Books for ESL Learners

I had requests from parents who wanted some guidelines on how to choose literature for their children who were learning to read English.
This is what I recommend, and I hope it can be helpful for you when deciding on books to help your students expand their English, whether it is their first or second language!
1.  Before purchasing or borrowing a book, check its ratings online to see what other people have to say about it.
2.  Be careful when selecting literature that it does not have questionable/adult content.
3.  Select a variety of genres for reading to enhance reading and life skills and understanding (examples- mystery, poetry, history, biography, classics, fiction, nonfiction).  Allowing children to only read one type of books limits their academic growth.  Especially focus on books that integrate school subjects (history, art, social rules, science….).
4.  Books that have levels are great for starting English readers because they allow one to know where they are in regards to progress.  Some books that include a level marking are 
*Road to Reading – Road to Reading.
*Step into Reading – Step into Reading.
*I Can Read – I Can Read.
*DK Readers – DK Readers.
*Ready to Read – Ready to Read.
*Hello Readers through Scholastic- Hello Readers.
5.  These are books that don’t give level markings but are great for learning and are easier for English reading.
*The Cat in the Hat Learning Library – Cat in the Hat Learning Library.
*Who Was – Who Was.
*Great Illustrated Classics – Great Illustrated Classics.
*Poetry for Young People – Poetry for Young People.
6.  I also give a list of recommended (clean) books at Tween/Teen Girls’ Reading List.
7.  Parents can find books that incorporate reading with activities to strengthen the learning process and help parent and child work together.  Such an example can be found at Literature around the World.
8.  Some great places to buy used books online for inexpensive prices are- Amazon, Abebooks, Thriftbooks, and Alibris.
I hope you and your children enjoy exploring the world of literature together!

Women’s Marches, #MeToo’s, and Random Thoughts

Have you ever thought about the fact that humans are creatures of extremes?  Sadly, for hundreds of years, many women have been the victims of sexual violence.  It is about time that the violence stops, and it is important that women speak out and make a change.  However, there are a few areas in which we should be careful so that we do not swing to the opposite extreme.

Perhaps I am not the person who should be writing this, but I will write nonetheless, because this is an issue which has been weighing heavily on my heart for quite awhile.  You may not agree with everything I post, and that is okay.  There is no harm in different opinions; however, please do not be cruel in your disagreements.


  1.  First of all, let’s set the record right- women are not the only gender who have been abused.  There are thousands of men who have been molested as children by women!  Actually, there are estimates that 1 in 6 men have been abused sexually in their past by a man or women (  Both males and females are equally sinful, and there is not one gender that is more “good” than the other.  As we crusade for the protection of women, let’s also crusade to stop violence by women.
  2.   Bitterness can easily happen in situations of abuse, and it is easy to suddenly categorize all men as ravage beasts who prey upon the weaker sex.  But let’s be fair and honest, there are still some honorable men in this world who have made the commitment to treat women honorably and respectfully.  I have met plenty of men in my lifetime that would definitely fall in the category of creepy pervs; however, I have also met plenty of men (my father, brother, church associates, school friends…) with whom myself and other women are completely safe to be around.  Instead of tearing down the male gender, let’s pray for the men in our lives so that they can be the knights in shining armor instead of the dragons within our stories.
  3. Wrongdoing should not be overlooked.  Especially within the Anabaptist circles, sexual abuse is often kept hidden.  Sadly, this just allows the crime to continue and eventually harm even more children and young people.  It is important to remember that nonresistance does not call for an overlook of sin.
  4.   There are a lot of women in important and reputable positions who are stepping forward and announcing #metoo, and they are quickly becoming heroes to the women of America.  In some cases, their claims are warranted; however, in other situations, they willingly gave favors in order to receive a job or position in return.  This does not justify the man in the situation, but it also does not mean that he holds sole responsibility for the sin.  When admiring these well-known women’s courage in coming forward, use discernment in evaluating their statements.
  5.   As important as it is to speak up about sexual violence, we must also be as concerned with where and how we share.  Social media with all of its thousands of young followers is not the place to post every single detail of your sexual abuse.  While it is important for children to understand the dangers of predators, there are certain details for which they are not ready.  Allow them the joy of childhood for a little while longer.
  6.   Be careful not to stay in the “victim” stage.  Sadly, a lot of women in America are stuck in this stage and never allow the wound to heal.  Although the past will haunt a woman for the rest of her future, living in that will only continue to give the abuser power and will pull her away from her loved ones into a lonely world of her own.  I admire the many women I know personally who have moved from the past into the present and live joyful, vibrant lives with their family, children, and friends.
  7.   Be prepared- this next warning is going to sound incredibly old-fashioned and extreme and control freakish, but since children’s safety and innocence is such a concern of mine, I really don’t care how crazy I sound!  I continually shake my head as I watch mothers and fathers who know the dangers and hurt of sexual abuse allow their children to be in public places unsupervised.  Mostly, it is just because they get busy and do not think about where their children may be and what they may be doing.  My poor mother was often criticized as being overprotective while my brother and I were growing up.  When we were little we were never allowed to use public restrooms by ourselves, play with friends or each other behind closed doors (which seemed really absurd to me when I was a child), or go to sleepovers and camp until certain ages.  We were taught to shut our bathroom doors at home, and knew that we must not run around the house nude.  Our babysitters were carefully screened, and we never were babysat separately.  Our parents kept tabs on where we were at all times- whether it was at church, school picnics, or family gatherings.  Looking back, it must have been tiring for them; I mean, social times are the perfect opportunities for sitting back and propping up your feet, but I am forever grateful to them today because I had a blissful, innocent, care-free childhood.  For as far back as I can remember, I had been instructed, “Don’t ever let anyone touch your private parts.  God gave those to you, and not even Mommy and Daddy have a right to your body.  If anyone ever touches you wrongly or tries to, you must tell us, no matter if they tell you not to.”  Mom and Dad stressed to us that we also do not have the right to others’ bodies because our actions against others hurts them, and God, and eventually ourselves as well.  Am I saying that those who are abused had negligent parents?  Absolutely not!  I just am hoping that parents can realize the dangers that threaten their children in today’s sin-wrecked world.  I’m sure it’s not easy being a parent, but take hope in the fact that someday your children will thank you for what you do for them now.
  8.   I distinctly remember being with a large group of young ladies who started sharing about abuse that had happened to them when they were girls.  Later, my friend and I were talking, and I explained that I had been silent because they would have viewed me as the outsider who could not understand what had happened to them.  I thought they surely would have despised any words I had to say, even if I had merely offered to pray with them for what they were still suffering.  I’ll never forget my friend’s reply.  “You need to speak up, just as much as they do.  In a world that is wretched and downright depressing, in a time where we are constantly hearing of sexual violence, you need to give them hope.  You need to let them know that women do not need to resign themselves to the opinion that everyone everywhere has been abused and everyone everywhere will continue to be abused; there is possibility of raising children who do not need to know the hurt they have faced.”  I have thought of that statement for years, but I still never spoke up.  I still was afraid that those who have known abuse would not care or even listen to what I had to share.  But, in a time when women’s marches and #metoo’s are the main topic of news, I finally am speaking up to say that there is hope that children can be raised who have not been molested when they were little or teenagers.  And by the grace of God, there are fathers, brothers, and uncles who are willing to protect the girls in their lives instead of using them.  If this post leaves you with nothing else, at least leave with this promise-   THERE IS HOPE!
  9.   If you have never told anyone about sexual abuse that happened to you, there are many places today that are willing to help.  The abuser should feel the shame, and not the abused.  National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline – 800.656.HOPE (4673) and Life Counseling Ministries – 717.871.0540.

