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Fear and Faith

I was blessed to be born into a generational Christian family going back to my great-grandmother, Nettie Jewel Culpepper. Each generation of parents that followed new the importance of raising their family to know God’s ways and come to a personal relationship with Him. I accepted Christ when I was six knowing the decision I was making. I continued to grow in the Lord attending three different private schools through 7th grade.

From 8th grade through 12th grade I attended public school and found it challenging. My teen years were trying to my parents, but their love, support, and guidance in God’s ways brought me through a period of redemption.

I attended college at the age of 22 and began my teaching career when I was about 29. Through all of this I saw God moving in my life but I took Him for granted. He had always been there for me, which I believe was greatly a result of my mom’s and grandmother’s prayers over my life. I had not fully committed to walking with Him every day. I’m not naturally a fearful person. I consider myself to be pretty optimistic, but this last summer, that was tested.

I have also been very blessed to live in a large family, most of which live right here in Austin. I grew up doing everything with my family, and so much so with my cousins, that today, they are like siblings. We are a family of faith. We also have not had much death in our family. We had a few expected deaths of grandparents and great-grandparents, but we’ve only had one unexpected. We are grateful, but for me, I believe this played a big part in how I lost sight of God’s provisions for our family; that because of Him, we were blessed.

For the past few years, my dad had felt short of breath and weak, but he just assumed it was because he was getting older. Come last May, my parents took a trip to Colorado. Shortly after arriving, my dad had great trouble breathing. He of course told my mom, but not to the extent of how bad it was because he did not want to frighten her. They cut their trip short and came home. My dad later told my mom that he was trying to at least get her to Colorado Springs, where they have friends, because he thought he was going to die, and he wanted her to be near people she knew.

Thankfully, God sustained him, and they made it home. He felt better when he got home, mostly because of the elevation relief, but was still having trouble breathing. He took a stress test and failed. He then went on to have an angiogram.

That day everything changed, and fear I had never experienced before entered my life. My dad had always been the rock I knew him to be. He was NEVER sick. Really! He had never spent the night in the hospital and rarely took medication for anything, even for a headache. We thought at most, my dad would need a stint put in his heart. We waited patiently to hear from the doctor on the progress of the test. Then, the phone call came. They needed to take a closer look. We wanted to hold strong that all was okay, but silently we feared the worst.

We finally were able to see my dad and speak to the doctor. We were told my dad had heart disease with 80% blockage in his heart. I cannot express the emotions that came over me, or how I suppressed them for the sake of my mom. I didn’t want my emotion to cloud hers. I didn’t want her to fall apart because I had. I held it all in. I would hold it all in for quite some time. We all listened intently to the directions and recommendations of the doctor.

Within a week’s time, my dad was going in for triple bypass surgery. The fear I felt was overwhelming. We prayed and prepared and held to our faith that no matter what the outcome, God was in control. I had never prayed so much until then. I soon realized I had taken God for granted for all he had ever done for me and my family. This forced me to look back at my life and the lives of those closest to me and recognize just how much God was a part of moving in our lives, providing for us, protecting us. My dad was out of surgery in a little over an hour and was one of the quickest to recover that the nurses and doctors had ever seen. He is now doing very well. I was the most grateful I had ever been in my life.

It was not until Bobbi asked the teachers during inservice this past August to come prepared to share who or what was important in our lives, that I allowed myself to experience the emotions I had been holding in. When it came time for me to share what I was grateful for, I could barely speak through the tears that came pouring out. I expressed how I had taken God for granted and it took my dad almost dying to see how important it was to spend time with Him and in His Word.

It was never that God wasn’t there. I just failed to see Him. My greatest joy now is recognizing when God is with me, moving in my life in ways I could never do for myself, opening and closing doors according to His will, and simply His ever present presence in my life that brings the greatest peace.

Vanessa Robbins, 5th Grade

Pieces of the BCA Puzzle

The school office is a very busy place. It is where families have their first interaction with BCA. It is where students come if they need help or feel bad. Teachers come to get information or supplies. Parents come by to get answers to questions or to just visit. Jackets and water bottles come here to find their owners. It is a busy place.

