Archives for August 2014

School Isn’t Just About Educating {To Parents and Teachers}

Tomorrow morning the alarm will sound at 5:00 am. I’ll push snooze until 5:30 because I know myself.  A flurry of feelings and activity- quick showers, clean teeth, new clothes, half-eaten breakfasts, nervous tummies, mixed emotions, bagged lunches, new notebooks – all before 7:00 a.m.

I’ll drop my tenderhearted son off at middle school – and pray for him ALL DAY – then my sweet daughter and I will spend the day at the high school, learning and leading – and loving.

Your day may look similar. [Deep breaths!]

When you drop your kiddo off in the morning, I know it’s a mix of the happy dance of fall and wistful longings for summer.  And whether you’re happy dancing for days free of children or wistfully longing for the days gone by, it’s ok.

It’ll be OK.

It’ll be OK because the teachers receiving your children really do love them – or will grow to know and love them – and those teachers really do want them to engage and learn.  Are there a few who can be cranky?  Yep.  Are there days when he or she won’t show his/her love and desire as you wish the teacher might?  Yep.  That’s the nature of being human and having unique personalities or having lived a hard life.

But, remember.

These teachers?  They are human. They are moms, dads, daughters, and sons.   Aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters.  They struggle with busy schedules and fluctuating emotions just as you do.

The resources they desire to serve your child well aren’t always available (rarely are available).  They do the best they can with what they have – and they often spend money of their own to make their classrooms inviting and functional.

Being a teacher isn’t a job that ends when the bell rings at day’s end.  Papers come home.  Regret comes home. Sadness comes home.  Joy comes home.  Most of my teacher friends are always thinking…how can I do this better?  Grade this faster? Help the child whose parents are divorcing?  Find money for this or that?  Improve this class and my strategies?

We want to serve your children well.  Our deepest desire is for them to learn and to feel wanted and loved in our rooms.  Whether your child is 5 or 15, they matter to us.

Our hearts break with each child who struggles physically and academically.  Each student who finds herself pregnant.  Each child how can’t read or engage in higher order thinking.  Each foster child who is being moved – again.  Each ninth grader who is watching his mom battle cancer.  Each third grader who does not understand why his family has moved.  Each nail-biting sixth and ninth grader moving up.  Each boy being bullied on Twitter.  Each teen couple who just broke up in the hallway (If you think this one is stupid, work in a high school for one day.  This is real and hurts their hearts more than you’d expect.)


school not just about educating

School isn’t just about educating; it’s about navigating.  Navigating through and around the stormy waters or peaceful seas (known as personal lives) on the way to learning.  (As you might guess, if my mom and dad are fighting or my grandma has breast cancer, when Columbus sailed the ocean blue or who wrote Of Mice and Men will matter little to me.)

We know.  We see.  And we do our very best to be an example and to love.  To meet your child where he or she is.

We really do.

We have “off” days – say things we don’t mean and mean things we forget to say.  We come to school tired from a late night with a sick child and crabby from a fight with our spouse.  We give assignments that we think will matter or “work” – and sometimes they don’t.  We waste your time and your child’s time while honestly trying something new that we thought would lead to greater engagement.  Sorry.

Eventually, 3:30 comes.  The bell rings.  And we send your precious son or daughter back to you.  (Because you know that’s how we see them, right?  We see each child occupying a seat in our classrooms as a precious child – as someone’s son, daughter, sister, brother, grandchild.)

And, when they come back to you and sing our praises or lament our assignments, I ask you to consider us – teachers – as humans.  As individuals.

Extend grace.

Extend unmerited, undeserved, unearned favor.

I will do the same for your child and for you.  When your child launches into “you will never believe how my mom treats me” speech, my heart will extend grace to you.

Because what we will really all want is to raise good-hearted kids who treat others as he/she wants to be treated.  Who serve and love others well.  Who find careers and others to love.

We want these students to find their places and purposes in this world.

Together – parents, teachers – we CAN do this. We can work together for good of all, educating and loving your 4th grader or 11th grader to be the best he or she can be.

The person the Creator made her to be.  Him to be.

Know I am praying, parents, for you and your children as a new year begins.

It’ll be OK – better than OK.

Happy School Year!

The Weight of It All {I Have a Personal Trainer}

Over the past eight months, I’ve lived in divorce mode.  There’s really not a single day that escapes the divorce shrapnel.

