Tag Archives: students

My Sermon from 4/7, or… The “So What” Sermon

So, the Second Sunday of Easter is labeled as a lot of things… the “So What” Sermon, or the “Doubting Thomas” sermon. Anyhow… I worked with both. Here is the lectionary readings for that day.


Well, here we are: the Second Sunday of Easter. Let’s all breathe a collective sigh of relief—Lent is over, Holy Week is complete. We can all collapse now into our regular seats in the church, pointing in the proper direction,(1) sing happy songs, and go back to normal.

Actually—wait.

Our lesson today makes it pretty clear that our story of resurrection only starts on Easter Sunday. Continue reading My Sermon from 4/7, or… The “So What” Sermon

How to make a pencil grow

The other day one of the students, a bouncy boy who has a hard time controlling the urge to speak, grabbed my arm as I was walking around observing center time. (That’s when they work on various play-learning tasks at their tables.)

“Why is this pencil so small?!” He nearly screamed.
“Probably because it has been used a lot,” I explained. “It’s been sharpened many times.”

He was perplexed and rather unhappy. So in a few moments he grabbed me again, and, rolling the pencil furiously between his two hands, exclaimed: “I’m making it bigger!”

I nearly died of laughter, which unfortunately enforces silly behaviors. Oh well. They’re that adorable for a reason. Probably to make us adults laugh.

20 things I did in 2012

Let’s take a look at all the ridiculous and awesome things that I accomplished this year. It may be a bit of narcissism but hey… I took on a lot, and came out swinging.

  1. I learned how to make fudge! In the microwave! Doable even for ME!
  2. One of my bones was on the outside of my body this year. It got put back in. I didn’t really accomplish either of those things, as someone else put it on the outside of my body, and someone else (a doctor) also put it back in. But a bone of mine has indeed seen the light of day. (Other than my teeth.)
  3. I successfully completed my first academic year at the University of Chicago!
  4. I completed a 1/4 term of service for Americorps this year through Jumpstart!
  5. I rode on a motorcycle! (An accomplishment for me only because I didn’t fall off said motorcycle; someone else was driving.)
  6. I learned how to read ancient Greek, and took a course on the Gospel of Luke in its original language!
  7. I spent an amazing summer in Chicago: Lake Michigan, rooftop patios, beaches, courtyards with fountains, drawing and a lot of Netflix.
  8. I taught children’s formation at church for the first time. And learned that it’s nothing like teaching school.
  9. I got hit by a bus.
  10. I taught–or at least helped teach–on the South Side of Chicago, met some fantastic kids, some kids I wanted to strangle–but also kind of loved.
  11. I preached a sermon! In a church! (And in a class, a few times.)
  12. I saw a lot of famous people give speeches at my house. Including Rachel Maddow, Mitt Romney, a bunch of ambassadors to important places, and David Axelrod. (Who I got to talk to. And who let us take a picture with him.)
  13. I successfully (two grades still pending) completed a term at U of C with four classes and two jobs. I also learned that I never want to do that ever, ever again.
  14. For the first time, my ‘permanent residence’ was the place that I actually lived, instead of a parent.
  15. I voted!
  16. I visited my Ma for Mother’s Day!
  17. I asked a presidential candidate a question. (And hated the answer.)
  18. I learned how to do online dating!
  19. I visited someone in the hospital.
  20. I rode my bike to Aldi at 67th and Cottage almost solely for the purpose of buying freezer pops.

My Very Second Sermon

For my Very Second Sermon, I was tasked to write something “apologetic.” The goal was to pick something in the tradition that needed extrapolating, struggling with, or added meaning. I decided to preach on Children, and the Christian obligation to nurture, give blessing, and uplift children. I chose Luke 18:15-17 for the text.

15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Continue reading My Very Second Sermon

I’ve suddenly become very busy.

Which is odd, since I’m not really sure where all my time as gone. I’m racking up this list of things that I need to get done; lost of anxiety-making tasks.

