Monday, December 17, 2012

Journalism Writing Task..

Before you start reading.. you should know, Totally fictional! my Grandma is a far-cry from the "Mother in Law" type. Enjoy my little story.. or don't, your choice! :)

Every year for Christmas, my family gets together. I understand that this isn’t unusual or special, by any means- but you don’t even know the half of it.

My mother spends much time stressing and preparing various things food, gifts, matching outfits for all of us kids- and she and dad.. all for one day. When I was younger, I didn’t understand it. Still, it seems silly- but I understand it more than I once did.

My grandma, more appropriately called- “the Mother- in- law” is the source of all this pressure on my mother. She is the Christmas Queen and wishes for everything to be “just so.”

I don’t mean to make her sound like the wicked witch. She can be very pleasant, which is why it took me awhile to catch on to my mother’s stress. Now, I’m old enough to catch-on to her snide remarks so cleverly murmured underneath her breath. We all sit on the edge of our seats at the dinner table to hear the words, or see the expressions on her face as she uncovers the dishes prepared by her daughter-in-laws.

Grandma never had any girls. Just three boys, so she is always critical of who those boys married. She puts a tremendous amount of pressure on them to be her girls.

This year mom came up with her “best-yet” outfits for us kids.. In mom’s words, not mine. I found them to be rather awkward. Little turtle neck dresses with leggings and flats. Which looked an awful lot like Dorothy’s, from the Wizard of Oz. and “there’s no place like home” is exactly what I was thinking the moment I walked in the door of Grandma’s house. I could feel the tension.

After some visiting, this never lasts long. It was announced that us kids should gather around our parents in the dining room so that we could say the prayer and then eat the traditional Christmas dinner.

Grandma began to uncover and inspect the food. I wasn’t at all shocked with her unpleasant look at my mother’s dish. Though mom had spent much time on Pinterest looking for the perfect recipes, she had come up short and brought the same dish she had prepared last year. Fine by me, but to Grandma- I guess it wasn’t creative or original enough.

I was surprised; however, when I heard mother say out-loud

“Really? That’s the look you’re giving my dish. After all my hard work and time slaving in the hot kitchen. Trying to please you. Fine. I’ll make that look to your dry- as usual turkey.”

She immediately slapped her hand over her mouth and turned bright-red. Everyone stood in shock at the words which had just been said. Mother I’m sure, had these thoughts every year.. But never had she said them out-loud.

That was only the beginning. The stares didn’t last long at all. People were in no time throwing remarks. As the saying goes “it only takes a spark, to get a fire going.” Thoughts of food-fights were dancing in my head as the yelling match ensued.

Dad was defending mom, as grandma shared her thoughts out-loud. Brothers were trying to protect dad as grandma was upset over her own son “betraying” her. I was sure that if it kept up, the dinner would be my new outfit, friendships would be forever destroyed and the list goes on. So, I panicked. And dialed 9-1-1.. Looking back, probably not a great idea, but I can’t take it back.

The police soon arrived, much to everyone’s surprise. In all the yelling and drama, they hadn’t noticed me slip out and return again, with just enough time to make a phone-call. One that would drastically change our Christmas.

He welcomed himself in, no-one paid any mind to the doorbell, or the knocking. He took many long-drawn-out answers, pointing fingers, to his simple questions; and soon decided that he should just send them all to the slammer for a night. It was more to scare them than anything else. Still, its something we all look back on.

Not many families can say that they were arrested on Christmas day- and certainly not many can say that it started with a comment about dry turkey. But my family can.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Journalism Writing prompt- Semester Exam Pt.1 :)

Tamara Payne

4th Period

Many of us, for one reason or another, try to hide our problems and weaknesses. We have a face to put on at the start of every new day- to hide what’s going on inside. The reason why, is beyond me. Though I’ve been guilty of doing the same. Are we trying to seem better than others? Are we afraid to be judged? Do we stress over fitting in to the point of “changing” who we are?... all are probably true.

These are some questions asked by Ms. Merritt, a History teacher at Sauganash Highschool. She had struggles in her teen years that she was afraid to “come-clean” about and move past. Now that she has, she strives to help those who haven’t reached that point. She does this by helping to sponsor a Student Support Group, called just that. This group is there to help those who struggle with eating disorders; Bulimia and anorexia, to name a few. She says;

“The sad thing about this problem [eating disorder] is that it’s kept such a secret. It’s possible that this club could have more than 100 members. I had an eating disorder when I was in high school, and I have had several students come up to me with the same issue. I want to help them be free from the disease, and I hope this support group will help.”

The Student Support group, sponsored by Ms. Merritt at Sauganash High School meets every Friday, during lunch. The president, a senior at Sauganash High- Shari McFarland, Vice president, Kim Hendrix a junior, secretary-treasurer is Jason Krauss, a sophomore.

Many who are in attendance struggle with these issues themselves. Others; however, come to learn how they can help their friends who they know struggle with the issue and are afraid to come for one reason or another. A newer member, Mary Allen says;

“My best friend hardly ever eats. I try to get her to.. But it just seems to push her away. I don’t want to do that- I want to help. But I don’t know how. I come to these meetings to learn more. And it’s nice to meet others who are struggling.. I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t come and see them here. I can know how to help them now, or at least to be more sensitive. It’s a good group for sure. I feel like I’m better prepared to help my friend.”

The group is very involved in the student body. After several fund-raisers lead by Ms. Merritt and those who are in offices of the group- they had enough money to buy bracelets to hand out to students in the hallways. They read; “I’m beautiful.” Many of the girls even post sticky notes with compliments on mirrors and lockers- to boost self-esteem.

“We’re like little elves.. you know, the ones that helped the shoe-maker while he was sleeping? I loved that story. It’s nice to feel like I’m doing something like that for someone else. I started coming because I got one of the sticky notes on my locker. It said “only you can be you, only I can be me- so be the best you can be.” I had heard that before.. But it was so perfect and I liked it being on my locker. I kept it there- so people would ask me about it. It was like advertisement for a group that I now know I’d be lost without. Random acts of kindness pass it on.” Says Hendrix, now the vice president of the club.

“The whole point of being involved in the student body is to show we care.” Says a member, Sophie Stocks. “To bring people in and let them know that we’re here. That there’s no need to be embarrassed or hide from anyone. It’s all good!”

Speaking of bringing others in, the group has a current membership of 22 people. As Merritt said; “It’s possible that this club could have more than 100 members.” President McFarland adds;

“I know we could have more people. But I’m still glad that we have those we do. I wouldn’t trade this group for anything. 22 is far from 100. But this stuff takes time. We just keep loving on those who are here.. Maybe they will tell their friends.”

