Every time I go into the store I find myself looking at dishes. I can't really explain my attraction to dishes, other than that they're pretty and I would like to have a house full of beautiful things. As I browse through the dishes section in whatever store I may happen to be in, I tell myself, when I get married, I will have a registry and then I will get some wonderful dishes.
Saturday, when Mom and the girls went shopping, I was too sick to go, but there were sales and I knew which dishes I wanted so I gave Mom some money and had her go get these for me:
I decided that waiting to get married to get dishes that aren't pink and plastic is silly. I have not given up on marriage by any stretch of the imagination, and I cannot wait to fall in love and work hard at a relationship every day for the rest of my life, but I don't want to miss out on things now. These dishes are a symbol of living in the now. I am going to enjoy them, and eat off of them and you are welcome to join me.
The other day as I drove down the road toward Wake Forest, I was thinking about my precious students. I have not yet learned to leave my work at home in the respect, although I never really get to leave my work at home because planning and grading seem to never be done. I'm not complaining though, I like to plan thus far. As I learn more and more about my students (that they have babies, or are on drugs, or are homeless or have terrible heartbreaks (as do we all, some greater than others. some at younger ages than others)) I cannot help sometimes but to be burdened down.
I drove down the road, mulling all this over-- pondering the lives of the various children that God has placed in my classroom when this song began to play: The First Noel/ Mary Mary
Suddenly I realized that redemption for each of my students was in the birth and death of God made flesh in Jesus Christ. A favorite of mine, CS Lewis wrote in his book Miracles that "He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity; down further still, . . . to the very roots and seabed of the Nature He has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him."
That is a strength to hope in. He is making all things new, singing over creation and in hearts, calling people to himself. Here was the hope that my students seek in their hearts as the run from the empty to the empty. Hope is not found in me, nor in my worrying over them. Hope, for me and for them, is only found in Christ and hope is found in my bringing them to his throne in prayer. (Just like their mamas should be doing.) Hope is found in prayer that Christ will take hold of their hearts and bring them to Heaven one day.
"O Little Town of Bethlehem" reminds us that The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
I hope that you are delighted as your hopes and fears are met in Christ this Christmas and as you continue to walk in his light this year.
My two favorite Christmas moments this year are as follows:
1. Linden begged Dad to call her new phone so she could hear her ring tone. Dad called it several time and then proceeded to dance wildly around the kitchen. Lindy and Dad say it's the "best ring tone ever."
2. Last night I had a terrible time sleeping. I had a fever and I couldn't stop coughing. Mom came and made me take medicine at 4 which had something in it to help me sleep. Needless to say, when Chels and Lindy came to get me at 7 or 8, I was out cold. I was super groggy, but I do vaguely remember cold fingers on my neck and hearing Lindy tell Chelsea that she was "taking my pulse."
"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!" - A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
Tomorrow is Christmas. I could barely believe that today was Christmas Eve. In the business of school and illness, I have been so preoccupied. I have only gotten out of my bed a couple times today and yesterday. While you would think that that would give me lots of time to reflect on the birth of Christ, really my thoughts have only been on myself. Funny how easy it is to think about yourself. And by funny I mean, deadly. That worked out rather nicely (Seth Cohen would approve, see season 2 episode 5, The SnOC (oops, did I mention I haven't left my bed lately??)), as I am now at the point which I would like to make regarding the bolded quote above. We've all watched A Christmas Carol a million times and know that Scrooge's biggest downfall was the fact that he was self-consumed and so had confused his profession with his purpose. Scrooge tells Marley that he was a good businessman, to which Marley tells him that his business was mankind. What does it mean to make mankind our business? It certainly resembles the heart of God. It might be self-centered to say that Christmas was all about mankind. But in a strange paradox God sending his son to earth was all about mankind, in the most God-glorifying, sacrificing way ever. So like God, we are to be about the business of mankind. Our job mustn't be confused with the divine calling to love and serve God by loving and serving people.
Babar the elephant cat just came and got in bed with me. She went right to sleep and is smiling, cute as can be. Jacksons have a weakness for cats. But this isn't what I wanted to write about. Really what I wanted to say is that having to wait til the 22 for a Christmas break really made me long for Christmas just a little more. For four hundred years, God's people were longing for him to speak to them again. And when he did, I think that none of them could have expected what occurred. This Christmas season, I think I am more appreciative of how God used small people and places to make his grand redemptive plan come about. How often do we get caught up thinking that we are not the right person for God to use? If we look at the Christmas story, how of its elements shouldn't have been used?
I don't know if this made sense since I feel like it's really only half a thought.
Tomorrow is my last day of school til January 4. I never thought the day would come. I think I am pretty sick; I was on the couch all weekend blowing my nose and coughing up a storm. I think I am just really worn down from the semester. Fortunately we had a three hour delay today so I got to sleep in some, and I didn't have to teach either, because the students only went to periods 4-6. I was so dizzy, and I was imagining myself passing out in the commons area and hitting my head on the concrete and students walking over me and on me. I am so mellow-dramatic when I'm sick, but I can't help it.
I cannot wait for Christmas vacation. I will have a whole week and a half to myself.
Today I received a piece of advice when one of my students fell asleep in class today. I was about to wake S. up, when one of my Guatemalan students warned me to never wake a sleeping Hispanic...
It kind of sounds like a fortune cookie to me, and unfortunately it was not advice I could follow.
I lived to tell about it though.
I have three billion tests to grade, but I will be doing this from my bed as I am feeling sickly again. Boo, go away germs! I am so worn down and ready for Christmas vacation-- gotta make it to TUESDAY!
(Bobbie <3s grading papers.)
currently listening to: A Christmas Celebration, Gladys Knight & The Saints Unified Voices
Today I let my students know that I was staying with them, and the craziest outburst of joy and strangeness occurred. I must say I am glad they feel that way.
Yesterday we made collages based on images found in Song of Myself by Walt Whitman. I was really careful to edit the magazines for sketchy pictures. I walked up to one group where three boys were talking about a scantily clad, practically naked woman and when they continued to talk about it after I was standing there, I proceeded to rip out the picture and ball it up, telling them that there was no need for them to look at things like that in my classroom. The boy who had had the magazine on his desk just sat there with his mouth open. Laughing, the other students told me that it was his personal magazine, not one of mine. This caused my mouth to fall open, and then I just laughed. In my over-zeal for protecting my students eyes and the dignity of women everywhere in my classroom, I had ripped up one of my students personal magazines. I just uncrumpled it and folded it nicely so the picture couldn't be seen and apologized. You have to laugh about that though. Today the same group held up a picture of a girl in a bra and ask me if I wanted them to rip it out of the magazine...Funny right?
Today J came into my classroom during his lunch to see if he could salvage his grade. All semester long we've been butting heads as I've begged him to engage and live up to his full potential. The only reason he cares now is because he's transferring to a local middle college. I went through my grade book to see which grade we could possibly fix. He began to tell me that his role models were his cousins who tripped on acid all through middle and high school only to go to a community college so they could transfer into a 4 year university. He told me his grades didn't matter cause usually in the last three weeks of school he could fix them. As he was sharing with me, my heart broke. Sometimes I feel silly for caring so much about my students, for agonizing in prayer for them, for begging them to succeed. Then I remembered that someone had to mourn for children who have broken lives and heart, and that it was acceptable to mourn for a little while, but that it couldn't take over my own life. I told J that I thought he bright, that I loved when he shared in class because he had great ideas, and that I expected great things in his future. There's a hard way to do things, and there's an easy way. Unfortunately people have to learn this on their own. I have 5 more days to love this child to the best of my ability and then he's out of my hands. When I almost lost my first and second periods, God reminded me once again, that they're not really in my hands anyways. I have to live with open hands as I love these students. There is no guarantee how long they will be in my class, so I have to take advantage of every day.
