Just Look...

Just Look...

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Trip that Never Was :)

Originally, Kelsey and I were going to do a trip to Florida to swim with the manatees. Now we knew that, for the time of year we were going, this was going to be a sparse swim, but we were up for it. Anyway, tropical storm someone had his way and we canceled that trip and went on a different one. I wanted to record my plans for this one so that we can take it later (but know that it's not a tested plan).

Day 1- drive to Homosassa, Florida, where we were staying in the cutest Airbnb. We planned to rest and enjoy the pool for day 1.

Depending on the weather, the following could have been switched around, but here were our plans:

Snorkle with the manatees with River Ventures. They were the best reviewed company I found. We were going to do a 6:15 AM swim.

Go down to Weeki Wachi and enjoy the water park, the show, and then kayak the river in a tandem kayak.

Possibly go up to the Rainbow River and kayak and snorkel.

Spend a day on a beach, probably Sunset Beach in Tarpon Springs and also take a boat tour to see the sponge docks and islands.

I had also booked a stay at the King's Bay Lodge, a place that apparently looks iffy from the outside and is super nice inside. They also have kayaks for use by people staying there, which was cool.

I did look into the bioluminescence kayak tours at the Cocoa Beach area, but we decided not to drive so far.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Eastern Shore

Kelsey and I had done all the planning (I'll do a post on it too, although it hasn't be tested yet) for a trip to Florida to swim with the manatees. Then a stupid tropical storm came through and I had to change all of our plans 36 hours before time to leave. This was our replacement and it was AMAZING.

We left Sunday morning and drove (and drove and drove and drove) to Cape Charles, VA. We made one stop on the way, a beautiful stop but a challenging one.... we detoured to Covington, VA, with the intention of eating a picnic lunch at the waterfall and then seeing a historic covered bridge. It didn't work out exactly as planned (no food places, longer drive than expected, a road was out and so detours, GPS didn't get service, etc, etc), but those two sites were beautiful, especially the covered bridge. Absolutely amazing.

That night, we arrived late in Cape Charles, VA. I had gotten the last room available at Hotel Cape Charles, a boutique hotel that we both fell in LOVE with. This whole area was so darling! We booked a kayak tour (also last minute and through Groupon) with Virginia EcoTours. It was a GREAT deal for an awesome excursion. It was probably my favorite part of the trip. After our morning kayaking (started at 8), we went to the public beach in Cape Charles. It was Memorial Day and there were probably 30 people out there other than us. The only downside is that the beach is VERY shallow FOREVER, with no waves. So it might be a little boring to some. After some time there, we headed to our AirBnB in Onancock to check in.

I cannot say enough about this place. Good grief. It was absolute perfection. We loved every second of our stay at The Apartment at Holly Cove and would also have loved The Studio at Holly Cove, if it had been open. They offered use of their kayaks and paddle boards and the dock and shore areas. It's just a lovely place and I wish we could go back again SOON.  That first night, after kayaking in the creek, we ate at Mallard's, a place I think we would have appreciated more had we been seafood eaters. :)

The next day, we headed to Chincoteague and Assoteague. It was about a 45 minute drive from Onancock. We arrived in the area by 10 and drove around Assoteague. It did cost $20 to drive over. After making the loop in the car, we got our bikes out and biked several loops. (DO NOT DO THIS WITHOUT BUG SPRAY.) It was fun, but so foggy we didn't see very many ponies. After our visit to Assoteague by land, we headed back to Chincoteague, picked up lunch from Poseidon's Pantry and ate a picnic lunch. From there, we headed to the marina to meet Barnacle Bill for our boat tour of Assoteague. We loved Captain Bill. His boat left a LOT to be desired. And the price seemed a little steep for the conditions of the boat. However, Bill was a nice guy and had a lot of info to give us. After our tour with Bill, we stopped at the MUST STOP place, the Island Creamery. It was EVERYTHING WE HAD HEARD AND MORE. Delicious. After a visit to the park and a little bit of shopping (not much to see), we headed back to Onancock where we ate at the Irish pub (do not recommend).

The following morning, we got up early to eat breakfast at Janet's. What a DARLING place and such great food! Following that, we went a minute or two away to the wharf where we met our ferry to go to Tangier Island. This was such a cool little day.... the ferry ride is about an hour each way and the time at Tangier Island was so pleasant. We walked the main side of the island, then took a golf cart tour. After that, we ate lunch, then rented our own golf cart. We drove around everywhere, then ended up at the beach with NO ONE on it. It was amazing. If we ever go back, I would take beach stuff and we would just spend the day on this beautiful empty beach. The locals said it's always empty. After our ferry ride back, we packed up, grabbed some dinner, and went to bed.

