In August, I started teaching literature and composition to 7th and 8th graders two days a week. . .it’s been an usually busy, deeply blessed season, a God’s-got-more-for-me-if-I’m-willing-to-step-into-it season. . . a season of waiting (to write and other waitings) and going 100mph at the same time (over old and new everyday ordinary things). . . and the snowdays came bring a time to write what has been brewing and stirring. . .
In the second quarter, I created an assignment where students spend 10 minutes in class freewriting/journaling on a word prompt. It’s where they first “Make It.” Then they take it home and spend 15 minutes to “Make It Better.” Eventually, the students chose eight to “Make It Best.”
I’d been praying that God would show me how to help students better understand the writing process, that writing isn’t a one-draft-and-you’re-done task. When God gave me the “Make It, Make It Better, Make It Best” idea, I started wondering at the words I would choose, words that would also reach into the books they are reading, prompting deeper discussions. The first word for the 8th grade was “Holy.”
My conversation with God at this prompting was, “That’s a really tough world, God. I’m not really sure I can do that one.”
His response? “Holy!”
I researched, scoured, dug deep. I came up with a couple of pages of notes with scriptures, quotes, definitions. You have to be pretty sure of the ideas you carry into a classroom of 7th and 8th graders. I still wasn’t sure. . ., but I trusted God and He had given me this awesome writing project, so I walked into class, explained the assignment, and gave the 8th graders 10-plus minutes to free-write on “Holy.”
The students complained, “This is a hard word.”
I agreed it was a hard word. One student asked, “Why did you pick it?”
I felt like a deer caught in the headlight. I’m learning those moments that require vulnerable truth carry the potential to become Holy. I didn’t understand at that moment, but I knew it was a moment that required vulnerable truth.
“God told me it had to be the first word,” I explained.
The whole class seemed to settle down then to write. God was leading us all.
Make It Better
Holy, Worthy, Hungry, I am God-Designed, Celebration, Belonging, Rely, Rescue, Rules, Dreams, Grandparents, Pets, Home – those are the words students wrote about in class and took home to Make It Better. They were given a list of tasks to choose from to “Make It Better,” things like adding a topic statement and conclusion to paragraphs, adding a dictionary definition and three synonyms, adding adjectives, stories, three examples, only using a coordinating conjunction every three sentences.
I kept wondering about the word “Holy” as though it were a missed opportunity. Somehow, something within kept elbowing my conscience that more was needed, that I had to Make It Better. At that moment there wasn’t more I could do. I had nothing within me to pull out of my heart and mind except that God was Holy. All I could do was wait.
On a long drive to Louisville to bring my mom home for Thanksgiving, I had my praise playlist playing in the car. I’d been singing about God being worthy (a word the 7th grade were using to Make It Better). . . and as I listened to those words, God flipped on a switch that lit up my understanding of Holy. I pulled over to the side of the word, writing down the words, “Holy is the presence of God.”
My mind spun a hundred miles an hour unraveling what this meant.
When Moses found God in the burning bush, God told him to take off his shoes because Moses was “standing on Holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).
What made the ground Holy? The presence of God!
The commander of The Lord’s army who stood before Joshua in the battle of Jerricho, telling him to “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy (Joshua 5: 14)” The Commander of The Lord’s Army? The Son of Man who then explained the war plan to Joshua.
What made the place Joshua was standing Holy? The presence of The Son of Man!
“To Abraham he appeared as a traveller; to Joshua as a man of war. Christ will be to his people what their faith needs. Christ had his sword drawn, which encouraged Joshua to carry on the war with vigour. Christ’s sword drawn in his hand, denotes how ready he is for the defence and salvation of his people” (Matthew Henry Commentary over Joshua 5, 6).
What made the temple Holy? The presence of God!
What made the Table of Show bread Holy? The presence of God!
What made the water for washing in the temple’s bronze laver Holy? The presence of God!
There are many spirits, but what makes the Holy Spirit Holy? The presence of God is in the Holy Spirit!
What made Eden Holy? Jacob’s redemption? What made Hagar’s cry to God Holy? Rachel and Leah’s cries to God? The widow’s mite? God in it brought Holiness . . . because God is Holy. . . all good, all sinless, all selfless, all powerful, all creator, all savior and redeemer, Hearer of all the cries, Holder of all the tears, Author of Life in the Wait of a Prayer sent out. . .
“”For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” ~ Hebrews 9:24
Make It Best
In the long drive on the windy roads of an early Tennessee morning that moved towards the highways of a Kentucky noon, I thought about all the times and places of the everyday ordinary. . . and how inviting God into those times and places made them Holy. . .
. . . into my kitchen chopping onions and celery, washing the chicken for the pot. . . and calling out to God to join me
in the gentle mixing, intentional measuring, and pressing of scone batter. . .
over a cup of Wild Apple Ginger tea. . .
in the sock matching when there were more socks to match
in the mopping up of outdoor footprints inside and kitchen stirring splatters
in the spills of grandchildren’s thirst for water and hunger crumbs from snacks
all woven with the drawing near to God,
in the questions and conversations nobody hears but God and I,
in listening. . .
and so the scones became Holy, and the chicken soup became Holy,
the socks matched under prayer and worship that walked into
someone else’s everyday ordinary. . .
in a room rolled and brushed in an “it is well” blue,
the garden weeded, the tomatoes and cucumbers planted,
the chocolate mint, thyme, lavender and basil harvested
in praise moments, prayer moments, a song-to-a-loving Father moment
and in those moments when I draw near, God draws near
and in the drawing, Holiness comes into
the everyday ordinary
the mite of my living
What are you doing today? Are you inviting our Father into it, turning an everyday ordinary into something Holy?
Places I’m Linking at This Week:
Inspire Me Monday, Instaencouragements,
Legacy Link-Up, Recharge Wednesday
Faith on Fire, Tell His Story, Grace&Truth
Let’s Have Coffee Wednesday Celebrate Your Story
Scripture&Snapshot, Sunday Scripture Blessing