There’s Hope

This week is our last week of school for the 2017-2018 school year. I will send home for the summer 5 young men who have grown and changed. Four will return next year, one will go one to middle school, ready or not.

It’s been a long year. The past few weeks have been tough on us all, with the exhaustion of STAAR, adding a new student, and everyone having feelings about summer/being home/having a break. I’ve started to become a bit disillusioned, and honestly, just tired. Tired of behavior, tired of arguing and fighting and grades and trying to get kids who have no interest at all to do a dumb worksheet because we need a dumb grade. (told you, disillusioned) (also, teachers, your worksheets are not dumb, but they seem kind of dumb when I literally have to pull out all the stops to get them completed).

I find myself exasperated and wondering “What am I doing? Is anyone going to grow and change? Has anything we done even made a difference? Will they be ok?”. And the answer, well, is “I don’t know”.

But here’s what I have seen. This past weekend, Collin and I went to a graduation party for one of his former students. (Collin also teaches a behavior class) This student brought me to tears. We were sitting on the couch, talking between Collin, the student, myself, and another friend who worked with this student. And we were laughing. We were laughing about how crazy this kid was, and the stuff he used to do to teachers and how he was really a challenging young man. And our friend, Jerod, started talking about sitting in ARDS and listening to people talk about this kids present levels and he teared up and he said “No one knew. No one knew what it was like before.” And I thought to myself, this kid is a miracle. The fact that this kid is graduating, going to college, and got a summer job is a miracle.

And those words have encouraged me. I look at my students, especially as the school year has ended, and I look at how they walk themselves to class, how we can trust them, they’ve made friends, they belong, they treat our classroom with respect, and they love each other and all their teachers, and although it is not perfect, it’s growth.

I remember in August when we started this journey, I had no idea what I was doing, and these kids had been at 3 campuses in 2 years. They felt rejected and I was the new person trying to lead. And it was hard. There were tears and things were thrown and cuss words were said (and the kids struggled too), but here we are. We made it.

And I have every confidence that one day, I will find myself in a meeting about one of my students and teachers will be going over levels of performance and I will think to myself that “No one knows what it was like. This is a miracle”. And I have every confidence that these young men will grow in wisdom and character and one day, I will be able to say “I knew them when…”

I don’t know what the future holds for my students. I don’t know if they are headed to college or will get a job or even pass middle school. But, I know this. I know that in August, I will meet these kids again and we will continue their journey.

And I know that tomorrow, and each day this week, as we end the school year, I will tell my “Little Peanuts” that I am proud of them. That I have seen them grow and change. I will tell them that they are miracles. And I will believe in them, even if they don’t believe in themselves.

There’s always hope. If it’s your last week, I hope you send your babies home with joy and hugs. Remind them that they matter, that they are seen, that you will miss them, and that they can do hard things. And even if you think it’s never going to be ok for that student, remember there’s always hope.

And…side note…can I just seriously get an “Amen!” that summer is almost here?!?!?

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Rear-view Mirror

So does anyone ever get caught off guard by Facebook memories? I open up the site only to be hit in the face with some nonsense I posted ten years ago about my dog or about finding an immigration lawyer in Honduras. (Which I no longer have (dog)and is no longer necessary (lawyer)).

It’s fun to look and see baby pictures of Wilson and things I posted about dying alone weeks before meeting Collin. But today, it was a picture of my brother and me and it said simply “Love you, Tyler”, and I couldn’t remember why I posted it until I remembered the date and the time of year and what was going on four years ago.

It’s really his story to tell, those details can be shared with whom he chooses, but I think we all had a story there. There were some really scary times. I didn’t know if his brain would take over and his soul would be lost and I’d always worry, or if he’d come around and go back to “normal” and we could all rejoice. I wondered if harm would come or he’d move to a mountain in Asia and I’d never see him again. I wondered if the smart, charming, and sometimes offensive Tyler would come home or if he was lost forever. I was afraid. I’ve been truly afraid only a handful of times in my life, and this was one of them.

But then this picture comes up, and all the memories flood back, and I think about how I saw Tyler last weekend. And how Wilson talks about him and how he’s the best uncle ever to all these rugrat kids, and it just makes it all the sweeter.

So, this is all I have to say, life is hard. Someone is reading this whose world is falling apart. Someone is reading this whose baby is sick, or son is disabled, or who found out they’re getting a divorce, and they need to know. They need to know that God is holding them. They need to know there is hope. They need to know that one day, maybe not on earth, but one day a memory will pop up for them and they will rejoice in what has been overcome.

So, that’s it. That’s my prayer for whoever reads this. That you hold on. The sun always rises, and so do we.

