Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Day In The Life

Today I was happy from the bottom of my heart. You know those days when you’re not just supposed to feel joyful, but you actually are joyful? That was my day, especially my morning.
Problem is my husband is not
here in Qingdao right now, but visiting with his family, so I felt a tad weird about it. Is it okay that I felt that good?

The truth is I’ve realized I’m an introvert. Thanks Jason and Lindsey for clearing that up for me. According to their studies, introverts refuel alone, whereas extroverts refuel with others. Just because I like to be crazy with friends doesn’t mean that I’m automatically an extrovert. I used to think it did. It totally makes sense. That’s why during my planning periods as school all I wanted to do was close my classroom door and turn off the lights. That’s probably also why I survived being single until my 30s. I’m an introvert! It’s kind of liberating actually.

Fortunately this morning I actually was missing my husband, so that’s not the reason why I was happy. I was happy because it was snowing, and it was sticking. And you should have seen the flakes – they were so big; I swear I could have proved the theory that no two snowflakes are exactly alike. It started falling really hard as I was teaching, around 8:40 or so. (My tutoring school is on the fifth floor of a building and my classroom has huge windows on one side.) I got so excited I asked my students how to say, “I love snow” in Chinese. They all just looked at me with blank stares. I would have been okay with that if I was actually asking a question about something in their lesson, as that is their normative response to most academic questions, but this time I was NOT okay. “Hey, Chinese students! You speak Chinese. I need to know how to say I love snow in Chinese!” I really said that. Thankfully they started to laugh and tell me. A few minutes later I went to the back window, slid it open, and stood up on its sill to take some pictures. There’s nothing quite like a breath of snowy air.

I was also happy because for the first time in a long time, my students were quite good today! Believe it or not, kids are kids – whether they are in China or in the U.S. Regular K-12 school classes are huge here. Brad’s 7th grade classes were an average of 60 students each, and that was at a private school. I think students are used to getting away with talking, etc., in their regular classes and then most of their tutoring instructors on the weekends aren’t certified teachers anyway. You should hear the kids in the hall during breaks, they’re crazy!!

It's the carryover into class that drives me nuts. I have to get on these kids often for talking, etc. I had to move as many of the boys possible to the front row a few weeks ago. But today I had them working on a project. After the first 10 or so minutes of chaos, spent going around to each student making sure they were on track, they started p e a c e f u l l y working. It was a-mazing, and I actually think they were learning. I can hope.

To top that off, I had brought my super-cute, go-go-gadget battery life, netbook to class so I played the Beatles as they were working. Haaaa – a teacher can’t get much better than that. I may have even (aghast) smiled a few times in class. The Beatles will do that to a girl.

I secretly skipped their normal break, which they didn’t realize until about 20 minutes left in the class (It's 2 hours). Don’t wake the baby! I knew if they had a break it wouldn’t be the same after they returned from the crazy antics of the hallway. It was much too risky and I’m way too conservative. One kid finally asked when we were breaking and I acted totally caught off -guard, that we must have forgotten. Teaching is also acting. (A wise man once said that… my dad.) Sorry young lad, no break for you (Seinfeld flashback bread for you!). Just sit back and enjoy the music.

One last funny anecdote: That kid also tried using the ‘F’ word today in class when talking to his buddies. At first I didn’t believe it and told myself, “Man, some word in Chinese totally sounds like the ‘F’ word!” He felt confident enough to use it again so I addressed him that time, in a low voice, looking straight into his eyes. I told him no matter who I teach, in which country, no student of mine may say that word in my class. Then I turned around and laughed at myself. I’m such a teacher.

Oh and, anyone need a new sporty bag or handbag? Adidas? Nike? Kappa? ... I know a guy.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Nike kind of guy

I don’t wear a black robe on Sunday or a black and white collar throughout the week, so I struggle with hearing God’s voice. I have even hiked to the peaks of mountains to be alone with silence to hear from God. Yet, I have been wondering, is it God’s voice or my hearing? Are peaks or silence necessary?

I have been challenged lately by some of the Old Testament writers. I read their interactions with God, and they don’t seem to have a problem hearing him. So, what’s the deal?!?! Has his voice changed that much over the years that I have a harder time hearing it? The scripture tells of a just and fair God. A God that would change his voice, speak a different language, or begin speaking with a SAT vocabulary just seems unjust and unfair to me (not to mention confusing). Then are these writers challenging me to get my hearing checked?

If it is the same voice that has been speaking to people for centuries, then it must be my auditory system that has begun to deteriorate, right? It must be technological advances that are to blame for the inability to hear the Almighty. Then again, this theory seems to leave me serving a Lord that isn’t compassionate to hearing loss or is willing to sit and watch me damage something that is so precious in my relationship with him. If either is true, God doesn’t sound like a creator who wants the best relationship with his creation. So, maybe, just maybe, my hearing is, in fact, created equal to man of ol’.

So, if it’s not God’s voice or my hearing, then what is it? Why am I struggling to hear Him? Could it be that He speaks and I hear, but I lack the courage to act on what I hear so I claim that I can’t hear him? Now, that does sound like some of my Old Testament contemporaries. They all speak to people in need of repentance, which nobody wants to hear because of the implications. How easy would it have been for any of them to not follow through with the messages they heard? How easy would it have been as a common shepherd to not hear when told to go to the wealthy and speak against materialism? How understandable would it have been for a layman who was told to challenge the priesthood about just going through the motions to not hear his command? Jonah heard, and ran, and ended up in a fish! As a result, he ended up going to deliver a message of hope to people he hated. Hosea heard to marry an adulterer and he did, who does that?!? They each prove that it is not God’s voice or my hearing that is the concern, but my willingness to take action!

Many of our New Testament equals struggled with taking action even when they heard it from the mouth of Jesus – the best example of one that takes action! Jesus had the courage to take action knowing his end. Which makes me wonder, if Jesus or any of these other men, would have worn Nike? If anyone should wear a brand that markets, ‘Just do it!’ it would be Jesus and these guys. If not wear Nike, I would have to think he would have worked it’s bold urge to act in conversation a time or two. Can’t you just hear it, “Peter, get out here. But Lord the waves. Peter ‘Just do it’!” or “If you have not sinned go ahead and throw your stone at this woman, go ahead ‘Just do it’!”

I, for one, have never been a huge Nike fan. I don’t really know why. I have had a Nike poster since about high school (that even now is put in my classroom somewhere each year) that reads, “Just do it.” It’s there and I see it but it really doesn’t call me to action. Like God’s voice, it’s there and I hear it but I don’t act on what I hear. Then I redirect my lack of action to not hearing. Maybe I don’t consider Nike’s call to action in the context of God’s voice.

Like Jesus and the prophets, my Dana heard the Voice and had the courage to “Just do it”. She didn’t doubt if it was God’s voice. She didn’t question or redirect her hearing. She didn’t leave it up to Jordan, Tiger, or Lance.

This Christmas I spent the afternoon watching my beautiful wife giving out ‘free hugs’ to the people of Qingdao, China. She ministered to me in a Godly way…a way truly worthy a wearing ‘the swoosh.’ She was told to go and she went, as the shepherds did many years ago. She gave gifts, as the Magi did many years ago. She showed love, as the Christ Child came to do so many years ago. She took action! She did not let being in a land of strange surroundings and uncommon norms redirect her hearing to not acting.

I may not wear a black robe or a collar, but I need to start wearing more Nike. I need to stop doubting God’s voice or questioning what I hear. I need to be like the prophets, Jesus, and my Dana and ‘Just do it!’