Sunday, December 11, 2011

How Do You Say Goodbye?

On Thursday Mom told me that Grandma had died. We were expecting it (sort of) because on Tuesday she hit her head. Wednesday morning she never woke up and was rushed to the hospital. As I've struggled with my emotions over the past few days, I have have been thinking a lot about Heaven. For years Grandma had been in a wheelchair. Last time I visited, we went to the beach. We pushed Grandma to the edge of the parking lot in Carmel. She could see the sand and the surf, but she couldn't touch it because she had to stay in her chair. Today my Grandma can glory in the beach. She is free to walk on the sand and even chase the sandpipers along the shore. She could swim if she wanted. I remember that my Grandma was a pianist. The arthritis gnarled her hands and she couldn't play. Today her hands are perfect. Her playing is flawless again. It's funny because I imagine her young and beautiful, playing piano in Heaven. I know that the focus of Heaven is Jesus, but I still like to imagine that He is excited to hear her play again. It's reassuring to know that her soul is with Christ. Today as I sang in church, I began to cry because it hit me that I was joining in with all the saints to worship Jesus. I was joining in with my Grandma to worship Jesus.

I've felt really sorry that I never got to sit down with my grandmother and tell her about my Uganda trip. She was so supportive and I was supposed to visit her right after coming home from Africa, but I got sick. I thought about some of the kids from Good Shepherd's Fold who have died. Kids I never met, but one morning we visited their graves. I imagine them crowding around my grandmother telling her about Uganda and their stories in more detail than I could ever give. She is perfect and perfectly with the Savior that her heart loved so well.

I remember being small and going to visit Daffodil Drive. The whole house would smell like baking and the counter would be full of treats. I remember homemade dresses. Trips to the beach, eating hamburgers in the sun or sourdough bread on the Fisherman's Warf. I remember her beautiful handwritten letters. I remember how she called me "Emmy" and the joy in her voice when she spoke to me. I remember her and I miss her. She is complete now, and she will come running toward me some day to welcome me into the perfect presence of Jesus.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” - G. K. Chesterton

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Crazy Stupid Love

Last night Emily and I went to see Crazy Stupid Love in the dollar theater.

The premise of the story, featuring Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell, is that Carell's character is told by his wife that she wants a divorce. Carrell is devastated by the news and heads to the bar where he meets the sharply dressed, smooth, womanizing Gosling who offers to help Carrell become man enough to get his wife back. As Carrell fights to get his wife back, Gosling unintentionally falls in love with a girl(Emma Stone) realizing that while he was trying to "Miyagi" Carrell into being more like him, Gosling subconsciously is really looking to be more like Carrell. The movie makes it clear that Gosling is unhappy with his life, and it become apparent that falling in love is the solution to satisfy him.

As far as chick flicks go, this was a likable one. I laughed, I cried, and I made sure that I didn't internalize this message. In my eyes, Gosling's character is just a step away from becoming Carrell's character. Both are longing for love, which is a delightful sentiment but holds little weight compared to the heaviness of life. Passion fades and only marriages that are rooted in something deeper last.

I'd dare to even take this a step further. This weekend Emily, Laura Jo and I hosted a wedding shower for Kristi and Alex. We set up a station where people could write marriage advice for them. I couldn't help but think of something my Dad once told me about his and my Mom's relationship. He told me that commitment to a person fades, but your commitment to God doesn't. I think that often we look for a person's love to fix us, but only the love of God enables us to be fixed and love others.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

This morning I was wrestling to have peace. I put on Ascend the Hill so I could listen to some hymns and try to focus on Jesus this morning instead of my worries and insecurities. The first song on the cd is "Be Thou My Vision." This song has long been a favorite of mine, but this morning it hit my heart in a way it never had before and suddenly I felt that I understood it.

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
naught be all else to me, save that thou art;
Thou my best thought by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Pardon my simple revelations, but so clearly this morning I realized that the way I view things often is not the way God sees things at all. The author of this hymn is asking God to be her sight, to see things for her. Eyes are the lense through which we view the world. Eyes allow us to take in light and know the truth. She is asking God to replace her shallow, colorless, nearly blind vision with His. How much more peace would we have if we could see the world through God's eyes, or at least trust that God can see the big picture even if we can't?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Last year many days I considered whether or not teaching was the profession for me. I had several classes that challenged me to the core. If you were to read the ISS lists, you would find many of my students listed day after day. These were the ones that I was given to serve and love, faithfully. Day in and day out. This brought me a lot of joy and pain.

