Search This Blog

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Am I Married to School?

About a week ago, I was talking to a friend about favorite movies and my list contained many movies based around inspirational teachers.  I've been on vacation from school for a week and a half now so with my extra time I decided to sit down and watch some movies.  I picked up a few from the local library and some from my Netflix account and started watching inspirational teacher movies like it was my job! :-D

Many of these movies had a solid theme of teachers connecting with students, challenging them to be better than society is treating them, and creating a culture for both learning and relating on a much deeper level.  But another common thread I saw through them was the seemingly lack of ability that these teachers had in having a life outside of the classroom.  Two of the movies I can think of right off the top, included a spouse leaving because the teacher was pouring all their time, energy and lives into their students and not their own homes.

To be totally honest, this has always been a fear of my own.  My first two years teaching, in particular, consisted of me arriving at school at 7 am and sometimes not leaving school until 6 or 7 pm.  Part of that was trying to get a handle on my academic planning and some of it was just doing all I knew to do to be the best teacher I could be for my students both academically but also hopefully spiritually. 

This last school year was a lot better balanced but it’s still a struggle.  What is the thing I talk about most with people?  School and my students.  What is the thing I think about often when I have downtime?  My preparation list for school and my students.  What is the building I have visited most since school ended on June 6th?  Well, outside of my apartment, that would be the school.  My first two years especially, most of the personal connections and friendships I made somehow tied back into the school.  If I visited other churches, the ones that notably would stop and visit was people tied to the school.  School could maybe be called my identity.

I remember talking to a teacher my first year who has a husband as well as three children at the time.  She only taught part time but I could never fathom how she could teach so well to her students in the four hours she was there with them, but then immediately go home to make lunch for her youngest and prepare for her other kids to arrive home and entertain them until dinner time when her husband would be home.  She was devout to her family and guarded that time well but I could never quite grasp where she even found the time to work on school stuff.

I can remember at the time being thankful that I was single and unattached so that I could really focus on my students and this mission field to which I feel God has called me.  I can’t imagine having dividing interest.  And I think I’m still rather torn about it.  I know school can’t be my identity.  I know my success or failure can’t be calculated by my student’s grades nor my student’s characters.   I know I have done better at making friends outside of school and having a life not defined by school.

But school is still my mission field….it’s just not my only mission field.  So is my life….this apartment complex, restaurants, stores, my blog and wherever else God has me at the moment.  I don’t want to be so enthralled in the SERVICE TO GOD that I lose SIGHT OF GOD and what He is doing around me and within me.  I don’t want to be so caught up in the schedule and routine that I miss His divine appointments that surround me.  I don’t want to be so consumed in the few that I neglect the many that God has surrounded and gifted me with as family and friends. 

I am glad I have not been called at this time to be a wife or a mother.  I still have a ton of growing to do, especially in the priorities department, but if those do happen to be in my future, I want to give that family my heart and my soul….and hopefully, at the end of the day, there will still be more heart and soul left to give to the students God blessed me with year in and year out.  I’m a math teacher and somehow that sounds like exponential growth of heart and soul and somehow that doesn't seem to equate, but I know if God is willing, He is able….but in the meantime, I’ll just simply trust Him with today.

Until Next Time,
In Christ,
Joy Lynn


Friday, June 13, 2014

My, how the tables have turned…

Just two weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about how I missed being able to randomly connect with people.  I remember in college, spending hours at Barnes & Noble, Starbucks or Hastings in McAllen browsing their selection and would inevitably find someone to talk to.  It used to come somewhat naturally to me.  But something changed since then…much in my personality and also in opportunity/availability.  I mean, I see tons of people in Wal-Mart but Wal-Mart isn’t really a setting where deep conversation takes place and people don’t just generally mill around there either.  They go with purpose and intention so that was a no go.

Well, today was my chance but it didn’t go as I’d ever dream.  I decided to go to Pizza Hut for their lunch buffet because I had a gift card.  I sat down solo in my booth and a few minutes later, an older gentleman was seated at the booth in front of me.  We ended up facing each other even though two tables and a two-sided seat separated us.

As I chowed down, I began to wonder if this was an opportunity to reach out and just small talk.  I wasn’t sure how to break the ice though and soon, there were quite a few others either solo or in groups in the booths around so I just silently ate.  

As I was wrapping up he walked to my booth and asked “so you’re a teacher?”  I was wearing my “I teach, what is your superpower?” shirt that my friends bought me for Christmas.  I said I did and told him what subjects.   He then turned the table and said, “well, I don’t know about your superpower, but I have a Super Power, and His name is Jesus Christ.”  This man was witnessing to me on the spot.  I don’t remember ever being on this side of the table in this conversation.  Sure, I’ve heard Gospel presentations in a church but being a receiver in open air evangelism…I’d never dream. 

Twenty minutes earlier, I was praying and wondering how I could reach out to this man, and in the meantime, he’s scheming a way to reach out to me.  Turns out, he’s a pastor at a local church and had been a Christian school educator in his past as well.  We shared bits of our lives and adventures with Christ.  What sweet fellowship over a table of pizza.  To see that Christ not only saved us but He was still at work in each of us and prayerfully working through us… it was neat. 

He even paid my check.  Now that I still have that gift card, I pray the next time I eat out, I will be prayerful and bold in reaching out to those around me as this gentleman was to me. 

Until next time,
In Christ,