Life is Your Art

6 06 2014

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Last December I found myself sitting at the table with an interview team, sharing my thoughts about Literacy and reading with 2nd graders.  I was applying for a position which would change many things in our family’s life and also put me out of my comfort zone a bit.  Like so many times previously, I was feeling nervous.  If I got the job, how would I balance parenting and working?  Making lunches and grocery shopping with lesson planning and grading?  Having enough space in my heart and energy to meet the needs of my own children in addition to the 29 kids in the class?

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During our interview, a display of bar graphs were referenced—a visual representation of how the students were doing in the area of reading and literacy.  We talked about what methods and plans I would draw upon for meeting their individual needs and helping to move the students towards progress and growth.

This type of discussion is nothing new in the field of education, but I do get nostalgic for the days gone by… when teaching felt more like an art and less like science.  Instead of being calm and calculated, some days I just seize up in fear.  I see bars of green, blue, yellow and red.  Everything blurs and I think to myself, “Why even try?  Why would YOU know what to do?!   The world of education is spinning at a speed too fast for you….no point trying to keep up…

The lists of standards and expectations feel impossible to reach and I find myself comparing myself with others, feeling inadequate to even step up to the plate, let alone swing the bat or make a dash for home plate.

As a parent, I find these same types of questions tumble around in my brain.  Judgments.  Fears.  The desire to be perfect.  I look at the green, blue, yellow and red bar graphs for my own self.  For my kids.  For my marriage.  For our finances.  For my parenting.  The red bars are flashing “URGENT INTERVENTION” and it seems impossible to “move to the next column”.  As we argue about cleaning up toys, I feel fear rising, “What does this mean for the teenage years?!?!  He can’t even pick up his puzzles and LEGOS?!?!  He’ll never get a job.”  Or as the voices raise and arguments swell, fear pushes up to the surface, “How will we ever survive age 16 someday??  I know he’ll just slam the door in my face and shut down, not communicating with his ‘annoying’ parents.

URGENT.  URGENT.  URGENT intervention.  Red.

ON WATCH.  Blue.

Fears turn to bright and bold bars on a graph.

And yet… despite the benchmarks, even in the midst of the expectations we all place on ourselves, fears aside, there is the gentle reminder that something more lies out there as we parent.

It bubbled up on Tuesday after Memorial Day for me.  As we prepared to move into our last literacy unit, focusing on Caldecott winners, my mind was spinning on the gifts of the artists of our world.  I found a little wisdom from Mr. Ansel Adams, renowned photographer.  He wisely reflected, “Life is your art.

LIFE is your ART.”

Art is meant to be appreciated.  Fearless.  Creative.  Evocative.  Unique.  Expressive.  Reflective.

And as the moments of fear fight for our loyalty and attention, as pressures to perform perfectly hold fast, we are called to something bigger.  To live our lives as art.  Our parenting as art.  Our conversations lived as art.  Our work and professional life unfolding as art.  Our friendships, a vehicle for our art.  Each and every aspect is an opportunity to live our lives as art, not as a revelation of fear.
Little did I truly comprehend last December, though, that these three women who were interviewing me that day weren’t asking the questions in an attempt to make me feel inadequate or filled with fear.  Their deeper goal was to find a person to fill the position who would have these areas at the forefront of their teaching and planning, while seeking to provide an environment of love, challenge and support for students.  And going it alone?!?  No way, no how.  The last five months have been filled with more support for myself as an educator than I could have ever predicted.  Colleagues that provide inspiration as they let their art unfold, becoming friends and confidants in the process.

God promises us the same.  God says,   “I will make a pool of water…springs of water….fountains, rivers….”  God hems us in, already waiting on the canvas before we start to paint.  God is hovering over the artwork, after the piece has been signed and the last brushstroke completed. God gives us companions, not critics, to help us along the way.  God reminds us that we can turn to one another and encourage.  To say to our own students, children, spouses, “It is good.”  To exhort, “Take courage!”

