The three main interests in my life are 1) teaching and children, 2) photography, and 3) life itself–including the varied experiences, innocent faux paus, instructive mistakes, rewarding successes, unique cultures, and growing relationships with God and other people that are its framework. Realizing that these three things are not all interesting to all people, I decided to make a single blog with three separate categories; whichever topic/s the reader liked would be theirs to follow, and there would be no need to be bothered by what they didn’t want.
The only problem was, one blog would need one title. One interesting, succinct title to sum up my philosophies of life, teaching, and photography.
Thus, after much thinking, back-burner-brainstorming, googling, and thesaurus-ing, I decided–it wasn’t possible. So I settled for an okay title and started to hone the tagline. That’s when I stumbled upon the phrase that is the topic of my post this evening and decided to make it my title. It not only applies to all three categories, it also summarizes my goals in each area.
Teaching children is about getting to know them–discovering where they are academically, socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually–then helping them reach the next level of growth in those areas. Ways to encourage growth include all the things that teachers make you do: telling, showing, exploring, questioning, explaining, memorizing, reading, writing, sharing, etc., etc., but those activities are simply the means of education. The purpose of education is to help students take each piece knowledge and fit it into the big picture of an accurate worldview, and to take each skill and internalize it, build on it, and use it to serve others and glorify God. In other words, my goal as an elementary teacher is to help children take the knowledge and skills they learn at school and make them a working, permanent part of their lives.
Photography is an art and a tool, and as such has as many purposes as there are photographers. I’ve dabbled in many genres of photography–nature, travel, portrait, event, and architectural–but my favorite pictures are those that capture real-life moments. The mommy’s glowing face as her toddler gives her kisses, the gleeful smiles of aunts and cousins looks through an old picture album, the pouts and tears of tired kids clinging to their parents’ legs instead of smiling at the camera, the triumphant grin of a teenager scoring a touchdown, the masked face and focused eyes of a cancer patient as he holds the neck of his double bass to play hymns–these are the subjects of some of my favorite photos. To me, photography is about capturing the essence of a person, relationship, or event as it exists in one moment and turning it into a permanent memory.
Life–well, this life, anyway–is short, transient, temporary. But the life that Christ gives is overflowing and eternal (John 10:10, 28). And the wonderful thing about it is that the “eternal life” and the “transient life” intersect at the point called “right now.” When I accepted Jesus into my life as my Savior and King, at that moment He gave me eternal life. On February 20, 1990, my short life began; on January 2, 1995, my eternal life began. At some point in the coming years, my physical life will end, but my eternal life will continue forever. When I die, I’m going to lose the treasures that belong to my temporary life: my photos, my classroom arrangements, my lesson plans, my book collections. That’s a sobering thought. An ancient king, realizing this very thing, was moved to despair and cried out, “All is vanity!”
But the truth is, with Christ, I’m living my eternal life now, too. So whatever I gain in that life is also eternal: people won to the Lord, godly relationships cultivated, Christlike character developed, work done as a service to my Master–all these things are spiritual treasures. I can gain them right now, while I’m living in this intersection of eternal-temporary life, and God will preserve them as a treasure for when I get Home. And when He makes something permanent, it truly lasts forever.
So, “Making it Permanent.” My motto for teaching, for photography, and most of all, for life.