Just Look...

Just Look...

Sunday, April 30, 2017

It's Time to Soar

This weekend was our SOAR Ladies Conference at church. I procrastinated signing up for the longest time because I kept hoping we would either already have our kids or would be on the way to get them, but since that was not the case, I signed up at the last minute.

 {It's important to mention this part here... one of the songs we did during praise and worship was SO applicable to our adoption wait and is even more applicable to those who have waited longer than we have and those who are still waiting... I couldn't quit thinking about our sweet friends, Will and Meagan and their family, who hope to receive good news this week. I grabbed my phone and copied down these words from the song. Meagan, I know you are far better than I am at being patient in the wait, but hopefully these lines will still speak to your heart.
This desert holds a song I will sing on and on
As I wait
I know you're working as I wait
The imagery of the desert, a place of desolation, holding a song is such a powerful thought. We can gain something from the waiting, for anything, although it's hard to see when you're in the middle of it.}

I had the absolute worst week I have had in a long time. Interestingly enough, I sensed that it would be that way. I thought it would just be a hard week because it was going to be so busy and so full of extroverted activities for me with little time to recharge. I have finally learned myself enough to know what I need and to try and work my schedule around those things, but this punishing and unforgiving week left no room for grace. Anyway, I had it on our prayer list from our family meeting last Sunday night. Tonight's update (praise) just said, "I survived." Because that's all it was. It wasn't pretty, but I made it. It ended up not just being busy, but being full of hurt and fear and anxiety and turmoil and frustration. I had an incident on Friday at school that really hurt my feelings. By the time I got to the church Friday night, I didn't even want to be there. In fact, I had committed to setting up a booth and in the middle of carrying everything in, I almost had a "push the receipt across the table moment" (long story but basically it means totally giving up). I just didn't have anything left in me.

I pushed through and ended up really enjoying the conference Friday night. Friday night's lesson would have been so applicable to me last year. I just sat and listened, remembering the previous year, and feeling so grateful that I had served my time already on the threshing floor and had come into this year refreshed and restored and ready for what God has for me.

Saturday morning, I read on my fb "On this Day" and saw a blog post I had shared last year that I could have WRITTEN the night before as I was so hurt over this school situation on Friday. I had struggled with my human response and need for vindication and had finally come around to the understanding that my response matters a lot and I have to be the adult in the situation. That blog post reiterated that and spoke so powerfully to me in these lines:
 We must refuse to allow the loud voices of a few to drown out the soft voices of teachable spirits.They need to see that transparency breathes a beautiful life. They need to see it in you, even when the see-through heart leaves you an easy target.But here’s the thing about calling. God doesn’t call us to the easy. He invites us to the hard. The get-your-hands-dirty difficult. We are not promised perfect just because we are fulfilling our life’s purpose.
I was battling allergies and lack of sleep and weariness over the whole infuriating week (to which an additional problem had been added Friday night on my way home from the conference), so Saturday morning I fought with myself to get up and get there and, in all truthfulness, if I hadn't had a booth set up that needed to be broken down, I wouldn't have gone. (God knew, huh?)

Saturday morning's first speaker was our precious pastor's wife and friend, Dawn Lipsey. I'm telling you, her lesson spoke directly to my heart and soul and mind. Her text was from Isaiah 40, verses 29-31.
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
I'm posting my dashed off notes below, followed by some explanation on some of the points:

An eagle can't soar if it's bound down
Short term but really, really heavy makes us tired
In life we carry the same burden for an extended period of time
We get weary and worn
Weary people often make wrong decisions
(No clarity of thought)
Next words are "I quit"
God has not called us to quit. Nothing about him says quit.
It's not outright sin, but it's the weight he (Satan) so easily besets us with.
We cannot live one moment without hope.
We are called to be hopespeakers.
We try to change the scenery of our life to make things better (new job, new church, new husband, new friends)
The hindrance to that renewed strength is the weight
Even the youth are weary, so why would we think we are exempt (examples of kids who are suicidal, crushed beneath the weight of the world)
God has a plan for us 
Satan has a plan for your life too
He wants to sift us as wheat 
It starts with the weight, then Satan tries to destroy us by stealing our hope and joy and tenacity
Baby elephant story
It's already bound in its mind
Our shackles are in our mind
God is not a God of scarcity 
Guilt, shame, depression, hatred, unbelief, comparison, hurt, rejection, stress/anxiety, busyness, fear, loneliness, worthlessness
You have to face those shackles once and for all

Dawn's lesson centered on "I'm just so tired," which I'm pretty sure I think 99% of the time and say aloud 87%. In fact, I had posted two statuses on fb this very horrific week that connected to this very idea. This life is so stinking wearisome most of the time. It was such a powerful moment for me when she mentioned being weary and worn and made the point that "weary people make bad decisions". YES. I cannot tell you how often I lash out in anger or fear or instinct when I am just too exhausted to consider my actions or my words. I also loved that she said we are called to be "hopespeakers".

