The problem with Integrity…

It probably all started with some 90’s PSA while I waited to find out if Zach Morris would marry Kelly Kapowski….Integrity.  When I was a kid My Mom would piece apart so many situations with me and we would talk about it from every angle.  Understanding right from wrong has always been pretty easy for me.  I love to live in the gray, but when it comes to doing the right thing I have been a black/white thinker.  The truth always seems to play a role in these decisions….not the version of the truth that is easy to accept, but the actual truth. I feel like I have had no problem fighting for it.  It was easy to fight because I believed that we lived in this imperfect suppressed society of people that also wanted justice and for goodness to win, but for whatever reason could not muster up the strength to rise above the bureaucracy. I felt like integrity is where we could all find solid ground after the long dark day.  We all wanted what was best…our perspectives just may have made that look different. Believers. Nonbelievers. Politicians. Teachers. Parents. Elderly. Young. We are all imperfect and full of mistakes, but we all at least were trying to do what was right….right?  right?!? ummmmm….

in·teg·ri·ty
noun  the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
I teach Kindergarten and I sum it up as: Doing the right thing even when nobody tells you to or when nobody is looking.  They seem to get the idea. I used to really get the idea, but now I am beginning to see some big flaws with this easy concept.
I walk past a piece of trash.  The trash doesn’t belong to me.  I can make the choice to pick it up anyway for the greater good.  Forgive the person who threw the trash down and continue to walk or I can get involved…lean over (adjust my mom jeans) and pick up the gooey, yucky, nasty trash…walk to the trashcan and clean it up without resentment or without expecting repetition.  
I have always been compelled to do what I know is best, so for me picking up the trash was easy.  Anybody would do it right?!   It was the very least that I could do. 
As I enter my mid 30’s and sit on top of a difficult year…on top of a difficult year …on top of a year that I just thought was difficult.  I am starting to understand exactly what the problem with having integrity is.  It isn’t popular.  It isn’t convenient.  It isn’t easy….. It is usually misunderstood.
When did the shift happen?  Did it happen generations ago and I am just wise enough to see it now?  Did it start with Adam and Eve? Did it start after Nixon lied? September 11th? Or, did our culture just recently take a nose dive and I am sitting front row with everyone else? Is this just my millennial moment when I realize that everyone has a freaking horrible life…it’s not just me who had a bad day because my straightner quit working?!
I feel like it may be easier to create an alternate universe where we create a version of the situation and then respond to the environment around us rather than to truly respond to what is right and just.  Instead of truly owning the imperfection of the situation and correcting it.  I think it happens so often to all of us that we may not even realize it.  The trash probably has germs on it.  It is better for my health and my children if I don’t touch something that could harm us.  Perhaps, this is true.  Perhaps, I am still too naive to understand how important walking away is.
So, I guess the real problem with integrity is that it’s actually more about what you do when everyone is watching, because the fish are mostly swimming in the opposite direction  and it would be a lot easier to just give in and join them.  It isn’t easy to stay in a Pollyanna state of mind especially after life keeps spitting on you.  We need the younger generation to carry us because the older I get the weaker I get.  The more gray it all begins to look and frankly I am in more of a position to create change, but I don’t have the naive confidence that I once did, because even though deep down I know that it is the right thing to do I question myself…others question…it isn’t easy at all; in fact I feel down right exhausted.  I feel older. I have wrinkles and dark circles.  There seem to be a lot of good reasons to not do what I know is right.  There seems to be a majority that goes along with what they know is wrong, because it is easier to stomach.
I feel like I am constantly caught in a string of thinking that contradicts itself…. Not only am I conflicted, but now I have this enormous choice; I can instill integrity into my children resulting in a life that will leave them feeling lonely.  Or, I can give them a life of ease as I teach them to follow culture.  I can even stay a “christian” through this as I turn my head and just pretend like prayer alone without works will compel them to do the right thing…after all I am only human and this is hard.  I have been wrong before…what if I’m wrong now.  Maybe I am being too dramatic.  After all, it is just a piece of trash….  A small piece of truth here and there.  It will get cleaned up, right? It is way too inconvenient for anybody else to be worried with it….why should I be? Even worse….what if the person that is throwing the trash down gets their feelings hurt?  Can I really go against their beliefs?! They did put it there for a reason…didn’t they?
I just can’t walk away from it….one lie turns into another and before we know it we are living in a world filled with trash and lies…I have to put in the work.  I have to deal with it.  I have to leave a legacy that rest on trying my best and trying to do what is honest.  The problem is there is a lot of judgement when you decide to pick up trash for a living.
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The further that I divefall….stumble in …seek for The Lord’s presence and understanding the more confused I can become.  As I become more enlightened the understandings and truths that I once held on to begin to fade.  I also feel a strange understanding and calmness wash over me drizzled with fear as I realize how this whole short life really is preparation for what comes next; that is a big, scary and reassuring thought all at once.   The newest lesson that I have learned is that if you beg God for an answer, if you cry out for help He will be there.  It will not be the way that you expect.  I have asked for God to  intervene in a certain situation for a very long time.

