Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I hate school...I think I'll become a teacher PART 2

And so my love-hate relationship with school began in kindergarten.  The second kindergarten I went to was a church school.  It was across the street from the church where my Dad had just taken a new job.  This school let out at noon, so my Daddy would come across the street and pick me up and take me home on his way home for lunch.  I remember being so nervous and wanting him to come back to get me.  I would "suffer" (because kindergarten is soooo stressful, you know) through the morning activities...none of which matched up to being the "drink helper".  When we had recess we would go outside to the small playground which was located immediately across the street from where my Daddy parked his VW bug at work.  His looked just like Herbie without the 53 on the side.  I would climb up the metal jungle gym and sit on the very top and watch for my Daddy.  Surely he was on his way.   I was a mess!

This anxiety carried on throughout the years.   I was the good little student, doing my work, wiping my tears, thinking I would never see my parents again.  Every morning I would have the same sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.....the same feeling I still have today after all these years.  I had good days.  I tend to be a little melodramatic, though I don't admit that often.   As the day progressed I would straighten up and have a wonderful time with friends.  I loved my teachers.  I was a good student and active in every club and activity imaginable.  I guess I thought keeping very busy would trick my mind into forgetting how miserable I was!!!  It usually worked.

I don't know how I ever became a teacher.  The smell of school, the feeling of being TRAPPED for 10 months into a day ordered by bells and air tight schedules has always brought me days of nausea and tears.  The months of stuffing down my lunch so fast in order to have time to use the restroom and check my mailbox---all in a record 25 minutes so I can be at the door to greet the next room full of eager faces will soon arrive.   The days of working at a speed of unhealthy proportions in order to keep the attention of dead pan faces of students who would rather be at home or outside in the sunshine is on its way.  The hours of putting on one splendid "dog and pony show" after another, only to collapse as the last bell rings and I get the reminder of the marathon faculty meeting ahead are just around the bend.  The schedule of racing from intense meetings and rehearsals to get my own kids to music lessons, cook supper, help with homework, run to buy supplies for the latest school project assigned are making their way down my street....ready to knock on my door and say, "We're back!!!"

So here I sit.  In two week the high speed roller coaster ride begins.  It makes me nauseous just thinking about it.  My nerves start to come alive and I have to once again trick my mind into thinking happy thoughts.  Part of my problem is I allow myself to be consumed by work sometimes.  This has caused me great anxiety and stress in the past and I am working hard at being more balanced and realistic in my view of what I can accomplish in a day, a week, and even a year.  I have been learning to take one day at a time instead of looking too far down the road.   It's the pace.  It's the having my every bathroom break scheduled.  It's the calendar that fills so full you can't see an opening of relief anywhere in sight.
I am learning to say "no".  I am learning that rest is important.  I am also learning that doing nothing sometimes is better than filling up an empty hour with another activity.  After all, it's from silence and rest that healing begins, great works are written, songs are composed, memories with families are made, and God speaks.

I love teaching.  Are you laughing?  I am.  I love school.  Still laughing?  My stomach hasn't gotten the memo.  Maybe I should put it on the morning announcements!  I love school!  I love teaching!  I love students!  I love being a part of God making magical moments in the classroom through music!  Once on the train, I settle in and enjoy the ride.

So I shall break out the Tums and ginger ale and get back on the train.
The view is usually spectacular....if I can stay out of the bathroom!

I hate school.....I think I'll become a teacher

When I was a little girl I used to go to school and cry.  I would sit at my desk, take out my pocket-sized tissues that I believe were invented for people like me, and silently wipe my tears while I listened to the teacher teach me about fractions.  I have often tried to remember when this anxiety over school began.  I think I can trace it back to kindergarten.  I remember going to kindergarten in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  I remember that the church where I was attending school had a wonderful teacher.  She had a special board that had the jobs of the day.  There was "line leader" (the coveted job), "door holder" (the job for the humble servant), "snack helper" (passed out the goodies) and the one that had me coming to school every day with anticipation----praying it would be my turn....."drink helper"(this person got to pour the drinks from the pretty glass pitcher).  I don't know why this job fascinated me so much, but I remember always looking to see if my name had made it to that slot yet.