 

2017

The past year has gone by really quickly. I’m not sure if that is because we’ve had lots of change around here, or if that’s just the way it goes when you reach a certain age.

It’s hard to categorize the past year, some people have a word, or they have a moment, or they have an overall sense of something big. I don’t have those for 2017. I have nothing monumental that happened, but when I look back to who I was this time last year, I know this year changed me.

My heart is calmer now than it was a year ago. I do not worry as much, I do not become overwhelmed at the future and what it holds. I’ve learned to sit in silence and not react. I’ve learned to temper my mouth and am trying to learn to increase my empathy. I’m not sure what the “big” change was. I can’t point to a moment or a lesson or a word that was spoken that began to change my heart, all I know is that at some point this year, I learned to do the right thing today and not worry about tomorrow.

That lesson began innocently enough. I’m sure I had an argument with Collin and someone told me to be humble and gentle instead of angry and proud, and I thought “that’s too hard, I can’t do that forever” and I was met with “You don’t have to, you just have to do it today”.

I guess that’s what Jesus is talking about when he says to not worry about tomorrow and when we are reminded that He is our strength. He is telling us to literally just do the right thing, right now, until the end of the day and then when we wake up tomorrow, we’ll have the grace to do it again.

It was a good year. We left the school district we met in and moved to a new district. This meant a new class for me, no longer do I teach my little friends with autism, I now teach students who have emotional and behavioral problems. I miss my old students and co-workers sometimes, but I am making friends and get to teach at the same school as my little sister, so the burden is less. Collin teaches the same thing he has, and loves it. And Wilson, that boy is amazing. I swear, each day he learns new words and new things and watching someone grow is maybe the best gift there is. He teaches me to be in the moment. Each time he asks to sit in my lap or wants me to hold him, I have to remind myself that one day I won’t be able to pick him up anymore and he won’t want to sit in my lap. He’s growing and so are his parents, and God is giving us lots of grace for those growing pains.

I have some hopes and goals for 2018. I want to be a more expressive wife, I want to put down my fear of rejection and just be who I am. I want to become more comfortable with hugs and physical touch. I want to learn all the words to the songs from “Moana” so I can sing to Wilson without having to totally just make up noises. I want to watch my 5th grade student go to middle school and know I’ve taught him all I could to prepare him. I want to encourage others more, and get exasperated with nonsense less. I’d like to run a marathon again.

I’d also like to carry 2017 with me, the lessons I learned to sit and be still, and the way I learned to just go with the flow instead of controlling it all. I’d like to leave in 2017 any regrets, fear, laziness, and lack of love I had and move on. May this year be one of growth and answered prayers and grace.

Confidence/Beauty/Point Sheets

“I got all ones today!!!” he said as he entered my classroom. “What?!?!? You did!?!?!?” I said back as I jumped out of my chair, picked him up and spun him around in circles.

“All ones” means his behavior was perfect. All ones means that he listened, he used kind words, he stayed on task, he didn’t run away or “get lost” in order to avoid work. All ones means he grew a little.

All ones means he now knows he can do it. Confidence is key.

My husband told me that the kids we teach, the ones with emotional disturbance and behavior issues, come to school with their problems and they try as hard as they can to give them to us. And our job is to hand them right back and tell them “That’s not my problem, that’s your problem and I’m here to help you learn to solve it”.

I love that. I love that each day, I get the chance to look at a student and let them know I believe in them, let them know that I know it’s hard but I know they have what it takes, let them know that I will carry the things they cannot until we figure out the tools they need to carry it alone.

Isn’t that what we all need to know, though? Life gets really hard, guys. Life has beat me down at times and I’ve wondered if I could ever get out from under the sorrow. And I remember wise words I heard, words that said I only have to get through today, words that told me I could do it, words that told me that what I cannot carry, He can. Because He can.

That’s what He does. He carries our struggles, He carries our worries, and He grows us daily until we learn to rely on Him. And when we have day to celebrate, He gets up, picks us up, and swings us around to remind us that we are treasured and we are worth celebrating. God is saying “I knew you had what it takes and I saw your beauty as you did it”.

God sees us. He sees our struggles and He celebrates our victories. Let’s celebrate, too! I know we are in my class. Tomorrow we get cookies and a dance party and it’s going to be magnificent!