The baby elephant story was beautifully relevant and in it she talked about how they put shackles around their foot and stake them to an iron stake in the ground. The baby elephant gets hurt each time he tries to go beyond the parameters of his area. Eventually, they can replace the shackles with a simple rope, the iron stake with a wooden peg. At some point, they can take everything off and that baby elephant won't try to go past its parameters because "it's already bound in its mind". How many of my shackles are created by me and only exist in my mind? I told a friend this weekend, my mind is the most powerful part of me. She had given each of us a piece of twine, tied into a circle and she asked us to think about what our shackles are. Mine are most definitely anxiety and rejection/insecurity. She asked us to decide if we truly wanted to shake those shackles from our mind and if we did, to come forward and leave them at the altar, exchanging them for a pendant stamped with the word "soar" on it because after all, eagles can soar once they shake off the weight.

I cannot tell you how blessed I feel for us to have this lady as our leader. She is everything I aspire to be and she is used by God in the most powerful of ways.

Our second session was the keynote speaker again, Jamie Massey, and she preached another moving sermon and then had an altar service in which she asked for those who wanted to specifically pray for their families to come down. I went down, and it was a LONG altar service and so it allowed me a lot of time to really think through a lot of things. I'm not sure how much of it would be prudent for me to share in this format at this time, but it was a much needed time for me to pour some things out to God and for Him to show me some really valuable things. (I did cry so much my face was swollen and my glasses were salty, but we are Pentecostal and so that's ok. ;) )

I am so grateful that I went to the women's conference this weekend. God had so much in store for me and it was exactly what I needed after a week in which spiritual attack was pronounced. So I sit here tonight, facing a new week, restored and refreshed and renewed. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Although there are still limitations on what we can say publicly, we have been beyond blessed by the sweet and tender care our Sweet Three have received in the interim years between their first home and soon our adoptive home. Later I can rave on and on with specific details, but for now let me say that they aren't in an "orphanage" with all of the connotations that word entails. They are in a HOME, a beautiful and God-loving home filled with people who are called to minister to His children. They have been so deeply loved and cared for, advocated for, and prayed over for the past almost three and a half years in this blessed place. We still just marvel at the fact that God has orchestrated this story in this way and we are bringing them from a place where they have learned so much and deepened their faith, a place where they are taught the exact same principles and beliefs that Emma and Kelsey were taught, and in the exact same ways.

We have considered ways to give back to these beautiful people and this incredible institution. I'm sure that there will be lots of future connections between us and this ministry, but we want to thank them now for all that they have done for our kiddos. Kraig and I are doing shirts for the staff and possibly the children there and taking them when we go. We asked about things we could bring and found out that often, adoptive parents bring a monetary gift instead and take their new sons/daughters out to shop for orphanage needs. This fulfills a twofold purpose, allowing adoptive families to give back to the orphanage and also allowing the adoptive children to have a buy-in as well and invest in the process to leave needed items to be used by those they shared a home and table with. I loved this idea as soon as they told us, and we would love to sow into their ministry alongside F, R, and A. 

Therefore, we have started a Pass the Hat fundraiser. We tip our hat to the orphanage that has cared so tenderly for our Precious Three and so we want to use the first proceeds from our brand new products, hats and visors, made with For Such a Time's new hat press! We can do low profile baseball caps, trucker hats, and visors. All are $15 and we can put just about any vinyl design on them. To order, email hat style, color, vinyl design, and color for the vinyl to forsuchatimecreations414@gmail.com with "Orphanage Fundraiser" in the subject line. We would like to sell 200 hats, caps, or visors through this fundraiser. Will you help?

Monday, April 17, 2017

A Confession

In the interest of full disclosure, I want to confess something. I've tried to be as transparent as possible through this adoption process, just as I try to live as transparently as possible. I know that there are those who feel that I overshare in some ways, but I feel so strongly that our lives are meant to be lived to glorify Him and to point others toward Him and that sometimes that means letting people see the ugly as well as the beautiful.

