A Veil of Protection

The weather is cold now. Even though most of the ice and snow from a recent storm has melted, the wind still whips up and over our home bringing the bite of winter. When this season rolls around each year, I can hibernate with the best of the bears. Sleep late. Bundle up in favorite blankets and quilts. Cuddle with our Boxer girl. I honestly have to force myself to complete work other than reading a good book, so daily exercise becomes even more of a punishment than normal. Still, I try to make myself do the “fun” work of getting my heart rate high enough to keep me moving and healthy. 

After a time of walking or dancing or yoga, I am ready for a shower. During the recent ice storm, I noticed again the effectiveness of a thin shower curtain hanging between the warm waterfall of a shower and the chill of the bathroom. When the outside temperature falls into the single digits, the bathroom feels cold as well. How is it that such a thin layer of cloth can contain the steam and heat of the water? Even when I turn off the water, the heat stays inside of the shower with me. The simplicity and truth of this event makes me think about the protective layer of the veils that are in the Bible. 

After Moses talked with God on Mount Sinai, he had to wear a veil because the reflection of God’s presence upon Moses’s face was too spectacular for the people to see. Before Jesus, the temple veil was in place to keep the holiest inner sanctuary separate from the everyday people. The high priest entered that inner area to approach the Ark of the Covenant only once a year, wearing sacred linen garments. In each of these Old Testament situations, a thin covering protected the people from overwhelming situations with God on the inside of the veil. God’s glory was so powerful that humans could not handle being in His presence without being frightened or overcome. 

When Jesus was crucified, the veil in the temple was torn from the top to the bottom, which fascinates me. Because of Jesus, humans can experience atonement and mercy and love with not even a thin layer between God and us. The choice to follow Jesus allows humans the gift of the Holy Spirit living within our very beings. While I love the comfort and peace I have from this personal connection, I also appreciate that we still have a layer of protection around us. It’s just that we are now on the inside of the curtain with Him.

A Christian is definitely not exempt from pain, suffering, hard decisions, sin, or heartbreak. The difference is that Jesus promises a way through the negative life events as they happen. From the spiritual warfare happening all around that we can’t see to the physical and emotional trials that press us daily, Jesus offers a veil of protection. The change from Old Testament to New Testament veils comforts me immensely because before Jesus, humans had to be on the opposite side of the veil from God. If we were too close, we were overwhelmed. Not anymore. Accepting Jesus means that we can stay behind the curtain with Him. Together. On the same side. Not overwhelmed by His glory, but saved by His grace. Amazing, isn’t it? If your world feels frozen, and you are vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy, say yes to Jesus and stay behind the curtain with Him. He will protect you and give you a place to stay warm and peaceful even in the midst of the world’s ice storm. He loves you that much!

An Open Letter to Parents about Virtual Learning

18 March 2020

Dear Auspicious Parents,

Bless your hearts. We teachers see you and appreciate you.

In these days of forced eLearning, you are stepping into the gap for us. I know that you might not have a full cabinet of supplies at home and that you will be meeting your own work responsibilities while you are now also sitting with your students. Suddenly, you will be the teacher, disciplinarian, tech support, cafeteria staff, recess monitor, librarian, and janitor. I know that you will be doing your best for your children, and I encourage you to not accept all of these roles for yourself.

From the youngest to the oldest students, your children can step up to help you. Let them make their own lunch and clean up their own messes. After the novelty of this situation wears off and they try to procrastinate and push their work to the side, stay strong. Teachers spend many hours developing classroom management tactics to ensure smooth communication about responsibilities at school, but you have parenting experience on your side. No one knows your children as well as you do. Meet them at the table each day to do the work. You can find many helpful, age appropriate resources that will offer suggestions about setting up a schedule and keeping students focused on their learning.

Beyond those, here are a few suggestions for your older students:

~Find the balance between using technology for school and for social purposes. Many of us teachers make your children put away their phones during class. Even the seniors. We do not allow social networking sites, games, or random “research.” Be aware of what your kids are watching online during school time. Very long, winding rabbit holes are literally at every click and will distract even the best of us. Be prepared to take away the phones. The students will question you but be resilient. You’ve got this.

~Keep the responsibility for organizing and learning squarely on your children’s shoulders. You are not on our class rosters, so you are not expected to do this work. We are providing instruction, and your students will have to be more independent now than ever before. This process can actually be beneficial for the students because they will be more skilled with self-learning than any group before them. Think about how much you’ve had to teach yourself in your adult life. Consider this on-the-job-type training for them.

~Stay out of the emotional arena. You love your kids more than anyone, and they know that. You all know exactly which buttons to push to make each other crazy, and honestly, I fully expect your children to try pushing those buttons before this whole event is back to normal. My best teacher advice for you is to not get emotional. When you show emotions of frustration, anger, confusion, hesitation? They win. It’s that easy. Thirty years of teaching makes me know I’m right on this one. Be stoic during class time. Make them figure it out and do the work. If you refuse to be emotional, their #1 weapon against eLearning will be taken away.

~Be fully interested in their subjects, even if you aren’t. The absolute best gift you can give your students is your full attention when they are explaining what they are learning. All teachers hear so very many stories each day about the subjects that fascinate your kids. The very best of us listen and engage completely in those conversations, making each student think we are just as invested in the subject as they are. Even if you don’t like science, watch and listen as your student completes a lab. Ask questions. If you have no idea what manga is, get comfy and learn. The most important piece you bring to this virtual learning experience is falling in love with the work that your students are doing. Your interest will spur them forward, and you will be amazed at how much they enjoy learning and teaching about their favorite subjects.

We teachers are trying to create lesson plans that will meet standards and allow your children to keep learning through this pandemic. While we are working on our end to learn how to develop and implement the eLearning processes, we have your children in mind. Please know that we miss them. We miss their humor and their ability to surprise us with such wisdom for young people. We are excited that you will get to see your children in this way, too.

Good luck with this new adventure. You can do this!

Blessings to you,

Van