Of Books

My room is piled with books.

On my bed sits my first attempt at book art. I think its progressing fairly well, and I know this first won’t be a last.

On the floor rests the pile I hauled home today.

Lots for school… a book of junior plays for my students… a 60 day devotional by Ann VosKamp… a book about a frog and his life as an english gentleman…

Slightly higher off the floor rest yesterday’s finds.

Yet another Max Lucado book (don’t ask how many I have)… Charlotte’s Web… a book about rescuing abducted children in Nepal…a school devotional… and of course, more books for my students.

Lately, I’ve done more book-buying then book-reading… but as I fold the pages of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, and watch the pattern appear beneath my fingers, I’m realizing that books are about a lot more then reading. They’re about art, and expression, and a thousand dreams… they’re about adding hope and beauty and love to the world. Books are about seeing through another’s eyes… and ultimately glimpsing the creator.

Someday I want to read more again… but for now, I’ll happily expand the library of my room, knowing that God can speak through pages whether I read through them… flip through their pictures… or relax while I fold them into beauty.

Summer Days

Its the longest day of the year–arguably the hottest.

Jam covers the counters.

(And coats my dress).

A new puppy plays and howels outside.

He doesn’t have a name yet… maybe soon.

As the two year old would tell you in woeful voice “Callie dyyyyed.”

I do the pronunciation injustice, but the fact remains the same that the old lab is no longer.

In her place wriggles a second, active Springer Spaniel.

Tomorrow I plan to set up my sewing room and get to work.

But today, I’ll just enjoy summer.

The berry-patch, and the jam. Friendships, and fabric stores. Puppies, and two-year-olds, blue cars, blue skies, each breath of air. Sticky fingers, and sticky floors. Memories, and music. Life.

Last Day of the First Year

Today, student number nine asked me if I was going to cry.

I was giving them a few last words as their teacher… and I guess I was getting close to tears.

The tears came later in a flood as I buried my head on my steering wheel, gasping and sobbing.

I held them off while I talked with my students.

I fought them back while I said goodbye to my amazingly inspiring co-teacher, and her daughter who I prayer for almost daily.

As I closed the school door, they started… as I crashed into my car the storm broke.

These children have been the reason that I got out of bed every morning. They’ve been my purpose. My life. In a way, my identity.

This year, I had no idea how I’d make it through… and God brought me through.

This year I cried in my classroom, and I hugged and prayed for co-teacher’s while they cried, and tried to sooth students while their tears flowed.

This year, school stole a large piece of my heart.

There are so many happy memories… so many aching ones… people who in this year have walked both into and out of my life.

I can’t paint a picture of today… of the thoughts… emotions… it’s like a beautiful picture–only saying goodbye is so hard.

My heart is full.

Full of hope… of relief… of an ache.

Tomorrow, there’s no need to drag myself out of bed.

I don’t know if I’m glad ir sorry.

Empty

My gas tank is empty.

Not the one in my cute, blue car–I just filled that one up.

The one inside of me.

I’m happy.

And sad.

And… empty.

School’s almost over.

And I’m tired.

And yet… school has become my life… and I’m not sure that I’m ready to let go.

Letting go.

Life seems to be a continual opening of the hands. A continual letting go. A day after day surrender of each minute, each decision, each person in our lives.

I fight loss of control.

Every instinct inside of me screams “unsafe” if I start to feel helpless.

But I can’t control life.

Each moment.

Each decision.

Each person.

I have a part to play… but I can’t control.

Sunday night I stood beside the river and opened my hands.

I didn’t want to.

I wanted to hold on tight–to everything.

But you can’t do that.

I’m empty.

Burnt out.

Maybe I am…

But empty is the perfect place to be filled.

“Exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.”

Of Bibles, and Woods and Yardsales

We sit in the drive through eruptions of sound exploding from the back seat, and vehicles stoically baring the path forward.

The van quakes.

My brain swirls with lack of sleep and intake of coffee on my empty stomach.

We got home early last night.

(Early meaning a full hour before we were supposed to… not meaning early in the conventional sense of the word.)

We’re on our way yardsaling.

Two hours later we bounce along, three families in a fifteen passenger van.

Its chaotic to say the least.