Our family just finished The Circle Maker in our weekly family meetings/devotionals. I read on my own the week before, making notes, then I sort of "teach" a section or chapter to them each week, discussing together and such. This past week, I read a passage in that book that forced me to admit something shameful to myself (something I had not actually done yet) and then to my family.

The passage at hand says this:
When you live by faith, it often feels like you are risking your reputation. You're not. You're risking God's reputation. It's not your faith that is on the line. It's His faithfulness. Why? Because God is the one who made the promise, and He is the only one who can keep it. The battle doesn't belong to you; it belongs to God. And because the battle doesn't belong to you, neither does the glory. God answers prayer to bring glory to His name, the name that is above all names. Drawing prayer circles isn't about proving yourself to God; it's about giving God an opportunity to prove Himself to you. 
In the days before our I800 approval, I started (ten days before) doing a countdown on social media. I am being so truthful when I say that I only had TWO days between August and March 3 (the day of our approval for our Sweet 3-- 3/3-- Does God like to be clever much? :) ) that I even doubted for a minute that we were going to get the approval in time. So when I started that countdown, I was excited to do it and see when God was going to come through. I KNEW it would be on time, just didn't know when.

I posted the 10 day countdown post:

I posted the 9 day countdown post:

I remember exactly how I felt when that verse settled into my spirit. STAND STILL AND SEE THIS GREAT THING THE LORD IS ABOUT TO DO BEFORE YOUR EYES. WOW. I also remember on that day, I got a message from a DEAR friend (and please, dear friend, if you are reading this and realize it was you, please understand what I am saying here-- I know that you were just checking in on me and I appreciate the ways you always check in on me. Your message was not the issue. My heart was.) that said that he/she knew God was doing something great and wanted Him to have the glory but he/she wanted to check in with how I was feeling on the inside. I gut-checked for a second. How was I feeling on the inside? Well, still very confident and faithful. For sure. But what if........  

There is no Day 8 post. 
I was on a trip with my students in DC, I was busy, and .... if I were totally honest, maybe I wasn't so sure. 

On Day 7, still in DC, I posted the photo below. 

See what I did in that one? I backed off from approval and instead shifted to getting our case assigned. That's when I started to give in to exactly what Mark Batterson was referring to above. I wasn't afraid GOD would look bad. I was afraid I would look foolish. What if I posted all the way down to Day 1, then THE DAY, and nothing??? What would I say? I imagined people pitying us, not only for the fact that our son wouldn't get to come here (and who even knows what the next step would have been-- I never allowed myself to think that far), but also pitying me for the extravagant and public and flamboyant faith display. If there is one thing in this life I cannot tolerate thinking people are feeling toward me, it's pity. Give me your irritation, your eye rolls, your dislike, ANY of the negative emotions you feel, but please, please, please keep your pity. Pity makes me feel vulnerable and vulnerability is my nemesis. (Which happens to be the area God continues to force me to become, i.e., this very blog post...) 

There is no Day 6. By Day 6, I had decided that I couldn't risk my reputation and earning the pity of those around me. And so do you know what that means? I denied God a Day 5 post that would have been followed only hours after by a "WE GOT THE I800 APPROVAL!!!!!!!!" post. I thought it was my faith on the line when all along, it was His faithfulness. And His faithfulness NEVER fails. The craziest part of all of it is that I didn't ever doubt it in my heart. I knew we would get that approval by our deadline. But I still couldn't risk the public losing face that might happen if we didn't. As if it was ever mine to lose. 

As I told my family last night, I deeply regret the 3 days I lost. I regret that I don't have an 8, a 6, and a 5 to share with our kids one day as we tell them the story of God's work on their behalf. I regret that I let my own perceived reputation get in the way of the only reputation that has ever and will ever matter-- His. I feel like I denied Him 3 extra days of glory, even though it will still be such a powerful testimony. 

And for that, I am so sorry. But I love that the passage in the Batterson book brought about a scenario in which I would admit all of this to myself, share it with my family last night, and with you today. Because if nothing else, learn this from my fumbling attempts to let God be God of all: It isn't about your faith, it's about His faithfulness. And it never, ever, ever, ever fails. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Falling in Love Long-Distance

I was SO CERTAIN that Easter would be celebrated as a family of 7. And when I realized that it would not be, I got a little bit .... what my middle school girls would call.... salty. I never considered canceling our family dinner, but I did consider rearranging our typical Easter plans to include a Saturday night service instead of Sunday morning, casual clothes, and not making a big deal of pictures and such.

