Saturday Song: God Incarnate, Jesus Came

I’ve been thinking more lately about the Trinity – especially the incarnation. Tonight I read Exodus 24:1-11. The glory of God is described… and also that the elders of Israel ate in his presence and were not consumed. This in itself is remarkable. How remarkable is it also that God would come again, thousands of years later, as a man, to eat with, teach, and die for enemies he had every right to destroy from a distance. Including me. 

Truely he gave us peace and hope instead. 

God incarnate, Jesus came,

Sinful mankind to reclaim;

Born to save us from our sin, 

Born to give us life within.
God incarnate, Jesus died,

On the cross was crucified;

Paid the sin-debt so that we

Could be pardoned full and free.
God incarnate, Christ arose,

Conquered death and all our foes;

Banished all our fear and dread,

Gave us peace and hope instead.
-George Sweeting and John Peterson

September 11, the Weight of the World, and the Goodness of God

“For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened…” 2 Cor. 5:4

Sixteen years ago, I was getting ready for the day, when I heard news of the first plane flying into the twin towers. I watched in disbelief, frozen in front of the television, as the second plane struck. A terrible thought sank into the pit of my stomach. The towers are going to fall. I retreated to my bedroom and cried to God that the towers would not fall. But they did. And with them thousands of people.

I spent part of that afternoon at my neighbors’ house, a couple who had seen the Day of Infamy at Pearl Harbor. And here was their second day of infamy. So, we cried to God together. And in the days to come, our nation mourned under the weight of the shadow of death, under the veil that is cast over all the peoples. Even the stories of sacrifice and brotherhood could not lift the weight of the nation’s tragedy.

And yet, all these years later, we are still a people under oppressive weight. The weight of a fractured nation. Of divided denominations, churches, and families. The weight of natural disasters. The weight of our own pride and strained relationships. The weight of memories and regret. Of condemnation. Of sickness. Of starting over with nothing. Of death.

We carry the weight of the sorrows of our friends and neighbors, even of people in other parts of the world. The past couple weeks alone saw floods in Asia, hurricanes in the U.S., and an earthquake in Mexico, with people crying out under the weight of their devastation.

“We do not lose heart…” 2 Cor. 4:16

This seems almost impossible to say. Under such crushing weight, how can we not lose heart? How is it that we can be afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; struck down, but not destroyed?

Faith in the goodness of God.

The spirit of faith that says with the Psalmist “’I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us … into his presence.” (2 Cor. 4:13-14)

God spoke and it will come to pass.

More than a triumph of the human spirit, our hope is sure and steady.  It is not of the things seen, but the things unseen… the things that are eternal.

This is a divine assurance that knows that all the weight of these afflictions are preparing a weight of glory. This weight of glory is so great, all our crushing afflictions are light compared to it. Even if our afflictions last a lifetime, they are still momentary compared with this glory that is eternal.

God has spoken and it will come to pass when the veil of death will be lifted forever. No more will we struggle and mourn under the weight of suffering and death.

And he will swallow up on this mountain

the covering that is cast over all peoples,

the veil that is spread over all nations.

He will swallow up death forever;

and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces,

and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,

for the LORD has spoken.

It will be said on that day,

“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.

This is the LORD; we have waited for him;

let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

Isaiah 25:7-9

Terrorists will not have the final say. Neither will the cancer, nor bitterness, nor brokenness nor demons nor war. Neither will our sense of brotherhood and sacrifice. The LORD has spoken, and so we do not lose heart.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!

Wait for the LORD:

be strong and let your heart take courage;

wait for the LORD!

Psalm 27:13-14

Saturday Song: The Lord is my Salvation

Blessed be the LORD!

for he has heard the voice of my plea for mercy.

The LORD is my strength and my shield;

in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;

my heart exults,

and with my song I give thanks to him.

Psalm 28:6-7

Today’s song is one that has been in my mind and heart much over the past week. To think, as Scripture teaches and this song celebrates, God’s grace reached for me when I was beyond hope. More than that, he saved when I was underserving of hope or help. Who is like the LORD our God?


5 Ingredient Chocolate Banana Frozen Mousse

I call ths the alternative to my alternative ice cream. It’s like ice cream, but definitely more mousse- like texture. I started making this as an alternative to corn-syruppy ice cream alternative. Gluten, dairy, egg, and soy free. (But not nut free, sorry.) 

Simple ingredients, simply delicious! 

1 1/2- 2 frozen bananas (peel and freeze chopped in a ziploc)

2 Tablespoons almond milk

1 Tablespoon almond butter

1 heaping Tablespoon cocoa powder

1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla

I softened my banana in the microwave… maybe 30 seconds. I used a 2-cup Ninja food processor to blend ingredients for about 20-30 seconds. Easy, no mess, quick, relatively healthy summertime snack. 

*I used very large organic bananas, but if regular sized, I’d recommend using 2 bananas. Adjust milk and cocoa powder to taste. Next up, I’ll try adding coffee to the mix! 

Happy National Doughnut Day

So today is National Doughnut (Donut?) Day.  Even though I am dairy and gluten free, there is never a time a will say a don’t want a doughnut (or pizza, for that matter). Since I’m on summer vacation and had no plans, I thought it would be the perfect day to experiment.  After much perusing Pinterest, I can across this recipe from Delightful Adventures.  

Click on over for the recipe. I followed advice and used Bob’s Red Mill GF Baking Flour since my dietary restrictions are lighter.

