Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pardon my Conservatism

Last week I went to the International Civil Rights Museum. It was hard to walk through, but they're educating people and sometimes that means that you have to share some ugly moments. There was one section of the tour that upset me in a different way. I decided that I would write a letter to the museum to let them know how I felt.

Here it is:

Good afternoon,

Let me first begin by saying that I am so delighted that your museum is open. For years I have been mesmerized by the courage of the "Greensboro 4" and others like them. I am glad that you uphold your institution as a place of peace, where all people can come and learn and be challenged to fight to make the world a better place. That is why I was taken aback by a comment that one of the guides made while on the tour. When we got to the section of the tour that was about how influential media was in the fight for civil rights, the guide said, "There was no Fox News clouding things up." Of course this was received as a joke by most of the guests, but I personally found it disconcerting. If you are to claim that the International Civil Rights Museum is a place of peace for ALL people then there is no place for polarizing statements such as that to be made. It is a blessing that we live in a country where all points of view can be heard, whether or not we agree with them. As Gandhi once said, “Intolerance betrays want of faith in one’s cause.” Let us be tolerant of all or what we claim to uphold seems false.

Thank you for hearing my thoughts.

Sincerely,

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I think that

there should be an Olympic event where someone has to climb as many floors as possible with their arms full of groceries


by themselves.

I would win that event because I have been training for years.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

 
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I feel as though all I do is say goodbye to people that I really love a lot.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Art of Apology: Death to Self

Today I wrote an apology. As I wrote it, I cried. Not because I was sorry though. I cried because I felt like part of me was dying. To write an apology, not explaining myself, not saying "but don't you see, you've hurt me as well" was a death to myself. I had to put aside my pride, my feelings of right vs. wrong in order to make this apology and that was a painful experience. Part of me wants things to be fair. Part of me wants my side to me known and understood. Part of me wants to insist that I also recieve an apology since one was demanded of me. As I put my letter in the mail, I will imagine that those feelings are sent away too so that I can move past the hurt and anger.

I hope my dreams don't mean anything.

Last night I had a dream that I was in a speech competition. There were three of us on on a team and my first two team members went and were terrible. I had written a really beautiful speech but as I stepped up to the mic, I realized I'd left it somewhere. I couldn't even remember what I was supposed to be talking about. I said some ridiculous things and then, unsure of how to end my speech I said, "In the name of Jesus, Amen."

Weird.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gotta keep working on that grammar:

Today I got hit with a paper ball. When I opened it up, it said "Your cute" with a heart.

Catch 22

I have always loved school. I have always loved learning. Lately I have been so discouraged by kids' lack of desire to grow mentally that I have simply given them work and required that they turn it in at the end of the period. What a joke! I can't decide if I would rather my classes be a joke or if I would rather pour my heart and soul into my lessons only to find that the kids still don't care at all. It seems like a waste of time if it doesn't matter to the kids. I can slide by with busy work. It doesn't break my heart when they don't care about busy work. I didn't put my soul into creating it. I didn't give up any time to make it. Last year I had so much fun teaching my eleventh graders. We did a lot of fun activities and I learned just as much as they did. I would dream of the lessons that I could teach. This year I only dream of working at Macy's because folding shirts is painless and achievable. The catch is though, I love to teach. I love to develop lessons. In the wake of ease, my heart is breaking in a different way. I feel as though in one way or another, I will be unsatified and disapointed. In the end, I think I'd rather feel satisfied with myself. If the kids still choose not to learn, than I can't take responsibility for that. I can take responsibility for the quality of the education that I am offering them.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Season of Redemption

Today at church I was feeling really emotional. There were several points during the service when I teared up. I was thinking about my students. I always think about them. Lately I can’t help thinking about their need for Christ. It’s the middle of the year. I know my kids fairly well by this point. I know what’s going on in their lives. Last year as I drove home to my parent's for Christmas, I wept as I left the city. Their hearts are broken. The relationships that they have are broken. This is true of me too but unlike me, they have no hope. They have nothing to motivate them. They think that getting high, finding the right person, making good grades will give them life. And they are surprised to find that it doesn’t. Highs don’t last. Relationships aren’t easy. Grades are fickle. They pass from meaningless to meaningless. Or maybe, they can't even tell that these things won't get them anywhere because these things are deceptive. Sometimes I feel like I don't do enough. I know that I don't save anyone, but I can't even tell them who can save them.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Today one of my students made me laugh until I cried. I mostly do have the best job ever. Some days.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

pillow talk

 
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End of a chapter: Saying Goodbye to the Farrards

Today was Greg, Beth and the boys last Sunday at Spring Garden. I have a lot of thoughts on my mind but since I was asked to share a little today, I'll just share what I said today.

When I went to college one of the things I was most excited about was getting to pick my own church. The first place I heard Greg speak was not Spring Garden, but was at a UNCG InterVarsity meeting. He spoke (this might come as a surprise to you) about the prodigal son. He spoke of that dignified Jewish papa standing in the road scanning the horizon for his boy, hiking up his robes and running to meet him when he finally saw him to welcome him home. In all my years of church-dom, I'd never heard the story told with such heart. That Farrand heart (Greg's, Beth's, the boy's) has been one that has been such a blessing to this body. The heart is one of our heavenly Father's which has been beautifully shared week in and week out, whether through a hobbit song, a hug from Beth, or the exuberance for life brought by each of the boys.

When I was little, my Mom used to tell me that the baby bird can't stay in the nest forever - one day the mama bird will push the baby out so he can learn to fly. (This was a metaphor for becoming a teenager and growing up and used to terrify me.) We (the body) and the Farrands have been sharing a nest for eight years. It has been comfortable, it has been safe, it has been home, but now we are being called out of the nest. Take heart; God provides for the birds of the air just as He does the birds of the nest. God has been developing Greg, Beth, and the boys, and us the body of Spring Garden for just this moment. He knew it would come and He is delighted to continue shaping us all for the works He has prepared.

I am feeling sad today because change is hard, especially when it wasn't one that seemed needed. It's hard to see the unknown looming up ahead. I am also excited because I know that our futures are in the hands of a good and powerful God. I know that the heart that Greg has demonstrated through his sermons each week for Beth and his boys reflects the heart that God has for each of us.

In closing, I would like to share a quote which comes from a story which was not written quite in time to be canonized(The Return of the King). Frodo has accomplished his goal of destroying the ring, Middle Earth is at peace, and Frodo and Gandalf are saying goodbye to Merry, Pippin, and Sam because they are sailing away with the Elves while the other Hobbits are returning to the Shire. As the friends say goodbye Gandalf says, "Here at least, dear friends, on the shores of the sea comes an end to our fellowship in Middle Earth. Go in peace! I will not say do not weep, for not all tears are an evil."

Greg, Beth, boys, we love you and we are sorry to see you go but we look forward with great expectations to what the Father has for you as we wait to see what He has for us as well.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'd like to be these sweethearts.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Date with ... Italics

A couple weeks ago Greg challenged us in his sermon to not spend our quiet time in the same way every day. He liked it to dating someone and how if you did the same thing every day, your time would become boring and stagnant.

I was alone that afternoon, and so as I cooked dinner for myself I decided that I would take Greg's words seriously. Usually I watch tv if I'm by myself for a meal, but I decided that I would go on a date with God. I would turn the lights down, light a candle, turn off the music/tv and really focus on God as I ate.

I did all this when suddenly at the other end of the table a little face appeared.



