Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Hide Out

When I was little, I trick or treated on our super short street of a neighborhood and went to our church fall festival (which usually did not necessarily fall on Halloween). As I grew up, Halloween became something quite different. I volunteered at fall festivals (which again, usually did not fall on Halloween). On the actual Halloween day, my family would go to the movies or out to eat - anything to avoid the endless swarm of trick-or-treaters in our now super large neighborhood. Since our neighborhood is quite large, trick-or-treaters who do not necessarily have a street/neighborhood of their own come to ours. Like I said, there is a swarm of them.

There have been a couple of years that we have opted not to go to the movies and/or out to eat on Halloween. One year, my mom woke up with a mission to finish weeding her flower bed on a particularly warm Halloween day. She was going to finish - do or die. She was still out by the mailbox flower bed after dark - weeding, raking, and planting. I went outside to let her know that there was hot food in the house - and light.

On my way to the mailbox, I laughed...a lot. Little bitty kids decked out in Halloween costume attire were stopping by the mailbox and screaming "TRICK OR TREAT!" to my mom as she tried to finish up her work. As she threw weeds into buckets and a wheelbarrow, she was trying to explain to a little bunny and princess that she didn't have any candy, just weeds. One little guy (I wish I could remember his costume) innocently suggested that the candy was probably in the house, and another little kid wanted to know why none of the house lights were on (there were, just not at the front of the house) and why she was playing by the mailbox in the dark.  

I still have this mental image of my mom leaning on a rake, pushing back her hair with her gardening gloves which incidentally made a streak of dirt on her cheek, and letting out a deep sigh as she shook her head my way. I helped move the little kids along, let her know hot food was in the house, and asked her what in the world she had been thinking. She didn't know.

I don't know what we will be doing tonight, but there will be no gardening. :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Story - Where I am and Where I've Been

So, some of you know (those of you who know me in "real life" and those of you who have read the "About the Teacher" page on The Box of Crayons website) that I am currently unemployed. Yep. I said it. The "U" word. The super-scary "U" word that might possibly cause me to lose you as a reader of mine because I have seemingly lost credibility to you.

I love teaching. I miss it desperately. It is kind of sad just how much I miss it. How much do I miss it, you ask? Well, I miss teaching so very much, that even though I am absolutely swimming in medical debt (some from before I ever started teaching, and some I am racking up right now) and grad school debt (which ironically is helping me survive currently), if someone came to me and legitimately offered me a teaching job but could not pay me, I would still take the job. I would take it. On the spot. Right then and there. When can I move in?

I was not prepared for the complete and utter heartbreak of not being in a position to teach. I cried for weeks. Yes, me. I tried my best to not leave the house for weeks. Every time I left my house, someone would come up to me to ask if I had a new job somewhere else, to tell me how much I am missed (some of them crying), to tell me how much they wanted me to have their child in my class this year (some of them crying), etc. Then, I would cry where ever I was - usually in the grocery store. I hate crying. I hate it.

Even when I was just at home, I had text messages, phone calls, e-mails, etc. daily from all kinds of different people (How did they get my #?!). It made me feel good that people cared; it made me feel loved. It made me cry all over again. Every time.

I don't care who you are or where you are - it is a tragedy to be taken from what you are most passionate.

In the last four years, I have had pneumonia (and learned how to spell pneumonia), completed my undergraduate internships, been unexplainably ill, graduated college, found out I have a heart abnormality (not deformity, just a weird not-at-all health impairing abnormality), substitute taught extensively, found a hole in my ear drum, found out I have Fibromyalgia, taught a bunch of leaves of absences, found out I have Lupus and Sjogren's Syndrome, participated in numerous medical and nutritional experiments, spent a small fortune on medical and nutritional experiments and needs, taught two glorious years of 4th grade, found out that I have a sunlight allergy, had a most bizarre ear infection, had a skin graft to repair my ear drum, lost my beloved teaching job, figured out a way to control that sunlight in a completely weird/gross way that I thought was only a strange joke on MASH, started a website and blog for teachers and students, and so much more.


I know that's what some of you are thinking as you read all of that; I'm thinking it myself as I look at the events of my life being listed out that way. Oddly enough, I live a pretty normal life. What is "normal" anyway?

I no longer spend parts of my days in the fetal position out of pain. I no longer have to lay perfectly still with a tray of food in my lap while trying to talk my hand into moving the spoon or fork to pick up food and bring it to my mouth. I no longer have to take a pain pill every single day, and I have not had to in well over a year. I can work a full day of school (even though right now it is substitute teaching), come home, cook dinner, eat it, clean the dishes, and start on whatever else I want (not that I do all of those every time; who does?!).

...which is why is it so sad that I do not have a job right now!

"So," some of you are thinking to yourself, "which of those events in your life floored you the most?"
A. You have Fibromyalgia. There is no cure; we can only manage it.
B. You have Sjogren's Syndrome. There is no cure; we can only manage it.
C. You have Lupus. There is no cure; we can only manage it. Although some people have found ways to go into remission. (None of which are an option for me at the moment.)
D. You have a sunlight allergy. Avoid going outside when possible, and avoid windows when necessary.
E. You need to have a skin graft to repair your eardrum.
F. You will not be teaching this year.

