Sunday, March 11, 2018

Dear Future Self - don't give up teaching [an open letter]

Dear Future Self,

The past few weeks there was another school shooting. Causing facebook to go rampant with gun control and gun right activist having completely cool and calm discussions (sarcasm). But in the end, a solution was not set in place. I will still do my job. I will wake up and walk into a building and protect my students. For the truth is, I didn't become a teacher for any other reason but for the fact that I value these young  minds. I believe that they are our future and need loving and compassionate adults to show them what honor and dignity look like. I will protect them. I will care for them. I will be their teacher.

There have been plans set in place for March 14, 2018 to be a student/teacher walk out of school in honor of the 3 teacher and 14 student lives recently lost. I really hope this is not true for 3/14 is supposed to be a fun day in the math world - it is Pi-day y'all!  I saw an image or idea that instead of walking out on someone that we go up to someone and talk to them, love on them. I did not become a teacher to give up and leave. I will stand strong and love on my students. I will be their teacher.

West Virginia has been making national news for teacher salaries and strikes.  Oklahoma teachers are planning a strike as well. Don't get me wrong, I would love for more financial support; it's hard living off of a teacher salary.  But I am not a teacher for money.  What I would love though is support from parents. Teaching is hard. It has it's moments every year that I question if I am in the right vocation.  But then I get little glimpses and reminders of why I teach. It doesn't come from a dollar sign or from a parent but when a student tells me that they are better off from knowing me. In the end, this life is short. I want all my students to know that they are worth more than any amount of money. I will be their teacher.

Betsy DeVos made a tweet on twitter recently about public schools; "does this look familiar" and a black and white picture of school compared to what she thought a modern school was. As much as I wish school was simply what it use to be (less politics) - it's not.  It's messy (when technology bails on you) it's hands on activities, moving around.  It's feeding one student who's hungry, finding a coat for another, all at the same time as hugging a sadden child and telling some kids to stop throwing markers (even in my junior high room). It looks nothing like what our Secretary of Education thinks it does. I do not teach to have a perfect classroom, I teach to take care of people, and that is going to look much different. I will be their teacher. 

This last week my district had a student take her own life.  It causes sadness and heartache.  But what was more destructive where the comments from older people. Attacking the family, other kids, teachers and the school district. As a person who has struggled with depression in high school, we can't blame others.  As a person who has lost family and a prior student to their own will, we can not mend a broken heart with a thread of lies. I have to remember that hurt people hurt people and that words are the most effective weapon at destroying a person's heart. These words are a reflection of the person speaking them and does not hold truth to my identity, my career, and how hard we work to protect all students.  The next few weeks will be hard. But I will go into my classroom, hug and remind all of my students that they are loved, that I am always here for them. I will be their teacher.

So, future self, teaching is a hard job. There will always be paper work, hateful emails, not enough time, money or resources.  There will be tears of joy, frustration sadness and confusion.  My heart will swell with love and break - and sometimes at the same time. These kiddos are not mine by DNA standards but I will call them my own.  I did not become a teacher for an easy life.  I became a world changer.

I will always be their teacher. I am their teacher.

Mrs. Jones (yourself)

PS Don't give up - you've got this. Be strong. Be bold.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

I tried - Embracing Fear

Today has hit me hard; but in a good kind of way.

This morning I woke up to Soren's feet in my face.  About 2:30 this morning he grabbed BB-8, his pacifier and his dog blanket and crawled in bed with me.  As much as we try to have our kids sleep in their own beds, I don't mind the cuddles. Soren also knows when his daddy is gone and there is plenty of room next to mommy, his cuddles (and kicks) were welcomed.

We slept a bit later than normal, not allowing for time for me to really get a good grip on the day - which is probably why I was hit with emotions later on - I was vulnerable, ready to receive and needed to embrace my reality.

Embrace my fears.

Soren and I rushed around this morning, to get to church earlier than normal for I had a "meeting" for an event that I am helping put together.  It was filled with the love of so many women as we discussed, organized and most importantly prayed.

After the meeting I moved into talking and encountering friends, different walks and seasons of our life. Sat down, in church, listened to Sy preach about Luke 4 and how we need to encounter mess and mob so we can love like Jesus. I don't like mess, I don't like mobs (or crowds of any kind), I don't like not being in control.

It wasn't the spilling coffee on my Bible or the fact that I can't spell when doodling in my notebook (Hannah reminded me that this is why I should not be a tattoo artist) that rattled my brain or made me stir.

It was when we than sang Build My Life by the  Passion the chorus found a crack in my very controlled and rationalized heart.

