Tag Archives: faith

Simply Shorts

Sometimes, when I have a few spare minutes, I grab some paper and write. Sometimes, that writing turns into something. And sometimes, I decide to share that with y’all.

 

Tower on the Precipice

Alone it stands

Perched on the edge

Facing oblivion like a solemn guardian

From a distance, like a needle against the horizon

Once approached, it stands in silent immensity

Few seek entrance to the hallowed halls

Stores of knowledge, wealth of character

Held in reserve for those who prove worthy

Yet time only knows how long

The precipice holds this stalwart

From the abyss below

 

 

The Ocean

Calm and clear the surface stretched

Shimmering a reflection of shining warmth

Serene, it beckons one to gaze in wonder

At the mysteries that lie beneath

Does life move about below?

Can there be turmoil and energy

Waiting to be released?

Deep down there is bubbling emotion

Rage, passion, and anxiety dance

Twisting, twirling

They tempt that which swim beneath

A surface, to break, above rests

Twinkles in the dark, catch an eye curious

Daring to glance underneath the calm

To risk uncovering the vast activity

Deep down, an ocean true

 

 

The Garden

A tree rises from the dirt

From a seed planted by faith

Roots spread nourishment to the plots surrounding

Its foliage bears evidence of fruit, yet to reach maturity

The ground below green with growth

Revealing the understanding of purpose

Yet patches of decay creep in

Ground tainted with doubt and failure

Begging for the keeper to intervene

Uprooting unfaithfulness and weeds of sin

Leaving fresh dirt for the seeds of belief

Strengthening the connection to the source

To the tree that overshadows all

 

 

The Pit

Cold, I awake

Covered in filth and muck

Am I lost? Am I stuck?

I survey my surroundings

And see nothing but walls of earth

Above, the sun beats down in hot fury

There is a ledge to my pit

My misery, an open grave

“Hello?” I cry

“Is anyone there?”

Nothing is my response

Nothing but the rustling of wings

A bird, black as night

Lands at the edge of my pit

Soon to be joined by another

The sky grows clouded as each finds a brother

Squinting, I see something squirming in their beaks

In horror, I realize what creatures they carry

As they begin to drop from jaw into my hole

These pests, of scale, and stinger, and silk

Land around me like black snow

“No more!” I plead “Have I no pleasure in this life?”

Bites and stings begin to coat my flesh

Defeated, I am resigned to my lonely fate

But then a voice rings clear

“My son, will you have me save you?”

Wincing in pain, I plead for release

Not seeing who or what offers me freedom

“Very well, it shall be done”

Struggling to stand, I wish to see my savior

But all I witness is a cloud of black lifting a man into the air

Hovering over my pit, like menacing death

My mouth agape, how can salvation be found through this

Drip, drip, drip

Something warm and slick begins to hit my face, my shoulders

Blood, flowing from this gentle, kind man

Tears begin streak my cheeks

This man, in his offer of freedom, has lost his own

A wretch am I, expecting to be freed by such a simple gesture

Instead I doom he that would offer me aid

Through blurry eyes, I see my knees no more

As a fount of blood rises within my pit

Panicked, I seek escape

Must I die in this man’s death?

How is that freedom?

Straining, the warm flow now reaches my neck

Closing my eyes, I accept my fate

If I must die, then I die with a friend

One who gave his life for mine

Suddenly, the pain of the creatures, my tormentors, has gone

I am enveloped, freed from all sensation but life

Prepared to drown, I await the end

My body is light, my mind is at peace

“It is finished!”

A voice streaks into the void

Flying, yes I feel myself being lifted up

Yet not into the heavens, as in death

But by a strong, gentle hand

Up onto the soft, green earth

Kneeling, I bow my head

Unable to comprehend this turn of faith

As the soft hand presses onto my head

That voice, the man, my Savior speaks

“Arise, my son, and see your death”

I turn to my pit, my open grave

And I see it no more

Only life, only color remains

Overwhelmed, I melt into my Savior’s embrace

As he welcomes me into his love, into his grace

 

 

S.D.G.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Musings of a Meek Maniac

Life Through the Lens of a Decade

As it has been my habit for the past few years, the time has come for my year end/birthday reflection post. And since this year happens to be the beginning of a new decade of my life (I’m turning 30, if you weren’t aware), I thought I should look back at each of the previous decades of my life and highlight the primary lesson or focus from each. Let me preface that I have no idea how rambling or full of rabbit trails this might get, so continue at your own risk 😉

 

First Decade: Learning

One of my first lasting memories was of desiring to know. Tasting this, grabbing that, smelling this; I had to find out more. It’s not uncommon for parents to claim their child was inquisitive but I didn’t just want to know “why” but I needed to know “how”. And it didn’t take me long to figure out that I could learn much faster on my own than asking someone else. So I read and read and read. And learned. But it wasn’t just reading. I built and played and created. Legos were also a key part of my growth. My brothers and I would create elaborate castles and towns and ships, each with its own narrative. Creating stories was just as important to me as reading them. I think that’s part of why I write today, it’s how I learned to create. But back to reading. I gobbled up everything I could get my hands on, and then some. I started reading harder and harder books, with bigger words and higher difficulty. By the time I passed into the second decade of my life, I was reading at least four grade levels above my age. I’m not trying to brag too much, but I was reading at a college level by junior high. Needless to say, reading was how I learned to feed my appetite for information. And I had to use this knowledge to create an identity that allowed me to make sense of a world that didn’t really understand me.

