So, I’m not supposed to use the S– word in my classroom?

I cryptically repeated the exact same statement for the third time, trying my absolute darndest not to use any inflection that could be deemed “inappropriate.” “If you would like a dictionary, please raise your hand.”

Surely the third time will be the charm, I thought to myself. Nevermind that this was a READING TEST, of which new vocabulary makes up a sizable percentage of the score. Obviously. Nevermind that the kid I was hoping would catch on and raise his hand already owned the specific dictionary I was offering him. I mean, it’s his. He bought the electronic dictionary from Best Buy himself. He wrote his name on it in permanent marker. Forever until the end of time, or at least for two more weeks before this technology becomes obsolete, it’s his personal dictionary. So, why didn’t I just hand him the darn thing? FOR THE READING TEST?

Because this is the STAAR test, and state testing rules trump common sense.

Rules that govern how to administer the dreaded S- word, the Standardized Test, dictate that I may NOT hand out dictionaries to each student in the testing room, but I may OFFER them. FOR THE READING TEST. Apparently automatically passing one out to each student would be demanding a certain reading strategy be used. FOR THE READING TEST.

It is this kind of ridiculousness that makes me question my role as an educator. The state of Texas has taken micro-managing to an entirely new level. If I wasn’t so frustrated, I would be impressed.

As a classroom teacher for 13 years, I can assure you, the state has lost its collective mind in terms of uniform, standardized testing. Not my specific school district, not my campus, not the teachers on my hall.

But for your viewing pleasure, here are some more rules that prove standardized testing has completely lost sight of the Big Picture in education:

1. During testing, students may not wear sweatshirts with front pockets. They may not wear hoodies or jackets with hoods or jackets with pockets. (Hey, at least we let them keep their pants.) And please point me toward the section at Target that does NOT sell sweatshirts with front pockets or hoodies or jackets with hoods and front pockets for teenagers and preteens. When you find that store, you should buy them out. Just take out a small personal loan and go home with the entire stock. It’ll be a worthwhile investment every spring when testing days roll around.

What if one of our students tried to cheat on the state assessment? Some have, and undoubtedly more will. But slow your roll. Are we raising a generation of students who are so adept at cheating that they’ll spend more effort on cheating than on actually thinking? If that’s the case, shouldn’t we be more focused on the problem of an entire generation of dishonest humans?

2. Common testing supplies (like highlighters, dictionaries, scratch paper for the math test) may be requested by the student but cannot be initiated by the test administrator.

3. Teachers may only actively monitor during the assessment. All attention must be focused on the students at all times. For four hours. Teachers are expected to circulate around the room, never spending “too much time” in one location.

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4. Teachers are also expected to check on the students while they are working by double checking that each student is working on the correct part of the test and that they are bubbling their answers on the appropriate section of their scantrons, without leaving any questions blank.

5. At the same time, teachers are forbidden to look at ANY. PART. of the test. Somehow, we are to check the students but not actually read any of the words on the page. Don’t stare too long!

We’re molding a generation of teachers who are perfecting the art form of looking without seeing, which is a useful skill to have exactly 0 other times in life.

Keep in mind, naive reader, that our public schools are currently in “Stage 1” of a three stage system, built to increase the rigor of our state tests…er… I mean, instruction. Surely, the end purpose is to increase the rigor of classroom instruction statewide. But if that’s the case, then why was the passing requirement of tests like 6th grade math set at 34% and 8th grade reading at 56% in 2014? Even the lawmakers are admitting, “It ain’t gonna happen!”

* Should educators in Texas be held accountable for their effectiveness as teachers? YES! A resounding yes!

* Should students be held accountable for mastering age-appropriate educational concepts? Absolutely!

* Is a state-wide, one-size-fits-all assessment the best way to accomplish these goals? Doubt it.

But this is what has become of our public educational system in Texas. It’s not exactly what I signed up for when I first tried on those rose-tinted glasses my first year of teaching and embarked on my journey to change the world, one adolescent heart at a time.

I certainly never dreamed I’d witness a Facebook uproar as teachers banded together in an attempt to shoot down state legislation that has the potential to create a mass exodus of employees out of the field of education. (I am not a political guru; I have no business quoting legislative topics. But I can tell you everything you need to know about HB 2543. Scary, isn’t it?)

Do doctors get paid according to how many patients they cure?

