Freedom and Light

I now have the Toussaint holidays. I am going home to the UK on Thursday, for 10 days.

I can’t wait!

I have lesson planning to do too, but it doesn’t worry me too much thankfully. It always gets done, somehow. Although of course, being with the family, I’ll probably get pretty distracted pretty easily.

Updates on the work front – I am still not sure about it. Teaching. I know that by continuing, I should learn a lot. And by continuing, I will be letting myself in on some kind of emotional roller-coaster; where some days are good, and some days are just really discouraging.

However, I neither want to give up, nor leave France right now. So the decision is, to keep at it until Christmas. Which means only another 7 ish weeks of teaching. And then I might never do it again. So, as my mum said, only a blip in my existence. Also, I can’t give up yet, I need the money! So I need a plan B job to fall into.

I don’t hate it though – this job. It can be good and really satisfying when lessons go well, and there are some of the smaller classes I would be happy to continue teaching until forever. It’s just the other classes which I can’t control – that’s when I just want to curl up in a ball and never teach again! Luckily too, my work colleagues are a great support. Which would make it harder to leave. For now, I’m going to keep at it. As they say, we regret more the things we didn’t do, than the things we did….

So, what have I been doing with my holidays so far?

#Day1

I went to a creperie with two friends in Lille’s Grande Place and ate some Breton crepes. *yum*

#Day 2

I went on a road-trip with 2 work colleagues, from Lille to Arras!

We stopped off at Lens, where we climbed a coal mountain. (Er, not sure what the technical term is there).

We stopped at Vimy, at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial site. If you get the chance to go – you should! The memorial there is pretty impressive.

We picnicked at ancient church ruins.

We also discovered the Wellington Quarry, memorial of the battle of Arras, 20 metres below the ground.

There is a lot of history to be learnt here – unfortunately my knowledge of battles and wars leaves a lot to be desired. Luckily one of my colleagues is Arrasois (?), and very passionate about history. Throughout the day, he was able to fill us in.

#Day3

Was a quite relaxed day. I did some personal Bible study for my Groupe de Croissance meeting. I met my German friend for said meeting, and we discussed the passage (this time a chapter from Ephesians) together. We’ve been reading and talking about the Holy Spirit a lot, and discussing what it means to live by the Spirit, and how to be filled up with the Spirit. The passage we discussed yesterday, was Ephesians 5:15 to 6:9, where we also read about submission. About how submission touches everyone – whether it’s women submitting to their husbands, children to their parents, or employees to their employers

We also talked about how the Spirit works in us. My friend told me about a friend of hers; a man who lives on little, yet when he prays, he gets answers. His hand reaches out for God. Yet whilst his one hand is waiting for God, his other hand is stretched out below Him, ready to transfer whatever it is he receives, to the next recipient.

Ralph Stallis writes that man is not a bottle – we are not made to keep the Holy Spirit for ourselves. But man, is like a pipe, or an electric cable, or a river. We are to be rivers constantly renewing our water: receiving the water which runs down from the mountain, and allowing the water to run ceaselessly down to the pit of the valley. It is by doing that, that we can be full of the Holy Spirit: if at every moment we receive the fullness of God, and then faithfully let God communicate through us to the world around us. We are a river and not a pond. A canal, not a bottle.

I then went to another evening which I go to every week at Le Feu (Foyer Evangelique Universitaire), where we eat together and study together. Recently, we’ve been studying 1 John. In 1 John, we’ve been talking about how God is light. He is light, he is faithful and he is just. We’ve been talking about how we are called also, to walk in the light. How by walking in the light, we can see our sin – the light reveals our sin.

We must not try to hide our sin, but we should be honest with God, and ourselves, admitting the sin and confessing the sin to God. God is light, and we are called to walk in the light. 

Do you want to walk in the light? To go where your sin is unhidden, where you can be honest with yourself, and with God?

By walking in the light, you are on a journey of sanctification; of becoming more and more holy as you walk with God; becoming more and more Christ-like, and being in constant war with sin.

So, that’s what we’ve been studying recently – not that I understand it all! It’s just interesting, and it’s got me questioning my own walk. I’ll leave it there then, leave you with

Just another something to think about…

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

I can’t do it anymore! I can’t eat chocolate! I can feel it rotting my teeth as I crunch…

(Chocolate M&M’s though, who can resist?)

Strawberries and blueberries it is then. Probably just as bad for my teeth mind, all those sugars!
Anyways – just wanted to write a happy blog for once!

So today at work, it went better than any other Wednesday so far! Okay, so it’s only my 3rd Wednesday, but let me tell you, after last week, I was ready to throw in the towel and never teach certain classes again! And today at lunch before another 3 hours of teaching, I felt preeeeetty nervous. I’ve been feeling pretty defeatist. Up until last night even. I felt pretty much like giving up. Although it was only my 3rd Wednesday teaching, I’ve been teaching for over a month now. I’ve been asking for prayer here there and everywhere. And I know that prayer works. And I’m so so thankful that today went well, thank the Lord!

