Saturday, August 18, 2018

Sometimes I wonder how smart I really am.

"I've been MIA from this blog for quite some time" said Captain Obvious. So goes the story of my life.

In January, 2017 (the year of release) I started a new adventure as a Substitute Teacher in my local school district. I decided that a Kindergarten class would a great place to start.

Sometimes I wonder how smart I really am.

I made it through the day, but knew Kindergarten teacher was not my forte'! Second Grade, Third Grade, Fourth Grade, shoot, even Fifth Grade were more up my alley. I also discovered I liked subbing in Middle School English, Reading, Leadership....and Choir. My favorite job so far, however, was High School Choir. It's my wheelhouse. It's where I come alive and know I'm able to do exactly what needs to be done to help them stay the course and even improve a little bit.

The closest second was Middle School Leadership. I have become a student of leaders over the years, and being able to share with, inspire and invest in leaders of the future was a blessing I thoroughly enjoyed.

The job that has changed my life, though, is the long-term job I held this past Spring of 2018. I was asked to finish the year in an unfilled Music position at a local Elementary school teaching all Kinder classes, Two 2nd grade classes, One 3rd grade class, and a Primary SLC class. I did not expect the crazy lovable students in those classes to crawl in and fill my heart with a desire to go back into the classroom. They did, however, do just that.

These are students who attend a school where transition and trauma are words we use often. These are students whose families experience life very differently than many of you reading this blog. These are students who love life, love to laugh, love to sing/dance/play, but may not always know how to behave "correctly" or how to communicate in such a way that would keep them from getting in trouble. These are students who have no fewer possibilities in front of them than anyone else in this country.....but don't see that in their day-to-day. I started this job on February 20th. With each passing day it became my heart's desire to help them see the possibilities and to encourage their own belief in their ability to make their dreams come true.

So, without a current teaching certificate (I have a lifetime Sub Certificate); having not been a classroom music teacher in 22 years, and having no time spent in Elementary music (except for my Student Teaching time), I decided to apply for the open position that I was currently filling as a Sub.
Sometimes I wonder how smart I really am.

In this case, after an interview that did NOTHING to show my capabilities as an actual teacher (and a sight-singing event of which I am THOROUGHLY embarrassed!), I also wonder how smart the District Admin was. He did, however, have the word of the music teachers I had subbed for in the district that I was honestly capable, and maybe a slight desire to just get the position filled before he handed the reigns of the position over to his replacement upon his retirement in a month's time. I'd like to thank the music teachers in our district who trusted me with their classes and spoke highly of me....because I still think I snuck in by the blinding of truth by angels above!

And now I wonder what on earth I was thinking!

As the new school year looms I find myself sitting in meetings and trainings with people who understand music on a theoretical level that has always been an anomaly to me. I sit with people who thoroughly enjoy the analysis of a composition - that I simply want to perform and bring to its emotional life. I sit with people who have made a life's joy of peeling off the layers of musical composition and teaching students how to do the same. I am intimidated, awkward, and truly in awe of their abilities and understanding.

Also very jealous.

Jealous of their lives that never required them to shut the door on their life's passion. Jealous of their brains that never had a theory professor look at them and wonder how they could possibly think they'd make it as a musician without understanding the underpinnings of a Bartok composition or the disgust of parallel motion. Jealous of their knowledge of all things music and pedagogy and methodology.

So very jealous.

And fearful of whether I really should have been allowed to sneak in under the radar.

Here I sit. Nine days before school is supposed to start (our teacher union and district are in negotiation...it is unclear as to whether we will start on the actual date of August 28th), and my self-doubt is crippling while my personal knowledge of what I have accomplished in a life no one here knows anything about pushes to the forefront and says in true Dowager Countess fashion, "Oh, DO SHUT UP!"

I know I have musical knowledge in line with what I need to have as a classroom music teacher.

I know I have the ability to work with children and help them discover they can be successful in ways they never thought.

I know I am working at a school where I have comrades in arms who are an inspiration to push on regardless of the hard parts.

I know I surprised myself as I went through two weeks of training in the Orff Methods Level 1 with people who are truly accomplished musicians. I kept up for the most part....and I am able to play recorder a lot better than I originally thought I could!

I also know I am in a district with some of the most amazing music teachers who are willing to share their knowledge in the areas I am not familiar with (as in, recorders!).

