For My Sons: Before You Say “I Do”

I remember a sweet moment with my #2 earlier this year. I was tucking him in one night, readying myself for the barrage of “Mom, I have one more thing to say…” that inevitably forces me to give him a few more seconds. As I leaned in for one more hug in a vain attempt to preempt all his requests, I saw his little face scrunch up as a tear escaped each eyelid. I could tell it wasn’t that fussy “I don’t want to go to sleep!” complaint; it was a softer, breathy sob I heard. He’s a “bottler” like me, like his granddad too. He comes by it honestly, at least. There’s no telling how long he’d been chewing on whatever was bothering him; there’s no telling what had happened throughout the week to trigger such big feelings in his little five-year-old mind. “Oh, buddy. What’s wrong?” I asked.

Then it all came rushing out in one exaggerated breath: “I don’t want to grow up and be too big to sit in your lap and read by myself and get married and have to move to a new house. I need to stay with you always.”

“Oh, me too buddy, me too. I want to stay with you always!”

IMG_2019Feeling amused, even as I said it, I felt it for the lie that it was. I want to stay a part of his life always, yes, but I know I will not stay with him always. That is not what I am called to do. I’m supposed to raise him up and then send him on out. And that is why I take my job so seriously: I haven’t got much time to ready either of us for that huge step. What is it they always say to us weary-eyed moms of littles? The days are long, but the years are short.

Sons, you are so young now— 8, 6, and 2 years-old… but just in case I don’t squeeze it all in or life gets messy as it sometimes does or you just need proof on how long I’ve been praying for the men you will become: Sons, here’s what I want you know before you say “I do”…

1. Don’t let this go to your head, but your position as head of the family has power. Great power. A lot of men foolishly underestimate how delicate this impact is on the family, and sadly many families suffer because of it. We hope you’ll choose to be the head of the family from the Biblical perspective. Be the shepherd of your family, serve as the spiritual leader, set the precedent. Your actions, reactions, attitudes, and spiritual leadership will set the tone for everyone else. Even your intelligent, beautiful, intuitive, strong-minded wife will need you to fulfill this role. Love her as Christ loved the church. Treat her like she is a treasure. Be happy making each other happy. Be the boss at work, but a servant-leader when you come home at night. Come home every night you can. That beautiful lady who shares your bed and those little people who call you ‘Dad” need daily reminders that you value them.

I look at your daddy, and over time I’ve matured to realize how our Biblical roles as husband and wife are purposefully distinct. I have been designed to carry out certain facets of family life (I’m good with the little ones and don’t tell your father, but I MIGHT be better at assembling things that require tools. Not necessarily a weakness of his, just a strength of mine). Your good ole’ dad was created for a different role (say, being the “bread winner” and introducing you boys to superhero movies that are rated PG-13 when you’re barely in elementary school. See? We all have our roles). And while we thank God every day for His willingness to stand in the gaps when we feel our efforts are not enough, we see how beautifully intricate our places are designed to be and how a family lives in harmony when we live up to our God-given responsibilities.

2. We want grandkids! Now, sons, you know we’ll love you always and we’ll stand behind you well into adulthood. But hear me clearly: please, please, please, please, please, PUH-LEASE a thousand times over make sure there is a Mrs. before there is a Junior. Do. You. Hear. Me?

Whichever of you chooses to be a family man, value your role as another human’s father. When your kids are young, you’ll beg for more sleep, more quiet time, more energy. As they grow older, you’ll beg for more time, more wisdom, more influence. 

When they’re little, be patient in the day-to-day. It is inevitable that they will spill their drink at the dinner table every night for two consecutive years. They will whine or cry when they are tired or hungry. They will grumble when they don’t get what they want. It is okay. You did it too. Train your children to pick up after themselves and how to do it. Show them how to read other people and the value in meeting others’ needs. Teach them everything you’re good at; find someone else to teach them the things you can’t. Their well-being is more important than your own pride. Pray with them starting at an early age, and speak often about what God is doing in your own life. Build that relationship with them early.

