Saturday, October 15, 2016

where are you headed?

Back in my college days, the days I had time to work out, I would go to the gym at least twice a week. It was my wind-down time. Time I got to stop the going, going, going and just be for a bit. And when I say "just be" I mean, I ran on the treadmill... I was going nowhere fast. But it was so good for me. When I was on the treadmill I had to look straight ahead. It was impossible for me to look up at the TV because I wasn't headed in that direction. I was running straight, not up. And when a friend came with me and we ran side by side I secretly hated it because I couldn't look over to talk to them. If I did, I started running in that direction ever so slightly. I had to hold my arms out onto the handle bars and force myself to go forward. I know what you're thinking, I'm a klutz. But hear me out on this one.

Flash forward to today, when most of my exercise comes from walking a line of 22 nine year olds through long hallways. They like to turn to their neighbor and talk, just like I did on the treadmill a few years back. Or they completely turn around and face backwards. What the what?! And so I came up with this funny question of asking them where they're going, because the direction they're facing isn't going to get them there. Sometimes they're facing a completely opposite direction (like when they're literally turned around), and sometimes they're just off a little bit, but still... we're supposed to be in a line here people!

Anyways... after I asked this question for the ump-teenth time, I started thinking about it in my own life. Where am I headed and what direction am I facing? I'm talking bigger things. Not like I'm trying to get to Target and going the wrong way. I mean really, where am I headed? I want to be the best wife I can and someday even be a mama. I want to love people in a way that points them beyond myself. I want to live life in the slow lane and with intention. I want to go beyond the classroom and lead teachers. I want to create a home that's inviting and welcoming and full of love and laughter. That's where I'm headed.

And if I'm headed in that direction, or at least want to be, I have to ask myself, what direction am I facing? Am I completely turned around trying to figure out what my friend behind me is doing? Or am I turned to the side, running my friend's path for a bit.

When I was in college running on that treadmill, I had to stare straight ahead. It just so happened that our gym had giant windows overlooking the football field. I fixed my eyes of the goal post and I ran. I didn't stop looking at that goal post until I reached my goal for the day. And now, when I walk my class down the hallway, I tell the kiddos to look up and straight in front of them. That's where they're headed and that's where they need to fix their eyes.

So in my own life, if I'm headed towards being the best wife I can, where are my eyes fixed? On the marriage next door or on my own? And if I'm headed towards loving people in ways I never thought possible, the only place my eyes should be fixed is on Jesus, the one who demonstrated that perfectly.

It's funny sometimes how these little things from the past and silly things from today collide to teach us something totally new. But they do, and right now I'm learning that there are many paths in this world. Not all are right for me. I need to stop and figure out where I want to be headed and then align my life to face in that direction. I believe we all need this once in a while, so I challenge you to make a list of where you want to be headed and really think about if your life is facing in that direction. If not, what can we do to change that?

Saturday, May 7, 2016

thank you momma.

Dear momma,

It's in the still, quiet moments that the memories flood back in, like a well-known movie replaying in my head. I can see that tiny house we called home and smell the fresh cut grass as I played under the big pine tree. The memories that were made in our fast-forward world replay in slow motion and all I can utter to say is thank you.

Thank you for sharing your love for the outdoors. Thank you for showing me that under that big pine tree is a great place for a fort, and teaching me how to keep a garden. I didn't know it at the time but those afternoons picking weeds taught me that some things in life need to go if we want to have fruit. Thank you for teaching me that raking pine needles is exhausting and exhilarating. Thank you for sharing your love of flowers and nurturing something beautiful.

Thank you momma for teaching me how to make a house a home. Thank you for making me clean my bedroom all those times I stomped my feet. Thank you for making doing the dishes a family affair and telling me to sweep the floor. Thank you for teaching me how to keep a house clean, but most importantly that in order for a house to be a home, you need a lot of love and grace. You need a kitchen table that can get messy and a comfy place to relax. You need laughter and joy. You need family.

