Raising awareness – why?

Over the last couple of years I’ve noticed a trend – social media makes it so easy for us to raise awareness of certain causes. raise-bullying-awarenessBullying awareness, ALS awareness, autism awareness… the list goes on. And while yes, it’s cool that people are now more aware of these things… what purpose does that actually serve?

I saw an advertisement the other day for a company that donated to breast cancer research – and it was not Susan G. Komen. Their argument was something along the lines of this: who doesn’t know about breast cancer? It’s sort of like advertising for toilet paper (in general, not specific brands). Who doesn’t use this already?? Wouldn’t it be better to use our energy on solutions? Wouldn’t it serve us better to have a breast cancer donation month instead of an awareness month? In the United States, there are 69 documented cancer awareness“awareness” months. Meaning that over the 12 months of the year, over 69 things are being highlighted for awareness at some point. One of them is vegetarian awareness month, people.

I don’t mean to sound snarky here, but really? This number does not include the appreciation and celebration months either. These are just the ones that say “awareness” in the name. And you know what? We, as a result are a pretty informed culture. We know about a lot of different things. Cool. But it’s difficult to pinpoint if anyone is actually doing something to help these causes (not talking about you, vegetarians. You’re good on your own).

Facts are great. Knowledge is important. I feel like “awareness” is just another buzzword to help us feel important. Joseph-Kony-2012-PosterLike Kony 2012 – tons of awareness. But what even happened? I bet you have no idea. And what about the ice bucket challenge? People were supposed to pour a bucket of ice on their head so that they didn’t have to donate $100. What kind of backwards help is that? Instead of jumping on the bandwagon, changing your profile picture, hashtagging your status or otherwise “raising awareness”, why don’t we actually do something. Donate money. Volunteer time. For heaven’s sake, just pray if you can’t do anything else. Actually, pray before anything else. It’s so much better than just throwing information into the wind and hoping somebody, somewhere will take some kind of initiative.

That is all.



The Mommy List.

Okay so being that I am now 36 weeks along, I’m going to share with you my checklist of 357 things pregnant moms need to do before the baby, 892 things to bring with you to the hospital, 63 ways to ensure that your infant will actually love you when you bring him home, 6,359 date night ideas for couples about to have a baby, and 941 foods to avoid while pregnant.


Seriously I have spent way too much time on Pinterest and various mommy blogs, and I feel like all of those could be real lists at this point. As my mother and husband have delicately pointed out to  me, I spend too much time on the internet, researching how to be a good mom. And while yes, that is probably true, the real issue is not that I’m worried. I think I have a normal amount of stress right now and I actually feel pretty chill. My issue is that I’m just waiting. I’ve never been good at that.

So, in order to pass some time, I’m going to give you a list of my own – the craziest mommy things I’ve found on the internet.

  1. trendy toddlerTrendy toddlers. Seriously, you know your toddler isn’t fully potty trained yet, right? And that he eats dirt? How did you even get him to keep that scarf on? There is no reason for all this mess.
  2. Naked nearly naked mom(or nearly naked) maternity photo shoots. Woman – WHY are you in that field in your underwear? And you’re wearing a sweater? I get that you have somehow magically avoided stretch marks, and I’m sure that’s amazing, but lady. I know you feel like a beached whale. You’re not fooling anyone.
  3. toilet babyNon-traditional labor positions.Are… are you going to have that baby on the toilet? On purpose??
  4. While I’m at it, photos during labor. – NO. I couldn’t even find a labor picture that I was comfortable having on my blog. Let’s keep private things private, ladies.
  5. baby productsThe endless lists prepared by moms to let the rest of us know what we will absolutely need and if we don’t have all of those things in exactly that brand, how we will be failing our children and they will never get accepted into the magnet preschool that guarantees them a brighter future. Oh, and if they don’t get into the magnet preschool, forget college. Colleges don’t accept bums like your kid.
  6. Hospital bag checklists. I’m sure my husband and my mother are spitting out hospital yeah rightwhatever they’re drinking, because I have a hospital bag checklist. But I make a short checklist anytime I ever pack because if I don’t I forget things. Like my toothbrush. What I’m talking about is a hospital bag checklist with over 50 items. For example: This little gem. You can click on it to see what all this crazy is bringing. I feel like this woman will need her own entourage just to carry these things.
  7. This – listen if you’re using your breast milk for anything other than feeding your baby, YOU ARE GROSS. breast milkI realize that may or may not be an unpopular opinion, and I do not care. Let me also tell you, I am bothered by women who feel the need to nurse, uncovered, in public. Now I am a prude. I always wear an undershirt so that I feel totally covered. I am not okay with unnecessary displays of boob (Sorry, anyone who did not expect me to be this frank, like my grandpa, probably). So why then, does it become okay to expose yourself when there is an infant attached? I don’t want to see that. Yeah, it’s natural. As my mother said, going to the bathroom is natural too, but you don’t see anybody doing that proudly in public. pregnant stretchesAt least not without getting arrested.
  8. Pregnancy stretches that look anything like this – HAHA.
  9. Pinterest in general, really. I have found about a billion articles on almost every parenting/pregnancy topic that exists, and so many of them contradict each other. “Baby wearing is the best!” “Don’t wear your baby, THEY’LL DIE.” “101 recipes for cookies to leave out for Santa” “101 reasons why letting your kids believe in Santa is sending them straight to hell.” Just, as a rule, I’ve learned that people, especially women, are insane. Motherhood generally brings out the worst of these traits.

