Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Meditations: School Supplies

First day of school. It’s funny that even as an adult, I still get excited about it and it doesn’t help that I’m addicted to school supplies. Since my older two children are homeschooled (which gives a whole new meaning to back to school) I have to live out my excitement through my youngest son, a fourth grader.

This morning I went through the ritual that parent’s with school age children know so well: packing the backpack. But when I checked my son’s bag, he had already attempted to pack it himself. Of course he put all of his school supplies (including all six of his composition notebooks) in there.

That’s the funny thing about younger children. They don’t understand that their supplies are supposed to last the whole school year. Nor do they realize that they won’t need all their supplies on the first day. I can still remember the years of lugging all my supplies to school only to bring them back home because I didn’t need them. I mean really, would I actually need a protractor the first day of school?

I can also remember freaking out if I didn’t have all the supplies on my list the first day of school. The list was gospel and to not have every item on it was sin. I also learned that the first week of school was a sort of grace period. The most work we did for the first day of forth grade was organizing our notebooks, getting our assigned seating right and collecting a million forms to take home to our parents (and now, I have a million forms to look forward to filling out this week).

Before I drop my son off to school, I’ll have to give him the school supply speech. Which is basically me encouraging him not to be too generous with his school supplies. I’m always challenged with this speech because he is very thoughtful and helpful. After all, I raised him that way. But it’s important that he learn boundaries with his generosity.

You see, I can still remember in school the children who never had any pencils or paper and would troll the class room borrowing from everyone else until they were fully stocked. They would prey on the students we were prepared. There is at least one child like that in every class year.

The problem with teaching my son to set a boundary is that as Christians, he should be giving. He should care for his neighbor. But his generosity must have boundaries. In Jesus’ teachings, he made it clear that we are to take care of those in need, not those who are simply unprepared and irresponsible.

Yes, we are supposed to help of the "least of these", but think about the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-12. All ten knew that the bridegroom was coming, but only five prepared for his delayed arrival by bringing extra oil. When the five foolish ran out of oil, they begged the five wise to share their oil. And the five wise refused. They said if they shared, they would miss the bridegroom. This may seem cruel to Christians who I call the “Red Cross.” Red Cross people are those who go out of their way to help everyone, even to their detriment. Again, balance is needed.

Take Galatians 6 gives great guidelines about helping others. In verse 2 reads, “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” This verse supports the idea that we should to reach out to those who are in need. But in verse 5 reads, “For each one shall bear his own load.” Just as we are supposed to help others, we should expect others to take care of their own responsibilities. Besides, always being the Red Cross to people who don’t need it only makes matters worse. They never learn responsibility. And they are responsible to carry their own load.

So share your supplies with those who are in need but be careful of those who are just irresponsible.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Conference Prep

Twenty seven days and I’ll be at the ACFW annual conference. Not my first conference but it has been a couple of years since I’ve been to one. This year is extra interesting because I’m a Genesis finalist. I’ve managed not to obsess about it (barely managed). The journey to becoming a finalist has been such a God-thing. Even if I don’t win my category, it’s been a life-changing trip.
My conference prep is a little rusty. I ran into a woman today in Borders and she asked me if I had a business card.

For right now, here is my conference prep list:
• Business cards. I have one now, but I want to update my picture. A photo on your business card can be invaluable. You collect so many cards at a conference but it’s easier to remember who’s who when the cards have pictures.
• Two proposals. This part is the most challenging. It can be done, but I’ll have to put some effort into it. The hardest part right now is deciding which two to take. Or if I can do more than two.
• A formal dress for the awards ceremony. I have a dress, but I would love to buy a new one. I did some window shopping a little while ago, but finding formal dresses this time of year is challenging.
• I adding a one-sheet to my list but I’m not sure if I’m going to do it. A one-sheet are basically a mini proposal. Some people swear by them but others don’t use them at all. I’m considering doing one because of a past experience I had at another writer’s conference. A literary agent (whose name I can’t remember) and Susan May Warren needed a ride to the venue where the conference was being held. I had my minivan so I offered them a ride. While I drove, the agent asked me to pitch her my novel idea. Talk about driving under pressure. But I didn’t have anything to give the agent once we arrived at the venue. For that reason, I may do a one-sheet, but that depends on time.

I’m sure as time passes, I’ll add more to this list (notice how packing isn’t on there yet). But I saved the most important item on the list for last:
• PRAY! There so much that happens a conference that I am going to need God’s help big time. There so much that happens, so many people to meet and so many opportunities for chance encounters. I need the Holy Spirit to help me navigate through all this and to help me NOT put my foot in my mouth. Amen.