“Pretzels please” is repeated again from the back seat.

“No! No Bootie! No!” Screaches from the middle.

The paper bag squeezed onto my lap quivers as we bump over the road.

“I have to go really bad!” Wimpers a pitiful voice.

We reach the arena.

“Mommy, can I take my piggie in?”

I don’t need to record the inevitable answer.

Thirty minutes later we emerge from the arena laden down with candy, balloon animals, and an unwanted, unfinished hot dog. (We assume the effects of the candy.)

There are so many people. Everywhere. People.

Last night, there were people.

Everywhere.

Running through a dark bush with pounding hearts.

Finding hidden Bibles.

Freeing jailed Christians.

Dodging police, and secret police.

Of course, my youth group wasn’t in China or North Korea.

But as I crawled up the muddy, brush-covered hill, Bible in hand–sang with fellow Christian’s in the jail–fell flat running from a policeman whose first question was “are you okay?”–and panted for water that is no longer there–I ask myself the question could I do this?

I walked through one of the shadowy paths and my thoughts wandered to other people and other places. Could he do this for real? The question probes my mind. Could I? flashes back.

Today, I sit buried by a pile of stuff that I didn’t own three hours ago, Coco-melon’s “I’ve got something yummy in my lunch box” rattling away anoyingly in the middle seat.

I’m spoiled.

I couldn’t do it.

My heart whispers for God to change me–my brain argues that I don’t really want that. It’ll hurt. And I’m sick and tired of things that hurt.

But deep down, I want to be that person.

Deep down, my heart argues it would be worth it.

Its a Test

When you are going through something hard and wonder where God is, remember the teacher is always quiet during the test.

God’s Not Dead2

This quote grabbed me.

I’m a teacher.

I can’t deny the fact that the teacher should not instruct students during a test.

The test is about seeing what the students already know, so that you can see what you still need to teach them.

Gulp.

Sometimes my students come begging to my desk during a test. “I can’t get this.”

“Just try. Just do your best, it’s all I ask.”

They stand at my desk for a while pouting.

I offer to read out the question to them–but no commentary on how they should answer it.

Gulp.

The parallel isn’t very complimentary.

I stand there whining and begging that I can’t figure this out, and I can’t do it–that I’m gonna fail.

God patiently reminds me that this is a test. Just do my best. He wants to see what I’ve learned, and what He still needs to teach me.

“What if I fail?” My students fling at me in a last ditch effort for help.

“You’re not going to fail.”

I hear God’s voice echoing those words back to me.

I patiently explain that this is their test. That if I write it for them, we’d have to write my name at the top instead of theirs. It would be my grade.

God smiles, and whispers “It’s the same here. I can’t write your test for you, but I’ll read out each question if you need me to.”

“But what if I fail?”

“You’re not gonna fail. Remember, mistakes are proof that you’re trying.”

After all. I’m just a student.

Hummingbird Miracles

I lounge on the couch eating supper and trying to keep my eyes open.

I could go to bed this very minute–but I don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night, so I force myself to stay awake.

I glance out the window and see it–a flash of sparkly green hovering over the feeder. Sipping. Quenching its need. Resting on the string of lights for a few short seconds–then taking flight.

Such a perfect little miracle of God’s handiwork–more so, rather then less so because it comes hummingbird sized.

There have been a lot of hummingbird miracles in my life.

Small moments that take your breath away with their unexplainable sparkle.

Moments when God catches your eye with a wordless “I’m here. I see. I care.”

Last weekend I sat on my friends couch squirming under a question that I wanted to answer, but was scared to.

As I drove the five minutes home after a really good talk, my thoughts couldn’t help but take in where I was a year ago–on their couch in a different province, sobbing my heart out with honesty.

A lot of little miracles add up to a lot of progress.

Tonight, I just want to go to bed.

There’s no school tomorrow.

I could nap all day if I wanted to.

I’ll prop my eyes open with a movie, and then rest.

God is answering my prayers that I could let go and rest…

One heart-stopping hummingbird miracle at a time.

Drink deep. Quench your thirst. Rest in the light. Then fly on ready for the fight.

Fads

It started on Monday when student number 5 entered the classroom with hair conspicuously arranged in two long pigtails.