Loneliness = Reaching Out

This blog refers to the divorce I went through in 2011. I originally wrote this post for Redtentliving.com, but it was unable to be released because of a time constraint (what, me not be on time?!?! That is so unlike me! 😉 ) So, not wanting to waste a post, here you go:

“I don’t belong in this group”, I said through tears on a Monday night. My small group was full of newly married or “kind of newly” married people, and I was in the middle of a divorce. “You guys are so happy, so content, and I am here, with my sadness and same old problems just weighing everyone down”. I felt defeated in life. My heart was angry, lonely and jealous of the life they all lived. Feeling alone the entire day, I was overwhelmed with sadness on my drive to small group. Alone. Hidden. Dying to reach out, but too scared to fall. Despite my fears and desire to not “rock the boat”, I reached for a lifeboat and chose to be vulnerable.

My counselor has a sign in her office that lists the emotions and their “gifts”. Each emotion, should we choose to lean into it and examine it in our own hearts, has a gift or redeeming quality. The gift of loneliness has always struck me as the scariest. The gift of loneliness is reaching out. And what a strange idea reaching out is. In our current culture of fast fixes and superficial social media relationships, the age old idea of reaching out to others is not even a thought to most people. Or, if it is, it’s just too scary.

It’s unnerving to reach out. It’s a risk. Unveiling your heart and being vulnerable are not frontiers people often want to venture out into.  Showing up and reaching out can be an overwhelming idea. “What if no one hears me? What if they don’t answer or think it’s weird that I am sharing what’s actually going on? What if they think I’m too much and are tired of my problems?”

But what if they don’t? What if when you called that friend and confessed loneliness, she says “me, too” and meets you in that space? What if when you finally shared your sadness or anger, your friend says“I know, I’ve felt that, too”? Wouldn’t that be amazing?

I often equate the idea of “reaching out” to a leap. There’s a giant cliff in front of you and your heart, the Lord, and your loneliness beg you to jump. “Reach out”, God says, “I’ll be there if you fall. Share your feelings and see what I can do”.  But fear retorts with “Yes, it’s sadder and more isolated up here, but is it really that bad? I mean, it’s a lot safer up here”. And we choose. Do we jump and trust or do we stay and wither?

Jump. Just jump. Tell a friend, tell a stranger, tell your pastor, your small group. Tell them, reach out to them and say what’s in your heart. It’s a gift that is worth it. Trust me. I’ve called many a friend and said “I’m calling because I feel lonely”, I’ve wept to coworkers, in-laws, siblings, and just shared what’s going on. Once, as my son cried in the grocery store, I saw another mom and I said to her “Does this get better? Because I’m feeling really discouraged”. She got to see my heart and God employed her words to minister to me because I chose to be vulnerable.

I want to encourage you to reach out to someone. Maybe you think of someone often and admire something about them. Reach out to them and tell them. Maybe you’re struggling with sadness, tell a friend and see how God uses them. I truly believe God blesses those who choose to trust Him, even if it seems little. But sharing out hearts is never a little matter, it’s a risk, and it’s a gift that you do not want to miss.

What on Earth is going on?

“Jesus doesn’t want us to live the Christian life, He wants to live the Christian life through us”

I don’t know about everybody else, but what the hell is going on? (pardon my french) Seriously, people are getting murdered because of skin color, or nationality, or religion, or profession. Millions of children, men, and women are sold into slavery. People are running cars into celebrations. Donald freaking Trump is being nominated for President. What is happening?!?! And I am trying to raise a child in this world!?!?! I am overwhelmed.

I believe that as Christians, we should be known by our love of justice and the work we do to right wrongs. We should be known as people who love and seek the right and true way for others. Unfortunately, that calling is gigantic. Our world is fallen, and if you didn’t see it before, you can see it now. The events that were once a “far off third-world country” have landed in our backyard. Literally.

When I look at all the things that are going mad around me, and I look at my daily struggle to love well and care for my husband and son, I feel lost. I can’t do it all, I can’t possible live the life God wants me to. I can’t speak kindly all the time and read my Bible and think before I speak and not roll my eyes. I can’t not be a jerk. It’s impossible. And, our society and the church tells me to “get it together and live the Christian life”. And, I can’t. There are too many things to do to to live that life, there are too many hurting people to help and too many selfish desires in my own heart.

I’ve been doing a study about the “Christ Directed Life” this summer, and like actually doing it, like reading and praying and really pouring myself into it. And this week, I felt it. I had spent a few days being a total ass to my husband, and I kept shaming myself thinking “man, I was doing so good!” and then I read this:

“Jesus doesn’t want us to live the Christian life, He wants to live the Christian life through us”. Like, He is going to do it. If we ask Him to direct the ship, He will. When I became a Christian and I gave my life to Him, He gave me the Holy Spirit, and my body and life became no longer mine. I am a vessel. He is working through me, and I don’t have to do it.

