Friday, June 19, 2015

Broken Hearts

Being here in corpus this past week has really opened my eyes to the character of people.  It has also made me realize how much the love of a mother means.  My mom and I had many strained years as most moms do with their teenaged daughters.  But as I have held my mom and just let her cry, memories flood back to her doing the same for me, even during the rockiest of years.  My mom wasn't perfect, who is?  But she has always been the one I ran to when my heart was breaking.  Though my heart is breaking now, I'm not running to her, but to Christ for comfort.  But I am so glad that I can be a physical source of love and support for her right now.  It's the least I can do after all she's done for me.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Struggle

As a Christian woman, I try not to be a hypocrite, but I still am one sometimes.  I talk about the need to forgive, but sometimes, I simply don't want to.  When someone wrongs me deliberately, I want to hold on to my anger because honestly, somehow deep down the anger feels good.  I know in my heart that it is silly because as I struggle to sleep, the one who wronged me is losing no sleep over my hurt.
Christ is the ultimate example of how I should act, and believe me when I say I strive to live a life like His.  But I am a mere human, and life is hard.  People are cruel and selfish.  Bad things happen that put my faith to the test.
The good thing is I have an all knowing God who never promised that if I believe in Him, life will simply be grand.  He knows my weakness and my struggles, and I believe He is walking with me hand-in-hand, helping to guide me all my days.  There is a peace In Knowing that I can confess my sins to Him and ask Him to help make me more like His son, and He will.
So, even when I want to curse someone's name and feel justified in doing so, I instead choose to die to myself and live in Him.  I will cry out to Him and know that He, my Heavenly Father, will NEVER forsake me.

Father, my heart is heavy.  The hurt is real and it is deep.  But I want to live my life as a living sacrifice.  Help me to shine Your light especially in the dark times of life.  Thank you for being true to your word and for sending me and example of how life was meant to be lived.  Help me live that way now and forever.  In Your son's name I pray.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A White Balloon

As she let go of the white balloon, she wept.  The tears were no longer the tears of anguish; they were the tears of sweet release.  She refused to hold on to the pain, the hurt, the guilt and shame.  She was instead allowing herself the chance to celebrate, the rejoice, to forgive herself (and others), and to love.
She kept her eye on that white balloon as it slowly drifted further and further away into the overcast night sky.  She tried with all of her might not to lose sight of the balloon, knowing deep down that it would soon drift so far that she would no longer be able to see it.  As it disappeared, she realized that just because it was no longer in her presence did not mean it was gone.  It simply existed in a different place, possible a different form.
So she let it go.  She closed her eyes and smiled.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Thankful

Tonight, I just want to close out this month of blogging by saying that I am thankful.  I love my family.  I love my job and the people I with whom I work.  I am thankful for the opportunity to get off of work and come home, to my own house.  I appreciate all of the friends in my life and I pray that I always remember to make sure they know this.

I am thankful for people who go out of their way to make sure you are okay, but I want to make sure I am that person to others.

I am appreciative for so much, but what I am realizing is that I need to make sure that I am the person others are thankful for, also.  I don't want to be the one who takes and takes but never gives.  I don't want my friendship to be a burden, but to be a mutual give and take with no expectations or repayment etc.  I am the type of person that will always be here for those I love, but the problem is I'm not always good at recognizing when there is a need.

So, to all of my loved ones, if there is ever anything I can do for you, will you please never hesitate to ask??  I know that asking is uncomfortable, but I really am not good at figuring these things out.  I promise I won't be burdened and actually look forward to the chance to "pay it forward".

Meanwhile, I am going to make it a point to be more in tune with people and their needs so that I can begin to meet needs without having to be asked.

I hope this makes sense...I have just had MANY people lately stepping up and pouring into me and my family and I feel so appreciative.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Another Failure?

Maybe.  I took a challenge to write in my blog every day for the month of March.  I started a couple of days late.  I missed a day here or there, and I missed this entire weekend.  Some may call that a failure, but I wouldn't have blogged during this weekend for any prize.

