Thursday, October 23, 2014



A little while ago my phone rang.  It was my mom with news that I've been dreading since last March. 

My cousin has lost her 15 year battle with breast cancer.

She has always been my hero.  I used to love visiting her family -- she was three years older -- the perfect age for me to put her on a pedestal.  She never minded.  I can still hear her soft voice tinged with a Southern accent patiently talking, listening, accepting.

In my eyes she was always so good.

I'm pretty sure if you look up the word grace in a heavenly Bible, her picture would be there.  See, I always felt like I was a mess.  Scattered, crazy, all over the place - messy.  However Susan . . . oh gosh . . . she was always good.

I'm sure that wasn't the complete reality.  I know she had struggles -- she was human.

But she chose to see the good.

Yes -- chose it often.

I'm eternally grateful to learn this skill from her.  Even in pain, she would choose to see the good.  Despite the pain, she would talk about love.  Instead of focusing on the disappointments, she saw beauty.

Through her eyes, she changed me.

I know this is a little rambling . . . a little painful . . . the world just feels a little darker.

Though I know she's dancing with Jesus as I type.  I am so happy for her as my human heart weeps.

So tomorrow morning I'm going to wake up and see the beautiful -- the sunrise, the smile on a child's face, the music flowing  . . . for her honor, I'm going to choose the positive.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


As I sit here on a quiet morning, rain gently pattering against my window, spending some precious time alone with my thoughts and God, I can feel the quiet whisper of peace soothing my soul.

There are things in life that have me troubled now.  I believe the evil one does his best to turn up the volume on that chatter, to distract, to discombobulate, to disconcert.  He screams questions in my ear, echoes the dark doubts of my heart, demands my attention.

Therein likes the problem. I have a tantruming toddler doing his best to distract me from peace.

So where does my attention go?  The toddler who delights in my fears, encourages my doubts, engages in distraction or to the one who tells me not to worry?

It's amazing how fast I can be humbled by God.

Matthew 6: 25-34

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ?  

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  \

So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Therefore today I'm going to choose peace.  Allow the whispers to calm my worries and give them to the person who can do something about them.  Spend time listening to Him.  Turn down the volume on the constant chatter.

Today I will seek Him and the peace He provides.  I will intentionally seek His will above my own.  Today I will breathe easy and trust.

Thank you to Holly (@muellerholly) for her leadership and encouragement in the writing the weekly spiritual blog posts around a common theme.  Check out her master link at:  Feel free to join us.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Connected Educator #compelledtribe

I began teaching in 1993.  In many ways that feels like a lifetime ago.  Somewhere along the line I went from the youngest teacher on staff to one of the oldest.  I think it happened with the decade that I spent at home raising my own four children.  I remember the steps back to being a part of the educational work force after my hiatus.  I was excited to teach again, nervous, but excited.

You see I had four children, a husband who travelled, and knew few in my immediate community.  My new job was in the school furthest from my home in my county, so I was a 30 minute drive minimum away from home.  I felt like an island - isolated and alone. 

I remember during the interview the principal asked me how I was going to make it work.  It was the question I dreaded most because I wasn't sure myself.  I know I came back with the comment that I loved teaching; it was my calling; I would work to make it work. 

That first year, I did just that.  I made it work.  I loved the kids, followed the scope and sequence, wrote a lot of curriculum, and graded a lot of essays.  My brain remembered the rhythm, the pacing, the love, and the kids responded.  I had a partner in crime, and the strong support of other ELA teachers.  The waters around my island receded.

This is what I've learned -- it's the connection piece that makes it work. 

Our assistant principal (@drizzinkwine) showed me how to take this beyond our district through how he used Twitter.  He kept telling me it was the most powerful tool in social media today.

I thought he was crazy.  He knows this.  I've had to eat my words over and over.

He mentioned a fellow co-worker who used Twitter well (@amsd2dth), encouraged me to give it a try, so I sat down and created an account.  I was immediately frustrated with not knowing how to access the information I wanted, so I assumed it wasn't there.  Therefore I gave it a half-hearted attempt and kept moving on with business as usual.  My account sat neglected.

Though I continued to listen.  That summer Dave Burgess was coming to speak to our staff regarding his book, Teach Like a Pirate.  I looked up an advanced copy of the title so I could see what it was all about.  Around that time my assistant principal popped in to see how things were going.  I swear he opened my eyes more in five minutes than the previous year.  Learning the simple tool of how to see hashtags and notifications - simple, I know, but the simple thing is I DIDN'T know - opened my skill set.  He also dropped a casual challenge - try a chat this summer.  I'm not sure if he remembers it, but he did it.  It changed me professionally.

On a Monday night early that summer, I decided to try the #tlap chat for the first time.  I think I had 9 followers, and I was following maybe 20.  I considered myself a creative teacher; however, that chat opened my eyes to so many possibilities.  I had my notepad down by my computer scribbling out ideas as fast as I could think of them.  I was inspired by the community.  A fellow educator mentioned doing this with an ELA focus (thank you @bhomel1).  I'm was inspired to say - YES! I want to help with this.  I had NO CLUE what I was doing, but I couldn't help it.  Fortunately @joykirr and @krinermom also wanted in.  The four of us led Twitter chats all summer -- #ELAtlap which has evolved into #ELAchat.

That one chat had me.  I have grown more as an educator in the past year and a half then I did in the first ten years combined.  Twitter has given me new perspectives, opened the door to different thoughts, and challenged me to be more for my students.  It provides a wealth of information, encouragement, and inspiration.  I've connected with teachers, authors, and have created a strong PLN that challenges me to stretch in different ways.

So throughout this rambling reflection (hence the title of my blog), I want to send encouragement to educators.  Step out of your comfort zone to become a connected educator.  Ask questions, jump in, be willing to try, be open to learning.  You will find validation, people you agree with, people you disagree with, and people who push you.  All of this will change you in small ways that will impact you as a professional - in positive ways. 

I'll issue you the challenge to pick a chat and try it for a month -- be consistent, engaged, and involved for that month and reassess how you feel at the end.  I have a feeling you'll be hooked, too!