 

Second Decade: Soccer

If anyone close to me was asked what my favorite sport was, I’d imagine they’d answer soccer with little hesitation. And my love for this sport was found almost comically, because I grew up in a traditional Hoosier farm town where football and basketball were king. But football, being a fall sport like soccer, was an expensive venture, so my parents decided I should try the cheaper alternative instead. Turns out, I was really good at it. A natural almost. In fact, one of my earliest memories of playing soccer was having a coach tell me to only use my right foot like everyone else in swarm league because dribbling the ball with my left let me separate from the crowd of players and score many times. And some of my fondest memories from my middle school years revolve around playing soccer. It was something I could be recognized for and made me more than just “that smart kid”. Because honestly, I sometimes hated the fact that I was so much smarter than kids my age. They gave me weird looks because I knew all the answers and probably showed them up in class on numerous occasions. But soccer, soccer allowed me to be “one of the guys”. Let me belong. Let me put my knowledge of the game to use for the benefit of my teammates. And as my skill developed on the field, so did my involvement off it. In high school I started watching professional soccer in earnest and even began refereeing on occasion. My biggest regret when it comes to pursuing my love of soccer is that I never made an effort to play competitively in college, a decision that still haunts me today. In some ways, I wonder how different I would have been as a person had I made that leap of faith and invested in that opportunity. But my passion has persisted and grown as the years went on, giving me a place within a world I didn’t always understand.

 

Third Decade: Community

When it comes to the scale of introversion, you’d find me somewhere on the anti-social hermit end. Well, at least that’s where I’d be if I choose my spot, but mostly out of personal jest. Because if my readers might remember, being social is something that is not a natural skill for me. People both fascinate and frustrate me to no end. In an average social situation, I’m prone to observe rather than interact, even more so if it’s unfamiliar territory or with a large number of strangers. That said, it takes me awhile to “warm up” to people. So while finding a place in society through soccer as the foundation of my social interaction (outside of church and school) during my second decade of life, I struggled greatly to find a foundation during the earlier years of my third decade. College was turbulent, but I managed to find a small group of people who accepted me. But after college, I lost a lot of social motivation and entered my “hermit stage”. It took me a couple years to overcome these tendencies, largely through personal discovery and healing of old wounds. So I tried to put myself into situations that would force me to get to know people and expose myself to social environments. I also struggled to find an identity as a member of society, as a steady job wasn’t forthcoming. After school, I wasn’t sure what I would do and what I thought I wanted to do wasn’t working out at the time. My breakthrough, oddly enough, didn’t come through a social opportunity, but through a personal understanding. Before I could find my place in society, I had to find myself. It might sound cheesy, but I studied mental patterns, cognitive functions, personality theories, and sociology to better understand why I operated the way I did within society. Why I chose to stand in the corner rather than join the circle. Why I would rather be the guy in the background making sure things ran smoothly than the one leading from the front. Perhaps the biggest piece of realization that helped me move forward was to understand that my mind how processes information prioritizes facts and rational data over emotions and personal connections. There was a brief period that I honestly thought I was broken. But once I started to understand myself and my natural patterns of thought and social cognition, I was able to approach people in a way that wasn’t nearly as awkward and blunt as I was before. And I learned to be a friend to people. To put my knowledge and talents to work for others. I became a coach for my old junior high and started reffing again for local recreational and travel leagues. I started serving in my church, putting my natural desire to work in the background towards a noble purpose. And I took steps to realize my dream of becoming a teacher and got back into the classroom as a sub. And last and perhaps the most important, I joined a couple different groups of young adults who desired community just as much as I did. It’s amazing how friendships can start when perfect strangers all wish to have others to do life together with. And while I’m not someone who compulsively feels the need to have many close personal connections with others, I found that deep within these relationships were greatly important to my development and purpose in life. So despite myself and certain sociopath tendencies, I not only wanted to create these relationships but I wanted to make sure others didn’t have to struggle as hard as I did to find them or arrive at a place where they realized how lonely life would be without them. And going forward, I hope that the communities I’ve found will continue to grow and mature and become something truly impactful on the lives of everyone involved.

 

Three decades, three core components. And looking back, I can see how one decade has helped support those that followed. I can only hope that this trend continues rather than a collapse after an imbalance arises from mismatching interests or pursuits. For now, I’m content to look ahead with anticipation of what the future holds and acceptance of the lessons my past has taught me. And since this new decade might be the best one yet, I invite you, dear readers, to join me as I continue to discover what this journey known as life might entail.

