Way Maker

Pic from Chris on Unsplash: taken off the coast of Great Britain

I’ve truly never believed in God’s plan until these past few months. Seems silly, I’m sure, since I have been walking with him since I was 11. But I think it took me reaching my rock bottom and seeing Him pick me up out of that, then providing in a huge way (that I never thought would happen) because honestly? I am a control freak. I always think that my plan is right, even when it’s not. That’s the lovely part of being human. Or not so lovely part I should say.

Let me start by saying that things aren’t perfect. My cough-variant asthma is still an issue. I’m pretty exhausted most days, I’m struggling to eat well these days, and there are always going to be challenges.

But.

God has truly made a way in my life and for our family.

I’m going to attempt a brief overview of everything that has gone on in our life, but I’m not usually good at brief haha!

Here We Go…

My brother died by suicide, in a very gruesome way in 2009. It triggered a trauma response in my brain. I had levi 2 months later. I had really bad postpartum depression and anxiety.

We moved a 4 months after Levi was born. I started working 2 months later at a very difficult school. We lived in Dallas at my in-laws. I commuted to south Dallas (Oak Cliff). I had three babies 4 and under.

I literally had zero time to process my brother’s death let alone deal with the trauma and grief.

I worked off and on as a teacher at various schools and my mental health couldn’t manage it. I feel like he taught me so so much, but I was just too anxious because of my PTSD and other issues.

I hit rock bottom in 2016 and God has been lifting me up since, in very slow and intentional ways.

In February 2019, I started homeschooling my boys (again), because the school was in terrible shape. Then that fall Karis started being homeschooled as well. We really enjoyed it, like a lot! But. I was always trying to figure out who I was as a homeschooling educator. I didn’t fit into any of the methods or models. Literally at the beginning of July this year God reminded me that it’s okay if I bring parts of the education that I received and the training and things that I learned as a teacher into our homeschool because that’s how I felt mostly myself. But of course, that’s kind of hard too because the classroom is very difficult to bring into a home.

Then…

On July 9th, I went into Rocksprings to pick up some books that I had asked my friend, the library director, to hold for me.

My life will never be the same!

She and I talked for about an hour, just standing outside of the library. She encouraged me to go chat with the interim superintendent. I was like, “why?” She suggested to just let him know about the difficulty that my kids had with bullying and the lack of education that they received. She also said that I should let him know that I am a certified teacher and what happened the last time I applied there (I had an interview set up and the principal didn’t show up).

I went to lunch thinking that maybe I would just email him. I prayed as I ate (tacos) alone on the picnic table outside one of my fave restaurants. Then I decided that it didn’t hurt to go chat with him. I was wearing cut off shorts, a Friends t-shirt, and flip flops.

I walked in and told him that my friend (the library director whom he knew well) suggested that I come talk with him. He seemed a little confused but allowed me into his office and we ended up talking for an hour and a half.

We talked about the bullying that was allowed for so long. We talked about the pretty terrible teachers that were hired and allowed to work there despite no experience or even certification. We talked about the poor attitude that most people had. I explained why I decided to homeschool despite the fact that I’m fine with public education normally. I explained why I had to leave jobs in the past and we discussed my brother’s death and the trauma from it. We talked about how I had to rise up and be the person God called me to be despite the really difficult challenges that I have faced. I explained to him what we have been doing to help Ethan grow these past few years through his mental health challenges. We talked about how much growth has happened. I basically didn’t hold anything back because: why? I didn’t have anything to lose. I loved what our life looked like. I wasn’t trying to escape anything. I knew that if this worked out, it would be totally a God thing. I wasn’t seeking out any changes in our life. I also wanted to come into this as an open book because that’s who I am. I wanted to be able to be ME.

At the end of all of this, he asked if I would want to interview for a third grade position. I was like, sure! Why not? He said that it would probably be a few weeks for various reasons. Y’all this was a Thursday. The school offices were closed on Fridays. Monday morning I got a call to set up an interview for the very next day.

My interview was with some familiar faces. I was an open book again. Because. That’s me! And also, most of them already knew my story. They told me to go over the administration office afterwards. I was a little confused, but about 10 minutes later the interim walked in and said that it was unanimous and asked if I would like the job!

I have been working hard ever since! A week and a half later I went to an amazing an intense Reading Academy training. My brain was so full and overflowing but it was in that moment that I realized I was truly in my element! I am finally truly able to be who God has called me to be. Doing what I KNOW He created me for (along with being a wife and mama of course!). It was a very difficult week in many ways, but I pushed through! Over a week later and we had inservice then school started a week and a half after that.

We get up at 5:00am every day. Ethan has football practice at 6:45 (more on this!). The day is so so busy. But I come home and spend time with my family every evening and while I do have some anxiety, it is absolutely NOTHING like I’ve had before. Truly. God has provided amazing treatment, counseling, and learning/growing opportunities to grow me so much over the past 6 years. I’m learning to give myself grace. The administration knows that I work hard and have high expectations for myself, and they remind me to give myself grace also.

And y’all. Ethan. If you’ve known me long, you would know that he has had major struggles most of his life. He has severe ADHD and anxiety. He has had a rough go of it with friendships and school and everything. The bullying affected him very deeply.

He has thrived more than anything I could have hoped or imagined. He adores his teachers and coaches, and they adore him. He has a hunger and thirst for learning all of the things between how to play football to math to reading to science to history. He is so happy and excited every. single. day. He is obsessed with football. I feel that he has found his niche. Seriously.

And Karis! She reluctantly agreed to be in Ag because it was between that and child development (in a small school you don’t have lots of options). She adores her Ag teacher (a 20-something woman who is very knowledgeable!). She has decided that she wants to show rabbits, go to Greenhand camp (I have no idea what this is really haha), be on the quiz team, eventually be in leadership, and work hard to receive Ag scholarships. I never ever thought this would be something she would be so excited about. She never thought this was in her future either!

Levi is just happy to be busy again, be with school friends, and he has super amazing teachers who really adore him as well! He loves being able to constantly get good books, he’s challenged daily, and he told me last night that he feels much better about his education now that he’s in school. He is my kid that takes a while with big changes, but he is doing well.

Things I Have Learned

I have realized that while I love being with my kids, as an educator, I am more built for a classroom environment! I was always trying to bring those elements into our homeschool and it just doesn’t work.

God has brought me full circle. I have said this before, but now I truly believe it. All that I have learned in every area of my life has built me to be a more resilient than ever before. I have incredible strength from Jesus, I have learned so much about ADHD thanks to teaching my boys, I have learned how to better manage a classroom, I have learned how to teach well, I have learned the importance of brain breaks and movement in a classroom, I have learned how to partner with parents (since I had such a bad time with teachers as a parent), how to enjoy the little things, dig in and work hard with students while allowing them dignity through their struggles, the power of reading aloud, the importance of routine and consistency, the importance of grace for myself and my students and even parents, high expectations just enough to remind them of what they CAN do, and so so much more.

Way Maker

You’re probably wondering why I titled this post “Way Maker.”

I realize this blog post is sort of long, but I guess that’s what happens when it has been a few months, but I hope it’s clear through this post that God has provided the way. The whole time. Through the struggle and the beauty.

I have zero doubts that this is ALL from God. So that’s what gets me through the difficulty. And I truly give God the praise and honor and glory for it all!

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