Wednesday, May 24, 2017

I tried - remembering #behindtheblogger

This is my FIRST post with #BehindTheBlogger!  I am incredibly excited to be participating.  But the first prompt I was given was one that I have thought about the past few weeks.  Struggled with the past few days.  Although incredibly open ended, it also opens up a lot of things I want or need to be sealed shut.

I kept thinking the prompt was like a scary question, at the end of a shot gun barrel.
Loaded. 
It WAS a loaded question.

Typically I lean towards the non-filter, blunt, very opinionated person, ALWAYS ready to share my perspective of my little corner in the world.

However, when I started to remember, I reminisced how I use too write poetry; so I set out to write y’all a poem.

I started with:

Don’t you remember the time you hurt me?
Don’t you remember the time you changed my path forever?

But that’s as far as I got.

*Writers Block - It's totally real*

I don’t remember.
I try not to remember.
I don’t want you to remember the hurt.
For I don’t want to remember either.

The situations that I want to remain in the past, locked away, have been dealt with.  They have been shared with caring hearts and listening ears.  In order to keep moving forward, growing and maturing, I must not stay in the past.




I honestly struggle with memory. If something happens in my life and it does not have a powerful impact (positive or negative) I tend to forget.   Sadly, because my brain works like this I am overwhelmed with strong memories that shape how I view the rest of the world.  There are times, as a child, my very broad and vivid imagination would allow for my brain to come up with scenarios that weren’t true.  AND I would believe them. I just remember these silly moments for I was incredibly embarrassed when I was told that my memory never happened.  That I was believing a fictional situation.

Pictures and photography became my best friend – those little 4X6 pieces of papers are sometimes my own personal history book.  A timeline of my life.  A real life.  Events that actually happened, not created in a false reality.

I am thankful for where I have been.  Those times have made me stronger.  Have written my story. Allowed me to bring something different to my community.  I am needed.

Don’t you remember……




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Thank you for reading a story from #BehindTheBlogger Hop. Every 2 weeks a group of bloggers is given a writing prompt.These prompts are very open ended, so our bloggers can write about whatever they desire. The main rule is that their blog post directly relates to the topic of that week. The point of this hop is for our readers to get to know us on a personal level.

Please hop along and read all of the blog posts in this weeks hop. Just click the links below. If you want real and raw emotion, then you will find it here. After you read each post, please comment and share. We want to get to know you too!



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I tried - sending cards {a lost art}

Sending Cards - A Lost Art of Communication


(This is the post that I've been keeping a secret for a while)

Some of my biggest treasures are secured within a box. These treasures mean nothing to others, but the world to me. They are the letters in which I have kept over the years.  As time moves, some grip my heart a little tighter than others.

~TREASURES~
*The letter from my dad.... several pages long... listing off why I can't have a co-ed birthday party when I was his little girl... every paragraph started with "I love you"
*The last letter I received from my grandmother before her body became so weak that she could no longer write.
*The birthday cards with kind messages are little gems I hold.
*The letters from my husband; even before we were married.
*The letters from my first vice-principal and students throughout the years remind me that I am in the right profession.

Now, I do understand that not everyone is a "words of affirmation person" - that I probably, more than others, cling to these words when I start to loose my foundation of reality or feel inferior to the rest of the world. But these tiny pieces of paper are invaluable.


~HISTORY~
As a child, I loved to write letters. At times it would be a reminder that I might have been born in the wrong decade or even century. Wishing and longing for the stories of my elders. The simplicity. The encounters and community at a post office. The love of the neighborhood mailman. The need to sit with coffee and open a small envelope filled of love.

I had pen pals growing up. And when my best friend in 5th grade moved across the country we were able to maintain a friendship through letters, even till this day we keep in touch via mail. In junior high and most of high school, I wrote notes with my friends - filling notebooks full of our thoughts and gossip (not that I was that type).

Any time I was frustrated and felt unheard, I wrote a letter. It allowed for the necessary time for my mind to digest and process the information while my heart would prepare its self for heartache or joy. I wrote letters to my parents, leaving them on their bed, and would wait for the time we would hold a face to face conversation. I wrote letters to the foreign exchange student that lived with us; a novel to read on her plane home.  I wrote letters to my husband, countless times. I've written unopened and even unsent letters to people who have no idea that they have hurt me, regardless of delivery, healing me the same.


~MY PASSION~
I love it all: Letters. Cards. Snail-mail. Calligraphy or Cursive. Interaction. Addresses. Stamps.

