God’s Plan

We survived D.C.! Wow, it was a lot. A lot of kids. A lot of chaperones. A lot of tour guides. A lot of police and nurses. A lot of buses. A lot of sightseeing. A lot of smiles. A lot of memories. It was A LOT!dc5

We are wiped out, the kids and adults. But, was it worth it? I wasn’t sure the first day after that painfully long bus ride and sweltering hot Manassas. Brody almost passed out. The nurses came and we had to go sit inside the museum after his lips turned white. It wasn’t the best start to our trip, yet we pushed on.

And, yes, it was worth it. As I have talked about many times, especially recently, friends make life better. These kids, including my own, just want to be with their friends. Whether it be at the Capital or (better yet) in their hotel room, they are just happy being with their friends. The experiences just grow richer when shared.



He didn’t talk to me a lot on the trip, as in as little as possible, because he just wanted to hang with his friends! But, the second day, we opted out of the trip to Mt. Vernon. After taking our first Uber in D.C., we had a really good meal at the hotel restaurant just the two of us (I kind of loved that.). He had to talk to me then! I tried not to hover too much on the trip, despite worrying about how he felt 100% of the time. (I thought I was pretty balanced in giving him some space, but he probably begs to differ!)

He wanted (and wants) a little space so while I know a lot of what went on, I also did make an effort to back off. Unbeknownst to me, Brody must have been listening to Drake’s popular song, God’s Plan,  at some point. Maybe it was on the hours we spent on the bus, or maybe it was at the “party” we let them have at the hotel because they had been so good! Regardless, when we arrived at home-sweet-home last night with the juicy burger that I’d been craving, we anxiously hopped out of the car. He was excited to be home and was talking more than I’d heard him within the past 4 days,

He turned to me before we came into the house and said, “There’s a new song I like, God’s Plan. We should have played that the morning of the surgery.”

I’ve been hearing this song on the radio some but I just pulled up this video this morning. -Tears-


…..Tears because Brody believes his brain tumor is part of “God’s plan” and somehow came to that conclusion along this trip. Tears because he got to go on this trip. Tears because he will have his 3rd and final physical therapy session today. And, also tears because if you watch this video, you see what God’s plan is, giving back to others because we are part of one big community and family. Good stuff.

We go back in less than a month for a follow-up MRI. If you are a part of our community, please pray there shows no growth and confirmation that there is no longer a tumor indeed.









“That’s racism.”

This week’s topic in our ‘leadership’ classes was good citizenship. That’s an easy pillar of character to tie into the history of Martin Luther King Jr. We began by looking at simple examples of actions good citizens would or would not practice. If it’s an action good citizens would do, the children move the snowflake and positive action onto the winter tree. Examples include: loving animals and people, caring for the earth, and loves learning.  (Wouldn’t it be nice if most adults practiced good citizenship!?)

Then, we listened to Martin’s famous, ‘I have a dream’ speech. I gave a short explanation into segregation and the civil rights’ movement as an introduction. Let me tell you the perplexed looks on their little colorful faces! They were confused and also disturbed to hear that 55 years ago, they wouldn’t be sitting next to each other in class or attending the same school. They wouldn’t be sitting together on a bus. And, they wouldn’t be allowed to drink from the same water fountain. In fact, they wouldn’t have been allowed to play together or be friends. They were blown away! Unfathomable!

When I explained that some people used to believe that white people were better than any other people of another race, one little adorable, smart Middle Eastern boy said, “That is racism.” Yes, yes it is. Then, we looked around our melting-pot-of-a-class with around half of the students being caucasian and took a moment to shake hands or give a high-five to someone with a different shade of skin. This is the kind of world I want to live in. And, this is our little reality at Bearden Elementary School.

Even with leaders in this country who are racist and still living in the past, I have hope with the children I work with. When a colorful group of 6 years olds get it and are appalled to think or live otherwise,  I know there is hope in this country. I see these little ‘good citizens’ and know they are wiser than many adults because they aren’t  seeing the color of one’s skin.Today, we honor and celebrate you Dr. King. And, many little souls honor and get it too. Thank you.

