An Open Letter to the School Where I Began My Career

On Friday, May 11, 2018, I accepted an offer from Stuart W. Cramer High School to continue my career as a social studies educator. This means June 2018 will end my time with the school that I grew to love over the last five years of my life. It is the most bittersweet decision of my life thus far.

I fell in love with you, Hunter Huss, from the first time I set foot in the school as a college student. I had been to the school as a high school cheerleader, but from the first time I entered the school as an adult, I knew this is where I wanted to begin my teaching career. I started my time here while completing observations in the social studies department, during my junior year of college. Let me be honest, when I was first assigned my clinical observations here, I was terrified. The reputation you carried to the high school I attended was not one to be cherished. From the moment I began my time here, you opened my eyes to the fact you were not and are not what the community, especially other high schoolers, believe that you are. I told my parents after my first day of completed observations that I could not wait to return here and that I wanted to begin my teaching career here once I graduated.

During the spring semester of my senior year, I repeatedly sent emails to the principal and assistant principals, basically begging just to have a tour. When I was granted a tour, I was also interviewed on the spot by the administration. I was not told if they would even have an opening for me, but I prayed fervently that they would. I interviewed with other schools. I turned down the opportunity to work in the school I did my student teaching in during my senior year. I took a spot on a summer long mission trip. On my first day of actual work with this mission group, I received a phone call not only from Hunter Huss offering me a position but also a very nice school right across the South Carolina border. I then received two more interview requests based on my initial county interview and resume. I prayed nonstop for about 24 hours and talked to some very trusted individuals in my life to ask their Godly advice. On a Friday in May of 2015, I accepted my position with Hunter Huss.

Within weeks I was busy buying supplies for my classroom and began cleaning room C112 out from its previous owner. I began the steps to become a new teacher in Gaston County Schools. I spent time praying over the students that would step through the doorway of my classroom. One bulletin board still has not changed since the design I gave it in early August of 2015, because I was just so happy with the way it turned out. I put the letters on my door to spell “Miss Freeman” and beamed with pride as C112 became my own. C112, you have been home for three years, and when I clean you out in a few weeks, I guarantee you will see tears shed. You have been my retreat when I needed a few moments to breathe in hectic days. You have been the place where relationships have grown with my students. You have hosted meetings. You have seen me push my students. You have seen me cry tears of frustration when things weren’t going as well as I planned or when life’s hardships hit me at the end of the day. You have seen me laugh with my kids. You have seen me get riled up about politics and conspiracies and when I was encouraging them. You have also seen me work a lot of overtime….sweet second home of mine, we have shared many hours together. Thanks, C112, for being the safe place for me to grow as an educator and to learn about myself and my “babies.”

I have been part of the Husky (although yall would spell it Huskie and that will forever kill me slightly) Family officially for almost three years. (May 29 will mark the official day). Some members of this staff will remain a part of my life. Some of you, as life goes, will fade into my memory. But every one of you has made a mark on my life. We encourage our students to “make a mark” and you, Husky Family, surely have done so to each person who enters this building. There’s a saying “people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime” and this season has been pretty awesome for the most part. You have pushed me as an educator. You have given me resources and allowed me to share my own. Some of you, in all honesty, have tested my patience; some of you have deeply hurt my feelings. And some of you, wow, you have become family, absolutely, and forever. But each of you, I respect as my colleagues and as the people who are helping in raising the children that I think of as my own. Thank you for how you have helped me grow in the last 3-5 years.

I tell you, my sweet babies, that I don’t have biological children and so when you join my class you forever become one of mine, and there has never been anything truer. I have had over 400 children in my lifetime, and I reflect each year on the unique things you have brought into my life. My new students at this new school will not take your place, they will simply become my “babies” as well, but as a good “mom” I promise to still love you equally, just like if I was still here bringing in a new class of juniors. But before I go, I have a few words left for you all. You have tested me and have pushed me and have made me grow. And I hope you walk away from my classroom believing the same of me. I admire each of you. I love each and every one of you. Just like a mom can be tried by her children and still love them endlessly, some of you have been corrected by me more times than I can count, but that does not mean I don’t love as much as my straight-A-never-get-chastised-students. I have prayed for each of you even before you came into my classroom. I have prayed for you through the semester I have taught you. I know some of you believe the opposite, but everything I have done in this classroom has been to push you to be a better you. I have nothing but your best interests at heart. I want the best for each of you. I want you to be who you were created to be. I want you to be happy. I want you to realize each day that you woke up with a purpose and that you have what you need within you to reach the goals you have for yourself. I have been so privileged to watch you all grow in the time that I have had with you, and I cannot wait to see what stands ahead of you. Out of the talks I’ve given in my years, I want you all to remember a few things: stop watering dead plants, you did not wake up today to be mediocre, and you are so incredibly loved. Even though I’m heading a few minutes down the road, I will always be here for you when you need me. I will always love you as my own and support you to be the best you that you can be. I’ve most likely lost your interest by now, so I’ll stop.