Holiday Lies

Image result for presents

Quite a few years have passed, but I still distinctly remember that Christmas.  A relative was looking at some of my girl cousins’ pictures.  “Those are the pretty granddaughters,” was the remark.  It didn’t take long for the thought to run through my head, Hmm…I wonder what that makes me then?  I tried to write it off without allowing myself to become too bitter about it.  I figured that older people can sometimes be judgmental and see outside beauty quicker than inside.  God looks at the heart, I reminded myself.

“You’re not beautiful,” was the remark from a friend as I approached my early adulthood.  At the girl parties, everyone matched each other up with the handsome, cool, funny guys.  I was always, without fail, matched up with the bachelor who didn’t comb his hair and wash his clothes and who wore thick smudged glasses.   

Then, my pretty cousins started to get married, and my beautiful friends began dating relationships.  Beauty must matter, I reasoned.  Why did I have to be so ugly?  In the mirror, I surveyed my short, chunky stature and crooked nose and crazy hair.  “You are the ugliest person alive, and I hate you,” I whispered to the reflection that stared back at me. 

Since then, God has led me on a journey, a journey of showing me that my focus was entirely wrong.  I was thinking about myself all the time, instead of focusing on His greater plan that makes pretty noses and perfect hairstyles seem trivial and insignificant.  And in His eyes, I was absolutely perfect.   

But as Thanksgiving and Christmas approach each year, I hear those lies again.  I could never understand why the prettiest time of the year made me feel the ugliest.  And I think that it is because I started to look at myself again and fall into that little sinkhole of self-pity.  That is LIE #1. 

The grandparents, cousins, uncles, and aunts all gather around the table.  But there is no spot for me, the single who would make the table settings uneven, so I serve and do the dishes or else plan other events over family gatherings.  Don’t get me wrong- I absolutely love singlehood.  And most days I have my doubts that life could possibly get better.  However, I am a true Musician, Writer, and Artist at heart which means I am also a hopeless Romantic.  And since Thanksgiving and Christmas are times of twinkling lights, hot cocoa, and gift-giving (which is my love language), it is easy to believe the lie that I am lonely.  I have no children in my arms on the Christmas pictures that get mailed out to family and friends, and once you get to my age, it isn’t easy to find someone who thinks going to a Messiah sing-a-long or a production of A Christmas Carol or making cut-out cookies or building a snowman would be fun to do, so it is done alone. 

But the truth is, I’m not alone.  There may not be a Prince Charming around, but there are family, and elderly widows, and students who would love to do something this holiday season.  And so, it becomes my choice of whether I will be lonely or not this season.  Being lonely is LIE #2. 

Maybe you don’t struggle with these lies over the holiday season, but then again, maybe you do.  And if you are very human like me, I hope you can also be encouraged by the fact that you are special and God has great plans for you that lie far outside the realm of singlehood and marriage and beauty.  I also pray that you can enjoy the presence of the people around you so that your holidays are no longer lonely but are warm and refreshing! 

Blessings for the Journey, 

MarJanita L. G.  

Tips for Swimming the Collegiate Ocean

Image result for sinking personSo, I’ve been trying to navigate the collegiate world while attempting to pay tuition without student loans and while working full-time, which means I look for shortcuts whenever I can.  Because of that, I’ve had some about-to-be-college-students ask me a lot of questions about my academic journey, which I love answering!  And I thought, “I wish someone would have given me some tips on college when I started so I could have done things differently and not had to figure it out on my own.  So why not publicly post a few of the tricks that have helped me so far?!”  I know how it feels to start sinking under all the confusion, stress, and financial pressures that college brings along with it.  I don’t have nearly all the answers to college questions and problems, but these are a few of the buoys that God has thrown to me during my time in the collegiate ocean.

Image result for college clipartCOLLEGES/UNIVERSITIES:

I can’t tell you what college or university you should go to; it all depends on your situation.  Some degrees require a lot of lab time/intensives/live performances, some demand specialized courses…but I can tell you what I decided on and why I chose that option.  Originally, when I graduated high school, I thought I would start college immediately.  However, God had different plans for my life, and I didn’t start college until eight years later.

Although I could have my Doctorate by now if I would have started right away, I’m glad God had me wait.  I appreciate what I am learning so much more now than I would have at eighteen; I have a stronger drive to keep out of debt; my GPA is more important to me; I have had other learning experiences in between that have prepared and shaped me for what I learn now; I know what direction I want to pursue so I’m not wasting time changing degrees while trying to figure out what I should do; and what I learn I can immediately pass on to my students!

Does this mean you should wait until you’re in your late twenties to start?  No, unless that’s what God wants for your life.  I just want to stress that each person’s story is unique and different!

Over the past eight years, I have studied into college options so that I knew where I wanted to enroll once the time came.  Some of my choices were Millersville University, LBC, HACC, and PCC, but I eventually eliminated all of those because I couldn’t complete their degree programs while working two jobs full-time, writing books and articles, and private teaching twenty+ piano and voice students.  There’s not many colleges that offer midnight courses, and who feels like commuting and then sitting in a lecture after a day of teaching?!

I chose Liberty University Online because it allows me to keep working.  I then take my courses in the evenings and weekends.  There are a few presentations to watch, but it is mostly reading and writing assignments which are submitted through Blackboard.  It requires careful planning and a lot of self-regulation, but I find it is worth it.  I appreciate their Christian worldview that allows me the freedom to complete assignments within my value and belief system.  I also like that they break their semesters into two sub-terms.  At most colleges, you take about four-six classes for sixteen weeks.  With Liberty, you take two-three condensed classes for eight weeks and then are finished with those.  Then you take another two-three classes for the final eight weeks.  Personally, this helps me focus and keep track of everything a lot better.  They also include Liberty Landing, subscription to Microsoft Suite and Adobe Cloud Suite (if you’re taking art classes), and tutoring and writing assistance if needed for their students.  Their online degree also holds as much value as any “campus” degree.  Courses are a little more expensive than some colleges, but for me, it is my best option.  I believe that is why a lot of Liberty’s students are working mothers, military personnel, and older adults.

But saying all that- your degree may need to be through a traditional college experience, or you may prefer campus learning, or you might decide to take some online courses and then transfer them into a traditional college.  If I see a really interesting course offered online or at a local college, I like to take it and transfer it in to Liberty.  The possibilities are endless!