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Chistmas Wish List

As you all know, I am a local elementary School Counselor in Knox County.  Most of you know that I work in two very diverse, little schools. One of my schools is a low-income school with many needs. Fortunately, many of the student needs are met at school because we are a Community School. In fact, we were the first Community School in Knox County. This means that many, almost one-third of our students, may stay after school until after dinner for free.

Students participate in clubs, meet with Big Sisters, have special programs and visitors, get to participate in activities like circus (walking on stilts, doing acrobatics, and cool tricks) and tennis for the first time. Then, they eat a warm meal before their parents pick them up. Parents can eat dinner with them, as well as take advantage of many life-skills opportunities like resume-building workshops and English class. The University is heavily involved and brings a lot to this program. So, it’s a great wonderful, life-changing program.

Without these opportunities, these pivotal years may look a little different for many of these students who have limited transportation and resources outside of school. Many of our students are ‘disadvantaged’ or ‘at-risk’. Many live in single-parent homes. Many have an incarcerated parent. Many depend on the free lunches and breakfast to provide 2 meals for their child. Many families take home free, supplemental food on the weekend. It’s not unusual for a DCS worker to come check in on a student. And, we have many community agencies and churches donate shoes, coats, backpacks, and necessary basic items to our children.

But, what does all of this have to do with Christmas? Well, like the need mentioned above, the school is also helping with Christmas. So, in early November, I checked my box at school. There was a Christmas application that our neediest families received to ask for Christmas help. Local community groups such as churches have committed to helping serve these families at Christmas time. Like many schools, we have our own Angel tree at school. On this simple form, parents select 2 needs and 2 wants. Then, shoppers will choose one of these wants and one of these needs. One family returned the form immediately. As I picked up the simple application, I read this:

2 needs:      backpack /   jacket

2 wants:      a Christmas sweater /   shoes

It’s moments like this, when I see such simple wants and true needs, that I realize that Christmas is meant to be simple. My friends reading this live a privileged lifestyle. We may not feel like we do, but stop and think about your children’s Christmas wishes. Are they wants or needs? Will they be asking for a backpack for Christmas? Is a new Christmas sweater going to blow their mind? We are so blessed but all should remember the true meaning of the season. Count your blessings and rejoice. Simple gifts are everywhere.


It’s been awhile, my friends. As I warn against, this past month has been a whirlwind and I felt like my head was barely above water for a couple days there leaving me less time than I like to pause. But now that the Starry Night race is over, I can take a minute to reflect and give thanks for all the good in the world.

grateful heart

Many of you were there with your children, spouses, and friends so you know what it felt like. There were around 75 more registered runners than last year, including the fun run. There were more spectators, more brain tumor survivors, and more buzz than last year. This event is definitely growing, along with an energy that is contagious.

Because of this event, we are making new friends and reaching new families. It both amazes and inspires me to see strangers show up with no personal connection to brain tumors, yet genuinely wanting to help. If you give people a chance to be good, they are good. This community is generous, loving, and supportive. Whether is was being a sponsor, donating money, registering for the race, taking pictures, working a table, or buying a t-shirt, you showed up. (And, are still showing up.)

This is such invaluable lesson for our children, giving back whether it directly impacts you or not. We best teach empathy when we SHOW empathy. When we are true friends, we show our children what friendship looks like. When we volunteer, we show our children the power of doing. When we give encouraging words, we show our children that words matter. When we push on even when we hurt, we show our children that we can all do hard things with the power of love.

A mother named Lisa contacted me months before the race. She reached out because she lost her son, Cody at age 13, to brain cancer. She wanted to not only run in his honor but also to help. You may have seen her dressed in a super man costume because he loved super heroes. She had his picture on his cape. From the moment, she emailed me, I felt a connection. From the moment I met and hugged her, I felt her energy… loving, good energy. Strong energy. Courageous energy. Her son lost his battle on earth. If only the outcome had been different and he had more time. Yet,  she’s still showing up and keeping him alive. Love doesn’t end. lisa

Neither does hope. My hope is that we can prevent other mothers from losing their children to this deadly disease. When we take a tough situation and make something good out of it, that’s hope. There’s hope in knowing that we can still do good in face of something horrible and hard.