Easter means so many things to me.... It means new life, springtime, the world and my heart waking  from winter, a promise of Hope Eternal, the earth dressing in green and adorning itself in blossoms, the salvation of my life, and family. It's the one holiday that we host at our house and every time I imagined this Easter, I couldn't think of anything more symbolic than having our entire family together for this first holiday of many, a holiday that represents so much to me. And yet.

We spent today, instead, as four. And what I found was that rather than my heart feeling grieved as it had all week, I felt such peace. And excitement. We had a glorious church service, wonderful family time, and weather that could not have been special-ordered any better. We made video messages to send our kids via Skype and each family unit introduced themselves.

I had posted back at Valentine's Day and said how desperately I hoped that the next holiday would be spend with them, and it was not. But I just thought about the fact that the next holiday, other than Mother's Day and Father's Day, is the Fourth of July. And LAST Fourth of July, not only did we have no idea that adoption was near in our future, we had no idea that F, R, and A even existed. And we will spend THIS Fourth of July at the lake with Kraig's family, a family of 7 in a tribe of Davises. What a miracle.

The growth of our relationship has been slow, unconventional, and sometimes awkward. They had no idea we existed until January. Their first knowledge of us was through a book of photos. We talked for the first time through a computer screen in March. They met their grandparents through that same computer screen Friday night. And tomorrow they will, through video messages, meet their great grandparents, aunt and uncle, cousins, and extended family on my side. And yet each call reveals something else about their personalities, their likes and dislikes, their sense of humor. I don't feel nervous at the beginning of the calls anymore, we talk to each other about things they will want to hear, Kraig plans fun little jokes to play on the next calls. It's a slow rhythm to this dance, this getting to know each other across the miles, and it is precious time I wouldn't trade.  If they had been here today, we would have only had two or three calls before a face to face meeting.

As eager as I am to get them here, there is something sweet and pure and peaceful about falling in love long-distance.

And until that time comes, we are holding space for them in our arms and our hearts.

Friday, April 14, 2017

No Greater Love: Another Letter to Our Sweet 3 on this Good Friday

Dear F, R, and A:

We just had our fifth Skype call with you. I am truly so grateful to have this opportunity to get to know you a little, develop a rapport with you, and create a situation in which we will all feel more comfortable when we come to get you (soon, please soon). I can't believe how much more comfortable we all are after a month or so of skyping.

You are all so dear. Every time we end a call, I look at your dad and say, "Those kids are so stinking precious." We spend the next few hours randomly recalling different things that were said or done (like tonight when you kept rubbing your hair, F, and said you were enjoying it before it all got cut off). Emma and Kelsey usually disappear to their rooms for bed and then the next morning on the way to church or school, they will bring up different moments in the call. We cannot wait for you to be sitting on the couch with us, at the table across from us, or in the swings beside us instead of seeing you through a computer screen.

F, I love your quick smile and easy laughter. I love the way you always help your brother and sister out when something isn't translating well and the mature way you handle the calls. I can already tell that you are golden-hearted and you are so eager to please. You are obviously full of energy and life and I expect that you are going to be the boy who fills our home with joy.

R.... well...... we have already sort of classified you as our mischievous prankster. You are so observant, watching each of us closely and imitating our expressions and gestures (sometimes, I suspect, out of humor). The flash of white that is your smile is going to light up our world very soon. I love that you are so polite and courteous and yet you love to laugh and be silly. I think it's funny the way you and A pick at each other (this may cease to be funny quickly in real life, hahahahah!).

A, I think my very favorite thing about you is seeing you laugh at Emma and Kelsey. I absolutely cannot wait to see another sister added to their little sorority and watch the three of you traverse the teenage years and then life by each other's sides. You are the most quiet of the three, but you are sometimes the first to catch on or realize what we are saying. I see your eyes light up and that smile spread across your face. I love to see you laugh at something that is said and I can already tell that smiles and laughter from you are going to be the treasures of my heart.

I've served Jesus and walked with Him for 32 years now, and I've seen some incredible and beautiful things. He has brought me so much joy in my 39 years on this earth. In addition to the gift of marriage to your dad and the gifts of healthy, sweet new babies in Emma and Kelsey, this is the most astounding gift He has ever given to me. I look at your faces and I just marvel that you are ours and we are yours. Of all the people in this world, that He chose US to get to be your family.... I just can't comprehend any greater way for Him to show that He loves us. Today is the day we celebrate His Sacrifice, the giving of His life on Calvary. It was that Sacrifice that made it possible for all of us to walk in communion with Him and it is that very communion with Him that allowed for this miracle of miracles, the joining of the three of you and the four of us. There is no greater love, y'all, than the love Jesus has for us. We are blessed beyond measure.

