Posts Tagged ‘trust’

SHAKE, RATTLE and ROLL

Written by Les Dahl on November 1st, 2016. Posted in Peace, Sage's Scroll

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“I will shake heaven and earth…”   Haggai 2:6

We had no plans to leave Jamaica. Living in paradise is not always easy, remedy but our roots had grown 31 years deep. So the gnawing sense that Father was asking us to move back to Canada felt uneasy. None of us readily breaks out of our comfort zone.

But change was blowing in the wind, sale and the words of Haggai were echoing around the world in the mouths of present-day prophets: “I will shake heaven and earth…”

Interesting how we distance ourselves from the “Word.”  We’re sure He’s talking to someone else, not us. Little did we realize that we were heading for some shaking and rattling to get us rolling! 

One of the first lessons we had to learn was to let go. Not easy, because the response is counter-intuitive. Instinctively, when our status quo is threatened we tighten our grip on the things that give us security.

But when God starts shaking things up, the only safe response is to let it go. We need not fear for He watches over us to catch us if we slip. His intention is to break loose things that impede our moving forward.

One of dangers in life is that we too easily become comfortable and complacent. The demonstration of peace, hope and well-being is displaced by the mundane. The light and joy within dim. We trudge from day to day.

In His mercy, God shakes us out of our death spiral so we can break into abounding life. “I’ve come to ignite you with a spectacular display of life,” Jesus said. (John 10:10)

But we must choose. Either our relationship with God stays in a familiar rut or we pluck up courage to face reality. I chose the latter.

“Who are You? Show me something about You that I’ve not known. Tell me some things You share only with Your closest friends.” I’m desperate.

His answer is immediate and simple, “Okay, but first you’ll have to get rid of some old notions about Me. And we will dialogue differently from what you’re used to—what you call ‘pray.’  Are you up for that?”

“Second, you’ll need to change the way you engage with My Word (the Bible). You can’t just read it casually or even dutifully. You must anticipate as you read, listen for my faint whisper as I speak to you. Focus your full attention or you’ll miss it.”

“Each morning I will give you a sword.  With it you can chop through every circumstance you encounter and defeat the enemy waiting on your path to ambush you—that old snake who still hisses in your ear, “Did God really say that? You don’t really believe that, do you?”

“Third, I’m going to assay your faith, or lack of it. I will uncover the cancerous anxiety, doubt and unbelief embedded in you. You believe I exist as Creator and King of the Universe—that’s faith. But I’m bringing you to trustliving with the awareness that I am an intimate part of your life and that every single thing that happens is for your good.”

“My objective is to instill in you what John expressed when he wrote, “We have this confidence toward Him: we know that He hears us when we ask, and therefore we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14-15)

“One last thing. This is no quick fix, it’s a process. At times it will feel like open heart surgery. Sometimes it will feel like you’re going through hell. Don’t stop! Even when you feel like it—don’t quit!”

“There is a through…you will make it through, I’ll see to that. And there is an other side…I’m talking here-and-now, in-your-lifetime; and it’s beyond what you can imagine. Are you up for it?”

My choice is clear…

Shalom

7 VALUES CHILDREN MUST LEARN TO LIVE WELL

Written by Les Dahl on July 31st, 2015. Posted in Education, Family, Learning Solutions

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Educating our children must go beyond academics. Helping children acquire and practice right moral values is critical. The well-being of a community and a nation depends on it. Holistic development of children is the mandate of parents, care-givers and teachers.

Without sound moral values, children have no basis on which to make good choices. Moral values are guideposts pointing the right direction. They help children appropriately apply what they are learning to situations of real life.

Without positive moral guidance children become self-inflated and self-absorbed individuals with a gorilla-sized attitude of entitlement. They have little regard for, nor interest in, others except for personal gain. Only solid moral values rescue such from their illusionary, self-created universe.

 

How Can Values Be Cultivated In Children?

 

 

Phase 1: Teach

Values are ‘seeds’ that must be sown into the minds of children. They must be taught the concept (e.g. respect) clearly so they know what is expected of them. Relevance is established as children are shown clearly how the value (e.g. respect) is applied in their real-life experience. Role play followed by discussion can help clarify relevance and context.

 

Phase 2: Talk

Once a value is ‘planted’, it must be nurtured. This is accomplished as a vocabulary is developed around the value. For example, as respect is introduced, children must hear and use the word, its synonyms and words related to respect often (within reason, of course) throughout succeeding days. The objective is to establish a consciousness of respect, which in turn embeds thought patterns of respect which eventually become the paradigm by which children make choices and by which they interact with one another.

 

Phase 3: Walk

In this phase children “walk the talk” with the help of parent, care-giver or teacher. As a child demonstrates inappropriate behavior, the following three steps help get them back on track. The focus of intervention is restorative rather than punitive.

