I have not picked a side and I do not expect to any time soon. My mind is split between two things: 1) I want to help people who do not have health insurance, but 2) I do not want the government to be the one using my money to help them. I want to be the one to give my money to people who need it.
Maybe the video below will help explain my dilemma. On President Obama's twitter page, he wrote, "Our Health Reform Video Challenge finalists showcase the creativity and passion you bring to this debate. Watch and vote: [link]." So I guess he's trying to get people involved by creating witty videos to support health care reform, calling it the Health Reform Video Challenge. I found this video in the mix, and after watching it, I shook my head.
"It took our neighborhood to come together to save us," she said on the video. What bothers me about that statement is that instead of praising the support of the neighbors, it uses this beautiful example of community support to criticize the government.
In this story, it seems to me that providing health care for this boy would have been even worse. If the government just paid for the boy's medical expenses, then the neighborhood would never have come together to help them. This joyful miracle of a group of people coming together would not have happened.
Isn't the community in this story the ideal? Aren't these the type of people that should be surrounding those that need help? This reminds me of what Jesus set up the church to be. He wants us to help others in need. There are many good organizations out there, helping people as we speak. I certainly want to be a part of that, and I am trying to do my part right now. However, when the government attempts to solve all of our problems, it is difficult for me to see as many situations that would require communities to unify for a purpose. We are able to solve our problems together, as we serve and share our resources with each other.
I taught my first math lesson to the eighth graders yesterday. It went surprisingly well. These students are not known to treat substitutes or even their regular teachers very well, so I was pleased when they actually listened and did what I asked them to do.
I started out the period by giving them an assignment right when they walked in the door, while greeting each of them by name. Surprisingly, they got to work right away! After that, I went over my classroom expectations and told them a little about myself. I decided to be straightforward with them and explain that I am new at this teaching thing and hope they could be patient with me. They took it well.
The material was not difficult. Mostly finding patterns in numbers and then developing algebraic rules that correspond to them. So my main goal was to present the information in an interesting way. I applied the material to a problem about basketball. I solved the problem in order to estimate how many minutes I should practice my free throws in order to increase my free throw percentage. The boys were especially interested, which is what I was hoping.
I was humbled realizing how much work goes into teaching. I still have a lot to learn. The biggest thing I need to work on is making sure that they are quiet before I start talking. They need to learn how to be respectful to me when I am speaking, and I need to learn how to uphold my expectation of that. It is difficult to lead. It is difficult to organize. It is difficult to be a responsible adult in charge.
I am glad that this is the beginning. It's only going to get better with practice. Practice makes closer-to-perfect.
Year number two is filled with a lot of great memories. The cold snap last winter, Jen's first backpacking trip, and our gardening project. Each of these memories included only the two of us, representing for me how we have grown over the past two years.
The most prominent thing that God has been teaching me in my marriage is patience. Not that Jen is more difficult than any other wife out there--she is actually a perfect fit for me. God uses her to teach me how to be respectful and loving, even on our bad days. He is teaching me how to change my selfish attitude in order to shower her with loving words and actions. I am also realizing that I will never perfect this over the course of our marriage. However, by studying her and serving her, I can improve more and more.
Something that has helped me think about the best there is in Jen is by thinking of all of the things that I love about her (rather than focusing on the negative). I love and respect her because of how she is willing to give up herself in order to help others in need. I remind myself that Christ is constantly working through her and in her, and that I am a big part of how she grows and matures. Together, we have recently volunteered our time to help out with planning a community garden in our neighborhood. It is a wonderful way for me to see Jen's gifts being used to benefit others. I am drawn to her when she serves others. It's awesome. It makes me want to be a better husband.
Jen, because of Christ, I love you more today than any other day before.
Thinking more about my involvement with the 8th graders I have worked with at school, I am realizing why it is so easy to be scared of them: I am afraid that I will not be able to control them, I am afraid that they won't like me, and I am afraid to fail as a teacher.
All of us are often weak people. Myself included (obviously). We are not often genuine with others and we do not often do what we know is the right thing because we are afraid of something. God has recently been teaching me the importance of getting up off my lazy butt and acting like a man who is confident in Christ's redeeming power. He has the power to redeem my brokenness and the fears that I don't really need to be afraid of.
I have always labeled myself as an "introvert" because I often prefer to be quiet in large groups. I also label myself as a "people-pleaser" because I don't want to offend people and I want them to like me. I am realizing how easy it is to just use my labels as a crutch, never getting up to do anything worth while. God is constantly reminding me that the only way for me to be an influence in this world is to get involved and get my hands dirty. Christ gives me His confidence and His faith to get out of my comfort zone to do something beneficial with my life, because having confidence or faith in myself gets me nowhere.
My life rests in God's hands and He is the only One I should fear. Because of this, I can confidently live my life knowing that the best way to please Him is by devoting my life to serving others and declaring my thankfulness for Jesus.
Paul, who spent the first part of his life as a Pharisee persecuting Christians, says: "If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—-the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:4-11)
Well I am still on my way to becoming a school teacher. I am learning lots of good stuff in my classes right now, like differentiation strategies and classroom management skills and such. But the real meat of what I am learning right now is in my practicum. For Concordia's MAT program, they place us in two different classrooms: A shorter, part-time role in a classroom during fall semester for one day a week (practicum), and a longer, full-time role in a different classroom during spring semester (student teaching).
I am currently taking classes at Concordia four days a week and on my fifth day I help out in an 8th grade math classroom in NE Portland. In the spring I will be done with my coursework and will be placed in a 5th grade class in SE Portland, student teaching full-time.
The students in my NE Portland school don't come from the best neighborhood, so the biggest issue in the classroom is behavior management. I am gleaning as many tips as I can get from my cooperating teacher. The biggest thing that I have learned so far is that I should not be afraid of them. 8th graders are not little elementary kids anymore and deserve to be treated like older, more responsible people. However, they are certainly not adults yet and must still be trained to do the right thing (homework, decent behavior, etc). I must constantly remind myself that I am a responsible adult, I have my life together, and my role is to teach them the skills they need to grow up. How can I expect to teach them properly if I am scared of having the authority over them? I can't.
Halfway done with fall semester. Will give another update during winter break.