Saturday, August 12, 2017

I am overwhelmed {with today's news}

Most of my blog titles contain the words "I tried" or "I am trying"
Today I simply, am.

I am overwhelmed with heart break, confusion, anger, compassion, and love.

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog about being the devil's advocate when it comes to black vs blue lives mattering.  A few months after that, during the election, I posted about loving all people.

Today, many of the same thoughts raise up in me.

Saying I am overwhelmed is the easy part.  I can not seem to find the words I am looking for as current history is taking place.  Today, everything I have been watching (Brene Brown/Vulnerability), reading and listening to, have all pointed to the same feelings within me.  Overwhelmed.

I was thinking it was irony.  God's too big for irony, my day was neatly woven by Him.

I keep typing half sentences, then holding down the delete button with vigor.

over. whelmed.


Pray for - the KKK - those that are racists, the men who claim to be superior.  For their darkness is not welcomed. That their hearts will break and love will fill their lost souls.  That truth and love will shine brighter than their torches.

Pray for - the injured and dead - as these marches and riots take place that lives can be spared and that peace will be restored.

Pray for - the families - of the victims and all that are involved.  That generations of hate will not breed anymore hate.  That generations of love can prevail.  That the armed services will find safety and be able to use knowledge over weapons. 

Pray for - the church - that we can come together and pray for these events, people, his kingdom. Be advocates. I pray that the church does not turn a blind eye. That the church will not stand with such atrocities.  But stand against.  When the dust settles, the history is written, that the church will come together picking up pieces. Hold the hands of those who hurt. Hug the ones who have lost. Pray with and for the ones who have hated. Supply the basic needs in replace of destruction. 

Pray for - Trump - he is our President, whether you like it or not.  We are asked to pray for our leaders. That his words will be humble and helpful.

Pray for - war - that is happening, has happened, and will happen.  Christians are currently at war, a peaceful war.  Lives and souls are at stake.  If our country continues to act the way it does, I am afraid we will be like Syria or any other war-torn country.  

Pray for - history - that it not does not repeat in its fullness.  Honestly, hate has never stopped.  From Biblical times, to WWII, to now... the shape of hate is the same and the darkness still exist.

Pray for - USA - that our country will not continue to fall apart in pieces as immaturity and ignorance tears apart the seams of this country.

Pray for - knowledge - that for people, like me, will be called to do what they need to.  Be it prayer, or to be active in Charlottesville, that all people will be armed with truth.

Be bold. Live loved.




I tried - reading lots of books! [August book review]

With a little extra down time, I was able to finish up July's second book, "Hoot," as well as read Philip K Dick's "The Man in the High Castle." Ambitiously, I plan on reading "Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo - but.... with school starting very very soon... we will see how that comes along.


First, a short little write up about Hoot.  My dad gave me this book a long time ago, knowing that it was for young adult readers, or even elementary readers, he thought I would enjoy it to relate to my students.  I found out that the movie is, or was at one point, on Netflix and plan on watching it soon.

The book itself was an easy read.  Had cute relatable characters and a bit of mystery to the entire story (if you are 12).  Was it life changing, no not for a 30 year old.  Was it something I could easily pick up and put down for interruptions, yes.  Recommend this book, yes to the target audience or anyone that wants an easy read.  It was cute.


This book was a bit more difficult for me than Hoot was.   I am not for sure if it's because I tend to be a slow reader or if it was because there was a lot of "difference" to process through. Differences like, German and Japan names that I had to properly pronounce to develop characters.  Differences like, the time frame this took place was a real historical time, but yet futuristic as well.  Differences like, the geography was the same but ruled by other groups.

The differences were good though.  I really liked this book. 

The Man in the High Castle takes place in 1962 with an alternative outcome to the second world war.  Franklin D. Rosevelt was assassinated and therefore the journey for the USA to overcome the depression was never a success; causing Nazis Germany and Japan to win the World War II 15 years later, and take over other countries.

(Having this map might have been helpful, however, I was able to picture this in my head to some accuracy)

The book had several story lines and characters that overlapped one another and was neatly woven together.  The book not only offered an alternative outcome to war, but also within our science, technology, and anything the human race dealt with - the futuristic part - traveling at warped speeds from countries, studying and traveling/living on Mars the book was incredibly well thought out.