Today, we drove back, leaving there at 6 AM and arriving home at 5:30 PM with about 4 quick stops. It was a long drive to do all at once, but I never listen to myself, so..... ;)

Great trip. Five out of five stars.


Renaissance Weekend

For Angela's trip, we did all things Renaissance (and some other things). We left on Friday afternoon and headed for Atlanta.

Our first stop was the Medieval Times dinner show in Lawrenceville, GA. I would recommend this for people who enjoy these types of things. You can watch the website and catch pretty great deals if you don't have a particular weekend you need to go. We stayed in a really great hotel less than a mile away but I can't remember what it was, unfortunately. I DO remember that I had already booked a hotel for that night when I booked this one, so we were able to pay for TWO hotels on this night. {eye roll}

The next morning, we drove to Fairburn, GA, for the Georgia Renaissance Festival. This was my first time for anything like that and I have to say, it was interesting. I thought it was well organized and the shows were fun and interesting. I was interested in how friendly everyone was. I would recommend following the page for a while leading up to the festival because they run all sorts of specials. We were going to do the bogo tickets for opening weekend, but then on Valentine's Day they offered a special deal for two people that included meals AND game tokens, so I snagged that deal and it was a wise choice.

I had booked us at a bed and breakfast in Hapeville, GA, called Maison LaVigne. I have mixed feelings on our stay there. I had friends who were surprised that there was a B and B in that area, and once we got there, I understood why they were surprised. It wasn't a typical area for a B&B and there was NOWHERE in town to eat. It felt slightly unsafe driving to it after dark. The lodging itself was comfortable and clean, but the first night we were there, a party at the house behind it went on most of the night, and LOUDLY.

The following morning, we drove in to the Georgia Aquarium, which was INCREDIBLE. We loved the dolphin show, the exhibits, and everything about it. We came back to our B&B for the cooking lessons I had booked (which, and it was probably my fault for misunderstanding, but cost TWICE what I expected them to), which were really cool. That night, I took Angela to the Sundial Restaurant. This was a suggestion from a friend and it was a fabulous one. She thought it was the neatest thing in the world when we were driving in and I pointed to the sky and said, "See that? That's where we are eating." One side note on that, I had booked a reservation and then read reviews and realized we would be wasting money. We ended up just going to the bar area and ordering a pizza. Same view, delicious food, fraction of the price, much more comfortable... good call. ***Note, it no longer rotates. Which is fine. and which we knew.

The last day of our trip, we had planned to bike. However, the one complaint I have about Atlanta is that I found it impossible to figure out where we could park and bike. We drove to a park (can't remember which one) and couldn't see where to park or any people, so we just decided to head back home and bike our own greenway. Then it was freezing cold and so we just skipped the biking altogether on this trip.

A Trip North

As the details start to fade, it occurred to me that I need to document information about various trips we have taken in order to remember the details if I ever want to replicate them. Below is the itinerary from Emma's 13th birthday trip in 2016:

Left early in the AM and drove to Cincinnati. We had planned to rent bikes, but didn't reserve them in advance and the bike shop was closed for lunch. Instead, we parked in the parking garage close to the bridge and then walked the park and the suspension bridge. After that, we walked the park on the other side, enjoyed the swings, and relaxed on the grass.

On the way out of Cincinnati, we stopped at the Root Beer Stand restaurant that someone had suggested since Emma loves root beer. There, we enjoyed lunch and Emma had a root beer float. It was a great stop!

Even with the Cincinnati stop, this was a terribly long drive for one driver in one day, especially one who is exhausted from the ending of a school year. I decided that day that I would never drive that distance again. Then I turned right around and did it this past week on Kelsey's trip. Oh well.

From there we headed north to Holland, Michigan. We arrived early evening at the Dutch Colonial Inn, the most fabulous bed and breakfast EVER. I cannot recommend this place more highly. We had dinner in town, drove around a bit, then spent the next 2 days exploring the adorable downtown area of Holland, hiking Mt. Pisgah and going to the beach, plus some fantastic boutique shopping.

We went to CedarPoint the next day (after a night at a terrifying hotel that I DO NOT recommend) and it was our absolute favorite. We adored that place! Since we were also going to King's Island, we found a combo pass that saved us a little money.

