Mind, Heart and Classroom Ready

In my day job, I am a public school teacher. I have spent the last four days preparing my heart, mind and classroom to welcome my new students. 

There are 4 options for how to manage your children’s return to formal education in our district. Each option has flaws, limitations and drawbacks, and each option has benefits, unique opportunities and support. No option is perfect, but every family gets to look at their own situation and make a decision about what the best of the options is for their own family. 

At the moment, I am anticipating teaching full time in a regular sized classroom with a full student load, and I need to do my job – which for now looks kind of normal and nothing like normal all at the same time. I have a mask hanging by my desk and another by my classroom door. That is not normal! I have a new schedule that includes trying to teach around 6-8 handwashing times a day for 22ish students. Also, not normal. I am revamping lesson plans to take students outside so much as is possible, while still meeting learning goals. I’m excited about that part, but it’s also not normal. I’m doing my personal, professional best to figure out how to manage my classroom in the safest way possible, leave my students feeling cared for and supported, and still learning a few things too!

Today, I became unpleasant on social media. It was in response to another article quoting an expert in opposition to the current plans. I’ve literally just had more than enough of the conversation. The fear, unhappiness and unrest just continues and is perpetuated with news reports, social media posts and heated continuing discussions and debate around what our province should, would and could be doing differently.

It has officially overwhelmed my brain – the very brain I need to do my job this week… 

I am absolutely convinced that the debate is bad for my mental health – and other teacher’s mental health, parent’s mental health and kid’s mental health too.

I really want my friends, family and neighbours to make the best of the situation and do what they need to do for their individual families. This is not a one size fits all reality! But I can’t imagine that dragging out this conversations is what’s best for anyone.

I think a lot of us may need to shift our focus in the next few days and weeks away from the perpetual noise and intentionally focus on refinding our peace. I know that I do!

So, may I make a suggestion friend. For a moment, let’s all just stop. Let’s stop jumping into conversations that stir up anxiety and stress. Let’s stop fueling the fire on social media. Let’s stop looking for an expert to echo our own opinions and fears. Let’s stop planting seeds in our children’s minds that sitr up their anxiety too!

Instead, let’s start working to figure out what is in our own control and do our very best to manage it well. Let’s work on training our children to wash their hands well and cover sneezes and coughs appropriately (and let’s practice those habits ourselves too!). Let’s try to find a mask that we can tolerate and find comfortable, and then let’s wear it when appropriate (bonus points for wearing it without complaining!). Let’s speak words of encouragement and peace to each other. Let’s look for solutions. And, let’s cheer each other on (without judgement) as we all make the decisions we feel are best for our own families.

Let’s also practice releasing what is not in our control. 1 Peter 5:7 reminds us to cast our cares on God, because he cares for us. That doesn’t mean that he’ll provide an immunity or keep every germ from our path. But, it does mean that He will care for us – no matter what comes our way. I am going to strive to remember what we are told in Matthew 6:34, and not worry about tomorrow (which has enough worries of its own) and only focus on the moment at hand. Finally, I’m going to write Psalm 46:10 on a sticky note and make sure it stays in my line of view – it reads “Be still and know that I am God.” For me, being still, stopping striving and fussing, and letting God be God doesn’t come easily! I have to be intentional and chose stillness – for my body, my mind and my heart! 

In the coming hours and days, I may need to step out of many conversations and spend many moments in quiet prayer to keep guarding my heart and seeking peace in the midst of the chaos.

I’m going to pray for wisdom for our leaders, protection for our schools and I’ll pray that you find peace along this uncharted journey too! And, while I’m at it… I will also do my best to stay pleasant and composed – and not lose my mind (or my self control) on social media either.

The best news of all is this – At the end of the day, God is still in control. He still loves us. And, He still is good. 

Blessings on you my friends. May you make wise choices. May God direct your path. And, may you find peace.

Back to School, Busyness and Sabbath?

I work on call during the summer. My work can be quite predictable and fairly easy to gauge, and so I was pretty confident that I had this whole week off work to get organized, do housework and focus on back to school stuff. BUT, things didn’t go the way I planned.

I got called out to work for the whole balance of the summer. Financially, this is AWESOME. But, in every other way, it really isn’t! I will not have a week day off to get anything significant accomplished, or fit in some rest before we go back to school.

This year, my youngest child is entering her last year of elementary school. My third born is entering his last year of high school. And, I made the big decision to take a year long educational leave and go back to university myself. So there are some serious milestones attached to our back to school. Oh, and did I mention, child #1 is getting married in less than 6 weeks. And, child number 2 got engaged just this week! YAY!

When I talk about my life, and I talk about busyness, I feel a bit like Paul boasting about all the things in his resume in 2 Corinthians! Let me show you just how gifted at being busy I am…

Honestly, this is my reality. And each season seems to bring its own busyness. I don’t think its going to get naturally less busy any time soon. But, at least I can hold Paul’s perspective that my confident has to come from something other than what keeps me busy.

I had a lot of things I had hoped to get accomplished during my days at home this week – and that didn’t happen. If we are going to be honest, I’m further behind than when the week began. I’m heading into this weekend, and my windows for rest are small. I’m already questioning whether I’ve set myself up for a Sabbath fail!

But here’s what I know to be true:

1)      I need to choose to rest even in the middle of chaos

2)      There will ALWAYS be something that looks like it needs to get done “first”

3)      I don’t have to be legalistic, with a whole bunch of self-imposed rules to judge my Sabbath

4)      Sabbath rest is God’s gift to me. Appreciating it, and spending time honouring him is my gift back. And no stack of dishes, pile of laundry or shopping trip is worth missing it.

So, as I head into this weekend, already aware that I’ll be practicing Sabbath is a pretty imperfect way, I invite you to also find your time to stop. Rest. Breathe deeply. Don’t miss the gift in the midst of the mess or endless to-do list.

If you are serious about seeking Sabbath for yourself, or curious as to what that even might look like, head over to our Facebook group – where we can connect and chat and encourage each other.