This year thus far has been much easier, in part to the classes I'm teaching, and in part to the fact that it's my third year and I feel as though I might actually know what I'm doing.

I've seen already how my faithfulness to my kids last year is paying off. When my kids from last year need help, I am the one they seek out. From D knocking on my door to see if I could help him with school work to A getting kicked out of class and insisting that he would do work if he could sit in my classroom. My heart has widened for these kids and I am their biggest fan. I am so glad to be a resource and a safe place for them. I am realizing that God knew what he was doing when he gave me the kids he gave me last year. I have really found the desire rising in my to develop a program to mentor students like these. I'm excited to see them grow and hope that God will use my encouragement and prayers.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

DIY: The Desk

I'd been looking all summer for a desk that I could make my own. I found one a week before school started and I finally finished it. Here it is!



Today one of my students asked me how my weekend was. I thought for a moment and then laughed as I said, "I got sick, went to a funeral, and lost my cat -- you tell me!"

I can't help but think that my life plot sounds like the plot to a bad movie. I'm not saying all this to bemoan my life. Honestly, I just keep thinking over and over how important it is to tell people how much you love them as much as possible.

One of my favorite literary characters Emily Webb from Our Town says, "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?--every, every minute?"

I just keep thinking about that and how powerless you feel when you've lost something.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Today one of my 9th graders asked me why people in the halls are always yelling my name. I told him because they just wanted to say hi. But really what I wanted to say was, "Cause I'm awesome!"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

For those interested in my trip check out:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Uganda or bust: tonight, 3:45 AM at the airport.

Pray for the ability to do small things with great love.

Pray for a greater understanding of who Christ is.

Pray for a soft heart.

Pray for traveling graces.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I am both excited and nervous at the promise of impending adventure. Let me show you why I'm nervous:

July 14-July 28 Uganda
July 28-August 1 move
August 2-August 10 Colorado/California Roommate Reunion Roadtrip!

There's just a lot going on very quickly.

This summer has been restful and challenging in it's own right. I feel like I'm in a strange frame of mind these days and I will be curious to see how my trip to Uganda and my time with my dearest and bestest effect me. To be honest, I've felt very spiritually dry these days. A friend that I talk to about every six months reminded me that when things are easy, there is no room for our faith to grow. If it was never a challenge to believe in God and to trust in his presence, even when you can't feel it, you wouldn't need faith at all. I think, in light of this, I am in a good place. God is so good to me in that he has been so faithful to provide relationships that are encouraging to me. I'm so grateful for friends that hold me accountable and encourage me.

So in this state I am flying to Uganda on Thursday morning.

I really have no idea what to expect. I expect for certain that my heart will be broken. This isn't a bad thing though. I've never been to a third world country, and can't even imagine the day to day challenges. I'm also going to be living life alongside orphans for two weeks-- if that isn't heartbreaking, I don't know what is.

In some strange way though, I also expect to find joy.

Oswald Chambers says, "I am not here for self-realization, but to know Jesus Christ." This trip would be nice if I came away knowing who I am a little more, knowing my place in the world, knowing the struggle of the believer in Uganda, knowing how I can be a better teacher, daughter, friend, etc. I'm not quite interested in these niceties. What is the point of knowing yourself better, if you don't know the Source? I want to know God better. I think that's why these past months have been difficult, because I feel like I haven't accelerated my relationship with Christ at all. But I trust that he is in that.

As these next few weeks take a strange turn out of the ordinary for me, I am excited. I am also nervous, because I know that God is not tame, and there is no telling what will happen when you encounter the Living God.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Post 460 [Subtitled: SOURCE]

Today I went to the library. The two books I walked out with were The Gospel in Brief by Leo Tolstoy and New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton. I began reading both when I was struck by a word that was in both of them. The word was source. Merton begins his book by stating, "Contemplation is the highest expression of man's intellectual and spiritual life. It is the life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant Source."

I won't quote Tolstoy. I didn't quite agree with him, but what I will tell you is that the word source was repeated over and over in the beginning of the book. (this is what some might call a preface; those that are less bookish might skip this, so I'll pretend I do too.)