I often feel like I’m not really in control of my life–at least for the past few weeks–I’ve been in a low place and it’s been hard to be present and purposeful in a lot of the things I do. Partially, that’s because of business and lack of time alone. Some other things are just the conditions of the work that I’ve been doing. I encounter some difficult situations, especially with the students that I teach. I’ve been trying to walk a fine line between authority and non-authority, and I’m not sure I’m always succeeding. I’m really growing to love the kids, though, and I enjoy talking with them. I just wish their situation was more fair. In so many ways, they’ve been dealt the short end of the stick. It’s exhausting to keep going up against it. There’s something peculiar about it, too; it’s different from the exhaustion that I felt in India and Korea. Obviously, things are always a little bit different: you’re a different person every time. What’s so particular about this situation, though, is that this is America; we all speak English; I understand everything that goes on around me–at least linguistically. It’s often just a bombardment of information. It can be daunting, and I often feel like I don’t have support. I don’t know if that’s because I don’t seek it out (or don’t notice it when it’s offered) or if it just doesn’t exist.

Anyway, there are a lot of things hanging over my head that I want to get together, so that I can feel more in control. It makes good sense to list them out, at least to me, so that I can have them better organized. (And check them off when they are done.)

1. Get a new, working, phone and ipod
My  beloved ipod is about to bite the dust–I thought I’d already killed it a month ago, but then it rejuvenated itself. My phone has been working extremely poorly for the better part of a year. I just discovered that I’m not as tied to my contract with Sprint as I thought. So, I’ll be buying an iPhone with a new contract, on a network that works! Finally.

2. Transfer to a new bank
I’ve been needing to do this since I moved to Chicago. USBank is a really good bank, but there is only one branch, downtown, and it’s only open from 9-5 M-F. Every time I need to deposit a check, I have to make a trip downtown. While I like getting out of Hyde Park, this is really just too obnoxious. I’m looking at the University’s credit union, and (eek) at Citibank. The University’s credit union is logical and probably the best deal, however I don’t think they have great ATM service. I’m looking at Citibank *only* because they have an atm in my building.

3. Set up my new room!
I moved a couple weeks ago into the extra-large room on the corner of the hall. I’ve got a great view, a queen sized bed, and enough space to spread out. It feels so, so much better and it really feels like a good place to stay for another year. I’ve still got to get everything together, though. I’m decorating and cleaning and sorting things. Plenty to do.

4. New computer!
I told myself that I would buy a new computer over the summer, when I have enough time to set it up and get things going. I’ve got cold feet, though. Should I drop the money? Should I go for what I really want? Especially when I’m buying a new phone, and switching to a much more expensive plan? What about my increased rent this year? I know exactly what I want, but I also have fears about that, too. What if it ends up being too big to take to class and take notes with? What if all my new graphic capability gets me super addicted to video games and I fail out of school?? What if my art changes drastically? Lots of whatifs. The most important one, though, that circles through my head when I think about this is: What if I don’t really need one?

5. Go to the Dentist
This should definitely not be #5 on the list. This should be #1. Right there. At the very beginning. I should not even be typing right now because I should be making an appointment as we speak. But I’m really scared of going. I know I have thousands of dollars worth of work that needs to be done in my mouth. I know that I probably need a root canal, and I’m scared of that drill. (In High School, a dentist attempted to do a root canal on the same tooth, but was unable to sufficiently numb the tooth, and he drilled into a live nerve. Since then I have been… apprehensive about such procedures.)

6. Find a permanent, real doctor.
I have been seeing various doctors, all over the place, here and there, with very little trust and a whole lot of frustration. I feel like I’m constantly going through hoops just to get what I need, and even then I never really get it. I really need to find a long-term physician that I will see, that doesn’t work out of the student health center. I’ve had a number of bad experiences there and I’d really like to have access to a doctor who isn’t swamped, dismissive, and impossible to reach. (Though god knows if such a thing exists.)

7. Re-do this site 
This is actually what I’m working on most of the time now. I have a new idea for a layout which is simpler, focuses more on the art, and I think will streamline the site a lot more. I’m pretty excited about it, but php can get me pretty worked up when it isn’t working the way I want it to. Hah.

Anyway, that’s a list. Some of it is scary and some of it is good, but kind of worrisome, either because of big money decisions or time. But I know that once I finally get it done, I’ll feel more in control. Probably more in control that I’ve felt in a long time, without dentistry and doctordom hanging over my head, a reliable phone, a nice get-away room, and a new, beautiful painting machine.

