Archive for Faith

“Everybody Hurts…Sometimes…”

Posted in FAITH, FAMILY and FUN, LIFE IN GENERAL / RANDOM RAMBLINGS with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2010 by erikball123

I’ve often referred to my Grandmother as my Superman. I’m not quite sure why either. I mean, the symbolism makes sense to me as I feel she can do just about anything from the comfort of her screened in front porch…but the reality is Superman doesn’t exsist and my Grandma doesn’t give a flying poodle about Kryptonite. So, why the need for such symbolism? I thought about it. My grandmother is a faithful, stand-up, decent, kind, and loving…but flawed, human being. She’s not out flying around the world. She has weaknesses just like all of us…and to see her this week in a recovery center, strapped to a walker, with thousands of dollars of titanium in her knee, brought me back to earth for a while.

Having not been back to visit my family in over a year has also abruptly wrestled into my brain the fact that no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to convince myself to believe that my family has nothing to hide. “Erik’s Family: Sans Issues,” is a lie I’ve been telling myself for years, running away from issues to Never Never Land…or at least Summer Summerlin. It’s hard to look forward to the future when you’re too blind to see your hand in front of your face.

With a huge sigh of relief at visiting my Grandmother and family this summer, (she’s looks great!) and with a very heavy heart at the passing of my other Grandmother and in dealing with other family “issues,” I have decided to do the following…think positive. Cliche, huh? I’ve caught myself saying to people that I’m sending “positive energy your way.” What does that mean? It isn’t a laser beam from my eyes…I can’t summon the positive energy spirits…and I can’t shoot rainbows out of my butt either. It means nothing! Perhaps it implies that I’m thinking of them in a positive way and hoping for a better tomorrow for them. But that takes too long to say…and there’s something fun and contemporary about “positive energy,”  right?

Perhaps that’s why I love my Grandmother so much. She’s so freakin’ positive. I mean…does she sweep issues under the carpet and stand on them like the rest of us? Yes. Does she purse her lips and wish she would have interjected at times throughout the years? Yes. Has she walked in on Emily and I in mid-make-out session in my college years? Yes. So…why would she CHOOSE to move forward, forfeiting these burdens? Is it cowardly? Is it easier?

Let’s come back to this in a minute. Let’s shift gears here.

Everyone knows I’m a God-fearing Christian. If you don’t…I am. I also like to think I’m a fairly positive, happy person. With that said…..I don’t understand atheists. Okay…I believe in God. They don’t. End of story? Yeah…no. Why do atheists go to such GREAT lengths to attempt and convince me, and anyone within earshot, that there is no God. If you TRULY believe there isn’t one…why spend so much time and energy on the matter? Why not just leave Christians alone…and do your own thing? What if God didn’t exist? Why does it matter to atheists SO MUCH that other people find peace, hope and joy in something THEY DON’T BELIEVE IN? But, no…they’ll spend an eternity on a soapbox so that they can have the final word. And they are angry, angry people too. A conversation between a Christian and an atheist cannot remain positive. It always weaves into sensitive territories laced with accusations, theories and personal agendas. It’s hardly positive.

Now…bring this thought into what I’m talking about. What if…my Grandma…CHOOSES to remain positive. Why? I don’t know! (And frankly…I’m so intreagued about this notion, I don’t care!) What if it’s because she’s getting older….or maybe because she care about impressions she’s making on her grandchildren (and great grandchildren.) Perhaps she’s scared of fighting past battles alone? Or, perhaps it’s none of these things…and I’m over-thinking.

Why should I CARE why she wants to remain positive. My atheist friends…take note. Shouldn’t instead I be happy that she is in this state? Even if it was a ruse…a complete falsehood…doesn’t that say something about her character that she cares enough about me to put up a front for MY benefits? (Maybe I will admire her acting prowess!) Then again…this is assuming that she is merely putting up a facade…and that she’s a miserable lump of goo.

