I Am an Educator

I think I feel the need to define/ redefine who I am/ what I do.

I am in the middle of a job hunt and the truth is that, on paper -- I don't amount to much.

I have a few years experience teaching -- and I don't want to return to the classroom. Not that I could in the state of Texas, anyway. With budget cutbacks, etc., a teaching job is a rare find.

I have a few articles published in a local paper. I would like to write, but I have nothing "impressive" -- again, we're talking what someone looking at a resume' would see -- published. Nothing national, no books. Of course there's this rockin' blog that has a few too many weeds growing over the summer and needs attention currently.

Nor do I have a journalism or English degree. Of course, it's not too late for that, but since they don't give those away for free except for some internet sites of questionable reputations, I still need a job before I can get a degree.

I am completely at peace that I have done some amazing things in the last several years that cannot assess a monetary value. I need look no further than here or here and I don't regret a minute spent on my family or my ministry.

One thing I know I am is an educator. Again -- that doesn't mean I want to stand in a public school classroom, and God BLESS those who do since my children are public school educated. I am an educator and love to share what I know with others of all ages, whether it's God's word with other believers (or non-believers, for that matter) or how to swim with the little guys. I love to see the light come on and help someone know or understand something they previously didn't.

I value education highly. When my older child started kinder I decided that the best philosophy for choosing how to educate your child (public/ private/ homeschool) is: prayerfully, carefully, and be willing to admit at a moment's notice that you are wrong.

For a variety of reasons, we went with public school and are still there.

Again, I think the WORLD of public school teachers. They have an amazingly difficult job. But I know that my kid is "a student" to them. To me, my child is my child. Don't get me wrong -- my children have had teachers that have loved them dearly and we have loved in return. But no one is going know what my kids know, what their passions and gifts are, or where they are struggling like I will.

No doubt, my kids spend too much time in front of screens now and our recent life upheaval has made me much too relaxed about limiting such. But even with that, it hasn't taken away the hundreds of books we have read in the past, coupled with both of their intense curiosity and hunger to know more.

And I am still an educator, leading them when they start down a path they are interested in. We explore and find out more and turn over the leaves and pluck up the rocks to see what's underneath. In that regard, all parents are homeschool teachers.So, my resume' is a mess, or as someone kindly put it, "eclectic." Yes. Eclectic. But I have been gifted two gorgeous healthy bodied and minded children who I'm tempted to become 12 levels of proud about. 'Lest I do, the Lord reminds me that they are a gift from Him -- just like He gifted me as an educator to gently lead them. I cannot put a price tag or income on these guys. Aren't they the awesomest?


The Mission Field You Walk

When God called us to this place, I marveled, and might have said, "Seriously???"

You see, in my small town the "have nots" are never very far away and I was ever mindful that there was a population to serve, people to love on, and God's children to care for. Then God called me to suburbia.

Sure, our family could have chosen a mission field in an inner city area around here somewhere, but our call to public education, and our concession to our children in the move allowed them to have a voice in which school they would attend, which landed us squarely in suburbia.So, I turned to the Lord and said, "Seriously??? THIS is where I have been called? Manicured lawns and stone front houses and store fronts? When my heart is broken by the least of these, you put me here?"

As the Lord tends to do, He began to quietly whisper to my heart (without even yelling or shaking me by the throat like I would do if I were my kid), "These are my children, too... and they are just as broken and hurt as those with less."

Then, early in the summer, I read this amazing article. (You need to read it, too. Go 'head. I'll wait...)

Since you've now read it... RIGHT?? ... you know that it talks about just that: some of us actually ARE called to mission work in suburbia. And suburbia is no less of a mission field than Ghana, Tegucigalpa, or Nepal.

Remember my words for the year? That gentleness was one. That concept -- that I am now living in a mission field that God ordained for me -- has brought new gentleness to my day.

"Well, sure..." you think, "we all are missionaries wherever we live!" But am I really feeling it in 5:00 traffic? How about at the gas pumps in 105* heat? What about with the cashier whose elevator doesn't QUITE reach the top floor? Do I see each of those people as my mission... as people to touch for Jesus? I am trying to start to see my world that way.

Example: I live in the South (okay, Texas -- which truly is "a whole other country" per the ad campaign -- but I was raised in the South) where folks hold doors open for each other. It's common courtesy. And at a Domino's -- it's almost a no-brainer: the one coming IN has empty hands and therefore should hold the door for the one coming OUT who will likely have their hands full of pizza boxes. Truth? This is the civilized world we live in. In my mind.

So, walking into a Domino's, I hold the door open for the woman coming out. Because it's polite. But on my way out, I am juggling 3 boxes (I have teenagers -- don't judge), my wallet and my keys, and am struggling to push open the heavy door. Through the glass I can see this tiny bug of a woman smiling sweetly. Waiting ever-so-patiently for me to either drop everything in my hands or to successfully fight my way out the door. I couldn't tell which she was rooting for.

