Love God. Love people.

Love God. Love people.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Walking Reggie

Recently, I have been back in the routine of taking our spunky, 4 year-old pup, Reggie, on walks after dinner. It’s a time for me to decompress, exercise, and give him some well-deserved attention.  

Tonight, as we started out, we came upon a few deer, and got quite close since they chose to stand still and we had to pass by.  I whispered some encouraging words like, “Stay with Mama”, and, “Good boy, Reggie!” To my surprise, he maintained a composure I have not yet seen.  It was like the deer were simply part of the scenery, and not creatures to be tempted to chase. It is not unusual for him to pull relentlessly on my arm only to get a few feet away before the deer dash away into the woods. 

Tonight, however, the rest of our walk was very calm, and it got me to thinking about my guidance with Reggie, is a lot like God’s guidance with us—-With one glaring difference: there is NO leash between God and us.  

As we walked, my words directed him, and my pulling forced him to keep moving where I wanted him to go....... 

In our lives, the parallel I saw tonight was that God is a God of free choice. He never forces His love on us.  Instead, once we choose to love Him, we determine how “tethered” we become to Him. You are the only one who determines the depth of your relationship with Him. 

This free choice means we also choose for ourselves what gets our attention, our money, and our time.  

For me, personally, being in a relationship with Jesus means it is a growing and developing relationship...through regular reading and studying of the Bible.  As I have matured, I have heartily embraced(although imperfectly at times) the following verses:

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:23-27‬ ‭NIV‬‬

It does matter what you read, watch, consume, and say——especially if you are a Christ-follower.  In my life, I have felt the need to simply restrict myself from watching anything rated R. Not because I am a goody-two-shoes or “Holier than thou”. It has been a refining process for me to elicit some self-control all with the purpose of guarding my heart. Along the way in that refining process, I have cut ties with much of the current Top 40 radio and eating an entire bag of sour cream and cheddar chips in one sitting.  At times, I have retreated from Facebook- as it can become a comparison trap.  None of these things will condemn you to hell, but chances are,if you are not carefully consuming it, you may be mindlessly consuming it.

Likewise, with my children a captive audience, I need for them to see that just because something is available doesn’t mean it needs to be automatically taken in. I hope they will have enough scrutiny some day to ask themselves some valued questions: “Will this be good for me?” “Will this bring me closer to Jesus?” “Do I believe this?”

Listen —-just like Reggie and the deer he encounters, there will always be an instinctual temptation for him to chase after them.... we will always have things of this Earth that seem to have their grip on us (I still hold a certain affection for chocolate cake and People magazine.)

My prayer for you is that you, just like me, go through some refining to guard your heart. Sometimes that can be difficult or even pain filled, depending on your hang-ups. 

Take heart, friend, Psalm 37:4 reads, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” 

Another gem of truth is found in 1 John 2:15-16:“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

 After all, if you profess to know and love Jesus, your life should reflect just that—openly and behind closed doors. 

Sending much love to you this evening. ❤️

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The February Shift- An Open Confession of a Teacher

It’s an inevitable shift that somehow happens every year around this time. 

Teachers— We look back at what has been, and we see ahead, a light at the end of the tunnel, and know that our days in this year, with this class are numbered. The calendar see-saw has tipped.  What seemed in September an infinite number of days to take attendance, and bathroom breaks, and vocabulary tests is now getting closer to the blessed end.

Also inevitable, rewinding to October, is when those true colors begin to show...we have a parent phone call (or a few), a lunch situation, consequences, and I begin to think, “I cannot do this for thirty years. I come home exhausted, utterly exhausted. The kids I had last year would never have done this. I never would have dared to _________ (fill it in) as a child myself.” 

 My mind is made up by November that I am not an effective teacher. This curriculum is harder than ever and the behavior of the students is more challenging than ever. Christmas break is a welcome sight, and even then in my dreams, I can hear the voices of my students that NEVER. STOP. TALKING.

I know very well that in their spare time, they are watching Youtube channels and playing lightning-paced video games at home. I am a mere mortal just trying to teach linking verbs through a song, and I will never be able to keep up with their preferred forms of entertainment.  I also know that if they approach my desk one more time as I am trying to grade these science tests, I am going to lose it. 

Oh! The interruptions! 

