Part the Waters

This time of year is almost always tough in the yearbook advising business. Adding the weight of more school shootings, an awful flu season, the Texas political situation and its impacts educators and their healthcare, and a plethora of life’s emotional dings has made the last six weeks so tough.

Seriously.

This week has pushed and pushed and finally I felt like breaking.

In that moment as I sat in my classroom during my conference looking at what all has to be done and trying to find a plan to make it happen, I looked up and said, Jesus Help.

When I spoke those words I felt so completely broken and yet so completely sure that whatever else happens, God’s got me and I’ve got Him.

Within a couple of hours several little things happened to help relieve some of my worry.

I believe in the miraculous power of God. I believe the biggest miracle of all is God’s unending grace. I believe God had a hand in showing me yet again that if I turn to Him in my always those break down moments don’t have to be so all encompassing.

Yesterday nothing huge changed in the day to day business of a stressful final deadline when deadlines have been a struggle all year. There was no physical “Part the Waters” moment. But that moment of prayer and the peace that came after…the psychological and emotional sense of peace and comfort…it was beautiful.

I’m sitting in my classroom now, and I know it’s going to be okay.

My prayer is this: Lord, help me to remember my why in the classroom instead of letting deadline become my focus. Help me to let go and let You, help me to rest assured in the knowledge that when things are overwhelming, I can turn to You, but I don’t have to wait until that moment. You are always even when I forget.

Opening lyrics to the song that I love so much: When I think I’m going under, part the waters, Lord

When I feel the waves around me, calm the sea

When I cry for help, oh, hear me, Lord

And hold out Your hand

Touch my life Still the raging storm in me

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Dear Teacher

Another broken child walked into a school and committed mass murder.

Another broken child lots of teachers had tried to reach.

And tomorrow we will face classrooms full of kids, some of whom are also broken. And we will still try to reach them. We will still pray for the miraculous moment a connection is made and the most awful of the most awful won’t happen, and we won’t ever know how close the most awful was.

We’ll walk into school tomorrow and look around and reevaluate our shelter in place plans and talk to each other about those plans. We’ll probably debate gun control and teaching the vote and what that looks like.

But we’ll also do our jobs and make those connections with kids.

Some of whom are broken.

Prayers for us all and prayers for all our kids.

Our hearts are breaking as we go through this again.

Teach the Vote: Save Our Public Schools

When I first started teaching one of the best teachers I’ve ever known told me something that has proven to be true in ways I never imagined.

When I said I didn’t like to “be political” she said teaching would always be political and that there were forces at work trying to destroy the public school system because they wanted to raid the funding.

I didn’t believe her in 1994, but by ‘99 I saw she was right. Back then it was Pearson and the high cost of testing and curriculum for the tests and retests. I still didn’t understand the full truth of what she saw.

I didn’t understand that banks were starting for-profit charters and moving into states while pulling funding from schools. I didn’t know hedge-fund operators were donating huge amounts to politicians to change the rules. I sure didn’t expect the state to give billions to private investors while cutting funding to our state teacher pension and insurance fund. I didn’t realize then that the push to make public education teaching a drive-through profession was because without a large,vocal group of seasoned public educators, politicians could raid funds all day long and few would know or care.

Flash forward to two decades later.

What that teacher underestimated was how apathy toward voting in the education profession made it easy for politicians to do the billionaires’ bidding, leaving school districts struggling while for-profit charters flourish with no or little oversight.

So here we are. On Feb. 20 early voting starts for the Texas primaries that will be held March 6.

Teachers must stand up and say no more.

We must vote for our students and our schools. We must vote for ourselves and our futures. We must vote for our retirees.

This election is a battle in the war on public education. It’s not about party. It’s bigger than that.

If you want to know how to fight back, a good place to start is the Texans for Public Education site. There’s a list on the site of the public education friendly candidates running for office.

Public education is a bedrock of our democracy. It levels the playing field for all students when it is allowed to.

And when career educators—not just teachers but our staffs, counselors and admin as well— work their full thirty years or more, public schools are stronger.

Both traditions are under attack.

Voting can change that.

The teacher who told me teaching is political was right. We can’t afford to ignore that truth. If we do, our students suffer and our profession will cease to exist.