 

 

S.D.G.

Leave a comment

Filed under Musings of a Meek Maniac

Willing that the Will will be

So my church just finished a sermon series focusing on the Will of God and how we might discern and respond to God’s Will for our lives. And honestly, this series couldn’t have come at a better time for me, as the question of God’s Will is something I’ve been wrestling with for several months. Lemme build the setting here:

So at the beginning of this year, I finished my Transition to Teaching program at IWU and received my Teacher’s License so I could teach US and World History. This accomplishment as clear affirmation to me that God wanted me to pursue a career in education. I spent the rest of the school year as a substitute teacher, doing both day-to-day assignments and a couple of longer term positions. And I loved it. So when summer rolls around, I had two decisions to make: first, where was I going to work over the summer and second, how far would my search for a teaching job take me from Warsaw? The first question didn’t really weigh on me, as I figured any job I got over the summer would be temporary until I found a teaching job. As far as the second question was concerned, I limited my search to (more or less) to Indiana around and above Indianapolis. So I applied to over two dozen schools over the summer. I heard from a handful and got a few interviews. Of those schools, two actually had the courtesy of notifying me they went with someone else. Of those two schools, one was the school I did my student teaching at, which I had considered my dream job.

So it’s now over halfway through September and I’m still at my “summer” job working as a 3rd shift Inspector for Zimmer-Biomet. So no, apparently God’s Will for my life wasn’t to be a teacher this school year. Or was it? See, I’m of the opinion that God chooses when to implement His will for our lives. And this choice might very well be dependent on how closely we are pursuing our relationship with Him and if we are living in obedience to Him. I believe that God might close a door at one point in our lives because He knows that if we access that blessing too soon, it will lose some of the magnificence and impact God intended it to have. Case and point, the first time I applied for the Transition to Teaching Program a few years ago. I was at a place of lacking direction and purpose, as well as struggling with some major areas of sin and spiritual oppression, in my life and the only route I saw to instill some change was to chase my passion for learning and become a teacher. Looking back, I should have known that the timing wasn’t right because of all adversity I faced just to get my application completed. And when everything was said and done, and my application was in and I was accepted, the door was slammed shut in my face because of a clerical error. Why? At the time I had no idea. But now, I can look back and see that God knew I wasn’t truly ready, in my maturity as a person and a believer. God knew I needed to “grow up” and it took some pretty painful lessons to reach the point where He was finally ready to re-open that door.

So fast-forward back to today. I’m working in a field I wouldn’t have even considered last year and the one teaching job I really wanted and thought I was a great fit for didn’t happen. I’ll be honest y’all, I miss being in the classroom and around students. But I cannot help but wonder God has postponed the blessing of a full-time teaching job because there’s something He wants me to learn first. Is it patience? Is it trust? It is an area of sin that I’m still harboring? Is it an area of maturity I still lack? I really don’t know, and that’s why this recent series on discerning God’s Will has been so impactful. Yet at the same time, I see how my current situation has afforded me certain opportunities. If I was teaching full-time, I probably couldn’t have taken two trips in the past month to meet and hangout with people from a Facebook group I’m in. And both of those trips ended up being a great blessing, just being able to spend time fellowshipping with people my age who are passionate about their Christian walk. I also couldn’t spend nearly as much time investing in building relationships with my various social circles. So I am aware God continues to direct my life and through my obedience to the parts of His Will I am privy to I am blessed.

But that’s the kicker folks. I feel like there’s very little of God’s plan for my life I’m actually privy to right now. I’m mentioned before I feel drawn to being a teacher, and specifically I want to work with middle schoolers, and yet I’m not currently teaching, not even as a substitute. And while I’ve continued my search, there has been no peace about any of the positions I’ve inquired about or interviewed for. I even had an interview at a charter school in Indy last Friday and yesterday morning I sent them an email withdrawing my candidacy for their opening because I couldn’t shake the feeling God still has something for me here in Warsaw. All signs still point that I’m supposed to be here, and all doors that would have led me away stayed shut.

So what is my purpose for this sudden reappearance of literary dictation of mental vomit? Well, honestly I’ve been reflecting quite a bit about the “story” of my life, as I’m less than three months from my 30th birthday. Three decades of life, and what do I have to show for it? Where am I at in my life? What sort of person am I and is that who I thought I would be 5 years ago? What sort of person will I be in 5 years? So many questions, and very few answers. If you’re familiar with the Enneagram, I’m a Type 5, so having too many unanswered questions and areas of knowledge unknown drives me crazy. But here is something I did discover about myself over the course of all these questions: I’m behind.

