Wednesday, February 1, 2017

courage in the face of fear

As the past few weeks have unfolded, I think a lot of people have been shocked. I think people were hopeful that things said in the campaign would not be realized. Each day has brought a new executive order that makes my breath catch in my throat. I’m not even really sure what to say. I look at my students and I don’t know what to say.

I teach character education as one of my electives. Our character trait for this month is Courage. We started watching a documentary from PBS called the New Deciders. It’s from 2016 about four different minority groups who were working to influence have their voices heard in the election: black millennials, Asian Americans, Arab Americans, and Latino Evangelicals.

At first, my students protested, saying that watching a documentary about an already-past election was old news and something reserved for social studies class. I explained that voting and being active in your community, standing up for what you believe is right, and standing up for people who have not historically had a voice in this country, is courage.

They kinda just stared at me. We got started with it. I would pause it every few minutes to explain something.

And yesterday, one of my friends told me her fiance was prevented from visiting her/coming to the US on a business trip because of the Muslim travel ban. He’s a Palestinian refugee who moved to Jordan and lives and works there, and has international engineering work. He has a work visa to come and go legally to conduct business for his family.

And I talked to my friend this morning about the situation in Turkey and talked about the arrests that have been happening where adults were separated from their children, and the children were left alone at their house with no one to care for them.


We ended up talking a lot during the documentary, especially when they started interviewing Arab Americans. My kids had lots to say. And lots of questions.

And lots of questions I can’t answer. My kids come from families that came here for a better life. For better education opportunities. Better work opportunities. Safer neighborhoods for their kids to grow up in.

The hope that their kids would be judged not by the color of their skin, the accent that they speak with, or the clothing that they wear, but by the content of their character.

And my kids truly believed that they would receive that. They have talked continually how they think the Civil Rights movement was so long ago, so why are things not different for them? For an eleven-year-old, 63 years since Brown vs. Board of Education seems like an eternity. In the grand scheme of civil rights, it’s not long. But for a child, it is. To them, 63 years should have been enough time for them not to worry about how people perceive them.

Some of the judgements they’ve experienced, and some of it is the generalized recoiling from what they hear on the news. Thankfully, I don’t think many of them have been targeted for specific things.

I’m not really sure how the next few weeks will be.

I’m not really sure how to have these conversations with my students about courage and diversity (the character trait for this month).

I’m praying for my students. I’m praying for their families. I’m praying for my colleagues and friends and their family members who are trying to visit. I'm praying for refugees that had been approved and spent the little bit of money they had, and then got to airports and were denied. I'm praying for immigrants on green cards and student visas who went home to visit their families and now can't return.

I’m praying for peace and justice. And I'm praying for courage.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Mountains of Spices

Several years ago, I read "Hinds' Feet on High Places" by Hannah Hurnard. I'm pretty sure I also read the sequel "Mountains of Spices." Regardless, I was probably in middle school, so when the snow days at home and no work prompted me to find a book in the house to reread, I picked up "Mountains of Spices."

I've only read the first five chapters so far and found such sweet refreshment. 

The book opens with this verse: Song of Solomon 8:14

Make hast, my beloved, 
and be like a gazelle
or a young stag
on the mountains of spices.

With this passion, we encountered the transformed main character from the previous book, "Hinds' Feet on High Places." This book is about her life as she returns to the valley from where she came after her experience of finding the Shepherd-King and having the flower of love planted in her heart.

As she reenters "normal" life, Grace and Glory is known by her new name, and people from the village and her very own family grapple with what such a changed identity means. She is no longer Much-Afraid, but crowned with Grace and Glory, and walks and lives in sweet confidence of her Lord.  

I love this book because it deals with the challenges of returning from mountain-top experiences and the sweet intimacy with the Lord that spurs us onward. Grace and Glory continually seeks out the Shepherd-King in order to maintain communion and to grow in how to practically help those around her.

We experience mountain-top experiences, where the revelation of the Holy Spirit burns freshly in our hearts, and where communion with Jesus is easy and quick. 

Yet, we eventually return to daily life. I go to work. I pay bills. I visit friends and family.

