Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Night. Yes!

I'm so glad it's Friday. I always like Fridays, mostly because I love Saturday mornings spent leisurely beside the fire, but this week I just wanted school to be over! It's been nuts! Satan is determined to snatch our beautiful students away from the faith that has been cultivated in their lives, that they have chosen on their own; Satan is determined to destroy them. That's really what this is all about.

We have fought some pretty big battles this week. Some parents really understood, some thought we were wonderfully compassionate, some thought we were too harsh, and some were worried about their kids' feelings... p-l-e-a-s-e! Really? These kids made decisions that could have cost them their lives and we're supposed to worry that they might feel bad? I love teaching school; I love my students; I believe what I am doing is incredibly important for the future of the world. I really do mean that. But there are times when I wonder why some people are allowed to be parents. Okay... that's really an exaggeration. Actually it's nothing compared to what I just deleted.

When did it become a good idea to sacrifice our children's health and welfare, to say nothing of their spiritual destiny, for wimpy feelings? Do we understand that we need to set our standards high enough so our children have something serious to acquire? Do we comprehend the fact that kids need parameters? Boundaries? Limits? I read a four word phrase that is the new motto for my classroom - "Pursue excellence, not excuses!" And that's it. Now when a student wants to argue with me about something being too hard (whine, whine, whine) I point to the white board and state firmly "No Excuses!" and he quits the whining routine. He knows I mean it. I said he... it's usually a he.... no - it's always a he. Anyway, I'm distracted. It's time to step it up and do the hard thing because it's the right thing, not because it feels good. And if that means my week is tough, then my week is tough. I will not give in and accept mediocrity as the norm. My students will read more, write more, and understand that vivid verbs make life more interesting. I'm so glad it's Friday.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Battles, Who Wants 'Em!!!

Listen, This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the battle is not yours, but God's. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.'

Those were the words we were given before we went to the mission field in 1981. Tonight, after a really stress-filled day for both my husband and myself, I randomly googled the words: a word from the Lord, or something like that, and the title "The Battle is the Lord's" came up. It took me right back to that place, in Kansas City, so many years ago, when we received that very promise. I remember thinking that it was nice that the Lord would do this for us but the rest of the scenario didn't sound like much fun. It wasn't. And lately, life has not been fun.

The Haiti quake was/is so incredibly tragic and difficult. Having lived and served there for so long, there was no way to just read about what was happening and let it go. It had a huge impact on us. And that very sentence sounds so stupidly selfish! But there are those who understand what I mean so I'm just going to leave it there. Lately there have been some things at school, kids and choices and consequences. It's probably true that no matter what decision was reached, someone would have been angry about it but it's awful to feel like we've let people down, especially after trying so hard to seek the Lord's direction and act compassionately, as we really believe Jesus would have responded.

So it all comes back to the battles. Sigh... I guess it's time to get the armor on and get back in the fight. Frankly, I'm sick and tired of fighting; I'd like to see some serious victories for once! I'll keep trusting and praying and yes, even standing firm... for however long it takes... in order to see the deliverance the Lord has for us.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Fire

I love my house. It's a simple ranch-style rambler that we bought from my husband's mother. It doesn't look anything like it did when they owned it. They painted all the walls bright white because they like light. I do too but I also like color so all the walls had to be painted when we bought it. They had while carpet throughout, except where there was some linoleum in the kitchen. The pad under the carpet must have been used through a couple carpet changes because it was rotten and smelly. We replaced all of it, even replaced the sub-floors under the hardwoods in the hallway, kitchen, and family room and the carpet in one bedroom. We removed three or four layers of wallpaper from several rooms and painted. But probably the coolest thing we did was reface the fireplace. It was painted white brick with a marble slab hearth and no mantle. Very contemporary. We are very "wish we had a log cabin by the lake style" people so this was where we decided to bring in that feeling. We borrowed one of my brother's employees who covered the painted brick with masonry board. Then Jeff, my brother, arranged for a crew of masons to come in and set the cultured field-stone. Another of his friends made our mantle from a thick slab of old oak that he found in his brother's barn. It still has some of the bark around the bottom edge. We added a wrought-iron type fireplace insert and voilĂ , a gorgeous, rustic fireplace that puts out a ton of heat! It's where we begin our days throughout the fall and winter, and sometimes where we spend our evenings. It's where I am right now and I'm irritated because I have to leave. It's Saturday morning and I'm supposed to be in choir practice in 25 minutes. I'm still in my bathrobe, in front of the fire. I want to stay here. I'm irritated because it's Saturday morning and my tradition is being disturbed. Oh well, I like to sing too, just not as much as I like to sit by the fire with coffee and graze through computer posts, news articles, and my new issue of Cabin Living that just arrived. But as I often tell my junior high students, life is full of doing stuff you don't want to do, so just do it. (I'm usually talking about homework.) So I'd better get dressed and go. Good-bye computer, good-bye Cabin Living, good-bye coffee, good-bye fire... sigh...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

He has what???!!!

