We can all have days when the expectations of life or the world around us weigh us down. Those are the days when I find Jesus speaks most clearly.
Sitting half awake with my eyes closed, it’s early morning, I need you. Can you say something to me today so I know you are here? Remember mindfulness Aimee, let the thoughts flow freely without judgement. There I sit and quietly think, Proverbs. Then a second thought, the number 10.
Naturally I turn to Proverbs 10 and read the scripture but it just doesn’t seem to make any sense to me in this moment. The scripture, although good and nourishing in its own right, only left me confused. I just didn’t really get what He was trying to say to me.
Not even an hour later sat my favorite devotion, what’s new in updates.
Within it…Proverbs 18:10. Whoa! Now it makes perfect sense. I just didn’t sit still long enough, just a little bit creeped out in a good, blown away, this is our Jesus sense of the word!
Because Jesus is the best of course!
Loved By Grace,
I haven’t felt like writing much over the past several months for a variety of reasons but mainly because of one key point. My morning devotion shined a razor focused light on that point right toward my brain so thank you Jesus for the jolt awake today. No amount of the self induced caffeine fort is going to cut it today. HA!
So, I’m simply going to write from my heart regardless of the whopper sized day ahead. You see, one of the biggest forts that I build for myself is protection from fear. One of those has always been death or the lack of control thereof from the reality of death. But it is something we all face no matter how far away we run from it. I suppose I’ve done what many people probably do which is the use of self made protection or we could also say the use of our own forts. We all have them to some extent because we are special little hellions that Jesus loves regardless. The point is when we follow Jesus there will be fear surrounding us and it will be hard and not all of it will be pretty. The cross was pretty. Not everyone likes that kind of hard but Jesus loves that kind of hard. In fact the Bible references do not fear at least 365 times which is our daily affirmation to dismantle it.
Back to my forts. Running from it, putting it out of the mind, thinking about it as little as possible, trying to forget, sometimes even numbing it. But you can’t forget because it exists. All of these self induced forts are futile because hard things exist under God’s sovereign plan of life. Question is when to stop running and when to start facing.
There are a lot of self made things I’m still dismantling so this girl right here is far from perfect. However, I’m working hard at dismantling them because of Jesus. One of is a commitment I made in working with grieving children. Let’s just say there would have been no way on earth my previous self would knowingly walk in to a room full of death and grief and pain. Who am I kidding, my current self wouldn’t be able to do it without Jesus either. But I’m doing it with Him by my side. It is some is heavy stuff and with the hard, heavy stuff there is so much love.
He was the one who found her and had to cut Mom down from the rope.
When I’m here I know I am not alone.
Suddenly, any of my own first world problems melt away.
To be continued…today hopefully. Tearing down more forts over here peeps!
Loved By Grace,
Much like the rest of the existing world, my mind has been filled with thoughts on schools and the people who fill their hallways nearly every day. What on earth are the right answers to keep them safe? It feels like an impossible answer, a trick question nobody can seem to get right yet everyone seems to know an answer. Meanwhile the debate rages on while lives who fill the hallways continue to die tragically when it all goes wrong.
This is a snapshot of a window into our schools. It is your school, it is their school, it is my school. Most people might see a cozy welcoming entryway for our kiddos but a teacher sees preparing for the worst. You see, those curtains in this picture serve a much bigger purpose then friendly decoration. They are there for a very distinct purpose, to block the visibility of the window to the classroom. While welcoming to most visitors, the intentional reason for the placement there is for protection in an active shooter situation. Yet teachers make it look safe, nothing to panic about when we see it. Look around in a school and you will see it. Every teacher has it in some fashion or theme of their choosing but they have it.
Next look at the door itself. It is open on the inside for entry out but the handle locks from the outside once the door closes shut. Most days students come and go out of the door for various activities or when they need to go to the bathroom which is an all day occurrence. You might be thinking what happens when they have to come back in? You guessed it! Someone is always knocking on the door. To be honest it can be a huge distraction to learning. Much of the time the kiddos themselves automatically place a small magnet in the crack of the door so they don’t have to interrupt when they come back to class. Yet we live in a country where the automatic locking of the door may be what saves lives.
Nobody wants to believe this is all possible in any school until the unthinkable happens. It is easier to push it out of our minds because it is a coping mechanism until we have to accept its reality.
Last week this particular school had a lock down. It wasn’t a drill. A student had escalated to the point of throwing chairs in their classroom, consequently damaging school property and fleeing to the hallway. While there, continued to throw items at the lost and found bins toward staff who was trying to intervene. A threat to themselves and others in this escalated state means the rest of the school secured in lock down procedures. Occurring during the lunch time, the rest of the students were kept longer on recess or in the lunchroom to keep them safe from the situation.
The child I’m describing here is in first grade and I happen to have spent time with them in the classroom. The reality is some of our most innocent, youngest and most impressionable minds are at every school, your school, their school, my school. They are as young as kindergarten. The majority of the time they are as well adjusted and happy as any other child in school. In this one child’s world I’ve seen it. He happened to be student of the week the last time I was in the class and beamed with pride getting to help the teacher read a book aloud and present his show & tell. This is a kind, caring, creative kiddo but one who doesn’t function like the “regular” mold. As such he can escalate to frustration which can quickly turn to anger on to rage and the rage brings out an uncontrollable side to him. This is a child receiving care and attention at school to help him, as much extra care as possible with the resources available.