Two of the most intriguing parts of the book were:
1) The book did not take place in a Christian world, and because of the outcome of the war Christianity as a religion as well as American culture ceased and was replaced by German or Asian culture.  The historical 'book of changes' - the I Ching - has been China's ancient divination for centuries and it was the center belief for this story. Even though the Bible was only mentioned once, maybe twice, as an old USA artifact, the other cultures had Christian theology.  For example, at the end of the book Mr. Tagomi thinks "When I was a child I thought as a child.  But now I have put away childish things.  Now I must seek in other realms."  Starts off fairly biblical, but changes back to his current beliefs.  It was just interesting to see different religions and cultures mesh together.  It was sad at points, thinking that Nazis could have won the war and our 2017 state of living would be in hate.... but even in current news, we haven't come very far from this. 

2) One of the common trends, for many of the characters, was the book "The Grasshopper Lies Heavy" by the fictional character Hawthorn Abendsen - Ironically (for I just mentioned that TMITHC doesn't discuss much of the Bible or other Christian theology) is based off of the Bible's Ecclesiastes12:5.  Now, this fiction book in TMITHC,  follows what would have happened if Rosevelt escaped the assassination. A BOOK WITHIN A BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK. COOL.

With a quick google search I found out that in 2015 Chandler Duke did write "The Grasshoper Lies Heavy," a story that takes place in 1966 (4 years after TMITHC was written) about if the United States was actually ruled by four countries.  Whether Duke wrote this after reading High Castle, I am not for sure.  On Amazon, Chandler writes that he did have finally have a professional edit and read his book.  So I am not to for sure who much I want to invest in this book.

The book is good.  I would not have finished it if it wasn't.
The book is complicated - you have to not have distractions while reading it, or you'll miss important details.
The book is interesting.  I would have not read the book in a week.  I could not put this down.
The book is a tv show.... wait, what?  Yes - on Amazon Prime there are not one, but two seasons, of the Man in the High Castle.  

I eagerly can't wait to start watching them!  

If you like history, fiction, war, drama, culture, thought provoking outcomes, differences, than read Dick's, "The Man in the High Castle."


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I tried - to control too much [August.... and September Goals]

As you may know, I am a teacher.  And with that comes certain responsibilities; like I have to enjoy summer.  It's a rule, I'm sure it's in my contract... right?

Well, summer was great! Yet, I am still looking forward to the job I love. As I speak about these events, it is as if it is over.  But... IT'S NOT!  I still have two weeks before I go back to work.  OKay, I have two weeks before students start filling my classroom, slowly becoming my own kiddos.

Here's the deal.  As much I have tried to post regularly about my goals each month, and also revisiting how I did the previous month - well, that's probably not going to happen at the start of the school year.

I can only control so much.  My life can not be constantly filled with schedules and to-do's.

My reflection on July... it was not restful.  Was it enjoyable?  Yes.  But I still did not find my rhythm that I was so looking for.  I didn't find my tribe you could say.  We were able to see a lot of our favorite people, went to several weddings and events, went on a trip as a family.  Had family stay with us for a week - life was jammed back... and NOT with rest.



I eagerly look forward to August for that reason.  Look forward to finding a good pace, a healthy stride for our family to tackle the first semester.

Yes, I have already tried to excel a schedule for my family.
Yes, I have already looked at our budget and what school supplies I want to buy my kiddos (students).
Yes, I am still thinking of goals and challenges to make myself better.

But something will always take priority while something else will slip away.  I don't want that. So here are my not-goals, but my life.


Goals set me up for failure - but, living life, well I can be successful at that. 

August Life:
Health - I am happy to report that I have lost and kept off about 10-15 pounds this summer (HUGE DEAL!) and I am going to keep doing what I am doing.  Sensible eating, focusing on eating clean healthy non-processed foods.   I am going to continue to find ways to challenge myself physically, including doing this as much as I can throughout the week.

(attempting to do longer plank, more push ups and might change lunges to leg lifts)

Book - I did read/finish Messy Grace for the month of July and about 1/2 way through Hoot.  Although I did not read both for July, I am about to go on another trip and should be able to knock out Hoot rather quickly.   For August my book is going to be The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick. It looks rather interesting and hopefully a page-turner.  For those days going back to work.... I am tired when I get home.    While we are talking about books I will add, for those who are curious, that I will be reading and leading an online group through Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts. This will take about 6 weeks and will find another book to read for September too! 

Scripture - although I am slacking at memorizing all of these, it's been great to be digging into the Word to find exactly what I am looking for.
Psalm 150:6
Colossians 3:12
Matthew 6:34
Isaiah 56:1
Proverbs 31:30
My wonderful husband also bought me the She Reads Truth Bible!  It weighs more than a new born baby, but that weight is because it's filled with knowledge and beauty.   My goal is to do their studies for Titus, Philmon and Hebrews and for September work on Proverbs.