Wait, what?!? What do I mean by “I’m behind”? Well, through my investigation of the past 10 years of my life and the path it has taken, I’ve come to the opinion that I’m about four or five years behind where I could’ve (or should’ve) been developmentally (socially, emotionally, and spiritually) because of poor decisions, areas of rebellion, and sinful choices I made in my early to mid twenties. Almost every major decision I made since leaving Warsaw for college up until moving back to the area after living in Anderson for a short time, was not really beneficial to my personal growth. One of the things that made me realize my “behindness” was the age group I tend to gravitate toward. Most of my friend group are about four to six years younger than me. And if you believe in my theory of personal development, this makes perfect sense because developmentally I’m on about the same level of this age group (assuming they themselves didn’t squander their years and stagnated their growth like I did). So I have a strange division of maturity, for I have the experience and wisdom of someone perhaps older than I truly am but I lack the social skills and emotional maturity of most people my age. And so know here I am, 29, single, employed in a field I don’t really take joy from, and asking more questions than answers can be found. And all I can say is “God knows, I don’t”. And I need to live in peace with that. Because God hasn’t called me to know everything, just Him, and to obey Him when He calls me. So I guess that’s where I’m at right now, awaiting His call, and the revelation of His specific will for my life. And I guess until that happens, I have to turn to Scripture, prayer, and godly counsel from peers and mentors so that I may best pursue His will in the calling I’ve been placed in at this time. And you know what folks? It actually excites me to anticipate what God has for me in the future, because if the path my life has taken over the past few years is any indication, it’s gotta be real awesome 🙂

 

 

S.D.G.

Leave a comment

Filed under Musings of a Meek Maniac

Rest(oration) and Relationships

I just realized that WordPress asks what’s on my mind when I open a new Quick Draft window. Ho boy if only WordPress knew… But that’s beside the point, because I’m really just here to call it quits. Not writing, no, this is too much of a release for me to stop. But rather seeking out a relationship. Or trying to be in control of my life in general. I know the topic of relationships seem to pop up in several of my posts lately, and for good reason. For the lack of a better way to put it, I have been pursuing a romantic relationship, mainly through online dating services, for the better part of the past five years. Yes, this means both an investment of time and money, and not a small one either. So why this admission now? Because I feel that is one of the many convictions God has placed on my heart, that I have abandoned my focus on the relationship with my ABBA Father in the hopes of finding a helpmate and spouse. This is not to say I have neglected my faith, for I have still made strides in my theological and spiritual growth during this time. However it is my direct connection to the Creator of all things that I have lost hold of.

There are some factors as to why I am suddenly facing an abyss within. First, as one might guess from having spent nearly five years pursuing a relationship, I have not much to show for it but heartbreak and hard lessons. Not to say that the lessons I have learned were not needed, but if I could go back and change some of my decisions, I can only imagine where God might have been able to use me. Second, the slow but steady fracturing of my social foundations. While my circle of friends has fluctuated frequently over the past few years, I have been living in the same house with the same person (my cousin Jake, who I consider also a close friend) for much of that time. This is about to change come the middle of August as he and another friend are headed to Dallas Theological Seminary. My heart has been aching over the departure for the familiar that I am facing, as I am a more sentimental than most people might believe. Not only this, but I am still in utter confusion what my life will look like in two months time, which brings me to reason three. Third, I am greatly desiring a teaching position so I might pursue my passion for working with young people and learning yet nothing has really turned up. In the meantime I have found a good job, but is by no means something I could do long-term (out of personal preference and comfort, not ability), and it is merely holding me over (at least in my mind) until I find a steady teaching position. And it has been this job search that revealed to me a saddening truth, that I might need to uproot from the little ground I have staked here in Warsaw, IN and go elsewhere. It dawned on me that at age 29, I really have no semblance of stability in my life. I have yet to hold a job for more than a couple years and have only begun to truly involve myself in a community. Yet it is the ties I have formed thus far that sharpen my desire to remain where I am at, and finally have a reason to “settle down”. Fourth, epic Scripture smackdowns. Y’all. The Holy Spirit hits hard. Like Mike Tyson left-hook hard. Like Bruce Lee flying kick hard. Despite missing more church services than attended since the school year came to a close, God has spoken to me every time I have set foot inside my church. I have always appreciated my pastors and the way God speaks through them, but these past couple weeks have been laying it on thick.

 

Point 1: God invites me to rest

I’ve said it before, but my spirit has been experiencing a time of weariness for some time. Like I’ve just been burnt out. And then Matthew 11:28 pops up at church. /Facepalm. Like, how easy is it to forget this? To just get so caught up in life that I forget that there is literally an open invitation from God for me to crash at his place. And boy do I need rest. My current work schedule is the graveyard shift, and I’m finding it harder and harder to sleep when I get home. This is on top of working basically 7 days a week for at least 8 hours a day. Sure the money is good, but the exhaustion is not something I’m used to. And in my attempt to go cold turkey with Mountain Dew (and those who know me personally know how big of a deal this is) means I have little to fall back on in terms of energy reserves right now. So rest would be good. And this is one of the convictions I have facing, to legitimately let God take the reins while I lie down for a while. It’s so frustrating to want things so bad, and not see any visible progress take place. But perhaps this is the lesson God has for me in this time, to let go and let Him steer my life.

