". . .the word of God is not bound." II Tim. 2:9b

Monday, December 21, 2015

Balance and Boundaries

It's a great pleasure to introduce my first guest author, Dalene Vickery Parker. She currently teaches English 10-12, as well as Creative Writing, Public Speaking, and Journalism in the South Carolina public school system. Her book, Christian Teachers in Public Schools: 13 Essentials for the Classroom, was published by Beacon Hill Press in 2012.

I have been reading and loving this book! It's a realistic guide for teachers who long to share the light of Christ, but need help and support to figure out how to do so within the confines of the public school. It has been a great encouragement to me, and I know it will be to you as well. Read it. Give it as a gift to a Christian teacher who has meant a lot to you.

Post a comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of Dalene's book, Christian Teachers in Public Schools! Enter by January 1, 2016. The winner will contacted by January 5.

Thanks for blogging with me, Dalene!


Balance and Boundaries

by Dalene Vickery Parker

The first night of Christmas break I resolve not to do any schoolwork for a solid week. After all, I lost many hours’ sleep this week creating and grading exams. The last day of the semester I stayed at school until 6:30 pm, trying to wrap up, finalize, and shut down everything before leaving.

But Friday night, my mind won’t shut down –or shut out—school. Not yet, anyway. New ideas for learning activities keep popping into my head, even as I soak my weary bones in a steaming bath seasoned with Christmas Spirit essential oil. I jot down the ideas circling in my head as soon as I emerge and smile at the invitation of a new year, a new start with new students.

But Saturday morning, I still have some “old” students in mind. Malik and Nathaniel have an out-of-town wrestling match this morning at 9 am and I really want to show them some support. I don’t even like wrestling matches; they’re too intense, but for certain, they’ll get my blood pumping for any holiday cleaning or planning I need to do. Tomorrow I’ll deliver a Christmas tree and decorations to a student whose family has recently been homeless, but just acquired a “new” (115-year-old) residence. Naturally, they long to make it feel like home—and Christmas. Several members of our faculty and of my Sunday School class have partnered with me in helping this family get a new start. The school district collected money to supply Christmas gifts for the students, so they should have a wonderful day. I’m glad to be a part of that kind of joy.

But then the requests and needs of my own family and friends start pouring in. My brother’s and my mother’s cars broke down in the same week so they need transportation; my sister needs me to pick up gifts and help plan the menu for Christmas dinner; a friend who has just moved to town merits an official welcome; and of course, my husband and children deserve some time and attention, too! And oh, how I would love to tackle the cleaning projects I always put off until holidays or summer. My car and my closets are running a contest to see which one gets first place for Clutter City, USA.

What I have found the most difficult about teaching is striking the right balance between school and home, between taking care of others and taking care of me/mine. It’s challenging to know where to draw the boundary lines so that needs are met, but no harmful dependencies are formed in the process.

Of course, the first thing I must do at the start of every day and throughout the day is to ask the Lord for guidance and wisdom. His Word and other resources encouraging biblical living must take priority in my plans. For the fifth year in a row, I’m gleaning from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young constant reminders to trust Him, thank Him, and spend time in His presence. Most recently, Priscilla Shirer’s Fervent has earned a repeat reading. I know that without targeted time with Jesus and diligent prayer and focus on God’s will, I will be scattered so many different directions I won’t ever accomplish any one thing well. No matter how many good deeds I do, only those done under His direction/timing will bear the desired fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5: 22). To develop and mature those qualities, I need to stay connected to the Vine. Then my greatest desire as a Christian teacher, wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend will be fulfilled: “And they were glorifying God because of me.” Galatians 1:24

May it be so for you as well, dear sisters and brothers in Christ. Merry Christmas! May your new year be bright with His abundant love and peace. And may He guide us all into healthier balance and boundaries in all aspects of our lives.

Dalene Parker

Dalene Vickery Parker has taught high school English, Creative Writing, Journalism, and Public Speaking in South Carolina public schools for nearly three decades. Her book Christian Teachers in Public Schools provides real stories, rich encouragement, and essential tips for sharing faith, hope, and survival in the classroom. Please see http://www.worddoctor13.com/book-christian-teachers for ordering information.

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