Friday, February 9, 2018


I recently spent a few days in Ocracoke, NC while I was involved in a session at NCCAT (seriously, any and every NC teacher should figure out a way to go).  The session centered around teacher leadership and the many ways we can lead in our classrooms, schools, and communities.  It was beautiful and encouraging to spend a few days with teachers from around the state interested in improving the state of affairs in our schools.

One of the main questions we kept coming back to in the session was "defining your why"--why do we teach?  Why do we return to the classroom each day?  Why do we do the things the way we do?

I must admit that it's not fun to dig a little deeper and try to determine your why--because sometimes the whys are not glamorous or noble.  We examined our personalities (always so intriguing to me), and reflected on ways our strengths and weaknesses impacted our choices.

I am an internalizer and I love thinking about what makes someone tick.  I love analyzing personality types and discussing methods.  I love looking at an overall issue and searching for issues and solutions.

But sometimes it's really hard to do that for yourself.  

Because sometimes it's really hard to look at yourself. 

A few years ago I attended a conference at Baylor with some of my music students and we were frequently asked the question, "Why do we sing?" and were encouraged to respond.  I remember reading all of the responses--some thoughtful, some predictable, some funny, and I remember thinking "I sing because I breathe."  Music just a natural part of my life.  My emotional response to music is something I was born with and have studied to improve my craft for many years.  I cannot imagine my life without music, and I'm so thankful my husband and girls love it as much as I do.  

I love words.  I love reading and writing good words.  My heart pitter patters over meaningful phrases and I can turn song lyrics over and over in my head for days.  I get teary looking at the signs at Hobby Lobby (even though I've seen them time and time again), and I can get lost in the dreamy words in liturgies.  Some people imagine relaxing on a sunny beach on a tropical island--I daydream about a sunlit temperature-controlled screened-in porch or room overlooking a beautiful pond/wooded area with a perfectly-aged wood table, a cup of coffee, and time to read and write without distraction.  Bonus points if I have a fireplace, pretty rug, and it's clutter free.  

I love Christmas.  
And snow.
Coffee with good conversation.
And systems and schedules and plans.

But why does all of that matter so much to me?  
This is what I'm trying to figure out. 

As the ferry pulled out of Ocracoke at the conclusion of our week, I was thankful I had about 3 hours in the car to myself to sit and think.  I need time to process information and sort it in my head.  But here I am 3 weeks later and I'm still wrestling with my whys (and whats and hows).

When I turned the page in my journal two months or so ago and wrote January 1, 2018, I jotted down my goals for this year.  I'm not motivated by the word resolution, but I am motivated by the end goal, because the pleasure of achievement will motivate me to systematically approach it and get things done.  I'm already taking care of things, taking care of myself and the precious things in my life, and trying my best to take care of this year.  Right now I'm wrestling with ideas and have things I'd like to accomplish, and some fuzzy shaped dreams are keeping my brain occupied.

I'm choosing to approach this season by asking myself over and over why I'm doing the things I'm doing these days, and then trying to make sense of those answers.

to be continued . . .  

Monday, January 8, 2018

Mama A's Favorite Things: January 2018

I remember as a teenager (and even as a college student and young teacher) trying to get home in the afternoons to watch the Oprah show at 4pm.  I loved watching her sing along with her musical guests, interacting with her audience, and I thought she was a smart host and not afraid of saying the hard things that sometimes need to be said out loud.  I don’t agree with everything she believes in, and I don’t agree with everything she says, but I sure did love watching the audience on her “Favorite Things” episodes.  They would absolutely lose. it. in the audience—and who could blame them?   Each person would receive thousands of dollars worth of Oprah’s favorite things (sometimes including a CAR!) 

As much as I would like to be able to say, “You get a car!  You get a car!” to each of you sweet readers, I’m just not Ms. Winfrey and rolling in the dollars.  However, I do have a few things that I’m loving these days and thought I would pass along to you.

I have been on the fence about Ugg boots for quite some time.  I like the idea of my feet staying warm, but I’m not in love with the idea of spending a lot of money on shoes.  I had a pair of LL Bean duck boots, but they always rubbed blisters on my heels, so sadly I had to get rid of them.  The Cecile is a fantastic boot and we just had several inches of snow and I’m happy to report they kept my feet dry and warm. 

This came from my cute cousin in Delaware as a Christmas present and I LOVE IT!  It is a chunky and not perfectly round mug, and I love her signature font on all of her pieces.  I can see where this line of dishes could become a bad habit, so it’s probably good she doesn’t have a store around here.

A year ago we were all down with the family flu—stomach virus, colds, fever, and exhausted.  My good friend, Kim, loaned me her Young Living diffuser and some oils and I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired that I gave it a try and I immediately ordered my own starter pack and jumped on the oils train.  Now, I do not believe that oils will fix everything that ails you, but there are a lot of wonderful benefits I’ve seen in my own home.  We’ve used them for stress relief, sleepless nights, aches and pains, congestion, headaches, and aromatherapy.  

Grits have been one of my most favorite foods since I was a little girl.  Mixing in some sharp cheddar and bacon or sausage, a little salt and pepper—heaven on a cold morning, or perfect for dinner.  I’ve experimented with making them off and on for years, but this week I made the most perfect pot of grits thanks to this recipe.  My husband did not care for the garlic, but my daughter and I ate them until our bellies were hurting.  

I used to enjoy watching The Weather Channel when I got ready to go in the mornings, but once I became married to a night owl who enjoys sleeping in (and small children), I decided to not turn on the television and remain quiet to keep people sleeping as long as possible.  For the last few months I’ve enjoyed listening to podcasts on my phone while getting ready.  I have a variety that I love, the these are the ones I keep coming back to each week.  Luckily, they all release new episodes on different days, so I have new material almost every morning:

For the Love  I know Jen is one of those people that Christians either love (or love to hate) these days.  But I think she’s witty and so far I enjoy the topics she’s covered on her podcast (friends, fall, food, new beginnings).   
The Lazy Genius:  Kendra is a regular person with good ideas about systems, appreciates pop culture, and a mom just trying to make it each day.  In short, she’s normal.
Relevant:  This is a favorite for my teenager and she loves to listen to it while we’re riding in the car.  Current events, funny stories, great guests, and new music. 
The Next Right Thing:  Emily is one of my favorite writers.  Her voice is soothing and she invites grace into the ordinary.  Perfect for a Tuesday morning when I’m feeling less than graceful. 

Full disclosure, if you sign up for Young Living using this link I receive a small compensation which helps me purchase more oils for my family.  All other links in this post are things I love and adore and just wanted to share--these people/companies do not know me and I will receive no compensation for my reviews. 

Monday, January 1, 2018


Let us remember our past, but let us recognize we are standing in the present.

Let us embrace the things that have been placed in our laps and let us choose to hold them with great care.

Let us stand a little braver, a little stronger, and with a little more confidence in the fact that we don’t have to have it all figured out just yet.

Let us delight in the skills and talents that bring us great joy, while remaining thankful for the gift of creativity and craft.

Let the momentum of the first of the year remind us that we are also given a fresh start each morning. 

Let us be renewed by His Grace, and in our gratefulness, let us share it with those around us.

Welcome 2018.


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