Tag Archives: teaching

FETTERS

This time of year always makes me smile – A LOT.

Just before Memorial Day, the fetters would fall away as I ran down the steps – grade card in hand.
Freedom.
Dog and cat days.
Bicycle and adventure days.
Endless days of reading book after book from a library that seemed endless.
Play days with friends in the neighborhood and cousins across town.
Hot days before air conditioning and whirling fans.
Singing days with my heart sister.
Wading days at Riverside Park.
Hammock days – covered and screened-in Marine treasure – waiting for the storm or the softness of evening.
Days and days of “No more teacher’s dirty looks”

Who knew I would be a teacher with a dirty look as autobiography deadlines were missed?

The idea of living my adult life connected to the school calendar definitely appealed to my inner child. Even now, as I watch the Grands in MI graduate from high school and finish the final essays in this part of their lives or the tiny NC Grands count down these last days in Montessori, I still feel that smile bubbling up inside me as well. It helps off set some of the bittersweet things that I know come with the beginning of June.

“Surely, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.”~IS 12:2

My last HMS class of 8th graders have posed for their final pictures at the high school. The last set of autobiographies have been stored on a shelf once again, and my connecting tethers to education are loosening even more. I have a feeling I will miss those tethers.

A few months back, I ran across a prayer. It was a simple prayer. A powerful prayer that caught my pen and found its way to the back of one of my note cards. Yesterday, as I was hanging some of those cards in my prayer closet, it caught my attention and the Spirit nudged hard..

“Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”~Robert Pierce,

Jewish sages teach that according to scripture there are two kinds of people that don’t mind being out-done by those they have been blessed to nourish – – – parents and teachers. When a parent watches their child stand successfully on their own or even build a life beyond the parent – the parent rejoices. In the same manner, a teacher who loves their student – smiles beyond measure when that student takes that knowledge and wisdom to soars beyond the classroom – – even when they soar even higher than the teacher.

My mom was like that. She rejoiced when I signed my first teaching contract. It was the first time, I remember being humbled by all her sacrifices. She cried over the phone as I told her how much I would be making because it was more money than she ever made in her life. I remember being dumbfounded – getting off the pay phone in the rooming house I managed,- and sniffling my tears into my Boo-dog’s fur. Don’t get me wrong, my heart was not really humbled yet – but in that moment – I understood the brokeness of God’s heart the first time. It is what I remembered as I prayed this prayer today.

June still makes me smile – just not in the same way. 2017 brings a mingling of those bittersweet memories and covering them in gold. Yesterday – a graduating class and graduating Grands. Autobiographies re-stored on a shelf. Tomorrow – a mother who danced into heaven 12 years as I held her close and whispered a song. The day after tomorrow – a 66th birthday to celebrate for this elder.

Different fetters falling away.
Tethers loosening.
Smiles to share.
Gotta love the freedom of the first week of June – no matter what year.

 

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RATIONS 100 DAYS! #45

“Oh, Holy Father of life, You who cause things to grow, prune me. Cut and trim as you will.”
 
Retired teachers never quit teaching. Even their dreams are filled with new classrooms and students. Last night’s dream found me in a cavernous room, stuffed full of students at large tables. I was told I was being sent there because they didn’t understand their material and had failed to advance numerous times. What they failed to mention was that I had to teach them – – –  but math – – – seriously????
 
“Lord, let Your Spirit come up within me like the living sap of a tree. Let it be Your heart that beats within my breast.”
 
Now – y’all who know me well – know that I hate math with a passion.I can usually do it (as long as it is not beyond algebra I) and feel fairly competent in geometry and down. But I could see the boredom and distaste in their faces as soon as I opened the door, so I went into teacher mode and the “sap” flowed once again. Laughter, interaction, excitement bubbled – even in me. I found myself chuckling (can you chuckle in a dream?) – math made sense and the ideas twisted into accomplishment
 
“Let the fruit of my life be a reflection of Your love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness.”
 
Heads bent over projects. Papers littered the floor with A’s marked in red at the top of them (as you probably know – time passes strangely in dreams). And when it came time to leave, none of us could believe that our class was over already. A dog was whining outside the door and I smiled (it was really my puppies who were hungry for breakfast). Time to go, and maybe, I could teach math (puppies began licking my face, begging loudly  and my eyes popped open).
 
Father, I can’t do anything without You. I don’t even want to try. Be the gardener…”~Francine Rivers in “Leota’s Garden” p 188.
 