It came fast and slow all at once….I wasn’t even searching for the answer when it came to me.  The source of a lot of the hurt that I have felt is me.  It’s me.  This whole time I thought it was spinning and outside of my control.  I have been consumed in the reaction of another when it was really my action that set the stage.  I was sitting on the couch, listening to the rain fall, watching TV as the truth slowly crawled all over me. It was a very normal moment and bizarre all at once.   It was me all along…well not really me, but the 19 year old version of me.  I don’t want to be accountable for these actions and I don’t want to believe that they are mine, but they were/are.  It is impossible to move on without acknowledging the pain that they have caused for someone that I love.  I wish that I could change the past but I know that is impossible..I almost wish that I didn’t realize this hurt…I wish that I could erase it and go back to blaming…I want to remove myself from the equation and just focus on the hurt that I have…not that I have caused….I feel joy rush in…. I have solved the rubix cube of  the last 10 years, but that is immediately flooded by embarrassment and an ache for going back in time that I cannot even explain.  I also feel a slight irritation if I am being honest.  I have worked, and I have searched…I really thought it would be the other way around.  I thought He would have this moment of reckoning, but it wasn’t my husband that did…it was me.  Me, the good one.  HOW COME I  HAVE TO FEEL ALL OF THE GUILT?  How could it possible be my fault?  That is the other odd part…it doesn’t feel much like guilt…it feels more like understanding…it feels more like sadness for the him and how I changed his heart.  It also feels alot like hope.

Our God is an awesome God…I’m sure He is, but He also is awesome at coming straight from left field.  God will open your eyes to things that you may have thought you looked at already.  He will make a way in your heart for you to create change, but it isn’t easy.  It is only through accountability and responsibility and those hurt your heart, because as humans and people we suck.  We blind ourselves with perception and bury the ugly and the dirty with good works, but they still sit their under the pile…they must be dealt with.  This is where God has been especially tricky….No matter how many times I cried out for help…for eyes that saw what he sees or a heart that breaks like his (side note: Does God have a heart?) I wasn’t ready.  I just wasn’t.  It took a lot of work and experience to get myself to the couch on that Sunday morning watching TV, thinking about nothing, when the truth fell in like a ton of bricks on me and I realized my mistake.

I’m really beginning to grasp this imperfect thing.

It isn’t that my partner is obsessed with baseball and that’s irritating or that I don’t clean the iron skillet correctly…It is so much bigger than that.  Imperfection isn’t that we all suck and should just give up trying to be shiny pennies…it’s more like we weren’t ever capable of even being  able to understand what perfection looks like.  We are all more like the patina that grows on the copper after it has been weathered. We are the elements that exist only because we have been thrown around in the perfect storm and only because there is a shiny penny holding the whole thing together….and we clung to it.

I am only human and of course I have been searching for what to do know that I am privy to the obvious.  I know the answer.  I know how to fix it.   It is love. It is what I must give, protect and guard.  Maybe love is the element that protects us as we become weathered and as those around us become weathered….maybe even before.  It is just love.  Loving in our imperfection and loving to cover their imperfections.  Agape has been a focus word in my mind for years and now as I write this I understand why He whispered it to me over and over again.  

 

Talk about feeling humble.  I still don’t understand God and I accept that I never will truly know all about Him or understand every word in The Bible, but I can never deny that when I call out for Him that He is there….not immediately and not how I would picture, but nonetheless he is there…. Much bigger and deeper and I must admit more tricky than I would ever expect.  It is almost as if the wind whispers little pieces that only seem to make sense when put together with situations that haven’t even occured yet.

My main thought… God is there even when we feel like He isn’t and when we pray for change it will happen, but surprisingly enough it is actually our perspective that changes…everything else sits as it always has.

Holding Space

On May 1 My Mom became very sick.  It started with a typical infection that was treated with a cocktail of antibiotics which led to acute liver damage.  My initial reaction was to use humor to deal….then, with the end of the school year approaching, I used my super power of hyper focus to push through the end of the year to ensure that my children and students finished strong….when the humor dried up and the schedule freed up she still wasn’t better…she was worse.  There still were not clear answers.  I stayed with her in the hospital a few nights, but I still didn’t feel the situation.  I focused on what I could do because I like to do, I like to be useful and I like to remedy a situation.  I communicated with family and I took impeccable notes from the doctor.