Yesterday I was sharing with a friend that I was feeling really dry in my walk with Christ. I felt as though today was a glaring reminder to stay connected to the vine, to press further up and further in til times aren't so challenging.

He is my source, no matter what else might seem like life.
Sometimes we experience a terrible dryness in our spiritual lives. We feel no desire to pray, don't experience God's presence, get bored with worship services, and even think that everything we believe about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is little more than a childhood fairy tale.

Then it is important to realize that most of these feelings and thoughts are just feelings and thoughts, and that the Spirit of God dwells beyond our feelings and thoughts. - Nouwen

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Teaching for me is like what I would imagine childbirth to be like: painful while you live it, and yet when you're done, all that is left is something beautiful that makes you forget how hard it was in the moment. It is the end moment that makes it worth it. It's this end that makes me long for the beginning.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I think I don't like competition because I'm afraid I'll never measure up.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Today one of my students brought his baby by to see me. He said, "This is the English teacher you want when you get older."

Currently listening to: Tenuousness by Andrew Bird

Friday, May 27, 2011

I think most days that God has a lot more to teach me about loving people well.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

post 453

death cab for cutie's new album is pure bliss.

give codes and keys a listen.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Trials and Gifts

This Sunday at church, the speaker chose to talk about trials based out of the book of James. I feel like this is a subject that should be tread upon lightly. I ,generally speaking, get frustrated and bitter when people talk about trials because I feel like they miss the heart of God. When people talk about trials, I usually begin to feel a bit of resentment creep into my heart because I feel as though it's assumed that when we don't have something that we've been asking for, or when something has been taken away from us, it's automatically a punishment from God.

Jesus chastised the disciples for doing this very thing in John 9. When a blind man passed by Jesus, the disciples as Jesus, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" The disciples assumed that God was admonishing this man or his parents so the man was blind. Jesus tells his followers that neither the man nor his parents did anything wrong, but that God was going to reveal his works through this man. The he made the man whole. That is the heart of God!

If we think of the analogy of a parent, a parent doesn't take the toy of a happily playing child. She delights in watching her child's joy and only intervenes if the child is at risk of hurting themselves or other around them.

God uses our life circumstances to teach us, of course, but he is not the author of evil, and the Bible says that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Today when one of my students came to be withdrawn from high school, he came to knock on my door to say goodbye to me. I was in a meeting with a princiPAL, but I couldn't help myself. I asked to be excused so that I could hug my boy goodbye. I really have a soft spot for this particular kid- he's the one who came to me after he spent a night out on the street to tell me about how the one thing he thought to bring from home was his hair spray. Midway through the year he could never keep a pencil; he lost it every day, so I tied it to his bookbag and then for a month straight, he would roll up and unroll his pencil on a string. I worked extra with this kid knowing that patience would enable him to blossom. When he struggled with his other classes and teachers, we still managed to get along quite wonderfully. So today when he knocked on my door, it wouldn't have mattered if I was meeting with the president of the WORLD, I would have needed to say goodbye.

I told him to give me a hug, and I couldn't help but tear up. Even as I write this, I can't help but cry a little.

It's hard to say goodbye to people that you love and wish all the best for.

Monday, May 9, 2011

I love this. It is full of delight and joy in spending time with people you love.

# 449

It seems like every time I go into school in the morning, I have another email telling me that another of my precious babies has dropped out. It's hard to have put in so much effort and time into someone, to have hoped so much for someone, to have rooted for them with all your heart, only to have them quit at the end.

I just have to trust that this hasn't been in vain.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

All year I have had a student that I loved dearly even though he was super difficult. He got into fights, did drugs, got in trouble at school for various reasons, wasn't overly liked by his teachers...For me, it wasn't easy to love D. I think sometimes when you decide to love someone, it makes them love you back. For that reason, we had a really good relationship. When he had trouble with other classes, he would come sit in my room.

D. has skipped a lot lately. Yesterday he came into school. He informed me that he woke up and rode the bus just to see me and that he would be leaving after first period. He told me he told his ride to pick him up right after first period ended so he could go to my class. Then his ride got there early. D. told me to do whatever I needed to do, but that he had to go. He said goodbye and walked out.

Today I got an email from his Mom. She was withdrawing him. He would finish high school at the community college to get his GED.

It dawned on me that yesterday was goodbye. He knew it; I just didn't.

I'm feel really sad about this decision even though I think it's for the best; I'm just going to miss my kid.

