Teaching at Tilden: A Calling

imageIn 2004, I began working at Tilden High School. The previous year, at another school, I had a less than favorable outcome. Upon receiving a letter stating that I was transferred to Samuel J. Tilden High School, I did not know whether to be either jubilant or anxious. The Bible, however, told me to be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication to make my requests known to Him, and the peace of God which passes all understanding, will guard my mind in Christ Jesus (Phillipians 4:6).  I knew nothing about the high school, but I knew I should not worry. The next day, I had to go meet a friend near Bank Street College near Riverside Drive. While waiting for her, I sat down on a park bench, and began to reflect on the prior school year. I knew that I wanted this new year to be better than the last one. I began praying and asking God whether Tilden was the place where He was sending me. Although I did not have a choice to deny the assignment, I wanted to know whether the new assignment was the perfect will of God. I asked God to show me a “sign” to let me know. I really did not want to have another unpleasant year with administration, and I wanted God to show me favor by placing me appropriately. After praying, I got up from the bench and moved to one adjacent to it. Upon sitting down, I looked up to see a statue in front of me. I got up to see and read the inscription on the statue. The statue was of Samuel J. Tilden. On the statue was written biographical information. Not only was I relieved, but I was overwhelmed with gratitude that the Lord had heard and answered my prayer. I knew that even if the year did not go well, that I was in the perfect will of God. That year and every subsequent year, I have been able to teach and nurture many great children.  I thank God that I have been able to accomplish great things while on the Tilden Campus. At times I have wanted to leave, but Because I submitted to God’s will, I have stayed. Although I am still on the Tilden Campus, I am at a new small school  because of the closure of Samuel J. Tilden High School. I now teach at Cultural Academy for the Arts & Sciences.

The Bible says that the steps of a righteous man or woman are ordered by the Lord. (Psalm 37:23). Righteous does not mean sinless, but that the righteousness we have comes from God. If we place our trust in him and pray, we know that He hears us and will grant our petitions in accordance with His Will (1 John 5:9). We must trust in God with all of our hearts and lean not to our own understanding, but in all of our ways acknowledge Him and He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3: 5-6).image

From the beginning of my tenure there until now, I have not stopped praying for the academic, spiritual, and emotional development and the safety of everyone. I pray that the students we receive are the ones that God wants us to teach and reach. Moreover, I pray for the staff so that we can fulfill our professional commitment to our students. Although at times it feels as if our efforts are futile, I know that Jesus hears and answers prayer. Difficulties come. Situations develop, but the Bible says that in the day of trouble, He will deliver me. Regardless of how it looks, I know that God is in the midst and is working everything out for my good.

Open your heart to God. Ask Jesus into your heart and He will continue the work in you that He started (Phillipians 1:6).  He will direct your path. Do not copy the behavior of the world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think, then you will know God’s will which is good, pleasing, and perfect (Romans 12:2).

For further reflection: Study Romans 12 and Proverbs 3.

 

 

Becoming a Mother: My Journey

 

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Our Family

 

When God tells you to do something, He expects you to do it! Many years ago, I told my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that I would do whatever He told me to do. At that time, I did not realize the magnitude of that commitment. The one thing that I knew was that I wanted to please Him and to serve him with all of my heart. As a result of this committment, He has taken me to “places” far and wide. My life has not been easy, but God has prepared both me and the “soil” to accomplish great things in His name. One of the many accomplishments, via Christ,  is becoming a mother to other people’s children. Sometimes mothers need assistance in caring for their children. It’s better to ask for help, than to need it and not ask.

When I was a teenager, I knew that I would adopt children. From an early age, children surrounded me. I helped rear my three younger siblings.  In 1998, my nephew, Maven, came to live with me for two years; he was twelve years old at that time. The challenges were many, but God saw me through each one. Seven months after he returned home to his mother, I became a parent to another child, Indea. Through a set of circumstances that I did not foresee, I became her mother for nearly a year. The challenges of parenting her were many, but her good heart helped me through the challenges. In 2004, on a particular Sunday, I believed that the Lord was telling me to look into adopting a child from foster care. The command seemed clear to me. I went home and looked into the process of becoming an adoptive parent through foster care. I requested the information from the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). Within a few days, the packet of information arrived. I phoned my next door neighbor, Catherine, both a colleague and a friend, to share with her my news. She said she also had some news to share with me. I went to her home to share my news and to hear her news as well. Seemingly adventitious, we both had the same packet of information. We never discussed adoption before. Her news was confirmation that I heard correctly from the Lord. Catherine, had started one training class, and told me that I should consider adopting an older child, because older children are hard to place. I was reticent to adopt a teenager for many reasons, but I promised Catherine that I would attend a class with her, and make up my mind afterward. After the class, I was sold on fostering an older child. I took the required classes with Catherine, but I felt that I needed to finish a Master of Education degree that I just started before I would begin fostering. Catherine was the vehicle that the Lord used to encourage me to consider older children (I previously felt that I had been down that road and did not want to revisit it).

