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Audacity

According to Dictionary.com, one of the definitions for the the word audacity is “boldness or daring, especially with confident or arrogant disregard for personal safety, conventional thought, or other restrictions.”

With all of the big things in recent headlines, this word is one that is coming to mind more and more often lately.

I’m not going to lie.  I’ve been pretty upset.  The health care and marriage decisions rendered by the Supreme Court have left me disillusioned.

I lack the gift of debate, not having a quick wit and all, and I’ve also struggled with trying not to offend people with my views.

However…

One thing I learned from this past school year is that it is okay to be a dissenting voice, and it is actually imperative that dissenters speak up.

And so I am going to have the audacity to say a few things…get some stuff off of my chest.

As you’re probably aware if you know me personally or have read my blog more than once, I am a Christian.

This doesn’t mean I think I’m perfect.  Far be it from that, I am probably way too harsh on myself.  I am a sinner who is grateful for the redeeming blood of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  Anything good that people might see in me comes from my gracious heavenly Father.

The plumb line that guides my life is the Bible, God’s never-changing Word.  The Bible doesn’t change with the times; it doesn’t evolve through cultural changes and suddenly become irrelevant when societal norms begin to expand.  The Bible wouldn’t be much of a standard if the measuring bar kept moving around, now would it?

So we come to the heart of my post…this whole same-sex marriage thing.

The Bible very clearly states that marriage is to be between a man and a woman.  Most people will agree that homosexual behavior isn’t exactly endorsed in the Bible.  There are multiple verses that say this.

What supporters of same-sex marriage fail to mention is that the Bible lumps homosexuality in the same boat with adulterers, fornicators, and thieves.  So, it’s not that homosexuality is the worst sin.  It’s just one of many.  The other things just aren’t making the news right now.

The emotional battles I’m facing right now involve two things:  1)  Five people deciding for an entire nation how marriage should be defined, and 2) Supporters of this law calling into question dissenters’ character and even calling them hateful and ignorant.

Honestly, issue number two from above is what’s hurting and confusing me the most.

To read that we who oppose the same-sex marriage law are in the growing minority is a fallacy.  I can’t help but wonder, though, if we conservatives haven’t perpetuated this myth because, out of concern for looking “judgmental,” we haven’t spoken out enough, thus leading people to think there aren’t more who us who oppose it.

This has played out in numerous election results (case in point – who’s sitting in the Oval Office).  It’s kind of hard to stand out if you don’t go out and make your voice heard by voting.

I also take issue with those who would call us hateful.  If you take a close look at the ground we are standing on, it’s not quicksand that changes at a whim.  It’s the solid foundation of the Bible, which has never changed.

Why would people call us hateful or ignorant when we choose to stand on conviction.  Why would people tune out the part where we are constantly saying “hate the sin, love the sinner.”  That is THE message that has been broadcast loud and clear, yet it is ignored.

People who support same-sex marriage get mad because they say we on the other side don’t want equality, yet these same people refuse to give us due respect for our opinions.  How does that demonstrate equality?  Truth be told, it’s not about equality.  It’s about morality.  Big difference.

When you take prayer out of schools, disallow prayer before school functions, and remove Bible verses from public buildings, you are most certainly not ensuring that everyone is being treated equally.  You’re pushing an agenda that is more concerned with political correctness than anything else.

Quite honestly, what it boils down to is people not really believing in God’s Word.  You can’t just believe in part of it and throw out the rest.

This fact makes me sad.  However, the Bible makes it very clear that the way is narrow, which means that not all people will choose the right way.  It’s a single lane road in which no service road magically opens up and runs parallel at the whims of societal evolution.

I love the way the movie, Audacity, handled these issues.  It’s a 55-minute movie produced by Living Waters.  I purchased and watched it last night.  It’s a little hokie, I’ll admit, but the message is good and presents the struggle we Christians have when sharing answers from God’s Word to those who are curious.  There are snippets of Ray Comfort’s interviews that delve into the topics of same-sex marriage, adultery, and other sins.

It’s no coincidence at the timing of this movie.

I take comfort that God knows how everything is going to play out…that He knew before He created the world that we would be traveling down this path.

While I’m concerned about His judgement, I am also grateful that He continues to be a God of grace who is always waiting to embrace us back into the fold.

I don’t know about you, but I am going to continue having the audacity to share.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t care for people who choose alternative lifestyles.  In fact, I have an uncle who is gay.  Although I haven’t seen him since I was a little girl, I wouldn’t hesitate to hug him if a reunion came to pass.

Yes, I’ll have the audacity to proclaim God’s truth, but I’ll also have the audacity to love the people He has placed in my life with as much passion and conviction as I always have.

Define Mature

So, it’s summer vacation, and the television is full of reruns, if you don’t count America’s Next Food Network Star, So You Think You Can Dance, and MasterChef…a few of my favorites.

Because of that, I’ve been turning to Netflix and have watched my way through a couple of shows.

Getting bored and loving shows that mix history with drama, I turned on Borgia.

Oh.

My.

Gosh.

This show is about Vatican intrigue back in the late 1400’s.

Holy.

Cow.

While the political maneuvering of men trying to become Pope was interesting, what was shocking was the sexual stuff.