Monday, May 2, 2011

[a small revelation]

Like the boy with his loaves and fish, I have nothing to offer God. How pitifully small his gift must have seemed, but his willingness was just what the Lord needed.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Highlight of My Day

My first period might be my favorite class. It's a class full of kid's whose focus isn't usually on school. Half the time they don't get to class until 15 minutes unto the period...So I work with the few I have until the rest come. It's a regular class, so with it comes the struggle to motivate them. But I love them so much because for some reason we get along and they usually cooperate with me so that I can help them get to where I need them to be. We've been reading Night lately, and the kids in first period are mesmerized.

I have one boy I've been working with to get to school on time. He has a really hard time, but this morning he burst in about five minutes late and exclaimed, "Ms. J! You haven't started reading yet have you?! I can't stop thinking about this book so I hurried to get here!"

I can't tell you what that did for my heart.

Thank you Elie Wiesel for sharing your experiences in a way that my students can connect to them.

I would also like to take this moment to brag on J for finally learning to write his name in cursive. (I taught him that!)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Oh for grace"

I watched Stardust tonight. My Mom was appalled by the use of witchcraft in the movie and asked that I never bring it home again. It's a story about a quest that a young man goes on to find a star to bring in back, proving his love to the woman he is desperate to win. Because the kingdom is magical, the star becomes a girl named Yvaine when she hits the ground. I won't give away any endings.

I love the story because in the end, Yvaine's light empowered by the realization that she is loved is what literally overpowers the evilness of the witch. I think that that is such a metaphor for the lives that we live. When we our confident that our Father loves us, it empowers us to move with boldness into places of darkness that we couldn't otherwise stand a chance against.

Today my students in sixth period were talking about me. (in front of my face) T said, "Ms. Jackson's smile is bigger than she is." and C responded by saying, "Ms. J is so genuine. When she smiles, I always know that she means it."

So often I feel so discouraged by everything that I encounter. I often feel like I screw up, and that I am such a poor representation of the Savior that I love. I feel if I'm not doing a good job, I shouldn't be there. I'm grateful for the moments when it seems like my students can see Christ in me. There have been several times this year, when my students have said something about me and I can only know in my heart that they glimpsed Jesus. It's really humbling.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Post 443

My parents live in a little house in the country on a few acres of land. I have always been enthralled with playing in the woods. As a kid, I had forts and trails to aid me in my adventure seeking in my backyard. Saturday I decided I would go and wander back so that I could be alone. As I walked through my old forest haunts, I asked God to show me a flower that I'd seen as a kid so that I would know how much he loved me.

I walked back nearly to the other edge of the woods, looking and looking. It became more and more apparent how silly my request had been. I was reminded of something else I used to do as a kid. I remember sitting in the car, looking out the window saying to God, "If you love me, will you have 5 geese fly by?" As if the Lord of Heaven who sent his only Son needed to prove himself to tiny, ant-like Emily.

I felt God say to my heart, "Don't you know that I made all of this to tell you how much I love you?" And I felt a twinge of disappointment.

Then I looked down.


That's just the kind of God that he is. He didn't need to put that flower there. All of his creation screams his pleasure with me-- that's why he put it there. But he also takes pleasure in the details of wooing my heart. Not always does he show up like that, but sometimes he puts beautiful woodland flowers right in my path to satisfy my childish heart's asking to prove how much he loves me.

[I was overcome with joy and went racing back to the house to drag my Dad off his computer into the woods to see my flower.]
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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wonder Women

Our small group has been telling personal histories lately. I've been reflecting on my relationship with John lately. John went to school in Illinois and so I had the advantage of dating someone and still being able to invest in relationships like crazy. Also because I was dating someone, I didn't feel the need to try to form friendships with guys. I see that the Lord gave me such a beautiful time to focus on developing relationships with ladies that I am still good friends with today. These ladies went on to be my roommates my Junior and Senior year.

I am so grateful for this time, and for these ladies that I love a lot.

I'm really excited because I already have trips planned to have adventures with 3 out of 4 of these girls this summer. I cannot wait and I hope that as I continue to get older that I will be able to continue in my relationships with these wonderful women.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Juxtaposition of the Cross

Juxtaposition [juhk-stuh-puh-zish-uhn]
1. an act or instance of placing close together or side by side, especially for comparison.
2. the state of being close together or side by side.