Sometimes you’ll need to be a listening ear instead of a punitive voice. Sometimes you’ll fare better striking the fear of God in them. Approach every experience with a mindful heart; you’ll be able to trust your instinct to know when to meet them with a hug or a belt. And use the belt, sons. Never punish in anger, but do take the time to learn the appropriateness of a well-timed spanking.

Allow yourself to be the Fun Parent sometimes. Be the parent who says “yes” to activities that may be messy or inconvenient now but that will forge relationships and memories for later on. You’ll learn that you bond more easily with some of your children than others. That’s okay too; it’s natural. We all enjoy different things and find we have different things in common. That weird sci-fi novel your daughter is reading? Read the synopsis on Sparknotes, fake a conversation, and then take her to see the movie. At least you’ve made an intentional effort to spend quality time with her. Do that for each child, even if it’s just grabbing one to take with you to have the oil changed in your wife’s car (which I, as your mother, expect you to do for her. Not that she can’t, but because you can. Chivalry is not dead, sons).

3. Sons, your wife and your families will need you. Not to be perfect, not to earn a six-figure salary necessarily (Although that would be a good goal, wouldn’t it? The least you could do for your father and I is to eventually put us up in a nice old folks home). Your wife and your children don’t need you to hold a certain corporate title to be proud of you. They need someone who will provide for them, take care of them, guide them, set a positive tone at home, and be there. Always be there. Being the shepherd of your flock and the “yes” parent to your children is a choice. Look at the footsteps of the fathers in our families who have come before you. As you choose to place your shoe into the imprint of their step and say “I do,” you have many a resource available to you. Learn from them, let them encourage you, and see them for the great men that they are. Strive to be like them.

Love always,
Mom

How to Be a Proud Parent to Your Child on Awards Day When He Doesn’t Win Any Awards

This is the time of year I ritually refer to as my Best Parenting Month. Note sarcasm. (I stole this idea from Jen Hatmaker. If you haven’t read her post, Worst End of School Year Mom Ever, you have missed out on a fundamental lesson in parenting. Even worse, you missed several key LOL moments and the chance to celebrate yourself for your parenting shortcomings that inevitably sneak out around the end of your child’s school year every year. Click here. NOW. MUST READ. Who wants to pass on an opportunity like that?)

Because… it’s May, and you are hanging on by your hot-pink, cannot wait a single second longer for summer, fingernails. May is a loaded month for parents of students– class parties, field trips, parent forms, permission slips, teacher requests and class orientations for next year, banquets, Muffins with Mom and Donuts with Dad, and a trillion other things I have blocked from my frontal lobe in a vain attempt to keep my sanity in tact and my hot-pink fingernails untarnished. We parents of school aged children all know, with the end of the school year comes the annual Awards Day Ceremonies courtesy of your local elementary or middle school campus. You know the drill: teachers award students for their outstanding achievements throughout the year.

first place ribbon

Certificate for Perfect Attendance!
(This kid has either been blessed with Super Parents or a bionic immune system. Or he’s in very bad need of scheduling eye, teeth, and well-check appointments. Either way, he deserves a nod.)

Most AR Points Earned!
(Oh, you are not familiar with “AR”? Well, you do not live in Texas. Foreigners just won’t understand.)

Mr./Ms. _____________________ [insert school mascot here, an especially adorable title for the kindergarten set.]
(A piercing bright light will momentarily blind you as this child takes the stage. No worries, it’s just her recently shined halo. You get used to it eventually. Before the ceremony began, her parents were escorted by a tuxedo-clad usher to their reserved seats down front and center. You only know this through heresay, of course. You snuck in the back to occupy space in the standing room only section– otherwise known as The Latecomer’s Section– about ten minutes after the ceremony began. Needless to say, your child won’t be winning this award any time soon. One of the prerequisites for this award is for students to be the offspring of the kind of parents who are completely alien to the standing room only section of the auditorium. Your kid was beat before he ever began, really. But, I’m sure he’s good at other things.)

If your school is like ours, then technically no elementary child will walk away without any awards. This is when the teachers really shine! Their creativity and ambiguous use of diction help to make every child feel special.

Oh look! You got the award for Best Smile!