I quickly gave up the show.  It was GRAPHIC!

Next, I thought I’d try Spartacus.  I love anything to do with Roman gladiators.

Once again, what got me, besides the vile curse words, was the SEX!

I didn’t even finish the first episode.

So then last night, I thought, “Self, everyone keeps talking about the show Orange is the New Black.  Get with the times, Self, and find out what the buzz is about.”

And then the opening scene.

Nakedness.

Sex.

I knew that this show took place in prison, but c’mon…give me a break.

And there were women.

Oh my eyes.  I just wanted to gouge them out.

After that, I started perusing more carefully and noticed that little thing called a “Rating.”

It would seem that all of the “popular” shows have a MA rating…

For Mature Audience.

Um, okayyyyyyy.

Mature.

That got me to thinking.

Who, exactly, is defining the word “mature?”

Apparently, television producers think that the definition involves lots of sex and every descriptive, disgusting word to describe the act of sex and anything related to it.

Because, of course, one must be “mature” to view such things and put such things into one’s ears.

Excuse me for not getting this concept…especially because I teach teenagers who giggle or laugh raunchily at anything remotely related to sex.  They are most definitely NOT mature young people.

Shouldn’t we define mature as being wise enough to not need such devices to be entertained or to learn some hidden lesson such as valor, loyalty, or perseverance?

I suspect that these producers add in such fillers to divert viewers from poor dialogue or disjointed plots.

They take us for fools, and we play right into their hands.

What I’m seeing is that it takes a MATURE person to go against the grain and turn off this type of garbage and walk away.

I’ve gotta tell you something that popped into my head as I exited from one show.

Society is traveling the same path that led to Sodom and Gomorrah’s downfall.  We just have new formats to promote and display our lewdness.

I am not perfect and do not claim to be; however, what I have seen is 1) the temptation to fall in with the supposed “mature” crowd, 2) the struggle to turn away from it, and 3) the realization that yes, it’s a choice, and one I made because I serve a risen Savior who I could never fathom watching these shows with.

I really wish the label would change from MA to SEX, so that mature people, like those of us making positive choices, wouldn’t be fooled and would know, right away, not to press the Start buttons on our remote controls.

June Hodgepodge

It’s been quite a while since I’ve participated in the Hodgepodge.  It’s not for lack of thinking about it.  The problem has been in the execution.  Regardless, I’m back!  Link up with Joyce if you decide to play as well!

1.  June 23rd is National Pink Day. What’s your favorite something pink?

This is going to seem bad to say, but the first thing that popped into my head was TGI Friday’s Pink Punk Cosmo.  The Mr. and I are regulars at our local establishment simply because I don’t cook often, and I won’t lie by denying that we enjoy having a drink together with dinner.  I recently tried this drink, and not only is it pretty, but it’s like dessert in a glass.

First, you get the cotton candy…

Then, you pour in the drink itself.

Yum!

2.  What did you enjoy most about gym class when you were in school? How about the least?

I did not enjoy PE.  At all.

In fact, when I used to do substitute teaching, I was once placed (I did not choose) in a PE class.  It was a horrible day.  What chaos.  I seriously would quit teaching if someone tried to make me be a PE teacher.  Not my forte at all.

My least favorite thing when I was a student was getting sweaty in the middle of the day.

3.  What memory is brought to mind by the smell of roses?

I can’t say that I have a memory that is attached to the smell.  I will say that when we lived in Miami for a couple of years, the Mr. would regularly bring home roses…bunches he would purchase from the people selling them at traffic lights…a routine thing down there.

4.  Do you prefer to read or write?

This would depend on what I’m reading and/or writing.

I really love to do both equally.

Lately, I’ve been reading more.  In fact, I just finished the book The Adoration of Jenna Fox.  It’s a YA novel (mostly what I read these days) that was a cross between Unwind and other dystopian bio-medical ethical drama books I’ve read.  Not exceedingly great, but I think the second in the series will be much better.

I’ve also been slowly making my way through Love Does, by Bob Goff.  I’m reading one chapter a day so I can take in his lessons.  His real-life stories are amazing and illustrate his points well.

One book that I did enjoy and will do as my first read aloud was The Honest Truth.

I needed a Kleenex as I finished the last few pages.  This book tells the story of a boy whose only desire is to die from his brain cancer his way…with his dog in tow.

I wanted to cry the ENTIRE way through the book.  So I did in the closing paragraphs.

It’s not told in the artsy-fartsy way that John Green’s book, The Fault in our Stars, but in a more simplistic, relate able way.  I think my students will enjoy it.

5.  Sam Keen is quoted as saying, ‘Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.’ Would you agree? Is laziness ever respectable? How will you be lazy this summer?

For a teacher, laziness during the summer is not only respectable but expected.  I have been lazy, I’ll admit that, since I locked up my classroom.  There have been a couple of days when I only got out of my PJs to shower and then jumped right back in them.  I can’t say I’ve been overly productive, and that, in my book, is okay.

I’ve needed time to recharge my batteries.  So much of what I do in my professional life requires having a plan and living life in 45-minute segments.  As anal as I can be, ten months of this wears me out.

6.  The Florida Keys, Disney World, or a resort somewhere on the Gulf Coast…which Florida destination would you choose (and why) if the trip were today?

