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.