And here’s one for you: Best Paper Passer-Outer

Then: Strategically Completed the Analysis of Strategies certificate

Next up, Returned All My Library Books Award!

And lastly, don’t forget: Asks the Most Questions certificate

Now, my kids are still fairly young. I haven’t been to a ton of these things yet, but I’ve got to say the whole thing makes me feel uneasy. Because my mind is a carousel that never runs out of tokens, naturally I’ve spent way too much time analyzing this. But I think I’ve got it now. When I attend the end of the school year awards ceremony (or occasionally take my place in the standing room only section, don’t judge), I sometimes have to repress this very primal, competitive feeling that threatens to creep out at some unsuspecting moment. I wouldn’t say I feel jealous of other parents whose children seem to win every award. I don’t wish the halo-adorned student were my own child to take home after the ceremonies. I mean, come on. I’ve got to get home to cook dinner anyway. I’d have to skip the subsequent parade in her honor. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

So, why do I get all antsy inside at these things sometimes?

Because I desperately want it to be my child’s turn to feel special at some point. 

None of my children needs to be the best at everything to satisfy me. I want them to reach their potential, for sure, but none needs to be the smartest, run the fastest, learn to read first, or waste time shining their halos to make me proud to be their mama.

Regardless of which awards they’ll win this year, which will be long forgotten in a few short years anyway, I am proud of them for a hundred things Awards Day may never notice. My shy, introverted kindergartener finally opened up to his teacher enough to read aloud to her around mid-December. He even promoted to reading aloud to a first grade group in his G/T meetings! My people-pleasing third grader has become more adept at making his own decisions and making his opinion known to his friends, something we only dreamed of in the past. And the list continues just like it does for your own child… making friends with the special needs student in the classroom, learning to tie shoelaces, writing names independently, completing the first solo flight on a chapter book, standing up to a bully in the hallway, completing every homework assignment on time, keeping up with a student planner for the first time, passing the ever-lovin’ STAAR test, and for the littles, just learning how to sit down in a chair and to keep quiet and walk in a straight line in the hallway. (You have not seen A.DOR.A.BLE until you’ve watched a whole line of tiny 5 year-olds with their duck tails and bubbles move down the hall!)

Remember, parents, that this one ceremony does not add to or take away from the total value of our children. More importantly, it doesn’t add to or take away from your total value as a parent.

My children are good kids, just like yours. I know their hard work over the course of the year will be recognized. I also know they are SO MUCH MORE than the colored card-stock they’re sent home with on Awards Day. Maybe my sons’ arms will be overloaded with certificates this year; maybe they’ll rush to me with a wide smile plastered to their little faces as they proudly show me their “Line Leading LIKE A BOSS” awards. I’ll be no less proud.

I’m their mama. It is my duty, and my pleasure, to be proud of them. I need them to know that I will always feel this way, regardless of how the world validates them.

This. Funny. The kind of mama I want to be.

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Funny Feels Good When You’re Feeling Under the Weather

I’m home sick today.

It’s just a little too quiet in this house.

And though I’ve wished for just a minute’s peace for weeks, I’m over it now. My love language is quality time and I feel like I’m losing precious moments with my man and my “babies” this weekend. Oh well, the grass will always be greener… Come Monday morning, I know I will curse my Saturday self while I hustle an uncooperative crew out the door. 6:45: you come SO EARLY!

But for now, I am the only one home; I quarantined myself under the pretense that the under 8 set won’t succumb to the myriad of bizarre illnesses I’ve experienced this week.

When I don’t feel well, I run a gamut of emotions: sappy with all the quiet time to reflect, silly when I get tired of reflecting, and usually serious as I make a mental to-do list of all the things that will need to be put back in order once the captain is well enough to man the ship again. The lurking to-do list feels overwhelming at the moment, so I think I’ll hunker down with Silly for the rest of the afternoon.

I’ll share a few of our laugh out loud moments before I watch “Mom’s Night Out” again. (I’ve never stopped to check who wrote that movie, but she SO speaks my language! And yes, I’m convinced it’s a she.)

Okay, true story.

