Micah 6:6-8

"But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, what GOD is looking for in men and women. It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don't take yourself too seriously-take God seriously."







Friday, August 25, 2017

Micah is 8

Dear Micah Mac,

Right now we are watching American Ninja Warrior on the evening of your eighth birthday. This is still your favorite show. This year, you purchased a Jr. Fitbit with your own money. You love to "work out" and make up obstacles all over our house. You bounce around the yard, climbing up and over anything you are allowed to, and a few things you aren't supposed to. You love watching all the stories of each Ninja warrior and can tell us everyone's name and most of their backgrounds.

You have many loves. You love anything sports related, but especially enjoy basketball. Those math abilities shine through as you can recall many stats and figures to us while watching a sport. You love to listen to broadcasters and sports analyst. I have a feeling, that would make a great job for you someday. You really wanted to see Stephen Curry play. He is your favorite player on your favorite team. We realized they were playing the Orlando Magic at home, so for Christmas this year, you got tickets. I have never seen a little person as excited as you were on Christmas Day and on the day of the game. Mommy and you went together and had so much fun. You watched Stephen warm up, took in the atmosphere of the game, and met a new friend who sat beside you and cheered for Stephen right along with you. It felt much more like a Golden State Warrior home game, which you also found really funny. You played Upward Basketball again last year. You really enjoyed your team and had a great time playing. You are asking for a more "competitive" program now, so we keep researching basketball programs in our area. You have decided to play soccer this fall, which your sister is so excited about. It will be fun to see you play out there as well.

You love our dogs. We were very sad earlier this year at the death of Lexi. She was 17 when she died. That sensitive spirit of yours was very sad. Lexi always loved Natalie and you. She had been a part of your life, for your entire life. Losing her was an adjustment for all of us. Not long after she died, we noticed how lonely Ninja was. So, we all went to a local shelter and gave Gracie her forever home. Gracie fit in right away with our family, but she especially likes you. She is very protective of you and absolutely loves when you toss her a ball or a duck toy.

You love school. You had a great 2nd grade year last year. Your loved your teacher, Ms. Reed. You couldn't wait to go to the Math Competition again in May. Nanny and Poppy arranged their schedules and got to see you compete, which was so fun! Yet again, you won the competition for your entire grade level in all of Duval County. Daddy and I both were simply amazed. Math is something you naturally understand and I think that will always seem incredible to me. As much as you love math, you would rather not participate in subjects related to language arts. We see easy tears when you are told write or read. You are capable of doing both well, but it is just not your thing. KK is really praying that you start to love books and she has made a valiant effort to find several topics to get you interested. So far, sports books or the "I Survived" series manage to engage your mind.

You love to be on the move. (Which may be why reading is not your favorite). You love playgrounds, the Wii, our backyard, our furniture, or the small basketball hoop hanging from your bed. You are currently begging for a rock wall in your room. There are days that fitbit has 15,000 steps. I'm often ready to drop after just a half an hour of playing with you.

You also love Mr. Brian, Ms. Monica, Ms. Laura, and Mr. Scott. They are people who speak differently into your life, but who Daddy and I trust so much because they love God and love you. You can't wait to go to Scott and Laura's house anytime you can. This year, Mr. Brian took you to a shooting range and took you on an ATV. You had a blast and came home exhausted, but talking non stop about the adventure.

You love your grandparents and the mountains. This summer, Natalie and you spent three weeks between KK and Poppy's and Nanny and Padre's house. You went fishing, rock climbing, putt putting, and made countless desserts. Poppy and you had a "boys day" and you all ate beef jerky and shot a BB gun. I think that was a day you will remember forever. By the end of the three weeks, I think you were slightly homesick. However, after just a few days back at home, I believe you would have left us for North Carolina or West Virginia if you thought you could.

You love people. You love to play hard. Yet, you also are perfectly fine with a day at home, "to be in my pajamas all day long". Those are my favorite days too, because they just don't happen very often.

Tonight, you varied it all up for us. I can't think of one birthday that you didn't request to eat at Moe's. This birthday dinner you chose Mama Fu's. Change big or not at all~that seems to be how you live. All in or not happening. Awake or sound asleep. Full or starving to death. Perfectly fine or hurt at a level ten with screams that someone has removed one of your appendages. I think that when God was giving out the middle of the road, medium, fine things, you just skipped that line entirely. It's one of your qualities that I find most endearing. You are just always 110%. That single thing, will likely make you change the world for good.

