Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Hits, Misses, and Hurtfulness

So, just when I thought teaching couldn't get anymore difficult, I am faced with a situation that has proved me wrong. Without giving too many specifics, let me just let you in on what's going on in my classroom. Friday was our Halloween Party, and yes, it's my first one, and no, I didn't know what to expect. The kids were outrageously rambunctious, and I could not get them to settle down. Everything we tried to accomplish from the bat cupcakes to the bat pinata which I got knocked in the head with, all pretty much were disasters. Well, that was until the unthinkable occurred.

I had heard that teachers are faced with some pretty awful situations, from kids getting angry and throwing books to taking their agression out on classmates, but never in my life did I expect to be hit by a Kindergartener. AND YES, I was. An emotion came over me that I've not had before; I've never been so angry yet hurt and upset for this child that I wanted to cry, but I grabbed his arms and became so overwhelmed with disgust that I yelled at him. A LOT. That's not how I handle situations like that anymore or how I like to handle them, but in that instance, I couldn't help what I did. I was so torn. I realized my grip was a bit too tight and let him go, but knew that this would be something we'd have to handle on the following Monday, which was yesterday.

I dreaded it all weekend. I even asked some of my friends and family to pray for me and the child. I was SO torn up over it. I had mentioned it to my principal, and he planned to come get him when he was able that morning. However, as soon as we got to the classroom, I was told by another student that my "hitter" had kicked a child in my room. Fury would be a way to describe it. I calmly held his hand but walked him STRAIGHT down to the office. Needless to say, he was suspended yesterday for the remainder of the day. And as strange as this sounds, I was both relieved and saddened by his punishment. I hated that this child had let his aggression or need for attention get to this level. I hated that I hadn't been able to help him. I hated that I wasn't there for him. I hated that I didn't handle it better. Then again, I have tried time and time again with him... This started when school began with him, never has he hit me until Friday, but it has escalated to a point that I can't tolerate anymore and it breaks my heart...

He was to return to school today... And he did. When I went to pick the children up, he was sitting on the stage which meant something had happened. He had poked a child with a pencil. Completely unacceptable. He was punished in an awful manner today, one I support, one I felt was necessary, but one that hurts my heart. It hurts me because I know it hurts him. I started out teaching a single woman excited about her career, but now 2 months into it, I have 19 children that I spend my everyday with, and even when I'm not with them, my mind is CONSTANTLY wondering how they are, what they're doing, if they are alright. Now, one of those 19 is broken and hurting and in a situation that I cannot fix. I need your prayers for I cannot do this alone. I know there are children all over this world who are faced with situations like his, but these are my kids, and one of mine needs your help as do I. Please help me pray.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Honestly, I'm Going To Be Content...

Something about sitting in a truck watching the sun go down on a fall afternoon makes you think about where you are...

Not where you're sitting or who you're sitting with, but whether or not you're happy.

I haven't truly been happy in a long time. I don't know what it will take for me to be happy. I think it's been made clear to me that sometimes people are happy with being unhappy, and maybe I am truly unhappy. But honestly, it's not that. I just realized today that it's not about how happy I am or how happy I've allowed myself to be...

God has given me every opportunity to be not only happy, but content. Happiness comes with contentment. All this time I've been praying for happiness, whether it be for God to send me someone to make me happy or my job will become a happier experience, when all along I should have been asking for contentment in Him...

Why is that so hard? When all I have to do is "BE STILL AND KNOW..." It's time to lay down my false pretenses and stop pretending to be happy. Instead of working on being happy, I'm going to be content and not just content in life, content with my life in the Lord. That's TRUE contentment - the ultimate test.

Monday, October 23, 2006

What's This About Changing?

It's hard to keep up with time when you've got none to spare. I really love to write, but I've spent day in and day out cutting out witches and bats, planning Halloween parties, and getting evaluated by my principal (which went AWESOME). It's just hard to find all the time I need to be the person I am. Does that make sense? I don't guess it has to, because it does to me and I'm my own sidekick these days.

I have found out that Pumpkin Patches are dirty, hayrides are fun even when you're old(er), hot chocolate is the best thing on the face of the Earth, Caramel Apple Cider from Starbucks is a daily must have, and the changing of leaves is exactly what you need when you're driving home feeling like nothing's ever going to change.

I've noticed quite a bit lately that I'm content with being alone, but no one else seems to be okay that I'm alright with it. It may be years before I'm in a serious relationship again, and I'm completely and utterly content with that. I may be single for another five years. This singleness is something I like about myself, my inner strength, my independence, my inability to change for anyone. Change is the key word right now.