And hopefully that’s the case. They may take awhile to reach 100 members, but they’re off to a great start. And as McFarland says “this stuff takes time.”

The Student Support Group will continue to meet in Ms. Merritt’s history room, during lunch on Fridays- and encourages all who would like to come, for their benefit or a friends to join in.

It’s guaranteed you’ll feel safe- and never judged. You’re all struggling with the same things- freedom comes through being honest with yourself – and accepting help. Don’t hide anymore. Don’t spend one more day wishing things would change. Make it happen.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Another paper for school!

We all have similarities and differences alike. For many these differences could be physical or something less obvious. This can also be the case for countries. Today, I will be attempting to explain some differences between how we act as individuals, or as a whole-and Japan.

I have a friend (Jeffrey Bridgman) who is the son of missionaries supported by the church I was raised in. they have spent my whole lifetime serving in Japan and I thought asking them some questions over differences would be best. They have witnessed it first-hand and will be able to answer my questions in a more personal way, as opposed to statistics and facts from a search engine.

My first question was over the physical or developmental differences. Are there any differences there? Bridgman says; “Not really, from a health-care perspective at least. Being a different race, there's definitely difference in skin colors, bone structure (flatter nose, eyes not as deeply set, generally smaller and not as tall). I'd also say there's less obesity. I would say most of that is due to difference in gene pool, however, Japanese kids rarely drink sodas, so that might contribute to being healthier.”

Not exactly what I would have expected. Japan has always seemed so different to me. And it is, but I guess the differences in that area aren’t as drastic as I would have expected. It’s amazing to me that you can travel miles-and-miles, hours-and-hours away, to find that they are fairly similar.

When asked about the duration of childhood there, Bridgman gave me an answer that was also opposite of what I would have expected. He focused mainly on the educational differences. Saying that- beginning in Junior High you begin to higher and further your education. You focus more on math/science if you believe you’ll “grow up” to be an engineer. There are other specialized programs to help you in various aspects. Even in the 6th grade there’s a huge amount of pressure placed on students to figure out their future and begin to prepare ones-self for it now. There’s a lot of stress over passing entrance tests and proving yourself successful. To parents, universities-and in society. Beginning at a much younger age than here. Many of our seniors graduate not really knowing what they want to do. Meaning they can’t prepare for it as those in Japan are.

I was also curious on the working-age in Japan. Bridgman explains that after “compulsory education”- the grade at which education is no longer required (9th -10th grade) marks when many begin to work. Even full-time. This can be as young as thirteen or fifteen.

In Japan as I’m sure you’ve picked up on- there’s a lot of pressure to grow up and be independent, successful. They are welcomed into adulthood by a “coming of age ceremony” at the age of twenty. This is hosted by the individual’s town. Everyone dresses nice and celebrates the big day. Also, at the ages of eighteen for boys or sixteen for girls (with parental consent)- they are allowed to marry- though many don’t marry until they are in their mid twenties. At age twenty you can vote, drink or smoke. You can’t get your license until you’re eighteen. Unless you want to “drive” a moped- then it’s sixteen.

So, what can account for the differences in marriage age? We frown on those who marry really young. Bridgman says; “I think part of it is a higher pressure to perform. During middle school and high school the pressure is really on to perform and get good test scores in stuff and often times guys and girls might go to different school (or the specialization - e.g. less girls in engineering - means you don't know as many girls, much less have time). In college this is a bit more relaxing since most of the time- if you get in, you'll graduate. After that there's definitely the drive of careers - Japanese are hard-workers and very dedicated to their companies (e.g. you never leave before your boss does, if co-workers go out after work you're expected to join).”

There is much put on the younger. Naturally I was curious about the attitude toward the elderly. How do they treat the elderly? Bridgman says that they are very respectful and take good care of them. Many are still hard workers in their old-age (in family businesses or in their own hobbies; gardening, making things with their hands, cooking, cleaning) they have nice retirement centers. Bridgman says; “Our town had a very nice retirement care and community center for elderly people run by the city, shuttle buses to get them around, health clinics, etc. On trains/buses in Japan they have designated seats for elderly people that people are very good about giving up when an older person gets on.”

Also, many times the Japanese don’t entrust hospital workers to care for their loved ones. If someone is in the hospital or sick, though they are being tended to by nurses the family helps to provide care. In Japan, there’s many three-generation homes. Many are super family oriented- and have a strong sense of looking out for each other.

These are only a few of the many differences, some being very different, others, not-so-much.

I hope you’ve learned some about the Japanese culture-I know I have. Maybe you’ve been inspired to learn more, or visit them (should that be the case… take me with you)

Japan is a far-away place, with some interesting ideas and differences in the way they “bring up” their children. But I can tell you first-hand, just from knowing Bridgman, who was raised in this culture, and adopted it as his own, it’s a great foundation. And produces some very mature young people- who become wonderful adults.

TLI (The Learning Institute) paper I did for school!

Thomas Hardy once said

“I am the family face; flesh perishes, I live on.”

Many people have taken a stab at what exactly this quote means. To me, it means a couple things. First of all, it could be speaking of someone who represents your family. An individual who the epitome of what your family name means. Secondly, it is obviously speaking of death. When it says that “flesh perishes”- on the contrary, “I live on.” To me, this is referring to the memories we have of people.

It’s also been said that we only cease to exist when we’re forgotten. Even after someone has passed, we remember them. People have an impact on our lives. I’m sure we can all think of a role-model, someone who taught us valuable life-lessons. Or perhaps, an older sibling, peer who took the wrong path and now advises us to do the opposite. For some, there are little memories, some so simple- yet we will never forget them.

With this being said, there are many memories from my childhood that I will never forget. I am the eldest of five children. Being raised around my younger siblings, all of us homeschooled until last year- we had much time to entertain ourselves and grow closer, with many mischevious acts.

I would like to list a couple memories that I will forever hold close to my heart- and in my mind for a rainy day.

We were always ready and beyond willing to find enjoyment in little things, or make games of the simplest tasks. I was usually the responsible one, organizing the fun- all for someone to come along and find loop-holes in my rules or layout of the games. Eventually, after I had my fit of not having the game “play out” as I would have liked, I would join in and have a good time doing whatever it was that time.

We especially enjoyed playing in our clubhouse. I’m not sure why now, looking back on it. I can still wander into my back yard to find it there, in the same state it once was (though sadly lacking in the mud-pie department. That didn’t use to be the case)

Possibly, the reason being we helped dad to build it. We thought it was so exciting to be a part of watching a building rise from a stack of boards. We were able to look at a shelf, or the front steps and say “I helped build that.” That was a lesson that dad was always trying to teach us. To make things on our own, appreciating hard work. Knowing it would take us far.