Point 2: Faith demands Works

James is perhaps my favorite book of the Bible, and this idea is central to what James is teaching the church. I made the decision at the end of the school year to take a break from volunteering regularly at my church, in the interest of pursuing teaching opportunities and freeing up my schedule. Ironically, the opposite has happened, as I am busier now and miserable because I’m not nearly as involved at my church. James makes the point that faith without works is dead, which can also be taken on the flipside to mean that faith with works is alive! And honestly, I felt more alive serving in my church than I do now. I’ve always been someone who thrives helping in the background, facilitating the good work done by those gifted in evangelism and presence. And having not done much service lately, has noticeably effected my livelihood. And it isn’t just the church in which I wish to serve, but my community as well. This desire is a large part of why I desire a teaching position in the community I already reside, as it would give me greater opportunity to be involved in the lives of the people here. Faith is not just about saying the right things and knowing the right things (which btw knowledge is my thing) but doing the right things. Matthew 25:31-46 is the perfect example of what this will look like come judgment day. Our faith will be proved by the lives we blessed through our service, not through our words. It is not nearly enough to wish someone well, but to give them aid as you are able. This is something God has convicted me of lately.

Point 3: God knows

Something I struggled with is uncertainty. I’m not someone who can stand not knowing something I think I should know. This is a point of great stress and anxiety in my life. Yet as I’ve recommitted myself to reading and studying Scripture, and edifying my brothers and sisters in Christ with my knowledge, I am continually blown away by how impossibly vast God is. Like immeasurably unknowable. And to think He already knows all things, this just blows my mind. And all He asks of me is faith, and through this I am justified through Christ, and sanctified through the Holy Spirit. And if God knows exactly what is ahead (see Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 6:25-31) and is more than capable of caring for my every need, how much more should I stop all my worrying? This points back to my conviction on faith, but even more so reveals I struggles with control. I have walked a tightrope between blind faith and utter control freak most of my adult life, and this struggle is one-sided. That is to say, I’m struggling against myself here. This is one of the tests God has given me, to surrender all control to Him so he can use me in the accomplishment of His good work (Romans 8:28).

 

Now that I’ve spent nearly 75 minutes pouring conviction into script, I need to let my heart and mind rest. Not just today, but every day. Dear readers, I encourage you to do the same. Let God holds the reins of your life, they are much safer in His hands, as they are already big enough to hold the whole world. It’s a silly thing to think that trusting God with something so small takes so much faith, but then perhaps that is the difference between accepting Christ as our Savior, and accepting him as our Lord. We must die to the self daily, put our faith into action, and let God be glorified in us and through us. Cheers and amen.

 

 

 

S.D.G.

Leave a comment

Filed under Musings of a Meek Maniac

A Temporary 4th Down and Goal

I was almost tempted to walk out of the school today with my arms outstretched in a symbol of triumph. But honestly, that level of personal fanfare would have been in highly egregious taste. All things considered, this final week of this temporary substitution assignment went well. The students (well most of them) seemed disappointed that I would be done after Friday, though I wonder how many of them just weren’t friendly with the original teacher. But that really isn’t my concern, I put in a solid month in the classroom as I was asked and hopefully the students learned a thing or two. And the experience will look good on my resume and I should have a decent reference from the school in the future. Now on to the daily reflections:

 

Day 16-

In some ways I hate Mondays (as I should, being a self-proclaimed Garfieldian) but in others I look forward to them. Often, the students are more subdued because of their weekend wariness and generally less disruptive. However, I am also just as tired and can drag my feet for most of the day. I told all of my Science classes why the previous week had been so packed with activities and assignments, and many of them seems to acknowledge the reasons and accept the explanation as a form of apology for working them so hard. I still have an underlying problem of disrespect from some students, and sadly many of these students I have in more than one class. I actually busted out the “coach” voice to silence my 7th period. Many of the students seemed astonished that I could be so loud, or project my voice so well. As middle schoolers, they usually don’t realize how long they are being until you raise the volume one step further. I don’t like yelling at anyone, much less students, but sometimes you need to be a drill sergeant to get respect. The thought crossed my mind today that I might be very disappointed if I need to come back after Spring Break is over, even though that two week break would be nice either way.

