Teacher Talk

As a teacher, it’s easy to fall to the temptation of negativity and bad-talking students – harping on their low grades, big attitudes, and inappropriate behaviors.  We want to vent our frustrations about assignments turned in late, half-done, and scribbled in chicken scratch.

Their apathy irritates.

Their vocabulary stinks.

Their never-ending talking and laughing and farting noises and snide remarks dig into my brain like nails on chalkboard.

and, damnit, I want to SCREAM!!

But it doesn’t mean I should.

Nor do I really want to.  I don’t want to be one of those teachers who only sees the negative in her students and voices it to all the other teachers.  I don’t want to be the teacher who ends up bitter and unhappy with life, wishing she had chosen another profession.  I don’t want my students to look at me in fear or disgust as a sour-faced, cold and merciless old hag who enjoys giving big fat “F’s” on major grades.

If I aim to be a compassionate, caring, and sincere teacher, who embraces every one of my students (and all their idiosyncrasies) , then I must have integrity in my thoughts about them.  I mustn’t look at their failures and shortcomings, but instead view them through the lens of Christ, who sees them as his precious creation, unconditionally loved.  I must remember that God has a purpose for each of them, and God has a purpose for placing them in my classroom under my direction. And for those reasons alone, I need to speak of them in love…even in the midst of my frustrations.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  ~Philippians 4:8

Communal Complaining

As one blogger friend recently posted, we all have a need to be understood.  Apparently, I need to be understood (and need to clarify) concerning a facebook status I posted yesterday.  If you did not see the status, it said “Dear friends who are moms…I would rather be a mom of a fussy child than to be a woman who can’t have any child at all.  Be thankful, even on the bad days.” The responses ranged from agreement (even from some mothers), to those who took it in stride, to those who took great offense.  Some commenters replied in short simple words, while others took the status into other topics or broader ideologies.  Since it was my post, and facebook does not really allow the space needed for my clarification, I will attempt to lay out my thoughts here.

My status was birthed from a simple observation – that many mothers had posted complaints about their children or about being a mother.  This is not a generalization about mothers, about the love that the mothers have for their children, or whether complaining qualifies someone as being a good or bad mom.  It is a fact that the mothers were complaining.

Most of the time I skip past the complaining statuses, perhaps say a small prayer for the situation, and am not overly affected emotionally by the negativity that exudes from those statements.  But yesterday was different….it was splattered all over the place and it was constant.  Yesterday was also different because, for me, I am currently going through the stages of infertility acceptance.  So, when I see mothers who do nothing but constantly complain, it affects me emotionally.  I am not so prideful to refuse to admit that perhaps my status (in its subtle complaining) was pounded out in a state of frustration, but I simply wanted to give mothers a reason to be thankful.  And I am, myself, finding reasons to be thankful in my situation.

Complaining & Gratefulness seem to be the underlying topics.  In case anyone missed it, I did post a comment under my status that states:

I completely understand that there are going to be terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. It’s okay to get frustrated, upset, discombobulated, and stressed…all very normal reactions to out of control times. However, i also don’t think moms should put on happy facades just because they don’t want to offend others…but I do believe that publicly bashing a child’s behaviour or grumbling about them does not help the situation in any way. If anything it feeds on the negativity, making one much more inclined to stress, frustration, anxiety, and anger.

I’m reminded of:

Philipians 2:14, “Do everything without complaining or arguing”

Ephesians 4:29 that says we are to only speak “what is helpful for building others up”

Perhaps it’s in the hardest of days that we should express even more thanks. Gratefulness can ease frustration and give us the right perspective and strength to face the challenges.

So, I’m giving the biggest reason of all to be thankful – that you have a child.

Did anyone catch that?   Within that statement there is compassion and understanding of what mothers go through.  I see the difficulties of raising children and know that it is not easy.  I also understand the need to vent and let out our frustrations, being real with our emotions.   But it’s the complaining that I believe is wrong.

