Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent 2011: Day Two - laundry lists

I've got a laundry list, which includes actual laundry, to knock out before the B.I.G. day.  You know, when Santa arrives and the kids innocently show on those cherubic faces whether or not Michael and I picked correctly from their laundry list of wants.  My favorite post on facebook recently was a parent that said that her daughter refused to write that laundry list because Santa knew exactly what she wanted.  Talk about a panic moment.  How could anyone do their shopping without The List, much less Santa

And between now and the B.I.G. day, the kids are anxiously counting down with an Advent calendar.  The only minor glitch is that Momma accidentally bought an obviously agnostic Advent calendar that starts on December 1st, not November 27th - the first Sunday of real actual Christian Advent.  Being Christian, we ate the first piece of chocolate out of said agnostic calendars yesterday and are now four days ahead of schedule.  We are currently counting down to December 21st.  Oops.

Here's the thing.  I remember being that age, when the excitement of what was to come held potential wonder and abundance and happiness.  I remember craving the frenzy of that day, of the exasperation of having to wait for the whole house to wake up and for Mom to make coffee and Dad to get through his morning constitutional and anticipating, imagining, practically combusting over what could possibly have magically appeared behind those closed doors.  The ones leading to the living room and the tree. 

And I want my own children to feel that same excitement, that same craving. I want them practically combusting as well.  So that when we read the Christmas story, about the R.E.A.L. day, they can taste what it means to wait for something momentous.  They can get what it feels like to want in earnest for that better thing.  To want with anticipation, so that when we go and we sit in the darkness. And we hold a candle. And we sing ever so softly Silent Night .... they will be primed in the deep crevices.  Attuned to the waiting.  So that just maybe, before the frenzy of that next morning, they'll get the goosebumps.  The ones that come in knowing. 

Christ, humbly and weakly and preciously, has been born into our realm. 

Just before the frenzy.  They'll know.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advent 2011: Day One

advent - Arrival, especially of something momentous
Advent - a.  The coming of the birth of Christ; b.  The period of four Sundays before Christmas

- according to Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary

He (John the Baptist) proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.  I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

- Mark 1: 7,8

* picture borrowed from *

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sunday School and those d*** Republicans

Have you ever been in church and looked around to wonder who might not REALLY be a Christian?  You know, the situation where the priest, or for most of you probably - pastor, has talked about accepting Christ, and you wonder if there are any people in that room that haven't.  Accepted Christ, that is.  And you look and you look and before long you find yourself doing just as Jesus never intended.

You start judging.

And it occurred to me that when we (namely - me) do this judging, whether intentional or not, we are actually judging a mask.  For it is stated that we are not to know the depths of a person's heart, but that Christ is to know that instead.  And truthfully, we do not know the depths of the people sitting all around us.  We know their masks.

But Christ knows them.  And I choose to trust Him.

Which is why I went back to Sunday school after being called a bigot a few weeks ago.  It was accidental, that name calling, after all.

The way the class is structured, each person consecutively reads one paragraph after another until a chapter from a book is finished.  The class finished the liberation theology book during my absence, and I arrived this past Sunday to start a book about twelve steps to becoming a compassionate person.  It is based on the twelve step program for alcoholics. 

Again, the same gentleman that angrily labeled all Anglicans as bigots, labeled all Republicans as unfeeling, selfish, animals.  He merely related Republicans to an undeveloped feral animal that had been mentioned in his paragraph that he got to read out loud.  We happened to be sitting next to each other.  And I didn't have my own copy of the book.   So I prayed. 

Jesus, why on Earth am I here?  Why am I sharing a book about compassion with this insensitive idiot next to me that keeps hiding behind an academic facade of superiority?  WHY, exactly????

The gentleman that keeps accidentally calling me names is a professor. 

So ... I found myself looking around that room doing that judging thing.  Wondering out of all these academics that show up every Sunday to discuss how to become more compassionate, which ones know Jesus? 

And... I don't know which ones know Jesus.  Maybe all of the academics know Him.  But I do know Jesus knows each of the academics.  And maybe, just maybe, he wants me to see what hiding behind pretense looks like.  To meet Mr. Professor. 

Jesus was never mentioned in that class. I think if I feel called to go back, that would be my purpose there. To keep mentioning Jesus. Out loud. To keep Him in the room.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

I Samuel 16:7

Yet there was another purpose for my presence in that room last week.  That Sunday school room.  My heart sharing a book with a heart I call The Professor.  Maybe in stirring up my anger, He intended on stirring up my vision.  Maybe I needed to look a little closer to home.

Maybe Jesus wants me to look inward, at me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Substitute teaching

I have been substitute teaching lately.  First of all, let's go ahead and clear up my motives for doing this job.  I wanted to explore the option of going back to teaching after I ran screaming into motherhood ten years ago, grateful for a reason not to show up to work one August.  That reason is Key, and his younger brother, Kelly, has started kindergarten.  When I left teaching, I could not have been more relieved.  My husband, Michael, was also relieved, being that I had a tendency to get a bit attached to certain oddballs and then foam at the mouth when their parents behaved badly.  Michael was worried about our house being capable of sleeping enough people had I stayed with teaching.  So, as is becoming a completely unintentional habit for me, I am going to school with my own kids under the guise of saving/ making money.  (Subs get paid slave labor wages, just so you know.  Seriously.  $50 for 8 hours before taxes.  Do the math.)  I have a love/ hate relationship with the American educational system, but nonetheless, it is a magnet for me.  We've explored homeschooling, private schooling, public schooling, and we have chosen charter schooling.  We've actually chosen the poorest school in America to send our kids.  Not that we realized we were choosing a school with that particular bragging right, but we did.  And, truth be told, we like it. 

So.  All that to say I am working there.  Part time.  In the special education multi age self contained room.  Got it?  That means I have been with the kids that are struggling more than the others and have been pulled for targeted help and since the school has no money they decided to put the eight year olds with the fifteen year olds and the autistic child with the ADD absolutely no focus child and the sweetest kid in the entire universe that has down syndrome and a six pack set of abs because his mom is the pe teacher kid all together.  Throw in the kid with extra growth hormone and the kid with cerebral palsy and the kid with no motivation and the kid with a killer jump shot and no clue how to read, add one or two adults, and you are starting to get the picture.  Here's the toughest part.  I am in love.  And I challenge anyone to spend a week in that room and not have the same reaction.  Another woman, also a substitute, that was helping me yesterday, said it perfectly. 

"When I look at his eyes, I can't help but see Jesus."

That was about the autistic one with giant brown eyes and a smile I simply cannot describe.  He attaches to certain teachers, and one day when this other substitute came to work in my place, he looked at her and said, "Get out crazy lady.  Where Ms. Hatch?  You not Ms. Hatch. Get out and get Ms. Hatch.  You crazy." 

I know I am not supposed to have favorites, but seriously. 

The thing is, in the oddballs is where Jesus shines through.  It is where no one is afraid to talk about Him and everything goes because there are no filters or concerns about fitting in with these kids.  They fit here because they do not easily fit elsewhere, and so they are open and honest, and they all love Jesus. 

And He shows up. 

Because everyday the kiddos ask Him to. 

(Makes going back to teaching a bit more enticing when Jesus keeps asking for me and calling everybody else crazy.  I mean, wouldn't you at least give it a thought?)