Is it enough? I’m not certain the supportive services will guarantee this child’s future. What is certain is this first grader doesn’t know how to stop himself once he escalates. What is certain is he is just like every other child I encounter who struggles most in their classroom. The more “different” episodes they experience, the more it shapes their existence. The more it effects how other people treat them.
What is certain is when not escalated he shows love toward others and in turn needs the most love. What is certain is that he needs love tenfold but the opposite so easily happens.
What is certain is seeing school staff scurry to clean up the mess so that others would not panic.
Mental health, it’s struggles, it’s challenges and risks are real no matter how much we try not to face it. Nothing is as raw as seeing it overtake a very young child’s functioning and the impact it has on their existence. Witnessing rules of existing peacefully backfire on their impressionable hearts is disheartening…I behaved badly, now others think I’m bad…my peers say I’m bad…therefore I am bad.
Social connectedness or lack there of is critical to our human experience. God wired us this way because God designed us for love. The stigma of “bad” reinforced over time has the potential to do incredibly more harm than any school support system in place to combat it.
Witnessing those lost and found items flying through the air was difficult because I see this child’s heart. Yet at the same time I could not help but see this kid suddenly lose control of his heart. In that moment I see him behind the eyes of a nineteen year old, escalated to the point of uncontrollable rage they can not control. Knowing it as a cycle that had been building long before any bullets began flying through the air.
It is not justification to take life but it is coming from a broken person. We can and should protect all of our most innocent youth. When will our country wake up when it is almost as easy to pick an AR-15 at the store as it is for this first grader to run to the lost & found? When is it enough?
Love for others, respect for human life and protection of the innocent are all things Christ taught on this earth. Not once are we to value own life and our rights over others and that includes guns.
As a teacher, the thought of spending the day armed with a concealed weapon, to possibly have to defend innocent children’s lives is a weight already heavily weighted shoulders. Even worse, the thought of taking a child’s life who has escalated beyond control is an unbearable thought because at some point or another we have also seen their fragile heart. We’ve seen it and either way we lose.
We’ve failed both. Confessions of a weary teacher.
Loved By Grace,
Yesterday we honored and remembered a legacy. Martin Luther King Jr. was an incredible leader, all around authentic human being and faithful man of God.
Reflecting on this leadership statement today I automatically think of him but more importantly, I think of Christ.
I don’t want to be a person who leads along an easy path, the route of taking or following where others want to go. If Martin Luther King Jr. had done that we would not have his legacy. If Jesus had done that we would not have a savior.
A great leader takes us where we don’t want to go, but ought to be. Leadership like it can count on one single truth; it will always be met with resistance. Go down the path anyway, it means we are on the right track.
This month in particular is the start of new paths for me, not because it is the beginning of 2018 but because it is time. It is a time of serving and being, a long time coming. Not all are comfortable to go here with me but I’m doing it in the right time, in the right way, and doing so following His voice and direction.
Completely off topic, favorite Cranberries lyrics right here even though I owned every song. If this was music for hippys then people, I guess I’m a hippy and damn proud of it! Dolores O’Riordan, R.I.P.
Loved By Grace,
It has been a long time since I’ve been awake late in the night with too many thoughts to drift asleep. That right there means I need to read my bible because He has something to say.
So Jesus, I really need you to speak to me and can you be direct in what it is you show me tonight? Pretty please? You know when I need to hear it most.
Psalm 37 ❤️
Loved By Grace,
Wednesday wisdom roll call from third grade reading and writing gallery:
“You really don’t care what people think.”
“About sitting with me. About anything.”
“Why should I?” asked Dyamonde. “I know what I think, and that’s enough.”
Free just shook his head.
“You can’t do things or not do things just ’cause somebody else thinks you should. I mean, what if they’re dumb as a rock and you’re paying attention to them? That’s silly. Anyways, can I get a couple of fries or not?”
Free pushed the plate of fries toward Dyamonde and was quiet for a long while. She sure gave Free a lot to think about.
From the book:
Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes
Have to admit, this teacher right here paused still as a rock…pause, pause, paused…nope can’t bite my cheeks, laugh, laugh, laughed out FREAKING loud! By the way, I happened to be the narrator reading this to the class…out loud. What can I say? I try to practice the pause but this was just the BOMB of a chapter! Make way for Dyamonde Daniel!
This my friends is like a modern day clip of a Jesus parable. Now having said that, Jesus did not say dumb as a rock in scripture but the point he made was the same. OH YES it sure was so I just stop in my tracks now when I hear it spoken in modern day terms. Note to self, those Pharisees did think they were pretty smart but we know how that went…sucked rocks.
Jesus loves rocks, he loves sucky rocks and dumb rocks which is important to remember. But he sure didn’t listen to them. Just saying.
THIS! From the third grade reading library.
