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Little Rosa

You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right. ~ Rosa Parks

A few weeks ago I had an encounter with a third grader that has stayed on my heart ever since we sat together. It’s a story of little Rosa.

As a teacher we spend time reading with the kids and having them read to us which is important in the growth of developing readers. It is usually these moments that stop me in my tracks because children will tell you their fears, hopes, dreams, you name it they tell you. On this particular day A, initialed for privacy, asked if I would sit down with her to read and because she had some questions. She was reading an non-fiction book about Martin Luther King Jr. and was already a few chapters in to the book. At the end of the chapter, the paragraph she began to read out loud to me about the woman who refused to give up her seat on the bus. We all know from history this woman is Rosa Parks.

What A and I read about Rosa was no less inspiring than any history book might cover but it was the question A asked me which hit deepest. The paragraph described a time when black people would have to stand in line at the front entrance of the bus, enter on the bus, give the bus driver their ticket, then exit off and walk to the back of the bus where they were allowed to re-enter to a seat in the back.

We all know Rosa Parks changed the trajectory of this practice, a misguided belief system which was unjust but A just read it. A paused, looked up at me and asked if this could or would ever happen to her on a bus. If I keep in mind she is a black female student in a predominately white community I can immediately begin to sense her concern. It sounded as though she wasn’t quite sure this could or would never happen again.

It was hard to fight back tears. What do I say? I can’t promise her without a doubt that injustice will never happen to her and that means every one of us holding accountability in continuing to speak up at injustice. I can reassure her that Rosa Parks is a hero because she stood for truth and empower her to hold tight to what this incredible woman did in history. To remind her that she has the same freedom regardless of any fear that surrounds us.

A is a little Rosa legacy. At the end of the day I reflect and remember the book of Esther when fear feels too great of thing to change. Rarely has choosing it over love changed the world.

Love demands that we start to push back on shame, and start showing up in our own lives. For many of us, this will be a risk. A huge leap of faith into the hopefully present but sometimes seemingly invisible arms of love. ~ Hillary McBride

Loved By Grace,

Aimee

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Tearing Down Forts

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,

Aimee

Wednesday Wisdom

Wednesday wisdom roll call from third grade reading and writing gallery:

“You really don’t care what people think.”

“About what?”

“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,

Aimee

Pick Me Up Jar

This is one of my favorite of favorites of FAVS photos of all time. Now on year four of this journey is mind blowing. It is your journey sweet girl but my job is to clear away the voices of the world that diminish anything other than the truth of who you are in Christ.

You are currently sleeping soundly this morning from overload which is understandable given the week at hand. I know you want to homeschool and this might very well happen at some point in time but for now you are handling the balance of life with grace. It's good for you because it is teaching you how to be true to yourself in a world that doesn't understand belonging is not about being just like everyone else. And in turn it just might be encouraging others to do the same.

However, sometimes we fall…doesn't do any good to pretend otherwise. Not the poster child for the rise and fall message but the amazing thing is Jesus tends to recruit from the pit, not the pedestal. Which means this girl right here is pretty good at the fall, working on the rise. Which also makes me a messy grace advocate. There is a teacher however who shows us messy grace perfectly and his name is Jesus.

Jesus answered them, "Healthy people don't need a doctor, sick people do. I have come to call sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend my time with those who think they are already good enough." ~ Luke 5:31-32.

You'll be very unhappy about this photo but will forgive me a later time when you are once again needing a rest day with a cup of hot chocolate at Christmas. It will remind you of these memories and you will smile.

Because this is the stuff memories are made of right here. I asked you the other day if you think you will remember moments when you got something, you know, brought something home with you.
Or if you will remember the moments you connected with simply the memory of being part of something. You responded with the second statement.

It can be a hard lesson but so very true.

Rest and remember who you are in Christ matters exponentially more than any voices, internal or external to the contrary.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. ~ Philippians 4:13 ❤️

The pick me up jar.