To the Gaston County Community, I wish that I could show you the things that I love about Hunter Huss. My students are brilliant. When they set their mind to something, they are determined to achieve it. They are caring, they have big hearts ready to be loved and ready to give love. They are not the stories you tell about them or the reputation you have grown to believe is true. They are not a bunch of hoodlums who are held in by a barbed wire fence..that fence was to keep yall out and it’s been gone since I was in high school, update your knowledge of the city. They are children who are receiving an education in the oldest high school in Gaston County- which I would consider a privilege because I love my historic sites. They are not obnoxious, loud, disrespectful kids, they are young adults who are learning and growing, who yes may occasionally talk too much, but who are growing into the citizens who will one day give back to the community that they love- if you will allow them to do so. They are talented, in so many more ways than you could begin to imagine, and I hope you will allow them to show you the things they are passionate about.

I have loved this job. I have also been frustrated beyond compare. I think that may be the way life goes. You love what you do but sometimes you get frustrated. Sometimes you consider grabbing your bag and not coming back but the next morning you come back anyway to do what you were led to do to begin with. There have been times I have gone home with tears in my eyes. There have been days I have had to take off. There have been days when I said I was done, just to return the next day ready to give my best effort all over again. I have adored being able to say I work in the school from which both of my parents graduated. I have loved working in a building that has such significance for the Gaston County area. I have loved being able to brag about who my kids actually are as individuals and the narrative they are writing for themselves. I have loved being a part of this family. Huskies, I hope when I move my materials and work to another classroom to love a new set of kids, that you still allow me to be a part of this family. I will cherish you, I will cherish this experience, forever. I would love to still show up here and bother you all on work days. I would love to still support you guys. I would love to see baby pics, and wedding pics, and graduation pics (although my students better have graduation pics before anything else), and spend time with you over a cup of coffee, catching up on life. I would love to annoy you will conspiracies, rants, and my ever-ready “I’m livin the dream every day, how are you?”

Thank you for everything. I love you all more than words could say. 

“Freeman”

My 5th Recovery Birthday

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault, Self-Harm, Suicide

When I began this journey, I wasn’t sure that I would make it to this day. Today is my 5th “Recovery Birthday.” I have been clean from my addiction for 1826 days…5 whole years.

In college, I had an addiction. And before anybody passes out or starts whispering, let’s clarify. I know my southern baptists and super conservatives are already sweating. I was addicted to self harm. And on April 28, 2013, it came to a head and I thought I wanted to end my life. I thought after everything I’d been through I didn’t want, or deserve, to live.

I let a seemingly small incident be the straw that broke my back. I had health issues that felt like they would never be solved. I had been victim blamed for an assault I finally felt comfortable talking about. I had gone through a breakup that was really hard for me to deal with (though I praise the Father now I got out of that relationship when I did). I had seen multiple people I knew, one that I cared very much about, complete suicide. I had started drinking to feel better. I had been cutting to make my pain something I could see and control as a physical experience. I was acting recklessly. My PCP interpreted the actions and emotions I was exhibiting as something it wasn’t and began medicating me for an issue I didn’t actually have. My body didn’t react well to this medication; I gained weight (like 20+ pounds in a few months), the chemicals in my brain were being altered, the actual issue wasn’t being treated, I felt alone. I hated myself. I hated most of the people in my life for not realizing what I was dealing with. I hated God, if there was a God, I was seriously questioning his existence at the time and frequently screamed curses at the ceiling.

So. On Sunday April 28, 2013, you wouldn’t find me at church. You could have found me in the floor of a bathroom with a blade cutting my wrists. Then “Wonderwall” came on. If you know why this song matters to me, you know why I laid the blade down and paused. You know why it was significant that within moments my sister found me and called 911.