When I last blogged before the race and envisioned something I feel so passionately about, I pictured these signs. I passed the torch to Bo and he designed them. They were better than I had imagined and tears welled in my eyes when I first saw them. This is what it’s all about, pressing on for those kids who are still fighting the fight. Continuing to remember and love those who have not been so fortunate. Those children are the reason we ran. And after the race, many, many runners commented on those real faces of children we now know. Real kids who didn’t sign up for this race and some who truly cannot run but they are the warriors fighting on.


As I went to Ijams on my day off after race-day, I went on yet another run to collect any remaining signs and thoughts. Like before the race, I was alone but with music as I reflected on what the race had meant this year. As I got right to the end of the trail at the turn-around for the 8.5k, I approached a steep hill (that I know runners cuss me for) and this song came on when I saw the sign above. (I encourage you to listen below as you read and think about what difference you are making.) Again, tears rolling down my face.

You are my brothers and sisters. We are in this life together, and TOGETHER we do make a difference. Many families and individuals made a point to say thank you and offer encouraging words. I cannot say thank you enough for fighting for Brody and all those children you now may have seen and met. Or, even for those we haven’t met. This is love.

There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do.

For as many evil, unhappy, or unkind people and diseases there are in the world, there is still more good. Hope shines through even the darkest of times. Thank you for giving us hope.

positiveIt’s back to school which means earlier bed times and bye-bye to summer. And while this is always a bummer, it’s also a really exciting time to be inside a school. The floors are waxed, the paint is fresh, and the schools are all themed out. Teachers are abuzz with who’s in their class and the children are smiling when they walk in those school doors. It’s a hopeful time of year.

This week has reminded me what the impact of just a few positive interactions can do, what just believing in another person can do. It’s why I became a counselor.

Now, you know I love Bearden Elementary school. I’m completely biased as it’s also my alma mater. But, I do choose for my children to attend there while they’re actually zoned another school. I do love it and think it’s a happy, little school.

But, I also have another passion and I couldn’t be happier to be back at Pond Gap Elementary School just around the corner. This was my first week back in the school. It looks a lot different with new paint and half a new school building (pretty amazing). It does look great.

But, more than that, it feels even better. My first day back, I was flooded with warm welcomes from the staff, even those I hadn’t met before. The positive attitudes are contagious filling the school with motivation and dedication. It makes working at a school so much more enjoyable when you feel like you are valued and belong.

Kids must feel the same way. Last year, I also worked with amazing, dedicated educators and a population of very polite, nice, and appreciative children at a very different school on a different end of town. But, it wasn’t Pond Gap. I really missed the children at Pond Gap and still thought of them. Every school is different and they aren’t all for everyone. Sometimes you just feel and do your best when you click at a school. That’s how I feel about Pond Gap.

This week, after the incredible staff, team-building meeting, I was walking down the hall and saw a familiar face down by the office. I hadn’t seen or spoken to him since he was in first grade. He’s now going into 3rd grade. He’s a little taller but still has a winning smile. He squinted and did a double take before I called his name. Then, he broke into a sprint (breaking hallway procedure!) towards me. He gave me a bear-hug and we walked down the hall hugging. He couldn’t believe I was coming back.

And this afternoon, we had a meet and greet at Pond Gap. First, I ran into some familiar faces and got more hugs. In fact, one girl who was in a small group with me maybe 3 years ago, gave me my ‘building up trust’ hand signal with a big smile on her face.