Image result for schedule TIME:

You need to know what you can handle.  Full-time students usually take 12+ credit hours (4 or more classes) a semester.  You can do part-time, but then courses are normally a bit more expensive.  I’ve found, for myself, that working a few evenings a week with about two hours on Saturday was the time I needed for taking 12 credits (4 courses).  Taking 18 credits (6 classes) fills even more of my evenings and weekend.  This coming Fall Semester, I am attempting 33 credits (6 Liberty classes, 1 Berklee School of Music class, and 4 Proctored Exam classes) while working two jobs full-time, writing, and private teaching.  Yes, I know, I’m only going to survive by lots of prayer and little sleep;)  BUY A DAYTIMER, DOWNLOAD A SCHEDULING APP, DO SOMETHING TO MANAGE YOUR TIME….I have a careful schedule that accounts for every hour of my day; otherwise, I will forget assignments or commitments.  I try to still keep time for doing something “special” with the family or friends once or twice a week so I don’t become a recluse!  I wouldn’t suggest taking an insane amount of credits, but I’m trying to shave a four-year degree down to a year and a half…so that’s my personal reason for this choice.

Image result for shortcuts  SHORTCUTS:

Most degrees require a certain amount of general credits in English, Science, Math, History…so that’s where these shortcuts are really handy!  I’m always on the lookout for ways to cut out college courses.  These are some of the ways I’ve gained credit that was transferable to Liberty so I could opt out of an eight-week, expensive class.  You can pay a third-party to help you sort through some of these shortcuts; I prefer not to, but that is totally up to you.  Don’t depend on your Academic Adviser to recommend shortcuts because they are working to keep you enrolled in as many college classes as possible.  Each college is different, yours may not accept some of the shortcuts I list—-or they may accept it for fewer credit hours than is the “suggested amount”.  Always check your college’s policies and see how these could fit into your degree-completion plan before trying these.

CLEP- There are testing locations all over for these exams.  Simply go to to register and buy an exam for $85.  You will then contact your closest testing location and set up a date for taking the exam.  Once you arrive at your location, you’ll sign in, pay their additional testing fee, and be led to a private room.  My location’s testing room is the size of a closet and is windowless, which makes me feel a little claustrophobic after staring at a computer screen for two hours;)  You will not be allowed to take anything in to the testing room with you.  If you pass, the credit will transfer; if you don’t pass, you can retest in three months.

This offer is good until September!  It’s great deal—check it out here 

“Get 50% off a second exam or retest

This month we’re celebrating 50 years of helping students earn college credit! Students who take an exam in August receive 50% off when they sign up for a second exam” (CLEP Website).

ICE- I have taken a few of the Bible ICE exams through Liberty which can be applied as general credits!  “Institutional Challenge Exams (ICE) are available to students with a satisfactory justification of previous knowledge in a subject area based upon a non-college training program, job experience, or self-learning as an opportunity to earn credit toward a selected degree program” (Liberty University Website).

MOOC- Ask your college if they have this shortcut.  MOOCS are free credit courses that some colleges offer.

STUDY.COM- One of my favorite shortcuts comes from  For a monthly fee, I have unlimited access to countless college courses and CLEP, UExcel, DSSTS study courses.  I also am allowed to take two proctored exams each month.  This requires watching the movie clips and taking online quizzes that go along with the course before access to the exam is allowed.  I then have to have use a room that is silent and contains no notes or people (other than me).  I allow the remote proctor access to my computer, show them my driver’s license and a scan of the room to make sure there are no forbidden items around, and take the two-hour exam as they watch.  I often catch myself mumbling to myself and making crazy faces while thinking about exam answers and wonder what they must think;D  Once the exam is finished, I disconnect the remote proctor and wait for my grade which then can be transferred to Liberty for credit.  Of course, I always use their CLEP study courses as well!  The cool thing is- their courses are broken into about 90-200 lessons that are 5-8 minute interesting movie clips (great for a visual learner like me).

Prior Learning Credit- It’s a lengthy process, but if you submit resumes, prior learning syllabi, and documentation of past experience and training, you may be granted credit for some of your past education and work experience!

Liberty also accepts these options (which I haven’t personally used yet.  I do plan on trying some of these though!).

DANTES Subject Standardized Test Scores (DSSTS)

Excelsior College and UExcel Exams

Technical Training Assessments with NOCTI Business Solutions

University of Cambridge International Exams


Image result for essentials      HANDY ITEMS:

Password Book- I write down all my online info or else I would forget it.  Some of the things I keep track of in relation to college are Liberty login and student ID number, Livetext, Pearson, Collegeboard, MathLab, MyWSB,, Focus 2, Bankmobile…. a lot of these were required sites for courses I’ve taken.

Daytimer- I mentioned this earlier.  You need something to keep track of schedules and assignments.  I personally used a hand daytimer and a Microsoft calendar, but you can also use apps and phone calendars.

Large Folder- I keep all my scholarship information and paperwork that applies to college in this so that it is available if the need ever arises to look back on something.

Professional Portfolio- Keep all your syllabi, dean’s list letters, honor awards… in a little booklet that will be handy for future employers or universities to look at.

Comfy Study Spot- You will want an area that is semi-quiet and comfortable for studying (but not too comfy or you won’t be able to focus and think as clearly and will get sleepy once 1 am. arrives).

Image result for finances  FINANCIAL TIPS:

Check with your family, employers, and local organizations.  Often they will be happy to sponsor part of your tuition.  Write up a professional letter stating who you are, what degree you are pursuing, how you are planning to benefit others through your education, what an average semester’s expenses look like….  This shortcut has helped cover quite a bit of tuition for me!

Go through the painful process of applying for scholarships.

Work, work, work!

Buy or rent used textbooks instead of spending precious money on murderously-expensive curriculum.  Resell your textbooks that you don’t want to keep.

If commuting, try carpooling with other students.

Use your college’s payment plans.  This allows me to pay a small amount each month instead of trying to bite off a huge chunk of tuition at one time.

Take testing such as CLEP, DSSTS, UExcel…. I’ve figured that by graduation, I will have hopefully saved about $20,000.00 and 130 weeks of time through alternate testing!


I’d love to hear about the college hacks and tips that have helped you keep swimming!

All the Best,

MarJanita L. G.



What is an Infidel?

My father is a guest contributor today, and I think he does a great job of looking at the refugee issue from a Christian perspective.

I also find it interesting that almost exactly a year ago, I shared some of my thoughts at- Syrian Refugees: The Newest Fad.

“As a Christian, where do I stand?  What do I tell co-workers, friends, and family?  Let’s face it, we’re going to be pulled into this immigration controversy, whether we like it or not.  The media is full of hate towards our new President and his stand on border control and immigration.  But where should the Christians stand?

Christ clearly commands us to love our neighbors, do good to those around us, and help the needy.  However, I can’t help but wonder if we have been hypocritical in our beliefs concerning this issue.  Our millennial hearts, Bible, and “media voices” tell us to open our arms to the refugees.  However, let’s not become hypocritical as a certain Canadian leader who claims the refugees are welcome there.  Perhaps that is true, but if you have ever had family and friends try moving to Canada from the USA, you know that the “arms open wide” principle does not apply to everyone.

