No matter how many times I tell my students to use better word choice in their writing, I still find myself using the very words I tell them not to use in my own speaking (and writing). Like “things” and “stuff.” But sometimes, there really aren’t any better words to describe a blog post that is full of random ideas bouncing around an overactive mind.
June 17 is the end of the year for me, as, like all other teachers, my “year” is not measured from January to December, but by the school year. With just over a month of school left, my schedule has shifted slightly. I’m teaching a few less classes, and monitoring study halls and invigilating exams instead. Instead of teaching English Literature for grade 10, 11, and 12, I am starting English Literature with grade 9. Fortunately, I still have my middle school P.E. classes, and my primary swimming classes, which keep me sane in the midst of the exam season.
In some ways, this particular year seems more significant than others. The graduating class is the class that I joined as their homeroom teacher when I came to HOPAC in 2013, and I know most of the students in that class extremely well. I have climbed Kilimanjaro with some of them, traveled to three Moshi Sports’ Weekends with others, gone to Young Life camp with a number of them, and was on their Grade 11 Bonding Trip. I have seen them morph and transition and mature over the last three years. I consider a number of them friends. And now they are graduating and moving on to universities around the world, and I’m so, so excited for them. But I also realize, that in many ways, this is the “end” of my opportunity to share life and joy and Jesus with them. So more than ever, this year I feel the need to finish well. Not just in the normal way, of teaching well to the very last days, of preparing for next year, and of not getting lazy, but in the relationships I’ve developed with these students.
There is something about the end of the year that seems to invite spiritual warfare. Last year, it was the challenge of moving, the death of my dog, and numerous hold-ups in the arrival of my parents. This year, my laptop and phone are dead and dying, I’ve been in a boot for six weeks, my motorcycle has suddenly had random minor issues, and I’ve found myself in a battle to believe the truth. In all of that, God is still faithful. After an especially hard week, I started this week rejoicing to have re-discovered some old notes in my Bible surrounding Psalm 77, where David starts out the Psalm explaining how he has been praying and seeking God, but nothing seems to change. This is exactly where I was last week–questioning whether God does answer prayer, or even care. Then, in verse 7, David is desperate. He asks, “Will God hate us forever? Has he stopped loving? Are His promises forgotten?” Oh, how familiar these questions are! As I read, I can feel the breaking and hopelessness. But just at that point where David feels completely alone, when he can only conclude that God is far away, and not answering his prayers, in verse 11, it says: “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.” Can I just stop and stand up and celebrate right here? Seriously guys, there is a little note that I penned in the margin of Bible years ago, reading, “When we feel like God is not there, we need to stop and remember, that we can again praise.” How I needed to read that this week, and what a change it has made in my outlook! The rest of the chapter is David praising God for who He is and what He has done, and it is such a powerful testimony to the value of remembrance in defeating those persistent lies of the Devil and being able to stand in victory and thanksgiving!
More than a year ago, I started dreaming of eventually pursuing a Ph.D. in International Education & Culture. I researched programs and schools and admission requirements. I even settled on one particular school as my “dream school” and downloaded the application form and everything. But before I can apply, I need to take the GRE, and because I haven’t studied math since my 11th-grade year of high school, ten years ago, that is going to be a major challenge. I started trying to re-teach myself math last year about this time, then gave up. Then, at Christmas, I bought two books for GRE math prep, and did a few lessons each day, before giving it up again when I returned to HOPAC. Now, I’ve pulled the books out again, but haven’t managed to find time to open them. I’ve come to the conclusion that I cannot work full-time and re-learn math–there just isn’t time to commit to both fully. But still the dream that requires this math exam burns inside me. I can’t shake it. Does someone in Fort Wayne want to tutor me this summer, or at least hold me accountable?
It has been almost seven weeks now since I broke my leg, and a bit over five weeks of wearing the boot. I am sick of it. I hate running, but something about not being able to run makes me want to do it. I miss playing volleyball. I miss MMA training and hockey. I miss being able to ride my bicycle. On Tuesday, I went to get an x-ray to confirm that my leg was indeed healing, and it came back completely clear. So I took my boot off, thinking that I didn’t need to finish wearing it for the final week after all. But that wasn’t the case, and I soon heard from the doctor who has been advising me from the U.S., and the boot was back on. The unexpected hope and excitement of taking it off early, and then the all-too-palpable disappointment of needing to put it back on… I almost cried. But even in wearing the boot for six weeks, I’ve seen God’s goodness and faithfulness. I’ve been able to do things I would otherwise have neglected. I’ve been lifting weights and swimming and am probably stronger than I would have been if I didn’t have the boot and was just playing sports and normal. I’ve taken countless long walks with my dog, and done more photo shoots than I ever expected. I’ve learned more Swahili and gotten really good at saying, “Nilivunjika mguu” (I broke my leg), because everyone wants to know what happened (and everyone thinks I did it in a motorcycle accident). But come Tuesday and the end of six weeks, I will be very glad to give the boot a good wash and return it to its owner. I’m so done!
For nearly six months, prayer has been the focus at The Ocean International Church. I am co-leading a Connect Group, and early in the year, we decided to go through the book, The Circle Maker, together. At first, I was a bit skeptical, because I felt the author was taking things out of context and not supporting his ideas with Scripture, but as we’ve neared the end of the book, I like it more and more. Needless to say, I’ve been challenged in prayer this year. One of the things the author mentions in chapter 13 is a “prayer experiment.” The example he gives is of a group of people who committed to pray for one thing together for 40 days. Something about this idea excited me–perhaps just the accountability of praying together with others for one specific thing for a set period of time–so I asked the other girls at Connect Group this week if they wanted to join me in some kind of prayer experiment of our own. The consensus was to pray for one specific request for each other in two areas – careers and relationships – for the next thirty days. Already, I am so excited by this, and feel it has helped me find purpose and direction with which to start my prayer time each morning.
See? Things and stuff. Its a good description for all this randomness. God is good, isn’t He?