You love God. You get anxious and pray every night, "to not have that nervous feeling". I love that you ask God for peace and I love watching God answer that prayer. You pray constantly for others to be safe and well. You are sensitive to needs for people and often see those needs before I do. I pray you keep that about you.

My prayer for you is that you continue to trust God. You allow Him to mold and shape you into who He has created you to be. I look at your big, never stopping, math, sports, kind, loving, heart and I think, this is the stuff that world changers are made of. I cannot believe you are eight. As much as I would love to stop time and soak you up for a while, I also cannot wait to see what God does in your lifetime, starting with tomorrow.

I sure do love you, forever, for always, no matter what!

Mommy

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Natalie is 11

Natalie’s 11th birthday.

Every year since I’ve been writing these, I can’t believe it is time to write another one. This one is no exception. You are 11, and with great resolve, I am determined not to cry about that.

You have had such an amazing year! For all the hard and difficult we experienced in 4th grade, 5th grade was wonderful. You had teachers who loved your friends and you dearly. You finished 5th grade in the top 5% of all 5th graders in Duval County. We are so proud of you and this accomplishment. You were chosen to be a School Patrol. I smiled at you all almost every morning as you helped raise the flag. You loved working the 1st grade hallway. Several teachers made it a point to tell me how good you are with younger children. You took them stickers and tried to take care of them. You worked hard to learn about all your subjects, but your teachers also prepared you for middle school. You told us often, “In middle school, I’m going to have to do this, so they said to start doing it this way now”. You are so very excited and ready for middle school, and with great resolve, I am determined not to cry about that.

Soccer remains your favorite thing to do. Last year, you made the “B” team. To be honest, it was exactly what you needed. You had an amazing coach and the most wonderful teammates. Coach Brent absolutely knew how to Coach the best out of you. He knew when to push you and when to give you a minute. Your teammates were so sweet and so competitive. All of you were constantly cheering for each other and encouraging each other forward. With all the good from this year, you still had one goal. You wanted to make “the top team”. To date, Daddy and I have not ever seen you work so hard for something. You juggled that soccer ball constantly. You got a small ball for the house and kick it through our legs yelling, “Meg”! You watched YouTube videos about soccer. You recorded soccer games. You reviewed skills. You ran. You dribbled. You read soccer books. Soccer. Soccer. Soccer. Tryouts came and I asked if you were nervous. Your reply was, “No. Because Coach Brent prepared us for it”. You prayed and went out there. You made the “A” team! Yet, after making that team, the one thing you had worked so hard for, I watched you be excited with tears streaming down your face as you realized you would be playing with a different group of girls. You are so grateful you all can practice together. I am confident you will love this new team as well. Your big goal? To play in the World Cup. Why have small dreams? You always dream big. With great resolve, I am determined to be your biggest fan.

You still love all creative things. You love to sing and to draw. One of your art pieces was selected to be on display at the Main Library in Jacksonville. It was beautiful. You loved that a lot of church friends stopped by to see your work. We are so blessed by their love and support for you. You love to read. If you don’t have a soccer ball at your feet, chances are you have a pen or a book in your hand. On several occasions, you have been caught with a ball at your feet, while reading a book. It’s just you. You are blessed with a lot of creative talent, and with great resolve, I am determined to encourage that gift in you as much as we encourage soccer.

You also had many new things this year. You are now wearing contacts. Thanks to Aunt Sarah, you can put them in and take them out like a pro. You have your own cell phone. You have a lot of rules that came with it, but so far, you have been very respectful of the rules. You have paid more attention to politics this year, mostly because of the election. You were somehow aware of kids in your class and in our church that had shared with you that they were not here legally. You cried for them as you wondered if they would be allowed to remain in the country. That was such a humbling night to be your mom. I wanted to assure you that your friends would be fine, but I wasn’t sure. We talked about democracy and balance of power, but really, all we could both do is pray. Another new for you, is you left town without us to go on the Washington DC patrol trip. I sure was nervous. You had an amazing trip and learned so much about our history and government. You took fantastic pictures and texted us constantly. You are becoming more and more independent. I am determined to continue to push you towards independence. After all, that is the goal. With great resolve, I am trying really hard not to cry about that.