I’m not sure that thinking positive…having hope for the future, and asking God for things (like a stinkin’ genie in a bottle) during prayer time is the answer for everyone’s hardened questions. (And I’m fairly certain that no matter how GIANT my issues are…there will always be ones out there, bigger and scarier.) But, I can tell you this….it certainly is PART of the solution. I’m a big believer in prayer. Prayer, mixed with positive energy (shooting rainbows out my butt!) and having hope will AT LEAST give you something to hold on to. (Which is SOMETHING…especially when you feel like all else is lost.)

I think God gave us free will for a reason. (Not merely because we needed some heated topics in Social Issues class.) I mean…how can we appreciate the “highs” in our lives if we never have experienced the “lows.” That free will is what helps to get us motivated to find answers and turn back to God…even when things are crazy and don’t make sense. You see it all the time in movies. My favorite is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Sittin’ at a bar, with all hope lost…at the end of his rope…George Bailey says, “Dear God, I’m not a praying man…but show me the way…” I betcha you didn’t say your prayers last night…neither did I. I forgot. Wonder why? I had a great day yesterday…and I felt good…and I was WORN OUT when I plopped into bed. Perhaps that was it. Sheer exhaustion. But, what if….I was lost…alone…ashamed…. broke…..banished….scared….sorrow-filled….or lonely. I betcha “putting my head down” at the end of the day would be just a little bit harder for me under these circumstances….and a heck of a lot easier to turn my thoughts over to God. When you and I are down…we don’t want to mourn alone. Human nature. We have a fundamental need to SHARE grief, so that collectively, we can pull through. (Hence the reason for post-funeral dinners, yellow support ribbons and candle-light vigils.)

I like to think that I’ve got the image right in my head when I look into my Grandmother’s eyes and think “there’s my Superman.” But the truth of the matter is…no one person can be super all by themselves. Even if Superman did exsist….no one would even notice unless someone pointed to the sky and said “look up there! It’s a bird, it’s a plane! No…it’s Superman.” It takes a collective to turn something concerning into something POSITIVE.

Share in your common miseries today and tomorrow with your family and friends. Be that shoulder to cry on for somebody you love…and CRY if you need to cry. Christians and self-proclaimed atheists….we’re all human beings with wants and needs…and feelings…and yes, issues. None of us are Superman, and we need to help each other out. We need to support one another….even if “we’re right…and you’re wrong,” one things remains regardless.

NO ONE wants to be alone.

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When the day is long and the night, the night is yours alone,
When you’re sure you’ve had enough of this life, well hang on
Don’t let yourself go, ’cause everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes

Sometimes everything is wrong. Now it’s time to sing along
When your day is night alone, (hold on, hold on)
If you feel like letting go, (hold on)
When you think you’ve had too much of this life, well hang on

‘Cause everybody hurts. Take comfort in your friends
Everybody hurts. Don’t throw your hand. Oh, no. Don’t throw your hand
If you feel like you’re alone, no, no, no, you are not alone

If you’re on your own in this life, the days and nights are long,
When you think you’ve had too much of this life to hang on

Well, everybody hurts sometimes,
Everybody cries. And everybody hurts sometimes
And everybody hurts sometimes. So, hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on
Everybody hurts. You are not alone

– R.E.M.

The Sun’ll Come Out….Tomorrow.

Posted in ACTING ONSTAGE, LIFE IN GENERAL / RANDOM RAMBLINGS with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2009 by erikball123

“Bring on tomorrow. Let it shine. Like the sun coming up on a beautiful day, it’s yours and mine. We can make a difference. It’s not too late. Bring on tomorrow…I can’t wait.”

Fame has never been my favorite musical. Sure, it has redeeming qualities…but I’m not overflowing with excitement about the piece. This song, however is from the show. I started with ANNIE’s: “The sun’ll come out, tomorrow…” but figured readers would drop off the site quickly due to it’s overexposure!

