Saturday, November 29, 2014

the one where I

I am not a finisher.

Not even close. I'm an IDEAS girl. I love to create and find new things and develop and plan... but I rarely finish.

One of the biggest areas this nasty habit emerges is in my reading life. I used to say I wasn't A READER. Your reaction to that statement probably has something to do with my degree in English or my 7 year run as an English teacher, but that's another discussion for another day. Last year I set out on a quest to become A READER. It worked. But it did not resolve my deep-seated issues of being a non-finisher. I'm currently in the middle of reading 6 books--with a stack of about as many on deck.

From time to time, this finishing issue starts to get to me. It's like a bad habit that I'm constantly looking to break. Last Tuesday was one of those times. I sat down with a fairly free schedule for the day and decided to finish as much of my "currently reading" list as possible. (Truth be told, I felt guilty about a book my sister-in-law had let me borrow and thought I could return it to her over Thanksgiving.) Goal set.

Don't you know where this is going? Here's what I read that afternoon...

from You're Made for a God-Sized Dream by Holley Gerth

Heather didn't ever think of herself as a "stay-at-home" mom. She respected and admired women who made that choice. Yet it was clear she had an incredible gift when it came to designing and God had called her to DaySpring. Still, as Micah grew and a daughter, Lily, arrived as well, it seemed she heard a new call too.
She sensed God whispering that for this season, he wanted her to be able to focus more on being a mom. We talked about that transition many times over lunch. Heather wrestled with it intensely. Even when she made the transition, she confessed that it was much harder than she imagined, although it was what a part of her deep inside really wanted too.
She had two God-sized dreams that seemed to be in conflict with each other. Heather says:
It took some time to adjust to the idea. Those first few months were very hard. Then one day a quote stick out to me. It said, "You can have it all--but you can't have it all at once." That changed my perspective. I began to think of my dreams in terms of seasons. For now, I knew that the God-sized dream of being home with my kids was supposed to be my main focus. That was a dream that didn't come naturally to me. My other dream, of fulfilling my creative calling, had always been there, and now it seemed I needed to pursue it differently. For a while I stepped away completely from that dream but then gradually began doing freelance work and finding other ways to express that desire of my heart. In a few years, both of my kids will be in school and my God-sized dreams will change again. I used to think that dreams stayed the same all of our lives. Now I understand that they change right along with us and what God has in each season....
Our lives shift and change. Seasons come and go. Our dreams do too. But through it all one thing remains steady: the God who put those dreams within our hearts in the first place.

The end of that hit me hard. Did you catch it? It's probably a personal issue, but I definitely read this sentence in there:

"In a few years, both of my kids will be in school and I will go back to the job I loved."

And as I finished the sentences that followed, they just did not seem cohesive with that idea. So I reread it.

HAH. Change. "... and my God-sized dreams will change again." Come on. Really?

Sometimes I feel like I'm waiting for my life to go back to how it was when ________.

I always say that somewhere in the back of my mind I expect to go back to Olivet Nazarene University. I think about walking across campus and Darin riding up next to me on his bike. I think about soaking up knowledge in the halls of Burke or late night study sessions at Denny's. I think about going back to a time when spending a Saturday in the Windy City was normal and life was oh-so-simple.

Other times I assume life will return to being two young newlyweds with the world before us. Traveling together, making some of our very first real world decisions together, having nothing and no one but each other to take care of each day.

I'm not saying I wish to go back to these previous lives. I love my life and regret not one bit of it. It's hard to explain, but I actually just find myself assuming that we will see those experiences again someday. And we won't. Which is okay. But we won't.

My current dilemma leaves me thinking about when I'll go back to teaching. And when I imagine it, I imagine it perfectly like it was in the past. This will never happen. And I know this, but I've been stuck thinking about it for quite some time. Until I read this story from this book I had carelessly not finished. And oh, how I needed to read that very story on that very day.

Life won't go back to what it was. Ever. I'm working on that idea still. I am frequently asked if I'll go back to teaching next year or maybe when Jackson goes to school. I never know how to answer this. It usually depends on how my day is going. Things going well? I might not ever go back. Tough day? I'm going back next year. But I think God is trying to tell me that I will never just "go back." There's a different dream at the end of this one. Who knows how close it will look to anything I've done in the past.

