Tuesday, September 30, 2008

the essentials

From my journal, fourteen months ago. Two weeks before I left for Kolkata.

I read Voice of the Martyrs magazine, and I wonder: What kind of alternate universe are we living in? A world where we play cards and buy lunches and dinners out and spend four dollars on mochas, no thought to it, and there is very little dissonance in our world, and perhaps, perhaps there should be more. Your people are having their heads cut off in places like Indonesia, and I am worried about my weight and whether I exercised enough today to counteract the calories I know I consumed. What is wrong with me? Why is my view so skewed?

Persecution should bother me. Poverty should bother me. Ignorance and want should bother me. Injustice should rile me. Instead, I turn my head away and think about other things. I don’t remember You or Your Kingdom. I don’t remember or have a strong enough vision of what You want to do for this world. Show me Your grace, Jesus! Show me Your wild and unending love. Show me how great You are. Show me that You are more than my biggest dream, and that the edges of the things I hope for can be true.

I need You to conquer
my apathy
and my demons
and my bondage
and all the things that keep me from loving,
aiming high and holy.

I have been thinking about disaster recently. In times of disaster, we find that our lives are reduced down to the essentials. All the frivolity evaporates. I want my life pared down to the essentials in times of plenty as much as in times of famine. Then when the darkness comes, there is less between me and the light.

What is Your Kingdom? How am I bringing Your Kingdom?

I touched the edge of the land of famine last year. Barely grazed it with my hip. Here I am, surrounded by bounty again, and again, I forget.

Written last year. But could have been written today.

Friday, September 26, 2008

From the teacher's desk

I miss you, friends. Those of you who still might be reading these occasional thoughts, I miss you. I wish we lived closer.

I am at school right now. It is Friday. Fridays are to teachers as chicken leg bones are to dogs. Or something like that. :) My kids are reading; Fridays they have D.E.A.R. time (Drop Everything and Read), because heaven knows they don't do that any other time of the week. I am grading memory verse tests. Our memory verse this week was this:

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life must lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.'"
-Matthew 16:24-25

Weighty stuff for sixth graders. From their tests, I can tell that some of them achieved the first level of Bloom's taxonomy, knowledge, but how to move them past that? To get them to see Jesus' words as more than two sentences they reproduce for a red number in my gradebook?

I was praying for my class this week. We've been studying linking verbs and the four principal parts of a verb in Language. I want them to know those things, because in the end, that knowledge will make them better writers, and if you can write well, you can impact the world. But my plea for them is that if they never remember a linking verb after the test, they will come to know Jesus in a deeper way through this year. That is my heart's desire.

Do you ever want to give something to dear ones because you know they need it, but you also know they just have to find it themselves?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

When I grow up, I want to be...

I know I am terribly preoccupied when I don't journal. I am generally a once-a-day journaler, and journaling is the way I know what I'm thinking, or how I gauge what state my heart is in, and sometimes even the way I talk to God. I had a friend in college who was a verbal processor, and he would tell me things that he had never thought of before, like he was creating his thoughts as he was saying them, and I always thought that was odd. Different than the way I am wired, because I write about things, and I always know how I'm feeling about something before I speak the words into audible tones.

As of today, I haven't journaled for a good three weeks. That means my life is crazy. And I believe most folks call that crazy by the name of teaching.

I am a teacher. It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I stand in front of a room of preadolescent boys and girls who are closer to the adolescent line than not, and I am the one in charge. Yikes. I teach them grammar and wonder why there aren't more books written on how to make verb tenses fun. Or geography. Now there's a doozy. Can this blog take confessional turn as I reveal that before last week, I didn't even know where the Atacama Desert was? Well. Now all 15 of us in Room 8 do.

I love teaching. I do. I love the challenge of writing effective lessons and communicating ideas multiple ways so that more kids will understand. I love learning as I go. But the challenge outside the classroom is what's killin' me:

Where is my soul time?

Pray for me, friends. Pray that I will seek Jesus first. I don't know how to handle the currency of time. I know the balance is off, and I yearn to find it again.

When I get back to the journal, I'll let you know. That will be one fine day.