  1. Be still, my soul, the Lord is by thy side” KatherinevonShlegel
  2. Fear not, I Am With Thee, be not dismayed, for I Am Thy God. I will strengthen thee, I will help thee, I will uphold with the right
    hand of my righteousness. ~ Isaiah 41:10
  3. Wait on the Lord, be of courage and He will strengthen thy heart. ~ Psalm 27:14
  4. Keep trying, keep trusting, keep believing, keep growing. Heaven is cheering for you! Today, tomorrow and forever. ~ Elder Holland
  5. See the good in yourself! ~ Elder Holland
  6. We are infinitely more than our limitations and our afflictions. ~ Jeffery R. Holland
  7. Don't you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead. ~ Jeffrey R. Holland
  8. Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.
  9. Never give up on anyone, and that includes giving up on yourself! ~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf
  10. God didn’t design us to be sad. He created us to have joy! ~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf
  11. When life gets too hard to stand, kneel.
  12. Rejection is Gods way of saying “wrong choice dear”.
  13. Come what may and love it!
  14. Don’t let the silly little things steal your happiness.
  15. Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.
  16. God sometimes takes us into troubled waters, not to drown us, but to cleanse us.
  17. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
  18. Think positive, be positive.
  19. And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
  20. Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. ~ Dr. Seuss.
  21. Pray More, worry less.
  22. Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than when we realize how well we know our Father in Heaven and how familiar his face is to us. ~ Ezra Taft Benson
  23. There are far, far better things ahead, than any we have left behind. ~ C.S. Lewis
  24. You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it.
  25. It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself that determines how your life’s story will develop. ~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf
  26. Courage, dear heart. ~ C.S. Lewis
  27. The question is not how to survive, but how to thrive with passion, compassion, humor and style. ~ Maya Angelou
  28. Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. ~ Maya Angelou
  29. All flesh is in my hands; be still and know that I am God.” D&C 101:16 30.
  30. We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. ~ Frederick Keonig
  31. When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us. ~ Helen Keller
  32. Happiness is a state of activity. ~ Aristotle
  33. It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living. ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
  34. Look to me in every thought. Doubt not. Fear not.” D&C 6:36 39.
  35. Happiness is the art of never holding in your mind the memory of any unpleasant thing that has passed.
  36. If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap. If you want happiness for a day — go fishing. If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.
  37. It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.
  38. for I Nephi will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” 1 Nephi 1:20
  39. Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”
  40. Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is. ~ Mandy Hale
  41. Comparison is the thief of joy.”
  42. Bloom where you are planted.”
  43. I am encircled about eternally in the arms of His love.” 1 Nephi 1:15
  44. But the Lord stood with me, and gave me strength.” 2 Timothy 4:17
  45. 5 Simple Rules to be HAPPY 1) Free your mind from hate 2) Free your mind from worry 3) Live simply 4) Give more 5) Expect less
  46. Happy are those who take life day by day, complain very little and are thankful for the little things in life.
  47. He hath made everything beautiful in his time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
  48. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. ~ Psalm 22:6
  49. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
  50. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13

Tough Darling

Waiting in my email this morning I read the question, have you ever cried as a teacher?
Well, absolutely I have cried as a teacher…which is at least a weekly occurrence. How could it not be with encounters like this?

I felt her little hand tug at my sweater. "Mrs. J., I have to tell you a secret." "I'm crying because they are all saying I can read which they think is true. But when I read the words in front of them I'm just pretending because I don't want them to see I'm not like everyone else."

Oh my ever loving goodness if this doesn't bring tears to the eyes of a teacher I might be asleep from daylight savings time. My darling, you and I are going to have a little chat and it goes something this…in the best third grade vocabulary I can find to help you understand.

It is unbelievably hard to live an existence different than everyone else. People don't understand and sometimes it can be hurtful when a person says something they think is funny when it is anything but funny to you. It makes you want to crawl out of your skin just for being you. But you see honey, things are said sometimes without people ever realizing just how hard it truly is for you. And that means you have to work harder than most who might not ever understand. But I would make the suggestion that perhaps all of this makes you super special because being like everyone else doesn't always teach us about strength and faith. This business of being different darling takes a certain kind of special and that is you.

I'm not going to lie to you baby girl, it is not easy to overcome the hard parts of different so I can see why it feels better to give up. But here is the deal…all of this will only stop you from living your very best if you let it. Instead show the world the gift of different because when you do, all of the hard stuff pales in comparison to light you shine out.

Life is tough my darling but tough darlings are some of the most inspirational people the world will ever know. It's true.

I promise we need to see your exact brand of different sweet girl and it will move us to more light. We need that light now more than ever.

I'm by your side and we'll figure this out together. Right after I get my Kleenex box.

Undeniable light. ❤️

Loved By Grace,
Aimee

Miss You More

When I was in graduate school I remember sitting in our group therapy course bewildered by my expectation of the class versus the reality of what was being asked of us. You see, humanistic psychology knows we must get in to the depths of ourselves before we could ever lead another in doing the same. It seemed so backwards at the time in my young life. After all, we were all in this room going to school to help people get shit together. Naturally in my young mind it was easy to think we should probably already have ours shits together if you know what I mean?

