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Posts Tagged "Leisure"

Showing the Gospel to Our Children

October 09, 2015
By Chelsea Carrier

One Way to Show the Gospel to Our Children

Chelsea L. Carrier

 

Recently I went on the annual high school trip to Doe River Gorge. On the first night we had a bonfire on the railroad tracks, and the headmaster led a hike above the gorge. No flashlights were allowed. We were to stay between the tracks and follow the headmaster’s voice and the person directly in front of us to avoid falling over the edge of the cliff. Most kept saying they couldn’t see their hand in front of their face, and I had to agree. The only thing I could see was the phosphorescent mineral on the tracks, an occasional glow worm, and the stars. Fortunately, I was right behind a young man who, despite his quiet demeanor, had the thoughtfulness to communicate each step.

“Watch your step here, Miss Carrier. Go a little to your right. Now back to the left. Watch the rails.”

He was only a few steps in front of me, but when walking in pitch darkness, the next step is all that really matters.

On our journey through life, hopefully with Christ, we may feel at times as though we are only one step in front of those following us. We may not really know our own next step. We are in just as much confusion as they.

As a young teacher who is still single and has no children, I often wonder what wisdom I could even offer my students. I’m still a student myself in so many ways, constantly having to seek counsel. But what I find from my colleagues and mentors is that we are all learning. Sometimes we are walking behind someone, sometimes beside, and sometimes just one step in front. But God uses all three. As I continue to learn through my own imperfections and contemplate the incarnation highlighted in our theme verse for the year, John 1: 14, I’ve determined that one of the best ways to exemplify the gospel is through my own brokenness.

Many situations and ideas come to mind with a word as broad as brokenness, and I’ve been contemplating this term for well-over a month now. After brainstorming on my own and discussing this word with a friend and colleague, I’d like to share the following three aspects of brokenness:

  1. human limitation
  2. consequences of a fallen world
  3. consequences of sin

 

In other words: being human. With the exception of Christ, who was fully human and yet never sinned, part of the human condition is experiencing all three forms of brokenness. In this post, I’ll only focus on the first one.

As I’ve developed relationships with students over the past four years, I’ve learned a few ways to “come alongside” students as we struggle with human limitation.

  • Sharing with them that I’m not a math person, that I had a meltdown while taking the ACT for the first time, that I was the kid in college who always had her hand up, not because she knew the answer, but because she had a question, that I got mad at my mom for making me rewrite a paper in high school, that I’m just plain tired this week--those are the things I have to weave in my conversations with them.

 

  • Asking for help passing out papers, opening a door, or cleaning the classroom--those the small ways to show them I am not above receiving help.

 

  • Allowing them to pray for me on a bad day when I can no longer hide it--those are the moments when they realize that I am human.

 

I don’t have to share every detail, and I’m not advocating the glorification of past struggles or complaining as a perpetual victim or martyr. That’s not truly sharing brokenness. But even scripture is filled with examples of godly people honestly sharing their brokenness with others for the encouragement of others and glory of God. This is the story of the gospel: the God of the universe so loved the world that He accepted the vulnerability of becoming a man, and while He never sinned, He suffered as one who had.


Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 4:5-8)


Work Cited

The ESV Study Bible. Ed. Lane T. Dennis. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008. Print.

 

Three Reasons to Still Read as a Family

January 09, 2015
By Chelsea Carrier

A few weeks ago I was in the library with my 6th graders. As they lay on the rug reading Nancy Drew and perusing the shelves for books both desired and required, my eyes caught sight of a book I hadn’t heard in years.

It was The Good Sam Harrington, and I vividly remembered watching my best friend’s mom recite it. Mrs. Stockton is one of the best story-tellers I know, and I remembered how even in high school she had held me spellbound as she performed a dramatic retelling of the simple book she had memorized. I slipped the book from the shelf, thinking I’d try it out on my eighth graders during study hall. I asked them to simply be respectful as I read and even told them they could work as they listened.

At first, I was too busy trying to read the story well (and honestly getting caught up in it myself) that I didn’t pay much attention to my students’ responses. But at one point I managed to see some of them in my peripheral. They were sitting there, looking at me, eyes filled with anticipation. The same pairs of eyes that give me blank stares. The same pairs of eyes that have rolled in my presence. The same pairs of eyes that have narrowed in deep thought at times and widened with laughter at others. Once again, I was reminded of the importance of reading to children, regardless of their age.

Below are three reasons why you should still read as a family.