Fall is my favorite.
I welcome you.
Giving up control.



Monday, July 17, 2017

I tried - being mentorable {open letter to my future mentor}

Dear Future Mentor,

Thank you.  I have needed you for some time.  I needed you without even knowing it was you, or the idea of a mentor.  I needed  you more than I realized.

See, I feel as if I am in a weird spot in the church.  I don't feel like I belong.  I did not grow up in the church that we are going to, so my roots are more shallow than others. I did not attend the Christian college, as my husband and friends did, feeling as I orbit their social circle. I have a "worldly" job... I mean ministry... ahh, whatever teaching is these days, which does not allow a lot of time to do do "mom" things or minister to others.  It's weird for I have a loving mom and great friends, but I am missing...

missing you.

I need guidance spiritually.
I need wisdom that challenges me.
I need patience, strength, calm, investment.
I need cared for.

I need you.

As I currently write you, my family is going through a season of transition. A time of reflection and re-centering our lives back to God's plan.  A time of waiting to see what is in store.  Prior to this season I had directly asked several (4) women to be my mentors, and asked handful of other women to just hang out - but it always falls through.  Some of these women graciously turned me down with positive answers.  Some didn't really have the time, respectively.

But I truly, prayerfully plead for someone to reach my hand and say "it is I that will get coffee with you! Listen. Talk. Pray. Check-in. Invest."   Okay, you don't have to talk like that.  I promise.

Mentoring is an odd topic to talk about in the church.  Sometimes it happens organically, very natural.  Other times it is forced.  I pray that whomever gets paired with me, it is a relationship that happens naturally, God driven.

See, I am a mess.  To my peers, it might appear that I am put together.  Got all the answers.  Life is grand.  But, I am human.  Just as my blog title states, I am trying.  Honestly, I don't know what I am doing from day to day.  Grasping at straws.

I know once this season of transition changes, there might be more time and opportunity for investment.

A  few weeks ago I was talking to an older lady about my parents helping take care of my children as we were at a conference she said "at least you have your parents, we always lived so far from family."    I just wanted to respond with, "but you had the church.  You had people come to you and watch your kiddos to give you a break.  Bring you a meal.  Pray with you.  Call you to see how you were. Being a mother is hard.  Working in a church is hard."   But I just acknowledged the truth that I am thankful that we are currently close living to my family.

A year ago I had a friend talk about how she doesn't have many deep relationships or mentors and how she wishes her mom lived closer.  Yet, in the same conversation I could count on two hands the older women in her life.  ASKING to babysit her new baby.  ASKING to clean her house or offer help.  ASKING  her over for coffee and conversation.  Yet it appeared that she is oblivious to all the good she had.
J
Future mentor, or can I call you friend.  I am a bit bitter.  I don't want to be.  I ask God to help soften my heart.  To give me courage to ask the right women to be apart of my life. But as a horse chases a carrot on the stick, I am always just a tad short.

So future mentor, future church.  Thank you.

Thank you for loving me, the messy me.  The real me.  The speaks before she thinks me.
Thank you for loving my family.  Challenging us to be humble kingdom workers.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy life to acknowledge that I exist.

That's all that is takes.
Letting people know that they are important.

I do my best to be intentional with my friends.  But having someone who has gone before me, to hold my hand through prayer, tears, excitement and opportunities is who I am looking for. (holding my hand can be figuratively - don't want to make anyone, myself included, uncomfortable).

If you are an older woman, regardless of age, who are you investing in?  The generation younger than  you?  The new mom?  A student? A babysitter?

Dear future mentor.
I needed you.
I wait for you.
I appreciate you.
I appreciate God's timing of you.

With love,
Megan


Freebie Find: 100 Questions and mentor conversation topics - to make this mentoring thing easier on all of us.  =] 

I tried - reading Messy Grace [July's Book Review]

A while back I, like more years than I can remember, I started and almost finished reading Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach but for some reason I stopped reading it, in fact I let other people borrow it!

At the end of June I had the honor hearing Caleb speak and I decided that I must finish his book for July; it wasn't a difficult task.


"Can someone be gay and go to heaven?  I think if we're going to ask that question, then we have to ask if someone can be an alcoholic and go to heaven?  Can someone be addicted to drugs and go to heaven? Can someone be a gossip and go to heaven? Can someone be a worrier and go to heaven? Can someone be jealous of others and go to heaven? Can someone be an arrogant know-it-all Christian and go to heaven?"