Let’s take another look at what the Bible says.  Take a moment right now to read 1 Timothy 5:8.  Marinate on that verse for awhile.  The King James Version calls this person an infidel, a person who has denied the faith.  This is pretty serious, I mean, we’re talking on a level of eternity-serious!  If you don’t take care of your own, well, there is pretty fiery consequences.

So the question then arises- how have I been taking care of my “own”?  We provide first for our physical and spiritual families, and then we work together with our physical and spiritual families to care for the “sojourners in the land”.  Our first responsibility is to the families that God has put under our care.  Is this selfish?  No, it’s the way God intended.  Does it mean we spoil our families and shower them with lavish luxuries.  No, we are called to live simply so that we can give then to the strangers around us.

There once was a man whose sister lost her house to a fire and her crops and buildings to a storm.  One plague after another hit her until she had no choice but to sell the farm.  There was no money left to support her and her family.  This woman’s sister kindly allowed the homeless family to move in with her.  What about the brother?  Not once did he offer to help, despite the fact that he owned multiple rental properties.  But a few years later, he gave one of his properties rent free to a Syrian refugee family.  Who was this man?  Did he belong to some “heathen” religion?  Guess again, he was a man from our conservative Anabaptist circles.

Was it wrong for this man to give a house to a refugee family?  No, he was following Biblical commands.  But he missed the mark when it came to providing for his own.  Do we know his reason for not supporting his sister?  No- perhaps it wouldn’t gain enough recognition or perhaps he considered her a bad manager, but whatever the case, he obviously felt rationalized for his lack of empathy.

Some Anabaptist churches will not be responsible for their own members’ health-care expenses; yet they hold refugee awareness programs.

Should our love and help only go to certain people?  Isn’t that being a bit hypocritical?

Before we pour condemnation on our leaders; let’s look at it from their shoes.  From a government’s perspective, they should be protecting our citizens.  Our country has incurred debts that our children will never be able to pay because we have been busy helping everyone else.  The United States is being threatened with continual terrorist attacks.  We, Christians, claim to love the refugees yet we spew forth hate speeches against the Leader of our country.  God places the “kings in kingdoms”, and we are called to pray for those who make our country’s decisions.

May we have our eyes open to not only the needs of the world around us, but also to our very own desperate needs in the churches and communities around us.  And may we also pray that God gives wisdom and discernment to our leaders.”


May I Introduce My Room?

I thought it would be fun to take you on a tour of the music room.  I’m absolutely loving this room.  Last year’s setting up and tearing down tables, chairs, etc… every music class makes me really appreciate this year.

I often get asked what music curriculum we use since it is hard to find something good for the music class.  I blend a mix of books and activities that seem to work well with my 150 students for a custom curriculum.  Different things work with different ages and grades; so find what works well for you and use it.


Let’s start with some of my favorite voice care items.  It is common for music teachers to lose their voices because the demand on the vocal cords is pretty extreme.  After it happened twice to me last year, I decided to make a few changes in my routine.

  1.  Drink lots of water!
  2. Take Airborne lozenges throughout the day for a voice refresher and a dosage of Vitamin C.
  3. Vocal Eze Throat Spray works well to calm irritated voices.
  4. Roxalia tablets dissolve under your tongue for sore-throat and tiredness relief.
  5. Cough drops help dry mouths and scratchy voices.
  6. Slippery Elm lozenges and Slippery Elm tea may taste nasty, but it works wonders.
  7. Personal mic…this one has saved my voice so often because I no longer have to yell to be heard over the noise of forty seventh-eight graders during large chorus.


Do you get a lot of headaches and watery, burning eye problems during the day?  Educational Lights have covers that magnetically attach to your lights to block the harsh fluorescent light that causes eye strain.  They are even up to fire code!  I am so grateful for these covers.


Our class rules-

  1.  Respect God
  2. Respect the teacher
  3. Respect the classmates
  4. Respect the classroom
  5. Respect yourself

I also like to showcase cards and pictures from the students on this door.  Since the picture was taken, there is quite a few more added to the collection=)


Our recorder spot where Ricky and Regina Recorder live.  They are laminated papers that the students can fill in the holes for the appropriate letter during our review times.


I found these awesome cabinets at Habitat for Humanity for a few dollars and don’t know what I’d do without them.  I keep books on two shelves, CD player and Cd’s on two shelves, Freddie the Frog books and flashcards on two shelves, and recorders on the other two shelves.  I’ve found that having disinfectant wipes are handy for many purposes (such as wiping down tables, wiping off recorders, wiping off piano keys, and cleaning up used tissues and accidents in the classroom).  Having a recorder check-out paper has saved me a lot of frustration; I wish I would have done that last year!


Our puppet friends live on the top of the cabinets.  I picked these up on Christian Book Distributors for a few dollars since they were on a vbs clearance.  We named them after composers, of course!  Puppets are fun to use in the first-third grades for singing times and review answering.


Some Cd’s that I like to use in class…

  1. Hymns of the Church
  2. Vocal Coach products
  3. Wee Sing Cd’s
  4. Music Machine Cd’s
  5. Alter of Praise Chorale, Oasis Chorale, Christmas Chorale, Sharon Singers Cd’s (great acapella and harmonizing examples)
  6. Classic Cd’s
  7. Libera Cd’s (especially good for helping the younger boys to hear that they don’t have to try to sing low before their voices change)
  8. Jim Rule Cd’s
  9. I also would like to add in that the Songdrop Cd’s are awesome for fun songs.

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This is a look inside the cabinets.

  1.  Plastic cups from Dollar Tree that we use for cup songs and rhythms (which really helps with coordination and teamwork).  I also keep Silly Bandz in a box that we use for recorders and cup songs/rhythms because the younger grades really struggle with quickly remembering which hand is right and which is left.
  2. Miscellaneous items such as balls, play-dough, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, music bingo, etc… for recreating notes, beats, and other music theory concepts.
  3. I picked up a plastic bowling set at Goodwill for a couple cents and then drew notes and rests on the pins.  When students knock over pins, they need to clap the rhythm of what they knocked over.
  4. I use an empty detergent container for storing rhythm sticks, tambourines, eggs, and maracas.  It is the perfect size, plus it smells great.  And then we also have scarves for some of the Artie Almeida activities that we do.
  5. Hand-bells….I love incorporating these into class time.
  6. Legos are great because you can draw notes and rests on them and show how they compare to the others.


I hang music center games from a shower-curtain rod and store my boom-whackers behind the keyboard.  Of course, it is always a good idea to have a comfy chair with a footrest filled with great magazines and books for waiting parents of piano students!

Our solfege ladder, heart-beat chart, and voices (outside voice, singing voice, talking voice, and quiet voice).  When the younger grades get too loud, we just point to the voice we should be using.


My over-filled desk with my file boxes beside.  It looks a little cluttered, but I know where everything is; so I guess it is okay;)  And yes, I still use a good ole-fashioned chalkboard!  The plastic grocery basket is excellent for toting books back and forth to school.  I can take it home to lesson plan and then set it beside the stand and pull each book out as I need it during the day.