I've always suspected that God had a sense of humor, but this confirmed it. Suddenly I was on a date with Italics. I hate most in all the world being called a cat lady because I think that cat ladies are completely alone except for the friendship they buy from an animal. Maybe someday I'll learn to see the joke.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Three moments I'm proud of this week:

1. One of my Sophomores carries a panda around. He had a rip in his leg. I told her I'd do some surgery, so she brought him to me and I got to have a mom moment and fix Mr. Bear.

2. I had a student who is really difficult to get along with. He's never wrong and is full of himself. He skips French, Algebra and Biology on a regular basis. He is angry and when he gets bored with school he tries to get himself kicked out. He thinks he is going to be a football player when he grows up and that it's impossuble for him to get hurt so he will never need school. He came to play Scrabble with ME on his LUNCH this week. Go figure.

3. Last year I had a student who was a repeater 9th grader. This year he is in 11th grade, finally. He came to see me and told me that he was doing a lot better because he only had 2 Fs on his report card this time. I asked him in what classes he had Fs. He told me one of the classes was English 11. I flipped my lid. I told him that he had someone who loved English 11 standing right in front of his face. He said that he thought he could only go to his English teacher for help. I told him I expected him to come to me for help. This week he brought a project and we worked on it for two days afterschool and he turned it in today. I'm so proud.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I wish I wrote this:

I read about how you touched them and they were healed
Or even if someone just touched your cloak they were forever changed
You let a broken women bathe your feet in her tears
And you washed your best friend’s feet
I am just wondering though did you just ever hug people

I mean I know that it is a silly question and all I am sure you would have why wouldn’t you
But its one of those things that was never mentioned that got me thinking about it

And how whenever there was a touch from you sins were forgiven and sickness fell
I think I’m caught up in my sins last time I checked all my body parts were properly working, nothing special here
I am just a kid with a heavy heart these passing sunrises and sunsets

I don’t think our encounter would have ended up in the gospels or anything
Because all I really need is a hug
That is ok for me to imagine right
That’s not going to be conflicting with any sort of theology is it
Ok good, then hug me

But not one of these side ways one arm around the neck type hugs
Or the ghetto right hand clasp fists elbows to chest pit pat on the back back
Or you put your right arm over my right arm and I put my left arm over your left arm and we make this weird sort of diagonal thing
Nah none of those

BEAR HUG ME MAN
Take your old school carpenter arms and throw them over my upper body leaving my arms dangling underneath yours somewhere and I can barely move them because your squeezing so hard
But don’t pick me up and make my back pop because I hate it when people do that

And hold me, hold me here in your arms until I start to cry because
I WANT TO CRY
But I just can’t seem to do it on my own
I have been teary eyed once recently but not even enough for a drip down my cheek
There's just hurt in my soul that needs to be purged so hold me in this hold pose until the pain is flowing from my eyes and nose

- Bradley Hathaway
This job has periods for me where it seems as though nothing encouraging is going on.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Today was not a perfect day. It was complete with write-ups, and kick-outs and confrontations, but here are something that kept me laughing as I thought about them the whole way home:

1. I. told me a story about a dream he had today where he was about to smoke some weed and suddenly I popped into his head and said, "I need your head clear for class!"

2. T. came into my class, gave me a big hug and said he missed me over the weekend.

3. I was illustrating how the Odyssey for my students and I started laughing. T. said, "Oh LORD, Ms. Jackson is laughing at her own jokes again!"

4. My fourth period students made a facebook for Italics and sent me a friend request.

5. Several of my students from last year dropped by to see me after school.

6. In 4th period, some of my students had their cell phones out and I told them if they didn't put them away I was going to take them out and they said, "You have to just pick one of us."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Love Hopes All Things

I have a student who disappeared for about a week. Despite efforts to find him, the school couldn't track him down. He's a really bright kid but can get sucked into whatever else is going on around him. Monday he was back in my classroom and I greeted him by telling him that I was worried about him and that I was really glad he was back. I asked if he was sick. He said no, but wouldn't tell me where he was. I didn't really press it because I've never been the kind of person to force confidence. Yesterday he asked me if he could come in to do make up work. He said he didn't think he could make it to me til 5:00 because he takes a class over at another school in the afternoon and he would have to ride the bus back. So I waited. I waited til 5:20 when a former student of mine, a Senior walked by my room and asked "Ms. J, why are you still here?" I told her I was waiting for D. She told me I should go home and I knew she was right. I slowly packed up my things. I walked out to the parking lot to my car when a bus drove by. Hope soared back up in me. Maybe D. was on that bus and he would come to my classroom. I walked back inside for something I'd forgotten. I slowly locked my door back up. He never came. I cried a bit as I drove home. I can't really put my finger on why this effected me so much. I've had kids say they'd come before and they haven't. No big deal. Sometimes I just can't help really rooting for a kid. I wish well for all of them. I get disappointed when they don't do well on things and I get brokenhearted for them when they struggle. I just have to keep on hoping for them, I guess. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul says that "love hopes all things." Maybe this is a little how that looks. Maybe God patiently waits, hoping for us to see how much we need him. Maybe he keeps hoping we will run to him.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I had the privilege of speaking at Fellowship of Christian Athletes tonight. I talked about abiding in the love of Christ and how that enables us to love others. I have no idea if what I said made sense or if it meant anything at all, but for me to look into the eyes of 40 high school students and finally have the opportunity to say with my words that they are precious to the heart of God was one of the highlights of my life.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

['m trusting in this benediction this week]

Psalm 29:11 The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace.

Intervention

People tune in weekly to watch the show "Intervention." The watch as the family and friends of an addict explain how the addiction is harming not only the addict, but everyone who is connected to them. The family tells the addict that they must seek help. Today as I sat in my third parent/teacher conference of the week I was reminded of the concept. We sat there explaining that this student needed to change his behaviors or he was headed down a path he wasn't going to be proud of later. This student has told me before that his father was killed due to gang involvement. We shared that we were worried that he was talking too much about gangs, drugs and sex and not enough about school. I could see J. shutting down and so I told him, "We are all here for you! We care about you and we want to see you succeed. There isn't anyone at this table that isn't wanting to help you in anyway we can." His stepdad told him they loved him. As I sat watching, I had this increasing feeling of heartbroken-ness as I listened to his parents share. I don't know why, but sometimes I feel so burdened by what is going on in the lives of my students. I must trust that the Lord has J. in the palm of his hand, as he does all my kids.

As to myself, today is a "Sense and Sensibility" watching while grading papers kind of night. The melancholy and Elinor's personality match my sentiments exactly.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Honesty

I guess I am a little discouraged today in more than one area, and perhaps I am being a hard on myself due to the impossibility of always being a person of formidable character.

I suppose it's good for me sometimes to see my acute need for the redeeming love of Christ.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I'm not so sure this makes sense, but I will try to explain what I'm processing.

Yesterday I met Mom in Durham to watch a movie called Waiting for Superman. The documentary about the public school system began with a man talking about how when he was little his mom told him that Superman wasn't real. He said that he wasn't disappointed because like Santa Claus, Superman wasn't real but because it meant no one was coming to save them.

How heartbreaking. And how applicable.