About a week ago, my princiPAL told me to see him before I left for the day. That is always freaky to me, and as I was going to see him, I met him in the hall and we went to my classroom so he could talk to me. He proceeded to tell me that he had a full time position to offer me because one of the other teachers was accepting another position elsewhere. I was super siked, but then my princiPAL told me that they were going to give me all the classes of this other teacher, and they were going to hire another part time teacher to take my classes. This was the most bittersweet piece of news ever. I shut my classroom door and cried because I was so disappointed that they were going to take my students away and give them to someone else. We had all worked so hard together, and it had only been two months that they'd been with me and I felt like everything had finally settled into a routine.
So all this was in the works, and I decided that I would email my princiPAL and respectfully ask that we find a way around someone else taking my students. Part of the problem was that Ms. H (the leaving teacher)taught first period and then had a planning period, so we couldn't just swap classes.
On Thursday in the beginning of class, E asked me if I was going to take over Ms. H's classes, and I told him yes. His question was then, "What's going to happen to us?" Everyone in the classroom was suddenly listening and I hadn't planned on saying anything until I knew what happened. It was a RIOT; they were so upset. They told me that they had come to my class cause they knew that I was a good teacher. I told them that that was crazy and that for all they knew, I was crazy. But they argued that they knew that I was good, and that they wanted to stay with me. I told them that I was just as upset as they were, that I had even cried about it and A asked me if they were tears of joy. They bombarded me with arguments and questions, of which I had no answers. E apologized for bringing it up.
Friday they asked me if they had fixed it, but the prinicPAL was out for the day so I couldn't even talk to him.
That brings us to today, when I ended up having a conference with the princiPAL and one of the vice pricipALS. I felt so intimidated, but they invited me to pull up a chair and Mr. A (PrinciPAL) said he assumed that I had a solution. I told him that I did and suggested that the part time teacher be given Ms. H's first period and third periods, with second as a planning period, that way I could continue teaching my first and second periods with planning during third period. I told them that I was concerned that my students would have had 3 teachers during the school year. Mr. A said he liked my plan and that he was glad they hired me because he knew that I had worked hard with my current students and he appreciated that I was thinking about the kids.
I went back into my classroom and did what some people might call a dance. I was so excited.
Today I am praising Jesus for a full time job, and for his allowing me to continue teaching my precious kids. He didn't have to provide either of these things for me, but he did and I am so overwhelmed by his goodness.
My weekend was great but I don't think it's G-rated (I always tell them to keep it G or PG for me) I will write a poem about nothing I ever stated. There once was a squirrel swinging From a tree He slipped and fell, that's all I could see He scrapped the last branch though He was safe on at height Yet, I never thought I would Write about him in a journal: free write.
Pre- School: This morning when I walked to my classroom there was a little rose plant sitting there. They were from my Induction Coach from downtown. I was pretty excited. I wanted to do a dance, but since I'm a teacher, I try to be mature most of the time.
1st period: This morning I was starting class when B read the announcements on the tv. She read, "Happy Birthday Emily Jackson" and of course I looked at her because she'd read my name. That's when the class realized that I am Emily Jackson and it was my birthday. Of course they were all super sweet and told me happy birthday and wanted to know why I hadn't told them before. And then we ate cookies.
2nd period: By this time, my students had all had a chance to see the announcements, thus seeing that it was my birthday so when they walked in, they all told me happy birthday right off the bat. They too wanted to know why I hadn't told them. JP asked if he and E could go to Starbucks and get me birthday coffee. Boy, do they know me, or what? I said no, but if anything could have enticed me to let them out, coffee might have been it. I could see them whispering behind their journals, which kind of made me roll my eyes, mainly because I didn't know it was about me. Then they sang to me. I really don't like being sung to, because I don't like the focus all being on me, and so I started blushing, which of course they had a blast making fun of me for. M and A gave me paper airplanes. And then we ate cookies.
Also, I had a bit of a riot during second period because one of my students leaked some information out to the rest of the class. I am pretty worn out and I will probably blog about that this weekend, so stay tuned. (:
1. Tomorrow I am 23 and I bought my students cookies. Although this seems twisted, and they should buy me cookies, I hate to make a big deal about my birthday and so I didn't even tell them that tomorrow is THE BIG DAY.
2. Every time my students ask if I have a boyfriend, I tell them it's personal, even though I don't really think it is. What I do think is that little boys can't really handle that kind of information.
3. One of my second period boys thinks it's funny to joke about stealing my coffee. What he doesn't know is that if that were to happen, things would rapidly become un-funny for him.
4. I have a student who gives me an evil look every day as he walks into the classroom and every day I still cheerfully greet him. Today I wasn't standing in the doorway, so he waited for me outside of the classroom until I was back at the door so he could give me his look and come in. Apparently it's our thing.
5. My first period girls told me today that they were at Ham's and the waiter was cute. They asked me if next time I wanted them to get his number for me.
6. One of my students told me that he gives me a difficult time so in the succeeding years my job will seem easier. How sweet...
7. Today my class was harassing one of my problem children, and I told them to leave him alone because he was a "good kid." My students were shocked by these words coming out of my mouth.
8. Today one of my students gave me a college recommendation form to fill out for him. It blows my mind that I can write a college recommendation and his fate is in my hands.
9. Today two of my kids asked me if I'd heard the song "Meet Me Halfway" by the Black Eyed Peas. I said that I hadn't, and they proceeded to sing it for me, with motions and told me to listen to it later. Unfortunately, when I did, I preferred the student version.
10. I obviously work with the strangest, best children in the world.
PS. I would like to ask for prayer for a situation at work which I shall not yet disclose to the blogosphere until it has resolution. But please ask for God's will to be done and for peace with whatever that is. God knows my heart, and we will see what happens.
Today a teacher told me that you either see young teachers or old teachers, because teaching has changed. She said that the first two years she was really gung ho about teaching, but now, in her fifth year, she is ready to do something new. This worries me.
And now, I am on my way to bed because I am sickly and have no time for a sub. I have things to do with the kiddies!
I never really considered myself to be a bitter person, and usually when I have an issue with someone I talk to them so that I can move on from it but today I began to reflect on myself after seeing someone unexpected walk into my church today. This was someone that I had been really close to, and for whatever reason, they decided that I wasn't important enough to keep as their friend. I felt so bitter and angry sitting there in church and I was really surprised at myself. I began to think about why I could possibly feel so bitter and I realized that when I let someone into my life and they majorly disappoint me and make no effort to redeem themselves, it causes me to become bitter. Looking closely, I realized that there are a few people that I feel this way towards. I could forgive someone if they were sorry for hurting me, but some people don't care. In a way, staying bitter keeps them a part my life. If I forgive them and move on, then it's like we were never friends. I know that sounds funny. I want this person to care. I want them to wish we were still friends because I do. But they don't, and they never will.
I guess I just don't know what the next step is. Now that I've identified myself as holding bitter feelings towards certain people what do I do? They don't care that I have been hurt, and these feelings only hurt me.
Somehow I have to just release it all and let it go.