I've gotten sick often in the past two months. I'll go outside for two seconds, and I'm down with bronchitis again. I remember when Fall was my favorite time, playing in the leaves, watching football and cheering them on, going to Haunted Houses, but heck, if I went now to even one of those events, I'll have a bug that lasts for two weeks. I just can't risk that. Yet again, my inability to change is now for weather.

I miss my friends, I mean, I am not sad about it. We don't have time. Maybe we do, we just don't make it. I guess when you're at this age, you realize that you're either going to be friends despite how often you see each other or you're just not. A few years ago, I would have never accepted this statement from a friend or even had made it myself, but the truth is, I know that life is more than the fights we have over where to eat or how much time we spend with our significant others. Life has become so much more to me now that I spend everyday with a group of nineteen little children who WANT me to be their best friend. I believe they'd be there even if the county didn't make them. We enjoy each other that much. That part saddens me; that my best friends and I can't find time for one another but I'll spend 22 hours working on projects for these kids I may never see again after this year.

Think about that statement and how selfish it sounds... If I haven't made time for you, let me make one small change right here and now by taking the time to say I'm sorry. However, my life has a huge purpose right now, a path God has put me on, and my friends will always be my best friends and nothing will replace that, not time or distance, but these kids... I have one chance to get it right, and this is my shot. Please understand, I haven't changed. I'm still the same me, I'm just giving most of me to a classroom of children who may someday change the world.

Monday, October 9, 2006

I'm Not Together, But I'm Getting There.

I've learned that...

Patience is something I don't have. God throws me in situations that force me to realize that I don't and start asking for it.

Time doesn't always heal every wound. Some things will always hurt. There will be people you will always have feelings for. The death of someone you love will never be any easier than the day it was before. Time in itself is just that. It keeps going, and God wants us to cherish every moment we have.

Children are the true teachers in life. I learn something more everyday from five and six year olds than I did while I was in college discussing what it would be like to teach them. I am truly blessed to have the job I do and more so, that God chose me to have this position with THESE eighteen kids.

I'm not a tough as I think I am. I have a breaking point. I've reached it lately. I've had to stop and ask the Lord for help, and I mean, REALLY ask Him for assistance. I've always had Him there, but I've never thought I needed Him until now. That's refreshing and very reassuring.

I've got more creative talent than I know what to do with, and I'm more of a perfectionist than anything I've ever been in my life. Luckily, the carpal tunnel has kicked OUT of gear and the beautiful handwriting is back in action, but with that comes my need for perfection... And honestly, I'm wearing myself out.

Polka dots can brighten my day anyday. I see something with dots on it, and I am happier than you can imagine. The classroom has really taken off, and each day I'm gaining new trinkets and books of polka dots which make it even MORE worth my while.

Some people know what I mean before I even say it. Some people know how I feel before I even see them. Some people can put every one of my emotions into songs and sing them to me, and I've never felt better in my life. God knows what I need. Man, He does. It's crazy. He heals my heart before it even breaks, and He mends it when it begins to unravel. Strange how I never even have to mention it to Him. I've got the best of friends. I don't see them half as often as I should, but it doesn't take but a second to realize how blessed I am in that department. They know when I need prayer because I can tell when they're praying. It's unreal how they hear my thoughts when we don't speak. I'm just so thankful for who and what they are to me. Music has brought the sparkle back lately. You know, that shiny blue/gray sparkle that hits my eyes when I'm completely content? That one. It's back and it's because of music. Something about it makes things right. A specific artist has said everything I've been feeling, and seeing him in concert last night with my very best friend by my side was a huge healing process... I'll explain in not so many words: My best friend was by my side at the John Mayer concert. Not in boot camp, not in Iraq. At home, in Nashville. And though both of our hearts have been broken over things it seems we can't fix, we smiled and laughed together for one moment in time that I will NEVER forget. I just HAVE to thank God for that. Mayer says it best,
"Oh, it's taking so long.
I could be wrong; I could be ready.
Oh, but if I take my heart's advice,
I should assume it's still unsteady.
I am in repair.
I'm not together, but I'm getting there."

Sunday, October 1, 2006

And When I'm Broken, You Put Me Back Together Again.

Sometimes my doubt overshadows the underlying truth to every situation I face in life. I've come to realize that the pressures I have put on myself were all but merely ways of attempting not to fail at teaching. God is so good to me. He knows what I need. He gives me the words I need to hear. He knows when I'm completely torn, and He always sends people to help me make myself right again. This time, He's had to do all of it. I'm not saying everything's okay; I've just come to understand what's been wrong, and I'm now taking the steps to make it right.