More importantly, I'm not to the end of this dream yet. So I'm praying and waiting and listening and hoping to find contentment and peace with where God has me right now. And some days, I really see it! I'm working on the others. [Deep breath out.]

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dear Mady Jane, You are LOVED.

"And he told them the wonderful Story of God's Love -- God's Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love."  [The Jesus Storybook Bible]

Dear Mady Jane,

I've been thinking about you quite a bit lately -- about my job as your parent, about the unbelievable amount of new things you are learning, about who you are at your very core (and why). You are five and a half (we know that "half" is oh so important). You have entered the world of Kindergarten. You are making friends on your own. You are buying lunch in the cafeteria. You are using words like vertices and investigation and circumference and gratitude. You are reading -- everything. Your rate of change is incalculable right now. It's crazy, really. And scary. SLOW DOWN, Child! I can't keep up, and you know I have a slight need to control. ;)

As my head spins and I try to do all the best things for you, I am constantly hoping that we can give you the best foundation for what God has for your future. Your future is b-r-i-g-h-t, girl. You are intelligent. You have enthusiasm. You love people. But most importantly, you know Jesus.

I know I fail often, but I have been repeatedly reminded lately that my parenting is an important piece of what could shape how you view God in the future -- the struggles you might have with faith or the things that will come easily because you've experienced them through us. Oh, how I pray the comparisons will be more than the contrasts. I know it is my job to provide you with an example of love -- "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love." I adore the way this description of God's love is repeated in your Storybook Bible. And I adore, even more, that you quote this portion every night from memory as we read.

Do not forget that love, Mady. I will try to show it to you as often as humanly possible, but, girl, I am just not quite good enough for you to experience the depth of love that you deserve. Please realize that this is the difference between us and God. He can do that. Perfectly. So when you doubt your awkward-middle-school self... when the high school hormones are flailing... when you question what you're supposed to be doing with your young adult life... when you (some far far away day) become a mother and feel completely inadequate... I pray you will hear an echo of your sweet five-and-a-half-year-old self and remember His "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love." Because that, Madelyn Jane, is His gift for you.

Jesus, thank you for your perfect love. Help me to be an example of that love. Help me to never stop, to never give up. Keep me from breaking, failing. And when my love does break and fail, help me to pick it back up, that it may be always and forever. Only through you.

Monday, October 20, 2014

the one that made a difference

I've been struggling lately with the idea that I make any difference in this world. Eventually I'll stop talking about everything in this way, but it truly is just another part of quitting my job. My daily interactions used to include 150+ students. Not to mention my colleagues or administration or student council or past students. Or even the wonderful people who took care of Mady Jane and Jackson at their daycare and at Riverdale Preschool. When I quit my job, my world shrunk in a fairly prodigious way. And it just feels like one of the most difficult things in the world to me to go out and get involved in something right now. If I'm being honest, it's a huge fear of mine that is totally not okay, and I'm working on it. Or at least I'm working on the idea that I should be working on it. :)

My bible study is currently reading Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker. The idea of being the hands and feet of Jesus... of really acting on what we believe Jesus would do for people... living out a life of active love... the idea of taking care of the least of these... these ideas come at a very frustrating time for me. It is so bothering me. Why now? As a teacher in a public high school, the opportunity to put my beliefs into action was a constant. There was an enormous amount of need placed in front of my face daily. But now?

I know without a doubt that I am where I'm supposed to be, but it is a struggle at times. I'm not saying I was the best teacher. I'm not saying I changed lives or even affected most of them. But I sure had the opportunity to do so. Every single day. It was just right there before me - Here you go, Cassie. The OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

So now what?

I sat down this morning to research some ideas. I mean, I volunteer at Mady's school each week, and I love that. But let's be real - I have a toddler every other day of the week (which I also love, don't get me wrong), so I have to be a little creative. And by "be a little creative" I mean "find someone else's creative ideas." I really just googled "make a difference." I don't know. I didn't know where to start.


DID YOU KNOW THIS SATURDAY IS "MAKE A DIFFERENCE" DAY? You guys. I googled it. I googled "make a difference" and there it was, right there before me: Join us on October 25 2014 for Make a Difference Day. There are links to ideas and local events. It's a beautiful idea, really, to rally together and get things done in our communities. Ironically, Darin had already planned to be a part of an outreach event this weekend with his group of guys. How cool is that? So now to find my place. And a place for my kids - because how great would it be for Mady to see the importance in this. Challenge accepted!

