Saturday, January 28, 2012

What's Next?

Writing this blog has thrust me into a new world of bloggers and a "blogosphere." I love seeing what others are writing about, and I fully acknowledge that I can certainly still learn a thing or two. Sometimes I talk to people and they have agreed with me that keeping the blogs from 600-800 words seems like about right amount as we ALL have ADD today! If you disagree, you know where the comments section is.....

I read a blog today though that was probably three pages long and it was so rich in content and I thought to myself, "It IS possible to develop a thought and not have it be boring!" To be honest, I don't know that I have that gift, but I am going to make it a goal to TRY!

Anyone who follows me knows that I purposely keep the paragraphs short to keep the flow and to separate thoughts. I also do this for layout purposes. If it doesn't LOOK appealing, the reader is going to move on. That said, there has to be content, worthy of your time spent in my world.

There were enough stories for a book on the topic of our class reunion and I really didn't even need inspiration! I knew I wanted to write the one on high school not being fun. It's one of the shortest overall, and the story is two-fold: how darn much the whole thing HURT, but how that event specifically led to the hiring of my husband as a teacher in Fairborn. It is only with years lived that we begin to see the connectedness of each life event with something that is going to happen at another time, or maybe even at the same time.That concept is what I was trying to accomplish with the publishing of that particular post. It is by far the most read blog, so I hit a nerve with somebody.

Now I move on to other things. I don't know exactly what those other things will be yet. I have a few things rattling around in my brain; and I would like to do some exploration of "aging issues." While I think of a 4-5 topic series initially, do not hold me to that! I promise you that I don't just write to see myself in print. Whether good or bad, I think each topic through. I have been accused of "overthinking." 

Although I like to "weave" a story, I also know that's not the only way to write. I am open to ideas, which you can leave me in the comments section. It may involve research and that is fine; my general theme is "connectedness" at different points in our lives, or that of issues that appeal to "those of a certain age." I won't guarantee that another topic might slip in there, but I have no intention of writing about politics or current events (not that I am not tempted, but I honestly don't think I have anything to add).

Thank you for continuing to follow my blog. I know who my public followers are, and I have received enough private messages to know there are others, and I appreciate each and every one of you. I am open to suggestions, and I am open to a "guest blogger," which could be very fun! 

I have also inspired three people to begin blogging and three more are thinking about it very seriously. That excites me! We are all different; but we are all blogging.

Let's see what the future holds!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Life With Two Substitute Teachers

Both of my guys, my husband and my son, are substitute teachers; on both ends of the professional spectrum. Jerry is subbing in grades 3-6; and Joel will do anything, anywhere. I always said I didn’t want to be like the preacher who uses his/her family as “examples” for sermons; but sometimes----it’s just too good to pass up.

In comparison, my job is really boring. (Sorry Deb) I am an office manager; who registers students for a school which will train them as nurse assistants. I collect payment and make sure all the “I”s are dotted and “T”s are crossed. I clean the building and do the laundry. For the most part, although cyclical, my days are pretty much the same.

Would you trust your children to either of these guys?
Jerry and Joel each have a story a day. I get plenty of laughs in the evening. Honestly, I think Jerry should create some sort of presentation; take it to different schools, “teaching” teachers what their substitutes need and want from them. Suffice to say, every day as a sub is an adventure! Sometimes there are no instructions, and some teachers write literally everything you are supposed to say: pages upon pages…….somewhere there has to be a happy medium. A good sub always has an “ace in the hole”—age appropriate, of course. I would never name a particular school, but there is a huge difference between how the subs are treated by the staff of some schools. Jerry has been doing this for nearly nine years and it hasn’t changed; some schools are friendly and others don’t even acknowledge a sub.

I digress. They are in different situations. Jerry is teaching in the Clark County schools; and has not returned to Fairborn High School since his retirement in May of 2003. He has taught in Fairborn Intermediate (Palmer/South) several times. Joel, on the other hand, is spending most of his time in Greenon Local Schools, of which he is an alumna (2007). He is in the process of learning to relate to his former teachers as peers; and as I mentioned in my former blog on being married to a teacher, this process takes time. However, I think he is on about eight teachers’ speed dials for subbing.