AND, God is good. And God speaks into the moments when I don't know how to share His love with someone, or don't know how to respond tenderly when someone responds to me harshly, or when I don't know how to be faithful to what I know from the mountain-top.

As I read this book, I'm encouraged to read more of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, the Book of Job, Psalms, the Book of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon, and read of the romance of Jesus' pursuit of us. As Jesus seeks my heart, I fall more in love with His heart, and He aligns my heart with His desires and transforms my heart.


The passage below is one that I continually return to, as I hear to song that Jesus sings over me, encourages me with, and pursues me with. It is with this song that Abba Father calls me Daughter. It is with this song that God is in charge at the center and that God is my King. 

Zephaniah 3:14-20

4-15 So sing, Daughter Zion!
    Raise the rafters, Israel!
Daughter Jerusalem,
    be happy! celebrate!
God has reversed his judgments against you
    and sent your enemies off chasing their tails.
From now on, God is Israel’s king,
    in charge at the center.
There’s nothing to fear from evil
    ever again!

God Is Present Among You

16-17 Jerusalem will be told:
    “Don’t be afraid.
Dear Zion,
    don’t despair.
Your God is present among you,
    a strong Warrior there to save you.
Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love
    and delight you with his songs.
18-20 “The accumulated sorrows of your exile
    will dissipate.
I, your God, will get rid of them for you.
    You’ve carried those burdens long enough.
At the same time, I’ll get rid of all those
    who’ve made your life miserable.
I’ll heal the maimed;
    I’ll bring home the homeless.
In the very countries where they were hated
    they will be venerated.
On Judgment Day
    I’ll bring you back home—a great family gathering!
You’ll be famous and honored
    all over the world.
You’ll see it with your own eyes—
    all those painful partings turned into reunions!”
        God’s Promise.

May God bless you and keep you, may He make His face shine upon you, and give you peace. Amen.
Shalom, Rose

Saturday, August 27, 2016

An Open Letter to Myself: For When Teaching Gets Hard

Dear Me,

You've made it through the first week of school and prevented tears and helped kids find the bathroom and walked them to lunch and passed out hand sanitizer. You've started the year out well. Remember that you really do love teaching when it gets hard. And you love instilling a passion for life-long learning in your kids. 

Remember! Deescalate and don't take students' and parents' responses to you personally. It's not about you. It's that their gerbil died the same week that their parents got divorced. It's that they don't know how to ask for attention because their special needs sibling gets most of it. 

Remember! Proximity is helpful! Walk around the classroom. Wear comfortable shoes.

Be present in your students' lives. Go to volleyball and soccer games.

Respect them as people.

Praise them for the stuff that they do well.

Keep your expectations reasonable. They are kids. They make mistakes. So do you. Apologize and be humble.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

why I need to sit. . . and why you should join me

I think I started writing before I can remember. I was probably four or something. I loved re-imagining my favorite fairy tales and legends with a different twist. 

The introvert-adventurer in me longed to be a female Mowgoli, from the Jungle Book. It's in reflecting that I realize in my hundreds of detailed drawings of leafy trees, toucans, and baboons, that I long for a deep sense of solitude and importance. 

When I find these moments where I can push back the noise and sit alone outside, even though my circumstances are hardly alike with Mowgoli, I begin to let the quiet seep into my soul. And like good coffee, it gets better the longer it sits.

This week, I was pet-sitting, caring for two small dogs and a cat. This morning I got to sit on the back deck with my essential oil bug spray (yay for arborvitae and actually not getting bit by mosquitoes) and the five pound, gray dog on my lap listening to the birds that I felt whole again. 

There's restoration in the silence. In the silence, we start to hear Jesus. I start to hear His voice over the chaos and actually remember to sit in His presence.

In the chaos of life as an introvert, I can feel overwhelmed by everyone's presence that I just want to be alone SO MUCH that I don't even think to enter Jesus' presence. ''I just want to be alone!'' I feel like storming. . . and then remember, that's not ultimately restorative.

Being alone with Jesus is.

Don't get me wrong. Community is awesome and refreshing in its own way. I'll write more on that later. 

