“And Lord, please let school come quickly!”

Nope, not my prayer…I’m loving the sleep, (most of the) sun, time with friends, leisurely reading, learning, and loving of the summer.  This was one of the sweet prayers from a wee one that ended Vacation Bible School today.  I completely identify with her feelings; I was the kid who was ready for school about this time each summer.

However, I am getting excited for school.  By the grace of God, I am anticipating a enjoying great year, more learning for me in a hopefully-less-painful way than last year, and getting to know my new kiddos.  Thanks to a couple good classes, I have some new tricks to try with my challenging kids as well as a better perspective on their issues.

So Lord, please don’t let school come too quickly…and prepare me for the good works you have in mind for me this year.


The way it’s meant to be

I’m taking a class this week for work, and I’m learning a lot.  Something today caught my attention, though.

A classmate shared an experience from work that went something like this: She mentioned her family, a student asked if all three of her children had the same father, and she said yes.  She had been married to her husband for around 20 years, and shared that with the student.  Her question for the class instructor was about the appropriateness of her response and the possibility of judging that child’s life (which included multiple siblings with multiple fathers).

The instructor’s response was what struck me.  She recommended stated ambivalence to various lifestyles, whether those lifestyles included a stable marriage and a healthy home or a dysfunctional relationship and a miserable home.  This answer was given soon after we discussed how harmful the lack of a father is and how damaging an unstable family situation can be.

I have no desire to make kids feel guilty for their parents’ poor decisions and actions, but I also have no desire to leave them with the lie that there is no hope to move beyond their own experiences.  The truth is that God’s design for families is perfect, though imperfectly implemented by humanity.  One mommy and one daddy who love each other and love their kiddos makes a big difference in a little life!

Random kid quote

2nd grader: “Irish jump high.

Me: “What?”

2nd grader: “Irish jump high.  Really, like from here to here” (demonstrates a space of about a foot with her hands)

Me: “Do you mean leprechauns or something like that?”

2nd grader: “No, Irish people.  They jump high!”

Me: (slightly incredulous that this is what my students are learning in their World Music class) How do you know that?

2nd grader: “‘Cause I learned it!”

It just goes to show that what you say to kids is not always what they understand and interpret it as. 

In other news, please pray that I get better soon…being sick and going to Seattle on Friday isn’t a good combination in my book.

Little things


I got to play with a kitten (5 weeks old, I think) last night, and it was quite the delight.  She is tiny and soft and cuddly.

Also, in an unrelated but also little thing, one of my first graders has taken to writing “L” on the pictures she draws me.  She told me today, “It’s because it’s the first letter of your last name.”  Apparently the O in Olson doesn’t stand up to the l.

Honest quote:

Me: No way, Jose!

2nd grader (who was in my 1st grade student-teaching class last year): I’m not Jose, I’m Gerardo!

In spite of my best efforts, I still get “She knows Spanish??” from at least a kid a week, and then I say something like this.  I should know better…I have had at least four kids named Jose in my program so far this year. Where has my cultural sensitivity gone?

Actual note

 “My daughter lost her homework.” -the original note, pulled out by mean Ms. Olson, who then asked if the fifth-grade owner of the open folder had written it herself.

“My husben lose his job and Miss Olsen*.” -the second note, written quickly by her friend.

I’m not sure why this was so absolutely hilarious to the group of fifth-grade girls, but they were quite amused.  I ruined a little of their fun when I told them that I didn’t have a husband with a job.  They were shocked, and asked if I had kids.  The author of the second note quickly scribbled out husben and replaced it with “her boyfriend.”  I told them that I didn’t have a boyfriend, either, and they didn’t seem to know what to do at that point. 

At least I got a good laugh out of it.  Sometimes, fifth graders and first graders aren’t too far off from one another in their assumptions about life.

*All spelling and grammar are original.

Home again!

Despite missing my first flight yesterday, I did make it home to Seattle!  It’s good to be here, enjoying a real Christmas tree (a fake one would be unconscionable in my family), watching the weather on the lake change moment by moment, sitting by the fire, and being in person with the community at home here. 

The semester at work finished Tuesday night with my kids’ performance.  The ballet teacher was out that day giving birth, so I put the three 5th grade girls in charge of leading their practice and helped as much as I could without knowing their routine.  Some of my kids didn’t show up until their performance was over, and the drama class could barely read their scripts.  In the end, though, it was over, and that was all I cared about by then.  It seemed to fit with how the semester went in general- make it through doing your best, but don’t die when it isn’t perfect.  I’m pretty sure that God used my job to force out yet more perfectionism in me.  There was a lot out of my control, and I had to deal with that.  That said, I’m hoping and planning on a much better semester in the spring!!