Your personality is much the same and yet changing. You are incredibly confident most days. You are kind. You are a fierce defender of justice and will speak up if you feel someone is not being treated fairly. You are becoming more sarcastic, I have no idea who you are learning this from. In large group situations, I am finding you spending more time with the adults and wanting to listen to their conversations. Your world is expanding and you are constantly questioning and thinking through difficult topics.

You love God and pray every night. You often pray for friends or situations that you are aware of. You discuss God’s love with others. I hope you are always willing to do that.

My prayer for you, on this 11th birthday is: To continue to grow in confidence and knowledge of who God has created you to be. To know God and His deep, unconditional love for you. To seek His will over your life, every step, every day. To know Jesus as your Savior. And to know that your Daddy and I love you so much. I pray for Micah and you to grow to be close friends, who can always count on each other.

Keep soccering, learning, working, reading, drawing, singing, questioning, advocating, and loving my middle school girl. I will not waste time being sad about the days that are behind us. I do not need great resolve to love you, that is the easy part. It is with great resolve that I will continue to hand you to God each day for Him to direct your path. I am so excited to see where He takes you.

Forever, for always, no matter what.

Mom





Thursday, January 26, 2017

If

If you marched this weekend, but don't know anyone who didn't,

If you didn't march, and don't know anyone who did,

If you voted for Hillary and don't know anyone who voted for Trump,

If you voted for Trump and don't know anyone who voted for Hillary,

If you are against abortion and have never talked with someone who had one,

If you are pro-choice and have never spoken with someone who isn't,

If you want to force all the illegal immigrants out of America, but you have never looked one of those people in the eye,

If you think America should open it's doors wide, but haven't spoken to a victim of terror,

If you have no idea what started the conflict in Syria,

If you have never considered how it must feel to be a refugee,

If you are a strong supporter of marriage equality and haven't talked with someone who disagrees with you,

If you believe there should only be heterosexual relationships, but have no friends who are homosexuals,

If you are Muslim, or Christian, or Jewish, or an Atheist, or any other belief or non belief, but have no meaningful conversations with a person of a differing view,

If you don't like judgmental Christians, but realize you don't actually know a believer,

If you think only Christians know the way and you have spoken to no one who challenges that,

If you only read articles from The Huffington Post,

If you only watch Fox News,

If your only source of news is friends on your Facebook feed,

Then I must simply tell you this:

You are the problem.

Not the government, not the church, not religions, not extremist, not liberals, not conservatives.

It's you.

And some days it's me.

When we take a side and cling to it so tightly that we don't engage in conversations with people on the other side, we become the extremist.

When we can't even think of one friend who would sit at the table with us and eat dinner, even though we disagree, we become the terrorist.

When we make grand statements, without so much as a thought as to how it feels to someone else, we become the clanging cymbal that no one hears.

If you will allow me to speak about Jesus; He shattered all preexisting stereotypes. He was so radical because He went to the table, He found the people in the margins, He included the world, and He spoke to people on the other side.

We are given the beautiful story of the woman caught in adultery being drug to Jesus, we know all of those who brought her left. Why? Because Jesus asked them to throw that rock, if they have never sinned. One by one they left. Don't forget the next part. When Jesus did correct her, no one else was around to hear it. Jesus loved her too much to leave her as she was. He called her out, to a better life, to a life filled with Him. He did so, after all her accusers left.

So no matter what side of any debate you are on, just know that if you are the one dragging people around in the dirt, you won't get to see any outcomes.

If you love those on the other side of any debate, it is a win for everyone. Do you know what Jesus saw when He sat down at Zaccheaus' table? He saw a person. A person who He valued because He valued lives. All lives.

Get to the table. Get to someone on the other side. Have coffee. Hear their stories. Allow both of you to be challenged.

Here is what I have been challenged with lately. And here is my question for all of us.

What belief do I currently have that I am wrong about?

No one can be right about everything.

Therefore, I currently believe something that is wrong.

What is it?

