My word of the year for 2023 was supposed to be "simplify".
I had decided late in 2022 that as part of my new year's goals, I was going to try to take a step back from everything that didn't matter and be very intentional about what we allowed in our home, what I allowed on my calendar, and habits I wanted to build.
I announced this over on my Instagram page back on January 2nd.
On January 9th, I received some news that did NOT feel like simplifying.
For five months, I would fill my current role of Director of Special Services and also fill the role of Interim Superintendent.
I must admit that as I was navigating through the dual-role, there were some moments that felt very frustrating and complicated.
There were days that I didn't feel as if I were making progress in either job.
There were even days that I cried on my way home from work because I was feeling very overwhelmed.
However, there was also laughter.
There were opportunities for me to learn about myself, set goals, and connect with colleagues that I did not usually cross paths with.
And as crazy as it sounds, over the last five months, God has truly taught me through this experience to simplify.
Yes, I typed that correctly.
Even with the addition of these new responsibilities and expectations in my job. Even with longer hours and more tasks to complete. Even with more decisions and more personal interactions and more...and more...and more...
Habits are so very important.
I've blogged several times about habits. My morning routine incorporates several habit loops and I am thankful I had this established when my life got really busy in February. When things get stressful and overwhelming, the automaticity of our habits can keep our lives feeling more stable than not. A well-established morning routine, along with an organized task management system at work, really helped me to keep my sanity as I navigated life with two jobs.
We must prioritize.
Yes, we need to prioritize certain activities over others. To grow spiritually, we MUST be in our Bibles. To get closer to God, we MUST pray. To get healthy, we MUST make good food choices and move our bodies. But these types of priorities are not what I'm talking about here.
I'm going to be very transparent for a moment. This semester was hard. There were some moments at work where our leadership team had to make very difficult decisions, deal with unexpected conflict, and say hard things. There were some struggles within the school organization and some struggles with families.
People have big opinions about the public school system and while we are making every single decision based on the information we have (and often can't share with the public), it still hurts when people put their thoughts out there on social media without knowing the full story -- which unfortunately stirs up discourse and division. I had to learn to prioritize what I could control and what I could not control. Other people's opinions, words, and actions fell into the latter category, so I had to let them go.
I also had to take a step back in my personal life. I had to decide what I was going to give my energy to and what I was not able to give my energy to at the time. With a daughter in high school, one in junior high, and one in elementary -- the parenting game is challenging at times. There were some moments over the last five months where I had to recognize that while I would love to help everyone (I am an Enneagram 2, after all -- "the helper"), I had to take a step back from some situations and focus on my own family.
There are seasons in life where we can be on the front lines of standing in the gap for others, helping them to reflect on their own situations and make changes, and growing together through mutual accountability.
And there are seasons of solidarity in life. Seasons where the whole goal is to pray for others and keep our little families moving in the right direction...closer to Jesus and closer to each other. I've had to accept the fact that this season is where I am right now.
Finally, God is so good.
Throughout this season of having some extra duties at work, chasing three busy girls, and trying to sustain healthy relationships, I have seen the hand of God at work every day.
My family, friends, and colleagues have picked up the slack where I have been lacking. They have prayed for me and served alongside me tirelessly and for that I am so grateful.
Because my morning routine habit is so automatic at this point, my Bible time has continued through all the craziness. God has revealed so much and offered me so much peace through this practice and I am thankful He had prepared me ahead-of-time by challenging me with my habit-building.
Looking back, I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to serve in this double-capacity over the last five months. And I am so grateful to hand it over to someone else on Monday.
Thanking God & simplifying here on this rainy Saturday morning here at the farmhouse,
As most of you know, I am a first year Director of Special Services in the district where I have been teaching for the last ten years.
And it is almost Christmas break.
In fact, our students finished today and tomorrow we'll have a day of professional development and then thirteen days off before we start back in for second semester in January.
As I sat at my desk this afternoon wrapping up things for the first two quarters, I took a moment and looked around.
I had a few thoughts running through my mind.