As I mentioned, we were mud-pie-makin’-fools. I couldn’t count with all our dirty fingers and toes together how many we made in a week. It was always a competition between my sister brenda and me (next to oldest) to see who could make the best pie. Obviously, we couldn’t judge based on taste- (though on some days, I wouldn’t have put it past us to try one) so we judged on other elements. I liked mine to be very smooth. Both in consistency and texture. I would carefully demolish all the “clumps” and mix well with water, which I would leave out in the sun in a bowl, to heat up. I found that the mud mixed better that way. We would also judge based on creativity. Sometimes I would make criss-cross designs in the pie with a fork, or other utensils. Overall, the pie baking experience, and competition was a very enjoyable and memorable moment in my childhood.

Our poor brother, being the only boy in a band of four girls- was often drug into many “girly” activities. I’m sure he would deny it now- but he was a barbie fanatic back in the day. He would save up his allowance to buy Kim new clothes. He was also known to strut-his-stuff down the makeshift runway in our front yard. Sporting a combination of mine and Brenda’s clothes. He was so cute! I often look back on those times and smile. I know that there comes a time for everyone to grow up, but I wish my brother had stayed in that innocent phase for much,much longer.

We would also role-play as Indians, pilgrims, Mennonites and the list goes on. The clubhouse out back was a decent place to “set the scene”, regardless of the storyline. We would always get very into our characters. Accents and marker mustaches to boot. (there’s only one boy, so many of us girls have played the role of boys a time-or-two)

We weren’t always manly-men-wannabee’s. There were times when grandma would make efforts to calm my sister Brenda and me down. She would hold “princess lessons” once a week. She lived only a hop, skip and a jump from our house, so walking was no big deal. We would show up with dirty, bare feet and stained shirts. Ready to be “princess-afied”..Really, we were just there for the cookies, and a chance to wear the plastic tiara that grandma had purchased at the $1 store. She kept everything in great condition, so it looked more like a real tiara- and it was the highest honor to wear it.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, there’s been a significant amount of competition between Brenda and me, almost from day one. From mud pie competitions, to who got to wear the crown, to who could read the sight words the fastest.

We were homeschooled. Mom has five kids and dad worked during the day. Naturally, mom would try to do as much in a group effort as she could, to save her some time. (which can probably explain how the youngest ones know things that are beyond their years) among these things, was reading. We would have “sight words.” I didn’t much like reading, but I was good at it. And of course, if Brenda was doing it, I would be as well. Always trying to do my best.

We would practice at home, then when dad returned from work, while mom was finishing supper, we would go and read them. One flash card at a time. Whoever could read/say the word first, received a quarter. This was our allowance. Weird, I know. One-by-one the quarters would come out of the roll and into one of our hands. That is a fond memory to me. One that my sister and I can still joke about. We have gotten much better now about being competitive towards each other- but a subtle drive will always be inside us to one-up the other.

These are only a few memories, I’ve no doubt I could go on-and-on. I’ve jokingly said that someday I’ll write a book about the adventures of five children, random farm animals and the clubhouse in the Arkansas Mountains. Now, I’m thinking that it may not be a half-bad idea. There’s an endless amount of simple pleasures and adventures in life, if you’ll only look for them.

As Thomas Hardy said, “I live on.” Maybe I won’t, I don’t have much say in what happens after my “flesh perishes.” I can say that I will continue to re-live these moments with my siblings, for as long as I can. We may be competitive, or not always get along. My brother may be growing up too fast and changing into a much different person that I remember him being. Still, we have each other. And family is family. We will always love each other, despite our differences and shortcomings.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Ever have this HUGE cloud in your mind? one that acts as almost a fog- making it hard to see anything else, or move on to another thought, until you've tackled this one?
Happens to me a lot. I usually have to grab some paper and jot it all down- until that cloud slowly fades into a sunny sky- today, was no exception.
This isn't paper... but, it will work.
The thought is this: what makes "good people" "good" and on the contrary, "bad people" "bad"......

I honestly believe that's hard to say. It's not a matter that you can draw a line across and be completely on one side or the other.
No one can be good all the time. And though I'm sure many would disagree no one is bad all the time.
We are all capable of being good- and of being bad.
So, if this is true, you say, why are some people seemingly awful- a majority (or "all") of the time?
We all know that one person that's difficult to get along with; That someone when asked to say something nice of in a youth group activity or Facebook survey- you would have to think long-and-hard.....or, make something up.
I refuse to believe; however, that they are completely and totally corrupt. I have a gift. No matter how terrible the person- I can come up with something positive about them. It's not always easy and I don't do it as much as I should. Still, I'll be the first to tell you that there's something good to be said of everyone.
If we were all judged and remembered for our mistakes, who would stand? (Jeremiah 10:10)
Anyway... Enough of that rabbit trail. Back to the question. Those people who are mean and hard to agree with. What's up with that? Is there any way they can be considered "good people?" to this, I have many things to say. First, to answer a question, I will ask another, who is a "good person?" I've made mistakes. "Bad people" make mistakes. So, am I a bad person? Many would say no.. Some may say yes. Guess what? It doesn't matter! We can't judge people or place them in one group. We can't see people's hearts. And there's no way to make things so black and white. There are many grey areas to be considered. Humans are complex beings and there's more to the equation than can be accurately figured by any scholar, prestigious university, academy or an in depth study. It's just not that simple.
I try my best to leave those titles behind. Many people may seem "bad" and many may seem to be "good people" why not just accept that we are humans and as I said, capable of being both?
 I will; however, agree that many may/do seem to lean one-way-or-another. (That is merely an observation and I can't judge too much beyond that.)
 I'm guilty as much as the next person. All sin is equal and even one can make us a sinner- which is what makes us short of heaven. When you think about the big picture, the rest is but minor details and totally not even worth arguing over. It doesn't matter who is "good" or "bad" we all have a decision to make one-way-or-another. And that decision has to turn into actions. Which shape your character, personality...etc.