The Mr. and I spent last Fourth of July week at Disney, and it was WONDERFUL.  One would think that the heat would make it a horrid summertime experience, but we did things the smart way…got out early…used Fast Passes…took afternoon siestas by the pool…ate late dinners.

We wouldn’t mind going back; however, we’ve sort of decided that what we really want to do is just get away to a nice hotel on the beach where we can walk out on the sand or hang out by the pool.  We live about fifteen minutes from the Gulf Coast, but hotel prices are OUTRAGEOUS.  That’s the only thing stopping us.  Anyone want to fund our weekend getaway?  🙂

7.  What question do you hate to answer?

The question I really don’t like answering is, “How much to knit me a pair of socks?”

Ugh.

I’m not sure if it’s because I can crank out a pair of socks quickly, if work and, in general, life don’t interfere.  But honestly, the hours I put into knitting a pair not to mention the cost of the yarn would render them unaffordable.

Any crafting hobby takes time that a person would lose money on.  If I knit a person a pair of socks, it is as a gift, not with a price tag attached.  That goes for anything handmade.

8.  My Random Thought

Why don’t I post random pictures of my fur babies.  They seem to be quite happy that I’m home this summer.

We’ve been napping together…

Sweet Pele

Sunning together…

Gambit

Eating together…

It really should be 4pm by now…

“Is it dinner time yet?”

And getting into mischief together…

Caught in the act. Pele has been the one stealing and chewing everything lately. Molly decided to try her hand…I mean paw…at it.

 

 

Summertime Knitting Shenanigans

When last I posted…

Boy, this seems to be the theme of my blogging life these last few months, eh?  It seems as though I can find every excuse to throw at you, but the reality is that I don’t always feel pulled to turn on my computer.  I get done with my day and need to veg out, sans the computer.

BUT, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have things to share.  My poor brain and heart are ready to burst forth at any moment with a blog post…typing that post…well, yeah.

So, besides laying around, enjoying my summer vacation, what exactly has been occupying my time?

One of the things that I’ve been doing is knitting.  I’d like to share a couple few projects.  Beware.  This post is picture heavy, as befitting my love of knitting selfies.

Oh, and before I forget, if you want more specific project info, check out my Ravelry project pages.  Not a member?  It’s free to join and a great way to score free patterns, check out what others have knit, and keep track of your own projects!

Now, an explanation of the first three projects that follow.

For this term in my Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup OWL, I proposed an Arithmancy project that would consist of four completed pairs of socks.

I’d previously knit three for an OWL a couple of terms ago, so I figured upping the ante would be good.  Because it’s summer, I thought I’d have enough time to complete that extra pair.  It typically takes me a couple of weeks to knit a pair of socks if they aren’t fancy Cookie A patterns.

The first pair I finished was Angee, by Cookie A.  It was one of the simplest patterns of hers that I’ve knit, which is why I started them in May when school was still going (the HPKCHC term runs from May through July).

The yarn is Unplanned Peacock Studio Superwash Merino, and I used size 0 needles.  My gauge is always bigger than what patterns call for because I tend to knit loosely despite my years of experience.  Despite that, the socks are a great fit!

The next pair of socks I finished was Pflastersteine / Cobblestones, a free pattern on Ravelry.  The yarn is Frog Tree Periboo, and I used size 0 needles (my go-to needles, it would seem).

This was another super-easy and quick knit.  Thank goodness!  I started these before school ended and finished the day after I was officially home for the summer.

For the record, I knit them exactly the same, despite what looks to be a height difference.  Sometimes it’s hard to set the camera timer, run to my “spot,” and pull up the socks evenly for a uniform picture.  I’m good at multi-tasking but not that good!

The pair I finished a couple of days ago was Turmeric Socks.  If I’m not mistaken, it was my friend, Christina, who had gifted me this lovely Madelinetosh yarn.  The color, Gilded, reminded her of my Auburn fanaticism.  🙂

This pattern incorporates a bit of cable work into a lace design.  I knit this pair in ten days.  I could have probably knit them in under a week if I hadn’t been so busy doing nothing (like sunbathing, napping, and watching World Cup).

This pattern was so much fun to knit!  If you’re scared of cables and/or socks, don’t be.  I’ve knit a LOT of socks, so trust me when I say that the pattern designer did an EXCELLENT job with this.  There are charts AND line-by-line instructions.

I’ve already cast on the final pair of socks for this OWL.  I’ll get around to posting them…eventually.  🙂

Another project, non-sock-related, I completed in June was my Grrlfriend Market Bag (spell this way if you’re looking up the pattern on Ravelry).

This was another easy knit, although my hands were hating life by the time I finished.  Cotton yarn can be hard on your hands…especially Lily Sugar n’ Cream and with the smaller needles I used (size 4 and 7).

The result was worth the effort, though.  This is a fun bag to carry around!

So, that’s a bit of what I’ve been up to lately!  How have you been keeping busy during these beautiful summer months?

No Ordinary People

I just got home from a wedding.

The bride…a young lady I’ve had the honor of knowing for about twelve years.  I am not a numbers gal, so let’s go with twelve, give or take a year.

She and Chicky formed an instant friendship when we moved to Podunk, USA way back when Chicky was beginning the seventh grade.