That night, we drove down to Mason, Ohio, and stayed in the Kirkwood Inn. Again, HIGHLY recommend. This place was clean and safe and nice and historic, with beautiful grounds and gardens that we didn't get to enjoy much, and a delicious breakfast. Our King's Island day was ok, but it was nowhere near my favorite amusement park I've visited. After a whole day of coaster riding, we drove home, arriving around 10 PM.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

My Walmart Miracle

Who knew Walmart was going to be the place I found my hope again?

A bit of backstory:

The past week or two have been complicated. Not BAD, not HORRIBLE, just complicated.

Last week, I took a sick day on Monday for a doctor appt that I was certain was going to bring really scary news. I had not expressed these fears to ANYONE, including Kraig, but all weekend the weekend before, I had a sense that it was my last weekend of normalcy. Sunday night, my mom took my dad to the ER with difficulty breathing and they admitted him. On Monday morning, as I waited in the waiting room on the verge of a panic attack, I got a text from my mom that my dad's issues were more serious than pneumonia or a weird heart rhythm. As you might imagine, that day went downhill and I spent the remainder of my sick day at the hospital. However.... the bad news I expected to get at the dr office? Not a bit! All is well, praise the Lord.

My dad was in the hospital all week and during that time, Emma got sick and I had to stay home from school with her on Friday. Another family member had a scheduled surgical procedure Friday and Kraig was at the hospital for that, then he was out of town for the weekend of recovery, which left me with four kids, a prom, and school responsibilities.

Prom, although awesome, was complicated because A. I've never had a son before (he wore green and navy checked socks with a black suit-- it is what it is), B. I was chauffeuring him and his date, C. I have three other kids, D. I had an opportunity to make prom happen for a student of mine which meant additional driving and helping and arranging and planning, and E. I am a member of prom committee and had duties at the actual prom.

In the middle of that, I got word that a student's mom had lost her car. We got through the weekend (my dad came home from the hospital with news of an upcoming heart surgery) and I planned to address the car need on Monday.

On Sunday night, I got a text reminding me that I needed to come up with a plan, so I started trying. I'm sure it will be an entire post for a future time (maybe the one that explains my career change, haha!), but I have come to realize that finding resources is absolutely impossible and even the ones you can find aren't easy to use or navigate or understand. Sunday night, I was just MAD. It's NOT FAIR that things are either easy or hard for people through no fault of their own, but their circumstances. It's NOT FAIR that the systems are so impossible to utilize.

I spent my planning period on Monday calling agencies and wild-goose-chasing random employees of my school and school system for a plan. The problem, like all issues in these cyclical situations, is that there is more than just one issue. Monday afternoon, I took her home from school and made more calls to agencies. Again, nothing but dead ends and useless tries.

Monday night, I had moved into frustrated planning mode. I got some suggestions from a few friends, but I was annoyed by many pieces of the puzzle, most of which I need to keep to myself. As I told a friend last night when I was so frustrated I was almost crying, "I guess I just have some really big feelings about this."

By Tuesday, after more dead ends and few return phone calls or follow ups (thanks, though, to Lisa Wylie and Kelli Kyle who sent me some great information), I was feeling beaten down. I had a little bit of a window before I needed a school transportation plan and that window closes Wed afternoon, so Tuesday midday was feeling tight. Another agency I talked to today was a good option for some things (I have to be vague), but I needed to talk to the mom of my student about it and the only way to do that was going to be to call her. This was a problem because: I HATE talking on the phone, I had no idea how to broach very personal life situations with her, I don't know her really at all, I had no idea how she was going to react to me basically butting in, and you can't read tone on the phone.

In addition, I could not get ahead for a second on anything school-related and all of my tomorrows for "I'll do that tomorrow" are getting gone. In addition, I have a big day planned tomorrow for all three classes that requires lots of set up and I have no time, no place, no opportunity, and no way to do it (no planning period tomorrow either). In the midst of all this, I got a text from Kraig that the Christmas gifts for the SP sweetie we are buying for are due TODAY and I haven't thought a thing about it, much less purchased them. SO. That means a trip shopping this afternoon, which was the LAST thing I wanted to do. I already needed to go to Aldi for ingredients for two events I'm having to make food for tomorrow. Now THIS would mean WALMART. We went to see my grandparents after school and I called Kraig to tell him I would just need to come back out tonight and shop because my invalid child didn't need to walk around Walmart. Kraig said to just bring the boys to him and he would take them home and I could just take the girls.

