Oh Be Careful Little Fingers…

Remember this song? I do. One day this past week, it started playing in my head, but my parody-minded-thoughts added a new verse that I’m sure would’ve been included if it had been written in the current age. What’s the verse? I’m glad you asked.

“Oh be careful little fingers what you post,
Oh be careful little fingers what you post,
For the Father up above is looking down in love,
Oh be careful little fingers what you post.”

Why did this pop into my thoughts? I’m sure you can guess. I see some things that are posted on Facebook and think, “Why post that? They’re just stirring up judgement and hatred.” Don’t get me wrong. There are most certainly times when we must post something that others don’t agree with. However, I believe that even when we post things like that we should do so respectfully. The teacher in me so often times thinks, “Now, Barney, is that really the character you want people to see in you? Read it from the perspective of someone who disagrees with you. Would they see your opinion or would they see your judgement and sarcasm? Would they see who you are? Or would they see someone who’s being disrespectful and opinionated?”

Then, you come across memes. Some make me laugh hysterically. I mean, I love a good pun. Seriously. Love them! Puns are fun! Yet, again, memes can so often times take a hateful turn. Is that truly the testimony you want to profess to the social media world? If your mom wouldn’t smile seeing it on your page, should you post it? Better yet…for those of you who share my faith, would Jesus agree with your meme’s message?

As a teacher, I’ve had countless college students learning and growing their instructional skills in my classroom. There are two teacher-lessons I often share with those college students. First, I advise females to bend over in front of a mirror. I tell them to realize whatever they see in the mirror is the same thing students will view when they bend by a desk to help a student and to pick their attire wisely….or be ready to keep their hand up on their upper chest to avoid issues. Secondly, I tell them to check ALL of their social media. Whatever you’ve liked, shared, posted on those accounts may be seen by potential administrators or even students and their parents! Have you posted a picture that you wouldn’t want seen by a student in your class or his grandma? Believe me…parents check out their kids’ teacher’s page to “see” a glimpse of this person that they’re entrusting their child to for a good chunk of 180 days of the year.

Plus, back many a years ago, a friend told me to try some Christian dating website thingy. Not the ones that cost money, but one that was supposed to let you connect with like-minded people who share your faith. I remember a guy from Carrollton being “matched” with me, and he started sending me messages. I replied. He share comments and platitudes that reflected that he was a Christian. Being the analyzing person that I tend to be, I found him on Facebook to get a glimpse of the real person. On his wall there was so much profanity and promiscuous content that I quickly realized that there was no connection possibility. Granted, that may not have been his “true” self either, but his posts portrayed a character that I certainly didn’t aspire to connect with. Be careful little fingers what you post. Don’t be fake but don’t create an image that isn’t who you are.

Of course, this sentiment doesn’t stop with social media, it can also go with emails. I remember a few years back, I accidentally printed a black & white paper on our color printer. This is a big faux pas when you have been told time and time again to not waste color toner. When I went to the copier and didn’t find the said assignment, I realized what had happened. I found the print out laying on the counter and someone had written a reprimand on it without signing it. I was miffed. I mean, I did it unintentionally, but whomever wrote the reprimand meant to write it, but they didn’t have the gumption to sign their name. I stomped back to my classroom (Okay, I didn’t really stomp, but I was highly irritated and hurt by the comment.) and started typing an email to send to the staff. By the end of my writing, a colleague came into my classroom. I relayed the situation to him, and he read my email. His reply replays in my head anytime I write a reactionary response to something, “Okay, you’ve written it. Now delete it.” Since then, I’ve written countless emails and made a multitude of posts that have been deleted. Why? I’m glad you asked…

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I find myself saying what GOOD will this do? Will this make someone laugh? Will it bring a smile? Will it help teach? Will it speak the truth in love? Will it point someone to Jesus? Will it start a positive conversation? Will it create a calm dialogue? If not….hit delete.

I don’t want to the be the reason that someone has a hateful view of God. I don’t want to burn the bridge of a relationship where I could shine His light. I don’t want to change someone’s smile into a grimace. If my words, memes, or “shares” will do those things, I choose not to post. So, I hit delete…a lot.


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Bible verses…
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Pictures of my nephew…
Pics of my felines…
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Educational thoughts…
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And Puns!
I post those! It’s a JODI-thing!

My Friend Joe…

There is SO much going on in the world today.  mlk6Actually, there always is a lot going on, but media coverage puts the protests so consistently in our view and thoughts.  I’ve seen many posts on FB and thought, “You should write something.  But what?”

