"And the greatest of these is love."

Above all things, love one another.

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You who are young,
be happy while you are young,
and let your heart give you joy
in the days of your youth.

Ecclesiastes 11:9 (via silviali)

perfect. i love everything about my life and everything that God has given me—the ridiculously exhausting job, the small angry children, the challenge of teaching them, the emotional strain, the friends, the family, the cities that have my heart. i love being young i love being free. i love being alive.

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#blessed

it’s the week before spring break, and my kids have been hellish this week. it’s the first week of real, consistent, springtime sunshine, the first week of light in the mornings on the drive to work, the first week of fresh air and that damp smell of new earth and of buds peeping bright green life through the dirt. everyone’s antsy to be out. no one wants to be in that classroom, me included. 

anyway, because of the craziness in the atmosphere, i was super excited that the 4th-6th grade classes got called down this afternoon for some impromptu performance. we weren’t told anything about it as teachers—just an announcement over the intercom at around 10 am, halfway through our english lesson, that fourth through sixth grades would be meeting in our cafeteria for a guest performance. they were being rowdy anyway, so it was with relief that i rounded up my students and walked them on down. 

turns out, it was a super cool rap/play/skit thing put on by high schoolers in the neighborhood about how to regulate emotions. it offered a lot of alternatives than violence and tempermental outbursts. the rap/play/skit thing was especially relevant to my students because it addressed a lot of issues that they’re dealing with: things like divorce, abandonment, abuse, neglect, and all the anger that arises because of those experiences. the high schoolers danced around on stage and rapped about “stop feel think, choose and act!” to some catchy singy-songy tune while my fourth graders watched, enraptured. 

at one point, though, one of the characters on stage started sharing about her older brother who had been shot in a gang fight. she did a short soliloquoy about how angry she felt, all the time, because she had lost him. the girl was a pretty good actor, and i could see a lot of my students sucked in by her character’s story.

then i looked a little closer and i saw one of my favorite students, student T, with his jacket pulled up over his face. when he pulled his jacket collar away, i could tell he was crying. 

T is the bully of the classroom, the tough guy. he doesn’t cry. 

i tiptoed over to him and kneeled down besides him and asked if he was okay. 

he nodded, quietly. “yeah, ms. wang. i just miss my dad.”

student T’s father was stabbed to death in a drunk fight about two years ago.  student T has intense, uncontrollable anger issues. he’s going to therapy, getting help, seeing counselors for anger management. he’s also my hardest kid to deal with almost every day. he yells out, he swears, he hits other students. he’s mean and rude and hurtful. whenever he’s upset, he lashes out at me, too. 

but i completely adore him, and he knows it. 

and kneeling there this afternoon beside him, i almost started crying, too. 

i can’t even imagine—can’t begin to fathom the amount of suffering student T must be going through inside. he’s nine years old and his father was killed. he’s nine years old and he shouldn’t have to hurt the way he does. 

it just struck me all at once, hunched over there in our dirty poorly lit cafeteria with the awful acoustics. my world is so different than my students’ world. my world is brimming with love, care, gentleness and affection. i have literally the most perfect life imaginable. i have the support of amazing family, friends, and co-workers. i have constant affirmation of my worth, my intelligence, my value, my abilities. i have unconditional, all reliable love in my God and my faith. i have an established and respected community. i live in warmth and plenty. i lack nothing. absolutely nothing.

and this little boy who is nine years old whom i love with my whole heart breaks daily in ways i will never experience. 

it just struck me, that’s all. i wanted to write about things that strike me. i want to remember them even in years far past when student T is 29, when maybe i don’t teach anymore, when i’m not surrounded by heartbreak and suffering. i wanted to write because i think it’s so, so important to remember our blessings. 

i wanted to write because i don’t ever want to forget student T. 

if you have a moment, could you please pray for him? i know i will be.

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today i ate three frosties, a jr bacon cheeseburger, and 4 piece spicy chicken nuggets for dinner. followed by two pieces of pizza for dessert. 

what’s that quote about how “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels?”

that’s a lie. 

midway through my second frosty i started considering all the things that taste better than skinny. a third frosty was on that list. 

(aka this post is an explanation of how i stress eat. for the second day in a row, other teachers didn’t come into work or were sick and didn’t get a sub. that means their kids get shoved into my classroom, where i get to deal with them for the day. it was a struggle. to put it lightly. i was back up to 32 students, and it brought back like, PTSD memories of my 31 class days and how horrendous they were. ugh. ugh ugh ugh. i can’t wait until spring break.)

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one week left until spring break.

guys. i have five days left between me and a week of blessed, blessed freedom. glorious blessed sunshine, relaxation and home cooked meals, ve living in a place where i don’t have to cook or clean, no lesson plans, no poorly behaved children, no struggles and emotional turmoil. just my beautiful and supportive family whom i love. just my close friends and old teammates in a city that i love. 

think one week of doing nothing but drinking, eating, talking, watching movies. exploring philadelphia. staying out late in bright lights big city. or curled up in a corner of my couch at home, legs folded under me as i listen to my mother’s voice, or my little brother’s laughter. think of ten days without responsibility, without small children’s futures and educations in my hands. think about no swearing, no yelling, no hurt or exhaustion. think about no pressure. 

fivedays. i can do this. five. days. 

sometimes, one of my best friends in TFA (eliza) and i sit around and we talk about our jobs. we talk about how flipping real they are, and how we wish sometimes they weren’t. like…some of our friends from college have graduated and are working in retail. or as a barista in a coffee shop, or as an office assistant or receptionist in some tall quiet building. a few are even in accounting, marketing, finance. they work in a cubicle with a computer from 9am until 5pm. 