I've been reading the book of Exodus lately. Here was a group of people living like no one was coming to save them. It seemed as though they were forgotten. Little did they know, God was training a leader out in the desert, with the sheep. Here's where I struggle: God brings Moses back to Egypt to save his people but he doesn't just have pharaoh release the Israelites the first time. They have to wait. They have to make bricks with straw and watch as God hardens pharaohs heart over and over. The people wonder if Moses lied to them so Moses goes to God saying "You have not rescued your people at all." More often than not, it seems that we are waiting on God. If you're like me, you wonder why. You wonder what God is doing, or what he's waiting for. We know that he has called us to be his people and that he has promised to provide and that he says he loves us. Sometimes I catch myself thinking that God must have other things he's worrying about. More important things like genocides, for example, than small Emily in Greensboro. But if God cannot care for me now, if he is not giving me what is best for me now, than he is not all powerful, nor is he good. (Of course there is the discrepancy of what I think is good, and what he thinks is good.) God tells Moses that he is doing things his way because he wants them to have no doubt in their minds that he is the LORD who has redeemed them (Exodus 6). But Exodus goes on to say, "So Moses spoke thus to the children of Israel; but they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage."

Have I given up on a Savior? Have I decided that because life is hard and full of struggles that God is not good and working?

Today (and the day after, and the day after, and the day after)I choose to believe that hope has come, and that when I stand looking back over the red sea of life, I will know that the LORD is almighty, that he hears what I say to him, that he will bring me safely to himself some day. I think it is a conscious decision to not get swept up with idols that seem to promise safety, but instead to believe in an Infinite that is true.

Exodus 14:13-14 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”


currently listening to: Guster, Satellite

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dear God,

Please take my insecurities. Please replace them with the love of God.
One cannot have both compassion and innocence. - Eugenia W. Collier

Monday, October 25, 2010

People ask me how I like teaching. Honestly it depends on the day. People ask me if it's gotten easier. I don't think it has. Somehow, I am still convinced that it is the profession that God wants me to be in. The other day I was really struggling. Things continue to happen that break my heart. One of my students who had dropped out came to see me on Thursday. He walked into my classroom and I teared up. I'm not even sure why, other than that it's hard to see a kid that you've been pulling and rooting for give up. As my day ended I was reflecting on this and other failures when God's still, small voice came under my thoughts: You did not fail. I've only asked you to love them for as long as they are in your life. It's not up to you to save them.

This reminded me of something a wise friend said to me last year: You worry about your students because you do not trust that God holds them in the palm of his hand.

It's so hard for me to hold people in my hands loosely. To praise God for the time I have with them, and to be willing to give them up when God brings them elsewhere. It's something that God has been encouraging me in for years, and that I think he will be for years to come.

"What is possible is to open your hands without fear, so that the One who loves you can blow your sins away. Then the coins you considered indispensable for your life prove to be little more than light dust which a soft breeze will whirl away, leaving only a grin or a chuckle behind." - Nouwen

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Excerpt from "Create Dangerously"

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/10/books/review/excerpt-create-dangerously.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&sq=oedipus%20rex&st=cse&scp=3

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Excerpt from My Utmost for His Highest, October 13

. . . when Moses was grown . . . he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens —Exodus 2:11

Moses saw the oppression of his people and felt certain that he was the one to deliver them, and in the righteous indignation of his own spirit he started to right their wrongs. After he launched his first strike for God and for what was right, God allowed Moses to be driven into empty discouragement, sending him into the desert to feed sheep for forty years. At the end of that time, God appeared to Moses and said to him, ” ’. . . bring My people . . . out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ’Who am I that I should go . . . ?’ ” (Exodus 3:10-11). In the beginning Moses had realized that he was the one to deliver the people, but he had to be trained and disciplined by God first. He was right in his individual perspective, but he was not the person for the work until he had learned true fellowship and oneness with God.

We may have the vision of God and a very clear understanding of what God wants, and yet when we start to do it, there comes to us something equivalent to Moses’ forty years in the wilderness. It’s as if God had ignored the entire thing, and when we are thoroughly discouraged, God comes back and revives His call to us. And then we begin to tremble and say, “Who am I that I should go . . . ?” We must learn that God’s great stride is summed up in these words— “I AM WHO I AM . . . has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14). We must also learn that our individual effort for God shows nothing but disrespect for Him— our individuality is to be rendered radiant through a personal relationship with God, so that He may be “well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). We are focused on the right individual perspective of things; we have the vision and can say, “I know this is what God wants me to do.” But we have not yet learned to get into God’s stride. If you are going through a time of discouragement, there is a time of great personal growth ahead.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I guess I'll just hang on to this.

Revelation 21:1-5

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

the fat bitch and broken heroes

Today was a day of downers for me. It began with the ever frustrating first period. I love the kids in first period but they are complicated and distracted and disinterested. J asked if I was pregnant and then told me to get to the gym. I know that this comment wasn't probably serious because I am mostly small but I am still learning how to let personal comments roll off my back. How do you not take personal comments personally? I guess you develop an awareness of the fact that teenagers are radically self-consumed (as are all people) and they're thinking of themselves and not me, so in that sense nothing is personal.

In second period Y raised her hand to tell me that something was written on the desk but that she didn't write it. S leaned over to see what it was and his mouth fell open, eyes widening; his hand moved quickly to cover up what was on the desk as I moved to see it. He insisted that I couldn't see it, but I'd already seen that it said my name. When I finally persuaded him to move his hand I saw it: "Ms. Jackson is a bitch." My class of 9th graders assured me that they loved me and I wasn't a bitch. They asked what I would do if I caught the phantom insult writer. I told them that I would tell the person to say it to my face. I have no respect for cowards or people that can't be honest enough to work out their problems. But again, I am in the world of high schoolers who have yet to come to understand the world of interpersonal skills (as is the case with many people).

My third period was frustrating, my fourth period was unfocused, and my sixth period was interrupted by a fire drill. An older neighbor teacher told me at the end of a day, "I feel sometimes when I lock my door at the end of the day that I might as well not have opened it."

After school one of my favorite children came in, pensive and sulking. He sat down to take a test and the said, "Can I show you on the computer why I might sometimes be upset?" I moved out of the way so he could show me. He pulled up a prison record, clicked on a name and pulled up a picture. He told me it was his brother, and that his brother was going to jail for 17 years. It was quiet for a moment, and I blinked back some tears as R said "That's why I'm trying to change my life." Later after he finished his test he told me about how he had work and I asked him what he was going to do with all his money. He told me he was going to try to free his brother. I cried as I drove home because my heart hurt for the little boy saving all his pennies not for a car or a new jacket but to try to free his broken hero from jail.

At least when my day is over, I can come home to roommates that make me laugh and this:
 
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Life isn't usually clear. Following the Lord is not so simple as the pillar of fire in the desert night sky, but today I feel that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A personal Anthem

Mother Teresa once said, "Do small things with big love."

I try to live that out every day.

It's easier said than done.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I wish I never worried about people.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Abide

I write this on my wrist from time to time. It's there now. The word abide is a reminder of God's encouraging us to stay, remain, dwell in him. 1 John 4:16 says, "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him." Jesus himself encourages us to "abide in his love" in John 15. The opposite of abiding is refuse, leave, and even to reject something. When we don't believe that we accept and soak in God's love for us, we are rejecting it. Jesus invites us to rest in his love. He wants us to bask and know how dearly we are loved. I have a hard time believing that God does love us. When Jesus is baptized by John in Matthew 3, God's voice from Heaven tells the world that Jesus is "[his] beloved Son, in whom [he] is well pleased." That is God's disposition towards me! I am beloved by him and he is pleased with me! Abide in that today.

Monday, August 30, 2010

This is by ee cummings

my father moved through dooms of love
through sames of am through haves of give,
singing each morning out of each night
my father moved through depths of height

this motionless forgetful where
turned at his glance to shining here;
that if(so timid air is firm)
under his eyes would stir and squirm

newly as from unburied which
floats the first who,his april touch
drove sleeping selves to swarm their fates
woke dreamers to their ghostly roots

and should some why completely weep
my father's fingers brought her sleep:
vainly no smallest voice might cry
for he could feel the mountains grow.