For my first son’s 2nd birthday, I spent weeks and weeks, probably months, thinking about how I could make that day special. We were on a TIGHT budget (see how I worked those caps there? We’re talking TI-I-I-IGHT), so thank goodness he was young enough that homemade construction paper decorations and lots of high-pitched “You’re 2 now!”s sufficed. I made the cake myself– a ridiculous looking fire truck, and I use the term “fire truck” loosely.  The DIY instructions I found online that swore this cake could easily be made from a regular sheet cake evidently assumed I’d be starting with basic baking skills under my belt. Well, that was just silly. You know what happens when you assume… . I wish I could show you the picture of that cake so you could laugh with me, but I lost it when my phone went for a swim.  And unfortunately, I’ve relied on that exact same line two other times as well. It’s like my phones are predisposed to suffer a watery death. I like to blame Fate; my husband likes to blame me.

To-may-to. To-mah-to.

Anyway, fast forward about six years. My third son is getting ready to turn two. Two is a fun birthday in my book. It’s the mark of the age when he can first appreciate everyone singing to him, and he almost has enough fine motor skills to open some presents by himself. Although we all know, the problem with a two-year-old is that he really only opens the first present. Then he spends the rest of the party playing with it, while you sheepishly open all the other gifts yourself, over-emphasizing to the gift-giver how much you know he’ll love it and how you’ll have to pry him away from it at bedtime. All the while, they’re covertly giving the stink eye to the lucky first gift-giver. They’re making a mental list of all the things they would have preferred to spend $20 on.

As excited as I was about #3 turning two, I realized abruptly that I was more excited about the idea of him turning two. Suddenly, two days before his big day, I realized I hadn’t actually planned anything yet. What’s worse, it was still several days away. A lot can happen in several days.

My Facebook post from that day: “#3’s second birthday is this week, and I just set a reminder on my phone so I don’t miss it.”

Third Child Syndrome. It’s a real thing.

Okay, so here’s another one.

If if we agree on the validity of TCS, then I can’t overlook its cousin: Middle Child Syndrome. Bless my middle son’s heart, all he ever wants is to feel heard. And we fail him, frequently.

Case in point…

Scene: early morning, getting one boy ready for first grade, the middle one ready for pre-school, making an unexpected and last-minute diaper change for the baby, and attempting the clean-and-switch with rim-rod straight arms to keep the stank afar and my work clothes clean.

#2 comes running into the room. “Mom, is this white stuff the toothpaste?”

I don’t look up. One wrong move and this blouse is toast. But I need him to hurry, as usual. So I rush him like always: “Yes! Now, you have one minute to brush your teeth and get back in here, or no books tonight!” (Ugh! Did I just say that?!? I hate when my morning-panic voice takes over!)

Several minutes later, he finally returns. I knew he wouldn’t make it. He probably hasn’t even brushed yet. But I’m positive he had plenty of time to fight two, maybe three, imaginary bad guys as he came back down the hall. Typical.

“Mom, you need to go to the store.” I finally give him my attention by looking directly at him. He’s clutching a tube of Desitin. “That toothpaste is yucky.”

Oh, dear.

Middle Child Syndrome. It’s a real thing too.

Dear Little One,

I look at your empty crib. I love looking at that thing. I found the perfect pink chevron-patterned crib sheet that compliments a matching grey one in your brother’s crib, just feet away. I have no idea how this room will come together, but I am determined to create a space that both unites the room for you and your brother and allows a little boy to feel boy-ish and a little girl to feel girly. First world problems, dear.

I wonder about you. Often. When you finally join our family, how old will you be? What color will your hair be? How long before you accept us– all of us, the good, the bad, and the ugly? Will you get married one day? How in the world will the man I’ve been with for so long react when he has to walk you down that aisle and trust that the man before him will care for you and cherish you like we have? Like God does.

What will you be when you grow up? How will you find purpose and fulfillment? One thing I know is that no matter how big your dreams are, God has big dreams for you too. My greatest hope for you, darling, is that one day you’ll know God like I do. And then you’ll begin to understand. He loves you so much. He has called you by name. And the dreams He has for you will completely blow your mind. They are more than you could ask for, or imagine, or even imagine to ask for because it will be for His glory.

