Friday, May 29, 2009

Next Year, Your Child Will be in ---- Grade

Today was the last day of school.

I do not get very sentimental about that. Some teachers spend the day crying over their kids, but I don't. Maybe its that we live in a small town and every where I go, I hear, "Hey, Mrs. Grimes!" I know I'll see my students often.

Maybe its just that I know that I've had my time with them and now it is time to pass them on to someone else.

With my job, I'm taking these young kids and turning them into middle schoolers. Its tough. There are days when you can laugh and enjoy each and every moment. Then there are some days when you are ready to pull your hair out and can't hardly wait until your student worker comes to be able to send him to the snack machine for a much needed Snickers bar and grape soda (Thanks, Robert. I don't know how I would have survived without you). Some kids you can love them and be kind and gentle. Others, you have to be tough as nails. We learned at a PD what it meant to be fair and it wasn't treating everybody the same. Fair is giving each individual child what he/she needs.

At the end of the year, I look back and ask the question, "Did I do a good job?" How is that answered? Not always by test scores or report cards. Not always by the Principal's evaluation.

What is it that tells a teacher, "You did a good job?"

Sometimes its that big hug and "I love you" you get from the child that spent the first 9 weeks of school cussing and hating everyone and just thought he'd be better off dead.

Maybe its the kid that you had for two years (because you made a deal with his mom that you would be his teacher until he passed) and on his final report card says, "I did it! I get to go to middle school. Look, I finally don't have any F's!"

Maybe its the ARC meeting you sit in at 4:00 PM on the last day of school with a mom and she states that she has seen positive changes in her son since he has been attending your school.

Sometimes it is that letter you get from a young girl a year after the fact stating that she remembers the talks you had and appreciated the fact that you wanted her to succeed.

Sometimes it is the young man you run in to at Wal-Mart and says, "Man, I miss you. You were right about what they were going to expect from us at the middle school."

Maybe it is the junior in high school that tells people, "Yea, Mrs. Grimes is tough, but she wants you to learn."

Maybe it is that Senior in high school that is about to graduate tomorrow and tells people that you were caring toward her as her fourth grade teacher.

I'm not so naive that I think every student I've had over the last 9 years will remember me or like me. I'm not Teacher of the Year by any means. But I do know that in each group, I've done a good job with somebody by seeing them out in the community doing good, by reading about them in the paper (NOT the police beat). Now, I don't take full credit for their success, but that is my reassurance that I didn't mess them up too badly! I love my job. Like any other, there are ups and downs. There are kids that I'm going to worry over. His he being molested? His he being fed? Is she running around with the wrong crowd? Is she making good choices in her relationships? A sad thing about it is that as a teacher, I have a pretty good idea how these kids are going to turn out. I can tell you who the pregnant teen girls will be, who the dropouts and potheads will be, and who will be dead or in jail by the time they are 21. That's so difficult. These children are precious. Regardless of how bad a day may get, I can see the potential in these kids. What they can become is so amazing! Yet, I am only a small part of their lives. There are so many other influences they have.

I just pray that these children that left me today, the many others I've had the pleasure of teaching, and those that I had my first year that graduate tomorrow will make wise choices, recognize their full potential, and seek God in everything they do.

Please pray for your children. Pray for all children. It may sound cliche, but CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE. If we as a nation are to have a future at all, we want them to be God fearing, God loving, God serving adults.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Prayer Request

Please pray for Hilarie and her husband Ashley and their family. Ashley's dad passed away last night.

Hilarie and Ashley have been such good friends to us over the past few years and we love them and their precious children very much. They are a blessing to our family.

Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Matthew 5:4

Friday, May 08, 2009

Thank a Teacher

If you are reading this, thank a teacher.