I have spent all afternoon feeling hopeless. I even posted on fb and said, "My righteous indignation is gone. Now I'm just annoyed, frustrated, tired, and sad. Also I'm still teaching and mom'ing. Please keep praying for my dad. That's all I've got for today." When I put that post up, my thought was, "I guess it's time to walk away. I don't know where to turn from here, I don't know how to help, and maybe it's useless anyway. I tried."

{Enter: Walmart Miracle}

The girls and I did our shopping in record time, found everything for sweet J for Christmas, got what I needed for the food I needed to fix, and headed out. It took a minute of disorientation to realize it when we couldn't find the car, but as we crossed the main drive of Walmart, I realized we had come out the opposite door we went in. The girls were all three talking and I wasn't listening at all. Finally, one phrase cut through my depressed and martyred stupor: "I think that was ____'s {student whose mom lost her car} mom." I stopped in the middle of the Walmart parking lot. WHAT??? These girls of mine have seen this woman in ONE picture. That's it. No way they recognized her. WHERE??? They point to the sidewalk outside Walmart and said, "Sitting on the ground with the buggy." From where I was, I could see only the buggy. I sent them on to the car and headed back just to see, still doubting so seriously it could be her.

I don't even need to tell you this, but.... IT WAS. And I was able to sit down beside her on the ledge outside Walmart, face to face, and talk to her about their situation, their needs, a plan, agencies I had talked to, specific information, and her feelings on getting help. No need to worry about a phone call or not knowing how she would respond. BUT. GOD. I didn't walk away from our talk with everything figured out, but I walked away armed with needed information, with her blessing to continue to make efforts, and with HOPE. I don't need to worry that it's beyond my scope because, as Priscilla Shirer and Gideon are showing me, it's at the end of me that He shows up. I looked up into that brilliant blue sky above a Walmart parking lot and I just smiled so big at a good God who knows exactly what we need and when we need it.

I got in the car with my girls who were waiting to hear how their amazing observation skills and their caring hearts had paid off and I said, "God is SO MUCH bigger than we are." Emma said, "That is EXACTLY what I just said." As I told them about our conversation, my cryer cried out of a heart of compassion, my doer proposed a plan of action, and my giver said, "I have some money. Not much, but a lil' bit. You can have it for them." {It has to be noted that my giver has been on the receiving end for much of her life and she understands what it means to be in need.}

I am still blown away. I cannot comprehend how many things had to fall in place for me to be at Walmart at that exact moment, for my girls to recognize a woman they had seen in ONE picture, and for that scenario to fall into place. Don't doubt God. He's even on the Walmart sidewalk, the LAST place I would expect him to be.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Priscilla Shirer, Gideon, and Me

I've been doing Priscilla Shirer's Gideon study with some people from my church and it has rocked my world week after week. A few weeks ago, I taught our high school Sunday School class and used Priscilla Shirer's lesson as a jumping off point. I told them the same thing I'll say here... much of this (I'll try to point out where it's hers and mine) is Priscilla Shirer's. :)

From Priscilla Shirer:
Judges 6:11-12

The Angel came, and sat. Gideon was threshing (hiding). Angel then appeared TO HIM.

There was no music, no lightning strike, the angel just showed up in the midst of a boring day— even a day when he was not getting to do his work in the regular way. 

Oh, how many days do I spend in the mundane, sometimes even in situations where I don't get to do my work in the usual way, but instead am thrown off by some family issue at home, some interruption in our school schedule, some email from a parent that gets me all worked up and upset, some off-hand comment by a student that wounds me to my core? And it is in THAT sort of scenario that the angel appeared.

From Priscilla Shirer:

Ephesians 1:18-19- Eyes of your heart opened, so that you will know the hope of his calling

Gideon was aware of God’s presence—> he discovered his calling—> THEN he found the power to accomplish it

Explanation of wheat threshing— foreshadowing of what God was going to ask Gideon to do (separate his people from the Baal worship)

Today’s tasks, even the most mundane, are preparation for tomorrow’s calling
Are we doing the most mundane duty FAITHFULLY? Even when it’s hard and it’s not what we chose?

