The perfect job – it exists!

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Perfect job

I don’t know what you fantasize about, but sometimes I imagine the feeling of just having landed THE ultimate job.  In my daydream, I can FEEL the excitement, the open-ended sense of possibility, the overwhelming gratitude and joy of actually being able both to be challenged in a healthy way AND to get to do every day what makes me happiest.  (Speaking French is the number one component)  Included in my daydream is the notion of having been PICKED or selected with all sorts of concomitant and guaranteed learning opportunities and training that will enrich my life.  I’ll be among happy fellow enthusiasts and what we do will make a difference.

Maybe pipe dreams of the ideal job aren’t the ingredients that fuel your fantasy.  Maybe it’s that longing for the ultimate family or skill experience/achievement (winning an Olympic gold in your event) or a different pinnacle of your own choosing.  But for me, it’s always been a longing for THAT job.

And as I approach 60, I’m beginning to realize, not with too many regrets, that there are milestones and goals that I probably won’t realize while I’m alive in this body.

Far be THAT, however, to lead to depression.  For as a Christian, the Bible teaches that the BEST is yet to come!

In fact, if you think about it, since we are immortal and will be given new bodies at Jesus’ 2nd coming, bodies with more and better capacities, the idea of longing for the perfect job while here on earth is both short-sided and bound to disappoint.

But if we view our time on earth as training for the future, (the internship I wrote about earlier – Last week’s blog on a Theology of Work), then we can wait patiently, knowing that God doesn’t waste ANY of our experiences.

So in my imagining the work we will do in Heaven, I bet that:

  • It will be something we each feel perfectly suited for, given our ‘bents’ and our ‘experiences’ here on earth
  • It will be among happy colleagues who lovingly support and encourage one another
  • Our leader, Christ, will be the perfect ‘boss’
  • We will do work that is meaningful and satisfying.

So until then, I pray and trust God for patience and gratitude for both my future destination and the preparation He gives me each day in the meantime.

Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

PS:  I think the inheritance will be the invitation to come take an active productive role with the Triune God in the Kingdom!

Keep Calm - Job

The blessing of Academic Freedom

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May I never take for granted the gift of academic freedom to teach French the way that is best for my students and for me!

I am blessed to teach in a private school that supports me 100 % in how I choose to teach both French & Logic.

What this means for me is that as I learn through what I read and listen to, I can tailor content to fit my students.  I adjust throughout the week.  As a result, I feel free and affirmed as a professional. I derive immense joy at this unconstrained ability to grow with my students.  In addition, my content in French is driven by my students’ imaginations and interests as well as my own.

For example, after 8 ½ years of using TPRS™ (teaching proficiency through reading & storytelling), I now feel both skilled and competent to go into class and do the following two activities.

a)   As an opener or warm up, I can have a conversation in French with any of my 3 levels of class (French 1, 2, 3) that is both comprehensible to them and personal.  We talk about their weekend, their interests, and their problems.  They learn new vocabulary as the conversation meanders.  I write essential words on the board as the conversation progresses.  Curriculum does not constrain or drive my classes.

b)   As my planned activity, I can go into class with one sentence and let this slim basis for a story grow where it will, emerging from my students’ input.  They then embed and adorn that sentence with themselves and a story emerges that is tailored to that particular class

For example, my sentence last week with my French 1 students was:  “Laura’s grandparents were still living”.  Laura was a character they had made up in the previous week’s story.  Going into this class, I had a phrase in mind that I wanted to teach them the following day (they have the tendency to _____).  But first we had to develop this fictional grandpa and grandma.

This couple became Bob & Cherrie who were both 2 feet, 2 inches tall.  Bob, a former soldier, turns out to be addicted to video games in his old age.  Cherrie, a former buyer for a clothing store, is depressed by Bob’s habit and turns to vodka.  I flow with the kids, making sure to make everything comprehensible. I work the details, so that the new words and details are repetitive enough to stick in their long-term memory.  They provide the personal interest, because the details are theirs.  I learn new words (had to look up how to say “addicted to”) so it’s good for me.

Another example of the blessing of unconstrained curriculum is what has happened when a French teacher in Mulhouse France contacted me.  We have set up a loose exchange between her students learning English and mine.  The other day she sent papers they had written about some pressing issues in America and asked for my students to respond.  I have the time to formulate a plan and work that into my lessons for the following week.  We can spend class talking about issues of immigration and ‘the American dream’ and what French teens might think.  If I had to follow a weekly plan imposed on me from the administration, I would have to let that go.