Those of you who chose "You will not be teaching this year" win the prize. (OK, so there is no prize other than being correct.) I had been sick for so very long, that when I learned that I had Fibromyalgia, Sjogren's Syndrome, Lupus, and a sunlight allergy, I was just glad to learn that all of my symptoms had (a) name/names and management options. Oddly enough, the list of symptoms for each one actually even made a lot of my life make more sense. I was empowered to make better decisions for myself that had actual medical reasoning behind them no matter how wierd they seemed. The eardrum thing was just plain weird.

Not teaching is still completely and totally upsetting. Completely. Totally. Broken-hearted. Still.

Anyway... as much as I hate to admit it, God is blessing my life in the midst of all of this mess (aka not teaching). I actually have extra time on my hands to make a wonderful website full of resources for students and teachers. I have time to research all of the topics I wanted to research while teaching but did not have time to research. I have SO many super cool resources that I have found that I have a list of resources to evaluate, to format, to research, and eventually to share. I have time to complete my graduate work whenever I want instead of whenever I have a slot of time.

But how I ache for searching for a slot of time for graduate work! How I miss grading papers until 12:00am on the weekends! How I miss buying stuff for my class and my classroom! How I miss having a class and a classroom! I am such a nerd. So much so that no one outside of education will hire me because they see how dedicated I am to education. Catch 22 or what?

Will I post more about Sjogren's Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, allergies, etc.? I have no idea, but I would like to. Those subjects are not my passion, but I have learned some things that have helped me that I think may help others, too. Maybe someday. What do you think? If you would like those kinds of posts, please e-mail me at

Children in Heaven

So, this morning our pastor announced that some really good friends of our church lost their infant son this past weekend. This little guy was born just a few weeks ago and has been valiantly fighting for his life ever since. I cannot imagine the heartbreak of those parents.

Our church has had a six week class about Heaven. Completely lifechanging, this class. Basically, Heaven is going to be WAY more than a bunch of us Christians wearing white robes and sitting on clouds. I don't think that I necessarily thought that before, but I certainly do not now. I don't know that I thought anything before. The fact is that Heaven is a temporary place that will come down to Earth after God destroys this Earth and makes a whole new one for us!

Our lives with God will be a whole heck of a lot like they are now - just without pain, pettiness, sickness, working to make ends meet, and all the other bad stuff. It will be like the Garden of Eden - perfect. Even the Earth will be better, producing food the way that it was always meant to taste in its perfect form. No more pretty, promising strawberries that taste sour! They will all be the sweet strawberries they were supposed to be! (Why the tangent to strawberries? I have no idea...) 

I have so much more to say about the class, but here is where I was going with this line of thinking originally -

There is a passage in Isaiah that describes how Heaven/the New Earth will be:
In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all. The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm. Isaiah 11:6-8 NLT

In fact, the NKJV version for verse 8 reads:
The nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's den.

Someone asked what age we will be in Heaven in one of the sessions of this class, and Isaiah 11:6-8 was read. There are clearly children of various ages in Heaven. I do not know which book the teacher was reading from when he read some commentary on these verses, but the jist of the commentary went something like this:

There will be children in Heaven. There are people who have lost their children on this Earth. Could it be possible that God is holding all of those children for their parents so that they can raise those children in a sinless, pain-free, totally-accepting, fear-free, perfect world rather than the sinful, imperfect one we live in now?

This commentary seriously gives me holy bumps. Here's hope.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Profound in Its Simplicity

My mom loves to watch The Waltons. There are a few episodes I really love to watch, but I don't love the series as much as she does. Since I love her, though, I am bound to watch a few or at least parts of a few with her. The other day I caught just a part of an episode. I had never seen this particular one before which is unusual. The Walton family has a couple for house guests. Their hospitality always amazes me. In the midst of the Great Depression, they always seem to have room for one more. The husband of this house guest couple happens to be a pilot, and their plane is parked on the Walton property.

Here is where I came in: John, the dad, is working at the mill with the husband house guest. The husband starts telling John about how he is starting to doubt his marriage. His wife is about to have a baby, and all she can think about is the baby. He doesn't feel that love for the baby yet. I commented to my mom on how awesome a listener John is, and I actually mean awesome - exceptionally great. He listens better than anyone I have ever seen. He says little, and makes what little he does say count. Anyway, after this guy has just poured his heart out to John, he asks John, "What do you think?" or something to that effect. What John says next so profoundly hit me that I have been thinking about it and carrying it around in my heart for weeks. John says, "Well, it has been my experience that people do pretty much what they want to do..." and I know that doesn't seem like anything extreme or profound yet, but the next line tips it over the edge... "Your plane has been just right over there the whole time, and you haven't left yet."

"Well, it has been my experience that people do pretty much what they want to do."