Friday, April 27, 2012

Lessons in the Night

If there is one physical ailment I have trouble dealing with it is a headache. Seriously! I do not do well AT ALL with them. Joel often comments that headaches "are my weakness" and they are. I pretty much just don't function well when I have ANY level of a headache. I would rather have a stomach bug and be puking than a headache - I know, totally wrong but just the way it is!

Now, I am the first to admit that probably 90% of my headache phobia is a mental issue. For those who don't know, my older sister Sherri suffered from MAJOR migraine headaches - so bad that she would pass out from them. My parents had many tests done and no source could really be identified. Sherri passed away as a result of suffocating after passing out due to one of these headaches - she fell between a door and furniture. So, yes there is an element of fear and bad memories associated with headaches for me. Anyway, this whole week Joel has been out of town (he comes home TODAY!) at a conference. Like many wives, I don't sleep great when he is gone...just don't. Last night, I decided to try to go to bed at 10:00 and catch up on my lack of sleep. Ugh! One thing after another kept me awake. First it was the dog wanting out, then it was the heat in the house (AC is out, but getting fixed today!), then it was the wind causing house to creak...FINALLY I was able to rest and sleep. UNTIL...I woke up at 2:00a.m with a MAJOR headache! Not the kind that is just mildly annoying but the kind that was so bad I couldn't focus!!! I got up, took Aleve and tried to lay back down - it was POUNDING!!! It was incredibly intense - in fact, I can't ever remember crying because a headache hurt so bad - but cry I did! After about 45min of this raging headache, I had decided that if it didn't start getting better in the next 30 min I was driving myself to the ER! (I know, hmmm driving with headache so bad you can't focus not smart!).

This morning as I thought about all that happened last night two things stuck out to me. First, I DO want to make EVERY moment of my life count for Christ...the times with my kids at home, the time I am subbing with 44 pre-k students, the times I am at a ball game, or at church, or even in Wal-Mart! Every moment!!! Second - how often do we ask God for something, He grants it to us, and we just go on never bothering to say THANK YOU! You see, I tell God thanks for the BIG things but too often I forget to say thank you for the LITTLE things - you know, like telling Him thank you for relieving a headache in the middle of the night!

PS - just a side note to those who may be concerned: I do not get headaches on a regular basis, in fact they are very rare and definitely do not get the intense ones too often!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

You big BULLY...

As I have mentioned in my past two posts, Tyler is facing some big issues with bullying at the school here in Borger. It has been a rough road for all of us to travel. Obviously it has been hard for Tyler as he is the one being bullied but it has also been hard on Joel and I as we have watched him not only face this bullying but watched as a school over a period of 6 months has not stepped in to intervene.

Of course, my first instinct was that of a Mama Bear protecting her cub. I am not sure if you have ever seen how fierce and vicious a mother bear gets when she feels her cub is threatened or in danger but let's just say it isn't pretty! Neither was I - okay let's be honest, I am still struggling with containing my fleshly temper! Yet, I knew that this wasn't the reaction that would bring glory and honor to God.

Don't get me wrong, Joel and I are both FIRM believers that parents not only need to be but MUST be the strongest advocates for their children! When the bullying first began, it was actually not Tyler that reported it to me but a mother of one of the other kids in Tyler's class. Her daughter, had seen how Tyler was being treated and went home broken hearted about it. This mom was as angry for Tyler as I was and wanted strong action taken!

Joel and I have always been of the opinion to try and work with the school not against them. We have always tried to have an open line of communication, back the school or teacher when our children have done wrong, volunteer at the schools, etc. We still believe that is the right and Godly approach. So, it is the route we took initially - not one of "I'm out to get the school!" but rather one of "We want to come along side you and be a part of the solution."

Let me pause here to say that at about the same time the bullying was reported to us, we began to get notification that Tyler was in trouble for things at school that we hadn't seen or heard of him doing before. We would get an e-mail saying Tyler was playing around in the bathroom, or tripping kids in the hall, or pushing other kids. At first I was like okay Tyler you need to knock it off and behave. Yet, over time we began getting a different picture. Tyler would say that two certain boys would trip him and then say he tripped them or that they would block him from leaving the bathroom. I was still unsure as to whether or not Tyler was telling the truth or just trying to get out of trouble. Then,we started to hear from more parents and students about how THEY saw Tyler being treated...their stories matched with Tyler's accounts and it was heartbreaking.

So, we contacted the teachers, the principal, the special education teacher, etc. The response from one teacher was well I see all the boys including Tyler contribute. When we asked for a face to face meeting so we could all talk and discuss how we could help TYLER with his behavior we were told, "I will call you tomorro with an opening in my calendar." from the principal - that was OVER two months ago and we still haven't gotten that "call".

For a time, we thought we would just let the dust settle and then yet another incident was reported to us - this time by Tyler and we believed him. He was walking down the hall and said "What's up" to a boy. The boy replied "Nothing" then shoved Tyler against the wall (of course no teacher looking) Tyler went to step around the boy and again was pushed, Tyler then put his hand out in front of him to block the kid off and of course THAT is what the teacher saw and Tyler got in trouble. This was the "straw that broke the camel's back for us" - we decided that SOMeTHING had to change! Since we hadn't gotten a response from the principal nor had the teacher responded to our concerns, Joel began to research the school "bullying" policy. The policy states that "When a complaint of bullying is reported to ANY school employee an investigation will be opened." Well, obviously not!