Can you remember all of the teachers you ever had?
Mrs. Bayles, Mrs. Bruce, Mrs. Johnson, Mr. Hughes, Mrs. Hammock, Mrs. Metcalf, Mrs. Drake, Mrs. Parks, Mrs. Warden, Mrs. Cardwell, Mrs. Copass, Coach Conkin, Coach Atcher, Mr. Hale, Mr. Ragland, Mrs. Pais, Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Raines, Mrs. Cothern, Mrs. Ditmore, Mrs. Callahan, Mr. Cash, Mrs. Gray, Mrs. Harrell, Mrs. Pence, Coach Shelton, Mrs. Gray, Mrs. Chaney, Mr. Waddle, Mrs. Bradley, Coach Murphree, Coach Bell, Mrs. Perkins, Mrs. Jernigan, Mr. Tyler, Mr. Vejr, Coach Hooks, Ms. Meguire, Mrs. Ware, Mr. Almond, Ms. Lacy, Mr. Smethers, Ms. Matthews, Mrs. Ellis, and Ms. Vincent.

Elementary started out easier and high school was difficult. I may have left someone off, but overall, it wasn't that hard to compile this list. Each person above made an impression and that's why I remember them. One in particular was a teacher that I had a total personality conflict with, but I learned a lot from her.

This week was Teacher Appreciation Week.

With a lot of drama within our school this week, many of us felt very under appreciated. We've just finished up 2 weeks of testing, there were 3 fights on my team, and we are all wondering what we are teaching next year and who are we teaching with. Some lunch plans that all the teachers were depending on didn't quite happen and I could go on and on.

Then this afternoon, one of our student workers brought me a note. I noticed it was beautifully colored so I knew it was by a child. I read it with my class watching and fought back tears.

Let me back up to last year.

I had a difficult group of 5th graders. Of course there were the ones that were going to do whatever was asked, no problem. But the majority of them just didn't care if they were there or not. There were a handful of girls that were making bad choices. These girls were so smart and I could see they were clearly wasting their opportunity to succeed. There was one I was really drawn too. Quiet, cute, smart, and hurting. You see, both her parents were in the military and mom was in Iraq. She missed her badly. What girl truly doesn't want her mama? For whatever reason, she was becoming closer to some of the girls that weren't making good choices. Her attitude changed and her grades began to drop. I admit, I was hard on her. I gave her tough love simply because I saw the potential in her to do great things. I worried about her and talked to her several times about the change I had seen in her.

Until recently, I rarely saw this student. We would bump into each other during futsol games and that was about it. Now, we see each other quite often due to baseball season. I've enjoyed seeing her. I can tell that her demeanor has changed. She doesn't seem to be the same child that left my room. She's more like the one who began that school year.

To make a long story short (too late), the letter she sent to me was just what I needed. My job is not about a schedule or teammates. Its not about positions, lunches, and testing. My job is about making a difference. Regardless of how I felt at the end of last school year, I had proof today that I did make a difference. Those words in that letter erased all the hurt, frustration, and anger I have felt at work this week. It showed me what was important. It showed me that even though I don't feel like it sometimes, even in the darkest moments of those school days, I still touch lives and make a difference.

I am blessed to be a teacher.

Please, if you don't have children in school or don't have contact with your former teachers, find one and thank him/her for what she/he does. If you do have a child with a teacher, its not too late. Thank that teacher.

With a lot of jobs, you clock out and that's it. Not with teaching. Yes, we plan and we teach, but we do so much more that that. We love and we care. We show kindness and give respect when we don't feel like it. We bring home the emotional stress of not being able to bring kids home with us because we know their needs are not met at home. We spend time worrying if they are going to be beaten when they get home because of the behavior report or bad grade. We cry when they cry. We laugh when they laugh. Teaching is not a job. Its a an opportunity. An opportunity to touch lives, to change lives, to give hope.

I am blessed to be a teacher.

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

When I Became a Mom

Lo, children are a heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
Psalm 127:3

With Mother’s Day approaching, I have a million memories rushing back to me. Memories of my mom and other women who have had a motherly role in my life. Memories of my own experiences as a mom. Memories of moms’ stories I’ve heard from others.

So here it is. A time to share our MOM MEMORIES.

Let me start….

You know me by now. I love being a mom. What an awesome blessing! I cherish each moment. Growing up, there were three things I wanted to be:
A teacher
A wife
A mom (2 boys and 1 girl)

God has blessed me with each of these roles (no girl yet).