It was different from her usual look, but sometimes people switch things up…

Wednesday morning in all school devotions I noticed three more girls with pigtails proudly sprouting from the sides of their heads.

Today, yet another girl has arrived in trailing pigtails.

Today, Mr. Outspoken walked in the classroom door, growled something in disbelief and protested at the insurgence of pigtails.

Their eight-year-olds–but in less then a week the fad has demanded pigtails.

On Friday, I sit on the playground with two other teachers and one of them comments on two girls and their pigtails.

“Its all of grade 3”, comments the teacher that I share the grade with.

On Thursday I had forbidden hair-pulling–and both pullers and pulled had argued that they all liked it.

And that if they all liked it–the pulling should be allowed to continue.

It wasn’t.

This year, its pigtails.

When they’re in grade 9 it will probably be smart-watches and hoodies.

Deep down, the drive for the fad will be the same…

Their girl hearts are asking for affirmation and acceptance.

My heart ponderss whether I’m following the fads as I search for those answers? Whether I’m wearing the hoodies and sporting pigtails deep inside my heart–or if I’m asking my Father to answers those questions.

Because it’s not about the pigtails.

P.A.T.H.

“Thou wilt show me the path of life…”

It’s a verse that I’ve had memorized for s long time… a lot of dreams have been wrapped around that verse–shoiting upwards like lanky plants towards the sun.

I’ve pled with God so many times to show me the path of life.

I’ve dreamed about that path… perused that path… wrestled with that path…

There are so many unknowns in the curves of that path–so many things that I long for, and hardly dare to dream of.

But there are four things that I know that path will contain. Four things that I know it’s right to wrestle in prayer for, and pursue ceadelessly.

PEACE–that peace that comes from God and floods our being with an undercurrent of calm no matter how turbulent the surface waters may flow.

ACCEPTANCE–of the past, of God’s plan… of both myself and the people that God places in my life. Deep, unconditional opening of the hands for the things that I would change.

TRUST–leaning back like a child in arms that have never failed… learning to rest Iin the One who pursues me…learning to see His heart in the people around me… daring to love.

HOPE–He will flood my soul with hope that He alone can give. Hope fof tomorrow… hope for restoration… hope fof healing.. hope for dreams.

He will show me the path of life…

The Peace.

The Acceptance.

The Trust.

The Hope.

The P.A.T.H. He has for me.

Full Circle

Almost thirteen years ago I felt like I’d stepped into another world.

Today, it feels weird to call it that–but thirteen years ago “the Mennonites” were a different world.

I remember driving and driving through fields that struck my soul with a peace and beauty I couldn’t grasp… pulling into a parking lot that felt as if it was full of minivans… staring at children who stared right back curiosity plainly written on their faces… the strangeness of kneeling for prayer… the a capella singing that to my longing heart sounded like angels… the frenchfry casserole we ate at the bishop’s house that day for lunch… the people who opened their arms to greet us.

I hadn’t known that I was looking for something. But I knew that I’d found it.

I remember exactly what I wore that day. A black dress with minuscule red leaves and vines stitched across it.

I remember sitting all piled onto my parents bed talking… talking about whether we could make that plunge.

I remember that we decided not to.

I can’t remember quite what my feelings were… but I know that for the next several years I carried a sense of loss. There was something that I longed for, that was out there–but felt as if somehow it was unattainable.

Yesterday I jumped in my car right after school and took off for my friend’s house to do a photoshoot of her five-month-old.

I drove through fields that I hadn’t driven through in thirteen years. And I felt the same peace wash over my soul.

I drove past the sign for that very church, and my mind flooded with what ifs.

How would my life have been different if we had made a different choice thirteen years ago? Who would my friends have been, and what would my youth have been like?

I could ask all the what ifs… or I could trust the Father’s plan.

Tonight, as I mixed up frenchfry casserole for Sunday dinner I realised that God has brought me almost full circle.

Maybe a different choice all those years ago would have made for an easier road to where He has me today… maybe it would have made for a harder one.

But asking the what ifs won’t bring me to the centre of His will… and resting in His plan can bring the peace that I first felt driving through lush farmland and listening to angle-like voices.

He’s known every step of the journey all along.