Feeling challenged?

Check out their website at or let me know what ideas you might have. We just might join you!

For more than 20 years, USA WEEKEND Magazine, in collaboration with Points of Light, has brought you Make A Difference Day, the nation’s largest day of community service. Make A Difference Day is a celebration of neighbors helping neighbors. Millions of volunteers from across the nation will unite in a common mission to improve the lives of others on Make A Difference Day, Saturday, October 25, 2014. The stories told around Make A Difference Day show that anyone – regardless of age, location or resources – can accomplish amazing things when they take on the problems they see in their community.

Monday, October 13, 2014

the one where I was a stressball

Let's talk about STRESS.

(I can almost feel my eye twitching.)

I mentioned in my last post that I was somewhat of a workaholic. You could also have labeled me STRESSBALL. I know "The Stress of Education" is kind of a hot topic these days. Many teachers are quick to explain how loaded their jobs are - complaining or not, it requires quite a bit out of you if you take it seriously at all. People on the other side (who obviously don't know many teachers) are quick to roll their eyes at this. I'll save my views on that for another time, but suffice it to say - I think the issue of the public vs teachers would have driven me to quit eventually, had God not intervened with his plan first. My point is this: I was stressed. Entirely.

I've been thinking about stress lately. I think it's a part of this whole journey I'm on right now. I'm still stressed. At least, I am physically. It's the strangest thing to me. My day-to-day has completely changed. I have no reason to feel like I'm overloaded - I'm not overloaded. But could someone please tell my body that? I have been worn out and emotionally, um, wobbly, to say the least. :) And you want to know my tell? My eye twitches. Incessantly. I mean, I can tell you specific times in my life that I've had this issue. Each time involves a great deal of stress and very little sleep - Lit Crit papers in college, completing my final student teaching portfolio, an overly-thorough job interview, my first teaching observation, every test run during the last weeks of my pregnancies, my first homecoming week handling the money for student council... very busy seasons of my life. But this? My eye started its lovely spasm the first week of September and finally stopped October 3rd.

You know what cured it? Fall break. I realize the concept of a break from school no longer applies to me, but I truly believe that it was so physically ingrained in me to be stressed during this time every year that my body just did it by habit. I know I sound crazy.

So I've been trying to be really specific about things I'm facing in my life and what God has for me to learn from them. He's obviously been drawing my attention to my created habit of stress. Application? Right under my nose. I've been reading You're Made for a God-Sized Dream by Holley Gerth. My sister-in-law, Sarah, gave it to me; She's one of my great encouragers. :) I was reading this weekend and came across this passage:

   Stress is inherent in pursuing "more" in your life. It's part of God-sized dreams. When it's positive, stress serves as a motivator and pushes us toward growth. But when we chronically live in stress, it saps us of our strength and we end up in survival mode.
   Our brains have another area intended to help us rationally process life and our emotions. Most of the time, this is the part God intends to be in charge. But ensuring that happens means intentionally creating a healthy lifestyle. When we make poor food choices, ignore exercise, and don't get enough rest, then we flip ourselves into living out of a stress response. That makes it much harder to hear God's voice, love those around us, and effectively pursue the God-sized dreams in our hearts.


She goes on to make it really personal...

   If you find yourself having a tough day, pause and ask, "What does my body need right now?"...
   Don't be surprised if you ask yourself that question and the answer that comes back is, "I need a triple-shot mocha with extra whipped cream." That's the part of your brain that's in charge of the stress response simply telling you what it thinks will make it all better now. Think of it like a toddler and kindly respond, "Thanks for that idea, but I think we'd better go with something different this time." Give yourself, and your brain, grace in those moments. Overall it serves you well--you just can't let it take charge in times of stress.

Or times of fake stress. :)

She suggests three things to do at a minimum: Commit to getting 7-10 hours of sleep a night, get moving a few times a week, and put a basic plan in place for healthy eating. I've got the first one covered now. And, honestly, have been doing well with the second one, too. The third is always my most difficult. I'm not sure why healthy eating is so hard for me, but it has really been my biggest stumbling block--especially since I adopted this lifestyle of stress. BUT. I'm done with the stressball life. I can be done with this, too.