As I sit at my desk in this office, I have a great view of the different pieces of the BCA puzzle. One part is the parent. Parents come to the front door at all times of the day. Some have a special way of entering which always gives me a laugh. (You know who you are!) These adults can be zany, but they have servant hearts. The varying gifts shared with our school are invaluable.

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A school and class without a leader would be chaos. That’s why we have a principal and teachers. I see them as the sides of the puzzle keeping the loose pieces from spilling out. Teachers spend a lot of time preparing lessons, organizing experiments, deciphering handwriting, and praying for the children in their classrooms. Our principal educates herself to be a better leader, answers so very many questions, and supports all of us in every way she possibly can.

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Every parent who comes into the school is looking for one thing – a safe place for the student they love to enter and receive an education in a loving, Christian environment. These students are the best part of the puzzle making up our school. They want to learn and wiggle and please and laugh and question and wiggle some more. They put the joy in my day.

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God is involved here, too. His hand created each individual and brought them together at this time in this place. He is moving the loose pieces around to their proper place. The amazing thing is that the image on our puzzle was known by God from the very beginning.

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Each day I look forward to seeing each new section being completed. With the amazing people God has brought together I can’t help but believe it will be a masterpiece.

Kim Graham, Administrative Assistant

Instructions for Life

Remember the test your teacher gave in which you had a long list of activities to complete in only three minutes? And then when the time was up, the teacher announced that the whole class failed? My fourth grade scholars took it, and every single one learned a valuable lesson about following directions. At the beginning of the test, they were told to read everything before answering anything, and then at the bottom of the test it said to only complete numbers one and two (read everything first and put name on paper). None of them got that far because they were too busy completing the activities they didn’t have to do!

Well, in case you cannot relate to that, everyone has a story of trying to put something together without the instructions, yes? Or perhaps you had the directions and refused to use them? No, I’ve never done that! My thoughts immediately jump to furniture from IKEA… it doesn’t come assembled as seen in the catalog or viewed in the black hole, I mean, store (ha ha). Navigating the instructions can make you want to jump ship, literally.

Thankfully, our God doesn’t make following directions that difficult. He neither leaves us without, nor does He make them confusing. My fourth graders learned this lesson in Bible class with a bunch of Legos. (Wait, what? Legos in Bible class?? Teaching a class of all fourth-grade students might seem daunting to some, but it’s also really rewarding and fun!) I gave the scholars matching sets of Legos and asked them to build a shipping tanker. Both groups had a picture, but only one group had instructions. I asked them to match the pictures as closely as possible.

Photo of “mission”:

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Seems simple enough, right?

The group without instructions came up with this:

Granted, these students are self-professed Lego “Master Builders” and stated they made “modifications.”

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The group with step-by-step instructions may not have built it exactly to specifications, but they were a LOT closer…

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The point of the lesson in class that day was that having the instructions and the correct tools makes every task easier, and not having directions makes everything harder. (The no-instructions team still disputed this heavily, which then turned into a lesson of following God’s Way or our own way.)

Even though we have examples to follow, sometimes we might feel like we are still fourth graders when it comes to following God’s Instruction Manual, the Bible. Having the assembly instructions is vital, regardless of one’s ability to visualize and put things together! In 2 Timothy 3:16, God tells us His Word is useful for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” We are weekly revisiting the importance of slowing down, re-reading the instructions, using the correct tools and completing our tasks. We are not perfect, but we are in training to live God’s Way. By looking to God’s Word, the Bible, every day, we can know we are living out the will of God and one day, the reward in heaven will be hearing, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

By Shannon Johnson, 4th Grade

 

Worshiping the God who Gives and Takes Away

I don’t know what obstacles you face in life but one of mine is trust. As I have prayed for God to use BCA in wise and wonderful ways, I have also prayed that He fill each classroom and allow us to “expand our boundaries”. Though I would love to have that full, robust enrollment now so that my plan could be made, I have learned to trust Him and His faithfulness to unveil His plan in His timing. I have absolute confidence that God will make His perfect will clear for BCA and provide for our every need. I am thankful to serve a God who uses every experience to evidence His extravagant love for us…following is one way in which He evidenced His love and deepened my trust in Him and His perfect plan.