Daughter, don’t doubt yourself. Fear and insecurity are a trap, and they can be paralyzing if you take your eyes off of the cross. I ask often for what I’ve come to call “tunnel vision to the cross.” I pray the same over you. For whatever big dream God wishes he could make in your life, He’ll prepare you. Don’t bother feeling overwhelmed or daunted by the task; He has equipped you to live out your dream. You are exactly who He needs, with the talents you have and the heart that leads you.

You are enough.

You are worthy.

He looks at you and proclaims, “You are mine.”

And that, sweetheart, will be the most profound truth you will ever learn.

 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen!”
Ephesians 3:20-21

 

 

Just in case I’m not the only one who struggles with leaving my family to tend to my job

Y’all, summer is officially over!

And I wasn’t ready to say good-bye!

We teachers are going back to work, busily preparing to meet all of our new favorite students, and wrapping up our last family hoorahs until next summer.

Every year, I have a really (and I mean REALLY) hard time saying goodbye to my time with my family. As much as I love teaching, my first profession of choice would be stay-at-home mom. I don’t know why I’m surprised every year when this time rolls around, and I panic inside at the thought of giving up this SAHM stint for another school year. So what if the thought of reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar one more time to my toddler leads to a strong bout of nausea? So what if my older boys’ incessant bickering make me censor a stream of expletives creeping to the tip of my tongue? So what if after two months of summer practice, my husband still doesn’t understand that his role during dinner-making hour is to entertain the kids and keep them out of the blessed kitchen? These are my people. And I love to take care of them! True to my nature, I’m presently in the woes of leaving behind my favorite profession and switching roles to the one that pays the bills. Luckily, I enjoy my teaching career and want to be successful at it, but still…

This week, I’ve allowed my grief to become bigger than it should. As a result, I felt more stressed out and less excited than I should be.

Prayerfully, my attitude is starting to look up. I’ve been blessed this school year already, and I want to keep my focus on the Big Picture. I’m re-posting part of one of my previous blogs, mostly because I need time to study it again… Life is 10% what happens to us, 90% how we react to it. I don’t need to let things boil to the point they have this week because the God I serve defies human timelines. He does not freak out and overreact in different situations. He is constant. He cares about me. And it will all be OKAY.

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[from The 90/10 Rule]

They say life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.

You know what I love about scripture? It’s that when I become aware of my shortcomings, I can always find someone in the Bible who’s already been there, done that. The precedent has already been set. Thank goodness for me, my only personal downfalls that appear in print are the ones I’ve chosen to post myself! Ever read parts of the Bible and thought, “Oh man! How embarrassing!” At the least, my blunders aren’t in print for, like, eternity in, like, the best-selling book of all time.

Think about Jesus’ good friends Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus. Jesus learns that his buddy Lazarus is seriously ill, and his reaction to his friend’s imminent death is one that has been studied by scholars and theologians ever since. Instead of rushing to Lazarus’ side in Bethany to heal him with divine authority (which he can totally do!), Jesus hangs out where he is for two more days before beginning the journey (which is totally unpredictable! No way Mary and Martha see that one coming).

*** This story is found in John 11, and on a side note this is one of my favorite chapters of all scripture. It’s basically oozing with divine sarcasm. It’s hilarious!***

Naturally, when he finally arrives, Jesus is greeted by the two frustrated sisters who expected him to come quickly and save their brother before he kicked the can. “Lord,” Martha says. “If you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). To which Jesus firmly reminds her (I like to picture him rolling his eyes): “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11: 40).

And though Lazarus has been dead in the tomb for four days, Jesus calls to him to come out. And out walks a living, breathing Lazarus, still wrapped in his grave cloths.

When Mary and Martha sent for Jesus, they were stuck focusing on the situation directly in front of them. Their brother was dying! They could easily justify the urgency to reach Jesus. Nonetheless, they made the mistake of acting situationally. Mary’s and Martha’s actions were driven by their response to what was happening in that one moment. They didn’t yet understand the big picture the Lord was trying to teach them, that in Christ death does not ultimately consume us. As Rick Warren wrote, “Jesus waited until the situation was humanly impossible and then He brought the miracle.”