Finally, I ran into a 5th grade boy who is now my height. This African American boy has the cool clothes and the cool 5th grade attitude too. I’ve also known him for years. After getting a hug from him (yes, a hug from a 5th grade boy!), he turned to a new student sitting beside him. As I introduced myself to this new boy, my friend chimed in. He said, “If you meet with her, it is ON.” I was thinking maybe he was telling him that you meet with me when you’re in trouble. (I’m out of practice with this lingo so I asked for clarification!) He grinned turning to this new boy and said, “You’ll go to her room, learn some stuff, and have FUN!”.

That’s why I do this. That’s what it’s all about. I don’t know every kid. I don’t make a difference to every kid. I don’t have success with every kid I work with but it won’t stop me from trying.

This year, both of my schools are filled with adults who are hopeful and full of kids who are ready to be loved on. Don’t ever doubt that you can be that person that believed in them. You can’t have too much kindness! I can’t wait to have more opportunities to teach, connect, love, and believe in these kids!





We spend a lot of time trying to keep ourselves comfortable. In America, many of us are blessed with a comfortable home, setting our thermostat to the perfect temperature, choosing from an unlimited selection of shoes and clothing, eating foods that bring us pleasure, and having entertainment at the touch of a screen or button. We are spoiled, and so are our kids.

I’m not complaining or saying I don’t want all these amenities; quite the opposite. I just realize that it’s what we know, and often we aren’t even aware of these blessings on a daily basis. But, coming back from Mexico from a 5 star resort, I do recognize and appreciate America even more!

We were not slummin’ it by any means. There was great service, food and drinks around the clock, and a nice pool and beach to lounge at. Overall, it was very nice. So, I’ll admit that what I’m reflecting about from our trip was the benefit of being out of our comfort zone a little.

Now, everyone in Mexico speaks English so that wasn’t an issue. I even threw out an ‘Hola’ or two! What we disliked most was the food. Boy, are we spoiled with great, fresh foods in this country. And, we have a zillion restaurants to choose from too. But, the first night when we sat down to eat the unlimited buffet food, our noses were turned up! Brody drank a coke but we were all a little worried thinking about the week ahead in food and weak drinks. That’s not enough to ruin a trip, though.

We managed to get by, although I’d bet Brody lost weight at this all-inclusive! I guess we are a little picky and conditioned to what we like. So, the food was one thing we were so excited to come home to. And, then there’s nothing like your own bed and pillows after a long trip. Paradise!…

But mostly, it’s just the comfort and security of your familiar surroundings that are so much appreciated when you spend time away. Not only does traveling open your eyes to different cultures and beautiful places, but it also opens your eyes to the beauty of your every-day life at home too!

The most uncomfortable or anxious we were on the trip was the day we ventured out to hip Tulum. This wasn’t a guided tour to the ruins or anything. Nope. We took the advice of a resort worker and rode the bus. (I’m always about saving $$ so we skipped the private, safe tour and just walked on down to the highway).

Now, first we had to play Frogger and hop across 4 lanes of interstate traffic to get to the other side to catch the bus. (I’m always imagining Anna falling down, since she still does often, so that started my anxiety, gripping her hand when we had to stop mid-highway with trucks speeding by!). Then, a bus, which is more like a nice van, quickly stopped (so far, so good because we had the bus stop correct). At this point, you could tell ‘Uncle Beardy’ wasn’t feeling so excited about this outing either. Bo would have opted for the private taxi too but we wanted to save a peso while also having a more authentic experience!

When the driver asked where we were going, he told us to hop in. Upon opening the door, we thought there must have been a mistake. The van was already full of passengers. “No. Get in”, the driver told us so we did as he led us to believe that the other vans are full. Uncle Beardy got to ride shot-gun with the driver and other worker. Luckily, there was one seat for Nana AND Anna to share. So, that left the floor for the rest of us. Brody took a seat on some luggage. I squeezed and squatted down in between two seats. And, Bo kneeled on the floor.

My nervous laughter began as soon as the doors shut and all the locals gave us Americans a glance. Mom was convinced a couple were Mexican drug dealers, and I was wondering if any of them had guns on them. Meanwhile, Brody was stone-faced and visibly worried. This wasn’t his thing! But, Nana felt safe as Bo as our bodyguard, being a couple heads taller and wider than most Mayans!