Are preachers earning their paycheck based on how many people they convert each year?

Do collegiate professors earn their salary based on how many students earn a degree within the field in which they are being taught? (The instructors from my glory days of college sure are glad that isn’t the case. How many times did I change my major?)

The good new is this: I have, quite literally, taught my way across Texas, from the piney woods of East Texas all the way to the frozen tundra I like to call the Texas Panhandle. And in every district I’ve been a part of, I have met, learned from, and been challenged by REALLY GREAT TEACHERS. The state hasn’t totally ruined us. Not yet anyway. Teachers all over this great state are working innovatively and creatively to both prepare your student for Life and for the dern test. For the most part, teachers have found a pleasant balance. They are offering engaging, relevant, often project-based lessons. They are fiercely holding on to the responsibility of raising your student to become a productive, contributing member of society one day, not just really great test-takers. But make no mistake about it, teachers are also making sure your student is ready to pass the test. But, deep down, you’re actually pacified by that. Admit it: you’d complain if you felt your student wasn’t prepared for the test.

The take-away is this: Teachers are doing the teacher thing WELL. Your student is learning. The state assessment itself seems to have grown too big for its britches, and that creates a lot of friction. But regardless of what craziness the state creates for our public school classrooms, teachers are still in the business of loving on your children and providing for their educational needs.

Because Jen Hatmaker Told Me To

Things I love: sarcasm, the smell of books, children (yours, mine, the loud one in the next aisle, any and all of them), sleeping, using the restroom without interruption, laughing so hard incontinence becomes an issue, and WORDS.

Things I hate: loud noises, multi-tasking (how have I made it so long as a teacher then?), questioning myself (oh, see what I did there?), arguing with my husband or children, the dark, and waiting for feedback after clicking “publish” on my blog.

Jen Hatmaker posted some valuable advice on her blog last month, and in it she encouraged quiet writers like myself to force ourselves to write, write, write and publish, publish, publish.

Easy for her to say… She’s sitting on the sunny side of publishing, with a few or a dozen or a million or so books penned in her hand, something like 8 trillion followers on her blog, and pretty entertaining appearances on HGTV. But, I think she is pee-your-pants funny, so I’ll at least humor her and force myself to write, write, write and publish, publish, publish this week.

Writing for a public, knowing actual eyes that belong to actual people will read your words and will form actual opinions of you is HARD. You feel vulnerable and oddly defensive. You know that most of what you publish will fall on deaf ears. But… you know in the deepest parts of your heart the power found in words. “Words are power” they say. And when it’s your words that resonate with readers, you feel like you’ve hit the grand slam of publishing. Every once in a while, you print something really worthwhile. And it’s satisfying… and exhilarating… and terrifying all at once to understand the impact you’ve had on another person because of your words.

I think that’s why I so deeply cherish my love-hate relationship with writing. Much like my relationship with Grey’s Anatomy, which is obviously past its expiration date, submitting myself to an affair with Writing will inevitably be painful, but I just can’t quit it.

To the other Quiet Writers out there like me: it’s intimidating, this publishing process. However, let’s agree we owe it to ourselves to keep writing, even when we cringe at the thought of hitting “publish” and our dismal stats stare back at us from the dashboard.

No matter how busy we find ourselves or how demanding our “real” jobs feel (10 school days until my STAAR test! EEK!), let’s vow to keep publishing.

Even when you are so exhausted, you fall asleep at 7:45, foolishly thinking you’ll just lay down for a minute to pat your son’s back while tucking him in for the night.

Even when your schedule is so tight, the only pedicure you can swing is soaking your feet in the baby’s bath.

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Even when your kids’ lunch consists of an eclectic mix of gogurt, pop tarts, and fruit snacks because saying “a trip to the store is long overdue” is a gross understatement.

Even when your gourmet dinner is courtesy of Sonic.

Even when date night means you’re still awake when your man changes the channel to the 9:05 late start baseball game.

Even when you’re so pressed for time, your Quiet Time consists of a quick scroll through Instagram for a brief reflection on Priscilla Shirer’s inspirational quote of the day. (That makes it Biblical, right? That’s basically like reading the Bible.)

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Even when some days leave you so frazzled, you utter a not-so-silent prayer instead of losing your mind on your 8-year-old who asks about his video game time for the 64859964.5 time in one day, even though you created an elaborate video game schedule to avoid this exact conversation.

