I woke up this morning…

plank in eyeeditedYesterday, while waiting for the Yummy House to open so I could order some Chinese food for our evening meal, I began scribbling this post. I had left work shortly before 4, gotten home at 4:16, and found my husband waiting, hungry — but offering to order out for dinner. No cooking? No clean-up? I was all in.

But the restaurant — despite its web-posted hours of 11 a.m.-3 a.m. was not answering its phone. (We know; we tried 11 times.) My dear husband graciously offered that I should go to the restaurant to order — and wait. So I packed a pad of paper and pen, along with the menu with the intended items circled, and headed to Yummy House. Its inconveniently small parking lot had a number of cars in it, but I was able to slide into a space and then noticed the sign on the door: Lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dinner 5 p.m.-10 p.m. (Apparently, the website features a heckuva type-o.) People were lining up outside. I saw someone I knew and decided to wait in the car. (Yes, I did. Shhh.) After a couple of text exchanges with my husband, explaining and not getting the desired “Oh, just go (somewhere else),” I took the opportunity to write what was in my head.

But wait, I could now see the television on and employees moving around inside the restaurant. I thought I would try calling in my order one more time. Why wait in a crowd when I can wait in a car? The girl who answered said the restaurant wasn’t opened, but she would take my name and number.

“Oh, I’ll just come inside at 5 and order then,” I said.

“Inside?”

“Well, I’m sitting in my car outside waiting, and …”

“Oh, well, I will take your order.”

Four items later, I was told, “OK, I see you later.”

Not sure how to translate that into time, I snuggled into my car seat and jotted these notes:

I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on Jesus.

At 2:15 — no less.

And I admit my mind was focused on producing a blog post by 4:30 a.m., when I’m really supposed to wake up on week days.

Seek first the kingdom of God and His +R, and all these things will be added unto you.

  • Cheating student
  • Skipping student
  • Rebellious student

— and I see the plank in my own eye

Flustered, unfocused

a week of no school

hard to rest in a mess — of schoolwork or housework

Let me try to translate this into a post:

In fourth grade at Southside Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, we sang a song in music class that included the lyrics, “I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on Jesus…” I believe the song to be an African-American spiritual, although back in the day the teacher used different terms. I don’t remember much else of the song, except that it wasn’t my favorite and the lyrics annoyingly stuck in my head — clearly, since a few years have passed since I was in fourth grade. When they popped into my head yesterday, it wasn’t because I was amazed to remember we sang a song about Jesus in public school back in the day. It was because I felt convicted.

As I may have mentioned, since I began NaBloPoMo, I have been getting out of bed e-a-r-l-y. As in 2:15 a.m. early. Not every day. But so often most of my posts are published by 4:30 a.m. That isn’t a problem, necessarily, except that when I get up early in the morning, my thoughts are on blogging — what to write, how to write it, how to illustrate it, how to tag it — instead of Jesus Christ, who I intend to glorify with said posts.

I think he might prefer me to spend some with him before writing — so that my focus is on writing my best to bring him glory instead of shifting that glory to my writing.

When Jesus told his disciples to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, it was in this context: Don’t worry. He told them not to worry about eating or drinking or their bodies or what to wear. God knows you need them. If you seek God, he’ll take care of you. (That’s the Sara Version of Matthew 6:25-34.) God’s care includes providing creativity and ability to write blog posts, I am sure.

My mind was on my own failings — as in a single week in a nice, Christian school with even nicer students (truly!), I had encountered students cheating, skipping classes, back talking, and showing rebellion. As I confronted one of my students yesterday and told him I was disappointed for him, I told him that as I contemplated his sin, I was struck by my own failings. He got caught doing wrong; how often do I get away with sin? I felt the proverbial (technically, “matthewial”) plank in my own eye as I discussed this speck in his (Matthew 7:3-5). (It is likely a good thing that he also would be confronted by the principal and headmaster, as I wasn’t harsh enough. I felt he needed to know I forgave him and loved him and wasn’t going to allow this to color the way I saw him.)

I suppose part of feeling confronted by my own failings is my sense of being flustered and unfocused. Since mid-July I have been torn between teaching and being an administrator. (I teach three AP and honors English classes, administer the school’s learning website, direct the school’s communication, serve as part of the school’s administration, and am leading the school through the accreditation process.) I love my job, but it makes me feel scattered because I can’t just focus on one thing at a time. I wear numerous hats and attend to each at the drop of a hat. I would say my job makes me feel like a jack of all trades and a master of none. Add my attempt to blog daily to those hats and trades, and, well, it’s a lot of work and no play and Sara is a dull girl. (Yea! Four idioms in one paragraph!)

That said, I now have a break. One week without school because of the Thanksgiving holiday. I’m thinking I may resume somewhat normal sleep patterns as I can carve out time to write in my day — but I am not thinking I will simply rest and relax because it is hard to rest in a mess. My house and my schoolwork need my attention. The week break is a lovely chance to catch up.

But will I also spend it getting “my mind stayed on Jesus” instead of “just” cleaning house, completing schoolwork, and wowing the world with my blog? (Smile.)

Though I didn’t jot this down in my scribbled notes outside of Yummy House yesterday (and the food is yummy, by the way), when I think of waking up in the morning with my mind stayed on Jesus instead of my “to do” list, it makes me think of baseball. As I’ve attended my son’s practices over the years, I’ve heard the phrase “ball first.” Coaches say it when a player is mistakenly moving to the next part of the play — instead of securing the ball first. Maybe the player anticipates an easy catch or the necessity of the next action to get the out — but when he doesn’t secure the ball, the next action can’t happen, and the play falls apart.

If I don’t wake up with my mind stayed on Jesus, if I don’t put Jesus first, my next action won’t matter much. As in baseball, the play falls apart, which is why I am so aware of my own failings this week.

Jesus first.

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