After riding for way longer than expected, some of the other passengers got off about 15 minutes later. We were able to get a seat, although Bo’s shin was already bruised from it slamming into something metal every time the van hit a bump. And, my feet were a little tingly from squatting for way more than my 40-year-old body should! Nevertheless, Tulum was just a few more minutes down the highway and much larger than we had expected.20170610_130243

At this point, I should remind you that some children, like my son, listen and hang onto every word that they hear. And, I might have mentioned a long time ago when we were planning this trip that I wasn’t sure if we should go to Mexico because it might not be safe. He may have overheard me tell Bo that I read someone got mugged on a bike during the day on TripAdvisor. So, again, he wasn’t feel too thrilled with this little side-trip.


We made it into Tulum just to walk around , try some non-resort food, and to shop around for a souvenir. Indeed, the streets were lined with market after market of Mexican skull art, pottery, sombreros, jewelry, those lovely embroidered dresses and shirts that Anna didn’t want 😦 , and art. It was just what I was imagining, and I immediately felt safer as we began wandering around.20170610_143426

Brody, on the other hand, did not. When he completely stops talking, he’s either exhausted but most likely he’s really worried. Well, he was scared. We were hoping that a cheese quesadilla would help snap him out of it, but even after finding a restaurant and getting some food, he did not. In fact, his unease grew into a full-fledge anxiety attack. Tears began rolling down his cheeks as he told me he didn’t feel well. With music blaring and strobe lights in the bar area, we exited for some fresh air as he looked like he was about to get sick.

I sent Anna to get Bo because I really didn’t want him vomiting on the sidewalk. So, Bo took him to the not-so-clean (as in never-been-cleaned) restroom. There was barely enough room to close the swinging door in the women’s restroom that opened to the restaurant. And, there also were no toilet seats! So, Brody said there was no way he could even get sick in there! I took him back outside to calm him down.

Of course, he wasn’t saying he was worried. He “felt sick”, and I’m sure he did. What can you do when you’re on the edge of a breakdown? You control what you can control so we started with breathing. Breathe in to the count of 7, hold for 5, and blow out for 9. Repeat. I was doing it with him (I didn’t want him puking right there!). Then, we went on a walk. A distraction is always good and the body needs something to do. We peaked in some shops and he started feeling better. The tears stopped, although he wasn’t exactly happy. He was ok.

Sometimes, that’s all you can hope for, for things to be ok. It’s ok to feel anxious and I told him that’s all is was. After the rest of the crew finished lunch, we began to walk around some more. He wasn’t excited to be there. In fact, he was so ready to get back to secured Grand Sierentis! But, we wanted to see a little more and am so glad we went down some quaint side streets with amazing little restaurants even if Uncle Beardy was not. (Paranoia may run in the family)! But when you let a worry steer your life, you’d miss out on the side streets and real life. Life wouldn’t be as colorful. cropped-tulum.jpg


(Look closely above at Brody’s face when he spots a machete in the back seat, confirming his dark thoughts that we are in a dangerous land!)


Being out of our comfort zone adds excitement and zeal for some, and anxiety and unease for others like Brody. But when it’s all said and done, the end result is that we gain perspective. We gain greater insight into our likes and dislikes, our fears, and also what coping strategies help us most.

Once back inside the gates of our resort, Brody immediately began chatting away again, relieved to be back and safe, and not “mugged”. (He later admitted he was afraid he was going to get mugged.) Quickly, I recapped what had happened and he agreed he thought is was an anxiety attack. Then, we reflected on what had worked when he practiced breathing and went for a walk. He has strategies that worked. In the future, I hope this will help….

Because there will be more uncomfortable situations, both unchosen and chosen. To avoid them would be to miss out on creating some of our strongest memories. We grow when we face our fears. And many times, we may realize that things really weren’t as scary as we made ourselves believe. Or, even better, we can celebrate the little things that we take for granted (take below when Brody was ready for dinner only a short time after we returned to the resort and chose to dress up; happy times again!)   20170610_184152




I had the nicest surprise reunion at the post office this morning. Upon entering the door, I was greeted by a dear former student. This charasmatic boy moved to America in 3rd grade. He instantly made friends with his winning smile, positive attitude, and excitment for learning.