In a chair in the ER, God whispered to my heart. God shook me back to life. God held me. He said “Sweet child, I have been waiting for this moment, for you to allow me back in. I wish it wouldn’t have taken this long, but I promise you I will redeem this pain, I will use this test as a testimony, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Breathe. You are mine. You are Covered With Grace.” And he breathed life back into my weary, broken, thirsty soul.

He has not let me down on that whisper to my weary soul. Within 24 hours I returned to campus. I threw out my blades with supervision of an at-the-time friend (if you ever see this, friend, thank you). That same friend and another watched over me that night while I caught up on sleep and tried to prepare myself for finals. I passed my finals. I passed my semester classes. I moved home for the summer. I opened my Bible. I was covered in grace. We went to Disney. I started being thankful for being alive. I started trying different churches. We found our church home as a family. They welcomed me. They loved me. They heard my story and spoke the Word of Truth over my heart that God felt my pain and loved me and would indeed redeem this story.

God opened doors for me to serve. God opened doors for me to share my testimony. God set my soul on fire. God gave me new goals, new dreams, new callings. And as I obeyed, he opened the doors. He answered my desire to travel: he sent me on mission including to Africa and a pitstop in Paris. He answered my desire to serve: I was able to serve in homeless shelters, raise money for suicide prevention, he opened various opportunities to serve with so many nonprofits.  He let me be hired by the job that I wanted. He gave me the gift of being loved by some really awesome people that he knew would build me up and support me as I continued this journey.

My weakness became a place for Him to show His strength. I don’t think anymore that God “lets” bad things happen to us. I definitely know there is a God, if there wasn’t I wouldn’t be writing this post right now. I think the bad things that happen are a result of a fallen world around us, or they can be something we perceive as bad at the time that God is actually using to redirect us to the path of goodness He intended for us from the get go.

I don’t think God let me be assaulted, I don’t think God let me become depressed, I don’t think God took people I really loved away from me to hurt me, I don’t think God let me have an addiction to harming myself, I don’t think God let me try to numb my pain with self harm or alcohol or anything else I tried to fill those gaping holes with.

I do think God used each and every one of those painful experiences for good and let it shape me into the woman I am today. I do think God removed some very toxic people from my life after April 2013 and replaced them with people who were good for me and loved me. I do think God sent us to an amazing church that changed my perception of the body of Christ. I do think that God used the pain I had experienced to develop the empathy I have for others and the way I treat others, speak to others, and serve others. I do think that God used the brokenness to rebuild something even better. I do think that God drew me nearer to Him after I questioned him and tried to put myself as far away from Him as possible. I do think that God turned my story into my testimony. It was never without purpose, and I believe He has fulfilled the promises he speaks to each of us in Scripture during the rebuilding of my life in the past 5 years.

I want to end today with a few things. First I want to encourage you that no matter what you are dealing with right now, it is not without purpose. Even if you do not see the purpose now, or if you do not see it in this lifetime, it will not go without being redeemed if you are faithful to the Almighty who promises redemption and blessing to a thousand generations who serve Him. I promise you He will be the same today, tomorrow, and forever. I promise you that HE promises He will uphold you with his righteous right hand.

I realize this paragraph may sound a little like prosperity gospel or preachy or fake. I want to put a disclaimer here that nowhere does God say our lives will be perfect. The last 5 years have been far from perfect. There have been times where I have gotten dangerously close to relapse. There have been times I have questioned what I was going through….some current circumstances have even made me ask God why I can’t be done with the struggle. I have expressed that sometimes I think I’ve gone through enough that I don’t need to continue to struggle with health problems, or mean girls and boys, or fights with people I love, or a low income that sometimes makes me wonder how I’m going to pay the bills. But I have to remind myself and pray very fervently that previous pain has had purpose and current struggles will as well.

I also want to thank those of you who have taken this journey with me. God has worked to put some amazing supporters around me to love me as I continued to find myself and draw nearer to Him. No amount of words would accurately express the gratitude I have to the village who has surrounded me, loved me, encouraged me, spoken truth and life to me, and just been there for me.

So today, we celebrate 5 years. Here’s to another 50+! 

 

*The featured photo was taken about a week before my attempt.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

I have been debating writing this words for weeks, months,….years.