Last night my family went to the Good Friday service at church. As we quietly came into the dimly lit sanctuary, verses scrolled across the screen up front. What struck me most about these verses was the juxtaposition of love, peace, healing and the violence of the cross of Christ. It reminded me of another contrast: the contrast of Adam and Jesus Christ. Adam couldn't free himself of sin. He couldn't even resist choosing his own way over the way God had told him to do things. Jesus was sinless and yet he took the punishment that Adam needed. Last night JD spoke about the reason Jesus needed to die. It wasn't to show his love, it was because sin has consequences that must be paid. Jesus took all the punishment that I should have had instead he was faced with Hell (which is ultimate separation from his Father). Through all that pain and suffering, I am free from the sin that kept me from God. I think that's something that is so attractive about Christianity: God, who was perfect, gave up everything because it brought him joy to redeem back his creation through the only way he could: his Son. That's a God I can follow - not angry or manipulating. A God so motivated by the need to reconcile things, and to exact justice that he allowed his Son to be the sacrifice.

It sounds really crazy. And I believe it with all my heart. And I'm glad that it doesn't end there or I would be really depressed. I'm glad that Jesus has the power over death.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I think Adele is mesmerizing.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

[sometimes it's really hard to be an adult in a teenager's world.]

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

on going to social functions alone

it's not so much the act of going somewhere alone. i go plenty of places alone: the store, the coffee shop, to work, to church on occasion, to the doctor.

i think it's having to hassle someone to go to the chorus concert, to the basketball games, or the football games, and worse still to go with me to chaperon a dance. i hate going through a list of boys who would go with me, but not read too much into my invitation.

the good news is that mrs. kayler agreed to be my "date" to prom. I'm glad for friends that don't make me so lonely and lame.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The delightful mundane

I took today off because I had to get shots for Uganda from the health dept!

Here is my list of things to do:

get shots [check!]
make refried beans [check!]
plan some lessons
clean out the closet
take a nap [check!]
call doctor's office to get them to fax records to new doctor's [check!]
make a doctor's appt
go to the bank [check!]

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Things I want to do before I die:

Have foster children
Have my own children
Teach in another country
Write a book
Go back to Mexico
Go to graduate school
Learn another language
Lead someone to Christ ( God willing )
Memorize a book of the Bible
Fall in love and learn to live it out for 70 some years
Learn to be not easily angered, full of love in every manner
Go backpacking
Go on a road trip
Grow a tree
Be in a play
Go to Africa and work with orphans
See NY skyline
Watch a parade from a hotel window

I revisit my untouched list of things to do before I die every now and then and find that I've scratched not much off of it. I am excited to say that this summer I will check two things off of it: Go to Africa and work with orphans, and go on a road trip.

Let me tell you how wildly excited I am:
| |
[more than that.]

Guess I just have to keep living so I can experience more and more of my adventures.

Things to do in Greensboro

Weatherspoon Art Museum [check.]
Elsewhere [check.]
Grasshoppers game [check.]
Greensboro Arboretum [check.]
Greensboro Bicentennial Garden [check.]
N.C. Zoo [check.]
Greensboro Historical Museum
Greensboro Children's Museum
Guilford Courthouse National Military Park
Greensboro Symphony
Greensboro Opera Company
Triad Stage
Blandwood Mansion
Mendenhall Plantation
Natural Science Center [check]
Tannenbaum Historic Park
Walking tour of downtown Greensboro with headphones
Bog Garden

Thursday, March 31, 2011

There are some students, that despite your best efforts you cannot help but love. These are the perpetually tardy, the chronically failing, those of fight clubs and drug deals (I am not embellishing). They are the ones who tell you about their night on the street, the secret tattoo, or their deadbeat boyfriend. Despite all that, despite the fact that your colleagues cannot understand or get along with these children (and neither can you all the time) you miss them when they're not in class because you're wondering where they are, who they're with and what they're doing. You have guesses as to the answers of these, but that's not something you like to think about. Somehow even though you've been told not to expect much, you still do. You still think that if you are the one to give them just one more chance, maybe it will matter.

