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He is Risen!

"Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He is risen!"       Luke 24:5

Family traditions can create very special memories. Perhaps your family has very distinctive ways in which you recognize birthdays, honor special occasions, or celebrate holidays.
 
Our family has numerous traditions, and one Easter tradition that still occurs to this day is that each child looks for his/herbasket before we attend Easter morning church service. Throughout his twenty-three years of existence, our middle child always knows that no matter what state we happened to be in or what relative's home we happen to stay at, somehow, he can always find his basket on top of the car in the garage.
 
However, somehow over the past ten Easters, we have fun reminiscing and laughing about the year that my husband forgot about this particular tradition...
 

Me Do!

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."   Romans 5:8

For years, one of my greatest anticipations and aspirations was to be a grandma. Now that I get to fulfill this role, I can't describe the joy that comes from watching your child be a parent... especially while you get to enjoy the benefits of unconditional love from this tiny person.
 
We are very blessed that our Emilia lives locally, and Spring Break provided additional time for "Nana" and Emilia to hang out together. Even though I have spent a majority of my life in the educational realm, I am just fascinated watching her progress through the age appropriate developmental stages. After spending time with her last week, it is very apparent that she is entering into the "independence" milestone... more affectionately known as the "Me Do" stage.
 
The first signs appeared when we were going for a walk, and I told her to get her shoes...

Our God is the Lord of the Dance!

"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." Psalm 23:4

Do you have a case of the common "March" fever that currently seems to be infecting our population? Symptoms may including hiding your phone at the dinner table, utilizing headphones at work, or staying up late at night watching highlights on ESPN? Do you find yourself split screening your TVs so that you can watch numerous games at a time or noticing that you haven't showered in days because you've been so consumed by watching basketball? If so... then perhaps you have a serious case of the "March Madness" fever?
 
Staying true to tradition, Mr. Topel sent out brackets last week to the staff, as well as the 6 - 8 grade students. The stakes are high...

If You Give a Mouse a Paintbrush...

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come."     2 Corinthians 5:17

It started out so simple... Ken's brother, who is a painter, shared with us last week that he had some open days... so let's repaint one of the kids' bedrooms?
 
Have you ever had a project that started out small but in the blink of an eye evolved into a huge "Extreme Home Make-Over" endeavor?
 
As soon as I started clearing out the childhood lime green bedroom that was destined to be repainted, it was as if...

Remember Your Shoes!

I remember when my three children were younger and what a challenge it was to go anywhere for an extended period of time. The van seemed to be vacuumed-packed with "stuff" as I squeezed the very last item into the trunk. I recall smiling to myself as I did my mental checklist while driving down the highway. With each item that I thought of, I could confidently recall bringing or packing it. And then that humble moment of truth would arrive when we finally made our first stop... one child would discover that he didn't bring any shoes!
 

During Lent and Always... Give Satan the Boot!

"Give all your worries and cares to God because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

Did you hear about the teacher who was helping one of her Kindergarten students put on his boots?
 
He asked for help and she could see why. Even with her pulling and pushing, the little boots still did not want to go on. Finally, when the second boot was on, she noticed that she had worked up a sweat. She almost cried when the little boy said, "Teacher, they're on the wrong feet!"
 
She looked and sure enough, they were. It wasn't any easier pulling the boots off than it was putting them on. However, she managed to keep her cool as together they worked to get the boots back on, and this time... on the right feet! Then he announced, "These aren't my boots!"

Listening to the Right Voice!

My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27
All School Open House!
 
Once there was a man who woke up early to go ice fishing. After he dressed appropriately for the frigid temperatures, he headed out to the ice with his tent, his ice auger, his fishing rod, and a bucket. He located what appeared to be the perfect spot, and after just a few seconds of drilling the ice with the auger, he heard a big booming voice from above bellow these words, "THERE ARE NO FISH UNDER THE ICE HERE!"  He paused briefly and just assumed that he was hearing things, so he resumed drilling. Again, the big booming voice announced, "THERE ARE NO FISH UNDER THE ICE HERE!"

The man looked around and decided to take the advice. So he moved his location about fifty feet. Again, he began to drill another hole in the ice, when the thunderous voice once again reappeared and stated, "THERE ARE NO FISH UNDER THE ICE HERE EITHER!"

The man looked up and inquired, "God... is that you?"
 
The voice quickly responded, "NO, IT'S THE MANAGER OF THE ICE RINK!"

Happy Valentine's Day!

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."   John 3:16

I have one of the greatest jobs ever! Where else can you work and receive so much unconditional love and entertainment all in one day? I honestly should write a book containing all of the humorous and endearing comments that are shared with me on a daily basis. If I would ever take time to collect these precious statements, the following conversation, which occurred approximately seven years ago, would definitely be included in my collection of favorites:
 
Young Male Kindergarten Student: "I like your sweater vest, Mrs. Palka.
 
Mrs. Palka: "Oh, thank you!"
 
Young Male Kindergarten Student: "You're welcome. My grandpa has one just like it!"
 
I absolutely treasure how young children can be so uninhibited and freely express their hearts and their thoughts. A few days later, that same child told me, "Mrs. Palka... if you were a big Oreo cookie, I would just gobble you up!"

Pray and Trust!

Eighth Grade Advanced Literature Class Becomes Published Authors!

A few weeks ago, the Superintendent of MI Lutheran Schools, Mr. Travis Grulke, invited middle school students throughout the state of Michigan to write a devotional thought for the MI District Blog. He also announced that those who were selected would be published during Lutheran Schools Week.

Our 8th grade Advanced Literature class accepted the challenge and wrote a beautiful reflection entitled, "Pray and Trust". Their devotional thought was selected and published last Friday. It is such a powerful testament of their faith that we want to share it with all of our school families as well:

"God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1)

All throughout history, people have used this verse to remember that God is their strength, and they can take refuge in Him. If you trust in God, there is always a way to face and overcome an issue. Whether the issue is something small, such as losing a homework assignment or a major disease, God will help you through.

Many Blessed by Lunch Bags of Love!

"Whatever you do for the least of these, you've done unto Me."    Matthew 25:40

* 20 lbs. of turkey
* 10 lbs. of ham
* 10 lbs. of salami
* 360 pieces of cheese
* 35 loaves of bread
* 300 Rice Crispy treats
* 8 cases of juice boxes
* 6 boxes of chips
* 4 cases of applesauce
* 300 lunch bags
* 120 missional Christ followers assembling lunch bags
* 4 volunteers who braved the snowy roads on Monday
* 300 guests at the Noah Project Homeless Shelter receiving a lunch bag of love... priceless!
 
Last Sunday, 120 students, family members, and staff members gathered in the St. Matthew gym to assemble 300 lunches for the NOAH Project, which is a Warming Center for homeless people located in Detroit's Central Methodist Church. Throughout the entire evening, it was so much fun watching the Holy Spirit shine through families as they worked together to decorate bags, assemble sandwiches, and pack ten lunch bags.  Afterwards, families gathered together to eat pizza and enjoy fellowship.

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