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Even when you create a new version of the messy bun because you realize in the haste of your rushed mornings this week, you’ve already worn your hair up every day. And now it’s Thursday.

And when you’ve typed an ENTIRE 700 word post using only your index finger and an iPhone because your computer is on the fritz and your last shred of sanity is hanging on by a mere thread… (Not that I’ve done that. Not that I’m doing that right now. Not that I’m DYING INSIDE waiting for our tax return so I can get a working laptop!)

And finally, when you know in your head that hard work pays off, but you’re growing impatient to see the proof.

Those are the times we push ourselves, Quiet Writers, and keep writing. Our words need to be published! We can leave them screaming in our heads, or we can disclose them to the public. Who knows? Maybe your next post will be your grand slam.

In Defense of the Duggars

I’ve made up my mind. There are two kinds of people on social media: those who like the over-sized Duggar family and those who roll their eyes at the mention of that now-household name. Well, technically there’s the third category called “Who in the h**** cares?” but their voice doesn’t count right now. Mostly because they already scrolled past this post, muttering “Who the h**** cares?!?!?” under their breath in a frustrated sigh. My husband just joined the ranks of the latter two clubs. He doesn’t care, but he undoubtedly rolled his eyes because as the official “Man Who Shares my Bed and Watches a Ridiculous Amount of Sportscenter on my TV,” he is obligated to read my posts. It was in the contract somewhere just before “I do.”

I unabashedly go on record for supporting Jim Bob and Michelle and the rest of their thousand or so kids. (No, really, someone do the math here. I’m a reading teacher; numbers aren’t really my forte. But I wonder… Exactly how many Duggars are we talking here if all 19 children have 19 children of their own, and then all those grandchildren continue the trend? No wonder you’re annoyed by them. You’re afraid they’re headed for world domination. Well, at least thrift stores will remain a staple in my humble future then. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.)

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My personal religious and political views aside, here are the reasons I enjoy following the family behind TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting…

In Parenting

1. They direct-teach character traits to their children. 

Since Michelle home-schools her kids, she is better equipped– no, strike that– more organized in intentionally teaching her littles positive character traits. For instance, I’ve heard her speak on the show about teaching patience and servanthood through planned lessons, led by a frank discussion and an opportunity to practice. Well, sure, that’s one approach. Probably more fruitful than my own wait-and-see approach. Wait until the 6-year-old turns around in the car to look at his older brother again. See my firstborn LOSE HIS MIND because “he looked at me!” And then after we’ve all had a turn losing it, me because the littles just lost it over NOTHING, I try to explain the need for patience with others and for caring about how our actions affect other people. I’m sure that’s effective too.

2. They keep a chore chart– and actually enforce it. 

I have a dream… Oh, nevermind. I do not. I don’t even dream it.

3. They have made teaching the value of a dollar and how to manage money a priority. 

Can you hear one of the older girls like Jill or Jessa saying, “Buy used and save the difference”?

4. They encourage their children to learn practical skills.

Maybe it’s the farm they live on. Maybe it’s because they’re from Arkansas. Maybe it’s out of necessity for child labor; I’m not even sure it matters. But I have noticed how the Duggar children are perfectly capable of things I can only hope my own kids will be able to do someday, mostly because I’ll have to find someone who can actually teach them. Even from an early age, those kids are learning how to ride a lawn mower, drive a tractor and other work equipment, do laundry, cook, clean the house (How many square feet did you say? I have a family friend who once leased a 500 square foot apartment in New York– and shared it with two roommates). I love that Jim Bob and Michelle allow the kids ample opportunity to practice too. I remember Michelle once admitting that sure, it would be easier and quicker to do a lot of the chores herself, but she chose to let the little ones help anyway because they needed to learn. And she was flexible, knowing they wouldn’t do it as well as she would. It’s hard to keep that Mom-OCD at bay!

5. I find their seemingly old-fashioned ideals refreshing.

Call it the counter-culture effect, but I enjoy a short respite from The House of Cards, Bruce Jenner’s gender transformation, or Thrive devotional videos on Facebook.

In Marriage

6. Jim Bob kisses Michelle ALL THE TIME.

ON THE LIPS.

In public.