As a teacher, I can be a motherly role model to my students. There are so many with issues that concern their moms. Unfortunately, for a lot of students, I am the only motherly type they know.

I remember the second year I taught, I had a parent and a principal that basically told me that I didn’t know how to be teach because I wasn’t a mom. OUCH! Needless to say, I’ve done something right because I’m still in that position and my attitudes toward children have not changed. I love them all dearly. They are unique individuals who have their own needs. As a teacher, I have to be perceptive to those needs and meet them. I did that then and I’m doing that now.

Three years ago, one of my students came to me with a problem. Her mom, who was a single mom who had finally gotten her life together, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Five months later, she was gone. There would be days that we would just hold each other while this precious child cried. At that point, I was one of the only ones able to give her motherly love.

After this last Christmas break, one of my fourth graders came to me and just burst into tears. I asked her what was wrong and was totally unprepared for the answer.

“I just don’t understand why my mom doesn’t love me and doesn’t want to see me!”

What do you say? I just hugged her and told her I loved her.

You know, there are countless kids that have broken promises and broken dreams. They’ve been told lie after lie and they just don’t understand. As women, regardless of if we are mothers or not, AS WOMEN, we are to love these precious children. We may be the only “moms” they have.

Then we have our own personal motherhood. You know how it begins. With yearning, that itch, the sound of that biological clock ticking.

When Jeffrey and I were married, we both knew we wanted children. Well, a couple of years into the marriage, I experienced the yearning, the itch, the ticking of that clock. I was consumed with it. Babies were everywhere. My friends were having babies. Babies were in restaurants and stores. I wanted one. We eventually decided it was time. In December of 2001, after 7, yes, 7 pregnancy tests and an big “NO, you are not pregnant” a month earlier from the doctor (which I was), we found ourselves expecting our first child, Colin.

For the first 3 months I was sick! No, I never threw up, but I sure wanted to. But, oh, how I loved being pregnant. I’ll never forget that first flutter I felt while at that Keith Urban concert in Owensboro or how my belly bounced when Colin would hiccup. Just the enjoyment and anticipation filled my swollen 205 lb body with excitement.

Then it happened.

On Thursday, July 25, 2002, I was tidying up the house (which we had just moved into that Monday after 7 months of living with Jeffrey’s parents). I had been timing my contractions for a couple of days. However, that day, they were stronger and closer, 8 – 15 minutes apart to be exact. I called the doctor and was told to wait until they were consistently 5 – 8 minutes apart. I decided it was time for Jeffrey to come home from work. We head to the bookstore to buy some ready material for the hospital. When we got there, I couldn’t even get out of the car. I did the next best thing….called the doctor and lied about my contractions. What is a woman in labor to do?

Once at the hospital, I was examined (oh, boy, unlike any other exam I had ever had). It was determined by the medical professional that I was indeed in labor. However, there were no rooms available.

Was my name Mary?
Was there no room for me at the inn, er, hospital?

An expecting mom had asked during our last night at Lamaze what would happen if all the rooms were full. The answer….Oh, that will never happen.

It did.

We arrived at the hospital about noon and didn’t get a birthing room until about 2 pm. Well, about 6:30 that night, I requested no more visitors. At 9:00, Dr. Fee said, “Any minute now.” Any minute happened at 12:33 am on Friday, July 26, 2002. I became a mom. My precious baby, Baby Colin, was born. With his smooshed face and pointed head, Colin stole my heart. That 9 lb 9 ¾ oz baby was beautifully perfect in every way. I almost expected him to be Chinese since I craved Chinese food, eating it at least twice a week!

Those next two days in the hospital flew by. When we got home it was all over. Colin stopped sleeping, and he cried A LOT. I prayed that he would take a paci (mom talk for pacifier), but he wouldn’t. I stayed home with him for 3 months. It was wonderful. I think I took pictures and videos each day.

My how things have changed. My how some things have stayed the same. Colin is still my cuddle bug, quick to give lots of love and cuddle up to read or watch tv. He is probably the most caring, loving, thought children I’ve ever seen. Maybe I’m a little biased.