April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Nationally the #MeToo and #TimeIsUp movements have become popular and extremely relevant, especially as many celebrities have been accused of being assailants. That includes one of my favorite actors.

A few months ago, a young woman in my life walked away from a conversation to which I was a witness,  when a young man said “Rape is not real, especially with men, like no man would say no to sex, and women probably don’t either.” … when she returned a short time later, I looked at her and said, “Me. Too” and she said “When?” I responded “16” and she said “I was 14.” and I knew it was time to write this, but I have still struggled to do it.

The “Universe/God/My own life interpretation” told me again that it was time when at the Sweeps Pageant in March I was asked why I thought women didn’t report sexual assault.

So, here we go.

I was 16 (2009). I knew him. It ruined me. I only told one person and swore them to never tell. It was 2012 before I spoke about it again.

I told my bible study group and one girl remarked “Wow, how badly did you sin for God to punish you like that?” Shortly after, I started counseling to deal with it. I learned a lot although my counselor wasn’t the best and projected a lot of her own circumstances and feelings on me. I completed my counseling round and planned to transfer schools; mainly because I changed my major but also a new beginning.

I tried to talk to people I trusted about the incident and was appalled at how many times I was asked what I was wearing, if I had led him to believe I wanted him to do that, if I had been with him before, and if I tried to make him stop. I was so severely disillusioned by the way people, especially “Christians,” treated me. It pushed me so far away from the church (If you know, or ever hear, my testimony, this is the first time I thought I wanted to be out of church and wasn’t sure about God.)

I watched a documentary called “Forgiving Dr. Mengele” and Eva Mozes Kor changed my world. I emailed her and told her about my experience and she responded within hours about how forgiveness also shapes our experiences. I still have that email and read it from time to time.

In late 2012 and early 2013, things got really bad. In 2013, I found God for real for the first time. In 2013, I got saved. I found a new church who accepted my past and my story and the testimony from the test.

In 2015, I spoke to a club at the school I teach at, called “Feeling Beautiful” about what it looked like to be an adult who had been a victim of assault. But it isn’t something I frequently speak about. It was hard. The students there watched me cry as I choked out the words of my story. But I felt like I did what I needed to do.

I still don’t frequently speak about it. If it is brought up, not in my classroom of course, I’m willing to talk about it. But it still isn’t easy. I don’t know if it ever will be.

It’s been over 8 years. I have survived over 8 years. I became determined a long time ago to be a survivor and not solely a victim.

I determined to be the flower. I determined to grow despite the ways I had been crushed. I determined to not let his sinful actions define who I am. 

There are times I still cry about it. Sometimes I still have panic attacks. Sometimes I still have survivor guilt that someone I knew was killed by her assailant, and I wasn’t. I will never know the right words to say about it, or how to make someone feel better if it happens to them.

I still get really bitter. I still get really angry. I still feel like I missed the chance for justice. but I also have a hope that the ultimate justice will be paid out by God. I do feel like God accepts the anger and bitterness and also tries to soothe the pain that I still have.

But some days, I don’t think about it at all. I don’t want him and his actions to be what defines me. I don’t want other people to look at me and that be all that they see. But it does largely shape my political opinions, it does largely shape the way I empathize with people, it does largely shape the way I interpret a lot of what is said and done around me and in the public sphere. 

I’m not sure how to wrap this up.

I guess maybe I encourage you to not take part in rape culture. And let me side note my definition of rape culture: blaming a victim, asking what they wore, asking what they did to deserve it, asking about their sexual history and/or preferences, not believing them that they were assaulted. It is also raising our boys to believe that it’s okay to do something without consent or to coerce a woman into consent.

I encourage you to be empathetic and recognize others and the scars they carry.

“Why do women not report sexual assault?” Women and Men are sexually assaulted. Both have problems with reporting because they are afraid and embarrassed. Colleges have an issue with under-reporting sexual assault statistics hoping future students will still want to come to that school. Victim blaming and rape culture is too common in our culture. With movements like #MeToo and #TimeIsUp perhaps more women and men will feel comfortable coming forward as they see it happens to others; but until we allow victims to feel comfortable and not accused when telling their stories then there will continue to be a lack of reporting and pressing charges…until we allow them to become survivors and not just victims this will be cyclical in our society. And a little Sandra Bullock for you here…every culprit of sexual harassment or sexual assault should be charged, tried, convicted, and punished.