At this point, we are in the process of filing a complaint with the Superintendant about the bullying, not sure what will come of it but we feel that it is the right method to go.

Although, yes in the truest way we are being an advocate for our son, a close friend also reminded me that being an advocate for your child doesn't mean you let them stay in the situation where they are threatened or harmed. This is what has encouraged our decision to move Tyler into a different school. The fact is that these same boys will be here next year and although they will all be at a different campus with a different principal we have no way of knowing if the bullying will stop - probably not. There have also been some educational concerns and we just feel that Tyler's education is not something we can risk right now. He is already behind and so he needs the BEST educational environment he can get.

I tell you this story not just because it is like the forefront of what we as parents have had to deal with almost daily (which it is) but because I believe that bullying is becoming more and more of an epidemic in our nation! Since walking this road with Tyler, we have become aware of so many more instances of bullying not only here in Borger (which there are a LOT) but in other cities and schools. It is literally out of control!Sadder still is the fact that the adults in authority are standing back and doing NOTHING! They are allowing this behavior to go unpunished and in so doing are actually ENCOURAGING these kids who are bullies to keep it up!

Now, I realize there are those in the Christian realm who would use this as a platform to push homeschooling. Let me state, that although that IS a viable option and if the Lord leads a family to take that path then YES do it. However, just like any other issue that we face as Christians in America we CANNOT just stand back and remove ourselves from the situation! We have to take a stand and say this is WRONG! I really struggled with this part - I have and still am considering homeschooling if it comes to that but I also want to take a stand and say ENOUGH! Every child has the right to a safe and secure educational environment - PERIOD.

This is why we are pursuing the complaint with the district and are even prepared to take it to the school board should the need arise. Yes, we are probably moving Tyler to another school that is better for him but that doesn't mean we are going to stand back and be complacent and not stand for righteousness. If you are reading this and the story rings true in your family or a family you know of, I encourage you to take a stand! If the bullying is at school - take it to the schools all the way up until there is no one else to listen. If it is happening at a sports practice, like some friends of ours here in Borger, take it to the coach, to the league, to parents, keep addressing it until there is no one left to take it to.

The problem lies not with the kids who are bullies but with those in authority over them - whether it is parents, teachers, coaches, etc. We by no means are mad at these boys - in fact Joel went to eat lunch with Tyler so he could meet the boys and try to "befriend" them. What we are mad about is that nothing has been done by those in authority.

Recently a movie entitled "Bully" was released - however only 5 theaters in America are showing it - FIVE!!! Google the movie trailer and it will break your heart to see what kids go through and what schools are telling them. Many,like Tyler have been told "Don't be a tattle tell" by teachers when they report bullying! REALLY?

As I close, I would ask for prayers for Joel and I. We will be having an AARD meeting (a meeting for kids with special needs to discuss their progress, concerns, etc. like an IEP in Colorado)on Monday afternoon per our request. It is our plan to address the bullying issue at the AARD meeting. Pray that we will come across clear and concise but in a way that honors the Lord. Please pray for me specifically to have a reign emotionally as I go back and forth between anger and tears on this issue.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Learning a whole new realm...

This past month I have been learning a whole new realm....of trust and flexibility in my plans. It has been a rough process, a stretching process, but so very worth it.

First of regards to our children. Hannah continues to homeschool and although it is going "okay" it isn't ideal. Joel and I see her lacking in motivation and more importantly socially. We so long for her to have friends her age and to be able to be her fun loving self! However, we are VERY confident that we made the right decision in pulling her from the public school - recently there was a huge bully issue at the HS and she would have been in the middle I am afraid. So, that is a good thing but we don't feel that homeschool is the ultimate end for her. So, we are still looking and praying and trusting and adjusting....
Tyler's situation is just plain heart breaking and frusterating for this mom - there is simply no other way to say it. He is constantly being bullied and mistreated at school and as much as we and he have tried - it's not being acknowledged or dealt with. In addition, the Special Ed department is just SO different than what he had and what he needs. So, once again we are praying, searching and this point it is likely that we will move him to a neighboring school district that is MUCH smaller and we have heard many positive things about. We have always believed strongly that we are to be advocates for our kids and to work with the school for their best interest. As much as I in my flesh long to "battle this out" with the school I have come to the conclusion that this would not be the best situation for Tyler - he needs to be in a good environment NOW. My desire is we are planning on finishing the year at this school and then moving him.

Second in regards to ministry. Recently the Pastor of Spiritual Development resigned from our church. In his absence, the staff have had to divide up his duties, which really isn't too much but still different. Joel is taking the part of overseeing Sunday School and Small Groups.
Along the lines of ministry but on a more personal note - several couples in our Sunday School class are moving. :( So sad, after just getting to know them - but of course we of all people know that when God calls you go....I am just curious as to what God has up his sleeve next....

It just seems like every time I think I have it all figured out...God has a change! Ha ha and to be honest, I am okay with that. I have enjoyed not having it all laid out for a change, it's rather freeing to be honest! One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11 - God knows the plan He has for me, I can relax and rest in Him!!!