Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Thanks for Breaking My Heart, Jesus

Y'all, I've had a rough time. I've been stressed and wanting my sense of normalcy back. I had a medical procedure go poorly yesterday on top of all the illness I've dealt with in the last month. I've been cooped up with the same people for a LONG time and they are getting. on. my. NERVES!

I'm actually known as a pretty darn patient person. BUT, every once in a while, I reach my limit. And, as my family can tell you, once it's reached, it's not pretty. Once things get to "not pretty", it's ugly. I'm ugly. I was ugly this morning.

I lost my temper with my son. I yelled. Loudly. In case you aren't aware, males do occasionally have hearing problems when it comes to female voices. At least, that's the way it works in my house. That was the final straw for me this morning. I even stormed out of the house and slammed the door. We've lived in this house for nearly five years. I do believe that was the first time I've left the house and slammed the door if that tells you anything about my patience and tolerance.

Out of habit, I turned right on my sidewalk and just started walking. This is where the heartbreak comes in. About a block from my house is a "Blessing Box". Mama and I, but, especially Mama have been putting food in it as often as we can. Mama's heart has been breaking for people who are struggling with food right now.

As I got near, I saw a young woman stealthily approach the box, look around, and take one thing out. She put it in her bag and quickly started walking away. She looked at me once or twice. I gave hear a weak smile and she continued walking. We headed in the same direction and she looked at me once more before quickly walking ahead of me.

I wanted to and I didn't do it. I wanted to ask her if she was okay. I wanted to see if she needed help. I wanted to call out to her and aske her to come talk to me. Then, she put on some headphones and quickly walked farther ahead of me. I couldn't walk faster due to my procedure. My lips somehow froze together. My jaws were too tight to work.

I broke my own heart. Jesus convicted my heart. I help and give all the time. Why couldn't I say something this time? Probably because I was so focused on my issue and my temper tantrum that I couldn't get out of it. My problems are not as big as this. My problems are so minor compared to a young woman who has to take a free can of food. No amount of frustration with my child or anyone else I live with is worthy of yelling or a slammed door.

I'm sorry, Jesus, I'm sorry people I live with, and I'm sorry mysterious young lady. I'll do better next time. I'll remember who I am and Who I represent. I'll make sure that not only is that box full of food, but my heart stays full of the love I have for the ones I love and the people I've never met. I'm blessed. So very blessed that I'm able to bless others and I should remember that before I decide to, as so many Southerners would say, bless someone out.

Love Y'all!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Just wear a mask!

I've hidden several people due to their spreading of undocumented, scare tactic, conspiracy theory type posts. I will continue to do this until I am left with only people willing to find and exhibit factual evidence to support their posts. I saw a video yesterday of a guy who claims he was treated unfairly by Menard's because of their mask policy. After watching the video, Chris and I had a rather heated discussion because he hates wearing a mask to work or to stores and doesn't appreciate that there are stores requiring customers to wear masks. I, on the other hand, do appreciate it.
Here's why. Since March, I have had pneumonia twice (hospitalized for four days the second time), presumably the flu, an ear infection, a sinus infection and am currently fighting of viral bronchiolitis. I've been tested for Covid-19 TWICE and come back negative both times. I'm seriously considering being serologically tested to see if I had it in the past. So, back to the science behind the masks. I'm seeing a LOT of "masks don't help" and "masks do more harm than good" along with, "if you're going to wear a mask, you should wear gloves, too."
Covid-19 can be killed by hand sanitizer. It must be at least 60% alcohol. Thus, the need for gloves is virtually nothing if you are using sanitizer appropriately. Also, if you aren't using gloves appropriately (like changing between every interaction), you're safer without that fake safety net.
Washing your hands can wash the virus down the drain and can also effectively kill the virus IF you wash appropriately. Soap breaks apart the outer membrane of the virus causing it to break open and die. Again, no need for gloves IF you do this regularly when out in public.
Coronavirus enters the body through every facial opening including your eyes. Therefore, if both people are wearing a mask when interacting, the likelihood of transmission is greatly reduced.
Coronavirus can live on surfaces. How long varies between four and 72 hours depending on the type of surface. Therefore, a mask can help keep the virus from being spread to these surfaces by another person.
Just talking with another person can spread the virus. I tell my students all the time that when they "see their breath" in the winter, it's because of the water molecules they are exhaling. Viruses like water. You exhale water every single time you talk. Therefore, you or someone you are speaking with could be exhaling the virus.
The number of asymptomatic carriers is on the rise. When we were children, my middle sister and I kept getting strep throat. My baby sister didn't. Through a series of doctor visits, it was determined that my youngest sister was an asymptomatic carrier. Once she had her tonsils out, my middle sister and I didn't have strep again for YEARS. Let that sink in. This virus is very much the same in that regard. Just as when you were kids some people had awful bouts of chicken pox and others not so much. But, mostly, at my age, we all have about the same immunity to it regardless of how ill we might have been.
Fact: The virus started in an animal. It transmitted to humans and has spread through human to human contact. However, it is now spreading to pets.
It's not the government trying to make you conform. Those stores that want you to wear a mask are considered private property. It has zero to do with the government. They have every legal right to ask you to wear a mask.
Now, here's the little bit of opinion in all of this. It won't kill most people to wear a mask. It's not really taking away anyone's civil liberties to ask them to protect themselves and others. My mother has to get plasma infusions every four weeks because her immune system is so weak. Obviously, mine's not exactly up to snuff, either (stupid tick bite). Asking you to wear a mask is extremely helpful to people like me and like my mother. Yes, we are staying home as much as possible. However, there are, on occasion, those times that getting out is simply unavoidable. So, if you've gotten to the end of this, I'm asking that you consider wearing that mask for all those people like me who "don't look sick", for all those people who have the virus but "don't look sick" in order to protect yourself, and even for your furbabies in order to keep them safe, as well.

