Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Unexpected finds

(Qualifier: The reason behind the following is not that I live in a tent. Actually, I leave my bedroom window and front doors wide open for air circulation. They open onto the screened front porch, but that door has a crack under it...)

I looked into the corner of the bathroom the other day. What was that odd little pile?

OH! A frog! Well, I was glad it was a little one, rather than a gooey fat one like we found in the garden or the drinker. I didn't mind picking him up and throwing him back outside.

I realized there was a spider web in the "happy room," around the corner from the kitchen. Then I realized there was a spider. I left it. I hate flies in the kitchen.

This morning I walked back into my bedroom, flipping the light on. In my half-awake state, I puzzled over the large lint pile moving slowly across the white rug. Finally, it dawned on me that it was actually a worm covered in lint. I was glad I hadn't stepped on this creature who would have fit with Jack's beanstalk. He was about 3 inches long, with a 1/2 inch diameter; appearances said tomato worm. I wrapped him in a paper towel before smashing him. Who wants to leave that kind of goop on an off-white carpet? And who wants my already struggling tomato plants eaten?

Last week I cleaned out the file cabinet in my classroom. It was filled with treasures - a wedding invitation from two years ago, a printer cord buried amongst the Christmas art cutouts, about 100 copies of a paper snowflake, and language papers from 1981. I have two almost empty drawers now, and two neatly organized sets of hanging folders.
I cleaned out my thoughts the other night. I realized that I was becoming distracted by people and neglecting the Lord's approval. Throw those folks' opinion where they should be, on the outside.

I had a conversation in which I realized that I could NOT understand why people wanted to party in the midst of classes. I think I'll leave my lack of imagination as is. It works.

Hidden. Deep in my heart, covered with justifiable feelings of denial and disbelief, creeping into my relationships, I found something else. Bitterness, unforgiveness - creeping into my thought patterns. I'm wrapping them up in prayer, but I need to smash them...

My mind is filled with treasures. Some of them truly are good things, dreams and memories. Some are mine, but some I've gleaned from the ideals of others. I wonder, have I allowed the treasures to clutter what the Lord is doing? He's cleaning, I know, and making room.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Borrowing children

I'm always amazed by people who knew me when I was little and still recognize me. Apparently I haven't changed much. Anyway, the other day in Dairy Queen, I was chatting with one of these. She wondered if my 12 year old friend was my child.

"I'm not old enough to be his mom!!!!" I thought - but I didn't say it. All of a sudden I realized that I am old enough to be his mom. That's a little scary.

I've developed a friendship with a family at church who have a 6 and a 7 year old; they've had a lot going on, so the kids have stayed with me a lot lately. My mom commented that as a a caregiver I would not, "usurp parental authority," despite having the kids for so much time.

During the Dairy Queen discussion, I told my acquaintance, "I just borrow other people's children." She said, "It's nice to take them home, isn't it, then the parents have the problems?" I had to think.... sometimes it is. I am a little spoiled to looking forward to a quiet house and only myself to keep on schedule. These young friends, unlike Eagles' Wings kids, go home to loving parents. I don't have to worry about them, or usurp the parents in order to give the children structure, so taking them home doesn't cause me grief.

But I said, "Sometimes it isn't. I like kids." It's true: that's probably why I'm a teacher. Why Eagles' Wings drew me. Why I beg to babysit, and sometimes just outright ask to borrow children for a while. I'm not sure that the quiet house outweighs the joy of life with young ones. And when I have them, the responsibility strikes me repeatedly: what will this child take away from me? Will their parents appreciate that which I return? Or - do I just enjoy the moment and avoid the problems?

A choice to make...

What about our other blessings? The ones the Lord loans us. When we return them, what does He receive? What do our friends take away? How do we care for our gifts and talents and time? Enjoy the moment and avoid the problems? Or remember that a debt should be repaid in full, with interest. To him that has, it shall be given....

The best of a teacher's world

Between facebook and the blog, I've shared the essence of my travels, the "exciting" part of my life. I shared the coffee and the beloved friends, some pretty pictures, good food, and just generally different sorts of sites. That covered my summer - EXCEPT.

Except. Teaching is a part of me. A tremendous part of my identity is that of "teacher." And for 6 1/2 blessed days of my "vacation," I taught. I had the best of a teacher's world, really: I walked into lesson plans made, all supplies ready, a well-trained classroom. Well, well-trained for Luz y Vida kids in first grade, anyway. We can disregard the random departures of a little girl who went to sit in the non-functional fireplace and the little boy who simply ran random circles. And we should be able to disregard the child who literally could NOT cease talking. Quite insignificant disruptions when you consider my last Luz y Vida class, or the fact that the first graders in Bible school were just as random, if not quite so ignorant of limitations.

Anyway, the best of a teacher's world: that it was. Spanish is a lovely language. The letters make the sounds, the sounds make the words. There are no dipthongs and exceptions and multiple ways to spell the same sound. These little first graders might have only been 10 or 12 weeks into the school year, but already they could read words. What fun to help them use a new letter in that process! What fun to have 6 students and, IF you stay on your toes, actually engage them in activities.

Luz y Vida is a ministry school. There are strengths and weaknesses in that statement. Pay is nonexistent for the "profes," and supplies are not abundant. But, like Spanish, it is simpler. The goal is that children learn.

Now, I am preparing for my school year here in the States. We have an online curriculum mapper. We have state standards. And core standards. And English language development standards. We have strategies for success, goals for AYP, and technology integration. I think our system is a bit like English: there are too many exceptions to find the rules, too many ways to success to quickly proceed in our process.

Complaining doesn't help. Cooperation does. I will pray for Luz y Vida, for volunteers, for strength and energy and wisdom, for children to hear the Word of God. And I will pray for Santa Rosa Elementary, for teachers to keep on, for strength and energy and wisdom, for Jesus' light to shine in a dark world.

That's the language of a teacher.

P.S. The best part of Luz y Vida: Two precious little boys, brothers, who were in my 4 year old class at El Otro Camino in 2008 were in the first grade. They've no structure, no money, no welfare, and no ideal parents, but through the work of the ministry, they can read. Thank you, Lord!