Day 17-

Today was a whirlwind. I had two boys get into a scuffle (some might call it a fight, but there was little real aggression involved) during my 2nd period which quickly resulted in a bloody nose. Both boys spent the day in the office but I doubt either felt sorry for what transpired. Even if they were just goofing around, as soon as there’s blood it’s gone too far. My Science classes did an activity with sugar cubes and although they struggled to keep track of all 64 given to them per bag, I don’t believe anyone ate one. Which to be honest would have been rather disgusting because the sugar cubes have been handled by who knows how many grubby hands and picked up unknown bacteria from the table surfaces. I had a girl (one who has never show me respect and obviously doesn’t like me) mouth off to me in Math Lab, so I wrote her up and sent her to the office. Her attitude isn’t likely to change or improve, but I drew a line and she crossed it. And probably not for the last time…

Day 18-

The home stretch is within sight! With only three days left, I can feel a change in my spirit and attitude towards each class. On one hand, the students are starting to anticipate Spring Break and getting antsy and on the other, I’m ready to get back to the crazy life of a day-to-day sub. Most of the classes this week have been fairly low-key and the Science classes are keeping pace with the content I had planned for the week. I’ve hung the “carrot” of a fun day on Friday to encourage them to stay focused on taking notes and completing their work, but there are still students falling behind on their homework. My PLTW class is been very enjoyable to teach and so far I have been impressed with their Invention presentations. One student is a little behind but he also missed the first day the class had to work on their presentations. The Math Labs are basically a study hall as the new students only received their logins today and the rest of the students have kinda burnt out. As long as they are doing something productive and not running around the room like animals, I’m content to play monitor. This also gives me extra time to grade and even read. Since grading and planning have been minimal for this week, I should be able to wrap up the week pretty quick. I’ve warned the students that any missing work not turned in before Spring Break could result in a zero, but what I didn’t tell them is that not doing the work would also mean they’d miss out on the “Funday” Friday. And to be honest, I don’t want to leave a lot of missing work for the returning teacher to track down as soon as she returns after Spring Break.

Day 19-

In most of my classes, today was the final day of actual instruction, except PLTW. Tomorrow will just be a fun day and I told students to feel free to bring in snacks or card games to play. I decided to make Friday a fun day partially because it will be my final day as their temporary sub and also it’ll be Spring Break and I really didn’t feel like planning another lesson. I really this makes me a little lazy but with all the late and missing work to track down, that gives me enough to worry about. It’s basically like pulling teeth with some of these students because, despite giving them the equivalent of lunch detention for more than one day, they still haven’t turned in much of their missing work. I’ve already written up one student for failing to do his homework and will probably write up a couple more before I leave the school tomorrow. I’m actually starting to look forward to not worrying about grading and missing work, as well as no longer having to deal with some of the poor attitudes and lack of responsibility some of these students have displayed.

Day 20-

Last day, last day, last day! As today is a “Fun day Friday”, I literally sat at my desk and read my book while students played card games or on laptops. Any student who had late work got sent to the library to work on it, and this realization seemed to motivate many of them to actually do the assignments. A couple students still dragged their feet and accomplished almost nothing, and these are the same students who have given me headaches the entirety of this temporary assignment. At least I can say I tried to get these students to do their homework but ultimately it is not my responsibility to make them do it. If they want to be defiant, then they must accept the consequence of a failing grade. I made use of my extra time to do all my grading and got the returning teacher caught up with each class’ progress and highlighted any special considerations (such as students who might give her trouble after Spring Break) before turning in my keys and leaving the building. The weather outside was absolutely perfect and matched the warm feeling I had walking away from what proved a challenging but enjoyable experience.

 

Well that wraps it up, unless something drastic happens to the returning teacher in the next two weeks that prevents her from returning and I’ll need to step back in. I’m praying that won’t happen, but I guess if it does then you lovely folks will get a bonus round! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed these reflections, and if this is the first of my posts you’ve read feel free to check out some of the older posts as well. Cheers!

 

 

S.D.G.

Leave a comment

Filed under Musings of a Meek Maniac

The Greatest Commands (and the Will to Obey)

I’ve had a lot on my mind the past month, as God has been showing me some of my current weaknesses and blindspots within my current state of belief and relationships. I am ever thankful I am surrounded by family and friends who provide sound counsel and intellectual feedback. And because I am often better at externally processing that which bothers me, here I am to share what is on my mind.

Let me begin by saying God isn’t always subtle when He tries to get His message across. I’ve had some completely unrelated events point me back to the same truth over the past week, which I know are God’s reminders for me to trust in Him. But back to my point of how God can hit us over the head with a proverbial holy frying pan to get our attention. Consider the story of the rich young man from the Gospels. This man seemingly had everything; wealth, piety, and a desire to do good. But Jesus saw into this man’s heart and loved him so much he had to point out this young man’s greatest weakness, his reliance on earthly riches. And what Jesus commanded the rich young man still rings true for us today and it is as follows (from Matthew 19:21): “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven. Then comefollow me.” Most of the time, we get fixated on the first couple of commands, “go” and “sell”, but as my emphasis hopefully pointed out, that’s only part of what Jesus commanded. To be honest, something I’ve been wrestling with is how well I’m currently obeying these commands in my own life.