Lockdown Lesson

There was NOT an active shooter on my campus today, thank God.

But…

I got to teach media lessons in real time today while in the midst of two lockdowns that lasted a total of about three hours. Lockdown one was during my class with my students. Lots of rumors flying to which I could say “document your source” calmly. The second lockdown, called when kids were in the hall passing to their next class, ended with me having a roomful of students, most of whom I didn’t know. They were freaked out and I was trying to be calm and help them be calm and quiet too. When the rumors started flying I asked if they were getting that news directly from the source or from someone who got it from someone who maybe got it from someone they said was the source. One thing’s for sure: phones have changed everything.

Fortunately, the person allegedly responsible for the phoned in threats that caused both lockdowns has been caught.

Today stunk. I was there because of deadline. I’m glad I was there because the kids needed me. We didn’t meet deadline. Only the editor came in after school, and I understand. Sometimes there are bigger things in life than deadline.

In 24 years of teaching this was only my second time to be in a situation like this for more than an hour or two. The first situation was with a bomb threat at Rider. We were outside for hours. It was lunchtime, and the kids were great even though they were hungry. The bomb squad from the base was there, superintendents came out, the local news showed up. That was almost a party. The second lockdown today was the opposite of that. The fear I saw on kids’ faces today was the worst thing I’ve experienced in teaching. It was worse than watching the second plane hit on 9-11 with a room of my kids. It was worse because of the news yesterday and last week and the week before and the week before that. That second lockdown terrified the kids at first. It terrified them enough they were silent for 60 minutes. It terrified them enough that they did exactly what I told them to do, no questions asked, even though most of them didn’t know me.

It’s not okay.

It’s not okay that we as a nation just shake our heads and say we wish there was something we could do, but we can’t.

There was NOT an active shooter on my campus today, thank God.

We need to find a way to make that the last fear of kids on lockdown instead of the first.

Another New Year

Another new year means another year of this blog.

So much has changed since I started this. Even the address, since it started on LiveJournal. I’m not even sure WordPress was a thing yet when I started this. I know iPhones weren’t around yet. Social media was pretty much MySpace, Messenger apps and, if you were a kid, texting. If you wanted to communicate with someone, more often than not you picked up the phone and called or went to where they were.

Back when I started writing this I was in my 30s with a junior high aged daughter struggling with my weight and writing rejection. Back then Brian and I didn’t go to church regularly, we’d never been part of a small group, I was a Republican, Meredith and McDreamy weren’t even a thing.

Back then I felt like I should be able to juggle everything and still have time for me, and it made me so angry that that wasn’t a thing.

Time flies.

The world changes.

I know I don’t post often these days. I’m going to try to do more in the run up to the mid-terms.

/Rant

Especially to help get the word out that politicians are purposefully killing public schools, but we can stop them if we vote them out. They use “failing schools” rhetoric to rob from the public and put $$$ into the pockets of the for-profit charters springing up all over the place.

Rant end/

A lot has changed over the years, but a lot is still the same, too. And for that I am thankful.

I swore I wasn’t doing resolutions this year, but I have one. That one is this:

I resolve to remember that words are only good if they’re backed up by actions. That’s my focus this year. Action. Persistence, practice, passion.

Happy New Year!

Thanksgiving Beauty

Thanksgiving was beautiful. It was just us and my parents. Dad made turkey because Mom is turkey crazy on Thanksgiving. I don’t really understand because I’m not a fan, but I love that Dad does this for her.

It’s their way.

Dad has psoriatic arthritis. He hurts all the time. But he never complains. Last year Mom was in the hospital with MRSA. She missed Thanksgiving and Christmas at home, and Dad was all out of sorts not making the turkey for her.

It was good to eat turkey and cranberry salad Mom made. Mom made the cranberry salad in spite of tremors that make chopping tough. Actually the salad isn’t easy to make without tremors. She made it anyway. Because Dad made turkey, and cranberry salad is a must if there’s turkey.

So we ate a delicious Thanksgiving lunch that wasn’t about eating but was about spending time with each other, and that was beautiful.

I’d tried to convince them to go out since it was just us. I mean you cook for hours and hours and eat in twenty minutes.

But that’s the point, isn’t it?