Well… today is my last day at work.

I’ve been woefully absent on my blog, but that’s because I’ve had so much to do. And, in some ways, Korea has really become regular, daily life that doesn’t really require a ‘blog.’

These days I’ve been training in the new teacher, Lauren, who is really competent. She has more training at this than either Emily or I had, and I know she’ll do just fine. She’s taught in the States, so she’ll have a huge heads up on both of us.

Right now, I feel a lot like I felt right before I moved to college. There’s a huge, exciting adventure ahead of me, but I don’t know how it will be, and I can’t imagine it at all. I don’t know if I’ll be ready. I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle it, but I do know that I want to do it, so that’s all I have right now.

It’s really hard to say goodbye to my baby students. I’m the only foreign teacher they’ve known, and they are 100% mine. They were really starting to drive me crazy, but they’re mine and only mine, so it’s hard to pass them on to someone else. As my first class, the one I like to call “Squirrel Kindergarten” left yesterday, telltale tears welled up in my eyes and I looked away, shooing them out before they saw me–because then I would have been DONE.

I try not to gloat. I try not to make it clear just how hard I worked to make these children love me–to be a good teacher, to teach them and help them and do what I thought was right. I try not to tell everyone how hard I worked to keep loving them even though everything around me told me that I shouldn’t. Everything around me said: “You are temporary, you don’t matter, this is just a business.” But I tried my best to make sure that even though that attitude got into me sometimes, that it never corrupted the reason I came into my classes every day. At least my babies. At least for my babies, I felt like I could do the best job I could do.

But there is a big difference between how things were then, and how they are now. The students’ parents know me. The students know I can speak Korean, at least a little bit, and that I care about their language. The teachers and the boss trusts me, and even the desk teachers are kind to me. I used to loathe how hard it was. Now I feel proud of the fact that I made it all this way. I dealt with kids with violent learning disabilities, kids with severe ADD, and all kinds strange and wonderful other things. I had virtually no training, and absolutely no warning. I worked hard. And I pulled through, and in the end, I’d say the vast majority of these kids are better off, or at least just not thoroughly damaged. I worked really hard for something positive, and I think I got it.

That said, I am really happy to be turning to the next thing in my life. This was in many ways the hardest thing I have ever done. Luckily, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and after these last few days, I am sure that I have not been killed.

On Saturday, October 1, this blog will become Maggie Cube Goes to India! Stay tuned for the next exciting episode….

Rushing through the red tape–in a different language.

This past week has been consumed with visa questions and stuff related to India. It’s all a little complicated, and not a little bit of it really frustrating.

In the end I know it’ll be worth it, but currently it makes me feel really powerless. At first, the travel agent with whom I booked the ticket had spelled my name wrong. This was causing problems because maybe the Korean government wouldn’t take that as proof that I was leaving the country. (Since my Korean visa is expiring on 9/2. They’re giving me an extension until 10/2, the date of my flight.)

The India visa process is very complicated. That on its own is causing consternation. I went to get passport photos only to discover that the photo shop was missing. That was pretty disappointing. I’d had some nice photos made there. That’s how things are in Korea, though–here one day, gone the next. And I do literally mean, gone the NEXT. Changed into something completely different.

Right now my passport is in the hands of the Korean government. As soon as I get it back, I have to send it to the hands of the Indian government in Seoul. I have to deposit a large sum of money into their account, and then I have to sit on my hands and wait until I get my visa.

In between that time, I have to study for my black belt test, which is rapidly approaching. Today, the sun is out and it’s cool–which is one of the best things to happen to us over here in several months. I’m hoping that the weather keeps this up so I can go to the beach tomorrow. There’s a nice one about two hours away from us, where I can relax, draw, and recoup from the extraordinary “Korea frustration” that I am feeling right now. It’s really hard to give a place any leeway when you’re about to leave. Everything is too difficult to deal with, or makes you furious.

The good news, though, is that I’m laughing a lot more with my kids, and I’m a lot more lenient with them these days. We’re giggling over silly things, having good fun with coloring and other things, and they seem to be enjoying class more often. Next week, I start another baby class, so I get to give some more students English names and introduce them to the first words of their second language. That’s always fun and adorable.