Rather than live in fear, to be limited, may we be freed to see our life as art.  An offering in the small mundane, everyday moments to change the wilderness and dry land to new life and refreshment.

 

I, the Lord, am first,
   and will be with the last. 
5 The coastlands have seen and are afraid,
   the ends of the earth tremble;
   they have drawn near and come. 
6 Each one helps the other,
   saying to one another, ‘Take courage!’ 
7 The artisan encourages the goldsmith,
   and the one who smoothes with the hammer encourages the one who strikes the anvil,
saying of the soldering, ‘It is good’;
   and they fasten it with nails so that it cannot be moved.

13  I, the Lord your God,
   hold your right hand;
it is I who says to you, ‘Do not fear,
   I will help you.’ 

When the poor and needy seek water,
   and there is none,
   and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the Lord will answer them,
   I the God of Israel will not forsake them. 
18 I will open rivers on the bare heights,
   and fountains in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
   and the dry land springs of water. 

~Isaiah 41: 4-7,13,17-18

 

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{This post is part of my monthly contribution at Practicing Families.  Feel free to hop over there too!….}

 

 





Seven

20 05 2014

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Alex…

It’s lucky number SEVEN!  Tonight, the eve of your 7th birthday, we went back and looked at your photo album from last year.  We read the letter I wrote to you and reminisced about all that has transpired.  I was surprised to see no mention of our pending move to Oregon.  The weekend of your birthday last year, Daddy was travelling up to Corvallis to interview for a position as Head of Staff at First Presbyterian.  And days later we would be sharing the news of our move.  It was not an easy pill to swallow.  I remember lots of crying.  You had made such wonderful friends in Sunnyvale and had a great Kindergarten year.  The thought of uprooting our family and changing the life that you knew and loved was kind of like ripping off a bandaid.  It hurt and stung (even though we knew it would be so good too).welcome

 

You spent June wrapping up school at Ellis Elementary.  Enjoying last day hurrahs and dress up events.  Lots of hugs from your teacher (who even called you a few months later on an especially hard day when you were missing familiar faces the following September).  Packing boxes after boxes.  A last week of Vacation Bible School.  Last All Church Picnic.  A week of LEGO camp.  Last burgers and fries and Neapolitan shakes at In and Out Burger.  Just thinking back to all that must have been going through your mind makes me a bit sad and overwhelmed now, a year later.

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Your zest for life…your stubborn independence….your inner JEDI seemed to propel you through those weeks of impending transition with strength.  Instead of dwelling on being sad, you grasped onto the adventures ahead.  You embraced our trip North with fun stops along the way.  You quickly made our new house your home, acquiring a library card on day one and promptly losing your first tooth at dinner that same night, our first in Corvallis.  We took trips to the Oregon Coast and anchored our new home back to a vacation spot we’d enjoyed for years with you “way back when”.  As with everything, you embraced it all with open arms.  Without meaning to, you seem to find ways to mark the important moments in our family life with pomp and circumstance and flair.  You push Daddy and I to explain our thinking.  You ask hard questions.  You freely share all you are learning.  {if I have to choose one thing about age six that will stick with me the most it will probably be this love of learning that ignited this year}  You are never lacking in drama (mostly the best kind) always breaking out into song, planning and implementing plays and roping Drew into your schemes.  You write and illustrate story after story.

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We began, with your help!, to create new family rhythms and routines.  A new church family embraced us and you quickly forged new friendships that I don’t doubt will continue on for many many years to come.  Two long weeks after your California buddies began school, you FINALLY got to start 1st grade.  God truly gave us one of the biggest gifts with your assignment to Room 7 and Mrs. Stone.  As with Miss Moorehead in Kindergarten, Mrs. Stone has become a true inspiration and guide to you this year.  She has helped you work on your love of “calling out” with the goal of earning the illustrious “gold star” and “staying green” on the behavior chart.  You have learned to become a fluent reader this year, picking up books for fun (your Teacher Mama has cried many happy tears watching this unfold).  You studied plants, the human body, engineering of bridges and so much more.  The thing is….the specifics aren’t what really matter…it was truly the unfurling of more and more of YOU that happened.  It is a joy to watch YOU become more and more YOU.