God is always planting new ideas in my head. I have no idea why this particular idea was planted, but I intend to think on it for a while longer. There is something in the garden that I need to figure out. In the meantime – looks like this weekend will be a perfect time for going out in my physical garden and preparing it for fall crops. Lettuce, spinach, herbs, late tomatoes – love NC fall and a Father who says, “Here I am”.
 
1942 Daily Ration: Read: Isaiah 58:17
 
“Answer: thou shalt cry, and he shall say, ‘Here I am’.~Is 58:17
 
“All men cry unto the Lord in trouble. Even infidels have been known to do it in moments of sudden and serious danger. Great trouble has a way of driving people to God with desperate supplications.
 
“That’s something, of course – – -the prayer of desperation. It is something to believe that there is a Helper whom we can call upon in times of crisis. Blessed be trouble if it drives us to our knees and reminds us of a God we had forgotten! And many there be who are thanking trouble for having shaken them into living faith in the Almighty. They learned to pray when the storm was raging, and now that the skies are clear, they are still at their prayers. They have stopped waiting until trouble comes to break them up and lay them low.
 
“After all it is not danger, but detail, which test us most We need mettle not only for the big emergencies of life, but for the minor needs of every day. And if by habitual and daily prayer we can keep God real to us while the weather is good, we will not tremble when the storm breaks.
 
“Prayer: O blessed Creator, who knowest our frame and rememberest that we are dust, mercifully hear us when we pray, ad give us the mind of courage and faith, the mind of Christ. This we beg in his holy nae. Amen.”

Commandment Series-Respect for Parents and Teachers

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“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” Rev 22:1-5

I love the word picture that John paints in these verses.  I haven’t read Revelations for a while.  Truthfully? I’ve been avoiding it.  When I was in high school and college I was fascinated by Revelations and read it often.  I thought if I read the words often enough, I would eventually glean the wisdom it contained. But so many of the pictures that John was trying to describe in this book was beyond my imagination and knowledge at that point.  Needless to say over the course of the last 45 years, I’ve returned to it periodically.  Occasionally grasping a thought or image only to feel that most of the wisdom in this book was still beyond my ken.  However, lately…even now as the sun’s rays are finally slicing through the clouds that have covered our area for the past 3 days to warm my typing fingers…hints that it is time to return to a more in-depth study of this book.

I wish there was a Jewish Talmud written about the New Testament.  A rabbi who looked at Our Lord’s and His disciples’ words in much the same way as they ancient-rabbi-teachingspoke them.  That is one thing that I truly love about the Jewish religion.  The sages have never stopped debating – concentrating on the very basics of the written Hebrew language, each jot and tittle, as well as the overall context and content of the Torah – seeking to take new understanding from the WORD and Our Father who spoke through them.  In our society, I believe most of us tend to think that if we have read our devotions and forced ourselves to find time to read a few new chapters in the Bible, we’ve done enough our filial duty.  Can we ever understand anything about God in just a few minutes out of our “busy” day?

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Ex 20:12

In Jewish tradition, teachers are included in the fifth commandment.  Since most societal groups look at parents as the first teachers of a child, this inclusion teachermakes a lot of sense.  The extension of respecting teachers follows logically. Yet – as more and more parents are working full time (or several part time) jobs – teaching children has become a communal project.  Teachers, yes – babysitters are teachers – are entering the child’s sphere of existence at earlier and earlier stages of life.  Whether you acknowledge it or not, children are being taught by whoever is around them. Teachers are found in all shapes and sizes.  Yesterday, at our after school program, a young 13 year old was explaining the facts of life to some of our  much younger students.  I’m not sure some of  our first grade parents were ready to have that conversation last night around their supper table.  Hmmm….that is….if they sit around the table to eat supper and actually talk to each other.  sigh.

“To one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” – James 4:17 NASB

Is it any wonder that I kids argue with their parents and teachers?  They have had many teachers.  They see their parents argue with their teachers.  They see parents argue with each other.  Teachers argue with each other.  By observation Family_Portraitalone, children learn that rules must be negotiable.  Children learn that one set of rules at home, may be different at the babysitters’ – the pre-school’s – the other biological parents’ or grandparents’ homes.  Nap time?  Negotiable.  Homework? Negotiable.  Cuss words?  Jacket worn to school?  Move to a new seat in the classroom?  No recess?  Fighting at school? TV? Computer? Phone?  Children are adaptable and learn pretty quickly where they can stretch the boundaries…any boundary…ALL boundaries.