It’s giving and sharing and talking and laughing and cleaning up and laughing and then sitting around the table playing dominoes. They taught us how to play Moon. And as we played they laughed and reminded us about Grandma and Grandpa loving that game. They did love to play games, especially domino games and Skip-Bo.

And that’s Thanksgiving too. Memories of loved ones who have passed. Memories in the recipe for cranberry salad and how they loved to eat the turkey skin and how their pie crust was better than store bought and how they ate cornbread soaked in buttermilk for a treat.

Thanksgiving was beautiful. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Oh NaNo

Oh NaNo. I had such sweet hopes for our relationship this November. October had other ideas.

Here we are 8 days in to our NaNo fun and I’ve written zero NaNo words.

It’s okay though. October’s work is slowly moving toward conclusion.

Looking forward to you, NaNo.

👩‍💻

Heart broken and so, so tired of writing this post

Another day, another mass shooting. I’m writing this more than a day after a gunman walked in with a Rugar AR-556 rifle and slaughtered almost 30 innocent people as they wrapped up service at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX.

And in hours since I’ve heard “there’s nothing we can do about this except arm ourselves” more times than I can count.

As if more guns is a real answer for anyone other than gun manufacturers making huge profits on the loss of innocent lives.

It’s time for us to talk about real gun regulation in this country. I’m sure we won’t. Instead we’ll talk about thoughts and prayers and armed guards at the doors of our churches and open carry in the coffee shop, and politicians will scream about the “politicization” of a gunman mowing down innocents–as if the politicization of everything from oatmeal to socks wasn’t their stock in trade. And we’ll see a surge in gun sales for these kinds of guns and the magazines that allow this kind of killing and the contraptions that turn these lethal weapons into machine guns all of which will continue to be legal because “the 2nd Amendment, man. The 2nd amendment.”

And I’ll still get messages about why we need to be armed in case our government tries to take over our government. And it’s all Obama’s fault. And guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

And there will still be the dead and dying in a tiny Texas town. Which will be in the news for maybe another day or two. Or maybe a week or two. Or maybe, if we’re really lucky, a month or two. Until the next mass shooting causes the same questions and non-answers and we do it all over again without ever really doing anything about it.

Heart broken and so, so tired of writing this post.

It’s a Choice

We’ve struggled finding a new church.

We thought we’d found one but then the preacher did a whole sermon on how if you’re a Christian you won’t have any problems parenting, and it became clear the man had never parented a day in his life. His wife parented. He golfed and hung out with the menfolk.

We thought we found others but their ministers equated republican with Jesus and that’s the opposite of biblical.

So we quit searching.

There’s the truth of it. It hasn’t been a struggle at all. It’s been a willingness to drop the church part of our lives.

It’s not a good thing. We don’t have our people. We don’t have the mentors and friends to do life with. We don’t have the fellowship and worship community. We don’t have the comfort and knowledge of a church home. And every time we’ve looked for it we’ve found politics and division and fake Jesus.

I don’t think we need a church to have a direct connection to Jesus. But a church gives us a family in Christ, and that we do need. At least I do. Especially in this season that is so hard.

This weekend I swore we were going to check out a new church. One in a denomination that has been outspoken to the fact that the church is meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus not a political mouthpiece for either US political party.

We got up with plenty of time to go, but we paused. We thought. We talked about it and we watched Meet the Press and Face the Nation and then it was too late.

I looked at the church website and saw they had a live feed just like our old church back home. We decided to check it out.

It was different, a little slower than what we’re used to, but the message was exactly what I needed to hear.

I don’t know if this will be my church. There’s a contact form on the website. I kind of want to ask them questions about their thoughts on politics and the church before I go. Today I think I’ll go Sunday. Today it’s easy to think I’ll go Sunday.

We’ll see.

The NoNaNo NaNo

It’s Nov. 1, aka NaNoWriMo kickoff. And I’m not NaNo-ing because I missed my self-imposed draft deadline for book 3 in a romantic suspense trilogy.

I was sick with alien flu. But I still could have finished the draft IF I hadn’t procrastinated.

Soooooo, I’m sprinting with NaNo on the draft. When it’s done, I get to start Sharlene Gallagher book 4, my 2017 NaNo Novel. Until then…ACK! Write like the wind.

*The picture is my so called glamorous author life. Ahahahaha.