Sunday, July 14, 2013

Giving In to My Career

I have fought my career for almost five years. I have fought wanting to be at home, raising kids instead of being at school spending time with other people's kids. Some days have been easier, and some days have been more difficult. The education system has certainly not made my fight any easier in its favor with its overemphasis on testing and increasing the rigor in arbitrary ways. Over the past couple of years, I have tried to love my career, but it is difficult. This is mostly because it is a career and not my whole life, which it seems to be with most teachers.

Today's sermon was on the parable of the talents, and I will not go into the individual details of it. The part of the sermon that struck me the most was the simple fact that one servant received five talents and another received two. They did not compare their inheritance with one another, and neither did they even give themselves thought before they went about glorifying their master with it. All of the sudden, my years of fighting with my circumstances felt immature, futile and, to be honest, sinful.

According to J.C. Ryle, a talent is anything that can be used to the glory of God. Looking at my life, I have more "talents" than I can even name: my intellect, influence, experiences, strength, talents and gifts, not to mention my husband and children or our home and supportive parents. Today, for the first time, really, I was forced to look at my circumstances as not something that had been forced upon me against my will. Instead, these are things that Lord has given me, entrusted me with. What I do with them will show my faith and diligence. That has a way of changing one's perspective, especially when doing nothing with my talents shows hatred and disregard for the Master Himself.

This sermon solidified in me a decision that I've been turning over in my mind for a couple of weeks. I am going to get my Master's in English. For anyone but an English teacher, this would be a throwaway program to pursue, but this would offer me more flexibility in both my current school and maybe in future opportunities. I am excited about the possibilities and the opportunities, and I am excited about more than that. For the first time in almost five years, I am having to commit to my career. I am not going to be allowed to get out of it while this is going on, and that is a refreshing thought to my soul that has been searching frantically for a way out. I will be expanding my talents in this endeavor, and though I know that the chance for idolatry is there, there is much more opportunity for God's glory than my own.

Thanks be to our God. Soli Deo Gloria, y'all.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Whole Summer Off

When I, as a teacher, tell people who are not teachers what my job is, I get the same response that most teachers do: It must be so great to have the whole summer off! And today, I am not going to argue with you. I will just say that, you know what? It is great to have the summer off.

I wanted to share with you what I do during the summer. I mean, obviously, I do all of the things that I do during the school year, just at a much more leisurely pace. We go to visit our families. We take day trips. We work on the house. But what do I do during the summer? Here's a short list.

  1. I read. I read during the school year, but over the summer, it's different. I read novels I'm thinking about teaching. I write in the margins. I highlight. I read inspirational teaching books. I read theology. I read my Bible every day. I read literary fiction to stretch my lit crit muscles. I read bubble gum to relax. 
  2. I check out books from the library. Yes, I know this goes with number one, but see where I'm going with all of this. I check out cookbooks, tons of cookbooks. I try recipes and experiment in the kitchen. I check out books on interior and exterior design and try to improve our home. I check out books about housekeeping and cleaning, and promptly forget everything in them when the school year begins. But every summer, I make some changes that stick in our school year routine. 
  3. I organize at least one space. Sometimes, I wind up doing more spaces. Last summer, I think it was the pantry. Or the junk drawer. During maternity leave, I organized our back room and bathroom closet. I need to reorganize Jonah's closet to make it work better, and I should probably organize my dresser, since I've been putting that off. 
  4. I cook. I find out new recipes and try them. I research nutrition depending on what our family needs: IBS, heartburn, borderline blood pressure, lactose intolerance. I bake. I try to fine-tune our family's health and eating habits. Again, some things stick into the school year; things like that vegetarian pasta soup with whole-wheat penne and garbanzo beans don't.
  5. I hang out with my husband. We watch movies while our kids nap. We play cards at the dining room table. I blog on the couch while he plays PS3 on TV. We kiss. We take the kids places and let them run around. We don't spend the entire summer trying to keep our house perfectly clean. We date. We plan our anniversary outing. 
So what about you? What are you doing this summer? Can I encourage you to use some of the extra time in this slower season to brush up on some things you've forgotten or gotten lazy about? Try to use this time to better your home, your family and yourself. God will bless you for it, and who knows? It might even stick when fall comes around. Soli Deo Gloria, friends!