Sunday, August 5, 2018

I tried - being at home

We have been settling in for the past month.  Tomorrow I start back to work (my 7th year of teaching) at a new district.  Tomorrow also marks a month of us living in our new STATE.  Not just state of mind but actual physical state.   

It is hard for me to imagine that we have already been here for a month.  It still feels a bit like a vacation house (not that we know what that's like, ha!) but not yet ours. 

Last night though, as Jeremiah was working late, I hung up my jewelry.... in a very college-chique (cheap) way.  And as odd as it was, it made this space seem like home.  I had put off hanging up/organizing this space for a month.  Not wanting to face reality, true.  Not needing to purely out of necessity, true. Not having the motivation, nailed it.  But the coffee I had late that afternoon must have kicked in.... so at 11:30 at night I am revisiting so many of these pieces. 

The picture above is how any wall can transform into home with a few items.  Now, it does look like pretty basic jewelry and trinkets.  BUT it is so much more. Home is where the heart is... so people say.... and these items are my heart.   I have cameras from both sets of grandparents.  My maternal-grandparents have their handkerchiefs.  Our wedding invitation, pictures of being baptized... in February... in a creek (old school, amiright).  There is a little wooden box that I have treasured letters, one from my Dad <3.  The necklaces and bracelets from Bali (thanks Z), Rome, and Hawaii.  Some of the pieces, works of art, are hand made...made with so much love (thanks B and WG/J).... and some are made just out of love thanks to my boys and their pipe-cleaner skillz.  Several of the items are heirlooms from my grandmother.  Price.Less.   A necklace that I remember Gideon using as a teething necklace.   The one that I wear to literally put "faith" around my neck. The jar, once full of change, is waiting to be filled again so our boys can enjoy the gift of giving.  This is where my heart is. 

It's not fancy by any means.  But it's mine; and now that it is all hanging there, waiting for me in the morning, this building is starting to feel like home.

Home takes time.  Takes people. 

I miss my people.  Yup.  I am going to totally call them that.  There were not many, but it was not about quantity but the quality.  These girls that stood by my side, some since we were babies. It is a hard feeling to trudge through knowing that I can't just ask them to go to ihop or get coffee... that distance has crept in.   I know, and they have shown me the past month, that distance is not a factor (thank you for the text, videos, and catch up ladies) when it comes to friendship. And some of these dear friends have moved even over oceans as I stayed.  I am not saying I have not been hurt by people, for I have; even now trust is something that I struggle with.  But even with all the good and bad, leaving was hard.

Last week I celebrated my 31st birthday, and it was odd to reflect back when I met some of these great friends.  Before or right after babies.  I was still a "baby"!  But it was easier.  We bonded over lack of sleep, poopy diapers, teething and support of a strong cup of coffee.  As our kids got older we shared the love of games, books and movies, again... with coffee in hand.  We spent time at events watching our lil'ones explore.  It just seemed so easy, natural, effortless... and before we knew it, YEARS had passed. 

Now, at 31, I am starting over.  No more babies to bond over.... I mean, I will ALWAYS hold a baby for someone in need.... and talking about poop doesn't bother me... #boymom  but now, my kids need me in a different way.  I need friends in a different way.

So, instead of "I tried - being at home" as the title of this blog, it should be I am trying to find home again.  It's true.

To the people who we are getting to know.  Thank you for letting us come into your home, be apart of your life.   If at times I am awkward or quiet, I am just processing in my head.  If at times I say the "wrong" things - just roll with my sarcasm or call me out on it (lovingly).  I am just trying to find my tribe. 

I am not to replace the people we left, but to expand our hearts even more.
This transition will take time, love and people.

SO, to the people who will be in our home tomorrow and there after.  Welcome.  This is our home.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

I tried - the season finale

Hey interweb friends. It's been about 2.5 months since I have last written. I really don't know why I stopped other than the words ebb and flow naturally.  I could blame the lack of time, the lack of motivation, lack of passion, lack of courage.... lots of excuses really. 
Regardless, I am putting my heart out there through my words again.

Have you ever watched an entire show from the pilot episode to the series finale?  And when it ends, you have this gapping hole, like "now what"? That these strangers came to be more, and you looked forward to enjoy their lives (no matter how fake or real they might be).

That's currently where I am at.  The end.

I feel like my series is over; the characters that have developed over time will be missed.  The plot twists have ceased and I am walking out, alone, into darkness.

If I hang in there, I know another network might pick me up.  They make spin-off series all the time. Right? Or volumes of seasons.  This isn't my true end.  Just a different beginning.

This year (and I mean school year; August - present) has been filled with trials and growth, not just at my job, but in general day to day life.

So, this was my classroom. I walked out of it for the last time a week ago. It was my home for the last 5 years. My pregnant swollen feet paced this room. Our oldest started school from this room. Push up and plank challenges took place in this room. Hugs and laughter were shared in this room. Cheers and uproar echoed within these walls.  Lightbulbs clicked on as foundations in understanding were repaired, replaced and strengthened.  This room is more than just some brick walls. It's the lining of my heart.

I walked out by choice, "going without knowing" as a coworker told me.  Since October my husband has been working weekends about 2 hours away.  It has caused some awesome calendar balancing, but we managed to work as a family.  Because of this wonderful opportunity we decided to move our family that direction this summer. I have since found another teaching job, and eagerly await the new adventure - the spin off series.

But THIS series finale was hard.  It wasn't just a season, knowing I'd come back after summer, with a tan. But I closed that door, turned in my keys, and walked out.

It was hard to leave.

I had one of THE BEST teaching partners/coworkers I could have ever imagined or dreamed of.  She blessed me with prayers, compassion, a listening ear, wisdom, hugs, goodies, and love for my family. This lady was an anchor to making me feel successful, we worked so effortlessly together.  I worked with a great team of teachers whom I respected greatly - for they did their job, and did it well and appreciated the fact that they knew how to laugh and have a good time.

But then there are my students, my kids.  This group this year stole my momma heart. They were ornery and mischievous.  They were sweet, friendly and helpful.  Some of them took bigger pieces of my heart, some of them I would seriously have adopted without question. I am just glad to know, that for a short period of time, they were able to feel some genuine love.  These kids carry stories that don't belong to children.  They carry heartache and brokenness at a magnitude that is indescribable.  I look forward to seeing what these young people do in a few years. They will conquer so much; for they have already. Here's to the graduating class of 2023!

One of the most challenging parts of teaching is that you don't always know if what you are saying is getting through to them.  But thankfully, I know that with this group, they were listening. I had letters and cards written with such sweet words.  Words to remind me why I do my job, why it's not a job, but a privilege. Words that I didn't even expect from some. Treasures.

So, this summer, we are moving.  I am sure it will be a whirl wind of events; filled with tears of joy, fear and excitement. And here shortly I will be turning lights on into a new room, new challenges, new kiddos, and new opportunities to keep giving it my all.

One student got me the book "Auggie and Me," knowing that I read Wonder and enjoyed it. Inside she not only wrote a letter but stuck in little reminders like the one pictured below.  
Here's to my spin-off series.  Loveandnumbers2.0

PS - to my friends and family - you will be missed too; it's different (for some reason).  I am sure those tears will roll as our tires pull away from our drive one last time.  I'm not ready for that.

PSS - another post this week about Romans BSF study and how my disputes aren't the best....

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