Friday, September 30, 2011


What is it about us that is hard-wired to constantly be looking for the next thing to make us happy. Is it rooted in our sin condition; this idea that we’re unable to be content with where we are and with what we have?

Many of the students who I am in contact with have this condition as well. “If I could just go back home” or “if I went to a different school” or “if I had a different boyfriend/girlfriend” then things would be better or different. There are a lot of complaints related to looking for something else that they currently are not experiencing.

For many of the kids who come to school at Flandreau this is the most structured environment they have ever had to be in so rebellion becomes a natural reaction. They have never had to keep a class schedule because they barely went to school a number of days in a row at home let alone a number of hours in a row. They have never had a curfew because there were few functioning adults at home that kept any sort of order. It can be a difficult transition for many who have never had any sort of organization in their lives.

Many of us as adults are the same way. If we could just have a promotion or a new house or a new car or even a new spouse or relationship then our lives would be different and we could find contentment. The problem is we never get there. We get what we want and we find it doesn’t bring us anymore satisfaction than we had before.

Paul said in Philippians 4 “I've learned to be content in whatever situation I'm in. I know how to live in poverty or prosperity. No matter what the situation, I've learned the secret of how to live when I'm full or when I'm hungry, when I have too much or when I have too little.” If we could all just reach this same level of contentment we’d be much better off.

But then Paul goes ahead and shares the secret of his contentment: “I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.” He gives us the strength we need to endure trials and even to look around and consider how God is blessing us despite the trials we’re going through. It’s much easier to make a list of the things that we don’t have rather than list the things that God has already provided.

I hope you’ll take a minute to enjoy what He has already provided instead of wasting your time on “if only’s.” Be content and make the most of exactly where He’s placed you for the present. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Some days I just have to be reminded that God is at work; I don’t always know or like the final outcome. He continues to work even when it looks like He has abandoned. Yesterday was a tough day for me to remember that.

Gang activity flared up on campus yesterday; it happens occasionally unfortunately. People who are looking for identity, protection and community come together in attempt to belong to something and to dominate others.

An incident happened in the dorms on Thursday apparently that caused some sort of retaliation at lunch time on Friday. About a dozen young men, all dressed in some form of red, gathered together on the sports bleachers harassing other students as they passed. The faculty was able to break it up before anything serious happened.

Administration gathered everyone together who was wearing any form of red to talk about the school’s no-tolerance stance on gang activity. Since they didn’t know exactly who the students were that were involved, a great number of other students got involved in this sweep by color as well.  A couple of the students got up and left because they felt they were being unfairly lumped in with an element that they had nothing to do with.

The students who left the meeting were sent home directly after the meeting was over. It grieves my heart when students get sent home for misunderstandings or simply for reacting to situations they find themselves mixed up in. I know discipline is important especially in a boarding school setting but it still upsets me when pretty decent kids get sent home for fairly minor infractions when the real culprits behind incidents continue to be present.

I know that God is in control, that all things are accomplished for HIS purposes and not mine and that He is teaching me through different situations as well.  Continue to show me Lord what it is that I need to learn. And continue to work in the lives of the students as well.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."   
-Jeremiah 29:11 
We are off and running for another great year at Flandreau Indian School. Students returned last Wednesday and school began the very next day. I recognize a lot of faces but there are a lot of new ones as well. I’m really looking forward to getting to know new kids!

It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what has changed but things seem different this year. Maybe I’m reading more into it than there is, but it seems like students came back ready to learn! A lot more reserved than last year—there are even kids carrying books around with them! I don’t know if the fact that we started a few weeks later meant that kids were getting a little impatient waiting for school to start or if it’s something else. Maybe it’s just the new DNA of new students on campus.

We kicked off our chapel worship schedule for the year this past Sunday for the 2011-12 school year. We had 23 students come out for our first week! There were more students than we had any Sunday last year—nearly 10% of the student population.  We are off to an amazing start!

In chapel we talked about allowing God to show us something new this year. Sometimes we have expectations for certain outcomes or expectations of how we think situations might turn out but we end up in a completely different place than we thought we were headed.  We have hopes and desires but sometimes God knows better and leads us in a different direction. What’s important is not to be mad at God for bringing us to a different place or situation but to be open to what He is trying to teach us.

Who’d have thought just a little over a year ago that we would be in South Dakota working with such amazing teenagers? I certainly had no idea that places or ministry like this still existed in the United States and yet God knew exactly where we needed to be to have the greatest impact for Him.

I am excited for what God has in store for us this year!