You see.  I’m a white female living in a small town.  Yes, there is crime in our small town, but if you compare life in our small town to that in a big city….it’s vastly different.  I’ve always known that I’m not a big city girl….unless God has some huge plan for me that I don’t foresee.  So….what can I write?  What could I share to impact the views of someone else?  Uncertainty of a direction prompted a prayerful pause….while I waited for the words and the wisdom to compose this post.

mlk7The pandemic saddens me because it claims lives and as of today there’s no vaccine.  The protests break my heart.  Not because they’re taking place, but because they’re needed. There’s no vaccine that can “fix” the issue.  This problem or disease must be fixed by policy change, government change, and…to be honest….a heart change in all of us.

In February, when I focus on Black History Month in my classroom, my heart is always gladdened by the disdain and confusion that our history (slavery, Jim Crow Laws, segregation, Civil Rights Movement, etc) prompts in my students.  It makes no sense to them, which is right.  There is no sense.  Sadly, it is our history.  Even sadder still, it is also still our present.

Have I ever experienced discrimination?  Probably.  Some look down on Christians.  mlk2Some judge a person by their weight.  However, when compared to what black people experience, it’s nothing.  People may not like me because of my faith or my weight, but they don’t fear me.  They don’t treat me like I’m unequal.  So, I obviously have no idea what a black person, especially a black adult male faces in our current situation.  I’ve never had someone lock their door or hold their purse tightly to their body just because I walked by.  How does that feel? I cannot fathom.

Looking back, I can count on one hand the number of black students in my high school graduating class.  I’m certain that each of them probably felt prejudice or discrimination even though I don’t recall it ever being addressed.  Then, I went to Tennessee.  East Tennessee… to attend Carson-Newman College & attain my degree in education.  This small town girl went to a small town in a state two states south.

On this small campus in this small town, my circle grew.  When a friend of mine hurt her leg, I met a football player named Joe.  As would happen, he always sat in the same place in the college cafeteria, and I would walk past him when taking my tray up or to go get in line.  It became a habit for me to greet him as I passed.  Soon, I would stop and we’d chat.  He soon became someone I’d call a good friend.  If he saw me having a bad day, he’d try and say something to cheer me up.  I never really thought about it.  We were friends.  Yet, I still recall many things said to me…

“You need to watch stopping at that table, Jodi,” a friend warned.
“Why?” the clueless blonde in me replied.
“People will talk,” she explained.
“Let’ em talk.  They’re my friends, ” I replied.

One weekend, I remember I visited a church that a friend attended with two others friends.  Joe was one of them.  As we walked across the parking lot, he asked, “Am I gonna be stared at for walking in here with the three of you?” When he asked that, I remember being confused.  Then, I realized that I never had to think things like that, and I was saddened.  Lisa assured him that if anyone stood out it would be the three of us with our pale skin tones.  We all laughed….on the outside.

mlk1When I graduated from college, Joe sent me roses.  NFL players can do things like that.  It touched my heart, but my heart was saddened by the reaction of some when they saw the card.  Why?  It simply said, “Congratulations!  Love, Joe”.  You see, I saw my friend congratulating me on finishing my degree and letting me know that even though time and distance separated us that we were still friends.  Yet, others read it and simply saw his skin color.  I said nothing, but my heart cried.

In the past 28 years (yes, I’m that old), there have been way too many incidents like what happened to George Floyd on May 25th. When a person is judged or treated more negatively than others due to their race, our hearts should break.  There have been instances where someone was feared simply because they were darker than another.  Each time these stories end up on the news, my heart cries.

As for Joe?  He and I are still friends even though I’ve not heard from him in a long time.  I think it was through LinkedIn that we were reconnected.  After reconnecting via LinkedIn, I “friended” his wife on FB because as a Christian single woman I won’t be friends with a married man if I’m not also friends with his wife.  I wish it wasn’t over 450 miles from here to there, or I’d go meet his lovely wife and handsome sons.

Today, during one of those interviews with George Floyd’s family, I reflected, “If George had been Joe, how would that have changed my reaction?”  Oh, how I pray it never is someone I know, but my true prayer is that it never is anyone.

Yet, I also pray for my friends who are police officers. I pray all police officers are not judged by the actions of some.  The four officers involved in the death of Mr. Floyd should face justice for the actions (or inaction), but I hope my friends Wayne or Josh (or others) are not judged harshly due to the hate of those four.  To be honest, I keep hearing Rodney King’s words in my head, “Can’t we all just get along?”mlk4

Taking it a step farther….can’t we all be judged not “by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character”?  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had it so right.  I don’t know how to fix it.  But….staying silent isn’t a choice I wanted to make. Silence means you either agree with actions or don’t care about it one way or another.  So, I write.  I may not have the writing skills of MLK, but I have a heart filled with sincerity and hope for a change in our current reality.