“J” and Chicky attended school and church together, and they were also on the same school and travel soccer teams.  Her parents, the Mr., and I quickly formed a strong bond (those of you who know me personally will get the pun).  🙂

I’m proud to say that it was my family who took J to her first Auburn football game, taught her the fight song on the way up, and nurtured that love…one she carried through her college career when she later attended and graduated from Auburn.

War Eagle, y’all!

J married her “buddy” a few hours ago, and the wedding was Christ-centered and full of fun.

I had known, when I received my Save the Date flyer, that it would be a wonderful evening.

Now that it’s come and gone, I can honestly say that my expectations were more than met.

My heart is full, and I almost want to cry now that it’s ended.

As I saw people arrive for the wedding, I couldn’t wait to hug their necks.  I couldn’t quite yet because the ceremony was about to start, so I eagerly awaited the reception.

You see, these were no ordinary “people.”

They were my fellow soccer parents.

Over the years, we had traveled far and wide together (all over the United States, in fact), rejoiced in victories, and dried tears after losses.

We had agonized over teenage/parent frustrations while cheering our girls from the sidelines.

We’d shared countless adventures together.

Holler if you remember getting lost on back roads in Virginia.

Ahem.

If you’re a sports parent, you know the unique bond that forms in such circumstances.

We had broken bread together at all hours of the day more times than I can remember and at more restaurants that I probably want to recall.  Hello, hotel oatmeal.  heehee

It’s a very good thing that social media wasn’t a thing back in those days.  😀

As the girls got older, we attended their college signings and cheered them on when we heard their names on the news or read about them in the paper or online.

And now…

They are getting older.  Many are either finished with college, almost finished, or in the case of K, the youngest of a LARGE crew, about to embark on a college career.

And then today, there was J’s wedding…

The most recent event to bring us together.

I cried a little when I saw her groom’s eyes fill with tears as he saw her.  It was absolutely precious to behold.

I saw J take a deep breath as she held her father’s arm and passed my aisle…on her way to her groom waiting for her.

She was drop-dead gorgeous, her dress conservative but so feminine with its lace and train.

The ceremony was so sweet – especially because they incorporated promises to forever cheer on Auburn in the vows they wrote for each other.

War Eagle!

After the ceremony, I greeted the other soccer moms with the hugs I’d been holding back.  We talked non-stop as we walked to the reception room.

Chicky, the Mr., and I were seated at the table with our soccer peeps.  Whoever made the seating arrangements, thank you!!

What fun we had describing past times.

Watching J and her guy dance their first dance…well, my goodness…I think we soccer moms all shed a few tears.

And then the dance floor was opened up to everyone.

I am not going to lie.  I danced.

A lot.

I pulled one of my friends, L, to the floor with me, and honey, that girl had moves!

Song after song played, and we parents had as much fun as the kids.  Seriously.

At one point, J’s mom got in the middle of the moms and totally cut loose.  My friend, L, looked at me and said, “I have goosebumps right now.”

You see, after our girls, in their senior year of high school, won the regional playoff game that sent them to the state playoffs, we had stood in the school’s parking lot, and J’s mom had gotten in the middle and danced in celebration.

It felt like deja vu.

We boogied our behinds off and did dances I didn’t know how to do.  I just followed the lead of S, one of the soccer dads, who had, apparently, been taught by his five kids.  🙂

We did the Wobble, which I had learned how to do on the cruise.

I learned that to dance like the young folks, all you have to do is point at someone or something every now and then.

heehee

The night went by too quickly, and before I knew it, the Mr. pried me off of the floor.  He and Chicky were ready to leave.  I could have partied all night.

#teachersonsummervacation

As I hugged L, she said, “I don’t want tonight to end.  I’ll probably be depressed tomorrow.”

I told her to focus on the positive memories, but now, I see what she meant.

We, despite having grown children, have gotten busier (who would have thunk it).

We aren’t required to meet up every few days for practices or tournaments.

Simply put, our lives don’t intersect very often any more.

Because we are family, this makes letting go of each other when we are together even more difficult.

You see, when you’re a soccer [insert your sport of choice] parent, you automatically adopt every player on the team.  You walk away from the experience having parented more children than you originally intended when you signed up for the sport.

Your heart gets bigger at the same rate that your “family” grows.

I’ll forever be grateful to J for including us on her special day.  Not only did we get to watch her marry the man God had planned as her soul mate, we got to do it together…like we always did…from the sidelines but with as much enthusiasm as ever.

I’ll carry these memories in my heart for a very long time and will look forward to the next celebration that reunites us once again.

How They Want to be Remembered – Part 4

I am continuing my series regarding my students’ responses to the prompt, “How I Want to be Remembered.”

Please remember that, with the exception of one student, all students gave me permission to share their essays, with identifying information removed.

I’ll start with K.

What a delightful young lady she was.  She was so compliant and count be counted on to stay on task and help her classmates.  I was shocked when she told me, about midway through the year, that she’d done a complete turnaround…that she had been a “bad” kid before this year.

I had asked what she could attribute to the change, and she said the entrance of her father into her life.  He had moved to Small Town, USA, after learning that he had a daughter, and she had moved in with him.  She grew up fast.  I’ll forever love this young lady.

