Sunday, July 25, 2010

In Response to Friday

Lift Every Voice and Sing
by James Weldon Johnson

Lift ev'ry voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list'ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast'ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered.
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

I have never been a big fan of poetry.  It confuses me, but as I sit in my mid thirties, I think I'm starting to appreciate it more.  I like to read it to see what the author has to say.  I am beginning to love the craft of words in such a form.  I love this last stanza, and although this poem seems to have a patriotic theme to it, I think it's very pertinent to us all.  It reminded me of my thoughts on Friday, especially as I read, "God of our silent tears, Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way; Thou who hast by Thy might, Led us into the light, Keep us forever in the path, we pray.  Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee, Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we gorget Thee; Shadowed beneath Thy hand, May we forever stand, True to our God."
We are "shadowed beneath Thy hand," and sometimes in despair we forget that He's always there.  So, I thank You, Lord for everything.  I know You're here, but I'm feeling that stony road on my weary feet.  But, I do know that You will bring me through, and there is great joy ahead.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Yes, I Have My Days

I gotta tell you, I've been very good up until this afternoon.  We are down to the nitty gritty, officially #4 in waiting for TJ's referral.  I have been patient and kind willing to let God do His thing in His timing, but today is one of those days, where I'm ready today, now.  It all began with a mass email we received from our adoption agency saying that they are seeing further delays with the new two travel process to Ethiopia. I have gone with the flow, prayed through the upcoming court closings in August and September, and here I am.
I would be dishonest to say that I'm not feeling anxious, defeated, even.  I accept this as part of the adoption process, but it doesn't make it any easier in this moment.
I called Steve after reading the email and said that I needed a nugget of hope that we're going somewhere, that our little boy is there, that this is real and within reach.  I literally cried.
I'm asking for prayer because I'm ready to see my little boy, plan to see him, get ready for him.  I want him home.
Well, it's all I got, but I just wanted to share a moment of raw truth in the frustration of it all.  Again, please keep us and TJ in your prayers.  Thanks.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


A wonderful friend and I had a cookout chez moi the other evening.  She is also an educator, although in higher ed, and we began discussing the topic of what it means to be "polished" in the world of education.  Although it may have a positive connotation, it's definitely a backhanded compliment, and definitely that I'm not ready to prescribe to.  Here are some reasons why:

  • Whenever I come across someone who is "polished" in education, I am not sure if I can trust what they're telling me.  My pal and I described it as accepting the "kool aid."  For example, a politician or even an over eager administrator says that this is what we're going to do, without a) having any idea if it's really good or bad for kids, or b)because someone above them has sold them this crap because if they "buy in" then their futures look brighter.  I question people's motives sometimes.  I like to call it critical thinking, something I'm rather a fan of and encourage and teach my students to do.  It's tough because teaching students to be a critical thinker means to question authority at the risk of losing favor, but to also maintain a balance of respect.  Not an easy line for anyone, especially teens with still-forming frontal lobes, to teeter on.
  • Polished people often don't do the research on what the "kool aid" actually is.  Although it's refreshing at first and quenches one's thirst (didn't mean to be a poet, I swear), it's actually filled with tons of garbage.  Take for instance NCLB (No Child Left Behind) or Obama's "Race to the Top." (Looking at the political side of this, you can see that I certainly do not stand on one of side of the political spectrum or the other; I am spiritual, not political.)  Both programs look shiny on the outside, but once you start digging deeper, you see that they are both founded on ideas and principles that squash out what education is really about:  teaching children, who don't all fit into the same size or shaped box.  Anything that is formed by a politician or even one with those aspirations, have totally lost site or have no idea what they are talking about.  The depth of their program is one-sided and does not serve all, as public education is supposed to.   
  • Polished people have sold their "edge" to see things as they really are.  They always have a smile on their face because they aren't facing reality and missing the breath of an entire situation that they are supposed to fix with their product.  If I put my head in the sand when reality hit, I would be smiling too, like most politicians.  Ergo, I am not a fan of governors of education.  They have aspirations that are not about education whatsoever.  Look at Charlie Crist down in Florida, the once Governor of Education...he's now the governor and looking to move to the senate.  Thanks for looking out, Charlie.  As many can see down in Florida, many don't want to send their kids to public schools in that state.  Way to make a difference, but I gotta tell ya, he looks good in his pictures.  This can be seen all over our country, unfortunately.  
Am I a little rough around the edges?  Yes, certainly.  I could probably use a little self editing, I know this.  But at least I'm honest.  I know many who are the same way.  It's tough to be guided by programs that you can't buy or swallow, if you will.  I don't totally buy the polished people.  I'm forced to do my own reading and research whenever I'm being pitched to.  I think that's fair and responsible of me.  I encourage you to do the same.
Becoming "polished" seems to have its benefits:  the leadership position that you always wanted in order to make a difference, the higher up friendships, etc.  I'm blessed to work in a frank atmosphere.  Your heart and credentials seem to matter most of all, but I know that's not the way it is everywhere.  So, I urge you to be careful before buying into something that you don't know much about!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cramping My Style