Back in February, I wanted to start a challenge that fit February, the month of "love" - so, I set out to write a letter a day. 28 letters - it was only the beginning. (Not a huge deal to the person who writes every student a Christmas/Holiday card for winter break = 130+ cards). Then March came around and it was time to pick a new monthly challenge.  I was getting into a rhythm and finding joy of writing these little jewels.  SO, for lent instead of giving up something I decided to do something. March's Challenge and for Lent was to continue to write a letter a day. 31 more letters - this is changing me. March came to a close, but Lent was still going on so for April, you guessed it.  I continued to write. 30 more letters - I've created a habit. We are now into May, I am still writing.  In fact, I am "caught up" to May 18th as far as writing goes. 31 letters to come - half are done.


~BLESSINGS~
Writing these letters has and continues to change me (for the better). You receive joy and blessings when you sit down out of your busy life and pause.  As you are pausing you are able to reflect, pray and remember people. God's perfect timing allows for me to encourage and bless others. I really enjoy getting a text, call, or facebook message letting me know that their precious mail had arrived; here are some generic responses I would hear:
* A friend getting a card on a bad day.
* A friend losing their new puppy, being cheered up by the mail.
* Shear shock and surprise to find "good" mail
* Encouragement to others when they are down or are feeling inadequate.

These letters have also blessed me, as I was going through a time of uncertainty, lacking community and connection.  By writing these cards, I was able to regain purpose in His Kingdom.  That I can be a source of encouragement regardless of my location.

My oldest and I would take trips to the post office, and as he would ask where each letter was going and whom it was for, I would take another moment to pray for the recipients and their own journey.

The post office is no longer an errand location, 
but a point of prayer. 

(a stack ready to be mailed)

~DETAILS IN THE NOTES~
A question that might be plaguing your mind is how did I do this. It really started out as an evening  activity.  But then I created a habit of writing for the week every Sunday night.  During the week I would keep a list in my notebook of people I encounter or that cross my mind. Sometimes the people's names are on my list for a while, but when I feel like it's the correct time, I write them. Most Sunday's I can write a week's worth of cards in around 30 minutes.  It really doesn't take long.  I'd write words of encouragements, scripture, questions checking in on them, gratitude and appreciation or sometimes jokes - really taking the time to focus on the person and what their individual need is.

At one point I remember writing cards while attempting to watch a comedy on TV with my husband. I could tell that the letters were not the quality that they could have been if I had removed myself from the distraction. You might be different and can multi-task better.

a person's smile > $0.64 

The cost of a stamp was pricier than the cost of the actual card.  We have a store that sells 8 cards for a dollar.  I would stock up on packages of blank cards giving me a variety to choose from. Seriously, it takes less than 64 cents to mail a word of encouragement.

Most of the card were mailed, and some were even returned (I learned the hard way that I should always put a return address - who knows how many cards are out there floating around without a home).  Some cards were simply given to the person. Asking for people's addresses takes time, but is well worth the investment.


~WHO TO WRITE~
My letters started out to those closer to me. Family. Then I branched out to the few friends I had, and continued to let my circle expand.  Here are some examples of groups of people I have written the last few months:
Family
My 90 year old neighbor
Our sponsored compassion kiddos
Friends over seas (some doing missions work)
Coworkers
Church members
Professors
Conference women
My self
Gideon's friends' (he does really good birthday cards)
For friends who have lost loved ones to celebrating their pregnancy
Thank you cards - hard work to hospitality

At one point I was working on the computer and my husband asked what I was doing. My response "looking up prisoner pen-pals" - you can actually write prisoners!  However, I have not been able to find a ministry that has called me to sign up. You can write prisoners like as if it was a dating site - I don't want that. If you know anyone in prison that would like a letter, please let me know.

I have a dear friend of mine from grade school, she also recently wrote a book, but Kaitlin writes a letter to President Trump every Tuesday  #trumptuesdays  feel free to ask about her journey and why it's important for him to hear her voice.


Who needs a letter from you?




Wednesday, May 3, 2017

I tried - 13 reasons why (sensitive content)

13 Reasons Why I liked 13 Reasons Why

Before I start writing this blog I want to lay out some WARNINGS:

* if you have not seen the show, their might be clues or hints to some spoilers.  I would still encourage you to watch the series, or read the book, as long as you are old enough to handle mature content.  Please let your parents know if you are watching this.

* some of the things I am going to share are sensitive, raw, real.  I want to do my best to share my thoughts while also giving dignity and honor to myself, other people and families who have had to handle these situations.

* I am not a psychologist or counselor.  These words are my opinion.  I am not here to make people feel good about these topics, but expose some truths - maybe ask some tough questions, help us all grow through challenges. But grow together, with love. This is a very controversial topic.