1.      Reading as a family allows your child to learn from your example.

 

I remember sitting in my dad’s lap while he read this little book called The Little Taxi that Hurried. No one can read that book like my dad. One of these differences has to do with sound effects. Only Dad can make that taxi honk properly. Thankfully, I have five younger brothers and a sister, so dad hasn’t stopped reading The Little Taxi that Hurried. In fact, everyone crowds in the living room when he reads to the younger kids.

 

As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that more than the sound effects, different voices, and expression, one of the beautiful things about my dad’s reading is that it isn’t perfect. He stumbles over sentences and mispronounces words, just like the rest of us, but he doesn’t care because he loves his kids and wants to share a story with them. For some reason, I’ve noticed that people tend to approach reading aloud like praying: if you can’t do it perfectly, then don’t do it all. While we want our students to improve their reading skills and learn to become engaging storytellers, it’s important to remember that we are all human, which means we are full of quirks and imperfections and therefore in desperate need of a holy and loving God. When you read with your children, you are providing them with not only a model of good reading but a parable of living in grace.

 

2.      Reading as a family allows older children to encourage and challenge younger children.

 

About a year ago, I read a few passages from The Hobbit in my living room during  a discussion I was having with my mom and fifteen-year-old brother. I didn’t anticipate my other younger brother and sister listening. They asked me if I could read the book to them. They were six and seven, but I thought I’d humor them. and then let it go when they got bored. But they wanted to hear the story. After about twenty minutes or so, my voice would start cracking, my throat would grow dry, and they would still be asking me to keep on reading. It was during those months that we read that I realized how important it is for younger children to listen to challenging books. Not only does it make them feel special because someone is paying attention to them, but reading challenging books familiarizes them with advanced vocabulary, grammar, and style. In addition to exposing them to language, many times reading challenging classics introduces children to the great ideas and themes explored in literature, generating vital conversations at home.

 

3.      Reading as a family allows younger children to encourage older children.

 

I tried an experiment a year or two ago. I told my seventh graders they were going to read to kindergarten. We practiced reading children’s books. No one complained. Little kids don’t know when you mess up, or at least they don’t care. Students who struggled with reading Dickens and Shakespeare had five and six-year-olds in their laps hanging on their every word. One young man in particular caught my attention. I already knew he was a good kid and that he thought deeply, but reading took him a while. He had those kids entranced, and he came alive, reading them this story, and all I could think was, “He’s going to make an amazing dad.”

 

Not only did my seventh graders find a “safe zone” for reading, but they were able to minister to children in a practical way. They also experienced success with reading, something that some of them rarely experience or believe possible.

True learning is a lifestyle involving a community of people at various ages leading, serving, encouraging, and challenging one another. So create some free minutes this evening, have everyone pick out a book, and read together.


 

The One Thing Our Kids Need

December 09, 2014
By Edie Wadsworth

The sun was pouring into the east sky, scattering orange like a blanket over everything.  She was sitting in the front seat, unable or unwilling to look at me, her head turned decidedly away and her body clinging to her side of the car sending its message loud and clear.  Was there a tear in the corner of her eye?  I don't know because I was too angry to ask.  We were on our way to a social gathering and I just needed her to get over herself already.  What I was really secretly thinking is that I wanted her to show my friends how pleasant my teenager was, how smart and well adjusted, how sweet and kind to be around—all of which would translate into some imaginary points for me.  What I didn't want was for her to sulk through the whole thing and make me look bad.

And we were running out of time, because we were almost there and neither of us seemed capable of moving toward reconciliation.

Why was she even sulking?  I couldn't for the life of me figure it out and I was too stubborn to ask—maybe too afraid that I had done something to cause it.

So, I lost my patience and basically demanded that she play the part.  I didn't yell but I was harsh.  I bulldozed right through the situation and got what I wanted.  It wasn't my best parenting moment.  We walked in and she pulled herself together. She was perfectly behaved.  She was engaging and courteous.  But, she was hurt and probably only I could tell.

On the way home, my heart began to soften and the guilt set in.  I wondered to myself at what price had I wrangled her obedience.  I thought back to times in my own life when I knew I was being valued for my performance, by what good I could bring to the table and I felt the sting of doing the same thing to this person I supposedly loved with all my heart.  We had a long talk about what had happened.  I apologized for being harsh, for demanding results.  She explained why she was upset and then apologized for the sulking.  It was pretty simple, in retrospect.  We are sinners who fail each other everyday.  The magic is in being willing to fess up to all the ways we hurt ones we love most.  She just wanted to be heard and understood.  But she didn't know how to ask for it and I was too full of my own selfish expectations to even ask.

