Monday, July 25, 2011

Me? Old?

I looked in the mirror today. Of course, I do that everyday. Often this is done several times throughout the day. But this morning I was taken aback by what I saw looking back at me. There, in the mirror, staring back at me was an old lady. Seriously. An old needing-to-lose-some-weight lady. The gray in my hair seemed more pronounced than I remember from just the day before. My posture was that of someone old. Today, my mind set matched the reflection. It isn't always that way. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I see what I feel...a young capable still-has-lots-of-life-left-in-her lady. Sometimes my mind forgets how old I really am and I think back to my younger days and forget that time has actually passed. Today I realized just how much time has passed. "Perhaps I should color my hair." I thought. Would that make me look younger? If the gray wasn't so...there? Should I invest money we don't have into products to try to help me look younger than I really am? Normally I would say absolutely not. Aging is part of life and is really impossible to stop. Some people cover it well with money thrown into products but eventually even products will not be able to cover the fact that one is really old. But I am not feeling that way. Today I am feeling desperate to recapture the youth I once had. Today I am down on myself as I see the old lady staring back at me from the mirror. Today I wish I had lots of money to undo what the years have done. Today I want to be young again. But today, like every other day, that just isn't possible. I guess I will have to get used to that old lady in the mirror and somehow make peace with the fact that she is me and there is little I can do about it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


It seems my brain is stuck on a few topics. One of them is friendship which is what my last post was about. My wheels have been turning regarding this topic but more so as to how it relates to the younger generation today.

I think friendships for today's young teens and teens are so different then what I experienced as a teen. My friendships, as eluded to in the previous post, were close and personal. I had a face to face relationship with my friends. I shared with them and they with me as we would ride bikes or drive somewhere or just take a walk to the store to get away from parents. While I know these types of friendships still do exist, it seems that they are not as common. Now, sharing is done via text message or facebook posts/messages. There is something lost in a text message or a facebook message. These modes of communication lose the body language and non-verbal cues that we rely on for precise interpretation when we communicate face to face. It is the reason why e-mail communication is never as reliable as face to face talking.

Facebook, in particular, contributes a unique element to the world of friendships. Most people have several friends and often not all of them get together at the same time. I know as a teen I would on occasion spend time with Jen but more often spent time with Kris. Usually the one didn't know I was with the other. If I was with Kris, most likely Jen was with some other friends of hers. Seldom were the three of us together outside of school. We just weren't a threesome. There were no hurt feelings or feeling left out because we didn't broadcast to the facebook world what we were doing. That is not the case now.

Now, I see hurt because a couple friends posted pictures of their time together and my child realizes she was, once again, left out. Or they announce plans on facebook and she knows that once again she was not included. Of course, there is no law that says everyone has to be inluded all the time, but when it is made known in such a public forum, it hurts. Human nature is such that when we feel we are not wanted, it hurts. And I fear that these kinds of hurts are leaving scars that will not easily go away. No one likes to feel unloved or unwanted, yet that is precisely what often happens with facebook.

I need to step up prayers for my child, that she would be protected from others' insensitivity...that she would know regardless of what so called friends on earth think of her, that in the eyes of God, she is valued as a precious treasure. That doesn't go far right now when she feels left out. I just don't know what else to do.

Friday, July 15, 2011


A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity. ~Proverbs 17:17

I have been contemplating friendship as of late. Growing up I had a handful of people I called friends. In the elementary years most of my time was spent with my neighbors, Mike, Vinny, Chris and Danny. Mike lived right next door and Vinny across the street. These two were definitely the closest friends I had during those years. We walked to school together, swam and rode bikes in the summertime together, trick or treated together...pretty much spent at least part of everyday together. We were all in a different grade. I was the oldest, then Mike was a grade behind me and Vinny was a grade behind Mike. It didn't matter. We were true friends.

As I moved into junior high years Kris entered my life. We were meant for each other--no doubt about it! She practically lived at my house during the summertime! Jen joined us a bit later. But Kris and I stayed best friends. I still love her dearly and correspond with her although not as much as I would like. She moved soon after getting married and I moved as well, but I know we could see each other now and it would be like we were never apart.