* as mentioned, these are my opinions.  I tend to have the emotional range of a teaspoon.  Please do not layer extra emotion, or perceive false emotion that is not there.  AKA, don't "read between the lines"

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A few weeks ago my junior high students started talking about a show on Netflix called 13 Reasons Why.  That night I went home, and sure enough, I started seeing several people posts about the show (some without even viewing it).  I started to do research and realized I needed to watch this.  Now, that sounds really silly that there was a need to watch a TV show; but I wanted to know what my students (12-14 year old kiddos) are watching and talking about. I also shared some information with my school counselor so she too could be aware.  Later that week, Thursday night, I stayed up incredibly late and watched 4....FOUR....hour long episodes.  Within a week, I completed the season (in a week?!... what else am I going to do at night when my husband is writing papers for his classes?). This past week I have had students share that they enjoyed the show, that dramas are their favorite type of shows.  So to some, the material is already desensitized, and they see it for a show, not a reason or an instructional film.

I tend to think differently than my peers and others, everyone's stories shape them.  I tend to play devil's advocate in hopes to help others, including myself, see multiple perspectives. As I write this, I am also challenging my own thoughts and beliefs and want to encourage you to ask me more questions to help me grow as well.  Challenging the culture to challenge myself. May is mental health awareness month.  Go to this site to watch a video on why 13 reasons can be an useful tool. 

It's okay to disagree.
It's not okay to ignore the problem.

13 Reasons Why I liked 13 Reasons Why:

1) The show was written like a mystery.  You know, in the very beginning that the main character, Hannah, did kill herself.  But as the journey continues, and you flash back and forth between Hannah's stories and other's, you start getting a deeper picture of this school's reality.  Over all, the show was well written; and I'm interested in the next season as well as reading the book.

2) Tony and his tapes.  Just Tony.  He is one of the main characters.  At first you are trying to figure out his purpose, or how he's connected.  The idea of using tapes, a media source that is no longer readily available, makes me secretly enjoy the retro-ness of the tapes. Tony appears to be the kid, with his head on straight, that has all the answers, but he too, is struggling with the grief and loss of Hannah and personal issues of his own. Tony started off as my favorite character, but my heart swelled with love and compassion for all of them.

3) A call to parents.  I believe if you watch the entire season, this show is a cry from society's youth. The cry of "HELP" is now taking light from media. Mental illness is a serious issue, and does attack all age groups. However, I feel as if it is rapidly effecting our youth.  Internet and cell phones have enabled people to hurt others more, faster, and without repercussions.  The very first episode you get to experience how rumors can destroy a person's reputation and become the starting line for other events. As a parent, are you helping your child navigate this broken world?  Are you helping other children who may not have caring parents navigate this world?  Because chances are if you are reading this, you are a caring parent.  Together, we can raise up a generation who know what love is and how to cope and manage trauma and how to use media tools more effectively. Please go here if you are in need of more guidance on suicide prevention.

4) Parental response. I enjoyed how the show included a third story line of how the parents were dealing with their daughter's choice.  Although some articles written believe that this show "romanticizes" the idea of suicide, I think that some would see the hurt that it caused for their family.  The accuracy of parents suing the school is something that does happen regularly.  My question, and I have not been in their shoes, does suing the school for hundred-thousands of dollars, help in the grief process? Will they later change their mind as Hannah's tapes are played for them?  Did they realize that she committed suicide by using something that she got from their store?

5) The show is raw.  The producers and writers did an excellent job not sugar coating the seriousness of the issue.  From suicide, to teen drinking, abuse, rumors, porn, and everything in between, every scene was written with awareness.  For those who watched and believe that it was too much; I can agree that not all social circles are as broken as this circle of peers. But, if you believe that these issues are not happening to OUR youth, I hate to tell you, but you are being blinded.  Some of these characters stories are stories from my own 7th grade students. Ignorance and ignoring there is a problem, will not help these students and our next generation. 

6) Gun control.  Now, this is a bit odd, for Hannah did not use a gun in her act of suicide. What I am talking about as far as guns is the ease that the students have access to them.  From harming themselves to others, guns were not in trained hands.  I am not, let me repeat, I am not advocating for gun control. Guns are a tool that needs to be taught how to use correctly. I think that this issue will be addressed more in the second season.

7) The variety of students.  I enjoyed how the students had a variety of roles in the school.  From football players, to edgy coffee baristas, cheerleaders, poetry writers, school yearbook photographer, student body president, the school's outcast, and others.   I liked this because it helps us have a better grasp to the idea that no group of adolescents is safe from these tough issues.  That from the outside, young teens might appear to have the "best life" but in reality they are suffering and hurting as well. Every character was a person I could relate to on a variety of levels.

8) The emotional roller coaster.  As  I mentioned, I am not much of an emotional person.  I hurt and empathize for people but as I have grown and changed from my own experiences I have learned to think through situations.  However, this show had me all over the place.  I was a wreck. The characters did a great job acting and portraying the real emotion throughout the scenes.  As I mentioned in number 7, the characters are real.  For me, I had to turn my eyes away, or pause the show, for it brought up a lot of history and past for myself to reprocess. You start off being angry at some characters for their actions, but as their story unfolds your heart just opens up and you truly fall in love with them. As a parent and teacher, I just wanted to give them all hugs and  help them. I cried for them, with them, and with our young people going through these stories in real life. 