Nope, doesn't work that way. So there I was expecting to learn about how to manage a group therapy but in fact WE, the students, were IN group therapy.

I sat in the same spot every week, a comfy chair in the corner. Yes! There but only as close as I needed to be. We had about twenty or so of us in the room with the professor. The thought of sharing any piece of myself made me completely nauseous. When it was my turn, each week I would carve out a small piece of my box and share it with the group. The smallest amount possible in order to get through this class. I remember feeling what seemed a million eyes on me wanting me so badly to give more. They inherently knew there was more to me than what the world will see.

The truth is I did not make the most of the experience but I took away with it a deep appreciation for authenticity. And in the midst of it was a group of incredibly diverse people, gathered in a safe forum, able to share nothing less than their truest, most purest selves. It would take me many more years to finally figure it out in myself.

I find myself missing that group enormously these days. There were no words such as tolerate or love anyway.
We created a space where acceptance, diversity, respect and love wasn't simply tolerated. It was embraced, celebrated, honored just exactly as the messes we are.

Sometimes it is the only therapy one needs…a place to just be. This is us, I miss you more than I loved you. ❤️

A sweet angel stopped me in my tracks this week. "Mrs. J, I need you to give me your hand." Before I knew it her little hand was holding mine. She was to be writing a story about real life. A teachers hand with hers. I like to think that space carries on with me and every now and again little blessings like this show me that it does.

I love this, I love this, I love this! I love everything about this and I just wish the rest of the world did too.

Loved By Grace,
Aimee

Rising

Dear Jesus,

If you knew about something that was locked up in a cage, something big and beautiful that was locked away unfairly, for no good reason, and you had the keys to the cage, would you let it go?

Because I want to tell you about a little boy I've come to know at school. You hear about him in my prayers. Eli does not have a healthy home life and although Mom is in the picture, a nurturing person in his young life is seemingly absent. Most days he comes to school in the same clothes as yesterday. He brings canned food for a snack which he can't open on his own and therefore doesn't eat. Our cafeteria feeds him breakfast and lunch during the week so we know he has been fed on school days. Eli's younger sister has a comb and toothbrush her teacher keeps in the classroom because she does not have them at home. The teachers buy Halloween costumes for them to have for our upcoming parties so they will not be left out.

I believe Mom is doing the best she can in the brokenness of life but these children nevertheless experience profound neglect. Outside of school, Eli and his sister are very much on their own.

Eli keeps to himself most of the day and spends much of the time refusing to do his schoolwork. He acts out at the bus stop and often finds himself in quite a bit of trouble. He does not know how to handle his emotions until it comes out of in uncontrollable ways. When he is doing his school work he writes about his remote control car being the most important thing to him…the only thing there for him in his life. His emotional attachment has been modeled off an absence of nurture. Each day it is teaching him the message that he not important, not seen, not lovable. Why would he not be checked out?

It feels like an impossible task but in Your name we can do all things. The message prevails until he sees a teachers smile. Someone who stops and notices him. While he might find himself in trouble, someone who still believes in him regardless of trouble. Someone who looks for and finds ways to show him that fact. Because this is You Jesus. This is exactly what You did on this earth with people. You loved them, no matter their Tiger.

In a perfect world Eli would not experience the absence of nurturing but we do not live in a perfect world without you Jesus. His development is already deeply impacted in many ways. His relationship to people around him is already impacted too. He already feels like an outcast.

People will undoubtedly disapprove of Eli as these realities continue to form and shape his life. But that does not mean he is any less loved by You.

That remote control car…it may be the only source of love this little boy has and to take it from him would be devastating. It may be the only bridge to your love. Affirming him where he is at or not is crucial. Another Christian may be the only bridge from that remote control car to you Jesus and that link is fragile.

The best way to show Eli Christ's love is through his experience with me each day. To accept and love him exactly where he is at, not with rules and regulations to which he could never attain. To do that I can not harbor an opinion that could jeopardize the bridge to the key. Because the bridge to the key is more important. It might be the only time he sees Jesus. That is a fragile truth to which I will either point him toward Christ or drive him farther away.

We finished A Tiger Rising this week in class and here is the great part about the book…Eli is not the only one dealing with a locked up tiger. We all have some kind of Tiger…just depends on what the cage is for us.