Two and a half years later, I completed the degree and I began looking into meeting foster children eligible for adoption. Finding the “right” child was not an easy process. I requested several children, but I was denied access to each one, for unknown reasons (The steps of a righteous person are ordered by the Lord). I almost gave up. Mary, the worker from the older child adoption/ placement agency, You Gotta Believe,  told me to choose another child. I did not want to try anymore. A couple of days before Mary’s call, I reflected on a message that I heard Rick Warren, the author of The Purpose Driven Life, speak. In his message he asked, “Are you making the most use of whatever God places in your hands?” For several days, I was obsessed with this question. I also began rereading a chapter in Bishop Vashti McKenzie’s book Journey to the Well. In her book, she said that we have to be sensitive to the kairos moments, the appointed time when God is about to do something in one’s life. I also went to the prayer meeting at The Brooklyn Tabernacle, my church, the day before Mary’s call. I began having a brief conversation there with a developmentally delayed adult. I told the Lord that “we” have to look after people like that.  When Mary called the next day, I promised her I would choose another child, but my heart was downcast. Mary told me to look at the videos on Wednesday’s Child, a brief segment on NBC affiliates about adopting hard to place children. I promised her that I would look at the videos and review the photo listing of eligible children, although I was discouraged. I came home, looked at the listing again, wrote down some names, although I was not excited about them because of their level of emotional dysfunction. I was ready to shut down my computer when I remembered that I was supposed to check Wednesday’s Child. I clicked on the most recent video from the previous week. The first line of the video said, “This child makes the most use of whatever is placed in her hands.” At that moment, I knew that “this child, Latoya,” was the one that the Lord had for me. Yes, she was everything that I was not looking for, but everything that I needed. There was no delay in meeting her! Within two weeks, a meeting was arranged. Latoya was a child without parents and family and she entered the the world under adverse circumstances.

Over the next fifteen months after meeting Latoya, I began having her visit me every weekend, every holiday, and during the summer vacation. After our initial meeting, and making a committment  to her, I began seeing the multitude of challenges. Although I was in a hurry to have her in my home, the Lord put the brakes on me to slow me down so that I could become acclimated to the many challenges. I had to teach her many things because at sixteen years of age, she had not been taught many things that should have been learned years earlier. I realized that between the time in which I took the foster care classes and having Latoya placed in my home full time, God was preparing we for the work. He also started preparing me many years earlier when other children were placed in my home. I did not realize until after the placement, that God had interceded on my behalf because of his great love for me. He allowed a great bureaucracy to slow me down do that I could adapt to my new life.

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Latoya

Latoya is developmentally delayed and has a multitude of other challenges, but God shows himself faithful through his love. Through the experience of mothering her, I have become more patient, accepting, loving, and supportive. I cannot fully explain the level of difficulty I encounter, but God sees me through every challenge and from walking away from them. Progress has been made in many areas of Latoya’s life. With prayer, God’s grace, and assiduousness, God’s hand continues to be upon us both.  It’s been eight years, since Latoya and I met. I have not formally adopted her, but I continue to parent her. She now lives in a group home with similarly situated women. She has not been in crisis for almost two years, and is more emotionally stable. Recently, she requested that we study the Bible together, an activity in which she was heretofore reluctant. Although our study is fraught with many challenges, we continue to press on to take hold of the things for which God has apprehended us.

What is God calling you to do? Let’s be fishers of men and women!

For further encouragement read: Romans 12; Isaiah 58; Ephesians 6

God’s Friendship: The Air We Breathe

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Jesus is “the Lily of the valley.” The lily of the valley is one of my favorite flowers because its scent perfumes a home, not just a room. He is the true vine. Apart from him, we can do nothing.

Rainbows beam through the prism of light’s glow

Seeds grow through the air that they daily breathe

Flowers bloom through pruning – its ebb and flow

Friendship glistens through trust that never leaves

 

Nothing breathes without God’s nurture that warms

To smooth over life’s deep valleys and eyes’ tears

The rain brings the rainbow spectrum of life’s storms

We drink God’s living water through trying years

 

Let His friendship sprout spring lilies from his light

Let Him rebuke winds and waves that obey him

As we trust his friendship to help our plights

We drink his living water filled to life’s brim

 

His friendship is everything for life to grow

Let’s plant Jesus our holy seed to sow

 

Deirdre M. DeLoatch

 

 

I was inspired to write this poem after an outing to the New York Botanical Garden  with some friends. My friends strengthened and encouraged me as iron sharpens iron. I pray that this poem encourages you to reach out to Jesus, your greatest friend, and to your earthly friends whom have proven themselves worthy. Let’s remember to be fishers of men!

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L to R: Karen, Lunette, Becky, Marilyn, Deirdre, Avionne (our photographer is Sheila)

For further reflection read: Matthew 7:15-20; Matthew 8:23-27; Genesis 9-17.