Lifting the valleys of the sea
my father moved through griefs of joy;
praising a forehead called the moon
singing desire into begin

joy was his song and joy so pure
a heart of star by him could steer
and pure so now and now so yes
the wrists of twilight would rejoice

keen as midsummer's keen beyond
conceiving mind of sun will stand,
so strictly(over utmost him
so hugely) stood my father's dream

his flesh was flesh his blood was blood:
no hungry man but wished him food;
no cripple wouldn't creep one mile
uphill to only see him smile.

Scorning the Pomp of must and shall
my father moved through dooms of feel;
his anger was as right as rain
his pity was as green as grain

septembering arms of year extend
yes humbly wealth to foe and friend
than he to foolish and to wise
offered immeasurable is

proudly and(by octobering flame
beckoned)as earth will downward climb,
so naked for immortal work
his shoulders marched against the dark

his sorrow was as true as bread:
no liar looked him in the head;
if every friend became his foe
he'd laugh and build a world with snow.

My father moved through theys of we,
singing each new leaf out of each tree
(and every child was sure that spring
danced when she heard my father sing)

then let men kill which cannot share,
let blood and flesh be mud and mire,
scheming imagine,passion willed,
freedom a drug that's bought and sold

giving to steal and cruel kind,
a heart to fear,to doubt a mind,
to differ a disease of same,
conform the pinnacle of am

though dull were all we taste as bright,
bitter all utterly things sweet,
maggoty minus and dumb death
all we inherit,all bequeath

and nothing quite so least as truth
--i say though hate were why men breathe--
because my Father lived his soul
love is the whole and more than all

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus

Usually when people ask me what I'm learning in my Christian walk, I have a smattering of vague ideas that I'm working out in my mind. I can't pin down what is going on in my heart and mind, although I know that God is working. Lately, it's been very clear to me that God has been telling me that until I know how beloved and treasured I am I will not be able to love others the way I should. When we are reaching to others from a position of belovedness, how able to love people we will be! Last week Greg taught in his sermon that Jesus was not effected by other people's view of him. He didn't care whether they liked him or didn't like him. The only view that mattered to him was the view of his Father. When he was baptized in Matthew 3, his Father said “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” He was secure in knowing that he was beloved and he pleased his Father. This freed him up to love. Likewise, we are so deeply loved. We are not transformed by guilt or duty but by the love that we know the Father has for us. Don't be afraid to embrace that love. We think that we don't deserve love or that God couldn't be serious about loving us.

I want to let the love of God penetrate my entire being so that I can love people without fear or bias. I want to be secure in his love. I want to be free of what people think or don't think. I want God alone to possess my heart so that I can be free of feeling like I am never enough.

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.




Currently listening to: Satellite by Guster

Saturday, August 28, 2010

This is among the top ten things that have ever been created in my class

I assigned my 10th graders a research project on India since we are about to do some work with the book Nectar in a Sieve. In the computer lab we have a really cool program that allows us to monitor what the students are working on from the computer that we've logged into. When I saw this, I couldn't help but laugh and quickly capture the image.

Without further ado:



It may be a long road to the writing test in March. I look forward to seeing my kids grow. and to collecting many more delightful assignments from them.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Today was the first day back at school. I was as ready as I was ever going to be. Seeing my kids from last year in the hall, and getting their hugs as they walked by was such a delight for me. I really invested and loved those kids. They were my first group of students and they will always hold a special place in my heart. I even miss them. I doubt they know how dear they are to me though I've told them. The funny thing is that each new class that I got filled my heart with deep love. How can my heart already be full with them after one day? I cannot wait to see how they grow and learn this year. I can't wait to grow and learn with them.

My job is a lot of work and energy but I know it is worth it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sometimes I resent the fierce independence that due to necessity I live out of.

Friday, August 20, 2010

an unkind note to the thoughtless of the world

When boys say things like:

You're beautiful, smart, funny and you love God. Any guy would be happy to date you.

and doesn't follow it up with: so pick me

it makes me want to castrate all men, thus I have composed a letter for just such morons.

Dear "men"--

Please don't mention my sparkling qualities when you don't give flip. Someday someone will say those things, mean them and I won't believe them. It will be your fault. It doesn't matter how kind your words seem, you are in essence rejecting me.

No love,

Emily

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Papa died yesterday afternoon of stage four stomach cancer. I really love him, and miss him but I'm glad that he's not hurting anymore.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Summer Day
Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thanks, Jackie Chan!

If you know me, you know that I am constantly looking for the spiritual in the non-spiritual. Mainly this is because I don't really believe that there is a difference. I believe that every act is spiritual, from the food that you put into your body to the movies you watch or the time you go to bed. I believe that God reveals himself through literature, people's faces or the trees in the park. This might sound new age-like to you, but you must remember that God allows those things to be created, or created them personally, so even if there's no intention to point people to God He is fully able to use anything he wishes to call my heart and yours closer to His.

Last night one of my roommates and I decided that we would go to the dollar theater. We saw the very religious film "The Karate Kid." I thought I would declare my sarcasm, as this is the written word and it's not always so easy to tell. There's a point in the movie when Mr. Han, the karate kid's mentor, tells him "Being still and doing nothing are two different things."

Isn't that a lesson for us? Over and over in His word he encourages His people to be still and know that He is God. (Job 37:14, Ps 46:10, 1 Kings 19:10-13) I would so rather being doing something. We feel that there is no productivity in stillness, but unless we are still we cannot hear God. Being still is not the same thing as doing nothing- it is allowing your heart to be communicated with by the God of the universe.

Friday, August 6, 2010

How does it with your heart this morning?

As you see more clearly that your vocation is to be a witness to God's love in this world, and as you become more determined to live out that vocation, the attacks of the enemy will increase. You will hear voices saying, "You are worthless, you have nothing to offer, you are unattractive, undesirable, unloved. The more you sense God's call, the more you will discover in your own soul the cosmic battle between God and Satan. Do not be afraid. Keep deepening your conviction that God's love for you is enough, that you are in safe hands, and that you are being guided every step of the way." - The Inner Voice of Love, Henri J.M. Nouwen

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Tribute and a Baby

Sunday afternoon I drove home to bring my parents back their van. I'd borrowed it to move. I was also planning on picking up my cat Bobbie to take her back to our new apartment. When I got home we couldn't find her and she wasn't in any of the regular places. I began to walk around the yard calling my cat, wondering where she was. I rounded the house, walking toward the corner of the porch when I froze because I saw something lying in the woods. My hand flew to my mouth, tears flooded my eyes as all of a sudden I realized where my cat was. Dad was there almost instantly and I just sat down in shock on the front porch. Bobbie was going to be 16 years old in November. Patches, Chelsea's cat from the same litter had died in February and I could tell that Bobbie was getting older. It wasn't quite a surprise, yet you can only prepare for death so much.

Dad and buried her out in the backyard. I felt really silly crying, but when I tried to hold my tears back that headache arose that begs you to release your emotions. What made me cry the hardest was when Dad asked me to get some flowers. I grabbed two off of the butterfly bush and quickly laid them down on her cat grave. Dad though, walked all around the yard finding all the flowers he could and arranging them around mine. Watching Dad was just really emotional for me for some reason.



Bobbie was a really good friend to me, and I'm glad that she died while she was at home in her woods. It was for the best, really. And she wasn't in any pain.