For over twenty years, my husband, Mike and I loved our life on a small Caribbean island. We invested ourselves in our community, became a part of a vibrant church family and raised our three children there. Grand Cayman was home and we could never imagine living anywhere else.

On Sunday, September 12, 2004, a Category 5 hurricane made its closest approach to Grand Cayman, when the eye passed within 20 miles of our island home with wind gusts of 220 mph. For thirty six hours, Hurricane Ivan unleashed its fury on our island community resulting in catastrophic devastation. Islanders were totally unprepared for its aftermath.

Within a week of its passage over Cayman, between ten and fourteen thousand people left the island, many of whom never returned. For those families such as ours, who remained, many chose to send their children abroad in the wake of the disaster. We experienced displacement and separation from one another as we attempted to rebuild our lives on island.

One of our first phone calls after the storm was to friends, Steve and Carla Dillard, who put “feet to their faith” and provided a home for our eldest daughter for the three months immediately following the storm. During that time of separation, as my husband and I attempted to rebuild our home and businesses, we would often sing in church “Blessed Be The Name” and I would ponder the truth of the lyrics written by Matt Redman about a God who gives and takes away.

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

(from “Blessed Be The Name” by Matt Redman)

This storm had affected our lives in ways seen and unseen.  In thirty six hours, friends lost.  Possessions lost.  Innocence lost.  Faith?  Shaken.  Though God revealed Himself to me during that time in ways that could never be denied, I’m sorry to confess that when I sang the words of the song, I sensed an internal shift in the way I viewed my Saviour.  He had given me things to treasure…a place I loved, people I loved, a life I loved, and overnight, He had taken those things away.  Not focusing on the ways in which He revealed Himself to me during that time, I focused on the losses I experienced.  I had a trust issue.

Five years after the storm, the Dillards again opened their home to us, this time sheltering us for a year as we relocated to the U.S.   Beautiful are the feet!   During that time, as I worshipped one Sunday at Bannockburn, we sang the familiar words of “Blessed Be The Name”.    In an instant, what I had previously been unwilling and unable to see, the Lord revealed to me with sudden clarity and understanding…What He gives is the best…His Son to be our Saviour.  What He takes away is the worst…our sin which separates us from Him.

This revelation brought to mind words from a report written to expose the impact of Hurricane Ivan on Grand Cayman . ..”Even the already dead were affected as many cemeteries which are on the sea side, were impacted by the sea surge resulting in the destruction of tombs and the loss of entombed family members. This was a source of grief to islanders.”  In remembering my shaken faith, I remember this storm in my life as well as the words in the report…I was living like the “already dead”.  Praise be to God, He opened my eyes and allowed me to see Him clearly.  Resurrected faith.   Trust issue resolved.

Praying faithfully with you for God’s perfect provision for BCA and trusting in His faithfulness!

Bobbi Flowers, Principal

What does Creation mean to a Kindergartener?

The first Bible lesson that I always teach my class is the story of Creation. This year was no exception. In order to make the story REALLY come to life this year, I wanted to add a little flair and an element of FUN to a story that many of my students have already heard.

I find that sometimes we skim over things that we “already know” and forget to dig a little deeper. In order for the students to REALLY get the depth of the story, we made gak  with my students.

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We mixed cornstarch with water and added a bit of food coloring to our combination. After this, I gave each student a bowl of the mixture. We talked about how when God created, He simply said, “Let there be…..”  and the thing appeared. We had a short conversation about how out of NOTHING God created everything! I prompted my students to say to their mixture, “Let there be a GIRAFFE!”

But nothing happened.

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We tried again with a different part of the creation story. My students decided to try mountains. They said, “let there be a MOUNTAIN!”

But nothing happened.

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I asked them why this happened and the conversation was amazing! My students eagerly responded with, “because we are not God!” “Only God can do that!”

By adding a hands-on element to the lesson, my students are beginning to see that God is much bigger than us and much more powerful.

After the lesson, my students happily played with the gak. 🙂

Kristen Smith, Kindergarten Teacher

 

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