Where I keep all the important stuff like tape, sticky tack, Velcro, paper clips….

I like to use Dollar Tree baby-food containers to store my tacks and paper clips.  I also use Dollar Tree baby cloths for wiping down chalkboards and dry-erase boards.


This is a fun bin with glissando/vocal exploration posters, flashcards, and soda-can rhythm cards.

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Some of my favorite posters!

  1.  Music is a treat- lists all the national music standards for music classes.
  2. Our world map- we travel to a new place every month and learn about the music of that country as well as hear examples and sing a native song.
  3. Hymn writer- each month we learn about a different hymn writer and then sing and conduct one of his/her songs.
  4. Composer- we study a new composer every month and then do listening activities on his/her work.
  5. Last year, we learned about a different time in music history each month, but I switched it up for world music this year for something different.
  6. The instrument families!


Each grade has a keyboard.  If they gain a point they move ahead a key.  If they lose a point by breaking a class rule, they move back a key.  Once they reach the end, they will receive a surprise.  First grade started a few weeks behind the other grades, so their keyboard is smaller.

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My brother made this awesome staff graphic so that each students could put their name on a note and put it up on the wall.  “Each of us a single note together can create a masterpiece.”  Thanks Pinterest for the cool idea!



I just threw this in because it is so cute and I love Peanut stuff.  I found a Peanut pop-up book partially destroyed in a Goodwill bargain bin.  So I bought it and pulled this one out to lay on my music table.  I have this table as a spot where students can pick up papers they need.  They turn in their assignments in the purple hanging file.  A glass clock is fun for writing on music notes as time with a dry-erase marker, and I was able to pick this one up for $5.00.


Students can use the hole-puncher, sharpener, pick up extra books, or borrow pencils, highlighters, and dry-erase markers from this spot.  I also highlight a book here and then do a corresponding bulletin board.


The piano corner.  Once again, it looks a bit cluttered, but everything serves a purpose.  And with nineteen students, you want to make sure you have everything you need close by!  I stick the piano/voice students’ birthday cards in the cake for them to get out when it is their birthday.  I also put each piano/voice students’ names on a song page and then hang it up just for the fun of it.  There is a mirror and stand for the voice students.  The basket has gifts in it from which students pick an item once they reach fifty points.  I use a squishy chicken from Dollar Tree to remind students to keep their hands curved while playing the piano.  The little cabinet is a perfect spot to keep piano/voice books, metronome, and all that good stuff!


This is the top of a bookshelf where I highlight instruments that match the country we are learning about in world music.  Ten Thousand Villages is a great place to pick up stuff like this.  With a coupon and an eye for clearance, items can often be bought for under $5.00.


I’ve found that tables work best for writing work, risers for singing, and rugs for circle activities/cup songs/story time.  I went with Dollar Tree foil cookie sheets for stacking the books, but the students are slowly crinkling and destroying those.  Any good ideas for a cheap replacement?  I also keep crayons, dry-erase markers, and Dollar Tree makeup remover pads (for dry-erase projects) on each table.

Some of my favorite music books and curriculum!

  1.  So-Me Stories– these are songs that have solfege character names that are sung.  My first-third graders love these!
  2. The Napping House, Goodnight Moon, Sheep in a Jeep, Dr. Seuss– rhyming books are great for singing.  I like to split the class into four groups.  I will then give each group a book and have them create a song for it.  The books can also be done on So-Me arrangements.
  3. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons– Cenza writes great children’s stories based off of composers with a Cd included of the highlighted song.  They are pricey; so I only have one of them!
  4. The Really Awful Musicians– is just a fun book that teaches children about the importance of singing together.
  5. Music Electric Time for Learning– goes over different instruments, music history, etc.. with examples of each.  I do music centers after test time until dismissal, and the kids are always fascinated with this book.
  6. Activate, Music K-8, and Music Express– music magazines with great resources and lesson plans.  Subscriptions are expensive, but they will send a complimentary copy to you if you ask so you can check it out.
  7. 101 Hymn Stories, Mr. Pipes, Abide with Me: Stories and Sites of the great British Hymns– Excellent for teaching about hymns and hymn writers
  8. Listening Resource Kit– Fun activities and lesson plans for all grades
  9. Essential Musicianship– I do level 1 with sixth grade, level 2 with seventh grade, and level 3 with eighth grade.  Some concepts are high-school level, but it is a great way to start getting good foundations in music theory.
  10. Rhythm without the Blues and Ear without Fear– good books for developing beat and ear within students.  I like to add this in when I need something to fill up extra time.
  11. God Made Music– a curriculum I just came across this year.  I have fallen in love with it because the students really enjoy the books, it is colorful, and it is very educational!
  12. Accent on Composers, Stories of the Great Hymn, and Stories of the Great Christmas Carols– Once again, some more good resources for the monthly composer and hymn writer highlights.  During the month of December, I make a countdown Christmas calendar.  Each music class, the students uncover a Christmas carol, and then we learn about it and sing it.
  13. Fun with Composers and Lives of the Musicians– some of my favorites for composer studies.  They include tidbits and fun facts about Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, and all the greats.
  14. Recorder Express and Recorder Fiesta– my favorites for teaching recorder.
  15. The Science of Sound, Outside the Lines, and The Chord Wheel– just extras that I use for doing some musical science examples and for teaching composing.
  16. Teaching Music to Children and Making Musical Instruments with Kids– Musts in the music classroom.
  17. Parachutes and Ribbons and Scarves Oh My, Great Music Games for Kids, and 52 Arrival Activities for Children’s Choirs– You won’t regret adding these to your music curriculum!
  18. Alfred’s Essentials of Music Theory– I use this for fifth grade.
  19. Hymnspirations Coloring Book and Sign Language Books– fun things to add in to your classes.
  20. Music Teacher Plan-It– I used this last year and bought another one for this year because it is the best music schedule/lesson planning aid I have found.  There are also fun activities and ideas added in on some of the pages.
  21. Staff Paper- I keep this on hand and send a page home with students who enjoy composing.
  22. Music for Conductors and Evoking Sound– two favorites which I use when teaching song-leading to the eighth graders.
  23. With Glad Voices– Christian curriculum for the young grades based off of the Kodaly Method.
  24. The Story of Christian Music– I heavily used this when teaching different times in music history.
Freddie the Frog is my absolute favorite find!  The children beg to hear the books (little do they realize how much they are actually learning in the process).  There are also flashcards, posters, magnetic board, coloring pages, and resources that can go along with the Freddie the Frog series.  Their puppets are expensive; so I bought an elephant and frog Folkmanis puppet through Amazon for a few dollars.
Although books and writing work has its place, students quickly bore without hands-on interactive activities.  So I really like to do cup games/songs, movement songs, and Artie Almeida ideas during class to change up pace and get students engaged.
Where do you get all of your stuff?  This is a question I hear frequently; so I’ll share!
-A lot of books, posters, etc.. the school already had when I arrived.  So I make full use of those!
-Stores such as Dollar Tree and Goodwill Bargain Bins usually are are hiding some kind of treasure you can use in your classroom.
-I have a teacher ID card and ask for discounts everywhere!
-A lot of my decorative items came as gifts from family and friends.  When Christmas and Birthdays roll around and you’re asked what you want, mention music items!
-Sign up for test items and review copies that businesses want to get opinions on.
-I set apart a little money each month that I have budgeted for school items.
-Set up a GoFundMe account and explain how you want to equip your classroom to better your teaching and your students’ learning.  It’s surprising how this works=)
-Do a fundraiser.
-Ask family, friends, and businesses to donate items or money for books and supplies.  It sounds crazy, but poor teachers need to get a little desperate some times.
-Don’t buy new books.  Check out Abe’s Books and other similar places for used books (often library books) that will sell for a few cents.
Here are also some blogs, websites, music teacher resources that offer some free lesson plans, etc….
carnegie hall listening adventure
american symphony orchestra league
smithsonian folkways
teacher vision multicultural music resources
Also…..John Jacobson, Artie Almeida, and Rob Amchin are all excellent teachers and have websites and youtube movies with great songs, games, ideas, and resources.
I highlight certain activities for certain grades….  This doesn’t take the place of their “normal” curriculum, but rather corresponds and adds to it.
1.  Freddie the Frog.
2.  So-Me Stories.
3.  Instrument Studies with a keepsake instrument book.  I would love to have an instrument petting zoo come to school, but they don’t visit private schools=(  Anybody know of one that might make an exception?
4.  Recorders.
5.  Recorder review and Hand-Bells.
6.  Boom-whackers.  My dream is to some year do an ukulele program with sixth grade!
7.  Large Chorus, Listening Journals, Christmas Project (listen to Handel’s Messiah one year and The Nutcracker the next year)
8.  Large Chorus, Song-Leading, My Life Music Project, Listening Journals, Christmas Project (listen to Handel’s Messiah one year and The Nutcracker the next year), Music Vocation Study, Anabaptist Music Study
Be sure to keep learning so you can continue to have information to pass on to your students.  Go to music classes, take college courses, read books, watch online lectures, join choirs, and go to summer camps.
Hopefully you enjoyed looking through the music room as much as I enjoy using it!
I would really love to hear tips and hacks that you use in your classroom.  And any music book recommendations would be great as well!








