My joyful Redcrosse Knight and his dwarf conquer the enemies in one storyboard for my proposed video game, part of which is based on Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene Book 1.

“Once you stop growing, you start dying.”

The Reverend Neville E. Gritt preached that from his pulpit on New Year’s Eve heralding the year I would graduate from high school. The year I figured I would become an adult–age 18–and, presumably, stop growing physically (because growing fat doesn’t count). I had heard that girls stop growing about age 18, while boys keep growing for a few more years, and, at a towering 5 foot 10 inches, I had always been glad that maybe enough was enough–at least in the height department for me. But when he made that statement, I stopped being so happy that I might stop growing. I thought, “I’m not ready to start dying!”

Now a few years (or maybe decades) later, I know that he was right. The body has a tendency to break down over time–and my back, knees, and, most recently, thumb are happy to demonstrate that truth. When I stopped growing, I started dying–thankfully, very slowly.

But Pastor Gritt wasn’t trying to discourage me on that night typically reserved for revelry and resolutions. He was telling me to never stop growing in the areas I can control. My heart. My soul. My strength. My mind.

Spiritually, I have experienced some times when I have not applied my pastor’s truth to my life–and I have found myself dying instead of growing in my love for the Lord. It’s a perpetual battle but a worthy win, and so I have concentrated on growing in the Lord (plus, really, I don’t think I could last long without His constant presence in my life). It has required my heart, my soul, my strength, and my mind–actually, loving the Lord with all my heart, my soul, my strength, and my mind–and the benefits eclipse any cost (Mark 12:30).

But lately, I have been experiencing some growth mentally that has stretched me beyond what I thought I was able–and then joyed in the newfound ability I had gained. The past three weeks have been especially stretching for me–and I suspect there is more to come! (All I have to do is look at my professor’s syllabus…)

If you are not a regular reader of my blog (and as I have not been a regular writer the past few weeks, that may be all of you), you may not know that I am a graduate student in educational technology, currently taking the course Gaming and Simulations in Education. I am not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination. But so far for my class, I have had to play games, critique games, create a game narrative complete with suggested gameplay and storyboards, and host a roundtable discussion on a topic centered on gaming. This week is “light,” according to my professor. I only have to read a few articles and book chapters and write a discussion based on the reading, create a rubric plus rationale for judging games, and then play two games and grade them according to my rubric. (Next week, we start using 3D software to create 3D models.)

My juniors and seniors in my English classes are jealous. They excitedly ask me what my homework is–and offer to help! (But as we’ve been studying the character trait “integrity” this month, I can’t take them up on the offer.) For them–except the reading and writing, which is too much like what I ask of them–this class would be like playing games.

It’s cool; I’m not. This course on gaming seems like work to me. Each week I learn new vocabulary, discover new insight, see the world of gaming differently–and I have to work for it. I am challenged–always beyond what I think I’m able to do–but I’ve surprised myself and risen to the occasion.  A gamer I am not, but I have discovered the potential in it for education. A creative writer I never considered myself to be, but I have written an amazing narrative for a potential video game that would blow my English students’ minds (and make them thankful for the understanding they would have of the classic novels–all learned by playing). I have even uncovered my art self (albeit stick figures), finding myself giving such personality to my storyboards that I was literally laughing out loud (LLOL). 🙂

In fact, I’m having fun! Working so hard I don’t have time to write blog posts, but I am finding joy in this journey through Game Land. (It’s hard to make people feel sorry for me when I mention games, by the way.)

Pastor Neville’s sermon still makes it impact on me, these (few) years later.  I am s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d, growing, and not dying, in the areas I can control, most notably in my mind these recent weeks. And I like it!

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