Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Taught Me. . .

I have been studying Henry B Eyring’s talk “O Remember, Remember.”  The end of the year seems like the best possible time to reflect and remember the events that have occurred.  2013 was a big year.  We had several high stress events as a family and I think I may have learned some lessons.

I learned to enjoy each day.
In October Reed had his wisdom teeth out and stopped breathing on the way home.  It was the closest we have come to losing a child and it reminded me that there are no guarantees.  We should live in the moment and enjoy every day because that is what we have.  Since October I have been much more in touch with the Spirit and I have lived with a much more grateful heart.  And. . . I cherish my family even more.

I have learned more patience.
There have been days and weeks and almost a whole month this fall where I have not been able to do the things I wanted to do when I wanted to do them.  Caring for Parker after his surgery was a lot of work and I was tied to the house- but having a hernia and being forced to lay low before and after the surgery was something new for me.  Notice that I did not say “I have become patient.”  It is going to be a process.

I’ve let some of the small stuff go.
I learned this in two ways.  The first was through Colby and Danaca’s wedding.  As the mother of the groom there is very little that you can influence and I had to stop worrying about the details since they were not mine.  I am still struggling with the fact that I am no longer involved in their lives in any significant way.  That is a real learning curve.  But I am working on it.

This has also occurred to me in another way as I have served on the Relief Society Activities Committee.  For the first few months I was worried about having everything be perfect, but then I realized that was not the point.  Some of the other ladies on the committee are still obsessed with perfection, but as I observed at the meetings what I saw was that the women in the neighborhood needed time to connect with each other.  If there was a treat and decorations, lovely. . . but that was not the point of the gatherings.  In our busy, rushed world many of us are craving connection.

I’m learning to bloom where I am planted.
I have been very frustrated over the years that I only ever have music callings at Church.  I have known that I needed something different for the sake of my own growth, but I finally decided that I had been given a gift for the Lord’s use and I was doing what the ward needed me to do.  I have had a lot more fun since I decided that I was probably going to be choir director for life.  And then suddenly, a few weeks ago I was called to teach a Sunday School class- just what I needed.  But I was NOT released as Choir Director.  And that is just fine with me.

I’m learning more about obedience.
The general conference session in April was all about obedience and that made me think about my level of obedience.  I have been a little haughty and a little too enamored with my own power.  I tend to rely on myself.  A few months ago I took a dumb little online quiz about which religion I should be.  I answered the questions very literally based on my understanding of the words used and it came out that I should be an Episcopalian.  That really threw me for a loop.  (Dumb, huh?)  It made me question my values and my understanding of Gospel principals.  I went back to the basics in my own study.  I am trying to be more obedient to God’s commands. . . except I am not there on giving up Diet Coke yet.

I’m learning that I need structure.
As the mother of a child with ADHD I have understood his need for strict structure, but it took me longer to understand that I thrive in a structured environment.  This last year I have tried to impose more structure on myself by planning and scheduling time for certain activities.  In August I started making myself do an hour of gardening each Tuesday morning.  I do not really enjoy gardening because I am always afraid that I will encounter a snake.  And I wasn’t enjoying Tuesdays because I would dread going to City Council.  I lived in fear of conflict.  As it turned out, the gardening helped my stress level AND the back yard started coming into submission.  I like the FlyLady’s ideas about scheduling house cleaning.  I love having a Sunday School class to help organize my own scriptural study.  I don’t want to get carried away with imposing structure, but I think that I need a part time job to help fill my days, give me more opportunities to serve and provide a little more structure to my life.

I hate resolutions because I always break them.  This year I am devising a new path for myself.  I have decided upon a theme for 2014 and the theme is “Hands.”  It has gone through several transformations in my mind over the past week, but I think I have finally settled on this simple one word theme.  I want to focus on how the Lord touches my life and how he can use me to touch the lives of others by being an instrument in his hands.  Last night at FHE Reed suggested that we should all have a project to go along with our theme somehow.  Mine will be photos of people hands doing things that touch my life.

