Thursday, August 12, 2010


What exactly is forgiveness?  Do we know?  We like the idea of forgiving because somewhere we know that we want to be forgiven ourselves.  However, I have come to conclude that forgiveness is completely counterintuitive.  I am writing on this because it seems to be acting as a recurring theme for me right now.  I have been around some unforgiving people; I have seen it on television; I have reflected and seen it in myself.

In premarital counseling, our pastor told my husband and myself that if (when) one of us wrongs the other and we choose to forgive, that the subject must never be brought up again.  It is forgiven.  It is gone.  And I know that I would want him to not hold my daily mistakes against me.  Yet, I find myself frustrated with something he does and I don't WANT to let it go.  Please don't misinterpret this as marriage troubles.  This is just common stuff from living with another person.  I do just as many things as he does that I could do better not to do, but I know there are just little things I want to "fix" every now and then. 

Ephesians 4:32 is one of many famous verses discussing this topic saying "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other."  And there are numerous other verses that say "forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another."  Because that is what binds people together in love and unity.  Unforgiveness   divides people and only creates a hardened and bitter heart.

I can't really explain why I am writing on this right now except to say that I am finding myself frustrated with unforgiveness.   In fact, it is to the point that not forgiving somebody to me seems like an uglier and greater offense than the original wrong that was done.  It is as if we are trying to be even and in doing so we turn ourselves into something useless.  What good are we to others if we are just going to be angry? I cannot produce much when my heart is harboring bitterness and anger.  Because then I am only worrying about myself and how I feel.

There are numerous things that I could find to be angry about every day.  On Monday, there was traffic backed up so far that it took me 30 minutes to go 3 miles.  I was annoyed to say the least.  I especially get upset when I get treated in a way that I feel I don't deserve.  I could be completely nice and caring toward somebody and yet they throw back insults at me.  Or they don't reciprocate the same things to me that I would like to receive in return for kindness.  What is that, though? That is anger and bitterness.  None of that is needed.  It is like allowing weeds to grow in a flower garden.  Why let it happen?  It will choke out the abundance of crop that there is.

But forgiveness is counterintuitive as I said before.  At least, I believe that true forgiveness is.  It requires vulnerability and humility.  It demands forgetting about yourself.  We feel that if we put ourselves in that position we will be hurt.  If I just let go, it will be like a boomerang and whatever I let go of will come back and hit me in full force.  Okay?  So, what if it does?  Will that be worse than the anger and resentment that the heart is suffering from? 

I have to literally lay my life down in order to truly forgive.  The thing is that there is something so freeing about forgiveness when it does occur.  We become stronger through forgiveness than through bitterness.  We empower others to feel encouraged.  Our lives are a fertile ground that can be harvested to help others...not a weed patch overgrown with our own frustrations.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Again and again, I have heard the same complaints from teachers about kids.  Myself included will make comments about students that we are SURE were not true for us in our day.  Kids are so much worse.  They are so much more disrespectful.  And we are so worried about them not being able to do certain things because they can't do things that we could do at their age.

Okay now let's grind this to a halt.

Are we REALLY so POSITIVELY CONVINCED about this?  I am going to go through a chronological reflection and see what we can conclude at the end?

TEACHER complaint #1

We are in the year 2010

1968 Bye Bye Birdie "What's the Matter With Kids Today?"

1967- "To Sir with Love"  This is a movie about a young teacher in Britain dealing with a class of disrespectful, careless students.  They challenged him in every way showing utter defiance.

1985 "The Breakfast Club" A movie about some miscreants who get together for being in detention.  It focuses entirely on their defiant behavior.

1995- "Dangerous Minds"  This is another movie about a teacher challenged with kids who do not want to listen to anybody.  She enters the classroom to a room full of students on desks, putting on make up, chewing gum, and determined to do anything they can to drive her away.

2007- "Freedom Writers" Almost anyone will know the point behind this one.  Kids who seem unreachable even go to the point of walking out of the classroom because they hate the teacher so much are enriched by the difference she makes.

Now for some personal experiences.

My mother, when she started teaching, was in a room FULL of students who had gotten rid of their other teachers and were trying to do anything to get rid of her.

When my mother's cousin started teaching, a student threatened to cut her face.  She quit.