"If we agree on everything, one of us is unnecessary" (I don't know where this quote is from, but it's a favorite in our marriage).

If we all think much harder about the ways in which we could be wrong, instead of clinging to all the ways in which we believe we are right, it could be the game changer.

No matter which side of all the many debates you have found yourself a part of; rest assured that each of us are wrong somewhere.

How blessed are we? How can we possibly bless others?

What change starts inside of you today?


~If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (I Corinthians 13
)

Use your voice. Don't be an echo...

Just Love.



















Thursday, October 27, 2016

"God Bless America, and no place else" ~Head of State

I have two kids. I love them both so very much. Although they have drastically different talents and interests, I strive to invest in both of their lives in meaningful ways. I dare say that if I had a favorite, if I only loved one of them, it would be considered abuse.

I have known for a while now that American Christianity looks different from the rest of the world's. This election has magnified those differences to amazing scales. I've read blogs that suggest Jesus is for a platform or an agenda. I've heard Jesus reduced to a small political judge, holding a Supreme Court Gavel. And just today, oh today, I read something that suggested it is not enough that God will still sit on His throne after the election. Seriously? Is there anything more threatening than God no longer being God? Clinton is that scary? Trump is that bad? Can we please reframe?

I'm going to say something. It's HUGE. It's shattering. It's way crazier than classified email and bus conversations. It's very radical and might alter the world.

God. He actually loves the world. To say that He cares about American politics makes about as much sense as believing that I'm concerned about who is the ringleader at the local circus. I mean, I guess I care, but I'm a little more focused on other tasks at the moment.

We are all God's children. The Iraqi muslim? God's kid. The Syrian refugee? God's child. The Afghani woman? Still His. The homeless in Haiti? Also His. You? Yep. Me? Thank the Lord, yes.

God doesn't just love America. Therefore, I have to believe He is also invested in those Mexicans we are trying to keep out. I honestly read something today that said, "God is looking for heroes to rise up and-by His power-intervene to save America". I'm sorry Mario Murillo. God isn't looking for a hero. God always has been the hero. He always will be the Hero. David and Goliath? God's the hero. Daniel and the lions, still God. Elijah and the prophets of Baal? Pretty sure, God started that fire.

God isn't trying to save America. He wants to save the world. If America has to crumble for the world to know Him, then America doesn't stand a chance. Nor should it. The political stance of the Pharisees looking for a leader to overthrow the government didn't work out well for them. It will not end well for us either.

One of my favorite authors challenged me deeply with a truth I will never forget. When we are tempted to claim God's promises for our lives, it needs to pass a simple test. "Here it is, If it isn't also true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn't true. If a sermon promises health and wealth to the faithful, it isn't true, because that makes God an absolute monster who only blesses rich westerners and despises Christians in Africa, India, China, South America, Russia, rural Appalachia, inner-city America, and everywhere else a sincere believer remains poor. If it isn't also true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn't true". ~Jen Hatmaker

There is only one God. The American president isn't Him, won't be Him, and doesn't represent Him. Maybe God is deeply focused on the needs of this poor mom in Haiti and His concern is not about my need. Since, I'm typing this on a computer from the comfort of my living room, maybe God's concern is my lack of concern for the poor?

Want another crazy idea? God loves Hillary and He loves Donald. He loves them the same amount that He loves Obama and Putin. Since He doesn't play favorites, He loves you exactly that much as well. He loves me too. Wrap your mind around that.

I've looked and looked and looked again. It definitely says, "For God so loves the world". Maybe if we took our eyes off the circus and beyond our borders, we could work with a Hero. We might just realize we are all His favorites.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

How Trump made me realize I'm a racist.

I never considered myself a racist. I believe I treat people equally. I have friends of all races and backgrounds. I've taught my children that people are people who deserve to be treated as, people.

Yet, I've had this restlessness recently. A feeling that something is missing. That I'm working a puzzle I didn't even realize was in front of me. I couldn't figure out what the picture was and I certainly wasn't sure how many pieces I had to work with.

Several years ago, I sat with a group of friends in a small Italian restaurant. A male in our group was making derogatory statements. Some would say I am a strong female that can easily defend myself. I sat beside a woman who I considered stronger and more articulate than me. She and I confronted this man about his comments. He continued to escalate. Eventually, he was yelling and others were staring. She and I weren't backing down either.

