My Grandpa

My Grandpa Michael had a heart attack this morning and passed away this afternoon. It came has a huge, nasty surprise. My heart is filled with loss, hurt, love, and a tinge of regret that I did not spend enough time with him lately. But he was happy, I think, and I loved him.

So here's to the smartest man I know: my Harley-loving, chain smoking, software-writing, long haired, tell-it-to-ya-straight Grandpa. The one who had his Harley stolen and "simply" built another. The one whose life was spared in a horrible motorcycle accident. The man who wrote computer languages for the Navy, knows more languages than I can count, has lived in more places than I have even been; the most intelligent man, always supporting our academic endeavors; the man who is all-knowing about religion, politics, history, and all current events. That's my Grandpa.

I have been distraught all afternoon, but it only took the recalling of a few memories before I was in my car, smiling and giggling to myself on my way home from work (which I left early). My favorites:

  • Him "babysitting" us sometimes, and always watching ice skating with me. He would even watch me pretend to be ice skating in my socks around the house.
  • We always put peanut butter in everything, my Grandpa and me. Chocolate brownies? Throw a blob of peanut butter in before baking. Cookies? Put a dollop of the 'ole PB on top. Rotten food? Just add some peanut butter and it'll be alright. (Ok, I made that last one up, but we love our peanut butter).
  • I just remembered this one, and it's huge! My Grandpa Michael is the one who started my sweet tea addiction many, many moons ago. 
  • One time when I was young, he was having problems with his hearing, so he had a little ear piece that was connected to a microphone. He fell asleep on the couch and my sisters and I screamed into the microphone louder than one can imagine. Any idea what happened next? Eek. So funny though.
  • He didn't miss anything: high school graduation, college graduation, wedding. He was there for it all, and it was never in a convenient location for him. 

As soon as I got in my car, my radio sang an appropriate lyric: slow down  before today becomes our yesterday. I don't "slow down" enough, that's for sure.

Grandpa, I love you and will miss you. See you soon.


No Mercy

Over a week ago, I constructed an entire post about our new church, Cross Church in Fayetteville. I chose not to post it because I never quite put my finishing touches on it, and it was too detailed to be even remotely entertaining. To sum it up, though, I adore this church. We moved up here and immediately began attending this church. In Little Rock, it was at least 7 months before we found a church home, and even then, we knew it was only temporary and that we'd be moving.
Just a few more details--I feel like we started at the right time because I have always feared the end times (partly from growing up AG, I'm certain), but it was amazing to hear it preached in such a straight-forward, well-articulated manner. They did an entire series on the topic. I love our pastor(s). I particularly love Nick Floyd's straight-forwardness.

Moving on, because that has basically nothing to do with this post. Entertaining, this will not be; important, yes.

No Mercy:
 Long story short, our pastor preached about the beatitudes on Sunday, and I knew before I ever listened that I needed to work on showing mercy instead of being hard on others. Showing mercy isn't particularly the issue. The issue is that I have a hard time piecing together this puzzle of mercy and truth. You see, I totally believe in biblical correction. If you are a proclaimed Christian and I happen to know you, I'm fairly quick to ...let's say redirect you.

But is that wrong? Should I just endlessly forgive and be patient and accepting? (Yes, yes, I know...but just listen.)

I feel as though it would be a sin for me to watch one suffer and falter, and the last thing I want to do is give them a pat on the back and just keep "encouraging" them. I know that sounds awful, but I feel like too many people do that, and far too few will actually try to correct and redirect. I would never want to kick somebody while they're down, so to speak, or turn somebody away from Christ. It's not like that at all. That's not even the topic at hand, ok? What I'm talking about is far past that point.

I recently heard a sermon titled something along the lines of "What Kind of Friend are You?" Truth be told, I can't remember if it was in Little Rock or Fayetteville, but I remember leaving and boastfully saying, "I'm the truthful friend! That's what we're supposed to be!" But all that glitters isn't gold. 

I am surely making myself sound horrible, but if you know me, I think you'd see that I do extend grace and mercy. Sometimes I just don't want to, and I don't think that's out of stubbornness or failure to submit. I think it's because I truly believe there is a time to get real. A time to get serious and to quit messing around. The Bible talks about mercy, but it also talks about correction.

So at what point should correction override mercy? How do the two fit together?

I'm frustrated at the moment because this isn't coming out as I had hoped. It's incredibly difficult to articulate this, for some reason, but I have struggled with balancing the two for quite some time.

Hmm. I'll leave it at that. :)

P.S. I miss my hair stylist in Little Rock so badly that I've refused to go elsewhere ever since we moved. I got desperate, though, and randomly googled a bunch of places...then equally randomly called a salon and said "anyone who is good with long hair." On my way there today, not having a clue what to expect, I decided I would try to work up the courage to give my new stylist a Cross Church card with the service times. But I didn't have to. I immediately found out from her that she goes to Cross Church and even serves there. I was impressed! What are the odds?


A blessing, or not a blessing? That is the question.