AND I definitely don’t think social networking sites are the place for them.  Yes, social networking provides an avenue of sillyness, venting, and even life-connection, but we fool ourselves when we treat it as therapy or reality. Venting on facebook or twitter does nothing to resolve the situation, and likely doesn’t even make us feel better. Instead, it usually fuels the fire as people “like” our comment, or join in to the conversation until it becomes an all out bash-fest.  If we see a need to vent, how about going FIRST to the One who already knows our emotions and our thoughts?  Our Father God is the ultimate comforter and provider of strength.  SECONDLY, if we must vent openly, how about to our spouses, who (hopefully) understands us the most?  or maybe a third option is a close friend.  But publicly criticizing children (such as calling them monsters or headaches) is not “helpful for building others up.”

As Christians, we are to live our lives in accordance with Scripture, God’s Words to us.  Every scripture that I find about complaining says we are NOT to do it.  In fact, the scriptures can be pretty harsh against those who do (see I Corinthians 10:10).  I don’t get to choose and weed out the scriptures I want to follow or ignore.  If I follow Christ, then I follow Him completely.  I’m not perfect; there are still times I complain and fall short of His glory, but my desire is to heed his Words…because they are good and have my best interest at heart.

When chaos thrives

It seems that almost everyone I know, including myself, currently faces difficult situations in our lives.  From illnesses, loss of jobs, stressful family situations, and other sources of discouragement and pain, it seems that nothing is turning out right and blessings are few and far between.

Humanly speaking, we have every reason to rush to judgments, panic, bitterness, unforgiveness, and anger. We quickly look at our circumstances and wonder why these situations continue to come.  It is easy to look at all the chaos around us and become discouraged.  But discouragement, when allowed to fester, can have detrmintal results in our lives. God may seem distant, uncaring, or perhaps even absent. We forget that we are fearfully & wonderfully made and created with a purpose.

However, the truth is that, as Children of God, we are to “Walk by Faith, Not by Sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7)  And we walk by faith by trusting God – remembering that He is our Sovereign Lord.  He knows what is happening in our lives – he allowed these things to happen!  God is in all our life’s circumstances (the good and the bad), working for us, not against us.  God is at work, despite the difficulty of your situation and even when you can’t see or understand what He’s doing.

And beyond that…He gives us Wisdom and strength to face our circumstances with victory. When we take our eyes off our situations, place our focus on Him, and strive to Know Him, we become full of His truth.  Psalm 119:105 says that “His Word is a lamp to [our] feet and a light to [our] path.” By meditating on His Word and then applying it to our lives, we will lead us through these times of trials and straight into where He wants us to be. He is Faithful to show us what we need to do!

But it’s all a choice.  A choice to meditate on Truth or listen to the lies that bring us down.  A choice to praise & thank God during the hard times.  A choice in our attitudes, actions, and thoughts.  Choose today to engulf yourself with the Promises of God and meditate upon his many blessings!

This morning on the radio, I heard a devotional that speaks directly on this topic.  The following paragraph is from God to you.

Draw Near To Me with a thankful heart, aware that your cup is overflowing with blessings.  Gratitude enables you to perceive Me more clearly and to rejoice in our love-relationship.  Nothing can separate you from My loving Presence!  That is the basis of your security.  Whenever you start to feel anxious, remind yourself that your security rests in Me alone, and I am totally trustworthy.

You will never be in control of your circumstances, but you can relax and trust in My control.  Instead of striving for a predictable, safe lifestyle, seek to know Me in greater depth and breadth.  I long to make your life a glorious adventure, but you must stop clinging to old ways.  I am always doing something new within My beloved ones.  Be on the lookout for all that I have prepared for you.

The Battle has Begun

Yesterday I confronted an enemy within myself.  This enemy has yet to be named, but its presence has been evident for many years.  Mostly he has lain dormant & then when I least expected it, he reared his ugly head and attacked.  His assaults have caused great pain and nuisance.  And I have come to fear him…I approach plans and actions based on whether I think this foe is going to appear.  I’ve canceled gatherings with friends, cut short engagements, and even denied myself certain things for fear that my enemy will attack and make things difficult or uncomfortable for myself and those around me. 