Speaking of shaping character and personality- let me be your mom for a second. I know you've heard that question that parents have been using for a couple centuries (or, so it seems)
"If your friend jumped of a bridge, would you?"
Unless you're the world's biggest smart-alec, you probably answered something along the lines of "of course not" who would do that? and who has friends that do that stuff anyway? goodness! time for a new question, mom.
Silly example- and very clishe'.. all the same, it gets my point across.
without that one bridge-jumping friend in the picture, I'm sure the idea of jumping from a bridge would be pretty far down on your list of activities, and more-than-likely, a last resort. And it doesn't even have to be that drastic.When we hang around people who are in a good mood- we're more likely to be in a good mood ourselves. And the opposite is true as well.
Generally, those who are "bad people" spend time around those who are "bad people" themselves. Because they don't feel judged, can be themselves, won't have to do stupid things alone or worry about getting tattled on.
I've seen many times someone who has every good intention to "win-over" someone. Try to witness to them and be their friend; instead, they get sucked in and change. To some extent, we are who we spend time around. If you spend time around those who are "good people" you will probably end-up adopting some of their "good" habits. Not such a bad thing, right? remember.. the opposite is true as well. If you hang out with those who have been given the reputation and name of the "bad kid" you are likely to follow in their footsteps. Don't be too let down about yourself or think there's something wrong with you- As humans, we long to be with someone; to be a part of something. This is how/why cliques are formed. It's only natural. Knowing this, we should be able to reach these different groups. We know, somewhat, thanks to their stereotype what they are interested in, what they are like and how to get to them.
Differences, "good" or "bad" that's who we are. Humans with many capabilities, grey areas and bridge-jumping friends.
Think long and hard about who you are, and then, about who you are perceived to be by your peers- those outside your group and your family. Do you need to change some, many or almost everything about the way you react to a situation, (your self-control)
 who you are when no-one is around (your integrity)
and a great many other things. There's much to us- more than can be said with one word "good" or "bad." As I said; I don't agree with these titles. Unfortunately, a great majority of the world thinks differently than I do on this matter. I won't judge you or label you as one-or-the-other. But many may. Keep that in mind when you're making decisions day-to-day.
And reach out to those who need your help.. just be careful- have someone to "go" with you.. keep each other grounded. There's strength in numbers.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Whats in a title..

For a couple weeks now, work has been insufferable. I absolutely dreaded working- on the days when they actually gave me hours. Many people whom I am close to, were advising me to quit. But that isn't the Tamara way! So I stuck it out. I did, however, on one if my days off, send a letter with my mom, for her to deliver on her lunch break. In that letter, through writing, I gained freedom. Freedom of speech. All of the feelings, worries un-voiced complaints.. Everything. Almost. I stuffed in there. With respect and maturity. It took several times of writing, re-writing, ripping & throwing away.. To get it right. Finally, when I thought I had a "winner"- I reluctantly handed it to my mom. All night, knowing I had to go I. There today & face them, I was tossing and turning..

And of course, my worries and restlessness- was all in vain, save the circles under my eyes when I awoke. (rewarding, right?)

Reagan, after she had finished what she was working on, and we were slow, knowing this was the perfect time, snagged the opportunity.

We sat outside with coffee. (sounds Bice until you factor in the heat!) and she addressed all my points in my letter. For the most part, I just listened.. I had said mist everything in my letter. It was her turn. She would ask for input, an I gave it.. Then, the best part. The solution!! She listened to my suggestions & made some of her own. And we reached an agreement.

Today was my first day in a new position. (drum roll, please)

I worked as a 'floor supervisor', register, dishes & did prep.
I felt so important, higher up on the totum- pole & helpful. I was able to relieve stress from the waitress- because I've been one, and I know how it gets. I was able to socialize some, still, working the register.. Which is always great. I helped behind the scenes with prep- which makes the cooks job a lot easier.
When it gets ridiculous- I'll help waitress. But for now.. I'm Learning a new position & loving every second if it! I made more money working 8 hours today, than I usually do in a week, on waitress pay. I love being able to do several positions. Makes me feel well-rounded. And it's job security!

All I've ever wanted.. Ever. In any aspect of life, is to be and feel appreciated. I believe I'm more-so on my way, in the workplace. Though it was un-charted waters, in a way. I felt comfortable- and Reagan said I was a huge help.

P.S. I got to use the deli slicer!!! :)

Thanks, Jesus!! You work in mighty ways. And to everyone who's listened to my complaining- thank you!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Jesus loves them too!

There are many times when I find myself thinking negative thoughts. It's hard to know what to do with them sometimes. But I knew I had to do something. Though we're the only ones who know our thoughts- it isn't healthy to have negative ones. This can create division between you and another, change the way you see them. Sometimes, it even shows on the outside. By way of evil glares or the way you act towards them. Our thoughts can direct out actions and end up hurting others. That's powerful! I knew that something had to be done. Negative feelings towards others, though unspoken are in Godly.

I spoke with my mentor about it. She said that she struggles with this as well. I think if you're honest with yourself, you'll find that you do too!
That's part of why instating this. To help you face situations where you're thinking these thoughts.
It will be hard to catch yourself in the act of this. But once you've gotten to where you realize what's going on- you'll be able to take steps to counteract the negativity.

When you catch yourself:
First think of how Jesus loves them. And more than that. How He loves you as well. Realize that you're undeserving of this love- and you have no place to judge whether someone else is. We're all sinners saved by grace.
Then- think of who this person is to you. It could be your mom, friend, teacher.. Whoever. Find good things about them- focus in that rather than the bad.

So simple. So powerful. Live it! Share it! Be a blessing.

Say to yourself "Jesus loves them too"

Sunday, June 24, 2012

An Improv way of expressing my thoughts.

In some ways I feel like I'm better off- in others it seems like I'm right back at the start.
I want to start over.. brand new plans, new heart.. still the lessons that I've learned from these scars.
I want to be the best I can be, but I don't even know what that means.
I just want to let myself go and come back to find that my life is all that I've hoped. But I know it never works that way.
You have to put something in, to get it back.
The keys to the kingdom aren't just given away.
My efforts don't ever seem to help me find my way. I'm just here with my head in my hands thinking I've never really gotten past all this gray, that holds me in the shadows.. I'm wasting my life away. Smile on the outside, trying, trying.. but why even try- if your motives are fake. There's more than bringing yourself glory.. and the heartbreak that comes with it.
I feel like screaming.. but who would listen?
What's wrong with me? why can't I ever give this away? my hands could be empty, and shoulders free of the burdens they hold- shaking from all the weight. Still I hold on, trying to make things work (in truth, I've only made everything worse)
I want to be beautiful, despite this mess. To be seen from the inside, where I know I'm blessed.
I want my joy to be made complete.. to dance with the wind- let it take over me.. making me feel whole, complete, free.
Every morning, I walk on this sheet, knowing it will cave out from under me, at the smallest thing. So I try to walk lightly. That's no way to live. I want to be happy.. I know there's more than this.
I've been told all the answers.. I know what to do. But the first step is the hardest- That's why I need you. Help me let go, and be consumed.. by your fire, blazing on the inside- a hopeful candle, shining so bright. Help me to be filled with your power, that consumes all my doubt. Help me to let you be the one, to figure things out. Erase all my thoughts that aren't of you. Help me to be restored, completely new. I need your answers, I need you. Everything else can't wait. I'll press on to the goal- your heavenly gates. All else crumbling in hindsight, as was its fate. You are all that lasts.. all that stands. My future is in your hands. I want to rise with you, stand.. knowing you'll never let me fall. You are, Lord over all. I love you. Thanks for hearing me when I call.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Flip Side to the coin..