Thank you for being my role model and teaching me about kindness and compassion. Thank you for teaching me how to talk to adults with respect and honor. Thank you for teaching me how to share my toys and eventually my time, passions and love for people. Thank you for reminding me that life isn't just about me, especially when I didn't get what I wanted.

Thank you for cuddle time and reading to us every night before bed. It felt like everything was right in the world when I was tucked under your arm.  Thank you for introducing me to a love of reading. Thank you for the Bernstein Bears and Little Critters who seemed to become a second family to us.

Thank you for putting aside your hopes and dreams for us. Thank you for spending evenings doing homework and watching soccer practice. Thank you for giving up your Friday nights for sleepovers and family movie nights. Thank you for saying no to so many things in order to say yes to us. Thank you for sacrificing your time to make every minute with us count.

Thank you for your constant encouragement in every endeavor I decide to take, even when it takes me a little bit further from you. Thank you for pushing me towards my college goals and cheering me along the way. Thank you for driving me half-way across the country and leaving me there so that I can pursue something I've always dreamed of. Thank you for saying yes when my sweet boy asked if he could marry me and move me to Texas. Thank you that you never stop saying "go get 'em" and "run after your dreams".

Thank you, momma. I don't know what this world would be without you and I pray it's not just Mother's Day that you know I am thankful for you. It is each and every day. In the good times and bad, I am who I am because of you and I am so grateful for that.

I love you momma. Thank you.

Saturday, March 26, 2016


It's that time of year where we fix our eyes on the cross and what Jesus has done for our sins and for our lives. We ponder the ideas of Good Friday and maybe even continue to ask why it is "good" when it is remembered as the day Jesus died. We remember the beatings Jesus endured, the calling out of scoffers and hear the pounding of the nails as they pierced Jesus' hands and feet.
A few days later we praise the One who brought the dead to life. We celebrate the victory Jesus had over death, our sins and the world. We are filled with awe and wonder that someone could take our place, take our punishment, so that we may have life. 

In the midst of those two days, I am thinking about doubt. I know... how fitting... I celebrate all of these things for years and at age 24, I doubt. Maybe not necessarily that I doubt Jesus dying and coming back to life, but I doubt that Jesus has power in my life. Some days I doubt that I have the patience I need to work with 21 ten-year-olds. Some days I doubt Jesus has the power to change me. Some days I doubt there will be healing in places of hurt. Some days I doubt Jesus has power in a world filled with terrorism and shootings and drugs. Some days I doubt. In fact, I would venture to say I doubt most days... or even every day. 

But then I was reading in the book of Mark about a family who doubted in ways similar to my doubts I think. Here's a little background story... The family knows their daughter is sick and dying so they send someone to tell Jesus and ask him to come and heal her. He agrees but since there are so many people now following him, it takes him a while to get there. He makes some stops along the way, heals other people and in the mean time, the daughter dies. It's sad. Tragic. The family is broken-hearted, hurting, and in disbelief. When Jesus finally gets to their house here's how it goes... 
And when he entered, he said to them, "Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. 
Stop right there. This isn't the kind of laugh like Jesus is funny (although he can be). This is a "are you freaking kidding me?!" laugh. The family is looking at their dead daughter, Jesus says she's just sleeping, and they doubt him. They laugh in their doubt and disbelief.   Keep going...
But he put them all outside and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, "Talitha, cumi," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise." And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.   Mark 5:39-42
Woah. So here they are laughing in doubt and Jesus doesn't seem phased by it. He doesn't get mad that they doubt him. He doesn't say well then, I'm outta here since you clearly don't understand my power. He stays. He heals their daughter. He does what they say he couldn't do! Despite the family's doubt, Jesus shows his power.

After I read that story, I was reminded of an old lady named Sarah and her husband Abraham. Sarah was getting along in years, well past her child-bearing opportunity. But one day an angel of the Lord came to her and told her she was going to bear a child. And you know what she did when she heard it? She laughed. She didn't believe at her old age that she could have a child. Nevertheless, here's how it goes...
The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age.   Genesis 21:1-2
Sarah laughed in doubt, but that didn't stop God. He still did what he promised to do.