Yesterday, I was really excited to try the lesson I had planned. Unfortunately since I am a newbie I never really know if things will work, I can only hope. So yesterday I decided that we would take the sections of Walden, Or Life in the Woods, and we would read it in groups. Then I was going to have each group present the information to the class, and that way we didn't all have to read the entire thing. In theory this was a lovely idea but I think it broke down because my groups were too big. Next time I try this, I have some good ideas for improvement, but yesterday it was more than their little brains could handle. Plus, Walden is kind of boring. There was one question in particular that really stumped the kids. I was attempting to explain the question to the class so that the group could then present the answer. When I finished, J responded by laughing and asking why I had told them all that and some other "unnecessary" comments. He seems to make a habit of not listening to the directions and then not knowing what's going on. Frustrating. When he questioned why I was giving them information, I momentarily lost my temper, because he had been talking and not listening all day. I told him to get out of my class because he was being a "smart ass." My face was red and I was frustrated and my mind blanked on any other way to state his behavior. "Smart alec" would have sufficed, but it didn't come out of my mouth. I followed him out of my classroom and we had a chat in the hall. While we were out there, I apologized to him for speaking to him in such a manner. Fortunately, he told me that we were "straight." Then I headed back in with J to apologize to the class. There is nothing more humbling than looking into the eyes of a classroom full of 16 and 17 year olds and apologizing for not speaking appropriately. I was so upset at myself. Here's the crazy part. After class, one of my students who had also been talking and not focusing on the task at hand, came up and apologized to me for not being respectful. I was floored. Not that I'd recommend making mistakes that warrant an apology to the world but it was really cool to see how the situation was redeemed (in a sense), as I modeled asking for forgiveness and in turn, one of my students did the same to me. Again, how humbling.
Today was much better. In fact, my second period made me so excited and proud I could have done back flips. We finished discussing Walden today and then we began a discussion on non-conformity. I read to them from a chapter of a story called Stargirl that is really relevant and very well written. Then I put the following quotes up on the board:
“How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity! I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. I do not wish to go below now.”- Walden
“The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion (object of dislike)…Whoso would be a man must be a non-conformist.” – Self-Reliance
“We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a corkboard like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew.” – Stargirl
I asked them to tell me what they thought of conformity based on the quotations. I asked them if it was easy or difficult to be their own person and if they thought they that they were conformists or an individualists.
I gave them ten minutes and then I read to them my response from my journal. I asked them to share with me their responses. After I finished they were so funny because they told me that after I shared, theirs didn't sound any good anymore. I reminded them that I majored in English and had had a bit more time to finely hone my writing skills. Then...
Their hands shot up! We had such a good conversation and they were so respectful of each other and so brave in sharing.
That is why I am a teacher.
On both of these days, I was vulnerable and shared myself in completely different ways, planned and unplanned. And incredibly, students responded, in ways I never would have imagined.
All I know is that God is so merciful.
currently listening to: Sufjan Stevens: Songs for Christmas, Holy, Holy Holy
Today after class today, two of my students told me that they really like what we did in class today. Now, I never know if I am being manipulated, but I also liked what we did in class today, so I am just gonna take it as a sign that our discussion on "Self-Reliance" went well. I always try to come up with things that will get their attention, but today we just read and discussed as we went. I was able to find some really good questions in the book that were relevant to the kids, which I loved.
My students are so funny. Today my second period teased me about my fire drill failings, and I had a pretty good laugh at a student trying to pronounce the word "hobgoblin." Mainly because he wasn't even trying and it came out something like, "hob-bob-wehfoueahf", also known as gibberish. I just laughed right now as I thought about it again. Even on bad days, I really am so blessed to have the students that I have. It is so strange the range of emotions that I feel within a day as I interact with my kids. Your first year's supposed to be your most challenging, but I feel like this is as good as it gets. Hopefully not.
I have no idea where I'll be next year, if I will get to teach at Western again or if I'll get to go full time, but for now I just want to soak it in and love the time that I have.
I had quite a bit of trouble falling asleep and I was so groggy this morning. Even though I had laid my clothes out the day before, I was really slow in getting out the door. I had hoped to have time to get a cup of coffee, but I as too slow. As I reached into my pen-stained, Spartan colors "teacher" bag to get my keys and unlock the door to my classroom, I was surprised at the giddiness I felt. I was glad to be excited to walk back into my very own classroom, and teach my own kids again. Today I taught scanning, which can be difficult, but the kids really caught on, and I feel that the day was a success. Students generally like scanning because it's not anything they've learned before and it's a little more hands on, which is always good.
It has quickly become my pet peeve that students walk into first period late and start talking, or eating, or anything else distracting, after I've already begun class. irritatingly enough, it's the same students and no matter the consequence, they are just slow in getting to school. Today one of my students walked in half way through class with a McDonald's bag. Of course this was a distraction as J commented, "I want McDonalds." I grouchily replied, "I want coffee." to which my tardy student responded, "Why don't I give you my number so you can text me to bring you some." I laughed. If only. First period we also had a fire drill. My entire first period would have died because there wasn't a fire plan by the door and when we tried to get out, we ended up in a dead end and had to go back through the building to get out. I felt really stupid, but I really didn't know where to go! Good thing we have drills. Next time, we will survive.
Now I need to go plan to teach Self-Reliance by Emerson. I've gotta think of a way to make it interactive and as enjoyable as I think it to be.
currently listening to: sarah jaffe, even born again currently reading: self-reliance [Emerson], a circle of quiet [L'Engle]
I do not understand why boys make a plan with you, pick you up wearing khakis, buy your drink and insist on it not being a date. How, for the love Buddha, is a lady supposed to tell if it's a date or not? Please don't pay for my stuff if you don't want to date me. While I appreciate the sentiment, only my Dad can pay for my stuff without me being confused.
I also do not understand what boys are looking for in a girlfriend. A girl could have all the character in the world, but apparently this would not be enough. She must also not be your friend, not have any strange tendencies, or show you kindness in any form, or else she is not dating material. This doesn't even make sense, and I can't begin to pretend to dissect this.
Lastly, I would like to hear by declare to the world, that I personally will never declare my feelings for a boy until he man up, grows some cajones, and tells me his thoughts. Boys seem to be not capable of communicating and taking steps of leadership. This does not include your telling me that you never want to date me, and don't think you should be dating anyone but you'd like to know what I think about dating you (seriously?). I would also like to say that I will not be opening up to boys with deep personal thoughts about them or otherwise if the before mentioned "gentleman" has not previously declared his hope for my well-being and his desire to date me and to therefore know me better. It is neither wise nor profitable for me to do so.
I apologize for these words of frustration, but I am so tired of the lack of true concern for my well-being and the well-being of my "sisters".
I am certain that there are plenty of boys out there who could name similar frustrations against girls but I had to release this. I would also like to say that this post was not stemmed from frustration at one boy, but rather a collection of those that have contributed to my jaded guardedness over the years.
And now, sleep for me and the cat, who has put herself to bed.
On this lovely Thanksgiving Day, I am taking a break from watching TV with the family. I get bored of TV pretty easily.
I wrote this in my journal after a chat with one of my best friends:
So easily are people hardened by life. They become who they must be.
In one of my favorite books, a wife goes to a hardened outlaw to ask for her husband's life. At first, the outlaw is surly and unmovable, but then the wife reminds him of their youth, when at her request and because he loved her then, in all kindness and gentleness, he bandages and saves a baby deer instead of killing it. She reminds him of what his true heart was and what it could be again.
In The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Aslan is able to conquer the witch because he has a deeper knowledge of magic than she. The magic that he knows is that when one willingly gives their life for a traitor, death itself works backwards. We are all bearers of a different "deeper magic". We know that inside these bodies bound by sin, worn down by the workings of sin in this world, is a sold that was made to commune daily and intimately with God, one deeply loved as a child- if only they could accept the fact. Before our race chose ourselves to be God, we had been made in his image. To be sure, that image has been distorted, but if we could only remember who we are...deeper still than the sin nature that we must grapple with. If while I interacted with the homeless man on the corner, the neighbor who plays the Beetles too loudly every night, or my student who is too high to care, I remembered that on their soul is the very fingerprint of God, might I love them better?