During the middle of this kindergarten year my family moved to Florida.  My Daddy had been called to a church and we would be going before the school year ended.  This meant that I would have to change schools.  I guess that's when it all started.....I'm not quite sure.  I remember my parents trying to decide where I would attend kindergarten.  There was only one kindergarten at that time which I'm sure friends in this town now would find funny considering the major growth that has occurred over the years.  At this point in history, there were only two elementary schools and one kindergarten which was located at the county office site.  The decision was made that I would go try this kindergarten out for a day.  My brother was attending one of the elementary schools.  The kindergarten told my parents that the school bus picked up the kindergarten children and would deliver them home or to the elementary schools to meet up with siblings for carpool.  I begged and begged to ride the school bus.  I thought it would be exciting and such a "big girl" thing to do.  My parents agreed, though I think it was with a little apprehension.  My mother took me to school and met with the teacher.  I remember it was very hot in the room and there were flies.  The teacher was explaining the bus situation and lunch when a little boy walked by with sores all over him.  The flies were sticking to him and his sores.  The teacher said, "Boys and girls, don't touch Johnny.  We don't know exactly what these sores are all over him."  I don't remember anything else about the day except dismissal.  It came time to go get on the big yellow bus and go home.  I was to ride the school bus that would take me to my brother's school where my mother would pick us up.  All the children had tags hanging around there necks with yarn.  The tags said which bus they would be riding.  I was new.  I didn't have a tag.  I guess the teacher was busy, preoccupied, tired......but she didn't put one of those tags on me.    I was at the end of the line and I just followed the person in front of me and got on the bus.  I rode the bus as far as it would go and got off at the school.   The wrong school.  I didn't realize it was the wrong school until I had been standing outside the office forEVER it seemed.  Finally the principal came out and asked me who I was and who my parents were. He recognized the name and called my mother.  She had been waiting at the other school for me when the bus arrived without me.  She came to pick me up and it was decided that I would go to the kindergarten across the street from our church.    Another new school.  My stomach turned....and churned.    I believe that this began my love-hate relationship with school.  This is the place where I met the thing that would always cause me anxiety and so much joy.

And so the saga began.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Silence

I have often been fascinated (and I must admit a bit irritated) over the years at how uncomfortable we are as a society with silence.  As a musician I have been asked to fill that silence many times.  "Could you play something?"  Sadly, most don't care what is played as long as it fills the "awkward" silence.  But why is it awkward?  I have a touch of an attention problem. (ahem)  I mean, I have a hard time reading if there are other things going on.  If there is music playing (with lyrics) I have to concentrate extra hard in order to not have to re-read the same paragraph over several times.  Sometimes I resort to reading out loud---which has brought many a curious glance my way, I'm sure.  Funny, people hear me reading, but the loud music or other conversation around them doesn't phase them.  I remember one time many years ago (BC---before children) I was playing for a church service.  The pastor was baptizing some new Christians that day.  I was excited to watch and rejoice with these new believers.  When the baptism was over, the service continued with hymns, songs, and the message.  Later that week the Minister of Music contacted me to tell me that he had gotten a pretty big tongue lashing from the pastor because there was "no music playing during the baptism part of the service".  Really?  I didn't miss it at all! (haha)  Does silence put people on edge?  The minute the background music starts I think people breathe a sigh of relief and also relax.  


I agree that music can play a wonderful part in helping us to relax.  I also think music is worshipful.  But sometimes we need silence to really hear, don't we?  I know I do.  I rarely get it.  I think part of my own personal problem is that I am so in tune to the music (no pun intended) that the rhythm and melody invade my mind and I have a hard time focusing on anything else.  I would love to hear people's thoughts on silence.  I know that we wouldn't want to have too much of it, but I think we could hear God a lot more clearly sometimes if we allowed ourselves to sit in silence.....even in church.
I have a friend out of state who plays for a church that has no silence.  One song leads directly into another.  When the minister prays, the instrumentalists keep right on playing "quietly in the background" and never "miss a beat" so to speak.  Their music rises and falls with whatever aspect of the service is happening at the time.  After the prayer, they move right into the introduction to another song.  The music comes to a "rest" during the sermon, but picks up strategically at the time of the invitation.  Some of this is fine, but I'm talking about an extreme case here.  So what is the deal?  Are we afraid of being alone in our thoughts?  I am baffled by this.  Does silence make people lose focus?  It has the opposite effect on me.
I would love some feedback on this one.  