And that's why I'm thinking about my doubts at this time. Just as in these two stories, I'm betting there were a lot of people laughing on Good Friday and the days that followed... not because there was anything funny, but in disbelief. I'm betting some people laughed when Jesus said he was going to return. I'm betting some people laughed when they saw people waiting at Jesus' tomb. There must have been some serious doubt when Jesus died. Was he really who he said he was?

But their doubt, and my doubt, does not stop Jesus. He did not abandon his people simply because of their laughter. He didn't stay in the tomb just because people doubted his return. No. Despite their disbelief, Jesus still showed his power. Despite our doubt, Jesus rose again and took away our sins.

So as I celebrate Easter this year, I am also celebrating the fact that no matter what my doubt, Jesus is still going to show his power in my life. Even though I doubt I have the patience to get through the day, Jesus does not abandon me and prove my doubt. He shows up and proves his power. Just because I doubt Jesus has the power to change my selfish ways, he does not prove me right and let me be as I am. He changes me from the inside out. And just because I might doubt Jesus could really take away all my sins, it doesn't stop him from dying on the cross for me and for you. Despite our disbelief, he died and rose again. He showed his power in ways I could not imagine.

It's almost as if I hear little whispers... "it's okay, my child. Your doubts do not stop me. I will still save you. Keep pressing on and one day you will doubt no more."

Saturday, February 27, 2016

dear parent.

Dear parent- there are so many things I wish I could tell you that just don't fit in a parent conference or are appropriate for school function small talk. I want you to know that I love your child more than I thought I could. He has this way about him that is special and unique and I know there is none like him. I want you to know that I would give my life for you child. She has the world in front of her and there is so much yet to be discovered.

Dear parent- thank you for supporting my obsession to paste all great things into your child's math journal. I know you didn't anticipate needing 30 glue sticks this year, but we are foldable fanatics and loving it!

Dear parent- your child is the one I think about in the middle of the night and on a still Saturday morning. Your child is so important to me and my mind never stops running with new ideas and ways to reach your child. I want so badly for your child to succeed, but even more than that, I want your child to know that his identity is not in his performance. I want your child to know he is loved and accepted and enough. I want your child to leave my classroom with the confidence that there is nothing he can't do. I dream to see your child walk across the stage on graduation day and read about his achievements in the newspaper. I think of what she will be one day and how she can change the world with her love for others.

Dear parent- I want you to know that you play such a key role in your child's life. Even when you think they are not looking, they most definitely are. Please set an example for them on what it means to be honest, devoted and true. Let them know that there are troubles in this world, but to take heart. Show them how to treat your best friend and your elders. Teach them respect and how to lend to a neighbor. Oh, dear parent, how our classrooms would run so differently if this were our way of living.

Dear parent- thank you for telling your child silly jokes and taking them on adventures. I love hearing stories about your family and your child's love for the outdoors.

Dear parent- I know homework is not fun and sometimes it leads to arguments and tears. But I promise you this... one day your child will look back and treasure those moments at the kitchen table. Please take the time to help them with it and encourage them in how far they've come. What progress we're making!

Dear parent- I want you to know that I respect you beyond my words. You have given birth to this child and made her your whole life for the past 9 years. Thank you for trusting me with your most prized possession 8 hours of every day. Thank you for your giving me grace when I don't have it just right. I am by no means perfect and I am so appreciative that you don't expect me to be. Thank you for being on my team and cheering for me along the way. I don't know what I would do without you.

Dear parent- thank you for sorting through all those papers every week. If I had my way, I wouldn't send you that much stuff, but by golly, you seem to take it like a champ (or maybe you just throw it away... that's okay too!)

Dear parent- I want you to know that I realize this is a once in a lifetime deal I have on my plate. Your child will only be in my class once and I want to make the absolute most of it. I long for your child to be equipped and prepared for where he is headed... whether that be 5th grade, college or Congress. I want you to know that I am doing my absolute best with what I've been given and when I fall short of that, I will pick up the pieces and try again.

Dear parent- what I really want you to know is that you are not alone. I love your child. Please trust me in my career and that I am doing what is best for your child.