There are still a few (or rather a lot of…) classes I have problems with, and I’m not saying everything went perfect today – but it went better. And I haven’t come home a sobbing wreck! Yay!

Don’t really know what God’s doing there – throwing in a happy Wednesday, when I was secretly plotting to just everything give up. Kind of a little spanner in the works, but there we go 🙂

The truth is, I have been getting a lot of support at work too – I’m not lacking in support. For that, I am very lucky.

After work, I met a friendly Canadian lady who was an ex-colleague from work. I also met a Finnish girl and a Swedish girl whilst doing some food shopping at Carrefour! It’s great really, how the English language is so worldwide. The Finnish and Swedish girls were chatting away in English; me being me, I couldn’t place where they were from, but I decided to strike up a conversation with them both. They were lovely and chatty and said they’re studying here for a semester. Their English is really great – not sure I’ve met many Swedish/Finnish peeps before?! But really it’s amazing how good their English is!

Anyway, think that post’s enough for tonight. I’m going to eat some food food, as it’s nearly 9pm.

Two P’s to end on: Positivity Mental Attitude friends! And,

prayer works!

And Psalms 118:24, great verse, eh 🙂

Give Me Joy In My Heart, Keep Me Praising

I’m sitting here with my third English Breakfast tea of the day. Am I missing home and good old British pleasures or what? Nah…

Got 4 lessons tomorrow. 2 of them will be based on the bright topic of ‘Halloween’, and the other two on the mediocre theme of ‘Back to School’. I figured Halloween’d be a fun topic for the kids, but we shall see – with me as the teacher, let’s just say anything could happen! I’m just praying that the children will enjoy the lessons; and that I can actually explain the games that I hope to play with them. Still need to finish getting a few things prepared tonight.

I’m just praying for joy in these lessons this week. Up until now, I feel like I’ve rarely felt that joy in my classes. The kind of joy that is contagious, where everyone is enjoying themselves, the children, the parents, and myself. This Saturday just gone, that was a good lesson. I honestly felt over the moon, after my difficult Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, that Saturday turned out okay. More than okay even!

So, best be off to finish organising my ideas and the numbers of photocopies etc. Tomorrow shall be the beginning of another busy week! This evening shall be the start of it even…

A toute mes amis!

Looking To The Sky

Didn’t really want to blog today as I figured I shouldn’t blog toooo much. Anyway, just a little post to answer the question I posed in one of my recent posts:

What connects

1. La Montgolfière (hot air balloon)

2. Le Hachis Parmentier (Shepherd’s Pie)

and

3. La Poubelle (a rubbish bin)?

The answer is: They are all named after their inventors!

(I learnt this from one of my intelligent housemates)

You see, here are the names:

1. The Montgolfier brothers, Jacques-Etienne & Joseph-Michel.

2. Antoine Parmentier

3. Eugène Poubelle

I may as well give you a tiny update too, on the teaching front! Today went much better than I expected; one of the parent’s even complimented me to my boss, and she also said that I am a really good singer?! Didn’t expect that comment, but I am just happy that my working week ended on a good note. (No pun intended!)

Unfortunately though, I now have a cold. So, back to the elephant phase. I’m needing to me moucher every 5 minutes. Pleasant times! I’m sure I’ve been under the weather for most of my time in Lille now; my bad throat of the past, was soon to be replaced by said cold! I think it was Thursday’s evening walk that did it. Woke up yesterday morning with a cold. Now I can’t breathe through my nostrils. Great!

Anyway, one good thing is that tonight I went for the first time to my church’s Youth Group/Young People’s Group, and after it had finished, we drove to a little farm where there was an ‘Astronomy Day’ event going on. It was an event organised by the Club Astronomique de la Région Lilloise. We got to watch the stars, see the moon close-up and learn a bit about planets, comets, the sun….and all that jazz. Apparently I saw Andromeda Galaxy as well – a galaxy I didn’t even know existed, but hey ho, now I can say I’ve seen a galaxy with my own eyes!

CARL Telescope

“A comme le A de sympA!”

Just looked up at my bedroom wall; and there pinned to the little brown board, is a happy souvenir, and a welcome reminder.

Zoe pictureOne of my old pupils, when I was an English Teaching Assistant 2 years ago in Le Mans (for the British Council on my 3rd year abroad, like), gave me this lovely souvenir: a drawing of Mickey Mouse, and a lovely acronym of my name.

She wrote the following:

Classe

Historique

Radieuse

Incroyable

Super

Timide

Irreprochable

Nouvelle

A comme le A de sympA!

You can probably make out most of what the French means; if not, ‘incroyable’ means ‘amazing’ 😉 and ‘sympa’ means nice. You can also see that she’s included the words, ‘timide’ (timid/shy), ‘sympa’ (nice) and ‘nouvelle’ (new) in the acronym.

