Discomfort


So it’s Sunday afternoon.

The last 10 hours of freedom before Monday morning rears its ugly head lurk in front of me.

I’ve had a great weekend.  I hung out with some dear friends on Friday night.  We sat at the kitchen table, drank coffee, played a game, and chatted about life in general.  It was pretty great.

Saturday my cousin came down for the afternoon to see the new house and hang out.  We went for a nice walk by the River, went for Chinese, saw a fantastically inspirational movie (Won’t Back Down — it’s pretty anti-union, which I am not, but it reminded me why I became a teacher at any rate).  He crashed here for the night last night, we went for breakfast this morning and I dropped him back off at the train station and I went to church.

I went to church and once again sat and was very challenged.  I sat and listened intently, despite the fact that I feel incredibly icky today, leaving me both literally and figuratively uncomfortable.

Bruxy preached this morning about the great commission.  About evangelism vs. discipleship.  About what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus.  You’re an apprentice.  You’re studying Him.  You’re learning Him.  You’re not just listening once a week to someone talk about Him.  In the end, the disciple becomes like his/her teacher.  We should be striving in everything we do to be more like Jesus.

We were asked:  Do you want to be more like Jesus?

My gut reactionary answer was “of course I do!  Why wouldn’t I?”

Then he backed us up.  Stop for a minute.  Really think it through.  Is that what you want?

Again, of course it is.

Do you want to have courage and compassion?

Absolutely.

No, listen… being more like Jesus means not being afraid of persecution or of others’ opinions of you.  Do you want that?

Well, yes, but…

Having compassion like Jesus means you seek out the least of these… you seek out the poor, the needy, the helpless, the sick.  They’re the ones that need you if you’re truly more like Jesus.  Or would you rather stick with the popular peeps who can make you look good?

I confess… I like being popular.

This is why I came.  This is why I left the last place and came here.  Because here I am challenged.  I leave feeling uncomfortable and a little bit ashamed.  And it’s not a guilty ashamed feeling.  It’s that heavy conviction where you know you’re being stirred up.  That’s what I went looking for.  I found it.

He went through a series of questions.  He asked us:  Do you REALLY want that…

Is it possible that you want to want that, even though right now in your heart you know that that’ll completely mess with your comfort level, your world, your very identity, and that’s not currently what you want… but you know that in that holds God’s best for you and God’s best for those with whom you interact?

Yes.

Yes, that’s possible.  Because right now, when I’m honest, I don’t want that quite yet.  That sounds uncomfortable.  It doesn’t sound like what I have planned for my life.  Cuz, you know, that’s ultimately what’s most important here… *rolls eyes*

At any rate, yes, I was able to give that much up this morning.

Help me to want to want to be more like Jesus.

Wowzers.  I shoulda switched years ago.

Here’s something else that makes me kind of uncomfortable lately… well, there are a lot of things.  I’m kinda shaking things up all over the place.  It’s good, trust me… most of the time.

But one I’ve truly taken notice of in the last little while…. is the way we as believers handle each other when we’re in crisis.  I’m not sure I have an answer, or that I truly know what the problem is, but I do have a theory.

See we get into community with each other, and we’re told this space is safe; Be open, be trusting.  And we’re told that without prior confirmation that that statement is true.

And I know for myself, I find that sometimes I take for granted that someone saying “this space is safe, you can trust it” may just be saying it.  And I know that, also for myself, I have a hard time opening up.  When I’m asked to share something deep and personal, I tend to lean toward making stupid jokes instead of being authentic.  Naturally, I find that much easier than, say, revealing the biggest barriers between myself and true commitment to my Saviour.  I find admitting things like that very difficult, and I find that it’s a lot easier to say “sugar” than what I know is really the truth.  I find too, even if someone calls me out… that it’s easier to make even dumber jokes.  Sugar is not the biggest thing between myself and total commitment to Jesus.  That’s absurd.  My twisted view of God that suggests to my brain and my heart that full surrender may end in my never getting married might be…. but it’s easier to say that I’m afraid to die alone with a bunch of cats because I don’t even like cats.  It turns out, God’s a good God.  Go figure, right?

Romans 12:2 tells us that when you’re transformed by the renewing of your mind and not conforming to what the world wants from you, you’ll be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing, and perfect will.

Where does it fit in with my view of God that He may withhold marriage from me the second I give my life fully over to Him?

Every time I’ve tried to surrender, that seems to be the one thing I try to keep.  It’s my Isaac.  I need to lay it down lest I never fully get to God.  But… I don’t want to.  But… how could my own efforts EVER be better than God’s?  Really.  I’m kind of stupid I think, to be honest, but I’ve digressed.

Where I think we’ve fallen short for each other is in the ability to just listen.  We’re asked these big, deep, prodding questions… and then people try to find solutions for us.  Advice that I never asked for.  Advice that I never wanted.  Advice that I’ve heard before.  Advice that isn’t really even helpful.  And we’re all guilty of it.  I know I am.  How many times has a friend come to me, I’m sure just looking for someone to truly hear him/her, and I try to solve his/her problem, even when I don’t understand what he/she is going through.

Is that right?

Why do we need solutions?

Can’t we just listen?

Not everything can be solved with a sentence.  With words.

I was incredibly blessed on Friday night to sit down with a couple of dear girls who did just that.  They just listened.  And I in turn, I think anyway… I think I listened for them.  I hope they don’t feel this way about me from Friday… but at any rate… we listened.

I think it’s a long lost skill — that of listening.  We sit through what others are saying, thinking of what our next sentence will be, always adjusting while others are talking, instead of really hearing what they’re saying.

I am committing to myself, and to all of you out there who consider me a friend… that when you come to me, I will listen, and I will only give advice if and when I am asked.  If you need to bounce things off of me, ask my opinion, ask my advice, I’m happy to be there for you.  I truly am.  But if you need me to just listen…. I’m happy to work on that while being there for you.

Also, random side note:  Can I say how much I’m loving both Chip Ingram and Bruxy Cavey right now?  Anyone who gives grammar lessons while preaching the Word in order to completely break down what’s being said and make it crystal clear is aces in my books.

Anyway… here’s my list.

257.  Fall colours

258.  laundry hanging outside, probably for the last time of the year.

259.  Catching up with friends.

260.  Fresh cut flowers.

261.  Deep talks.

262.  Friends who know how to just listen.

263.  Getting convicted.

264.  Knowing I’m where I should be.

265.  Caramel Apple Spice from Starbucks… in a cupholder on my my armrest at Church.

266.  Feeling valued when I’m truly listened to.

267.  Fall Strolls.

268.  Farmer’s Markets

269.  Inspiring Movies that bring tears, and remembrance of why I teach (go see Won’t Back Down.  I’m not kidding, it’s fantastic.  It’s anti-union, and American, and I’m neither of those things, but it reminded me that I teach for the love of seeing and helping kids learn).

270. Breakfast at Cora’s

271.  A stack of books to read, and a commitment to spending at least an hour a day on the stack.

All photos taken with my Motorola Charm.

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We pretend like we’re immortal.


“We are not infinite
We are not permanent
Nothing is immediate
And we pretend like we’re immortal.”