Pray for my poor husband. I’m trying not to be crazy, I really am.

That is all.


Starbucks cups, Penn Jillette, and other things that offend.

You’ve heard the debate over the Starbucks red cups, I know you have. red cups It’s really nothing new – Starbucks or Target or Disney or some other huge company manages to find a new way to offend Christians every year. This year, it’s the absence of snowflakes that has everyone up in arms. xmascups
No, really. They have never had “Merry Christmas” written on their cups. The cups usually have snowmen, or penguins, or reindeer or something else benign. ornament cupsHow dare they remove symbols that have literally nothing to do with Jesus from my overpriced latte.

Now, before you get upset, hear me out: it’s okay that you don’t like the cups. I think they’re boring and not a bit festive. But they are not a declaration of war on Christmas and especially not on Christians. Which brings me to my point: Why are we (Christians) so easily offended?

If someone says to us “Happy Holidays”, it is not our commission as followers of Christ to rudely and abruptly respond with “Don’t you mean Merry Christmas??” (I have actually heard a woman do this). It is not our personal crusade as born-again believers to make sure that Target, a secular company, puts out a baby Jesus in a manger. Jesus himself tells his followers that we should not be “of the world”, just as He is not of the world. This means we are set apart. We are different. So why should we expect non-Christians to adhere to our standard of living? Just as you can’t force me to stop saying “Merry Christmas”, I can’t force you to start saying it. We are not the same.holiday vs christmas

Which brings me to my real point: Why are we so petty? If someone says to us “I don’t believe in Jesus” we, as an American Christian culture, are more likely to cry out “persecution!” than to actually weep for their lost soul.  We are not called to “go and be offended every time someone marginalizes our beliefs”. We are called to seek out the lost who are hurting and dying and show them the love of our wonderful father. We are called to turn the other cheek and let disagreements roll off our back.

I once watched a video that still challenges me to this day – it’s Penn Jillette, a notoriously atheistic (and God-hating) performer, telling a story about a man who gave him a Bible. Please, take 5 minutes to watch it.

I would sum it up, but I honestly do not believe I could say it any better myself. If this doesn’t cause you to reflect on your priorities, I don’t know what will. Maybe, instead of getting angry with those who don’t believe like us, we should be getting angry with ourselves because we aren’t reaching out to them with love. I could not care less what my Starbucks cup looks like. I don’t expect them to live up to my standard. I do care what God thinks. And God thinks I could definitely be doing more to spread the actual truth of Christmas – a savior coming to earth to redeem us from our piteous mistakes. A God who loves us infinitely sacrificing His own son so that we, wretched sinners, could be with Him. I am far from perfect and I have a long way to go. At least for now though, I will not be spending any of my precious energy on the “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays” debate.

That is all.


A kick in the head.

I am not a patient person. I don’t necessarily mean I can’t wait around for things, though that is typically true, I mean I have very little patience for people. Or situations. I hope I’m not tarnishing anyone’s perception of me – it’s just the truth. I have noticed that throughout my pregnancy this trait has not clockdiminished. In fact, I had to apologize to my husband recently because I am becoming more frank and less careful with my words by the minute. It’s a work in progress for me.

