Invite them to code!

Have you ever wondered how to make a digital dinosaur grow, shrink, spin and turn? Check out Daisy the Dinosaur app and join the fun. I have shared this app with my Kindergarten classes and given it as an option for my older elementary kids. The truth is, they all love it.

My favorite quote from a fifth grader today after he took a break from coding with Angry Birds at code.org: “This is the most fun I’ve had!” The child usually sits on an island position and has a daily behavior contract. I gave him an iPad and invited him to code, then watched the magic happen. He couldn’t get enough of the games. Some of my older students have gravitated to the Frozen coding option at code.org while others have skillfully given a robot directions at Lego’s Fix the Factory app. Hopscotch has been another fantastic app for kids to explore during our focus on coding.

My Kinders also had a blast drawing pictures and labeling their computer programming codes which they had used with Daisy. The joy and excitement will hopefully lead to increased interest in coding!

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Revision Decisions Blog Tour: A Q&A with Anderson and Dean

Originally posted on TWO WRITING TEACHERS:

Revision needs to have a sense that a window of possibility is still open to allow another draft in (17).

–Jeff Anderson and Deborah Dean

Last month, I conferred with a fifth grade writer who drafted a “personal narrative” that read more like an informational piece.  He was supposed to be crafting a personal narrative, but it was clear didn’t know what made something story-like. Once he realized he hadn’t written in the genre his teacher assigned, we talked about what makes something a narrative.  I used a mentor text that showed clear story parts and talked about it having a problem and a solution.  Then, I asked him to use some of what he had already written when to revise his writing in the genre his teacher assigned (using a storytelling voice).  He looked at me as if I was giving him the choice to choose between cutting off…

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Coaching Service Announcement in Powtoon

focus glasses

During the last few weeks, I have been taking a MOOC on Coaching Digital Leadership from the Friday Institute at N.C. State University. This week, while pondering the Four C’s, I developed a Coaching Service Announcement. You may have heard of the following Four C’s for 21st Century Learners: Communication, Critical Thinking, Collaboration and Creativity. I attempt to plan lessons that embed the Four C’s, some of which I have included in my previous blog posts. As a part of the MOOC, participants were asked to create a Coaching Service Announcement using a digital storytelling tool known as PowToon. I am sharing the video link here and welcome your feedback.  


 

 

 

Digital Storytelling with Audacity and WeVideo

Sound Waves Image Credit:  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sonic_boom.svg

After completing a four week MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) on Copyright in August of 2014, I decided to enroll in another MOOC.  Well, I actually enrolled in two MOOCs. The first one is “Powerful Uses of Digital Storytelling” in Coursera which is taught by two professors from the University of Houston.  The other MOOC is on developing digital leadership with educators and is taught by facilitators from the Friday Institute at N.C. State University. There have certainly been challenges of balancing the assignments with my teaching job and my family, but feel that the process of learning has benefited me personally and professionally.  I look forward in a future blog post to sharing my learning from the digital leadership course, but today I will focus on how I learned to develop a digital story using a Storyboard, record my narration using Audacity and create the actual digital story using a free video making tool called WeVideo.

This experience of storytelling in a digital format was explained to MOOC participants as a series of steps to follow while planning a digital story rather than only elements.  Many examples of storyboards were provided at the University of Houston’s Digital Storytelling website along with multiple high quality examples of digital stories that spanned multiple genres. The instructors shared the Seven Elements of Digital Story Telling which helped me choose a topic for my own story that I created during the course.  I chose not to tell a personal story with emotional content, but rather focused on a science topic related to energy.   I appreciated the short video clips that the instructors recorded and shared with students to allow us to understand steps of choosing a topic, writing a script and locating images that are free to use on the internet, finding copyright free music to play in the background of our narration at jamendo.com, recording our voices using Audacity, how to save and export the audio file properly and how to use the editing tools in WeVideo to draft and edit our stories.   Here is the link to my digital story on Sound Energy:  Sound Energy Digital Story