"I will build my life upon Your love
It is a firm foundation
I will put my trust in You alone
And I will not be shaken" 

In order to build my life in Your love, I have to embrace my fears.
In order to experience a firm foundation, I have to embrace my fears.
In order to put my trust in You, alone, I have to embrace and then release my fears.
In order to not be shaken, I have to embrace you handling my fears.

A week, actually a few days, before Christmas, I had a friend over for coffee. We were able to catch up with each other's lives but then she asked me how I really felt about Jeremiah, the hubby, taking a job a few hours a way resulting in us having to move this summer.

I gave her what I thought was an honest answer, but now I know that the question was so incredibly deep that I wasn't ready to answer until now.

I am scared.

That same week I was at my parent's house, my sister and her oldest were there too.  Gideon, who's almost 6 was telling his almost 5 year old cousin that this summer he is going to be moving.  My sister asked me if that was still happening - for I have been very hesitant of sharing the news that this is our families' reality.  We were in a very similar situation a year ago and I have not fully recovered from that hurt and how things ended then; so I have been even more hesitant with about this move.  My mom then told Gideon that she was going to miss him, he looked her dead in the eyes and said "don't worry, I can find a new grandma" - my dad was laughing while I was trying to pull the dagger out of my mom's heart.

I am scared.

Before children I was ready to move anywhere, jump any time, do anything.  But now, there is comfort in knowing that our sons are growing up around family and church friends.

I realized today as we sang that song, building my life in His love and His truth means that I have to not be in control with this move. That we have been called to do kingdom work.  Embracing my fears of my next job, stability, finances, relationships, selling and buying homes, school and child care.... and on and on... and on.. - all of those fears have to be given to God.

So here it is - embracing not only my fear of moving, but embracing my fear to not be in control.

Monday, January 1, 2018

EMBRACE {2018}

For the past two years (2016 and 2017), I have written a post about the new year and my goals; and through these years I have been transforming, changing and growing, meeting some goals and not others.

Last year I wanted to be BETTER for the year; it was my one word to focus on for the year. Although there were ups and downs the year was wonderful.


I want to embrace less, love, challenges, change, boldness, deepness, awkwardness, grace, prayer and forgiveness, generosity, patients, honor, service. I want to embrace the simplicity and joy and spontaneity of 2018.

I want to embrace each day for what it has to offer.
I want to embrace life.

Full living.

Embrace my Mind
Embrace my Body
Embrace my Soul

Embracing my mind will consist of reading 18 books this year.  Last year I wanted to read 12 books and exceeded it by reading 17 books.  I am going to use goodreads to help keep track, have community, and search for new reads.   I want to renew my mind.

Embracing my body last year was making a better body and self image.  I met running goals and did lose weight.  This year I would like to find my lowest weight of 140 pounds and then maintain it.  My first major goal is that I will be finishing up a dietbet in the next coming weeks.  I plan on using the 30 day app to help me track my goals as well as some cross training with sworkit when I am not running. Embrace and worship how God created me.

Embracing my soul. I truly want to continue to focus on deepening my love and closeness to God. Naturally, as I think lots of Christians do around the New Years, I want to pray more, read the Bible with greater understanding, being better.  To embrace my soul I want to embrace ALL of Romans 12; discovering my gifts, encouraging others, being joyful, hopeful and faithful.  To live a life of love. 

I have a calendar that I will be logging and journaling my daily moments and opportunities to embrace.  Some days I will fall short and other days I will feel like a champion.  There will be other habits and disciplines to help me embrace the year; but I truly want to keep it a simple year.  Too much structure does not allow for opportunity.

~ 2018 ~
Embrace my mind - read 18 books
Embrace my body - be 140 pounds
Embrace my soul - live Romans 12

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

I tried - reading the Divergent series {November reads and December deeds}

Hey cozy friends,

That time of year where we all want to sit next to a fire place, fill our bodies with hot drinks, and just be warmed by one another's love.


We are already 1/5 into December and I am just now getting around to post about November's book, wrap up the month and look forward to what is ahead.

November was lovely.  I decided to take a small break from facebook - deleted the app.  It was nice not being plugged in all of the time.  I thought I would miss people's lives or articles or funny clips.  And I might have missed those, but instead I gained TIME!  I was able to really focus on what is important.

I truly believe because I removed one distraction from my life allowed for another to move in - reading!  Although not a bad distraction, what I was reading could have been more beneficial.

November I read not just one, not just two, but three books.  I read the entire Divergent Series by Veronica Roth!

These are fun young-adult dystopian fiction stories. The best part of reading these books was getting to discuss them with my students.  I would spot a cover of one of the books and instantly be able to strike up a conversation with them.  Acknowledging them and their choices   - making their day.