Friday, November 9, 2018

To Delete or Not To Delete...

Well, we've survived yet another election process. And, surprise, surprise, tons of people are still angry. It seems that we cannot hold elections like we used to. You know, back when everyone had a vote, used their vote and accepted outcomes. Nowadays, it's become "I voted and it had better go my way or I'm going to be upset about it and let the world know!" This is a big part of the reason I stay quiet about my beliefs, values, and votes except for with those to whom I am especially close. It's really not anyone's business but mine. Though, I'm proud to see politicians finally starting to call for civility. However, I feel that with social media, that will never happen. Until politicians step up and start using social media responsibly and civilly, how can we expect Everyday Joe to do it?

I know that there were a lot of issues that had people going this time around. Those issues get people really "fired up" so to speak. I was recently trying to have a civil discussion with someone. I had an opposing point of view. This person was SO determined to be "right" that this person was unwilling to attempt to have discourse. It ended when the original poster deleted the person. Though the person's point of view was in line with the original poster. When did "right" take over decency? Though it was a discussion on social media, I still felt like I was being "shouted down" so to speak. Some people are just what I call "frothers", they are absolutely so rabid about their way being the only way that, in my mind, I picture them foaming at the mouth as they speak.

I also recently had someone with whom I am especially close ask me why I hadn't purged my friends list. The best answer I could come up with at the time was "it's complicated." Now, I have a better answer. It's because I cannot show a person Christ's love by "deleting" them. I cannot be a light in the world if I cause my light to go dark in someone else's world. Don't get me wrong, I'm no perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I HAVE deleted in the past when someone was downright nasty to me or others for having differing viewpoints. But, at this current time, and in this current state, I simply feel like I HAVE to keep doing good even if it means having contentious people on my social media. I feel like that's what God would have me to do. I'll keep doing my soft answers and turning away wrath.

Speaking of the love of Jesus, I saw something the other day that had me thinking. It said something to the effect of "Jesus wouldn't be at the wall, He'd be in that caravan." And, I had to agree. That is a MOSTLY accurate post with something missing. Jesus WOULD be with those people. He'd be healing the sick, forgiving sins, even feeding the 5,000. However, I feel like, as with the woman at the well, He'd also be sending them home to tell others what He had done.

To be perfectly honest, I don't know that I have a single person on any of my social media with whom I agree on everything. Not one. Not even my husband. What a boring bunch of robots we would be if that were the case. What a dull life we would have if everyone agreed on everything all the time. However, I must say, if I can have a conversation with you about the fact that chocolate is the greatest ice cream flavor of the big three without it becoming overtly nasty, shouldn't we also be able to have political discussions the same way? Just my thoughts. Love to all.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Awards vs. Rewards and Why I Prefer RE-wards

I'll always prefer RE-wards to A-wards and here's why:

You've met one or seen one. There are just some people who don't feel validated if they're not receiving accolades (not only in education, either). I am in NO WAY saying that they aren't good teachers. There's a reason teachers receive awards. They typically ARE amazing and doing a fabulous job that deserves recognition. I'm also not saying that everyone who receives an award is hungry for attention or awards. However, I receive many things that I'll call a RE-ward.