Spoiler alert - that was the fourth to the last page in his book.  But it gets my point across.

Messy Grace is Caleb's story and journey of growing up with gay parents, learning to hate Christians, then later becoming a Christian and serving pastor.

I love this book.  The first time I started to read it, and the second time.  It's full of thought provoking ideas, truth woven statements, and pieces of little "ah-ha!" nuggets.  The title says it all.  Grace is messy.  The church is messy.  Being a Christian is messy.  So how come we do such a horrible job at loving our gay neighbor, our gay child, our gay parent or co-worker?  Are they not human too?

Although he was more focused on loving the gay community, I couldn't help but also apply everything he wrote to other communities that Christians sometimes struggle with loving.   The quote above could also include, in my opinion, can someone be a liberal and go to heaven? Can someone be republican and go to heaven? Can someone have tattoos and go to heaven? Can someone born in a Muslim family go to heaven? Can someone who is black go to heaven? Can someone who is a cop go to heaven? Can someone who is a soldier go to heaven? Can someone who works for an abortion clinic go to heaven?


Can someone who disagrees with me go to heaven?

The very same page he writes, "Most Christians I know wouldn't have an issue with saying that any one of those people could go to heaven (talking about gossip, etc), but for some reason, when it comes to homosexuality, some think that is too tall of an order for God.  I think it's because their view of God is too small.  He's calling everyone into this kingdom all the time, as hard as that may be for us to believe."

This summer I also participated, well... attempted to participate in, a Beth Moore study called "Entrusted."   On page 106 of her workbook she writes, "Have you ever wondered how we Christians get away with some of the things we do? We rename the sin something noble.  We call gossip informing, judgement discernment, misogyny authority, anger righteous indignation, lust appreciation, arrogance confidence, profanity passion, and hate debate, and voila, misconduct gets reframed as Christian duty."

By renaming our sin, we simultaneously are trying to let others know that their sin is worse than ours.  But, sin is sin. And love is love.  

(My favorite is Romans 9:12-21)

I urge everyone to read this book, and truly seek their own hearts, get to know someone from the gay community, truly know them, don't fear them... they are people too!  My biggest fear or worry (and I know I shouldn't have any, for God is bigger than even my own small fears) is that the people who truly NEED to read this book, won't give it a second glance.  That more often than not, the ones reading Messy Grace are already trying to love their gay Christian and non-Christian friends.  But this is just me making an assumption, which is not healthy either.

So, I challenge you, regardless of where you stand on your beliefs of homosexuality in the church, to read this book.  Not just read it, but come to it with an open mind and ask God for it to touch your heart.  That your heart can reflect God's heart, one full of love and grace (even if it is messy).
~*~
To my LBTQ co-worker, friends, family, I am sorry if you have been hurt by the church.  The church is not a place of perfection, but a place of brokenness.  Our identities should be mirrors reflecting Christ, not our own thoughts and ambitions.  If you (homosexual or heterosexual) have been hurt by the church and need to talk, I will listen.  You are loved.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

I tried - teaching math {our society, and it's math inability}

It feels great to be blogging again!  Thanks for reading my friends!  [edit - and it's a longer read - with a call to action and solutions... enjoy.]

A few nights ago my family and friends all visited the drive-in movies... you know, where you sit in, or around, your car and watch a movie, or two, outside.  Yes, outside!  During one of the movies - I believe Captain Underpants (don't judge, it was really adorable) a student shared how they failed a class. It was math.

My husband looked at me, and before I could say anything, he stole the words out of my mouth, "it's always math!"

See, I have this theory, that our society is creating a culture that accepts math as the impossible subject.  That math is only for those with magnificent brain power.  A society that instructs its pupils that math is pointless.

Honestly, next time a movie or tv show starts talking about school see which subject is being addressed. I am pretty confident that if the student/actor mentions failing or struggling in a class, it's math.  I am also fairly positive that if a kid is "blowing off" homework as if it's not a big deal, that the homework was for his or her math class.

*sigh*

It breaks my heart every time! Our culture is creating a double standard.  As a teacher....as a MATH teacher, it's frustrating.  I am asked to help my students understand content that is not respected or expected to be learned by society.  Our culture wants me to teach mathematical concepts in the classroom, to students, who will later go out into society where they are told that what I taught them is pointless and it is acceptable to not understand the concept either.  And this is what I make the big bucks for (insert eye roll for dramatic effect).


