Saturday, August 24, 2013

Back to school!

First day of school - baby girl at 28 weeks

I have survived the first week of school! "Survived" seems pretty accurate considering the painfully early morning alarm settings and near exhaustive evenings I experienced.

In the midst of the first week's chaos there were some beautiful moments. Returning to the Community School of Davidson for the second year, I am reminded why I love teaching. There will always be days where students don't value the worth of a lesson the way I anticipated or simply try my patience, but that's just it - there is every school day where I have the opportunity to ignite a passion for learning in the heart of a student, more than one if I'm lucky. As I go from bell to bell there are always lessons I am learning. Here are a few:

1. Listening is underrated. Think back to high school. Did you cringe a little? Yeah, me too. High school was a complicated season filled with uncertain identity amidst social and familial trials not many want to relive. My students are there now. Some shut down and want to travel this season alone. Others search for a compassionate ear. When I'm lucky, I'm that ear. It may be very little things they share, but when they see I listen, their eyes sparkle a little to mimic the fullness in their heart. They just want to be heard without judgement or correction, just love. Yes, at times I'm short with them, thinking of the next period's lesson, but when I'm intentional in listening, it matters.

2. Patience is never perfected. Even when I feel I have patience locked down for that day, I'm reminded a moment's occurrence is all it takes to rattle my cage and leave me feeling irritated and anything but patient. The Lord is teaching me to breathe, not sweat the small stuff, and be patient. Which brings me to my next lesson...

3. Let the little things go. Those close to me know I have a minor...major...control problem. I like knick-knacks positioned just so on a table top, I enjoy loading the dishwasher because I can configure the best arrangement for optimal storage space and cleanliness, I like my cereal in the big yellow bowls-not the medium white bowls-with a large spoon, the little spoons don't let you get enough milk with each bite. See? It's scary. Now imagine desiring things to be a "certain way" with 20 teenagers thrown into the mix. Nope. Doesn't happen. If I expect my "certain way" to occur, I'm the only one who ends up hurt. It's just not worth it. So, I'm getting better-with much effort, mind you-to laugh things off and just let those little things go. The dishwasher may be another story, for now. 

4. Love. Love doesn't hold fast to selfish desires but sacrifices for the betterment of others. A teacher's profession centers around student learning. At the core of what I do is always for the betterment of student learning. It sometimes takes sacrifices on my part with how I expect this path to learning to look. It requires me to do what is in the best interest of my students and put my interests aside. It makes me practice love.

So, 5:45 AM alarm, I still don't like you. But I do like the day you bring along. Thank you, Lord, for my job, even in the midst of my own life lessons.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


top :: Papa and younger brother, Kees, in my father's greenhouse
middle :: summer family photo circa 1989-ish, I know you're loving the sock/shoe combination
bottom: autumn family photo maybe the same year, not really sure

My father (Papa) has an interesting story. Born in a small mussel fishing village in the south of the Netherlands in 1949, my father came from humble beginnings. The only boy and youngest of three, my father began working at a young age for local horticulturists after his own father's health succumbed to cancer when he was only eight years old. Developing a love for the world of horticulture, my father studied collegiately in this field before moving to Guernsey, one of the English channel islands, at age nineteen to work. At the time, he knew little English except for his beloved Beatles songs. Today, if you ask nicely, he may take requests.

While working in Guernsey, my father lived with an elderly couple, the Myrtles. Their accents sound a bit like-to me, at least-Mr. and Mrs. Bouquet from the television show Keeping Up Appearances. After three years in Guernsey, my father moved to Ontario to work with at a Dutch family's greenhouse. It was here that my father came to know the Lord.

I'm unsure how many years he worked in Ontario, but at some point he partnered with a colleague in Ontario to purchase his own greenhouse in Utica, New York. His search for cheap-to-free physical therapy for an old soccer injury led him to my mother, and they wed shortly after meeting. My father has seen many places and met many people, but he is happiest when home with family.

After losing his own father at a young age, my father lost his own son when Kees, my brother, was just fourteen years old. Even in the depths of his sorrow my father still rejoiced in the Lord and encourages me to do the same. We don't speak often, but when we do I listen.

Today he shared the following from his current devotional Jesus Calling. 

When things seem to be going all wrong, stop and affirm your trust in Me. Calmly bring these matters to Me, and leave them in My capable hands. Then, simply do the next thing. Stay in touch with Me through thankful, trusting prayers, resting in My sovereign control. Rejoice in Me - exult in the God of your salvation! As you trust Me, I make your feet like the feet of a deer. I enable you to walk and make progress upon the high places. 

Job 13:15; Psalm 18:33; Habakkuk 3:17-19

The greatest earthly gift is a father who points you toward your heavenly one.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Oh baby!

Orthodontic pacifiers. BPA free, slow flow bottles - 6 or 9 ounces? Swaddle blankets. Changing pads. Crib mattresses. Belly cast kit....just kidding. ; )

Last week an experienced mama friend accompanied me on the overwhelming task of registering for essential baby gear. Babies "R" Us has long overwhelmed me, and now that I had to create the registry, rather than navigate by the one in hand, the feeling intensified. I am forever indebted to this gracious woman for spending part of her afternoon taming the aisles for me.

I've been trying to get as much stuff done for our baby girl before school starts-workdays arrive in less than two weeks now! With the help of Chad's parents, and another incredible friend, our girl's room is painted, crib assembled, dresser positioned, and curtains hung.  I often wander into her room and look around, dreaming of the day she'll be there with me. Having a place in which to envision her sleeping and playing makes her impending arrival all the more real. That and the increasing frequency of her gymnastic routines in my belly. Honestly, I love being pregnant.

Chad and I already love this girl to pieces, but I still worry about being her mom. I worry if I'll do everything right. I worry if I'll forget to teach her something that will mess her up for the rest of her life. I worry I'll be too neurotic. I worry I'll struggle to balance work and home life once I return to teaching. I worry about a lot. Of course I know I shouldn't worry, but it sneaks up on me. To fight this worry I try to remember and rest in knowing that God created me for this and his provision will show itself once baby girl arrives.

And, on a completely unrelated note, the arrival of August and, soon, school, get me excited for all the great things of autumn - cool weather, scarves, wool sweaters, cozy boots, changing leaves, warm drinks, and holidays!