They shelf life on a dead body was one year. Are the end of the year the family comes back and grabs the bones and places them in a box as long as the femur and as tall as the head and chest bones.

The only place outside of the Bible that the name Pontius Pilate has ever been written was this one stone. He was so insignificant anywhere else in history, yet his name will live forever in the best selling book of all time.

Tate really like the Hieroglyphics explained...

Gene may have like the artifacts a lot too...

Bethlehem is actually located in Palestine (to my friends who do not recognize Palestine as a place, all I can say is that we went through a border and checkpoints to get there). So we took the short drive across the border. It was an entire hillside and valley of olive trees and terraces in the middle of Palestinian and Arab apartment complexes. At the first checkpoint we were turned away. There was a complication with a bad guy and say that they could not handle our bus...that maybe it wasn’t safe?.? Roni told us that a bad apple spoiled that checkpoint for a bunch. We had to drive another 5 minutes to a different checkpoint. They were large red signs that read do not go this way especially if you are an Israeli.. it is forbidden and you will be risking your life.

We met a new guide (Sana)...a Palestinian Christian. Gun shots could be heard off in the distance. She took us to the fields where the shepherds had been watching over their sheep where they saw the star and came running INTO the town of Bethlehem. Here we read Luke 2:8-20.

She took us to another small domed building with the most amazing acoustics. Sana asked us to sing a Christmas carol inside and I got to lead our group in “Angels We Have Heard on High” then she asked us to sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and Mrs. Debbie Presley carried the team on her back. We sounded like a full choir.

Lunch was another shared spread of color and flavor.

After lunch, she guided us to THE birth place of Jesus. There was a line which was apparently nothing compared to the norm (much smaller). We crowed together down and down into a cave that three churches have built on top of. Three churches. Three different faiths (Armenian, Catholic, and Greek Orthodox) sharing the same building over the birth place of the baby Jesus. The building is under renovation right now and they have just unearthed (last year) under the plaster more mosaic of the heavenly host. It was very ornamental inside and very beautiful.

After this we spent a little time shopping before retiring to the hotel for the night. Another busy day in Jerusalem tomorrow. 

I leave you with the best of Tate today. 

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Masada is the Stronghold

We had a 2 Hour Dr. through the countryside of Israel today. When you leave the city limits where the homes cost millions of dollars for a 2000 square-foot flat to find tarp covered 250sq ft slums. You realize what a blessing space is. I am a teacher. I have working in several types of schools and I must say that with the exception of abuse, even our poorest kids are living a good life in comparison to what I witnessed today.

We passed by the City of Jericho also known as the City of Palms, on our way to Masada and the Dead Sea. Jericho is the oldest known developed city in the world.

Much of today was spent at En Geti and Masada. This is a a time in the Bible when King Saul was chasing David and there was quite an exchange between the two. We read all of chapter 24, but this
1samual 24:22 And David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
After reading we walked in the spot where it is believed that David wrote or could have written Psalm 18. There were two paths to get to the waterfalls. Some of us followed ‘ol Smokey through a tougher path to get to a larger waterfall. Before the climb, it was brown. Brown everywhere...and then all of a sudden there is a waterfall system in the middle of the desert. A true oasis.

Masada = stronghold
Herod built a palace on the plateau of a mountain in the middle of nowhere nester to the Dead Sea. It was a stopping point on the road from Egypt. Two palaces were built and weapons for 10,000 The water in the Dead Sea is completely unusable, so initially he has to have water shipped in. There was no Amazon Prime, and this place was a two day journey from Jerusalem.
Water cisterns that can hold water for 7 yrs with one flood. Flash Floods happen 5-10 per year. Property of King Herod king of Judaea. The extravagant lifestyle was obvious, but the most mind blowing part was the filter action systems built for their cisterns. I’m no hydro engineer so I would sound like a dumb dumb trying to explain it. There was a heavy rain here yesterday that caused a smaller flash flood, so we were able to see the system in work. Roni said he’s never seen water in the spot we were looking. It was crystal clear water.

this place was in operation from around 4BC to 70AD

This morning Tatum told me she had no desire to get into the Dead Sea. As a mama it kind of stung my heart a little hearing her say that, because we came all this way and, well, when in swim. I asked my husband if I should make her or not and he said no, she’s 13 and she’ll probably be back here again someday. So when we got on location I didn’t say a word I just got into my swimsuit and went out into the water with the others. After about 3 to 5 minutes she was ready to join us. It was a blast. You aren’t supposed to just float like that...but you do.

The wandering Jew...doing what people tell them to do or allow them to do. Now I make my own history