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05.10.2014

Single moms, I woke up this morning thinking of you. There's no reason why other than that the Holy Spirit reminded me I was once one of you, and there's no one who understands who hasn't actually been there. So as I was drying my hair and simultaneously trying to get my children ready, I thought of you and prayed. I closed my eyes and was transported to the hardest days of my life - the years I spent as an all-alone mom, a woman who was working and mothering and exhausted in a way that cannot be explained in words. I teared up as I recalled the nights I spent wide-awake because my overtired brain could not stop thinking. I prayed on your behalf, asking our God to give you real physical rest and to relieve the burden that is weighing on you most. I am no longer one of you, but in some ways, I feel like I always will be. I know just how you feel, and I want to tell you today that you are not forgotten. I know how alone you feel and how worried you are. I understand the helplessness you feel when there's just not enough...

22.09.2014

Now that we're back in the swing of school and I feel like I've gotten to know my 9th graders well, there are some things I have encountered that disturb me. A lot. (One of which is the way they all use the word 'alot.' It's two words, people. A. Lot. But I digress.)I pride myself on being a tough teacher. If a student makes an A in my class, it's because he or she has earned it. I don't give A's just for showing up - students earn A's when they complete and master assignments. What disturbs me, this semester more than any other, perhaps, is how many of my students expect those A's just for showing up. The first few quizzes, tests, and homework assignments threw them for the proverbial loop. There were many grades far below par, and there were many confused students and parents. There was a confused teacher, too. If the answers aren't right, then I must mark them wrong, right? If the assignment is only halfway completed, then it cannot earn more than a 50 percent, right?Yes, my expectations are high, and no, I don't apologize for it. But what has been on my...

09.08.2014

Dear Jennie,Today you're well-rested, having just returned from a relaxing getaway with your incredible husband. The new school year is looming and you're feeling a little stressed, beginning to make lists of all that must be done. But the stress you're feeling now is nothing compared to how you'll feel next Sunday night, when you know that 75 students will be entering your classroom the next day expecting great things of you. The stress will be even greater as you begin to prepare them for the high-stakes testing that will determine so much of their future - and yours. The anxiety will mount, the exhaustion will set in, and around February of this year, you'll begin to grumble. So I'm writing to you now, before all of it starts, to remind you that the stress, anxiety, and exhaustion are all a privilege. Really, they are.You see, Jennie, how have you forgotten? You've traveled to other countries where education isn't a given. You have seen with your own eyes children carrying their own chairs to a makeshift classroom in a tin building well over 100 degrees.You have seen their kitchen, empty but for a few small bags of beans and a...

02.07.2014

My side of the family is in a sweet baby frenzy right now, with my younger sister having just delivered her very own 8 lb 14 oz daughter. Born in the wee hours of the morning, sweet Emma has enchanted us all and ended a 7 year baby drought. We are all awash in pacifiers and swaddling and worries of when she last pooped. Babies make us crazy, don't they? (Side note - those 8 lbs 14 oz and my sister's tale of delivery made me thankful for my own unexpected C-sections. They weren't what I wanted, but neither is pushing out an 8 lb 14 oz baby, thank you very much! She's my new hero.)As I've seen us all fall head over heels in love with this brand new person, it has occurred to me that the love we first feel when we see our newborns is nothing compared with the love that develops as we get to know them as people. The love we feel when we hear our newborns cry and when we nestle them for the first time is powerful and automatic, a connection so strong that we would immediately fight to the death for them....