We've made many many changes in our family recently. It's like our lives are under a fairly extensive renovation; not many areas have been left untouched. At the end of September, my eye twitch was not the only thing to go. We also left behind our unbalanced lifestyle. We started October with an Advocare 24-Day Challenge, and we're looking to move our lives to a healthy, stress-free place. I'm not going to say that food hasn't still been a struggle. But I'm looking for suggestions! What do you do for healthy family meals? Anything to keep it fun and interesting?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

the one that changed my life

So... I think it's time. Truth be told, I came back to blogging at this point in my life because several people at several different times have told me to write this story down. It probably should have been my first post, but then what would I have had to anticipate for the past few weeks? (And the 3 weeks it's actually taken me to write this out and hit "publish.")

I should have done it, actually. We basically attended 3 family weddings and a funeral within about 3 weeks, not to mention starting Mady in a new school and joining a new small group. I cannot even begin to count how many times I was asked about my job in some form or fashion at all of these events--old family friends and relatives looking to catch up on my life... new faces attempting small talk (my fave). I think I took the time to tell the big story twice, which really does it no justice, but I wish I could have nonchalantly responded, "Oh. It's a great story. Here's my blog about it." I'm sure that sounds rude, but Reticent Cassie just does things like that sometimes. And Reticent Cassie was just exhausted by the end of all of these acquaintance-filled social events.

ANYWAY. If you've been in my presence over the last 8 months, you've probably seen this wristband. Though I have been known to engage in competitions to see how long I can go without taking off an event wristband (yay ONE DAY!), this was really just to serve as my own reminder to pray. It also led to a few great conversations.
In January, I met my (now) sister-in-law, Michelle in Charleston to attend the CHOSEN Women's Conference at Seacoast Church with my BFF, Laura. I LOVE these two girls. I LOVE Charleston. And I had a new-found love for women's conferences. :) 

A few months before the conference, we each had to register including two breakout sessions. To be honest, I was fairly convinced the highlight of this weekend would be getting to see Jen Hatmaker, and I really didn't have a clue who any of the other speakers were. Other than her session, I didn't care what we did. The sessions were themed according to the pieces of the Armor of God, so the "Shoes of Peace" sounded like a winner. Every woman could use some more peace, right? Sign me up!

The week of the conference arrived in a blaze of... ice. ICE. In Charleston, South Carolina. After my first flight was completely canceled and my second delayed, I made it there the next day within minutes of the band playing for the opening service. I could elaborate on the miracle that it was that I even arrived there, but let's just acknowledge that a place like Charleston does not deal with ice storms, like... ever, and cut this part of the story to: "We're lucky I made it."

The conference was awesome. Truly. They have some incredible things going on at that church and one of them is their ability to minister to women, for sure. But my moment came in our last breakout session on Friday. Laura and I went to hear Stephanie Haynes speak about having peace in your life. Stephanie started her session with an overview of what she was going to discuss: the idea of ordering the things in our life according to priority and then matching the priority placed to the amount of time spent on each thing. But then she kind of backed up and said she wanted to get to know her audience first. She asked us to raise our hands to several questions--How many of you are married? Have young children? Have adult children? Work full time? etc. Then she told us a little about herself. She and her husband met in college. They later married and lived in California. She was a high school English teacher, LOVED her job, and was good at it. She talked about how much she enjoyed being a part of a school and teenagers' lives--practices, games, clubs, school spirit, etc. (Obviously, I identified with her.) Then she had her first child--a bright little girl with a strong personality. She decided to find in-home care for her daughter. (She felt this was what "good mom's" do instead of daycare. I'm not knocking it, I promise. I just know exactly how she felt.) She talked about the struggle she felt with her little girl when she got home at night and how she realized later that this not-so-structured day for her daughter was translating to stress. She was trying to mold her in the hour or two they might have together after work, and her daughter was fighting it. They went through several child care settings and had issues with just as many. Then she got pregnant again. This time a boy. She talked about how easy-going her son was and how badly she needed that at the time. (You with me, yet? I was convinced, by this point, that she was telling my life story right there in front of me, Bizarre doesn't even begin to describe it.) Here's where her story and mine part ways. Eventually, the stress consumed her. Her bio on her website explains it like this: "A self-described “Recovering wanna-do-it-all super woman,” Stephanie spent most of her life rushing toward achieving every goal she set, usually all at the same time and to perfectionist standards. At the age of 31 she ended up so stressed that she was in peri-menopause, at high risk of a heart attack, and completely messing up her marriage and her kids. That’s when she surrendered her life to Jesus, and life hasn't been the same since." (from

