The Mom Friend

I love my young teacher friends. Their energy is contagious! They are passionate about life and have innovative ideas. Young singles, young marrieds, young parents…each with their own set of plans for the future. Working hard to navigate the busy world of home, family, career.

In these circles, I often find myself taking on the role of “Mom.” I have even referred to some of them as my adopted kids. I have three practically grown children of my own, so the mom part comes pretty naturally. And the truth is, I am usually old enough to be their mom. Shhh…

With these young friends, the advice is both given and received. They listen to my personal life stories and share theirs. Sometimes we affirm each other’s choices, other times offer reassurance that it’s not the end of the world.

I count on these “kids” to keep me going. I’m not sure they realize the length of their influence. Their presence can turn the day around with a word, a smile, a hug.

Honestly, I’m just glad they want to hang out with me. 😉

One of these sweet friends recently said to me, “You’re the best kind of friend. You’re a mom and a friend.” I’ll take it!

I often wondered what it would be like to have more kids. In a small way, I guess I have a bit of an idea.

Teaching Connections

Why is change so difficult? Even intentional changes come with a certain level of nervousness. Whether it is a move, a new job, having another baby…even though exciting, each requires adjustments.

Before any rumors get started, no-I am not having another baby! 😉 I am, however, changing jobs. Although excited, I’m also a tad anxious. And yet, reflecting on my emotions brings one word to mind~connections.

Life as a teacher is all about connections. Bonds with students, families, and co-workers create the framework for what happens in a classroom. It is a window to the surrounding community. As a teacher, I am responsible for making a positive impact on that community from my small space.

For the past five years, I spent every day in the Peters Elementary music classroom. My students grew from cute little kindergarteners to fourth-grade school leaders right before my eyes. I listened as they sang and played instruments. I laughed and cried with them as we shared our life stories-family members with cancer, death, divorce, new siblings, graduations, birthdays. They knew my stories, and I knew theirs.

The three years prior to occupying that room, I taught special education in the same building, different room. Here I learned much more than I taught. Connections from that time remain strong. Students, families, and colleagues from those teaching years hold a special place in my heart.

But now it is time for a new chapter, an adventure. I will continue teaching music, but at a different school in our district, Ellen Ochoa Elementary. I will be one of two music teachers in a building set to hold approximately one thousand students. We have our work cut out for us. And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous.

You know what the beautifully ironic thing is? Those connections from my years at Peters-friends, colleagues, families, students-are the ones cheering me on.

Thanks to their encouragement, my focus has shifted. No need to be nervous; just continue making connections. Connections with new colleagues. Connections with a new community. Most of all, connections with the kiddos who enter my music room. After all, that’s where the teaching begins.

Good Books, Good Friends

Summer break is here! I always look forward to having time to read for pleasure in the summer. Get lost in a story, feel like I’ve been introduced to new people. A couple months ago I bought a book with that thought in mind. I began reading it this week.

After the first chapter, there was no doubt I would not be able to put the book down. So, this morning I made a deal with myself. Reading would not begin until I had at least cleaned the kitchen. My plan was to clean, read a few chapters. Do a little packing (we are also moving this summer), read some more, and so on.

Well…the kitchen is clean. And I know the end of the story.

What a beautiful story. And though I couldn’t wait to reach the end, I felt sad upon arrival. The characters came to life. I could see their faces, hear their voices. As I was reading, I knew I would miss them when the story ended. Almost like friends who were moving far away.

One particular passage caught my attention. It was as if there was a stop sign on the page. Smiling, I read it again. After the third time, I wrote it down.

Universal truth: some people you’ve known since birth and you’ve just barely met them; others you’ve known for four years and they’ve been your friend since before you were born.

Marisa De Los Santos

What a sweet reminder from my first book of the summer. Certain friendships (and books) seem to transcend time. Once they are part of your life, you can’t remember a time without them.

Here’s to a summer filled with good books and good friends.

Friendly Reminders

Now that school is out for summer, I look forward to many conversations over coffee with friends. I love the connections which begin and grow from this practice. They bring renewal in ways which often surprise me.

Sometimes they also bring friendly reminders. Here are a few much-needed ones I recently received.

  1. Perfection should never be my goal.
  2. Honesty in friendship is a necessity.
  3. Daily prayer provides daily renewal.