Since my school district is a Google Apps for Education School District, I knew that I could add on WeVideo for students to use in their Google Accounts for free.  Audacity is already installed on our school computers too so I had the necessary digital tools in place to be able to replicate the steps of digital storytelling with my students.  As each week progressed in my Digital Storytelling Course, I was able share the steps with my school’s Media Specialist and together we developed a planning guide to use with our fourth graders.  She and I consulted with a fourth grade teacher who told us that fourth graders would be studying forms of energy during October such as light, heat and sound.  We decided to have students research forms of energy using print and digital resources in the school Media Center and record their notes on a sheet with four guiding questions.  We considered our planning sheet to be students’ storyboard.  Here is an example of the sheet that we showed to students as the example:  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Fzqxae-_HiE10E5qFCEBf1TKLpGvggoxIu1Hc5GCjCM/edit?usp=sharing

I learned later in the course that it would be better to add larger images to a digital story in WeVideo starting at least at 1,000 pixels.  I included the size of the images to show students so we could analyze the clarity of the smaller images.  I found fairly clear free images that were free to use or share in Google Advanced Search and added them to my final story.  This coming week, I will be showing students my completed MOOC Digital Story on Sound Energy as a way for them to envision what they are about to do too.  I will show them how to do Google Advanced Image Searches and how to properly attribute the images.  They will look at their notes and determine how to construct narration that will not only explain the type of energy, but also give examples of how this energy form shows motion and include examples.  They will record their narration in Audacity then upload the WAV file to their free WeVideo account.  I will show them how to put together a WeVideo Timeline Storyboard and how to stretch various images that they have found to play as their voice narration plays.  I am excited about showing them the animation known as the Ken Burns effect which allows users to zoom in or out on a still image for effect.

This project has been a wonderful example of collaboration between the Media Specialist and myself as the K-5 Technology Teacher.  As a result of our collaboration, we have realized that this topic of energy has proven to be a bit of a challenge due to the advanced reading level of many of the printed or digital texts that she is using with students in the Media Center.  The use of online resources at www.ncwiseowl.com has also provided online encyclopedias with kid friendly explanations of energy forms.  I know that we tackled a rigorous project to do in the first quarter of the school year, but look forward to teaching students the digital citizenship piece next as they locate images and possibly, some background music at jamendo.com.  I know that students will be able to create future digital stories with their scripts written out clearly as a result of this initial training.

I will also have students share their storyboards with each other before proceeding with locating images and recording narration to provide helpful feedback using a rubric with the following elements like the one which was used in my Digital Storytelling MOOC.  I also will ask students to self evaluate their digital stories on energy to see if they have met the goals outlined in the rubric below.

The Purpose of the Digital Story:

4 – The Purpose of the digital story is established early and a clear focus is maintained throughout the entire video.

3 – The purpose of the digital story is established early and a clear focus is maintained throughout most of the video

2 – The purpose of the digital story is somewhat difficult to understand, but becomes clearer by the end of the video.

1 – The purpose of the digital story is not clearly expressed.

Clarity of Voice of the Recorded Narration:

4 – All of the narrator’s words can be easily understood.

3 – Most of the narrator’s words can be easily understood.

2 – Some of the narrator’s words cannot be easily understood.

1 – Most of the narrator’s words cannot be easily understood.

Quality of Images:

4 – All images are of high quality and are appropriate to the topic of the digital story.

3 – Most images are of high quality and are appropriate to the topic of the digital story.

2 – Some images are of high quality and are appropriate to the topic of the digital story.

1 – Few images are of high quality and are appropriate to the topic of the digital story.

Attribution:

Yes or No – Image URL’s were provided.

Optional

Meaningful Use of Music:

4 – The music nicely complements the audio narration and the content of the digital story.

3 – The music only somewhat complements th audio narration and the content of the digital story.

2 – The music is too loud or distracts from the audio narration or the content of the digital story.

1 – Music track caused viewers of the digital story to not be able to understand the audio narration.

Yes or No – The song track’s URL was provided from jamendo.com along with proper description of

Creative Commons – BY – NC – SA

I also plan to allow students to use StoryboardThat.com to plan out a story as a way to differentiate and provide images for students.

I would love your feedback on how you use digital storytelling with your students.

Healthy Habits

“Would you help me?” were the words out of her mouth.  One of my former fourth graders came by my elementary school one afternoon after school began.  She’s in ninth grade now.  I taught her in fourth grade!  She looked the same, just a bit taller.  I remembered her excitement and zeal that she brought to the class.  There was always something very special about her and her ability to grasp concepts deeply.  In her quest to earn a Silver level as a Girl Scout, she now came to visit me in hopes that I could help her.