 

1. Facilitate clarity.

(a) Ask leading questions that help the child identify exactly what was wrong about their behavior. The issue cannot be resolved if the child cannot identify and name the inappropriate behavior.

(b) Guide the child to understand (i.e. identify and name) what would be appropriate behavior in the given situation.

(c) Explore several appropriate behaviors and the outcome each would produce. It is important for the child to see that more than one option provides appropriate behavior. They must see that their power of choice determines the outcome.

 

2. Help the child own their inappropriate behavior.

As long as the child makes excuses and blames someone or something other than him/herself, the issue cannot be resolved and he/she cannot move on.

(a) Help the child admit they were wrong. e.g. “I was disrespectful when I called Amy a name that hurt her feelings.”

(b) Help the child apologize appropriately. e.g. “I’m sorry for calling you a name that hurt your feelings.” The issue is not resolved with a vague “I’m sorry.” Help the child be specific in naming the wrong.

(c) Help the offended child express forgiveness. e.g. “I forgive you, Amy.” Saying the name tags the forgiveness precisely. It releases the offender to get up from her mistake and empowers her to move forward with a new level of respect—for herself and for others.

(d) Have persons involved in the incident promise they will help each other behave appropriately. We need each other to become the persons we want to be.

 

3. The goal: children making values-based choices and resolving personal conflicts using values-based strategies without adult intervention.

 

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said it well, We want a society where people are free to make choices, to make mistakes, to be generous and compassionate. This is what we mean by a moral society; not a society where the State is responsible for everything, and no one is responsible for the State.”

Whether by spontaneous, one-on-one mentoring or structured class/group discussion, children will embrace moral values that shape their character and conduct. They will become the kind of adults who make a difference in their community and in their nation.

 

7  Values That Help Children Live Wel

 

Of all the values (one list had 225 entries!), the following seven make a good starting point.

  • Respect: proper regard for the thoughts, feelings, wishes, rights and property of others
  • Honesty: sincere, genuine, truthful yet tactful, without deceit or hidden agenda
  • Forgiveness: ready and willing to forgive out of understanding and compassion .
  • Trust: firmly believing someone is reliable and free from suspicion and doubt
  • Patience: tolerating delay, problems or interruptions without becoming annoyed or anxious.
  • Gratitude: being thankful, ready to show appreciation and to return kindness.
  • Love: showing understanding and compassion; ready to sacrifice for the benefit and empowerment of others.

 

Children groomed in these values are equipped to live well. They benefit their family, community and nation. Where children grow with these qualities of character, there is hope.

Shalom!

THROWN TO THE WOLVES — THE 3 R’s OF TEACHING

Written by Les Dahl on July 23rd, 2015. Posted in Education, Learning Solutions

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My rite of passage into the teaching profession was a grueling contest of cunning wit and enduring grit. Would an aspiring 22-year old novice survive a ruthless pack of wolves cleverly disguised as sixth graders?

I cut my teaching teeth in Prince Rupert, a rugged fishing town 500 miles up the coast from Vancouver, B.C..  King Edward Elementary School served as a melting pot of well-mannered middle-class children and rough “wrong-side-of-the-tracks” kids. The latter was predominant.

In October, only a month after I had begun my final assignment as student-teacher, the principal approached me. I understand you’re looking for a job,” he began. “I have a vacancy in January.”

Hmm, this is a little unusual, I thought, since we’re but a few weeks into the term.“What have you got?” I asked. Teaching positions were scarce at the time. He described the following situation.

By the middle of October, these sixth graders had driven two seasoned professionals to nervous breakdown and exhausted the full roster of substitute teachers. (You couldn’t pay them enough to take this class of hooligans…not even for a day!) The class was now under the firm hand of a diminutive, old-fashioned school-marm, a veteran who had been coaxed out of comfortable retirement to hold off these budding terrorists until “someone suitable” could be found.

A clever scheme formed in my mind. “Let me observe the class for the remainder of the term as a ‘student teacher’ being mentored by Mrs. McGibbon. Don’t let the students know I am their teacher come January.”

I sat at the back of the class aghast at the macabre theatre playing out before me. Like a pack of vicious wolves these 11-year olds tried everything their mischievous minds could conjure to break down the brave old war-horse at the helm. Only her courage, experience, and love for children carried Mrs. McGibbon safely through the entire term and back into welcome retirement.

Day after day I studied each student thoroughly, interacting with them whenever possible. I learned not only their names, but how each thought, their likes, their dislikes, their family background, anything and everything that would help me understand who and what I was up against! I memorized their every move.

You can imagine the initial shock on the first day of the new term when I was introduced as their new teacher. Their next move was predictable. Almost imperceptibly, eyes flashed the message from student to student, ‘This rookie is easy prey. Let the games begin!’

As I wrote on the chalkboard, one after another dug into their arsenal of mischief. Without turning around, I called each by name and by misdeed. By mid-day, the entire class was convinced Mr. Dahl had eyes in the back of his head!

