Monthly Archives: September 2010

Happy September

The British have done it again.  It’s Saturday morning, Josh is still sleeping, and Jackson is glued to his newest favorite tv show: Postman Pat.  The Brits have the ability to create a kid show that promotes community values and doesn’t involve loud music or over-stimulation. So I’m completely comfortable having some quiet time, reflecting on the last weeks, while Jack learns about the important job of being a postman.

The start of this school year was exciting for me because, for the first time in three years, I didn’t suffer an identity crisis about whether I was supposed to assume the role as “teacher” again.  In fact, I knew that substitute teaching was exactly what I am supposed to do this year, and if you know me at all, finding peace in decisions does NOT come easily for me.  I had been contacted about a full-time teaching job at West Ottawa, and I was even told by the department chair that they were looking forward to interviewing me, but it didn’t surprise me a bit when I never heard about it again.  It’s not what I’m supposed to do right now.  Through the hustle and bustle of Target’s back to school aisles as kids picked out notebooks and backpacks, I picked up a simple portfolio to take notes on for teachers. That felt liberating.

Jack is going to Jean Den Herder’s house twice a week again, and he couldn’t be more thrilled. He LOVES Jean’s house.  His friends have all grown up a little bit and they can interact and play together more than they could in May.  The first day, he darted across Jean’s living room for his favorite basket of toys as if he had been there yesterday.  As a parent, it is indescribably satisfying to have a daycare that you both love and trust.  Jean’s house is cozy and eclectic.  For example, she inserted a small nook by the door with low hooks for little ones to put backpacks and coats.  Her kitchen has a vintage round table that is two feet above the ground (no table for her or her family, just the kids).  Her toys are not bright and plastic; they are worn, old, plain, and the kids love them.  I believe Jack explores his imagination more thoroughly at Jean’s because the environment is perfect for creativity, and he is surrounded by kids his age whose minds are as wild and unlimited as his.

While Jack spent his day on the playground and at the art easel, I spent the day on Wednesday teaching middle school Social Studies at Holland East.  I left the day feeling great about substituting, but my shoulders and back were so tired, I felt myself slump as I made my way to the car.  I’m hopeful this is because it was the first day and I need to get readjusted to the chaotic life of teaching school.  I loved taking attendance, reading announcements, answering questions, and delivering a lesson on maps (those poor children).  I loved walking around, helping find coordinates for latitude and longitude.  The day, overall, was a success.  But, what made me so tired?

I think it’s the fact that, when teaching school, your mind–at any given moment–is processing at least ten things.  In every class, there are students who are late, unprepared, acting up.  There are students who don’t care about you, the lesson, or anyone else around them.  It truly is exhausting to keep up the state of alertness for seven straight hours, and I used to believe I could spend my days teaching, come home to my family with enough energy left over to clean, cook, and spend quality time with the boys. After Wednesday, I know I would not be the mother or teacher I want to be if I tried to reconcile and combine these two full-time jobs.  Which is why I know God spared me from finding this out the hard way.

I’m so looking forward to this year: being in the classroom, continuing graduate school, spending loads of time raising Jack, volunteering at church, supporting Josh, and watching God unfold His plans for us…

Happy September!

Flipped

I have had the privilege of attending 2 churches who share guest speakers: The Dobsons.  If you haven’t heard Ed Dobson or his son Kent speak, you really must.  Instead of being at church, I feel transported to my days as a religion student at Hope, and I want the lights to come up and to be sitting at a small desk, notebook open and pen ready.  There’s an educational feel to their preaching, which, for me, is engaging.  They speak as if the room is small, and they usually embellish the sermon with Jewish history, symbology, or other academia not often found in the common sermon.  They both ask questions and actually expect the congregation–10 people or 10,000–to audibly respond.

Today’s question: Is religion good or bad?

We were to respond with “yes” “no” or “i’m not sure”, raising our hand almost like casting a vote.  The problem, of course, is all the little questions tucked deeply inside the big question.  The sermon wasn’t big enough–or intended for–the answering of all the little questions; but, by the end, it produced an even greater question for me: What is this all for?

I’m not sure how often you ask yourself this, but I believe we all have these moments in our lives that tunnel all of our tasks, priorities, duties, responsibilities into one word: Why?

Why do we do the things we do?  What is the deep, driving force beneath our actions?  What belief system is in tact underneath everything we do–conscious or unconscious?

Sometimes I can reflect on these questions and actually feel too exhausted or preoccupied to even care; and other times I’m merely side-swiped by their implications, but I genuinely search for answers in these pockets of solitude I find. And then there is the rare occasion, almost like the one shooting star you are able to witness, where these questions flip everything upside down in your life.  The questions become relevant to every detail–the servanthood of cooking, the responsibility of paying a bill or helping someone change a tire, the nurturing of bathing your child. If it really is all about Jesus–ALL about Jesus, then how can I make the next ten minutes more heaven-like? If it really is all about Jesus, then who can I help right now?  If it’s really all about Jesus, how can this small, particular task honor Him?

Tomorrow my plans are mundane.  I wish I was off to save the rainforest or rescue an orphan.  I believe God has plans to use me and Josh someday in huge ways that are “big” and have a “wow” factor.  Sometimes my vanity even causes me to desire the praise for similar heroic acts.  But, as I’m humbly reminded, it is not about me.  It never will be.  It never should be.  And everything I do tomorrow and for the rest of my life should be in response to the God who lovingly created me.

I’m grateful that my world was flipped upside down.  Everything is exposed that way and I have the excuse to get rid of spiritual clutter.  Because, it’s pretty simple that Jesus is the “why”.  I’m thankful for the inconvenient, messy, and beautiful reminder.