Carrying around a child 24/7, while beautiful and amazing, and blah blah blah, is tough. It hurts. I’m tired. My usually less than sunny disposition is now, well, something more akin to a blizzard. I have caught myself just plain being not nice lately.

In the midst of my struggle to remain sweet, I teach middle
school. It isn’t exactly conducive to feeding my positive energy. In college, all my professors (well, almost all of them) would remind us regularly: sarcasm has no place in the classroom. I try… I try so hard but sometimes the only logical response to a question like “Do I have to turn the homework in to get credit for it” is a sarcastic irritated-gifquip.

Now, all of this is not just a confession, I’m getting somewhere. I have one student in particular, I’ll call him Jonah, and he is a real challenge to me. He is sweet, but let’s be honest. He doesn’t have an ounce of common sense in his body. He’s the one that asks me the question that I just answered. He’s the one that asks me the questions whose answers are on the board. He’s the one who asks me how his grades are so bad when he hasn’t turned in an assignment in three weeks. I want to like him, but he pushes at all of my buttons almost daily.

Jonah is just one of those kids who becomes one of those adults who is the reason we need warning labels on things like hot coffee and blenders. I find my patience wearing thin with him on a pretty regular basis. “Jonah, the middle of a lecture is not the time to get up and ask me when you can make up a missing assignment.” “Jonah, please do not try to sharpen your pencil on the SUPER LOUD wall sharpener while a student is giving a presentation.” If you’ve ever worked with kids, you know the type.

There’s a saying: “Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a battle.” Nobody really knows who said it first, but it doesn’t matter. The truth still kindremains – every single person is dealing with their own stuff that you don’t know about. I have spoken with Jonah’s mom; I know she’s a single mother. But she keeps him in football, which I silently judged because he’s failing everything. Yesterday though, I received a report of which of my students is homeless and/or in foster care. Guess what? Jonah is homeless. I don’t know any of the extenuating circumstances, but who cares? The bottom line is that maybe Jonah has a hard time listening because he’s preoccupied with not having a place to live. Maybe Jonah doesn’t have common sense because he’s too busy just trying to make it in life. Maybe mom keeps him in football because it’s the only stability he gets.

This child has probably dealt with more in his 12 years of life than most people will deal with way into adulthood. Now. This is not to say that occasionally I won’t still get frustrated with Jonah. But God is teaching me something here, and it’s probably as obvious to you as it is to me now.

I’m so thankful that God is more understanding of me than I am of others.

That is all.


What to do when you aren’t prepared for your blessing.

I’m in an interesting position in life. Well, interesting might be an understatement. You see, my husband’s job ends at the end of May, which we knew, and it wouldn’t be a problem, since my job is stable, right? Wrong. I received a notice back in March that the district won’t be renewing my contract. It’s a seniority issue – the district needs to make some cutbacks and the teachers are the first ones to go. So while it’s entirely possible and maybe even probable that they’ll rehire me, as of now, my job ends at the end of May too. So both my husband and I are in the job market. We are looking to move apartments for a myriad of reasons, and everything is a little… up in the air.

All of these things can be dealt with. Kai and I are strong, and I know that God will take care of us. On top of this, I was feeling that I was personally in for a life transition. The last post I made, about teens and internet safety, practically went viral. I had 350,000 views in just three weeks, and the article was posted on other websites that had just as many views. I felt that maybe I needed to do something. Perhaps I needed to sit down and finally write that book I’ve been thinking about, or maybe I need to go back to school and change career directions or something. All I knew is that I felt like life was on the move.

I was excited. I was going to gain some new purpose. Since I’m still young, I’m still figuring myself out and I thought maybe this life change will be something I could really hang my hat on. Something great and self-fulfilling.

Well, you know how they say God works in mysterious ways? I found out what my big transition is going to be. I found out in the form of (surprise!) 4 positive pregnancy tests. And as I looked around my apartment at my withering succulent plant and my barely life-sustaining beta fish, I became acutely aware of how unprepared I am for motherhood. Of course, I think I’ll be a pretty decent mom – someday. But now? I can’t even rent a car yet! I still want to be selfish. I still want my extra money to go to things like video games and vacations, not diapers and baby formula. for the first couple of weeks I had a very difficult time adjusting to the idea. I went to the doctor and even saw the nugget on an ultrasound. Yup. That’s a baby. But I was in denial.