As for family I want to be remembered as the hard working six-teen year old who is trying to do whats best for her life. From making decisions like: who I wanna live with, to should I quit my job  or not. I want my family to remember me as the teeenager who was six-teen going on thirty. As the girl who loves unconditionally. As a girl who will never give up, and will do things right.

The next snippet was written by E.  He was a tough read all year.  I could never quite figure out where we stood with each other.  We had some issues at the beginning of the year, but my consistency eventually won him over, and I knew this the day he walked into class, giving me a fist bump on the way in.  After that day, he would nod his head in respect when he walked past me in the hallway.  Sometimes, it’s the smallest gestures that reveal the most.

His essay was very revealing.  He didn’t speak much in class.  His essay wound up speaking for him the last week of school.

This year I was failing my classes this semester and I was  gonna just drop out of school and never come back but never gonna happen I told my mom that she said if you don’t your butt up I’m givin you somethin that’s gonna make you give up I didn’t believe her so she got a belt and she start whacking me with it she wasn’t playing with me.

I want to be remembered as the person that has goals to graduate out of school and hopefully make it to college what college Fsu of course its all about those noles!!

He has dreams, you see…dreams I never knew about but respect highly (even if I cannot stand his school of choice…LOL).

My next student, S, was such a delight.  I saw a lot of growth in her throughout the year.  She started out as being very shy.  She rarely looked up and loathed standing in front of people.  This confused me because she had told me that she did modeling work for a local business.  I guess her confidence in front of a camera did not extend to the classroom.

She was very hard on herself and got frustrated easily.  Read how self-aware she was by the end of the year…

As the 2014-2015 school year ends, I want to be remembered as the girl who cares about her work and also getting it done. I’m thinking your opinion of me is “she always crying” or “she is a crybaby.” Well I even know I cry over things that is not even called for ,but I cry because I care about my work getting done and trying to understand it all at the same time . I want to be remember as the girl who is always confused over things and tries to figure it out herself.

To the end, she got upset when faced with what she perceived was a difficult task.  I learned to be tough with her (consoling her only made her more upset).  By being a little tough, I’d watch her dig her heels in and refuse to let whatever task she was working at beat her.  She was always amazed when I posted grades.  I’d smile and gently remind her that all of her fussing and worrying had been for naught.  Perhaps she’ll learn this lesson a little more quickly next go-around.

D is another gal I’d like to introduce you to.  Oh boy, did this girl struggle.  She had a lot of lows, so her highs were especially fun to watch.  Here’s a glimpse into her heart.

I want to be remembered as the friendly girl and not a pushover because when I came to * High I was being bullied and some girl that I didn’t know was calling me bad names and that made me upset when the  girl was calling  me all these names and stuff and now, that I’m 17 years old I’m still here and still standing because nobody can’t break me down,but the good Lord Jesus because he is the head of my life and he is my savior because in my own words I can say ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE ME because nobody else can’t judge me even if I’m up or down,but still nobody can’t tell [me] what to do expect my parents because  I respect them, even I respect my elders as well too.

She preached.  Good for her!

To end today’s post, I’d like you to read S’s writing.  She, like most of my students, faced very difficult circumstances at home.  One thing that stood out about her all year long was her desire to succeed.  She watched her grades like a hawk, questioned her scores, and actively sought ways to improve herself.

I want to be remembered by my self esteem. My self esteem has built up since the beginning of the school year because at the beginning of the school year I thought I was going to fail in reading, in  math and even in biology,  but I kept doing my work and I kept bring up my grades more and more. It made me feel good about myself. It also made my parents proud to see me succeed. Im just glad chance to show a lot of other people wrong. To show them what I am really made of.

In the future, maybe I will be remembered by how successful I am. Maybe I will be remembered on how my grammar is perfect. Maybe in the future, one of my essays or writings will be in the newspaper or even in a magazine somewhere. In the future I want to be remembered by how I made it to the top. That I can tell everyone “I made it!”

With an attitude like that, she will rise above the crap that life keeps throwing at her.  I have every confidence in that.

Weekend Visit

My Chicky is coming home for the weekend!!!

Her room is ready, adorned with her favorite flowers…

The dogs were excited after she phoned at 8am to tell us that she had just hit the road…

Well, okay.  Maybe excited is a little too strong a word to describe the moment captured above.  Rather, they began waking up to a day that was sure to be busy…

Somehow, I suspect that baths were not the dogs’ idea of fun, although they certainly felt good afterward…

Chicky hasn’t actually been home in a year.  We spent Christmas at the in-laws’ house.  It’s in-between our home and Chicky’s, and she didn’t feel like driving all the way here when she’d only be here a day (our school break didn’t allow for much time between the beginning of it and Christmas Eve).

We don’t get to see Chicky as much now that she’s a totally legit teacher and all.  The Mr. and I ate dinner with when she met us at the Cowfish at CityWalk (Universal Studios) during Spring Break.

She’s coming into town to attend the wedding of a childhood friend.  It’s going to be a family affair.  That what these things are when you 1) grow up in the church together, 2) go through puberty together, 3) play travel soccer together, and 4) introduce said friend to the best school ever…Auburn University…by taking her to her first Auburn football game, teaching her the fight song, and listening to her sing it ALL THE WAY there and ALL THE WAY home.