Gone” – Switchfoot

I should be sleeping, but instead… I need to talk about something.

We think we’re immortal.

We think we’re invincible.

We think nothing can get us… until it does.

We think “I’m young, I’ll be fine.” or “I’ll deal with it later.”

We’re fools.

There are things in this life bigger than us.  Bigger than our narrow little pocket of what we see.  There are things that we can’t even begin to grasp.  They’re too hard, so we shut them out.

There are words that start with C that steal like thieves.  Cancer.  It’ll sneak up on you.  It’ll walk into your classroom and take a 10 year old boy who was a shining star, who could have governed this country if he wanted to.  One day in your class, 20 minutes before the bell, he won’t feel well, he’ll ask to go home.  You’ll tell him there’s only 20 minutes left and you’ll ask if he can stick it out.  He’ll say yes, because he’s a trooper like that…. and you’ll never see him again.  Five months later the leukemia will have taken him… or rather, the infection will, because his immune system is so weak that he gets an infection and they can’t do the bone marrow transplant until he’s fought it, but he can’t fight it, and he loses.  He’s 10.

And then a couple years later, it’ll take the man you wanted to be the one to govern this country, unexpectedly, in a relapse when everyone thought he’d beaten it.  RIP Jack Layton.

It’ll get your grandparents, your parents, your friends, co-workers… it’ll get people you’ve never met.  It might get you.  We can beat some of it, but not all, and it’s still hard.  We’re not invincible.

There are acronyms that’ll sneak up on you, too.  MS.  ALS.  CP.  AIDS.  HIV.  We run for the cure.  We walk.  We fight.  We raise money.  We raise awareness.  But we can’t win.  Not in this life.

I don’t mean to sound morbid, but yet… I do.

I lectured one of my classes this morning in a voice that terrified a few of them.  I didn’t yell.  I wanted to… boy, did I want to.  No.  I pulled out one of those calm yet completely livid voices that even freaked me out a bit, but I didn’t let them know that.  I pointed out to them that they are SO privileged.  They have so much.  They can walk to school in under half an hour.  They have running water.  When they get to school with no lunch, we feed them.  When they lose their pencils, we give them another… they don’t pay for school.  I don’t know if it sank in.  I hope it did.  I hope that I made a class full of 10-12 year olds see how incredibly valuable what they have is.

But it isn’t permanent.

One of them asked me the other day, “why do I need school?  I hate school.  I hate work.”  My answer?  “You need school to be successful when you’re a grown-up.”  How empty and hollow does that sound?

Who defines success?

Or rather, who SHOULD define success?

If I have millions, and have climbed up to the top of as many ladders as possible, what good does it do me when I die?  Because that’s not an if.  I will die.  I just don’t know when.  I might be 90, I might be 30.  Only God knows.

And if only God knows when I’ll die, shouldn’t I live like it might be tomorrow?  Or tonight?  Or like I might not even finish this post?

Am I ready?

I’m not afraid to die.  I suspect Heaven is a pretty rocking place, and I suspect I will not miss Earth.

But am I ready?

And I don’t mean “do I have a will?”  I mean… am I ready….

If I were to fall asleep after I hit Publish tonight, and never wake up……. would the life I lived be one I’d be proud of?  Or am I putting off things I know have greater value than what I’m doing for when I’m a “grown-up.”  Or for “later.”

I’ve already established that I’m older than I think I am, I’m no longer a young-adult… When will the next turn-around realization be?  Will I be 30?  40?  60?  When will I stop and go “whoa… when did that happen?”

If it’s 30, will I be pleased with what I accomplished in the next 2 years and 3 months?

Will God?

If it’s 60, will I be pleased with what I accomplished in the next 32 years and 3 months?  That’s a long time.  It’s longer than I’ve currently been alive… but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that long.  And if the last nearly 28 years have been any indication, I’m sure if I’m privileged enough to make it that long, it’ll come faster than I’m ready for.

Will I have lived a life that my God will look at and say “Well done, good and faithful servant.”?  Or will I hang my head in shame, filled with regret, wondering how I let so much time slip through my fingers without a second thought?

Time is a non-renewable resource, but we don’t treat it like one.  We just ‘kill’ time.  We waste it.  We spend it.  How could we?  It’s so precious!  We have so little!  Why aren’t we maximizing every opportunity?  While we’re playing Angry Birds or Words with Friends, we could be doing something meaningful!

They say time is money.  Time is not money.  That can’t possibly be true.  Money you can earn back.  If you earn one hundred thousand dollars, and you invest it, you’ll have more than you started with (if you invest wisely).  If you earn one hundred thousand dollars and spend it all but then go back to work, you still have money.  Every second that passes, though… those will never come back.  You can’t win the lottery and win 10 years.  It doesn’t work like that.  If you sit around waiting, moments pass you by.

Time needs to be invested, too.  But where will it be invested?  Do the places we invest our time have value?  Will they give any return?  If I invest my time in Angry Birds, have I accomplished anything of value?  (merely an example, I can’t even figure the game out, I don’t like it.)

But if I invest my time in the lives of others, with a purpose, and with God’s love (or at least my feeble attempt at it)… I won’t have wasted time.

I don’t know what this looks like for me, yet.  But I assure you it’s on my heart.  I want to make the most of all my moments.

What does it look like for you?

How’s that for some heavy before-bed reading?

How a Student Made My Day


Here it is… I remembered to bring home the explanation of why I’m awesome.

I feel the need to note… though I’ll copy this verbatim (with the exception of names and locations), many of my students don’t seem to know the difference between yelling and being firm, lol.  I haven’t yelled at them yet, which I’m very pleased with, because that’s been my goal for the year — not to lose my temper.  Anyway, here it is.

 

September 20th 2012

Ms. Epic (that’s me, haha) is the most amazing person in the world.  She is amazing at french but difiantly not good at math, thats for sure.  She is super pretty and has really nice jewery and clothes!  Ms. Epic is also very good at yelling at students to listen even know she claims to not like yelling at them.  She is very nice to!  She barly gives students homework and thats what i like about her.  I remember the first day she came… i was playing with a sharpener and she said my named my face went red with embaressment and she laughed.. since then ive loved her as a teacher.

In grade 6 and 7 she would always laugh in our class and she would always say this is her favourite class but we all know she says that to every class shes in.  She brightens my day every morning and somehow teaches us in the morning and actually get threw to us even though were half asleep.  Ms. Epic is actually really cool for a teacher… she actually has a life.  She one of those teachers that will laugh even if there having a bad day and still be an amazing teacher.  She also has a dog named chloe (sorry if i spelt that wrong) that she always talks about.. she even has a picture of her with santa.  She just moved into a house but for some reason wont tell me where it is?  I dont know why she wont.