I…I….I….   I tried… I did….  I wanted to… I asked… I kept myself at an arm’s reach of the situation.  Finally, I prayed.  It felt awkward sometimes and forced.  And, it wasn’t because I wanted to it was because SHE asked me to.  I thought I was helping her, but you see this all came at a difficult time for me in life and even though I thought I was the one helping her I was so focused on myself that I didn’t see that once again she was helping me.

My Mom is one of the most fascinating people I have ever met…she accepts people and can deliver shocks of disappointment that stay with you for ever.  She doesn’t seem powerful at a petite 5’2” and often times strangers stop and tell her their life story because she makes them feel so comfortable.  I’ve always felt privileged to be her daughter because she throws a life lesson at you in the parking lot over a parking spot.  She has taught me to value the undervalued.  To smile and give in the difficult time. That nothing is permanent. That everyone is fighting a battle. That the truth is the most important.  That unconditional love never gives up. That you show up even when it isn’t convenient. That you protect people.  She does all of this in the most humble of ways. I have seen her speak and entertain Generals and their wives, throw together the most beautiful Coffee’s and Hail and Farewells, be there for the young wife who is struggling to be married to a soldier; she is incredible in her efficiency, kindness, and comfort.   I know that when she reads this that she will not agree, but when people who know her read it that will.  She has no idea of her power…which is endearing and frustrating all at once. She tells me that she believes in me and that she is proud of me….even when I feel like a big fat failure or unsure of my steps.  Her favorite line is “Well I don’t know pray about it…what does God want you to do.”  To hear her tell this story she would say that I have done so much for her, that I have been there for her and helped her.  She would build me up so tall that you would think that I found a cure.  That’s what she does..  That’s how she is. It is also untrue.  I’ve untwisted a few Powerade lids and learned to cook cabbage.  (It’s much better in the oven than in boiling water.)  But, not much more.

For traveling purposes, she has stayed with me for the past ten days.  As God has shown me in the last couple of years His purpose is so much greater and different than our purpose.  She hasn’t been able to do much.  No pedicures, no shopping at The Flea Market, zero decorating, she won’t go for a massage, no long talks, none of that.  She has really been a bit of a blob….she doesn’t feel well enough to do anything.  Sitting still is not my strength.  Not solving problems isn’t my strength.  It has been torture and frustrating to just watch her sit, rest and lose weight.  I’ve read and read and thought up ideas that may make her feel better.  Then, I came across an article called Holding Space.  It is about just being there for someone you love without judgment or pushing. (Not my strong suits either)  Okay! Now I had something to do….I would just be there.  Between, my work and family obligations I haven’t been next to her as much as my heart desires, but I have been here.  We Netflixed and chilled on the show Parenthood, we sat outside…we did all of the same things from the last 9 days but I softened my pushing.  I felt good about my approach.

Then, last night it hit me.   I am not her holding space.  She is mine.

In this part of my life I have struggled a bit.  As most of us do in raising kids, working and keeping a marriage and multiple businesses together. There isn’t a magic wand to fix anything.  It isn’t so terrible at all.  I feel very blessed and lucky.  I am just being real though….life is hard.  Once again, without fail My Mom has been here for me.  Asking me in the morning to read the devotional, asking me to pray for her, encouraging me, speaking life into my confidence.  I don’t know how she does it, but she always does.  She always makes my life better and makes me stronger.  Even when she is sick.  Even when she is scared.  Even when she is orange. (Sorry, I had too…)

Life just flat out sucks sometimes.  Life doesn’t make sense at all.  I don’t understand so much.  But, I do know that the love that I have from my mom is a gift and a beautiful model to follow.  I am so thankful for her help over the last 10 days, for her wisdom and for her just being here as a holding space for me.  Thank you, Mom, for this season.  I type this through tears of guilt because you have no idea how much you do and how much I love you.

The next time I write about you I want it to be chronicling our girls trip to anywhere.  I love you. You are stronger than you know.

A year of losing…

If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans.

So…it finally happened. Well almost. I’m scared to even say it’s finished until all of the documents are signed. We have sold our land.We close today at noon.   I feel happy that the chapter has closed, but empty and sad too. Since January we have…

Lost someone that was the cornerstone of love and family…My husbands’ grandmother.

I have been falsely accused and publicly attacked. Update: The person at the center of ridiculous lies is in jail serving a year term for breaking probation.

