Monthly Archives: September 2012

Fall

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I can’t help but count down the months of this year. To be relieved as each unique pressure passes by at work. The start of the year is not easy. Kindergartners don’t know how to line up or follow any direction in mass for that matter. Cute might be nice when you’re dealing with one five year old, but having a whole room full of five year olds wanting to share every thought is not easy. Learning names…now that’s a challenge every fall. I easily must be able to recall 400 plus names weekly. And as the kids grow past me and I see them at Target or Bread Co. or wherever else I run into them I need to be able to recall them and add some age progressing filter so that I will still recognize them even years later. They recognize me…I don’t change that much. But having six graders come up to you and them expecting you to remember them from first grade is a bit tricky…they tend to do quite a bit of changing!

Fall is the time for rules and procedures…the time of year when you can’t let up or ease up in any way shape or form or you will live to regret it come winter and spring. Been there done that. Don’t do it anymore. Fall is when I must hold the line the hardest. And yet be fair and consistent and respectful and hopefully extend the love of Jesus at the same time. No easy job.

Fall is the time when I have such a hard time coming off of summer and not wanting to be bound by the weight of going back to school. People talk about the wonderful season of fall and I get it. I do. I mean the cooler air, the changing leaves…if I was in any other profession I would probably love fall too. But I can’t quite get past the reality of it being the beginning of a long year.

I’m a good teacher. I give it everything I have. Everyday. That’s probably the problem. I do give it everything I have everyday. Maybe if I could hold something back it would make it easier. But how do you hold something back when you’re job is interacting with children all day. What if they suddenly move away. What if they’re being abused and I don’t know it. What if they don’t know how special they are. What if nobody else will take the time to love them or to hold the line and make them behave. So…tomorrow I’ll plow back in and that’s what it feels like for me.

On the weekend I get a chance to set the plow down. It’s back breaking work. I know there will be a harvest someday. I know what I do is good and necessary and worth giving my life to, but that doesn’t make the unending days of plowing the ground any easier. We teachers…we plant seeds. We rarely see them bloom. We plant seeds and hope that what we’ve planted will get enough to keep it going and cause it to grown and flourish in time. It’s a rare gift when we get to see the blooming side of things. Every once in a while I get a glimpse. It helps that I see some of my kids from kindergarten all the way through 8th grade. They really do grow on you over that many years:).

August is done. September now done. October coming…this is program prep time. The time of year when I repeatedly sing the same songs over and over and over to hopefully create a program that will be enjoyable for parents and help the kids to feel successful. This is IMEA time for choir when I take kids to audition individually and rejoice with those who make it and try to comfort those who don’t. This is the calm before the storm. November will bring on our first performances and they don’t stop til Christmas break from that point on.

It feels good this year to mark August and September off of my calendar. It feels good to be putting first quarter grades in the computer this week. The year really is going by fast already. I’m ok with that. Maybe if I was just a mom I might be clinging to the time but as a teacher…I’m good with how quickly it passes by. It’s about all I can handle.

I can’t help but wonder what August will be like for me next year. I wonder what it will feel like for everybody else’s life to go back on the school schedule and for me to be able to just enjoy the fall season. I might learn to really like fall.

 

menu options…

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At the risk of sounding simplistic or of giving a visual picture that might not entirely match up with the truth I’m trying to speak of…

What if life is kind of like walking into a restaurant, being seated at a table with people you care about and being handed a menu? What if you could choose anything on the menu?

Are you the type of person who orders the same thing every time when you go to certain restaurants? It’s easy to be that way. I mean if you order a meal once and you love it…why change? Why try anything else? You trust that meal to meet your expectations and desires and if you try something else it might not. It could be a disappointment after all. There is a certain amount of risk in ordering something you’ve never tried before.

Are you a person who enjoys a wide variety of foods and choices? You order something different every time you go to the restaurant? I don’t think many of us are that way. For good reason. If you find a meal you like…why make a change. Kind of like reinventing the wheel, don’t fix what isn’t broken.

But…what if in life we have far more freedom than we realize? What if we approach our life the same way we approach ordering off of a restaurant menu and we choose the same thing or at least very similar things all the time? Are we missing out on anything? Are we missing out on experiences and relationships and moments we could be having if we would branch out a bit and try something new? Probably.

I grew up in a time where the menu choices for the Christian were fairly limited. I think we probably prided ourselves a bit on the small selection of choices to stay on the narrow road. There were a lot of limitations. And honestly…probably even many more so in the previous generations. No wonder to the world…we appeared close minded. It was safe…no doubt about it. But really bland.

Even in my own home between the three of us we all have very different tastes. Lauren likes spicy food, Lydia loves meat, I love sweet tastes. We naturally have different cravings, different desires. None of them are bad or wrong…just different.

Maybe it’s like this in life too.

For me, about a year ago I started to notice that I was looking at the menu of life…turning it to the right and left, even upside down in my effort to see if there was anything else that I could experience. I was weary of the same thing day after day. I felt this urge to say…”Is this really all there is”. The Chef walked up…and said…”hey have you ever tried this…you might like it, take the risk, branch out and see what happens.” Yes there is risk involved. But…not life and death risk. And The Chef recommended it so how much risk is really involved?

