Thursday, December 15, 2011

Exam Week. Oh, Freshmen...

So, I'm grading papers.

Fine, fine fodder for the "Things Freshmen Say" portion of our show.

1. Today (just now)-- bits and pieces from a short personal narrative:

"I remember the day I got my dog.... My dad said he was going ot surprise me with my third pet. My first two pets were goldfish, but I overfed them. They died, so my dad said he'd get me another pet...When my friends came over for the first time, [he] attacked them because he did not know them...only two of my friends reacted the right way. Now they are the only two friends that [he] knows and likes. So whenever my friends come over, I have to take him upstairs. Except that only two of my friends still come over." 

Earlier, a friend sent me this quote from the same student. This was his response to a question about study habits:

“I best study at home with the TV off, eating some cereal.”

I wish so much you could see this kid.

We love him.

2. Title from another paper:
" How I got a tooth stuck in my head"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Precious in the sight of the Lord...

Precious in the sight of the Lord

is the death of his saints.
Lord, truly I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your maidservantc;
you have freed me from my chains
Psalm 116: 15


My friend's grandmother died this morning, early.

She was an amazing woman, and her family... her legacy is tremendous. Her son and his wife are incredibly influential for the kingdom, and the same can be said for her grandchildren. Her granddaughter is one of my best and favorite porch-mates. We could talk for hours and often do.

She got that from her grandmother.

Anyone who went to see Miss Francis knew that they'd better go over there with time to stay a while. And staying there was a pleasure. Funny, kind, and incredibly honest, she could talk about anything. Her nails and hair were always perfectly done, even when she didn't feel well. She was a great southern lady. There aren't too many like her left in this world. I hate to see her go, but...

My heart is heavy for my friends' loss, but I have been thinking about heaven since I got the message early, early this morning.

All I can think about today is glory.

She's been with Jesus for twelve hours.

She has been absent from the body that served Him, hoped for Him, looked for Him, raised her family to love Him, counted on Him, and longed for Him, for twelve hours.

She's been present with the answer to all her desires for twelve hours.

Twelve eternities.

Glory.

Can you imagine?

Oh GOD, how we long for You. How we long to know, not dimly, but to know You because our hands have touched Your face. To hold You, Lord. To see the forgiveness that we walk in daily, scraped intoYour hands and feet. To know to know to know... to fill our eyes with Your face, to breathe in Your fragrance, to hear Your voice-- its tone, its quality, its depth...

Miss Francis's faith is now sight.

Glory.

I wonder what He said when she burst through those gates. I wonder if she has stopped laughing yet. Oh God, she held all those relatives and Him and Him and Him and Him...

God, You are who we long for, and I praise You for the saints who have gone, are going, and will continue to go ahead of us. Thank You for the great prize that You are. I close my eyes and try to picture it and I find myself just shaking my head. I cannot imagine.

We need not fear death. Friends, rejoice!

We have a hope! Death is not the end! This life? Thinking that this life is all there is is like just reading the prologue of a great novel and then putting it down, and then wondering why you don't feel satisfied. It's like going to hear a great symphony but leaving after they've just finished tuning up. It's like stopping at the bread before a great feast. It's like standing in awe at the front hall of a great castle and just turning to go.

This is not all there is.

This life is prologue. It's the beginning. It's the appetizer. It's the warm-up.

These are the things I was thinking about this morning during worship.

We told Him that we loved Him and that His name was sweet, and I threw my head back and the brightness of the stage lights burned my eyelids and I thought, How much hotter is the light of the Lord on Francis's face?

We told Him that He was faithful and that He was with us in all the dark times and the good times, and that He gives and takes away but is always faithful, and I imagined the strength of the passionate embrace He was holding her in...

We told Him that we longed to hear His voice, and I sang loud and tried to keep my voice from wavering from the intense emotion I was feeling-- can you imagine the sound of His voice as He told Francis "Well done, good and faithful servant"? Oh Mrs. Cheely, is it like the sound of many rushing waters?

Sigh.

People sometimes get worried when we start talking like this-- this longing for eternity... but... don't you wonder? Don't you long for Him? My heart cries out for Him-- to sing to Him-- to see His face as I sing words that right now I can only close my eyes to sing-- my songs are only for Him, only for His face-- and this morning, Francis sang all her songs for Him, I bet. It's only been a little while-- I bet she's still singing. I bet she's still noticing things about Him that our finite minds have never even yet wondered about.

Heaven holds all the answers to our questions-- it's where our God waits for us-- and I rejoice with my elder sister as she dances before His throne, and while I am loving life on earth, I can't help but feel a tug of jealousy that she's standing in His presence right. this. second. There is more to this life than this life. This is not all there is. This is prologue. It's not over.

Ever.

Bless His name.

His love endures forever, and He invites us into it with Him.


YES, Lord!


Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

            His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
            His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
            His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
            His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
            His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
            His love endures forever.
who made the great lights—
            His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
            His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
            His love endures forever...
Psalm 136

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Thanksgiving

I walked into my house today, exhausted. This time of the school year is so complicated-- it's emotionally taxing, physically draining, spiritually...sigh. Have generations of teachers said the same things we find ourselves saying to each other today?

"This generation just doesn't care."

"This generation has no idea how hard it's going to be on them."

"They don't believe us when we tell them [insert thing they don't believe]."

"We were never like this growing up."

"We were different."

"Our parents were different."

Their parents are starting to freak out because their kids are failing, and many of them blame us because we haven't called them/scheduled a conference/emailed them. But really? I have 110 students. Most of them are struggling in some way. And grading takes hours. So does planning. At the risk of sounding like a government worker, I'm off the clock at 3:45. But am I really? Is any teacher ever off the clock?

So we have dreams-- stressed out, freaked out dreams, many nights, but especially at the end of the semester, about finding out that WE failed 9th grade English and are back in Mrs. Huey's class at Rockdale, and we realize that we totally forgot to read A Tale of Two Cities again. Oh, and we also discover that we're bald. And enrolled in Chinese classes. And we're failing that, too.

But then we come home...

My kids freak out because my house is over 130 years old, but I tell them, "Ain't no ghost in my house but the Holy Ghost." And it's true. The Spirit of the living God is in this place.

After this exhausting day, I walked into my home and asked Him to show me something beautiful.


In my spirit, I heard Him say, "I'm looking at her."


Selah.

Tell me He isn't real. That He isn't kind. I'll show you a Father whose truth and kindness know no limits.


Oh, my sweet Father. How I need you.


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 saints,
to grasp
how wide
          and how long
                  and how high
                          and how 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.

Ephesians 3:16-20