I have to make that list, as silly as it seems, because, well, let's be honest.....TWENTY TWO YEARS IS A FREAKING LONG TIME!!!!!

So I have decided three things in the midst of this transition:

1) I cannot do anything I am created to do without daily renewal from my Creator, and I have a plan for what the next 4 months at least will look like in keeping my daily quiet time in the forefront. I also have friends who will keep me accountable in what I will do. Brother Lawrence, in his book, "The Practice of the Presence of Christ" has convicted me of the need to remember I am to do all things for the glory of God and God alone. If I receive applause or praise, it is because He has given me the ability to do what I do.

2) I must be kind to myself and be willing to admit what I do not know while being confident in what I do know. The only way I will be successful is to be prepared each week. Therefore, lesson plans will be planned well in advance so as to keep me on track. After seeing "Won't You Be My Neighbor" I want to teach with the motto, "there are many slow moments, but no wasted moments." Reminding myself that silence is truly golden - precious in both renewing of spirit as well as in processing of learning. My students deserve to have a class where they are a priority in the preparation.

3) I MUST take time to enjoy life in real life as well as taking time to see the opportunities for LAUGHTER in the classroom. I am a creative person at heart, and need to make sure I spend time being creative in NON-musical ways as well as in musical. In order to keep my perspective, I have to remember that music is not the end-all-be-all of my life. It is, instead, a GIFT from The End-All-Be-All of my life, and keeping a running list of things I'm grateful for will help that.

And that's that! By next Tuesday I'll have a room put together to welcome the students back; a lesson plan scope and sequence for the entire year; full knowledge of everything I will ever need to know....and.....my students will play this by month's end!




Uuuummmmm.....yeah. No. By next Tuesday I'll be prepared to welcome my students back with a room decorated with them in mind, lessons designed to help them ENJOY the discovery of musicianship, and a grateful heart that I snuck in with no viable reason other than my love of learning, life and music.

I have no doubt I am where I need to be at this moment and am determined to make the best of every moment. I go forth whispering...

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Monday, January 16, 2017

THE YEAR OF "RELEASE" - 2017

For the past four years I've chosen to leave side the typical New Year's Resolutions and opt for One Word that encompasses what my mindset needs to be. It has proven very helpful in that it's easy to render, it's something I am constantly reminded of as I hear that weird in random places, and it's usually just a great reminder to reset throughout the year. Resolutions made me feel worthless and unsuccessful because, although I had the best of intentions, I found that I was not fully bought in to the outcome. With my One Word I have found the opposite to be true.

My past words have been "Ponder", "Dig", and "Reveal". This year's word is "Release". I've chosen to release the expectations I've placed on myself, on my family, and, believe it or not, God. It's only January 16th and it's already gotten A LOT of use! LOL!

So what about you? What word would you put in place to set your focus for the year ahead? Yesterday our pastor said his was "healthy". I have another friend whose word is "harmony", and another who chose "stronger". It took me awhile to get to my word, but it's already proven to be perfect for me.

I look forward to reading about your word...please share it below. Gabe a great day, and a blessed year!

Trayc

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Prayer Changes Things


Lately the power of prayer has been a constant reminder. I have been reminded that God sees me....He hears me...He bends down to listen...He cares. I've been brought up short as I'm reminded that my prayers are not a to-do list for God, but rather a heart surrendering to His will as I humbly reveal the deepest parts of me to the Only One Who can really do anything about it. When I've prayed and not seen immediate results I've been reminded that patience is a virtue - a character trait not ingrained, but learned. Finally, when I have seen the joy of prayers affirmed and answered only to be sent back to square two a couple days later I've been reminded that life is a journey and just because I pray and He answers doesn't mean it's all going to be A-Okay from then on. 

What it does mean is that He still sees me. He stills hears me. He still bends down to listen, and, no matter what, He still cares. 

About every little detail. 

Every. 

Little. 

Detail. 

HE CARES

This excerpt from a devotional on prayer by Jack Graham speaks directly to what I have been experiencing and thinking recently. 

"When you and I arrive at heaven's gate someday, no doubt we will be shocked by our lack of faithfulness as it relates to prayer. We will see firsthand the vast storehouse of blessing God had reserved for us, if only we had asked for His intervention in our lives. "You do not have because you do not ask." James 4:2 reads. What a fitting reminder to pray while we still have life left to live! Indeed, nothing good, nothing great, nothing lasting, nothing holy can ever happen apart from prayer.