Ms. Epic is one of my favourite teachers.  I remember last year when she did a grade 8 math test and did worse that the grade 8s that year.  We all love Ms. Epic because she can put up with the worst student and can re-say how to do a French problem about 26 times and say it everytime with a smile.  Basically the moral of this is Ms. Epic is an amazing person and she should be a french teacher at Epic School for a very long time, and she wrote on the board write a thing about how awesome i am with 3 paraphs for friday, so here is is Ms. Epic!  I hope you liked it!!! 🙂

 

 

 

Little does this girl know, I may keep this forever.  And read it whenever I’m having a bad day.  Out of the mouths of children…

When you’re shaken in your very seat…


Today I went to the new church for the third time.  It was great.  But it hit me hard, in my own seat.  Where I sat.  Looking at a man from India being interviewed about the caste system there and how terrible it is, and how little boys and girls are sold into the slavery before they’d even be old enough to understand what slavery is if they lived here…. and I felt ashamed.  I felt ashamed that the day before, yesterday, I’d been watching season 1 of NCIS that I bought last week, nearing the end, thinking… I should buy season 2 tomorrow.  Needless to say, I do not own Season 2 at present.  That doesn’t mean I won’t at some point, but …. not the point here.

I had an uncomfortable experience this morning where I had to evaluate my world view.  And I have been doing so all day.  That was my first shake-up of today… realizing yet again that this world is bigger than me.  Than my issues.  Than my concerns and fears and problems.  That I am needed… whether I like that or not… to get involved with what I’ve been given… to bless and help others who can not help themselves.  I admit that I’ve been guilty from time to time of the attitude that if people really wanted to get out of poverty, they could.  I know at my core that this is usually completely untrue… and yet it occasionally creeps up.  There may be some who could fix their own poverty… but the vast majority of people stuck in poverty are just that…. they’re stuck… and I sit in my own little world trying to decide whether or not I can afford to buy NCIS Season 2.  Apparently, if I buy it on Amazon along with JAG Seasons 1-10, because I’ll have spent over 199.00, I would qualify for an Amazon Rewards VISA, and could pay it off in 6 month installments… how absurd.  I do not need a credit card to buy a boxed set of a TV series so that I can pay it off in 6 monthly payments.  If I can’t buy it outright, there is NO good reason to put that on credit.  It’s caused me to evaluate… what do I need?  What is a want and what is a need?  Because there are people who don’t even have what they need, and I worry about my wants.  Worry isn’t the right word… I don’t worry about them.  I ponder them… but still.

The second shake-up I got this morning was on a much smaller, much more personal scale.

When I turned 27 last December, I freaked out a little bit.  I didn’t let much of it out, I felt embarrassed and silly about it.  It’s just that there are certain things most of us feel we should accomplish by certain ages, and we count them as goal markers… we’re successful in our own eyes when we are accomplishing these things… and often, the order in which we accomplish them makes a big difference.  I must admit I thought I’d be married before 27 hit, and that scared me.  By all other rights, I was and still am a pretty successful woman.  At that point, I had a full-time, permanent position, I was paying into a pension, I had a place to live…. a scuzzy one that I hated, but I had one… all I felt that I was missing was a husband and some kids.  Many women my age around me, many of my friends, several of my colleagues, are accomplishing that life milestone… and I have not.  I’ve convinced myself of various reasons for it over the last 5-7 years… I wasn’t pretty enough, I thought.  I ignored that one, because I hate wearing makeup, and barring that there’s nothing I can do to fix that, so I moved on.  I was too loud.  So I tried to quash who I was on the inside and be a quieter, less rambunctious and boisterous version of myself.  As I’m sure you can imagine, that didn’t make me happy.  I ended up rather depressed for a while trying to be something I wasn’t.  I wasn’t skinny enough, I thought.  So I fixed that.  I dropped a whopping 90 pounds over the 10 month school year in 09-10.  I was the smallest I’ve ever been, and yet still felt unhappy.  At a size 8, I still felt that I could comfortably lose 20 pounds…. I sincerely believe that I was dealing with some borderline eating disorder issues at that point, and this is the first time I’ve admitted that… It’s a very good thing I went to Camp that summer and ate nothing but carbs and gained 12 pounds.  It shook me out of that.  But, since then I’ve gained 40, and now I’m back at that unhappy place where it’s not that I feel that I’m unattractive because of my weight.  I don’t.  But I don’t feel like the best version of me either.  I don’t feel especially healthy.  And I’ve been convicted recently that my body is a gift given to me from God.  I’m not a trash can, and yet I treat my body as such all the time.  I started a plan with a friend a few weeks ago to try to fix this, but I am quite scared I’ll end up right back where I started.  I’m almost afraid of that road, because I don’t want to get back to a size 8 and still feel like I’m not good enough.  Obviously the lesson here is that my self-worth cannot be held in the size of my jeans.  A friend quoted something she’d gleaned from her quiet time with God this week as her Facebook status.  She said “For what will it profit a woman if she attains thinness of body but in the end exchanges it for leanness of soul?”

I did that.  I worked SO hard at that.  At the thinness of body.  I was quite thin.  But I had little to no relationship with my Father, and I was still kind of unhappy.  It still nagged in the back of my mind.  I still felt like I needed to be thinner.  In my brain, I’d equated being thin with being successful, beautiful, attractive… whatever.  And I saw it as the only barrier left to getting a guy.  If I could just be skinnier……

28 is approaching.  And what smacked me in the face this morning, is that I am no longer a ‘young adult.’  I was at church and the Home Church details were included in a pamphlet in the bulletin.  In it were 2 “young adult” home churches.  I thought hey, maybe I’ll check them out.  To my shock, I discovered that I’m no longer a young adult.  18-25 is their age range.  That’s a generally accepted age range for young adults.  Apparently, according to the world, I’m an adult.  A full-fledged, responsible, mature, etc…. I’m an adult.  I’m 27.  And by most rights, I have accomplished MANY adult things.  Since my 27th birthday, I’ve purchased a home.  That’s HUGE.  I own my own house.  I have a budget that I follow and I manage my finances, and I own a home.  I no longer live in a scuzzy hole of an apartment.  But something’s still missing… and it bugs me that I don’t know how to get it.  Everything else that’s been missing, I’ve known how to get there.  Live in a scuzzy, terrible apartment?  Budget and save, and you’ll be able to buy your own house.  Done.  Need permanent income?  Accept a half-time permanent position instead of a full-time temporary one to get your foot in the door, then hopefully the next year, that’ll come.  Done.  Want a husband and kids?

………………….

Here’s what people around you will tell you.  And if you’re pushing 28 and single like me, I’m sure you’ve heard this advice.  Likely from people who married fairly young, and didn’t have to do most of these things.

“Get closer in your relationship with God.  Rely on Him fully and that’ll come.”

Check.  Well… more check than I was 5-7 years ago, anyway.  Not claiming perfection here.

“Be less boisterous.  No one likes really rambunctious adults.”

…….. Tried that.  Don’t really find that I’m the best version of me when I’m trying to be something I’m not.

Tell God what you want.  He’ll hear and honour the desires of your heart.”

Check.  What happens if the desires of MY heart aren’t the desires of HIS?  Then how do I deal with that?

“Wait patiently.  Your time will come.”

…. I am. It might.  It might not.  God’s desire for me may not be a husband and kids.  Then what do I do with all this advice and this desire that I have?

“Pray for your husband.”

I do.  It’s very hard when he’s faceless.

