Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Every day is important.

I made a big deal about my boyfriend wanting to buy me dinner for my birthday. I shuffled my feet about it for days, because he's been buying my meals quite often due to my underemployment. He's had to buy dinner frequently when we had to be out of town, usually for his son's baseball games. I didn't want him to buy me dinner, when he didn't have to. I was beginning to feel a bit like a money pit. It's not like it was even an important birthday anyway...just 24...not a major milestone or anything to be proud of.

Well, he's at least as stubborn as me, so I eventually came up with a compromise. He still bought, but it included ordering pizza from his favorite restaurant and watching Monday Night Football. Now believe it or not, I like football. I especially like watching it when I haven't had to watch it all weekend, while flipping around three different channels, trying to catch all the games, when really there was only one worth watching. That makes me nuts, but I digress.

On my actual birthday (Today), we had to go on another trip to Bowling Green for his son's baseball game. I love these trips to the games, and I am already missing them. (The last scheduled one was today, and a make up for a different game is tomorrow. I can't go.) I got to spend time with my boyfriend's parents (who are amazing) and of course the boyfriend (Really, is there a more accurate word to use other than boyfriend? It makes it sound like he's 15.) As the manfriend (No, that doesn't sound right either. It makes me sound like I'm twelve.) was leaving, I thanked him for helping make my 24th birthday important. He reminded me that all birthdays are important. He is so right. They all are.

But then I reminded him (as I had just thought of it, although I'd been told it before), that all days are important. We are not guaranteed a tomorrow, a next month, or a next year. This is not a reason to go crazy and live our lives completely willy nilly, but rather a reason to stop and reflect every morning on how blessed we are to have another day. Another day to laugh, another day to love, another day to fight, another day to make peace, and another day to keep doing God's work. I am so blessed to have these days. Not just these last several days that my friends have helped me celebrate my birthday, but just these days of my life.

I realized this morning that I had never been more grateful to work on my birthday. Getting only paid by the day, does that to you. If I had never been given this situation of only getting to substitute, I probably would have wound up teaching at a school full time, and never fully appreciating what I had going for me. I would have gotten bogged down in the work and the kids and the stress, and never actually appreciated each day for what it was. Another chance to help those kids and to overcome the stress. I had an amazing day with my students. I got to leave, and not take work with me. That's a blessing. 

Every single day is important. We have no way of knowing how we've impacted someone's life today. We have no way of knowing how a single day could impact us...until we go out and live it. 

A young actor, Brandon Lee, quoted Paul Bowles in an interview shortly before his death on the set of his latest movie, "The Crow." He said: 

"Because we don't know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, five times more, perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps 20. And yet it all seems limitless.” 

It all seems limitless, but we know it is not. That's not a bad thing. I daresay that if I died tomorrow I'd know that I'd had a very rich and blessed life. Trust me, I don't want to die tomorrow. I feel like there's so much more I have to do. So much more I could do.  Philippians 1:21 says, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." How many more kids will I get to work with, and show God's love through my teaching? Maybe none, maybe 10000. Maybe God's whole goal in taking away my job was to show me that I didn't need it to be happy, that in fact, (because I didn't appreciate it for what it was) it was actually stealing some of my joy. It was making me forget that every single day is important. They all count for something. I am extremely appreciative of the reminder. 

Psalm 118:24 This is the day which the Lord has made, Let us rejoice and be glad in it! 

Thank you very much, everyone, for being part of my days on this Earth! 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Once upon a time.

This little girl once had a teacher, who failed her. I am extremely thankful for that teacher. It is because of her, that I woke up, and got my butt in gear. I decided I didn't need to do my homework, because it was boring and I knew how to do the work already. I made an "F" that six weeks. That, partnered with my parents' extreme disappointment, made me realize that I had to do the work anyway. I didn't have to like it. It was not fun, and sure it was "pointless." I still did it. It taught me to do things that I don't like to do. It taught me discipline. That teacher was fired, because she supposedly kicked a kid under a desk. I don't know if that's true, but I do know that because she was mean (meaning she made kids do their work), kids did not like her. I am afraid that she was fired, because the kid wanted her fired (there is no tenure in Tennessee) and nothing more. Did I like her at the time? No. Do I appreciate what she did for me now? Definitely.

