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Archive for February, 2012

Down the Rabbit Trail

Do you realize how many things we say in English that don’t really make sense?

Weekly, my kids give me a look that communicates confusion and disbelief at some random phrase I used. Today’s phrase was, “food baby.”  Why you ask would I use such a phrase?  Because the character in Hatchet drank so much water that his stomach bulged, hence a food baby or in this case a water baby.  After calming the roars of laughter, my students proceeded to give examples of times they’d eaten too much.  Our conversation further progressed to the topic of cannibalism.  Although it started out as relevant to science, I made the mistake of mentioning the movie, “Alive.”  As the conversation progressed and all my student’s had questions, we did a little research and learned about the Uruguayan Rugby team and their crash in the Andes.  As we finished our research and conversation, we realized our math period was over and it was time for Spanish.  As I announced that there would be no 8-4 math homework tonight, cheers rung throughout the classroom.  I know a few students think they successfully distracted me for all of math class, but the jokes on them…… I didn’t have the materials for our math lesson, we weren’t going to do 8-4 anyways.

So, I wonder what part of today students will tell their parents about? The different center activities we did all morning, their score on their spelling test, the worship songs we sang in the afternoon, or the 40 minute conversation about eating people?  I guess I’ll find out when I see the parents tomorrow for Parent Teacher Conferences. Gulp.

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I can do it by myself, thank you.

I’ve never really thought of myself as a proud person. Sure, maybe a little at certain times in my life, but who isn’t proud of various accomplishments.  At least I’m not someone who is constantly reminding others of what I can do or how I’ve achieved success.

Last week our 5th grade character trait was on humility. Being the oh-so-active teacher that I am, I looked up an activity that would illustrate pride. Students tilted a water bottle on it’s side and tried to blow a rolled up piece of paper into the bottle.  The piece of paper shouldn’t go in and for the most part it worked. It was meant to illustrate that when we are in a position of humility, kneeling before God, it is difficult for pride to enter our life like it was difficult for the paper to enter the water bottle. During this lesson, I had a flashback of various situations that have happened in the past couple of months.

Those close to me know that I do not accept help from others.  It’s really difficult for me to admit that I need help, or for me to accept help even when I need it. One of the first flashbacks was that of playing volleyball some Tuesday night.  I’m not very good at volleyball, and in fact I usually hurt my own team.  One particular night I was playing excruciatingly terrible and I wanted to quit.  It was at this point I realized that one of the guys behind me was really close to me.  He told me to move forward and he would get the ball for me.  Now granted, he was trying to be nice, but I was so insulted! I probably gave him a look to kill and told him to back up and I would get it myself. (Unfortunately, on occasion I’m reminded by others about this night.) 😦

(Mom, you don’t want to read this next story. Really, for your own peace of mind skip to the following paragraph.)

Second memory is more recent.  Monday, immediately before we returned from the beach the four of us decided to head out into the ocean one last time.  Being overly confident in my ability to swim, I excitedly headed out to ride the waves.  After enjoying the water for a while, I realized that I had gone out further than I intended. I started swimming towards shore, and after a few minutes realized that I wasn’t getting any closer.  So now I was tired and wasn’t paying attention to the waves.  Caught off guard, I was thrown under and sucked in a good mouth full of water. Tired and coughing, I realized that I was in trouble.  Panic set in as another wave took me under.  I wish I could say that it was in this moment I called for help, but I am too stubborn for my own good.  I continued to try and swim towards shore, determined to solve this problem myself.  Several more minutes passed and with each continuing wave I grew more tired and bit more afraid. Despite feeling that I was going to die in the ocean right then, I didn’t want to admit that I needed help. Thankfully, I was not alone in the ocean and eventually I called out to one of the guys I was with and told him I was in trouble.  He came over, but rather than letting him help me I was determined to get to shore on my own. (This is pretty difficult to write. I’m mixed with feelings of embarrassment and shame.) Paul eventually had to pull me up and ahead for a brief second but I “swam” back to shore. It was more of me allowing the waves to throw me ahead while I struggled for air.   How incredibly stupid and prideful. In the the midst of almost drowning, I wouldn’t accept help.

