Saturday, April 20, 2013

Cold and Rusty

We are three games into soccer season.  You know, the sport I thought we would never sign up for.  I have to say, the main reason why I have avoided soccer thus for, has followed us each week: the weather. 


Can I get some sunshine?

How about no wind?  Is that possible?

And if it's not too much, I'd like 70+ degrees.

The Girl has stayed in the car for the entire 80 minutes that we are there for the last two games in a row.  That is how undesirable it has been outside.  I couldn't even coax her out today with a new bright pink folding chair. 

I distracted myself from the cold wind today with taking pictures.  It's been probably three months since I've done anything more that Instagram for the kids.  So, beware...I'm a bit rusty...and cold.

In case you are wondering, no, he isn't trying to catch the ball.  He's throwing it in.

I don't want to end on a sour note, so OK, I'll admit it:  I do like watching him play. He loves it.  Also, as it turns out, he's pretty good at it too.  I'd sit in even colder weather just to watch him.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

One Step Forward

It's 1999. I'm in my early 20's, and I'm finishing up my first year of teaching my own class. And if I'm honest, I'm somehow trying to meld my need to dress grunge with a more professional look.  As you might guess, I'm failing miserably. I taught a group of third graders who hated me.  I'm serious. On my very first day, one parent pulled me aside and confidently told me with a hushed yet firm tone, "I can tell you right now, you and I are not going to get along. " She wanted to make sure there was not going to be any confusion. And there wasn't. The. Whole. Year. 

I counted down the days until that school year was over. I vowed never to return to that school district, and I doubted I would ever return to the classroom.  Well not a classroom with small children, who had hateful parents, anyway.

It's 2001. The month previous we all watched in horror as terrorists attacked our country. A month later I sat in my supervisors office, and learned that I was being laid off. Companies no longer had the money to use our services, which trained adults in computer application programs. I had returned to the classroom, but I was teaching adults. My love for teaching, reignited.  As the economy started a downward spiral, I was left without a job, but with the desire to teach again. However, I was still determined to not teach young children.

It's 2002.   The school year had come to an end, and I never counted down to the last day, not even once. I really enjoyed working with these high school kids. They were eager to learn the elective courses they had chosen in technology and design.  The lessons were fun, the days went quickly and I really liked my job.

And then I found out I was expecting The Girl.  That changed everything.

After she was born, I decided I was going to be 100 percent dedicated to being a mom. I had decided that to go back to the classroom again would be too difficult. That I could not be 100 percent mom and 100 percent teacher.  I never have been good with sharing my devotion. Call it an inability to multitask, if you will. So with my heart focused on family, my desire to teach again expired, along with my teaching license.

It's 2011. Both of my kids are in school. The Little Man is a kindergartner and The Girl is a third grader. Suddenly, I have a bit more time on my hands, and The Hubs's recent illness has opened my eyes to the fact that I may need to return to the workforce after a nine year absence. After years of saying I would never teach again, suddenly I have the desire to teach again. As a substitute teacher, no less. I didn't want the responsibility of my own class again. I wanted flexibility. I wanted to not commit myself to a classroom full of young children again. It worked out pretty well.  And that really freaked me out.

In a good way.

It's 2013. I've come to enjoy being in the classroom again. Even when it's with small children...and their parents. I still feel pretty confident that I do not want my own classroom. The kids' school has these positions called "Reading Tutors". This job allows the tutor to teach reading to small groups of children. You don't have your own class. No parents, no report cards, no grading. Just teaching. It sounds pretty perfect to me. I've been watching for these jobs to post, thinking if one does, and the timing seems right, then I'll apply. I'm still waiting. In the meantime, a part-time Kindergarten position opens up.  Somehow, I'm drawn to it. After a week of praying about it, all the things that I never wanted to return to again, seem pretty manageable. After enough time has passed for me to completely forget that this job exists, I can't stop thinking about it. So, today I applied.

What. Have. I. Done?

I realize that by applying for this job does not mean I will get this job. Actually, I am very aware of how unqualified I am for this position. But as I try to flex my faith muscles more this year, I can't deny that a desire and opportunity have been placed before me. So I took the first step. I don't know where it will lead, but I trust that God will not let this step go wasted.  He has something to show me, no matter how this turns out. So, I hold this opportunity with open hands.  No tight grip on either outcome.

I have no doubt that He has been at work in my heart, and he is shaping my desires for my life to match His. No matter how different they were before now. Because He is good. Because He loves me. Because He knows the plans He has for me. Instead of forcing His ways upon me, He gently changes my heart to match His. And then He presents opportunities and open doors.  It's my choice to move forward or to stay behind.

Today, I stepped forward.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Peaceful Heart

Recently, The Little Man made it as a finalist for the first grade spelling bee. (I assure you, he did not get the spelling gene from me).  He was pretty proud of himself, as he should be.  As of right now, he is tied for first place in his class.  We are eagerly awaiting the day he competes against the two other first grade classes in his school. 