My husband had a "Wipe Out Run" that he was participating in with some people from his company.  It was being held in Baytown which is a little ways (maybe an hour) from our house in Katy.  He asked me if I wanted to come watch him participate, to which I responded "Absolutely!".  I don't know if he realized that this would be the perfect weekend to get away for a little bit, but it was the last weekend before my 4th graders took their first round of STAAR tests; today and tomorrow are day 1 and 2 of the Writing portion.  I'm their Reading and Writing teacher, so these days are pretty stressful.  Regardless of what is said, the scores matter.  With my future at my campus dangling in the air like a wind chime, I feel the pressure more than I ever have.  This isn't my first year to teach a tested subject/grade.  I taught 7th and 8th grade Reading and Writing before, so I'm not stranger to state exams.  However, there is a lot more riding on this test, for me, than ever before.  It's my chance to see if I'm making a difference.  It's my chance to prove to others that I am.  It's my kids' chance to show how incredibly amazing they are.

So, this past Thursday I woke up with a sore throat.  I stuck it out.  Friday morning, I wake up with absolutely no voice.  My writing liaison steps up and offers to teach my morning block in order to let my voice rest.  She offers to ask one of the other 4th grade teachers to step in for my for my p.m. block, but I didn't want to impose.  I assured her I would be able to make it through the afternoon if she was able to let me just assist in the a.m.  And I did.  Through the pain, I strained my voice for every last noise I could make.  Mind you, I'm not teaching my own students.  These are students from another 4th grade class, and I definitely did not want to let them down.  I asked for their forgiveness right away for not having the energy that I usually do, but I promised I would give them all that I could if they would do the same.  And they did.  These kids have truly shown me that they know the meaning of "rise up".

After I got home on Friday, I packed up a few changed of clothes for myself and my two sons.  We waited for my husband to get home, and then we were off to Kemah.  My husband told me to book a room for the night at the Kemah Boardwalk Inn.  I'm usually too worried about finances to spend extra money on a hotel for anything other than a trip to visit family, but  my husband had been pretty stressed at work, and I had been too.  So, I did.  And I made sure to get a room with a view of the boardwalk.  And you know what?  I don't regret the extra money we spent.  I don't regret spending a little extra to eat at one of the places that has been featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives.  I don't regret spending quite a bit for our little ones to ride a few rides on the boardwalk since they were too small for many. It was amazing.  I slept like a baby, and when I woke up, I didn't have to make the bed, do laundry, dishes, or anything else that I usually do.  We enjoyed dinner with friends, coffee on the boardwalk for breakfast on Saturday, and had a BLAST at the Wipe Out Run.  My youngest son made a new friend with the son of one of my husband's friends.  My oldest son conquered his fear of heights and rode a couple of rides that even made me a little squeamish.  My husband ran a 5K, wearing a red tutu and participated in a very amusing obstacle course along the way, all surrounded by several of his coworkers who just wanted to have a little fun.  I was so proud of the two ladies who ran with them for pushing through and finishing the race.  It was so much fun to watch, and I hope to participate next time.  The kids got to play in an area that had a bubble machine.  It was the highlight for them, I think. 

I came home and spent the day on Sunday getting the house in order.  I finished ALMOST all of the laundry and cleaned up a bit.  I did my grocery shopping.  I went to bed and slept like a log.  I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day.  I'm usually doing everything I can to keep myself awake on testing days, but today I was energized. 

So thank, hunny, for taking me a way for a little while.  Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to spend some alone time with me and the boys.  Thank you for all that you do, day in and day out, to make it to where we are able to do these kind of things every now and then. 

I may have missed a few days of blogging, but it was so worth it. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Switching Kids

We are full swing into our "Writing Camp" for forth grade.  It's our way of having a little fun with the kiddos while reviewing for their upcoming writing STAAR which is on Monday.  We decided, as a team, that for the whole week, each person is teaching one lesson.  There are 4 teachers, so there are 4 topics ranging from revising and editing, to combining sentences, to addressing expository prompts and addressing narrative prompts.  So, I haven't taught my own two classes since Tuesday, and I have to say, I'm really enjoying it.  It's nice to see different faces, hear different voices, and experience different abilities/personalities.

