Speak Life

Maybe I Did Learn Something In Literature Class

If your experience in school is anything like mine was, there were some classes you were required to take because they were part of your core curriculum that you thought or maybe even said, “I will never use this again after I get out of this class.” Does that ring any bells?

Well, the literature classes I was required to take in college such as English Literature and American Literature and maybe a Mythology class or two fit into that category for me. At least I thought they did at the time. You know the ones where you had to read something you didn’t want to read and then interpret it to try to match whatever the instructor thought it meant. I tended to agree with Mr. or Mrs., not sure which, Cliff since I used their notes when available.

Lately though I have been thinking maybe I learned more than I thought I did. I think songwriters today are comparable to the classical literary poets and authors of old studied in school. Maybe I learned to recognize and appreciate artistry when I see or hear it.

If you listen to music on the radio or by other means do you listen to the words of the songs?

I am old-fashioned in that when I get a new release I like to open the CD case and read the lyrics as I listen to the music the first or second time through. As a side note, even if you don’t buy music and get the CD most lyrics can be found online somewhere so you don’t have to buy the CD to be able to read the lyrics.

This ensures I am not mis-hearing any words and helps me to really understand the music. I know the melody and beat of the music is important but the lyrics are just as important, probably more important to me. I am of the old school that believes that what you put into your mind has a lot to do with your mood and outlook on everything you do. If you are listening to negative, degrading words over and over to a beat you will hear them and they will be ingrained in your sub-conscious mind and that will affect your mood and possibly your behavior. You might not even think you are listening to the words, you just like the music, but whether consciously or not your mind is hearing them.

Positive, upbeat is better than negative, explicit

So, whenever possible, I listen to positive, upbeat, encouraging songs. If any music has to have an “Explicit” label on it you will not find it in my catalog of music. I have a similar standard for comedians as well. If you can’t be funny without the vulgar, explicit language then you are just not funny. I wrote about this a while back in Adult? Language.

Because of the way I listen to music a song will often come to mind as I travel through life that speaks to me, encourages me, and makes the journey more enjoyable, or, depending on the situation, bearable.

I will be sharing some of these lyrics from time to time and hope by doing so that someone else might discover the poetry and artistry contained in many of today’s songs in ways you might not have before. It might even introduce you to some new artists that might be an encouragement to you too.

For your consideration, this song was written by Toby McKeehan, Jamie Moore, and Ryan Stevenson.

Speak Life

Some days life feels perfect, other days it just ain’t workin’ / The good, the bad, the right, the wrong, and everything in between/ It’s crazy, amazing, we can turn a heart through the words we say/ Mountains crumble with every syllable, hope can live or die

So speak life, speak life / To the darkest night / Speak life, speak life / When the sun won’t shine and you don’t know why / Look into the eyes of the broken hearted / Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope, you speak love / You speak life

Some days the tongue gets twisted, other days my thoughts just fall apart / I do, I don’t, I will, I won’t / It’s like I’m drowning in the deep / Well, it’s crazy to imagine words from our lips as the arms of compassion / Mountains crumble with every syllable, hope can live or die

Lift your head a little higher / Spread the love like fire / Hope will fall like rain when you speak life with the words you say / Raise your thoughts a little higher / Use your words to inspire / Joy will fall like rain when you speak life with the things you say / Lift your head a little higher / Spread the love like fire / Hope will fall like rain when you speak life with the words you say.

Words like that encourage me and I think they would encourage you too. It is also how I try to use my words. I am not always successful but it is a goal I strive for. This one is not too hard to interpret.

You may or may not have recognized the first author’s name.

He is more popularly known as Toby Mac

Toby Mac - Six Flags - St. Louis - July 24, 2009
Toby Mac – Six Flags – St. Louis – July 24, 2009

and this song comes from his latest release called Eye On It. I am not generally a fan of the hip-hop music genre which is one category his music usually fits into. He started out as a rapper with DC Talk. I was fortunate enough to see him in concert at Six Flags in St. Louis a little over four years ago. I was impressed by the professionalism and artistry of their live show

Toby Mac and DiverseCity – Six Flags – July 24, 2009

as well as the message in the music. There were a few of his earlier songs I did like but I was not really a Toby Mac fan until after this show. My kids were fans and now I was too. I think they were more DC Talk fans though and I am more of a Toby Mac fan.

I became an even bigger fan when I learned he was a father of five and only about 3 years younger than me. I am a father or four. I don’t know about you but when there are things I share in common with others that helps me identify with them more. He is a Christian, husband and father and I am too. We both enjoy good music but that is where the similarities end. I cannot sing, cannot dance or perform in front of thousands of people. However I might one day write a song or two. We’ll see.

This is only one of the songs I really like on this CD. There are many more such as Steal My Show, Eye On It, Unstoppable, Forgiveness and Favorite Song to name a few. If you have never listened to Toby Mac here is your chance. You can go hear and listen to Speak Life now. I hope you enjoy it. Maybe you will find a new artist, author or poet you like too.