Any of you who know me even the slightest bit, have probably heard slur towards my family escape my lips.
Lately, I've realized that I rarely give them credit for all their worth. In order to redeem my family.. help them escape the terrible things I know I've said or thought, and to show that I can speak well of them.. I'm sharing my reflections and realizations.
I rarely speak well of my position as the oldest of 5 children. I hardly ever feel comfortable around my family..
I've come to realize.. most of it is completely in my head.
Your mindset is.. a way of thinking..(obviously)  but, if there's one thing I learned at Summit.. it's that your mindset is so much more.
It can change the way you see everything. As is the case- with me. Concerning my family.
I was speaking to someone today, about how old we're all getting. I realized both that;
I'll be 18 this year (Exciting) and.. my "baby" sister is 9! (already)
I'm not an adult, just yet, so I suppose that I can't make it a routine to say things such as; "time flies by so fast" or "it seems like just yesterday", "when I was your age".. Even so, I've found myself reflecting in that sense... My baby sister, nine!
I've wasted so much time living underneath my crippling mindset. One that tells me being the oldest is quite a bother. Granted, I'm "paving the way" .. my every mistake is noticed and sometimes acted upon, everything is my fault, and I have to grow up quickly, then there's whatever is a characteristic of the eldest.
Still, it's a joy. I am making it my goal, from now on, to live in the light of this awakening.

Being the oldest can mean all those negative things.. but there's more to it than that. It can also be a great array of blessings and surprises.

        Yes, my every mistake is noticed- but I'll always be loved and looked up to, despite that.
        Yes, it's always my fault, but that's only because they know I'll take it, to protect them.. from whatever punishment dad chooses :p
        Yes, I am paving the way, but it's only so that they won't have to learn it all the hard way. Rather, from my mistakes.
        Yes, I have to grow up quickly.. but it's only because they need someone to help show them how to, when their old enough.

I had the joy of being there after each one was born,
to help pick out some of the names,
be one of the first ones to hold them

GAHH... I'm choking up. There are times when I'm embarrassed, or upset, madder than a hatter.. or even pretend to be adopted. But when I look around, at other people's lives. I don't doubt for one minute that God knew what He was doing, placing me in this family.
I'm glad to be the oldest. I wouldn't trade it, for anything!

Besides... the youngsters are brats, and the middles are odd :p

Brenda Ann, Christopher Allen, Emma Marie  and Mary Anne... I love you all. I'm so glad to be your Sissy. I know I'm not the best at it sometimes. But I do try to be! thanks for loving me, despite my faults. Thanks for being there for me, as I hope I've been for you. Please learn from my mistakes.. though I know you'll make your own. Remember, I'll only love you all the more for and because of them!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


We've all been on both sides of apologies.
I'm sure you enjoy receiving them, more than you do giving them.
However, as of late, I've not even enjoyed receiving them.
I'm not sure if it's just my corner of the world.. but it seems to me, that everyone has learned how to turn apologies into stabs. And I just can't stand it.
Let me give you an example, in case you don't understand what I mean.
"Hey.. I'm sorry that I _____" all of 3 seconds. THEN "it's just" or "But I"... blah, blah, blah. 
The defending of ones self.. or explaining or justifying of actions is longer than the very short-lived humility. 
I hate it.
I'm sure that I've done it too. But that doesn't make it right by any means.
We need to understand what exactly an apology is.
while the Dictionary doesn't always provide a practical application of what we know the word to mean.. the Connotation rather than denotation. Let's check it out.

Wiki defines it as this:
to acknowledge some fault or offense, with expression of regret for it, by way of amends

So.. why do we turn this moment of humility or "making amends" into a moment that is anything but humble. We make it all about us. And how we weren't in the wrong. If you aren't in the wrong.. there's no need to even apologize. If you are in the wrong.. and you can't apologize without this stab.. maybe they are better off without any apology. Because that isn't apologizing at all!

1 Peter 5:6
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.

"Humble yourself before God.
so that, by God, you may be exalted."

"It's better to humble yourself and be exalted by God.
Then exalt yourself and be humbled by God."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

New Cubbie!

I Had a new little Cubbie last night...He said some of the cutest things! I just thought I'd share with you.

We were coloring, and he said "Please pass the Chocolate"... I looked around the room, very confused. Then turned to him, "We don't have any chocolate, boo??"... He got up from his chair, walked over to the tub with the markers, and picked up the brown one... looking very accomplished, He flashed it in my face saying "Yes, you do, see it's in mines hand!".... How cute!

This was only my second time to have this little guy in cubbies, his first week he told me, that his name was 'Dingus'... Which seemed a little odd to me. After talking with some others in the church (Jill) I discovered that his name was 'Maddox'...
So.. last night, in cubbies, we were talking about friends, and family. And I started to ask him, about his friends. I mentioned his Brother,<-- so I thought, who he came with: Brendan. and he said "No, he is my Aunt, not my friend..." Because Brendan is actually an uncle who he lives with.. I had made the mistake of assuming he was a brother... (Foster living situation..) He quickly set me straight and assured me that they were in fact operating under a completely different title. Aunt and Nephew! (Precious!!!)

I found this.. from over a year ago.. resting in my drafts.. Not sure why I never did anything with it.. Now I have. Miss this little guy! enjoyed teaching him. It's amazing the impact little ones can have on you, and in such short time!

Also.. sorry of the term "Cubbies".. I'm sure a great many of you aren't sure of what exactly this is.. Within AWANA.. there's an age group: Cubbies. I'd love to give you my angle on it.. instead, I'm running short on time, and will leave you to google! unless you're interested in my Wiki Definition :p

What would you do?

Do you want to meet the monster, that's made me who I am today?
Do you want to shake his hand?
or look at this face?
Do you want to tell him your name, learn his, do you want to get to know him, and be his friend?

or would you walk away?
spit in his face?
take my by the hand, and lead me out of this place?

Because I know that you hate him, though you've never met,
from the stories that I've told. you've just decided that he is a terrible man...
you tell me he's a jerk. and not worth all this hurt, you tell me he's a fake, and the least he deserves
is this heart of mine, that he took the liberty to break.

well that's sweet of you to say, And I love you for that. but it's not that simple, not as easy as that.
- I find myself unable to let him go,
- you just sit there and your bitterness grow. You hate him more, with each passing day.
well, it seems to me, that we both have something that we need to let slide, we both have some lessons to learn, we need to let go of our pride. We need to get this out in the open, there's no need to hide.