All my love,

L

You’ve always had the power

It has been my goal to be able to say “it is well with my soul.” At the end of my journey I want to hear “well done, my good and faithful servant.” But I have been tested recently. I’ve questioned if it was well with my soul and if I was doing well. One incident has reared its ugly head with discontentment over the last week and a half. So here I am to address the elephant in the room of “what went wrong” at the Sweeps pageant on March 17th.

I have laid awake. I have replayed every second of both pageants. I have been asked repeatedly “what went wrong?” I have a list of what I could have done differently, and I have a conclusion as to what happened.

Here’s what I could have done differently. 

I could have practiced my dance more.

I could have done mock interviews even though I felt prepared because I am opinionated and teach therefore talk for most of my week days.

I could have failed to mention my autoimmune disease in my interview.

I could have said that the invention I would want to change the world was world peace, or a cure to cancer, or no more bullying…instead I chose teleportation…because I mean, teleportation…how cool would that be?

I could have said the obstacles I overcame to compete was something simple, not a list of the ways I actually have struggled and fought and come back stronger in the last year.

I could have not made a face when I was asked what was the step to fixing the gender pay gap, but every part of the sarcastic side of me wanted to say “maybe, I don’t know, respect women and not treat them like inferior beings or possessions?”

I could have said the way to fix gun violence in schools was something like anti-bullying or mental health training, not to learn the difference between a gun ban and gun control and to arm more officers who want to protect teachers and students.

I could have come up with a better reason that my least favorite book was “the Sun Also Rises” other than I don’t find Hemingway to be an impressive writer. (but I don’t, and you asked)

I could have gone further into my explanation of rape culture and victim blaming in my OSQ and not gone Sandra Bullock at the end stating how men and women accused of sexual assault should be charged, go to trial, and be convicted…I just have a lot of feelings about the subject because I don’t think we should have to have a #metoo movement, I think I should have been comfortable telling someone, should have pressed charges, and he should be sitting in jail.

I could have spent a lot more money on my swimsuit instead of wearing one that I felt great in that came from target.

I could have not winced during my dance even though I felt like cutting my foot off since it was two times the size it should be from the autoimmune flare I was having.

I could have changed my dance to something more “pageanty” but I really loved the dance that had served me well for years and I hoped it shone through as I performed it.

I could have changed my gown instead of wearing the one that I fell in love with a year ago for fear that it made me look short.

I could have gone to my doctor earlier about my foot, but I had work to go to and students to teach.

I could have taken the pain medication he gave me at regular intervals instead of trying to feel like I was in control of my health.

I could have not prayed for months that if God intended a title for me that He let it be, but if He didn’t He would not open the door and would show me where He wanted me to go instead. I could have asked for my own will to be done over His, and I could have charged forward with my own plans instead of His that will far outweigh mine.

My conclusion:

I was myself. I wasn’t chosen. The judges chose other girls to be part of the Miss North Carolina class of 2018.

I read a devotion this morning, and at the risk of it being prosperity gospel, it told me that the plans God has for me are far more than I can imagine and I believe that. Doors are already opening that I could not have gone through if I had a title. My health needs more attention than I expected it to need at this point, and the opportunity to go back to Miss NC and promote my platform would have been awesome, but now I can decide what I do that will be best for my health and the plan He intends for me.

I don’t need a crown to be a servant. I was created with a servant’s heart and it will be used with a shiny hat or not. Someone told me this weekend exactly what my heart needed to hear to be encouraged: having a crown is not what made me a volunteer or a good volunteer, I had that already. I felt a little like Dorothy being told that what she needed was in her all along, she just had to use the power within her to get where she wanted to be. God built a really wonderful network for me in my time as Miss Capital City, and I know He will continue to use me for the purposes He intended even if it isn’t in the way I originally thought. He has more planned for me than I could begin to imagine and he says “Daughter, is that all you thought I could do? Don’t limit the power I have, child.”

“In the Mourning” of yet another high school shooting

Let me begin this post with a few disclaimers. First, I am a high school teacher, but I am not sitting with my students right now, I am home sick, and I will touch later on the fact of how this has broken me this week. Secondly, I am a registered Republican, but according to a few of my friends, I am an extremely “liberal Republican.” Thirdly, this post will not be eloquent by any means, because I am writing with pure emotion, and my heart is broken today. But if you’re sticking with me so far, let’s go.