Last night, as we did our devotional, we learned about how much God cares about the things that keep us anxious or make us nervous.  We recited the Philippians verse about not worrying about anything, but instead we can bring all things to God.  We also thought about the goodness of God who allows us to cast our cares upon him because he cares for us.    After that, we decided to come up with some things that have been bothering us, and together bring them before God.  After The Girl shared her anxious thoughts, The Little Man just looked puzzled. 

p: I just don't have anything that I am worried about!
me: Really? Nothing is upsetting you?
p: No!  I mean its all really fun and cool.
me: Wow.  What about the upcoming Spelling Bee?  Are you nervous about that?
p: No.  I mean I'll just do the best I can.  That's all I can do anyway, right?

And so we praised God for the peace that fills that sweet boy's heart.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Is That A Duck?

Somehow, we've become addicted to Duck Dynasty.  The whole family is on board.  Actually, I know exactly what drove us to the OnDemand feature.  It was the Spring Break blizzard and one case of walking pneumonia that had us on our rear ends for a few days in a row.  After burning through our DVR and getting reaquainted with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, there was this one show.  This show I kept seeing in people's status updates, and hearing people laugh about in random conversations.  All three seasons of Duck Dynasty just happened to be available on OnDemand for all of Spring Break.  It only took a couple of episodes to become addicted. 

With over 90% of the episodes watched, and many episodes watched three or more times, it's easy to guess that we have been throwing around some Duck Dynasty one-liners here and there in conversations. This morning's conversation, though,  still had me cracking up well after it went down.

A very loud, gross noise breaks the silence that is our early morning breakfast.  Obvious of where it came from, both in person and body part, The Girl was quick to holler at her brother.

D: EEEEW!  Bro-y!  That's so gross!  I'm trying to eat my breakfast!
P: (with out even skipping a beat) What?  All I heard was a duck call.
D: (Laughing) Bro! That's sick!
P: (Still not cracking a smile) I'm serious.  I just heard a duck call, what did you hear?

Ahhh, the "Who stepped on a duck?" comment has evolved just a little bit. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

It's Not Easier, Just Different

This parenting gig, is no joke.  It's demanding, fulfilling, difficult, joyous, exhausting,  down right painful, and then some all wrapped up in one.  As the kids have grown, I started noticing (fairly early on) that it never got easier.  It's not like some other jobs where the job becomes second nature because you master it.  You never master parenting.  Never.  Ever.  What works one time, will most certainly not work a second time.  And if you are a parent of more than one child, forget completely what worked for the first child.  You must start from scratch with each child.  Come to find out: We are all unique individuals .   Crazy.

Recently, we have been dealing with some issues with The Girl.  It's heart wrenching to say the least.  There have been tears,  many late night talks, lots and lots of prayers, and even loss of sleep.  The thing is, when they venture out of the house and into the world of school, friends/peers, and teachers there is so little that I control anymore.  Like I was really all that in-control before. 

The other day, I had someone over at the house.  She was visibly exhausted, and understandably so.  She is the mom of a three year old and a one year old.  So hard.  As she chased her little girl up and down my stairs about seventy billion times, she looked at me and said, "It must feel so good to be in an easier stage of parenting.  It does get easier, doesn't it?"  While it seems like almost a life time ago, I remembered. 

I remembered how physically tired you get.  How you constantly wonder if you are doing it right.  Does my child even understand the English language enough to comprehend that I've asked them 281 times not to poke the dog in the eye?  Do time outs even work?  Why is suggesting a nap the equivalent to asking for their right arm to be chopped of?  Exhausting, lonely, and frustrating.

Those were hard days, no doubt.  However, I don't think it ever got easier.  I also don't think that it has gotten any harder.   It just gets different.  There is no mastery.  As soon as you successfully leap over the hurdle of keeping them from thinking it's time to play tag every time you're in a busy parking lot, they move on to something else.  Something that is just as dangerous and/or annoying.  There is no getting easier.  It's just different.

I'm learning that I'll never master this "parenting gig" that I've been placed in.  While the days of time-outs, arguing over naps, and potty training are behind me, today I face issues of the heart.  Friendship, self-identity/esteem issues, forgiveness, and handling every emotion under the sun.  I look ahead and see friends dealing with opposite sex relationships/heartbreaks, dealing with more and more freedom, and making decisions for colleges or jobs.  It's all so very difficult, exhausting, and emotional.

As I've turned to God for His wisdom in my parenting, I'm also learning that I can turn to Him for his comfort.  Not only does He guide the way I make decisions in how to address the issues we are facing now, He comforts me as I hurt over their hurts.  He assures me with His love for me, and the truth that He loves them more than I could ever love them.  Ultimately, it is He that is holding them.  And as things get tricky, or down right painful, He reminds me that nothing is wasted.  While sometimes I feel silly that my problems seem so small compared to what others may be dealing with, He reminds me that He has seen all of it, He is in control, and He cares. 

Father God, thank you for knowing what it's like to be a parent.  You are the ultimate parent, perfect in all of your ways.  You know what is good for us, and you lead us in those directions.  When things get difficult, you are not only my helper and guide, but my comforter.  Thank you for showing me, these last few weeks,  how you never leave my side, how you see each one of my hurts, as well as when my kids hurt, that nothing is too small or too big for you, and that you care.  Thank you for letting nothing go wasted.  You are training me too, as I train them.  Thank you.  In your loving name, Amen