She explained her project.  In meticulous fashion, she had created a website and a Google Presentation about healthy habits for kids.  She included coloring pages that she had linked to her website to encourage young children to think about healthful foods, ways to be active and positive character traits.  I agreed to help her and share her presentation with my first and second graders.

It thrilled me that she would want my help in sharing her website with my students.  While sharing her presentation with first and second graders, I shared games that she mentioned such as “Red Light, Green Light”, “Mother May I?” and “Simon Says”.  We discussed fruits, vegetables, and athletic activities such as volleyball, dancing and active games that my school children are playing at Recess this year through a federal Move Grant.  Students then chose healthy habits to draw and left voice comments on the Screenchomp app.  They love hearing their voices played back in the app.  I love that this classroom activity had the students to share their thoughts and communicate clearly about how to have healthy habits.

I took pictures while students were using the app and uploaded them to my free Animoto account where you can place 12 images in a movie for free.  The pictures and the recordings that they made where they discussed healthy habits demonstrate that students were positively impacted by the ideas in the Google presentation and from the coloring pages images that many of them tried to emulate when they drew. I am so glad that my former student had the desire to promote health and wellness as a part of her Silver Girl Scout Award.

 

 

 

 

Google Classroom

I am excited about Google Classroom that will launch to the public next week.  I am in a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) school district.  This allows my students to have protected email accounts accessible only within my district.  Students in my technology classes in Grades 4 and 5 created Google Docs, Google Presentations and Google Spreadsheets last year.  I loved that these docs could be accessed on computers or on iPads.  If your school is not a GAFE one, it is easy to apply to be one.

I am thankful that with the new Google Classroom, teachers can set up a class, add their students and push out assignments.  There is a Facebook-like screen to show messages that can be seen by all members of the class.  Students can also receive email from the teacher.  Communication can occur between teachers and students.  As of now, there can only be one teacher assigned to a class, but I am glad for the option to create a class.  Teachers can upload files from your computer, attach a source from Google Drive, put links to websites and add video.  Students will read the teacher’s directions and follow them.  For example, if a teacher had a student watch a video at a link, students can comment on the video.  Students can share files, links, sources from Google Drive and videos as well to promote sharing, discussion and collaboration.  I love that teachers and students can set an option when they share to allow students to edit so that they can build and add on to the original document.  Teachers can comment directly to students or to the entire class.  The class creation feature opens many new opportunities for blended classrooms and for teachers to not have to haul around loads of paper when grading assignments.

I discovered a great resource on Twitter this morning which helped me learn about the features of Google Classroom and am providing it here:

Google Classroom Information and Tutorials

I am still learning about the new features in Google Classroom.  If you have suggestions on how to use it, please share your thoughts in the Comments below.

Google Docs Tutorial

Many teachers already know how to use Google Docs in the classroom.  After receiving some PD during the school year on Google Docs, I introduced them to my fourth and fifth grade students who used them to type while researching and share documents.  Being able to share a document that I made or have someone share a doc with me is one of my favorite features.  Our limited space school email accounts don’t get overloaded with attachments now since people can share within Google Cloud Storage.

I like a tutorial that I found by Stacey Huffine about Google Docs which I have linked below.  It gives you a quick 12 minute overview of how to use Google Docs.  You can get a free account by signing up for a gmail account.  My school district is a Google Apps For Education or GAFE district which allows our students to have their own accounts and to share their Docs within our district when working collaboratively.  I love the research and citation ability that one can do directly from within a Google Doc.  The commenting features allow collaborators to give feedback about the doc.  Since all comments and changes are saved within Google Cloud storage as soon as the words are typed, there will never be a need to remember to Save changes.  Whether you are a teacher giving your feedback to students or collaborating about a lesson plan with other teachers, Google Docs is a very helpful tool.  Another neat feature of Google Docs is that it allows you to turn your Doc into a web page by converting it into an HTML format.  As a result, if students have created a Doc or Presentation (similar to Power Point), it can be exported onto your class web page or on to students’ web pages!

Google Classroom has been launched which feels a bit like Edmodo.  I am still learning about Google Classroom but wanted to share the link below in hopes that it would be a catalyst to help another teacher learn how to jump into Google Docs!