My husband did that once too. Then the preacher announced, “It is my pleasure to introduce to you: Mr. and Mrs. Blalock.”

7. They’re always running late.

And miraculously it doesn’t lead to a yelling match in the front pasture as they head out to the caravan of SUVs they’ll need to transport everyone. Even if it is because Jim Bob is still upstairs applying another layer of hair spray.

I like it because they take it in stride.

8. They share their religious views without shaming others and handle opposition with grace. 

5 Teacher Stereotypes: Are you one of these?

Can you identify yourself or any of your colleagues?

1. The “Cool” Teacher

This teacher is easy to spot. He’s stylishly dressed, and he’s the one getting fist bumps from every student who passes him in the hallway. You can’t hold a conversation with this guy because of all the kids interjecting with “Hey, Mr. Battle!” as you walk together to the lounge to check your mailbox. Even his name is cool. All the other teachers secretly want to be his friend too. But he’s already taken. His bestie is The Coach.

2. The Coach

Commonly referred to as The Group Work Teacher, this one runs his classroom just like he runs his team. A few examples:

With his team #1: No athlete will speak during practice unless spoken to. Don’t even attempt a response without direct eye contact and a response that ends in “Yes sir!”

In the classroom: No student will speak during class unless spoken to. Don’t even attempt a response without direct eye contact and a response that ends in “Yes sir!”

With his team #2: Players are expected to review the weekly scouting report. They are told to pair up with a teammate in the like position and quiz each other on their roles for the next game.

In the classroom: Students read the weekly chapter from the textbook. They are told to work in groups; complete the study guide at the end of the chapter.

With his team #3: Team gathers in locker room to watch and discuss game film.

In the classroom: Class watches a film after every test. “Wait! There’s a movie for that!”

3. The Newbie

This poor soul is readily identifiable by the permanent deer-in-the-headlight look on her face. Brace yourself if you teach in the classroom next to hers. She needs you this year. She will have A MILLION plus one questions, and it is your duty to teach her. She’s just now figuring out that she didn’t sign-up for the typical 9-5 job. She’s learning to juggle her home time with lesson planning and paper grading. Monday mornings are a special kind of struggle for her because she’s still young and holding on to occasional old, weekend-party habits. Hey, YOLO, right? Oh, and she remembers saying “YOLO!” while in college (because, come on! That was only last year.) while tossing back one more shot that will surely doom any hope of getting up before, say noon, on Sunday.

4. The Veteran

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This educator is a true professional. She has spent a great number of years perfecting her craft. Perhaps she has crossed that line where more years have been spent in teaching than in all the other phases of her life. She is often called The Lecturer because she’s been using the same lesson plans since 1976. But she never takes a sick day, manages to keep even the rowdiest of kids quiet, and is predictable and consistent to a fault, so no one messes with her. She has earned her seniority. That little calendar next to her desk counts down the days until retirement. It’s hard not to be jealous of her sometimes, isn’t it?

5. The Question-Asker

Every faculty has a token question-asker. This is the one educator who really likes to dig in to deep academic conversation during professional development. Unfortunately for the rest of the 150 faculty members, the group meeting will run 30 minutes longer than the time allotted on the agenda due to her incessant questioning.

“Yes, but what would Schlechty say about that?”

“I heard Kylene Beers speak last year. How can we implement some of those close reading strategies?”

Someone cut her off already! Find a new literacy article to distract her with so the rest of us can go to lunch!

Oscar Review: Boyhood

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T- minus 4 days until my favorite awards show of the year! For the last eight years or so, I have teamed with my mother-in-law to enjoy a blow out Academy Awards party, complete with our own red carpet and paparazzi (Bless my father-in-law’s heart! At least he enjoys being behind a camera lens, even if he’d rather be shooting the aviary friends in his backyard.) This year we are unable to celebrate… and critique… and joke… and eat… and laugh… and most importantly COMPETE together, so we’ll have to settle for live texting from opposite corners of Texas with ballots in hand.

Undoubtedly, the most controversial film we continue to weigh in on is Boyhood. I disagree with its contention as a Best Picture, but I can see why the Academy holds it in such high esteem. They love artsy-fartsy stuff. I usually respect the artsy-fartsy stuff, even if I do have trouble appreciating it myself. However, in this case, even that is a stretch.