Our “busy” and “denuclearized” society makes this commandment even more difficult.  Parents divorced.  Many step-parents and siblings. Many quasi-step-parents and sibs.  Grandparents – married into or quasi????  Attachments extended familyto family members?  As adults enter their own sphere of knowledge, it gets easier and easier to break those familial attachments.  The “Honoring” bird flies quickly away when not fed.  Instead, it is much easier to use our “new” family, our job, our extra curricula activities (sports, friends, downtime etc.) as an excuse.  After all, how much time does that grown child remember spending with their own parents while they were growing up – especially if there was a divorce or multiple divorces?  A few phone calls – every so often (weekly? monthly? occasionally?) – to the parental units and call it good.  That’s honoring, right?  Spend a holiday or two with them – maybe – if they live close enough and nothing else is planned.  That’s honoring, right?  Asking them to help out with a sick child or pick-up child.   That’s honoring…right?

I don’t know about you, but as I ponder the fifth commandment more deeply and think about all the messiness of our world, I wish this commandment was handed out to every family unit and read aloud each evening as prayers are said. I wish it was still posted in schools.  Perhaps……sadly……the fifth commandment really is  hard to follow.

BTW – the sun that broke through the clouds as I was typing the first paragraph?  Was completely swallowed up by the said clouds as soon as I started typing the second paragraph.  God winked so I guess I’m going to be spending some time reading Revelations today.  joy-comes-with-the-morning

*pictures Google images/Youtube

 

 

Commandment Series – Prohibition of Oaths

10-commandmentsThis has been one of those weeks where I’ve had to deal with some of the aspects of teaching that I don’t like very well.  Our supervisor is out for the next 12 weeks enjoying a new blessing to her family which leaves us, not only short a person on supervisory portion of the job, but also puts me in charge of many more of the challenges that face teachers.  I thought when I retired, I wouldn’t have to do much of this anymore, but apparently – once again – I was wrong.  So here I am reminding myself – AGAIN – this is a blessing, this is a blessings, this…is…a…BLESSING.

I’m smiling right now, because yesterday I helped several second graders with a Common Core informational text that talked about the scientific concept of force.  Besides not knowing a lot of the words in the text, the conceptional ideas were a little abstract.  So we pushed and pulled some little things and then some big things, and the light bulb grew a little brighter. That is what I love about teaching.

“To one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” – James 4:17 NASB 

It was the rest of the day that was a challenge for me.  Most of you who have ever dealt with children know that “when the dogs are away, the cats like to play”.  Needless to say, the students are pushing against any boundary just to see if they are still there.  Small children have small pushes.  Larger children push backs are with a little more force.  So far this week I have dealt with nuisances of talking too loud, constant roaming and ignoring simple rules that have been in place for the year.  Thus, instead of teaching, I talk to the kids, remind them of rules, line up the consequences and bring it to the attention of parents at end of day.  There has also been two small skirmishes.  Repetition occurs with a stronger talk to kids – line up consequences – implementation of course of action – apprise the rest of the staff – talk to parents about said skirmish and concerns – fill out paper work. Needless to say, amid all of this has been appearance of inappropriate language.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” Ex 20:7 

This is a hard one these days.  Kids hear cuss words everywhere…parents, society, books, movies, even video games.   OMG (O My God)…or for that matter – any of the curses that employ Our Father or Jesus’s name…is so popular that it even comes out of my Grands’ mouths when I’m babysitting. (Needless to say, they do get corrected when I’m there.)  In Jewish tradition, God is often written G-d because the word is held with such sacredness.  In some sects, they will not even speak it.  God’s holiness is that special.  When we use anyone’s name in anger or frustration – let alone – God’s name, aren’t we “cursing them”?  As I’m writing this, I am trying to imagine substituting a loved one’s name for God’s name in OMG.  I can’t imagine even wanting to do that.

I read a book in college about how language is just a mess words that we assign meaning to and that cussing only holds meaning if we allow it to do so.  It’s premise was that cussing is fine, and people should get over it.  I tried cussing for awhile. Let a few words flit into my conversations here and there.  But when I began teaching and  watching my students closely, I could see the pain of ugly words and decided to try to turn my words once again. Blessing or curse, it is just a mess of words, but the choice is our – blessings or curse.