I like the lyric. Anytime a piece of music reminds me that a brighter future waits around the corner, I am immediately attached to the piece. You see, all too often I wind up with a gray cloud around my head. Someone will say something hurtful…sometimes a class will test my patience…sometimes my patience will test my endurance…sometimes my endurance will test my faith…sometimes people just mess with my corn flakes! Whatever the reason for the change in weather, I, like many other overly paranoid, highly emotional, sensitive and strong, yet fashionable drama teachers, have a hard time resting my head on my pillow at night. How does one not tire of (what they believe to be) their calling?

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Prayer. “Simple solution, sir.” Say it, don’t spray it! Okay, okay….so prayer is what Pastor Steve tells you to do every Sunday. Prayer is what happiness when you remember to fold your hands at night. Prayer is what happens when you are all alone. Prayer is what happens, when you need a solution, and it’s convenient. Prayer is not a stronghold investment in your faith, and I’m simply talking from MY point of view: an ignorant Lutheran with a whole lotta sin on my heart. I’m a terrible example of a Christian and prayer NEEDS to happen because it is the solution…not because it might be the solution…if it’s convenient…if I remember….if I care.

So, what does this have to do with a brighter tomorrow? I’ll tell you: President Barack Obama. (Whoa! Didn’t see that one coming, did you!) It’s true. Yesterday I had the pleasure of watching the 44th President being sworn in, elbow to elbow with hundreds of my students in the brand new chapel/theater auditorium. The streaming video connection wasn’t the best…and it paused every so often, only to jump forward a few seconds, and I’ll admit, that made it a smidge distracting, but the overall experience is nothing less that historical.

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I sat there among my students…some sleeping…some joking…some rolling their eyes….some crying…watching history. Over 400 years ago, Abraham Lincoln challenged an important piece of parchment called the Declaration of Independence. He freed the slaves. Some people were not too happy. Years later, women were given the right to vote. Later, African-Americans attended public schools side by side with Caucasian students in an effort to bring us closer together. Not merely in arrangement in the back end of the everyday, stuffy bus…but more so in heart, mind, and soul. These are momentous occasions, as they draw us closer to a promise of a free country for all who desire, work and pray for it.

I asked my students, “why should you care about this day? Why is it significant?” They responded, “Well, it’s the first black President.” I prodded, “Okay. Well…what does that mean?” My beautiful, white-collar, 100% Caucasian class stared back at me as if I was setting some sort of political “you outta know” trap. I shifted my approach.

“How many of you have auditioned for a play or musical here at Faith Lutheran?” (About 20 hands.) “How did it work out for you?” (No response!) I explained that very rarely does an audition turn out exactly as you envision. I can look them in the eye and promise until I’m blue in the face that no matter who they are, what their experience is, and how vigorously they’ve prepared…when they walk through that audition door, they have the EXACT same shot at getting the leading role, as their peer that has earned that opportunity. I can SAY it’s based solely on the audition…even to myself, in my heart…but how can I ever PROVE that? Can I? I haven’t found out a way yet.

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I reference Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech: ” I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the treu meaning of it’s creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'” I love that speech. All men a created equal in the eyes of God…and should be seen that way in the eyes of man. Have we had the opportunity to prove that? Not until yesterday. Yesterday, the people of this country put into office the first African-American President. Republican or Democrat, black or white…Christian or otherwise…this is the new tomorrow. This is the beam of light in the cloud that darkens. This is the “something to look forward to.”

I watch as my property value goes down. (I counted five foreclosures in my subdivision, last time I walked the dog.) Gas prices have come down…but will they stay there? We’re a country at war where lives are lost daily. In my own backyard, I watch as our school cuts out those navy blue, itchy faculty polos to make room in the yearly expense report for primary spending. It’s a tough time.

But the sun’ll come out tomorrow. Is Barack Obama the solution to our problems? Who can tell. Maybe…maybe not. All I know is that we as Americans took a giant step yesterday in proving to every citizen that this is truly the land of the free, where everyone has the opportunity for a leading role.