9) Every choice you make effects someone.  Although some of the situations Hannah was put through might have seemed small to some, and that other teens might have handled differently or even better. It was the culmination of the events that hurt her deepest. Some watchers are upset at Hannah, "how rude for her to blame other people for a selfish choice, how can she blame others?"  The tapes were not so much a blame, but her getting her voice out there. Letting her classmates, teachers, counselors and parents know that she is hurting because of others. Every interaction you have with a person can change the path on which they are traveling.  The counselor at the school was maybe not the most trained counselor, and although she was clearly in need of help, as I sat watching him listen to his own tape, hearing his own faults, I started questioning my own.  Which of my students is secretly hurting?  Which of my students thought I was being too harsh on them?  Which of my students truly needs help?  It really helped remind me that I need to be more aware of how I treat others - more so than I do now.  We all have a story. The parents were effected deeply, but they too had their role within Hannah's story. Does this make what Hannah did right? For people who do not think they have a way out of their emotions, or can't see past the deepness of the black pit they are in, the option of taking their own lives is what they think is their only option. Helping students and all adults to be better aware that there is help available, and that they are not alone, is a focus we should be pulling from this show. 

10) No religious affiliation. As a Christian it is hard for me to say that I am glad that there was not any religions mentioned. Religion would have been a distraction for the topics presented. If one religion was mentioned and not another, feelings would have been hurt, or worse, the religion could be blamed for the events of Hannah's death. Honestly, by not having the layer of religion take place, it enables the religious lens to be removed, giving sight to the fact that all creeds and beliefs are vulnerable to these topics and situations.

11) Every issue. Every. Single. One.  13 Reasons Why was able to write a serious series over pretty much every issue happening in our world today.  From rumors, cyber bulling, porn, gun safety, harassment, prejudice, drinking, drugs, young sex, rape, abuse on every level, financial difficulties, gay relationships, cutting.......the show brings up every thing. The show did not leave something unaddressed. As a christian parent it does scare me from time to time the world in which our children are living and growing up in.  Sadly, the culture we are experiencing is one that has been around since the fall took place in the garden. These issues are real. If you have not experienced these issues yourself, you know people who have.  Although this is a reason I continued to watch the show, it is also breaks my heart deeply.

12) An open door for difficult conversations. Before this show, how many of these topics were addressed, thought about, or handled in your own home?  How many of us have experienced any of this?  How many people had no idea that this happened? The show is full of awareness towards these sensitive issues, it also has the potential to open doors for young people to open up and start telling their stories. I loved, loved, loved the last episode when Jessica realizes that she is not doing well. That she can no longer go down this path by her self, pushing everyone away. That she is not alone. She starts to tell her story. We all have a story. But are we all willing to listen?

13) The commentary. There is an "episode" that has the actors, writers, producers, psychologist and others discussing why they were apart of this show and what their hopes of the show are. I encourage you, if you are unsure if you want to watch this show, to watch the commentary first.  Although it might give away spoilers to how everything turns out, I think it helps to hear the hearts of the people who put the show together.  They want truth to be exposed, their own site is a link for people to get help.

****
As one would start with a warning, I too am going to end with DISCLAIMERS:
* please do not watch the show if you are currently feeling as if the world is against you, that you are alone. You are not alone. There are people who do care. If you feel that you can not share what is going on, for your own safety, try to remember your safety is one of the biggest reasons TO share.  The professional you get help from will make sure to do everything possible to keep you safe.  Please talk to a trusted adult at school, at the top is a link for a hotline that gives full confidentiality and here is another source. YOU ARE LOVED.

* watch the show, if you can, it does have moments that are so real you have to look away.  Being able to pause this show and digest it in pieces, was so incredibly helpful.  If you are under the age of 18 please share with your parents that you are watching or have watched 13 reasons, or better yet ask them to watch with you.

* love people.  LOVE PEOPLE.  If we could all show more compassion for the beautiful differences in our world and come to understanding that everyone has a story; that is when we might realize that we are not all so different.  Love people.


Let me know your thoughts!
If you ever want to or need to talk, please let me know.
I love swapping stories. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

I tried - reading Seven [April's Book Review]

For April, to follow suit with my Spring Cleaning goals, I thought I would read Jen Hatmaker's "7" - little did  I know the journey I was about to be on. 


I actually have had the book for several months... or years... you know, that excess.