In The Secret Garden, the main character, Mary finds a secret garden and decides to make it her own. She tells another character, "I've stolen a garden! Nobody wants it. Perhaps everything is dead already. I don't care! Nobody has any right to take it from me when I care about it and they don't." Mary stubbornly decides that even though it is possible that the forgotten garden is completely dead, that she will love it and care for it, working to make it come alive. With her whole heart she works for her garden. The beautiful thing about the story is that while Mary works to make the garden come alive, she herself is awakened. She is able to leave her ugly, orphan-like, lonely ways behind. What if we loved people fiercely as Mary loved her garden? I truly believe that as we worked, we would find that something in our own souls would come alive. That is part of God's image in us.
Whenever I'm in a run-down part of town and I see and house and yard, well taken care of, I think to myself, "that person is living incarnately." Wherever we are bringing life and light, whenever we bring order from chaos, color and creativity to the dark and mundane, we are living in God's image. We are remembering our true selves, as the wife in the beginning of this ramble was able to remind the outlaw of who he once was.
Let us live in remembrance of God's image in ourselves and in others.
(and for all the literary references, I apologize. I believe with all my heart that literature shows God's heart in ways that allow us to see so clearly. and also, I hope that these ramblings make a lick of sense. )
currently listening to: Chase Coy, To Make This Alright currently reading: Today I finished Sense and Sensibility and re-began reading Three Cups of Tea
Today I could tell that one of my students was upset and after I asked him if he was okay, he told me that he was angry. My student was ready to fight the kid because the other kid kept touching his girlfriend inappropriately on the bus. Fortunately he was willing to talk to me about it, which I consider a huge privilege. This allowed me to bring the information to the princiPAL who remedied the issue. Big fun.
Today I also called and emailed parents today because their students didn't turn work in and their students are failing my class. I always feel so heartbroken after talking to parents. Usually they are concerned and are dealing with such bigger problems than I am. Being a parent is hard and I'm sure the last thing to brighten their day is a phone call or an email from me.
Things like these are part of my job. Though they are not fun, I realize that they are a part of loving my students well. If I did what was easy for me, I would ignore their uncomfortable problems and their failing grades.
I see over and over that I have such little power to love well. In my favorite bathroom stall at school the words are written "hail Satan". It might sound funny to you, but to me it serves as a reminder that every day I am a part of something so much bigger than myself. We forget that there is a spiritual realm to this world that we live in (The Bible tells us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood), but this serves as a call to prayer, a call to invite God into my classroom. It reminds me that I have no power to protect my students, and that I must give them into the hands of my Heavenly Father minutely.
The past 5 days have been really frustrating for me in the classroom. I have had a student drop out because she got pregnant, I have had a three day battle over writing an essay-- which many of my students didn't even bother to turn in and so now they're failing my class, I have found a condom wrapper on my classroom floor, I have kicked kids out, I have stopped teaching and made them read a ten page essay on Romanticism, etc, etc. But even still, in the midst of all this, I have had students make me spit up my water because they are hilarious.
I did an lesson on the differences between the age of reason and romanticism using a Starburst (I take no credit for this creative idea). They had to say the logical thing to do with a Starburst and then say creative things that they could do, thus illustrating the differences between viewing the world through a logical lens or the creative one of the Romantics. So there are these:
If they don't make you laugh, they at least make you say..."What?!"
This week, I asked a former professor, mentor, and fellow Spring Gardener how she dealt with the worry that comes with caring about students as you get to know them. She answered as candidly as possible, "You worry about your students because you don't trust that God holds in the in the palm of his hand."
Over and over I hear not to worry, but this just struck such a chord in me. The reason that I worry anything at all is because I don't trust that God is in control in an intimate, absolute way.
Today I did something "they" say not to do. "They" say never to talk about something with your class if you couldn't when an administrator was in the room. I broke that rule but mainly because a former professor said to me this week to "trust your instincts. That's not normally something I say to people, but I trust your instincts." And so today, when I told my students I was going to collect the pre-work for the essay they are writing so I could grade it tonight, and my students said, "Why Ms. Jackson, are you going to party this weekend?" I enlightened them on the party life of Emily S. Jackson. I informed them that I never partied, not even in college. Then they asked what I did instead and if I had ever been to a party. I told them that I had been to parties, but I had never gotten drunk while there. Chaos ensued, naturally. For a brief instant, I wondered if I had pin pointed myself as the biggest looser in the world, or if I had made myself seem like a goody two shoes, or if I had ever even lived. And then it hit me. I have lived, and experienced heart break and fullness of joy and never numbed out due to not being able to handle it, or in celebration. I have lived more deeply than the biggest partier in the world. Life is not found in parties, or in alcohol, or revelry. Life is found in community, reading wonderful literature and learning new things and laughter. Maybe those things sound dumb to 16 year olds but maybe there was a kid in there that needed to hear that they aren't the only one who doesn't live in insanity. And maybe when they're a little older, they will remember that they had a crazy English teacher who knew how to really party.
Today Greg began a sermon series on spiritual gifts. I am rather excited to hear what he has to say, and wish I could just skip from Sunday to Sunday so I can go ahead and soak it all in. But then I guess I would miss some valuable time with my sweet, and not so sweet students.
Prior to this week, Greg had talked about the prodigal son, how we are welcomed into the Father's house, how we are welcomed into the party that takes place at the end of the story. This week he talked about the answer to the question of now that we have been to the party, and the Father has lavished his love upon us, what are we to do next?
In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus prays that his Father's kingdom will come. We are to be a part of that coming. We can do this by using the spiritual gifts that God has given us.
So often we view our giftings as nothing special, but in reality, they are specifically given to us in all the wisdom and foresight that our Heavenly Father possesses. We are part of the body, each part equally vital to what God is doing here.
A verse that Greg mentioned in his sermon was 2 Corinthians 3:18, which speaks to the people God has made us to be, saying,"But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." I had been meditating on this verse earlier this week and here are a list of questions I came up based on it.
- What does my unveiled face look like? - Do we see, as in a mirror, God's glory reflected in our unveiled faces? - What does it mean to go from glory to glory? Do we do that here on earth? - Why do we have to wait until heaven to be ourselves as we truly should be?
Some of these, I believe are answerable.
I pray that God will free you and me up to live with unveiled faces, to be mighty men and women of valor, using the gifts He has given us to serve all we encounter.
currently listening to: Further Seems Forever, New Year's Project, Just Until Sundown
This day marks my having taught for a month. Today I had an experience that reminded me of how blessed I am to have the students that I have. My neighbor, Mrs. C teaches ESL and she asked me to start her class off so she could run quickly to do something. I was more mean in that class in the seven minutes I was in there than I have been in the entire month that I have taught both of my classes. I forgot how it felt. I mean, it was delightful to get in a student's face and say "What did I just say about adverbs?" but really, who wants to have to be a jerk? It takes grammar Nazi to a whole new level. I had a student in that class who is also in my first period and he just sat there in disbelief over the teacher terror that I had become.
Ohhh, I love my kids.
Also today, my students' college counselor came and spoke to them, and they started freaking out. Not only did I have a student offer to bake me cookies, I had my entire class ask if they could start a Ms. Jackson sponsored club so they could pad their resumes. They consistently keep me laughing.
currently listening to: swing life away, rise against
Last night I finished reading the book of Ezra. At first I was a little bored by the letters to the king and all the lists and genealogies but last night, I was really challenged by the way the book ends.