As I was driving home without Bobbie I began to think about how I would like to get a kitten. I had already paid the pet deposit, and the beginning of August was the best time to get one because once school started up I would have no free time for a baby pet. When I got home my roommate Emily and I began to look online for kittens. I found one ad on craigslist and when I called the lady, she told me to come that night if I wanted. Emily and I weren't doing anything better so we ventured 45 minutes to Lexington, and the middle of nowhere to find out what kind of kittens she had. We told one of our friends where we were going so if we were kidnapped he could find us. He told us to text him every 10 minutes so he knew we were okay, but of course our reception dropped when we pulled in the driveway. We were sure we were going to die. The lady brought out her kittens and I told her I wanted a boy. There were three black little boys and one tiger stripped one. Emily picked up the tiger stripped one and he just sat there while the three little black kittens squirmed all over the place. Emily passed the tiger kitten to me and he sat in my lap too. We were pretty much sold. That's how it happened that I got a kitten on the same day that Bobbie died.

It's not that I don't miss Bobbie. I cried like a baby yesterday while I was looking at pictures. I just have a new cat friend, and he makes me really happy.

Italics is 6 weeks old. He's a little tiger kitten with beautiful blue eyes that will change, sadly. He already knows I'm his Mom, and I think it's because I slept on the bathroom floor with him the first night because I'm weak and smitten. I plan to make him a mama's boy. He also has a best friend who happens to be Emily's rabbit, Marshall. They play together and it's really cute. Last night they both sat in Marshall's cage without any prompting. We're hoping they stay friends even after Italics grows up.


Here are some baby pictures:






Thursday, July 29, 2010

There are so many days when I just long to be in the pure, unadulterated presence of God. Lately I have longed to go to Heaven so I am in a place that revolves around God alone. We will be there to worship Him and Him alone so the distractions and frustrations of the world won't be present.


It's weird to say that I want to go to Heaven because it makes me feel like I have some strange fixation on death. Actually the act of dying is still scary for me. There is no guarantee that it will be quick or painless, and since I'm perfectly human that worries me.

But the promise of renewal and not having to fight to see God is such a comforting thought. Not the kind of comforting thought that allows you to go to sleep at night, but one you might even want to tell people about. There will be inexplicable relief from our struggles, not in this life, but when one day we see God face to face and He welcomes us to how this world should have been.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I cannot stop listening to this song.

And I cannot figure out why.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Matthew 19 16-22

Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good[e] Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good?[f] No one is good but One, that is, God.[g] But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
He said to Him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said, “ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’[h] and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”[i]
The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth.[j] What do I still lack?”
Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.


This is a story that I had always been confused about since I was a kid. Jesus goes on to say that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into Heaven. Until recently I hadn't realized that as this young man goes through his checklist explaining how he had kept the ten commandments that he was actually breaking the very first commandment: You will have no other God's before me.

When the young man first approaches Jesus he calls Him "Good teacher" and Jesus responds by asking why he thought to call Him good when God alone is good. Now I wasn't there, and I certainly can't claim to know what was in Jesus' brain right then, but I think that he responded to the man that way because He knew that man thought that he was good. After all, the reason the young man approaches Jesus in the first place is to find out what good thing he could do to have eternal life, and proceeds to tell Jesus that he'd done everything he needed to do to meet the requirements of a holy God. Can you imagine looking the Righteous Son of God in the eyes and telling Him that you didn't need Him because of your own merits? I can't be so harsh on the man though because I do this every time I try to live out of my own strength and not out of Christ's. So Jesus knows that the young man is the God of his own heart, depending on his own goodness and wealth, so He asks him to give up his idol. And the man is heart broken; he's can't give up what he loves so dearly.

Part of me gets a little mad that Jesus asks for the thing that the man loved so much. But that was the thing that was separating the man from seeing God.

Father, please let nothing hinder me from seeking your face. Just as Moses boldly asked to see you, I want to see you too. Please forgive me for my smallness of faith. You alone should have my heart.

I like to think that maybe this man had a change of heart later. It's probably not likely though, because he didn't see his need for God. That reminds me of a lot of people. Oh that we might walk in the balance of knowing that we are decrepit from the core thus unable to stand in the presence of God, yet so vastly loved that God sent His son so that we could be regenerated and worship Him with our lives.
There's a quote that I remember reading a long time ago that God brings to my mind ever so often. I don't know who said it, but in a moment of God breathed wisdom they said "We trust you with our souls, let us also trust you with our lives."

I like that prayer so much that I wrote it in my Bible. We are so willing to turn our souls over to God if it means we are spared from the fires of Hell, but we aren't willing to live our lives in a manner that is pleasing to God, in the manner of picking up our Cross daily. I confess that I really do have a hard time trusting God with my life and over the course of this week I became a bit convicted of that as Emily and I looked for a new apartment. I have trouble trusting that God is the God of the universe. Of course I know that in my brain, but in my heart it hasn't quite sunk in. A little band called Anberlin has a song in which they sing, "The more I live the more I see that this life's not about me." Of course, I want everything to be about me. I am radically sinful and self-absorbed and I want God to drop everything in the universe for me so when He doesn't it hurts a little. I wish that I could have a heart of praise. Being made into the image of Christ is a hard, painful process, but a necessary one in order to point all glory and power and praise to Him who died who for me.

Praise God that my life in the flesh has been crucified so I can live by faith. (Gal 2)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Often the reason I struggle to trust God is that I view Him as small and limited.

In a way, I feel like my lack of trust is a defense mechanism. Could it be that I don't trust God because if I don't believe for something and then nothing happens, then I haven't been let down, but if something does happen then I can happily attribute it to God?

I don't know what this line of thinking means other than that my faith is small.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

[Mortals] say of some temporal suffering, "No future bliss can make up for it," not knowing Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. - C.S. Lewis

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy birthday America.

I love the Declaration of Independence. Brave men fought, and pledged lives and honor to defend their rights.

http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/

Happy 4th of July!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Yesterday I bought some books. This was a more exciting experience than I anticipated. I guess I hadn't really bought books in a while.

Here is a comprehensive list of my purchases:

A Gathering of Old Men
(11th grade summer reading)
From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature (Geedom)
Nectar in a Sieve (10th grade summer reading)
The Heath Anthology of American Literature (See "From Puritanism...")
1984 (12th grade summer reading)

I was especially excited about the history book and the anthology. These were text books but I got them for 3 dollars each at Ed Mckay's. The REASON I am so excited about these books is because I really do want to know as much as I can about the texts that I'm teaching. I want to be the expert, and this will help me become one.

I am excited to start reading, only I'm not sure when I'll be able to do this since next week is World Changers. Oooh well; I can wait!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Christianity That Is Not Politically Correct

Over and over I hear lately about how people are down with Christianity yet they are not okay with the "Great Commission" found in Matthew 28: 16-20. It is there that Jesus empowers His disciples to share all that they'd learned about Him over the three years that they spent with Him. We too are given that call when we accept Him to be Lord and Savior because in John 14:6 Jesus tells us that He is "the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [Him]." We hear it from Jesus' own mouth. Either you believe that He is the only way to God, or you don't believe in His word.

C.S. Lewis puts it like this in Mere Christianity:

"A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

Amen. Let us cease and desist with this garbage of sitting around thinking that Jesus was a nice guy, that we can't tell anyone differently, and that anyone can get to God by any variety of methods. Why are we so paralyzingly terrified of telling people that we believe differently? I ask this question to myself as well.