I will continue to teach our history, including the ugly parts, to my students.  I will continue to model acceptance and love to my kiddos.  And…if my path ever crosses my friend Joe’s (and his family), I’ll give him the biggest hug and remind him that friendship lasts even when time and space separate…remind him that “Lea” loves him and is glad to call him friend.

Did I accomplish anything with this post?  Not really.  I just needed my thoughts to get out of my head and written down so that maybe one person would consider to examine himself and see how he treats or judges others.

Justice is important.  Yet, I don’t see justice.  I see judgement.  My heart aches, and though I can’t do much.  I can write.

In closing, as I finished the first draft of this blog, I was listening and watching Mr. Floyd’s memorial service.  One of the speakers said something about not letting evil win or not being overcome by evil.  God has wired me with two habits that occur in times likes these.  Words often trigger a song in my head or a scripture verse in my heart.  Let us all “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  What good can you do to help overcome this very present evil of racism and prejudice?mlk8


Tears Will Dry…

As a teacher, I’ve seen tears.  I’ve seen tears of students when their feelings have been hurt by another student or when they are injured in a playground fall.  cryI’ve also seen the tears of the child that was “caught” doing something they weren’t supposed to do.  I’ve seen the tears as well of the child who riddled with guilt comes to confess his wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness.  Regardless of the reason, their tears dried.

Yet, tears I’ve experienced in my career aren’t only those of students.  I’ve also seen the tears of parents.  I remember two mothers in particular who met with me after school to discuss their sons’ challenges.  Both moms shared the same heartfelt wish that their child would suddenly “get it” and start making more progress academically.  These two moms both had their sons in my classroom (I believe) the same bm booksyear.  One of them had her older son in my classroom previously.  While older brother was my third grader, he suddenly “clicked” into a desire to read.  Younger brother never did develop that desire.  Mom was saddened and worried. [FYI my nephew who is very bright and a mechanical engineering student at WKU has also never developed that connection to reading….for some….it’s just not their thing…at least not yet.]  The other mother and I are friends outside of the school building, and I’ve had the joy of seeing her son develop, finish his degree, and find his post-college job.  In both situations, their tears dried….and smiles of gladness were found.

Furthermore, I’ve seen the tears of my colleagues.  Whether it’s the tears shed because of a cancer diagnosis, after a less-than-respectful observation report, or the death of a parent or loved one.  The tears have fallen.  I remember when I was being scolded in the office for not turning field trip money in ahead of our trip….of course this was while my brother-in-law was in the hospital having suffered a stroke….the office staff didn’t know this, so she was a bit baffled when her correction turned into my emotional breakdown.  Guess what?  The tears dried.  The field trip happened without problems.  Life continues.

Honestly, way back when I was growing up and living at home withmovie my parents and sisters, I remember countless times when we would tease our mom for crying during movies.  Alas, those decisions come back and bite me.  Why?  Well, in this time of “stay home-stay healthy”, I’ve watched more movies than usual.  At least five of them SO FAR have triggered my eye ducts to leak.  Each time the waterfall starts, I think back to those times we chuckled at Mom.  Sorry Mom….I guess it’s part of our wiring.

hapy tearsWhat about vegetable soup?  Have you ever cried over soup?  Me neither….until Wednesday….when Steve & Robin brought me soup & biscuits from Bob Evan’s just to show appreciation and care.  There they went….dripping down my cheeks.

Tears didn’t stop there.  A week ago, I had the honor of singing on praise team at Good Friday and Easter services.  As I started the car on Friday night to head home, the eyes leaked AGAIN…this time as I realized how muchblessed I MISS being with others during worship.  I’m so thankful that we have the ability to worship together while they’re at church leading praises and preaching the Word.  Yet, I thoroughly miss being in the physical presence of my church family.

Need some more proof?  Last Thursday (4/9), I was talking on the phone with my girl who always chooses to “do a little dance” as her morning greeting at danceschool.  We literally talked for 30 minutes.  She was her same happy chatty self.  As I hung up, I cried realizing how much I miss seeing my kiddos in person.  Then, a few days later when I commented on a purple mask her mom had posted on Facebook, I said, “I love the purple one, but I already have 2.”  She quickly replied that her daughter said that I would like that mask when she saw it.  Then, she told me how her daughter’s disposition changed back to “normal” after our 30-minute talk.  You see, her daughter loves school, and she’s really having a hard time with not being there with me and her friends.  Tears fell….again.