Ezra is convicted of the Israelites' intermarriage with women of races who had "detestable practices." He proceeds to weep and mourn for the sins that were committed. I don't really ever feel strongly affected by sin. I remember shedding tears over the sins of other people, but not my own. I barely acknowledge the fact that I have sins.
What happens next is that the people of Israel put their wives "away". At first, I got really sad. The first thought to pop into my head was what if they loved their wives. Then I realized that it was what God was asking his people to do. It didn't matter how much they loved what he had asked them to give up.
On Sunday, Greg preached out the Prodigal Sons. He talked about the different features of the Father's love for both his wayward sons. Anyways, one facet of the Father's love for his boys is that it's costly. His one son asked for his inheritance, and so the Father liquidated his estate to give his younger son what he asked for - that cost him one third of all his belongings. The other way it was costly was that he had to endure the insult of his younger son and the shame that his son placed on him though his actions. Christ gave up so much because his very essence is love and he could do no less, despite the cost. When God asks his people to give something up, no matter how dear it may be, it should be given up out of a grateful heart. When we have to give something up for God, we often think about what we are missing out on, instead of what we are gaining.
I want a heart that is willing to give up whatever God asks of it. And I want a heart that breaks over its own sin.
Here's a story from my classroom today:
I gave new assigned seats today. I had no idea that it would be the cause of so much WHINING. "But Ms. Jackson- I loved my old seat!" Listen, people are creature of habit. I am well aware of this because I am the most habitually driven of all the people in the whole world, but it was time to change things up because there was just a little too much talking. They'd gotten to comfortable. So I assured that next quarter when I change up their seats again, they would be just as whiny and like their former seats just as much and then they would get used to it. I don't really think that this was reassuring, but they'll live. Kids are delightfully resilient.
In second period, I was a little concerned because I put A and J a little closer than I'd like to have, but really there are only so many seats. So true to form, I get my kids working on their journals today, and A turns around to talk to J. I mean, they were kind of on topic because they were discussing what J was writing in his journal, which was questionable even though asked for them to keep it g/pg for my teacher brain. So, I decided to cut in by asking A, "Are you going to be able to handle sitting this close to J?" A responded to me by saying, "Really Ms. Jackson, the question is can you handle it." And I think that that is a very good question, one that I am still pondering and one that is applicable to many areas of my life.
I'd like to fix dinner now, but there is a very content, warm cat lounging on my stomach. I'll figure it out.
currently listening to: Question, Rhett Miller (cute, cute song, but oddly enough, I don't like the rest of his stuff. Sorry Rhett.)
I love my job. I love getting to interact with the students on a daily basis. I've been told that these first few years are precious because of the closeness in age that allows me to relate to my students so easily. It's so important for me to remember that my job is a privilege.
Today I had a really funny interaction with some of my second period students. I love Western because it's so diverse. Five of my fourteen students are Hispanic in second period and they usually chat in Spanish when they don't want me to know what they're talking about. I try to listen for curse words and other words that I shouldn't know but somehow picked up in my years of Spanish education. I had yet to say anything to them, because usually I really only pick up a word here or there. Today, M. and J. got into a friendly quarrel and when I sent M. back across the room his his desk, he let out a string of Spanish I couldn't even hope to understand except for that his sentence ended in "TU MADRE." I quickly cut in saying "M! Stop talking about his mom!" Class came to somewhat of a standstill as all my Spanish speaking students "oooo-d" at the fact that I understood and that I called M. out. It was a proud moment for me. And it was funny, especially considering that I have no idea what M. really said to J. because I only understood two words. After the yelling and the shock subsided, we were able to focus and finish The Crucible.
I must say, reading The Crucible has been really fun because the students fight over which part they are going to read, which I love! If there's going to be a fight in my classroom, please let it always be over who gets to read John Proctor or Revered Hale. It's so much fun to teach something that your students want to learn.
Also, while I have your attention I would like to mention that comments like "How am I not making an A in here- this is English. This is my language and English is like the easiest class ever." make me really mad. Comments like this make me want to throw whiteboard markers or something...It makes me want to say "maybe you should stop acting entitled to grades and whip your little tail in gear." Kids these days...
Who am I kidding? I love them. Dearly.
currently listening to: Death Cab and coughing right outside my window
It is quite possible that I am always one step away from insanity. I am also trying to convince myself daily that just because something bad happens doesn't mean that I have to have a bad day or that I have to bring it into my classroom. For example, just because this morning I locked my keys in my car and had to walk to my sisters and back to get my spare key, making me late to a department meeting doesn't mean my day has to be bad. Or when T. set her coffee cup on fire in my microwave, or when S, affectionately known by the boys as Lady Gaga, comes into class 40 minutes late with a balloon distracting everyone...These things must not make my day bad. They must be viewed as little challenges to make my day more exciting.
Also, I would like to say that when T. caught her coffee mug on fire, she said, "I'm sorry Ms. Jackson." As soon she said that, I paused, waiting for someone to start singing. And E. did and I laughed.
I am a dish washing machine. I wear an apron when I wash dishes. I don't like people to know this, because I look silly, but otherwise I splash too much. David and Katie caught me in my apron because they knocked on my door when I least expected it.
The weather is a bit too chilly for me already, but the trees are starting to turn colors and for that I am excited. I walked to David and Josh's earlier and was surprised to find the coldness delicious. I think chill at night is different than the day time. I mind being cold less at night.
I want to grow this week in dependency on God. I want to be like Christ to those that I interact with -- my colleagues, my students, my friends. I want to bring joy to God's heart.
It's me and ninja cat here. We hang out a lot these days.
I am reading a book by Ann Kiemel, called Yes. I just read the first chapter called "Saying Yes to Loneliness."
It was like reading my own brain. She is so articulate. She says, "I didn't want to be a speaker and writer and world-changer." She goes on to say that she wants to be a wife and a mother. She talks of being lonely as a kid, and as a college student and how as a teacher, she didn't know how to interact with the other teachers because she was so different than them. She didn't want to be alone, but being alone was what God had called her to for the time being.
This is going to sound funny but last night I had a dream that I was pregnant. It was a dream full of excitement and family and hope for the future. When I woke up, I was so disappointed that it wasn't real. I kept rubbing my stomach to make sure that it wasn't real. Of course, I can assure you with utmost certainty that it was only a dream, but it was so nice. I was disappointed to wake up before the baby came.
It seems as though people are living the dream. The get married, having beautiful children dream. But you know what? I am also living a dream and I have a good life.
Granted, I have to eat an entire bag of popcorn by myself. I can do it, because I am a bottomless pit, but I like to share.
Seriously though, I am so blessed to have a little cat, and house and friends and a wonderful job where I get to interact with precious children on a daily basis. No one intrudes here unless I let them. That is a gift and a curse.
Oh, to have a heart that joyfully says yes to whatever situation the Lord places me in.
Now I think I'll watch Friends because it makes me laugh.
currently listening to: A Save Situation, The Format currently eating: apple pie, made by me!
Today was a fairly traumatic day for me. Yesterday I was out of my classroom due to professional development, AKA getting my teacher badge made, new teacher orientation, and signing a contract. My princiPAL told me to email his secretary to have her put my students back in the classroom that they came from for the day, which I did. I also emailed her Monday to see if she was going to put them back in there or if there was going to be a sub. I never got a response, but I figured my kids were taken care of. Silly me.