Dealt with a tremendous and unexpected blow of bizarre health issues with My Mom.

Closed LLL.

I took a new challenging position at school that terrifies me because my prior job as a K teacher was so comfortable and secure. I’m really starting to wonder why I wanted to make life hard on myself.

Had our closest breaking point as a couple.

Decided to give up on our dream of building. Piece by piece this dream was taken away. No matter how many ways that we tried to hold on to it and persevere.

Life could be much worse. We have been blessed beyond measure, but to say that these steps are easy right now would be a lie. These were not our plans. However, we know that God has plans for us and sometimes it takes breaking a part what we built in order to build a strong foundation and giving us a firm place to stand; in His plan. (Psalm 403:2-3) Perhaps, we are being pulled from the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire…I have a mouthful of dirt right now, but I also have faith that the sun will shine on us if we stay disciplined. Right now, I am thankful for His Grace of our children, our family, lake house and boat to escape it all.

Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is the refuge for us. Psalm 62:8

Glory, Suffering and the Purpose of it All

Romans 8:17.  But if we are to share glory, we must also share his suffering.  

That line from Romans is staggering.  It is almost a promise of the hardships that we will face if we choose to follow Jesus.  Honestly, it frightens me.  I cling to this life that I have, to these plans that I have made, to the common sense thinking that if I put good in that good will come out.  I have lived long enough and have seen enough to know that isn’t the case.  Bad things don’t just happen to bad people and good things don’t just happen to good people.  I have been in situations that I wanted to scream out and probably have “That isn’t fair.”  How far my heart is from God and His purpose for my life.

In the early years of my marriage and family I felt guilty for how much happiness that I had. I didn’t deserve it.  I layed my head on my pillow at night and said a short pray and summed it all up to God’s grace on my bad decisions.  Then, there was a shift. Happiness, Contentment, Protection, Nearness to God, Inclusion….these are things that  became difficult to find. For the last four years I feel like I have prayed the same prayer and the hardships continue to grow; each of them stranger than the one before.  One of my main prayers has been to feel close to God….then today like a stack of books the answer comes down on me…..you cannot have the glory without the suffering.  Jesus is love. Jesus suffered.  I need to love.  I may even need to suffer a little bit. I can handle all of that, but how do I do that and stay loving and kind….especially  in the situations that cause the hurting and frustration.  I think the most important is to not allow my heart grow cold, because that is exactly what I want to do.  I want to clam up.  I want to say that it is all a sham, a machine of control against a large population of people that need something bigger to believe in because we are too dumb or weak to accept the truth that this is all there is….a big blue sky and cold dark ground. I want to feed the momentary needs that will bring me happiness.  I want to run. I want to quit.

Then, I pick up My Bible and see this…..

Mathew 24:12  Because of the increase of wickedness the love of most will grow cold. 

What?!?!  No, it must be a coincidence.  No, it isn’t.  This is how God speaks to me when I am weak; when I humble myself to Him and call out for help.  He is there.  Always there.

It all begins to make sense in the most illogical way when I spend time in the word.  We have this perfect savior that showed love in the most sacrificial way to set an example to us to love and sacrifice for one another.  When that model is followed we will suffer just as The Trinity did, however that suffering is not without glory.  The strangest part being that the thorns bring us nearer to God and we become more Christlike…even when we want to fight it The Bible speaks to us and compels us to live out a sacrificial life that brings glory to God, our maker. Our personal glory may not  even be experienced in this lifetime….this lifetime could all be the process of preparing our souls for the eternity, the oneness, the agape love that we are promised in His Word, The Bible.

In the words of one of my favorites, Jack Johnson:  Love is the answer, at least for most of the questions in my heart
Like why are we here? And where do we go?
And how come it’s so hard?
It’s not always easy and
Sometimes life can be deceiving.

If only it were that easy.. I seriously want to turn the other way.  Following Jesus isn’t unicorns and butterflies.  It’s tough.  I want to quit all of the time… Just like real love does I am pulled back in every time. 

2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. 10That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 I will push on and rejoice in the hardship, because it is in the hardship that I am learning more about the most amazing love that has ever existed. My son wrote it the best in our afternoon Bible study.                                                        “The purpose of life is to get stronger while bad things happen and get closer to God.”

I will lean on these ideas and verses as I struggle to make sense of this strange world.
*Disclaimer* I do realize “the suffering” that I feel like I have in my life is nothing.  I feel like an idiot for even calling it suffering.  My life is full of amazing gifts and I am beyond blessed…much more than I deserve.  I am still a person and just like every person reading this I have issues in my life that affect my heart…hand picked issues that were picked just for me to see which way I would turn in the chaos….that’s another beautiful part of this story…We get to choose Him. 

