Tuesday, November 16, 2010

the puzzle piece (follow up to just doesn't fit)

Today I shared a video with my 7th graders. It was about the effects of bullying and the tragedy of those who have taken their lives because of it. When the video finished, you could have heard a pin drop in my classroom....not something that happens very often.
I went on to share two stories of my own. One was of a girl in Jr. High who bullied me. Of course that was back in the day when bullying was mainly whispers and veiled threats...nothing like what kids have to endure in this internet age. I was able to muster the courage to face my bully and she backed away.
The second story was of a boy named Michael...also in Jr. High. It started with what was supposed to be the hairstyle that would finally make me look beautiful...and it went terribly wrong. My mother forced me to go to school anyway and you can imagine what that day became. It didn't take long for me to become the brunt of the jokes before the first bell rang. Each taunt and giggle made me want to crawl into a hole and die. Then he did what no one else cared to do.  Michael simply said a kind word that helped me survive. He became a hero in my eyes that day, so much so that I have never forgotten it. I doubt he ever even knew what an impact he made not just for a day, but for my life.  Two kids, both using words - one to crush and another to heal.
After sharing these stories, I reached over and picked up a puzzle , handing each student a piece. I talked to them as I handed out each one. "You know, I don't know anyone who would willingly go back and relive their Jr. High or High School years. Most of us felt like we didn't fit."
As I talked, I watched each student look at their puzzle piece. I continued..."at times, we all feel like we just don't fit. We don't look like the pictures in the magazines (which to be honest, neither do the people in those pictures), we don't feel as cool as someone else, or as smart, or as ________, you fill in the blank. But each of us is an important part of the puzzle. Without us, the puzzle will have a hole in it; the picture just won't be complete. We may hope to be the colorful piece in the middle, or the corner piece that everything else seems to work off from, but no matter where we fit, we are an important part of the picture...and so are all those around us. Even that person that irritates us to no end - without them, the picture would be incomplete."
I watched my students study their puzzle pieces with new interest. They put their names on the back and tucked them away, some into pockets, some into notebooks, some just held tightly in their hands. The rest of the day I noticed different students checking out their pieces, seeing if perhaps theirs fit with someone elses.
This Friday, we will watch the movie, It's a Wonderful Life and when it's done I will remind my students of their puzzle piece. We will even attempt to put the puzzle together. If some have lost theirs, it will only serve to help them see just how needed each person is. As Clarence says in that movie, "Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"
May you realize today just how much you are needed in this crazy puzzle of life....and always remember that even if you haven't yet found your "spot", you fit.....you fit just right.

Jeremiah 1:5 (Message translation) "Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you"

Link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNFcunYHqPo
Lovers and Liars website: http://www.loversandliars.com/
This pain will pass anti bully website: http://www.thispainwillpass.com/

Saturday, November 13, 2010

How do they do it?

Okay, I give up. Tell me how they do it. I was watching a movie tonight and noticed as the person walked into their bathroom, there were no ragged towels hanging, no half-full wastebasket, no piles of make up from their teenage daughter, no marks from where their son's aim was off. The entire bathroom looked like a picture out of a magazine!
Then, they walked into their living room. Their couches were perfect! Not a jelly or juice stain on them at all. There were no papers piled up on the end table, no cups or plates left from an after school snack, no chew toys left by the dogs, no frayed blankets used to take a nap....and get this - NO DUST!
It only got worse. They walked into their kitchen to fix a cup of coffee and the counters were spotless! There was not a crumb in sight! No opened loaf of bread sitting on the counter, no plates piled up beside the sink because the kids obviously can't figure out how to work a dishwasher, no bags of chips sitting on the counter, no pile of vitamins, pain killers and medicines in a basket next to the coffee pot. Their refrigerator only had a couple of notes on it! It wasn't covered with pictures, invitations, schedules, appointments, and papers with good grades. They didn't even have one of those "Is it worth it" magnets that's supposed to help keep you from over-eating. (Those don't work, by the way.)
So I want to know. How do they do it? How do they keep their lives in such order when mine is in constant chaos? How can they walk into their laundry room that is so spotless they could make a commercial? Mine is filled with baskets of clothes waiting for their turn in the washing machine, socks that have long since given up hope I will actually find their mate, and the rat that my son decided he doesn't like so it has now become my pet. We won't even talk about my bedroom or the kid's rooms.
So how do they do it when I obviously haven't got a clue how to pull it all together. I'm pretty sure I just wasn't born with the organized gene. My desk at work is usually piled high with papers and whatever is coming next. My car is basically a purse on wheels...and sometimes a changing room. My life is filled to the brim with chaos. I tell people I'm not ADHD, I'm just HD - High Definition. But I have to admit, I'd really like a little order in my world. I enjoy coming home and settling into the peace and calm. I really like seeing things in order, but that's tough when you're surrounded by so much stuff.
Maybe it's that I try to hang on to too much. I keep things in hope that someday I'll find a use for them. I hang on because I'm afraid I might need it someday. I hang on because it cost so much I hate to just get rid of it. I hang on because I don't know how to let go. Unlike the people in the movies, I am not only dealing with life, I'm dealing with years of stuff that comes with it!
Maybe the people in those tv shows and movies simply know how to let go. (That and they live momentarily on a movie set that has existed only a few days as opposed to my home which I've been filling for years!) When they leave that movie set, they leave all that behind....sort of like we'll do when we go to heaven one day. I don't think I've ever really considered my home as a temporary location before, but it makes sense. This is not my real home, it's just a holding spot for me while I complete my mission. There's no real need to hang on to all this stuff because, as they say, I've never seen a moving van behind that hearse.
So, I'm going to work a little harder at letting things go. I don't really need all this "stuff" anyway. As Flylady says, stuff is Something That Undermines Family Fun. I don't want to spend my time taking care of the stuff, I want to spend it with my family and friends. It's time to simply simplify.
Now if I can just figure out how to get my kids to use the dishwasher and improve their aim.