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Your love for building and creating—–Do.  Not.  END.  And even after umpteen times of stepping on those BLASTED (*#%$&#&!!!) plastic bits, I wouldn’t trade your love of LEGOS for anything.  I love watching your brain move and create and be inspired.

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Your love of ties and now bow ties is becoming a bit legendary and like so many other aspects of your life, it is ALL YOU.  In case you wonder when you are 25 if your mom and dad MADE you dress up?!?  Well, no.  It wasn’t us.  It’s just YOU.  You like it.  You do it.  Even though we have had a few folks suggest we curb your tie enthusiasm, we know two things….number one?  It can’t be tamed.  And number two?  Why would we want to?  We love you fully, as you are, with your passions, individuality and enthusiasms included.  We hope you feel our support and love bolstering you and surrounding you and cheering you on no matter what.  Ties or no ties.

Now you and your brother.  WOW.  That’s a new one for your only child mom.  You two are like oil and water and yet….simultaneously….inseparable.  Watching your unique bond unfold is a true mystery and a wonderful gift all at once.  Thank you for the ways you desire to teach and inspire him.  To make the world magical for him.  To keep him laughing and including him in all your crazy ideas.

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It is our deepest hope that you will continue to be comfortable in your skin.  To get teary-eyed when something moves you.  To be lost in imaginary play.  To find books too good to put down.  To go on date nights with mom or Starbucks sessions with dad.  To see the beauty around you and name it.  To be excited by all there is to learn.  To go the extra mile to make things fancy (who doesn’t want to drink milk from a wine glass?).  To indulge in the joys of a snowy day and NO SCHOOL!!!

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Because….what we really want you to know deep, deep down,

in your bones and in the furthest reaches of your heart,

is that we see you.

You matter.

And we LOVE to watch you.

 {even if we have to turn away for fear of another ER visit from your antics!}…

 

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Blessings in this magical year of Seven.

 May it be filled with adventure.

Friends.  Fun.  Play.  Learning.  Family.

Because through it all,

you are growing and changing and becoming more and more the person God created you to be.

 And we LOVE watching it happen.

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Happy Seventh Birthday, Mr. Al-Bug.

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Previous Birthday Posts

Six and a Half (some reflections on “the half years”)

Six

Five

Four

 

 





A Moment of Terror in Seat 10D

30 04 2014

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Recently, I buckled myself into seat 10D, ready to bounce up the west coast on a flight from the Bay Area back to home to Oregon.  Just as I breathed out a sigh of relief to be on my way, the gentleman sitting across the aisle hailed the flight attendant.  He showed him the two airsick bags he’d procured, but requested more as he was fighting the flu.

Cue anxiety attack.  Blood racing.  Sweat forming on temple.  Nervously looking around for an escape.  Despite the fact that I was flying alone, no young children in tow, I started panicking.

Airplanes are tiny enclosed spaces—this plane wasn’t quite a puddle jumper, but close—and frankly, there aren’t many places to run and hide or escape.  Luckily, the flight attendant happily reseated me in the back of the plane and even brought me a glass of complimentary wine.  Later, at cruising altitude, I read these words from Sara Miles, author of City of God. I halted in my anxious tracks.

“….though incarnation is at the center of Christian faith, it can be scary to experience it as we say in my neighborhood, en su propia carne, in your own meat, here and now.  It feels way to dangerous to mix up the grungy facts of our bodies with the Spirit, which most of us would prefer to imagine as elevated and immaterial….when random bodies slam into each other unplanned…anything can happen.  A spiritual life is a physical life, shared with other people.  Those who hunger.  Who thirst.  Who sing.  Who bleed and stumble; who breathe on one another and create, out of these crudest physical facts, a mystical body.”