But what is really surprising me is how much I'm enjoying that my own students are getting to experience the other teachers.  I am so blessed to work on a team that has 4 very different personalities teaching Reading, Writing, and Social Studies, and another who is there as our Writing Liaison, but who does SO MUCH MORE.  However, each one of these women is so knowledgeable that I have no fears in allowing them to teach my own students.  In fact, I'm kind of excited by it because maybe, just maybe, their way of teaching that particular topic makes more sense to someone who wasn't "getting it" with me.

I was just thinking about how different each one of our personalities is.  I'm the loud, laid back one.  We have a silly, motherly one who is so incredibly passionate about what she does and the kids she teaches.  We have another who is a very new teacher, but is so sweet and silly, and the kids adore her. The last one is incredibly funny and a little bit...how do we say....hyper organized?  She is so incredibly creative and artistic, and she is ALWAYS singing or dancing...or both.  The writing liaison is so incredibly energetic and funny, but she also holds the kids to such high standards.  She is often at work before I am, and I see her helping with so many different clubs and activities that I can't even count.

I believe the five of us, though incredibly different, have been very carefully knitted together.  These women all have amazing zeal for what they do, and they have truly lit a fire for me and reminded me that I still have so much room to grow.

While I still don't know if my principal is going to ask me back next year, I know that I have been challenged to my very depths this year.  I have worked longer and harder than I have in the past 5 years I have taught.  I have found that while I absolutely adored my 8th graders, I have a serious love for these 4th graders...really for elementary all together.  I have realized many areas for growth and truly feel that I am better now than I was in August.  Each one of these ladies has poured in to me in one way or another, and many more that I haven't even mentioned.  I am forever grateful, and while I don't know if I will be with all of them again next year, I pray every night that this will be the case because I can see such great things in store.

If not, I hope each one of them knows how much they are loved, valued, and appreciated.  I am truly blessed.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My brother, John.

John means "Jehovah has been gracious."

My brother was born 6 weeks early after my mother fell outside of her home.  She landed on her stomach and her water broke.  To put this into perspective, my mother was 16 when she had my first brother, Chris.  She's now 18 and pregnant with her second.  She's a military wife since my dad joined the Army.  They are living in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, away from all of their family which was in Houston, Texas.  The year was 1978.  Technology was definitely not as it is now, which means medicinally we were not where we are now.
My brother was taken to Vanderbilt because he was very sick and struggling to survive.  The doctors were worried because, in their words, baby boys do not usually have the fight like baby girls.  The boys will often just lie there and die.  Well, John definitely did not.
He was a decent weight, over 5 pounds, but he was long, which means he was skinny.  His diapers swallowed him up.  He had no fat on his body.  But John didn't give up.  He survived.

Fast forward a few years.  They are now living in Germany.  John is mischievous, not purposefully all the time, but he's got a curious brain.  He was the kid who took things apart all the time just to figure out how they worked.  Well, one day a lamp stops working, so my brother had to figure out what the problem was.  He ended up sticking his finger in the light socket.  I'm not sure if you know, but in Germany, the electricity has a much higher wattage than in the U.S. or at least it used to.  My other brother yells for help, so my dad comes running to the rescue.

I cannot imagine what ran through my parents' minds, especially Dad's as he saw his little 4 (or maybe 5) year old son being electrocuted.  He did what they say not to, and he grabbed my brother.  The electricity then passed from my brother's body, into my dad's arm, and then blew out the back side of his elbow.  The doctors said that saved my brother's life because it gave the electricity a way out instead of running continuously through his tiny body.

So, the hospital gets to know John by name because he has to have skin graphs done.  He has to go in frequently to have the finger cleaned and  re bandaged frequently.  Mom says that was the worst part.  Changing the bandages hurt him.

My brother still has scars on his pointer finger and his finger nail never grew in quite right.  A constantly reminder, you could say, of that curious brain of his.

So, my brother, at 29 years old, ends up in the hospital with pains he describes like knives stabbing him in the chest.  His cholesterol was dangerously high and he was having a heart attack.  He ended up having to have triple bypass...  At 29 years old.  Everyone, even the nurses and doctors at the hospital, were blown away that he was having to have this done at such a young age.  We weren't so surprised.  My grandfather had his first heart attack at 27.  He passed away at the age of 34 from another.  This high cholesterol is hereditary, a problem that not even an internal medicine doctor has been able to rectify within my own mother.  Hers was almost 500 at one point in her life.  After weight loss surgery, the loss of 70 pounds, and numerous different concoctions of medications, it's still over 200, but it is in a much safer range than before.