I got to my classroom this morning and it was a mess. The TV was on a weird channel and my students had all signed their names on my board. I hadn't even been there five minutes when I got a phone call from a parent. She told me that she'd gotten a call from the school saying that her son wasn't in his first period class. When she questioned him about it, he told her that he didn't want me to get in trouble (Thanks, T!) but that there was no teacher in there. She said that T didn't want me to know who he was, but that she was trying to check in to see what was going on. Her guess was probably as good as mine, so I told her that there had been some miscomunication and a sub hadn't been called. I also assured her that T and all my students would be marked present for yesterday. Then I decided to go down to the office to figure out what was going on.
The office told me that I should have called a sub, even though no one had told me this and even though I didn't even know HOW to call a sub. At that point, I was frustrated and feeling like a failure and so I began to cry right there in the office. It was awesome. And by awesome, I mean totally embarrassing, but hey no one can say I don't really care about doing a good job...As tears proceeded to slip down my face, Ms. P showed me how to get a sub next time. I really wanted to be like, do you mind if I like...blow my nose? She also asked me if I had a mentor teacher to ask questions of, and I didn't/don't. I haven't had anyone to ask questions of. There's a teacher down the hall that has been really helpful to me though. He was in Ms. P's office when all of this happened and he walked me to attendance so I could mark my kids present. Later in first period, he also walked down to check on me, which I really appreciated. Sometimes I just really feel as though there is so much pressure and just having someone checking in on me makes me feel so much better. The princiPAL also told me that there's a possibility of a full time position opening up, and if it does, I would get it. God is good to me.
When I got to first period, and apologized for making a mistake, my kids told me that they were quiet and that they even did the journal entry that I had posted up on the board. I was really proud- I love my kids.
As one of my favorite literary characters says, "tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it" and for that I am glad. (bonus points if you know this character...)
I also got to see Brittany Jackson today and I hadn't seen her since January. We chatted about her impending wedding, and her optometry school and went to the green bean and drank lattes as if we were roommates again. It was so nice. AND SPEAKING OF WEDDINGS, Bristol and David are getting married and I am so excited. I got to talk to Bristol tonight and that was fun too.
This day was not a loss, even though it was hard.
Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen yo, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Today Bobcat and I drove back from Wake Forest. I felt badly because I took her back with me for just a night and she hates driving in the car. I just didn't want to leave her alone. She meowed the entire hour and a half on the road.
To her it probably feels like death to be traveling down the road. She's scared and she doesn't know where she's going. Instead of just trusting that in the 13 or 14 years that she's been my cat, I have never done something that's not in her best interest, she cries because she is stuck, flying down the highway listening to good music.
Really what she'd probably like for me to do is pull over and let her out of the car. But because I know where we're going and that she will be very glad to get there when we do, I would never leave her by the side of the road like she might wish.
I feel as though sometimes I feel the same way with God. I have spent such a lonely, adjusting week and though I am employed my journey to trust God and see his plan is far from over. What I'd like for God to do is to stop everything and just let me be. Because he's good and loving, we continue. He has somewhere he's taking me, someone he's making me into and though I cry and moan, (sometimes not figuratively)he will not give up on me. He doesn't give me what I want on my timing, because if he did, it would be like if I pulled over on the side of the road to let my poor little cat out. It might be what she thinks she wants, but really she would be far from happy there.
Currently listening to: Ingrid Michaelson, You and I
Today was a great day with my kids. First period worked really hard and we had a great discussion. I was certain that second period would be terrible and that I would have to call parents because my kids were talking. But they too superseded my expectations. I was so proud. They have a quiz tomorrow and I am so hopefully that they will all do well on it because they did such a great job today. Teaching The Crucible has been fun because I think the kids really get into it.
On a different note, God has completely blessed me with a tutoring job. He pretty much dropped it in my lap and I'll be tutoring for two hours everyday.
Between teaching and tutoring, I constantly feel as though my head is going to explode, but every day, I am thirsty for more.
I am so glad to have made it though my first full week (as of tomorrow). AND I'm making bread which smells really good.
Today when I asked my students to close The Crucible for the day, they rebelled and wanted to keep reading. They said it was just starting to "get good." One student even said she might just go ahead and keep reading on her own. Of course my literature loving heart was thrilled. I don't suppose this will happen often, but I am so excited that it happened today.
Also, I would just like to say that my friend Nicole is the biggest blessing. I have felt so estranged in Greensboro thus far, which is so weird for me, and Nicole has been so faithful to call me.
Sometimes it's easy to get bogged down in the frustrating but God is good and I need to remember it.
currently listening to: Jimmy Eat World, Stay on My Side Tonight
I have now completed day three of teaching. I have also moved into my house. Thus far living is everything I thought it would be: boring, lonely and isolating. But I have plenty of extroverted friends who assure me it grows on them, so I am hoping that in a few weeks I will feel adjusted. I feel so in between in the friend department currently. I’m not a college student, and I’m not married/dating anyone which are the categories my friends seem to fall into these days. I hate seeming needy. I have trying to get in touch with people because I’m all by myself. I grow so weary of always taking care of myself, but this is adulthood. A little old lady at the bank today told me her life story today and it was the most delightful thing ever because someone was talking to me as an equal. I really enjoy my students so far. I created a seating chart today after class because I had a little too much talking. Hopefully this will nip it in the bud. If it doesn’t, I will have the joy of calling parents. The past three days have been a little frustrating because I’m still not quite in the system and so I can’t even get on my computer. I’m sure in a few weeks, this too will work itself out.
I know that this is just an adjustment. I am so blessed to have a beautiful little house and a cat. I am so blessed to be employed. I am just feeling very unsettled, I guess.
I am sure that at the end of this experience I will be Emily Jackson, adult extraordinaire.
Antidote of the day:
Today I wore an outfit kind of like Zooey Deshchanel in 500 Days of Summer. You know like this:
I looked cute.
Today was also Blast From the Past day because it's spirit week. When I was taking attendance today, one of my students said, "Oh, you're dressed up today too!" I denied it and the whole class burst out laughing. It was funny. And I'm pretty sure I blushed. But seriously, you can't not laugh at that.
As I was looking through my binder where I put all my ninth grade handouts from last year, I found a bunch of letters by my students. I had asked them to write recommendation letters for me. I found one from Ch that really made me laugh, and to preserve the dignity of this fine letter, I won't edit:
"Mrs. Jackson would make a really good teacher. In the little time she's been here she has talt me a lot. She really makes herself clear when she's teaching. She's always on time and holds it in when she has to use the bathroom. Normally that takes 3 years of practice. Your school needs her."
Granted, I didn't end up using this as a letter of recommendation, but it does make me really happy, even though it is absolutely ridiculous. I had a wonderful time with my students last year and there's no reason why that can't happen again. When I think about each of my sweethearts from last year, I become extremely hopeful for this year's.
I've decided that since I only have three classes, I can't afford to not like one of them, so this year is just going to have to be really good. I can't wait to meet my kids tomorrow.
PS. I signed a lease today. I will be moving into a pink antebellum house on Saturday. I hope that my cat and I will be very happy there.
I was in the middle of packing up my classroom stuff to get it all into the car when the sky broke open, pouring rain. Thus I declare a packing hiatus to write a bit here.
Wednesday I got my very first job offer after hounding princiPALs all summer. I didn't even believe it was real, so I pretty much had no reaction to it. It wasn't until today that it all hit me because I went to the high school to sign paperwork and begin setting up my classroom. I also took a break to look at an apartment. When the lady found out that I had just gotten a job as a high school teacher, she exclaimed that I looked like I should be in high school myself. I thanked her, and told her that I hoped I looked young forever, but really I wanted to punch her because I start teaching on THURSDAY. I don't have time to look young; just mean and old, ornery. No one will walk over me just because I am short and young. I will be a force to be reckoned with! At least, that is my dearest hope.