Our session ended somewhat abruptly after we hurried through the meat of her message. To say I felt connected to her story would be an understatement. I knew God was telling me that I needed to slow down and pay attention to the mess in my life. I really wanted to talk with her when she finished, but resigned myself to my typical "I-don't-do-that" and left. The feeling, however, did not leave. I had a strong urge to speak with her, but I didn't even know what I would say. We passed her in the hall several times throughout the conference. I had many opportunities, and I even told Laura that I wanted to talk to her, but I never did. I just decided I'd email her later if I ever figured out what I wanted to say to her. (passive, passive, passive)

The conference ended Friday, and we spent the weekend enjoying Charleston. I was spending most of my thinking moments trying to figure out how I needed to re-organize my schedule to avoid stress. At lunch on Sunday before heading to the airport, I halfway admitted to Laura that I was thinking it might mean a big change. I remember asking her something like, "I mean, am I supposed to be staying home with my kids? Could this possibly mean that?" This thought terrified me, so I assumed I was being dramatic and needed to see what other options God had.

If you know me very well at all, you probably know how much I hate small talk. Airplanes just kill me. Nothing like sitting centimeters from a perfect stranger and breathing the same awkward air. Flying Southwest and waiting for people to pick the seat next to you makes me wanted to poke my eyeballs out with a fork. Yuck. I love to fly, but it might be at the very bottom of my list of least favorite social settings. So I get on my plane awkwardly alone and sit with my headphones in so whoever sits next to me doesn't expect conversation. And do you know who sits next to me? STEPHANIE HAYNES. I instantly text Laura...

"I am sitting beside STEPHANIE HAYNES."

To which she replies...

"You better talk to her! It is not by accident, you know!"

And I think my response was something like, "I'm trying."

And I did try.

At least in my head I tried. I thought through every possible way I could strike up a conversation with this woman, and I just COULD. NOT. DO. IT. (Yes, I understand that something about me is not right.) I would play out scenarios in my head... When the stewardess comes to take our drink orders, that will be an open in conversation... Maybe I should get out my notes from the conference and see if she notices... and my last ditch effort - When we stand to get our luggage. Surely we'll make eye contact, and I can say something. Anything! But do you know that I did not say one word to her? It was the longest flight of my life. Torture. I just kept digging myself in deeper to the hole where I was hiding. And worst of all, I KNEW I was being disobedient. I'm not sure I've ever so directly avoided something I knew I was supposed to do. I was in tears by the end of the flight.

I walked off the plane BESIDE HER. Didn't say a word. She went to the right. I went to the left. And I had missed my chance.

I went to the nearest restroom to try to pull myself together before I went to find Darin and the kids. Listen - I have failed at plenty of things in life, but this was one of my toughest. I have no idea why it hit me so hard, but I was beyond frustrated that I couldn't make myself speak to her. How dumb! What kind of fear was I allowing to paralyze me? Yuck.

I pulled it together as best I could and decided to exit the bathroom stall, face all blotchy and everything. AND. THERE. SHE. WAS. Stephanie Haynes, who I KNOW had walked in the other direction. SHE PUTS HER HAND ON MY SHOULDER and says, "You have the most beautiful eyes. You were on my plane, and I noticed them then."

(Looking back on this, I credit the whole eye-noticing-thing to my crazy tears. My face turns bright red when I cry. My eyes contrast it and almost look fluorescent. Only when I'm crying.)

I then, of course, burst into tears once again. I thought, "I don't have beautiful eyes! No one ever says that about my eyes. I mean, most people tell me they can't even see my eyes! I don't have beautiful eyes. I am supposed to talk to you." (Fill in with much blubbering.) I explained how I had been in her session at Chosen and had felt like my life was being told right there in front of me. We talked for what must have been an hour... cried together, laughed, prayed... right there in the airport restroom. She gave me her contact information, told me to email her when I was home, and she sent me her book.


