Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Is love alive?

I don't know why Winter Song is classified as a Christmas song, but I love it. Every time it comes on, I am moved.  It asks the question that we all are asking ourselves.  Is love alive?
The ten o'clock news answers no.  Just last night, two teens trail an UPS truck stealing packages off people's front porches.  A mother stabs her 19 month old to death. St. Louis homicide number keeps rising with two more murders. There is no love.
Then in the last few weeks, the news and social media has blown up with images of the tension in our streets.  Yelling, vandalism, looting all testify that there is no love.
People everywhere are struggling with something.  Many feel alone and without hope.  Is love alive? The darkness lies and answers no, love has died. 
How can I possibly know that is a lie and not the truth?  How can I reject that love has died when the evidence points to the very fact - love cannot be found?

Because I see you.

I see my coworkers give of themselves.  Donating money to a family whose children (yes, that is right - plural) are battling cancer.  I see them buy sodas as a special prize.  I see them take care of mother-in-laws who are sick. I see hugs given every day. In big and small ways, they always answer yes when someone asks or they recognize a need for help. I see love.

I sit next to my friend while our daughters are in dance class.  She visits a home of a single mom who just had a baby and has nothing under the tree for her other children.  She asks if our small group can pull off Christmas for the children.  Absolutely.  It is never too late to help out.  I feel love.

Encouraging texts come through my phone every morning. I read love.

I look around at church this past Sunday morning, and I know we are a broken people.  But I see people being healed by love. I see the people I "do life" with. I am surrounded by love.

A star in the dark night sky alerted the Magi that love had come in the form of a baby. His love drives out the darkness and replaces it with light. 

Is love alive?  Yes, yes it is.  


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Master

"No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and Money."  Matthew 6:24-25  I have never felt connected to this verse.  I didn't understand the frustration that comes from trying to serve two masters until now.  
I was so fresh out of college that I might as well have worn my graduation gown to the interview. I didn't know much.  In fact, I didn't know anything about the programs the district used to implement the Texas objectives.  But in a crowded room and sensing that my name was about to be scratched off the list, I made eye contact with the principal and said:  "You will never regret hiring me.  Thank you for the opportunity to interview for a position."  Three days later, I became a first grade teacher.  I knew from the very beginning what I wanted to accomplish.  I wanted a classroom full of readers and students, who when they left my classroom, never stopped wanting to learn.  
A lot has happened since then.  Benchmarks and tests were important 18 years ago, but now they have become a master. They believe each child is a number and that number better grow.  They want readers who can annotate a text and provide evidence to support their answer.  They want students to defend absolutes.  They don't ask if the child willingly picks up a book to read.  They don't ask if the child has a favorite author.  They don't ask to see the math problems a number-loving child writes in his math journal.  They don't ask how a child feels about coming to school.  Those things can't be quantified.  
As teachers, we constantly question how to please the master.  We wrestle with the costs the master requires and if we can pay the price.  Last year, I drove myself crazy trying to please that master.  I felt defeated and empty at the end of the year.  I took the summer to reflect and contemplate other career choices. But I decided to return to the classroom that has been my home for the last 15 years.  I told myself that I would honor the master, but I would see my students for who they were - the little girl celebrating her birthday, the boy who tells me he goes without lunch on the weekends, the students who clap when I finish reading a book to them.  I would not turn them into numbers on a spreadsheet. The last two weeks I have been giving benchmarks, grading them, and entering scores into a spreadsheet.  The master tells me that many of my students have failed so, therefore, I too have failed. 
I refuse to believe it.  My room is full of readers and students, who I hope and pray, will always love to learn.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's Possible

Dark, gloomy skies loomed overhead as eight gray lanes stretched ahead on our drive to church Sunday morning.  The stretch of I-70 through St. Charles could use a makeover.  I was looking around trying to find one redeeming factor, and all of a sudden I noticed a sharp green weed growing through a crack. Then tons of weeds sprouting up through drainage bars.  Mile after mile, slivers of green go unnoticed. I laughed to myself thinking isn't that just like God?    
In the middle of divorce, we think we won't love again. But we do.  In the middle of loss, we think we can never laugh again. But we do.  In the middle of job searching, we think we will never find one. But we do.  In the middle of gross injustices, we think peace will never come. But it will.  Our God is the God of the impossible.
Whatever circumstances you are in, whatever circumstances our city is in, whatever circumstances our friends across the ocean are in, our God can take our worst and turn into our best.  "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 29:11-14) 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Back in the Habit

I haven't written since Pa died. I can only write what is on my heart and that was where Pa was.  Grief is a personal experience, and I didn't want my feelings to hurt any of my family or share something that they would want held private. Then I got out of the habit, and no one seemed to miss it so I put it on a shelf.  
I have had an amazing 3 days attending Franklin Covey's 7 Habits of Successful People.  I've used their book, Leader in Me, in my classroom this past year. It's good stuff.  The training was looking at ourselves and how to apply the habits to our personal lives.  Now, I LOVE personality quizzes and self-reflection. I get that's not everyone's cup of tea and that's fine too.  But bear with me. Going through all of that self-reflection, I realized that I love to write.  It brings me clarity and peace.  I realized in the past that I wanted to encourage others with my writing and never realized that I was encouraging myself in the process. I need that in my life, and I am ok sharing that with you. :)