Anyways, let me tell you about these here precious chillins that I shall be receiving on THURSDAY. I have three classes because I was offered a part time position. I have two classes of 11th graders honors. I have one class of 9th grade CP. (college prep -- standard, don't be fooled by the lingo.) I think that my biggest class will be 22 students which is amazing. When I was student teaching, my biggest class was about 25, so I'm not really worried. What I am worried about is a lot, but I am certain that it will all work itself out. I have a lot of reading to do though, as I have to teaching things really soon that I have never read before. Also, I need somewhere to live. I am looking at two places tomorrow and hoping that one works out so I hopefully can move Saturday.
At any rate, I am incredibly humbled to be given the opportunity to get into the classroom. Today while I was waiting in the office I could hear someone making phone calls to tell other candidates that the English position had been filled. That has been me so many times. Praise God for his mercies in provision and patience.
PS. My new employer is Western Guilford High School. Their mascot is the Hornet and I am the proud owner of a parking pass and a Hornet lanyard. WHAT UP!
Begin working on application to become certified to teach ESL.
I am super excited about possibilities currently but I am a little afraid of how excited I am because thus far, things have not come together for me.
I have an interview tomorrow with a community center for a job where I would be an after school counselor for middle schoolers. It would be a part time job, but it would be a start. If I got that job, I could start paying my loans off and maybe even finally buy my own car. I would also be able to continue working with the ESL students on Sunday nights. I would also be able to continue going to small group and to church in general. Annnd, today I called NC State to ask about my grade issues. They told me that all I needed to do was in enroll in a Spanish class and provide proof that I was taking it/going to take it and that I could still apply for the spring semester. The idea of being a student for even a semester more makes me giddy. I want this to work out so badly.
Also, I think I had a pretty good interview today for a part time English teaching position. I really liked the princiPAL and the dept chair and the school. Good job, Western Guilford.
As I walked in I told God to do with me what he will, but I can't help but have hopes for things to go a certain way. I am nervous, but trying to trust that God has a plan.
currently listening to: Joshua Radin, Brand New Day [duh, my lover...]
* bonus points to who ever knows who wrote my title...
This week has been full of emotion. I am still trying to wrap my head around what's going on in my life. Or what's not going on, almost more realistically.
This week I applied to several school positions dealing with ESL, only to learn that I needed to get a special license to teach ESL. I began to research a program to get properly certified, and found one at NC State that would take a semester. I excitedly began to read over the requirements to get into the program for next semester only to find this:
Licensure applicants must have studied the equivalent of at least two semesters of college-level foreign language and must have received a grade of "C" or higher.
That's a problem. Unfortunately I took Spanish my first year of college. My first year of college I had no business being in school, and as it would turn out I have a C and D in Spanish. I don't think that will cut it.
I feel like every door is slamming in my face. I guess getting a D in Spanish is my fault, but it's more than that. I called my high school this week because I was trying to sub with them to find out why I hadn't heard anything, only to be receive an email later by my favorite teacher ever telling me that they had lost all my information. How does this happen? Or rather why?
Over and over this summer, I have thought about Queen Ester. She boldly did what she thought she was supposed to do next. She didn't know the outcome, but she moved ahead anyway. It's like that with so many people in the Bible. We forget that as we read from verse to verse, it could be days and years of agony for God's Beloved. And maybe it wasn't agonizing to choose to trust God for them, maybe they were just magic, but I really doubt it.
This is real life, I reckin'.
And so I leave you with a question: Do hair curlers work, because I might invest in some.
currently listening to: Dice, Finley Quaye & William Orbit [Bonus points if you know what episode of the OC this is off of. HINT: It's my favorite of the first season.]
currently reading: On The Road, Jack Kerouac
current favorite facet of the internet: SKYPE
currently craving: (yes, I do photograph my food.)
Tonight we watched Les Miserables. Or as I was corrected by the lady working behind the counter at the movie store, "Less Miserable". I didn't argue, just smiled and told her it was French.
I've always loved the story since we read it in class for high school, and I've seen the movie before but for some reason, last night as I watched the contrast between Jean Valjean and Javert, I was quite aware of Hugo's commentary on grace.
Hugo tells a story of a Jean Valjean, a man profoundly and radically changed by a simple act of grace. From that moment, Valjean lives as a man haunted by grace -- grace is always present in his mind from that time forward. Valjean's foil (hope you paid attention in English class)is Javert, a police officer who lives his life to execute justice. He is so bent on ensuring that every rule be followed that he cannot understand the effects of mercy, when shown to others or himself.
When Jean Valjean realizes that he has been given a chance to have a new life because of act of mercy, he is able to live out of that and extend mercy to everyone he encounters.In the book the title where Valjean is shows Javert, his enemy for all extensive purposes is called "Jean Valjean takes his revenge". It is the act of mercy that rules cannot understand, and eats alive the mind of those who are bound by those same rules. Valjean tells Javert, "You are free." But Javert is not able to be free of the grace given to him. This reminds me of Judas in some small way. After Judas betrays Jesus, his heart is wrought with guilt because he doesn't know who Jesus is. He can't see that Christ's mercy overcomes all sin.
Javert and Jean Valjean have a conversion before Javert kills himself (SPOILER ALERT:too late?). In the movie, Javert says, "All my life, I've tried to live by the rules." I feel as though when we first grasp the grace that is extended to us through the cross, our souls are able to stop striving for perfection that we can never achieve. We are free, unlike Javert. We cannot live by the rules, no matter how hard we try. Only mercy can run through people's hearts, leading a wild dance of redemption.
Romans 6:14 says, "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace." We so casually approach the cross, not understanding its magnitude. We have been set free to live under grace. If only we let this truth really penetrate our hearts.
currently listening to: Sufjan Stevens, To Be Alone With You to be followed up with Brooke Waggoner's I am Mine
God is my shepherd I won't be wanting I won't be wanting He makes me rest In fields of green With quite streams Even though I walk Through the valley Of death and dying I will not fear 'Cause you are with me You are with me
Your shepherd staff Comforts me You are my feast In the presence of enemy Surely goodness Follow me Follow me In the house of God, forever
God is my shepherd I won't be wanting I won't be wanting He makes me rest In fields of green Like quiet streams Even while I'm walking Through the valley Of death and dying I will not fear 'Cause you are with me You're always with me
Your shepherd staff Comforts me You are my feast In the presence of enemy Surely goodness Follow me Follow me In the house of God, forever
I have another job interview tomorrow. I began applying to children's homes after a slight revelation. I've always wanted to go to Africa and hold little orphan babies and suddenly it hit me that there are children here in the US who need to be cared for as well. Over and over scripture commands believers to care for orphans and widows. I think that this job would be a very practical way of doing just what God asks. I'm kind of afraid of the position which is working with the preparation for adult living program. I would be working with kids 16 to 21, which is really crazy because I'm 22. But hopefully most of the kids will be 16-18. I would pretty much be a mom for 6 kids, which is a huge responsibility. I am excited about this interview though because I believe that it would be a great opportunity. I know that I would grow through the challenges presented to me.
We'll see what happens.
oh i will trust in you offer up my life to be with you oh i will trust in you i will cast my every care on you
oh i believe in you i believe your every word is true oh i believe in you i will give my life, my love to you - Rue Royale
Last night I went to a meeting about church planting. It was really interesting and by the time I left I felt like my brain was going to explode because I had so much I was thinking about.