He was the only Hispanic child in a new-student, ESL friendship group  (but I think I’m the only one who noticed this)! The other kids, refugees, were all from the Middle East. But, the language and the cultural barriers didn’t stop this amazing group from quickly bonding. I was fortunate to be able to spend time with this funny crew for 30 minutes once a week. What wonderful memories I have from our time together, despite the mediating I sometimes had to do. But, this short, bright-eyed boy, A., got along with everyone!

And based on the greeting I got today from this middle school boy, I’d say he must have good memories too. This cute boy ran up as soon as our eyes met and he gave me a BIG hug. He immediately asked me how Pond Gap, his Alma matter was. He was surprised when I told him I wasn’t there anymore but he continued to chat about being “excited about Tcaps coming up”. (Who is this kid?! A hug from the middle school boy and he’s excited about school?!) He’s playing soccer and loves school. What a great kid, destined to do great things.

When he was at Pond Gap, this same group did the talent show when they sang THAT’S WHAT MAKES YOU BEAUTIFUL! A.was the lead singer that stole eveyone’s hearts with his winning dance moves! They are beauty to me.

The appreciation and excitement this kid has for living is contagious. One would never know he moved from Columbia just a couple years back as he quickly tested out of ESL class. He is outstanding, and it made my day to see he’s still got his glow. I think he kind of shared it with me today.

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”- BUDDHA

This quote sits by my bedside. It was the card from the first bouquet of flowers that Bo ever sent me. And, it’s so true. Happy to have crossed paths with A. today. He came to give me one more hig before I left; he made my day just a little brighter!




Some people never learned to share

One of the earliest and hardest skills for children to understand and navigate is sharing. Any parent who has more than one child understands this well. Sibling rivalry is real! And, poor preschool teachers mediate every day, as little ones expect everything to be about just them. The world revolves around them, and often times family reinforces this at home when the child rules to roost.

A little girl stomping her foot

But, kids need to learn how to balance their own needs with the needs of others and not get what they want all the time, or they grow up always expecting to only get their way. It seems like we are in a stage in this country where many adults are also struggling with expecting to get what they want, not sharing, nor compromising. The notion of ‘my way or no way’ is being modeled by the highest political office in the world. Some adults never learned to share!

I recently saw a post on social media that put things in perspective. Many adults on both sides of the fence don’t get it.


Repeat that again. It doesn’t have to be either/or.  Sometimes we have to share. This is what we used to teach children to do. But, is this a dying value?

We must teach our kids to:

  • share the spotlight
  • share their time
  • share their friends
  • share their resources, toys, and ‘stuff’
  • share their responsibilities
  • share their feelings
  • share their gifts

Too often, the lack of these actions leads to anger and upset. We have to help our kids grow out of this toddler stage of wanting to have everything for themselves, and pointing fingers when they can’t have everything they want. We must continue to teach and expect kindness.  Not sharing leads to a selfish world where greed becomes center stage. We can do better.

There are too many examples where conflicts in school boils down to not sharing. When one person thinks he’s more important than the next, problems will arise. It doesn’t have to be this way in school, at home, or in the world. And, when my rights or actions cause you harm, disrepect you, or give you less of a chance or opportunity, then these aren’t rights that I am owed. That’s not fair. Instead of choosing paranoia, fear, and insecurity, let’s choose to share more and fight less. The pie is actually pretty big and if I have some, there will still be some for you. Let’s share!



#peace  #Muslimswelcomehere #trueAmericans #lovethyneighbor #notscaredofrefugees

Refugee families want the same things you and I want for our families. Click to watch a brave Syrian family living in Knoxville, and the American dream! (And, below is a friend who escaped from Congo, moved to Knoxville with his family, and finished his degree.)