 

GO

The first thing Jesus commands is to “go”. Naturally, one must ask “go where?” and sometimes we also find ourselves asking “go now?” The will to obey this command usually stems from our ability to trust God’s plan for our lives (as does the ability to obey any of God’s directives). When considering these five commands, this is one that I feel God has already willed me to obey. There have been certain life events I have experienced over the past few years that I can now clearly acknowledge as lessons God knew I needed to learn, but each one was preceded by the command to “go” where I needed to be in order to learn such lessons. For this reason, I found myself living in Muncie, Anderson, and then finally finding myself back in Warsaw; as well as working in a wide range of occupations. Each experience opened my eyes to something new about myself and understanding who I am and who I could be, yet none of these could have happened if I did not first “go” when God compelled it.

SELL

Next, Jesus commands the rich young man to “sell”. Since he already answered the “what?” (your possessions), the question that comes to my mind is “why?” But to be honest, I realized that if one must really ask “why” we should sell our possessions, it becomes obvious that a materialistic mindset has already taken hold. This is a great danger in our American society, the draw of having more “stuff”. Now do not take this as me saying having “stuff” is evil or wrong, as I believe God does bless us with abundance when we abide in Him and walk by faith. However I do believe that Christians can easily fall into the trap of believing these blessings are their right *Cough* Prosperity Gospel *Cough* and becoming fixated on the idea that evidence of personal wealth is a sign of God’s favor. I truly believe this is wrong. God does not give us good things because we deserve them, on the contrary if we got what we deserved the entirety of the human race would be eternally damned. Rather God gives us good things because He delights in blessing those who further his kingdom and abide in His plan for our lives and the world around us. So why would Jesus ask any of us to “sell” our possessions? I believe it is because he knows we have an abundance of wealth at our fingertips that could be used for furthering the kingdom instead of displaying an image of personal affluence.

GIVE

So if we have been blessed with much, what should be done with it? This is where Jesus’ third command comes in, “give”. And since Jesus tells us the “who” of the equation, that is the poor and needy, I must pose the question “how?”. This is the hardest thing I feel for Christians to decide. We often know we are to give, but most of the time we content ourselves to hand over our tithes and donate the occasional sum to a charity or missionary/missions trip. This mindset runs the danger of woefully selling the kingdom short. Where is the love and generosity Jesus displayed throughout his ministry in this Christian habit? Imagine how the kingdom could be furthered if Christians didn’t just stop their giving at their monthly tithe but dipped so deep into their pockets that it reveals an utter reliance on God to care for their financial needs. Now please don’t take this display of faith to mean I advocate the habit of bankrupting one’s self to support missionaries or different outreaches, because I also believe we are called to be good stewards of what God has given us, including our money. Rather the point I hope to make is that I feel we can get so fixated on saving for the future and stockpiling our wealth that we miss out on all the good we could be doing in our communities and around the world by giving out of the abundance God has given us. Now I must admit that at this present time in my life, I really don’t have much to give in terms of finances, considering I still have a large student loan to pay off. So what then can someone such as myself give to further the kingdom? The answer is my time. Time is the greatest gift we are given, as it is the only form of currency we cannot increase. This is why I’ve come to believe that those who give unselfishly of their time for the kingdom are blessed by God beyond those who give endless sums of money for the same end. While one can argue that “time is money” I would point out that “money is not time”. Or consider this, which shows more love to a person, giving them their money or giving them their time? Paul claims that giving to the poor and helping the needy is important, but if we do not love them, what is the point? Let me end with this thought: those who give to the poor and help the needy and loves them for the person God created them to be only have to look to Proverbs to see what God feels about their efforts.

COME

This command can be a bit confusing, because one could posture that it mirrors the previous command to “go”. However I would point out that “go” implies an outward movement of location or purpose while “come” often refers to an inward focus and humbling of self. This is based on my belief that when we are commanded to “come” to Jesus, the only suitable way to do so is in an attitude of reverence and self-denial. If we are to obey this command, it implies we set aside whatever it is we were doing previous, abandoning our former self and mission, to adhere to the purpose and position God has in store. This hit me hard because I realized I have been stubbornly postponing my obedience to “come” because I wasn’t ready to trust that whatever God had in store would be better than what I had currently arranged for myself. And to be honest, I’m still struggling with doing so on a daily basis, mainly because I struggle with denying my selfish desires, something I believe is a part of our fallen nature as humans. So I urge you, as the reader, strive to deny the self daily, pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ to do the same, and live humbly before your God.

FOLLOW ME

The final command Jesus gave is another that seems simple at first but when you put it into perspective with the others that preceded it, the implications can be much, much deeper. I argue this because I interpret “follow me” to be an invitation of imitation. To follow someone means to walk in their footsteps, observe their actions, and repeat or reciprocate what they did. In light of the command to “go”, “follow me” means be fearless. Jesus always went where the Father told him to “go” without question, and without hesitation. In the light of “sell”, “follow me” means God only needs us- our person, He doesn’t need our “stuff”. In light of “give”, “follow me” means handing over everything we have in order to further the kingdom, much like the poor women giving all she had at the temple. In light of “come”, “follow me” means that our humility is a key component of our submission and to try to approach God with even a hint of pride or personal ambition means we will easily stumble and fall behind. To follow Christ is the very basis of the Christian faith, yet we often fail to imitate Christ in our obedience to God’s will and I am the guiltiest of us all.