How Does a Single Woman Plan Her Future?

single woman

Beginning Note-

Dear Readers,

I hesitated to share this because of the brute honesty of the subject.  However, I wish I had been able to read something like this when I was eighteen; so that is why I bare my thoughts and soul to you.  It is hard for single women because we face so many unknowns, and although I strongly disapprove of feminism, I do believe that single women should be wise about their future.  I write this not to encourage solo independence or to make us feel as if we do not need or want marriage, but to make us stop and think about our plans and choices.  We do not have a husband to provide for us, and our parents may very well be nearing the age where we can no longer rely upon them but they rely upon us.  There’s a lot of harsh judgments passed about single women that say it is our fault in some way or another that we are single, but sometimes God just has different plans and timing for certain individuals.  May you be encouraged by this article.  Don’t forget- I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

How Does A Single Woman Plan Her Future?

“God, the joke’s over now, haha, very funny.  I mean, being single is great and all, but You do have a husband for me- right?”

So you are nearing your thirties, and quite possibly is this is how your prayers sound.  Reality is starting to hit that you really are single and by the looks of things, your relationship status will probably not be changing anytime in the near future.  The job that helped get you through college at 18 was fine for a while, but it has lost its appeal and holds no incentive.  Surely, you figured that by now marriage would have taken care of the future for you because a husband would have been responsible for the main income and provision…but there is no husband.

So, as singles, we’re left with three choices.  Choice One- Drop all our standards and grab the first guy we meet on the street (which isn’t recommended due to the probable outcome).  Choice Two- Complain about our situation and sit at home near our phone, door, computer, or wherever we think a guy may approach from to ask for our hand in marriage.  Or, Choice Three- Realize that if God is amazing enough to create a universe full of dancing galaxies, He is plenty capable of bringing someone in His own time but for now He has called us to singlehood for a special purpose.  I’ll admit, Choice Three really hit me hard when I knew I needed to break off a dating relationship last year, knowing fully that I probably wouldn’t be getting asked again very soon.  I mean, if it took twenty-five years for one guy to come along, another twenty-five years would put me at fifty.  That can be a little disheartening, and that’s a lot of life during which I have to make decisions and support myself.  Of course, I could get married next year, but then again, God may never have marriage in His plans for my life.  Once I am at peace with that, I can then move on and handle life and the future.

So what can we, single women, do to help take care of our future?