“Get out there.  Be social.”

um…. have you met me?  I am social.  I am VERY social.  To a fault, maybe.  That trait has scared a few guys away actually…

“Get into groups where there are single men.

I’ve tried… I can’t find them.  Do you guys know where they’re hiding?  And also… now apparently I’m too old.  And also… I wrestle a little bit with the idea that I should go church hopping to find a man.  Not when I’m where I’m supposed to be in the church… but that’s a thought for another day.

“Try online.”

*ahem*  I wonder how many of the people who tout this as an option have actually tried it?  I know there are success stories, and I know its popularity is rising in today’s ‘digital age,’ but all I found was more of the same… a large selection of guys that made it easy to see why they were still single… and a pocket of guys that were worth paying attention to, who didn’t feel the same way about me.  But mostly the first.  It was a huge hit to my self-esteem… that I paid a good chunk of money for.  No thank you.  Though it did make for some VERY entertaining, though rather cynical, stories and blog posts :p

This is an area where I find churches tend to lack.  We do really well with our children’s programming.  We usually do pretty well with our Youth programming.  If we’re lucky, we find churches that have a solid College/University/Young Adult program…… and then they turn into full out adults and most of them get married, have kids, and join other groups where they fit in nicely because they have that in common.  The older I get, the more difficult I find it to fit into a group that is a bunch of couples.  I find it difficult, while I am independent and strong and confident in most respects… I find I struggle to sit in a room full of couples and not feel like an odd duck, whether anyone else sees me that way or not.  But I’m also starting to feel like an odd duck with the young adults, because as my suspicions were confirmed this morning, I no longer am one.  Don’t get me wrong, please.  I’m not trying to say that I don’t feel I can learn from people that I don’t have life stages in common with.  I absolutely can, and I believe I have life experience and whatever to offer as well.  I’m not saying that the way things are done is particularly wrong… I’m just wondering if there’s a solution for this kind of unclassified life stage that I find myself in.  Obviously I’m not expecting to walk into a church and find a Bible study specifically for “young-ish, fairly successful, but still single peeps who don’t know why” lol… no one would go to that anyway, because it’s a stupid label.

Where do people like me fit?  Do we have a place?  Should we have a place?  Or am I just supposed to suck it up and go hang out with the married folk and their kids and stuff down the feelings that I want that?  And the fear that comes with not knowing how to get it.  Am I supposed to be ok knowing that I own a baby gate but only because I don’t want my friends’ kids to fall down my stairs?

I’m turning 28 in a little more than 3 months.  While I’ve accomplished many of my life goals already, which is a huge blessing, I still can’t seem to shake that ‘odd man out’ feeling.  So if it crosses your mind, please pray for me.  I would really like to find peace with this.

Anyway… that’s all.

I’ve kind of bared my soul here, and I feel a little raw and exposed, but I’m gonna leave it like that, and at that.

Here’s my short list of things for which I’m thankful, as I’ve been pretty neglectful of the book lately.

247.  Students who give into my silliness and actually end up reminding me why I teach.  (I had a student write me a 3 paragraph description of why I’m awesome on Thursday night because I wrote it on the blackboard as homework, being a goof, and not expecting anyone to do it.  I nearly cried in front of the whole 7/8 class.  I left it at work though, so I’ll have to try to bring it home tomorrow.)

248.  The Meeting House — being stirred and shaken in my very seat.

249.  Generosity of friends.

250.  A housewarming party fit for a Queen.  Well… maybe not a Queen.  A Queen may not like the housewarming party my realtor threw me, but I felt very very special yesterday.

Flowers and a guest book; gifts from my realtor.

251.  My freedom.  My wealth.  My upper-middle-class status…. and the conviction to use that to help others.

252. Making new friends.

253.  Crisp fall air.

254.  Random adventures.

255. Coffee.  Yum.  I’m a recent convert, but I’m enjoying the convertedness.

256.  Convicting quotes.

 

All photos taken on my Motorola Charm.

Exaggerating is lying.


I have something I need to get off my chest.  I don’t have a One Thousand Gifts style list to go with this, since I just blogged earlier this afternoon.

Exaggerating is lying.  I’m pretty guilty of this myself, but I’m finding I’m pretty convicted of that because of how angry it’s making me with everything that’s going on between the unions and the province and everyone in between.

Liberally biased news sources are painting teachers as lazy and greedy, telling readers we’ve had 34% wage increases over the past 8 years.  I’ve been in this for 5 years.  I haven’t seen much of that… not to say that I haven’t had raises, I have, every year but this one… but I’ve certainly not increased that drastically.  I’ve heard many skewed statistics.  They make all teachers look bad.  They make it look like we deserve what’s happened.  They make it look like it’s perfectly justifiable to make cuts and freeze wages.  But the ones that are biased toward the Provincial Government’s cause sure make a sincere effort not to comment on the Labour Laws and the Charter Rights that are on the chopping block, which is what anyone that I talk with is concerned about.

The Queen’s Park Rally For Education had anywhere from 4,000-20,000 people at it, depending on the news source you read.  That’s a significant gap in attendance.  Pro-Provincial Government sources would have readers/listeners/watchers believe that there were fewer in attendance than when teachers gathered similarly to protest Mike Harris, suggesting that maybe we don’t care as much now?  ETFO and OSSTF would have you believe that there were 15-20,000 in attendance.  Which one is true?  Were there actually 10,000 and no one wants to tell the truth?

A blog I read this afternoon says that elementary classes have a minimum of 30 students in them, and the author goes on to do math from there that is supposed to defend our case.  And in part, it helps.  I stand behind the sentiment.  But I haven’t had a class over 30 since 2010, and that was only one class, 40 minutes per day.  And the only reason it was over 30 was because they had more French classes than a full time French teacher, so they took the 4s from the 3/4 and added them to the 4/5 for French, pushing the 4/5 to 34 students.  Primary classes are still capped last time I checked, which means that this can’t possibly be a sound statistic, unless he was referring to high school class sizes, but he’d just finished talking about elementary school responsibilities.  My experience spans 4 schools in 5 years, in 2 different school boards, so again, unless this is board specific and I’m not aware, it sounds like he’s trying to paint a picture of elementary school class sizes in Ontario generally sitting at 30 and above, which is not true.

I’ve read that we have a 12-year salary grid.  Unless it’s different for each board, which I sincerely doubt, we have an 11-year salary grid.  I’ve read that we have 250 minutes per week of Prep time.  I have 240.  Again, this may be board specific, but if that’s the case, it needs to be clear, because otherwise it sure looks like authors are embellishing statistics to make their argument stronger.  We don’t need a stronger argument.  The truth is all the strength we need.
I don’t need to continue and rant on and on and on about all the discrepancies.  Most of them are minor, but when they all add up, we paint ourselves in a pretty poor light.  Anyone does.  Is there no one out there who will report the truth?  The facts?  Without twisting them to generate more support for their side of the cause?

