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May: Finding Peace & Joy in the Perseverance

May, the “goddess of spring” according to Roman mythology; also derived from the flower name which references the hawthorn which blossoms in May.

For teachers, the month of May has many different meanings. It’s the final month. It’s the month where all has get finished. It’s the month of making sure students learned everything we ever intended to teach them and more, the month of end-of-the-year field trips, the month of awards and class parties, the month of field day and the last parent conferences, and the month all administrative matters have to be completed before walking out into the bright, shiny summer days of rest and relaxation.

For teachers, we can so easily get caught up in the hustle and bustle of finishing the year that we forget this is it, the last month to teach valuable lessons, to take care of bumps, bruises, and scrapes, to wipe tears and calm emotions from hurt feelings, to share in the joys, sorrows, and successes, to see the beaming faces of the children they’ve loved for seven months shine with excitement as they receive their awards, to watch them walk away – some to never see again – into the rest of their lives.

As May approached, I encouraged my own students to finish as strong as they started, but had I spoken the same encouraging words to myself?

I had allowed myself to become overwhelmed with the matters that needed to be finished that I had forgotten all it took to get to this point and how valuable it is to finish as strong as I had started. I was encouraged recently while in staff meetings and in my own personal prayer time to look at the month of May differently than in past years. Instead of seeing it as so little time to get things accomplished and finished, it was a time to slow down, pay attention, and be fully engaged in the last few moments I had with these precious young children. I had to find the joy and peace in the perseverance. It’s not hard to find them; it just requires looking at things with a different perspective.

Butterfly Perspective

I take refuge in what James said, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”

It is my prayer that the students enter the next chapter in their lives having gained maturity from their faithfulness and find joy and peace in their perseverance.

~ Vanessa Robbins, Fourth/Fifth Grade Teacher

pure_joy_verse

 

Gardening with God: Growing and Cultivating a life with Christ

Gardening –“ the practice of growing and cultivating plants”.

This academic year ushered in a new opportunity for our BCA students – gardening! As a teacher preparing for this new endeavor, my thoughts were:

  • “What does this look like?”
  • “How will I work this into the schedule?”
  • “How often do we NEED to do this?”
  • “What is the learning objective?”

What I should have considered and known from the beginning was the ultimate experience and outcome of such a privilege for the children. As teachers, we often miss the purpose for the planning.

Fifth grade began our gardening in the fall with watering. We knew the importance, but yet had a moment to really discuss its importance. Later in the fall, we planted mustard seeds. We did our duty. Don’t get me wrong, the students enjoyed every minute of watering and planting. I was the one who had not yet considered or appreciated the value it held.

It wasn’t until I needed an idea for Morning Meeting discussion time that the true reality and benefit of gardening dawned on me. We had approached the time to “maintain” the garden. What a great topic of discussion. Little did I realize the importance it would hold for me and the spiritual opportunity it would be for the students as they grow in their faith.

I asked, “Why do we need to maintain the garden?”

The replies I received from my students were profound upon reflection:

  1. “Because if we don’t take out the weeds, they will take over and smother the plants.”
  2. “Because without water the plants won’t survive.”
  3. “Because plants need fresh soil to continue to grow.”
  4. “Because we have to remove the bugs/snails that might prevent the plants from growing.”
  5. “Because if we don’t, the plants will die.”
Gardening: Cultivating and Growing a Life in Christ

BCA Students learning how to grow and cultivate a life in Christ through the experience of gardening

As I sat there, it finally became clear to me the purpose.

We don’t just garden to provide the experience for children learning HOW, but we also provide the experience, so they can see WHY and relate it to their walk with God.

I hadn’t planned on asking the next question, but as the students responded, the Lord led me to ask,

“How does this relate to our walk with Christ?”

An opportunity had come to provide students with a life lesson that neither I nor they had seen coming. We discussed the many ways gardening is like taking care of our walk with the Lord.

We came to realize how taking out the weeds is like recognizing our sin and asking for forgiveness; how Jesus is our water, and without Him, we won’t survive; how God’s Word is fresh soil to help us grow; how putting on the armor of God is protecting us from the darts of the devil like bugs and snails in a garden; and how simply, if we don’t take care of our daily walk with God, we will die a spiritual death like a garden that is left unattended.

What began as a time slot on a schedule and an opportunity for students to do something outside the classroom, became a life lesson in “growing and cultivating” a life with Christ.

– Vanessa Robbins, Fourth/Fifth Grade Teacher

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