I got in my car feeling defeated, belittled, and confused. I was not the least bit shocked by this man's comments. He has proven to me over and over again that he does not hold women in high esteem. He didn't really rattle me. What I was genuinely shocked by was the other men in our group. Strong men. Christian men. Good men. Who sat with us and said nothing. Absolutely nothing. When I spoke with one of them later, I asked why. He seemed surprised at my question. He said that he knew my friend and I were strong and weren't going to allow him to bully us. He thought we "handled" the situation well. He said he knew how independent we are and didn't think we needed defending. As we talked, I was able to communicate to him that his lack of participation did not communicate my strength. It communicated a message to the man that the other men in our group thought he was right. We learned a little more about communication that day.

Flash forward to years later. I witnessed a conversation between two men. So derogatory. So inflammatory. So embarrassing. It wasn't about me, but it was about my gender. Again, these were two people who I naively thought would be a defender of women. As I confronted them, I was shocked. They too considered this "just talk". Their perceived inability to understand how hurtful their words were made no sense to me.

Now we have Trump. Trump and his "locker room" conversation. For the record, he didn't just say "mean" things. He said he assaulted women. He said he grabs them. He doesn't wait, he just starts kissing them. He said he can do anything. I find myself yet again, not shocked that he said this. I often remember the quote from Maya Angelou, "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time". Trump has demonstrated over and over that he has little use for any person that does not offer direct benefit to him. What I am surprised by, are all the men sitting at the table. Saying nothing. I don't just expect Christian men to come to our defense, where are all the good guys? Just regular good men? Why is it so silent? I recognize that some evangelical leaders are citing "years ago" and "he asked for forgiveness". In other words, "We have a platform to push and agendas to manage so lets just call him saved and move on from this". There is a constant call to remember that the next President will elect the Supreme court justices and we cannot allow Hilary to do this. I agree, I don't want her picking them either. Can we just at least acknowledged that Trump has not shown any wisdom, discernment, or ability to make a smart choice. People say pro life. Do you not know that Trump used to be pro choice? Are we so convinced that he is really pro life now? Could he just be saying that to buy the Christian vote? Have we even considered this? His life does not reflect value to an entire gender. What if he made that girl he grabbed and took pregnant? Do we really think he would suddenly treat her decently? Would he still be pro life?

Silence.

I'm not asking for people to support Clinton. I get it, I'm not a fan. For the love of our Heavenly Father, stop defending this man. Your defense says he is right. Your defense says it's ok.

Then, my own personal epiphany. As a white female, I haven't really understood the black lives matter movement. I haven't felt the need to be involved, because, as I said, I didn't think I was a racist. Now, with Trump's help, with the help of silent good men, I think I'm getting it. Since I haven't said anything, since I didn't rush to defend our African American friends, because I was silent, I gave the perception that it was ok. I am deeply sorry.

Moving forward, I will speak up when it is wrong. If I see someone in the store simply being mean because of race, I will ask them to stop. If I see an injustice, I will stand with you and call it that. I will admit there is a problem and I will work towards solutions.

I've learned that simply having black friends and loving all people in my personal life is not enough.

If I have a seat at the table, I will defend you and speak up when needed.

Jesus met this woman at a well. This Samaritan woman. This woman who lived an immoral life. A woman who was living with a man who wasn't her husband. He spoke to her. He offered her living water. When the disciples saw him talking to her, "they were amazed that He had been speaking with the woman, yet no one said 'What do you seek?' or 'Why do you speak with her?'" From this woman, who ran and told the city, many people were saved.

Let me take some liberty here and imagine the scene today. A Muslim Syrian female refugee now lives here. She can't gain legal status because all of her personal information is in Syria. She's at the store, at night, trying not to draw attention to herself. She is shunned and ignored because of the "garb" on her head. She turns the corner and is face to face with Jesus. He buys her groceries, he offers her His salvation. He offers love and permission to live in His kingdom. No one dares question Him about speaking to her.

If we are going to leave those around us silent, let it be because we are about His kingdom work. Let it be because we are including those that have been excluded. Let it be because we are radically different.