Some of my favorite teachers were the toughest on me. In high school, I had a very tough English teacher. She was the same teacher that my sister had for AP English. Rumor has it, she was made to teach regular English, because her AP English class was too hard. I think it really had to do with the fact that U.S. Literature was what she liked to teach, and the AP English course offered was no longer a literature class, but I'm not really sure. All I know is that every single regular student thought she was the toughest teacher on the planet. Some liked her, like myself, and some of them just thought she was the meanest person in the world. Those of us who didn't complain about how tough she was, and took advantage of all the opportunities she gave us for success (aka extra credit that you actually had to work for), did fine. I made an "A" in her class, and it was easily the most satisfying "A" of my whole high school career. Why was it so satisfying? Because I actually knew I had earned that "A." I worked for it, and it made me proud. It made me think I was really smart, and I had never really felt like a smart person before. I knew I wasn't stupid, but I also thought I was pretty average in smarts.

I don't think that many kids today appreciate the thrill of working hard for something and actually getting it. They want it to come easily. When it doesn't come easy, they give up. I think part of that can be blamed on us adults praising them too quickly as children. I read lately that we should make sure that kids know it's ok to have to work hard to do something. It's ok if they don't get something as fast as other children. Life isn't a race. We will all meet the same inevitable conclusion, regardless of how long it takes us to get there, how many accomplishments we make along the way, etc.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Weekend gray areas.

During the school year, I (like every other working professional on the planet) look forward to the weekend. During the summer when looking for a job however, the weekends become a mixed bag. You see, the great thing about weekends in the summer is you can make plans for fun things to do, just like during the school year. The not so good thing is, that is usually when a school will tell you they will have their decision made about whether or not to hire you.

I was feeling particularly glum this Friday when I realized it was past school hours, and I hadn't heard from a school I really wanted to teach at. My wonderful boyfriend reminded me as soon as I realized this, "God has other plans for you." I have been told this before by many different people. I really wish that was automatically where my mind went after being rejected by a school, but I am not as strong in those moments as I'd like to be. Not five minutes after that, I got called by another school for an interview on Tuesday. He's right. All hope is not lost. God's got this.

I didn't let the news ruin my Friday. I got to hang out with my boyfriend and one of his friends, and go to a Drum Core International competition in Tennessee. I'm a choir girl with the best of them, but I really enjoyed the band competition. It was like any high school marching band performance....on steroids. I loved it. I got a lot of laughs in with the boys and managed to enjoy myself in spite of my current joblessness.

Then came Saturday. It was going pretty great. I got to hang out with the boyfriend all day. He and I had just gotten materials for making supper, and he was starting to fix it when I got another call from another school. The school is located 3.5 hours away, and they wanted me there on Monday afternoon for an interview. I told the principal that I needed a minute to go over logistics, so he gave me his cell number and I hung up. Immediately, I was falling apart. I have never once turned down an interview. Part of me felt like, if I got offered an interview then it was God's will for me to interview there. The stress of how to get there overwhelmed me. The idea of packing up and leaving for a place so far away where I knew no one yet again, made me sick to my stomach. Then I remembered something. God doesn't want me to do something for Him if I see it as sacrifice. Maybe it's not the most wise decision, but I called the principal back and told him that I couldn't take the interview. I knew that I would be wasting both of our times, because even if I went, my heart would not be in it. I would not be an effective teacher if I was left alone and heartbroken 3.5 hours away from all the people I care about. The students of that school do not need a teacher who is 3.5 hours away in her mind, even though she is right there in the classroom with them.