The Wall Street Journal reviewed the film last month, and I’m thankful the article explains the movie’s artistic element– how creator Richard Linklater produced the film by reuniting his actors for a handful of weeks each year between 2002 and 2013, allowing the audience a uniquely real view of the maturity and aging of the film’s characters.

Apparently, a similar idea has been used in photographs and a documentary, but not film. The article tells of a documentary created by Michael Apted which chronicles the “same group of British men and women every seven years since they were boys and girls.” The doc first hit screens in 1964 and was last updated in 2012. Similarly, a portfolio by Nicholas Nixon called “The Brown Sisters” showcases black-and-white portraits of Mrs. Nixon and her three sisters, the first of which was developed in 1975. The series crosses a 40- year span with the most recent photographs revealing that “the women’s faces and bodies are marked by the ruthless indignities of aging,” according to The Wall Street Journal. With all of that in mind, I can now more fully appreciate what Linklater has achieved cinematically. His is a groundbreaking film, in the context of art form.

Herein lies the problem with Linklater’s version of “real-time” film-making however: How in the world can he abandon a basic plot line in favor of the artistic element? The little boy (played by Ellar Coltrane) experiencing the process of maturity while the mother (Patricia Arquette) experiences the same thing, just during a later phase in life, does NOT equal plot. Maturity and aging are both themes, but they do not in and of themselves tell a story. The sequences failed to link together in a way that portrayed a seamless, able-to-be-followed common thread throughout the movie. Linklater aced film-making, flunked plot development 101. Points for trying though. And for pioneering “real-time” film-making.

Lastly, in short defense of Linklater’s script-writing, there remains a flash of brilliance found in the final scene of the film. The college-age main character, who by this point in the movie resembles little of his six-year-old self that started the story, says, “it’s constant, the moments, it’s like it’s always right now, you know?” That exact idea shadows the making of and the purpose of the movie– how the actors truly age right in front of us instead of using make-up and cinematic effects to produce the same affect. Enough symbolism to earn my praises as a Best Picture nominee? Not even close! But that’s some pretty expertly laid symbolism right there!

On Little Boys and ADD/ADHD: A candid look on a tired debate

I didn’t want to do it. My husband didn’t want me to do it. Some of our extended family still question it. Even our pediatrician let out an audible sigh when he admitted it was time.

It was time to start my eight-year-old, a third grader, on ADHD meds.

As I looked around the compact examining room, I eyed the juvenile artwork hanging above the examining table. I felt exactly like those multi-colored scribbles, the jagged, unsteady lines cross-crossing haphazardly over the print. It was beautiful in a way; it was equally chaotic.

Our pediatrician and I discussed different drugs that would meet our goals, the appropriate dosages to try first, the side effects to watch for. Though he proved patient and kind and sat with me in that little room for nearly an hour answering every question and devil’s advocate scenario I presented, I still felt oddly alone. The weight of the situation bared down as I realized no one could else could help me here. I couldn’t delegate; no one was coming to stand in and tell me what to do. I also felt that it would be inappropriate to poll our friends and family for their opinions. It’s just too touchy of a debate, and no one outside of our immediate family of five adequately understands the nuances of our family dynamic anyway.  Only I was equipped to make the call.

So, on a Friday morning shortly before Christmas, my first-born (in his shorts and t-shirt– this is Texas in December after all) and I headed down to the parking garage with a plan in hand. I felt excited, anxious, defensive, and a million other responses I couldn’t quite articulate.

I don’t regret the decision yet. Not as a parent, not as a fellow teacher, even though my mind and heart aren’t in complete harmony, even now. Part of me wants to buck up, start a grass-roots campaign calling attention to western education and the shove towards standardized testing and standardized education. This movement transforms students like my son away from their natural, eight-year-old boy tendencies into statues who are able to sit and robotically perform practice exercises for prolonged periods of time. The old adage “Boys will be boys” comes to mind. Maybe my son isn’t really ADHD; maybe he’s just a little boy exercising his God-given tendencies. (Note: I, in no way, accuse our current children’s teachers of failing to meet our students’ needs. We are SO BLESSED to have educators who defy the odds, make learning fun, and differentiate instruction to meet each individual students’ needs. Still, their efforts to achieve all of this most often require their superhero capes and a lot of prayer because of the current trends in our educational system. And as amazing as our teachers are, they’re still forced to work within the confines of such a system.)