And so Chicky is coming home.

My heart is the happiest it’s been in a long time. ❤

How They Want to be Remembered – Part 3

Nancy is such a faithful reader.  I connected with her years ago through KnittingHelp and then discovered that she had spent her life immersed in her teaching career.  Thus, her comments are so kind and full of encouragement that is much needed when teaching finds me in the weeds.

She commented on yesterday’s blog post and mentioned that this writing prompt gave my students a voice and that my room was a safe place to express themselves.

Interestingly enough, my sixth period class and I had just that kind of discussion after their presentations.  I asked them if they felt that they would have shared so deeply had I assigned this writing to them at the beginning of the year.

K, a sweet child you’ll get to read more about later, said that although the kids had shared personal things (two truths and a lie) on the first day of school, they had not shared like they did when they read their essays.

I asked why, and students said that they didn’t know each other well enough to get into their feelings.

I’ve been so hard on myself regarding the peer respect…or lack thereof…in my classes this year.  Perhaps I was too harsh, for this particular class, despite being my most difficult throughout the year (they twerked for a sub, played with the baking soda in my small refrigerator when I had a sub, and yelled up and down the hallways between class sessions), we grew the most, and they had endeared themselves to my heart by year’s end.

So, with all of that said, I think it’s time I get back to sharing their writing.

My students’ essays reminded me that although I do develop good relationships with my students, there are still so many things they don’t tell me…things that affect their ability to function in school…unspoken things that teachers need to be aware exist and are the cause for kids not doing their work or being distracted in class.

R is one such child.  Take a look at what she had to deal with all year (and she always came in smiling, so I had no clue!!)…

I want to be remembered as the girl who’s dad had a heart transplant. My family was very pleased that my dad got a new heart. So I don’t get to see my mom and dad for three months, not like you who gets to see them everyday.When my dad gets home in August I will be happy and also sad. He will be able to do a lot more things with me and my brother now. Hopefully my family will be a lot happier.

Now, let me introduce you to J.  This girl.  God placed this girl in my class to teach me patience.  She was loud, except when she was sick.  When she wasn’t sick, she talked.  Non-stop.  She lived most of her life in my classroom on one of my “islands.”  She still talked.  Her picture should be in the following meme…

I chuckled when I read the following in her essay…

I want to be remembered by the girl that can make anyone laugh,not by the girl with the bad attitude and talks back. I mean yes I’m rude at times and always talk back,but hey,everybody has a bad day.

Something interesting happened during the year, though.  I found out she worked after school at the mall.  In fact, one day, work called her while she was IN MY CLASS.  I was not happy, but it was an indication that she was a valued employee.

I would like to be remembered by the girl that gets stuff she earns. Not the spoiled rotten brat that only see it her way.

I saw glimpses into her heart, and her laugh, though it will probably haunt my dreams for a long time, was infectious.  I really, really liked what she wrote in the following part of her essay because it went beyond the fun outer exterior…

Another thing I wanted to be remembered by is a child that loves her grandparents. I don’t want to be remembered as the child that only calls that grandparents when they want something. I want to be remembered by being the best big sister , not the bully of the house.I want to be the leader of my siblings, so they don’t turn out like my parents.I want to be remembered as a girl who’s know as a social butterfly , not the hibernating shy girl.

Social butterfly…yes.  That she was and will continue to be.

Now, let’s turn more serious for a few minutes.

Let’s get back to that trust thing…that safe feeling.

S came into my class about halfway into the year.  He was quiet and always complied.  He was eager to please.

What he wrote in his essay completely blew me away.  I think you’ll find your heart touched as well.

I want to be remembered by my personality, and always doing my work, and being on time to class. I don’t want to be remembered as the guy who everyone asks if I’m gay. I want to be remembered for more than something ridiculous like that. I would rather be remembered for much better things than the “gay guy” or being talked about behind my back because the way my voice sounds, and the way I act. It may not seem that I’m straight but to a point it gets hard to put up with but it makes me a stronger person. When I go to school and get asked almost every day if I’m gay I just do my work and try to block out the negative things that everyone is saying.

Oh word.  This poor kiddo.

Read on.

Every school year since I have been in school, I have to deal with people asking me if I am gay. I am tired of people thinking that I am gay, and I want them to think of more than that I want them to think about how I get to class every day on time I actually do my work and try my hardest I am not the kind of person who tries to impress other people but I am the kind of person who tries to do the extra things and help people out if I can. People’s personalities don’t always show you who they really are like me I don’t show my personality unless I want to try to get to know you.

“People’s personalities don’t always show you who they really are.”

Such insightful words.

Don’t we cover up who we are by loud exteriors or, in my case, shy ones?

We do this to protect ourselves.

S has got it figured out.

I love the way he ended his essay…

As the year progresses, students are moving, and the new students who start to go to my school that I happen to try to talk to, and get to know ask me if I’m gay, most of the time it bothers me, and the other part of the time I just act like I was never even asked. For that it makes me a much better person, and helps me get stronger to get through life it also helps me see what the other people are like, and shows me who I want to talk to, and who I don’t want to associate with. I want to be remembered by my personality, and always doing my work, and being on time to class that’s how I want to be remembered.