Until next time…Speak Life!

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I Agree

We Are Enterprise

Have you ever had one of “those” moments…when someone else expresses the feelings or beliefs that you share but have never expressed to anyone verbally, except maybe your wife, as I have? Well, that just happened for me.

At the most recent Enterprise City School Board Meeting on September 24th, Perry Vickers spoke and expressed feelings I share and I suspect many other have had and share over the past few months since this issue became public in June. Continue reading I Agree

Trust and Assumptions

We Are EnterpriseWe were told back in June that “none of this would have happened” if we, the citizens of Enterprise had been attending the school board meetings. We were then told by the same board member that “there were some things we didn’t know” and we just need to “trust them.” That seems rather contradictory to me. On one hand we are told we should have been there to watch the meetings so that “none of this” would have happened and on the other hand we just need to “trust them.”

I used a lot of “we’s” there. We, in this case refers to non-board members.

It is now mid-September and there are still things we do not know, so we have to assume or make educated guesses based on what we do know or believe to be true, and there is still a lack of trust between the school board and the citizens of the City of Enterprise.

I have never been one to just complain to hear myself complain. Don’t get me wrong. I have and do complain and expect that will not change in the future.

However, complaints only help identify the issue or problem, which is the first step in resolving any issue. In my career and in life when I have complained I have, when possible, tried to suggest possible solutions to help resolve whatever it is I was complaining about. If I determined, based on my judgment, no changes would be forthcoming, I had to choose to stay and make the best of a bad situation or leave the situation. I have done both.

For the issue at hand here, lack of trust, I do think there are actions that can be taken to re-establish and build trust. Some who read this will agree. Some will not. However, they do represent some steps or actions that will help in most similar situations and could help here too.

Respect and Trust

Respect_and_Trust_ZZBTW

This slide appeared in my news feed in the last few days. It still amazes me how often I see something like this now and my thoughts immediately go to our current situation in Enterprise. This one seems to fit very well to me.

“~Respect and Trust~

The two easiest things in life for someone to lose and the hardest things to get back.”

Trust is very hard to regain once it has been lost. It can be done but it takes a concerted consistent effort to do so. I believe the two ingredients required are communication and time. We have had time pass, 3 months to the day, since this issue boiled over in June but not much communication or concerted effort from the school board to venture down the path to rebuild trust.

Communication, communication, communication

Anyone who has either sold real estate as a realtor or bought or sold it as a consumer has heard that the three most important factors to consider in this type of transaction is location, location, and location. Similarly, I believe the three most important actions to consider in anyone trying to build or rebuild trust are communication, communication, and communication.

Think about your relationships with friends and family. If someone breaks your trust and asks you to trust them going forward then avoids you or doesn’t make an effort to open up a dialogue and start trying to talk to you more regularly than they did when that trust was broken, where do your thoughts go? If they are like mine they would head right to assumptions such as, “There they go again. Nothing has changed. They are just doing what they want, heading down the same path again, not considering anyone else, and obviously did not mean what they said.”

On the other hand if that person were to come to you and say, “I want us to be able to trust each other again so I would like to have regular meetings and conversations so you can hold me accountable and know what my thoughts and motives are so you don’t have to assume the worst,” I would think you would be receptive to and welcome that if you wanted to rebuild that trust yourself.

You would likely be skeptical or cautious at first, and rightly so, but over time, if their actions matched their words trust would begin to grow.

Encouraged and Discouraged

I was both encouraged and discouraged last week when I attended the special school board meetings that included the budget hearings. There were handouts available for anyone who attended showing the budget information being presented. Many more than were needed were printed as the attendance at these two meetings was the lowest I have seen since June, which was a little discouraging to me. I know they were budget meetings and scheduled earlier than normal and one of them was on Wednesday night when many are at church so that made it harder for folks to get there. I just hope this is not a continuing trend.

I was encouraged because this proves that supplemental information can be provided by the board if they choose to do so.

Sharing Information

Sharing information – communicating – is critical, in my estimation if this situation is to change. The information would not have to be printed but that is one option. Another would be to use the News sections of the School Board web site and post information there or the board or individual board members could start a blog and share information that way. If I can do it anyone can.

The method is not the critical issue but sharing information is.

What could be shared?

I know there are some things that are not shareable to the public. I am not talking about that type of information. I am talking about filling in some of the gaps that do not get addressed during the board meetings or are not explained adequately. I am sure that board members have thought, “I wish I had said…” after a meeting. I know that community members have had unanswered questions after board meetings. Updates for what is going on between the board meetings and maybe even some of the whys and methodology used to arrive at the decisions being made during the meetings could be shared also.

A couple of specific examples that come to mind for me are as follows.

There were questions about the salary difference between the interim superintendent and the former superintendent that have come up a couple of times in different meetings. I have been an independent contractor and understand the difference between that and a salaried employee. Many might not understand that difference.