Sunday's Coming.... But First, Friday

Today's most popular sentiment is "Sunday's Coming!" and oh how grateful I am that it was, it did, and it still is. I feel like I'm living in my own little "Sunday's coming!" state right now and it's both a challenging and a glorious place to be.

However, I have always felt like we skip past so much of the whole story of Easter in our eagerness to get to Sunday.  Palm Sunday was a time of huge celebration and we are ready to get to the next celebration, the empty tomb. I'll be honest, I have been guilty of glossing over the Last Supper but after last Sunday's illustrated sermon, I love the Last Supper. I sat there on Sunday morning and watched the disciples all coming in from different sides and places, all gathering down in front of the table, slapping each other on the back, laughing, catching up. I realized how often I forget that the "characters" on the pages of the Bible weren't characters. They were men and women, 3-dimensional, who laughed and cried and hurt and loved.

To be honest, Gethsemane has always been the part of the story that captured me the most (and my deepest and probably ONLY regret from my trips to Israel is that I never made it down to Gethsemane). The sacredness of that night, the velvety darkness of the garden, the soul-wrenching pleas for His Father to intervene... then the apathy of friends, the sound of soldiers' feet, the clash of swords, the heaviness of captivity. Gethsemane was the precursor for everything to come and the depth of His love for us.

The other day that gets neglected in the whole story is Saturday. In fact, in 2013, I wrote this post about what Saturday means to me. Saturday had to have been the hardest day for His followers.

But today, Good Friday..... I think my earliest thoughts of the entire Easter story were shaped by our church Easter cantatas and dramas with such graphic and almost violent depiction and attention to detail of the Crucifixion. And no matter how graphic and violent those scenes felt, the knowledge that they DIDN'T EVEN COMPARE... I have always cherished Good Friday. It may sound weird or even morbid, but I have always made it a point to let myself sink into the darkness of this day, the terrible pain, the betrayals, the isolation. Because without the horror of Good Friday, Sunday was just another Lazarus. Jesus wasn't the only person in history to be resurrected, but He was the only one who died to cancel the sins of the world first.

The First Skype Call *a month or so ago now*

*** I wrote this after our first Skype call but needed to wait to publish until now for several reasons.***

March, 2017
It isn't often that I am at a loss for words but I am. And I probably should wait to write this until I have some but it's important to me to capture my feelings right now, just after this moment. 

We just met you for the first time. You are..... perfection. You are adorable and gentle and funny and kind and you interact with each other in the cutest way. I am.... breathtakingly, pinwheeling, madly in love. When you called me "Mom" something inside me melted and I'm pretty sure it just stayed puddled up inside the rest of the call. 

We were nervous at the beginning, as were you, and the call wasn't without a few awkward silences and some clarification moments, but it was an incredible hour. We talked about food and sports and favorite colors and hobbies and school subjects and music and geography and Cleveland and people and food (yes, again) and then Emma asked you if you liked socks. 😳 We all stared awkwardly at her, as did you, and I tried to bail her out by saying, "it's so hot there, they don't even wear socks I bet" and F stuck his socked foot up and said, "Yes we do!" 😂 

I was a nervous wreck for two days anticipating this call but the moment your beautiful faces popped up on that screen, I was home. I saw every prayer I have ever prayed (even before I knew they were for YOU) reflected in your eyes and I saw every moment of our future in your smiles. 

Ending the call was bittersweet because it was incredibly physically and emotionally draining and when it was over, we all four just slumped in our seats. But as Kraig reached out to hit the button, I just wanted to reach through the screen and hold you. It will be two weeks before we talk again and who knows how many until we can wrap our arms around you. I feel like I've waited my whole life for this and I don't want to close my eyes on this day. 

Brad Paisley has a song called "Today" that perfectly expresses my feelings. 
"And I don't know about tomorrow
Right now the whole world feels right
And the memory of a day like today
Can get you through the rest of your life

I know it won't always be like this
Life can change as quick as a kiss
It's not over yet and I already miss

Brad Paisley must have had a night like tonight when he wrote that song. Every time I think I've seen the best of God, He shows me something else. So incredibly blessed.


"For a while he was Everyman, and thus proof (as if one needed it) that no man is ordinary." 