You see….it seems like tears are plentiful.  Whether they’re happycry tears or sad tears.  Whether they’re confused tears or thankful tears.  Tears….are part of life.

And in the end, in the words of my sweet friend Melissa…..tears will dry.  So wipe your eyes and live life by serving others, being steadfast, and staying committed to your task. As a Christian, my task is pursuing righteousness to be more like Christ each day.  What’s your task?  What are you pursuing?  Whatever it is, I am confident of two things.  Tears will fall, and those tears will dry.


Thankful for a Splitting Headache

memoriesI absolutely loved the time I spent in East Tennessee while I was attending college.  Big fan of the area!  When I returned to the Ohio River Valley, something strange occurred.  Allergies were discovered.

I kid you not!  My freshman year, I became “sick” each time I came home.  Cough, sneezing, stuffed up head.  I think my mom took it personally.  After graduation, this magnified, and it seemed like every single season….I’d fight those same things.

sneezeFinally, my doctor said, “Jodi, we can keep treating your symptoms, or you can get tested to identify your allergies.”  Allergy testing occurred.  I remember when they were letting the pin pricks on my arm fester, a few red spots showed up, and I fought the urge to scratch (as directed).  Then, they did the multiple rows on my back and again directed me not to scratch.  OH.  MY. GOODNESS!  I was wiggling and attempting to stretch and twist my back to alleviate the itch.  The allergist walked in and stated, “Yes, you have quite a few allergies.”

Soon, I started getting two shots three times a week.  Then, two shots twice a week.  Then, two shots once a week.  Next, two shots every two weeks. A while later, I received a bill.  Seems our insurance changed and the serum was no longer covered.  Well, that ended my allergy shots.

Now, I try to avoid my allergens when possible (Umm, pretty much nature). However, I refuse to let them win every day.

So, today….as I rolled over when the alarm started playing, I thought, “Man, there must be a weather change because my head is throbbing.”  As I was getting ready, the morning spring sneeze erupted.  The cats sprinted to another room.

Normally, this would be my excuse to stay in a dark room bm thinkuntil it subsides.  But….perspective changes everything.

You see, yesterday, I read a story written by someone on home-quarantine due to a Covid-19 positive test.  I read about her body aches and elevated temperature.  Reading about her journey made me change my perspective.

Yes, my head is still throbbing, as I’ve not stopped to take anything for it.  But, it’s just my usual allergy battle, and I won’t let it win.  I’ve made a singgrocery run for my parents to keep them at home.  I wrote a parody of a song to fit our self-distancing mindset right now.  I’ve chatted with my pastor about ideas of how our church can minister to children through technology while we can’t minister to them face-to-face.  I’ve recorded four songs as one of my many personalities.  I read several chapters of a book so that kids can hear oral reading while they’re stuck at home.  I even washed some dishes.

In a time when every day brings a press conference either from the Indiana governor, Kentucky governor, or federal Covid-19 team….I’m reminded to be thankful.  I’m thankful for a home to stay in…even when no one can come visit.bm grateful  I’m thankful for my zany voices invented years ago and how I can use them to lighten dark times.  I’m thankful…..for a throbbing headache, watery eyes, feline-scaring sneezes, and a nasty-productive-cough.  Perspective.

What’s your perspective?  We can choose to see the good instead of focusing on the bad, but that doesn’t mean we ignore the bad.  Follow the CDC guidelines.  Learn a new (temporary) normal.  Save face-to-face play dates and gatherings for sometime down the road when this stinkin’ virus is put in its place.

Be safe.  Be smart.  Be thankful.  This too shall pass.the5-18bm idea

At Least I Have a Glass…

I’ve pondered what I was going to write since last Thursday.  Each bm thinkday my thoughts change.  Today, I had my first episode of senseless tears.  Seriously. I’ll explain later.  So, let’s just say this past week has been a roller coaster.  I try to keep on my rose-colored glasses, but according to the Enneagram survey….I’m a six.  Okay, even my introductory paragraph is all over the place, so let’s try to regroup and refocus. I’m trying not to view this as a glass half full or half empty.  At this point, I’m learning to be thankful I have a glass!

AAACCCHH!  Okay. Here we go.