If you are pressed for time, 
scroll to the bottom for my quick 
"7 things to take away from 7"

Now, I might have some friends who don't understand why I'm reading Jen Hatmaker; she has been in the "news" lately  Truth be told, I feel sorry for her. She is being very vulnerable and transparent by pouring our her heart, energy, resources and thoughts on paper - only for others to judge and criticize.  Yes, Christians need to build up, encourage, and help keep each other accountable - but we might not always agree on every detail. So, if are an anti-Jen type of person, please don't read further, this post is not to stir up drama or arguments, thanks in advance. *drop mic*

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Honestly,  I LOVE her writing.  She uses sarcasm, has a quick pace, and clever wording that keeps me engaged.  I also really appreciate that within the chapter are dates - so it's easy to feel like you are making quick progress - and for a slow reader like me, that is super beneficial.  Although, it is written almost with a diary feel, you still are processing information with her, never getting the feeling you are snooping on her.

Here is how the book is described: 7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and  her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence. 


Chapter 1 - Food - The first month she limits herself to 7 different foods and water.  She picked: Chicken, eggs, whole-wheat bread, sweet potatoes, spinach, avocados, apples.   Her chapter was about the struggle it was to eat only those items.  She had a few slip ups, but give her self plenty of grace.  Her friends, "the council" helped by keeping her on track or giving her the grace to eat authentic Ethiopian food.   At one point, in an airport she ended up with a tortilla - instead of bread; and concluded later that that was acceptable.

What foods would you pick?  I thought about this - thinking I might participate in the challenge as well.  I was leaning towards:  chicken, eggs, sweet potatoes, banana, peanut butter, apple, yellow squash, tomato and lettuce - now - if you were counting I have 8.  But I would like to throw out the idea that an egg is the same as eating chicken... am I right?

Read this chapter for her feelings on how difficult this was, but the council also participated with a variety of different limitations or fasts that I found very interesting.

(I think this is very similar to what she had)

Chapter 2 - Clothes - For an entire month she wore the same seven clothing items.  SEVEN.  She does not consider her undergarments as clothes and two pairs of shoes count as one. NO accessories.  Her council all participate in a variety of ways as well.  Now, Jen does live in Texas were this might seem to be more possible, but she also has speaking engagements that change her perspective. Although in Texas, they don't usually have snow, during this experiment they experienced snow... you will have to read her story about how she endured a snow ball fight with her 7 wardrobe.

And her boots.  Oh the boots.  We all have that piece, something we take pride in and truly adore. The thought of giving away your own shoes.  Could you?  Could you walk out of a building bare foot?

She did.   

Clothing is not one of my least favorite things to buy.  I like to bargain hunt for others.  Love giving gifts. I feel as if I do repeat my wardrobe items fairly regularly that doing project 333 would be something more manageable.   33 items (including accessories, not gym clothes) for 3 months.  Maybe this summer - any one want to give it a shot?

If you are worried what people think; you'd be surprise how many people are NOT actually thinking about you. (Boy, that sounds sad, but really, people are thinking that you are thinking about them, when we are thinking about what others think of us, so really we are all only thinking of ourselves.... right?? *confused-brain-hurting-face*). This chapter does help you have a greater appreciation for your items and what you really need.  My family is so incredibly blessed, yet we typically wear the same few clothing items.

(A picture of a two car garage - one car spot - filled with stuff to sell)

Chapter 3 - Possessions - This month her and her family agree to giving away 7 items. Every. Day. For a month.  At first you think - how is that even possible.  But she made the comment that after living in 7 of the same clothing items for a month, it wouldn't be too bad to give away several of her clothing items.

I enjoyed her transparency about how she held on to some of her bagged out grown children's clothes as back up.  However, they soon found out, as most American's would, we have plenty.

The above picture is my own stuff.  My families "stuff"  boxes of boxes of baby/children's clothes.  Toys and gadgets.  Now, at one point these items held a purpose and did their job well.

Reading this chapter the same month that we prepared for a garage sale (and had our basement flood) really changed the structure of my mind.

Are these things we need or want?  Does this glorify the kingdom? Are we living like Jesus?

Honestly, I am ashamed.  Our community is living in poverty while our children are watching us consume more and more every year.   *I will confess, we saved clothes for my sister and I's children to share, and our mother happens to spoil her grand kids*


Chapter 4 - Media - This is the month that they refocused as a family unit and eliminated media outlets.  Her seven media sources to turn off this month were: TV, Gaming, Facebook/Twitter, iphone apps (even pictures), Radio, Texting*, and Internet* Her *disclaimer is that both her and her husbands jobs do require checking e-mail and texting (ministers need communication) but it was very structured and controlled.  No surfing the web, reading extra articles, watching sports.  They did not want to text to replace people. Instead they wanted to create a culture of face to face communication.

