What is true about me?

What is true about me? This morning I spent some quiet time in my office trying to get my brain and my heart ready for the coming day (can’t even think about the whole week – just one day at a time). As I sat and just listened (hard for me) I just kept hearing the question “What is true about me?” As I began to ponder the question, I found that it was challenging to pen positive things about me. I had no trouble coming up with the negative aspects of myself – but I’m pretty sure that’s not why I was being asked this question. I spent the better part of an hour contemplating what I know to be true about me. More than once I was brought to tears as I wrote my truths. Why is it so hard to acknowledge the good in ourselves?

I do not know why this question was on my heart today, but I am so thankful that I followed the still, quiet voice in the early morning calm and answered. I decided to write my truths in my journal, rather than just answer in my head. Somehow, creating a written record of the things I believe are true about me, made them true. Sharing them here – well that just feels scary…but I think its another important step in this process.

So I’ll leave you with this challenge; What is true about you? Take some time (most of us have more than we know what to do with right now) and ponder this question. Really think about it. We all have our own truths. I would love to hear yours! IMG_2491

The Wonder of Spring

fullsizeoutput_6d7eI wonder if the blooming buds all around us
know what is going on
in the world they are entering?

I wonder if these sprigs of hope
know what their presence means to us
as we look at them from our windows.

I wonder if these emerging blossoms truly
know the joy they bring
to our scary, broken world.

The wonder of spring surrounds us,
envelops our fragile spirits and
promises us new life.

Forced confinement

sidewalk chalkToday started out as a sad day. This may sound silly, but if you are from Cincinnati, you will get it. Today was supposed to have been Reds Opening Day. That means the streets of downtown should have been lined with fans for the Opening Day Parade. Today should have been celebrated as a holiday – as is always the case for the start of baseball season here. When I was finally awake enough to look at my bullet journal and realize all of this, the tears came. I just felt so sad. So many things we are missing out on.

But then, I stepped outside and felt the day warming, saw the sun greeting me with its bright yellow smile, and my mood began to lift. And rather than being sad about all the things we are going without, I fixed my thoughts on all the positives that are coming about as a result of our forced confinement.

Sidewalk chalk. Four of my five kids are here at home. All day. Every day. While that can be a bit chaotic (and by a bit I mean a lot at times), it also is time that we would never actually take for ourselves. Never have all four of my daughters and I spent over an hour in the sunshine creating with sidewalk chalk. Being that they range in age from 7 years old to 19 years old, we just rarely spend time doing activities together (stop judging – just being real). But today, we did! We laughed and worked together and created something we were proud of. We were happy.

Later, my oldest daughter, Cart, and I took a walk through the neighborhood. If you have a teenage daughter, you understand that any time at all you get to spend with her is amazing…so my momma heart was happy. We took selfies, we shared songs, we talked. And as we walked I noticed so many positives all around us. At the end of driveways throughout our subdivision, there were notes of encouragement written in chalk. Smiley faces, hearts, and phrases. Each one brought a smile to my face. And the more and more we saw, the bigger my smile got, and the more my mood lifted. Families worked together in the yard. The smell of fresh grass wafted through the air. Children played in yards, rode bikes, climbed on swing sets while their parents lounged on freshly cleaned patio furniture and watched.

This virus is awful and the havoc it is wreaking on our world is devastating. But there is a flip side to all of the negative. The world is slowing down. People are slowing down. We are talking. Playing games. Putting puzzles together. Creating art and music. It’s almost like this virus has reminded us about who we are as humans.

Sitting here typing I have tears flowing down my cheeks. (I’m a complete sap these days!) (Ok – not just these days…I’m a complete sap all of the time). If you stop and look, slow down and listen, you will find the beauty in all of the chaos. We will all look back on this time of our lives and will be filled with the memories we made when the world made us all stop.

What memories are you making today?

Thank you Teddy

I’ve adopted these words as my motto as I navigate this season. Last Tuesday I was told teddythat as a district we would begin online teaching/distance learning/teaching from home on that Thursday. Thirty-six hours to wrap my head around teaching my curriculum to sixty-four students in a way that I had never done before. I went into overdrive and spent some much energy trying to figure it all out that I pretty much accomplished nothing. At the beginning of every school year I make a promise to myself to do all that I can for each and every one of my students for the 180 days that I have them. And here I have been told to “teach” them from behind a computer screen. I have worked twice as many hours a day since we have been closed then I normally do when we are “in school.” I have not slept a full night. I have worried myself sick. I have eaten a whole lot of comfort food (why can’t I be the kind of worrier who can’t eat…?).

