Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Weaving of a Tale

Spin a yarn, tell a tale, weave a wonder, share a story. As a teacher I have spent much time with students examining narratives. From climbing story mountains to sequence of events, plenty of character analysis, perusals of settings, and tracing the thread themes throughout, I have traversed tales with students. This past school year I was able to teach Ancient Civilizations second period and American History 1860s to contemporary times third period. I was struck by the timeline of humanity's story.  Now a couple of weeks out of session I am presented with an opportunity to consider "Your Story God's Story," from @HollyMueller and #SpiritualJourney Thursday.

Along the historical time line my students and I noted how geography and location were critical to ancient civilizations decisions and success. We observed how 19th, 20th, and 21st century historical figures often had to be "in the right place at the right time." One thing about history is the phenomenon that hindsight is 20/20. How many of these peoples of the past fully grasped their part in history in the moment? It is easier to see "the big picture" now.

Now I find myself focused on setting again. Within my own tale I typically tend to focus on character development and motivation. However setting is also an important element of my narrative. I found myself in an altogether different life chapter and setting this past year. There were plenty of times where I questioned if I was in the right place for this time. There were many darker threads along with the silver and gold. Ultimately I am trusting the omniscient author to develop His character until--The End.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Letting Laughter Live

Years ago in my early teaching days, this plaque possessed a place of prominence on my desk.
I picked it up at my local Hallmark store. I appreciated the carved hewn effect. I liked how the artist had represented the image of Jesus by incorporating important events into his face. My favorite part though was the combination of an eye twinkle and hint of a smile. This was an aspect of Jesus to which I could relate. This facet fascinated me. Years later I so enjoyed reading Eldrige's book about the personality of Jesus.
     While growing up it seemed like I was well acquainted with solemn and serious Jesus. The divine nature of Jesus abounds throughout scripture, but I remained curious about the layer of humanity He had while on Earth. Created in His image I wanted to capitalize on the divine within me. My ears perked at each happening to which I could connect.
    "Jesus wept." (John 11:35) This shortest verse in the Bible is rich with inferential understandings. His sorrow for the pain of Martha and Mary at the death of their brother. The empathy of Jesus mourning the fact humans chose death instead of the Father's plan for eternal life. Life serves up several helpings of sorrow.
     His anger at the temple over the selling and money changers. "Jesus went into the Temple, threw out everyone who was selling and buying in the Temple, and overturned the moneychangers' tables and the chairs of those who sold doves."
(Matthew 21:12 ISV) Righteous indignation for tarnishing what should have been a pure worship experience. Things within the world not as they should be. Sorrow and anger, these are emotions to which I can relate. 
Where is the joy and laughter? Getting lost in a good guffaw is glorious too, right? 
    Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:14 and Luke 18:16 all relay the story of Jesus prioritizing children. "Let the little children come to me. Do not hinder them for to such belong the kingdom of heaven." All three of the synoptic gospel writers relay this event. Loud and clear Jesus is letting the self-important adults know that the little ones get it. The children understand. The kingdom belongs to them. I can relate to the desire of Jesus to spend time with children; the epitome of unabashed spontaneous joy. My children evoke the most joy and laughter from me. 
They purely exist in the moment while still possessing a straightforward philosophical clarity about people and life situations. There is no pretense. Their laughter is contagious. I believe children highlight an important aspect of the divine. The aspect not so mired in the heaviness of the world. Children live the lightness of laughter.
     According to Mayo Clinic in "Stress Relief from Laughter: It's No Joke," laughing provides several short and long term benefits from improved immune system, pain relief, tension alleviation demonstrative in actual physical bodily responses. Sounds like divine design to me. Here's to letting laughter live!

Ecclesiasties 3:4 "
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;"

Friday, June 5, 2015

Leaving a Legacy

"I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
And you could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all the who's who's and so-and-so
That used to be the best at such and such
It wouldn't matter much

I won't lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights
We all need an 'Atta Boy' or 'Atta Girl'
In the end I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world

I want to leave a legacy, how will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to you enough
To make a mark on things? I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who blessed your name
Unapologetically and leave that kind of legacy."

Nichole Nordman

The first time I enjoyed this song was at an eighth grade banquet, as my students prepared to graduate and advance to high school. I am currently working out words for my current advancing grade eight students. I felt honored they asked me to speak at their graduation. However there is so much I want to say to them; so much I hope they already know. Swirling about these sentiments is a fair amount of personal grieving. I am excited to move to grade four next year, but as I mentioned in a prior blog there is something amazingly special about sharing time and learning with grades six through nine. Have I left seeds for a legacy? How will they remember me? 

Yesterday my students presented their passion projects. Nine weeks of research, reading, creating, making decisions, and I was in awe of what they shared. Subject matter about which they care deeply, combined with their talents. They already possess the power to "leave a mark on things; leave an offering." So as I share these last four and a half days of the journey with them I will choose to love and pray my actions point to Him.