Google Docs Tutorial

I also want to mention the place where I found Stacey’s tutorial.  Todd Nelsoney is a principal in Texas whom I follow on Twitter.  He created a Summer Learning Challenge for his staff.  After putting the challenge on Twitter, other teachers worldwide (thousands of them!) have now taken the challenge.  I have not been able to do all of the challenges, but have enjoyed growing while watching tutorials that Todd has placed on his website.  Here is a link to his Summer Learning Challenges on his blog: http://summerls2014.blogspot.com/2014/07/challenge-week-8.html 

I like the format of his Summer Learning Challenge and think it would be a great format to follow when offering PD to staff any time during the year!  Stacey’s tutorial is on Todd’s Blog.  After watching the tutorial on his blog,  teachers are given a challenge to create their own Google Doc and add their name to a Google Form to indicate when they have completed the challenge.  If you have never experimented with Google Docs, I challenge you today to see it for yourself and create a Document or a Presentation!  If you make one and would like to share it, please send it to me as a link in the comments below.  Have fun!

What’s your mindset?

VoxerMindset

A few weeks ago, some folks in my Twitter PLC announced that they were beginning a Book Chat about the book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck hosted on Voxer. Voxer is an app which I had never used before but I now realize that it functions like a walkie talkie to a group of people or to an individual. I requested to be added to the “Mindset” Voxer group. After the organizers added me, I began to see how the Voxer group was communicating. First, I noted different time stamps throughout a day or week so people were posting when they were inspired to do so and not on a schedule. I joined after it had already begun and it was announced that we would focus on Chapter 3 for this week.  I noticed that some participants posted pictures of the Mindset text that was annotated with reflections. I saw some messages that had been typed to the group, while there were also audio recordings that participants had posted about the book.  I enjoy posting my educational thoughts on Twitter, but Voxer allows me to post more than 140 characters!  Most importantly, it is allowing me to consider the reflections of other educators whom I respect.

After reading Chapters 1 – 3 of “Mindset”, I realized that it was time for me to not only post my thoughts on Voxer, but to also blog about my experience so far.  The theme in the book so far is to focus on learning and improving in life, not just in the teaching arena.  This book was written not only for educators, but for parents, businesses and any relationship.  Carol Dweck so aptly refers to two types of mindsets that people develop:  One is the FIXED Mindset and the other is the GROWTH mindset.  If I have a fixed mindset, then I would believe that I have only a certain amount of ability and I would try to prove myself for a lifetime.  If I have a growth mindset, I believe that I can use my God-given qualities to grow when I give effort.  The author insists that one must ask herself, “What is my purpose?” and then chart a path to attain her chosen purpose.  I may be born with a set of genes, but it is what I do with my ability that leads to future outcomes.

Praising my own children and students for their effort will allow them to see that their talent and intelligence can be cultivated because they weren’t given a limited ability in their genetic code.  It is important to not over criticize my children and to notice and praise their effort because I want the optimal outcome for my own children and my students.  Results from a published study this year from Utrecht University in the Netherlands indicates that over-praising children with comments like “That’s incredibly beautiful?” versus “That’s nice!” can be harmful for children with low-esteem, but be helpful for those with high self esteem.  The study indicated that more challenging tasks would be chosen by children with high self esteem who received inflated praise.  On the other hand, difficult challenges were not as likely to be accepted by children with low self esteem if they were given inflated praise.    So, it depends on the child and the parenting/teaching style.  Parents should purposely give praise to fit the child while using words to promote the effort that was given and not just praise the ability.  Giving specific compliments about what the child has done right as the child showed effort will promote a growth mindset in the child.  Creativity will flourish when we help our children and students “…convert…life’s setbacks into future successes.” (from p.11 of “Mindset”) If a mindset is a belief about yourself, then parents and teachers can give the gift each day to their children as they offer words to develop the thinking of a child instead of just focusing on the fixed mindset where one must prove himself again and again.