Will the inauguration effect my drama students immediately? Yes. I remember being their age and watching the Challenger explode. I recall the smell of burned coffee in the air, and the look on the Rebel Yell secretary’s face when I walked into my office at UNLV the day the twin towers collapsed. They are vivid recollections. These students…when they are my age…will remember sitting in the Chapel / Performing Arts Center watching a hiccuping screen as our President was sworn in. That promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for ALL was cemented in a huge foundation block yesterday. And while the immediate ramifications couldn’t compete with the wonderfully comfortable auditorium seats and the sleepy-headiness of some…the long term ramifications woke up a nation nodding off.

It is my prayer that somehow, someday…I will be able to prove to my students that hope is always around the corner. There is a new tomorrow, and it will shine.

“We can make a difference, it’s not too late. Bring on tomorrow. I can’t wait.”

Whose Broad Stripes and Bright Stars? I dunno.

Posted in FAITH, FAMILY and FUN, LIFE IN GENERAL / RANDOM RAMBLINGS with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2008 by erikball123

First and foremost…I’m no political scholar. I don’t even pretend to know what the “ins” and “outs” of a Presidential campaign race involves. But, I do know this, I’m a human being who likes to think he’s incredibly aware of characterization, commitment and drama. That combined with a genuine, luke warm overall understanding of the economy, mixed with love of THE DAILY SHOW and the COLBERT REPORT re-runs….let’s talk politics.

I was raised Presbyterian, I lived in Michigan in a two-story white house with red shutters…my family was Conservative, and Republican. I know all of these things because my parents told me so. We lived the wonderfully passive 1/4 acre backyard, picket fence, sunshine and lollipops life. We didn’t smoke…we didn’t drink (except for the dreadfully sinful shot of Kahlua in mother’s coffee)…and we watched the news like everyone else did. We kinda didn’t care about stuff. You know…political stuff.

Fast forward about 25 years or so. I’m a red-blooded High School teacher, a total drama geek, whose goal in life is to offer all that I can with my talents and passions on this earth as a God-fearing man. No picket fence…lots of sunshine, few lollipops, and I don’t smoke. I love Jesus, and the occasional glass of wine is not uncommon. I’m Lutheran. While a few things have changed, and I argue that my childhood was passive enough for me to refer to it as “largely swept under the real-life rug,” I have taken an active stand in relocating my personal position on many, many things including politics.

I think Republican and Democrats are funny. It’s like the Red Sox and the Yankees. They both play baseball, don’t they? While they both want their team to win…they all get a pay check at the end of the day, and they wake up the next morning doing what they love. I never understood why so much was invested in that particular label. Am I Republican? Does it matter? If your answer is yes…then why? Does that immediately mean I look forward to voting for McCain? I argue “no.”

These two candidates are really something, aren’t they? It never fails. Every heated Presidential race pits two wild and crazy guys against each other. Wild and crazy because we end up finding out ALL about them…and in some case more than we would ever want to know about them.

I think Barack is very charismatic. I think he could sell an igloo to an Eskimo. I also think he has some great ideas. (After all…I love change. My classroom is in a constant state of flux.) I think he’s sharp, poignant, and could certainly win the Presidency on theatrics alone. Do I think he’s the right man for the job?…..ummm. Maybe. Maybe not.

McCain is forceful, strong and he’s got the POW card goin’ for him. (There are a lot of registered veterans out there.) I think his experience in the military is a bonus. There is a lot of talk about his health. I don’t even think about that. Until he starts mumbling and drooling at the podium, I think that should be off the table. No one talked about Michale Jordan’s worth as a ball player when he was injured. They just wanted to know when he was going to get back in the game.  Is McCain the Michael Jordan of Presidential candidats, though? I don’t know.

This particular political race has got me cornered. I know that whatever happens, history will be made. We’ll either have the first African-American President in office, or the first women Vice-President in office. (Ha ha, Hillary….silly. Married to Bill……heh. Hill and Bill. What a sideshow they are!) So…this is a biggie.

