Sunday, November 10, 2013

Teenagers Are Underrated

The Teenager I currently live with-- my little bro.

I'm a high school teacher (for the first time).  Which means I willingly spend the better part of each day hanging out with a bunch of rowdy teens.  I know they have their quirks, but sometimes I feel like I'm one of the few people on the planet that actually finds teenagers to be delightful.  Sure they can be stinkers at times, but they hold a special place in my heart for several reasons.

They're still becoming who they are.  I want to partner with these people during this crucial part of their journey.  Whether they realize it or not, the things they do now will have a huge impact on their future.  In looking for answers about who they are, I hope to be one voice answering, "You are valuable!  You are unique!  You can succeed!"

They're angsty.  How great is it that they care?  They are passionate little buggers!  Every little thing gets them worked up.  I tell them often that many of the revolutions in history have been  lead by people their age or a few years older.  And yes, sometimes I am on the receiving end of their rebellion.  That part isn't as fun, but it is helping me learn to overcome my people-pleasing tendencies, so in a way I am thankful for it.

They care about fashion, media, pop-culture.  I do, too!  I love that they are up-to-date on everything that's going on in the world.  I try to keep up with these things partly because I find the social implications fascinating--nerd alert, and partly because I want to be able to relate with people and keep in touch with our ever-changing society.  I also have a mild clothes addiction.  So there's that.

They are f-u-n-n-y.  I can't even tell you how many times a day they make me laugh.  I love exchanging silly banter back-and-forth with them.  It is a blast.

They  are (mostly) not children.  With my students, I do not experience the constant anxiety that I feel while supervising their younger counterparts.  I am not constantly worried that someone might die.  I can talk about important things with them, and they get it.  Plus nobody poops their pants.  I think having to intervene with bodily functions is one of the main reasons why I could not be an elementary school teacher.

They are needy.  It might not always seem like it, but they are constantly searching for positive connections with strong adults.  Teens want need someone to look up to.  I hope that for at least a few of them, I can be one of those people.  

I need to remember these things next time I'm ready to pull my hair out because they are throwing erasers, chatting during silent reading, blurting out "sweg," (which apparently is the new "swag") or just plain giving me sass.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Building a Foundation

What am I doing with my life?  I live with my parents.  I hangout with teenagers all day (trying to teach them to read, write, and stop whining).  I go to bed at 9.  It seems like all I do is teach, prepare to teach, fill out teaching-related paperwork, hangout with my husband/family, with the occasional quiet time thrown in the mix.  My life is soooo glamorous.  

I am married to a very wise man.  He loves the story in the bible where Solomon could have asked God for anything--riches, hot girls, popularity, fame, a sweet house, power, status you name it--and he asks for wisdom.  I think it's because Philip shares this heart.  He actively seeks out wisdom and I believe the Lord pours it out on him.  (Bonus:  Solomon ends up getting all of the above swag because he sought wisdom and God decided to bless him).

So when I asked Philip the nagging question on my mind, "What am I doing with my life?"  he started talking to me about building a house.  He said the process starts with building a foundation.  Phil said that the thing about the foundation is that while you're building it, you can't see many results.  If you looked at a construction site at this point in the process you might not be able to tell that progress was being made.  He also said that building the foundation takes a long time.  Once you start building the rest of the house, the process speeds up.  Things start to fall into place, and before you know it voila your home is complete.  But while you're building the foundation, it can take awhile.  

Oh boy.  This sounds like my worst nightmare.  A.  You can't see any results.  And B. it takes forever!  These are two concepts that I am just not comfortable with.  When I'm putting in hard work, I want to see the results--preferably instantly!  Mostly, I want others to be able to see them.  If I am building a house I want the neighbors to stop and stare.  I want "oooohs," and "aaaahs," from bystanders that can't help but notice how awesome I am.  And waiting...not.  my.  thing.  I know I'm supposed to learn to persevere but my prayers tend to sound more like, "Lord gimme patience, and gimme it now!"  

Without building a strong foundation, though, the house is doomed to fall.  Jesus once talked about something similar (Matthew 7:24-27):

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

So what am I doing with my life?  I am building a foundation.  I am orienting my life around the teachings of Jesus--or rather I am allowing him to reorient my life.  I am spending time intentionally getting to know Jesus and surrendering more of myself to him.  I am taking small faith steps and trusting God. I am allowing his gospel to invade my life.  It is slow.  At times, you can hardly tell that anything is happening.   It is less than glamorous.  But it is crucial.  One day I'll be thriving amidst a storm, and I'll be glad for this season.  
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