Raking in the front yard, shovelling in the back
Here I am! Stuck in the middle again…
It’s like summer and winter out there! Actually, in my yard that is how spring works. My front yard clears of snow fairly quickly while the back the yard is still covered with snow. After church today, I raked up doggie ‘left-overs’ in the front yard and then grabbed my shovel and went to get rid of the last of the snow on the back deck. Then, after a trudge through the snow, I dug out the door to the shed and brought up the deck chairs. This accomplished I took a rest in the bright sunshine, overlooking our winter back yard.
Life is full of contrasts like this. Today in church the minister spoke about the apostle Thomas. You know the one, the doubter right? Thomas is only part of a couple of stories in the New Testament and is, by far, best known for his refusal to believe in the risen Christ until seeing and touching the wounds himself. That was not, however, the story in today’s reading.
Today we read about the death of Jesus’ friend Lazarus. Jesus was sent word about his friend’s impending death and when he decided, several days later, to go back to the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus his disciples pointed out how dangerous this would be for him. People in that area were just waiting for a chance to kill him. While all the other disciples were urging caution, Thomas said they should go with him and die with him. Thomas was so far from doubting that he was willing to die for Jesus! That, the minister pointed out, should earn Thomas the name of Brave Thomas!
The chores I did today in the front and the back yards, though very different in nature, were both headed in the same direction which is getting the yard ready for summer. Likewise there are various chores, seemingly very different, which are needed to prepare for the coming of the kingdom of God. Thomas the Brave went on in his life to bring the Gospel to people as far from Israel as India and his life ended in martyrdom. He did, as he had offered that day when headed out to see Lazarus, literally die for Christ. This is one of the things that was needed for the furtherance of the Kingdom. There need to be people who love Christ so much that they are willing to die for him!
I can’t know my future situations and reaction, but I think I am unlikely to truly put my life on the line in the way Thomas did. In fact, this is not in any way likely to happen to those of us in North America, nor anywhere in the developed world. Luckily for us, we don’t need to die for Christ, we are also called to live for him. So get out your rakes, your shovels, and whatever other tools you are called to use and get to work preparing the yard for the kingdom.
Posted in Bible Study, Reflections
Tagged Bible, Brave Thomas, Christ, Christianity, church, deck chairs, disciples, Doubting Thomas, faith, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Lazarus' death, martyr, rakes, reflection, shovels, snow, work
Today is Stuffed Animal Day in my Family Living classes. In our unit on stress I get the kids to bring a stuffed animal of any size or type to school with them and to carry it around all day. I’m sure this sounds unusual but bear with me.
We all have stress in our lives and some of it is really positive and motivates us and gives us the energy to get things done, make changes, ask for help etc. For many of us though, our stress load can overwhelm us with disastrous consequences! Ulcers, heart attacks, asthma, digestive issues, all can be caused or made worse by too much stress. At the beginning of the unit we do two self-evaluations. One looks at the load of stressors (events and issues which cause stress). The other looks at our bodies stress load level. Out of almost 60 students we had none who were in the low risk category on either scale, very few in the middle, and most people were off the scale. And we wonder why there are issues with teen suicide!
Our environment can have a major impact on our stress levels. For some people there is nothing which pumps up their stress like a messy desk. For me, too much quiet, or too much noise can be negative. When you wander around a positive office area you will see little personal touches that people have brought into the space to make it their own. Having something handy to make you smile is a powerful stress busting tool.
At several stress seminars I have attended we began by putting on clown noses. It is really hard to take yourself too seriously if you have a clown nose on with your business suit.
When we were babies our parents likely gave us some sort of stuffed toy, soft to the touch, a little squishy, with a pleasant face. This is often known as a comfort toy and that is exactly the role they take on. Some kids carry their stuffed toy everywhere with them. They can use them to reflect their own emotional state, and just holding them and stroking their fur has a calming effect.
Adults usually don’t have a stuffed toy with them wherever they go. Many actually got rid of all them as a sign of being “grown up.” That being said, the basic effect of a stuffed animal does not go away. If you don’t agree go to the toy section sometime and watch the adults when they are picking out a teddy bear for their child.
Back to Stuffed Animal Day; I can’t do very much to relieve the stress with which my students are struggling on a daily basis. I can teach them about what it is, ideas for relaxation techniques etc. but when they arrive in my classroom with their stuffed animals, even if they have been hidden in a backpack, I see them smiling, sharing stories with others about where they got them etc. I don’t think it is possible to look at your stuffed animal sitting there on your desk or peeking out of your bag, without at least briefly feeling positive. That one moment can make a difference in the way you approach things during the day.
Are you still skeptical about the idea? Many of my students are even after doing the activity. You can’t reach everyone with the same strategy, of course. One young man this morning brought a large stuffed lion. He is a very pleasant student who dresses a little differently and doesn’t really socialize in the class. Throughout today’s class he had his lion on his lap and rested his chin on its head. He looked so relaxed. As I sat at the front with my little stuffed dog I knew that for at least that one student a little bit of fluff made his day!
Posted in Reflections
Tagged distractions, fluff, improvement, ofice decor, problem, problems, reflection, solution, stress, students, stuffed animals, survival, teddy bears, work, worry