All this to say, I feel convicted about my tendency to exaggerate.  I feel there’s a stark difference between hyperbole and exaggeration though.  I sincerely feel that there’s a difference between “I have, like, 400,000 things to do tonight,” and “It took me like 4 hours! (when in reality it took 2.5).”  I don’t feel guilty about or convicted of hyperbole.  It’s pretty clear that it’s a literary device used for dramatic effect.  But I know in my own personal experience, I tend to use exaggeration to make my plight sound worse and try to garner pity or extra help or more support, or whatever the case may be… it’s almost always selfish and for my own gain, or in an effort to avoid things I don’t want to or don’t feel I should have to do.  And I need to stop.

So if that’s the one good thing that’s come out of all of this political back and forth, so be it.  May I not lose hold of that conviction, may I be reminded on a regular basis that exaggeration only makes me look an idiot when it becomes clear what I did, because there are many journalists and bloggers out there that I’m pretty disappointed in right now for all of their exaggerations.  When we twist things to make our situation sound just a little bit more dire, or just a little bit better, we are sinning.  It’s a lie.

I don’t want to do it anymore.

The end.

Cruising with the windows down


So this morning I was headed to the new church, this is the second week.  I knew where I was going, there’s a bunch of shopping right in that area that I’ve been to lots of times.  But this week I was picking up a friend I know from Camp who asked for a ride.  I was super stoked because I love this girl, we go way back to when I used to spin her around by the hands in Church basements.  We’re birthday buddies — we were born on the same day, 7 years apart.  I’ve known her since she was like 2.  We have a very special bond.

SO I get in the car to go pick her up.  I had written directions down, I thought that would be wise.  Problem # 1 started when I slept until 8:45 am.  I needed to leave by no later than 9:05, and my greasy disgusting hair could not pull off another day without being washed.  Into the shower I hopped.  8:48 am.

8:56 am — out of the shower.  An impressive feat, if I do say so myself.

9:02 am — bangs are blowdryed so they don’t look like they were styled by a 4 year old.  The rest of my hair was soaking wet, but I had a half hour of driving ahead of me, it was totally fine.  I got dressed really quickly.  REALLY quickly.  Good thing it’s a very casual church and I just threw on jeans and a hoodie.

9:05 am — pulling out of the driveway.

9:07 am — sitting at the first stoplight, realizing I’d left my phone sitting beside my bed.  No time to go back.  Didn’t really need it, but it’s amazing how much of a security blanket that thing has become for me.

9:37 am — realize that although I knew where I was going… and thought I knew how to get there… somewhere along the line I’d done something wrong.  I should not be going down the other side of the escarpment… I need to turn around.

9:39 am — turned around and pulled out the GPS.

9:47 am — arrived at destination precisely on time — between 9:45 and 9:50, just as I’d said.  This enabled us to arrive at church at 9:55, perfect timing.  Seated two minutes before the service started.  Excellent.

 

And that’s when it hit me.  I was lost.  I didn’t know where to go.  I thought I did… thought I had it under control.  Had directions with me, but didn’t look at them because I ‘knew where I was going.’  Anyone else seeing life parallels here?

My Bible — a road map for life.  How often does it go untouched?  Because I feel like I’ve got everything under control.  I don’t need help.  “I’ve got this.”  Well, great, but…. not good enough.  Not at all.  The Bible is not there for me to crack open only when I realize that I’m lost and late can’t get where I need to be without it, like my GPS this morning.  I could have used a map too, but it’s very handy to have something on your dashboard tell you “in 500 metres, make a Left.”  If only the Bible were that clear in our lives sometimes.  But that’s where community with the Holy Spirit, the Father, and the Son come in.  The Spirit can guide and lead me in the way that I need to go, if only I listen.

I learned this lesson today because I was cocky.  I thought I knew what to do, where to go.  I didn’t.  I missed one turn somewhere.  After church, I looked at my directions and still couldn’t totally figure out what I did wrong.

 

240.  Maurice’s return policy.  I walked in WEARING a pair of jeans that are too big because they stretch out a lot during wear and I didn’t know that when I bought them.  I really like the jeans, so I walked in intending to BUY a pair a size smaller and just deal with them being too tight for half an hour.  What ended up happening, was I left in the brand new jeans, gave them back the old ones (that I’ve had for a month and a half), and didn’t pay a cent.  No receipt, nothing.  They took back my dirty jeans and let me walk out in new ones that fit.  THAT is customer service.

241.  GPS’s

242.  Special Friends

243.  Jeremiah 29:11

244.  socks — my basement is cold.  So are my feet.  I like socks.

245.  Washing Machines and dishwashers!

246.  laying in the grass under a tree in MY backyard playing with my camera.

Disclaimer: You may not like what I have to say here.


***** If you don’t support the teacher side of the argument in Ontario right now, that’s fine.  I am expressing my opinions.  This is my side of the story.  This is the way I see it.  Please refrain from personally insulting me on my own blog.  Please be an adult and keep your nasty comments to yourself.  I welcome and encourage healthy debate, as long as it is not insulting or attacking.  If I can expect mutual respect in a classroom of 6 year olds, I can certainly expect it here.

As many of you probably already know, I am an Ontario Public Elementary School teacher.  What you probably don’t know is that I decided to become a teacher in Grade 12 after an amazing Senior French teacher rescued me not only from almost quitting taking French altogether (the Jr. teacher was not fantastic), but showed me what it meant to be a fantastic teacher, and made me want to be like her.  After I made that decision in Grade 12, I only hesitated briefly.  I only hesitated because of the politics.  Embedded in those politics is a public opinion of teachers that views us as lazy, greedy, whiny, and ungrateful.

And, you know what?  Maybe, if everyone who’s ever said that was specific and said “teacher’s unions are….” I might agree.  However, that is what unions are for.  Does the Elementary Teacher’s Union need less power?  Perhaps, not really my area of expertise, so I kind of lack an opinion, but more on that later.  Also, fun fact:  I don’t get to choose whether or not my profession is unionized.  That’s legislated.  I must pay union dues and therefore must belong to ETFO.  I don’t have a choice, and whether I want to be in or not is completely irrelevant.

Allow me to shed some light on the truth behind these public opinions.

First… I say public opinions, allow me to be clear.  I mean… the public that is not in education.  It would do us all some good, I think, to remember that teachers are ‘the public’ as well.  I pay taxes, just like you do.  Because of the tax bracket I’m in, I pay loads of taxes.  I fund social services, just like you do.  The fact that I have a unionized job does not pull me out of the tax-paying Public Work Force.  Portions of my taxes go to support Public Education as well.  I pay a part of my own salary with my taxes.

Second… lazy.  Lazy!?  Teachers?  None that I’ve worked with.  I’ve seen a few who I’d maybe peg with that label… MAYBE…. but I find it incredibly difficult to be a lazy teacher.  I show up at school at 7:30-7:45 every morning.  I’m up at 6-6:30.  Well… except for Mondays now, but that’s another story.  I work from 8:40-3:00 pm in classrooms, on yard duty, and presently… I’m still running Cross Country, because as much as ‘taking a pause’ on voluntary activities is the only way we have to protest what’s been done in the recent past, I had already sent home permission forms, and I’d already told the kids I would.  I won’t take that back.  I get 40 minutes to an hour to myself between that time, daily… luckily.  This year I do.  Last year I had a day with no prep time in my schedule and I left exhausted.  When I’m done teaching, I have to make sure I’ve got my marking done, I have to make sure any phone calls I needed to make are done, and… if it’s too much to do in the morning, I need to prep the next day.  There are days that I’m at the school until 6 pm.  I could be at the school way longer.  I could never leave the school and still feel like there is more that I could do, but I vowed to myself after my first year of teaching that I would not burn myself out in this career, and so I will pace myself, and I will not take on more than I can handle.  That means I’ve taken on less extra-curriculars than some of my colleagues (may I remind you, these are voluntary), and it means that I don’t always have popping, flashing, amazing lessons.  I don’t always have amazing computer programs and games etc. ready to go.  But I know many who do.  On weekends, I try to only bring things home if I need to.  There are some times of year where this is completely possible.  In September, I don’t bring much home, but I’m not a homeroom teacher, either.  I don’t teach math or language or social studies.  I teach French and the Arts.