My AP class always reads "Everyman," a medieval morality play. We normally have a discussion about the play, link it to Donne's "Meditation 17" and some other works (a line from Caesar), and then writer our own version of it. It's funny because I don't necessarily love this work or this day, but my kids always seem to connect with it.

This year I decided to spend a little time discussing the play and then take the thread of the "Everyman" archetype from it and dig around in it a while. I made slideshow of images with that theme (advertisements, characters from popular lit, IKEA, etc) and then I read them my very favorite short piece from when I taught sophomores, a piece that isn't even in the new book. It's called "The Man in the Water" by Roger Rosenblatt and it was originally published in Time magazine. As I read that piece aloud, I could feel the swells of the water on that frigid day. I could feel my breath catch as I watched, horrified, along with the rest of the nation. I got goosebumps at the beauty of the writing and the depth of the message. And for just a minute, I forgot that my class was there. It was just me and an incredible piece of writing, and I was basking in the words and the ideas. When I read the last line and looked up,  little startled to see them there in front of me, I couldn't resist the rush of pure euphoria that flowed out of me in the form of totally going English teacher geek on them. This piece DAZZLES me. It INSPIRES me. It REMINDS me that we all have a choice every day about which one of those people living inside us is going to take over our "Everyman".... is the hero here today, or is it the villain? Or is it the apathetic bystander? Because as he points out in this work, we hold the power of life and death in our hands every single day.

After we talked a little about it, I showed them an awesome TED Talk that I'll link here. TED Talks make me feel like I could run through walls. They are like bottling up a Ron Crawford speech and making them all available at the click of a mouse. I've been thinking a lot the last few days about a bucket list and I decided today that delivering a TED Talk is on mine, which is incredible when you think of my absolute terror of public speaking as recently as a few years ago. 

In searching for a TED Talk on what the points I wanted to make, I found a couple of other great ones I'll link as well. They are powerful.

Today was a day in 1st period that made me dread the day I am no longer in a classroom. Yesterday and Monday were those days in 2nd and 4th period. I don't know how I got so lucky to do this work but I'm so, so thankful I did.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Grace Upon Grace

Today has been the absolute worst. I was sick all night, felt terrible this morning, ended up going to school anyway. Every piece of information or news I was given (other than a productive and promising PLC in which I got great news for numbers for AP and Holocaust Lit next year!) has been more annoying or negative than the last. I came home and collapsed on the bed with an hour or so to try and feel better (physically and emotionally) before I need to leave for a banquet. 

At this banquet, an incredibly wonderful 4.0 student who has selected me as her favorite teacher will honor me with a letter. And I'm wrestling with the same doubts I always feel, that one day this ride I've been on will stop and kids won't connect with me anymore. Nothing ever feels like enough. I had opened my notes in my phone because if I write about things, I feel better. But I couldn't find words to write because I just feel overwhelmed by everything that's to come. I feel ineffective, I feel disconnected, and I feel like the task at hand is bigger than I am in many cases. There isn't time at school or home for what needs to get done by May 16. This has been such a wonderful school year, but it's at the place where you hit a wall and realize that what is required of you for the remainder of the year is more than you have left inside. 

And then I got a fb message from a friend, sharing something with me that was so encouraging. No kidding, LITERALLY ten seconds after I collapsed on my bed and realized I had no words to write, God gave me someone else's words instead. What a good, good Father. 

So I wanted to say to YOU, other teachers or anyone who is hitting a wall at this point in your year.... 

You can do it. And the best proof you have of the fact that you CAN do it is that you HAVE done it in the past and you ARE DOING it right now. 

You are loved. People may not always tell you and they may not always show you, but there are those who live for your smile.

You are influential. There are so many people whose days are impacted by you and your presence. Keep showing up, keep being you, and keep influencing them for good. 

You don't have enough left inside. And that's ok. Believe me, I understand feeling so poured out that nothing is left but that's where grace steps in. If we had all we needed, we would never get to experience that miraculous feeling when the oil should have long since run dry but it just keeps streaming out, grace upon grace. 

We can hold each other up when strength fails. I just decided to write a note to another person every day from now until the end of the school year. I want to infuse people with the energy and pep that I just got from that Facebook message I received. Join me? 

The doubts aren't going to strangle me out like weeds. The exhaustion isn't going to make me give up. The feeling of isolation isn't going to cause me to withdraw from the very people who need me, and I, them. And the overwhelming tasks at hand aren't going to prevail. I am.