Writing in the past

My family likes to tease me: “She was born talking,” they’d say. I was verbal at months and by kindergarten, when asked if I could count to 100 yet, there may have been some concern that I wouldn’t stop counting.

Sometime in elementary school, I started a cousins newsletter. My dad’s siblings were spread in five states and our every other year beach trips seemed far away. I wanted a way for the family to stay in touch, so I requested that each Hiteshew family send news of their latest happenings as well as jokes to share.

Now this was prior to facebook and other social media so the family had to actually snail mail me! Then each quarter I’d put all the family news into a template I created and send a copy to each household. It was fun, and it was work that I eventually gave up.

In high school, I loved my English classes, eventually taking AP, and also helped with the yearbook. I also took Latin and French which introduced me to language as both an art and a science. In college, I entered pre-law, quickly switched to undeclared and then briefly considered JMU’s School of Media Arts and Design. I sometimes wonder if I should have persisted in this a bit longer as some of the technological skills would be helpful now, but I took one news writing class and hated how brief my sentences were encouraged to be!

Where was the opportunity to use big words and creativity? To analyze the depths of literature? Hello, English department. Sure, I’ll take French too. Reading and writing in two languages sounds great. Add on a translation minor, why not? During a translation internship my senior year, I wrote an article that was published in the American Translators Association newsletter.

After graduation, I did some freelance translating work as well as work as a project manager, editing and overseeing translation and brand name analysis projects. It was interesting work and the opportunity to meet people worldwide was incredible, but I was working 60-80 hours/week and I felt like I was missing out on life.

I also realized for the first time that not everyone liked kids nor enjoyed being around them. I mean, this was actually news to me; I was surprised! I remembered my Papa’s (maternal grandfather’s) suggestions that perhaps I would be a teacher one day and I suddenly wondered how he knew me better than I knew myself.

I decided to go to graduate school for a Masters in Teaching and during that year did A LOT of writing. Since then, most of my writing has been curriculum-related, whether I’ve been creating lesson plans for myself or others, or training others how to practically implement a plan.

Turns out I’ve always loved language and literacy. Speaking, listening, reading, writing… these elements even lie behind my curiousity about early childhood and the primary years. How do humans develop the ability to use language? is a question that fascinates me.

About a year ago, I realized that I wanted to pursue writing again for myself because I missed spending time reading, thinking, writing like I did in college. I had no idea what pursuing writing meant, but I started setting aside time and space…

Next week: Writing in the present

 

Biblical Sabbath (chapter 1)

If you missed last week’s introduction to this book discussion, read here. If you’re ready for discussion of chapter 1, keep reading below…

So what does the Bible say about Sabbath?

Rabbis & Law

The beginning of the first chapter of Rest explains that in ancient Jewish culture, rabbis typically began an apprenticeship of sorts under a rabbi whose teachings they were familiar with and shared. Every now and then, a rabbi would come along who had his own interpretation of the ancient laws and he would use verbage, such as “You have heard it said… but I tell you.” A rabbi who spoke in this way, like Jesus, was said to “speak with authority” and would have caught people’s attention because such a teacher would be saying new things about old ideas.

When someone followed a rabbi’s teaching they were said to be “taking up that rabbi’s yoke.” Jesus described his yoke as “easy,” yet He seemed to hold people to a higher standard of the law, while acknowledging it was impossible to keep. He also claimed that He fulfilled the law (Mt. 5:17).

New Rabbi, New Sabbath Law: Freedom

How did Jesus describe the Sabbath? He said it was “holy,” set apart, and He said it was “made for people,” not the other way around. What did Jesus do on the Sabbath? On the Sabbath, we see Jesus teaching in the synagogue, walking in a grain field defending the disciples choice to help themselves to a snack, healing people and eating with people.

Kent says that Jesus kept Sabbath, not as culture expected him to, but with great freedom and that if we want to take up his yoke, we too will both keep the Sabbath and live in freedom. Do those two ideas sound opposing?  They did to me at first too! She suggests that Jesus viewed the Sabbath as an opportunity to restore and reconnect people physically and spiritually.

If you are curious to learn more, read chapter 1 of Keri Wyatt Kent’s book Rest, available here. Join us next week for chapter 2, part 1!

Minds on Truth

Feelings matter. They can influence and inform us, but if we readily rely on them to make decisions… well, let me ask you. What happens if we are governed by feelings?