  • Face the facts.  It may startle you to realize that singlehood is wearing your name, but brute honesty is the best wake-up call.  I know some young ladies who are still living in denial of the fact that they are single and very well may continue that way for a while.  Thus, they really have no dreams, goals, or plans and simply exist from day to day.
  • Don’t let singlehood scare you.  I’ve heard many 16-18 year old girls talk about singlehood like it was a dreaded disease.  I like to think of it as an adventure, and I do dearly love adventures.  Instead of it being me, a husband, and God on this journey, right now it is just God and I.  That may seem a little daunting at first, especially when I can get lost in stores, have zero map-reading abilities, hate spiders, have a fear of elevators, start talking to myself when I get lonely, and get nervous when calling in a pizza for delivery.  But I try not to focus on what seems like limitations during this journey of singlehood, I focus on the blessings God has in store for me- things like a deepening faith, trust, and love because I only have Him to rely upon.  As Corrie ten Boom once said, “If God sends us on stony paths, He provides strong shoes.”
  • Find a career, path, mission opportunity, or avenue you would enjoy pursuing for the next thirty-forty years.  Make sure it will be something you love and enjoy (but something that pays well too!).  Yes, I know, I didn’t make a very profitable choice when I pursued writing and teaching elementary music, but it truly is my love.  So find something that motivates you to get up in the morning.  Check into the job’s benefits and insurance/ retirement plans.  For a single woman, these are an excellent boost in her provisions.  If special education is needed, get started right away before you lose more time.  Find grants and scholarships that will help with costs.  Perhaps God has laid a certain dream or calling on your heart; start pursuing that.  If going into missions, draw out a plan for means to cover expenses while you are away and then also a plan for means of provision if and when you decide to return.
  • Be okay with changes to a nicely-arranged future.  God may decide to open some doors and shut others.  Ask Him to lead your life, and then keep your plans held out to Him with an open hand.
  • Find a nest.  At some point and time, you will probably feel a desire to create your own home and move your glass dishes out of Mom and Dad’s attic to use and display in your own space.  Don’t be scared to start looking at buying a home or renting an apartment.  Costs will vary, depending on your area, but a single woman doesn’t need a huge space.  The usual rule is- the smaller the place, the more affordable it is.  Try to find something close to the places that you commute to the most (work, church, parents, college….).  Finding responsible young ladies to rent a room or two in your house will also help cover costs.  If your parents need assistance or you don’t want to move right now, keep living with them; but be sure to pay “rent” and don’t be afraid to carve out your own spot.  When buying a home, keep in mind that there will be costs which may include property taxes and insurance; repairs and maintenance; utilities that could include sewer, water, heating, and electricity; lawn care; and pest control.  Regardless of whether you rent or own a home, there will be appliances and basics you need for daily living.  Those who get married are blessed with wedding gifts, but we will have to budget and supply our own “homey items” unless the apartment is already furnished.  Decide what is absolutely necessary to buy now and then get the convenience appliances later when your budget is prepared for it.  Some appliances to keep in mind are a washing machine and dryer (unless you decide to go to a laundromat), stove, refrigerator, microwave, coffee pot, blender, mixer, iron, vacuum cleaner….  Go ahead and write down any others you think of.  Take into consideration the common things we take for granted but often use like linens, towels, silverware, plates….  Furniture is not an emergency category, but it’s still nice to have a bedroom set, table with chairs, sofas, and storage cabinets once the budget allows (shopping at thrift stores and community aids is a great way to pick up cheap but nice items.  Don’t be afraid to mix and match and do your own design.  A little bit of paint, stain, and Pinterest ideas can turn a seemingly drab piece into a show item.).
  • Budget!  Set room in your budget for food and groceries; vehicle and health insurance; fuel; vehicle repairs and licensing; home mortgage or apartment rent; vehicle loan (if your car is not paid off); health money to be used for dentist, prescription medications, doctor, orthodontist, and chiropractor costs that may not be covered by insurance; clothing and personal essentials; phone and internet; pet food, care, and vet bills; gifts; home items; home costs; and tithe.  I also keep some set aside for travel money since that is dear to my heart.  Some of the above may or may not apply, and there may be things that you need to add in, but get it down on paper or find a good app and start budgeting.  However, no matter who you are, keep a nice amount of room in your budget for savings which can be used in cases of emergencies and then applied to retirement.
  • Surround yourself with mentors.  Keep people around who can give you advice and wisdom with decisions, plans, and finances.  Their older wisdom can be a true beacon of light as you navigate the overwhelming waters of independent adulthood.
  • Involve yourself in others.  When singles are only focused on themselves, they become bitter and selfish.  Help out at kids’ clubs, go on short mission projects, babysit your best friend’s children so she and her husband can have a date night, visit retirement homes and do activities with the residents, or volunteer at a hospital.  The opportunities are endless.  I don’t have a husband and children right now like my heart desires, but I do have family all around me in the hundreds of students and young ladies I teach and direct.  Make every day and every situation your mission field.  Savings is definitely not a bad thing, but it really has no value once life here is over.  The investments that truly matter will be the ones we made in others.

Questions?  Sure you do! 

Like- what if an interested guy sees I have a career and home and thinks I’m not interested in marriage?  Excellent point.  Your attitude and demeanor will be the biggest benefit or hindrance to your independence.  I have two very opposite single girlfriends.  They both are working women who have to provide for themselves but handle themselves and situations a lot differently.  Let me explain….Susy allows men to assist her in decision-making and tough tasks, while Jessica tackles it solo.  Susy stays gentle and doesn’t dominate every conversation and group decision, while Jessica is the first to call the crowd to action and conclusion.  Susy has time for teaching VBS, helping at the local soup kitchen, and babysitting the nieces and nephews, while Jessica is too busy creating her career and future to have any time for Kingdom Work and loving others.  Susy still up-builds the men around her and realizes that there are gentlemen in this world yet, while Jessica harbors bitterness at seemingly being rejected by the male gender and treats all men with disdain.  Jessica is determined to show the world that she can do it on her own and does not need help, while Susy is simply living fully where God has placed her. See the difference?  Some guys may still be intimidated by a woman’s attempts to provide for herself, but a true man will appreciate that she is not simply wasting time waiting around but is putting energy and heart into making the best of her life and blooming where God has planted her.

By going into full-time mission work, will I have eliminated any possibility of marriage?  No!  God can bring the man He has for you to the planet Jupiter if that is where you are at.  He is not limited by what we think are hindrances, especially when He is working with men and women whose hearts are fully focused upon Him.  Plus, a Christian man will know that by being involved in missions, you have developed patience, sacrificial love, flexibility, hard work, responsibility, and teamwork, which is exactly what a wife needs to make marriage a success.

Does owning a home and being financially independent make me bad “wife material”?  Having a good job or owning a home doesn’t disqualify us for marriage; in fact, it actually improves us.  Just like the Proverbs 31 woman, we can bring something profitable into marriage and have a savings account instead of only a shoe collection.  Remember that marriage and raising a family is quite costly!

Isn’t it pointless to go through college and build a career if I will be getting married and having kids eventually?  A lot of women have used their career experiences to bring in extra money while still being a stay-at-home mom.  Some moms have done that by using the teaching degree to tutor students over the summer, utilizing the photography experience by setting up a photo studio in the shed behind the house for photo sessions, applying the craft-store job experience to a personal Etsy shop, or putting to use the secretary skills by doing a company’s paperwork from a home computer.  As a writer and music teacher, I can continue writing and giving private music lessons if I would ever get married and have children.  With creativity and a little flexibility, most careers can be still beneficial to a stay-at-home mom.  Even if the career experience isn’t used during marriage, it will have benefited in other ways by teaching us responsibility, hard work, dedication, loyalty, and commitment…all things that we want to pass on to our children!

It is important to look ahead with the honest understanding that God may not bring marriage into our lives for a while.  But don’t let all the costs and decisions frighten and alarm you about the future.  And definitely, don’t let it sidetrack you from the real reason you were put on earth- to glorify the King.  God is our Guide, Provider, and Bridegroom, and He wants the very best for each one of His lovely brides.


Blessings my dear single ladies as you truly live the journey!  (Isaiah 30:21)

Miss MarJanita L. G.

When Miracles Don’t Arrive


There’s one thing that some people may not understand- and that is that we really have little control over what happens.  Oh yes, our decisions and choices affect a lot of outcomes, but there are some things we just do not have any means to control.  We didn’t choose for lightning to burn our barns down or ask for cancer to visit our homes, but it happens nonetheless.  Really, the only thing we control is how we face the turmoils when they come.

If you’re like me, it may feel like almost every area of your life has been facing some sort of crisis.

After awhile, you have lost control over everything.  Things have been pulled away and other events have been happening that make you shiver to think of what could be the outcome if no miracles arrive.

People around you expect strength, cheer, and wisdom, and all you have to offer is emotionally drained and life-weary hands and heart.

Every night you wonder how much more you can possibly handle and dread what the next day may hold.  You cry and pour your heart out to God because He is the only One with enough power to help, but there is silence.

You wait for miracles, but none arrive.  Days pass, weeks vanish into time, and months fade into history, but things only worsen.

You look around at others and their seemingly glorious lives and wonder why they are blessed- even though you have lived faithfully to God’s will and standards and they haven’t.  You mimic David in Psalm 73 and say,

Surely God is good to Israel,
    to those who are pure in heart.