Eventually, we decided we wanted a sibling for Colin. That would be the 1 girl. My plan was boy, girl, boy. Everything with Carson was and is totally different. It is amazing how two experiences for one woman can be different.

With Colin, I knew I was pregnant because I just knew. With Carson, I knew because I experienced motion sickness and got sick in the heat. The first time was on our boat. YUCK. Jeffrey never could make it back to the dock quick enough!

Colin wanted a baby sister so badly. He was not happy during the ultrasound when the technician told him he was having a little brother. He had already named the baby Lila Tinkle (his words, “you know, mama, tinkle, tinkle little star), so he was now going to have to rename the baby and share his toys. Just not fair.

I remember Carson getting into the weirdest positions. One day while shopping at Wal-Mart, he turned and stuck his elbow or knee out. I had just squatted to get something off the shelf. Not good. I was stuck in the floor holding on to the cart. After a while, I was finally able to stand back up. I had debated on leaving my cart and going home. I knew though that I’d eventually have to come back, so I stuck it out. And Carson did too. I had to call my dad to meet me at home to help me get my groceries in the house.

I loved the moments of Colin touching my belly and talking to Carson, poking me to see if he would poke back.

Because Colin was so big (I say he was two weeks late because the doctor changed my due date twice), it was decided that I would be induced with Carson. What a totally different experience. Jeffrey and I arrived at the hospital at 6 am on April 6, 2006. We went through all the stuff to get ready and then meds were started to induce labor. At one point, the nurse checked me and said I was progressing well and to let her know when I felt ready. When she walked out the door, Jeffrey got the camera out to take some pictures of the room. I instructed him to get the nurse; I was ready. He thought I was kidding. I wasn’t. She came back and totally freaked out. Carson came fast (11:30 am on April 6, 2006) and he’s been going ever since.

Well, a couple things happened. Before he was born, the nurse came in and had me roll on my side. It seemed that his heart rate had dropped. I didn’t realize the severity of that until about a month later when the same thing happened on an episode of A Baby Story on TLC. That mom had to have an emergency C-section because turning on the side didn’t help. Immediately after Carson was born, Jeffrey was told to take him out very quickly and then hand him over to the nurses. It seemed Carson’s lungs were full of liquid and he was having trouble breathing. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I was in my room and was told he was in NICU getting oxygen. The rest of our time in the hospital was filled with excitement. Colin getting to hold his baby brother for the first time. The four of us together as a family. Tornado Warnings and Lock Downs.

I’ll never forget the day we brought Carson home. When we pulled in the drive way, Colin bolted out of the front door doing the cutest little run/skip/trot. His baby brother was finally home. Together at last.

I was able to stay home with Carson for 3 months as well. Colin spent some time with us and then we sent him back to daycare to keep him on his schedule. Colin was such a good little helper that it was easy to spend quality time with both of them.

I do miss the baby days. However, the big boy days are great in their own way. There are things about each stage that are precious and I do cherish each moment. Maybe we will be blessed with Lila Twinkle one of these days.

In the meantime, I will cherish each moment that I spend with my children both at home and at school. I know that God chose me. He chose me to be the mother of Colin and Carson, to be the teacher of my students. There was a reason in it. He knew that I was something they needed. I will be the mom that He has planned for me. I will continue to ask for patience and guidance, for wisdom and strength. He knows as well as I do that I can’t do this alone. As a mom, I am not only thankful for my children, but I am also thankful for the man I get to share this experience with, my husband, the father of my children. What an amazing man! When I lose it, he is calm. When I need comfort, he is there. When I need reinforcements, he backs me up. God made us a family.

Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
Proverbs 31:28

Now, it is your turn. Please share your mom stories. In the days to come, I will add some other moments that I cherish. Simply leave a comment. I have changed the setup so that all comments will be shown. That will make them easier for everyone to read.

Monday, May 04, 2009

What the Bible Says About Being a Woman

The Virtuous Wife
Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.

The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.

She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.

She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.

She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.

She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.

She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.

She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.

She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.

She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.

She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.

She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.

She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.

Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.

She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.

Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.

She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.

She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:

“ Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

Proverbs 31:10-31