Well, the French have pointed out to me this week, that I am somewhat “timid” and “too nice”. They have also recognised that I am  “new” when it comes to teaching. I found hearing some of this discouraging; I know it was most probably them just voicing what they’ve come to realise and giving me advice, but I still felt a bit under-qualified as they were listing my characteristics, and suggesting changes or implying that I could do with some help…

I understand that perhaps timidity and being-too-nice are not what we need in a classroom environment (especially with rowdy children!) Plus I really, really appreciate all the advice colleagues and friends have been giving me regarding discipline and getting settled into teaching. But sometimes, perhaps such qualities are needed. In any case, after having looked up at this little reminder of the acronym, I can rest assured that there are times when such qualities are appreciated.

After all, as it says in Ecclesiastes 3:

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens […]

Dancing in Stink

So let me just explain – I like Lille, I don’t think it’s an un-pretty place. It has character. But sometimes, it just smells. You know, some places just have a bad odour. And in Lille, sometimes you get a waft of a something or other… In Venice it kinda stinks too. And no, it’s not just me who says that Lille smells – a German friend I met today, she agrees, alright mate!

Anyway, just wanted to drop in and share this little something with you; something I read today which I came across in a Dance magazine, Danse. I know, I should not be spending money on such things! First time I assure you, and the last… However, I did buy it, and I read this rather lovely description of one’s relationship with dance:

Dancing for me is the harmonious conversation between body and soul. Flying transported by the wings of music, freed of the constraints of time and space.

Dancing is being able to connect to a source that is the alpha and omega of any movement.

Is being submerged in a river of emotions ever changing, joy, sadness, all part of a bigger Whole Present to the fluidity of the moment, is the joy of being alive and here, and at the same time, nowhere.

Xiomara Reyes

In fact, I might go to a dance class tomorrow, or I never will. So I’ll soon see whether I’ll be dancing in stink, or in sync…

Hoping Along

They said there’ll be snow at Christmas
They said there’ll be peace on Earth
But instead, it just kept on raining
A veil of tears for the Virgin birth

I’m sitting on my bed surrounded by my mess – ironing board still up, work notes and handouts spread out on the floor, dirty plate and mug on my desk etc. etc.

Feeling a bit low, but I think really it’s fatigue. OK, not JUST fatigue, but also the fact that I’m struggling a bit with my new job – and so it does get me down a bit!

I think perhaps you have to be a particular person to work with children, to know how to teach them and to lead them well. I just don’t feel like that dynamic, chatty lady who makes all children feel welcome, that someone who really captivates their attention – and I’m not sure I ever could be that someone.

I think it’s true that teaching causes you to take one hard look at yourself, and to question who you are and what you are doing – as in the daily choices and actions you are taking during (and outside of) each hour that you teach. At least for me, that’s how I feel. As a teacher, you can see what are your limits, what is testing for you, and what things bring you joy.

Walking home a week (or maybe two) ago, I had a funny image. Of a cracked egg, wobbling, and trying to hold itself together in order to not break completely. I’m not sure if I’ve already written about that before…(I suffer from a bad memory…) Either way, I’ve felt like that wobbly egg sometimes. Maybe today I actually just cracked a little more!

I think I’m tired – do you have those days where you just feel a bit low all day and you can’t snap out of it? I think I felt discouraged in work this morning, and that discouragement hung over me like a black cloud all day. Even now still. But tomorrow is a new day, and I do have hope for some strange reason, maybe out of sheer necessity – because otherwise perhaps I wouldn’t continue.

It’s just that teaching, well more today’s teaching to be exact, has made me question even more certain qualities of my character and whether I am fit to do what I trying to do. Which I don’t think is always a bad thing to do, that is, to question oneself and see what we do well, and where we could do things better. But sometimes, I feel like certain aspects of oneself cannot be changed; or perhaps one is too used to being as one is, and doesn’t want to change, for better or for worse…

I’m willing to change. To improve, to learn and to make myself and others proud! But at the same time, I think it’s wise also to recognise one’s limits, and recognise that maybe some things just don’t fit your own character. And like my housemate reminded me tonight, our own character has value. Everyone has different qualities, and everyone may face different challenges. But everyone, every character, has value.

I said I’m willing to change, but sometimes when I’m at work, I just can’t get out of my comfort zone and do what my character does not usually do! I feel I should, for example, call out those kids’ names in a loud booming voice; I feel like I should be able to capture that child’s attention by doing this, or by saying that. I feel like I should better control the children and do what my character usually does not. But then I don’t do it – I find that I feel just a bit too uncomfortable with doing something that my character normally does not. But really, if I could do that (i.e. step out of my comfort zone from time to time!) maybe, things would be better.

Anyway, enough of the soppy post. As a friend told me yesterday, ‘Less doubting, more sprouting!’ And I think she has a point. 🙂