Also, I added two Tablespoons of brewed coffee and one extra Tablespoon of flour to enhance the chocolate flavor.

These were baked with Almond Milk.

I also did not have a doughnut pan, so I piped the batter into a muffin pan, which worked pretty well.  I imagine a muffin pan for over-sized muffins would leave a small hole in the doughnuts.

Seriously, these doughnuts are g.r.e.a.t. I saved some plain, sprinkled a few with powdered sugar (which was perfect), and glazed the rest. I think I made my glaze too thin (I struggle with that sometimes), so I ended up glazing the doughnuts 2-3 times, letting the glaze harden between each one.

While you are enjoying the doughnuts, check out the history behind National Doughnut Day. Happy Eating!




“Greater love has no man than this, that he lays down his life for his friend.”John 15:13 

“Thanks and praise, for our days, ‘Neath the sun, ‘neath the stars, neath the sky;

 As we go, this we know, God is nigh…

While the light fades from sight,

 And the stars gleaming rays softly send,

 To thy hands we our souls, Lord, commend.” 

Lyrics from Taps

Classroom Management: 3 ideas to encourage student ownership, self-reflection, and positive peer encouragement

This is probably the first year that I have been excited about classroom management. I guess seven years is long enough?  At any rate, I had to retire my color-coded card system.  With 4th graders, I wanted them to take responsibility by pulling their own cards… but they’d pull everyone else’s to get back.  As a result, a discipline routine that should have been 15 seconds and without incident was almost as disruptive as the original misbehavior.  So, here are three routines I implemented for individual and whole class behavior.

1.) Good Behavior Bingo

behavior bingo

I found this chart on teacherspayteachers from Miss Kindergarten Love. It is editable so that I can change the categories to fit the class dynamics and the classroom space. This year’s categories were Popcorn (usually with a fun video… Bill Nye or Dojo), Read-a-thon (with flashlights and pillows), Inside Games, Surprise (aka Takis… but could be other things), Experiment (because I have yet to meet a kid who doesn’t like science as much as I do…)

In the past I have used this with the card/clip system so that if no one had pulled more than one card/clip, we could get a sticker on our bingo board. When we got a BINGO, we got our behavior reward on the next Friday.

This year, however, as I mentioned, the card/clip system was ineffective at best. Also, the method I had been using would too often single out the one student who cost us the sticker.

So, this year I implemented a “mystery student” strategy I saw recommended from a co-worker. The mystery student was responsible for earning us the sticker that day. If the mystery student earned the sticker, they would draw the paper to reveal the square on the BINGO board and then choose another student who they thought did a good job in class to put the sticker on the board.

2.) Checks and Consequences


The card/clip system was replaced by logical consequences from Teacher Trap on TPT. Admittedly, I had trouble keeping up with this one as much as I would have liked.

Students would get checks for specific behaviors and each check would have a consequence that they would have to complete during recess. The consequences are tailored to the offense and focus on restoration and future goals, rather than punishment. For example, if the student was disruptive during small group times, after a reminder they received a check. During recess, they would need to apologize to the students in their group members individually or write a note setting goals for how to be a better group member. This allows for student ownership of behavior and self-reflection.

This could work on it’s own, but I used it with the Behavior Bingo and Mystery Student. If the mystery student did not get any checks, they would earn us the Bingo sticker. This way, if several students had checks — or the one who usually gets checks — we could still be working toward a class reward.

3.) Mystery Student (Secret Student)

secret student 2

This is one of my favorite classroom management strategies. I was afraid the students would get tired of it, but they never did. I didn’t either. At the beginning of class, I would pull a name stick to see who the mystery student was without telling the class. The students were so excited about it that they would try to peek, so I had to be extra sneaky. It made the class start with a light-hearted mood.

During lessons and group work, I could just generally remind the students that “I hope my mystery student is helping us earn our sticker.”

secret student

This would cause all the students to check themselves. They realized they could be the one the class was depending on to get our sticker. The mystery student would get to draw the bingo card at the end of class, pick a fellow student to put the sticker on the board, and get in the treasure box.

If the mystery student didn’t earn the sticker, I would not reveal who the mystery student was. I would simply tell the students that I couldn’t share the secret because the mystery student hadn’t been on task or exhibiting excellent behavior. Later, I could tell the student in private the consequences of the choices he or she had made.

Also, if the mystery student had exhibited excellent behavior, but most of the class had not (there are those days), I would reveal the mystery student, but tell the class that since they hadn’t been helping the mystery student out, we didn’t earn the sticker. However, the mystery student would still earn treasure box for their behavior.

Why I like this so much:

  • It helped create team spirit –students would encourage each other to act like the mystery student and to help each other earn a sticker. They then congratulate the mystery student and sticker student for a job well done.
  • Students realize more that their actions affect the class.
  • Students recognize the good efforts of their classmates when the mystery student picks someone to place the sticker on the board.
  • Confession: sometimes I fudge about who the mystery student is… and the kids never know. For example… the “behavior problem” student is actually having a good day and I’ve been looking for ways to celebrate him conquering his anger management or her for holding her tongue. You can bet that that no matter what name I pull, they are going to be the mystery student that day.
  • Instead of a list of rules to adhere to — which we do have — my students focus on how a model student would act and strive for that goal.
  • No matter what kind of day the students had before, each day is a new chance for them to be the mystery student.
  • So many positive vibes.

For more ideas about how to use mystery student, check out this post from Minds in Bloom.