Today one of my seventh grade students told me her dad has brain cancer. She said it in a rather matter-of-fact way, obviously thinking I already knew. I didn't. I was not happy... how had I missed such a valuable insight into this young girl's life? I thought over the previous semester, hoping I wouldn't remember any emails complaining about anything to her parents, hoping I had not missed a significant cue from her mother while chatting somewhere on a field trip, hoping my evident shock wouldn't hurt this child's feelings. She told me that she thought I knew; she thought everyone knew. There are some things that don't get communicated or when they do, they don't really mean anything because we don't know who the people mentioned are. (Yep, the other junior high teachers didn't know either!) I think that's what must have happened here; we were probably told but since we are on the upper level of the school, we didn't know the student whose father was so sick. She told me this afternoon that she was going home with a friend because her mom was taking her dad for an MRI. He's having seizures. Oh my.... what else don't I know? She is so sweet and young, much too young to imagine what is going to happen if God doesn't intervene. So I have another reason to count my blessings. She and I shared stories about cancer hospitals; she had been in several with her dad and I had become super familiar with one in Texas while my husband received treatment over a five-year period. She talked about the hot chocolate that her mom bought her - that wasn't hot - until she pressed a button on the jar and it heated up! That sounded kind of cool. I mean, if someone can invent something that heats up chocolate milk without a stove, maybe they know how to fix a young father's brain so he can be a part of his daughter's life - or - maybe not. Sadness...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Uneventful... right!

I am ready for an uneventful day, week, month! When was the last time life was uneventful? I usually employ this word when talking about a flight. Someone will ask, "How was your flight?" to which I am always happy to reply "Uneventful!" Then they usually tell me that's the best kind. And I always agree. I don't know about you but I'm ready to slow down, deal with life on a less dramatic level! Teaching junior high is always about drama; I've come to expect that and I can deal with it rather easily. However, there are other things that happen with school, family, just life since that Tuesday five weeks ago... uneventful flew out the window. I think I want it back. So, if anyone finds the uneventful just lying around with no where to go, tell him he's welcome at my house. I'm tired of drama and I'd like to get back to basics... with the uneventful!

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Perfect Evening

I have a completely different way of relaxing from most people I know. Mine involves little kids! If you want to completely forget whatever problems might be weighing you down, hang out with some kids, preferably younger than junior high. There's non-stop drama that comes with junior high.

This week Colton turned six years old. You have no idea how impossible that seems! Although whenever I try to pick him up, I do realize that he really is getting quite big! We had such fun with him tonight, and his sisters, and his parents. We went to Chuck E. Cheese. It was total mayhem; yep - perfect. Noise and kids and laughter and noise and... well, you get the idea. We thought that getting there around 5:30 would help us avoid the crowd. Seems like a couple hundred other people thought the same thing! It was wild! But our kids were so sweet and well-behaved. Once I was trailing Sierra, not realizing that she had no idea I was behind her. When she finally saw me she was quite perturbed and let me know that she "couldn't find me!" Poor baby, she felt lost! Colton has no fear... went from one game to another, would try anything. If someone was with him, fine; if he thought he was on his own, that was no problem either. Kayla was pretty focused on acquiring as many tickets as possible. It helped that the basketball thing freaked out and spit out a ton of tickets! That was fun!

These children force me to refocus and consider the blessings in my life. They are so precious and I am so wealthy with all that matters! Ever since the Haiti quake, Terry and I have used the phrase "Let me put that into perspective for you" (and begin our rant on the conditions in Haiti) anytime anyone feels like complaining about anything. Being around my grandchildren allows me to put things into perspective also. I look at them and see the future; I am totally confident that the world will be a better place because they will be there to shape it. I believe in them, in the young adults who are parenting them, in my loving Heavenly Father who is guiding them. Yep, I think I'll just sit here and contemplate my perfect evening... and be thankful!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Life Ongoing

There is a sense of guilt at moving on with my life after the past two weeks of total Haiti focus. I still pray continuously. I still search Facebook daily. I still network for people who have needs and match them with contacts I know who have resources, but I have also started to focus more on my own life and responsibilities.

Recently I was asked to write an article for a magazine. If it had been anything other than the history of my denomination in Haiti I probably would have made the time to do it. It just seemed like such a silly topic right now, almost more divisive than helpful. It didn't matter; they asked a guy who had previously written a book on the subject. I seriously do not care about that. I do care about individuals, peoples' lives and stories, their sorrows and triumphs. I care that the body of a little seven year old boy was pulled from the rubble of the Montana Hotel a couple days ago. I care about his family and friends. I care about the young mother who died at Caribbean Market and left behind children and a husband and many friends who are heart-broken by this loss. I care about all the students, especially high school students, who have had their lives interrupted in a very unfriendly fashion - if they managed to stay alive! I know that they will face long-term consequences from these experiences. There's a lot I really care about.

However, I also care about my junior high students who are trying to resolve their personal dramas, whether it's a new baby unexpectedly coming into the family or a parent who has made horrible choices that have compromised a daughter's emotional well-being. I care about boys who don't want to read but do it anyway because they want to play basketball during lunch break, not sit in my classroom and read. I care about prayerfully finding quality speakers for the junior high chapels so that they aren't boring or aimless but are events that change lives forever. I care about providing my husband with a decent meal and clean clothes, enjoying random moments with friends, hugging a grandchild who is going to be six! I don't want to feel guilty about caring about these things because people are dying in Haiti.

So I think I'm just going to care about everything; I might have less guilt this way. Brian always said, "Dad, you should care!" over and over and over he would say this to his father, just to tease him. And we should care. I do; I care. I know I care because it hurts more than I ever imagined it might. Sigh....