Throughout this little crisis, my boyfriend was present. At first he was like me, "Take any interview you're offered." While it was possible to make it to the interview and back before my interview on Monday, after I explained to him how my heart probably wouldn't be in the interview, he agreed that it was probably a waste of time. I really appreciate him encouraging me to go. He knows that at least part of my view of being successful is having a job. There are more important things to me than a job. These important things include my boyfriend, but also my church, my friends, and my sanity. You can't put a price on being with the people you love.

I have had people older than me (by 5 years to 40 years) tell me that they have no idea how I do it. Being fired every year. Madly dashing around trying to find a job, and yet still not knowing until a few weeks or less before school starts. During my little crisis, I asked my boyfriend this question, even though I knew the answer, "Have you ever had to just pick up and leave everyone you hold dear and move before?" The answer was, "No, but I can imagine how hard it would be." It is hard. It is especially difficult for a woman who likes to plan and know what she's getting into. The picking up and moving to Hopkinsville two years ago, all the pain and the aggravation, brought me to all the things I don't want to leave today. I know that good things can come from change, and yet I still rebel against it. I am not perfect. I don't have to be Superwoman.

On my way home from the boyfriend's after dinner, we were riding in the car and the song "Praise You in this Storm" by Casting Crowns came on the radio. The chorus really spoke to me:

"And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am

And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm"



My lovely boyfriend got me home, and I sat down to my computer for the first time in about 24 hours. I had a message from a friend saying there was an opening at her school, which happens to be in this county, and she had given my name to the principal. So I have an interview coming up on Tuesday in Owensboro, and I may get an interview with this school. I still have a ton of opportunities waiting for me...brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. 

And now it is Sunday. This weekend so far has been a roller coaster, and it's barely halfway over. I find it hard not to be apprehensive about what is coming in the next couple weeks. I just have to remember "God has other plans for you." 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mobile

Everything's changin' when I turn aroundAll out of my control, I'm a mobileEverything's changin' when I turn aroundAll out of my control, I'm a mobile
-"Mobile" Avril Lavigne

I am probably one of the least flexible people you will ever meet. I'm not talking about being unable to touch my toes. I've got that down pat. I'm talking about my ability to let my life go however it wants to go, and not try to control it. I'm a control freak. 
My lease is up in 30 days basically, and I don't know if I can renew it or not. You better believe that makes me nuts. I haven't a clue if I will have a job that will allow me to keep my apartment or not. If I move in with my friend, will I have to find a home for my cat? I don't know what I'd do without Ms. Flo. She's awesome. How can someone ask a crazy cat lady in training to give up her kitty? 
I don't know if I can volunteer to do anything at church. I was asked if I wanted to be a lay reader. I'd love to, but I don't know if I'm going to be here or not. I was also asked if my boyfriend and I wanted to join their small group. Yet again, I'd love to, but I have no idea if I'll be able to do it. I don't even know if I should start going to choir practice in August, because I don't know if I'll be able to actually be in our choir. It really is making me sad to think I may not get to sing with those lovely people again. 
God is teaching me something. Something about letting go, and just going with it. I have an interview tomorrow at a school that would help keep me from moving, however, I'm afraid to get my hopes up again. I'm praying for peace and guidance, as I have been for the past four months since learning I was pink-slipped again. I have friends who say that I'll know in God's time and not my own. I know that's the truth, but it still makes me restless and impatient. I shouldn't conform to this world, but unfortunately I live in the world. The world comes with deadlines like lease dates and school starts. God's really cutting it close, and it's giving me gray hairs (that my boyfriend insists are blonde). 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Some days I feel like the most irrational human being alive....

and then there are days like today where I feel like the U.S. needs to get a grip.

Yes, this is another blog post about something that's in the news. People are beside themselves that Rolling Stone decided to put a picture of the guy who is suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon on the cover. I for one, cannot remember the guy's name if you ask me right now. It's some crazy Eastern European name. Anyway, people say that it glamorizes terrorism. The caption under the Title clearly says something to the effect of, "The story of falling in with an extreme Islam sect and turning into a monster." Call me crazy, but being called a monster isn't very glamorous. I don't look at magazine covers and say, "I want to be a monster."