This topic is one that is a personal struggle. I never admit to having a media problem.  But in the big picture, it is what eats up the most of my time.  I try to always  rationalize my habits; ...I read this article to address this issue in parenting...... oh, I think so and so would love this recipe.......I need to make this for......I could try to do this to improve running.... lets listen to music as clean... lets watch TV while we cook (not while eating, that's family time)....... sweet boys of mine, can you wait while I email or text this person back......

I ALWAYS HAVE AN EXCUSE - THINKING THAT TECHNOLOGY IS HELPING ME BE MORE EFFICIENT IN COMMUNICATION WITH PEOPLE. 

Reality is, I need to turn my phone off, look my boys in the eye, and give them the attention they deserve.  I need to make my time sacred and not a scrolling mind numbing experience.  If I was to truly allocate my time in needs, I would have plenty of time to do the things I should (like work out, hahaha).

What are some other ways to do a media-fast?


Chapter 5 - Waste -  If consumerism is a double sided sword, than waste is the second side to possessions.  Instead of getting rid of items that no longer have a need, this is chapter is focused on getting rid of or purchasing items with greater purposes.

For month five, they picked seven habits for a greener life: gardening, composting, conserving energy and water, recycling, driving only one car, shopping thrift or second-hand, and buying only local (i.e. farmers' market and small business).

Of her seven this month, we do several of these.  I try to garden, we conserve energy (hello savings on bills), we already recycle (unless your basement floods and you throw out a lot of things), and we don't shop too terribly much.

This chapter had several nuggets of truth and wisdom when it comes to how God would like us to live.  This is not our world or creation.


Chapter 6 - Spending - The month she only shops at seven places. The locations she frequented were: farmer's market, gas station, online bill pay, kids' school, travel fund, medical, target.

This chapter was really interesting, for although I do not feel as if our family is drowning in consumerism, it was yet another reminder for myself that I can be more intentional when it comes to living like Jesus. Can we be a better community, support local businesses, or provide for others that have a need greater than our own.

I have friends who shop frequently, malls to boutiques, to thrift stores - they just enjoy shopping. That is not my personality.  I like to save money so I am prepared to be more generous for others.  I enjoy buying gifts on sale prices.  In general. I fill my time with our enjoyable activities.


Chapter 7 - Stress - How are you surviving? Have you ever made  lists of the responsibilities you have, the lingering or dreaded to-do lists?  Have you though about all the people who need you on various levels?  Life, is fast paced and tempts us with stress constantly. This month she decided to PAUSE and PRAY 7 times a day.

At first she admitted to struggling with this.  Waking up at mid-night to pray.  Difficult.  Eventually, she was made aware that she could set alarms on her phone to remind her to pause and pray. She ended the book with a family retreat on the family farm.

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I know this post was rather long and I would encourage you each to read her book.  Her stories, her passion, her eagerness to grow and love people better is strung through this book, her journey.

7 things I took away from 7
1) We are rich. Even America's poor is rich comparatively to the world. (read Radical by David Platt for more info)
2) Food is not the center of friendship; or any relationship.
3) We think of ourselves more than others think of us. Start thinking of others. SERVE OTHERS.
4) Media is raging war on our families and communities.
5) We own too much stuff! We are consumers and teaching our children wastefulness.
6) Prayer changes things. Set and alarm to create better habits of spending time with God.
7) God doesn't want us at war with ourselves (pg 220), give yourself grace, progress takes time. 

WHAT CHANGES ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE TO IMPACT TOMORROW?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

I tried - April (update and May Goals)

Recap for April:
Book
 - I read and enjoyed (still processing) Seven by Jen Hatmaker.    I will be hopefully posting a review/blog about my journey through her book.
Health - I can't seem to get my mind to care.  I want to be healthier (thinner/more in shape) but my motivation and drive are lacking.  I ran races, and took 3rd in one of them.  But as far as weightloss or fitting into a smaller size - that did NOT take place.  Also ran my first 15k, it was fun - but the course map got messed up so I ended up making my own route.  Get free admission to the race next year, so that's cool!
Scripture Memorization - I focused on Provers 1:7 (it's still written on our chalkboard in the dining room, looking at it now... a good daily reminder), John 8:32, 1 Peter 2: 1-3, Luke 10:42
Challenges - There is one main challenge I have been working on since February.  For the past three months I have been doing something, something small, but significant.  Stay tuned.



May is here!
It's a busy time of year for us. It's like a book coming to a close.  You watch as the pages turn and know that there is SOOOOO much more to read.  You skip words every now and then to see if that helps you get to the "good parts" - well May, the days will be a blur as baseball starts, Jeremiah graduates from college, I will be finishing up my 5th year of teaching, and we prepare for summer. April provided a good jump start on simplifying our lives (will talk more about that in the book review), and so hopefully May we can enjoy and create those habits to a more simplified life.