What a week! If one thing is for certain, life will bring you surprises. Some will be good, and some you won’t like. This week, like others, has brought a bag of mixed feelings for many Americans. And, sometimes when we first discover a surprise we don’t like, or something we wish were different, we are faced with some raw emotions. Life is about sorting through what to do with those emotions and where to channel this energy or reaction.

Typically, I steer away from political discussions, period. Even with my own husband, I have to acknowledge that many friends and even family have different views of how to vote, serve the world, and  even be a Christian. It’s very personal. It makes my heart beat faster and my blood pressure rise to accept that people I love do not believe the same things I believe. So, it is easier to keep on loving them and not dwell on our differences.

But, for some citizens to move forward towards acceptance, they must feel like their voices are heard. The outpouring of anger and action this week is because many feel like their voices weren’t heard. The majority of Americans believe we made the wrong decision electing our new leader so many citizens are speaking up. That’s their right, and it’s part of the healing. It’s not about being a sore loser; it’s about making sure voices are heard and channeling fear and anger into doing something. So, for anyone insulting or putting others down for expressing their feelings of distrust, fear, or unrest, they have to understand that doing nothing with those emotions isn’t going to help healing or lead to acceptance.

Should they do it peacefully? Yes! Should they do it without putting others down? Yes! Should they practice what they preach? Yes. Will it change the outcome? Maybe not. But, the protesting is really about standing up for values and morals. It may allow like-minded people to meet. And, it will provide a platform for average people to be leaders.

When I see ignorant social media posts about bring God back to school and we wouldn’t have these problems, and if we just said the pledge at school, all would be well, I want to say get out of your bubble. We do that every day at school! Pledge allegiance to the flag…..one nation under GOD…. Yes, schools are practicing and teaching citizenship. We encourage the right to free speech and live in a world of diversity. But, are the parents? Is America practicing kindness, respect, and living like Jesus?

No matter what side of the wall you’re on, are you personally leading by example? Are you showing respect to others, helping those in need, loving your neighbor, practicing peace, and standing up for the oppressed? Are you putting others down or building them up? Are you the change you want to see in the world?

These are the things we teach in schools. But, children will go home and be most influenced by their families or the people putting a roof over their head. So, when people outside of public education make blanket statements about what we are doing wrong in schools and the if-only statements, they are making untrue statements.

In fact, I have seen a lot of “make America kind again” posts this week too. This also is inaccurate. There have been and continue to be plenty of kind people in this country. Over the past 10 years, my family has been showered with kindness. If you don’t have kind friends, you should look into making different friends. And, children are still good at heart. Ok, so it’s playing off of “make America great again”. But, America is great, was great, and many people are still kind.

Now, there are those groups and individuals that are filled with dysfunction, hate, or just plain craziness everywhere, across the world. And, I assure you it’s not because they grew up feeling loved, wanted, and safe. Insecurity comes from a lack of consistent unconditional love and basic needs being met. But, is this really new?

Being scared of someone based on their religion or making false assumptions is not kind, or smart! Telling your child that women cannot lead as well as a man is unfair. Spreading rumors or talking behind other’s back is rude. Excluding individuals or groups based on a characteristics they cannot control is bullying. Believing you are better than others because of money, skin color, sexual orientation, or religion is disrespectful, arrogant, and narcissistic. That is what we teach in school. And, this is what I teach in my home.


Maybe what we need to work on is really inside our own front door. Despite what others say or how unkind they may be, we have a choice on how to react. We choose what values we teach our children and how we express anger. We model problem-solving and conflict-resolution when we face adversity. Parents may choose kindness and truth, over hate and ignorance. We teach our children to listen, respect the rights and feelings of others, and to help and not hurt. This will make the biggest difference in our future generations. Regardless of your political beliefs, these values will yield progress and peace.

When we are filled with confusion, sadness, or even despair and depression (for whatever reason), we have many choices. Doing something positive and productive helps us overcome negative feelings and move forward. Like a wise woman once said:


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