The first reminder concerned perfection, an ideal we are bombarded with on all fronts. You can be the perfect wife, mom, friend, teacher. Fill in the blank. That goal always leads to disappointment. Why? We are not flawless creatures. We do not live in a picture-perfect world.

Admitting our imperfections and hearing someone else say, “Me, too” is powerful. That one simple phrase takes away a small piece of the loneliness which often accompanies my inward thoughts. It provides a beginning, a binding with another heart.

The second friendly reminder was honesty. Truth, even spoken by a friend, is not always easy to receive. Just this week, a friend said to me, “I have to talk to you about something.” She went on to share observations about certain attitudes and my need for an adjustment. 😉

Although her words were difficult to hear, they brought a sense of relief. They took me back to the beginning realization-I am not perfect. And that is ok! I can, however, seek to be better.

Another friend reminded me of the importance of daily prayer. It holds the power to renew my mind, even when I don’t know what to pray. It also reminds me that God loves me in spite of my faults. And affirms my purpose at this moment, on this day.

As summer begins, my heart wants to soak in these beautiful reminders. I’m quite certain more reminders will be needed in the coming days. But for today, I am thankful for honest words from caring friends. And I will end this day with a prayer for rest and renewal.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23

Tomorrow is a new day! Grab a friend and a cup of coffee! ❤ ☕️

A Stormy Week

It has been quite a week here in Oklahoma. Day after day brought flooding rains, damaging winds, and tornadoes. I’ve lost track of the number of times we heard the tornado sirens. Not to mention the flood sirens…

The Arkansas River flows through our part of the country. Due to the excessive rainfall, the river is rising at record levels. The amount of water being released through the lock and dam systems increases daily. Many towns have already experienced devastating floods, and it is far from over.

The most concerning moment for our family occurred two nights ago. Emergency phone alerts woke us up around midnight. We turned on the local news. Another tornado warning. This time we were right in the storm’s path.

By 12:45 A.M. I was sitting in the closet with Ryan, Rachel, and our dog, Poppy. Gart remained close by, listening to the weatherman and watching outside conditions. When he entered the closet, closing the door behind him, we knew the situation was serious.

Strong winds and popping sounds were heard overhead. The lights flashed off and on a couple of times. And just like that, the storm was over. The damage was minimal, only a few branches in our yard. Other areas were devastated. Less than a mile away, power lines blocked the road.

There is no rhyme or reason to explain the paths of such storms. They rise and fall with no respect to the ones affected or the destruction left behind. There are no automatic exemptions.

The truth is, there will always be another storm. This is beyond my control. So how do I respond?

As the storm approaches, I watch and pray.
As the storm rages, I hope and pray.
As the storm passes, I trust and pray.
Once it has passed, there is work to be done.

His thunder announces the coming storm…

Job 36:33

I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.

Psalm 55:8

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.

Psalm 107:29

School Year Successes

Reflections often bring mixed emotions. Whether it’s looking in the mirror or taking stock of an entire year of teaching, there are always things I wish I could change. For this end-of-the-year review, however, I’ve decided to focus on the positive.

One of my main goals this year was making sure all students who entered the music room were able to participate on some level. In particular, I wanted to connect more with our friends receiving special education services. Professional development early in the year was both challenging and encouraging, and it reminded me of the importance of these connections.

So here are my top three successes:

  • A smile
  • A high-five
  • A music stamp on a hand

All three involved the same child. A child who would not come into my classroom last year and this year spent most of his time sitting at the back. I intentionally approached him slowly and quietly, and he eventually smiled. When I got my first high-five, there were definitely tears. And allowing me to put a music stamp on his hand? That was a big step!

Did he sing or play an instrument? No. However, he listened, sometimes colored, and participated in his own way. He let me enter his world for tiny little snippets of time. And for that, I am grateful.

Teachers in May

The school year is ending
How can that be?
So much left to do
I can barely breathe!

Tired, walking slow
To my room down the hall
My thoughts start to wander
Does my job matter at all?

Deep down in my heart
I know that it does
But right now, I’m weary
My brain feels like fuzz

Bring on the coffee
Some chocolate, too
For the next few days
That will get me through

Reflection will come
There’s no time today
I’ll wait for the sun
And a clear summer day