The remaining two terms of the school year changed my ideas about teaching. This class shifted my focus from methods and teaching to facilitating and learning. They set me on a quest to understand how children learn.

As the year progressed, these students began to achieve academic success, much to the amazement of the principal and the rest of the staff. The secret was not really my cleverness, nor my diligence as a CIA spy, but my willingness to learn the 3 R’s of teaching.

THE 3 R’s OF TEACHING

  1. Respect
  2. Relationship
  3. Recreation

As the students saw that even under fire I… 

  • respected them as people (not animals!),
  • respected them as individuals (not a bunch of misfits!),
  • respected their personal and academic potential (no teacher, not even their parents, thought they could amount to anything!),

one by one surrendered and began a journey with me on a pathway of learning and discovery none of them even imagined existed.

As our trust of each other grew, we shared our inner selves. Unresolved emotions surfaced and we learned how to address personal issues and resolve conflicts without resorting to violence and bullying. Relationships emerged—students and teacher, students with peers. (Although some parents engaged in the process, others in that situation simply weren’t interested.)

My biggest challenge was motivation. Learning was not a high priority in the dysfunctional families in which most of these kids lived. They saw little value or need for school. In short, school was a year-long prison sentence repeated 12 times. Most would drop out by 9th grade.

The learning environment and classroom dynamics had to change.

  • Lessons, assignments, homework shifted from useless and boring to meaningful and fun!
  • Organized team sports played during the lunch break created a positive outlet for pent-up energy.
  • A school choir gave opportunity for cultural expression.

None of the staff thought the energy and creativity of “this kind of kid” could be harnessed. Yet, here they were, enjoying school and actually learning, too.

My journey in education has been a colorful adventure in learning. I owe my start to this rambunctious class of sixth graders, a pack of wolves who initiated me in the 3 R’s of teaching and made a facilitator of learning out of me.

Shalom!

Image source: <http://news.softpedia.com/>

WHO CAN YOU TRUST?

Written by Les Dahl on May 3rd, 2015. Posted in Uncategorized

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Shalom finds anchor in trust—unshakeable, unmovable, bedrock trust. But in our highly transient and disposable world, who can you trust?

There are days when pressures and circumstances reach ‘category 5 hurricane’ level (that’s Ivan in Jamaica [2004] and Katrina in New Orleans [2005]). Sustained winds and imminent destruction summon every ounce of courage to press on. Is shalom a realistic hope?

My answer is ‘yes’, but not without price.

Shalom springs from a personal relationship with our Creator. Not a relationship defined by religious doctrine or ritual, but one that is authentic and tested by the realities of life. A relationship in which God is no longer a ‘Supreme Being’ or ‘Higher Power’ distant and detached, but a loving, caring Father keenly interested and engaged in our life. A relationship that is so personal and real that we share our true thoughts and feelings without reservation or fear. A relationship that is so authentic and true that we expect God to listen with utmost patience and empathy—understanding fully what we’re going through—and then to answer with reciprocal candor and concern. Only when I know with certainty that I am my Father’s child, loved without condition or reserve, can I trust Him to keep me safe and see me through the day. Only when I trust Him fully can I let go of me fears and insecurities and feel shalom.

On June 30, 1859, Charles Blondin stunned the world
by crossing the Niagara Gorge on a 3.25 inch rope.
The 1,100 foot Manila-hemp, strung 160 feet above the raging Niagara River,
 deemed one of the most powerful river currents in the world,
 provided a precarious crossing from American to Canadian soil and back again. 
Blondin made it look like child’s play.

Blondin followed his history-making feat with many other crossings, 
each more daring than the next: 
blindfolded, on stilts, sitting down midway to cook and eat an omelet, balancing on a chair with only one of its legs on the rope,
 pushing a loaded wheelbarrow, among other theatrics.
Huge crowds cheered wildly as they watched impossible exploits performed before their very eyes!

On one of his stunts, Blondin piggy-backed his manager,
 Harry Colcord, across the expanse.
Before beginning the death-defying journey Blondin gave these simple instructions:

Look up, Harry. You are no longer Colcord, you are Blondin. Be a part of me—mind, body and soul. If I sway, sway with me.
 Do not attempt to do any balancing yourself. If you do, we will both go to our death.”

That image and those words profoundly define trust.

Getting from where we are today to the amazing reality of shalom, 
we will have to piggy-back on Him, 
looking up with unwavering gaze to Heaven instead of our dizzying circumstances. Fully surrendered in relationship with Father, we become part of Christ—mind, body and soul;
 our heart so attuned to Holy Spirit that our every move is synchronized with His slightest sway. Only then can He carry us step by step, 
perfectly balanced in shalom—
one step at a time, one day at a time!

Blessings…

 

Image from Blondin: His Life and Performances. Edited by G. Linnaeus Banks. London, New York: Routledge, Warne, and Routledge, 1862.