Fickle. We are easily persuaded by whatever new idea or person comes along. Faithless, lacking confidence in anything we can’t immediately see. Foundation of sand, the opposite of steady and immovable.

James describes those who lives this way as double-minded, as opposed to focused, single-hearted. Faith, on the other hand, relies on what can’t always be felt. Christ is describes as our solid rock and the New Testament says we have been united with him.

Feelings matter, but we don’t count on them to determine our decisions. When our feelings feel prominent, we pause to gain perspective. We consider what we know to be true and we set our minds on truth. Then, we make decisions that we can stand behind, no matter how the wind blows.

The writer of Philippians says:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 

 

Listen, Speak, Do

The title of this post brings to my mind an image of three monkeys. You’ve seen them – one covering their eyes, one their ears, one their mouth. The thoughts often associated with these monkeys roughly translates in my mind “ignore what you don’t want to deal with in the way you choose”… a sort of ignorance is bliss mentality or perhaps pious is better… and all those are the opposite of this post’s position.

Today, I ask these questions: what activities can we pursue to receive more grace? Are there certain ways that God always works? How do I train instead of try?

In response to these questions, I propose three categories of blog topics: Listen, Speak, Do that summarize posts that I have either already written about or plan to write about it over the next year. Some of these topics, I will not comment further on at this time, but others I will soon dig deeper into. For example, when it comes to listening, or paying attention, we have covered the topic a lot so here is some background for those you may have missed it. We’ve explored listening to our lives, to others and to God as three ways to notice and to grow. To this category then, I will only comment that three ways of listening to God are through His Word, prayer as dialogue and practicing gratitude as I will speak more on these things in upcoming posts.

When it comes to speaking, I’m reminded what I so often forget; words matter. They carry weight, power even. Therefore, what we say and hear, and when we speak matters too. In the category of speaking, I highlight confession, encouragement and silence, or knowing when to not speak as future blog posts.

When it comes to action, I would like to make a distinction between discipline, as the fruit of our training, and rhythms, as routines that we practice. Distinguishing between discipline as law and training that leds to a more self-controlled life is often subtle, so we will start with this reminder that we are all learners. Some rhythms I plan to highlight then are work, rest, and celebration.

Listen, Speak, Do. Which topic are you most curious about? Let us know!

Teaching kids about finance

My dad has a background in finance, while mine is in education. He sent me this link recently which connects to conversations we’ve had about where our passions intersect. The question that we, and others, are asking is how are we preparing kids for life? Does, and should, education include things, such as how to manage money?

Summer Group Ideas

It can be tricky to stay connected during the summer. On the one hand, there is more daylight and usually more flexibility in schedules. On the other, everyone is doing more and heading out of town at different times.

Here is an article my mom recently came across on ways to connect as a group during the summer months. It is primarily geared toward women, but could be adapted for any groups. One idea our community recently explored was a park night. We brought picnic food and lawn games and hung out with whoever was available and whoever they wanted to bring.

Housing, Education & the Goverment

Three quotes from the June 22-28, 2017 issue of the Inlander whispered a theme in my ears. Underlying each of these statements is a debate centered around government’s role in providing housing and education. Each of these quotes raises the question of federal, state & civic’s relationship and responsibility & limits.

“Idaho is one of six states with no money, time or inclination to offer preschool education to 3- and 4-year-olds.” -Former Idaho State Senator Mary Lou Reed, p. 6

“Countries don’t, and shouldn’t, care for children. Parents do!”-Spokane Valley Councilman Ed Pace, p. 16

“Spokane Valley has a bone-deep philosophical objection to the notion that it’s the government’s role to try to solve these (homeless shelter funding) sorts of problems.” -Inlander reporter Daniel Walters, p. 19

Care to comment?

 

Education in the News

In the June 8-15th edition of the local weekly newspaper, the Inlander covered 3 education topics I found interesting. Here is a summary of my learning. The first article is related to local news, the 2nd to the state of WA, and the 3rd national. Thanks Inlander!

  1. A brief article entitled Ready for Change (p. 17) announced that the Spokane Education Association, the local teacher’s union for Spokane Public Schools, has a new president. The former secretary, Katy Henry is now leading the SEA. Good-bye, Jenny Rose (president for last 8 years).

2. An education article entitled The End of Summer?  (p. 18-19) discusses WA’s new Superintendent of Public Instruction (Chris Reykdal) and his education vision which includes a longer school year (200 instead of 180 days) and day (adding 30-60 min) for some WA schools. Senator Andy Billig has been in favor of this idea for some time. Implementing these changes would be at least 5 years out and would be decided locally.