Today, I am having to slow down, take some deep breaths and accept the fact that the remaining time with my kiddos this year is just going to be different. That doesn’t mean it is “worse” – just different. And all I can do is what I can do with what I have right now. I won’t be able to share the laughs and high-fives, but I can send messages letting them know I’m here. I won’t be able to read the books to them that I had planned – with all the voices and animation, but I can record myself reading some of the stories and send them with love. All that I do is what I can, with what I have, right here where I am. And I hope that my kids know that it’s all for them! I encourage everyone reading this to do all that you can for those around you and help them through this season of panic and fear.

Much love

Only the Holy Spirit

fruitsLockdown. Shelter in place. Stay at home. No matter what it is called, it still means the same thing. We are ordered to stay in our homes. Together. For an undetermined amount of time. Of course we all love our families and we all want to do all that we can to keep ourselves and our communities safe. But let’s just get real for a minute…it ain’t easy. There are six of us who live in our house. Six humans and one very rambunctious, energetic dog. No matter how much we love and care about each other, we are still going to get on each other’s nerves. We are going to bicker and argue. We are going to have ups and downs.

I woke early this morning to steal the quiet moments that exist when everyone else is still sleeping. The weight of the coming day and week was bearing down on me. In my prayer I wept and cried to God “I’m not sure if I can do this…” God gently nudged me with “You can’t…but I can.”

These words: love, peace, self-control, peace, goodness, gentleness, kindness, joy. They are not going to come naturally or easily to me during these difficult times. Trying to teach from home, manage the house, help my own children do their school work, and help my whole family navigate this storm is so stressful to me! Those words do not describe my demeanor over the past few days. And its hard for me to admit that I need help…but the reality is, I need help. So my prayer for my household today and going forward is that I learn to rely on the Holy Spirit to change me. I will lean into to the power of the Spirit. “Only the Holy Spirt can produce the kinds of fruits in our lives…” (Galatians 5:22)

When I was a kid

Here I sit at my computer, feeling the need to express myself. Feeling the need to process through all that is happening in our world through words. I never imagined in my lifetime that I would be living through a statewide “lockdown.” So many emotions flood my heart and mind. Writing is how I cope. But at the same time, I don’t want my words to be discouraging or depressing. I truly am doing all I can to remain positive. I know that my children are feeling anxious (like me) but I don’t want to feed into their fears. My job is to calm their chaos, not create more. I want to be their safety. When they look to me, I want them to see me smiling and finding the positive in all of it.

Struggling to find my voice this afternoon, I turned to my decade old portfolio and dove in. I found a poem that I think is appropriate to share today.

When I was a kid…

When I was a kid,
My mom gave me a pair
Of rose-colored glasses

They were a gift
And I had to learn to use them
In the dark

You really have to
Focus to see things
In the dark

These glasses, they reflect
And they correct
My distorted vision

I put them on
To find the positive
In every situation

When I was a kid,
My mom gave me a pair
Of rose-colored glasses…

And I never lost them.

How I am is not Who I am.

hootieAnother gloomy morning. Gray. Rain. Swampy back yard – which means muddy paw prints everywhere in the house. Twice this morning the tears have flooded my eyes, threatening to spill over and not stop. Holed up in the house for one week. Anxiety hangs in the air – unspoken but revealed in actions and eyerolls. I am truly seeking to be a positive source for my family (and for my own well-being). Sometimes though, I’m just faking it. And sometimes that can be exhausting. I feeling…scared, worn out, overwhelmed, tired, anxious, on edge. But these are just feelings. They are currently how I am but they are not who I am.

I am human. I have fears, but I am not fearful. I have worries, but I am not worried. I have so much to constantly do, but I am not buried. Who I truly am is a child of the one true King. I am His. And even though I am feeling all of these things, He still loves me. Even though I cry over the situation, He is not disappointed in me. I am His. The power of His spirit lives in me and I am a child of God. These are the things that define me – not the things I am thinking or feeling. I have been redeemed by Him and in His eyes I am perfect. 

Sitting here in sweats, a Hootie and the Blowfish concert t-shirt, and my third (ish) day of a messy bun, I feel unworthy and broken. But soaking in His word and in prayer I am reminded that I am whole. How I am is not who I am. Resting in that right there! 

Yellow

Since the day is so gray and dreary today, I thought this poem that I penned a decade ago would be a nice bright distraction. I remember the assignment from my creative writing class like it was yesterday. I was instructed to go on a “color walk” and to note everything of one particular color that caught my attention. It was the perfect spring day on campus in Oxford. I walked for hours – kind of lost myself in the color walk. Here is the piece of writing that came from that day.

Yellow

I am the day and the warmth
The harshly painted curb, edging
the street – corralling it.
I swing on a wire,
directing and signaling.
I am letters on a shirt,
letters on a bag,
a convertible speeding along
a street sign – shoe string
hair band – arm band
I am the tiny beak of a hungry bird.

I am yellow.