Due in part because there is so much about the everyday political world that I don’t like to pretend that I know a lot about, (budget, medicare, welfare, environment, etc.) I’ve decided to look at their religious backgrounds, and their stand with regards to the church. (Another topic I don’t like to pretend I know a lot about…but is closest to my heart. Hey, give me a break…neither candidate is an actor, right?)

It doesn’t seem that either candidate has firm beliefs. Or do they? They both claim to be Christians and attend church. Both have gone on record to say they “pray everyday.” McCain says that he doesn’t attend church as often as he would like, but many, including his own pastor, attest that he is a devout man. Obama was raised by a mother who exposed him to numerous religions and he is very quick to point out his father, a “one-time Muslim” was a self-proclaimed atheist at the time of Obama’s birth. Navigating through both of the candidates websites, I found numerous resources that will convince me that each party is sincerely the lesser of the two evils…because we all sin.

Is that enough? As I walk to my classroom tomorrow…worried about making it to payday Friday, wondering if I should make a dentist appointment, anticipating the dedication of the school’s new theater, wondering if I’ll get all my grading done, hoping the new Advanced Drama lesson is effective….needing, worrying, hoping, mourning, trying…I look forward to a combined effort in all of my planned and unplanned future happenings. I need the support of my Lord to get through things.

I try hard not to stand on my Bible so that others can see my face or hear my voice…but instead, I try to understand WHY the Bible talks to me in the way it does and then share it with others. (Which is hard for me to do sometimes. No one said it was going to be easy.)

The “WHY”….not the “WHAT.” That’s what is missing from both candidates. I don’t want to know what they believe. I don’t want to know that they are Christians, and here’s the proof. I don’t need to have that info. I would rather they exemplify the Christian walk. I’d rather them demonstrate Christ-like behavior instead of bookmark the perfect, motivational speech and “wow” a crowd with their charisma. I’d rather them demonstrate their relationship with the Lord, after the trials of a lifetime of trying to find Him.

Arrrgh. This is why I hate politics. I tell my acting students this all the time. Politics is drama. Courtrooms are stages. Debates and speeches are scenes and monologues. It’s ALL farce. We all nominate and vote for actors. It make me almost not care. It’s a similar feeling the second after the Best Actor or Actress wins an Oscar…whoever wins, everyone moves on. Where’s my invested interest in it? (Which is a very dangers thing to say.) Where do they stand? How can anyone ever know? It’s mor than a drop-down menu on a website or a political sound bite. The media will squeeze every last drop of truth out of each candidate and twist them in to whatever shape they like.

Well…pretty soon the horse and pony show will be over and we’ll go about our days either content or grumbling. Either way, we’ll all go about our day. You know what…that’s the thing…either way, we go about our day.  When Jesus died on the cross…I wonder if the crowd of people who witnessed the crucifixion simply went about their days afterward.  Seems unlikely. Even for the unbeliever at that time. While this year’s election should probably not be compared to the crucifixion (depending on who you ask)…I do think that Jesus died for both Obama and McCain. I do believe that the Lord wants both men in heaven with Him. I’m just not convinced yet that both candidates know that.

Politics and religion…sometimes are viewed as oil and vinegar. But, I can’t help but think that the leader of the free world should be a strong, confident, vocal, God-fearing sinner who doesn’t offer long-winded explinations as to why he was raised the way he was. It shouldn’t be a man who sits behind the youth choir during church because it provide an easy escape route after the service so they can remain largely unnoticed. I think our President should lead worship. They should quote scripture instead of talking about it, as if it were a WWJD bumper sticker. I look at this position as the HEAD…the EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR….the NUMBER ONE MAIN DUDE in charge of everything in America. This includes religion. They should be the SPIRITUAL LEADER of this country. I’ve yet to see either man with a Bible in his hand.

I pray for this and every Presidential race. Not because I don’t believe in the candidates. But, because I believe Jesus Christ is my savior. And if either of the candidates is twisting…even slightly…their personal walks with the Lord, for the sake of garnishing that one extra vote, then I might just have to stay home that day. I suppose it’s the principal of the thing. I don’t want either candidate to sacrifice their own souls for the sake of a vote. No mere job is worth that, no matter how big and white the house is.