According to Jewish wisdom this commandment covers more than “taking His name in vain” (which was the way I learned it long ago).  This commandment instructs them to keep ALL oaths as sacred.  God makes promises to us and He ALWAYS keeps them.  This commandment instructs us to hold our promises with the same devotion as God holds His promises.

Make a promise in court?                     Keep it!

Make a promise to your spouse?         Keep it!

Make a promise to your children?      Keep it!

Make a promise to your boss?  Friend?  Pet?  Society?  Yourself?    KEEP IT!

When we keep our promises as Jehovah-Tsid Kenu keeps His promises, we are bringing His strong kingdom a little closer into existence within our rickety kingdom. Remember the old, old story of dropping a pebble into the water and watching the ripples radiate further and further out?  It is the same when we follow this commandment and keep our promise.  The consequences continue to ripple out from ourselves – to our families – to our community – to our society.  It is exactly what Christ asked us to do when He told us to pray:  “…thy kingdom come – thy will be done…”  LK 11:2    So…once again….is it really so hard to follow His third commandment?

Lenten Journey #25

It has been niggling – right there – at the corner of my mind for the past 24 hours. A nebulous concept shifting in and out of focus like a shape shifter that can’t decide what shape to take.”Be strong in the LORD and in the strength of His might…” Ep 6:10

Yesterday at my after-school program, 5 of the fifth graders, another teacher and myself were sitting around debating a homework assignment. Actually. a very good homework assignment – wasn’t from the Common Core Standards book  – and students were engaged. As tutors – so were we. In fact, by the time we finished the homework page, there were several of the older students also interacting with us. Everyone was communicating and learning about a subject and themselves.

“…you shall love your friend as you love yourself.” Lev 19:18shoes b
Shoes. It all started with a survey about shoes. The survey question: How many pairs of shoes do you own?” There were 8 questions that the students had to fill out that dealt with math – range, outliers, total number, average, charting… Got the picture, right? While doing all the math, communication was developing as well…and on many different levels: cost of shoes; why shoes are important; pairs of shoes parents and teachers had; shoes that someone had seen at the Holocaust Museum; affluence, poverty…it was good to listen and watch all of it unfold.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luk 12:33contemporary-shoeracks

We are an affluent country. The students in the group said their teacher did put a limit on claiming more than 11 pairs of shoes. Two of the girls in our small group said they had more than 11 pairs of shoes. That is when the shape-shifter started darting around the corners. I came home and counted my pairs of shoes. I counted my husbands pair of shoes. I went to my daughter’s house and counted their pairs of shoes (only the ones in the hallway – I didn’t go crawling under the beds or backrooms  ). WE HAVE LOTS OF SHOES! (My husband and I both have 7 pairs of shoes – in case you’re wondering – surprised me…I thought I had more  )

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” Matt 6:19holocaust shoes

Clothes – shoes – toys – technology gadgets – food in the pantry and fridge – rooms full of stuff – we are a comfortable society…for the most part. For those of us in the middle income/affluent income, it is easy to complain we don’t make enough – bemoan our lack of money – run up the charge card – buy the newest necessity – play the lottery – But it makes me wonder and wonder some more. Where is our treasure?

“Yeshua said to him, ‘My Kingdom is not from this world…’ ” Jn 18:36

We know where Christ considered His treasure. On His three year journey, Rabbe Jesus traveled with only a handmade robe, woven by His mother, between him and the elements, one pair of well-worn sandals to protect His weary feet, a shawl to cover His head in the temple – cradle His head at night – protect His head in unseemly weather, and the dust dyed everything.

“Put on the full armor of God…” Ep 6:10

I think that nebulous shape-shifter is starting to become more focused during this lenten journey, and so I pray – and pray some more. “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one.”

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Lenten Journey #14

Lenten journeys don’t need to be long. Occasionally, they are just two steps forward and that is enough for the day. Jesus made this journey the same way. Teaching and reaching out to His disciples, His people and His gentiles. Man enough to hope and wonder if He was giving and doing enough to help them find the faith that they would need after the coming Passover, but God enough to know that it would be accomplished.  Salvation is at hand.  These are the same things that make you ponder and then shake in thankfulness amid all the worries of world.

FAITH…

prayer

1. “The most important Christians are not the ones who preach great sermons and write great books, but the ones who pray, and pray, and pray some more, sharing the quiet but effective victory of Jesus over all that defaces God’s creation.” ~ N.T. (Tom) Wright

 

PRAYER

mustard-seed-faith_t_noverse1

2. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” 1 Cor 12:4-6