Thankful Thursday

I am starting a new weekly challenge for myself: Thankful Thursdays.

This is partially inspired by this post that I wrote about appreciating what we have. And partially by one blog I follow, Life and Loveliness, that posts weekly “favorite things” posts that I love!

This Thursday I am thankful for:

  • Warm and sunny weekends. It was glorious to be outside and not be freezing cold! Especially when you have a puppy who wants to be outside all the time.
  • A community group (aka bible study) that makes me feel part of something. It is loving, inclusive, open, honest, real, and challenging.
  • Children who love to give hugs – I just can’t get enough of it!
  • Wednesday half days – it leaves me feeling refreshed  and ready for the rest of the week.
  • Interview callbacks – even if I don’t get the job, it leaves me feeling less like my inexperience is a liability.

You are More

This song showed up while I was listening to a playlist earlier this week and it is one of my absolute favorites.

It is a song by a wonderful Christian band, Tenth Avenue North, and the lyrics (and video) are so powerful.

The first time I heard it I felt like it was written specifically for me. Every word I heard, I saw myself in it. I was going through a rough patch, struggling with my identity, with some things I had done, with how a God could be gracious enough to love and forgive me.

And then I heard this song. And I listened to it again and again and again. And slowly, the words sank into my head. There is so much truth in them, and I think it is a truth we all need to hear sometimes.

Because isn’t it the truth? Aren’t we all ashamed of something and unsure about how to recover from it? Don’t we all try to do better but then fall short of our own goals?

And don’t we all forget who God is in our moment of weakness and the aftermath?

“You’ve been remade”

The last line of the chorus. That is the truth we all forget sometimes. God remade us. So even though I fall down and make mistakes and have no idea how to overcome my failures, it doesn’t matter. Because God is bigger and God has remade me. I have been remade in His image.

And that is a truth I dwell on.

 

***Video not working in your country? It’s not working in mine either! Click here instead!

Marriage: When Life Begins

I was doing my usual Facebook newsfeed  scroll the other day when a I saw a post on someones page. It was a nice little note congratulating this girl on her recent engagement (which I do find exciting) and it was all nice and loving and congratulatory until the last sentence. Which said:

“I can’t wait to see you get married and see your life begin.”

And I just had to stop. And pause. And read it again to make sure it said what I thought it said.

And to my absolute horror, it did.

I think this is a problem among Christian women. Life begins with marriage.

But I’m single. And could be single for a significant period of time (after all, who really knows?). And I would like to think that my life has already begun. Because it has. It began 23 years ago. And I’ve been living ever since.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be married. I want that relationship. I want children. And I know marriage is a significant life change. But there is a difference between a life change and a life beginning.

I think Christian women teach this poorly to young girls (and even to young adults). My whole life I think I’ve been taught to wait for marriage. To save myself for marriage. To prepare myself for marriage. Is everything I do supposed to be for marriage? Or should my life be about God? Should I trust God unconditionally or should I trust God to find me a husband?

Why should I need a guy to fulfill me? If God is enough, I should rely on Him and Him alone. It shouldn’t matter if I stay single forever, become a serial dater, or have a long and happy marriage. I choose to rely on Him, instead of holding on to the promise of a future husband. Because no one ever promised me a husband and no one can guarantee me a husband. It would be futile to spend my life preparing myself for something that might never come. Instead I should spend my life pursuing God.

And why should I be less than whole until marriage? I know marriage brings people together in a way that unmarried people cannot understand. And two become one, and they do life together. But as a single person, I am a whole person. There is nothing missing from me. And even if there was, I don’t believe a person can fill any hole that might exist. I believe only God can truly and fully fill me up and make me whole.

My life began a long time ago. Everyday I choose to live my life, rely on God. Not waiting for the right guy to come along. Not looking for a husband in every guy that walks by. Just living in the moment, now, trusting God for whatever his plan is for me.

I will be content to be single.

I will rely on God.

I will run after God.

There’s Something Off There

This is my coworker’s (the head teacher) favorite saying.

She says it all the time. And every time she says it, it grates on my nerves. Because she cries wolf. Because she sees a disability in every child.

Today it was a child who is just 3 years old and just started at our school. She needed to be told instructions repeatedly. My coworker says her infamous “there’s something off there”.

But there’s not.

There’s a 3 year old child who has never been in school before and would rather do whatever she wants then what we want her to do. Nothing off about that.

She doesn’t have trouble “processing”. There is nothing “off” about her.

Here’s the thing that really bothers me:

She sees a disability in every child who is just a child, but the one child who does in fact have a diagnosed disability she doesn’t see it.

He’s 4. And he has high functioning Autism. And everything that comes with it.

So he makes loud noises sometimes. She yells at him to stop. He might eventually learn to stop, but he has Autism.

So he needs his spot to be his spot. She tells him to stop fussing. He might eventually learn to share his spot, but he has Autism.

So he needs everything to be in the right place, and notices when he’s not. She ignores it or again tells him to stop. But he notices things because he is bright, because new things are strange, because he has Autism.

So his language is delayed (he also has a speech disorder). She tells him he needs to talk better. And he will, and he has, but he has a disability.

And worse: in some areas he is brighter then other children, but she doesn’t see it. I point something out and she says “yeah, but…”

She tries to turn him into every other child. But he will never be like every other child (as if all children should be the same anyways). He will always be different. He may always be delayed in some areas. But seriously, you need to learn how to deal with it. All teachers have to learn to deal with it. And it is not dealing with it if you expect him to be at the same level as all the other children.