Book: Going to be reading Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.  Shocking fact - I have never read a book by C.S. Lewis.  Never.  Not even Chronicles of Narnia.  I will hang my head and shame while putting my nose in this book (that I have heard several people recommend).

Health: Ketosis diet or life style change.  I think it's one that I can focus on.  I can eat B.A.C.O.N. for like every breakfast.  Ketosis is essentially an incredibly low carb diet.  We are talking like 30 or less grams of carbs a day.  Because I like to be different though, as much as I am going to focus on "healthy fats" I am also going to give myself grace and allow fruits (so much sugar/carbs!).  Jeremiah said he is going to do this as well, having his support always helps.
I am still running!  But loosing joy.  I have no one to run with and no longer have the drive to even compete with myself.  I hope that changes.  My sister and I, however, have attended a trampoline exercise class the past two weeks.  NOT little individual trampolines, but like at a trampoline gym. It's legitimate.

Scripture Memorization: Found this site that has a verse from each book of the bible.  Check it out.   Need to write our monthly newsletter update. This month going to look at: 1 Corinthians 10:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 1 Peter 4: 8-9, James 4:10, Micah 7:8.  Do you have any tricks or methods that help you memorize scripture.  Do you "reword" it to make it shorter and "in your own words"?

Challenges: I am going to, for the third or fourth time, attempt to do the challenge bellow.  I am also going to continue for the forth month a special challenge that brings small pieces of joy to others.  You will just have to wait and find out what I am talking about.  I am going to have to process Jen Hatmaker's book, Seven, for there are some challenges in there that I think I'd enjoy attempting to help change my life.  Maybe for June??  EWWWWW, a real challenge, getting my garden to grow!


Other news: Our anniversary is at the end of the month!  Celebrate.

Have a great month! 

Friday, April 28, 2017

I tried - being a friend .... SURVEY

I love data and numbers and information.  If you are interested in filling out a survey about what a "friend" is and how social media changes our perception of our social interactions please fill out the voluntary survey below.

https://goo.gl/forms/7XpQESjO8Mouexq03

This is for fun and I am in no way a psychologist or person using this as an actual study.  This is just for my own personal insight to others perception.

I joke that I  have the emotional range of a teaspoon - but I am also a very loyal person.  Sometimes I do not see the world as others do and would like insight from my peers.

Thank you for your time!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

I tried - education {a public school teacher's view on homeschool}

 A "hot" topic in my "world" is education.  From toddler time to college, and everything in between, I value it. If you have extra time to waste, just bring up an educational related topic (i.e common core, discipline, retention, IEPs, etc....) we will talk. For hours.

WARNING: because this is a topic I am passionate about, this post is going to be lengthy - please look at the questions and find what best fits you.

I have had several parents come to me asking for my opinion about homeschooling over the alternative of public school. I have seen several articles recently about education - some with incredible inaccuracy and some with pure joy. So, now, instead of repeating myself, I can start pointing them to this blog.

Before I begin, I need to clarify some things about me.  I am public school teacher at a middle school, and currently, love my job.  I am a mother, but only to young children. I am opinionated, and do not have data to back up my claims (just resources and observations).  I am a Christian and some of my educational beliefs are woven tightly with my religious beliefs. I am a fan of homeschooling - and have had and still do consider it as an option for my own children as they age.

The best way to tackle this topic is through a Q and A session.  If you do not see your Q please post it in the comments and I would love to give you my version of the A - this is real life - not a multiple choice test.  =]


***What would I do if I was considering homeschooling, but are unsure?
As I mentioned, I have several peers who are considering homeschooling for a variety of reasons. Usually the biggest struggle I see from them is, "is this right?"  They might stay up late at night asking if they have the funds and other resources, the drive to home school.   They might be considering home schooling because of bad personal experiences in their own education.  Some of them consider home schooling for they have an UNeducated view of public schools (i.e. common core is evil - no, common core are standards, not my curriculum or how I teach - besides, most states are not aligned with common core anyhow - please don't be ignorant when making life choices for your family...... ooops, I am slipping on to another soap box).

If you are considering homeschooling please keep these thoughts in the back of your mind:
1)You have to do what is right for your family.  No one is going to fault you for that. Stand your ground, do research to support your opinions.  If you are religious, pray about the situation and ask God for guidance. Also see the questions about my Christianity and homeschooling later in the post.
2) LET THE TEACHER AND THE SYSTEM PROVE YOU WRONG.  If you have a fear or concern about school, one that might not be supported in concrete evidence - let your child try public school - if you are not happy - than home school. But let your teacher show you that rumors are in fact rumors.  I think you will be surprise that public school is not a bad place.
3) Educate your self.  Please, know what you are getting into.  This is not just a game, but your child's life you are dealing with.  A website I share helps identify with your type of home school that best fits with your personality and ideas of home school - check it out here. 
4) I BEG you as a  teacher, if you do homeschool, actually teach your children how to read and do basic math. It's very worrisome for me when I see students, who will one day be adults in our country, who can not multiply at the age of 13.  *sigh*



***What would I do if I was already homeschooling or enrolled in another non-public school system (private, charter, co-ops)?
Homeschooling, like I said, can be a huge success for several families.  I have seen it!  Sometimes I am envious of it.  If you are happy with your choice to home school please consider the following:

Don't bash public schools
For hundreds of thousands of families
public school IS their only choice.