Today children who are the age of the students I teach are being prepared by a funeral home to be buried. Today teachers, just like me, are being prepared for their funeral and burial. If the news was right, some of the funerals begin today. Not only are these people just like the people I see daily being buried, their families just like my family are mourning them, their work family who are just like my work family is mourning them, these students who are just like my students are mourning them and wondering how they will ever move on with their lives.

I did something I rarely do today, I sat down my cup of coffee, and if you know me my morning cup of coffee is important….I sat down my cup of coffee, so I could cry. I watched two young ladies stand on camera and BEG for their to be change in this country. One said she could not shower, use the bathroom, or sleep alone because she is so distraught in the aftermath of seeing her fellow classmates and teachers gunned down.

Then, mere moments later, the same news outlet silently scrolled the pictures of the victims. There was another thing I wasn’t used to….silence. My coffee cup remained on a coaster, and I wailed into my grandfather’s rocking chair at the lives lost and the hearts broken as a result. The silence, that I so often claim I want, was deafening. It physically hurt me to cry, yet I could not stop. My heart was broken for each of these lives lost, and the people they left behind.

So somebody somewhere is asking in their head: If you’re such a great teacher and you care so much, why are you not at school today?

Great question, somebody somewhere, let me explain. If you are new to this blog or don’t pay attention, I have a chronic pain disorder and an autoimmune disease. On Wednesday, I had more medical testing done to try to diagnose some irksome symptoms I have been having for over two months. I had taken yesterday off to recover, and unfortunately my body is not recovering at the pace I would like it to, so here I am stuck at home for another day. (yes, I’ve cried about that too). It has been hard being away from my kids for three days. It breaks me to know that I just want to hug all of them in the aftermath of this news, and I won’t be able to until next week. So, doing what I could I left them a message on Google Classroom, where they should be doing their work, so I can see it from home. The message read like this:

In light of everything that has happened nationally this week, I just want to remind you, you are each cared about. I am so thankful to teach each and every one of you. All of you have things in you that make you special, and you all have a bright future ahead of you. Strive to achieve those dreams. Be safe over your long weekend. Can’t wait to see you all on Tuesday!

My kids know that every Friday I give what we call the “Friday lecture.” I urge them to make smart choices, and we go through the places I don’t want to visit them: the hospital, jail, or the funeral home. It breaks my heart that today there are students and teachers visiting two of those three places as a result of this tragedy. I have buried one student in my teaching career, and it made me unbelievably sad, so I cannot imagine burying 14, nor do I want to think about it. Burying one still hurts my heart. This week actually marked the one year anniversary and I cried about that, mere hours before the news broke that 14 students had been gunned down when they were trying to head home for the day.

THIS SHOULD NOT BE THE NEW NORMAL FOR OUR CHILDREN. Our children should not have to practice drills to know what to do if someone is trying to murder them while they are at school where they should be safe. Now, does my school do it? yes. Do I hate it? Also yes. I joke with my kids if I look out in the hallway and it’s clear we’re making a run for it. Yet, I also know in my inmost being I would do everything in my power to shelter them in place and fight an armed assailant off and if it meant risking my life I would give my life for theirs.

As I typed that statement, my selfish 20something inside me was like “oh no girl.” I am 24. I am not married. I have no biological children. I am in grad school. I have student loan debt to pay off. I have some awesome best friends. and I have four fur babies that I love to death. And I have a man in my life, whom I would love to marry. But would I stand in front of my children and block them from death, even if it meant that my own life would be cut short? Yes. I tell them from the get go that I prayed over who would end up in my classroom and that I don’t have biological children, so they now have become my children. Once mine, always mine. At the age of 24, I have over 400 children who have come through my classroom and they are all MY CHILDREN. I wish that the adults of this country would realize the responsibility we have to protect these children. My 400 are also your children, they are the future, and they are awesome, and they don’t deserve to be gunned down in their prime.

Oh god, Logan, didn’t you say that you’re a registered Republican? Yes. I registered as a Republican when I turned 18. I am extremely fiscally conservative, yet I am extremely socially liberal. But even registered as a Republican, I realize that something is wrong. There is something wrong when my children have to fear being at school. There is something wrong when someone who has been flagged by the FBI then LEGALLY owns an assault weapon and guns down 17 people and almost makes an escape.