Challenges are seen differently based on which mindset one adopts.  Easy challenges feel good to those with a fixed mindset while hard challenges excite the growth minded individual.  I have examined my mindset and realize that I have a growth mindset.  When I was in high school and had to practice for hours to memorize the nuances of a multi-page piano piece, I gave effort.  First, I would sight read the difficult composition with my teacher by my side and began to realize that this new piece was hard for me.  I didn’t give up though.   I would stop at frustrating parts, practice the right hand then practice the left hand’s notes for a few measures to help me see where I had gone wrong.  I didn’t just throw my hands up and quit stating, “I can’t do this.  I’m a failure.” even when I had practiced for hours and I still didn’t have it just right.  I know for a fact that memorizing piano pieces in preparation for a Music Teacher Federation rating or for my Spring Recital in the beautiful Alumni House at UNC-Greensboro gave me a way to challenge and push myself.  I wasn’t proving myself over and over, rather, I was challenging myself to do what I could not previously do.  I got out of doing dishes most nights because my parents encouraged me to practice piano after dinner.  This must be why for years, I dreaded cleaning up dishes as an adult.  I now like to see my kitchen clean so I have learned to challenge myself now with cleaning up as I cook instead of piling all the dishes in the sink.  Nevertheless, I think that playing piano for a purpose set me up to enter college as one who could recognize a challenge and set a course to attain my goals.

With the encouragement of my piano teacher, Mrs. Matthews, whom I had from third grade through twelfth grade,  I heard her point out each week how to re-position my fingers for optimal outcome and transitions between measures of the music.  She would remind me of the musical emotions that were written on the music while she followed along with the music on her lap once I started memorizing the piece.  I didn’t remember every nuance of a musical composition but I began to embed my teacher’s suggestions each week until I was ready to share it in public.  I have begun to see this same mindset in my own children who practice their piano pieces in preparation for public celebrations such as their Spring Recital at a local church or their Fourth of July Piano Party at their piano teacher’s house.  They see that their practicing results in the feeling of competence due to the effort that they have given.  Their teacher encourages them to play all of their memorized songs and calls the songs that they’ve learned their “repertoire”.  My girls like to play their “repertoire” of songs which I believe helps them remember where they have come from and boosts their confidence in new songs that they are learning.  Piano lessons and public performances of them are akin to a soccer player who practices for a game working on specific skills that need sharpening or a CEO who checks in on what has gone well and discovers areas of growth needed in a company.

My reading of the “Mindset” book has encouraged me to determine which mindset that I operate from, then recognize the mindsets of others, to speak life and growth into my own children, husband, students, and colleagues as they give effort to accomplish a task and to be open to criticism.  I am a work in progress and will always be.  The wisdom found in the following Scripture Passage from the Bible in Philippians Chapter 3 verses 12 – 17 further connects to having a growth mindset:

Verse 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Verse 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,

Verse 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Verse 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

Verse 17 Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.

On p.56 of “Mindset”, Carol Dweck refers to Mozart who for 10 years as a composer did not produce work that was original or interesting.  In fact, he would piece the work of other composers into his own work until finally he took on the authentic role of a composer.  He not only embraced his own ability and style after 10 years of trying, but transformed his previous capacity into the beautiful music that we know he originally composed.  I am so inspired by this story because it gives me hope.  As a teacher and parent, I am constantly borrowing other strategies and techniques from others who appear to be successful and applying it to my situation.  I use the knowledge of the others to enhance my own ability.  I begin to embrace ideas and then run with them to make them into my version that will work with my children and students.  It took Mozart time to try out his own musical style but we see that with the scaffolds of other musicians’ pieces, he became great.  He always sought to be better and to thoughtfully arrange music.  I wonder what kind of praise that Mozart received for those 10 years when he wasn’t confident as a composer.  Whether it was documented in history or not, I have an idea that he was praised either by a friend or to himself for his effort and not just his ability.  Carol Dweck found in a study that she mentions on p. 73 of “Mindset” that “…praising ability lowered the students’ IQs.  And that praising their effort raised them.”  Again, I am realizing that there is wisdom in following the pattern of those more knowledgeable others who I can look to for inspiration and clarity on my journey as a wife, parent and teacher.  I want to further develop my ability to give specific praise that focuses on the effort that was given by myself, by my family members, by my students, and by my colleagues.  I am in the process of developing a list of sentence starters which will help me give authentic praise for effort.  If you have ideas to add to my Effort Praise List, please let me know.