Seriously, who uses math anyway?  Last year I was teaching some very basic algebra concepts to my advanced/accelerated class.  One very vocal young man interrupted, as he often did, and just asked "when will we ever use this?"  Any time a student asks that question I respond with "what do you want to do when you are older?" so I can then answer by giving an example that is related to their career or job.  This advanced, very bright student, told myself and the class he wanted to be an engineer - but yet, he thought basic algebra was pointless and a waste of his time.  Believe me, other students stared at him with a puzzled look more than I did.

Oh mercy.

Our society does a poor job of respecting math.  I work with a math teacher that says "you can't read a math book if you can't read" .... although very true, not going to argue there, this same thought process is why math is often over looked and under studied. I am not a strong reader or writer.  I am sure my husband and English teachers are frowning as they read this little article of mine gasping at every common error. However, I am getting my point across. Not miscalculating medicine for a patient or anything important.  But the moment that we, a society, place one content slightly higher above another is the exact moment that shadows and depths will be created.


Students are struggling in math for the time, energy and resources are not spent on it.  Back when I was in college I wrote a paper over math anxiety.  How female students are more inclined to develop the belief that she is not "good" at math.  This belief is often a reflection of her relationship with her mother and/or female elementary teacher that also view math as a "man's game."  You can read my paper here, if interested.    Another fascinating blog about girls being 'bad at math' can be found here.  Props to this author.

Again, our society is creating a culture that not only places math of a lower importance, but also oppressing young girls to believe that they are not capable at learning math.

**Little side note, if you are a woman, or a parent of a girl, please watch Hidden Figures.  These WOmen were NASA's calculators...before calculators were a thing.**


Before I started writing this blog, I went to google to see what I could find about math in movies and society.  Instead, I found a New York Times article "Why Do Americans Stink at Math" by Elizabeth Green.  It's a rather lengthy article, a few years old, but had some wonderful ideas and even strategies I want to see take place in my classroom next year.  If you have time, I suggest you read this article.

As I was reading, I couldn't help but have comments, some snarky, some preachy, some prayerful, some praises.

Math has always been a hot topicin the education world.  Clearly our film industry believes that it's the most difficult of subjects.  Elizabeth Green writes, "In fact, efforts to introduce a better way of teaching math stretches back to the 1800s.  The story is the same every time: a big, excited push, followed by mass confusion and then a return to conventional practices."

She later states, "The trouble always starts when teachers are told to put innovative ideas into practice without much guidance on how to do it." (can I get an amen here!?)

I have parents who say that math has changed so they can't help their student.  But it hasn't. Numbers are still numbers.  The challenge is still a challenge.  And Americans have stunk at math, and for some time.  In Green's article she shared a story from around the 1980's when A&W started to market a 1/3 pound hamburger to off set McDonald's quarterpounder. The marketing team states that customers thought it was a better product, but also thought they were being charged too much and therefore not buying it.  When in fact, the price of the 1/3 A&W hamburger was cheaper than the quarterpounder.  Customers did not understand factions.



I believe there are solutions.  We will need a change of mind and attitude in order to see a change in our culture through empowerment of our people.  

Some of these solutions I am going to present are my personal opinion.  I have not taught as long as some.  I have not taught in other content or other grade levels outside of 7th grade math. I have not done any significant research, this is all from personal observation. So, if this doesn't settle well with you, it might mean I need more information.  Okay, proceed.

Solution 1:
Empower elementary teachers. Make elementary teachers proficient in math.  If a first grade PE teacher had to go to school to learn physical education, and all of it's methods and strategies I believe that every grade should have a math teacher.  Someone who is strong in their content and is capable of helping other teachers who do not feel as if math is their strength.

As I continued to read about why Elizabeth thought Americans stink at math, I read: "'Remember,' Lampert says, 'American teacher are only a subset of Americans.' As graduates of American schools, they are no more likely to display numeracy than the rest of us. "I'm just not a math person," Lampert says her education students would say with an apologetic shrug."  At this point in the article, I just want to cup my face and weep.  I remember being in educational courses hearing that elementary teachers wanted to teach elementary classes because the math was too difficult, intimidating, or impossible.  Really, the same math that you had to take in school, now as a professional, is too much for you to handle?  When I graduated there were around 75 elementary teachers graduating.  There were 4 middle school math teachers.