Now, I will say that I do not agree with the way people try to force Christ on people. An example of the wrong way to go about it all is the guy who would come to the UNCG campus with signs condemning all to Hell and preaching fire and brimstone. I think that Jesus is more than capable of using our sweet spirited, loving advances to woo people to Himself without us beating people over the head causing them to flee the scene. What if Jesus' people were so unforgettably kind and genuine that the world was left wondering? What if we ever so gently and yet completely honestly directed people to Jesus? But this, Friends, is another blog for another day.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Preaching to yourself

Lately I've been thinking about the concept of wanting. Usually I am afraid to want or to believe for something. A couple Sundays ago Ann and I want to church with Amanda and Sambo. While we were there the church prayed for the healing of a man. Though I wanted him to be healed, I was so skeptical that he would be healed. It's like I've conditioned myself not to hope or to want because if I do hope or want there is no guarantee that God will give us the desires of our heart. The Bible says that He will (Psalm 37:4) but my cynicism interprets that as "If you want God and God alone then he'll give you Himself alone." Meaning that there's no room for wanting anything else. But that can't be right because He wants us to want things, He wants us to ASK Him for things. Again my cynical self says He just wants us to ask so He can tell us no. That broken theology causes me to come up barren. It leaves me wanting. So here is what I know based on God's Word:

My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:19

Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you

James 4:2 You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war, yet you have not, because you do not ask.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28

So let's reevaluate, and let me preach to myself:

God loves me. He has a plan for my life because He has called me to be His own. He wants me to ask for things. He made me to hope for things and to want things. It is not a bad thing. Reversely, He will not give me everything that I want when I want it because He sees the whole picture. We will continue to have different ideas about how my life should go, but He is God and I am not. This doesn't make it any easier, but I don't want to become bitter while I want on Him.

Dear God,

Please cause my heart to love you and to know your love. Please help me not to grow bitter while I wait for you to move. You are not subject to my whims and wishes. You are God. Please help me remember that you have infinite knowledge and infinite love for me so you would never withhold anything good thing (that I need) from me. Help me to believe that. Thank you that you let me wrestle and that you know my limitations.






Currently listening to: Airplanes (at least I confessed it!)

You have stolen my heart

At church we've been talking about how Jesus interacted with people. We've discussed the popular mantra, "What would Jesus do" and how we can't determine that because Jesus was motivated by a wild and unpredictable love. Jesus could see people's hearts and know their thoughts and since we can't it's hard for us to act like Jesus did. Of course, we can model our behavior after Him. Part of me is hesitant to model my behavior after exactly how Jesus was because I can't see people's hearts. Jesus said that we would do greater things that even He would [John 14:12], so instead of trying to replicate His actions, why don't we just heed His Spirit and live out our own Spirit prompted lives?

Sunday we read from John 13 and this morning as I was reflecting on it the first 5 verses stood out to me. Here they are:

1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.


Jesus is spending time with His closest friends and he knows that the steps for him to be killed have been taken. He has the ultimate outpouring of love. The guest speaker at church said that as Jesus was pressed His response was one of love and joy and peace. I really was struck by that today. Jesus knows that He's from God and that He is going to God. Instead of power tripping, he decides that He will instead turn and serve the very people who He's going to die for, the very people who are going to run from His side in just a few hours. He doesn't sit there and worry. He doesn't try to find a way out. He doesn't give one more sermon for good measure (although He does speak to them later). He doesn't try to convince them that He is all powerful or miraculous. He takes off his garments, and serves them to prove to them that He loves them utterly.

I have been praying since Sunday that God would help me to love him with my heart, not just intellectually. Last night, in the middle of the night I found myself washing the dishes and struggling with God. I was listening to Dashboard Confessional and the song "Stolen" came on. Over and over lead singer Chris Carrabba sings "you have stolen my heart" and I just felt like God was singing that over me. He was singing it over His disciples then, and He sings it over each of us today.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What is Truth?

Thursday and Friday I had the pleasure of attending a Guilford County Schools seminar on Paideia. Paideia is a way of teaching critical thinking through analyzation and discussion of a text. We began by practicing this with a text by a man named John Stuart Mill called "On Liberty of Thought and Discussion."

As I listened to the conversation, on authority and truth based on the text. The conversation seemed to determine that there was no truth. I asked my fellow teachers where they thought our authority came from if there was no truth? When I am in a conversation with people that I really don't agree with but don't feel as though I can speak my mind, I attempt to display my thoughts by asking questions so they can possibly figure out their own fallacies of thought. In my mind authority is based on the truth that there are those that are older and more qualified than us. It's based on the truth that God places some people over others. If there is no truth dictating authority than anyone can choose to not accept authority or not. Any kid in my class can decide that my authority isn't that which he wants to accept if there is no truth dictating who is in charge. My colleagues didn't see it that way. At all.

We began to further discuss the idea of truth and everyone seemed to reach a conclusion that we base our truth on personal experience, it is changeable, and that people have been wondering what truth was for years. I believe that there is truth and we can know it. If truth is based on personal experience than it is not truth. If truth can change than it is not truth. Truth is fact, constant. One of my colleagues brought up the example of Pilot asking Jesus the famous question, "What is truth?" He mentioned that Jesus never answered, as if to suggest that Jesus didn't know the answer either! In that moment I realized that when Pilot asked that question, he was staring Truth in the face because Jesus is the way, the Truth and the life. That's probably why Jesus didn't answer him, because if Pilot couldn't recognize Truth when it was standing there, what could He have said to show him?



currently watching: Golden Girls

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Why I Became a Teacher

I am in charge of light bulbs,
of fireflies, and small stars

I direct whispers,
half wishes and shy smiles

to ignite wild fires.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We just had the most refreshing storm ever. I opened all my windows and let it blow through my house while I watched out my my porthole that is right above the sink. Somehow washing dishes wasn't so monotonous. Lately I've been reading "The Summer of the Great Grandmother" by Madeleine L'Engle. She is one of my literary heroes. I think that she is so candid and delightful.

This is something that she had to say that stood out to me:

"At best I am far from a perfect wife, or mother, or daughter. I do all kinds of things which aren't sensitive or understanding. I neglect all kinds of things which I ought to do. But Connie made me realize that one reason I don't feel guilty is that I no longer feel I have to be perfect. I am not in charge or the universe, whereas a humanist has to be, and when something goes wrong [others] like most convinced humanists I've known, [become] enclosed with self-blame because [they] can't cope with the situation, and this inability presents her with a picture of herself which is not the all-competent, in-control-of-everything person [they want] to be.

It is a trap we all fall into on occasion, but it is particularly open to the intelligent atheist. There is no God and if there is, he's not arranging things very well; therefore, I must be in charge. If I don't succeed, I'm not perfect, I carry the weight of the whole universe on my shoulders. And so the false guilt which follows the refusal to admit any failure is inevitable."


That was such a thing that I needed to read. I tend to be a little bit of a control freak. I like to feel like I'm in control because then I know things will happen the way I like. Of course, this doesn't work well for real life because there is so little that we have any say over. L'Engle reminds us that because God is in control of our lives, it takes the pressure off. What a comforting thing to hear. I love to make things about me, but God is in control of my life and he will do with it what he will in spite of my need to try to make things happen, or not happen as the case may be.


Currently listening to: Gregory Alan Isakov, That Moon Song

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Just another reason I'm excited about small group.