Did I mention how much I love this class? T, my man, OH-EM-GEE look at your epic blue hair! Well duh, of course because this kid is the BOMB of a third grader right here! T. Martinez, he drew me the portrait above in case any of us wondered. Whether you love or hate our President you have to admit, my man T nailed it!
These guys have grown a foot since before Christmas.
And J, you stayed in class today! Although my heart is just a bit sad to hear you are leaving to a new school but I know it is going to be the help you need. Prayers for that J, praise God. Today however, is my opportunity to influence the small voice in your brain above all the other garbage that says doing the work of school isn’t for you. It is J, you just have to find the right way your brain goes about accomplishing it and the rest, well…it’s just BS.
Here is the proof…YOU DID YOUR MATH with me today. Sure, it was only after I asked you to work on it in a different way, okay maybe I tricked you but you did it! You started in on one of your adventures which I welcomed and encouraged. A kick a*% story about Scott, Cindy, Josh and you at the park taking care of the facilities and tending to the tasks of the rocks which it sounds like you actually get to do in real life. Dumb rocks. No irony there, no sarcasm. Then you cleaned some desks with Clorox wipes to keep your hands busy which is not a surprise, your hands are always creating or busy doing something! As we talked about your adventures before you knew we were throwing math in to the adventure and BOOM, math work is done. HAPPY DANCE!
Don’t tell me your brain doesn’t work J because I know it does. Don’t listen to rocks when you are a diamond. Show us how diamonds work. Small voice J, it is there, don’t ever lose it.
Hebrews 9-10 Highlights:
Christ’s tabernacle, the presence of God (Christ’s spirit) is not part of human creation. It is not built by human hands. It is different!
Jesus sets aside the first to establish the second.
Jesus puts his laws in our hearts and minds.
Small voice J, it is spirit there in our hearts and minds. In spite of rocks.
Loved By Grace,
Well, hello Monday! I don’t about you but life has been saying over here go ahead, make plans, double dare you. Insert laugh…there goes that thought. Humor is therapeutic to me.
This is my brain waves sitting at urgent care with my son Sunday night after a fever from h*%#, numb, passed out and weak. So there we were, oxygen mask and all on him which not going to lie, just a little tough to witness. Sadly I’m pretty sure he gets the anxiety piece from his mother among other not so pleasant traits which he is happy to remind me about on occasion. Needless to say we are fighting an aggressive infection and still are in to Tuesday.
But back to the urgent care visit. I couldn’t recall a time he had this intrusive horrible gem of a gagging medical procedure about to be done so I was very honest with him about what to expect before the doctor started in on him. An explanation without those dramatic words of course but this is what was going on in my head. Why? Because he is just like me and while I don’t like it, it is best to come out with the raw honest truth about it doctor. Don’t candy coat it, don’t try to tell us something it is not because we will see the BS in negative zero point seven seconds. Anyhoo, doc looks at him and says, well your throat is very swollen so you won’t feel a thing. I know my son, he feels EVERYTHING. Good luck with that strategy doc! No sarcasm or anything…
This is me Monday with a lot of time to read and write…last I checked no amount of sweet talking is going to change the fact that this is life. So, let’s go with the unconventional and let it stink for the moment.
I used to compound anxiety in these kinds of situations with the thinking that this must be happening because God is angry with me or I’m bad so this is why I’m sick or why I feel everything horrible about this thing I’m experiencing. But it couldn’t be further from the truth. Society much like the doctor says no, don’t feel this way or that way or you won’t feel it or you shouldn’t feel it. I now hear blah, blah, blah. Don’t be this, don’t be that, blah, blah, blah. No wonder we think God is angry or something! Nope. We are all crappy people, my son and I included and crappy things happen in life and they happen to all of us. It just stinks for the moment, not forever.
I would also be lying though if I said I’m handling these hard few couple of days like a champ. Whoever said we should not acknowledge the mess? That is crap. It can stink for the moment but that does not mean it will always stay dark or always stay bright. I finished a course recently where research shows the exact opposite is needed. Learn to cultivate self-compassion with mindfulness in the good and the bad.
I’m headed in to an intensive training soon where I will be counseling children who are grieving a death, in most cases the loss of a parent or close friend. The insurmountable emotions of a tragedy like this need to be acknowledged, not stuffed away. In doing so the darkest of dark can and will become oh so bright because of Jesus.
Mindfulness is not rearranging reality, the good or bad of life. It is allowing ourselves to feel, hold and honor our reality for what is in that time and space.
Loved By Grace,
One of my most favorite quotes is about living in the moment which is something I try to refocus myself on every day as much as possible. It is not an easy thing do at all times for an anxious person like myself but it just might be the single most strength Jesus has brought to life in me. Because the truth is all we really have is here and now. It is in that very moment the blessing exists, as simple as it might be for us. Don’t miss it.
If we are always looking back or running too fast ahead we can not always see it.
On hard days it always comes back to this, the very moment. Because in every moment there is something good to hold on to and Jesus helps us find it. Nothing is by chance, God is in all of it.
Not necessarily my New Year resolution but one to reaffirm every day.
Be still and know that He is God.
There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live. ~ Dalai Lama
Loved By Grace,