Let it be because we forever have a Heavenly table in our mind and a loving Savior by our side.

I'm still missing pieces to the puzzle. I think the picture is forming. It's a picture of me. I'm running from this well towards town. Jesus isn't behind me though. He's with me, holding my hand, pulling me forward. And, in my picture, neither of us are silent.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Natalie is 10

Dear Natalie,

So, here's the deal. A decade. Ten years. For real this year, I don't know how you are this old. Ok, I'm sure I'll say that every year forward, but for today, let me disbelieve ten.

You love to be dainty and feisty. When I look at you, I can't help but notice how mature you look over the last few months. You've had to learn a lot about maturity this year. (You can reference my mean teacher letter if you want). You've played in a different soccer league that was much more competitive than ever before. You learned how to lose a lot, especially last fall. You worked hard and your team played well in the spring. Tryouts came and you made second team for next year. You handled that with a good attitude. You were frustrated, but acknowledged that you are going to have work harder as you get older. You still love soccer with every fiber of your being. I still catch your biggest smiles on that field. You are as competitive as ever. I just love to watch you play.

Dainty and feisty. You love all things girly and all things sports. You love to dress up on the first day of school, with curly hair, followed by shorts, a T-Shirt, and a pony tail on the second day. "Keep them guessing", you said, when you discussed this with me. You are so into American Girl Dolls. You dress them up and fix their hair. Even they have soccer outfits and cleats though. You wanted a pink/purple room, super pretty. You were looking for just the right picture when we went to Hobby Lobby. You said it needed to have "some picture about girly girls being tough, or warrior, or smart or something like that, mom". I told you that was a really specific order that I wasn't confident existed. We walked away with a purple and pink picture that says, "She is the perfect combination of princess and warrior". You were beaming with excitement!

Dainty and Feisty. You love TV shows like Girl meets World and American Ninja Warrior. You read Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, American Girl, and How To Play Soccer. You've now added being the "first female to win Ninja Warrior" to your list of future accomplishments. Along with the standard, play in the World Cup, and be President of the USA. You've always dreamed so big. I love that about you too.

Dainty: You love to do nails, fix hair, and be dressy. You love to sing and make crafts. You are constantly on Pinterest learning how to make various things for your dolls. You have made clothes out of socks, IPhones, notepads, pencils, and so much more. You love to buy jewelry.

Feisty: You fix those nails, put on that dress, tell me you feel like a princess, then show me your muscles and tell me you can still run fast in a dress. You're witty, clever, and super sarcastic. (Honestly I have no idea where that comes from). You are tough. You get dirty, get knocked down, and jump back up ready to play harder. You've yet to meet a physical challenge you aren't convinced you can conquer. Climbing a wall, swinging higher, body boarding, water skiing, pull ups, handstands, the list is endless. You love to move.

Dainty and feisty. You are quiet when you first meet people. Most people assume you to be shy. I think you are selective and observant. Once you are comfortable, we usually can't get you to stop talking. Your teachers have consistently discussed this every year. And, every year, I try to warn them, but that daintiness of yours is quiet convincing. Until PE, that is.

Dainty and Feisty. You love to sing, draw, and write. You have written a few songs this year. As you have gotten older, you tend to tell us fewer details about your own thoughts. Listening to your songs is a great way for me to glimpse what you are thinking. My favorite is one that you wrote and asked Daddy to do the music. It's really good. It starts off soft until, you pick up the tempo as you sing at the top of your lungs, "Get up! Get up! Show the world who's in it!"

Dainty and Feisty. You made the biggest, eternal decision you could make this year. We went to a Princess Warrior night with Ms. Sabrina and Emma. Ms. Sabrina found out about it and we decided it was something Emma and you would love. We all had a great time. In the middle of the Gospel presentation there, it seemed to click for you. You asked Jesus to be your Savior. I will never be able to explain the gift it was to me, to get to listen to you pray that prayer. I pray daily that you continue to walk with Him, every minute. He really does have a plan for you.