I hope, we can set all this aside, love each other, and get on with our lives. We can't let this drag us down forever, so we better learn to face this fast...Together. 

Little delicate things...

Little things.. little delicate things.
Little girls, holding hands, sweetly standing by each others side.
little one's who are never far from their teddies (who help them find the strength to stand..)
Young one's neglecting responsibility. leaving shoes behind, moving on..seeing what fun they could find. The worries of the world will have to wait..
The little one's.. the delicate things.

Indian Names

What's in a Name...
Just this morning.. I found myself awake at 6:30, on my day off... I decided to take advantage of this. My dad was sitting in "his" chair, just as every other morning, sipping his coffee having the necessary "wake-up time". I have this as well... but mine looks much different than his. However.. this morning, I didn't have to worry about that. Like I said, it's my day off.
So I sat. Not long after I welcomed myself next to him, in his char, he began to talk. My dad is a very insightful man. So much so, after I talk with him, I feel as if I should run to scribble down notes to whatever he had to say.. being sure not to forget it. This morning was no exception. He began to talk about indian names. Which seemed pretty random to me, until he began to explain.. then it of course, all came together, and I realized it did, in fact, pertain to what I had to say.
So.. sit down, and I will shower you with the notes I managed to scribble, after a conversation with my dad.

Indians.. though there's much about them I don't understand, even having some in me (Choctaw and Cherokee) they are very interesting. Dad was explaining to me, the different stock they place in a name. They have several, afterall.. there must be some meaning, right? I'm not sure why I had never thought of this.. I guess that's what dad is here for.
First.. the tribal name. As I mentioned; Cherokee, Choctaw, Sioux (Pronounced SUE.. Still trying to convince a fellow student of this, in history class) and there are many others..
Then.. their 'Public Domain' name, if you will: "Chief Big claw" "Little bear" "wise turtle" ... almost anything (Did you enjoy my choices? quite fun!)
Finally... the top secret name! I won't give any examples of this.. That could get a little personal. Basically, this is a secretly of theirs (obviously) that they share only with those, whom they are very close to. One that is entrusted upon this person, with their life. This is something that they don't take lightly. They believe that once you know their secret.. you hold a certain power over them.

Now let's break this down.. and find the significance.
First of all.. your family. Whether you like it or not, that's our "tribal name" these days... is that going to trip you up? most do believe you have some of your parents in you.. whether that's a good or bad thing.. you decide. You can always change yourself.. but it's hard! think on your strong points, or weaknesses, and learn to work with that.
Secondly think of this: How are you perceived by others? what is your 'Public Domain'..? I know, your name, (Tamara, Gwen.... etc) but there's more than that. Are you known for gossiping, showing up late to places, having a potty mouth.. or, do people think of you and say "She's very smart", "Oh, I love her, such a sweetheart".. Food for thought. In a small town like this.. your reputation can be what makes you, or breaks you. Almost everyone knows someone who works at the school. Do you get in trouble, cheat on tests? if so.. the place you just put in an application to, may be aware of that.. now, you're going to have to rise above your already tainted reputation. If you don't start off on a good foot.. you'll have to work twice as hard to be thought well of.
Finally... the secrets.
"You're only as sick as the secrets you keep"
When you share that with someone.. as the indians believe, they hold a power over you. They could tell others, and ruin that chance at a job, they could loose trust in you, respect you more, they could use it as black-mail.. the possibilites are almost endless. This is why parents are always leary of who they let spend the night, or who you're hanging around.
"Birds of a feather, flock together"
Also.. think of this.. (the more encouraging side) those same secrets, that you decide to, or not to tell others.. could MAKE you, or BREAK you.. we've already spoke on how it could BREAK you.. But there's another side to this coin. That power that they can hold over you, through your secrets.. you hold it as well. You have power to overcome your mistakes.
"You're not the mistakes you've made"
 "Don't judge a man by a moment of weakness."
You can tell those secrets that you're better now, you're moving on.. you can break the ties they have on you.. There's a song I like.. Not sure of the title, or artist. But I'm sure you've heard it too. He says "I'm not as good as I'm gonna get, but I'm better than I used to be".. Let that be your motto, when the secrets are playing over and over, in the back of your mind.You own your reputation. And more than that, you could be what determines  the reputation of someone else.. be gentle. Think of what you would like them to say of you. Only tell necessary truths. Don't stretch, because you don't like them.. that doesn't mean that others can't. They'll more than likely find things out on their own. Give them that opportunity. If someone went to everyone you knew, and told them all your mistakes.. imagine how it would make you feel.

Amazing isn't it..?  who would have thought, All this, in a name..

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter..

We have been reading this book in our english class as of late. It sounded like an awful book, when it was first described to me, and in theory and idea, it is in fact, just that. However, when we began to read it, I couldn't help but being interested. It has been an eye-opener for me. I have been engaged in thought throughout this whole book-almost to the point of finding it difficult to think on the book its-self. I was hit by an interesting thought the other day, as we were working our way through the book. I've shared it with some, which proved to be a silly idea. Many have found it to be amusing, or as a joke--However, I am VERY serious.

My idea is this:


Though ours may not be forever sewn upon our breast, to give us grief for the rest of our lives. It may not have been publicly confessed, so others may not have any idea of the shame and sorrows you bear. It is still there. Deep down inside of you, weighing you down. You still feel as if everyone else can see it, and they are judging you. depressing "Aha" moment, I know. However.. there's another side to it. This character, Hester Prynne... though she begins as the sinner, the woman being beheld upon the scaffold as the shame of the town, develops into quite the go-to woman. The town finds her to be more than her mistakes. She's a valuable nurse, seamstress and many other things. She uses that as a way to relate to people. Instead of being weighed down, or depressed about herself constantly, she relates to others who have struggles of their own. She sees visions of others who have fallen in the community (a bit far-fetched) still, the point is there. I was so encouraged by her being so strong. For six years, she held her head high. She continued to wear the "A" upon her breast, and keep her partner in crime (the preacher) a secret.. even the new guy in town (her husband).. She does it all on her own. Not using their secrets as black-mail. She doesn't ask for money, or a babysitter. She works and earns her own way, tries to raise her daughter right. Her A.. Though it begins as a symbol of ADULTERY- changes as the novel progresses to ABLE. 

How beautiful. Let this be an encouragement to you- as it was for me. 
You don't have to wear your heart-ache on your sleeve, or seek out others who are struggling. But there is strength in numbers. It's always nice to know you aren't alone. And as Hester, you can use what's been given to you, and change it. She could have said "I'm already known as a harlet.. I might as well leave my daughter, work the corners and get paid for what everyone knows I've done".. Instead. She made a life for herself, and her daughter. 

