Teacher Seeking Approval

It was the middle of a Tuesday and I found myself picking the date for an announced observation for the following week. We settled on December 12th at 8:45 am. That score will play a big part in determining my LOE score that will tell, at a quick, convenient glance, what kind of teacher I am. It’s hard not to absorb identity from that number. It feels like approval or disapproval. It feels like someone has pronounced judgement on my worth as a teacher.

Sometimes, in the midst of the hurry, the pressures, and worries of this time in the semester, I forget that those things are not the sum of my life, or even the sum of my present circumstances. I have to stop and remind myself that this person’s approval may be pressing, that activity may be urgent, this work may be threatening to consume my time, but that is not all of my reality. The tyranny of the urgent will always be there, but there is always more. Everything in life- the good, the bad, and the in-between (including scores and observations, and human approval, praise, and judgement… and life outside of teaching) – all those things shape me, but they have no say in who I am now and what I have for eternity. God has that say:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do… Eph. 2:4-10

According to Ephesians 2, because Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, came and brought me salvation by dying for my sin and rising again, this is my reality: I am loved by God with great love. I am God’s own handiwork, so I belong to him. I am created in Christ for good works, so the work is his, not mine. My future is not uncertain because God has prepared it in advance. God desires to show me the incomparable riches of his grace. He shows me great kindness in Christ. He gave me true life when I was dead in my own works and my own heart of hatred and defiance against him. As Paul tells the Ephesians to remember, I also remember that I was once without hope and without God in this world. I almost can’t bring myself to say those terrible, soul-shaking words aloud: without God in this world.

I need to remember that, so that I can remember this: because of God’s great gift – one I did nothing to deserve- I have received approval by the One from whom it matters most. And I am no longer without God in this world… or in eternity to come.

So, whatever comes today or the tomorrows that follow, as believers I hope this will always be among the first of our thoughts: I am no longer without God in this world. And may we remember all that that truth entails.

Whatever is pressing or clamoring for attention, he always has been, and always will be more. His is the approval that matters most, so that we can live in true joy and seek to please him as we walk in all the good works – at school and elsewhere- he has planned for us to do.

Prayer:

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Eph. 3:16-21

Sunday Song: Peace and Rest

One of the biggest mercies in a believer’s life is that whatever trial or question arises, the answer is always Christ and his invitation to “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” By yoking with him, we find rest for our souls. (Matthew 11)

Peace, Perfect Peace by Edward H. Bickersteth, Jr. 1875

  1. Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
    The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.

  2. Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
    To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.

  3. Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?
    On Jesus’ bosom naught but calm is found.

  4. Peace, perfect peace, ’mid suffering’s sharpest throes?
    The sympathy of Jesus breathes repose.

  5. Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
    In Jesus’ keeping we are safe, and they.

  6. Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
    Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.

  7. Peace, perfect peace, death shad’wing us and ours?
    Jesus has vanquished death and all its pow’rs.

  8. It is enough: earth’s struggles soon shall cease,
    And Jesus calls us to Heav’n’s perfect peace.

Isaiah 26:3 You keep him in perfect peace
    whose mind is stayed on you,
    because he trusts in you.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Thanksgiving Psalm

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;

let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before him with thanksgiving

and extol him with music and song.

For the LORD is the great God,

the great King above all gods.

In his hand are the depths of the earth,

and the mountain peaks belong to him.

The sea is his, for he made it,

and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,

let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;

for he is our God

and we are the people of his pasture,

the flock under his care.

Psalm 95

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Pies for the rest of us: allergy friendly baking

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving… happy baking!

Pumpkin filling (it’s setting, so we’re hopeful 😂): https://jessicainthekitchen.com/vegan-pumpkin-pie-gluten-free/

Apple pie filling: https://lexiscleankitchen.com/gluten-free-apple-pie/

Crust (used Earth Balance soy-free butter alternative): https://www.allergyfreealaska.com/perfect-gluten-free-pie-crust-pastry-vegan/

Snow kisses

I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Classroom Culture: Thanksgiving Pumpkin, Day One

What my fifth-graders were thankful for this week. ❤️

Supplies needed:

2 minutes

Largest pumpkin teacher can carry

Sharpie

The question: “What are you thankful for today?”

Directions: repeat daily until December 1.

Result: Smiles and redirected hearts after the Halloween craziness.