But for those of you who like me are overwhelmed, come find a quiet place, and be quiet with Jesus.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

when you don't think you can

Today, I had to be the tough teacher. I had to demand respect instead of politely ask for it. I had to fill shoes I didn't feel adequate to fill. And in my heart, I was questioning my own right to be in charge.

It all comes back to identity. Who am I? What right do I have to "fill-in-the-blank"? 

But when I remind myself to look into the face of Jesus, I realize that He's given me this job. Teaching was something that He directed my steps to. Surely He can give me the courage and authority over my classroom. 

Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God [granted by His permission and sanction], and those which exist have been put in place by God. (Amplified Version).

So when I look in the mirror, peering deep into my eyes, noticing the dark circles and the lines beginning to form around my eyes and forehead from the stress of teaching, this slaps me in my face. I can't dig down deep and find it within myself to be everything I ought to be. . . I can't.

I can't look at myself because I am faulty and make mistakes, and don't always have the right answer.

But I can turn to God and find the answers and the wisdom in Him alone. Not in myself. I can remind myself that I teach by the permission and blessing of God! 

God has given us each spheres of influence. Whether you teach, too, or work in a cubicle, or are a journalist and travel the world, or a campus minister for college students, or a pastor, or an engineer, or a parent, or friend, you have a sphere of influence! This influence is not an accident. Not something to balk at, but a gift and responsibility. 

And this gives me courage. 

Jesus, please grant me the courage to fill these shoes you've given me. Thank you for daily provision. God, give me grace. Amen.

"I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation." 
(taken from Please check out The Contemplative Writer blog. Super encouraging and peaceful.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What I wish I knew about teaching when I started. . .

That sometimes your "little angels" will seem like they are out to get you. . . and they really might be . . . or maybe they had a fight with their brother in the car right before school and they can't recenter themselves without some help.

Some days you'll wish you did something super boring like typing 80 words per minute and didn't have to talk to anyone but other days you'll go on a nature walk with your kids and look at leaves. . . and someone will pick something that looks a whole lot like poison ivy (even after your lesson about avoiding it). You'll momentarily freak out and then realize it's Virginia Creeper (same leaf pattern, but a set of five leaves instead of three)

Some days you'll see the light bulb go off in someone's head and you'll fall in love with teaching all over again and then someone will sneeze on you and remind you that kids can still be gross and intelligent at the same time.

Some days you'll be way too excited that lemurs at the Duke Lemur Center can "count" and your students will be slightly weirded out that you care so much about lemurs and counting objects. . . 

and then one of your kids will tell you something cool about a yo-yo

And this is teaching.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Remembering the half of our lives that gets forgotten

This evening, I read this awesome blog over at the Art of Simple:

Please check it out! Super refreshing!

Brooke talks about how there's the half of our souls that is responsible, and the other half is our creative, spontaneous side that gets neglected when life is hard.

So I'm writing this post because I've neglected that half of my soul. I've been busy teaching, taking classes online (and struggling!), and dating, and this weekend I broke up with my boyfriend, realized I was doing poorly in my online classes, and found out that two of my students are having a terrible time in life.

And I can't carry this weight any more. I can't be responsible and logical and think through the five next steps right now.

I want to escape to the mountains and camp by myself and watch the stars by a fire and knit.

So on Friday, I bought yarn because I haven't knit anything in forever and I need creativity. I need to breathe on that fire again.

Today, friend on this road of life, if you're weary and tired of being responsible and on top of your stuff, and have forgotten that you love to paint, or write poetry, or stare at the stars, please join me in this attempt to find Christ and refreshment in resting in Him. I can't do this adult-thing in my own strength and I've tried it (subconsciously) too long. I'm running back to Jesus again with tears in my eyes.

Jesus, take this burden. Let me be your creative child running around with flowers in her hair and poetry on her lips and knitting in her hands. Let me be reminded that you're sovereign and you are Father. Abba Father who cares for me. Abba who takes my burdens and breathes refreshment into my dry bones. Holy Spirit, breathe fire into my soul. Rekindle my passions for you and my passions for life. 

If I can be praying for you or you have an encouragement you want to leave, leave it in the comments below! <3