All I could think of was how my life was never going to be the same, and how not ready for that I was. Oh sure – I changed my diet, I started taking prenatal vitamins, I did all the right things, but it all felt very hollow. I was not in love with this intruder in my stomach giving me heartburn and making me want to sleep for 12 hours every night.


But the Lord was doing something in my heart. When I stopped feeling sorry for myself for even just a minute, He reminded me of another time that I was less than grateful. A a kid when my family stayed in a hotel, I used to get super mad because my dad is a big snorer. He could wake the dead if he slept close enough to a graveyard. One vacation in particular I was griping to  my mom about how I couldn’t sleep and I was amazed that she could put up with all that noise. Her response was at once so simple and so profound that it stuck with me. She told me that when she starts to get frustrated at the jackhammer volume of snoring coming from my father, that she would start thanking God that she even had a husband and that her husband was healthy and loving and involved. She started being grateful and stopped being annoyed.

So that’s what I did with my little one. I’m not saying it was an instant transition, but when I stopped complaining to God about how I wasn’t ready, and started thanking God for the gift of life in my womb, my outlook changed drastically. It’s crazy how a little thankfulness can turn your outlook around. I no longer resent my little passenger but I thank God that he’s given me a healthy body and a healthy child. He trusts me with the greatest responsibility in life – a tiny human. What a gift.

I’m sure I’ll be keeping all of you updated along this crazy adventure. 🙂

That is all.


To the Well-Intentioned but Ignorant Parents of Teenagers.

I’ve been mulling over this topic for quite some time, but this morning it became increasingly clear to me that I must say something. Folks, stranger danger is a real thing. And even more real today than it was ten years ago thanks to, you guessed it, the internet.

I speak specifically to the parents of kids old enough to be on social media. Of course, I am no such parent, but I am a teacher of those kids. I am also only 6-10 years older than the high school students I teach. Maybe that makes me unqualified to speak out, but maybe it makes me the most qualified candidate. Many of my colleagues and the parents of my students are old enough to be my own parents, so I tend to share a comaraderie with my students. And yet, I am far enough removed to be able to speak in ways that they cannot yet speak for themselves.

The reason this subject has become suddenly so urgent to me is because today I read an article about a new website called YouNow which is essentially a livestream site that a person can set up a camera feed and you can watch it constantly. Users can connect with cameras using hashtags like #sleepingsoundly. In other words, people – teenagers – are setting up cameras in their bedrooms so anyone, any stranger, can watch them sleep… or whatever. And while the stream is happening, there is a constant commentary by all watchers. I watched one today (for about ten seconds because I felt totally creepy) of a teenager somewhere singing on his porch. The comments ranged anywhere from “you have a great voice you should date me” to much more obscene things like calling the boy a “fag” and telling him he looked like various parts of genitalia. Now yes, this website is not specifically marketed for teens, and yes, there are terms of use that technically prohibit obscenity and illegal acts. But if you know anything about teenagers you know that they quickly find loopholes to most rules. The internet, especially social media, is NOT safe. And it is sobering how real this is.

You may be thinking “I’m smarter than that. I have a facebook and I watch my kids online.” You might have a Facebook. So do I. And so does my mom and my grandma and all of her friends. But you know who doesn’t have a Facebook? Your kid’s friends. I took an informal poll of my 150 students at the beginning of the year, and 60-80% of my students don’t even have a facebook. They connect with each other on Kik, an app that allows users to text each other without exchanging phone numbers. They use Snapchat, an app that allows users to send pictures that supposedly disappear forever after ten seconds. They use Whisper, an app that a user can “anonymously” tell their deepest secrets to a vast community of other secret sharers. They use Yik Yak, Vine, Tumblr, Twitter (do you know about subtweeting? you should.), Instagram, Oovoo, WhatsApp, Meerkat, and sometimes even dating apps, like Tinder.

The problem with thinking you’re smart is that I would almost guarantee that there is at least one of those apps you’ve never heard of. And if you aren’t on it, your kids probably will be.