I don’t want to forget that God sees the Big Picture. Time isn’t really a thing with God. My dear mother-in-law has reminded me on occasion that He doesn’t follow a linear timeline. He is the God who Is, and Was, and Is To Come.  He’s in the past, holding up our present, and controlling the future all at once. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).

Thank goodness God isn’t situational! He is constant and consistent. He never just sees us where we are. He sees how He made us and where we’re headed. We don’t have to be caught up in our present, creating unnecessary stress for ourselves. No matter how busy or jumbled or messed up we feel like we’ve made things, our God still sees the Big Picture for us.

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School is starting soon. I’m going to miss my time with my “babies.” But God knows what He’s doing. He’s brought me to this place, to this profession, with these students and colleagues, with purpose in mind. I’m going to choose to trust His Big Picture. He’ll tend to my heart, leaving me to tend to His work in such a time as this.

I love you. Does it matter that we’ve never met?

20140323-202951.jpg

There is this little girl who has stolen my heart. Absolutely stolen it. My friends and family find this shocking, and most of them have stared at me, speechless, more than once in the last few months. I’m a proud member of the BOY MOM sorority. All three times I was ready to have a baby… a BOY baby… I overtly declared, “I don’t do girl.”

And that’s just it. I really don’t do girl. I have never been very good at being a girl myself. What hope do I have in raising one?

But here I am.

I am going to be a mom to a daughter. A DAUGHTER y’all! And this transformation that I’m (still) going through is about the most exciting thing I’ve ever experienced!

This little girl won’t biologically be mine, but I dare you to look into the eyes of any adoptive parent and try to convince them their non-biological child is any less a part of them than bio babies. She’ll be one of us, though I doubt we’ll name her “Elsa” like my middle son is requesting. And sorry son, but no, she won’t likely have white hair. (When I’m not busy with the task of being Boy Mom, I’m a card-carrying member of the parental union called If-I-Hear-One-More-Number-from-the-Frozen-Soundtrack-I’m-Going-Postal.)

So, how do I explain that we have not actually been placed with a little girl yet? But I still feel like I absolutely LOVE her, like deep down in the recesses of my heart kind of love, y’all.

I simply cannot articulate what this is like: I’ve fallen in love with a little girl I’ve never met. Who may not even exist yet. But this much I do know, God has directed us to be her parents.

And what a wild and exciting ride that has been!

I have a very distinct memory that I’ve replayed in my mind over the years. I must have been about 12-years-old or so. I remember I was standing in my parent’s kitchen, alone. I had placed my hands up on the adjacent counters and was pushing myself into the air, swinging my legs underneath me. And I told myself, “There are a lot of kids out there who don’t have families. I can give them that. I can be their mom. One day, I’m going to adopt.” I have no recollection of what sparked that thought in the first place, but it is one that has stuck with me for over 20 years now. It is so…neat… I can’t think of a better word…just neat!… to see God bring to fruition something he stirred in me when I was just a little girl. Within the last two years, God jump-started that feeling to become something tangible as He led us to begin the process of getting certified to foster/adopt a child.

So, I’ve known all along that adoption was, at the least, somewhere on my own radar, but I knew the true test would be in bringing my husband alongside me to make the journey happen. Over the last couple of years, as I felt the pull tighter and tighter on my heart that this would really be happening, my prayer became, “Lord, you know we’ll be obedient. And you know my heart because you shaped it. But if this is really something you’re ready to launch, please prepare B’s heart. When he’s ready, I’ll know your timing is sufficient.”

Sure enough, earlier this year our church announced a partnership with a local foster/adoption organization at the close of the service one Sunday. I can’t speak all that accurately on the change that must have taken place in my husband that morning, but on the drive to eat after church, he spoke the words I’d been hoping for (but had no idea if or when they’d actually come): “So, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.”

Never have such ambiguous words reached so deep in my heart!

That’s when I knew.

Well, after a few blank stares and totally unhelpful hints from B like “You know, what they said at church.” Well, our preacher speaks for a solid hour each week; a lot was said.