I'm not writing this for someone to think I'm just wonderful because I make mistakes all the time. That's part of being an adult and an educator. There's no way a person can be in education and not make mistakes. I work with and have worked with some seriously amazing people. The examples I'm using here I'm sure many of them and other educators out there can relate to. I'm using these examples because they are my examples and the ones I know best. Based on my examples, I'll explain why I just love getting what I call a RE-ward.

I know what you're thinking. "Wow! I'm so surprised! No award? You're such a good teacher. You build such cool relationships with kids. They seem to like you and your classes so much!" True, true. ;) And that, is what I call a RE-ward.

When I started this school year, like I do every year, I asked kids why they are taking the classes that I teach. For a number of them, it's because they need one more science credit. For another number of them, it's because they had room in their schedule and it sounded interesting. This year, there were a number of them whose only reason was, "because you teach it." Here's the thing. Most of those kids who said that don't need another science credit. They don't need any additional credit. They know that my door is always open and they are welcome to sit in my room on an open period. But, they chose to sit in my classroom, learn something and do work simply because that's where I am. I call that a RE-ward.

I added a new twist to my classes this year. It's actually a reward system for students. They helped decide on the behaviors that would received rewards and consequences. They also decided on the prizes available at the two checkpoints during the year. Wondering what my point to all of that is, yet? We started discussing this on Thursday. By Saturday, I'd had SEVERAL people mention to me that they'd heard about it. I've even heard kids correcting each other OUTSIDE of my classroom based on what the appropriate behavior is INSIDE my classroom. I call that a RE-ward.

Kids know who they can trust. They know who they can turn to. They know who will genuinely care about them. They also know who will call them out when they need it. I've heard kids say things like, "Don't lie to Mrs. Lumley. She always knows." I've also had kids tell me that someone else told them I was a good person to talk to. I truly love it when a student asks me for advice, to be a reference for a job, or even for a letter of recommendation. That means that this person thinks highly enough of me to ask me for something very important and personal. I call that a RE-ward.

Here's the thing. Students come and go. Curriculum comes and goes. Mandates, programs, standards, and acronyms are forever coming and going. Awards come and go. School years come and go. Summers come and go. Jobs even come and go. Sometimes, even those relationships built will come and go because life is funny that way. The one thing that won't come and go is that feeling of accomplishment when a student "gets it". That little bit of humbling when someone takes a class because it's your class also won't go. The feeling of PRIDE watching students master things that they find scary will never, ever go. That, in a nutshell is what I call a RE-ward.

According to

Award: a prize or other mark of recognition given in honor of an achievement.
Reward: something given or offered in return for a service or accomplishment.

Based on these definitions, I feel a RE-ward will always be greater than an A-ward. Here's why. An award is recognition. A reward is given or offered. An award doesn't give a teacher a feeling of pride or accomplishment like a RE-ward does. An accomplishment is what comes when something has been successfully achieved. Watching my students be successful in their achievements both inside and outside my classroom will always be my RE-ward.

 ***A little addendum. I WAS honored several years ago by a student who received a prestigious award as her teacher of recognition. That was amazing. Again, I see that as a RE-ward.  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Why Do We Cry?

Can I just tell you that I am extraordinarily proud of my sons? If you know me well, you likely already know this. Here's a little you may not know. When they were contemplating their school, the coach and band director got into a bidding war over their scholarships and there were three offers on the table from the one school. Their high school band directors and coaches had spoken well of them and they both wanted the boys involved. Due to NAIA rules, they couldn't accept both scholarships, but, did take the biggest one, the sports one. However, they are at school early this week for Music Camp in preparation for their music degrees. So, why do I cry?

I cry because I'm proud. Those little six pound babies are six foot (almost) men. They've grown (almost) into their bodies. They've matured (almost) into strong leaders. They've learned (almost) as much as I can teach them. And, so, I cry.

I cry because I will miss them. They each have their own funny quirks that I will miss. They each have their own funny sayings that I will miss. They each have their own funny way of showing love that I will miss. They each have their own funny way of getting under my skin that I will miss. They each have their own funny way being a part of the bigger thing we call a family that I will miss. And, so, I cry.