It’s like a ship. The ship isn’t thinking “Oh crap, I better get it together to get these people on the water, and then I have to steer, and then I have to avoid icebergs, and geez, how will I keep this boat going”. The ship just is. It’s there, and someone steers it, and all it has to do is allow itself to be used for it’s purpose.

And that’s us. I don’t have to drive this ship, I don’t have to save everyone and make sure I’m super nice to my husband and live that super neat “Christian” life. He’s going to do it for me, if I let myself be directed by Him.

So, take heart. We don’t have to right the wrongs all by ourselves. God is working and He has a plan for Justice and that plan is us. Not because we are totally awesome, in fact, in spite of our best efforts, He will work. Let’s take a moment, breathe, and ask God to fill us with the Holy Spirit. (by fill I mean guide and direct, not get all warm fuzzy and stuff).

He wants to be who He is through us. We have been crucified through Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. That’s it. He owns me, and I am really glad that He’s steering the ship because in this scary world, that ship needs the right Captain.

Sending the kids home for Summer

It’s almost summer.

This week was so very difficult. In my career as an educator, I would rank it the saddest, hardest, and most overwhelming week I’ve had. And, in the midst of the struggle of the week, I kept hearing others saying “it’s almost summer” as if summer is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. And that’s true, in some regards. Summer brings relaxing days, with little to no work and lots of freedom.

And it’s the same for the students. For some students “summer is almost here” brings excitement and joy. It’s almost time for days of exploring the neighborhood with our friends, swimming, cookouts, and family vacations. And, hopefully, most of our students have that to look forward to.

But some do not. For some kids, “it’s almost summer” brings feelings of fear and dread.  If we are honest with ourselves, we do not know what we send our students home to. I know, in my experience, that some of my students experience an increase in problem behaviors toward the end of the year. They know a break from school is coming, and they do not look forward to it.

Some of us send our kids home for the summer to a home where they are not treated well, where they don’t have a regular breakfast or lunch, where they may not have any activities to do, where the boredom will lead to destruction or they are left alone all day because mom is at work and can’t afford day camp. Some of our students go home to unclean conditions with nothing to do all day.

And, this week proved to me, that we have no idea the demons some of our students face when they are not at school. We have no idea if they will have someone remind them they are loved, cared for, and important. We hope they do. We pray they do. But we cannot know for sure.

So, in this last week of school, when so many kids are acting crazy nuts, and behavior problems are off the charts, let’s take a moment to breathe and remind ourselves that these children bring much more to school than a backpack, and they face much more in the summer than a vacation. Hug those kids before you send them home, tell them you will think of them, remind them they are loved. And tell them you are excited to see them again in the fall.

It’s almost summer.

Team Davis

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Wilson turns 1 in less than a month. This year has been so stretching. Our little family has struggled and grown and learned. It’s been hard for me, honestly. I know I err on the side of drama, but this year has really been a struggle.

We (Collin and I) have gotten married, moved in together, had a baby, moved church campuses and small groups, and learned to work/coparent/be married in less than 2 years. Our learning curve was steep and fast. There are moments where I get lost in despair and  feel like I will be on the struggle bus for ever, saying things like “I will never learn to be a good wife. I will always be someone who argues and my sassy mouth will ruin this marriage. We will never get this together and learn that we are on the same team”.

I need some grace. I need grace for Collin. I need grace for myself. I need grace for our marriage. Because perfection cannot be achieved, and I can try, and I will fail, and I will try again. And grace is needed.

Because, in the end, we are on the same team. It’s hard to take a step back and see that sometimes. We are for each other. I am for you, Collin and you are for me, and we are often blind to that reality.

We are on the same team. Team Davis vs. the world who tries to tear us apart. All marriages are that. You’re not fighting against your spouse, you’re fighting against the world. You’re fighting against the lies that tell you the person you married is the reason your life is “unhappy”.

I am writing this to encourage myself. I am writing this so that those who read it will help me to remember that I am on “Team Davis” not “Team Kacy”.

Team Davis forever.

The Hardest/Easiest Job

 

 

 

i heard your heartbeat

it was all I knew

i look into your eyes now

we both know

we are for each other

i am for you

you are for me

we are a family, you, me, daddy

we are growing

the prayers are lifted each day

prayers to grow brave and kind

prayers to love the unloveable and preach the gospel

we all need to grow towards God

teaching you, growing you, leading you is the hardest job i’ve ever had

teaching you, growing you, leading you is the weight I bear

it’s the easiest/hardest calling

there’s no other calling i’d rather have

i am for you, we are for you, we are all three for each other

our family, our calling, it’s hard, but God carries our burdens

His yoke is light