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
    I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant
    when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

They have no struggles;
    their bodies are healthy and strong.[a]
They are free from common human burdens;
    they are not plagued by human ills.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
    they clothe themselves with violence.
From their callous hearts comes iniquity[b];
    their evil imaginations have no limits.
They scoff, and speak with malice;
    with arrogance they threaten oppression.
Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
    and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them
    and drink up waters in abundance.[c]
11 They say, “How would God know?
    Does the Most High know anything?”

12 This is what the wicked are like—
    always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.

13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
    and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted,
    and every morning brings new punishments.

15 If I had spoken out like that,
    I would have betrayed your children.

And then it happens, that deep unsettling of everything you firmly believed.  No matter how guilty you feel for thinking the thoughts, they come anyway.  The questions that people once asked you, now are your questions- even though you used to proclaim the answers.

Where is God?

Why would a good God allow bad things to happen?

Why won’t He help?

Does God hate me?

This makes you uneasy, because surely these are the questions only reprobates and rebels ask.

However, most people who face tragedy or turmoil will have some if not all of these questions run through their heads, no matter how devote or famous of a Christian they may be.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons God sends trials.  Praise from a person who smilingly believes in a personal God because they have always received everything they wanted and have hands full of blessings won’t mean as much as the praise that comes from a person who believes in a personal God even though they have empty hands and can’t seem to see or feel Him as they walk through their darkest valleys.

As I write, I know there will be those who criticize because this surely doesn’t align with the popular “health and wealth gospel”, but I write in brutal honesty from my own experiences.  I hesitated because some won’t understand the questioning, the complete loneliness, the lack of control in life’s circumstances, and the months of waiting for miracles that don’t arrive, but I knew there are others who have walked and are walking on similar journeys; so I share this for those worn-out pilgrims.

What have I found?

I know from the pulls in the depths of my soul, from the intrinsic splendor of the world and universe, and from the recordings of history that there is most certainly a God.

I know from looking back at past miracles and experiences and times when I saw the Hand of God that He really does love every single one of His children.

I know that having earthly blessings and miracles doesn’t make one person more special than another in His eyes because Jesus said that as His children we would face hard times.

I know that the miracles I look for haven’t come, but I have been given the miracles of salvation and eternal life, a loving family, and a new day to use for God’s glory.

I know that life may very well collapse around me, but that doesn’t change the fact that God is in control and has the best in mind for me, whether to accomplish His greater will, test my belief in Him, show His true glory, or to speak to someone who is watching.  Satan loves to watch me doubt and has pretty high bets that I will succumb to the giants that I face, but God is on my side and I can rest in that fact no matter what happens.

Job the Old Testament man, martyrs, and the most profound hymn writers realized all that matters is God and His perfect will.  Things won’t make sense now, but they will some day.

Do you know that Psalm 73 didn’t end with, “All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments.”?  Here’s the rest of one of the most beautiful chapters in the Bible….

When I tried to understand all this,
    it troubled me deeply
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
    then I understood their final destiny.

18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
    you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
    completely swept away by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when one awakes;
    when you arise, Lord,
    you will despise them as fantasies.

21 When my heart was grieved
    and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
    I was a brute beast before you.

23 Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

27 Those who are far from you will perish;
    you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
    I will tell of all your deeds.


As I write this, nothing has changed in my situations, I still don’t have any control of what is happening, my “miracles” haven’t arrived yet, and I don’t have a clue what is going to happen in the future, but I will tell of the deeds that God has done in my heart because He is Goodness, Wisdom, Love, Refuge, Strength for my failing heart, and Holder of my right hand!


“The Never-Ending Power of My Love”

-MarJanita L. G.

Pushed against the edge

Of a deep engulfing cliff.

Rocks begin to tumble,

And feet begin to slip.

Downward, downward starts the fall

Until fingers grab a limb.

Branch breaks, heart goes numb,

And hope is dark and dim.

Splash upon the water

Which are footwear to the cliff.

Swimming, swimming, but the current

Knocks a punch and fights to win.

Sinking, gargling, gasping air

While time stands stern and still

To watch the battle underneath

Of exhausted, ebbing will.

Lips move to cry for help,

But no noise or sound is heard.

Alone, forgotten, forsaken-

Tears are empty and prayers are blurred.

Eyes close as depths keep pulling

To a lonely darkened cell.

No escape, no way out

From the underwater hell.

Strong arms are grabbing,

Reaching into murky water,

Pulling the body up to shore,

Working to rescue the drowning Daughter.

Once safely placed upon the shore,

Heart broken and clothes wet,

With bitter words she begins to say,

“I’ve been faithful, how could you forget?

Why didn’t you help me

When I called on Your name?

When I cried out for help,

You never came.”

He looks in her eyes

and wipes away tears,

“If only you knew

I’ve loved you thousands of years.”

He shows the scars upon his hands,

The blood where rocks had ripped the skin,

The water dripping from his clothes,

And the aching muscles there within.

Then He takes her small frail hand

And places it upon His heart

To feel the hurt that beat within

As He had watched her fall apart.

“My child,always remember-

Hardships- life consists of

Since it’s the only way to show

The never-ending power of My Love.”



A Journey Home

She’s on a journey, a journey Home,
Each day she travels on life’s long hard road.
Sometimes it’s dark and fears close in,
But she knows she must not let them win.
At times the fog covers up the day,
But with her Compass she won’t lose her way.
The stones have bruised her weary feet,
And scars tell stories of the battles she meets.
When doors are locked and there seems no way
And sunny skies have turned to gray,
With nowhere to turn, she falls to her knees,
And then in her hand she finds a key.
“How can you continue?” some say with a frown,
“How do you get up when you’ve fallen down?”
Softly she replies with tears in her eyes,
Wishing they knew that to live one must die,
“Because I hold to an Unseen Hand
Who gently carries me through the roughest lands.
That Hand brings me light
As I pass through dark night,
And It gives me bread
During famine’s worst spread.
When I feel overwhelmed and forever alone,
It sends glimpses and letters from Home,
And reminds me that all confusion will clear,
And the end of the journey
Will be worth every tear.” -M. L. Geigley

Marjanita Geigley's photo.


When I was at CLP’s Writers/Artists’ Conference back in April, I was extremely glad that I had signed up to take Shari Zook’s class on “Writing from Daily Experience”.  She gave many beneficial ideas and then encouraged us to try different writing styles.  For a practice warmup, she gave five minutes during class to experiment with a style we do not use very often.  This is what I chose to write during class, and I decided to share the raw, rough draft copy with you;)

Style:  Acrostic


I am SINGLE because I am a

S ervant, called to

I nvest in the ones around me and to explore

N ew, uncharted pathways.  Lord,

G rant me the courage to touch each

L ife with unendless

E nergy that You provide.  Let me remember that

H ome is what I create with

O thers even though I am “alone”.  Keep me

O pen so that each

D ay is a new opportunity.



Blessings for the Journey,

MarJanita L. G.