Rules of Engagement

“Red Rover Red Rover send Karla on over!” It was a bit scary. First, there wasn’t THAT much room between the two walls of the gym. How fast should I really go to break the barrier of my friends’ arms. Won’t that hurt them? Won’t I get hurt?

Rules were part of the game. Every game in fact. But rules were nothing new to me as my parents lined out a few when I was very young. Following the rules was important to me. It seemed most of us gave it our best efforts. But behind the scenes…

No one really liked him. I felt sorry for him. No one really paid any attention to her. My heart broke for her. Why wouldn’t anyone pick her for the team? Why are others being mean to him? I never understood it. Why are they laughing at her? Isn’t that breaking the rules?

Sundays would come around~my favorite day. We’d soon be gathered around the family table. Under the steeple I’d curiously observe other adults and kids. Bibles open, pens out, and if lucky, candy for us young ones. And the singing was my favorite. The rules were shared through stories; ancient ones and some newer. True events with major consequences for not following the rules. On one hand the fear made me sit up straight. But on the other hand, sermons about love filled me with warmth and acceptance. I learned of this man who always played fair and loved every team member. The rules seemed black and white and rules of engagement seemed… fair.

Last week I shared with my parents as we discussed current events, “Why did I, and so many teachers and parents to this day, spin our wheels trying to teach young kids kindness and civility when our own leaders do not display them?”

Rules had to be displayed when I began teaching at a young age. By the time I left education we had school-wide norms. These expectations were communicated daily in school-wide settings and individual classrooms. “Kids, I’d like for you all to be civil and respectful to one another!” “Even if we disagree let’s show courtesy and respect!” One day several young students and I were sitting in a circle in the counselor’s office. The discussion was about bullying. One girl was obviously the victim. The others, collectively, immediately developed a pack-like attitude. To try and get them to speak individually was like pulling a tooth. The pack remained intact. My own family had their experience at pack attacks throughout the years. Have you ever experienced it?

When I left Facebook a couple of years ago it was because the rules of engagement no longer seemed to exist. After learning some lessons (and still learning) I couldn’t understand why some, hidden behind a screen, could fire shots without any regard to the rules of engagement. Aside from what one might consider just general knowledge about healthy and positive human behavior these attacks seemed planned. And the rules of engagement justified me acting in self-defense right? But to whom does this really benefit?

I was a rule-breaker. There were periods of my life I only thought of myself; I had felt bullied and looked for a way out~despite the rules. I’ve lived with the consequences of breaking the rules and its impact on others. I’ve experienced heartache, hurt, pain, and joy all combined in the lessons.

Several mornings ago, while catching up with the “normally-not-so-uplifting” news, I was refreshed by the interview of two men running for governor of Utah. Their ad was a light in the darkness for me. Republican Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox and law professor Chris Peterson, a Democrat, appeared together to call for civility among voters. Cox and Peterson are running against each other to become the governor of Utah. They joked with one another and encouraged all residents to respect one another; no matter their vote. My smile got wider. This was not a hallucination of hope. It was real.

“Our common values transcend our political differences and the strength of our nation rests on our ability to see that,” Peterson said. “I’m not sure this has ever been done before…but as our national political dialogue continues to decline, my opponent and I decided to try something different,” Cox tweeted Tuesday.  “Let’s make Utah an example to the nation.” (CBS News)

I’m not distracted by false hope anymore. I’m not falling for the fake offering of freedom with instant love. The only attention I need is that which grows my capacity to level the playing field for everyone in which I engage.

I did run across the gym eventually. Although I didn’t break the bonded arms of my friends, the giggly entanglement ensured me I was safe on their team.

I’ll stay my course with my ultimate authority~to guide me and to help me set the parameters that will propel me to encourage and help others in the game. You see, it’s not the rules I focus on anymore~it’s Christ. And Christ alone.

   “There is no exception to this rule: "All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant." They say there is no rule without an exception, but there is an exception to that rule.”
― Charles Spurgeon

Have faith💚

Do-Over

Raise your hand if you’d like a do-over. Ah yes, I see many hands in the air. Some of you might be looking around. Others have their heads down. I’ve had experience with do-overs.

K.L. Hale

“Do I really have to write each word I misspell 15 times?” I asked my teacher in 2nd grade. That was enough for me to become an ace at spelling tests. Fast forward fifteen years to my 2nd grade classroom. Having implemented the Spalding “Writing Road to Reading” theories and practices, along with the spelling to writing and reading curricula, my students didn’t need to worry if they would get do-overs. You bet they did. Victoriously a do-over would lead to why I taught in the first place~to see students light up with learning and mastery. And that mastery was determined by each individual student (not based on their date of manufacture ;-). Some of you must be thinking “hey, you shouldn’t get a do-over on everything!”

My favorite administrator said to me when I was 26, “Karla, I appreciate that you don’t give up on the students or yourself! You’ll find a way!” I’ll never forget the impact of that statement. Ms. M (as I fondly call her) was the reason I changed my Master’s program to administration. She motivated me to fulfill a need to help other adults, not just kids, in do-overs (and of course to help achieve successful first attempts!). It was my personal mission to promote a safe and encouraging environment where each person, young or old, knew that grace would abound. With grace, yoked with skill and motivation, there was a satiation of love and learning. The schoolhouse would be satisfyingly electrifying (oh the stories of when the electrocution hurt!)!

Tweak a situation just a bit and we could all do better I’m sure. “Dad, can I take a mulligan on that shot?” “Mom, will you reteach me that chord?” “Boys, how best can I care for you?” “Students, what are you learning from me?” “Staff, how can I make your job better?” “Friends, in what ways can I help?”

“There’s no need for a do-over!” the voice of God boomed. HE was absolutely right as always. If I were to do it over and over again I’d still be ME. But there ARE things I should be doing over … and over.

My “to-do” over and over list:

  • begin each day with prayer and thanksgiving
  • show compassion
  • give and accept grace
  • be kind
  • learn from my mistakes
  • keep discovering
  • pause and reflect
  • take care of myself and those I love
  • live by truth
  • stay humble
  • see the positive
  • guard my heart
  • help others
  • stay agile
  • be flexible
  • think before I speak

Renew your heart and mind, de-clutter your soul, live with grace, and show love everyday. Do it over and over.

We don’t get a do-over on the ONE LIFE WE HAVE TO LIVE.

Have faith💚