Even though I’ve seen this monster in my life and felt his wounds, I have done nothing.  I have endured and hoped that he would just give up and disappear;  That my small change of certain habits would force him to leave…but they have only prolonged the inevitable – an aggressive onslaught that causes major damage.   I have been unwise in my passivity. 

So yesterday I made my first advance against this enemy.  I am gathering an army against him and creating a strategy to oust him from my life.  I am ready to name him, find out from whence he came, and learn of his strategy.   I know that victory will not come without battles and wounds.  I am preparing myself for some tumultuous days; but I am clothing myself with Armor and mentally preparing for what is to come.  And, of course, I already have the victory because I have the Greatest General of All!

how to deal

In July, when Josh announced that he was ready to return to Texas for good, I knew that I was in for some emotionally hard times.  I had my dream in my grasp, and then it was suddenly threatened to be taken from me.

This experience was not my first.  It happened once before in 2001.  After attending a missionary training school in the Czech Republic, Josh and I returned home to begin pursuing full-time mission work in Ukraine.  After looking into it a bit more, Josh decided that the timing was not yet right for us to go do full-time work.  I was devastated…so much so that I allowed myself to listen to Satan’s lies about worthlessness and discontentment.  I didn’t have a career or a plan of what I was going to do.  I became bitter and angry towards my husband for taking away my dream.  I felt like a horrible person and hated myself, my marriage, and my situation in life to the point that I became suicidal.

So when Josh mentioned that he wanted to come back home to Texas this summer, after only 4 months in Ukraine, I remembered all that I had gone through 7 years before and knew there was only one thing for me to do if I was going to survive this 2nd heartbreak – run to the throne of God and allow him to carry me through this fire.

As Josh was contemplating the move, I drowned myself in scripture, worship, and prayer.  From those moments with my Lord, I received 2 very distinct and profound words:

1.  Proverbs 14:1 – The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her own hands. This verse has hit me harder than any other verse.  Through it I came to realize that no matter what decision Josh makes (at the time, whether to stay in Ukraine or return to Texas), success will ultimately be on MY shoulders.  If I want my “house” – my marriage, my relationship with God, my ministry – to stay strong and thriving, then it is completely, 100% my responsibility to see that it stays strong.  It is MY actions, MY words, and MY attitudes that will determine the outcome of any situation.  As the head of the household, Josh is to make the decisions that he sees best.  But it is my response to his decisions that make or break my “house”.

I really had two reactions to Josh’s decision to come home:  fight it with all my might to stay in Ukraine, or submit to his decision and return quietly.  Which one would build my house and which would tear it down?  I chose to quietly follow.

2.  No matter what I pray concerning the entire exodus back to Texas, I hear one phrase over and over again, “It’s going to be okay.”

And it has.

He wants to kill God

It’s amzaing how powerful the entertainment industry has become.

Rappers sing about a pink T and thousands of young boys run out and buy pink t-shirts. A few months later, the same rapper sings about a white T, and the same young boys run off to buy white t-shirts.

One movie changed the course of children’s movies and books (Harry Potter). Children saw the first film, and “BANG” they ran in droves to read a book bigger than the Bible. The phenomenon that is Harry Potter has only set a precedent for other authors and scriptwriters to strive for.

No matter what the purpose is in a movie, book, or song….it attracts children of all ages and moves them to action: to buy a new product, do something they normally wouldn’t do, or causes them to question their beliefs.

The Golden Compass is one such movie. It’s release date is Dec. 7, just in time for Christmas…but it’s message is anything but celebrating our Lord and Savior.

As Christians, I believe that we need to be wise in the decisions we make, including the movies we see. The Lord says to resist the devil (James 4:7) and flee from all evil (2 Tim. 2:22) and to focus on things that are true, pure, noble, right, and lovely (Phil. 4:8). If we allow anti-God entertainment into our lives and minds (especially impressionable children), and financially support an evil agenda we are not honoring our Lord.

The author of this movie has one purpose: to kill God. He believes he knows how to do it…through entertainment.

Read about it for yourself…. The Golden Compass.