Each candidate will tell you everything about them. Where they were born, how they were raised. I’m pretty  confident neither will offer their stand on Kahula in coffee, but I know they will be able to tell you, in fancy-dancy words, how they live their lifes in great detail.

But I’ve yet to hear a candidate say what they are doing so that they can prepare for their death and the life in the world to come.

So, here’s where I’m at: I’m praying about it. I like Palin’s glasses…I’m still trying to get to know, Binden. (Although I can’t help but see Jason Robards when I look at him!)

I guess I’ll have to wait until election day. I’ll put “voting” on my list of things to do that day. If that’s passive, so be it. But, until a candidate offers me more than a mere PDF document containing quotes and positions on Faith, I’ll have to say that Democrat or Republican…Conservative or Liberal…black or white…grande or Venti….I’m just a guy who loves the Lord, and I don’t think a bad thing to want to vote for a dude that feels the same way. I wonder what George W. Bush’s church-going schedules will be like the days after the elections. I hope he doesn’t chalk up his position as SPIRITUAL LEADER as a “swept under the real-life rug” kinda thing.

Go the Distance.

Posted in ACTING ONSTAGE, DIRECTING FOR THE STAGE, THE HIGH SCHOOL THEATRE CLASSROOM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2008 by erikball123

These pictures are from the set of the motion picture “ROCKY BALBOA.” I was an extra in the final fight scene.

There’s this moment in the movie ROCKY where the timid Adrianne looks at her love in the eyes and says “why do you want to fight.” Rocky says simply, “because I can’t sing or dance.”

“Those who can’t….teach” is a common saying. I hear it often. Usually it is presented by someone who has never stepped in front of a class before. Usually it’s said after someone presumes they know what it’s like to be in the field of education…”and those amazing three-month vacations, where teachers relax and walk the beaches…nurture rich, dark tans…and live in Never-Never land until August!”

Give me a break. Granted, my particular position is nothing to complain about. I work in a beautiful school, with amazing students…and the faculty lounge coffee?…..It’s not so bad. But, anyone who says that teaching is a field where lazy, wanna-be professionals go to die…they need a gigantic bite of reality pie.

Rocky is probably not a prime example. But I like the fact that this boxer continues to fight against insurmountable odds, because he truly believes he is destined to do so. “Because he can’t sing or dance.”

This school district in Las Vegas is not a good one. Even the superintendent agrees. But, I refuse to believe that ANY educational environment is beyond hope…and likewise, I refuse to believe that every teacher is “lazy” by the saying’s insinuation. Teachers are forever students, always wanting to grow as providers. I’m not saying we’re all alike…some are short…some are tall. Some graduated with a 3.9 GPAs….some barely graduated….yet all teachers get the same opportunity: “To mold and shape the future leaders!”

I suppose it’s just like saying all lawyers are sharks…and all doctors are quacks. Sheesh. Is there anything nice to say about people out there? Is there any positive reinforcement? I know there is, somewhere. And I’m not just talking about the superficial nonsense that accompanies those denim vests with sparkly reindeer or “Happy Holiday” flowers that elementary teachers wear. Look beyond the Christmas Tree ornaments that say “Teachers are Special”….and remember, before anyone can scrutinize a teacher’s motives…a teacher’s philosophy….a teacher’s effectiveness….you have to agree that at LEAST all teachers have one thing in common….like Rocky Balboa, they keep getting up when knocked down. Everyday is a build up…and test of endurance. Everyday teacher’s must file away their personal lives and allow their student’s personal lives to take the forefront. They must go the distance. In a sense…they are the ultimate student. I can’t think of another job where the goal of the job is to purposely plant yourself in the seat of the target audience and simply…endure….transform….regroup….and engage again.

My wife once said that teaching is the only job where your job description changes EVERYDAY. No two days are the same. Ever. Think about it. A fireman knows that either they will or will not put out fires that day. Teachers put out fires….start fires….talk about starting fires….prevent fires….fuel fires….or catch on fire! They are the only people that plan for the un-plannable. It’s a tough job.