As I moved into adulthood, I struggled in the friend category. I had a very close friend from my Hopkins years although we have since drifted apart and although I have tried to initiate contact, that effort has been largely ignored. I have given up for now figuring it just isn't meant to be. There were neighbors in Hopkins but they weren't really friends. I knew they could give my kids a ride somewhere if needed or watch them on short notice but there was no deep friendship or getting to know them there. During this time I met a long distance friend and she has been rock solid in being there for me--but, sometimes, a phone conversation is just not enough.

Upon moving to Buffalo I have made several friendships. Like the moon, though, these friendships wax and wane at times. I guess that is how life works. We all have busy seasons where we separate ourselves from those around us. I have done this at various times as well, not realizing that when we just stop talking to people for a time, it hurts them. When we let them down it is going to hurt. I am now experiencing some of that hurt. People I counted as true-through-thick-and-thin friends have not been there lately.

I have two choices in the midst of this. I could isolate myself as well or move on and look for what God has in store for me. I am choosing the second. I have already seen God bring a few new women into my life who I am hoping will become true-through-it-all friends. That is not to say I want to walk away from previous friendships. I still love those folks and would welcome them back if they desired to come there. I just refuse to come across as dependent on these people for my happiness (something I have been guilty of in the past). I am thankful that God has brought me to a place where I can see that new friends don't have to replace the old ones. I am thankful for the new ladies who are taking interest in this life of mine and that I have the opportunity to take interest in their lives as well. Isn't that what friendship is supposed to be?

I know that my long distance friends--Kris and Katya--will always be my friends, but I also know that I need people close by to grow with. I know that as life brings changes that sometimes friends will change as well...even if that may be difficult for me. I also want to be graceful to those who, because of their own life circumstances, need to step back for a time. I pray that God grants me the mercy to allow them to do so lovingly and not judgmentally as has been done in the past both by myself and by those close to me.

I am most thankful that I have one friend who will never leave me, grow tired of me, lose patience with me, nor ever stop loving me. When human friends fail, as we all do from time to time, I am thankful that Jesus never does.

Friday, July 8, 2011


"I charge you in the sight of God and of Jesus Christ and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism." ~I Timothy 5:21

I came across this verse today while browsing through an article on homeschooling. The article was referring to teachers and parents who use the successes and/or failures of one student against another student. While it happens often in a classroom setting, it is a particularly easy trap to fall into as a homeschooling parent. What parent, even ones who do not homeschool, is not guilty of comparing their children at some point? "Oh, Johnny was such a tiny baby I assumed that Susie would be also." or "Susie was walking by the time she was ten months old. I wonder if I should be concerned that Johnny is 13 months and shows no interest in walking yet?" As Johnny and Susie grow mom and dad may try hard to not compare but chances are, if they attend the same school, well meaning teachers will do so. "Oh Johnny, I was your sister's art teacher and I remember she had such a wonderful talent for art! I can't wait to see some of your drawings!" Well, maybe Johnny can't draw to save his life! Comparison almost always leads to favoritism. Maybe Susie's teacher really loved the drawings she did and when Johnny is unable to do the same, the teacher holds a special place in her heart for Susie all the while encouraging Johnny to keep trying because she just knows that he can do it (even though he cannot no more than a fish can climb a tree.)

As human beings, we all tend to gravitate toward individuals who share common interests. I was a full fledged tomboy growing up, therefore most of my friends were boys. I played baseball, kickball, soccer, basketball and hockey everyday I could. You wouldn't catch me with a doll in my hands! My "favorite" friends were the ones who would do the things I liked to do because they liked those things as well. As an adult, and a former teacher, I know how difficult it is to not show favoritism. I had some students in my class who I just adored. Of course, that meant there were some whose personalities clashed with mine. They were most definitely not my favorites! In fact, being a young teacher, I would have given anything to rid my classroom of these trouble makers! I could not, though. You see, my professional duty was to teach my entire class and treat them all the same.