Why the need for noise or sound?  What's up with no silence?


     

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Overflow

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)


I am continually amazed at the junk that seeps into our hearts and minds.  After having children I became even more aware of the impurity in the world.  Things that I had become desensitized to suddenly revived their shock value.  Sadly, I had become so aware of these words and phrases that they had lost their sting.  I will never forget the day I was sitting in the doctor's office with my daughter who was four at the time.  The office would get quite full with restless children and the receptionist would put on a movie to pass the time.  Children's movies are safe, right?  One would think.  We really had no choice whether or not we wanted to watch the movie.  It was on.  It was loud.  So unless we waited outside we were stuck.  As the rated G movie progressed, the cartoon character began using a word and phrase that we hear often and some people choose to use often.   I hate words and phrases like these, and personally choose not to use them, as well as teach my girls not to use them.  I remember cringing to think that my four year old was hearing this word/phrase being repeated over and over again.  


I did a little research on the word today because of another incident.  My girls were upstairs playing and I was downstairs fixing their lunch.  One of my children appeared at my side with tears in her eyes.  She came down to confess that she had "unintentionally" said this short phrase including this word I absolutely abhor.  She looked terribly upset and made a full confession.  This opened up a great conversation about how we hear things and allow them to penetrate our hearts and minds without even knowing it because we listen to movies or TV shows that continually use these seemingly innocent expressions---though they are almost always used as an insult or putdown.    


I don't know exactly what propelled her confession.  Of course, I would hope that it was true guilt.  But there is always the "I'm gonna tell!" influence.  I don't know which it was, but it still opened up a great conversation.  We talked about trying to find out where she had been hearing it and be reminded that allowing ourselves to continually hear those words or phrases makes it much easier to pepper our own language with them.  I found it interesting that the incident occurred while they were role playing.  The story they were playing out was actually a negative one and therefore the insults seeped in.  We decided that insulting one another as part of their role playing story wasn't such a good idea.  


After this incident, I did a little research on the word/phrase in question.  Every place I looked said the same thing.  This phrase is indeed a vulgar one.  But...and I quote...."but its meaning has generalized........so that it no longer strikes the average American as obscene."   It has, however, not lost it's sting.  It is still used in a derogatory way, and some still use it with its original intent and meaning.  I see other phrases and words on Facebook every day.  Teens use these as if they are commonplace and acceptable.  I know they are aware of the meaning. I am also aware that it makes them feel accepted.  The more they use them, the easier it becomes.  When I was younger, girls usually (but not always) did not use questionable language.  That is no longer true.  Girls and women alike are peppering their speak with words that make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  It cheapens their beauty.  Boys and men are not excluded.  I think it cheapens their influence and their dignity as well.  


I have had this conversation with my girls before, and I am sure to have it many times over the years to come.  We will continue to talk about what we are filling up our heart and minds with.  I will continue to impress on them that what comes out of our mouths first came from our hearts.  I will also continue to tell them that they should always think about a conversation with Jesus.  Would He be honored by their words?  If not, they ought to think twice.


Lord, help me honor You in my heart and mind.....that my mouth may praise You and honor you all the days of my life.





Friday, July 2, 2010

Wonder

I feel I am losing my sense of wonder.  I have information instantly at my fingertips.  Just the other night my husband and I were  talking about something and we said, "I wonder what......"  Immediately we picked up the computer and "google'd" the particular question and had an instant list of about 1000 answers.  We immediately looked up our answer and quickly read through the website.  We had our answer and.....then we sat there.  What a letdown.  The wonder was gone....answer given...I was smarter....but something was missing.

