Child, Remember

Daniel, remember when you were put in the lions’ den?

Shadrach, remember when you and your friends were thrown into the fire?

Children of Israel, remember when you were bitten by poisonous snakes?

Lord Jesus, remember when they mocked you, spit on you, and crucified you?

These are extremes. But often, I am thinking about the things in my life that are bad: the things I want to change. I pray and ask God to change these things, or even to remove memories of the past because these bad things hurt. But when we are saying, “God change these things!” God is saying, “Child, I want to transform you.”

Child, remember when I shut the mouth of the lion? How did that honor my name?

Child, remember when I walked in the fire with you? How did that cause you to glorify me?

Child, remember when you looked at the snake for healing? Did you remember my goodness then?

Child, remember when I suffered and died, and absorbed all your sin an punishment? Did you know my love then?

This last week or so, I’ve been trying to change my prayer from “change these things” to “Change me on the inside through these things.” God wants to transform me, bringing honor to Himself, but in that, I become the person I am meant to be.

 

 

 

He wasn’t in the quake

Many times in my life, I have told God, “I don’t FEEL your presence. I know you are here because your Word is truth, but I don’t FEEL you.” I find myself asking God to make Himself present in a way I can acknowledge, feel, experience. What good is a relationship if I don’t feel anything?

This week, I was definitely feeling that way. I was mentally trying to lean on the truth of God’s presence, but emotionally, and physically, I felt nothing. I was reading 1 Kings, and it was the story of the prophet Elijah. God called to him, and Elijah went. There was an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. There was a fire, but God was not in the fire. Then God spoke in a small whisper.

A small whisper.

I wanted something big from God. God said, “The small things. The peaceful things.”

The smile of my students when they understand.

The cool Dominican mornings.

The palm trees.

The curriculum I have.

My students’ faces.

The “hellos!” from former students.

The prayers of my friends and family.

Hugs.

God is always present, and how he demonstrates his presence is not always something big in my eyes. Instead of God saying, “You moron, I am always with you. Quit complaining,” he said, “I am here. Let me show you.” He renewed my mind. He didn’t conform to me, and give me something BIG. He changed my perspective instead.

Thank you, Lord, for the small voice of your presence with me every day.

 

This Is Why I Teach: Today’s Math Class

There are 1,000 aspects to teaching that I still have to learn. Probably more. I feel like every day, I either realize how I failed, or I’m excited about how well something new worked. I always want to share what happened, but then I am so afraid I’ll just sound like an idiot because everyone else in the teaching world knew this, or thought of it a long time ago. Still, I’m thankful for my experiences, and how God is helping me to do this job better and better each day.

Anyway, today, my 5th grade class (now remember, English is their second language!) was practicing reading and writing large numbers, like 356,045,932,005. I’d read the number, and they would have to write it. When we got to this part of the lesson, one boy just said, “I can’t. I don’t know the numbers. It’s too hard.” I told him I wanted him to try. He did not want to try. Now, he’s a really smart kid. Really smart.

**Side note: I’ve learned in my years of teaching, that many kids who start out “really smart” never had to try, so attempting something that doesn’t come easily is a great challenge, and some end up turning into mediocre students because no one teaches them to think, persevere, and accept the challenge. They’ve never faced the possibility of failure, and they are afraid to step toward it.**

I told him that coming across a challenge doesn’t mean he can’t try. I wrote a list of 10,20,30… on the board so he could see the words and follow along. I gave the students a pattern to draw on their erase boards:

_____,_____,_____,_____

B          M          T

Then, I told them to listen, and write the numbers in the correct family as I read them.

The boy who had been obstinate, frustrated, and even angry about wanting to try? He was trying. And he didn’t just try. He got it right. The SMILE on his face … I wish I could have had a video. Pure jubilation and pride. He did it! I think he shocked himself, and it was beautiful.

Those moments, when a child feels like there’s no way he can do something, and then he does? This is why I teach.

Just a little about my day

The day began with coffee and reading on the porch at 6:15. The cool, quiet mornings are one of my favorite things here in the Dominican Republic. This morning, though, there was a strange clanging sound. The sound was this: A man, donning a pink backpack (I don’t know why), was weeding. He was using a crowbar and a machete to cut the weeds out of the sidewalk cracks all down the street. 

***

In one of my classes, I have a student named Joan. It’s pronounced, “Joe-ON.” At least, I think it is. Our dialogue went like this:

ME: Jo-ON

HIM: No, it’s Jo-ON.

ME: Yes, I know. Jo-ON.

HIM: No. Jo-ON.

ME: That’s what I’m saying!

Hopefully, I’ll hear it eventually. 

****

This evening, my friend messaged to ask what I was doing, and he told me he was hungry. He hadn’t eaten. I invited him over for some chicken alfredo I’d made for dinner. It’s one thing to think about people around the world who can’t afford to eat, but it certainly becomes a whole different thing when it’s someone you know—-someone you call a friend. My roommate, Suzanne came out to the porch to join us, and asked him how he was. His answer? “Super bien!” with honest enthusiasm.

*****

I was excited that I didn’t feel the need to come home and immediately shower. The weather seemed cooler today, and there was a great breeze. I’m especially happy about one of the rooms where the windows near the board make an amazing cross breeze. Today, I literally said, “Oh that is amazing! Thank you, Jesus! I love you!” 

