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So, teacher. You're feeling anxious. And excited. And overwhelmed.I get that.Any minute now, you'll be facing a room of expectant young faces, and you're probably not sure if you can meet all the expectations. Let's get this out of the way up front - you can't.You can't meet all of their expectations, or their parents', or your administrators'.Most importantly, you won't be able to meet all of your own.You just can't. You are one person, and one person can only do so much.I know you. I know that this summer, you've seen ideas on Pinterest you've thought might be amazing in your room. I know you saw that sale at Office Max and stocked up on colored pencils and colored copy paper. As you were reading on the beach, you dog-eared passages that you want to share as beautiful examples of prose. The teacher in you might have slept later and might not have graded papers this summer, but you didn't stop being a teacher. You thought of what didn't work last year and what might be better this year, and you imagined what you could do to make a bigger difference.In other words, you continued to build the mountain...


She looked beautiful, and I resented her for it.The picture posted on social media twisted my heart in such a vise that at first I couldn't identify why I was suddenly angry and simultaneously needing to cry. Everything in the picture screamed out at me, "Look at what she has! Look at all you're not." Her outfit was form-flattering (and clearly not from Target), her gorgeous hair looked like she had just come from the salon, and even her house in the background looked like part of a photo shoot.Meanwhile, I had just seen in my own bathroom mirror the stretch marks on my hips, the distribution of pounds that gravity clearly was having its way with, and the gray hair that grows with reckless abandon.I felt like an old hag, truth be told, and her beauty pointed its finger in my face."You're ugly," it whispered. "Why do you even bother? It'll never be enough. You'll never be enough. You're old, you're past your prime, and her type of beauty is what people want to see." I don't even know her well, this beauty whose picture mocked me. Yet in that moment I allowed Satan's whispers of my perceived inadequacy...


I love books.I love how word-magicians weave their words into sentences we've never seen and cause us to think what we've never thought before. I love to hold a book - made of paper and ink - and circle the phrases that punch me in the gut. I love to reread familiar stories and see what I missed before.I love books.Here are my thoughts on some I've read this summer.How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough. If you work with children in any capacity, you must read this one. My favorite part was all about rats (which you might think are totally disconnected from human children other than the messes they make, but you would be wrong. Fascinating stuff). Two groups of baby rats (pups) were studied, and the astounding finding was that pups who were licked and groomed by adult rats after highly stressful events performed better on subsequent tests. "They were better at mazes. They were more social. They were more curious. They were less aggressive. They had more self-control. They were healthier. They lived longer" (30). The implication for humans is that nurturing in early childhood - regardless of whether it comes...


When you go to a writing conference, you don't expect God to give you a word about what's in your closet. But since He rarely does what I expect anyway, that's exactly what He did to me this weekend. While I was at the amazing She Speaks conference in Charlotte, NC, I had some time to kill between sessions and visited a booth displaying super cute jewelry and accessories. When I learned more about what was on display and the women who had created it, I wanted to cry. And buy everything I saw.The booth was set up by Fashion&Compassion, an organization that employs women in the United States and other countries who have faced what you and I probably cannot imagine. Women who were once trafficked for sex, women who are living with HIV, women whose husbands have abandoned them and who now must provide for their children in third-world countries. The artisans making the beautiful items are given hope and financial security because of Fashion&Compassion. As I was touching the pieces and seeing the beautiful faces of artisans standing near me, I was convicted to my core. I have a closet full of jewelry, accessories, and clothing, and...