Last Thursday, I learned that each grade level needed to create a 2-week packet of lessons “just in case” we needed to be out longer than our two-week spring break.  We did.  By Friday, students had “heard” we’d be out for a month or maybe the rest of the year.  What the what?  Say it ain’t so!  (Yes, I’m a teacher, and I used ain’t….sometimes you just have to go for it….even if you tend to be the Grammar Police of social media.) I assured one of my students that no one had officially told me anything about being out longer than spring break, and I was confident that he would return to Room 302.

confusedAround 3:20 pm on Friday, March 13, I learned that we would be out for three weeks, and that teaching staff would report to school for contract hours on April 1st and 2nd.  Well, if that’s not the making of a Friday the 13th, I don’t know what is! I’m not sure how those contract days will go now that we’re not supposed to be in groups larger than 10….I’m sure they’ll figure something out.

That Saturday, my sisters and I had a decision to make, and I think we chose correctly.  At that point, we were told not to gather in groups larger than 250, so my sisters and I decided to go ahead and have our surprise party for our dad.  I mean, he turns 80 on March 24th.  That deserves a party!  We knew our numbers would be down, and our only hope was that more than just family would be at the church when the birthday boy was scheduled to stop by.  We were thrilled when 33 people gathered to celebrate.  However my #6-teacher personality thanked them for coming, told them we’d be serving food & drinks wearing gloves to eliminate the spread of germs, and asked guests just to wave at our parents….fear“Don’t touch them, please.”

For those of you who aren’t aware of the Enneagram, it’s a type of personality assessment.  Basically, according to Enneagram, a number six person tends to be conflicted between fear and faith.  Oh, how I’ve seen that daily over the past week…..

On Sunday, a small gathering assembled to worship together.  As my usual lunch bunch left to eat together, one suggested a Chinese buffet.  Umm, I SO didn’t want to go to a buffet where I can’t “believe” that germs have been carefully kept at bay.  Yet, I told myself not to let fear dictate.  [I admit, that’s the only choice in this past week that I disagree with. I should’ve opted to skip it and just eat leftover veggies and cheese.  I had germLOTS of those left from the party. Ha!]  As I drove home, I guessed that it was our last time assembling together for worship for several weeks.  Thankfully, the church is not a building but a body of believers.  I look forward to our “new” method of worship this Sunday.

Monday, I had plans to go shopping and out for lunch with a retired teacher friend.  We opted to visit at her house (with six feet separating us) and eating locally (one hour before Governor Holcomb closed all dining rooms).

Tuesday, we had a fundraiser scheduled for our MS Walk.  We pondered whether we should do it.  We opted to go ahead as the parking lot gave plenty of space for people to put social distance between them as they waited for their pretzels. Speaking of the MS Walk, it’s now a “virtual walk” due to Covid-19.  If you’d be willing to make a donation to help me meet my goal, you can visit this link.

Wednesday, I picked up some groceries for my parents and my allergy medicine.  As I sneeze and cough my way through seasonal allergies, I remind myself that the Coronavirus cough is said to be dry.  I find myself thankful for my bm goalsdisgustingly-productive-allergy-cough.

As a teacher, I have tried to figure out how I can help people through this new journey.  So far, I’ve posted two silly songswith “my voices”, written a short story with kindergarten Word Wall Words for a friend’s son, and am planning to start recording “Rock N Read” daily.  That has been a favorite part of my class’ day for YEARS.

As a citizen of  a small town, I decided to try to buy a carryout/delivery/curbside-pickup meal each day to support a local restaurant while their dining rooms are closed.  I had my plan for tonight.  I called.  I tried to order a “dinner for one”, and the person on the phone said they only did the special for 2s and 4s.  I quickly got off the phone….and cried.  I kid you not.  Tears fell because I couldn’t place a $10 meal order.  Did I REALLY want that meal?  No.  I mean, I liked most of the items in the meal, but not all of them.  My tears were because…I couldn’t help.  I had a plan to help, and it failed.

helperOne of my favorite quotes from Mr. Rogers is the one about looking for the helpers.  I can’t do much to help fight Covid-19.  I can’t test to see if you have the virus. I can’t create a vaccine to stop it or a medication to cure it.  I can’t make it safe for my friend to visit her dad in the hospital or another friend to see her mom in the nursing cryhome.  I can’t make sure that my parents don’t get the virus from their trips to the grocery store (even though I try to get them not to go).  I can’t put a bubble around my sister as she works in IT at the local hospital.  I can’t make sure that no one brings the virus into my nephew’s apartment at school.  There’s a lot I can’t do.  So, when I couldn’t even give this local restaurant $10 for a dinner, I cried.