That is why prayer should never be a sideline habit for believers. Prayer should not just be a ritual performed at the beginning of a family meal. We are to pray, persistently and passionately in dependence and in obedience. And let me be clear, if you are not praying, there is no way you can ever grow as a Christian. Without prayer, there is no way you will ever truly know God intimately. Prayer flows out of a life connected to Christ. And prayer also connects our life to Christ."

taken from "Lord, Hear Our Cry: A 30-Day Prayer Challenge" by Dr. Jack Graham
(you can also do this plan on the youversion.com Bible )

Those last couple of sentences in the second paragraph were like arrows between the eyes for me. "without prayer, there is no way you will ever truly know God intimately. Prayer flows out of a life connected to Christ. And prayer also connects our life to Christ." To know God intimately requires getting together with Him and connecting not just at the head level, but on a heart level. 

For example...I listen to a few different Bible teachers as I prepare for my day. I may listen to Dr. Charles Swindoll one day, and Andy Stanley the next...or I might listen to a podcast from my own church or our previous church's teaching. Although the last two pastors I do know personally, I cannot say I know them intimately. Because I have listened to Dr. Swindoll for so many years and read so many of his books I can say I sometimes feel as if I know him. My own pastors I can even say I know pretty well.....but intimately? Uh. No. 

However, I can say I know my husband and children intimately. I can also say I have intimate friends. The difference between them and the people I mentioned in the previous paragraph? Easy answer....time spent together getting real with each other. 

It is not a one way relationship. I do not read God's word and think I know Him intimately. I do not only pray and think I know Him intimately. One without the other leaves one of us out in the cold. 

Reading God's Word gives us an intimate knowledge of Who He is - we get to know Who He is throughout His interactions with others. We don't, however, fully grasp the magnitude of who He is if we only know Him intellectually. 

There is a current movement to seek the Holy Spirit and to consistently let Him guide through prayer and fervent times of seeking His voice. Not a bad thing....unless the voices in our heads that we think are the Holy Spirit are actually not of God at all. The voice we hear goes against what the Word of God says, but because we aren't reading the Bible we aren't aware of it....and we are led astray under the guise of "following the Spirit's leading." 

Praying alone gives us, at times, an emotional heart-level understanding of Who He is, but not knowing the truth of Who He is as we read in His Word leaves us wanting intellectually. 

Then there's our side. If we spend time reading His Word - studying, digging in, getting to know Him - we know His character. If we spend time praying for others in accordance with His Word we trust what we know of Him. Sounds pretty well-rounded, huh? Pretty full? We know, love and trust Him, so we're good? 

Not quite. 

WE know HIM...and HE knows US....but do we *intimately* trust Him with our most intimate selves? Our deepest hurts? Our most fervent desires? Our greatest doubts? Our rage and frustration over the injustices in our lives and the world around us? 

Nope. 

If we aren't willing to spend time getting real with God our Christian life, as Dr. Graham stated, is stunted. We don't grow in Him. We don't thrive. We don't grasp the power available to us through Him. 

Today I am in that place of frustration over the answers to my prayers being ping-ponged back and forth between "Passing Go" and "Going directly to Jail" (we'll use Monopoly as a tangible example of what the prayers - answered - seeing - positive - results - while - in - the - next - moment - human - nature - takes - over - and - pulls - it - back - again feels like). I hate it. I want to do some major brain surgery on a certain young person in my life who keeps being offered grace, celebrates and jumps in, freaks out and jumps back out again where he can be comfortable. 

I am reminded life is a journey. Reminded that, just because one day seems like my prayers are answered and life is going to be beautiful all the time from here on out, I still live in a broken world where the only hope I have is knowing the One Who created all things and in Whom all things hold together. 

So today I pray again....for the very same thing I've been praying for over the last few months. I cling again...to the hope found only in Jesus Christ. I trust again...in the fact that God the Father knows exactly what His plan is and I don't. I remind myself (again)....patience is a character trait that is learned, not given. Then I scream and kick my feet because I want patience in the situation......NOW! ......and I start all over again knowing that everyday really does bring a brighter hope, a bit more trust, a lot more patience. 

Because after all.....