God planted a seed ridiculously long ago. He has since prepared B’s heart and has begun preparing our family of 5 to become a family of 6. We have a long, long journey ahead of us, but we’re so stinkin’ excited! We are thankful to be taking this journey, because more than anything else, it is a spiritual one. God is proving faithful, and it’s neat, just neat y’all, to see the pieces of a 20 year puzzle start to fit together. We’re reminded that God already saw this coming long before we did. Therefore, we don’t have to worry about a whole lot. The details that have the potential to feel overwhelming and complicated are not ones that we need to try to take control over. After all, God set this whole thing up. He’ll take care of it.

We understand adoption isn’t for everyone. And we feel so amused at the pitying or questioning looks we get when we tell people that we are, in fact, adding a little girl to the rowdy, active mix of boys, undoubtedly play-fighting like superheroes under our feet as I try to explain our situation. In the end, I love re-telling our story but I will never feel like I have to explain ourselves to defend our decision. God gave us a directive. He was pretty creative in how He chose to call us, but it’s a call nonetheless. And more than this journey, more than anything else, we want to be obedient to His calls. We don’t have the answers now, but we do know that our daughter is waiting on us. And we already pray that she’ll one day love the God who brought her to us as much as we do.

The Sin of Being a Teacher

Colorful-Crayon-FrameThe field of education is full of hypocrisy. Teachers are the worst of the hypocrites. I should know. I’ve been teaching for over a decade.

Lies I’ve heard over the years and what I’ve learned as a result:

Lie #1: Those who can, do.  Those who can’t, teach.
I teach in a middle school, and a co-worker of mine posted this on her fb page regarding a particularly draining day:

Teaching today is like trying to get a cat to stand on one leg. While on a roller coaster. While it’s raining. And there are other cats around.”

Teaching is like leading an orchestra. Our job is to corral 30 different personalities into one harmonious sound. People outside the field of education just won’t understand the sinew and determination and patience that is involved in creating a melodious classroom where learning is evident, students are constantly engaged, and positive relationships are maintained.

Is every student capable of learning? Sure. Will they? Not in a million years. The biggest obstacles I see in my own classroom are an extreme epidemic of apathy toward education and a steadily increasing disrespect shown toward teachers, by both students and parents.

So, why do teachers stay in a profession that is overwhelmingly challenging and offers little more than intrinsic value? We stay in it for the summers, of course! Hold it.. just kidding. That’s just what everyone outside of education expects us to say. Ha! Sadly, more and more educators are turning away from their first love in search of something with less stress, or less personal time stolen outside the regular work day, or something that offers fair monetary compensation. But the truth is, most of us still enjoy it. We live for the moment when the light bulb flashes on for some students; we love the opportunity to be the day-time parent to some really great kids for a year. I just hope that the intrinsic values are enough to keep quality teachers in our schools.

Lie #2: We don’t “teach to the test.”
One word.

Liar.

Teachers are crushingly fearful of numbers. Good grief, our job security is directly tied to how well we can get our students to perform on standardized or district-driven tests. Or in many cases, both. In my world, we’re talking 13- and 14-year-olds. It’s a VERY. GOOD. THING they don’t know how much power they hold in their little hormone-driven hands. We work hard to motivate them, entertain them long enough to hold their attention, and gently challenge them without pushing them far enough that they give up. But if an educator tells you that she is strictly focused on creating life-long learners and that she thinks teaching to the test is a disgrace to the profession, then you call her on it. Tell her you’re throwin’ the flag. Either she’s of the unique population protected by the union or she’s a first year teacher. Either way, it’s not reality.

Lie #3: We’re offended at all the jokes about having summer and holidays off.
We pretend to be. But really, we love our time off. We have families and hobbies and a thousand other things that we deliberately ignore to great lengths during the school year because we’re so focused on loving our students and getting them to score highly on tests. We spend our summers and holidays making up for all that lost time, hugging our own little ones a little longer, finishing that book we started back in October, and getting down to the serious business of all the episodes of Downton Abbey we missed. We feel sorry for the professionals. SUCKAS!