The Town:
Fayetteville has proven to be as fun, swanky, and unique as I always thought it would be. It feels a little small, but we have adjusted easily. Ryan asked me the other night if I would ever move back to Little Rock, and I answered honestly and told him all it would take is a mere mentioning of the idea. He, on the other hand, would have to be dragged in chains the whole way there, I'm quite sure. So this place is a nice compromise, I suppose.

Job Outlook:
I have to tell you that I feel insulted. Unappreciated. Let down. Humiliated...the list goes on. I did not find a teaching job, but I never could decide if I even wanted one if given the opportunity. For the past two years of teaching 10th grade English, I said aloud on a weekly basis that I wanted something different when school released for summer. The problem is that I didn't know then, and still have no idea today, what it is that I want to be doing.  Listen--that's for a different post. Or probably one already written.

Everybody knows the high schools in NWA are among the most competitive in the state, besides maybe Conway, Benton, and Cabot. They are bigger, they pay more, they are competitive academically, and it's harder for teachers to find openings in these schools. I got a call from Bentonville asking me if I would like to be a teacher's aide and help the 2nd grade teachers at a particular elementary school. Oh, if you could have seen the effects of my soul swelling with rage, pouring onto my face. I was mad for days. I'm still mad. In fact, I've taken on a new swagger that goes by the name of "bipolar." I'll be a raging rhino about it one second, and in lala land after weighing the pros against the cons, and vice versa all the livelong day. Seriously. It's enough to make a person insane.

I told Ryan for three days straight that I would never do it, throwing around phrases like "over my dead body!" and "I am SO overqualified--they better tell me that every day!" And, in fact, they have. I've heard them tell me on multiple occasions that they would be so lucky to have me, and I quite humbly have to agree.

I took the position. Want to know why? For completely selfish reasons. I do not know if I will ever go back into the land of education as a teacher. I might. But listen. This school starts at 7:30 AM and gets out at 2:30. Major perk. I can work another part time job with this schedule, if I want to, and I found that to be so exciting. I will not get paid anything like a teacher, but I will certainly be getting more than I would at a different, normal job, all while working 9-10 months out of the year and still being done with my work day at 2:30. Seriously fantastic. But the bad--oh the bad. I'll have another commute, but at least I'm used to that. I'll have to do duty. Yuck. And I'm sure I'll have to continually explain to people, friends, randoms, that I am certified to teach 7-12 grade English, and yes, I'm helping with 2nd grade. Ugh.

Here's what I'll be doing: there are five 2nd grade teachers at this school. Each teacher gets on hour per day to work with students on remediation and enrichment. During this time, the teacher will work with the kids who need remediation, and I'll be working with the ones who need enrichment. So, doing that for an hour with each teacher will be 5 hours of my day, and I'm sure the duty and whatever else will fill the rest. I'm seriously, frantically praying that I'm not bored out of my mind.

Back to some more of my favorites: ask any high school English teacher and she will tell you it is perfectly normal to clock 60-75 hours per week because the grading and planning is so intense--unlike any other. So, with that in mind, hallelujah for this job. My heart is physically fluttering in excitement. I will have no anxiety what-so-ever about the 130 research papers I have to grade next week and the 130 essays the next, and the novel I have to annotate before I can teach it the following week. Again, hallelujah. Nor will I have to worry about spending a lot of time in the morning preparing my physical appearance for the 130 judging eyes and outspoken tongues of these near-adults. Oh my gosh, hallelujah.

Another blessing that I'm choosing to see: I've wondered before if I would like teaching elementary, or if I would hate it. This is as good a chance as any to figure that out. I am already sad and mopey about not getting to have a relationship with a new group of super fun high school kids this year. Although I often hated the work, I equally as often would miss my kids on the weekends (what?! I know!) and during breaks, so I am certain to feel a void there this year. In fact, other than feeling like I'm going from being the president to a person who shovels pig poo, that is what I'm the most upset about.

Now, if you're still with me, it's important that you finish reading this paragraph, too. You've stuck with me this long, there's no getting out now! I have been feeling sorry for myself, but I'm over it. That's gone. So I don't want you to do that either. It's still a fresh wound and I'm liable to get annoyed with you if you ask why I'm not teaching high school this year. :) I might not ever go back, but I might. I can't decide. I'm seeing this year as a perfect opportunity for so many reasons. It will be good for me to be out of the high school classroom this year to see how I like being away from it, since that's all I've wanted the past two years. I know, how fickle can I be? But I'm not making that up. I feel so completely blessed because I'm being forced to face what I've claimed to have wanted this whole time. So we shall see.

I'm making an effort to not have such a despondent outlook. Despite these wretched circumstances, I truly believe this is for the best.

*Disclaimer: I'm sure I'll hate the snot and poop and whininess of the little kiddos, but come on. You know this is going to be a GAJILLION times easier than any real teaching position. I'm going to do it for this year whether I like it or not, and then make a move--either going back to school for something totally unrelated, trying again for a high school position, getting certified for P4, who knows. Just say a little prayer when I come to your mind, please.

Simply put, from this point forward, I refuse to be bitter. It's just a job. It's not who I am; It's merely what I do. And I might just be a little excited about it. :)