For those interested in checking our Flylady, here's the site: http://www.flylady.net/

Matthew 6:19 - 34 (Message translation)
A Life of God-Worship

"Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being. Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have! You can't worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you'll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can't worship God and Money both. If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."

Friday, November 12, 2010

As long as I don't look in the mirror....

I have no idea how it happened. I was just minding my own business and somehow an old woman came and took my body hostage. The thing is, it happened so gradually I didn't notice. I was busy being a mom and a teacher and learning about God and who I am and then one day I looked around and my children were looking very grown up. This did catch my attention because I knew I hadn't changed. Oh sure, I noticed my pants felt a little more snug than they had and I had aches and pains now and then; but I knew I was still just a little over 28 years old, still discovering just how much God truly loves me and finding my way in the world. In my head, I'm still just a girl; and I can pretty much keep that delusion going until I pass a mirror. That's when things get ugly. Instead of that young girl, an old(er) woman is staring back at me. What's even scarier is that she looks a lot like my mom! Wow. When did that happen?

To be honest, I find that I'm avoiding those mirrors now days. I'd rather live in the delusion in my head of who I am and who I've become....but sometimes you just have to give a good stare. I mean, I have to fix my hair in the morning. I have to make sure my shirt (and not my skirt) is tucked in when I leave the restroom. I have to make sure I don't have spinach caught on my teeth after lunch. Sometimes you have to take a good look at who you really are.

The Bible talks about how we look into a mirror and then promptly forget what we've seen. We seem to be more content with who we like to believe we are than what is really there. But that mirror is important. It reminds us how much we truly need a Savior. It reminds us that this life is but a breath and there is so much more to look forward to. It reminds me to put my trust in Him. That mirror helps me see myself not as I think I am, but for what I truly have become. Those lines on my face...do they mark laughter or frowns? The gray in my hair, does it speak of wisdom or fatigue? Do I stand strong and filled with hope, or am I hunched over with the weight of worry and fear? Do I see what others see?

I try to tell myself that mirrors aren't all bad. Thanks to mirrors, I don't walk around in a mini skirt thinking I still have the legs of an 18 year old. (Makes me kind of wonder if some people even OWN mirrors.)  I don't walk out in public with my skirt tucked into my underwear. Thanks to my mirror, my teeth, while not magazine model white, at least don't have spinach on them. (Oh who am I kidding...at least they don't have chocolate cookies on them!)  My mirror also helps me work on areas that, to be honest, need work! And my mirror helps me to grasp just brief this life on earth truly is.

For now, I will try not to dread looking in that mirror . I want to see what others see when they look at me.  I will also be honest and admit that it makes me happier than ever that God looks not on the outward appearance, but at my heart. Hmmmm, I wonder if that heart looks as young as it feels?

"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." 1 Cor. 13:12

"Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like." James 1:22-24 (The Message)