I have included in this post some of my other favorite quotes from Carol Dweck’s book.  I would also like to invite you to consider your reflective response to the quotes below:

p. 7 “…people with his (growth) mindset believe that…a person’s true potential is unknown; that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.”

p.7 “…the belief that cherished qualities can be developed creates a passion for learning.  Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better?  Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them?…Why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset.  This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”

p.11 “If, like those with the growth mindset, you believe you can develop yourself, then you’re open to accurate information about your current abilities, even if it’s unflattering.  What’s more, if you’re oriented toward learning,…you need accurate information about your current abilities in order to learn effectively.”

p.33 “Even in the growth mindset, failure can be a painful experience.  But it doesn’t define you.  It’s a problem to be faced, dealt with, and learned from.”

p.34 “Instead of letting the (negative) experience define him, he took control of it.  He used it to become a better player and, he believes, a better person.”

p.41 “People with the growth mindset…believe..even geniuses have to work hard for their achievements…They may appreciate endowment, but they admire effort, for not matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.”

p.48 “The growth mindset does allow people to love what the’re doing – and to continue to love it in the face of difficulties…In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome.  If you fail – or if you’re not the best – it’s all been wasted.  The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome.  They’re tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues.”

p.51 “…when (college) students had the growth mindset, they gained confidence in themselves as they repeatedly met and mastered the challenges of the university.  However, when students had the fixed mindset, their confidence eroded in the face of those same challenges…people with the fixed mindset have to nurse their confidence and protect it.

p.53 “…even when you think you’re not good at something, you can still plunge into it wholeheartedly and stick to it.  Actually, sometimes you plunge into something because you’re not good at it.  This is a wonderful feature of the growth mindset.  You don’t have to think you’re already great something to want to do it and to enjoy doing it.”

 

 

Times of Refreshing

The trees across from my neighborhood have just been installed by the developer of a new neighborhood.  As I left for work one morning in early June, I saw the trucks hauling in the trees with their roots wrapped.  When I got home that day, all 10 trees had been planted to line the entrance to the neighborhood.  Although the junior trees looked pretty for about a week, the heat began in earnest.  Afternoon storms provided a deluge of a drink to them for a few days.  Lack of water due to no rain seeping into their roots became evident though after another dry week.  They are now brown.  I feel so sad.  They started off strong.  They were positioned near a newly poured sidewalk with about two yards of space between the sidewalk and the road.  Their roots can’t soak up the water that is not there and honestly, I have a feeling that the original soil was not the best either since I know that the soil around my house is hard and like clay preventing much moisture from getting into the roots.  I was also reminded of a bush that had been uprooted in front of my house after the plumber repaired a pipe in our front yard then replanted it.  It hung on during the winter months, but eventually, became brown and had to come up.

Do I ever look like that brown tree?  If people could really see my spiritual condition, what would they see?  Would I be like a tree planted by the water who bears fruit?  Would I have the faded look of a tree that is malnourished?  Would I stand out as an example of one who is dead or blind spiritually?  After an incredible school year, I realize now that I need a break.  I gave it my all, poured out my best, and now it’s time to rejuvenate physically, mentally and spiritually.  In order to prepare for my roots to soak up needed refreshment, I began to contemplate the idea of being thirsty and wanting a drink.  I really want to relax for my health.  So how do I do this?

Prior to this amazing day, I had just experienced three days of summer training online and at my district’s Summer Institute.  This afternoon,  I drove toward my neighborhood and saw the brown trees.  I got home and saw a Facebook post from my friend who had shared Casey Treat’s FB post on June 23, 2014 -

“Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith!  Stay planted & stay faithful!”  #BeYou #faith

After dinner, I just had to sit down and write.  I am reminded that I can prevent myself from taking in nourishment if I don’t pray and meditate on God’s Word daily.  I want to be present and enjoy every waking minute with my children and my husband.  I am praying and asking God to heal what has been hurt, restore what has been damaged and refresh me like only He can with His Living Water.  As I reflect on His promises, His Spirit sends a refreshing like wind over water.  I love the Everlasting Water in the Word of God.

Unlike the bush that eventually had to be uprooted in my yard due to the lack of life, God will never allow me to be plucked from His hand.  He works in ways we cannot understand.  He provides streams in the desert and brings the dead to life.  I know because I’ve witnessed this in my life again and again.  I discovered life flowing scriptures after searching for “planted by water” online knowing that there are Bible verses about this topic.  Here’s what surfaced:

Jeremiah 17:7-8

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD.  For he will be like a tree planted by the water that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaves will be green and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.