And after years of working with preschoolers (she’s in her 60s) shouldn’t you know how to deal with special needs? And shouldn’t you know the difference between an actual delay and and a child settling into a new place?

To me it seems like she doesn’t want to deal with children who might need extra help (whether because of an actual disorder or because they are young and need help).

She wants to work with the bright children and then rest don’t succeed because of them, not her. Because something is “off” about them. And she won’t see the success they do make. Which (not to sound self-absorbed) is largely because I spend time with them, teaching them, working on their language skills, helping them interact with their peers.

Because preschool teachers are the first line of defense. The first people who might see something and get support and services in early.

But to call wolf? That does nothing but hurt children, especially the ones with actual disabilities.

What do You See in the Mirror?

We all grow up learning to look at ourselves in the mirror and decide how good we look.

Isn’t that what Snow White taught us?

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?

I look in the mirror and try to decide if I like myself. If I like what I see.

I look in the mirror and try to make myself the fairest of them all.

But most of the time, I look in the mirror and fall short.

I see flaws. Too many. I see a face in need of makeup and a lack of skill to apply it correctly.

Isn’t that our fatal flaw? I see the bad not the good.

Perhaps it seems self-centered to point out the good things about ourselves. Perhaps it is. But isn’t it necessary sometimes?

Sometimes, just sometimes, shouldn’t we see beauty in the mirror? Shouldn’t we spend our day applauding ourselves rather then hating ourselves?

I want to look in the mirror and say “she looks pretty good today” and leave feeling good about myself.

Or maybe I want to not look in a mirror at all.

After all, its just looks right? Why do I need to see my reflection in every mirror, every window, every screen, every thing that will reflect my image back to me.

Maybe we should stop. Maybe I should look in the mirror in the morning, and then not for the rest of the day.

Novel idea isn’t it? To stop looking, and start appreciating ourselves more. To stop finding things to fix, and start being proud of ourselves.

That’s my challenge to myself. And to you too if you want to try it out.

Stop looking for yourself in every reflection.

 

 

This post was inspired by the daily prompt

No Good, Terrible Awful, Very Bad Day

I should start by saying my whole day wasn’t bad. Most of it was actually really good.

And then came the end.

I work at a preschool primarily. But we also run a day care for school age kids before and after school. And during this time, my job is to be a support worker for a couple of boys with behavioral disorders.

And I love it and I hate it. But lately it has been really good. Because my boys have been making strides. They’ve been getting it.

But here’s the thing: They have behavioral disorders. They have aggressive, impulsive behaviors. They don’t interpret situations correctly, so they don’t react to situations correctly. They are never going to be “perfect” kids. (as if any 8 year old boys would be).

So one day one of them kicked a girl because she did something by accident, he misinterpreted it, and lashed out. It was dealt with. Consequences were handed out. But the girl went home and told her parents she was beaten up at school.

Now here’s the thing about the girl: She is a drama queen. She sensationalizes everything. And if she doesn’t get her way she goes off in a fit of anger. And her parents know this. So you shouldn’t take everything she says at face value.

But her parents do.

And they start complaining. And complaining loudly. And bringing in other parents to complain. And the girl starts telling all of our parents that she is being beaten up at day care. And we have to do damage control because it is simply not happening. But still the complaints come.

My boss says she doesn’t care. She’s not doing anything about it because these parents always have a complaint and always threaten to leave. Good, I think to myself, because he does not deserve to be kicked out.

But then came last week. Last week was a tough week for both of my boys. Things going on at home escalate some of their behaviors. So the same boy kicks a girl who accidentally hit him. Again, the situation was handled and consequences were handed out. And when we talked to mom she completely understood what happened and why it happened (she is a special education teacher).

But the girl saw it. And went home and told her parents. Her parents decided to use this to launch yet another very loud complaint. And this time my boss doesn’t defend him. She kicks him out.

Just like that. No warning. No getting the other side of the story. Just out.

And I am so angry.

Because my boss doesn’t stick to her guns. Ever. Someone pushes her even a little, she gives in. And because she never gets the other side of the story. She takes what parents tell her and accept it as the truth. But it’s not the truth. There are always two sides to every story.

Because if I believed for a second a child’s safety was compromised, I would be the first one to say something. But everyone was safe. Things happen when you have that many kids in a small classroom where everyone can do whatever they want. But no one has ever been unsafe in the classroom.

Because what are you trying to teach your child? The girl is only going to learn that if she complains loud enough she will get her way. That isn’t going to go well in the real world. She is always going to meet people who break the rules or you are rude to her or who are different then her. She needs to learn how to deal with this people! Not how to avoid it.

Because people expect perfection from a boy who will never be perfect but who was doing so well. His outbursts were decreasing. He has rarely been aggressive towards other children. And because he has a behavioral disorder. Clearly some people don’t understand what this means. It means he cannot always control his impulses. And it is our job to teach him how to. Which I was doing. And he was learning. And he was making improvements. And he was discovering how to react properly. How to recognize anger. How to control his anger. How to talk to people. How to make eye contact. The things he has learned is impressive. And now, because of one child, because of one incident, he is being told that he failed.

He didn’t fail.

He deserves better than this.

And that is what angers me the most.

He was never given a chance to succeed because the expectations were too high.