It’s different today. Although Clark-Shawnee and Tecumseh still have sub-callers, the other schools put their assignments on a computer-based program called Aesop. Jerry and Joel go in and select from opportunities available. Sometimes, Jerry becomes Joel, texts him an opening, and then depending on the response, will accept for him. Joel is working nearly every day and Jerry has more time to be his secretary.

As most of my readers know, Jerry is more “old school” and does not talk down to elementary children. He expects them to only need to be reminded once of the rules and instructions he has given them. He can deal with twice; but beyond that, he gets frustrated. However, he does keep order in the classroom, and because of that, is requested by the teachers frequently. Third through fifth graders are still eager to learn, and he enjoys that. He doesn’t like recess duty.

Joel is more relaxed, and it may be because he has worked with all ages in his student teaching and has expectations that are more age reality-based. But he can make class FUN and the kids remember it. He does have control of the classes though. As he has said, “If you can’t control a Phys Ed. class, you can lose it very quickly.” That said, when he subbed in his own middle school, he set up a last period dodge ball tournament that many of his old teachers brought their classes to and I guess it was pretty much riotous. I don’t know who was worse, teachers or students! I think they are still talking about that day.

The funniest story so far is when the elementary school called Jerry and he accepted a job. He took a shower and then thought to himself; perhaps the secretary thought she was calling Joel. So he called the school and asked if she wanted Joel Derge and she said yes. Jerry told her that Joel had a job that day, but he was available to come in and teach. This is not a direct quote but it went something like this: “You don’t think you can just come in and teach for him, do you?” Jerry had some explaining to do as he was on the school system’s roster, but not on that particular school. She had no idea. I guess he retold this story a couple of times and everyone seemed to “understand.”

Well, eventually, Jerry will be done with subbing. We hope and pray Joel gets a contract; but whether or not he does, he will be moving out when he gets married. I will definitely miss my stories.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

WE ROCK!

Disclaimer: The last several blogs have been pretty serious. I do have a serious side, but that is just a part of who I am. I like to have fun, so let's get back to a happier subject. Like most people: I have two sides, and the "grayer" side is not seen by many. But, it is there. That said, a happier blog today!

I have been helped many times, and I live by the motto of "paying it forward."  Therefore, I find myself in frequent conversations with people who are either actively planning class reunions, or in the thinking stages. These might be people from Fairborn, or other communities, or are not my peer in age. I want to put a positive spin on this blog.

THE CLASS OF 1971 ROCKS!

To all of you who do not see or know what goes on here in Fairborn as we plan, I want you to know that you have a core group of people who are above reproach in their integrity with regards to the class funds. We have an account at the Credit Union with two owners. That is our seed for next time (do you have any idea how many groups do not "plan" for the next time?) and we don't touch that. We have another account linked to the PayPal account that is a free checking and two completely different people are on that account. It is at another institution. So that is FOUR people who would have to do something shady with your money and it just ain't happening, folks! 

We also have back-up plans in place in case anything happens to any one of us. I have two co-administrators on the class web site and one happens to be the sibling of the admin for the Class of 1972! Just as we have our wills in our private lives, we have plans in place.

A TAC dance from our high school
years. I can only pick out one person.
I know that you can reference my former blog "Getting the Ball Rolling" to consider how we decide what we want to do, research, THEN set up a budget for the reunion. The donations that have been given have provided that "buffer" that allows us to sleep at night. Other classes do not always have those donations. I believe that the donations show the confidence you have in your group that handles the reunions.

We started out with my computer crashing as I created the web site. My classmates provided 2/3 of the cost of a new laptop for me, nothing fancy, but what I needed to do the job. I also got MS Office 2007, a backup flash-drive, and a nice little carrying case as I knew I would be taking it to meetings. (I bought the antivirus the first year, because I used the extra MS Office license on my son's new computer. That's a wash and I now use AVG free anyway) When I tell people about this contribution to and for me, their mouths drop open!

