In Favor of Teaching

those-who-can-do-supercommittee-quoteThe blogosphere tends to be a very supportive place, but in the real world, I get a lot of confused looks or straight-up negativity when people find out that I’m looking into becoming a teacher.

Since I have an engineering degree and successful career therein, people cannot understand why I would leave a cushy, corporate job for the world of education. They have preconceived expectations of my career path based on my background and cannot fathom why I would voluntarily leave a comfortable job in favor of teaching.

Many people subscribe to the old adage “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach”, and teachers tend to be compensated accordingly. But not all compensation is financial. And after seven years in corporate America, I submit to you that a more accurate idiom is: “Those who can, do; those who can’t, form a supercommittee.”

I am still volunteering to teach Sunday school a few times a month at my church, and I was recently asked to become an elementary school Team Leader, meaning I will not only continue teaching but also take on more of an administrative, leadership role coordinating the other volunteers. Although it can be stressful at times, teaching these sweet kids at church remains one of my highlights each week.

Last Sunday, we talked about the Creation account – how God created not only the earth but also plants and animals; man and woman. When Mia, one of my 2nd grade girls, heard this story (for possibly the first time), she looked down at her arms and stroked her tanned forearm with a tentative finger, whispering out loud in wonderment, “I’m made from clay?”

We talked more about the creation of Adam and Eve; then Mia asked me privately, “Miss Aurora, is Jesus God?” After hearing about God the Father creating the universe and everything in it, she was confused about the role of Jesus in relation to the Father. The Trinity is a difficult concept even for mature Christians, so I pointed to Mia’s water bottle in an effort to give her a practical, visual explanation of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

ozarka6ozMia and I removed the lid of her water bottle, exploring the three parts comprising the water bottle: the bottle itself, the cap and the water within the bottle. All three are separate, but they come together to create the water bottle, just as the Trinity is One God, Three Persons.

A few minutes after my explanation, the girls were working on a craft activity when another girl – Lillian – asked about Jesus. All on her own, Mia picked up her water bottle and explained the Trinity to Lillian just as I had explained it to her minutes earlier! My heart swelled within me to see little Mia teaching Lillian about God. I got to see the exponential effect of Matthew 28:19 lived out right in front of me over the course of mere minutes.

Near the end of our time together, Mia had another question for me. “Miss Aurora, is God invisible?”

I answered her, “Right now He is, but someday we’ll see Him.”

Mia pointed to the purple mat we were sitting on. “Is God sitting right here?” I explained Matthew 18:20 to her and suggested that we could pray and ask God to be with us.

I went on to share with Mia that sometimes – especially if I’m sad – I ask God to sit with me and hold my hand.

Mia’s big brown us looked up at me, and she blinked innocently. “Does He say yes?”

“Yes,” I told her with a hug and a smile. “He always says yes.”

Authentically Aurora

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Touching Thoughtfulness

HugBo is from Wisconsin and has an adorable northern accent. He is a smart, confident Triathlete with a great smile and gentle heart. When I met him at church back in February, I was still with Bryan, and Bo had a girlfriend himself. But we’ve known each other for a while now, and he’s become a friend who I like and respect.

While teaching Vacation Bible School together this week, I found out that Bo and his girlfriend broke up about a month ago. He just mentioned it in passing while a group of us herded the kids between stations, but my ears perked up.

I know I’m still a mess. I know I don’t need to jump into another relationship. And I know that I want to be good friends with the next guy before I get romantically involved with him. But the knowledge that a solid guy like Bo is still available gave me hope – not even necessarily for us to work out, but that I might actually be able to end up with a godly man my own age rather than picking off one of the bright-eyed 23-year-olds fresh from college or, at the other end of the spectrum, settling for an emotionally unavailable, baggage-laden 36-year-old (*cough, Bryan, cough*).

After VBS on Wednesday night, Bo, Diana and I hung around to catch up with a few other friends. Somehow the subject of love languages came up, and Bo immediately turned to me. “Yours is definitely physical touch.”

“What?” My face lit up with surprise. “How did you know?!” I actually have two primary love languages – quality time and physical touch – but Bo and I haven’t spent enough time together for him to have any reason to know that.