******

Thankful for the blessings, for the love of God, and for the opportunity to teach these kids. One of the girls told her mom, “Yesss, I have the best teacher in the whole school this year!” Definitely made me smile.

 

 

Summer Post

  • I’ve been spending my summer resting, visiting friends, visiting family, watching baseball, and enjoying air conditioning!
  • Unfortunately, I’m still suffering the effects of chikungunya–mostly in my wrists, hands, ankles, and feet, so pray for healing there.
  • I was not able to begin my visa process, so I’m just trusting in the Lord for whatever will happen with that.
  • This school year, I’ll only be teaching 5th and 6th grade. I’ll have 4 English classes and 2 math classes. No science!
  • Last week I stood in church with my friend that I’ve been praying for—for 10 years. He’s not a believer yet, but I’m still bringing his name before the throne of God. Excited for the day he responds to Christ’s call.
Family

Family

My buddy, Jordan, is glad I'm home.

My buddy, Jordan, is glad I’m home.

Can't get enough time with my nieces!

Can’t get enough time with my nieces!

I've been to Nats Park (seen here) and Comerica Park this summer.

I’ve been to Nats Park (seen here) and Comerica Park this summer.

Chikungunya

A reporter contacted me about doing an interview about the my experience with chikungunya. The following is what I sent him. I’ll add a link when he posts the article, but I thought some of you might want to read it, too.

My feet had been hurting for a while, which I attributed to standing long hours on concrete floors in poorly made shoes. Then one Saturday morning, the pain on the bottom of my feet was so bad, that I almost had to crawl to the bathroom. It felt like I had severe bruises on the soles of my feet. I tried to go on with my day, and by afternoon, I was feeling exhaustion, and I had lost my appetite completely. By that night, I began a fever (I didn’t have a thermometer, so I don’t know how high, but I don’t think it was very high). 
 
My symptoms the first 3 days were pain in my feet and aching in various body parts (hands, knees, neck), exhaustion, fever (on and off), and lack of appetite. On Monday, I went to work, but I was in pain and exhausted. I think the fever was gone by then. I stayed home from work on Tuesday. Wednesday was the final day of classes, so I forced myself to go, but again, the exhaustion was the worst part. Still, I ate very little. I was taking 800 mg of ibuprofen (which I had from the states— it’s not always easy to find in our city). A friend also brought me complex B tablets which she was told would help. I don’t know that either of those helped much.  I would compare the aches in my ankles and wrists to that of having sprained them— painful to move, unable to do some basic tasks (opening a sealed bottle of Coke is sometimes painful).  Because it was so much pain, I felt like it was going to be impossible to recover quickly. You know, when you sprain something, it takes weeks. But the severe pain only lasted a few days. Then came the itching. I didn’t have a very obvious rash, but for about 3 more days, my arms, legs, and back began to itch. During that time, though, I had no fever, and the pain began to subside. I slowly regained my appetite. In all, it was about 10 days until I felt like I was 100%. The heat here had increased, too, so it’s hard to say what was attributed to heat and what was a result of the chikungunya.

Now, about 20 days later, after feeling better for about 10 days, my wrists, feet, and knees have regressed into the similar pain. Along with that, my feet and hands are often swollen. My limbs and tongue often feel like they are going numb–that feeling or poor circulation. The pain in my hands is greater now—it’s in my wrists and fingers. Ibuprofen seems to help a little, but I don’t feel a big difference. I have at least 2 other friends who are experiencing similar regression. As far as mosquito prevention, I really only use repellent when I notice the mosquitoes are bothering me. I get bit a lot, so I figured I was bound to get it eventually, especially since friends who claim to rarely get bit had the illness. I haven’t really changed anything since the illness because I read that it’s unlikely you can get it again (similar to chicken pox).
 

Question and Answer Time

Suzanne gave me an award, but it’s one of those chain things where I’m supposed to tag other blogs, but I really don’t read enough blogs to make tagging worth your while. But I figured I could still answer the questions that go along with this prestigious award. ;)

What three words would you NOT use to describe yourself? 

motivated, type-A, healthy 

What would thirteen-year-old you find surprising about your life right now?

I think we’re still the same. Maybe surprised that I don’t watch much hockey anymore.

If you could go back to school (for free!!), would you? What would you study?

Yes, but I don’t know what I’d study. Maybe broadcasting.

In a movie of your life, who would portray you?  Drew Barrymore or Tina Fey

If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it include?

JETS pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms 

If you had to play Never Have I Ever (a game where each player says something they’ve never done and everyone else who has done that thing loses a point) with three celebrities, who would they be?  

Tina Fey, Bryan Williams, Seth Meyers

What are your three favorite things about yourself? My eyes, my humor, my mediocrity 
What is your movie version of comfort food? Shawshank Redemption or Zoolander
What’s the last thing you did that really scared you? Walked up those rickety spiral stairs to a roof with both hands full.

What’s the next thing you’ll do that really scares you? Fly home, not knowing if I’ll get my visa to return.

What’s your dream job? being a stay-at-home non-mom. Or working in baseball, but I don’t know what I’d do.