I went home that night and told Darin that I was beyond sure I was no longer supposed to be teaching. So NOT an easy decision. An obvious one at this point, maybe, but not easy. I have never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I know that sounds awful to some, but I loved my job. And I just didn't really feel like it was for me. But HELLO. We needed to change this.

So we did it. More thoughts on this process to come, I'm sure. :)

***EDIT: I need to put a few disclaimers on this. #1 - I am in no way saying every mom should quit working and stay home with her kids. I completely believe that some women are capable of working a full time job and being an awesome parent at the same time. In my own weird way, I was a complete workaholic. I worked a ridiculous number of hours - mostly by choice. And that's not to mention the amount of time my thoughts were consumed by work/stress. I may have looked like I was on top of everything, but I was truly failing. #2 - We were in no way financially ready for this. We had never ever planned on me staying home. Since I made my decision to quit my job, I cannot even tell you how many women have said something like, "Good for you. If we could have afforded it, I would have done the same thing." Ummm. I'm not really sure we can "afford" it. And I honestly barely considered that. It will be ridiculously difficult, I'm sure. But sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. ***

Monday, August 18, 2014

the one with the good things

Okay, God. I get it.

This whole "stay-at-home-mom" thing was not exactly my idea. If I'm being honest (and I might as well be - it's fairly obvious to most people), it was pretty far down on my list of things I ever thought I would do. Like... ever. But here I am.

And it's a good thing.

It's a good thing I'm home instead of working for many reasons--reasons that are obvious, reasons that are logistical, reasons that are being thrown in my face. Here are just a few:

We spent the last 10 days of July traveling for big family events. If you know anything about me as a teacher, the close of July is usually crunch time and stress-filled. But I didn't have to worry over being ready as soon as we returned. And it's a good thing.

We returned on August 3rd to a house with no A/C. Sleeping that night was tough enough (I don't do heat); sleeping that night with heat and the anxiety of school starting the next day would have been impossible. But I didn't have to be ready and presentable on Monday. And it's a good thing.

Just before we walked into that sauna, Darin received a call that his great-grandmother had passed away. I spent Monday staying out of our hot house and doing laundry at mom's in order to not make it any hotter. Then we turned around and drove to Michigan early on Tuesday for the visitation, funeral on Wednesday, and drove home on Thursday. Friday was the first full day for students in our county, so I would have either missed the funeral or missed the first week of school. But I didn't have to make that choice. And it's a good thing.

Last week was spent getting ready for a reception to celebrate my brother's marriage. It was fun and tedious and creative and exciting and long and all done during the day when I wasn't working. And it's a good thing.

And then there's today. TODAY.

Today I woke up to the sound of Jackson throwing up in bed. In case you feel like your alarm clock is a terrible way to wake up, this sound is far worse. Ugghhh. But you know what? I didn't even have to think twice about how on earth we were going to take care of him on this Monday morning.

And it's a good God thing.

But I think I get it now! I'm ready to be totally thankful for the ability to stay home. And I promise, God, that I don't need anymore of these type of reminders (though I'm sure they will come). I know any of these things on top of school would not have been a good mix for me. And, while I do miss my job, I am so thankful for the opportunity to work on this part of my life. The part where I get to spend the first 30 minutes of Mady's first day of school ever in her classroom watching her. The part where I get to sit in the car line every day to pick her up after school. The part where I get to spend some awesome one-on-one time with my little homebody, Jackson. The part where I get to think through dinner and our evening... which is what I should be doing right now! SO thankful.

(Side note: Turns out Jackson's fine. My kids do this awesome thing when they're stuffy. My dad would tell you that I was equally as awesome.)

Monday, August 11, 2014

the one with the iphone wallpaper

SO our church started a new sermon series...

 No More Mondays
Judging by Darin's very early and enthusiastic start this morning and my (failed) attempt to make today extra-fabulous, Pastor Brady has effectively provoked us to look into our attitudes about the beginning of a new week.(I highly recommend downloading his podcasts, by the way--

 My usual reaction to feeling the need for a change in my life is to create a measurable habit, and lately that means forcing them on my family, as well. 