It’s also the most refreshing and rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life. I continue live with the stigma of having to live up to a Private Lutheran School Teacher expectation. Is that too bad? Nah…but it’s an expectation. And in or out of the classroom, attempting to ALWAYS exceed that expectation gets tiring sometimes. Sometimes it feels like a never ending battle. Sometimes it’s a thankless, never ending battle. Sometimes it’s a losing….thankless….neverending battle.

It’s no wonder my colleagues at Faith Lutheran are such amazing people. I know I roll my eyes at the stodgy-ness of some of their philosophies. Perhaps the philosophy that needs to be under the microscope should be mine! My rolling eyes never seem to think that though. But, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t have the freedom to go to my Lord in prayer every day. In a school that not only embraces that….but encourages that….well, it makes the un-plannable approachable. It’s makes fire feel bearable. It helps the weakest fighter go the distance.

Alright…I’ll go there. Why am I not working as an actor on Broadway? Heck…working as an actor anywhere! Why? I don’t know. God’s plan, I guess. I can tell you this. Ten years ago, I sure wouldn’t have told you that I was going to be a high school teacher. But then again, ten years ago I was pursuing an acting career…and I was in a self-loathing, self-indulgent, self-ish…pit. My ambitions consisted of landing that commercial audition and feeling the warmth of the spotlight on my face in front of a crowd. Sounds okay for the novice goal-setter! But for the ambitious, A.D.D. actor….nope. It wasn’t enough. I was so scattered…I didn’t know what was around the corner. All I knew was that when I turn that corner, I didn’t really know where I wanted to go next.

Today…I turn the corner and find myself inspired by the shy wallflower in my 4th block class whose eyes sparkled when I used her example in class. Or the tough-guy jock in 1st block who actually made eye-contact with me today and….listened. A milestone? Maybe. A goal reached? I wouldn’t necessarily say that. But I do know that every morning…I put on both of my socks…I shave my patchy face….I eat my Apple Jacks….and I dust myself off, and start all over again.

Those who can’t…teach?

How about: “Those who have faith…teach.”

Without the grace of God…the support of my God…the wisdom and strength of my Lord…I could not even get out of bed. I’d be spineless, scared…and lazy. I’m not the example of a good teacher. Shoot! Not by a long shot! But I’m the example of an average student. One who lives, breathes, prays and learns with my classes everyday. I wouldn’t change that opportunity for anything in the world. Funny thing is….for a silly starry-eyed wanna-be actor….I never even saw it coming!

I don’t agree with Rocky. “…because I can’t sing or dance.” Eh…what does he know. I’ve seen Rhinestone! But I admire the character’s determination. I admire the fact that he knows what he NEEDS to do, whether or not he WANTS to do it. I can’t explain WHY I need to be a teacher. But I do know this…it’s not because of the teacher’s lounge coffee or the promise of a juicy red apple at the end of class. It extends so far beyond that. I can’t tell you why! I don’t know myself.

Instead…I’ll take my summer breaks, thank you! (Or as I call them, “scrimmages.”) Because if it wasn’t for those long runs up the stairs of the library, and the punching bags…and the desire….Rocky would have never gone the distance. I just continue to hope to last the next round….with faith.

I’m no Superman.

Posted in FAITH, FAMILY and FUN, LIFE IN GENERAL / RANDOM RAMBLINGS with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2008 by erikball123
Many of you asked to see pictures of FRANKIE, the newest addition to the Ball Family. Well, here he is in all his fluffy glory! What a big, beautiful beast. We love him and he’s going to be a dream come true for my wife on those scary nights when I’m at rehearsal, and she’s home alone. This mighty protector, who is gentle to his family (and brothers and sisters) but fierce to visitors will give her peace of mind for sure. He’s like a small lion. When we first got him home, he needed to get used to the other little ones running about. (For those who don’t know, we have three others. Penelope the Pug, Beatrice the blind, elderly, diabetic Chihuahua, and Johnny the…uh, Johnny-dog!) They are all much smaller that the Frankster, and so watching them tumble down for breakfast was kinda like that one scene in Cloverfield.