After finding myself lower than I've been in quite sometime last night, I struggled to tell one of my sweetest friends my failures. I admitted my fears and each minute was another minute closer to God. She helped me to realize where I stood, although I knew it all along, hearing it from her made it so much easier to make sense of. I was trying to make things perfect, almost expecting them to be, but as Brittany said, "We put ALOT of pressure on ourselves to be perfect, even though we know perfection is a state we should strive for, all the while knowing it's one we can never realistically reach." And as I listened to her explain how far away from God I had gotten, she said something I really needed to hear, "Maybe He wants you to admit--to Him--that you CAN'T do it all." I haven't done that in years... Admitted that I CANNOT do something without the Lord. I just do it all by myself, when I know that He's right there with me. I never once have asked for help.

Until today. I listened clearly in church as my heart was burdened. I knew the Lord had something to say to me. Bro. Brian's sermon was "A Message in a Bottle." He talked about walking into a convenience store and trying to pick out a beverage to quench your thirst. Which one should we choose, and which beverage are our Christian lives most like? He discussed the beer can. Beer is appealing to some, even addictive, but more so it's intoxicating. If you are living your life in an intoxicating way, then others follow you in a way that's not pleasing to God. He then mentioned a coke. Coke is high in sugar and caffeine with provide immediate energy but once they wear out of your system, the high wears off and you feel tired. This is like being a on again-off again Christian; you're there when you need to be, full of life and ready to serve, but when the curtains close, you're nowhere to be found serving the Lord. He then talked about fruit juices and vegetable drinks. These drinks provide nutrients our bodies need but many of them are high in sodium and can dry out quickly, with your body not having what it needs. This is much like the Christian who claims to be a Christian on Sunday but live how they want to during the week. They get their drink in service and it dries out by the time they get home and never give it another thought. But finally, Bro. Brian discusses water. Water provides the purification and cleansing our bodies need. It quenches our thirst and gives stability. This is the type of life we as Christians should live. The life that is stable and glorifying God.

God knew that my life had become intoxicating, tired, and had more than anything dried out. When Bro. Brian finished preaching, I knew that I wanted my life's bottle's message to be of water - purifying, cleansing, and stable. I only had to trust in Him. I haven't done this in so long. It feels so good knowing where you fail the Lord and even better knowing how to change it. I love that He's going to be there with me every step of the way.

Barely Living the Change

Funny how just a few years ago I wanted to be a news anchor. Wearing nice suits with adorable hair and red lipstick flashing my smile every evening on the six o'clock news. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to not be on the news. I can't tell you how relieved I am to not be wearing suits and high heel shoes and awful, ugly red lipstick.

Instead I'm flashing my smile everyday at eighteen little five- and six-year-olds, and it's hard. It's not at all what I imagined it would be. I've never been this tired in my life despite the fact that I actually sleep 8 hours or more every night as opposed to my 2 or 3 hour nights of sleep in college. My feet are killing me, and I wear flat shoes. HA HA. Yes, ones that I used to find insanely ridiculous and old-looking; nevermind, that some of the 5th graders in my school are 2 feet taller than me when I wear them.

Being in the real world is hard. Getting that first paycheck was a shock. It wasn't what I expected. Being this tired and never finding time for myself really hurts. And most of all, I'm lonelier than I've ever been. I don't exactly know why. I don't want or need a boyfriend. I don't have time for it really. So what does all of this mean?

I've stopped turning to the Lord and completely relied on myself for all of the things that my best friend could have given me all along. I've found myself farther away from Him than I've ever been. Not in ways I've been before, with drinking, smoking, and the biggest mistakes of my life, but in the most hurtful way, and that is in denial. I've turned my back on God. I haven't asked for help. I haven't wanted it. I've fallen so far away that I've made my own self miserable without even noticing what I was doing. I haven't seen my best girl friends in weeks and some in months. I haven't seen Jared in, well, I don't remember when I saw him last. I haven't talked to my teaching buddy. I haven't called Rob or Jase. I haven't had a meaningful conversation in 3 months. All because I've consumed myself with my work because I'm insecure and scared of failing.

And that's the toughest thing I've ever had to admit.

I'm scared of failing. I'm terrified of everyone else not seeing the perfectionistic world I try to make for myself when I'm teaching. I'm so afraid of not being good at this. I'm scared that I'm going to spend so much time trying to make myself a brilliant teacher that I'm going to miss out on other things in life like friendships and relationships because honestly, there's not time for them. When does it get easier? When do I feel like it makes sense? When is it okay to break? I've built this wall that I didn't want broken and here I am, lying beneath my own bricks.

I know that God doesn't put anything on us that we can't handle, and I'm making it through this... It's just not at all what I thought it would be. I need Him more now than I ever have. And as afraid of failing as I am, I'm more terrified of not pleasing the Lord... I know I haven't. I've heard it said that you have to "Live the Change." Things have to change, and I'm starting today...