Bo shrugged in response; then gave a slight smile. “You’re a really touch-y person.”

I giggled nervously. “Um.. what?” Everyone else starting laughing, too – friendly laughter.

Bo laughed and waved his hands, “No, no… not in a bad or inappropriate way. You just seem to like to touch people’s shoulders when you talk to them… and you hug people a lot…” his voice trailed off.

“Oh. I mean… yeah. Physical touch is important to me.” All eyes were on me now, so I went on, “When I was a kid, I didn’t have an alarm clock. My mom would rub my back to wake me up every morning.”

“Awww…” I heard Diana’s soft voice float over from my right.

“I come from a loving, snuggly family,” I went on animatedly, “And I don’t… you know… fool around… so I don’t ever get my physical touch!” I threw my hands up in the air in mock frustration as I grinned at Diana. “That’s why I always hug you when I see you.”

I directed the conversation away from myself then, asking everyone else about their love languages. Bo said that his are words of affirmation and acts of service, although he also made an insightful comment about men in general: “I think words of affirmation are universally one of the top two for men. Men like to act tough, but we’re actually really insecure.” He didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know experientially, but I appreciated Bo’s honesty and vulnerability. How many men would publicly make a statement like that, acknowledging their insecurities?

On Thursday night, Bo had to leave as soon as the VBS session was over. “I’ve gotta jet,” he called to the group as he got up from where we were all sitting cross-legged in the grass.

“Later!” we all called back as he started to walk across the field to his car. But after a few paces, he stopped, turned, and walked back to me. Bo surprised me by bending over and hugging my shoulders as I sat in the grass surrounded by children. Then he wordlessly straightened and walked back to his car.

It wasn’t until I was climbing into bed, mentally reviewing my day, that I realized Bo had made a conscious effort to meet my needs. He heard, remembered and made a decision to love me the way I need to be loved.

His thoughtfulness was touching. Pun intended.

Authentically Aurora

High Maintenance

Sharpay 1I don’t get how some girls just don’t get worked up about stuff. And I am totally jealous of them. Like, hello! You should be freaking out about this right now. You should be having a melt down. How are you not totally and completely stressed out of your mind?!?!

Last night, I volunteered to teach bible stories to a group of kids at an after school program in a low-income neighborhood. Partway through the night, I was talking with my friend Diana – a gorgeous, newly engaged twenty-something – as she reached into her purse and–

“Ugh!” Her white-and-gold Michael Kors iPhone case was covered in gooey, melted chocolate. She started digging through her purse and gingerly pulled out the culprit: a half-unwrapped Hershey’s bar. Diana started laughing as she shook her head and said, “One of the kids must have stuck that in there!”

She went right on with our conversation as if nothing had happened. She was laughing and smiling, completely unfazed by the fact that the entire inside of her purse was full of smeared brown goo that looked like poo. A gooey, pooey mess, and she’s still smiling.

I was floored. And insanely jealous of her attitude. She’s kind of a high maintenance girl from a materialistic perspective – Prada bags, Kendra Scott jewelry, business clothes from The Limited and Banana Republic. But what I realized last night is that, although she may be materialistic, she is low maintenance from an emotional perspective. In that regard, I’m the one who is high maintenance! Me. High Maintenance. What?

I’ve never seen myself that way before. I’m rocking a $15 purse from Target, and my fashionista self has been sporting the same pair of plain black heels to work for two years. What can I say? I’m practical and down-to-earth when it comes to material goods. If only I could say the same about my emotional state!

Sharpay 2I’m a Christian. Diana’s a Christian. I know that I should not be anxious for anything (Phil. 4:6), that I should cast my cares on God (Ps. 55:22), and that prayer will result in my heart and mind being guarded by the peace of God (Phil. 4:7). But I get worked up about stuff. Easily. I am easily frustrated, quick to anger and live in a perpetual state of stress. Diana, on the other hand, in all her fashionista-ness, has a lightness of heart that stems from her faith in the truths of God’s goodness and sovereignty.

I’m like totally J of Diana’s fabulous outlook on life and, like, I just can’t. I seriously need her mad skills. She’s on fleek. Hashtag killin’ it. Low maintenance girl right here. Am I right, ladies?

Authentically Aurora