Third… greedy?  I don’t know how many times we can say this.  I’m getting tired of saying this.  What I’m upset about right now is NOT the money or the benefit cuts.  I can only speak for myself, but let me assure you that what bothers me the most is that the Premier of this Province and the Minister of Education can go above the law, and legislate changes that are in violation of Ontario Labour Laws and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and no one can stop them.  That’s what has me perplexed.  Who’s next?

To speak to the ‘greedy’ stereotype a bit more clearly, allow me to explain why I became a teacher.

I became a teacher for:

1.  The kids

2.  The lightbulb that goes on over a kid’s head when they’ve been struggling and fighting with a concept and they finally get it.  The sheer joy that crosses their faces when they understand something they were having a hard time with.

3.  The laughter.  The giggles.  The hilarious things kids say.  I couldn’t get that in any other workplace.

4.  Teaching.  I enjoy imparting knowledge and wisdom.  My favourite piece of wisdom lately is:  “The wrong thing is still the wrong thing even if everyone is doing it.  The right thing is still the right thing even if no one is doing it.”  I think I saw it on Pinterest but I’ve adopted it into my work vocabulary.

5.  To impact lives the way mine was impacted by several amazing, caring teachers, and…

6.  To show kids who may not hear or see it from anyone else that someone cares about them, and that they’re valued.

I did NOT become a teacher for the pay.  I did not become a teacher for the weekends, the summers, March Break, or Christmas.  I did not become a teacher for the pension.  Those things are all great, but I’d teach without them.  In fact I have taught without them.

Fourth:  Whiny?  No.  I haven’t heard whining in either of my staff rooms.  Argument does not compute.

Fifth:  Ungrateful.  Really?  I’m pretty grateful for the incredible opportunity I have to work with kids.  For the unbelievable salary, benefits, for the holidays that allow me to see my family who lives far away from me.  I’m very grateful for all of those things.

Lately, as you’ve probably heard, things have gotten heated.  A false crisis was created in education by recalling the legislature to force a bill through and make it a law that removed all sorts of things with disregard for the rights allotted to Canadians in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and to Ontarians in Ontario Labour Laws.  The Education Minister and the Premier spent the last couple weeks of August claiming that they were ensuring kids would return to school on September 4th and that there would be no strike….

I must have missed something.  There had been no mention of strike by anyone I work with… we weren’t even in a legal position to discuss it until September 1st.  We were legislated that we didn’t have the right anymore ON September 1st.  There was no good faith there.

Provincial Discussion Table… you know, the one we walked away from?  Yes, we walked away from it, because under Ontario Labour Law, we negotiate between our Unions and our School Boards, not with the Province.  The Provincial Discussion Table was set up a few years ago to decide between the Province, the Ministry, and the Boards what to do with a surplus of money that they wanted to funnel into education.  When the Premier and the Education Minister came to the Provincial Discussion Table and said “here are your terms, accept them or we’ll legislate it,” you bet our UNION walked away.  And I don’t blame them.  Show up hostile, that’s what you get.

I teach my students to fix their own mistakes and not to point blame.  I understand that Ontario is broke.  I understand that cuts had to be made.  I do.  Like I said, the cuts were not my issue.  Dalton McGuinty dug us into this 15 billion dollar deficit with scandals and mismanagement and poor decisions…. and now it’s my job to bail him out.  And according to many people, I need to suck it up and be OK with that.  Why?  His salary has not been cut.  His pension has not been cut.  He hasn’t stopped spending like a 15 year old who found his parents’ credit card.  Why do I have to bail him out?  And yes, I get that others have experienced wage freezes and cuts and haven’t had raises in several years.  I get that when there isn’t money, people don’t get raises.  Quite frankly, I didn’t expect one this round of negotiations strictly for that reason.  I expected things to be different.  And I will acknowledge this:  Teachers’ Unions have created a very poor image for themselves.  Every round of negotiations, public opinion of teachers gets a little less favourable because every round of negotiations they fight for more money.  They fight for increased benefits.  They threaten to strike when the Boards say they don’t have the money (provided by the Province).  Perhaps if in other rounds of negotiations, the Unions hadn’t bit the hands that fed them, we would not be looked upon as greedy, lazy, and whiny.  But again, I beg of you to keep in mind that the man or woman who teaches your 5th grader did not choose to be in a union, and has no say in the decision to ask for more more more more.  That’s done without our input.

Campaigning.  Need I say more?  When this started to come down, I became slightly disillusioned with politics.  It didn’t last long.  As you can probably tell, I care a little too much to let this scare me off.  But the thing I find the most ironic about the entire thing is that my Union almost came right out and told us to vote Liberal in the Provincial Election last year.  Why?  Because the Conservatives have made it clear that unions would be on the chopping block and that there would be cut after cut after cut.  Dalton McGuinty marketed himself as the Education Premier and a Friend of Education.  At least the Conservatives were honest???

The media… this is a touchy subject for me.  Depending on the political allegiance of the paper or news network you get your information from, you get very different information.  I read anti-teacher news that read that the rally at Queen’s Park on August 28th garnered 4-5000 attendees.  Then I read pro-teacher news that reads 15-20,000 attendees.  That’s a drastic misrepresentation of information on SOMEONE’s part.  I don’t know whose, but someone is flat out lying.  There’s no way to guess wrong with that big of a gap.  The media is making me look greedy, selfish, like I’m punishing kids… the media doesn’t seem to care that I just lost a bunch of what were supposed to be irrevocable rights because the government can just legislate over top of them if they have enough support in The House.

Protests… several educators went to Queen’s Park after Bill 115 was passed, and they held a funeral for democracy on the lawn.  Casket, skull, black clothes, eulogies, everything.  I have a huge problem with that.  It seems to me to be a disgraceful disrespect of the dead.  I did not jump on the bandwagon of wearing black to school the following day.  I wore my brightest shirt.

McGuinty Mondays… this is not a choice I made.  This is a choice my Union made for me.  And remember, I did not choose to be a part of my Union.

