Monday, October 27, 2008

It's NOT!!!

This weekend I went to Peace River. One of the churches there is doing the Focus on the Family Truth Seminars. I needed groceries and decided to stay and go with one of my coworkers, who regularly attends that church. This week's topic: History. His Story. Not Jenstory.

It was rather humbling to remember that I am not in control. Somedays this is a relief. Other times it is a struggle. Right now, this week and month and school year, it is more on the relief side. There are things going on in my student's lives that I can not solve. I get the fall out of that in my classes but I don't have to solve it.

It was even more humbling to remember that it is not all about me. We are a part of a larger story. At our break out sessions though the conversation revolved around me, me, I, me. Every person who talked, talked about themselves and their story and strugles.

How do we make life not about us? How do we put ourselves in the frame of history and God's plan? How do we remember that we are not the center? How do we live it out? I look at history's figures and the pain and anguish they went through to bring glory to God. I get lonely and grumpy and think that I must be out of God's will.

Remembering that there is a metanarrative is rather hopeful. In the quest for life's meaning, there is a paradox. We can only find importance if our story loses importance and becomes wrapped up in God's plan. That is when our lives have meaning. Without that metanarrative, we are just clouds of breath and beautiful piles of dust. How depressing.

I understand it but how do I live it. I need some tips here.

P.S. Why oh why does this have to occur a 2.5 hour drive away? Once again it is all about me.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Teaching the Isrealites

This school year for my devotions I am trying to read through a chronological version of the Bible. I highly recommend this as it gives a new perspective on the events in the Bible. I am at the part where the Isrealites escaped Isreal and are wandering around the desert grumbling and complaining and trying to make deals with God. Reading through some of the stories made me chuckle today because I swear that the Isrealites were a bunch of adolescents and I swear that some days I feel like I am teaching the Isrealites. I don't mean to equate myself with God but sometimes I act like him. I never really understood God much in the wandering episode. He seems a bit vindictive but now I understand. Maybe He was just trying to get the teenaged nation to GROW UP.

For example, the Isrealites were given manna everyday. A miracle happened every morning in order to feed and nourish them and what did they do? They complained. "Why can't we have meat? We had meat in Egypt." My students . . . Well I don't mean to say that my lessons are miraculous but I try my best to make them as interesting as possible. And what do my students do? They complain. "This is boring. So and so's class is so much more interesting. I wish that we could just do worksheets."

God's response was often to give them what they wished for and let thenm deal with the consequences, even if it involved big piles of rotting quail. Sometimes I take great vindictive joy in making my students' wishes my command. "You want more worksheets. OK. Here is a 3 pager. It is due tomorrow. If you don't get it done, you will have DT. Have fun." I don't think that God took vindictive joy in his actions though.

Another example is when the Isrealites were supposed to move into Canaan and didn't out of fear. God was upset. He made their wish his command. "OK you are too scared. Well then you won't take possession of the land. Your children will." So then the Isrealites feel bad and try to attack the Canaanites anyway to disastrous effect. AHHHH How often do my students do this? They misbehave, swear in class, give attitude, talk back and when I try to mete out a consequence they get all repentant. "I am so sorry. I will do better." And for the three seconds that are left in class, they are perfect angels and are surprised when the consequences don't change.

There are days when I, like God, feel like stiking my students down. Today is a case in point. I had some canteen items in my room for a math project. I went to put them away today and discovered that a whole box of gum and a whole box of rice krispy squares are missing. I am angry and feel like revenge. My students will come up with excuses. "You shouldn't have left them out for anyone to take. They aresn't worth that much anyway" I will angrily reply, "It is stealing. Just because something is left out in the open it doesn't mean that you have the right to take it." I will explain to them how they lost my trust and how that is invaluable.

But eventually, some student will appeal to my character. They will appeal to the fact that I am compassionate and that my whole job as a teacher hinges on believing in and trusting my students and that someday they will leave this stage of adolescence and grow up. I will start to trust again and my anger will dissipate. Until next time. For I know that there will be a next time and that is so frustrating and disappointing. But I can not stop loving and trusting.

Now I understand how God feels when he deals with me.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Creative Saturday

On Saturday I decided to be creative instead of lolling around procrastinating the short journey to the school. So I pulled out my sewing machine - made out of all plastic parts and designed for a child- and started sewing. I am not going to paste pictures of my creation because I have a cousin who does lovely sewing projects and posts pictures all the time. My creation is not lovely. It has visible and stray threads, crooked lines of sewing. pieces that don't match up in size. It looks rustic. It looks like a child on a child's sewing machine created it. I would blame the sewing machine but that wouldn't be fair.

Nontheless I am proud of my creation. It is a green, rice bag snake complete with a red mouth, button eyes and a tail. Today I gave it to the ECS teacher so that her students can cuddle with it and be grounded with its heaviness.

I have forgotten how much joy one can get by creating and giving. I read an article this week in Reader's Digest about the health benefits of gratitude. I am making a pledge to find three things that I am grateful for everyday and writing them down. Here is today's list.

1. I am grateful sweet potatoes soup and corn bread. Good home cooking.
2. I am grateful for the joy that giving gives the giver and the reciever. Giving makes the world a better place.
3. I am grateful for the internet and how it can connect people together and can help us pay our bills on time. Honestly I don't know how I would have survived in Trout Lake prior to the age of internet.