The church as we know and experience it is often a place enclosed, indoors, controlled and confined.  We have perfectly crafted, hour long worship services that leave attendees feeling “ready for the week ahead”, encouraged and often “safe”.  This reflection of Sara’s, though, and my moment in the plane, hit on a raw nerve—how might God be moving us to be in the midst of the mess?!  The middle of illness.  Brushing up against something that makes us sweat and recoil.  Continuing to stay put, in the present, even when we would rather hide and escape.

As a parent with two young boys, as a wife of a minister, as an elementary school teacher, this tendency to run for safety and escape from the mess often prevails.  I happily model and live out the escape.

In our classrooms, in our homes, in our communities, in our daily lives we don’t get to “pick” those we share physical space, as Sara mentioned.  And close community is hard.  When my students bully and bicker and complain….when my boys fight tears, frustrated over friendships and misunderstandings….when I shut my mouth, refuse to communicate and become passive aggressive with my spouse….in each of these, and in so many other scenarios, God’s call to be the hands and feet of Christ feels impossibly hard.  It’s scary.  It is a hot bed of fear.

How do we practice God’s call to walk with an open heart of love in the midst of fear?  How is it that we teach our children to do the same?  To love the unlovable?  To sit with those in need?  The lonely.  The afraid.  Because truly, our classrooms, our churches, our communities, our households are full of people living out the “grungy facts” of daily life.  No one’s home life is above reproach.  Our knee-jerk reactions are often prompted by our own needs and emotions rather than those around us.  In a classroom of 30 students, with 30 different needs and 30 varying personalities, how do we teach ourselves and these young ones to offer love and grace to those that don’t seem so loveable or deserving?

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Last week, as we felt the heavy burden of bullying pressing down on our classroom of 2nd graders, as my eldest decided a friend at school was too tough to keep investing in, as the darkness and reality of Good Friday settled in, we dove into this truth from Esther de Waal ,“the promise is not that we shall escape the hard things but that we shall be given grace to face them, to enter into them, and to come through them. The promise is not that we shall not be afraid. It is that we need not fear fear.”

So we start being brave.  We begin naming our fears.  We look at those who are in our “here and now” and seek ways to be living grace.  We brainstorm ways to be “secret friend agents”, not yelling about our loving ways from the rooftops and on the intercom, but rather, to care for others and work together in the quiet, everyday ways.  In the lunchroom.  On the playground.  With our “I CAN’T HANDLE HIM” sibling.  In class we have been writing about acts of kindness in our journals.  At home during dinner, we work on naming the places and ways where others were kind and loving even when scared.  Times when we “charged the dark” and didn’t fear fear.

Sometimes following this call to be the incarnation ourselves is one which could be labeled “FEAR” with a capital F.  But…we are in Eastertide.  These 49 days following Easter, walking day-to-day towards Pentecost, are all about living, wrestling with and embracing the resurrection.  The way Christ turned everything upside down, “facing” the fear, “entering into” the fear, “coming through” the fear shows us a new way.  As we seek to practice our faith journey authentically, it becomes imperative that we too stop fearing fear.  Encouraging our children to step into honest communication, risky love and generous grace-giving is often easier than doing so ourselves.  Despite the fears and inevitable hard times, may we lean on the promise that God meets us in the messy attempts and gives us, and the little ones given to us, grace to stay in the here and now.

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{this post is part of my monthly contribution at Practicing Families…head over there to view





Found

21 03 2014

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Yesterday was the first day of spring.  I can almost hear the angels singing and the weary, storm-ravaged parents rejoicing.  It has been a long winter for many.  Snow storms on top of snow storms.   Flooding.  Or conversely, drought in some areas.   When the calendar rolls over to March, the inherent hope of spring makes all things seem a bit lighter.

After moving this past summer, we have endured our first “hard” winter and now that the sun is beginning to peek out again, we are walking to and from school.  This daily walk has been a true gift.  Flowers and blossoms are bursting forth and it feels like the world is waking up.  Almost like the Artist, our Creator, came out of a gray, winter slump, bought a new set of paints and set to work.