So I set out to bring  hope to my Monday. We've had a list of 52 verses to memorize on the side of our refrigerator for... oh, I don't know... probably almost 52 weeks, but today we're going to start the memorization. I wanted to specifically chose a verse that would hold meaning for my Mady Jane this week as she starts Kindergarten. I'm honestly expecting an unexpected reaction from her. School would seem to be right up her alley--she's clever, talkative, energetic... loves activity, structure, and people--but so far her thoughts on school have only been devastation about what she might be missing out on while she's there. I wanted a verse that she could think of when faced with __________ (whatever emotion she might surprise me with) on Wednesday.

"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you." 
Psalm 56:3

That'll do. Not just for Mady and school, but for all of us around here this week. We have quite a bit on our minds; it would not hurt at all for this reminder to be our first response to any type of fear. We wrote it out and came up with motions... only to later decide we needed to learn the actual sign language. Mady always has a concern for doing things the formal way. Not sure we're doing the sign language correctly, but we'll figure it out and maybe post a video later--maybe. I even found a picture of the verse to put as my wallpaper on my phone.
I tried to find a song that could encourage this theme for us this week. I searched in several different ways and kept coming back to "Oceans" by Hillsong United. I love this song. Love it. I feel like it hit me in a huge way last summer and has almost been like an anthem for me for over a year now. It is powerful and incredibly applicable to not only my life, but several people's lives around me. Ironically, it was also the wallpaper I was replacing on my phone this week. And, if I'm being honest, I was not thrilled about replacing it. I knew Mady could use my phone to work on the verse (which, in turn, is also helping with her reading and spelling). But, in some strange way, changing my wallpaper made me feel like I had to let go of that lyric, and that made me feel some weird sort of sadness. Side note: I'm not generally a sentimental person. I try to avoid emotional attachment to objects. Oddly, song lyrics are the secret exception to my non-sentimentality. (There. The secret's out.)

So out with the old wallpaper, but in with the new-that-still-applies-to-the-old-so-I-don't-have-to-totally-move-on-yet. :) Just learning to trust around here. Even in "the great unknown." Even "where [my] feet may fail." Clinging to that this week. If you see my family a week from now, test our memorization! It's going to be a great habit. And next Monday doesn't stand a chance!

Monday, August 4, 2014

the one where it all hit me

Today is the day. Right now, actually. Pretty sure I had "seasonal stress" all weekend about being ready for the first day of school. (That's a thing, right?) Years ago, when going to the chiropractor was somehow in our budget, Dr. Gordan used to work the August stress right out of my neck and back. He's an angel. As he worked his miracles, he would tell me stories of the retired teachers he treated who would have flare-ups every fall for years after they stopped working. I believe he called it a "phenomenon of the body."

Hello, Phenomenon. Must we be acquainted? 

This morning, teachers all across Rutherford County rolled out of bed to head back to the battlefield--back to in-services and PLC meetings. Back to lesson-planning and common core. Back to waxed floors and sharpie pens. Back to morning coffee and the best colleagues. Me? I woke up early and went to the Y before Darin left for the day. Ran to the grocery on the way home. Tried out the new Duncan Donuts as a surprise for the kids. Started laundry to recover from two weeks of travel. And here I sit... contemplating a picture I posted in April when I knew what the change would be, but most around me did not.

Today is the day the change begins--a change that was actually revealed to me 7 months ago. A change I need to write down (another day). A change that I am sure beyond sure God has asked me to make. But a change, nonetheless, that I am just not really feeling today. 

Today I wish I was sitting in the SLR with my friends. No doubt I would be stressing over how much I have left to do in my classroom before parents come for Orientation tomorrow. (My classroom. Oh, how I miss my classroom--the classroom that still sits in boxes currently staring at me from across the dining room table. Yuck.) And we would be plotting our lunch schedule for the week--one of the only times of the year we felt like we had grown-up jobs where we could go to lunch. And we would be catching up on stories from the summer or giggling at what would surely become the new running joke or telling Bowman to hush or beaming with pride for Spaulding's success or fighting off sleep because our bellies are full from Bojangles. 

I miss you, friends. I'm sure that will only grow.You are some of the best people I know, and you do some of the most important work there is to be done. So, since I cannot join you, I pray for you today. I pray you will accomplish big things this year. I pray you will see reward for your hard work. I pray for a safe, positive, exciting environment. I pray for much cooperation and appreciation from students, parents, and "the powers that be." And I pray you know how much I wish I could be there and that you would feel my awkward hugs from afar! :)  Happy first day of work!