Why would we ever begin to regulate another locked Tiger and its freedom
when we have our own to be dealt with? Other than to do everything possible to help them find the key?

The locksmith of my cage is Jesus. The locksmith of Eli's cage is Jesus. Even if we seem to know the right key combination well…we could be wrong.

Death is the final cage to be unlocked from in this life. Jesus absolutely has the keys and let's it free.

Let's not be the ones who damage the link to the key.

Jesus asks…

What is this Tiger for you?

You have been bought and paid for by Christ, so you belong to him—be free now from all these earthly prides and fears. 1 Corinthians 7:23 (TLB).  

Loved By Grace,
Aimee

Beautiful Will Always Be

It is amazing as person's how we can so easily appear to have everything going for us in life yet be completely void on the inside. A void when left untreated, produces a life going to great lengths to be fulfilled.

There is a difference between spiritual beauty and the physical meaning of beauty. One is ultimately meaningless while the other is eternal. No matter how gifted, it's grace that makes it grow to its eternal potential. It's grace that leaves the legacy.

Things achieved will fade.
Things acquired will fade.
Things will never become enough.
Things return the void.
Hence the void remains.

Jesus has an amazing way of helping us learn to fill that void very differently. Because He goes about treating void differently and when we listen, the healthy fillers start presenting themselves. Before we know it, simple gratitude in every day moments becomes the fullness of the heart instead of things. A life combined of simple moments produces fullness and beauty permeating on the inside as equally as it's shining on the outside.

A life of moments is not concerned with the chase or the inevitable fade. Humility never fades. It can't help but pave the road of happiness.

In the end our bodies will die and with it goes the things. It is our legacy, the condition of our hearts that live on. It can't be bought, orchestrated, stolen, consumed or borrowed because it is eternal.

A beautiful soul may be a mess at times on this earth but it will always be a beautiful soul.

Loved By Grace,
Aimee

High Price, High Reward


You are only free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great. ~ Maya Angelou

Just finished reading the book, Braving The Wilderness which I could not set down. It seriously may have been the fastest I have finished a book ever! The book in summary is an invitation for all of us to not just brave the wilderness but to become the wilderness.

Aside from Maya Angelou's quote a few pieces completely resonated with me. First is the discovery that true belonging occurs from the courage to brave the wilderness and only a few are willing to make it out there. A few but many to be found once we get there. Second, true belonging is not to be confused with fitting in. At its basic contrast:

  • If I get to be me, I belong. I'm accepted for me.
  • If I have to be like you, I fit in. I'm accepted for being like everyone else.

Fear, doubt, ourselves, others can keep us from seeing the difference. But honestly, there are so many voices of the "fitting in" flavor that bombard daily and so frequently it becomes entirely too easy to lose sight of the forest from the trees.

I see it daily at school so trust me when I say it all starts for us at a young age. I also see why I've become somewhat of a wilderness guide if you will when I see brave littles resisting the fitting in flavor.

Intuitively I've known the wilderness to be the only authentic place of belonging. Almost always a lonely voyage out, it always becomes the place where God blesses us most.

The book as such gives us all insight on how to get to the wilderness.

Spirituality is a listed ingredient and a critical one indeed. Which I honestly can't say I'm surprised by in the slightest because some of the bravest, truest, most authentic wilderness goers I know have an incredible amount of faith.

Why? Because when we know we have Jesus by our side, we make the lonely the voyage out there. We make it because we are not really alone at all.

Fitting in is never going to supply us with the resources for that kind of voyage. It might supply us with momentary shelter but a self or a variation of selves finding shelter in the trees is only a temporary illusion. It's not true belonging. The book and its research demonstrates it does not sustain long.

I truly believe a higher level of spirituality is what comes along side us and wrestles us out in to the real forest. It's not always a pretty trip, another deterrent to sheltering the trees.

But as Maya Angelou says…the price is high, the reward is great.

I've certainly participated in my fair share of fitting in but I'm realizing how faith has always encouraged me toward the wilderness. Sure, there are moments we all run for shelter but the more we listen to spirit, the deeper into the wilderness we will arrive.

Love, love, loved this biblical reference at the end of the book.

God is going to continue to call out to us even as we hang on so tightly to the trees. But we can only truly wrestle with Him in the forest. It's where we think He does not go and right in that space is exactly where we find Him most.

Wrestled, limping and blessed.

If the son sets you free, you will be free indeed. ~ John 8:36

Loved By Grace,
Aimee

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