I’m kinda looking forward to this weekend. Three day weekends are nice because it puts a friendly curve on the entire week. Who doesn’t want to think it’s Wednesday, but realize it’s Friday, am I right? I look forward to sleeping in and resting the muscles that awoke from their summer hibernation suddenly during Miss Chris’ M.S. Dance workout. I look forward to prepping for Beauty and the Beast coming up next week. I’m actually even looking forward to putting the first set of grades in the grade-book! How crazy is that! I guess it’s good to look forward to something.

I continue to be concerned for my Grandmother…I’m not sure if you all know, but she’s going in for surgery early September. To try and describe how this makes me feel would be very hard. You know how everyone has that one person in their lives that is their “Superman?” That persona who exemplifies the character you wish you had. My grandmother (aside from my wife) is my best friend and she’s just the best thing since sliced bread. She’s wise, giving, thoughtful, kind, considerate, a hard-worker, a devout Christian, a mother, a sister, a grandma, a great-grandma…and she continues to shoot from the hip and make me laugh. There has never been a moment, a success, a triumph, a pitfall, etc…where she hasn’t been there for me. I love her more than words, and….I’m scared. She went in for a routine check-up…the doctors found something to be concerned about…and two tests later, she scheduled for surgery. She’s 78 years old. *Sigh* Hmmm. I’m not sure what to think about that. What do you do when you see your Superman struggling? What do you do when a source of your own strength is weak? What do you do…when you can’t do anything? Have faith? It’s hard sometimes. I pray. I ask the Lord to please take this burden off of my heavy heart. But even that doesn’t put me in Jackson, Michigan, sitting next to my Grandma in her enclosed front porch.

It’s a scary thing, surgery. Putting your life in the hands of another…willingly. But, if you think about it, I suppose we do it everyday. Not on the operating table, mind you. But parents put their kids in the care of teachers. I care for my new little Frankie, and he trusts that I’ll fill his food dish everyday. We put our trust in the Lord, don’t we? We try anyway. Perhaps that’s what makes this situation so hard. Perhaps I’m still “not used” to putting my trust in God. (Which begs the question…does anyone ever “get used to it?”) In a cage match against a tiger…I KNOW my Grandma could fend for herself. She’s Superman. But…I have such a very difficult time dealing with the fact that I have to trust in the Lord, that whatever happens, it’s part of his plan…it’s part of a bigger plan, that is….and I need to have faith that everything will be okay, including Grandma.

So, I’ll continue to worry. I’ll continue to call Grams and talk about the giant deer that are haunting her front yard and robbing her bird feeders. I’ll continue to hope that from 2000 miles away, my fervent prayer will lift her up as swiftly as if I were right next door. I’ll try to shift focus and look forward to this Christmas, because she’d better have some yummy cheese-straws waiting for me, darn it!

I’ll hope. I’ll pray. The Lord is good, and I know that no matter what happens…Grandma will be taken care of. The power of prayer is unmeasurable…and when you have to put your trust in others….sometimes, it’s all you got. We’re not Superman, you know.

My new doggie Frankie, my white-haired fluffy new buddy is something else. He’s a gentle giant, I’ll tell ya. His droopy eyes and warm welcomes make coming home very pleasant. I’ll sit on the couch and hold his heavy head on my lap. I’ll hug his big ‘ol head and hold his paw.

I’d give just about anything to give my grandma a hug right now or to hold her hand. I know she’s scared even though she’d NEVER admit it. But like a Army private taking his orders from the Admiral, I will keep my chin up, and I will be confident that things will be okay. “Aye, aye, grandma.”

Until I CAN see her again…and look her in the eye…I’ll continue filling my doggie’s bowl…I’ll continue to look forward to three-day weekends…and I’ll continue to pray. Sometimes that’s all you got.

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