We need gun control. We also need mental health reform. We also need to teach our children AND ADULTS to love and be kind.

The young man who has been arraigned and who is sitting in jail with no bond, because he slayed 17 people, is a young person. WE ARE RESPONSIBLE. He is the age that I would have taught my first year after graduating college.

I have worked in a day homeless shelter. I have a parent who works in the government’s social service field. I have seen those who are flagged “mentally ill.” Mentally ill is not a label that means that you wake up one day and decide to gun down 17 innocent people. In fact, one of my favorite people in the world is “mentally ill” and that person is known to hug me and sing me a song when they see me…    Yes we need mental health reform and perhaps that should be part of the conversation but that does not need to be the whole conversation. We cannot leave gun violence and gun control out of this conversation. If you want to say that the assailant (I refuse to speak his name and make him famous) did this because he was mentally ill then why are you not acknowledging the fact that our government’s gun laws allowed him to legally buy the weapon even though he is quote “mentally ill” and there’s an issue there.

This conversation needs to be had by both sides of the aisle without a government shutdown. Yes, we need mental health reform. yes, we need stricter gun control laws. Yes, we need to teach love more often. Yes, my kids did grow up in a generation where they were given a participation trophy, but that doesn’t mean that they grow up to be violent. Yes, we need to take time to mourn. But finally yes, this is the time for the conversation to be had.

As a reporter said this morning, we mourn the 17 lives lost, but we also need to acknowledge the survivors, they are the ones who are going to make the change.

I believe in this generation. I believe they are going to be the change we want to see in the world. I believe they are just as tired of mourning those we lose, and nothing be done about it.

 

This post is a little different

If you’ve never met my mom, she’s pretty cool. She drives me crazy, but she’s also my best friend, as it should be. She goes by many names including: mom, Mumsy, mama, mooooooom, capt reg, Regina, aunt Gina, Gigi, aye girl, regggggg, Reggie….I think I got them all, if not sorry, reg.

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My mom does a lot for us. Like a lot. She runs the world basically. She works all day, takes care of us, takes care of her coworkers, does her job well, takes care of her mom, works out, has an amazing ability to sleep in a chair while HGTV is on the tv, works in our church nursery, helps out my brother with homework and sports stuff, really likes pageants, picks really good wine, listens to me complain or brag about work, likes Facebook and to text, loves Jesus, speaks truth unapologetically, has handled missing my sister after her move with an impressive peace that I wouldn’t have, and she’s just cool. Oh, and she also finds time to take part of yearly traditions with me even when life is crazy. She also makes a really awesome chicken pot pie that is life giving.

So today, I read a devotion, and it asked how they could pray for the women reading it. Typically I would’ve thought about the hectic beautiful hard mess that is my life, but instead I thought of my mom. And I posted the following comment…

“Normally after reading these I think of the prayer that I need to deal with the tough situations of my life. Today, I was moved to ask for prayer for my mother. She is a mother of three, her name is Regina. She works serving others as a social worker who trains those who want to be foster parents. She is not an only child, but she is the only one who lives near her aging mother and takes steps to care for her that have to be done by someone close by. In August, my dad/ her husband, had a heart attack and quadruple bypass a month before my sisters wedding. My mom took off work then worked from home to care for him and make sure he fully recovered- which praise be, he did. My mom helped plan and pay for my sisters big day. My mom helped prepare me for a pageant and to begin grad school as I work. My mom doesn’t miss a game that my little brother plays in, and helps raise money for his teams. On Sunday, my mom’s best friend Mandy, had a stroke and had hemorrhaging on her brain from the stroke. They have been best friends for over 40 years. They share life. They share memories. They share love. A lot of people are praying for Mandy to come off the ventilator she is on, and to have healing for her body, and peace for her family- which is beautiful and wonderful, and I praise god for those prayers. My mom has been relentless in her prayer for her friend and has spent many hours in the hospital waiting for news, waiting for Mandy to wake up, supporting mandy’s Husband and daughters, before coming home to still take care of her own family and go to work the next morning. This morning I want to lift my mother up in prayer. For her peace. For her sanity in overwhelming circumstances. For her to felt taken care of. For her to feel loved. For her to be restored and rested. For me to be the daughter she needs. To hear her laugh more like she was able to do yesterday while we enjoyed a snow day. Please think of her. Please pray for her. Help me pray for her to be covered in love and peace.”