Parenting by law or by sheer will will often get us the results we want but those results won't endure because they will begin a long and slow fracture of the heart. Just like in our spiritual life, the law requires us to be a certain way, to follow certain rules, but it does nothing to win our hearts.  Only love can do that. The law requires but love inspires.  The law kills but love makes alive.  The law leaves us empty,  despairing at all the ways we never measure up.  Love fills us to overflowing, and the overflow seeps out to everyone in our wake. This is the love we have been given in Christ, the God Man who came into our very flesh to be our perfect substitute in all things, even our failure to love rightly.

In turn, we have been given the tremendous, dare I say, impossible task of passing that love on to our children.  And for that, there is no shortcut—only a lifetime of living it out in the everyday mundane trenches of ordinary life, mostly confessing how painfully we fail at doing the one thing we had hoped to do well.

Love.

It never fails.   Even when we do.  Perhaps especially then.

Why "Waste Time" in School

November 20, 2014
By Dane Bundy

Why “Waste Time” in School

 

Two years ago I walked outside and stumbled upon a striking image. There, sprawled on the ground (no doubt a fire hazard), were a number of my students eagerly “wasting time” in conversation.

As I approached them, I noticed they were exchanging words with unusual vibrancy. They had books in their hands (philosophical books) by authors like Anselm and Lewis. They were dialoguing about the Trinity!

What have I done right, I thought. How can I patent it?

But, that’s the catch, I hadn’t really done anything. This “waste of time” was all their doing!

I only provided the opportunity. We cut “productive” time out of their busy school day to make room for “unproductive” time, or leisure. Or as James V. Schall puts it: “wasting time.”

As odd as it sounds, history, Scripture, and experience offer compelling reasons for why we should “waste time” in school.

 

Leisure in History

 

Leisure and learning have a rich history as close friends. The word “school” actually comes from the Greek word schole, which means “leisure.” Josef Pieper argues that the great Western thinkers saw leisure as the basis for culture.

The Greek and Roman thinkers drew stark distinctions between work and leisure. A slave who had to work could not afford time for leisure. The liberal arts (or the free arts) provided individuals with the tools and essential knowledge to live a life of learning and deep contemplation.

We can define leisure as time spent on things that are ends to themselves, such as friendship, conversation, and contemplation.

   

Leisure in Scripture

 

God has a word to say on this topic as well. God instituted the Sabbath for man on the seventh day after his own rest and leisure. As outlined for the Jews, the Sabbath was a day specifically marked for time away from work or productivity. It was “wasted time” in rest: the rejuvenation of the mind and body.  It was “wasted time” in leisure: prayer, contemplation, celebration, and worship.

To the modern Christian “wasted time” with God may take the form of Bible reading, meditation, Christian fellowship, and corporate worship. “Be still and know that I am God,” writes the Psalmist. What a much needed exhortation to stop, be silent, and consider the deep things of God!

 

Leisure and Experience

 

In leisure, a strange phenomenon takes place: learning can feel more like joy than work.  Leisure can spark a desire to learn for its own sake.

But, ironically, places of learning are often more characterized by work than leisure and by busyness than contemplation. Administrators, parents, teachers, and students all are busy.

Please don’t hear me say busyness or hard work is bad (God ordained the Jews six days of it). I’m also not saying leisure is easy. Contemplation demands sustained focus.

But what if our students are too busy and too overworked to stop and focus and contemplate? Would you not agree something is awry?

 

Leisure at Cornerstone

 

At Cornerstone, we have sought a number of ways to match leisure once again with learning.

Within the classroom, we discuss and debate ideas, and the students journal on a regular basis. I even designated a corner of my room (furnished with our theatre props) for leisure called Socrates’ Circle. We have it all planned out. When my students think an idea deserves debate or discussion, they shoot up their hands to give the signal. If the timing is right, I return the signal, we cry out “Socrates!”, and rush to the corner!

Parallel to the classroom, we’ve established the Contemplatorium. As the name implies, it is extended time for students and teachers to read, contemplate, and discuss. The students are assigned mentors (CA teachers) who match them with texts to interest and challenge them. There are no grades or exams for this time, and no competition or demand to produce anything. Most of the time it’s marked by silence, unless broken with the exchange of ideas.

 

As I write this post, my students are sprawled across the room. One is lying on the carpet in Socrates’ Circle and another sitting in the rocking chair. If all goes well, much time will be “wasted.”

 

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