I am excited for 2014.  I wonder what I will learn?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sad and Angry

I was the band director at Lehi High School when the Columbine shooting occurred.  I was horrified by the violence that seemed so senseless.  At that time I assessed the safety of my classroom and the hall way situation.  I was absolutely sure that if there was a shooting at our school, it would happen in my area because it was close to the commons/cafeteria and the door was relatively unused.  I began locking my door during class and patrolling the hall during breaks.  I even went and took a class about how to handle a firearm for a concealed carry license, but I never bothered to actually get the license.  As the years went by there were a few other school shootings, but LHS was spared.

A few years ago I had a second run as the band director at LHS.  Same classroom but I had an additional percussion room that added some safety, in my mind.  Hallway was a little longer since a drama classroom had been added and quite a bit busier because there were lots more kids in the school.  I often locked the door- but not always.  I still watched the halls- but not every period.  Life was busier and I was a little more used to violence.  I did spend more time with those students who seemed like they were “outsiders” to make sure that they felt connected to the school and that their needs were being met.  This behavior paid off.

In March of 2010 there was a bomb scare.  Turns out that it was called in by a couple of school skippers who called from Lehi City’s Legacy Center.  They were caught pretty quickly, but not before the school spent several hours on lock down.  In my very large classroom with lots of equipment, the students had to get their backpacks and sit on the floor in the middle of the room.  Unfortunately we had lots of other backpacks (and instrument cases) that were considered “suspicious.”  I was told to prepare the students for a bomb sniffing dog to come into the classroom.  While I was instructing the students, one young man, who was kind of a rough character, said “Uh, Mama C, we might have a problem.”  I immediately took a deep breath and asked for clarification.  The young man informed me that he was pretty sure that he had firecrackers in his backpack.  Not good.  And totally illegal in the state of Utah.  I was really glad that I had built a relationship with Casey because it ended up helping everyone.  I called the office and told them the situation.  His pack was checked.  And due to his honesty, he was chastised but not charged.  Phew.

The young men and women who are currently seniors in high school were probably two or three when the Columbine shooting occurred.  They have grown up with parents who worry about shootings.  They practice lock downs.  They have seen other shooting splashed across the news. My boys are “situationally aware.“  Given the choice they always pick a seat where they can see the door to a classroom or any other space.   They look around when they are walking and keep their eyes moving.   They have taken karate lessons and are accomplished wrestlers.   I have no doubt that if there was a school shooting at Lehi High School, I would lose Parker because he would do everything in his power to neutralize a shooter.   I’m not sure that Reed has the same determination.

As I ponder on the school shootings at Sandy Hook- a year ago tomorrow- and the shooting at Arapahoe HS today, I am sad and angry 
  • Sad that there are people who are hurting so much that they are past reason and are willing to lash out at anyone.
  • Angry that people do not take care of their firearms in a responsible manner.
  • Sad that children and teachers attend schools and fear for their lives.
  • Angry that guns- and not people- are considered the problem.
  • Sad that we have lost so many with so much promise.
  • Angry that the "good guys" are usually left helpless and at the mercy of the crazies.

 I often wonder what would have happened if the principal at Sandy Hook had had a gun when she confronted the gunman.

I am not currently teaching and to be honest, I’d be nervous to go back with the turmoil in our world.  Last spring I had a dream that we had an active shooter at a City Council meeting.  In the summer I had an uncomfortable incident after a City Council meeting that wouldn’t have bothered me a few years ago, but times have changed.  This fall I took a concealed weapons class. . . again.  And this time I finished and sent in my paperwork.    I even did some research and I bought myself a handgun.

At this time I have never felt the need to conceal my gun and carry it with me.  But I may have that feeling one of these days.  And I can tell you that if I were in a public area where someone started shooting and killing innocents, I would not hesitate to put a red dot on that shooter and pull the trigger.  I am a good shot and I would protect. And I would be happy to deal with the consequences of that decision if I felt that I had saved even one innocent life.

Maybe Parker and I are a lot more alike than I thought.