So today’s post is different. Today’s post is to say my mom rocks. Today’s post is to say if you have a minute lift up my mom in prayer today. Today’s post is to say call your mom, or give her a hug, or send a prayer or good vibe her way. Moms are cool….they wiped your butt for a long time, and cleaned up your puke, and made you spaghettios, and cheered you on through what you were doing, and now that you’re grown enough to be reading this maybe she’s the one who needs a hug today.

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Typing With One Hand

I sit in another classroom, watching another teacher with her students, and I appreciate the relationship I share with my current students. It has been hard to be grateful lately, I feel guilty admitting this, but it is the truth, and I want to be vulnerable and be truthful here.

It was a really great reminder that in a Sunday service a few weeks ago, the pastor reminded us that even a mustard seed faith counts. Doubts are normal. Trails are normal. Mustard Seed Faith Counts. Let me say that again. Mustard. Seed. Faith. Does Count. So there is where this blog site name comes from.

I chose to start this as a way to process some of the things I am dealing with. It may be read, it may not be, but either way I am fine. God brought me to it, and he will bring me through it, but I need to process the things he has brought me to.

Life has been busy and life has been hard. A little over a month ago, I was diagnosed with two conditions that may never be cured. I had surgery on my hand (that I write with), from an accident that happened almost a year ago. I have had to stop lifting weights and change my workout routine drastically as a result of the surgery. I will start Occupational Therapy later this week….I hate OT and PT. Most days the fatigue from my chronic illnesses make it hard to keep my eyes open through throughout the day. The news I see daily concerns me. The things I hear some of my students say concerns me to the point I lay awake at night- I hope to be a safe place for them and to prepare them for the future and it makes me crazy to think I may be falling short. My anxiety has increased significantly. Multiple people I trusted and whom  I considered myself close with have hurt me in the last few months, and my tender heart has hurt in ways I didn’t know that it could.

Possibly the most painful…Some days I question that God is listening when I pray. I know he is there, but some days with things being so hard, it can Feel like he isn’t.

As I write this, I fear it sounds negative. There are positive things in my life. I was accepted into graduate school at a university that I love, and I am beyond excited about beginning my master’s degree. Multiple awesome organizations have opened their doors to me to volunteer with them as Miss Capital City. I have found a renewed love for yoga. My dad has been doing great as he heals after his procedure in August (more to come on this later). My boyfriend, who is also my best friend, has been super supportive of my job and volunteerism. I have a beautiful sense of community among two of my three classes, and they manage to make me laugh on a daily basis. With the help of my family and friends, my team for the AFSP team raised over $1200 for the Out of Darkness Walk. I assisted the HPA Charlotte with collecting 754 pounds of food for Second Harvest Food Bank (these are just two wonderful events I have been involved with since March). I have been exceedingly proud of the way my title has allowed me to help my community. My sister flies home tonight from her new home, and I am so excited to see her.

I know that I have a tendency for pessimism, and I often look at the bad rather than the good. One of my devotions last week called me to be grateful. I hope here to write about struggles but also the things I am grateful for.

So I want to end today with a few things.

  1. I am grateful for you, that you are alongside me for this first post, and have made it this far into it. I hope maybe you will join me again.
  2. I am thankful for the fact I will spend this holiday in warm homes with the people I love.
  3. I am thankful for a job, that although challenging, I also enjoy, and that pays the bills.
  4. I am thankful for friends and family who support me in all of my endeavors.
  5. I am grateful for a program that has allowed me to pursue scholarship, service, and success.
  6. I am thankful for the best friends that a woman could ask for. I love you guys so much- even if you don’t read this and never see this, I hope you know how much you mean to me.
  7. I am grateful for four beautiful fur babies who let me love them like crazy.
  8. I am thankful for being able to receive the medical care that I need.
  9. I am thankful for a Father God who has saved me by grace and looks on me as His Beloved.
  10. If you know me, you know how true this is. I am super thankful for food. All the food. Especially dessert, peanut butter, coffee…I could keep going, but that would be digressing.

Lastly, if you are reading this, I want to connect with you, message/email/comment and tell me- how can I pray for you? And/or, what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving week?