Withdrawing volunteer hours from extracurricular activities.  Please note:  VOLUNTEER hours from EXTRAcurricular activities.  These are not part of my job.  They are not mandatory.  I could withdraw my support of these programs at any time.  They increase school spirit, they get students involved, and they’re great for building better relationships with students, but they are by no means mandatory.  I realize that it looks like we’re punishing kids.  I do.  And it sucks for the kids.  I get that.  I realize that it looks like we’re taking it out on them.  But this is the only legal means left to tell anyone with any influence that we are not ok with this.  If you have an issue with it, talk to your MPP about it.  Get your MPP to talk to people who can do things.  Teachers are an easy target because people hate us for the money we make and the time off we have and the pension and benefits we get, and obviously not enough people will stand up for us.    But seriously… what’s next.

**Post publish edit:  if anyone’s gonna get mad at me and say it’s all about the money, I see your argument and raise you:  NHL Lockout.  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1334445-nhl-lockout-2012-why-gary-bettman-should-lose-his-job-if-a-lockout-happens.

There is something beautiful in all of this though.  Something profound.  I realized the instant that this started to come through that I truly love my job.  I’ve said it before, I’ve known it for a while, but haven’t really faced any struggle other than difficult kids before to make me question it.  I know I love my job because even though the stress of today alone (with union meetings and principal meetings to tell us they respect our decisions and won’t make things intentionally more difficult for us…. I cried a little in the VP’s office…) made me stress eat my way into the next pants size up, I’m sure… (Bren, if you’re reading this…… I can probably buy you a pina colada and key lime pie tomorrow, lol)… I still can’t think of anything else I’d rather do.  If it gets so bad that I can’t support myself on this (and there is that potential), then I honestly don’t know what else I would do.  I’m thankful that I have a Father in Heaven who protects me from needing to freak out about that two years in advance.  If I put it in His hands repeatedly, over and over again, He will be faithful and do what’s best for me.  He always does.

224.  A successful week 1 and 2.  I STILL haven’t yelled!  Voice has risen, but I have not yelled.  I am getting very good at the psychotic smile while repeating an instruction until it is obeyed.

225.  Compliments from kids.  They always speak such truth.  Weird truth sometimes, but such truth…. “that dress makes you look taller!”  “hold out your arms.  Yup!  Thought so!  That shirt makes you look like a butterfly!  But don’t worry, butterflies are beautiful!”  *grade 7/8 quotes*

226.  Determination and willpower.

227.  Promises that will never be broken (rainbows)

228.  I have more than optimism.  I have hope. Everlasting hope in everlasting truth.  Because I trust — I have faith.  Faith without trust is mere optimism.

229.  Hilarious kids.  I should write a book of elementary kid quotes.

230.  Conquering the Centipede……. There’s a good story there.  I got the utter privilege of flushing a centipede down the drain in my sink, but it didn’t want to go.  There was screaming, and jumping up and down…. all while my grandmother was on speaker phone.  It was epic.

231.  Fabulous salads that I made myself! (taken on my Motorola Charm)

232.  Hard-boiled eggs the old-fashioned way.

233.  I’m beautiful no matter what size I am.

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2012/09/what-women-need-to-say-to-each-other-because-its-what-ever-woman-needs-to-hear/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HolyExperience+%28Holy+Experience%29

234.  This too shall pass.

235.  I am intelligent enough to be able to understand both sides of an issue, whether I agree with both sides or not.

236.  Supportive, reassuring administration.

237.  Minority governments.

238.  Romans 8:31

239.  My Bible study group.  Lovely group of kids… erm, young adults…

If I can just feel 1% better than I did the day before…


So I went to a seminar this evening with a friend on cutting sugar and living healthy, the exercise you need to do to do so (wow that’s a PILE of 2 letter words ending in o…), and the balance our lives need in order to live healthy lives.  The guy delivering the talk was in his 40s, and I don’t know many 20 year olds in that fantastic of shape.  The guy was pretty tanked up.  He was showing some before and after pics of some of his clients (he’s a personal trainer), and the last one was of him in college, and what he managed to accomplish in 6 months.
It’s the guy at the top of his blog here that gave the talk… http://www.theleanbody.com/.  And he was by no means overweight to start with.

He told us the story of how he got to be in such great shape.  He was severely depressed, had been on anti-depressants which he took himself off because all they made him do was sleep, and he was suicidal.  He’d planned it out.  He’d written the letter.  He’d made the decision, but he was still scared.  Probably a good emotion, I’d say, at that point.  He was sitting out in front of a gym one day as he was trying to decide when he’d get up the courage to end his own life, and decided that if he could just feel 1% better that day than he had been feeling, he’d stick it out a little while longer.  So he went to the gym.  And sure enough, endorphins delivered and he felt better.  So he went the next day.  And the next.  And the next.  And so on… until 6 months later he was unrecognizable, and in my opinion far too muscled up.  But whatever floats your boat.  It saved his life….

But it immediately got me to thinking… may I never get to a state where I only want to feel 1% better than the day before.  May I ever be grateful for a Saviour who has made it so I don’t have to feel that way when I rely on him.  I am not discounting the very real effects of depression.  It’s a legit mental illness, and I’m not claiming in any way that Christians don’t suffer from that.  But man, was I ever finding myself thankful at the end of that incredibly motivating, informative, challenging talk that I have more to rely on than endorphins…. much as I love them, and I truly do.  I miss them actually… I am embarking on a 12 week challenge with a friend that holds pina coladas and key lime pie at the end…. one of us doesn’t have to buy.  And I sure hope it’s me.  Though I know her…. I’m going to have to kick into some high gear that I didn’t know I ever had if I am going to beat her.  And that’s why I challenged her 😉

All that aside… I am so grateful for Jesus.  For God.  For the Holy Spirit who lives in me and guides my life.  For all of them.  For the fact that even as three, they’re still one.  For the fact that God hears me when I call.  For the fact that I don’t need to rely on my own strength for anything.  For the fact that He has plans for me greater than my own.

This motivational speaker personal trainer dude mentioned that one of the best ways to relieve stress is through prayer.  He then went on to say that it’s a part of almost every religious group out there, and that you don’t even have to be praying to anyone or anything, it’s just a way to decompress and it’s cathartic.  Well, I can’t imagine anything more frustrating than praying to nothing and never getting an answer.  How grateful am I that there is Someone up there, and that I am NOT praying to nothing just to reduce my stress levels.  I don’t have to meditate and focus on the sound of my breathing in order to calm down (it doesn’t really work anyway… trying to focus on my breathing while I’m freaking out merely causes hyperventilating).

He also mentioned fasting as an effective method for weight loss/fat loss because it kicks your metabolism into high gear.  Also mentioned that it’s used in religious settings all the time.  I think I’ll keep it for religious settings… not that I’ve ever done it, but … I dunno… just feels weird to fast to lose weight.  Not for the actual reasons, I understand the science of it kickstarting your metabolism back into gear, I just don’t like the idea is all.

So after a very successful first week of school… where, might I add, I’ve not yelled once (that was a major goal for this year), I am feeling pretty thankful.  I haven’t written much down, but I had some hysterical moments with some fantastic kids.  I have two grade 4 twin boys who, while not overly participative in French class, are just little hams in Drama and are going to rock it.  We played charades today… one acted out knocking on a door and there being no one there… complete with impatient foot tapping and watch staring, scowling faces, and increasingly harder knocking.  The other acted out playing golf… complete with accidentally throwing your club when you swing, watching while shielding your eyes from the sun as it falls to the ground, and then face palming.  It was brilliant.  I wish I had it on video.