Then….I prayed.

prayI prayed to the One who created me to give wisdom to those working to create vaccines and medications.  I prayed to the One who pushed back the waters of the Red Sea to push back the waves of this pandemic.  I prayed to the Prince of Peace to give me and other believers a peace that surpasses understanding in the midst of the chaotic, so we can minister to those who don’t know Him.  I prayed for Him to allow me to be able to bring a bit of joy and humor into the sorrow and dreariness of this current path.  I prayed to be a helper.

You see….I can’t do much, but I can be a helper.  Whether it’s by singing silly songs, recording myself reading books, buying meals, writing encouragements, reador praying….I can help.

You can too.  How can you be a helper?  Go do it…..But…..

Wash your hands, don’t get too close, and pray each step of your journey.

In case you were wondering, I helped a different restaurant and the tears have dried.  Tears do that.

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Toxic or Healing?

I’ve pondered and written about words before, but last night’s small group discussion over the first chapter of “Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World” focused on Toxic Words.  As we discussed the power of words, we also talked about how words used wisely are healing and encouraging.   Oh, how I want my words to be in that group rather than harsh and toxic.

Of course, as we discussed, I shared some of my “word” experiences.  I figure I should share here too in case my experiences can help anyone else.  First, let’s just agree that sticks1this proverb we learned as children is 100% wrong.  I’ve been told that when bones break they grow back stronger when fully healed.  My heart still hurts from words said to me in high school and college.  Words have power that last.  Use yours wisely.


Words.  I remember words uttered to me by parents who were thrilled their child was in my class.  I’ve found that most harsh words directed at me as a teacher, at least to me personally, have been delivered via electronic message sticks2or written letters.  I honestly can’t remember someone vocalizing toxic words about my class or teaching to me.  Yet, it doesn’t matter whether it’s audible or written, the words remain.  Be careful with yours.

During one part of the discussion, we pondered the difference between reckless and evildoers in terms of speech.  At this point, I shared how as an older elementary/young teenager, I misspoke because I didn’t think first.  My mother had said something to a lady we know about her shower coming up on Saturday.  I innocently commented, “When’s the baby due?”  Her reply simply was that it was a bridal shower.  To this day, I have never uttered that question to another person.  I kid you not!  I sweet lady who is very physically fit started having a bit of a tummy.  I was 95% certain she was expecting.  Finally, a friend and I asked her sister-in-law for verification.  I mean, we didn’t want to be rude and not congratulate her on her upcoming delivery, but I refused to ask the question out of the remorse I still feel for words spoken without thought.

Another aspect of the discussion encouraged us to speak healing and loving words to speech1others.  Not to wait until it’s more convenient, but to speak it as soon as we think it.  This was especially stressed due to the death of two young people in our community the afternoon prior.  Don’t let people you love leave without telling them you love them.  Let your students know that whether it’s a good day or a bad day that they are loved and important.  Take the time to tell family, friends, and strangers that they are appreciated.  I suggested that you can also say it through written words.  You see, I still have notes from parents whose child is in high school or middle school which I reread at the beginning & end of each school year.  On those hard and trying days, I can reread a letter from a methods students and student teachers who shared how I had impacted their lives and careers.  Take the time to say it or write it.

Now, I try to be a person who plans and acts.  This morning between breakfast with my parents and a hair trim, I picked up a package of notecards.  I have names written on the envelopes and they’re sitting on the shelves next to me.  A visual reminder to express my gratitude and affection to friends with whom God has blessed me.

The final takeaway was something that Pastor speech2Groeschel challenged one of the men he counselled.  He asked him to list 100 reasons he had to keep living (as the man had been struggling with depression).  When the man struggled, Pastor Groeschel said to name something he was good at or something positive about him.  As I heard this part of the video, I thought to myself.  Listing 10 would be a piece of cake.  Coming up with 25 would take some thinking.  Fifty would certainly require creativity or deep thought.  One hundred?  Wow!  That would be a challenge for me, so I figured I’d give it a go….

So, here’s my challenge to you.  Watch your words.  Speak healing and encouraging words.  Write a note to let someone know that they’re appreciated. Be careful not to be reckless with words that could harm others.  Words last.  Finally, take the 100 reason challenge.  See if you can do it, then read the list whenever the toxic words of others aim to harm you.

My 100 Reasons or Positives about Me

  1.  I can write.Bitmoji Image
  2. I’m an engaging oral reader.
  3. I’m the “world’s best ant”.
  4. Students enjoy being in my class.
  5. I’m a decent singer.
  6. I can cook pretty well.
  7. My cats think I’m an excellent human.
  8. I’m pretty punny.
  9. I’m a good daughter.
  10. I’m a dependable sister.
  11. I’m an encouraging friend.
  12. I make people laugh.
  13. I like to serve other people.
  14. I enjoy encouraging others.
  15. I’m a professional napper.