Be that woman. (Save the adultery part..) make the most of what you've been given.. change your scarlet letter from (______________) to ABLE. For that is what we all are, In Christ!

The Oark General Store
Established in 1890..  the longest continually running business in Arkansas. Recognized as an historical landmark.. Visited by many different states, and even countries. Post office, prison, stables, store, gas-station.. and the list goes on, I'm sure. The store has been here many years. providing a neat little stop to those who flee to the mountains for vacation.. But to me.. it's more than that. I would never consider the store a place to 'stop by' though I can't hardly keep myself from doing that, even on my days off. To me, it's a second home. More than some little ol' place, in a little ol' town.. or that one place we stopped once to get a burger. This place, is my second home. While people are what make a place.. a place can also help to define who you are. "The house that built me".. this store is that kind of place to me. Somewhere I can walk into.. though I'm going to work, and take a load off. I love the relaxed atmosphere, the homey, comfy feel, the people you see come in and out daily, the lunch specials, antiques.. I love to hear stories.. or the silence of a building whose walls I'm sure could talk. I love the scenery, the feeling that this store belongs to you, and you belong there. I wouldn't trade my job for a lot of things. The pay is lousy, and things get stressful. All the same.. I love this place. Every crack, dip in the floor, creak or quirk. It's always been there.. and though I know it's not practical. I feel that it always will be. I can count on it looking the same when I walk in the door, with the same people.. ordering "the usual". That's a kind of stability that makes you feel safe. Which is a feeling I've longed for, for a long time. Who would have known I'd find it, in the very place I swore I'd get away from, my first chance. Who would have known, I would have a menu memorized, my register code locked in my mind, and even have this place on speed dial. I surely didn't. But I can tell you this. Some surprises are wonderful. So much more wonderful than anything you could have come up with on your own. The store is a blessing to me. And I will always look back on these days of being a waitress, cook, dishwasher.. at the store, as my "golden years".. I've learned much about the world we live in, the skin I live in, the people I live around, the responsibilities of getting older.. No matter where I find myself years from now. This little place will always be home to me. I'll not forget all the good times. And I'll look back at the "bad" as Character builders.
Nestled in the Ozark National Forest
"Arkansas River Valley Tri-Peaks Region Johnson County Tourism Award Winner 2002"
Store Hours:
7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday -Thursday
7:00 a.m. to 8:00 Friday & Saturaday
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 Sunday 


You will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free..” Remember when Jesus said this? Many of us do.. but do we use it often? (Selah)
Until recently, I had never thought to.
After my world was flipped upside down, I found myself talking to a Christian counselor that was visiting a church I've been half-heartedly attending for awhile. He told me this;
“Tamara, it sounds very seriously to me, that you would benefit greatly from putting your thoughts on trial..”
At fist, the idea sounded ridiculous.. as many unfamiliar things do. After he explained it to me.. I wasn't absolutely convinced.. but it at least made more sense. So I began to unconsciously try it out.. and let me tell you. Even without an incredible amount of effort- it made an amazing impact on me!! So much so, that I do it now, very much on purpose. And I thought that I would share it with those of you who may be interested.. and more than likely, you need it.

We are in so many ways, in bondage. Even us believers.
Our lives could be so different.. if only we would make it that way. We hide behind lies that we “can't”, “it's too hard”.. when really, God has made it quite simple. We can always use the power that He's given us, to condemn the lies, FOR SATAN IS THE FATHER OF LIES. When we allow those lies to enter our minds, and take us over, we're living in slavery, bondage.. when we could be completely free through Christ. so.. now that you have the idea, and meaning behind this, lets get down to how to do it.
Think of your mind as a court room. You are the jury. You have all the power.. to over-rule, sustain.. whatever you need to do. The lies, thoughts, worries.. they are all lawyers, witnesses. Some may have a big bark.. but remember, you're over them. Let's go through the process of sifting through the lies, and giving them less power.

LIE: I'm fat...
POSITION: Trapped by the lie
HOPE: That I'll prove it wrong (Over-rule)
PROOF: You wear size 0 jeans, people always call you tiny, you get hand-me-UPS, you are placed in the middle seat...ETC
TRUTH: I am not fat
RESULT: not starving yourself, wearing frumpy clothes, hiding.... or feeling ugly.

You can do this with any thought. Some will be harder than others.. and just because you say it, doesn't mean you will instantly feel better. It may take praying through it, or talking with friends, to help you feel better about whatever is bothering you. But, there you have it. How to be the jury of your mind!

Thoughts are powerful.. but, through CHRIST. You can overcome all things. Where there is truth.. there is freedom. Where the light has been shown, the darkness can no longer reside. Rest in the truth, little one.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Everything has it place... even a Clishe'

"You Find what you seek"
" Stop to smell the roses"
"Life is what you make it"
"it's the little things in life"  
"You're only as sick as the secrets you keep"
"It aint nothin' but a thing"
 "Don't make permanent decisions based on temporary problems"
"There's always tomorrow"
"Somewhere over the rainbow"

Sometimes, you hear something.. and because you have a thousand times before, you disregard it. However, if you would, I would like to encourage you, to accept them, not for what they are on the surface.. rather the meaning. I know if you're honest, you'll admit to using one of these. Granted, you may of thought to yourself "Gosh, that was cheezy" afterward. Still. We've tried to console someone with the very words we've thought "Lame" to. Can we symbolically relate this to judging people, by their appearances, or stereo-typing? give everything, and everyone it's chance. 

"Every rose has it's thorn"
just as every person has struggles, hurts.. or whatever else. Get to know people for who they really are. Learn to 'judge'- if you must- based on character. Not appearances..
Yes.. that was another one.
"Don't judge a book by it's cover"
But it's true.. as I'm asking you to do this.. I will as well. And I know. It seems silly to make this relate back to cliche's. But as I said, we all use them. My hope is next time you do, you'll remember this.  

Series of unfortunate events.. or blessings in disguise?

For awhile, I found myself feeling as if my life were a cruel joke.. one which I was the butt to. One thing after another, I was overwhelmed with disappointment.
All that I had been in love with about my life- crumbled at my feet.
I won't say that I handled it well.. that would be a gross overstatement. In fact, If I were to be honest.. I would say I sucked it up.
In hindsight (I find myself using that a lot here lately... and I'm only 17!) I see that I was doing quite a bit of what I called "venting" I believe a more accurate title would be "whining". Constant "why did this happen to me... it's always something. Will I ever be happy?" Pathetic, I know. (For all of you that had to hear even the smallest bit of it.. I apologize) I seriously said to myself on a regular basis "WHAT'S THE POINT?"