There are challenges as well, for sure, but tonight I’m feeling like I KNOW this verse to ring truth out everywhere:

“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”  Romans 8:31 NLT

209.  Doggy goodnight kisses and cuddles.

210.  Kids rushing over to give hugs after a summer apart.

211.  EA support 3 times a week where it’s truly needed!  EAs are so fantastic, it’d be hard to do our jobs well without them!!

212.  Wonderfully useful housewarming gifts.

213. A great first week back!

214. Hilarious kids.

215. Helpful neighbours!  My grass is cut, and right before we’re forecast to get 50mm of rain tomorrow!  YES!

216.  Motivation to kick my butt into gear.

217.  The clarity to do it for the right reasons –> because I’ve been given a body to take care of.

218.  Being trusted with big things at work — mentoring a new teacher.

219.  Sticking to my goal –> I haven’t yelled once.

220.  Romans 8:31

221.  Lovely evening strolls with little nooks and paths to help you forget you’re in the heart of the city.

222.  My playful pooch.

this isn’t quite so playful… but I’m thankful that my playful pooch trusts me to take care of her. It’s thundering like crazy out, and that scares her, so all but her hind end went under the couch tonight… but as I type this she’s curled up on my floor sleeping comfortably, knowing she’s safe. That’s special to me.

223.  Truth on the trail.

All photos taken on my Motorola Charm.

September


For teachers and students alike, September marks the beginning of something new.  It marks the beginning of a brand new school year.  Any teachers out there can likely agree with me when I say the year starts in September.  I think in terms of school years, not calendar years like most people.  For me, 2012-2013 is a perfectly acceptable way to measure “a year.”

September holds so much.  I’ve started dreaming about school.  In fact I’ve been dreaming about it for the past week and a half.  And I rarely sleep well (if at all) the night before… so I’m not really looking forward to tomorrow night.  The thing is, I’m not excited about this school year.  Many of you know I’ve had many other things on my plate this summer… I had a very spiritually engaging and fabulous summer at Camp, I bought a house… that I moved into yesterday and which will likely be unpacked in its entirety by tomorrow afternoon…. but all of those things mean that I’m truly not ready for this entity called “September.”

But today, even though I’m not ready to say goodbye to summer, and I’m not ready for “September,” I want to take an instant and thank God for something very important.  I have a job.  It’s stable for now.  That’s the way I like things.  I won’t get into Ontario school politics, that’s not what I intend to do, but I can just say that the last week has left me clawing for a silver lining, and what I can come up with is “I have a full time permanent job, it’s good, and I get to impact the lives of so many kids.”

September is typically a month of change and new beginnings.  For me, there are a few that should have happened, but they didn’t.  Timing must not have been right.  But there’s one that is happening… that I’ve felt strongly about for a while… over a month now.  It’s been something I haven’t wanted to put out in my blog because I knew there were people who read this that hadn’t heard this news yet, but now that I’m confident that I won’t be causing shock, I will explain.  I’ve been feeling very pulled lately toward a new church.  One that I’ve supported in spirit for years, and went to a couple years ago for a couple months in another town, but it was too far away in a brutally snowy winter, and I kept not being able to go anyway.  But there’s one coming to my town now, and I’ve felt really pulled to go help with that plant…

But that being said, I don’t know if it’s just a feeling, or if it’s actually what God wants from me.  I had an emotional Sunday morning yesterday, there were even some tears!  And those who know me know that those aren’t easy to elicit.  It was saying goodbye to people I’ve grown to love very much, even though I know I’m not saying goodbye forever, and I know there’s nothing that says I can’t visit, it was still hard.

It was a lot harder than I’d anticipated.  I almost retracted my decision to go help with the plant yesterday morning during the service.  All these things are going through my head: “They’re in transition, they don’t need everyone and their mother to pack up and leave right now.”

SO here’s my question… my big, booming, 1:30 am “I should be sleeping but I pushed upload on a video to Facebook at 1:10… that was dumb….” question.  (I started writing this last night… I saved it, I’ve edited a few things… I don’t write very well when I’m literally falling asleep 😉 …. someone tell me how I made it through University alive, please?)

How do you know if what you’re thinking/feeling/whatever is actually from God?  How do I know that the new church truly is what God wants from me?  I prayed about it, I asked for peace in the situation that if that’s what He wanted me to, and He truly wanted me to pick up and leave, He’d calm my fears about a new church and new people and having to get to know people all over again.  He’d give me peace.  I received that peace, and I assumed that meant I was making the right decision, it was the right thing to do, and as I know obedience is worship, I figured if I said no I won’t go help with a church plant because I’m comfortable where I am, I’d regret that decision and probably suffer Jonah-style for a bit…. but now I feel weird.  I don’t know if the ‘weird’ is guilt, because I feel like I am leaving good friends, even though I know I’ll still see all of them…. or if it’s some other force trying to convince me I need to stay, knowing that I’ll be more effective elsewhere and knowing that keeping me where I am would hinder something bigger… Or, I don’t know if maybe it is that still small voice telling me that I’m making the wrong decision and I need to stay put.  I don’t know.

I think for now, my plan of attack is to float between both, prayerfully, and make my decision the informed way, not based on feelings, but based on prayer and doing the right thing.  So if those of you reading this could pray for me, that I’ll make the right decision for myself and for everyone involved, I’d sincerely appreciate that.

Onto things I am truly thankful for from the past….. however long it’s been since I wrote my last post.

187. Unexpected visits.

188. Kitchen mishaps turning epic.  (I was in the Camp Kitchen, whipping some peanut butter so we could try to pipe it… added some edible oil product (non-dairy whipped cream) to try to lighten it up… that didn’t work, it was just a big oily glob.  Added some icing sugar to try to stick it back together, then it just got really chewy… it turned into what the middle of a WunderBar tastes like.  It was amazing.)

189.  Brita Pitchers!  I can drink city water!  NO MORE BOTTLES!

190.  Organization. (taken on my Motorola Charm)

191.  Water sweeteners that make it possible to drink the city water.

192.  I have a job.

193.  A good salad.

194.  Lovely ladies who I am so blessed to call sisters in Christ and friends.

195.  Friends who text to say “do you need help unpacking?” Even if all we ended up doing was eating froz yoz and catching up 😉

196.  Thoughtfulness – a meal put in my fridge

197.  Helping hands.

198.  Treasured little chats after church.

199.  Doing things the right way, not hurting feelings in my path.

200.  Fall Fairs!

201.  Great cameras

18x zoom… what a machine.

202.  Running into Camp peeps at the Fair.

203.  Bonding with my amazing friend.

204.  Inspiration to pick that violin back up.

Sadly, I can’t upload the video I took without upgrading my account… but…. epic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-uNlUStuA8  Here… Here’s somebody else’s capture of The Devil Went Down to Georgia… so much musical talent…. and he makes it look easy!  Ridiculous.

205.  $12.00 concerts!

206.  Fair food.

207. Fantastic jewellery finds at little fair vendors.

208.  The silly faces my pooch makes.

All photos were taken by me.