Then there were just plain donations from those who could not attend, but wanted to support the effort. That money goes to the upkeep of the web site, postage for ALL, covered the miscellaneous fees for PayPal, and basically keeping costs down for everyone else. This last reunion was not held in a good economy. When we're all dressed up and everything is "happy, happy" we don't want to talk about that, but I was very much aware of it as I talked to people along the way.

The biggest and best "push" was the incredible opportunity to pay out ten years for our web site, until November 2022. This was an amazing opportunity, and classmates came through like gangbusters! Done and done!

Lastly, I just must acknowledge some people who gave above and beyond the call of duty to either (1) save you money if you attended or (2) made the experience a little nicer. David White did the music for NOTHING! That is a big deal! Libby did the CDs and we allocated money for them, but she never took it. Becky Rogers did all the nametags and programs at her work. She owns the company so I guess it's all right. I don't even have a figure in my head that these folks saved us.

Billie went door-to-door in Fairborn to procure the prizes. They were all donated, and we were able to have our raffles and give to the Fairborn Theater. I personally believe that it's a wonderful thing when we can give back to the community we grew up in, above and beyond the expenses of our events.

My point is.....not every class is as fortunate as we are. Many classes have only a couple of people that work on the reunions, and some are even "organized" on Facebook. I ask you, what happens to those class members who do not do Facebook?

Our core group is resting now, but will regroup in 2015 to start over. We actually have a group mind of some "pre-decisions" for the next time. The biggest task we have in the next three years is to get people connected electronically. In 2015 we may have more retirees and more time, but we will also begin to face health issues of our own and of our spouses or other family members. As we have marched through the stages of life together, it has always been one thing or another. We know that will continue.

In summary, I just want to say this is an amazing group of people! I don't mean that as individuals we are better than some other class, but as a collective group, WE ROCK!  We will still rock when we can't walk! I couldn't be prouder to be associated with a better group of folks!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Extreme Makeover: God Edition

She gave her heart to God many years ago. She believes the Bible verse in Second Corinthians, Chapter Five, Verse 17 that says "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (NIV)  But she still struggles with her "old" person and the ways of that person.

She wants an Extreme Makeover.

Like other women, she likes to look nice. She likes getting new clothes, a new piece of jewelry once in awhile, and getting her hair and nails done. She looks OK on the outside. On the inside, she is mush.

She knows that troubles do not cease when you are converted to Christianity, even though there are many who erroneously preach a prosperity gospel. There will always be war within the soul. The apostle Paul describes in Romans 7 starting at verse 14 (The Message) it this way: 

I can anticipate the response that is coming: "I know that all God's commands are spiritual, but I'm not. Isn't this also your experience?" Yes. I'm full of myself—after all, I've spent a long time in sin's prison. What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary. But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?"

Continuing to "stay busy" does not help this conflict. Even staying busy in church stuff does not help. It’s a cover-up. She needs an Extreme Makeover from God.

Romans 7 continues with verse 25:

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

Only through saturating the mind with the Word of God, the teachings of Jesus Christ, music that is rooted in Scripture, and praying all the time, can this makeover begin to occur.

But we live in an "instant" society....and she wants this to happen quickly, and it does not. It takes awhile, and will continue to take awhile. In fact, it will never be over until she breathes her final breath or Christ comes again. Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Sigh..... Why must an Extreme Makeover be so painful? Because she rebels against what God wants for her and it is difficult to submit the self-will to God. It hurts, over and over it hurts. If we are honest, none of us have arrived to the point we are beyond this. Maybe we think we are; but we kid ourselves.

The Extreme Makeover only occurs after life on earth is over. We are changed, in the Resurrection to become more like Christ. And until then, we struggle. But, thanks be to God, who has made the Extreme Makeover possible in the sacrifice of His Son.