THE WILL TO OBEY

So where am I headed with this little personal devotional? All things considered, I’m really looking for a means to inspire myself to submit and obey the greatest commandments, that is “Love God” and “Love Others”, with a renewed sense of purpose and vigor. Having completed one stage of my personal journey and now heading into the next causes me to reconsider what my life is really worth and whether who I am is headed in the right direction. It is, as I said, my daily struggle to die to myself and pick up my cross. I hope that this might encourage some of you who might be struggling with the same things and possibly remind others of what the purpose of our time here on earth truly is and perhaps might lead others to question if they themselves are seeking the truest purpose life can have. Regardless of where you are in life, I do hope this can speak to you and that you might benefit from my intellectual and spiritual wandering.

 

S.D.G.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Musings of a Meek Maniac

A Short Summer-y (and a Brief Bio)

So admittedly I have been something of a ghost this summer, or at least when it pertains to writing here. This is partially due to a lack of inspiration as well as a lack of access to a computer when inspiration did hit. So to make up for my blogging absence, I intend to not only give everyone an update on my summer adventures but also a sneak peek into a post I will be making for an online class’ discussion board.

So let’s see, my summer started with soccer, as every summer should. I got my Grade 8 Referee License in the spring so I spent my weekends at the athletic complex in town making some spending money. I also coached a U10 Boys team for the local rec league and we were the regular season champions, however we lost 2-1 in the playoffs to the only team that held us to 1 goal in a regular season game. And then was the Women’s World Cup. Let’s just say I was in heaven for those few weeks, and got to watch the picture perfect ending with the USWNT taking home the trophy on an extremely convincing win.

Next, I had plenty of time to be with family, which usually means plenty of good food (and Mountain Dew!), lots of games, and good conversation. I got to see all of my “Arizona” cousins, which can be a rare treat, and saw another sibling married off. Being able to maintain a regular sleep schedule also helped my summer go smoothly, something I did not really have last summer.

Also, I was able to persevere through several obstacles to entering a Transition to Teaching program to get my Secondary Education License for Historical Perspectives (so I can teach middle/high school history). These online classes (which started at the end of last month) will take roughly 16 months to complete (with a break during next summer) and will compound on my already rapidly filling schedule.

So there is my summer(y). However I also promised a transcript from my biography post for my online class so here goes:

“Greetings fellow cohort-ians! I hail from Warsaw, Indiana (the Orthopedic Capital of the world) where I currently share a house with my cousin and a friend of his from college. However, while I may appear to live a bachelor’s life, I am not currently single, as I started dating someone earlier this year. As the second oldest of eight children, the importance of family has had a large impact on my life and I look forward to the day I can start one of my own. If I had to choose three words to describe me I would turn to what my friends have used in the past and those would be witty, athletic, and genuine.

Trying to cover everything about my interests, hobbies, and favorite things might prove hard to do but I will attempt to be thorough. My favorite color is navy blue; I cannot claim one specific movie as my favorite but I do love sci-fi, comedy, and action movies quite a bit; my favorite type of food and dessert are pasta and cheesecake, respectively; my favorite restaurant is Fazoli’s; my favorite genre of music is pop punk; my favorite book is probably Ender’s Game; my favorite Scripture passage is Romans 7:15-20; and my favorite place to travel is a family camp in Michigan called Little Eden, where my family goes every year for vacation. My interests include soccer (among other sports), probable fiction, basic computer code and programming, and writing. My hobbies also include playing games with family and friends, coaching, and participating in church outreach. If I had a free hour, I would probably watch an episode of a TV show or a replay of a soccer game. With a free day, I like to spend time with friends or find a new book to read. With a free week, I would do the above as well as try to take a trip to see a historical landmark or museum. I do not currently own any pets but I am a sucker for cats and larger dogs.

My faith has been a fundamental part of my identity, as I am from a strong Christian family with a long Mennonite tradition. However I did not start my personal walk with Christ until after I had it out with God over the death of one of my siblings when I was in my late elementary years. This tragedy forced me to confront my views on religion, faith, and personal belief. Thankfully, God is infinitely patient and welcomed me back with open arms. The decade and a half since then I have grown in ways I could not have imagined back then. I currently attend a church that has a strong focus on community outreach and congregation relationships, two things I have a great desire to be a part of.

I hope this wall of text was not overwhelming for anyone but once I get going it can be hard for me to switch off. I look forward to reading everyone else’s bios as well as replying to your comments and questions. Cheers!”

There it is folks, hope this makes up for my failure to maintain any sort of regular schedule for blog posts. It is my hope to at least post something every other week during the next few months, if nothing else to just reflect on my thoughts of the soccer season (as I am also coaching the Jr High team again at my high school alma mater), my online classes, and (hopefully) my romantic endeavors.

S.D.G.

Leave a comment

Filed under Musings of a Meek Maniac