Furthermore, what's his name is not the only evil monster to grace the cover of a magazine. For example, Google "Time Magazine cover for October 1, 2001." That's right folks, Osama Bin Laden graced the cover of Time. Granted Bin Laden's not as attractive as what's his face, but that's a truth that people need to face. Not all bad guys are unattractive, old men. Sometimes they are people who you would not suspect, simply because they are better looking. Back in the day, Joseph Stalin was featured in Life magazine on March 29, 1943. We may not have known the full extent of his monstrous behavior, but he was truly just as evil as any modern terrorist. In February of 2012, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un was chosen as Time magazine's most influential person by its readers. I'm not trying to pick on Time Magazine. I firmly believe that it has a right to publish articles on whatever it wants. I simply would like to point out the hypocrisy of the outrage at Rolling Stone. If you're going to be mad that they are so-called promoting a terrorist, then you should be mad when other publications promote other dictators, terrorists, and monsters. It's as simple as that. Maybe people were mad when Time published photos of Bin Laden so soon after 9/11. I don't remember, however, obviously we got over it, because the magazine still exists today.

Frankly there are only so many times Rolling Stone can publish a photo of a half naked, overly-sexualized woman before it gets old and over done.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Justice, mercy, and grace.

When at the Great Banquet a little under two months ago we were given these three definitions.

1. Justice-Getting what you deserve.
2. Mercy-Not getting what you deserve.
3. Grace-Getting what you don't deserve.

Just a little while ago, the Zimmerman trial ended acquitting George Zimmerman of the murder of 17 year old Trayvon Martin in 2012. Some see this as justice. The system spoke. The six jurors did their civic duty, and made the decision. Others are outraged, and believe that justice has not been served.

Right now, one might see it as Zimmerman gets mercy. Which is not getting what he deserves. Regardless of how you paint it, he killed a boy. The Bible says, "Thou shalt not kill," not "Thou shalt not kill, unless the kid is pounding your head into the pavement, then practice vigilante justice and kill him." Zimmerman could have shot the kid, and not killed him. Zimmerman does have to live with the fact that he shot and killed Trayvon Martin for the rest of his life. For any normal person with a soul, that will haunt him forever.

Right now I just pray that Zimmerman finds God's grace, and that it brings him peace. Whether or not he deserves mercy is not my call. God's love is not limited by our sins. Isaiah 43:25, "I, I am he
who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,    and I will not remember your sins." We all need God's grace in our lives. None of us deserve the love He gives us. 

We could stand to show some grace for our fellow man. I don't just mean Zimmerman. Most of us will never have to meet him to show him grace. I mean the friend who shared a secret that wasn't theirs, the spouse who belittled your problem, and the child who stuck his tongue out at you in the check out line at Wal-mart. We all do things that disappoint and hurt the people in our lives, and we need grace from those people. To get that grace, we must show it for them when they disappoint us. I am grateful for those who do not give me what I deserve, and give me what I don't deserve on a regular basis. It shows that they care about who I am as a whole person, and not in one moment of weakness.

Advice for all women in love.

I read a free e-book called The Ultimate Marriage Vow, because it was free, and I'm on vacation. Not because I'm married, or need advice on my marriage. However, I was glad I read it, because of one passage.  The author is Darlene Schacht and this is some advice she gave her daughter on love which I will paraphrase instead of saying verbatim, because that would be plagiarism. The basic gist of it was, that she wanted her daughter to be ready in case her man ever let her down, because sometimes when he lets you down you start to question whether or not you should be together at all. You really need to read the whole section though to get the full impact. It's Day 18 in her book. The link is below. 

I think this is a wonderful message for all young women who are in love to hear. Married and unmarried. I've talked before about putting your significant other on a pedestal, and by being let down when you put your faith in anything other than God. She really put it together beautifully.  If you are married, reading the 21 day challenge and going through with it is a great plan. Her book can be found on her blog. http://time-warp-wife.blogspot.ca/2013/02/free-ebook-ultimate-marriage-vow.html. Please either like her facebook page or follow her blog if you're going to read her e-book.