I've had some days this past year when the most mundane was NOT executed faithfully by me. I have forgotten at times that every single day is preparation for tomorrow's calling. Sometimes in the middle of some hard with my kids, in the middle of these tough teen years, as I struggle to hold on, I think how much easier it would be not to hold on so tightly.... not to struggle to monitor online activity, to keep tabs on friend and peer groups, to enjoy some blissful ignorance. But every time I think that, I have to remind myself that I'm not simply parenting teens, I'm building adults. It matters every day today, because their future matters. Last year, I made a shirt that said "Your daily grind is holy ground". That was a really valuable reminder for me. 

From Priscilla Shirer:
The Lord is with you,
and called him “valiant warrior”.

Gibbor Chayil (Gib-or hile) — Might man of valor (Eishet Chayil— ay-shet hile)
Describes David’s warrios who had done courageous exploits on behalf of the king— elite fighters, handpicked to perform special tasks, champions

Made sense

Gideon was hunched over, cowering in the winepress
God’s view was not bound by Gideon’s reality or actions

The angel had already told Gideon WHO was with him, now he revealed what was IN HIM

The assignment for which God is calling will go unrealized unless we are convinced of the spiritual strength he has given us to accomplish it.

Gideon was called a valiant warrior. 

No matter how you feel, what Scripture says about you is truth.
Your circumstances do not dictate your capabilities.

The angel calls Gideon something that is not specific to his current behavior, but something that illustrates his potential.

This is the part that got me. When that angel called Gideon "Valiant Warrior" and Priscilla made the point that he called Gideon "something that is not specific to his current behavior, but something that illustrates his potential", it smacked me right in the face. Not only for myself, but for my kids, as a parent. How often do I label them (only in my head, but STILL) based on their current behaviors and weaknesses? I can't do that. I have to call forth the potential in them! I have to speak life in them! 

How often, this year, have I called myself a failure as a teacher based on this year's outward experiences? I'll be vulnerable for a minute and say that a year in which not a single kid in any senior night sport OR the 4.0 Banquet picked me as a favorite teacher STUNG. And it redefined the way I see myself as a teacher. Basically, I took 16 years of success and scrapped it in the threshing cave because the current situation said I wasn't "enough". And now, I have a choice. I can either let this year, this year of hiding in the cave threshing, shape the next 13 and label myself based on this year's experience, or I can call out the potential in me for the next 13 (and the past 16). 13 years is a long time to feel like a failure. But it's not long at all to feel like "Eishet Chayil", Woman of Valor.

As I was studying for the lesson, I started to wonder how often in the Bible God called people based on their potential rather than their current circumstances. I did use specific places where God verbally called them something, so a few of the ones I expected to have don't show up on the list (Moses, Noah, Jonah). However, below is a list of calls of God to people whom He labeled with their potential rather than their current circumstances.

Abraham: 
Genesis 12:7- “To your offspring I will give this land.”
75 year old childless couple

Moses:
Exodus 3:6- “I am the God of your ancestors”
Abandoned, exiled- Exodus 2:22- “I am a stranger in a foreign land”

Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 1:5- “Before you were born… I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Young and lacking experience- Jeremiah 1:6- “I do not know how to speak, I am too young”

Jacob:
Genesis 35:10- “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be Jacob; your name will be Israel.” and gave him the land for his descendants
Deceiver: Named Jacob from birth and fulfilled his name until God gave him a new one

David:
1 Samuel 16 — Man looks on outward appearance but God looks on the heart… Verse 12: “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
A shepherd boy called a king

Mary:
Luke 1:28- “Favored woman”
A young, unmarried girl to be the mother of the king of the world

John the Baptist:
Luke1:76- “the one who speaks for the Most High”
 A baby born to elderly parents, living in a desert

Simon Peter:
Luke 5:10- “Fisher of men” and Rock
Sinful man- Luke 5:8

Paul:
Acts 9:15- “This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles”
Abuser and - Acts 9:13- “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem”

From Priscilla Shirer:
Below is a list she gave of Self-Image and God-Image, along with Bible references. I asked the high schoolers to pick one that resonated with them, write the self-image word on one side of a card and the God-image and Biblical reference on the other. Then I asked them, over the top of the self-image, to write either Eishet Chayil (for girls) and Gibbor Chayil (for boys). I kept my card, with "Incompetent" barely showing under the bold sharpie written "Eishet Chayil". I'm going to put it in a prominent place on my desk at school, to serve as a reminder for the next 13 years that my current circumstances do not dictate the way God sees me and the way I see myself.