I admit I was a little frustrated thinking, "Can you not help me here? Don't you know how we do things around here? You're supposed to open the door! It's the polite thing to do..." But, first the lady's sweet smile disarmed me, and I had to look at her as my mission field and just love her. Her smile made me realize that she honestly believed that being patient was the best she could and should do in that situation.

Only Christ in me allows me to reframe may day and my world to see the mission field I live in.

What about the mission field where you live and work? What is God calling you to do there?

Prayers for All

The pictures of backpack-clad munchkins have begun cropping up on Facebook. The sales papers are full of crayons and glue sticks. You know what that means! It's TIME!

While I definitely have some of this guy's sentiment about it:

this year brings new heaviness to my heart as my kids are heading into uncharted territory (for them).

Next Monday I will take my 13 year old man-child to a school of 900 middle schoolers where he knows no one to start 8th grade. Then I will take my 15 year old daughter to a school of 1700, where she has had the good fortune of being in band camp for almost 3 weeks, so she has someone to sit with at lunch perhaps. Then I shall return to my house and cry for a good long while, I suppose.

I have told both of my kids that since I knew we would move (even when I didn't know WHEN we would move) I have been praying for their first day of school at their new school. Mainly -- that just ONE person would be gracious and friendly to them -- and eat lunch with them.

Of course, you and I know that in the global scheme of things there are much worse things than feeling completely left out on your first day of school in your new town.... but at 15 and 13, it's pretty hard to imagine what that would be.

So, as you are praying for your own children and their teachers, and please do be praying for teachers and administrators everywhere, it would honestly mean the world to me if you would remember to pray for my two. While we have had some bumps along the way, this summer has gone much better than I ever imagined, and I fully credit it to the prayers of folks like you.

And while I'm praying... feel free to leave any requests in the comments. I'll be talking to God, I would love to go to Him on your behalf as well.


The Teens Keep Me Laughing!

I remember when my kids were little hearing a woman with a 13, 15, 16, and 18 year old say that she would rather have 4 teenagers than 4 2-year olds. "Hmmm..." thought I, "I'll just have to see about that!" Not that I planned to have 4 of either, mind you.

But I have to confess that my teens are so funny -- sometimes inadvertently -- and generally a joy.

Just a few of the recent conversations around here. Only one will identify WHICH teen it was:

Me, after clearing off a week's worth of clutter and mess off of my kitchen island: (HUGE sigh and exclamation) "OH! I feel SO! much better!!
Boy Teen: "Because you cleaned, or did you fart?"

After some outdoor stuff:
Me: "I can't believe I drank 2 liters of water and I am still this thirsty. My throat is completely dry."
Teen: "Yeah, but you talk a lot."

11 a.m.
Teen with one eye open, still in bed: "I AM up!"
Me: "That's not UP-- you're horizontal!"
Teen: "I'm planking..."

Love those guys.. Every day is a new day.


Reasons Not to Hit The Snooze

A few times a week I get out of bed while it is still dark, strap on my running shoes, and hit the road. The temperature and upheaval of this summer have done a number on my pace and training and I am basically back to square one, but I am celebrating where I am.

If you can fog a mirror, it's not too late to start over. So I start over. This week I ran further than last (without walking -- the end number is the same) and next week I plan to run farther still. God has blessed me with healthy legs. We got this.

When the alarm goes off and all is quiet in the house, of course I want to stay in bed. Especially Saturday mornings. But eventually I crawl out and go. And I have found that the rewards are great. Below I wanted to document some of the reasons I am glad that I get out of bed:

1) Avoiding heat stroke:This one is a little too obvious. Forget those crazy highs (though I have seen some whack-a-doos out running in it) even the lows are too hot for me. It doesn't matter if I set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. (I don't) -- it's not getting any cooler out there, and the longer I lay in bed, chances are it's getting MUCH hotter. Let's ROLL!

2) Sun coming up (Part 1)
I go down to the middle school track on occasion to run. This picture doesn't do justice the HUGE orange orb that rose -- yet I was VERY thankful for that stand of trees that blocked the light and heat for a few more minutes. Every last minute without the extra heat is a blessing.

3) Every once in a while --
Random hot air balloon. Dunno why, but I loved it. Hot air balloon on a Monday morning. Why not?

4) Sunrise (Part 2)
After the sun rose a little higher in the sky, some clouds blew in. Not the rain variety, of course. We don't get those in this part of Texas. Rumors are that they get them on the coast, but not us. Anyway, it made for an amazing few moments of sunrise. Definitely worth being out of bed for (this is the same spot I took the first sunrise pic from -- weird, huh?)

5) You might find a friend:
Elsie and I have a deal: she doesn't mention my pace, I don't point out that her udders are in woeful need of support. It's a friendly arrangement. I'm pretty sure she thinks I'm crazy for the whole running deal anyway. You can kind of see it in her eyes.

Running doesn't have to be your deal. Walking, biking, swimming, yoga... whatever gets you moving. But I love what I see when I head out on the road. Now I talked to someone recently who lives close to some Buddhist monks. SHE got to see a monk sitting at the bottom of a spiral slide in her park having his morning meditation while she was on HER walk. I may ask for directions to where she walks just so I can get a picture. What do you see around you?
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