I’m speaking of me taking a year off of school here. The thought had never occurred to me before. Almost like I never even knew the choice was on the menu before. Maybe it wasn’t. But I started to realize…I could try it so why not? What did I have to lose?

I’m realizing more and more that it’s people who have tried to make the menu look small and confining in life. It’s people who have made up extra rules and procedures of doing life. Maybe for good reason…maybe for a certain time…but it’s people who make things so limiting. Not God.

We really do have amazing freewill when it comes to God. We’d like to think that there is only one career choice, one mate choice, one location choice for us…because it would feel so much more sure and safe. But honestly…I don’t think it’s like that. I’ve rarely gone to a restaurant if ever where there is only one choice on the menu. There may be only one choice on the menu that I really like…but their are choices regardless.

Yes Jesus is The Way, The Truth, The Life. For me in this metaphor that’s like being handed a menu. I can’t order off of an Applebees menu at a chinese restaurant anymore than I can live out God’s best for me by ordering from different core beliefs than what I believe. But…on the menu…and in Christianity we have an amazing amount of freedom to choose. If we feel limited…(Which is easy for me to feel) it’s not because there are no choices…it’s because I’m limiting myself.

I’m trying to take a better look at the menu these days. Now that I am starting to see some other choices and selections that I might really like…I’m trying to see if there are other changes I might want to make. It’s not so much because I’m discontented with my life as it is right now. More that I don’t want to miss out on anything else that might be just as good or better for me if I give it a try.

Then prayer becomes for me a way of looking at the menu and saying…”God…you know me. You made me. You’ve given me choices…but I know that you know what is best for me and what I will find the most fulfillment, peace, joy, purpose in doing…show me what is best.” It’s simple alignment. I can choose anything…but I want to choose what The Chef recommends. Haven’t you ever asked a waiter what they recommend…they tend to know what’s the best to order and can give advice…how much more The Chef.

I have choice…but I am no idiot…or maybe I am an idiot who is aware of my own ways and knows that I need to seek out better ways of living from someone who knows me and loves me.

This is freedom. This is freewill. This is relationship.

What does your menu look like? Are there more than three choices on it? Have you considered trying anything new? Do you ask The Chef what He recommends? Do you stick to what is tried and true, safe and good even if it isn’t great? Have you ever really sat down and considered all of the choices you have in life? What is your risk tolerance? If it doesn’t work out…how will you respond? Could you cultivate some new tastes and desires?

This is what’s on my mind today. Live large and free…not safe and bland.

P.S. Did you ever think you would read about God and have Him compared to a Chef 🙂

Taste and see that the Lord is Good.

Staying

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Here’s how I’m wired.

Most people would say…it’s crazy to take a sabbatical. I mean look at the economy. Most people would think it wasn’t a wise choice. Or would feel unable to do it and might very well be unable to do it.

The few people who would consider it would assume naturally that going back a year later would definitely be the right course of action. I mean come on Ruth…how far out are you going to go here.

This is me…

I have this crazy streak in me that just wants to be free. Wants to feel unfettered. Maybe everybody has it…but I seem to have an extra dose of it. I want to push the boundaries. I want to think that my life is not all neatly packaged up into predictable stuff. I want to believe that I might have some new dreams and goals, new hopes and living to do. I want to think that the story hasn’t already all been decided and I’m just living it out.

I realize God has my steps ordered. I realize He  already knows everything I will do, think and say. But something in me wants to think that even though He knows…I don’t have to just accept what is the norm or what appears to be my future. I have this crazy urge to feel like I can still go out and be and do whatever I want to be and do.

Maybe it’s midlife. I mean I did just get a scooter and all and have talked of getting a tattoo. Maybe I’ve really gone off the deep end:). I just feel that life is not all tidied up and written and already all decided and that it must continue in the same vein as it has for a long time now.

If it does. I want to be ok with that. I have to be ok with that. I’m not a complete idiot. Health insurance and pay checks are nice to receive along with pension someday. I will come to terms with however this all plays out. But for right now I want to feel that God might surprise me with this year. That God might be open to leading me in new directions. I want to feel that God is the God of the impossible and the unusual and the unexpected. I just want to be incredibly open. I know…I’m already incredibly more open than the average person…but I want to be even more so. Crazy, I know.

For me the most difficult thing for me to obey is the command “stay”. It takes far more strength for me to stay than to go. Again, I know this is backwards compared to most people. Most people need sermons telling them to get out of their comfort zone and to “step out in faith”, etc. I’m generally sitting there thinking…yeah…let’s do it. Now for me if the sermon is about staying…not moving, persevering, it’s far more challenging for me.

We’re made how we’re made and there must be some reason in it. I am a bird who very easily feels caged. Mark knew this about me. The way he loved me most was to give me freedom. I didn’t understand it when I was young. I didn’t get how much I needed freedom…but he did.

When I’m free…I create, I have ideas that are unending, I actually work harder because I feel so passionate about what I’m doing.

This year I’m taking off God is giving me freedom. I am truly grateful. I sense Mark’s blessing all over it. I just wonder who I’ll be at the end and if I’ll be able to handle what feels like a cage coming back down. I’m an adult, I’m responsible…I will do whatever I must but these are just the thoughts I have going on inside of me. I know this is a core issue I will have to work through this year. It could very well be that after a year of freedom God might very well say “stay” and I will need to obey and be at peace. Trusting that God will give me what I need at the right time.