Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Ears Are Bleeding

Lessons I'm Learning - Part Six (Celebrate)

Today, I'm celebrating small accomplishments. 2 days in a row of classes who are figuring out what is expected of them, and that if they follow those expectations, good things happen. I was able to scour the bargain bins at Target tonight to reward 2 classes. As soon as the other classes learned that they could get prizes (because yes...I've resorted to a form of bribery), they started to shape up. I even had a class earn 15 extra recess minutes because they pulled it together in music.

The icing on my cupcake today was seeing a former colleague after school at a 6th grade basketball game and getting a HUGE hug and the promise of continued prayers on my behalf.

Not to say that there won't be more bad days...I'm sure there will. But today, I'm celebrating the good.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Lessons I'm Learning - Part Five (Tears)

Sometimes, you just have to cry. I thought I was done shedding tears, but I'm not. Somehow, they just keep coming. I don't know that there's much more I can add to these thoughts...just let the tears wash through my soul and keep me going for another day. I know that God counts every tear I shed...I pray that somehow these can bring Him glory as I continue to trust Him in the dark.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lessons I'm Learning - Part Four (Showing Up)

This new chapter is hard. Incredibly hard. I end up in tears most days...sometimes by lunch. I know in my heart that I am a good teacher, but right now, I'm not teaching. I'm disciplining. Often. And usually not very well. I made the mistake of finally getting around to reading the farewell cards my former students wrote for me. They were incredibly touching. 2 boys bought me iTunes gift cards with their own money. Another girl wrote the lyrics to a song I taught last year (Red River Valley): From this valley they say you are going / I shall miss your bright eyes and sweet smile / for alas, you have taken the sunshine / that has brightened my pathway awhile. Another boy who sat for years doing nothing in music class told me "when you go, the fun leaves, too." (His card was quite possibly one of the longest things he's written at school...writing has not been his strong suit, and like music, he has spent years avoiding it.) I sat crying at the memory of so many kids whose lives were changed...kids I truly loved, and who loved me back. Then I thought about the new kids...many who don't seem to even want to give me a chance; who are pushing me away and not letting me love them.

The face of one sweet 5th grade boy from my last school keeps coming across my mind. He took my departure particularly hard. For many reasons that I can't really share here, he holds a very special place in my heart. I realized that I didn't make a difference to him overnight. I just kept showing up. It wasn't always easy. He wasn't always easy. But I kept showing up, and eventually, made a difference.

And so for these new students who don't want to give me a chance, I just need to keep showing up. God can't use me if I don't. It won't happen overnight...and honestly, after 3 weeks, I'm not seeing much progress. I honestly wonder if anything will change in the next 14 weeks. But it won't get better if I don't show up. Sometimes God grows us while we're plodding along.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lessons I'm Learning - Part Three (Detour)

I guess this lesson is a no-brainer. We make plans. God laughs. My goal was to teach at a school for 7 years so I could see kids from Kindergarten through 6th grade. I was heartbroken years ago when I was unexpectedly moved after the last day of school in a building where I had taught for 6 years. I just missed seeing my first group of Kindergarten students through.

This year, I was so excited to be spending my seventh year in a building. Little did I know in August that I'd only make it to 6 1/2.

None of this makes sense. And I will drive myself crazy trying to figure it out. What I do know is that this is not a surprise to God. For whatever reason, I needed to either a) leave the last situation; b) make an impact on someone in my new location; c) let God change me; or d) all of the above.

I don't know why my life has suddenly taken this crazy turn. The detour is making me carsick. But...I can't look back. God decisively closed the door on that chapter of my life. I take with me mostly good memories...and the bad ones...I'm slowly finding that I can let them go.

And so I look ahead and keep my eyes on the road before me. It's still steep and full of rocks and obstacles, but I'm slowly finding my pace again and learning to celebrate small victories.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Dayna is smitten with the Jackson 5 right now. For Christmas, she spent her own money to get her dad a "Best of the Jackson 5" CD. The other night, she was looking at the CD cover and asked her dad why they all wore their hair in an "alfredo."

Lessons I'm Learning - Part Two (Friends)

As Dan & I have been watching "The Wonder Years" on Netflix lately, the theme song (based on the Beatles tune) has been stuck in my brain.

In the last month, God has surrounded me with friends I don't really deserve. I guess that's called grace. I don't know how I will ever be able to repay these people, they have truly been "Jesus with skin on."