Self-Image God-Image Bible Reference
fearful courageous Josh 1:9, Psalms 138:3
incompetent capable 2 Cor 3:5-6
ungifted equipped 1 Cor 1:4-8, Hebrews 13:20-21
worthless valuable 1 Peter 2:9, Matthew 6:26
rejected accepted John 15:16

insignificant special Zephaniah 3:17, Ephesians 1:3-6

Monday, January 8, 2018

One.



one.

I tried to get on board with the one little word rage years ago, but honestly, I am just too verbose to make that happen. ;) So I have tended to choose phrases for my years instead. I don't do "resolutions", but I do make lists of focuses each year. Last January, I was in survival mode and didn't really choose a word at all, just kept hanging onto certain Bible verses the Lord gave me as if my life depended on them (and honestly, it did). At the end of 2017, I realized my word for that year had been "hold". And hold, we had and we did.

This year, I saw a post on a page I follow where people were sharing their word and, although I already felt like I had a clear idea of my focus goals for 2018, I had no clue what word I could have. As the days between Christmas and New Year's passed, I felt this word start to crystallize in my spirit: one. And by New Year's Day, I had a pretty good understanding of what that word is supposed to represent and mean to me in my 2018 life.

First of all and most importantly, it represents the One Who gives me life and purpose. I already mentioned that in 2017, I lived hanging onto His word like a lifeline. And that was important and good. But in 2018, I want to live hanging onto His word because I want to, not out of a sense of desperation. I want to live with Him as my first thought in the mornings and my last thought in the evenings and my sweet conversation in the between hours. I want to be more intentional about my daily devotionals, our family devotionals, and encouraging my kids to make Him the center of it all. I want to give Him my every concern and worry, taking on the "easy rhythms of His grace".

Secondly, there are some specific areas I want to stop talking about "one day" and instead treat as "day one". One of those is my writing. I am going to write regularly this year, but more importantly than that, I am using this year to collect the writing I have already done. I am copying my Facebook posts every day from my "On this Day" app and am going to collect my Instagram posts as well. At the end of 2018, I should have a good feel for what I already have as far as content and should be ready to choose the focus of what I want my first book to be. I am not going to reach the end of my life and look back at the dreams I had and wonder where I lost them along the way. I am 40 right now, and it's time to accomplish one of them.

I tend to get wrapped up in fears and anxieties and stress and thought patterns (and googling and following rabbit trails and basically just creating things to worry about). I think part of my one is to remind me this next year of what I am really good at reminding my students of, but stink at following myself.... one thing at a time. one day at a time. one task at a time. one issue at a time. one bite-size chunk of life at a time. That's all I can handle and it's all I need to handle.

I also want to be better about maximizing my time and attention in regard to the people in my life. In 2018, I intend to be more purposeful about visiting my grandparents. I want to make the most of time with my parents and for my kids to see both sets of grandparents more frequently. I feel like we have lost some social connections over the past couple of years and I want to make sure to make those a priority again. I am creating time and space for my husband and me to have dates, and we are continuing our alone times with each of our children. In regard to these areas, I want to treat the one I am with, at any given moment, as if they are the most important one on earth to me. Because they are.

In a similar vein, I mentioned at the end of 2017 that I worried I hadn't connected as well to my students this year (although I feel more connected to my colleagues, in some sort of paradox). I am continuing some things and starting some new ones to make a connection to my students, things like writing a card to one student in each class every week. I won't get to all of them, but at the end of the semester I write a card to each student anyway and so I want to use these cards to reach out to either kids who seem to really need a connection or to one who is going through a tough time.

Sometimes I get so bogged down in everything I want to do for this world around me that I become almost paralyzed with the overwhelming feeling of never being enough. This year, I want to remember the phrase that I think was attributed to Mother Theresa, "Do for one what you wish you could do for millions." I want to hone in once again on the ministries that are dearest to my heart and pour myself out to those instead of feeling like I need to do a little dabble in everything.

Finally, and the fact that I put this last makes it obvious where it falls in my own mind as far as importance, although I know it probably needs to be close to the top to make the rest of it work.... I have to make this one.... ME.... a priority. I have to carve out space for myself to recharge, to be cared for, to have fun, and I have to make my health a focus. I want to continue my better sleep and water intake of 2016-2017 and add better eating and activity habits to that. I want to make sure that I am doing the things needed for my own emotional and physical and mental wellbeing.

So that's my 2018 focus word and the ways it's going to play out. One. One year to finish stronger than I started it. Let's do this.