or some of them don’t have jobs yet. 

there are days where we crave those jobs. 

sometimes i look at the option i chose—which is to leave my privileged ivy league university and immediately enter an underperforming, impoverished community and try to educate the struggling problem children thereof—and want one of those jobs. 

maybe this is my continued over-dramatization of my life, maybe i need to get off my high horse. maybe those jobs have challenges and exhaustions that i just don’t see or know of yet. maybe i’m undercutting those jobs and their difficulties. 

but like…….damn, dude. our jobs are so freaking real. i feel so much pressure at my job every day. there are literally small childrens’ futures in my hands. 

and every day, i get to see what would happen to them if i fail: more poverty. more hardship. more imprisonments, more crime, more anger and frustration and ignorance and suffering.

sometimes i don’t want that responsibility or pressure. 

in five days, i don’t have to worry about that anymore. 

for at least one week. 

five days. just five more days. 

just five more days.

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welp, i found out why i’ve been sick for so long and feeling so crappy? i have a respiratory infection. it’s not so fun. 

happily, however, all the students coming back from suspension wasn’t as awful as i thought it would be. other than student T who was…hard to control…, everyone else was tolerable. not a great day, but not an awful one. then i tutored some kids after school and that was AMAZING. it made me feel so, so great about myself. i love tutoring. i love working with kids. i love helping them learn. it’s just frustrating that that feels limited by the amount of behavioral issues throughout the day. 

tutoring again tomorrow, with some of my favorite students (the highest scoring, most brilliant, adorable, wonderfully curious and bright and hardworking students. the good kids, basically. today was the not so high achieving kids). hopefully that’ll make the rest of the school day more tolerable, because dude the respiratory infection is killllllllling me.

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whiny post, sorry!

things i did this weekend:

1. went home for my dad’s birthday. surprised him with my older brother, who also drove back from buffalo. my dad had no idea we would be coming :).
2. spent time with family—basketball games for lukey, going shopping for various necessities, watching march madness, staying up late and talking and laughing and giggling. 
3. ate a lot of delicious chinese food, homecooked by my mother. 
4. realized how beautifully, wonderfully blessed i am for having the family that i have. God gave me a glorious group of people. 

things i didn’t do this weekend:

1. do any work. at all. seriously, at all

so therefore, i’m noooooooooooootttttttttttt looking forward to class tomorrow…..

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new musings and revelations.

i’m writing under the influence.

nyquil, not alcohol. 

i’m not in college anymore, people. those days of excitement/stupidity are long gone. 

my face is all warm and fuzzy and my limbs feel extremely limp and heavy and everything’s a bit woozy, but i wanted to remember saying this before i forget to say it, and before it gets pushed to the back of my mind and i slowly let it seep away into the abyss of my memories:

i’m so glad i love a God who is stronger and wiser and smarter and deeper and better than i am. 

let me back up and explain. 

it’s late, so imma be honest: i think i’m smart as hell. which is probably a mistake. and probably super cocky. and probably something you’re supposed to keep to yourself and away from the wide open fields of public social media. but i’m drugged up, can feel the weird buzz around the corners of my cheeks that indicate nighttime medicine kicking in!!!!, and so i figure what the heck, let’s just say it. i think i’m smart as hell. i think i’m competent. i think i’m capable. i could go on and on and list all the credentials and job interviews and standardized tests and IQ scores that have merely condoned this arrogance in my life, but whatever, let’s just leave it at that: i think i can do almost anything. 

and here’s the cool thing: God’s smarter than me. 

i mean that in the most wonderful, glorious way possible. His plans and His thinking are so much deeper and wiser than mine. 

it’s been hitting me recently, because sometimes i get frustrated with church/school/work/people/relationship stuff and start to think of all the defeat around me in life. things like…my favorite students moving away, and still being stuck in poverty. things like how little i’ve achieved in these kids’ lives compared to what i want to achieve. things like the fact that some people whom i really love and have been praying for for years still don’t believe in Christ. things like issues with our church culture, things like oppressive and outdated social stigmas, things like the fact that i’m still struggling with the same stupid boy problem that i’ve been struggling with for ages and can’t seem to get over. things like not knowing where i’m going after TFA. those things. they look like defeat. 

but here’s the awesome, amazing thing about our God: things that look like defeat to us are chances for Him to prove His victory. 

things like His son dying on the cross. things like Jesus Christ getting crucified. things like His church being persecuted. things like the apostles dying, things like people losing faith, things like religion looking like it’s falling apart and like Christianity is dying out.

He looks at that and He says, “here is where you see my glory. here is the resurrection. here is my Son, ascending to the highest heavens and sitting at my right hand until i put my enemies under His feet. here is where you see my triumph: in the church, in the most fallen of men, somehow made into my perfect and spotless bride.”

He looks at me, at the mess that i am, and says: “here is my daughter. here is someone i have redeemed from the miry clay. here is someone i am changing from the inside out, to be more and more like me and my perfection.”

He looks at what looks so messed up and ugly and transforms it to something victorious. 

i just love Him. i love His plan. i love that He is so much bigger than me. i love and trust His great power, because i’ve seen time and time again: His best is better than my best. He is higher than i am. 

i was reading in John 16 with jane tonight, and i’ll end with a verse that struck me:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. in the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” —John 16:3

Filed under victorious