Wow, this is going to take some time….perhaps I’ll share the other 85 when I finish.  Regardless, I encourage you to make your own list.  If you have difficulty, ask people who love you to give you some items to add to your list.  Sometimes, I think others see us better that we see ourselves.





Just Words

Have you ever had one of those days?  Things are going great, but then…. Someone says something or writes something to you that tries to steal your joy.  Yep, that’s my day.  All of the WONDERFUL parts of my day, filled with blessings too numerable to name, were tarnished by a-not-too-respectful correspondence.

I had a choice to make.  Do I let it achieve its goal of bullying me into submission or do I shake it off (Yes, Taylor Swift’s song started playing in my head when I typed that.  It’s how I’m wired.)?  I read and reread.  I pondered.  I tried to move past it, but those condemning words kept repeating like I hit “loop” on YouTube.

Then, I had an epiphany!  Or…God brought His words to my heart to change my perspective.

blog words I was reminded that I should accept the words as they were intended.  An opinion was expressed.  The tone of the words let me know what heart that came from, and knowing that realization by mindset changed.

Instead of thinking hateful thoughts about the owner of the words, I prayed for the person.  I prayed that peace, joy, and love would touch their heart by some means.  I also prayed that when further interactions transpire that I would reflect a heart guided by His grace and mercy rather than tarnished by frustration and hurt feelings.

Then, as I finished my prayer and was prompted to write this, other words came to mind.  The words of a child.  Not just any child but a child who has struggled with some choices.  Today, as the two of us worked, he shared how his favorite time of day is coming to school and his saddest part of the day is when he leaves.  Then, he added, “The worst part is Friday when I have to leave for two days because I just really like being in your class.”

Words.  Just words?  I think not.  Words are powerful things.  I always hated this old cliche about words because it’s absolutely false. blog words2

Let’s be honest.  Words hurt.  But words also encourage.  They inspire.  They teach.  They entertain. They make someone’s day.  They challenge.  They praise.

What do your words do?  Do a heart & speech check because one affects the other.  And….in the words of Cowboy Bob, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  Or at least….think about how you can express your message a bit more respectfully.

blog words 3.png



Simple Smiles…

This morning, as I was paying for my eye exam, I received a simple smile prompted by kind words from the assistant.  It triggered a remembrance of a quote a friend and colleague, Shannon Dattilo, posted yesterday on Facebook. beecher quote

The quote became lodged in my head as I went about my errands.  I found myself looking for the simple smiles caused by the common sparks of life.

Then, as I returned home, the quote was still in my head, so I decided to find out who said it. I found his name, but I knew nothing about him.  In a nutshell, he was a distinguished preacher, founded the Plymouth church, active abolitionist, and was tried for adultery (acquitted and cleared of all charges).

Well, the whole reason I’m writing this post is to share the ease in finding simple smiles in your day by sharing those that have brightened  mine in the span of only four hours.

  1. The assistant at the Vision Center noticed my #teacheronbreak shirt and thanked me for being a teacher and the job that I do.  I don’t ever remember meeting this kind lady prior, so her words brought a smile.
  2. Then, Dr. Duerstock proclaimed that there were no signs of glaucoma or cataracts and that my eye pressures were….PERFECT!  [When you’re as imperfect as me those perfect decrees almost make you squeal.]
  3. Plus, even though Wal-Mart’s new layout is like a scavenger hunt, I found the folding table I wanted to purchase to use for Book Sales without wasting much time.
  4. As I was getting ready to go to Dollar Tree, I looked through my wallet for the gift card my friend Mary gave me for my birthday.  I didn’t find it, BUT…I found over $50 that I had stashed in a pocket of my wallet for my trip to WKU back in March.  Whoop!  Forgotten money that is found always brings a smile.
  5. While in Dollar Tree, I was looking for a few items for a teacher gift, and I found image1a sign small for my classroom. If I accept it as a sentence in progress, I can deal with the missing capital & punctuation…I think.
  6. Dropped off lunch to my favorite nephew and illustrator, Connor Stewart, and he remembered to bring “The Office” DVDs for me to enjoy this summer.  His dad and he often are watching episodes when I pop by their house, so he offered to let me borrow the series’ set that his parents bought him for Christmas.
  7. Arrived at Hanover library to drop off my finished books andquote3 pick up my two “holds”.  As I approached the desk, the librarian-on-duty automatically walks back to the shelves to pull my books.  Yep. the fact that I frequent the library and put books on hold so often that they know me by name gave me a proud smile.
  8. Stopped by Pride Supermarket to grab a homegrown tomato for dinner (smile), and I also saw Danette while there.  You don’t see your teacher-friends as often during the summer.
  9. Ran by Jendy’s to grab lunch through the drive-thru and had to wait 10 minutes for pizza, but that assured me it was fresh out of the oven.  And…the extra cheese actually looked and tasted like extra cheese.
  10. Finally returned home and as I said something aloud topper(I have no recollection what since I live solo.) HillTopper came scampering out of wherever he had been resting.  He didn’t come at a tired-stretching-walking-pace or a mad-dash-begging-for-food-sprint.  It was a cute little scamper which shouted, “I’m so glad you’re home!”
  11. Now, this list could go on and on…sharing little reasons to smile and have joy.  But I’ll end it with the common thing of curiosity.  If I hadn’t been curious as to who said the quote my friend shared yesterday…I never would’ve found all these other quotes that the internet credits as belonging to Henry Ward Beecher.  I thought I’d share them with you at the end of today’s post.