What does this have to do with Paul's letter to Timothy quoted in the beginning of my entry? Paul was warning Timothy of the dangers of favoritism in the church. Jesus did not play favorites. Yes, He had His disciples whom he loved and called to be set apart so that He could train them to continue His work after His death, but He did not elevate them over other people. In fact, when the mother of two of his disciples asked for special treatment for her sons, she was denied her request. God does not show favoritism in His kingdom. Favoritism in the church goes against what Jesus stood for while He ministered on earth.

I write about this because it is an issue we seem to be facing. Of course I cannot give specifics nor will I elude to any person or people whom I feel to be part of the problem, but suffice it to say it does seem to be a problem. Perhaps more so because the favorites are not my own kids. This time, it seems, my kids are on the outside watching a situation unfold that screams favoritism. Coming from a background where favoritism within the church negatively affected my spiritual growth, it bothers me to have my kids go through this. Of course, I know how easy it is to fall into the trap of gravitating toward a certain group of people, and that is fine if one is doing that with their own adult friends. The problem is when one is in a profession that requires love and acceptance and fair treatment of all and that is not happening, it becomes a frustrating existence, not to mention a difficult one to explain to kids. Looking back now I can see instances where one or more of my kids WERE the favorite and I was blind to the ones being ignored. I personally don't want to fall into that trap again and pray that eyes will be opened so others can see what they are doing to those to whom it is happening now.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Readings of Summer

I have been spending some of the extra free time I find on my hands during the summer catching up on some reading. I have spent time reading articles, blogs, and books. My choice of topic as of late has focused mainly on secondary education and post secondary education. That is where my kids are in their lives so it makes sense that I would gravitate to these areas. I was aware of the variety of opinions that exist on these issues before I embarked on this reading adventure, but I have come to realize that many people are not up to date on the current state of affairs as it relates to these topics.

Historically, there have been two options for a young person graduating from high school. One could choose to go to college (this includes technical schools) or one could choose to enter the workforce (this option includes the military route). College was reserved for those careers where a degree was necessary--doctors, lawyers, CEOs, etc. One didn't need a college degree for jobs such as those in accounting, store managing, restaurants, and even teaching. Laura Ingalls studied for her teaching certificate at the age of 14. Times have changed.

In my reading I came across many who state that college is a waste of money, some who believe that not all young people are suited for college, some who advocate college should only be encouraged for sons while daughters should be encouraged to stay home until marriage, some who believe all high school graduates should go to college for at least a year...the opinions are many. As I sorted through them, I found myself disagreeing with many that I once agreed with and vice versa. I used to think I had it all figured out, but times have changed. The biggest influence on my thinking was not a blog or a well written magazine article, but rather a documentary titled, "Waiting for Superman". If you have not seen this movie, I encourage you to spend the dollar to rent it from Redbox. It will open your eyes to the true state of public education in America.

I used to think college was not for everyone. I still believe that to a point. There are some special needs students who would obviously not be successful in a college setting. But, for the average student who is capable of doing better than he or she showed in high school, I have come to believe that college is a necessity. According to the documentary, the United States will not have enough qualified individuals to fill jobs in the engineering fields in the foreseeable future. Technology is advancing by leaps and bounds everyday and our high schools are not doing a good job of keeping students up to par with the advancement. That will leave the United States no choice but to recruit qualified workers from countries whose educational systems are tarining their students poroperly--India, China, and Japan for example. In these countries emphasis is placed on learning and achieving academically, while in America we still feel that our high school students are children and deserve "play time". Students in these other countries have longer school days, weeks and years than their counterparts in the U.S. This gives them a huge advantage when it comes to being successful in college and beyond. Many American students who do go on to college often are going simply to party and enjoy the perks of living away from parents.

All that taken into consideration, though, I have come away from my readings believeing that college is essential to secure a good job. Of course there will always be exceptions. Everyone knows Bill Gates is not a college graduate and I'm sure most of us know at least one person who has made it in this world without a college degree, but the bottom line is as technology continues to advance and become more central to our everyday lives, our young people of today will need to have the skills necessary to keep up with the changes. I have also come to believe that going away to college is an important stepping stone to growing up. The cost is cheaper to live at home, for sure, but valuable lessons are lost by doing so. That must be a post for another day, though.