Shifting Perspective…

Have I been unschooling in public school for years without even realizing it? Who taught me this? I think taking time to understand our beliefs and drive is imperative for moving forward. 

I have found myself in a very interesting position….not at all surprising to me. It’s almost as if my feet were leading me here the entire time and I knew it. I trusted the plan without knowing the plan.  I’ve tried to explain it, I’ve wanted it to be accepted and it wasn’t….not yet…the timing wasn’t right. I wasn’t right yet.  Every experience…every thought building on the next led me right to this magical place of a dream being fulfilled. A dream that I was too scared to even voice.  Except when I did…except when I stood and gave my thoughts…except they didn’t feel so much like my thoughts but rather a collection of thoughts from a frustrated group of dreamers and thinkers….ponders…misfits…hippies…Place whatever label fits, because I won’t identify anyways.  

Life is funny that way. Just when it all seems random and empty and your soul has almost died enough to just accept that; a sprout appears that allows hope to grow in knowing that there may be purpose to the whole thing after all.  

My visions of kids learning in their home environments blended with the best that the public school has to offer and seasoned lightly with what technology can lend to us and our moving lifestyles  has led to an innovative idea of blended education for 5-8 year olds that are eager to explore the world around them and learn from experiences that matter to them.  I believe that it is very possible to rid young children of the push education that we have shoved them into but rather allow them to pull their own desires, experiences, self control and use them to become leaders in their own education that will be around the clock rather than 8 to 3.  There are non negotiables in  learning…children need books, children need guided reading instruction, children need a team behind them that provides structure and at times teaches them that needs must be met before wants in life.  

This isn’t going to be flawless. There will be mistakes, but isn’t that life? Isn’t that more realistic than the hoops that we can sometimes let ourselves jump through. Focusing on pleasing the status quo rather than investing in the reason for obtaining skills?

A community of learners working to get better not finished. 

#SaveChildhood 

“You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. Won’t you come and join us and we can live as one.”

How Beautiful Excitment is

We are not servicing a large group of students in their LRE (Least Restrictive Environment).

Students with Other Health Impairments

-allergies

-gifted students

-arthritis

-sensory

-ADHD

-anxiety

-aspergers

-depression 

-limited strength, vitality and alertness

-ADD

-“including a heightened stimuli that results in limited alertness with respect to the EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT” (from State Dept Definition)

The plan has been to change the child not the environment that is making life difficult for them. How many 5 year olds have to pop a pill just to make it through class everyday?  All because he/she just wants to be in the world creating, discovering, learning. 

Not to mention the students with Specific Learning Disabilities.  
This all came to me when I thought about the fidget spinners…how far have we come?! There was a time that nobody would want anything that was a tool for their brain…now we have kids actively searching them out and stating that it helps them to focus. Inclusion has shifted. There has been a self realization in society that we all have abilities and disabilities. Students and teachers alike are noticing how OT tools benefit us….because we all need resources….we all have disabilities at different degrees. We have taken a survey and parents have answered that they need another choice….we want to give it to them….the state should us allow us to service children in their LRE; which happens to be a blended approach as defined by our main stakeholders.
Another group that we are not servicing is “red shirt kindergarteners”. Kids born premature that land in the summer months. (Or, students that are not yet mature enough to handle the rigor of an 8 hour school day) I know that we have at least 2 in K right now that we’re born 9 weeks premature and met the cutoff by weeks for K. Their mom is a single working mom and needed free education for her boys.  
All students deserve a plan that is individualized to fit their unique needs, provides access to general curriculum, meets the grade level standards established by the state from which the child receives benefits from. (Textbook definition)
We want a social and inclusive environment outside of the four walls that impede the students learning styles. This program will be the birthplace of lifelong learners that use the world to give them freedom from their impairments meeting their academic and cognitive goals as defined by the states definition in the state accountability plan; Every Student Succeeds Act. 

We will follow the plan, do, check approach.  Academic identity begins in Kindergarten the judgement is heavy within four walls that can sometimes only highlight your flaws. That is not to say that students shouldn’t face that adversity, but we could control it differently and do it more meaningful. School should not interfere with education.  We need active citizens, problem solvers, kids that learn to question in a respectful composed manner.

These may just be thoughts that sound good in my 2am wandering mind. I do feel like I am on the right track though with guidance from people much more intelligent than me.  

I would really like to create an atmosphere that values home school, virtual school, and public school. I want to use the best of all three to change the happiness of millions of kids.

Sent from my iPhone