The books are good, and at times the "romance" for 16 year olds was a bit too much or adult-like.  But over all I enjoyed the books.  If you are looking to buy books for a teenager this holiday season, I would highly recommend these.

Now on to December. 

I have not yet made any goals or commitments.
I have not yet written down any scripture or prayer focus.
I have not yet written down any to-do's or projects.

My focus for this month:
Read - Glory Happening by Kaitlin Curtice  (a high school friend of mine).  It should arrive at our house on Friday!!
Scripture - I am currently still in BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) and appreciate reading through Romans and really getting a better understanding of it.  I am also following along with my husband's Advent Project: here.
Health - For the past few months I have been hanging around the 158-161 range.  Which is great that I have not gained any weight I've lost back; but still frustrating at times that I have not seen any changes.  But healthy focus and not vain perception is important too!

Don't let the to-do list, the events, the pinterest perfect ideas get in the way of what matters this season.

People matter.

Love you all,
A mom who tries

Friday, November 3, 2017

I tried - The Turquoise Table {October book and November update}

October I finished leading a group through "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp.  We started it in September, so I wanted to read another book for October.  I choose "The Turquoise Table" by Kristin Schell.

The Turquoise Table was more than a book.  Seriously, it is like pinterest, instagram and facebook all rolled into one.  It was more than a book for it had recipes, quizzes, places to journal and take notes even check out her cute ideas on page 83.  The book included pictures, beautiful pictures, and quotes and other words of encouragement that make you enjoy the book just a little bit deeper. 

A beautiful piece of literature. 

The book starts off explaining the back story of where the table came from, but then it goes deeper into why it's important for our neighborhoods to have a table like this. 

I kept coming up with excuses and reasons why I couldn't (EVEN THOUGH I DESPERATELY WANT TO) do this. 

We live on a hill - where does the table go?
I have little ones - where do they play? In the street?
My neighbors work nights, move frequently, hardly home?
What if we move soon - is it rude to set people up to let them down?
Does this have to be me a "me" thing or a "family" thing?
Where do we find the money to buy a table?

Seriously, I had every excuse under the sun to not make community a priority. 
Here are some little truth bombs or quotes from the book that I love and will use to help me make my excuses into a thing of the past.

* Romans 12:13 - take every opportunity to open your life and home to others.   Hospitality.
* To be present, the only UNwelcome or not invited guests are the iphone and other technology.

* I can be an "embassy of the kingdom of heaven"

* WE all need the table.  It's community.  We need to gather.

* There is a difference between being and doing.  "You can tell what people are doing if you take time to notice."

* We are able to love because we were first loved.

* "We are all broken, that's how the light gets in." - Hemingway

* The more vulnerable we are, the longer the table we will need.

* Page 142 "The most beautiful people I know were their imperfection with grace and confidence."

* A HUGE difference between Hospitality and Entertainment.  Hospitality is serving, brokenness is welcome, non-judgement, grace, NO to-dos, A HAPPENING. Entertainment is "me" focused, pinterest perfect, judgement of self and event that occurs after a list of to-do's are complete.

* Page 147 "Part of loving others is allowing them to love us too."

* You need to hold the bucket sometimes for someone else, or yourself.  Word vomit is a thing.

* The ministry of presence is something worth praying for every day.

* People are hungry, craving for connection and community, a place to belong. 

The book had so much more wisdom and experience to share through her own and others stories.  This is a great book and I give it 5 stars.  A quick great read.  If you are wanting to change up your neighborhood, this is a great place to start.

November is underway already and I haven't taken the time to update on our goals.  It seems like yesterday that I started tracking and looking for goals.  This month I really want to focus on self communication. 

I often feel isolated and alone, so in order to help with not realizing it, I deleted the facebook app off of my phone.  I haven't figured out the game plan - other than I don't want to be on there any more; or as much.  I find myself wasting time reading articles, looking at pictures, or watching videos that have no regards to improving my life.  I can find the news through other means.  I can reach out and pray for friends by actually connecting to them.

Documenting the boys and sharing the joy they bring us with family and real friends.

I can still text pictures or even email.  I can do a "mass" end of the month "share" of what the kiddos have been up to.

Missing events around the community and social circles.

Personal invites are a thing that we should bring back.  Jeremiah is still on facebook and can keep us in the loop. We can also look for things on the weekends.

Reaching out and praying for people

Use other communication.

Feeling isolated and alone.

Interactions that due occur will be genuine and out of true love and interest, verses conveniently scrolling through my life tossing out thumbs up. 