So I go to church, not because of any legalistic or moralistic reasons, but because I am a hungry sheep who needs to be fed; and for the same reason that I wear a wedding ring: a public witness of a private commitment. - Madeleine L'Engle

I read that yesterday and it really resounded with me. So often we're paralyzed with terror to admit that we are weak. I am such a messed up person and the beauty of that is that it's no secret. Reason? Because so is everyone else, and God who is the only perfect being knows it too. That is so freeing. So let's meet as the body of Christ, bringing our messes and our weaknesses together because when we are vulnerable all together, God is able to show up too in a way that he can't when we reject his corporate body.

In my small group, we discuss the sermons as a way of growing together and we never seem to reach conclusions for the life we questions we have. I'm okay with that. The wrestling together makes it okay for me to not have an answer.

May the Church spur one another on to passionate, radical living instead of the partially interested, half there response that seems to be the norm.

Blessed with a Burden?

It seems that God gives his people burdens. He weighs their hearts down for the things that weigh his down. In Freedom Writers, Erin Gruwell's father tells her that she is "blessed with a burden." While the burdens God has given us often feel less than blessed, these are opportunities for us understand just a glimpse of how he feels for his hurting world. I graduated in May and then for what seemed like ages, I applied and interviewed for teaching jobs. At the end of September I was offered a part time teaching position here in Greensboro. I was hesitant at first to accept it, but I was excited that someone at last shared confidence with me in my desire to be a teacher.

And here we are: eight months and 118 children later. Over and over, God's call to me has been to keep my hands open. As I've prayed to love them well, he has reminded me that they are not mine to keep. I was responsible for them for this small time, and now I am passing the baton. I can't say all that I've been taught, all the ways I've been stretched and challenged. I am so blessed to have had this year. A lot of people can't say that when they wake up in the morning they are thirsty for more. While I can't say that every day was enjoyable and perfect, I find myself still wanting more and missing my kids already. Here they are. Maybe you'll understand why:




 
First period, minus Kanika.

 
Second period

 
Sixth period, missing about 5 people.

 
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Fifth period, missing about 500 people...

 
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Fourth period minus Tyreik, Madison and Nigel

PS. It is hilarious how small I look.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My first day of final exams

I will tell Wednesday's story with the help of visual aids. Only about 8 kids came to class today to take the 5th period 10th grade final. The reason for that was most kids were exempt and a few took it for extra credit. After the kids finished taking the test, we had to entertain ourselves for approximately three hours. While this is a long time to be trapped somewhere, I had a lot of fun with the kids. I wasn't responsible for teaching them anything, so we just hung out. P. asked me to race him in in sudoku. It took me about an hour longer than it took him, so while he was waiting for me to finish, he played himself in Scrabble. The kind of amazing thing about that was that he used every letter in the bag. I was pretty impressed. He photo-documented his work:

 
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Another way the kids entertained themselves was to write me notes/draw me pictures on the board. Mr. Willoughby popped into my head briefly because he never let the kids use the markers because they press too hard and use up all the ink. But I let them because it's okay for them to use the markers. Really. One note that I noticed after the kids had left was this one:



Funny, but I will take that compliment. My fifth period, for all the irritation they caused me, really was precious. I learned a lot from them.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

God is so good/ God is so good/ God is so good/ He's so good to me.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sometimes I have a hard time engaging Scripture so I make myself do something that I made my 9th graders do with EOC questions. To make sure that they really understand what they're reading, I have them put them in their own words. Lately I have been doing likewise, only instead of questions, I'll put the Bible into my own words. It's like the message, Emily version.

Here's the New King James Version of Isaiah 58: 10-12

If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
The LORD will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.



And here's my paraphrase


If you offer your life-breath to those who need food,
And make complete one's tortured being,
Then you will be like the sun,
And your night will be the same.

God will always be ahead of you
And make complete all of you in dry times,
And make your bones enough;

You shall by like an irrigated oasis,
And like a fountain of water, whose waters will not run out.

Everyone who is near you will raise up the ancient forgotten places;
You will create the groundwork for many to come;
And you will be renamed the Healer of wounds,
The Reclaimer of Paths to Travel.


And from all that, I wonder now what it means to extend your very soul to people. It sounds a little painful, and as though you'd be laid bare. I'll keep pondering this, but now to bed.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Today one of my African American student told me that he didn't think white people were ever the target of racism. I don't understand why they can't see that hate doesn't have boundaries. People never need an excuse to dislike someone, and color of skin is just a really convenient factor.

Here's something that makes me tear up because it is such a beautiful picture of the heart of God:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Five victories

Often times I share struggles on this blog, but today I would like to share five victories.

1. 88% of my 10th grade classes passed the NC writing test!

2. In class yesterday, A. was pretty rude to me and frustrated me greatly. I am pretty patient and I love this kid, but he gets pretty whiny when he feel overwhelmed, and sometimes he turns on me. Today he told me that he wanted to talk to me, so I stepped aside with him, unsure of what I would hear. And then he apologized to me for Monday. I was so impressed and touched because no one ever apologizes to how they treat me, or how they talk to me. What a sweetheart. His Mom deserves props.

3. Friday I was really worried about M. because he was really sick, I couldn't tell what was wrong, and he wouldn't let me help him. I called his Mom because I was so worried. I didn't know how this would be received by this student because I don't ever quite know what to expect from him on a daily basis anyways. This was a good decision for me because for the past two days he has told the class how much I must love him because I called his house to make sure he was okay. (:

4. I have a few students that aren't my own, but that are so lovely as to grace me with their presence from time to time. One of these special children is R. who came in the other day after he got his permit to show me it. Today he ran into my classroom after his English class to show me how he passed his writing test with a three. He was so proud, and I was glad he shared the moment with me.

5. I have one student in my 9th grade English class who is a superstar when it comes to my class. I feel so sorry for her because it's her first time in the class and she works really hard - unlike the rest of the class. She has a really hard time with some EOC questions because English isn't her first language and so she tends to miss the questions that have you matching words with possible definitions. I had the idea to give her a list of prefixes, suffixes, and root words. She seemed eager to learn them, and hopefully they will help her. Win.

And now, at the late hour of 8:21, I am going to bed.

Nooooooooooooooooo...

I forgot to put in earings for the second day in a row. My ears are so, so naked.

Monday, May 17, 2010

post number: three hundred and twenty

I have this strange juxtaposition that has perched on my heart of wanting summer so fiercely, and wishing that this school year would never end because today I have this wild, unexplainable love for both teaching and my students.


currently listening to: When Your Mind's Made Up, Glen Hansard and Markita Irglova

Friday, May 14, 2010

"Some people care too much. I think it's called love." - A.A Milne

Today in 6th period, one of my kids came in to class. Normally he’s running around, and chatting with people, causing general mayhem. Today he was white as a sheet. His eyes were barely open. He looked terrible, and I was really worried. I passed out the quizzes and when I gave him his, I asked him if he wanted to take it later. He told me that he didn’t want to, so I said he could try it later. A few minutes later he got mad at me, and wanted to know why I took his quiz before he was done. I gave it back to him, but then he put his head down. I had told him he could. I went over to see if I could help him, but he got mad at me part two. I don’t know if he was high or sick, or what but the whole time I was teaching I could only be concerned. I had this terrible pit of fear in my stomach because I didn't know what was wrong, and there was nothing I could do.

After school I called his Mom to tell her that he was sick.

And then I thought about it and realized how much I love my students. How I would do anything to help them if they would let me. Today M. wouldn’t let me help him, instead he got angry and told me that he just wanted to be left alone and that I always sneered at him when I got upset. I was only acting out of genuine concern. And I realized the difficulty with loving people: it’s scary to really care about people because you can’t control them. All you can control is yourself but when you love someone with God’s heart, you don’t choose to love them, you just do.