One friend gave up the better part of 2 days (one while her parents were here from the West Coast) to drive me into Omaha and document my meetings with HR. She was able to give me objective feedback, prayer support, and practical encouragement.

Another friend gave me her home for a day so I wouldn't be alone. Together we drank tea, talked, cried, wrapped presents, I cut out a sewing project on her kitchen table...I was able to find retreat. She then arranged a lunch date for myself and her daughter (due to give birth at any moment...a good thing I didn't know she was having contractions while we were out!)

Two friends (fellow music teachers) showed up on a Wednesday after work and started to box up my classroom. Two more friends from my church in Lincoln came to Omaha on Friday with more boxes, chocolate, and ears. Together, they helped me turn the emotional task of packing 7 years of memories into a time of closure and a step toward healing.

I went way over our cell phone minutes for the month with friends who offered advice, counsel, Scripture, or just listened to my heart (and my tears, and my sniffles and nose blowing.)

The countless people I never spoke with, but were praying nonetheless...one even sent me a tea bag squeezer, knowing how much I love my tea :)

And while I'm probably forgetting many people, I can't leave out my family. My Oregon family who let me escape for awhile. The ones who have sometimes had hard things to tell me. The ones who keep picking up the phone, even though I have nothing new to tell them. My husband who allowed me to go over those cell phone minutes and didn't put up *too* much of a fuss about the bill. A man who graciously stepped aside and let the women in my life help me with "estrogen therapy." A man who told me upon the transition "Don't worry about the house for a few weeks. I've got everything covered." (And he did a great job! Although I do think it's time to step back into the real world again...we're down to mac & cheese or waffles for dinner now.) A man who prayed and listened, and let me rant. And then there's the daughter. The one who told me a story about a stressed out mommy who missed her students and had tough new schools. The mommy who was visited by an angel who told her "do not be afraid. God's holding you in His hand." The daughter who would slip notes under the bedroom door saying "Always know Jesus loves you" or "Dear Mom, remember God loves you! G+A=<3"

And while I know that God alone is all I need, He also knew how much I would need to know I'm loved and see my value through the eyes of my friends.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lessons I'm Learning - Part One (Darkness)

  • I'm learning that sometimes the path is very, very dark.
  • I'm learning that sometimes God grows our faith by letting us see what's going on, and sometimes He grows our faith by not letting us see.
  • I'm learning that I'd rather walk in the dark with Jesus than walk in the light on my own.
  • I'm learning that even the darkness is not dark to God.
  • I'm learning that His Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
  • I'm learning that when you fix your eyes on Jesus, the things of earth grow strangely dim.
  • I'm learning that I'm afraid of the dark. I never thought I was...but this is a different kind of dark.
  • I'm learning that I'm surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who know what it's like to walk in the dark. (To quote Rich Mullins...one of the best songwriters of all time {although King David was also pretty cool} once wrote: Sometimes I wake up in the night and feel the dark/it's so hot inside my soul, I swear there must be blisters on my heart)
  • I don't need to find light on my own. Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. (Micah 7:8)
So I'm learning to trust, moment by moment.

This Month in a Nutshell

This last month, a lot of things came to a head. I'm still not sure how to process everything, but since this blog is really more my journal than anything, I think I need to start getting my thoughts down so I can see God's faithfulness in the future.

Strange things have happened this school year. I think that's about all I can safely say on the Internet. Once I thought the hurtful chapter was over, I was wrong. False allegations were raised against me; my character was questioned. Ultimately, I was given 3 days to say goodbye to 750 students and close out 3 schools and start over the next week with 2 new schools and 750 new students. This entire saga was drawn out for almost 4 weeks with no answers (over the Christmas holiday), and wrought havoc on my anxiety-prone soul. (For the record, this is not the holiday weight-loss plan I'd advise for anyone.)

Satan has had a field day with me and my family. Yet God has been speaking...sometimes in a whisper, and sometimes in a reverberating shout. The next few posts will walk through some of the lessons I'm learning.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

It's been an incredibly tough month, and I hope to process everything and write about it soon.

But yesterday marked the end of a lot of things for me. I've been incredibly sad this week trying to process everything.

When I turned on the radio, this was the song I heard:

This is the first day of the rest of my life; 'cause even in the dark, I can still see the light; it's gonna be all right.