For when I give directions, lining up for art class, passing out papers, talking privately with a student— it is always with the drone of a motor of chatter in the background, usually from the same few whose names have already been moved twice on the stoplight chart this very morning.

But, this shift, this transforming, is subtle. After the second round of parent teacher conferences, and after I’ve tried more than a dozen seating charts, I realize that I have become familiar with their ways. All of them. I have also come to understand why that certain little girl comes to talk to me about nothing at all at least eight times in a day....or why that boy just cannot get to school on a regular basis. The student who never brought a single piece of homework back is not personally sabotaging my teaching, but simply is surviving when she gets home. 

I see them in their humanness. I see their weaknesses as evidence of their reality at home. Even my kids with stable, functioning environments at home— I see their quirks, their faults, their personalities at work amongst  and sometimes against those less fortunate in my room. And you know what?

I love them. 

I adore them. 

This is the February shift.

They cannot help being themselves. They are not an interruption...they are my purpose. It may have taken me six months, but I get there. I have arrived at that stage of fully accepting them, and teaching them in whatever capacity they will have me. I do it every year.

What might have felt like chaos and too much noise is still very much present, but my perspective has changed, giving each of them an advantage, of which some need more than others.  Kids are kids. And I, honest-to-goodness, enjoy them. I realize I can and may do this for 30 years.

These ones entrusted to me for 180 days will slip in and then right back out beyond my realm, my classroom. What I pray they know is that their 3rd grade teacher gave it her all, and felt for each of them dearly. They are valued, and I hope I am contributing something positive and meaningful in these early days of their lives. 

Thank God for the February shift.  

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Profoundly Grateful

I am about 3 months into my maternity leave (with about 3 months to go), and this time off, this precious pause in life, has made me quite contemplative. Maybe I have nothing new to say that you haven't already heard or thought yourself before, but once more I must write down these thoughts.  This time in my life is beautiful. 

I am beyond blessed to get the maternity leave that I am taking.  We are making financial sacrifices for it, but the payoff on the homefront is OH SO grand.  The moments can be mundane, messy, loud, and chaotic, but they are ours. I love waking up with my babies and being home. Some days, it is pajamas til 4 pm...or just pajamas ALL day for that matter.  My counters have never been so cluttered, my washing machine has never seen so much laundry, but my heart soars with gratefulness, joy, and delight.

Our baby, Hope, has just turned 3 months old. I have gotten the hang of this mothering-of-two-kids thing.  Our son, Colby, has me at a moment's notice for anything and everything. I wish all kids could have that, at least for a time with their moms. In the ebb and flow of most of our days, we share a laugh, a lunch, and some imaginative play. It is not always perfection, but it doesn't have to be... It is just the fact that I am here.  These are special times.

I was trying to put my feelings into words about the addition of Hope, and all I can say is that she makes our house feel more like home.  Her birth story was incredible, and almost euphoric (as I had an epidural this time).  I went from busy, overwhelmed, overly pregnant teacher to her mom, overnight-literally.  She came into the world, and it's like I let out a sigh of relief and then automatically settled in to our nest to become mother hen extraordinaire.  Anything outside of mothering I have been able to separate at an arm's length away.

The fact that Christmas is now falling on my watch during this time off makes it all the more joyful. Colby had his preschool Christmas program today, and all I could do was take it all in with all my heart. For our lives will never be right here in this spot again. 

A sweet, four-year-old boy with sleep still all over his face at 7:30 am walking into our bedroom to say, "Where's the little lady?"

Strolling down our road in autumn with a newly born, black-haired baby girl.

Making scrambled eggs with my son.

Breastfeeding in a peach-colored nursery.

Visiting grandparents.

A baby girl kicking her legs wildly in a small tub of bubbles

All of these things, I must document, as if engraving on my mind for future remembrance. I know Hope will be in preschool in a blink of an eye, and Colby will be too big for my lap.  I long for today to stay. Even if just a little while longer. 

Just taking it all in- because in time, my memory will grow fuzzy, and my everyday will be scheduled out for me.  The world will call us to join in at school, at sports, at events, at everything. But right now, the world can wait.

And for parting thoughts---I know this physical part of life will end for me some day. We are all spiritual beings living out a physical journey for now. Thanks be to God for providing me with these really magical, wonderfully sweet experiences in my journey.