The other part of me, the voice of reason that won over in the end, realizes my personal opinion on the state of our educational system’s affairs won’t help my son be successful in his classroom. I am a public school educator myself. Naturally, my own children will most likely complete their grade school education in a public school setting. Regardless of how I feel personally, my son needs to be able to function in a public school setting. He is one among many in his class. When his teacher needs him to sit still and remain quiet so she can direct teach or so other students can themselves concentrate, then he’ll need the medicinal help to make that happen.

He isn’t a boy who is merely misbehaving. He isn’t in need of a nice stern spanking; my husband and I are in agreeance of using well-timed, appropriately handled swats on the behind. His teacher isn’t failing to challenge him. He is eager to learn and eager to please, and I am willing to get him the help he needs to reach his “little-boy-in-a-public-school” potential.

Even if that means introducing a long-term drug into the family. It’s not what we expected when we cradled our sweet, shockingly observant newborn in our arms that first day of parenthood. But it’s become our new norm. That is the sign we’re making it as parents– our ability to adjust and accept life’s curveballs and create whatever new norm is best for our children.

We hit the curveball this time, and our son is better for it.

A typical entry in my third grader's school agenda.

A typical entry in my third grader’s school agenda.

Note the change in handwriting-- after only two weeks on meds.

Note the change in handwriting– noticeable immediately after starting meds.

The Care Package Is On Its Way: An Update

Earlier this year, I wrote a piece detailing how our little family was facing a low point and how we were trying our darndest to trust God to work life out for us, hoping through faith that He’d eventually bring us out of our pit. (The Care Package Is On Its Way)

I’d like to report that, glory hallelujah, He did! God was faithful, just like He promised He would be! We were in need of so many things: money, jobs, a place to live, hope because… just. wow… the resolve to move to a new town and start life in a new place… and *SOB* a new church.

Life is better now. It is easier. We feel happier. Back in the spring, we knew that eventually life would cycle back around to these good times. That’s often the nature of life, but it sure was hard in the low times. And I had no idea how long we’d be stuck in the valley. Only by the grace of God did I hold it together long enough to see this time.

Song of Songs 2:10-12 New International Version (NIV)
10 My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
11 See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.

God was faithful! Not because we got what we wanted. Not just because it’s easy to proclaim His faithfulness when we’re happy and relieved, and we feel blessed. (Don’t get me started on the “prosperity gospel” or the likes of Joel Osteen!) God was faithful because He promised our family that the low point wasn’t permanent. He had promised to take care of us. He gave us a reason to have hope just when we thought we were ready to throw in the towel. Months (maybe years?) before we actually needed money, jobs, a place to live, a church, resolve, He was providing those things or getting them ready for us.

Hindsight is 20/20, right? I’m glad God doesn’t run to our rescue at the escape of every whimper, at the exact moment we panic and think our lives are crumbling to inevitable ruin.

Patience.

Faith.

His timing.
Society treats everything like it’s an emergency. My mind plays the same trick on me when I wake up in the middle of the night. Why does everything seem so dire at 3:00 am? I am a failure at EV.E.RY.THING and every menial task on the to-do list is in danger of imminent demise (which has taught me to NEVER send emails in the middle of the night. They always sound too desperate or too snarky. Not the sweet voice I’d hope to be during the daylight hours. Ha ha!)

Yet, in the lowest of the low times, when we went without the things we swore we couldn’t live without, we noticed we were actually getting by just fine in a lot of respects. Like the times we’ve been dead broke, and the family kept showing up at the dinner table around supper time, like we weren’t dead broke. So I presented those adorable hungry faces with the mystery meal I pulled together with magic, luck, divine intervention, and the couple of random ingredients we still had in the pantry. Coupled with laughter around the table and (hopefully) good conversation (my husband comes from a family who remains pretty quiet at the dinner table compared to my loud family who uses the table to catch up on town gossip and swap stories. He prefers the quiet table, bless his heart), a handful of those dreary meals were actually the most pleasant, heart-warming family dinners we shared together. God was faithful to give us enough, at the appropriate time.

Often, the care package isn’t wrapped like we’d expect, like the left-over holiday wrapping I’m tempted to use for my New Year’s baby’s birthday. Often, it doesn’t arrive when we think it should. But rest assure, the care package is on its way because God is faithful.