Solution 2:
Empower all teachers. Give teachers adequate time to not only learn but to implement and teach appropriate math.  Elizabeth states, "With the Common Core, teacher are once more being asked to unlearn an old approach and learn an entirely new one, essentially on their own.  Training is still weak and infrequent, and principals - who are no more skilled at math than their teachers - remain unprepared to offer support."  This isn't about common core, an entirely different article about how common core are standards.... however, what she is saying is that we are asked to go to a conference for a few days and then the moment we step back into our classrooms start teaching an entirely different way.  Same content, different methods.  Common core, rigor and relevance, quad-D are all fancy jargon that is being replaced by the very popular STEM and STEAM projects. YET math has not changed.  (her statement about principals, oh so true, my principal reminds me that he taught history for a reason).

Elizabeth continues to write,"There, as in Japan, teacher teach for 600 or fewer hours each school year, leaving them ample time to prepare, revise and learn.  By contrast, American teacher spend nearly 1,100 hours with little feedback."  Just going to let that set in.  And for those who are struggling, American teachers are spending more time teaching, but with worse results.  Reread that paragraph, please.

If you want me to be a better teacher give me the time to learn these methods and implement them.

Solution 3:
Empower students' time. Students, unless they have a true deficit and possibly IEP, should get the same amount of time for math content as it does for art and every other subject.  One content should not receive more time than the other.  When a school, or classroom, establishes different time frames for different curriculum, eventually students subconsciously believe that one content or curriculum is more important than the other.  


Solution 4:
Empower words, methods, rituals, strategies, terminology and procedures.  I believe in differentiation. As a teacher, when I see a student struggling I do my best to find a method that "clicks" or sticks with that student.  However, I teach math.  But when we start using fun little butterflies to help a student learn how to add fractions, the student gets lost in the antennas. "The answer-getting strategies may serve them well for a class period of practice problems, but after a week, they forget. And students often can't figure out how to apply the strategy for a particular problem to new problems." I couldn't have said it better Miss Green.

I would like for a main stream, common idea of how to do math, common terminology.  Teach the foundation and save the fun little methods to help with differentiation.  Teach students how to think to solve instead of solving on how to think. If a student has something to focus on, other than which of the 12 methods to use, they might be be able to learn math.

My biggest frustration is even in mathematical symbols.  Students spend half of their education learning that X or x means to multiple.  Then, all of a sudden, when we introduce algebra we ask them to relearn several years of education.  'X' is no longer a symbol for multiplication, but is now a variable.   Oh, and by the way, parentheses can mean multiplication too, you know that fancy distribution.

Seriously, why can't we teach multiplication with the *  or the dot?  Why am I having to reprogram my students' mind ON TOP of teaching them new algebraic concepts?


Solution 5:
Empower parents. My favorite thing about parent teacher conferences is when I am given the opportunity to remind parents that they are able to do math and therefore are able to help their child with math. As a society we don't have to no longer tolerate the reason of "I'm bad at math, so my kid is bath at math" type statements.   Even if the wonderful Hollywood would start empowering parents and their families that math is something other cultures are capable of doing, so be default, Americans can too.

Solution 6:
Empower the curriculum.  This is a stretch, and would take an overall in the education.  Greens article discusses how children in Brazil that help their families by selling peanuts and coconuts could routinely solve complex problems in their head to total a bill or make change.  However, when the same students were presented the same type of problem on paper with pen, they stumbled.

Math IS real world.

This is a tricky solution.  I love my job.  I really do enjoy teaching pre-algebra to middle school students.  However, the day that I had a student exclaim that their homework was similar to their parents' college work, was the day I started to realize that maybe we are doing this all wrong?

Studies have proven that brains develop at different rates.  And that algebraic reasoning is a skill that requires certain brain development.  So, if your brain is not ready for the concept I am about to teach, you are going to think you are not capable, regardless of how much you try.

If we would just wait for students' brains to develop, we might be able to teach concepts that they are truly ready for, saving lots of time (and tears...for everyone). Slow down the standards in math so more students are more proficient.

Math can be real life.  Lets bring math back into classes with cooking, constructing, even budgeting or buying car insurance and loans as many students will face after high school.  Math seems to be unrealistic to many students, but it's all how we empower the curriculum. I mean why do students need to have all of this math, when they learn the same martial in college?  Yes, some students will not go to college, so shouldn't we equip them with math that they will be using daily?  I would rather see a class in high school talking about how to count change back then see more students spending time in classes that they don't value or even compute.

Just as Elizabeth stated in her article, people do math regularly for their jobs, in fact those same adults who failed classes can often be more efficient in their jobs for they have learned the math that is suited to their career.  

(I just put this there for a smile)

Leave me a comment if you made it this far.  Seriously, I feel like it should be like a kickstarter, where you get a prize or something for reading all of this.  I started out wanting to write about math and movies, and this is where I got.

