Hi everyone... it's me.... sneaking onto the computer on a Sunday morning when I should be working on lesson plans or paying bills. I got up early to do those things, but here I am instead.
There is no rest on the Sabbath for a mom/wife/teacher. I used to try to keep Sunday a day of rest but... forget it. There have been so many things cropping up to keep me overwhelmed and not performing my best during the past few weeks that I can't afford to take today off: the dog being sick, me being sick, car trouble, the refrigerator breaking, and so on. Nothing life-threatening but certainly stressful. I've shed a few tears this week as well. Did you know that tears actually release stress hormones from your body? I learned that this week from my sister. Yes, Carolyn, you DID know something I didn't! I can't wait to share that with my class.
So I'm sitting here with my coffee, hoping an elf will appear on my windowsill but I know it won't happen today. Too bad. We could all use an elf visit once in a while.
One of the things I am learning is the incredible recuperative power of sleep. I can't believe how much better I feel in the morning than in the evening; God's mercies truly are new every morning. (Lam. 3:23). I spent most of my previous working life feeling depressed about one thing or another; it is like the difference between night and day working now. I am "hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair" the way I used to be. (2 Cor. 4:8).
And there definitely are some bright moments. I can't tell you how thrilled I was to see some protozoans through the microscope on Friday. We collected them from some stream mud in the woods behind the school. They were just swimming around, munching on algae before our very eyes - tiny little transparent one-celled organisms. The students got tired of looking at them before I did.
The teachers I work with are an incredible bunch. One of them shared some horrific struggles she is going through right now in her family. Another nearly lost her leg this summer in a riding accident. I'm sure that there are many other untold stories. When we meet for devotions in the morning, it seems like such a small group. About a dozen or so women who are responsible for the care and education of approximately 150 students in grades K4 to 8. And yet our task is so enormous and so crucial. I am constantly aware that we are on the front lines of a battle for the minds and hearts of these children.
More than one person has criticized me for teaching in a Christian school and for sending my son to a Christian school by saying that it is "sheltered" and not "the real world." I can't tell you how sad and even angry that makes me. This life that we lead as Christians is no less real than the life the secular world lives. In many senses, it is more real because we are consciously battling the spiritual forces against us as well as the temporal. (Secular people are also battling the spiritual but don't know it.) We are watchers on the walls over our families and children; we make many sacrifices in order to provide them this safe training ground in which to form their characters before they go out into the world.
And it isn't as isolated as many people think. We get some of the students who can't function in a public school setting; who have flunked out or been kicked out. We have to welcome them with open arms and teach the children how to welcome them as well. We are a spiritual and emotional hospital for some of these kids. Also, just because many of the families are Christian doesn't mean that they don't have their own problems. You can never judge a family by how clean and polished it looks on the outside. In some ways, Christians are better at covering up their problems than others who are more "in the world." Fortunately, this school and the home church seem to be places where it's okay to fail and struggle. The principal and staff make it their mission to support every family and child. I'm very glad for that.
They have supported me tremendously, especially on Friday when I needed to vent some of my stress. I can also go into the principal's office and tell him exactly what I'm worrying about or thinking and he will give me gentle, thoughtful guidance. He feels, as I do, that we have to prepare our Middle School students to go out to any high school and succeed both academically and spiritually. We are training them to be responsible for themselves in the wider world. Since there is a lack of Christian high schools in the area, this is going to be especially critical for my eighth graders. I think that perhaps my mission here is to use my experience in dealing with the secular academic world to help prepare these students for public high school and college.
I wrote here previously that I feel as if I am in the center of God's will for me. I still feel that it is a very good - if very challenging - place to be. When I am tempted to give up, I have to remind myself of the first morning of the school year, when I stood in my kitchen and felt the anointing of God fall upon me, telling me that He has given me this task and will help me accomplish it.
He also said that about my book and I haven't forgotten. He has promised me that He will help me complete BOTH of my callings and I am trusting Him to complete the work that He has begun through me. 41,067 words worth, to be precise.