Yesterday it didn't. Maybe tomorrow it will.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fictional Women

Some stories you want to relive again and again. I re-read the Chronicles of Narnia over and over, for example. I can't get enough of the adventure. Each time I read them, too, I get something new. Jane Austen for me holds the same type of allure. Austen's books grow with me. I used to think her books were dreamy. As a high school girl, I felt as though I could connect with the characters because I had romance. Now as a ripe old woman, age 24, the dreaminess is gone as I feel more connected with Austen's Fanny, Anne, Elizabeth, and Elinor than ever. Those women are strong, dispite their feeling that they would never be provided for, never loved or even noticed for being women of character. I empathize with Fanny as she struggles to come to terms with the fact that Edmond may never love her, with Anne as she tells a friend, "The one claim I shall make for my own sex is that we love longest, when all hope is gone", with Lizzie as she unflinchingly sticks to what she knows is right, and with Elinor as she quietly bears all.

I draw strength from these fictional women. They are my friends, as strange as it seems. It doesn't even matter that they do end up with the right person at the end. For me, it is encouraging to how they arrive at that point. I have kinship with them as they struggle along. I don't feel bitter when they finally reach their happy endings, only delight because I know the struggles that they had to go through to get there.

So for me, even if I never get the happy ending they do(you know: the Darcys, the Knightlys, etc.), I can be encouraged to make my own endings as joyful as I may. I choose to live a life of strength, and I thank the fictional women who help me.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

weekend update in pictures

[just had to throw in a picture of my loinfruit.]

[i've been wanting to make some pendants for my room, so i got some fabric. spring break project!]

[e and i potted these on the roof last weekend to celebrate the warm weather. too bad the snow forecast for tomorrow will kill that joy.]

[i made that earring holder.]

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Even in this moment there are so many beautiful things:

water heating in my yellow, hand me-down kettle
the blue and white patterned table cloth on my table
given to me by my mother with dreams of a cheerful kitchen
accompanied by the salt and pepper shaker set wrapped in delicate white porcelain leaves
my bold-stripped tiger-cat wildly flicking his tail, blinking
at three daffodils in a jar
the cool, crisp air enveloping me through the open window with only the sounds of passing traffic and
the promise of seeing the people that I love the most

Monday, March 21, 2011

Legalism vs Living Sacrifice

There have been several times in my life when I have been accused of being legalistic. Such a claim is like a knife in my heart.

Legalism is believing that salvation is gained by good works. It's the idea that by goodness we somehow level up, or earn a step closer to God.

I know there no one is good, not even one. I know that my heart is desperately wicked and an idol factory. I know that God is holy and that there is nothing that my foolish attempts to be "nice" can do to appease his inherit need for purity to be upheld.

But that's just it! God is holy, and I am supposed to be like him. 1 Peter tells us to be holy, like God is holy. That's why Jesus died on the cross. To pay for what I couldn't. Where Adam failed, Jesus succeeded. Where I fail minutely, Jesus succeeds. The steps I couldn't take, Jesus took to the cross to erase my need to be perfect. I am perfect through the blood of the Lamb. That's why I try to be holy. I don't have to be, I can never be, but I will always try to honor what Jesus did for me by trying to be as in his likeness as I can be.

I know that following rules can be just as damning as not, and I know that trying to replace God with a rigid structure set to show me my need for him doesn't get me anywhere.

I think that people try to dance as close to the line, but I want to do the opposite. I don't want to see how many rules I can break since I'm covered, I want to reach the end of my life as holy as possible. Not for what it gets me, but because I know that that is honoring to God. Romans 12 encourages us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. As much as this sacrifice wants to crawl off the altar most days, I just want to show God that I love him too.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Today one of my students told me that ever since her mother told her that her brother was smarter than her, she hasn't tried in school. As I drove home from school, my heart was so overwhelmed with sorrow for this girl. She'd come to get a recommendation from me for a magnet school. As she waited for me to finish my letter, she told me that her mom told her that she'd have to be the Michelangelo of Sophomores to get in, and since she wasn't she wouldn't get in. What a bright, talented young lady her mother is shutting down.

Oh, the power of words.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

“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, unlovable.” 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." Henri J.M Nouwen

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Today after school one of my students asked me if I'd cried lately in school. I told him not lately, and the other student that was in my room said, "Ms. Jackson, you've cried in school?!" I said yes. The student who had asked said, "I know why you cry. You cry because you care so much about us and sometimes we don't care about things at all."

I thought that was very astute.