ANYWAY... The point. I'm getting there, no worries, there is one!
Once again.. in hindsight.. I realized these very things I was all caught up in, painful as they may have been.. and still are to some extent. were not at all worth all the stake I had placed in them. Life is filled with unpredictable surprises. That's why we NEED God. Not all of these surprises will be like the one's you enjoy on your birthday. Some will break your heart, and knock you off your feet.. all at the same time. And as I was saying- cause you to get all caught up in yourself. Lucky for me.. I have a God who is caught up in me. But in a totally different way than I get about myself. I worry.. and fall apart. God is solid. He has nothing to fall apart about. All that happens to us, He knows about, fully. More than that.. He's allowed it to happen.. This tells me that I will for sure get through it. Giving up.. not only does it disappoint and insult God.. but it robs us of the amazing blessings at the end of it.. or my favorite THROUGH and IN it. God sees the whole picture, while we're caught up in this one piece of it. When I'm seeing a 'series of unfortunate events' He's assuring me that it's a blessing in disguise. And the very things that I thought was the end of everything. Has made me stronger. And of course, shown me, yet again.. He is in control. Always.

While I was going through this.. God was sending many people my way. Some of which I'm closer to.. others, however, I had rarely talked to. Some giving advice, or sharing stories... while others, were going through similar situations.. and they asked for advice! (Those were for sure moments I was glad to have the holy spirit residing in me.. because had it not been for that.. they more than likely would have received a Debbie-Downer response) I realize there's much going on in this world around me.. a lot of hurt, confusion, blame, bitterness.. and the list goes on. I could get into specifics of this "LIFE SHATTERING" event I'm referring to.. But I honestly don't feel that it's important. Hurt is hurt... and God's grace.. is constant, sufficient in any and every situation. I am confident that He will be above and beyond what you need Him to be. I'm also aware that it's not always that "easy" while He's made it VERY "easy" to access Him.. close your eyes and pray. We get, as I mentioned before.. 'caught up in ourselves' and afraid, too proud or busy to talk to Him. So I have some words of advice that some came to me asking for. Please, do NOT use this instead of going to God.. no advice given by man will be sufficient to what God has in store. I can't even say the exact words as He with such power.

My advice is this:
I know, we do get caught up in ourselves.. and it feels natural to complain... and complain... and complain. And while we do need some time to "vent" occasionally, to a close friend. I'm afraid that many times what we're calling "venting" becomes, as mine did.. COMPLAINING. (Ouch...Right?)
So-   My suggestion. Find 2 people (to avoid wearing one out :p..) share with them, the hurts and personal things.. to everyone else who asks how you are, if you must say anything.. aside from "I'm good" make it short and sweet. The more we hold on to hurt.. the more it will fester. If you keep re-opening wounds.. they won't heal. Simple as that!

That is my random share time/ gentle rant.. of the day! I hope that you've taken something from it. I am aware that I'm at times a bit open on my blog, especially for it being the big ol' internet.. where anyone could be reading. It's all in hopes that I can help someone learn from my mistakes and experiences. Or that I can help the one who feels lonely, realize there are others out there who struggle. Or maybe it's just reverting back to the old saying "Where there are words; there is power" may we all unite.. whether in typed words, or unspoken thoughts.. and be the body of Christ that we're intended to be!!!

Love always,

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Little Ray Of Sunshine..

Over the past year, especially after having started public school, I have been thinking very seriously about going to school, to be a teacher (which sounds quite funny.. now that I think of it) anyhow.. I've narrowed it down to either special education, or elementary.. Either one is something I feel that I would enjoy doing. Children have always been my "forte". I enjoy their company. From their funny little comments, to the escape that they provide, from the real, serious world, that from the mature and discerning eyes, is a grim and scary place.

I would love very much to be there to instruct and watch as young babes grow to be their own individuals. Expanding their knowledge, developing thier own personalities, I don't even mind being a hand to hold on a rough day, a listening ear, or that annoying teacher, that finds learning fun, while you're in the seat, head down, thinking school is a prison, and you wish she'd just shut up, already.

Anyway.. As of the beginning of this new semester, I have been an aid, to a girl in our school, with downsendrome. I have been assisting in teaching her piano, along with our Music teacher here at Oark.
At the beginning, needless to say, I was nervous.. of how this would all pan out. I have some experience with Autism children (due to me teaching a class at church with an autistic student) but never downsendrome. That aws an all new ball-park (if you will) for me. A whole new "disability" (though I hate to call it that.. we all have our problems, whether they be mentally, or not. "They" are just as much as person as I). Anyhow.. after praying, thinking and just one day of helping this girl, my fears and concerns proved to be another silly thing I was stressing over for no apparent reason. we got along just fine, I love her to death, and we've learned together. She has already beaten the odds, and challenged expectations that were verbalized by her Special Education teacher, who said that it would take a month for her to learn 'twinkle, twinkle, little star".. not only did she learn this in one day, but she is near to having it memorized and can tell you most of the notes names. She has also been very attentive to my telling her which notes were to be long and short sounds. I'm so proud of her. And I'm sure, not to anyone's surprise, I'm emotional. To watch her blossom, in such a short time, to see her overcome an obstacle she's been given, to see how proud she/others are of her.. to hear the song being played by her- and more than that, understood. It's amazing. I cannot express in words how elated I am. It's so great to see her experiencing this. And to be a part of it. I'm not at all taking credit for it, in any way.. she has done the playing and memorizing. I'm just so glad that God knows me better than I ever could.. He knew that I needed this experience as an affrimation, and I needed her prescence, to brighten my life.. I needed her to focus on, instead of myself and my selfish needs. I now have a positive outlet. I can help her everyday, to learn and succeed. I can focus on her blossoming and maturing. More importantly, I can focus less, on me and my petty little life, and the things that get me down. I'm so grateful to have her, and this experience.

Thank you, Kelsey Renee.. you are my ray of sunshine. You put a smile on my face, and a tune in my heart. You are so refreshing.

Thank you, God, for sending this experience my way! and for the benefits that came with it! I'm so glad to have a God like you! Thanks for the affrimation.

I can't wait to "grow up" and to do something with these experiences and little lessons I'm learning that will hopefully, someday, make me a good teacher. Until then, I will be more than happy to continue to help Kelcey in whatever way that I can;
Holding her hand, protecting her from "Banchies" with Waffles the Guard dog, giving her "Huggies" teaching her things, expanding her horizons, watching over her, helping her to develope social skills, being a loyal and understanding, patient friend.. and focusing on myself less. Its so much better to place my energy and attention on her, and her education, than me, and my petty problems. I love having Kelcey to keep things in perspective. Everyday, 4th hour is a wonderful experience.