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.