See, smiles are everywhere in the simplest of observations and the practice of kind words of appreciation.  Look for them and you’ll find them.  Better yet…be the reason that someone else smiles.  That will bring a smile to your face as well.  Hmmm, maybe this rambling of a #teacheronbreak will bring you a little joy, too.



A little lesson on forgiveness….

I really like this one.





Here’s hoping you start each day with FAITH instead of anxiety.






In honor of my love of puns…

Each day, my two cats will rough-house and start to fight.  By the end the day, however, they always HISS & make-up!quote6


Power of Perspective

Perspective is defined as “a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something”.  Lately, I’ve pondered frequently about the power of your perspective.  This really hit home this afternoon.  As I finished reading a chapter of “BFG” to my kiddos, my cell phone rang.  A student brought it to me, but I didn’t answer it because not much will interrupt my read aloud time.  As I glanced down at the screen, I saw “North Madison Veterinary Clinic”, and my stomach fell.

You see, before December 17, I would have just assumed it was a reminder about HillTopper’s upcoming appointment.  However, due to Jasper’s sudden heart failure and subsequent passing, my thoughts immediately turned to doubt and sadness.  Because of the tears cried over Jasper’s passing, I dished out extra funds to pay for extra testing during RockyTop’s appointment in January.  I listened to the message and heard the vet assistant tell me to return a call about RockyTop.  Oh no! I feared one of his tests must’ve come back badly.  He must have some health condition.  As I walked my students out to their buses, I pondered….What if he needs weekly or daily meds, can I afford it?  What if it’s worse and there’s something really wrong with him?  I mean, he doesn’t act like any cat I’ve had before, so what if…  I tell ya, that trip around was the longest 10 minutes of my day.  I contemplated whether I should drive home first “just in case”, so no tears would be shed in 302.  I took a deep breath.  I dialed.  I requested Roxanne.  I listened…as she told me…”We realized we neglected to give Rocky his booster, so he’ll need to come in when you bring Topper for another shot.”  Wait?  That’s it!  I laughed and breathed a sigh of relief.  I also suggested they leave a few more details in messages when a client had recently lost a previous pet.  You see…perspective….it caused what would have been a mere 10 minutes of waiting transform into 10 minutes of emotional stress.

So, then I started considering all the other other perspective chats I’ve had with myself recently.

Last night, I had a parent contact me upset because her child had to stay in at recess to write a misspelled spelling word a few times.  I have my kiddos write their spelling words in their planner to ensure they have a word list to study at home each night.  Therefore, I find it important that those words are spelled correctly to help them learn them correctly.  If it’s misspelled, they could learn it the misspelled way…and that wouldn’t be beneficial. The parent’s perspective was that it wasn’t a test, so a consequence for misspelling the word wasn’t important.  It’s all in perspective.

This week, our temperatures have been anywhere from the 40s-60s.  As the third graders leave the cafeteria, they utter, “Wow, it’s a warm day today.”  After the super cold temps last week, 40s seem warm.  However, back in August when we had a week of 50s and 60s, those same students left the cafeteria saying, “Brrr, it’s chilly out here today.”  Perspective…

Politics?  Democrat or Republican?  It all depends on your perspective on the topics and issues the government oversees or tries to oversee.  However, this past Sunday, my pastor made a statement that clearly shows my perspective.  I’ll end this short post with this quote from Pastor Hamby, “The ‘right side of history’ belongs not to the donkey or to the elephant, but to the Lamb.”

“And crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'”
Revelation 7:10