Surprised By Life’s Simplicities

SOME BACKGROUND…

In the spring of 2005 I was a clueless undergraduate.

I was about to finish degrees in Spanish and International Service at Valparaiso University. It appeared that my best prospects were to work at an NGO somewhere in Latin America. As a 22-year-old person at the time, that seemed a bit daunting and ambiguous. So what does any lost undergrad do at moments like this? The answer: Go back to school!

So that’s what I did, and it turned out to be a good decision. I went on to complete the LEAPS Program (also at Valpo), which was basically another form of Teach for America. This not only gave me a useful set of skills, but it helped me discover that one of my gifts was teaching. After two years of teaching in Cleveland, my wife and I moved to Hong Kong, and I taught at the International Christian School (ICS) for four years.

Unfortunately, I let my teaching license expire two years into my time at ICS. Since ICS never asked any questions about it, I simply ignored the problem! (Yes, I realize how ridiculous this is now that I’m typing it) I continued to ignore this fact for two years and seven months.

NOW, THE POINT OF THIS POST…

Recently, Kristin suggested I begin the process of renewing my teaching license. My first response was less than mature. I knew how difficult this process can be, and I dreaded the amount of paperwork to complete and the hoops I would have to jump through. However, I realized that I’m trying to be a better and more responsible man, so I set forth on this process, most of my grumbling set aside.

I logged on to the Indiana Department of Education’s website, and it was quite daunting. Form upon form and endless links and potential tasks laid out in typical governmental officialdom, lacking all aesthetic appeal. [grumble, grumble]

I settled upon one form that seemed like the best place to start, filled it out, and submitted it. Message: “Your form will not be read until you pay a fee of US$35.” [grumble, grumble]

PAID.

I’ve learned that when lost, it’s a good idea to ask questions. I sent an email to licensinghelp@doe.in.gov explaining my situation, asking for logical help. Someone responded in one day! Unheard of in the civil service! Maybe it’s because I mentioned that I already paid the form fee. Ha!

Wrapping up this story, after a few emails and submitting a letter of recommendation from the ICS middle school principal (a rock star btw), I not only renewed my teaching license, but I was also upgraded to a five-year license!!! It was one of the quickest, most painless processes I’ve ever experienced in education circles. Praise God for such a good surprise!

I wonder what this means for my future… [feelings of content, feelings of content]

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Complaining and Grumbling

My pastor spoke to the whole church staff today and confessed (as he also did this past Sunday in front of the whole congregation) about his recent bout against complaining and grumbling. He said that he has generally been a joyful guy, quick to praise, and slow to complain. 'Stop complaining' photo (c) 2009, Aitor Calero - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/However, he said that as of late, he’s noticed some of that contentedness has been replaced by grumbling. This is the thing that he would like to focus on giving up to God, hoping that our Lord will help turn this attitude around before 2012 is over.

Since then, I did a quick search on Bible Gateway typing in “grumbl” (to include past, present, and future tense). I found it striking that nearly all of the results fell into two categories:

  1. The Israelites complaining against Moses while wandering through the desert
  2. The Pharisees complaining against Jesus’ works or Jesus telling the Pharisees not to grumble

'There is absolutely no reason to complain or bitch!' photo (c) 2010, Walter Lim - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I find it ironic that the top complainers seem to do so while God is showing Himself mightily. When God is working great wonders, we seem to find the nerve to complain with a renewed intensity.

God has been doing mighty things in my heart these past months. This is fantastic news, but it also worries me because I’ve been doing some complaining to God throughout. In other words, I’m just like the wandering Hebrews and the ancient Pharisees! Now that I’ve recognized this, hopefully I can do some changing myself. With God’s help, I’d like to turn this around in the near future.

“Lord, give me the humility to repent and the courage to change!” Amen.