Reminders everywhere.  Complications ever-present. Blessings abounding in the midst.

While I know “divorced” will always be part of my story, I’ve finally arrived at a place in which I’ve shed much of the spiritual, emotional, and physical baggage of my marriage (oh, I am not done, but tangible improvements are present.)

I don’t have the car we shared – or the bed we shared – or the dishes we shared.

I’ve purged almost all of the physical things.

Except one.

One very heavy thing:  weight.  Lots and lots of weight…as in about 60 pounds of it (conservative estimate).

Yeah, I know.  Stress plus emotional eating equals booooo.

And it all culminated in a long discussion with God after last week’s trip to Honduras.

I struggled in the heat.  I felt tired and cranky quickly.  Self-loathing crept in while I stood at a house in Catacamas listening to the family matriarch share her hopes and dreams as she stood in her outdoor kitchen next to her outdoor plumbing.

[Insert big, tear-filled frown here.]

I have EVERY opportunity IN THE WORLD – I really do.  I have advantages that woman will never know.  I have enough food to feed her entire family, and I can cook it on my stove in my cute hot pink, orange, and teal kitchen any day of the week.

Mad.  Sad.  That’s where my heart landed again and again while in Honduras. The emotion keeping me stuck in this icky place. Sadly, my fight with my weight preoccupied me more than it should have (thanks, Satan).

The final straw?  The extra tight seat belt as I squished into my seat on the flight home.

How in the world, Lord, did I get to this place?  What was I thinking?

I asked Him again and again during that flight until I landed on a podcast from Passion City Church – Louis Giglio telling me that Goliath MUST fall.

And, God saying in my heart:  he must fall, Sarah.  This giant in your life – weight – must fall. There’s work yet to be done, and this isn’t about your shirt size or appearance: This is about your health, your body as a temple, your feelings about your well-being, and your all-consuming weight awareness keeping your focus away from me.

The giant  – my weight – must fall (theologians:  listen to the message before you judge the trite analogy of Goliath as a personal giant;)


I talked to Hannah about her trainer, Allison.  I texted my friend, Nicole, and asked for her help, which resulted in a 9 am workout with Allison, Nicole, Amy, and my Hannah.

Yes, my sweet daughter insisted on doing each exercise right along with me.  We spent two hours yesterday morning lifting weights, doing push-ups, balancing on a ball, and smiling at our efforts.  And, we will repeat it this evening.


For me, this is following the words God spoke to my heart on the plane; the same words He’s spoken to me before.  He’s been very clear that the work he’s doing in and through my life involves my health, for I can not serve him fully and completely when I am physically – and thus emotionally and often spiritually  – hindered.

So the work has begun.  And I can feel every single, long-ignored muscle in my body.

And as I sat reflecting on this new journey and the long road before me…my She Reads Truth devotional reminded me that…

Every great and powerful move of God…comes down to a section like [Nehemiah 3: 1-32].  The people have to get up, stop talking and vision casting, and starting putting beams down…And it isn’t always beautiful or glamorous or filled with spiritual fervor and fluffy feelings, but it is so very, very good and necessary to getting the wall built.

I am certainly NOT rebuilding a wall to protect Jerusalem, but I am putting one foot in front of the other toward God’s call upon my life – doing the work. Working to shed the self that’s not me, as He’s shown me this is my paragraph in His greater story  – for now.

What work is He asking you to do?  Is it work to prepare for His work? Are you to build a portion of a wall that will contribute to a larger project you can’t even see?  Is He asking you to grow and prepare for something, but you have no idea what?

Follow Him.

If He’s saying move, move.  If He’s saying go, go.  If He’s saying prepare, prepare.


A friend encouraged me to share this journey on my blog; I fear pride will keep me from it most of the time.  But, we discussed how most share their weight loss stories AFTER it’s all said and done, not while in process.  I hope to share the process… I think… although it makes me nervous having so much accountability floating around;)

Thanks Nicole Barton, Allison Burner, Christy Owen, Jen Wright, Candice Grose, Janet Hines, Lori Connell, Krysten Case, Marla Taviano, and Hannah Farish for believing in this WAY out of shape gal.  As Nicole said to me…I can’t wait to see where you are this time next year.

Me either.