Monday, March 7, 2011

"I'll remember someday all the chances we took/ we're so close to something better left unknown"

It sucks to not be able to date a cute boy because he doesn't love Jesus like he should...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Today one of my students asked me if I was a Christian. I confirmed his suspicions and he nodded seriously, almost disapprovingly as he said, "I thought so." I said, "Why do you ask, Q?" He said, "Because you care about animals. You care about people... You care about everybody!"

Thursday, March 3, 2011

There's just nothing in the world like coffee, pie and a cat after a 10.5 hour day.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sometimes my students throw me for a loop. In good ways.

I'm trying to learn to focus on that.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Worn Through

Between the bomb threats, the fights, the drugs, the unkindness, the apathy and the strain of all the meetings that seem to be popping up like flowers in the spring-time rain I am so worn out. Emotionally and physically and spiritually.

I really feel like the only way I get through a day is through the power of Christ. But at least I have 2 really great lessons planned for tomorrow. There's never any certainty that I will get to teach them, but I've brought my A game.

Saturday I am sleeping all day.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I live my life in growing rings
that move out over the things around me.
Perhaps I'll never complete the last,
But that's what I mean to try.

I'm circling around God, around the ancient tower,
and I've been circling for thousands of years;
and I still don't know: am I a falcon, a storm
or a great song?

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Shifting the Mindset

I decided that I was going to make a list of my students and write something encouraging and positive to each one of them. Easier said than done, but I think it's an exercise that will not only help my mental state, but theirs.

I also decided today that I wasn't going to make any negative phone calls, I was only going to make positive ones. In each of my classes I tried to pick a kid to call home for to let them know what their student had done well today. Talking to happy moms was nice.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

God is light.

I feel as though events in this school week have been slowly chipping away at me. I know that worrying about my children doesn't add anything to their lives or mine, but I am feeling so broken-hearted for them. I cried twice tonight because I just kept thinking about how my students think that they way they live will bring them respect, make them an individual, make them feel alive.

They just don't know how precious they are.

The God of the universe imagined them, dreamed them up before they even existed. He made them in His image and He gave them gifts and abilities that make them different from anyone else. He loved them so much that He traded His son's life for theirs.

It seems as though there is nothing that could break through the darkness that surrounds them so that they could know that.

And yet John 1:5 tells us "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

I need God to change my so easily defeated heart to trust in His light and purpose.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

"Put On Love"

Colossians 3:14 And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

That phrase "put on love" is something that I can't help thinking about. Like putting on a jacket or a pair of pants, everything should be covered by love. Not covered by our shallow, weak "love" but by God's indwelling, death-breaking, desert-quenching love.

Over and over it is proven to me that my own feeble attempts at love are nothing but shadows of the love that the Dreamer-up-of-love can offer. I fall shamefully short. Gently I am reminded daily to believe the Father's love for me so that I can abide in that, put it on and reach out to the people I rub shoulders with on a regular basis. I am also reminded daily that God delights in using broken vessels to show his heart to a world of idol worshipers, swayed by counterfeit soul satisfaction.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

1 John 3:2

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

I love this verse. It holds so much promise.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Water in a Jar of Dust

Sometimes I get bogged down due to lack of trust in my Heavenly Father whether it be about my students or my future or you name it. He knows when the sparrows fall and clothes the wild flowers, so I don't really know why I think any worrying I do can add or subtract to his plans. I wish my heart could soak that idea in and believe it. I really feel like the Lord is challenging me as of late. I know that he is calling me to sanity that is only found in himself but that doesn't mean at times my heart isn't profoundly disturbed. The spirit of peace is from God, but I think that as his spirit shifts our way of thinking it can be like pouring water in a jar of dust.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I am a huge fan of the cardigan.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Oh Father,

Empty me of me and pour in only you so I can forget about my petty self and be set free to love.

A few thoughts on this cold Sunday afternoon:

Here's a quote I've been meditating on this week. I appreciate the wise words of the saints who have gone before us.: "Do you know what hurts so very much? It's love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill that love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel." - Corrie Ten Boom

And here is my to do list:

1. Clean my room
2. Clean my overhead slides
3. Create new seating charts
4. Attend small group leader training
5. Eat a piece of cake and drink some coffee to celebrate the completion of the aforementioned tasks
6. Address some envelops