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There is value in the gray.  Growth comes from the times of hibernation and long, dark nights.  But the colors, sounds and opportunity of spring seems to push us towards new life and hope.  My friend, Micha Boyett, known as Mama Monk in the blogging world, has a book coming out in a week called Found:  A  Story of Questions, Grace and Everyday Prayer.  Micha shares about her journey during the second and third years of her oldest son’s life.  After “losing” her Spirit life during her son’s first year, the book chronicles her journey to find meaning and connection with God in new ways.  Micha openly talks about these darker days, filled with the chaos and unpredictability of parenting.  The moments we often feel lost.  Lost dreams.  Lost vision.  Lost direction.  Lost hope.  And the opportunity God gives us to be “found” again, even in the midst of parenting and life changing before our eyes.

She shares, “…In the same way you can’t understand spring without the winter suffering, the warm thaw of Easter cannot be celebrated without first sinking into the cold, dark murk of Good Friday.  That’s why I need liturgy in my life.  That’s why I need a church calendar to guide me….

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As parents seeking to explore these same realities with our children, how do we help them engage in the realities of Easter, of seasons of darkness & light, with authenticity and hope?  The light, joy and promise of Palm Sunday, the fear of Maundy Thursday, the darkness of Good Friday and the new life found just three days later on Easter.  How can this mystery be explained, when we ourselves struggle with the dichotomies and truths of one week in the life of Christ?

I was surprised this week that walking to and from school with my boys helped me answer this question in an unexpected way.  Is there such thing as a spiritual practice of the daily walk to school?  The conversations to be had?  The observations to be made?  The quiet and the rushed steps?  They ALL work towards seeing God moving and changing, building and growing, being present in our daily, mundane lives….as liturgy of the natural world.  The bright, vibrancy of the daffodils,  tulips and hyacinths from the dormant ground seem like a message to us each day, traipsing down our street….God saying, “Hey!  I make all things new!  Out of that snow covered, icy ground….there is new life brewing.  The gray skies won’t stay forever and behind the clouds?!  There is always blue.

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My boys and I didn’t have these “revelations” or hear God in the formality of the church sanctuary or in the confines of a Sunday School classroom (although they happen there too!).  But, it was found in the mundane, everyday moments of life, chaotic and unpredictable as they may be.  Walking home from school.  Playing on the playground.  Making pizza with fresh vegetables.  Doing homework.  Odd as it might sound, sometimes life, newness and hope breaks through in the most unpredictable of times.  In the most unexpected places and ways.  Spring reminding us that new life waits under the Earth.  Resurrection is happening.  Even in the dark, hopeless gray, color is below the surface or behind the clouds all along.

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Micha Boyett’s book, Found, officially releases on April 1st.  Worthy Publishing reflects that Found is a “story of discovering divine kindness and affection in the most mundane moments of life.  With brilliant and moving prose, Micha invites us on a journey to discover the richness in the everyday—and it changes everything.”  It is a thought-provoking and yet, practical book written with honesty.  Micha always makes me feel that I am not alone in my questions about faith and mothering and helps me think more deeply about the implications of  Benedictine spirituality for “the rest of us”.  If you want to read more of Micha’s writing (which you SHOULD!), hop on over to her blog which moved to a new location today, March 21st, at www.michaboyett.com.

{this post is part of regular posting at Practicing Families…you are welcome to hop over there and read there too!}





Margin

4 03 2014

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I had a lightbulb moment on Sunday morning.  And it happened over green eggs.  {do those gross you out as much as me?!?!?}  Year after year, March rolls closer, the promise of spring, and the celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday.  I love honoring the role Dr. Seuss has played in the world of beginning reading, creating story after story that inspires kids to get their nose in a book.

Each year, we celebrate with green eggs and ham, a “ceremonial” reading of a few Dr. Seuss books, maybe a Thing One/Thing Two t-shirt donning, and catching an episode of Cat in the Hat on PBS Kids.  On Sunday, Alex, my oldest got out the eggs.  He found the green food coloring, pulled out the fry pan and located the whisk.  I had forgotten that Sunday was Dr. Seuss’ actual birthday {maybe due to our boys’ unGODly wake-up hour?!?}, but Alex didn’t forget.  And he got right to work on making breakfast.  He cracked eggs, added food coloring (bleck!!!) and later read Green Eggs and Ham to his little brother.