Our society, education, parents, teachers, students, and even movies all need to stop picking on math.  It's really not that bad.

"Odds-defying individual teacher can be found in every state, but the overall picture is of a profession struggling to make the best of an impossible hand." - Green


Bonus:
Links to movies you should watch....
http://mashupmath.com/blog/2017/4/16/10-best-math-movies-for-middle-school-students
https://reelrundown.com/movies/Top-Ten-Teacher-Movies-of-all-Time
http://www.math.harvard.edu/~knill/mathmovies/

Sunday, July 2, 2017

I tried - resting {finding peace in chaos - July's goals}

I realized that I never made a post over June goals.  Therefore, I can not make a post about how June went. (went really well!) When I started to type this post, I thought it was going to be a simple post over July's goals and what's happening in my corner of the world.

But then I realized that all of my goals reflect back to what I heard at church this morning.

"Shattered plans are often the result of our poor choices or God's sovereign will." - Dr. Mark Scott.  

Over all he was preaching about Jeremiah 17 and 18 and how that sometimes our plans are interrupted to get our attention (disobedience) or because God wants to remake us, for He is the potter and we are His clay.

It really was the perfect sermon for me to hear. God's perfect timing too. I have been reflecting on the word "PAUSE" and what that means for me and our current family situation and environment.

It seemed like several of my July goals are related to reflecting more on life.  Stepping back.  Stepping down.  Stepping outside, holding hands of little' more.  Stepping in tune with others.

Book: 
July I am going to re-read/finish "Messy Grace" by Caleb Kaltenbach.   Recently I heard him speak and was drawn again to his story and wisdom of how to better love our gay neighbors.  I figure this would be a quicker read the second time around and if time allows would like to read "Hoot" by Carl Hiaasen - a middle school novel my dad told me to read in a day.  We shall see!

Health:
I am going to continue to do my version of "weight watchers" - watching macros, meaning I am eating very clean foods - low sugar, carb, processed.     I am currently finishing up a four week Diet Bet game with some local friends.  I have to loose one more pound this week to make sure that I get my money back (possibly make some too).  I plan on investing the money I make into a different game.

Scripture:
June I was focusing on reading and studying 2nd Timothy because of my study, "Entrusted" by Beth Moore.  Now that that is wrapping up I will be going back to my weekly scripture focus.
Back to memorizing, or at least focusing and meditating on for the July week's:
Exodus 14:14
2 Corinthians 9:6
Habakkuk 2:20
1 Samuel 12:16

Challenges:
Continue to eat healthy.  I am also 12 days into a physical challenge (squats, pushups, plank and crunches) and would like to finish that out.

My two biggest challenges and habits that I want to create this month are;
1) Wake up before the boys at least 4 days a week - even if it's just 15 minutes before.  The trick to this is the fact that it IS summer and our boys don't have a strict waking time from summer schedules.  It is typically after 7:30.
2) I want to spend LESS time on my phone.  That's it.  See what's around me more.

Pause. Breathe. Repeat.



I tried - reading 7 women [June's book review]

At the start of June I joined a Bible study over 2nd Timothy.  As we were meeting the women, in those sometimes awkward situations, I had to answer and discuss the question of, "which famous person would you like to spend time with?"

One of the women I was interviewing mentioned that her woman of choice was a result of reading the book "7 Women" - so I made a mental note .....okay, I did write it down too....

A few weeks later at the library with my boys I remembered the book and thought, why not.  I need to start reading something for June!


I strongly urge all people to pick up this book.  It really makes you reflect on the life at which we have been given.   This is not Eric Metaxas first biography.  He has also written over Bonhoeffer and a title called 7 Men.  Given time, I am interested in reading 7 Men as well. 

The seven women that Eric chose to write over and were also the following seven chapters:  Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Saint Maria of Pairs, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks and Mother Theresa.   Of these seven women, I was familiar of 3 of them.

Honestly, of these women (and I'm sure there are so many others..... watch the film "Hidden Figures" please!) but of these women I could not pick a favorite.  

I have always been drawn to the Holocaust and WWII - so the stories of the rebel Saint Maria of Pairs and Corrie ten Boom intrigued me greatly (not your Anne Frank story). Their selflessness.  Their style.  Their fearlessness.

Susanna Wesley and Hannah More had interesting stories relating to church and which movements started to develop - and their desire to educate all people.

