(Re-) learning

“Do it again, counting out loud.”

“This time, play it staccato.”

“Again.  Keep counting.”

“Now, add your left hand.”

Teaching piano involves some explanations, some demonstrations, and some evaluation.  Today it included all of the above as well as some directed practice.

The old adage says that “practice makes perfect.”  Some say practice makes permanent, and perfection depends on how you practice.  It’s true for playing the piano, and it’s true for thinking.  Repetition of the wrong notes or the wrong timing makes it easy–natural– to play the passage wrong.  In the same way, unhealthy or untrue thoughts become more and more entrenched as I rehearse them.  Unhealthy and untrue beliefs follow quite naturally.

My Teacher offers a better way- He speaks life.

When habit dictates perfectionism, my teacher Jesus whispers, “Peace.”  When fear of failure looms, He calls me beloved.  Instead of “do, do, do,” He says, “Come.”  And when I see years of practicing wrong and get discouraged, He reminds me that there is no condemnation in Him.

“Redemption’s now the story of my soul.”

Meandering Thoughts

For sunshine and 66 degrees, I am grateful.

For peace in the midst of mystifying my doctor– losing my voice with beautiful vocal cord function– I give thanks.

For a microphone that makes me look like an aerobics instructor or pop star, depending on who you ask, provided by the school district for my teaching amplification, I am glad.

Because Jesus died but didn’t stay dead, I am alive, too.  That makes everything else look like small potatoes.

Gratitude @ Work

I am blessed at work in many ways…23 little people to love, to start.  But since I can’t post pics of them, here are a few more reasons to be thankful at work.

1. The globe, moved down to be more easily explored as we learn about the continents.  Geography has never been more fun!

2. Naming each area of the classroom and the accompanying comments: “It’s so cold over here in Antarctica!  I’m gonna go to Africa to warm up!”

3. Speaking of Africa…country names everywhere- on the couch, tables- even when they are missing a letter.  (No, there haven’t been protests or war in Egypt or Libya yet, though those world events have come up.)

4. Books from the library for a book frenzy- 30 seconds with a new book and a partner to explore before passing it on.

5. Phototropic plants, carefully seeded by little fingers and headed to the school garden before long.

6. A reminder of my own education as I teach

7. Breathe: directed by my speech therapist and a good reminder for my soul.  (Placement near the escape key is not intentional. :))

I’ll take some of that…and that…and that.

The first ten chapters of 1 Kings are incredible.  Solomon has it made: an offer from God to provide whatever he wanted and a pure request to go with it, a godly heritage, wisdom, favor with his contemporaries (when did the leader of a neighboring country delight to give you forests of trees?), and the manifest presence of God in a beautiful new temple.

As I read it, I thought often, “I’ll take some of that…and that…and that.”  I don’t need the ivory-covered-with-gold throne or sailors to bring me sixteen tons of gold, but wisdom from above and favor to build for God’s kingdom I’ll gladly accept.

And, on the classroom side of life, the quote of the day yesterday was, “Ms. Olson, don’t leave!  I wanna stay at school forever!”

All a matter of perspective

One of my piano students, after a week of working with a metronome, proudly told me about his progress: “I started at 101, then I moved up to 102!”

For those of you who are unfamiliar with metronomes, the beeps are measured in beeps per minute.  60 beats per minute is 1 beep/second; 120 beats per minute is 2 beeps per second.

I’m generally of the opinion that every bit of progress is worth celebrating…I’m just not used to celebrating an increase in tempo of 1 beat per minute!

“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!