And the lightbulb was this….after six years of doing this FOR Alex, he took the bull by the horn, and he created our Dr. Seuss breakfast for US.  I didn’t ingest any of these eggs.  The green just about does in my weak stomach.  But the intention of his actions made me sit up and take notice.

How long does our modelling and setting the scene, over and over, for our kids take effect?  And how quickly can we mess things up by teaching one thing and LIVING another??  I think about these questions almost daily when I enter the classroom.  Teaching the same skills day after day and wondering if the lightbulb will ever go on and better yet, STAY on.  Then one day you do a double take and see the student independently doing that very thing you practiced daily.

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How many days does it take to form a habit?  100?  21?  Is the key repetition?  Resiliency?  Stick-to-it-tive-ness?  A safe environment when kids feel safe and supported?  My dear class of students have weathered a lot of transition.  A painful amount of transition.  Last week included the resignation of one teacher and this week, a new team starts to build the foundation again.  Modelling.  Trying again when we don’t do it right.  Practicing.  Lots of loving reinforcement.  OVER and OVER.  And OVER again.

And through all these ups and downs…through all the mistakes and all the “do-overs”….each and every failing, I am grateful for the gift of grace.  Easter is at the crux of it all; the grace welling up in a Resurrection that changes everything.  A rebirth.  A new day.  A new reality.  A reminder that power is not found in top down management and fear, but in release.

However.  Something must come first.  A discipline of sorts.  This beautiful precursor found in the season of Lent.  A discipline of seeing our need.  Practicing letting go; practicing taking on.  It is happening in my classroom.  It is showing up at home.  If I slow down, allow enough margin to look, it’s there.  The habits and practices are deepening, allowing for change and resurrection, slowly but surely.  My friend Micha wrote of this Lenten phenomenon today on her blog–

Wherever you are in this, whatever your story, Lent is an invitation: to recognize the purple in us, those deep bruises, those reckless wounds we’ve received and handed out. Lent is the season for remembering how much we need Mystery: Christ on the cross, our sin exploding out across space and time and evaporating into the cosmos, collected by the One Who Collects Us.  We are invited to let Lent clean the wound so Easter can bring the healing.

We need mystery.  We need margin.  We need practice.  We need vulnerability.  We need to deep clean.  Lent is this season.  The season in which we are called to work.  To dig deep.  To keep at it, knowing that maybe one day, this healing, these habits, these changes become “second nature”.

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As we move into Lent tomorrow, I am excited to put a few practical ideas into our routine.  I love Nadia Bolz Weber‘s ideas for the 40 days preceding Lent (found here), goals that are even doable with kids.  For instance…

Day 1: Pray for your enemies

Day 2: Walk, carpool, bike or bus it.

Day 3: Don’t turn on the car radio

Day 4: Give $20 to a non-profit of your choosing

(Sunday)

Day 5: Take 5 minutes of silence at noon

Day 6: Look out the window until you find something of beauty you had not noticed before

My friend Mel Larson, from the Larson Lingo, also guest blogged last February about her 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge.  The idea is that during the 40 days of Lent, you rid your house of 40 bags of “stuff”.This “stuff” can be things you don’t use… junk, clothes you don’t need/wear, clutter, old toys, etc.  I love the practicality of this challenge and the freedom and “resurrection” that can happen when we free ourselves of the weight of “stuff”.

I know I will fail at doing either of these practices completely.  Or perfectly.  But, habit forming takes work.  This season of Lent can be an invitation to practicing.  Putting in the day-to-day work….leading up to that resurrection and new day.  The moment when it all of a sudden becomes clear that we are indeed growing, changing and maybe even cementing some new habits.