Isaiah 44:3

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

John 4:14

But whoever drinks the water I (Jesus) give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

John 7:37

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.”

John 7:38

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.

Revelation 21:6

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.

Revelation 22:17

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

Psalm 42:1

For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah. As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.

Psalm 42:2

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

Psalm 143:6

I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land.

Praise be to God because I know that He provides my spiritual nourishment!  My spiritual roots grow down deep.  I am in his vineyard.  He supplies the life giving water that will never run dry.  I must rejoice to know that I am protected and provided with the Holy Spirit.  If I feel like the brown tree, I must let my roots soak up the life giving water of the Word of God.  Its words bring hope, healing and life.  Prayer must accompany the reading of the Word of God.  The following scripture is the focus of my pastor’s preaching these days for me:

Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you do not know.”

My pastor mentioned yesterday that when we call to God and ask him for things, we should expect an answer, however, the answer will probably not be something that we thought of in advance.  In other words, when God answers my prayers, He will show me things that I don’t even know at this point.  I am astounded to know that even though I pray, God is doing way more than what I could ever ask for.  When God repairs, I imagine that it’s like He pours in His Grace and Life into me so that I can be filled.  Thirst requires action.  If you are thirsty for the Holy Spirit of God to renew, reshape, restore and resolve the past, plant yourself by the water.  Be refreshed!

When the doctor numbed my foot a few weeks ago to prepare me for some stem cell injections to rebuild and repair damaged tissue in my foot, it hurt.  No, it was excruciating pain when the needle entered my skin and the medicine was released.  “OOOOUUUUUCHHH!”  I yelled.  I wailed.  The numbing by the doctor meant that two needles went in on both sides of my heel.  I then had to wait for 40 minutes for my foot to fully numb so that he could inject the Amnio Fix solution filled with life giving stem cells.  I decided to do this procedure because I know know that God has given doctors the knowledge on how to give us life based on 2 Peter 1: 3 International Standard Version

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the full knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence.“

I couldn’t feel the Amnio Fix until it must have hit a nerve which almost made me jump out of the seat where I was reclined.  Soon, it was over, a black robotic-like boot was fitted on my foot/leg, and I stood to walk.  I could not feel my heel but the boot stabilized me so that I could walk.  I was walking slowly but knew that this procedure should help me feel better and walk without limping.  I had to take action and make a decision.  After three years of plantar fasciitis in the left foot, I couldn’t take it anymore.  I was thirsty for a drink.  I made a choice, have hobbled and had limited mobility for two weeks and can see that this healing is taking a while.  Nevertheless, summer time is my time to have down time so I am patiently waiting on wholeness to come to my foot.

My summer break allows me to reflect and unwind.  I feel like David in the Psalms when he wrote, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures.  He restores my soul.”  Today I sat beside of the pool from 4:45 – 6:45 p.m. at my YMCA outdoor pool under an umbrella.  The sun’s rays began to peek under the covering as it lowered in the sky.  It was my first time by the pool this summer.  I sat down with a headache.  I watched my children jump in the pool.  “Watch me, Mommy!” I heard them say.  Watching their cannon balls and underwater flips and seeing them race against each other on the two water slides caused me to grab my new found freedom.  I love the feeling of relaxing.  I don’t do it enough, but know that there is health and wellness in that lounge chair by the pool.  I even let myself read my new book by Chris Lehman whom I met last week at the CMS Summer Institute called “Fall in Love With Close Reading”.  I began putting together what he said in my all day session with him last Thursday and what the book explained.  I’d look up a lot and see my girls having a blast in the pool.  Due to my foot being in my boot due to the foot procedure that I had done on June 13, my first day of summer vacation, I couldn’t get in the pool.  I dangled my foot, even taking it out of the boot while I sat in the lounge chair reading, relaxing and rejuvenating.  I could feel the headache fading and myself embracing the moment.

The breeze came as clouds blew across the sky, but as I drove away today from the pool, I  let my hair blow in the breeze and the warmth invade my skin and my heart.  “Who’s relaxed?” I asked my children.  “Meeee!!!” they exclaimed.  I loved the moment and hope for many more of them during the summer.  Let the times of refreshing begin!