I write all of this for the sole purpose of sharing that this week God reveled to me that I am extremely prideful. These attitudes towards “allowing” other to help me, directly reflect my attitude towards God.  I may not flaunt my abilities in front of people, but I definitely feel sufficient on my own. How stupid and selfish, to think that I do ANYTHING on my own.  It also just so happened that our classes devotion that morning had been about being a branch and Christ is the vine.  Apart from vine, I am dead.  If I believe that I am sufficient on my own, I am a dead branch. Humbling, to say the least.

I’m not entirely sure where this leaves me.  Pruned? I’m grateful for scripture that reminds me that if I confess my sins, he is faithful and just to forgive me and purify me. (1 John 1:9)

So, here goes starting another week of school with a humbler attitude towards accepting help from others.

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The Beach

Ah, I love the beach. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to go with three other teachers to a quiet little beach away from civilization. It was a tiny hint of heaven.

So a few highlights include:

1. I dislike living in a city, the outdoors is where I belong.

2. Hermit Crabs come out in hundreds to attack anything with the slightest hint of food on it.

3. I ate better this weekend than I do on a daily basis.

4. Cheap swimsuits don’t stand up to the force of ocean waves.

5. I love swimming in the ocean, but I need to be a bit more careful about how far out I go. Thanks go out to Paul for being by my side when I was in trouble.

6. Everything about this weekend was restful.

7. Lastly, I would do this every weekend if I could.

I wish I had more time to write, but I need to finish Bible Study before I leave in an hour. Ah! Hopefully more to come……

 

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Tough Love…..

They will know we are Christians by our love……. classic song I remember from my early childhood, but is it true? I’ve been reflecting lately on the way I love the people around me. My students, housemates, the people I pass on the street. Would they know I’m a Christian simply by the way I live my life?

I’ve been studying 1 John with a few other woman here. I read this yesterday and can’t seem to get it out of my head, “Because love is primarily active, the lack of love is not neutral indifference, but hate.”

I have a bullying problem in my class. Primarily directed towards one little girl.  She is new this year and in many ways is different from the other students. We’ve done so many group activities stressing the body of Christ, how God calls us to love each other, he makes us different for a reason, and at this point all my kids are hearing and doing is blah, blah, blah. So Wednesday I decided to call them out on it. I excused the girl to “run an errand” for me and I straight up called out my 5th graders. It was tough. They looked ashamed. We stopped and examined our behavior.  Towards the end, I explained that having this conversation with them was difficult for me and that I didn’t want to do it, but because I love them I have to point out their sin and encourage them to change their behavior.  As a first year teacher, slightly insecure about how I teach and my relationships with the kids, I was little worried how they would receive and respond to our talk.

Things with the little girl have been better the last two days, but I’m still concerned about this issue. I can’t force them to do the right thing…..

Hm… I get it God.  How often do you show me the right thing to do? Through a friend or a Bible study phrase that I can’t get out of my head, you show me what I should do.  I may for a day, but I quickly fall back into my selfishness. You don’t force me to do the right thing, although I’m sure it would cause you a whole lot less pain if you did. Just like it would cause me a whole lot less pain if I could force my kids to do the right thing.

I can identify a few relationships where I would define it as neutral indifference, but maybe I need to reexamine my definition of love with God’s word. As for my kids, God couldn’t have blessed me more through them.

I’m so blessed! Imagine ten 5th graders swarming me, begging to help me with something, anything.  For no external reward.  Even my two most independent, defiant, boys were eagerly wanted to do something for me. Even though I made them feel ashamed, they still want to be with me and are eager to help me. I think they know by experience that I love them.

Tough love…..

Love is patient,
love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
always trusts,
always hopes,
always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I’m sorry this is such a rambling. I had no idea what I would write tonight, but felt like I should. I leave you with a song.

When a Heart Breaks- Ben Rector (Special thanks to Anna who shared him with Bethany, who shared him with me.)

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