S knows that this stuff he’s going through is making him stronger for life.

He’ll come out on the winning side because of this self-awareness.  It bespeaks a maturity level far beyond his age.

Stay turned for more snippets in the next installment of my little series.

How They Want to be Remembered – Part 2

Yesterday, I started a series of posts in which I’ll be providing snippets from a writing prompt I assigned my students.

Their responses were very revealing and deeply touching.

Today, I present Part 2 of this series.

T is a young man who is heavily involved in sports.  He plays football, runs track, and lifts weights.

How I first wanna be remember is for my kind heart and brains those are my two main things that I feel that every athlete is supposed to obtain.When you’re known as kind hearted you can get better support and more respect as a leader. When you’re a nice to your person and adults you will get a lot further in life. If you start now being kind to people will remember how you treated them , like a first impression. When you make a first impression you want people to have good thoughts about you.

G is another young man who definitely had some struggles this year.  I really, really appreciated his honesty in the following paragraph he wrote.  I also love his sense of humor in the last sentence.

I have ADHD but I can focus without it, it really is not a disorder but some teachers like to rub it in my face which really aggravates me. People that know like to joke but I don’t really take it in a serious way. The other day two girls told me that a guy they know has ADHD, they also said that he is mentally retarded and that people which have this is stupid because they can’t control their own body. I’m listening to all this, and I walk up to them and say not every one that has ADHD is retarded and stupid. I told them I have ADHD, I also told them I can control what I do. If I couldn’t then I would slap both of them up side the head for calling me idiotic and reckless.

L is a young lady who also had challenges to overcome this year.

I know the feeling when you need someone to talk to, and there’s no one there. It feels awful. I’ve had lots of struggles at home and outside of school, but some how they all affected me throughout the school year. I see the struggle in others when I look into their eyes. Observe their actions. Sometimes they even hide it. People always tell me I’m such a happy person. That I have the perfect outlook. That’s what I want them to see. Two and a half years ago, my siblings and I were removed from my mother. I had no clue what to think or who to tell. I was scared, I felt alone. That was the hardest time of my life. I started disrespecting everyone, only because I didn’t know how to deal with anything. My siblings and I got separated. I lived in a group home [original text removed right here] with thirteen other girls and boys. Older and younger. It was horrible. It all made me stronger. I won’t let that define who I am. “The girl who lived in the foster home?”

L went on to say…

I want to be remembered by the girl who overcame all her troubles. The girl who helped others when they wanted to overcome their troubles.

A quickly became a favorite of mine this year.  Hush your mouth.  I can hear you now tsking me for claiming to have a favorite, but we humans naturally gravitate toward kindred spirits, and this young lady certainly was one and earned my respect early on.

The way girls carry themselves, I want to show them that boys aren’t the only ones that can make them feel special, but to get where you want to be can make you feel special; being someone that can help make a difference in someone else’s life.

I see girls today carrying themselves in all kinds of way; to find a girl that has high expectation is very rare because most girls are too focused on getting attention from boys. I want to be that one girl that is known to show girls that they don’t need boys to keep their expectations up.

A went on to share information that helped explain her conservative nature.

I’m that one girl that struggled to fit in because of how I am. I speak a different language, I’m from somewhere poor, but we have money. Yes, we do have most of the things America has, but not all the things. I’m that one girl that gets picked on and I don’t want to be remembered by that. I don’t want to be a bully because of how I’m treated I want to help; I want to show that I care for all the kids that are different, like I am.

As she read her essay to the class, we started getting weepy-eyed when she shared the following…

I want to show that the appearance of the way I dress, my high pitch, loud voice, or even the way I look, where I’m from does not just complete me but also shapes me into who I am. My personality is much more than how I look and how I act because deep down is a hidden smile that will never be released. I  close all doors that show the real me because my hidden smile is more than it appears to be; it’s not just a smile but it’s a part of me that will never be shown. That’s what I don’t want to be remembered as the girl that hides her real personality.

And then the next part…oh my…she started crying, and I went to her, standing beside her until she finished with her presentation…

Besides me I’m the one that’s left out. I get less attention because i’m the middle child and the fact that i’m in America and he [her father] is in Jamaica makes everything even worse. I was really close to my dad but now I have no idea where I stand with him, I wish I had my dad.

I think I’ll end this post right here.  As when A presented, a hush fell over the room, and we had to collect ourselves.

I’ll write Part 3 tomorrow (or soon thereafter).

How They Want to be Remembered

A couple of months ago, my friend, Barb, sent me the link to a blog post titled How I Want to be Remembered – My Students Tell the World.  Barb thought it would make a good class project, and I concurred.

I tucked the assignment in the back of my mind, starred the email (so it would remain at the top of my list of emails), and as May drew to a close, incorporated the assignment into my lesson plans.

I used this as a writing assignment and graded it according to a narrative writing rubric.  I required students to type the assignment in Google Drive and share them with me so I could provide feedback/assistance along the way.

At first, my kids looked at me like this…

You see, there were a few things wrong with the assignment:

1)  It was the end of the year.  In their opinion, they weren’t supposed to be working still.  (insert evil teacher laugh)

2)  This was going to be a test grade, so they knew if they didn’t do the assignment, their averages would be affected.

