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?