Instant answers.  I love the fact that if I have a question, I can get an answer almost immediately.  It has come in handy many times while cooking, dosing instructions for certain medications, research, scripture searches, shopping, finding out about rashes, etc.   Google is a mother's best friend!  Of course, you can go overboard and end up talking yourself into believing that  the rash that is simply  "a rash" is some dreaded disease leaving one with only a few months left to live.  Yes, I have gone overboard a time or two.

We live in an age where information is literally at our fingertips in a matter of seconds.  When I was a young girl, we would have a research project that would require a trip to the library.  I would walk in the door and smell that wonderful smell of.........books!  Then the search would begin.  Libraries are so calming and quiet.  I could stay there for hours.  But now, all we have to do is flip open the laptop, type in our topic and out spits thousands of answers to our research questions.  The only issue is which ones to choose.  We never leave our home, we don't even have to get off the sofa!   No overdue fines on books (yes, I had MANY).  We can then write the research paper right there on the laptop, correct mistakes (without correction tabs--remember those?), and then print to our wireless printer!  Viola!  All finished!  Oh!  Sometimes we don't even have to print...we just e-mail our paper to our teacher/professor!  How convenient.   I remember being in college and computers were just becoming popular.  They were HUGE in size.  The new lab had about three rows of computers and three printers located at various places around the room.  The night before papers were due, students would be found in the lab typing away, while others waited (for hours at times) for the next available opening.  I admit, things are much easier now!

I know that there are wonderful things about the technology age we live in.   The thing we are missing is balance.  We don't do a very good job with balancing things today.  We are out of control in some ways.
I have lost my sense of wonder and I want it back!  I no longer sit and daydream or wonder about things.  I believe that our creativity has been damaged and crippled by our lack of wonder.   Instead of letting our minds work, we let the computer do our work so we can......get on to the next thing on our list.  No wonder we feel so nervous and agitated.

I am going to make a conscious effort to allow myself to wonder more---and daydream.

I wonder how many times the word "wonder" is in the Bible?  Maybe I could google it....or maybe not.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lessons in the Night

One night about three years ago I had a hilarious experience.  My children were in first and second grades at the time.  We went to sleep that night and all was well.  Around 2:00 am we were awakened suddenly with a loud, "Surprise!!!"   Well, being 2:00 am, we were in that stage of sleep where we were startled awake--- not exactly sure what was going on.   We opened our eyes and noticed the room was completely dark.  We heard laughter and giggles and a few more "surprise" outbursts.   As our vision came into focus, we saw two small figures standing in the doorway of our room, fully dressed with backpacks on their backs!  My husband (not thinking at a all!!) began to lay into them with a pretty big tongue lashing!  I quickly stepped in.   With my hand on his chest to silence him gently, I said, "Wow!  You are already dressed!  We are so proud of you.  But girls.....it's 2:00 in the morning.   That is the middle of the night.   You need to go back to bed for a little while and then you can do this again!"

They were so excited when they went to bed that night.  I wondered what they were up to.  They had decided to surprise us and show us that they could get up and get dressed on their own without us telling them to.  I guess in their excitement, they forgot to look at the clock.  One of them (the oldest) had awakened in the night and remembered their "secret plan" to surprise us and just figured it was time!
They not only had their clothes laid out and ready, but their backpacks as well.

It reminds me of the parable of the ten virgins.  (Matthew 25)  The ones who took their oil with them were truly ready.  They were truly saved.  They not only lived a life that looked like a Christian, but they truly had the Holy Spirit living inside them.  The others were caught off guard and when the bridegroom arrived they realized they had no "oil".  They first tried to get their oil from the others.  We can't ride on the coat tails of others.  Jesus will not know us.  We aren't His.  Then they tried to frantically run and find or buy some oil.  It just doesn't work that way.  We must be ready.  Always.  Our lamps must be full.  We must be filled with the Holy Spirit, walking with Him, truly His.  When He comes for us, we will know Him. We will be ready!   I want to be so ready that I don't have to focus my eyesight and try to figure out if it's Him!  I want to recognize His voice, His face, and be standing at the door, fully dressed....with my backpack on!  

He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon."   Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.  ~Rev. 22:20