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from the West Wing

This weekend is the time when we will celebrate Thanksgiving; a holiday steeped in tradition, both historical and personal. Last week I shared with you George Washington’s, our first president, Thanksgiving Proclamation. This week, I would like to share with you Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863. It was this proclamation that established Thanksgiving as a National Holiday. The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that...

from the West Wing

Next week we will set aside one day to gather with family and friends and celebrate Thanksgiving. As I was preparing our Family Chapel lesson for this month, I did some research on the origins of Thanksgiving. It was quite interesting to read some of what has become “tradition”. Part of what I found is that each and every president since Abraham Lincoln has given a formal Thanksgiving Proclamation, even though in 1938 the fourth Thursday of November was officially designated a national holiday. Today I would like to share with you the first presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation, given by our first president, George Washington.   WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:” NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care...

from the West Wing

Today our first quarter report cards were sent out. I am always impressed at how well the students at Fairview do. Each one is a unique individual and I believe that at Fairview our teachers do a phenomenal job helping each child reach their potential. That being said, there are times when our children, for a variety of reasons, don’t receive the highest grades. That can be frustrating for a parent. However, allow me to share some insight taken from Love and Logic that might help for those less than perfect times. “There’s no doubt that grades are important! Because they are so important, many parents make the mistake of displaying a lot of anger and frustration when their kids get poor ones. When this happens, kids spend more energy thinking about their parents’ anger and frustration than thinking about how their grades will affect their lives. Listed below are some quick tips for responding to poor grades: Spend most of your energy commenting on the good grades. The key is to help your child feel so good about what they do well that they will be willing to work harder at what they don’t do well. Display sadness over the bad grades. Experiment with saying, “This is so sad. I’m sure glad that I didn’t get that grade. The good news is that we are going to love you regardless of how well or poorly you do in school.” Ask questions about the bad grades like “What are your thoughts about the grade?” or “Do you have any plan to deal with the subject?” or “What sort of...

from the West Wing

The other day I had an interesting experience that got me thinking about how I try to operate my life sometimes. My mom had dropped her cell phone, the back fell off and battery popped out. She put it all back together, but the screen was blank, even after putting it on the charger. We decided to go get her a new phone and after some long deliberation we finally decided on one that would suit her needs. The clerk took her phone to transfer the information, flipped it open and when I glanced over, the screen was turned on. I asked, “What did you do to get the screen working?” “I turned the phone on,” was her simple reply. All of a sudden it hit me. Of course, when the battery came out, the phone would have been turned off. Neither my mom nor I had thought to simply turn it back on again. We had a good laugh, thanked the clerk for “fixing” the phone and went on our way, feeling a little sheepish I might add. I’m sure the clerk is getting a lot of mileage out of the story as well. That experience got me thinking about how I sometime approach life. I’m going along, living my day to day life and everything is wonderful. In the busy-ness of life, I begin to neglect some of the things that are most important for my spiritual well being. My prayers are shorter; my time in the Word is not as meaningful; I’m not really listening to what God is trying to tell me. Then something happens...

from the West Wing

Once again we have come through another rather devastating week; another week where a seemingly senseless act changes the lives of so many in the twinkling of an eye. So many questions; so few answers. As the days unfold, there are increasing opinions of why and still no answers. As I reflected on some of the events of the past month, I was impressed with the thought of hopelessness. If you remember, the daughter of a dear friend took her own life in a moment of despair. Hopeless. This past Friday, a young man shot five friends, intending to kill them all, and then turned the gun on himself in a moment of despair. Hopeless. Last night as I was praying, the words to the following song came through. In Christ alone my hope is found He is my light my strength my song This Cornerstone this solid Ground Firm through the fiercest drought and storm What heights of love what depths of peace When fears are stilled when strivings cease My Comforter my All in All Here in the love of Christ I stand Christ alone. What a thought. Truly it is in Him that we can find hope in the world drowning in hopelessness. Christ alone can and will give peace and comfort when there are more questions than answers. In our morning devotion time this morning, Mrs. Bratcher shared the testimony of Nancy Writebol, one of the missionaries infected with the Ebola virus last summer. The following is part of her testimony: “The night that they put me on the airplane to evacuate me and bring...

from the West Wing

Most of you should know by now that I am a big fan of Love and Logic. Please forgive me if I use this venue to periodically share with you some snippets from the writings of some of the leaders from Love and Logic. I thought this following was a good reminder to me and I hope it will provide you will some things to think about.   The other day I caught myself giving a lengthy speech about the importance of kids doing their chores and respecting their parents. Unfortunately, the speech was not to a group of people at a Love and Logic event. It was to my seven-year-old son in response to his eye-rolling and huffing about having to clean up after the dog.   I used to be a parenting expert. That is…until I had kids.   Parenting is tough because we love our children. Since highly effective teachers also love their students, they struggle with the same temptations. We want the best for them. We worry that they’ll become irresponsible. We sometimes feel panicked because they don’t seem to be turning out the way we hoped. As educators we mourn when we aren’t reaching a child in the way we hoped.   Lots of intense feelings can muddy our minds and leave us forgetting that we can’t talk tykes…or teens…into being respectful, responsible and self-controlled. In fact, the more extensive our vocabularies become, the less effective we become.   The more words we use when things are going poorly, the less effective we become.   Many excellent and loving parents and educators are faltering....