A Posture of Learning

12 02 2014

Despite spending most of my weekdays with 30 bodies under the age of eight, I am surprised each day. In preparing to teach, there is so much to learn. We are working on a non-fiction piece this week called “Ant”. The author loves photography, travel and animals and has married her passions into book creating. I learned about army ants taking over full city blocks, others that carry leaves over their heads like parasols to create nests and later, food. Others work together as teams, creating bridges to get from one branch to another (hello, symbolism!!). We are also learning about a different Winter Olympic sport each day. I now know about the intricacies between luge, skeleton and bobsled (do you know why it’s called “BOBsled”?!). By now I have mastered when to add -s vs. -es to make certain nouns plural, but had neglected to really see WHY. High kicks for P-H-O-N-I-C-S!!!!

I feel my brain churning again in a familiar but neglected way. It’s a slow turning, but those cells are kicking back into gear. The learning edges are vast. Remembering and forming solid classroom management and behavior plans….setting and reinforcing boundaries at home, loosened over endless snow days?!? It is HARD WORK, people. HARD. WORK. And today, as I was leaving at 6:50am eldest encouraged, “Good luck, Mom. Rainy day recess?!? Full Moon?!? Hope you have a good day!” (Ha!)

Many days, like today, are tough. Lightbulb, magic moments of stretching brain cells, learning in tandem. Other valleys where failure and mistakes feel like my address and home. Learning involves risk. Learning requires stepping out over the abyss and praying you land on solid ground. Sometimes growth and learning isn’t “fun”. There is always that moment with each class (or with my own kids) where the reminder must be given, “I am not your on-demand Netflix feed of programs. Everyone is responsible for their own learning.” Or the many moments where in hindsight, my shortfalls and mistakes haunt me.

Despite it all, I am trying to choose to take a posture for learning, even modeling for the kids how to physically do the same. Sit up straight. Dress the part. Engage. Some days, faking it til we make it. The learning usually follows. The spark of joy eventually comes. Maybe even a new discovery or “flow” begins.

As adults, I think we owe it to our kids, our students, our colleagues, to ourselves, to show up. To seek to jump into the unknown, the places where we don’t “know it all”. To be uncomfortable and not have all the answers. A posture for learning might look differently than we imagine….pulled together on the outside but trembling a bit with fear, excitement and possibility on the inside. But so much remains to be found and discovered.

What’s on your learning horizon? Do you feel your brain cells moving these days? What gets you jazzed and excited?

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(My old California history curriculum binders….le, sigh. Onto new learning frontiers!)





Weight

8 02 2014

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The title to this post is misleading….but thinking about “weight” as it pertains to our emotional health.

I have been watching our neighborhood trees bear more and more weight today. We endured over a foot of snow and now the freezing rain has begun. The beautiful, dry fluffy covering has a hard edge. The boys were out playing in it and it was harsh, cold and painful.

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A tree’s branch below our house cracked and is lying in the street. Our umbrella snapped. (Oregon newbies, obviously)

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We have these same tendencies as humans. Bear the weight of our storms, hunker down against the onslaught and then finally something snaps. We aren’t meant to be holding so much. And when we try to, without reaching out, our human frailty surfaces. We aren’t infallible. We aren’t strong when we try to go it alone.

Snow storms mess with plans. They force us into close proximity. Cabin fever rages. Food supplies and sustenance runs out. And then? What? Do we wait til the breaking point to reach out? Or start to ask for help before we snap?

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How do you cope with the weight that inevitably makes inroads in our hearts and minds?

We are…
making true SNOW cones
catching up on the Olympics
eating up our pantry, fridge and freezer
LEGO creating
LEGO movie watching (thank GOD, for husbands who take boys away for two hours!)
trying to solve our children’s sleep problems….
Making s’mores
Canceling church
Planning spring break and summer fun

….basically trying to bear the weight and not break. (Smile)

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Through it all, even this storm-imposed slow down, I am feeling full, grateful and tired in a good way. It is the daily chance to work things through, live the life God has given us together. To bear the weight we each feel, the struggles we each face. To sit together, even in those broken places.

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…..and when all else fails, just put in Mom’s ear plugs!








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