These families and teachers need your support and encouragement.  I had one friend post on facebook how she really did not like that she has to pay property taxes to support a school that her children do not even attend.  I really wanted to respond with "you have the choice, others don't" - Is it justified taking away from others who might not be as lucky and blessed as you are?  Also, ponder this, if this your country - why wouldn't you want public schools to be successful and have proper funding - your kids are going to grow up and have to function as adults with public school taught adults.  Personally, I want to live in a country that is not full of ignorance, hate, and people lacking basic education - regardless of the route.   Think about those who do not have children who still pay property taxes.  Delight in your home school success, but do not bring down the public school.  Please.   If you want to see some positive reasons why home school is good, go here



***What would I do if my children have to attend public school?
Most families do not have the option to home school.  To that situation, I would say - make the best of your child's education.  Have constant or good communication with your child's teacher.  If there is a concern, instead of talking to other parents about it, address it with the teacher.  Although we are all adults, parents are very capable and sometimes the best at starting rumors.

You can be an activist for your child's education! 


If you are not pleased with what is happening with in a district, educate yourself about the situation (terminologies and what is normal protocol) - then, seek help from your principal, school board, governors.  You can be an activist for your child's education.

 Please keep in mind that like any profession there are good teachers and their are teachers who need another profession.  This practice, or lack of, is not uncommon; other professionals have the same issue from "corrupt cops" to "moral lacking doctors" there are people who should not be working where they currently are.

SUPPORT the school. Desegregation started centuries ago, however, because of economic status, some of our schools are slowly turning back into segregated schools.  Read this article about why some families don't want their kids going to another school. This breaks my heart.

Do you really want to live in a society that treats people differently because of their race or economical status?  If you are blessed and happened to end up in a school that you are pleased with, be thankful.  Show appreciation to the teachers and administration.

Always be supportive - think, are you part of the problem or the solution?



***What do I do differently as a Christian parent?
Although home schooling is a great fit for several families, as a Christian parent and as of right now, I want my kids to go to public school to be the light.  Our oldest, who is 5, understands who Jesus is and that he died for us.  I want Gideon to be friends with the meek, the poor, the hurt, the black, the Muslim, the "stereotype of your choice" child.  Our practice in our home is love ALL people and give them honor and dignity.  There will come a day when Gideon will bring home a friend that needs a loving place to feel safe.  I want that to be our home.

To love people,
we have to break free from our 
safe and comfortable circle of like minded peers. 


I usually get the follow up question or response along the lines: what about bullies, drugs, bad words, sex, bad behaviors, or an education I don't agree with..... My children are my children, regardless of where they go to school.  It is MY JOB AS THE PARENT TO TEACH THEM.  That is what it comes down to.  Until we can support single moms, help feed children, give refugees home, welcome foreigners better - the education system will remain broken, for the world is broken.   I am not going to rely or expect another person to be the parent of my child. 



***What would I do if I did homeschooling, but then "fail" or it is not longer an adequate option for our family?

First
Attempt
In
Learning

To fail means you are leaning what works for your family.  It's okay to attempt home school or similar programs and then realize that it is not as successful as you had hoped.  I know several families who have a "blended" family where some children go to public while others remain in an alternative setting.  It works beautifully for them!

Now, if it is not successful, please reevaluate the situation and try something different.  Unfortunately, I have seen several homeschooling failures as an educator. I have had a student who attempted to speak her own language, and would get frustrated with me for I did not understand her.  She did not do well in public school, a few months after, was pulled back out to home school.




This teachers final thoughts:
Our country needs public education.
Our public educators need everyone's support - or education is going to continue to be inadequate in the public's eye.  The article, although a few years old,  summarizes that over the past 40 years, despite endless debates about curricula, testing, teaching training, teachers' salaries, and performance standards, assessments, and despite billions of dollars invested in school reform, there has been NO improvement - none - in the academic proficiency of American high school students.

Something needs to be done. Teachers are leaving by the masses.  Read this article, or just simply google search why teachers no longer teach. It all comes down to community support. Teaching is no longer a respected or honored profession, comparitavely to other countries.

Teaching is not an easy job.
Parenting is not an easy job.

Please - if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, let me know.  I would love to hear from you!