“According to The Wall Street Journal, ICs are usually paid 20% to 40% more per hour than employees performing the same work. Hiring firms can afford to pay ICs more because they don’t have to pay Social Security taxes or unemployment compensation taxes, provide workers’ compensation coverage, or provide employee benefits like health insurance and sick leave.”

You can read more about that here if you are interested.

Mr. Barr said he made this calculation and there was only about a $1500 difference. That was understandable and enough for me. However, to make it clear to everyone the calculations he used to arrive at the $1500 could have been provided by one of the methods mentioned above as supplemental information to the meeting. That might have prevented future questions.

Another example would be the suggestion by the interim superintendent at the last regular board meeting that the board should enforce the policies already in place regarding speakers at board meetings. This will change how they have been handled in recent meetings where they have gone from allowing people to add their name to the list at the beginning of the meeting to now requiring they call the superintendent’s office prior to the meeting. Time limits for speakers were also mentioned.

This will be perceived as a form of censorship regardless of how it is handled if changes are made. However, if the board wanted to build goodwill or show they are trying to rebuild trust with the community they would announce and explain the new process prior to enforcing it. They may be planning to do this at the next meeting and then enforcing it for subsequent meetings. That would be the best way to handle it.

However, if they were to post the new process on the News page of the Board of Education web site ahead of the meeting this would indicate they are not planning to just spring it on those planning to speak at the next meeting. I suspect most will not agree with or like the new process but at least it would have been explained so those planning to speak would know the new rules and be able to prepare their comments accordingly.

Will this work in Enterprise? I don’t know. It has not been attempted so far.

If the board did start sharing more information would the people believe it?

No. I don’t think we would at first. However, over time, and I don’t know what that period of time is, if the communications and actions matched and are in sync with what is best for Enterprise City Schools I believe it would work.

Will it even be tried?

I don’t know. That is up to the Board of Education. If it isn’t then the board will be aware we will continue making assumptions based on what we believe to be true based on the information we have and will continue to have suspicions or doubts about any decisions made. The ball is in the board’s court on this.

What can we do?

If the attendance at board meetings continues to dwindle then the board will be the ones making assumptions. They will assume that everything is fine and we are satisfied with what they are doing and the issue has “blown over.” If that is not true then we cannot let that happen. The ball is in the citizens’ court here. Let’s not fumble the ball now.  It IS football season so that just rolled out.

The next regular board meeting is next Tuesday at 6:00. I hope the attendance is more similar to the June meetings than the most recent meetings in September.

Until next time…

Originally posted on Peculiar Perspective on 9/19/2013

 

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April 10, 2005 – Revisit

April 10, 2005 is a date our family will never forget. Our two oldest daughters, Sarah and Amy were coming home from Dairy Queen, the unofficial Sunday night after church meeting place for our family and church at that time, and were hit head on by a drunk driver.

Sarah has written about this experience lately as only she can since she was the one driving and experienced this like no one else. She is doing a wonderful job describing what she went through and she is a much better writer than me so I am just going to let her speak for herself.

I am always amazed when I think of all she and Amy went through and how they both have handled it. They have taught me and others much from their actions. I am a very proud father as I expect their Heavenly Father is as well. Here is their story.

Be Careful What You Pray For

April 10, 2005 I was driving home from church with my little sister, and we were hit head-on by a drunk driver passing in a no-passing zone along a two-lane highway. Over the next month or so, I would like to use my posts on Fridays to share this story with you because I need to remember how faithful God has been in my life, and I need to share the story of his faithfulness with others… to continue reading  click here

April 10, 2005

The Accident

Writing about what happened that Sunday night has always been hard because I never know where to begin or how much to include. So bear with me.

After church on Sunday evenings we would always go to our local Dairy Queen, but this Sunday, I had a strong feeling that I shouldn’t go. I ignored it. To continue reading click here

The Hospital

After I was life flighted to a hospital in St. Louis, it was all kind of a blur–probably because the nurses gave me my first couple of doses of morphine…to continue reading click here

Hospital Life Lessons

One can learn a lot from an extended stay in the hospital. Here are my top ten lessons. To read more click here

A Change of Heart

Since I was hit by a drunk driver we had to go through a criminal trial against, Mr. Vancil, the man who hit me and my sister. This meant seeing him–which I wasn’t sure how I would handle. To read more click here

 

Moving On

We Are Enterprise

I saw this quote the other day on one of my information feeds and it resonated with me in regards to the ongoing relationship or lack thereof between the leadership of the Enterprise City School Board and the citizens of Enterprise.

 

The quote is, “Moving on doesn’t mean you forget about things. It just means you have to accept what happened and continue living.”

Moving On_1175006_10151876078723304_1178105272_n

Reality

Based on his inaction so far I just do not see any change forthcoming from the President of the School Board. Continue reading Moving On