The methodology and thinking behind TPRS™ guides my daily activity, but in a non-constrained way that allows for expansive growth and unlimited possibilities.  I can do whatever I want as long as the French is comprehensible, repetitive and interesting to my students.  I can incorporate music, history, the Gospel, vignettes from my life, random stories from the paper, ANYTHING as long as I make them comprehensible and repetitive.

I am a very satisfied teacher.  Thank you, Jesus for giving me a passion for language and leading me away from the shackles of textbook teaching.  Thank you, Summit Christian Academy for believing in me and supporting me.  Thank you, Michael for working a job that is not your cup of tea but provides income so that I can work in a private Christian school.  Thank you, Blaine Ray for birthing this method and fellow TPRSers for fleshing it out and sharing unselfishly.

My prayer – Lord, keep me grateful.  Keep me growing.  Keep me depending on You!

 

Wedding Feasts – Matthew 22:2-14

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I’ve attended two weddings this summer and still have a couple more to enjoy in October.  Weddings are great fun, especially when you know both bride & groom as well as lots of guests.

So I was delighted to read Jesus’ likening the Kingdom of Heaven to a wedding feast.  In his scenario, it’s the King who has invited people to celebrate a son’s wedding.  I can imagine how privileged the guests feel.  What if I we were invited to a royal wedding, to include a sumptuous reception (a sit-down dinner with all the courses) in elegant surroundings at Buckingham Palace?  The anticipation would be half the fun.  I would want to share my good fortune with all my friends, find the perfect dress, and set up hair and nail appointments.  Looking forward to this event would be enough to minimize daily frustrations or ‘sufferings’. I would be able to say, “Well, no matter, I still have the wedding to look forward to!”

So when Jesus says that being part of God’s family entails a personalized invitation with a luxurious feast to follow, that makes eternal life very tangible and appealing. Who doesn’t like weddings!

What is astonishing is that on the day of the wedding that Jesus describes, no one shows up!  The guests have all RSVPd according to etiquette.  But now they stand up the host.  Not only are they extremely rude, they show appalling ignorance by their willful refusal to attend. Don’t they know what they are missing?   Furthermore, some guests even kill the staff sent to escort them to the dinner.  It is difficult to understand how these guests, handpicked to witness a royal wedding, could react this way?   Had they lost their mind?

What is now frightening for the original guests is that their actions (some are indifferent, some are murderous) permanently seal their fates.  There will be no more chances to change their mind and attend after all.  The guest list suddenly shifts.  The ‘wrong crowd’ is now invited.  Surprisingly, they gratefully respond.  Jesus refers to them as a combination of ‘good and evil’ people who are totally unsuited to such a high-class celebration, but invited nonetheless.  Why they don’t even have a proper dress, or an elegant suit and they certainly haven’t bathed, or so the hoi-polloi would think.  But the King has everything covered.  He has his staff provide them each with a new outfit, certainly not one they would have been able to afford themselves.  (‘come buy wine and milk, without money and without cost’ – Isaiah 55:1)  Once they are dressed appropriately, they fit in perfectly to the royal surroundings.

The King finally arrives to survey the wedding hall. But there is a minor problem.  He immediately spots someone who evidently provided his own wedding clothes.  The King addresses him gently at first “Friend…how did you get in here with the wrong outfit?”  But the words are cutting.  This man is incredulous that his host would think he didn’t belong.  After all, he was wearing what he thought were appropriate wedding clothes.  Not only is he thrown out, but he is forcibly escorted to a horrid place.

Jesus’ parable has two main points as far as I can see.  Yes, there is a warning against thinking that we are worthy to attend the celebration.  We can’t come in our own clothes, trusting in our own worthiness.  But what I will take away, more than this reminder of my humble position, is how wonderful the reconciled life with God is.  Think of the best party you ever attended, the one that was better than you had anticipated.  Being a child of God is better than we can ‘ask or imagine’.  So be of good cheer.  Even when things at work or with our family don’t go according to our own particular plan, we can pull out our wedding invitation and do some anticipation.  Our spirits will lift and that will give us the courage and strength to carry on until the party is ready to begin!

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