I gotta tell you that today I am overwhelmed with emotion of how this stupid plantar fasciitis is cramping my style.  I found myself crying like a baby, mouth in downward dog of a cry, when I came home from Jazzercise today.  It is so freaking painful, and it's making me uncomfortable just being free (I'm typing this while intermittently rubbing Gold Bond Pain Relieving Analgesic)!  I have stretched, iced, and received lovely foot massages daily from Steve, and straight up, this sucks.
I sound like a baby, I know I do, but I gotta tell ya, that I do know that God gave me this stupid thing for a reason.  I pray to Him everyday about it.  I have two things working against me right now:
a) I have always been very healthy and strong.  Never a broken bone, nothing.  I was built like an ox.   The only time I ever had severe pain was when I was 13 and landed on my back trying to do a back handspring; this resulted in discovering my scoliosis (so much for the "back checks" in elementary gym class).  I stopped growing, so it wasn't a big deal.  Nevertheless, I think that I've discovered that I have some pride in naturally expecting my body to do what I need for it to do.  On top of that, I made it a goal to work out everyday possible this summer.  I look like I have issues in Jazzercise.  For those who know me, I freaking love Jazzercise.  It's my outlet, but not anymore.
b) I'm too busy for this crap.  I have a lot of minutia to deal with on a daily basis, and that's not slowing down anytime soon.  I have expectations to take care of, etc. and I can barely walk.  I'm frustrated.  I'm thinking, "why now?"  School is starting back up in a few weeks, and I have a baby coming home in a few short months.  As my mom would say, I don't have time for this sh**.  I want to be occupied by these other wonderful things, not foot pain.

Anyway, here's what I know...this isn't going away right now.  Although I have another doctor's appointment next week and will be begging for cortizone shots, this may take some time.  I literally cried out to God this morning, feeling all of my humanness.  I know He wants me to lean on Him more.  I'm doing it; I don't have a choice.  For the meantime, I exasperated by this.  I know it sounds so menial, and in many cases it is, but I just needed some time to vent!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Different Perspective

A few weeks ago, I learned that old friends and neighbors of ours who lived down in Florida are going through one of the most difficult times a parent and family would face:  their beautiful little girl, Ava, has a brain tumor and the diagnosis is for her to only live 12 to 18 months.  
As I have been following their blog and praying for them, I have been shaken with the reality that none of us know what God's plan is for us or our children.  Every day is a gift; so cliche, but I don't know any other way of stating it.  I think about the vacation that we just took and watching Alex play, and I am overwhelmed with how precious she is.  Here a few things that I have processed about my kid:
1.  She's a sharer.  I mean that in the most diverse aspects possible.  She would literally give you the shirt off her back if you needed it.  She wants to give juice and snacks out to her neighborhood pals all the time.  She wants to share her time and experiences with others.  
2.  She can express miles in just a look.  To the right is just one prime example.  She doesn't mask her feelings; what ya see is what ya get.  Ask her a question, and she'll tell you, but don't expect anything sugarcoated.  I think this makes her hilarious.  This look to the right is the look she has recently given me when I hug or kiss her in public; obviously, she loves that she's loved, but apparently she's getting too cool for the mush. (Oh well!  She's gonna have to put up with my mush for the rest of her life!)
3.  Alex loves to talk, but she's still working on syntax and pronunciation, which I think is adorable.  My kid is tall for her age, and often looks older than her 7 years.  When she talks, her true beauty comes out, in my opinion.  She's fearless when telling a story or joke, and the essence of who she is exudes from her desire to tell it like she wants to say it.  
4.  She likes to lead and direct.  She is her daddy's little girl.  I heard stories of how Steve always brought the most kids to Vacation Bible School and organized outings with all of his friends.  My daughter inherited this gift.  She's truly her own social director and will grow up to probably be a teacher or event planner.  If you ever are not sure how to do something logistically with many people, put the task to Alex...she'll tell you who, what, and how everything will get down with such detail you'll be freaked out.
5.  She's very sensitive to bad language, etc... This is one way that I know the Holy Spirit is in this little body.  We went to see The Blind Side last fall, and there were some dark previews before the movie.  She was practically curled in a little ball, so she wouldn't have to hear or see them.  I thought at the time she was being a bit dramatic, but I realized that she's truly sensitive to stuff that could have a dark side, and she doesn't want to be anywhere near it.  I respect and love that about her.  As a society, we have overexposed our kids to so many inappropriate things, that it seems that many of our kids are now immune to it.  I'm blessed to have a kid who is aware and sensitive to it.

I am praying for a miracle for our friends down in Florida.  I am praying for a miracle, peace, strength...the list goes on.  Reading Josh's blog this evening made me realize that God is using Ava and the Hunter family this very moment at 1:35 in the morning.  Please pray for them.  Read Josh's blog; it's God inspired.  
Then, go hug your kids, look them in the eyes and think of what God is giving you through them.