I think God gives us natural personality traits that flow into His gifts for us to use. Once you accepted Jesus, I think Princess and Warrior replaced dainty and feisty. You love being His Warrior Princess. Totally fits you right now. It likely will forever. Your lyrics lead me to my wish for you. I pray that you do show the world who is in you. I pray you show them the kind, tenderhearted, competitive, quizzical, beautiful, clumsy, observant, girl who loves God and them with a heart that is crazy big. I pray that you follow God. I hope that you don't simply seek Him on hard days, but on all the days. That you believe what His word says, knowing, that God has your best interest in His heart always. Even when it doesn't make sense. Even when it's hard. He is good and He is worthy of your trust.

It's been a year. It's been good and bad all wrapped in your nine year old self. It's amazing to see how such a tiny baby can change into a stunning ten year old. But here you are, proof that time changes us all.

I love you. I am so proud of you. I anticipate with much excitement, all that this year has for us.

Keep being you Princess Warrior, my Natalie Grace. You are exactly who you are supposed to be.

Forever, for always, no matter what.

Mom

PS. Your brother was reading old blogs and says you aren't nice to him anymore. And, he would really like to be allowed in your room.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

To "that" teacher



Full disclaimer. My kids have had some AMAZING teachers. In fact, we have been blessed with people who have loved them and genuinley wanted to teach them. We have done our best to support teachers and help when we could. We love teachers and are so grateful they still want to teach little lives in this crazy educational system.

With this disclaimer over, I have to acknowledge how difficult this year has been.

To our first mean teacher,

Wow! Are you as glad as I am that this year is completed? Every interaction I have experienced with you, resulted in me being keenly aware that you do not like children. In fact, you appeared to be annoyed by their presence. I watched you roll your eyes at them as they walked in the room. I watched you hide around the corner and purposely not step into the classroom during the parent meeting regarding the state testing. I definitely noticed how my little girl talked about how loud you can yell.

Anyways, I know I'm more than happy this year is done. You did teach her a few things though. This year, we learned how to work with difficult people. We learned that some people are not happy. We learned their happiness is not dependent on our behavior. We learned that some people, can never be pleased by us because something inside of them is sad.

We learned that it is not okay to stop trying because someone else does not care. You remember when she didn't turn in homework? Well, she stopped turning it in because she realized you weren't really looking at it. She said you never even bothered to explain where to place it. Did she give it to you? Did she put in the box on your desk? Were you going to walk around and collect it? You did all those methods, which she found confusing. And, with the yelling, she was afraid to ask. Remember when we met about this? You rolled your eyes at me too. Fortunately, for us both, I have the ability to regulate my emotions and calmly asked you how she is supposed to turn it in to you. You acknowledged your lack of routine. It was the other, really good teacher in the room, who suggested you remedy that. I knew then, we were in for a long year. It was September.

We learned that even when other people don't care, we do our best anyway. We learned that when teachers change grades, we can demand to see papers. We learned that some teachers do not allow straight 'A's no matter how hard someone works. We learned to work hard anyway. Knowing my girl scored second highest in the entire class on the state pretest tells me she has a great grasp of content she needs to know. Seeing that you marked through and changed numerical grades on the papers we asked to review, made me believe, she was right all along. You didn't really grade papers.

We learned that when an adult shows you things you know you shouldn't read, like emails between our parents and teachers, we need to tell our parents. We learned passive aggressive at nine isn't pretty. We learned this girl has more of her mom in her than we knew. We learned it isn't appropriate to be direspectful to adults, even when we are right. We learned to stand up respectfully. We also learned that parent's are the best advocates we have. We learned that a lot can be solved through communication.

We learned it is more than okay to ask for clarification. We learned to request expectations so we know what we are striving for. We learned that teachers have to follow rules too. We learned to ask for help; from past teachers, from other students, from administration, from God, and from somewhere inside of us.

We learned that some situations, you just have to take one day at time. Some things we cannot solve, but we can learn from.

So, mean one, I can't say at the end of the year that you didn't teach her or us anything.

I wish you would be the last mean, unrealistic, person she will deal with in her life. I know that can't be. So, thank you, for teaching her to dig deep, work hard, do well anyway, and to remember her identity is not yours to define. Those are lessons we all need to know.

Too bad there isn't a column for that on her report card.

Have a great summer. Maybe look for another line of work? May I suggest you go write for Pearson? You won't have to see a kid again, yet you can hold them to totally unrealistic expectations. That seems like it would be a good fit for you.