I just hope the kid’s okay. And on Monday I’ll care for him the same as if he hadn’t snapped at me. My job is to love my students, regardless of whether they are ever kind or respectful back.

Tough.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Today was terrrribbleeee! I can say that now with a smile because I am safely in my bed with my cat.

What got me though, amongst all the downers of today was a gift placed on my desk in 2nd period. I had almost forgotten it.

The card read, "Thanks for everything. I had a great year. I'll make sure to try and stop by next year when I'm in college. I saw this and thought you'd love it to pieces. Also red is a good color for you, so enjoy. You're one in a million and don't you forget that, okay? And I don't say that about a lot of teachers. Sincerely, S."

A note as unorthodox as the girl who placed it on my desk. When I opened the package, there was a shirt. A strange teacher gift, to be sure. The shirt said "nineteen eighty four: George Orwell" and it was made by a company called Out of Print Clothing. For every shirt you buy, they send a book to a community in need. She was right; a concept I love.

And so, dear reader, I can shake off all the bad.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Oh, how to describe the place of my heart?

As I sit here in the quiet, coolness processing my week, the words of Relient K come to mind:

I throw up my hands, oh the impossibilities, frustrated and tired, where do I go from here?

These past 8 months feel like an experiment. An experiment drummed up by God for the testing of my faith. I can't honestly say that I like feeling like a part of a cosmic experiment. I've noticed that when I feel that my life isn't where is should be, my tendency is to assume that God is just testing my character which is something that I've begun to resent. I begin to think that God is just trying to see how strong I am, or how long it will take for me to learn whatever lesson he has for me at this stage in my life. I find myself questioning the true heart of God behind the life path that he has for me. Or what if this isn't what he has for me at all, and I'm missing it.

I am worn out from teaching. I have reached the end of myself. As EOCs approach, I find that the administration is "sweating" me (as the kids say these days). Today I even had someone come into my classroom, and upon seeing that I only had 5 kids in my 9th grade class send me to the cafeteria to look for skipping kids. They are constantly in my classroom now, criticizing the way I have structured class. I find all this frustrating since I have been asking for help in this class since January and until now I seem to have fallen through the cracks. At this point in the semester, having "extra help" is not a help, it's an additional stress.

In addition to the "support", I find myself feeling very wearing of being over-scrutinized by my students. It would seem that I can't breath without someone having an opinion. An example of this is that the other day one of my students asked if I went on dates. I was a bit thrown for a loop, but I managed to default back to "that's personal." Her response was to inform the class that that means no. The irony of this is that students ask me all the time about my "boyfriend" and because I never give an answer, they still assume that I have one. I guess the reason that this stuck with me so is because it's the truth. Another day this week, two of my boys were making fun of my facial expressions and hand motions, which I happen to have no control over. Still I found myself growing self-conscious in small group as I shared my thoughts on Sunday's sermon. I know that that is high school, but I am still a young and fairly impressionable person. I cannot pretend that comments made don't affect me. I am not yet impermeable. I do not yet know how to distance myself emotionally from teaching. I don't really have anything else to focus on.

I am reminded that my posture should be to dwell daily in the Lord's presence so he can tell me what HE thinks of me, but it seems that he is quietly whispering his truths underneath while everyone else shouts their opinions colorfully. Luke 13 talks about how Jesus longed to gather Jerusalem under his wings like a mother hen.

I want to be gathered, to be cared for, to be comforted, to be given a place to rest.

As always, I apologize for the deficiency of cohesive thought. How desperately I need summer and the ocean to swim in. Alas, the time is not yet; I need to go to bed because tomorrow, bright and early, I am helping to lead an EOC review session. Saturday, you are but a lovely illusion this week.



currently listening to: Time Stops, Explosions in the Sky

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wise words from Madeleine L'Engle--

We need to be forgiven:
to be forgiven in this time when fish are dying in our rivers; in this time of poison gas dumped on the ocean floor and in the less and less breathable air of our cities, of children starving; being burned to death in wars which stumble on; being attacked by rats in their cribs...

we need to be forgiven in this grey atmosphere which clogs the lungs to that we cannot breathe, and breathless, spiritless, can no longer discern what is write and what is wrong, what is our right hand and what is our left, what is justice and what is tyranny, what is life and what is death. I heard a man of brilliance cry out that God has withdrawn from nations when they have turned from Him, and surely we are a stiff-necked people; why should He not withdraw?

But then I remember Jonah accusing God of overlenience, of selfishness, mercy and compassion.

We desperately need the foolishness of God.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I have realized that people have character based on the condition of their heart. I can ask students all day to show kindness, or respect or discipline, or honesty but unless their hearts are tamed by the mercy of the Holy Spirit, how I can I really expect that they would be able to understand those character traits? If there is no belief in God, or a higher power at least to hold them to a moral code, why should I expect any amount of decency?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

She (Gladys) had been a missionary in China for six or seven years before she ever thought of wanting a husband. When a British couple came to work near her, she began to watch the wonderful thing they had in marriage, and to desire it for herself. Being a woman of prayer she prayed–a straight forward request that God would call a man from England, send him straight out to China, and have him propose. She leaned toward me on the sofa on which we were sitting, her black eyes snapping, her bony little forefinger jabbing at my face. “Elisabeth,” she said, “I believe God answers prayer! He called him.” Then in a whisper of keen intensity, “but he never came.”


Today as I drove to work I was thinking about this passage that a friend had posted on a blog. So often we are so quick to assume that God will not, or cannot or doesn't care to answer our prayers, but as I meditated on this a profound but very simple concept came to mind. God is faithful. He has promised to listen to us and to answer us when we talk to him. Gladys recognized something in the above passage and that is that people fail, so isn't it 100 percent more likely that a person would fail than God? How quick we are to pass God off as a God who doesn't answer prayer. How quickly we forget that he is faithful to himself and to us.

I'm falling asleep so I can't expound further, but maybe you understand what I mean.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday.

I slipped and fell in the cafeteria today and students laughed. Good thing I make a fool of myself in front of students all day every day. I should have taken a bow...


Today when M. came to class he gave me a hug and I said, "No public displays of affection, plus Dr. Flake is standing right there." He said as dramatically as possible, "I don't care if everyone knows of my love" and got down on one knee there in the hall.

D. was running late to class and he needed to run back to one of his other teachers so he came to see me to get a note. I didn't have any paper so I wrote a note on his hand and then signed it. It was like being famous.

Other things happened but those were the ones most easily written. Another Monday survived.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I thought I was past crying in high school bathrooms, but today I found myself crying in the teacher bathroom. Maybe some things will never change.

Monday, April 19, 2010

a lot of times i feel like i am not very good at what i do. i don't suppose there's any way to tell. and i guess i'll just keep doing small things with supernatural big love and hope that the LORD uses this broken vessel because that's what he delights in doing.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dear God,

Please help me to understand and believe the resurrection. Help it to saturate my life and cause radical and passionate living. Please help me to trust in you. Help me trust that you have a plan for me that is unique and vital to your kingdom coming on earth. Sometimes I'm tempted to believe that I am not important or necessary. You delight in using me (even though you don't need any of us people.)and I am part of the body. When I am not functioning as you made me to, the body is disadvantaged, even hurt. Please help me to not be disabled by loneliness. Please provide true community. God, please don't let me be overcome with discouragement. Don't let me forget that our struggle isn't against flesh and blood. Please fight on my behalf. Thank you for who you are, and how you are present in my life, even when I cannot feel you. I want to love you, and I want to love your people well.

Amen.


Here's one of my drawings from church today.