Teenagers typically do not yet understand the importance of internet safety. Along with the age-old feeling of invulnerability that adolescence has always carried, now there is an unprecedented and intimate access to a world wide community of strangers. So instead of driving too fast or sneaking out at night, your kids might be posting naked pictures on a website you’ve never heard of to people they’ve never met.

I know, I know. Your child would never do that! Let me tell you something: You. Don’t. Know. That. You know those tiny feelings you get every day but you cope nicely because you’re an adult? Feelings like insecurity, boredom, even the loneliness of being at home when your friends are all going out – well these feelings are massive to teenagers. A combination of hormones and inexperience create a veritable powder keg of unpredictable behavior. Insecurity might lead to seeking acceptance from strangers by posting a selfie and waiting for people to reblog, like, or comment on it. Boredom might lead to extended conversations online with someone they’ve never met about deeply personal matters. Loneliness can lead to online sex. No, really. It can.

Please please hear me, parents. I am not an outdated, irrelevant old person sitting on my metaphorical front lawn griping about “kids these days”. I spend more time with teenagers than I do with people my own age. And in many cases, I spend more time with your teenagers than even you do. I am begging you to give a crap about your kids.  When I was a teenager myself, social media was just gaining popularity and my mom had my Myspace and Facebook password. I never sent a message, posted a picture, or added a friend without her knowing it. It sounds extreme, but I’m safe today because of it. I can’t even count the many times I would have done something incredibly unsafe and irresponsible if not for the fact that I knew my mom was watching.

My success as an adult today can be blamed almost wholly on the fact that my parents were involved in my life. I could go on forever about the rising rate of teen suicides, sexual miscreance, and drug abuse problems that can be traced back to beginnings in social media. These things are real. And if you don’t show up in your kid’s life and give a crap, maybe no one will.

That is all.


The Test with No Wrong Answers.

Y’all… I just spent a good five minutes trying to decide if I capitalized my title correctly. I’ve been grading too many papers.

ANYWAY. Here is a life update: I am married and teaching high school! Everything I’ve ever wanted.

Spongebob and Squidward work the graveyard shift.

Spongebob and Squidward work the graveyard shift.

We have two cars, a lovely apartment, two beautiful babies(fish)***, I have a great job that I love, even with all of its challenges. Up until a couple weeks ago, my husband had a pretty good job too. But then: (cue dramatic music) he gets laid off. It wasn’t exactly ideal timing. I was just getting ready to start buying Christmas presents and ugly sweaters (see previous blog posts about how much I love Christmas). But, such is life.

So, like the responsible and industrious man that he is, my husband starts filling out job applications like crazy. He finally got a couple of interviews and then last night, a call! He has a job! But here’s the thing. It’s a graveyard shift. Basically I’ll get home for work just in time to kiss him goodbye and vice versa.
weddingNow. In case you had forgotten, we are only newly married. We haven’t even been at this for three months yet. I still want him to go jean shopping with me because I can’t stand to be apart (which of course, he loves). So the schedule of his new job is, of course, disconcerting to me. Since finding out, I have tried so hard to be supportive and positive. The job will allow us to have a lot more financial freedom than before. God has blessed us tremendously in that regard. But you know what? I’d rather have my husband home with me at night.

It’s a difficult place for me emotionally, because we have all been praying so hard for Kai to get a job. God was gracious enough to keep us afloat financially in the mean time. And our prayers were answered with this job offer. The answer just isn’t what I want it to be. God’s provision doesn’t look like I want it to. I was prepared for us to take a financial hit from a new job. Not a time-with-my-new-husband hit.

In my prayer time, I’m having a hard time not being ticked at God. Why can’t the answer be something I was prepared for? Why can’t I sacrifice something that I was already ready to give up? But in this, I realize: God’s plan is sovereign and perfect and I need to get my butt on board with it. God has been so faithful to us in our new marriage. We are beyond blessed. This is the first time that we even have to face something legitimately difficult.


I’ve had this verse on a note in may car for the last couple of months:

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits! Psalm 103:2

I have to remember to not just praise Him when everything is lovely. The challenge is only temporary; God is permanent. It’s like my favorite preacher (my dad) said on Sunday: God is teaching us to trust him when the miracle provision stops. I’m so glad I serve a faithful God.

Well, since I’m about to have a lot of free time while my husband works, more posts to follow 🙂

That is all.


*** One of our fish died last night. RIP, little buddy. Miss you forever.