Other things I would like to focus on during this free time.... I am going to read Divergent by Veronica Roth (I know, I am a little late to the fad) and who knows, I might be able to read the sequel too.

I would also like to continue to document our joy as a family and focus on each other, gratitude and grace. 

My physical health is always of importance; but mental and spiritual health have to be balanced in order to achieve that. 

Here's to November of peace, pausing, and true growth.  <3

I tried - friendship

Dear Friendship

Now I lay you down to rest,
For honestly, I have given it my best.

I am tired and weak from all that you have done.
We had a good race, maybe one of the longest.
But you have moved on, to pursue others, and honest
I am not surprised at what is coming.

Goodbyes are never easy.
They break and crack ones heart.
I will and have always been here for you.
But now it's just too hard.

Excuses are what I have heard;
A different season and time too short.
Excuses are what I hear
For your actions speak louder than words.

Goodbyes are not for ever,
But we face them now together.

My dearest friendship,
I love you deeply and hate to see you go.
The moment has come for me to say.

an old friend

Monday, October 16, 2017

Me too - An open letter to women and October

Dear October,

You didn't give us much room to breathe after September (suicide awareness month). But here we are, in the middle of it.  Facing breast cancer awareness but also infant and child loss awareness don't forget national coming out day and now there is a call to the "me too" movement advocating on behalf of women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted.

You make my heart heavy,

Dear Women,

To the women who are currently suffering, have had conquered, or grieving the loss of those battling breast cancer; you are strong and courageous! I literally have sat at my computer screen for minutes, trying to orchestrate the words that share my heart; but only silence is played. The battle you are facing is not one that people envy you for.  Thank you for being beautiful in all moments and stages of life; from the hair loss, to breast removal surgeries, to the inside as your heart going through times of being bitter and angry to finding life once more. You are not alone, you are loved.  

To the women who have lost a child or infant. This is a topic, in my opinion, that our society and our churches do not speak on enough, giving it the light and justice that it deserves.  Truth be told, this is a topic that I am not very good at navigating myself. So many variables to how you are handling and processing these major events of your life.  Stories after stories; I had a facebook friend share a picture of her box that holds treasured memories of her son's passing - something that took leaps and bounds to not only open, but open for all to see, letting us into her heart.  I can't imagine what one goes through day to day knowing a child is gone. Reading this article, about a family who donated their daughters organs, making a sacrifice to share life in the midst of loss.  My very own student showing me her baby brother's ashes that she binds around her neck, close to her heart, a beautiful necklace she just got today.  To all of my friends and family who I have cried with, hugged, and loved on during these tragic events, there are far too many. These stories are important, your child is not and will not be forgotten.  You are not alone, you are loved. 

To the women coming out. October 15th came and went and for those who were brave enough used the day to share their story. I personally want to step up on a soap box, I hate how a person has to be "brave" in order to be themselves, it bothers me (gets off soap box)... please keep sharing your stories.  I am listening. For my female friends who have already faced the masses, thank you.  Thank you for allowing me to be apart of your life, learning to judge less and care more. You have taught me so much.  You are appreciated! Your story matters. You are not alone, you are loved. 

To the women who have been sexually assaulted or harassed. You are not a victim. You were not "asking" for it. It was unwelcome, not invited, uncomfortable, forced, and something - that no matter what you do - will never go away. From physical touch to hurtful words, the scars that are left will never heal fully; shaping you daily into the person you are.  The movement "me too," starting on twitter, has been sweeping social media.  This letter is for you, that as you type those words "me too" I hope that you feel welcomed into a sisterhood of understanding, grace, and compassion.  That as you slowly tell your story, leaving or including as many details as you wish, healing will take place; a process that takes time. I want you to know that you ARE worthy. You ARE important.  I believe you. Tell me your "me too". You are not alone, you are loved. 

This letter is for all women.  Through stories (and sometimes coffee) we bind ourselves back together, weaving a tighter sisterhood.  If I could only reach through the screen and wipe away your tears I would. If I could only gently grasp your shoulders, drawing you into a hug, letting your rest your head on my shoulder - I'd carry that for you. If just for a moment I could stop time and let you take that deep heavy sigh and catch your breath, I'd wish it in an instnat.  You are not alone, you are loved. 

We all have a story. I am more than another number.  I am more than a statistics.  I am a me too. 

You are not alone, you are loved,
~Megan #metoo

PS - A letter is a form of communication, please feel free to write, message, text, call, e-mail me so we can continue our communication and sharing stories.  If possible, let's schedule time. I want to hear your story.
PPS - Men, yes I understand you can have breast cancer, loose a child, come out and be sexually harassed - you are loved too.