I cry because it's an end. What?! They're not dead, ya know... Yes. I know. But, all those quirks, sayings, loves, irritations, and being part of the family is the beginning of a sort of "slow death" or an end. I'm not being morbid here but, it's an end. I'm being realistic because it's an end. Sometimes, big changes can feel like a death in that the way of life you've been used to for 18 years is now at an end. In the same way that life goes on after the death of a loved one, it goes on after a kid or two goes to college because every beginning has an end. You still have to go to work, cook, clean, eat, and raise the other kids so they can go off to college when it's their turn because it will be their end. And, so, I cry.

I cry because it's a beginning. It's the beginning of a new era. It's the beginning of a new way of life. It's the beginning of a new life for them. It's the beginning of their new normal. It's the beginning of our new normal. It's the beginning of their new lives. It's the beginning of independence. It's the beginning of new freedoms. It's the beginning of them having a life outside of me. And, so, I cry.

I cry because I won't be there to see the changes. They'll be making friends whose parents I won't know and I won't be there. They'll be getting themselves out of bed and I won't be there. They'll be going to classes and doing assignments and I won't be there. They'll be eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner and I won't be there. They'll be doing their laundry and I won't be there. And, so, I cry.

I cry because I'm happy. I've given them enough room that they were comfortable enough to leave and that makes me happy. I've given them enough structure that they got themselves out of bed on time on their first day away and that makes me happy. I've given them enough personality that they're already out there and establishing themselves and that makes me happy. I've given them enough discipline that they've excelled in multiple areas and that makes me happy. And, so, I cry.

I cry because I'm their mom. And, so, I cry.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

An Open Letter to Betsy DeVos

Dear Betsy,

May I call you Betsy? I feel I have earned the right to this bit of familiarity. Why do I feel I have earned this right? Here’s why. The thousands of dollars I have in student loans that were acquired at a University splattered with the DeVos name is why I feel I have earned that bit of familiarity.

Betsy, I am a teacher and a (twice) graduate of Lee University. I was SO excited when I saw that you had been nominated for Secretary of Education. I asked my husband (also a Lee graduate), “Is that Betsy DeVos as in THE DeVos family?!” All I ever knew was the wonderful altruism and support of education that came from the DeVos name. It was one of the first names I heard as a scared freshman many years ago. So long ago, in fact, that Lee wasn’t even a university, yet. Just Lee College.

Betsy, I am heartbroken. I had high hopes until these hearings. I really thought that the support of education I had seen all those years ago would filter into this nomination and (at the time, hopefully) your appointment. I have kept quiet and adopted a “wait and see” approach when others were so negative about this. I seriously thought you were going to be the ace in the hole for public education. I mean, a family that was SO devoted to higher education had to believe in education, in general, right?

Betsy, it’s starting to look like I was wrong and I write this with tears in my eyes. Why have you not educated yourself on education? Public education, in particular. Why have you not taken the time to talk to educators? You seem to think public schools are still “reading, writing, and arithmetic”. We are SO much more. We are STEM, we are arts, we are language, we are relational, we are sports, we are clubs, we are hygiene, we are food, we are shelter, and we are LOVE.

Betsy, what we are not is a moneymaking machine. Public schools are not about the dollar signs you seem to be seeing. Public schools are not about the companies that try to profit from selling their multitude of products to us, constantly. We are bombarded with “new and better” all the time. Everyone has the “latest and greatest” thing in education. Guess what, half the time, their newest thing doesn’t last beyond a semester or a year, if we’re lucky. How many of those companies do you have investments with?

Betsy, do you have any idea how many hours per year teachers in public schools spend trying to better themselves? Do you have any clue how many of the things you are trying to say are a better idea are actually happening on a daily basis within our public schools? Schools have not been “one size fits all” since before I was in high school. And, Betsy, no offense intended, but, you’re not much younger than my own mother. Maybe that’s why your notion of public schools is so antiquated.

Betsy, I URGE you to spend some time in public schools and with public school teachers. I BEG you to try to understand why people are so upset. I IMPLORE you to put yourself into the shoes of the people who go in day after day and try to make a difference. I BESEECH you spend 9 hours a day in a public school and see exactly what is happening there. Our day starts at 8:00. Between 7:30 and 8:00 this morning, I dealt with students dealing with a pregnancy scare, a relationship breakup, and a poor home life. I also had to make copies and get ready for my first class of the day during that time.

