Thursday, May 7, 2015


I have been praying the Alcoholics Anonymous prayer, also known as the Serenity prayer.

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.  The courage to change the things I can.  And the wisdom to know the difference."

I have read that prayer dozens of time - thought it was a beautiful sentiment and moved on.  That prayer isn't for me. There's nothing that cannot be changed.  Identify the problem.  Develop a plan of action.  Execute. Problem Solved.  Move on to next problem.  Change occurs every day if you work hard enough, follow the chain of command, and model the solution.

It seems lately I keep running into situations where there is a brick wall.  The walls won't move. It ticks me off.  I push a little harder.  I look around and ask am I the only one seeing this wall?  I look at the wall from different angles and think of how it can be taken down brick by brick.  The wall has got to go.

It stays. The prayer takes on a different meaning for me.  I don't doubt that change will come. I am just now learning to accept that I won't be the one to drive the wrecking ball through the wall. We're giving the MAP test at my school.  I remember listening to my first principal talk to me about MAP scores 16 years ago when I asked him if I could teach reading in guided reading groups.  He asked me if I thought it would help MAP scores.  I remember thinking in my head I really don't care.  I did not become a teacher to help students pass a test.  I became a teacher because I love to read and I know teachers can change lives.  I've written my Congress members, commented on Facebook posts trying to educate the public, voted for like-minded politicians, started following DESE on Twitter (so far they haven't given me one gold star), but the conversation still comes down to one test.  I want to beat this wall senseless.

I see the walls, and  I am asking God about it.  Are you wanting me to shut up, climb over it, or just bust it down?  Please don't make me live with it.  1 John 3:20 tells us "that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything."  He knows why those walls are there even when I don't, and this is where serenity is needed most:  the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled. Serenity when I feel the complete opposite.  I love the thought though that He knows when the wrecking ball will deliver its fatal blow.  So I am tacking on a little something to the serenity prayer.  Please let me live long enough to see change come. Amen!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Could Have Been

I could have been a mother of teenager today.  Truthfully, I cannot wrap my mind around that.  

At that 18 week ultrasound, when our dreams were completely crushed, we were offered an abortion.  You could say faith or naivety prompted our refusal. To this day, those six months of our lives were the hardest days of our 41 years.  Yet, our answer would be the same.  

If things had gone differently, we could have been parents to 4 or 6 children like we planned on a Harding swing.  Now that I think about it, my life is full of could have beens. 

Maybe yours is too. Could have been are three little words that create a big trap.  We all have roads not taken either by choice or circumstance. Regret creates a jail without escape. If you are sitting in one of those cells right now, you will find this hard to believe. I am grateful for all my could have beens that weren't.  

You may not be there yet, but your could have beens are bringing you something better.  That's almost harsh to someone who is hurting, I know. The could have been seems like the only thing you want and the only thing that will stop the pain.  And here it comes - BUT, your tears will be dried and your heart will be put back together.  You will see your could have been mirrored in someone else's life, and it won't stab you with jealousy.  One day, your heart will hold so much joy that you marvel at its capacity to regenerate.  Your blessings are being multiplied by your could have beens.   

Lauran is my greatest could have been, and I know my today is better because she was.  

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I couldn't tell you who I am more alike - my mom or my dad.  I like to think that I am the best of both of them.  My dad turns 66 today.  Since he has far outlived his own predictions of life expectancy, I dare not wait to share this.  
My walk of faith wouldn't be the same without my dad.  If you don't have a faith or participate in church, your view of those who do so may be skewed towards a popular opinion that all Christians pretend to be perfect.  One of the things I love most about my dad is that he has never hid his mistakes. He'll be the first to tell you that he has made some big ones. He would also be the first to tell you that we serve an AMAZING GOD who forgives over and over. By allowing me to see him fall, dust himself off, and start over reminds me to do the same and to let go of the idea that in order to love God, we must be perfect.   It's really in our mistakes that God reveals His perfection.

I am passionate about two things (besides family) - God and teaching.  I like to think that I have been given the gift of vision (some might say arrogance) to see what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, and who needs do it.  I have to say right now that I am grateful for my family and friends who love me even when I get fired up and share such visions.  They're not always popular if you can imagine it.  Both my mom and dad are wonderful listeners, and they both have their own response style to those visions.  My dad responds in one of two ways: "Keep speaking up until someone listens.  You are fighting the good fight."  or "Does this really matter?  Is it going to change your walk or Tony's or Parker's or Macy's or someone else's?  Do your students need you to fight this battle?  If you can't say yes, walk away. It's not your fight."  Either response gives me courage.

My dad dreams bigger dreams for me than I dream for myself.  Throughout my whole life, both my mom and dad have told me over and over that I can do it. Now as an adult and a parent, I have a deeper appreciation of those words. There a plenty of people who delight in other's failures.  Joy robbers are everywhere. It's rare to hear an adult tell another adult - "You can do this. It's in your reach."  But at 40 years old, both my parents still tell me that I can do it whatever it may be.  My dad will randomly call me and say "Jenny, I think you should ______________. You have a gift." In full disclosure, I roll my eyes and say "Sure, dad.  I've got time for that."   But it is nice to know that someone is dreaming for me.  Then I turn to God and think how narrow my view of what I can do is compared to what God can do through me, and I have to wonder if maybe my dad is right after all.  I CAN do it.

Dad's end of life and funeral talk has become a running joke in our family.  Dad has always been aware that his dad died so very young and heart problems run in his family history.  Obviously, he has outlived his predictions.  Even in this, I see God.  No matter how old we get, God is always at work in us to help us produce good works.  

May you continue to produce good work, Dad! I love you!