As a side note, I am immensely thankful for the piano that sits in the living room.  It is so nice to be able to play whenever I want to without driving to a piano.  Music is an amazing thing, and it’s a whole lot of fun to make it as well as listen to it.

Also, I got Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home from my roomie, Amanda, for Christmas.  I had read part of it before, and I read several chapters in the airport yesterday.  It is a classic that I am glad to have on my shelf.  Also, I’m reading The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard, and it’s really interesting so far.  More to come on both books!

Finally, I got to be in Bible Study last night, and the topic was Joseph (of Mary and Joseph, not the OT guy).  Justin taught on Joseph, and one thing he brought out that convicted and challenged me was Joseph’s faithfully obedient response to God’s changes to his plans.  It’s a good question to ask, since as life happens it seems that God changes my plans on a regular basis.  How do I respond when God changes my plans?  I pray that it is more and more with a faithful heart and quick obedience!

It is good.

Today really marks the it’s-over-there’s-no-more-fall-semester point for me.  Fall 2007, and thus my first semester in 6 years to not be a college student, is over. 

There were no finals to stress about, but no finals to be relieved about.

There was no last-minute rush to finish projects, but no projects to be proud of accomplishing.

There were no grades to earn, so there are no grades to check online with anticipation and fear and trembling.

That’s ok. 

I realized today, talking with Katie in her dorm room for the last time of the semester, and a few days ago as I took Jenni to the airport, that this was a good semester.  The artificially imposed timeline and structure of classes didn’t surround me this semester, so it is clearer than ever that the success of this semester is not dependent on those things.  Katie and and I discussed how this semester has been good, and that is because we both had a sense that we have partnered with God in the working out of His purposes by His grace.  We looked back and enjoyed reflecting on God’s work in and around us.

This semester (without school for me) was good because God is good, and He showed up.  As I look back to my apprehensions about the last few months, and even my concern that I wouldn’t get to learn as much because I wouldn’t be taking classes, I have to laugh.  I’m pretty sure that I’ve learned as much or more in the last four months as I did any semester in college.

The learning has been harder in some ways.  It wasn’t optional- not going to the class of life wasn’t a valid option.  I have been stretched and graciously guided out of my comfort zone over and over again.  (I’d like to think that my comfort zone has been obliterated, and so I can no longer retreat to it, but I find myself trying to find it on occasion.)  I’ve learned a little about ministry as a lifestyle and administration as a job, Sabbath and work and started learning about firstfruits.  I’ve learned about fear and how it has no rightful place in my life.  Mostly though, I’ve learned about myself, living in relationship with people, and a whole lot about the incredible God that I get to know and love and, out of the knowing and loving, serve. 

And the more I learn, the more I see that there is to learn.  I have nothing figured out, and I’m learning that it’s ok.

So, as much as I love school and would love to go back at some point, I look forward to the rest of my life with the best Teacher I know.  It surely won’t be boring.

You never know what you’ll get after school…

Today, I headed back to my now-functional office and was greeted with this announcement from a 4th grade child with an unknown liquid covering his head and moistening the top part of his shirt.:

“Ms. Olson, Aaron* peed on my head!” 

 I spent most of the next hour getting the story verbally and in writing from both boys.  It was something along the lines of the boys were in the bathroom playing and joking when, according to Aaron, he “lost control and peed on” the other kid.  Now, I know that you are wondering how that happens- I wonder the same thing.  The whole time I was dealing with it, I nearly bit my tongue off trying not to crack up.  When the kid who was urinated on drew a diagram of his head to show where the urine went, I almost died inside trying not to laugh. 

I learned what to do in this sort of situation (via conference with the assistant principal).  I took written statements from both of them and talked to both sets of parents, taking care to not mention the names of the students involved to protect confidentiality.  It was definitely not something I expected to deal with, but it was the most interesting paperwork I’ve done so far!


Kid quotes

 “Can I call my tio because my throw up hurts?” (Tio is “uncle” in Spanish, and she really meant that her throat hurt. :P)

 From the notebook left behind by a first grader: “I will kiss you. I love you.  I will kiss. We will kiss.  I love you.  You kiss me.  You take me to the park and you kiss me.”  Apparently, first grade is a romantic place these days!

Also, the visit from the lady with the state dept. of ed. went really well today.  Despite a rough start, the program is on track!!