A teacher in the county I'm working for now is in her 30th year.  She said her first year, the students said, "We've gotten rid of 5 teachers. You'll be number 6."  She left 8 years later, but wasn't number 6.

ARE KIDS ANY RUDER than they once were?  Perhaps WE were not aware of how rude and disrespectful WE could be as students.  Now that we are adults, we just know better.

TEACHER complaint #2
KIDS TODAY ARE SO LAZY! They want to write in text language.  They want to use a computer for everything.  They can't even use a library.

Granted, kids should get exercise and not always be attached to a computer or video game.  BUT this is for another point.

Are they really just lazy because they talk in text language and typically use computers for all of their research?

If somebody is BORN into a certain environment, how can you blame them for not doing what you did?  Should our ancestors blame us for not dipping a feather pen into ink to write?  We have found ways to be more efficient over time.  

To me, the fact that they can talk in text language AND understand all of it, shows a great deal of intelligence.  

I don't have a chronological order of movies for this one (sorry to disappoint), but I can show a chronological order of how methods of communication have changed.

Letter writing, feather pen and yellow paper
Type writer

Original rotary telephone dialing the operator for assistance

Home telephones rotary then the advanced touch-tone telephone

LARGE old school cell phones and car phones (they were high technology!)
And of course our cellular telephone technology has advanced to touch-screens, small phones, computer phones, iphones, and almost anything you could imagine.  We can't BELIEVE kids have cell phones and many of them probably don't need them.  The fact of the matter is, it is the culture today and it is as common now as land lines were years ago.


This could really encompass both of the other ones, but it also details other random things that we see as different.  They seem to dress differently, although many things are just coming back from the past.  They do their hair in ways that make no sense to us (I still don't know why you'd want a chunk of hair falling into your eyes so you can't see).  They don't say  "yes sir" and "no ma'am" like they used to.

Obviously, there are changes.  But again, ARE THEY WORSE? Or is it just not YOU?

KIDS! Why can't they be like we were PERFECT IN EVERY WAY?!? 

I'll side with "Bye Bye Birdie"

No, nothing's a matter with kids today.

New Year; New Challenges

LIFE...comes at you FAST! And you never know what to expect!

I haven't written a blog in a long time.  It isn't because I haven't had anything to write about.  In fact, it's actually the other way around.  I have so much to write about that, if I was blogging, I'd probably be writing 2-3 a day! I am in the midst of many changes.  School starts tomorrow and, as everyone knows, I'm teaching high school.  I'm excited and nervous at the same time.

Last week, I was dreading the start of school.  I wasn't ready because I felt like as soon as I got to relax (after the move and many changes), I had to start work again.  Yet, after being at school for teacher work week, I feel totally ready for those kids tomorrow.  I'm going to be working with some great, fun people who make the environment positive.

I thought maybe I'd feel nervous with high schoolers.  After all, I was just working with 6th graders and even then some of them were a handful.  BUT it's funny because high schoolers are actually just a little bit more balanced.  They were all at the school the other day for verification and every kid I met (even the ones without parents around) were very respectful and together.  Yes, I know there will be many who won't be that way; however, I do think it will be refreshing to be around students who think on a little bit of a higher level. I'll get a little bit more mental stimulation.

That said, if I am ever in need of a job, I will still go straight for middle school.  I prefer the freedom of the middle school curriculum and the fun things you can do at that level.  Often, high school is so "academically" focused.  Listening the the conversations of other teachers at this school, I don't think it's this way here.  And I'm sure there are other teachers the same way.  I'm just saying I still feel more comfortable with teaching strategies in middle school.

I'm ready for the kids, though.  They will have more attitude at times.  No teacher feels like dealing with attitude.  And kids often don't realize that their bad attitude and unwillingness to work is only hurting themselves.  If they knew how much it was only working against them, they wouldn't do it.  But they think they are proving something.

My GOALS and challenges to myself for this year are:

1.) Find ways to show the students how reading and writing well HELP MAKE LIFE EASIER

2.) Pull kids out of their comfort zone into an area of increased self-confidence

3.) Don't let any kid's size, be it attitude size or physical size, be an intimidation factor

4.) PUT myself in THEIR shoes; try to see things the way they do.  Because it doesn't matter how I see things.  I won't get anywhere without trying to understand them.

And actually, this is going to lead into another blog today. It's something else I've been wanting to write about and I can't resist right now! :)