Betsy, I am extending to you a personal invitation to come visit me for the day. I’d love to show you what it’s really like in a public school. I’d love to show you the differentiation that’s happening. I’d love to show you the programs we have in place for students who struggle, who don’t struggle, and who do well. I’d like for you to see how we care for students who are hungry, who are cold, who need a home other than a shelter. It would be great for you to watch us include students in sports, academics, and arts. I’d love for you to see how ONE teacher and ONE classroom can encompass all of that and still have successful, well adjusted, engaged students who come to school and want to learn, feel safe, and feel valued.

Betsy, come on down to the trenches and see how the soldiers work. See how the soldiers march. See how the soldiers soldier on in light of all the things thrown at them from so many generals who’ve never stepped foot into a classroom (except on paper) to tell them how to be a good soldier.

Friday, August 12, 2016

"What's Wrong With You Today" or "Why Do I Have to Grow Up?"

I've had a couple of days this week where I woke just feeling "off". Ever have those days? Something's wrong, but you have no clue what? Something is bothering you and you're not sure why? You have this feeling of dread and don't know where it came from? This morning, it hit me hard. Really hard. I wasn't sure what the heck was going on. I'm typically a pretty laid back, happy, easy-going person. But, my heart felt heavy today. I had no desire to do anything. But, I forced myself to get out and go for a walk. I needed to walk and clear my head. While I walked, it hit me. I'm growing up. Wait, what? You're 42 years old, Shannon. You should have grown up a LONG time ago! Yeah, you're right, but, as long as my children were "not grown", I didn't have to FEEL grown...

This morning, my child who NEVER gets out of bed without being told texted me before 6:00 AM telling me that she needed to be at school at 7:00 AM and not PM like she originally thought. She got up, got ready, made her breakfast and lunch, and left me, to be grown. She had a practice and band camp, today. She's considering joining a student-leader group. She's trying to add a college credit course to her school load. I'm growing up.

My son who NEVER gets out of bed without being told came down the stairs at 8:00. He said, "I've got 30 minutes to get out the door." He made his breakfast. He got his work clothes together for the evening shift he's working. He's spending all day in a leadership course for band. He's contacted his football coach to let him know he can't make practice, today because of the two other things he had to do. I didn't have to tell him to do all of that. He got dressed and left me, to be grown. I'm growing up.

My other son (after getting extra rest and being told to get up) got out of bed, ate something, took out the garbage without being told, and cleaned the kitchen after being told. He emailed his band director to ask questions about next week, without being told. He's going to football practice this afternoon. He's taking his shower supplies and work clothes, he will leave football and go to work. In a few hours, he will get dressed for practice and leave me, to be grown. I'm growing up.

All of the funny sayings, wisdom from elders, and horror stories really don't prepare you for what's happening right in front of your eyes. They don't attempt to explain the ache that starts once you realize they're starting to "not need" you. It doesn't begin to prepare you for the tears that randomly show up when you see a "Timehop" picture from four years ago. In no way do they start to describe the confusion a mom feels when they take the initiative to contact other adults instead of asking me to do it. They cannot in any way enable a mother to deal with the stabbing pain of watching other people "court" her children to come and become part of a new (college) family or team. Don't get me wrong, they'll always want their mama in their life, I hope and pray. One of my boys has taken to calling me as soon as he gets off work and talking to me on his way home. That gives me hope. That hope helps me because I'm growing up.

My role is changing. I'm becoming less "mama" and more "advisor". We're talking about tough decisions. We're discussing their futures. We're talking about whether to expand the nest or leave the nest. We're discussing money and making decisions about money. I'm doing my best to make sure they don't make the same mistakes I did because I'm growing up.

Wait, don't you have another kid? Oh, you mean the one who is 12, going into the seventh grade, and already talking like a college professor while simultaneously being addicted to video games? The one who is already talking about the activities he's going to join this year? Yes, I still have my baby boy. But, he's a baby boy with a mustache who recently posted a bunch of selfies with girls on his snapchat story. GASP! Well, I guess I can be thankful that this is my last time to deal with hormones, at least. I guess that too means I'm growing up.

I am already missing my babies with a year to go before two leave whether it's physically to a college out of state or metaphorically by living at home and going local. So many sayings about roots and wings say things like they need to be given wings in order to fly. I don't want my children to fly. I want them to soar. I want them to rise about the clouds, catch a wind and lift themselves higher than I ever could. In order to do that, I have to believe I'm growing up.

So, here goes. Grow, my children. Change, my children. Fly, my children. SOAR, my children. Don't worry about me. I'll be okay. You see, I'm growing up...