And break!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Lately Lessons

A few posts ago, I wrote about how I feel as though I am losing a lot of friends due to various circumstances. Through conversation with a dear friend I came to realize that part of the reason I struggle with that so is because I am not trusting that God will provide for me. We've been reading 1 John at church. The very last verse of the book says "Little children, keep yourselves from idols(5:21)." I've been thinking about that a lot. In a book that talks about what love is, why would that be the last verse? John doesn't even say goodbye really. He only abruptly reminds them to keep themselves pure from the love of idols. He does this because he's told them what real love is. I know what real love is, and I know where it's found. I feel like God has been really challenging me to make sure that I'm not trying to put people in the place of him. He's been challenging me to trust him. These next two weeks are going to be really emotional for me because I'm saying goodbye to three dear friends. I've cried a lot lately and I feel lonely even though I still have such a wonderful community of friends around me. I feel really selfish for feeling so sad, and for not being able to just cherish the friendships that are here to stay (at least for this time).

There's another verse that's stood out to me that says "Perfect love casts out fear (4:18)" and I feel like God has just been reminding me that his love is perfect. I don't have to be afraid of losing relationships or people forgetting me or moving on because he will never leave me. I think that's all easier in my brain than in my heart but all that is a work in progress and I feel like so much is still being worked out in my heart.

Growth is so hard for me sometimes, because I so often just want to have arrived. I want to be so much better in my walk with God, but then I remember that God will never let me reach where I want because then I would no longer have a need for him. I am reminded that he's not measuring things the way I am. In fact, he doesn't measure me at all. He just loves me (and you). Perfectly.

But here's what I'm wondering now: How do we love people with our entire hearts and not make them an idol? How do we know if we've made relationships or people an idol? Because I feel like I am good at loving people, but not so good at letting them go. I guess I am still learning how to keep my hands open, and that I will have to continue trusting that God will teach me this.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I choose to trust that God is doing beautiful things, even though it doesn't feel like it at all.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Every few months I feel as though I write the same thing. God, for years has been challenging me to live "with open hands" (as Henri J.M. Nouwen would put it.)

I have this unshakable sense of loss. as of late. My heart only feels sad. I made a list in my journal the other day of people that I feel like I have lost or am losing to one thing or another. (There were like 8 people on that list.) Life is inconsistent in that way. To me, this period of loss, this journey began on August 1st with the death of my cat Bobbi who I'd had since I was in 4th grade. This was just breaking me in, because on August 18 my Papa lost his fight with cancer. Obviously this was much more serious. When I heard that news, I turned off all the lights and just sat in the dark crying, til a good friend came to find me.

I dealt with loss again, in an entirely different way on October 4 when my roommate's youngest brother died suddenly. This was unlike anything I'd ever experienced and though I hadn't met C. , I cried off and on for days. I even broke down and cried in one of my classes. I still feel at a loss for how to comfort K. as she goes through each day without him.

Those are just the physical deaths of this past year. There are other losses that I've experienced through friendships, and others that are to come. Some of these are still to fresh and painful to share. They take the form of friends moving (on), friends becoming, friends marrying. Even this year Spring Garden, the church I've been a part of since I moved to Greensboro 6 years ago, lost it's pastor.

I can't wait to get to Heaven when I will be able to view relationships rightly and it won't be such a struggle to not hold onto people so fiercely. If only I were so jealous of my relationship with God as I am with people.

I echo Nouwen as I pray "Please help me to open my hands and to discover that I am not what I own, but what you want to give me. And what you want to give me is love, unconditional love."

Oh Father, set my heart free to run after you.

Friday, January 7, 2011

I have always had high expectations for myself. When I don't feel as though I am doing a good job, my first thought is that I should just stop. I don't really think of this as a quitter's mentality, because I do things with my whole heart. I have always been my hardest critic. This is one reason I have really struggled with my job lately. I've wondered if I am in the right place. More than anything, I want to do a good job. I once wrote this poem:

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.

And that is what I want to do: ignite wild fires in children's hearts and minds. But I've written a new poem:

Year Two

The power isn't there.
Not to inspire,
not to love boldly,
not to bravely enter their space
day in and day out.

I can't remember why this grew here.
This dream that is now a half-hearted hope that this matters.

The good thing is that I do know where the power comes from.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

“A courage which looks easy and yet is rare: the courage of a teacher repeating day after day the same lessons - the least rewarded of all forms of courage.” - Honore de Balzac

Sunday, January 2, 2011


This song is very stuck in my head.

And this is the best cover I've ever heard.