Whether or not teachers would be paid more for the additional time is unclear, but it seems unlikely. Rogers High School in Spokane implemented a longer school day/year for about 4 years and found improvement in achievement, but were unable to sustain the changes financially. Besides, WA still “needs to figure out how to fulfill its state Supreme Court mandate to fully fund education under the court decision known as McCleary.”

3. A Last Word article entitled “A World of Peter Pans” suggests that many are struggling with how to thrive as an adult. The article quotes a book (The Vanishing American Adult) by a Nebraskan Senator who says: “I believe our entire nation is in the midst of a collective coming-of-age crisis.” One possible solution that is discussed is more access to classes that teach life skills (such as budgeting, nutrition or insurance options).

Listening to my life: Purpose in Teaching

I left corporate America to go into teaching because I thought the world of education would be more… What? Judicious maybe? as in balanced when it came to time and relationships.

Hahaha. Hahaha. Hahaha.

I have learned many times over how much I love to teach, and I’ve struggled more than I would have ever guessed. It turns out education isn’t necessarily a kinder or more equitable system, but it is the system I have chosen, or perhaps the one that keeps choosing me…

Love

Teaching is something I love. It is a combination of words, kids, and leadership skills that create an atmosphere where I learn at least as much as I teach. I loved studying to become a teacher, student teaching in first grade, and my first year as a teacher of two classes of 3rd grade math & science.

Before and since, I’ve taught in public school, private school, in homes, in churches, in government programs, and nonprofits. I’ve subbed for four districts in our area. I’ve written curriculum and I’ve trained others. In these various roles, I’ve sought the same relational opportunities.

I enjoy connecting with students, getting to know them for who they are, and seeing their uniqueness. I love learning their needs, and discovering how to help them grow. I’ve worked with babies-adults, and while they are not all the same, they all have unexplored learning potential.

I enjoy collaborating with other teachers who desire to see students succeed. I love making a difference in students’ lives, academically and in other areas. Whether I’m teaching a three-year-old social skills or a 6th grader math, in essence, I’m saying “I know you can do this, and I’m here to help.”

Struggle

Teaching is also something I’ve struggled with since I was first told that if I wanted to teach in an international school, I needed to begin with two years in the states. I struggled learning how different districts, and even schools within a district, operate so differently from one another. I dislike how much time is spent (or should I say wasted) on red tape items.

I wrestled again when I chose between a promotion and subbing, based on location, but I was sure it was temporary. I was shocked when my dreams came true and were turned upside-down in the same week by several administrators who did what it took to protect their own careers. I was discouraged when alternatives I was sure would have a more ethical approach turned out to have their own dysfunctional dynamics. I grieved when people are blind to how their choices are negatively impacting those around them.

I hate injustice. It makes me angry when people care more about numbers than people. It frustrates me when systems are inefficient, but I have not been searching for a perfect system, school or job. I’ve yearned to find a place where I’m free to be me, and I’d like to earn more than the supplies needed to do the work!

Desire

In her book Listen, author Keri Wyatt Kent stated that our loves and our struggles together point to what we desire. This desire is an indicator of our personal purpose. The reason I haven’t had a traditional teaching career is because of the struggle, and the reason I’m still in the field is because of the love.

Together, love and struggle have been working to create new desire in me. Desire that is bigger than my original desire to make a difference in a few kids’ lives, to live an exciting life somewhere far away and to pay my rent. My new desire is the “how” as it applies to the life I’ve been given.

This desire is continually growing and changing, and it is, at least in part, synonymous with purpose. Just as we have more than one love or struggles, we can have more than one desire or purpose. Teaching is one purpose for my being in this city.

Teaching is about relationships and the communication of ideas. Teaching truth as relationships are being nurtured. For me, this means teaching isn’t my job; it’s my lifestyle (and sometimes also a small source of income!).

Teaching Resources

There are many ideas to share when it comes to teaching, and many resources available to help communicate a variety of content.

Here are TWO of my favorite resources:

Teachers Pay Teachers – everything is developed by teachers and ranges in price, content and age group, awesome!

GCM Collective – for the church, resources on the gospel, community & mission – in particular, the Story of God for Kids was what I used when I had the opportunity to create a curriculum our church could use

Any teachers have other go-to websites they love to use?