 Back to John.  Even the surgery was difficult.  They had trouble getting the veins out of his legs so it took much longer.  Of course we didn't know why it was taking so long as we were waiting in the waiting room, so we were extremely nervous.

That was hard.  I thought I would be ok, but when they wheeled him in on his bed to see us before they wheeled him into the OR, it hit me.  He was in his gown all prepped and ready to go.  I remember he had his right hand over his head like if he was shielding his eyes from the light.  He was crying and trying to hide it. It's never easy to see a 6 foot 3 inch man cry, especially one who weighs over 250 pounds!!  He's a giant teddy bear.  That's when I lost it.  I started crying and just buried my face into my aunt's chest, sobbing.  That's my brother after all.  This was a serious deal.  They would be sawing open his chest for God's sake.  It was almost too much to think about.

Afterward,  it was so hard to see him intubated.  When he was in ICU, I remember a needle sticking out of his neck; I believe this was for the anesthesia. I remember as he started to wake up, he really wanted the tube out of his throat, but they wouldn't take it out until he would stay away.  So, I would remind him of that and he would SHOOT his eyes open as wide as he could and then motion with his hand a circle, as if saying, "OK, speed this up!"  He hated that tube.
I remember him being incredibly thirsty so I would run and get him lots of juice.  The medicines often cause dry mouth.  The absolute worse though was when he would have to cough, sneeze, or when he got the hiccups.  It was incredibly painful for him, and he would just hug a pillow to his chest and then cry.

So, when 6 years later he begin to have serious pains again, you cannot imagine the worry.  Luckily, his heart is fine.  His cholesterol is high again, but he's working on it.  He doesn't have health insurance, so it's difficult to get the medicine which is right at $150 a month for just the Crestor.  But through it all, I have realized just how much a brother's love is worth.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.  Even though we go long stretches of time without seeing or talking to each other, (I live in Katy, he lives in Corpus Christi, I work days, he works nights) we know that we will always have each other's backs and that life would not be the same without each other.


Last example, I get a phone call at 6 a.m. from my mother.  She is NOT a morning person, so I know something is wrong.  John was in a motorcycle wreck on his way home from work.  Someone cut him off, hit him, and fled.  His huge body was lying in the middle of the only major freeway in Corpus Christi, as a friend who (thank God) happened to be following behind him attempted to pull him to the shoulder.  She was a girl though and I've already told you how large my brother is.  He was knocked unconscious because his head hit the road, so he was dead weight.  She actually thought he was dead.  He always wears his helmet, so that saved his life.  But a stranger stopped on the middle of the freeway and helped pull him to the side.  Minutes later, another motorist runs over his motorcycle, splitting it into two and sending fragments everywhere.  That could have been my brother's body.

He is recovering well.  He has a few broken ribs, a broken scapula (shoulder blade) and a punctured lung.  Luckily his lung never collapsed, his scapula broke cleanly and began to heal without surgery.  But boy, those ribs cause some serious pain during healing.

So, while John often says that if he didn't have bad luck, he'd have no luck at all, I say that his luck could have been much worse.  You see, yes, that electrocution was traumatizing, but it could have caused more damage, or death.It was terrible that he had to have open heart surgery at 29, but he also could have instead had a massive heart attack that ended his life at 29, much like our grandfather.
It was unfortunately that he married a woman with whom he just couldn't make it work, but I think it's better than never having known love at all.It was really heart breaking to have him finally get the motorcycle of his dreams, only to have it shattered.  It was horrible to see him in the pain he was in.  But it was SO good to get to see him at Christmas, to have him here on Earth to celebrate one more time.  It was SO amazing that he didn't have to see an orthopedic surgeon.  It was amazing that his punctured lung stayed inflated.  It was amazing that a perfect stranger, whom we NEVER met even to this day, willing stopped on the middle of a major freeway in the middle of the night to help pull a man to the side and ultimately save his life.

Much of life is about perspective, and John has truly helped me to remember to cling to the positive instead of allowing the negative to swallow me whole.

To go along with my previous posts about names, I believe John has proven his.