I am passionate about justice and human rights, so learning more of Rosa Parks and her life was fascinating.  And honestly, the fact that we aren't so far from her story still breaks my heart.

Mother Theresa was a name I knew, so seeing her heart being poured out on pages was beautiful.  Her hurt for all people was by far inspiring.

Warnings - if you do read this - be ware that the first chapter, Joan of Arc, was difficult for me to get through.  I am not familiar with French (anything) and war words.  But the rest of the book wasn't as 'dry'.    Also, it really.... really.... REALLY bothered me that it was not 100% chronological. Even in his writings he would mention siblings, but write their birthdays out of order, or by significance, I'm not really for sure.  The lack of linear-ness was frustrating at times, but not frequent enough for me to stop reading it.    Main example,  Rosa Parks was born after Mother Theresa, but Rosa came before Mother Theresa in his book - but all the other women where in order of birth.

Please don't let my pickiness stop you from picking up this great book.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

I tried - reading Present Over Perfect [May's book review]

Summer - we are in full swing of long nights, grilling with friends, park dates, fresh produce, and bug bites!  But we love our summer.  With summer also comes a different pace; main reason for my May book review a weekish late.

May's book was going to be the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis - honestly, I didn't read it.  I was struggling getting into it.  I am not for sure if it was the season I mentally was in (finishing up teaching, planning my husband's graduation party, transitions) or what.  But it wasn't pulling me deep into it's pages.

At the end of May, Jeremiah got the book Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist 


This was a wonderful book to read right before summer.  Shauna is an older version of me. Like I am pretty sure we are related somehow. Hopefully that's not an insult to her.  Seriously, she loves cooking and gathering around the table, being intentional with making sure to feed people.  Her place to recharge is by a river, or a small simplistic house but yet she's drawn deeply to live in a bustling city.  She is not perfect by social media's standards when it comes to size - but absolutely gorgeous she is!  She has two boys (yes, I understand that) her husband is a worship leader (check). She obviously enjoys writing - girl, we are sisters!

I am so thankful to have read her book, for I can see myself living another 10 years doing everything wrong.  Okay, everything wrong is a bit extreme.   But I can give myself grace!
Her book is written with a short-essay style.  The chapters, very brief, were her stories and they filled my heart.

Shortly into her book I felt myself nodding along with her thinking "me too" or laughing with her for something I can see myself doing.  I was relating to her as she kept saying she was the responsible one, therefore she kept taking on more and more and more.  

It made me reflect on a conference I recently went to back in April where we discussed spinning plates - and at some point, something will give and break. 

She stated on page 102 "This is actually my life, and it doesn't matter one bit if it would be lovely for someone else to live.  What does matter; does it feel congruent with how God made me and called me?" 

That hit home hard.  

I have the ability to remake myself.  Look again at where and who God is calling me to be.  I do not have to always feel like I should meet everyone's expectations - except God's (and his is really the only one that matters).

This summer, as my boys tug on my shirt to get another 'dink' (drink) or want to hit one more ball in the yard, I am going to pause and practice being present.  For as I searching for my calling or pray for my families next move - I can be present.   There will always be dishes, laundry, media, things that can eat up our times.  

Chores are not my calling.
Tasks are not valued.
The choice to love is my calling. 
People are valued.

I am going to remake myself through pauses.  

I am going to practice being present.  
I am going to love
and let my soul be free.  

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

That Father of Mine #behindtheblogger

That Father of Mine

Remember that time that I hugged a stranger thinking it was you, that father of mine.
Remember that time that I accidentally burned your father's day gift and you got a jar of ashes, that father of mine.
Remember that time that you wrote me a three page letter of why I will always be your baby girl, that father of mine.
Remember that time that we traveled 16 hours to sort through family problems -just you and me, that father of mine.
Remember that time, well timeS, that we argued for I am stubborn, but you always loved me, that father of mine.
Remember that time you taught me to shoot a gun, go fishing, clean a rabbit, drive a tractor and a standard, throw a ball, read a book, THAT father of mine.
Remember the time that you walked me down the aisle, only years later to sit and hold me when my heart was broken, that FATHER of mine.
Remember the time that we would spend mowing the church yard, or the post office, or your dad's yard - teaching me responsibility and spending precious time with me, that father OF mine.
Remember that time that I yelled at you, so angry at life, that father of MINE.
Remember that time that I wanted to tell I love you, for you are THAT FATHER OF MINE.

You are a man of few words, but great understanding.  I love more than anything watching you teach my boys about what it means to be a man.


~*~Happy Fathers Day~*~


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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 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"

****

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.

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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?