3)  Their final exam assignment was going to be linked to this writing prompt.  Double whammy.

4)  They were going to have to get in their “feels.”  Don’t know what this means?  Visit Urban Dictionary (or use context clues).  🙂

This assignment touched on something very personal to all of us.  We had lost a classmate right after Christmas.  I worried that the kids would be too emotional to handle an assignment that hit so close to home.  The kids wound up proving me wrong, growing beyond a level of maturity that I’d expected.

I had written my own response to the prompt and read it to them so they would get an idea of what the assignment entailed.

I read a few excerpts from the blog post.

I think I saw some light bulbs go on, but I still saw some hesitant looks.

The first day was spent mostly setting up the document online.

We used my Google Chrome Books plus a few I’d borrowed from other teachers, but I still ran around like a mad woman trying to get students to READ the instructions I’d typed and copied for them.

Following instructions…one of the biggest woes of a teacher’s life.

Anyhoo…

Let me tell you what I observed.

Around the second day allotted, students finally started typing in earnest.

Some students asked me to read their work, which I did from my own Google account (and provided comments through Google Docs and face-to-face feedback…which they loved).

Then, my sixth period did a beautiful thing.

They started sharing their essays with their peers who, in turn, started providing feedback.

The teaching angels sang.

The kids started working on their assignments after finishing work in other classes.

They were typing their essays on their phones.

And what they produced touched me to the core.

As the writer of the original blog post (linked above) experienced, my own students opened their hearts in ways I had not expected.

There were humorous moments but more moments of levity.

I had spent ninety minutes five days a week with these kiddos, but still, I learned things about them that they had covered up or not been given the chance to share.

My final exam was that students orally present their essays.

Yep.

They didn’t like that much, and I sometimes wonder if it prevented some of them from digging as deep as they would have had they not had to do a presentation.  Somehow, I doubt it affected many in this way as you’ll see.

For the next few posts, I am going to share snippets from their essays, with their permission of course (and their identities protected).

Keep in mind the demographics of my kids.  They come from very low income homes where they are lucky to be under the care of one parent.  Many live with grandparents or aunties. Quite a few have jobs.  Many have housing issues and camp out with extended family or friends.

These are their stories.

K is a young lady who stole my heart the first day she walked into my classroom.  She wrote these words…words that truly, when I look back on the year, epitomize the way she conducted herself with her peers…

I want to be remembered as the girl who could brighten your day by making you smile. When people look at me, I do not want them to see a letter or a GPA. I want them to see or remember when they were once down, and I made them smile or laugh and it changed their mood instantly.

V is another sweet girl who echoed some of K’s thoughts…

I want to be remembered as the girl who always smiled. Every day my objective is to make someone smile. You never know if that very same person you may be talking to was about to kill themselves, haven’t ate in two days or just got out of a bad relationship.

V went on to say…

As the year continued, I always prayed before I came in this class.   I know your like is she serious, but I really am. I prayed that you would accept me for who I am, and that I become closer to everyone in this class. Which I did by having a conversation with you , laughing at your jokes when they weren’t funny , helping you with your work or just saying hello when I walked in the classroom. I learned that some of you have problems at home, learning disabilities, don’t have a mom or dad at home, never like to get personal, some of you don’t go to church but you really want to, I learned about your boo`s , bae`s , and etc.

Did you just wipe a few tears from your cheeks?  I know I did.  To watch this girl live out the words truly was a privilege.

A is a super-sweet girl.  When I read the following words, I found myself scratching my head.  This young lady could be counted on as a team player.  She never, ever complained.  I depended on her to keep a group focused during team projects.  Her insight gave me pause to think.

Some of you may think I am shy and all, you may be right, because I really don’t socialize as much. I personally like to work by myself and think on my own.

I also had to pull out one other line she wrote…something that I saw give her confidence in the middle of the year…

I want to be remembered going in weightlifting and discovering my strength.

She had strength, that’s for sure, and she walked to the beat of her own drummer.  I respected her for that.

I’ll end this first post with the majority of T’s essay (it’s not long).  He really struggled socially, and I gave him the space he needed…when he needed it.  For him to write these words AND share them while standing in front of the class spoke volumes about the trust we had created in our class.

But I still want people to accept me for who I am. I think people would remember me as: aggressive, mean, snappy, and even rude. And even I consider my self with these traits.

The reason I was like this was because that I am a perfectionist. I always want everything to be exact, first time, every time. But I should know there will be mistakes in time, we can count on it. Nobody can be perfect, everyone will have a disadvantage at something. And I, am far  from perfect; reading is my disadvantage.

I also consider this class from perfect as well. However, we all do connect in some way. I know I can be gruff sometimes, but that’s how I am.I  hope one day you can forgive me for my nonsense I also hope I can call you a friend one day; and you could do the same with me. But I believe we are one-of-a-kind family.

I connected with his words about being a perfectionist, and I need to take his lessons about making mistakes to heart.

I also loved what he wrote about being connected.  I work so hard on making connections with my students…with helping them make connections to each other and to reading.  This young man certainly learned those lessons.

Stay tuned for my next post.  I’ll be sharing more of my students’ hearts.

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