Something that JD (my great pastor. Listen to Summit Church, Raleigh podcasts online!)said that really made me think was how redeeming society seems to be popular culture lately. It's true. Recycling and going green, fighting various human rights violations around the world, etc. (I'm not saying those things are bad.)The church follows suit. This should not be the case! The church should be at the forefront of any social action. We should care for the world and its people because we know that God does. We should be rushing into corners of the world to care for the marginalized and the hurting. We should be recycling, and caring for the planet because God commanded us to take care of the world when he gave it to us in Genesis. If the church lived like that, surely people would notice.
Change of direction:
This weekend I get to work at a retreat at camp. I am very excited because the age group is middle school. I haven't worked with kids in so long, much less kids over the age of 6. Also, Sunday night I am getting trained to teach an ESL class at church and I am totally pumped about it. I know Sunday night I will get a stomach ache and be totally nervous about having to go into a room full of people by myself, but right now I am over the moon! Now if I could just get a job so I could pay for life.
currently listening to: the Avett Brothers, Pretty Girl From Ceder Lane. The Avetts are a band that, in my mind, will always be associated with Greensboro. One fine day, I stumbled upon them at a street festival on Elm St.
You know how in The Incredibles, there's that little boy who sits at the end of the driveway? Mr. Incredible asks him what he's waiting for, and earnestly the little boy replies, "I don't know. Something amazing I guess..."
THAT is how I feel.
Today I woke up and with tears, began to rewrite a cover letter. A cover letter asking for employment, not as a teacher, but as something else.
I do not understand the mind of God. I do not understand why I don't have a job. I do not understand why I would be gifted at teaching and have a deep passion and God why wouldn't follow though. So many people go through life passionless, wasting away. I know what I love and can't do it. Why is this?
This is me walking forward, stepping out onto a thin something. Waiting is such a loaded stage.
I think I'm slightly disillusioned from the adult world where you have dreams and passions and little forum for living them out. I don't like it.
And on a slightly lesser note, the cat got me.
Edit: I'll live.
currently listening to: Gregory Alan Isakov, The Stable Song
I have this odd way of finding spiritual applications to things that aren't meant to be spiritual. Yesterday I was watching Devil Wears Prada and there's a scene where the designers are showing Miranda Priestly their ideas. She doesn't like what they have for her and so they scrap all their ideas. Andie remarks how silly it is that they designers get rid of everything just because Miranda doesn't like it. Nigel rebukes her saying, "You still don't get it. Her opinion is the only one that counts."
That stuck out to me. But in a different way. So often I get caught up with wondering how people view me, etc. Earlier this week I was reading Henri Nouwen's thoughts on belovedness. It all came together: "You still don't get it. HIS opinion is the only one that counts."
In my Bible I have written: I am redeemed, treasured, beloved and enough.
That is how God views me! I want to believe that with my heart and mind.
On a different note, I had another job interview today. I always get super siked before I go and then afterward I crash into depression. It's such a roller coaster. I (s)napped out of it. Ha! Get it?
I walked into the office and told the receptionist that I was there, then seated myself on a bench. I was reading, absorbed in the story, when all of a sudden I was really aware of someone's presence. I was sitting down and someone standing up was hugging me. Can you say weirded out?! I looked up, hesitantly, into the face of one of my students from my student teaching at Northern. I was so excited to see him because I've really missed my kids. I still think about them and pray for them all the time. They were so precious. Every time I look at pictures, I tear up! Anyways, there K was and there was so much I wanted to ask him. This kid was one of my strugglers, and they always will have a special place in my heart. I barely had time to recover from my surprise. It turns out that he's now living with his Dad and so he was going to a new high school. I know that my seeing K was a total God thing. God continues to remind me that my heart is for the students. I just hope that he will give me a chance to be a little more hands on soon, but if he doesn't, I trust that he has a plan.
Anyways, I think I'm gonna go knit like an old lady.
currently reading: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close currently listening to: Anberlin, Love Song
Yesterday I skipped church like a heathen. It's not normally something that I'd do. ever. Since I didn't go, I listened to a podcast of Tim Keller. He was talking about purpose in a way I'd never thought of before.
We like to think that God has made us for a purpose. We like to think that it's glorious and grand. Or at least I do. Tim Keller talked about how in Bible times a man became whatever his father was. Women became wives. They didn't sit around wondering what they were supposed to do. What he was saying was that God's purpose is for us to become people of character.
Tim Keller gave examples of how our Bible heroes really had no control over the situations in their lives, but God gave them opportunities to display character. Joseph, Moses, David. They didn't do anything, God just put them where they could be of the most use to him because they had willing hearts.
We see over and over that God has complete control of what is happening. Sometimes I forget that. And the part that I can control is how I react to the situations I am in.
We can't sleep. Mainly because we worry too much. Perhaps, though, I use the royal we. What cat has worries?
Today I drove to Greensboro for yet another interview. I was hopeful, but they said that the position might get filled by a surplus teacher-- as in someone who had a job last year, but got laid off. So if they get to pick, then maybe I'm in the running. If not, then neither they nor I have a say.
I was driving home, completely stressed and drained from the interview and I decided to go through the drive through Starbucks in Burlington. I tend to get depressed after an interview because I put so much energy into them, so I needed a second cup of coffee. I ordered, drove up to the window, and handed the lady my card, but she wouldn't take it. She explained that the lady before me had paid for my order. When I drove away, I just started crying. I didn't even know what else to do.
I was reminded that God was my provider. He is going to take care of me, even though right now it may seem like he isn't. God, in his small gentle way and with something I would understand, a cup of coffee, reminded me to take courage.
currently listening to: Quelequ'un m'a dit ,Carla Bruni [off of the soundtrack of 500 Days of Summer]
I won't be going back. Not as a student, and not as a teacher. This is because I graduated and because I can't get a job. I can't really quite explain how I feel, and when I try people give me trite answers. I've been looking for a job since February, alas, and people don't get what it feels like to spend every day of your summer calling people and sending them emails and sitting in their offices only to be rejected over and over.
AND I'm not really sure what to do with this information. I have some options.
A. curse the economy, curl up in a ball and die. B. curse my lack of experience, throw myself off a bridge. C. curse whatever else could have hindered my procuring a job, stay in bed, eat and watch silly movies (like a break up with school.)
But really, viable as those may [not] be, those aren't options.
I am very unsure of what to do next. I never really thought that I'd been in this position. I guess because I thought that I was sure that this was what God had for me, this all would have happened faster. Waiting is painful and confusing.Perhaps, when Mr. Willoughby told me I should just get a waitressing job because the economy was too doomed, I should have listened. I didn't though, because I believed that God had a purpose for my life. I believed that I was good at teaching and that while I might not change the world, I could change English for maybe one kid. I believed that kids needed someone who was on their side, believed that they were capable of succeeding and believed that they were vastly precious. I believed that high school kids were capable of discussion and that they were growing, changing, becoming their own selves and that English would connect them to their souls and help them discover themselves and the world around them.
Here I am though. Unemployed despite all the beliefs.
I confess, it's hard for me to believe that God knows the plans he has for me and that they are good. I dropped Chelsea off at college today and as I drove down Elm St,trees reaching for each other over the street shaded by beautiful buildings, in my summer city of Greensboro, I confess too, that I cried.
[edit: By summer city, I simply mean that the city's my favorite in the city. It brings a lazy, friendly, warm feeling in the summer.]
I love that city. I want to see God at work there. I want to see redemption at work in a way I never have before. Still I have been separated from all that. And I can't seem to get connected to where I have been placed. I know that there's a bigger picture that has to do with God's kingdom and his glory. I just want to know where/if/how I fit in because right now I don't see that I do.
I'm looking for God in all of this.
"I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (mark 9:24)
currently listening to: Hanson (shut up; it makes me feel better.)