"This is my office."
"These are my responsibilities."
"I have almost survived the first semester as a school administrator."
And although I'm not quite there...I just ALMOST feel like I know what I'm doing.
This week, on my Facebook memories, a status popped up from two years ago...
At the time, just two short years ago, I had no idea how the opportunities would play out to get me where I am today.
Looking back, I can see the hand of God woven into the whole story...into the big moments and all the little details.
We bought the farmhouse in July of 2017. We sold our home and started doing some updates to the farmhouse. School started in August of 2017 and we were moving full-speed ahead remodeling, moving, and of course...getting ready for the school year.
When my boss asked me if I would be interested in a leadership position and encouraged me to go finish my certification, I wasn't thinking it would be anytime soon.
In fact, I had told Mr. Farmhouse that I was thinking I would probably teach for another 8-10 years and move into administration for the last 3-5 years of my career.
But during the craziness of moving a family of five during "back-to-school time", I got word that the Director of Special Services would be retiring and I was asked if I would be interested in the position.
"Where God guides, He provides." Isaiah 58:11
I have been stretched,
I have been challenged,
and I have been pushed out of my comfort zone.
I've had to learn a lot in a short amount of time and I have made many mistakes.
There are days that I want to cry over every little thing and days that I feel like I might just have this gig figured out.
And through it all...
through the frustrations and the calm...
through the uncertainty and the moments of confidence,
I've never wondered if this is the right place for me.
God has brought guidance, and He is still providing.
In the moment where I am feeling overwhelmed (like today!), the phone rings and a family has brought me a gift to thank me for my tiny part in the success of their babies. (Thanks, B family!)
The second I start to feel worry, my heart fills with peace at the thought that God opened all of the doors necessary to get me to this place.
When I walk down the hallway to bounce an idea off of the elementary principal, I find myself smiling at the thought that God has worked it out that my teaching partner and I have both ended up in leadership positions at the exact same time.
These things are not accidental.
What an encouragement to know that He cares for little ol' me.
Resting in His providence here at the farmhouse,
Over the last week, I have had three separate situations that have been less than ideal.
And yet, in all three instances, I was able to find humor.
Last Tuesday morning, we had a 10:00 a.m. start at school because of the temperatures. However, I had to be to school for a meeting around 7:00 a.m. I rolled into the parking lot and got out of my vehicle at 7:03. The meeting was supposed to start at 7:15 and I was feeling good about being there early.
As I headed towards the school building, I stepped down off of the curb onto one of the only patches of ice in the parking lot. I went down to the ground and I went down fast. I fell straight forward and as I tried to save my Sonic drink, my right elbow took the brunt of my fall.
Because there were two witnesses to the humiliating experience, I bounced right up and pretended like everything was fine. I had smashed my cup under the weight of my body and I was soaking wet with ice cold water and bits of strawberry all over my coat. I started the trek into the building and that is when a thought popped into my head.
We have surveillance cameras that will have caught this entire disastrous situation.
We got through our meeting and I immediately headed down to my colleague's office to pull up the camera footage and have a look.
It was awful.
It was terrible.
It was absolutely hilarious.
We laughed and laughed and laughed. We called our coworkers and I sent the file via text to my family. I ended up posting the video on Facebook and it has gotten over 1,800 hits, so far.
It was a painful situation that turned into an almost joyful occasion for everyone who got to witness it.
I’m sharing the video here to give you a laugh if you didn't get to see it on my Facebook page.
Wednesday morning, although I woke up sore from the fall, I knew I needed to leave the house by 5:50 to make it to the school by 6:30 to leave for a conference. I walked outside at 5:40 to start the car and Mr. Farmhouse asked me to start his truck also.
"Sure," I mumbled, as I faced the freezing temps on the deck.
I got my vehicle started and went to his old farm truck.
It's a manual. The parking brake apparently doesn't work all the time. AND the little map of what gear you are in is all worn off the gear-shifter.
So I get the truck started and try to put on the emergency brake. Nothing.
I take my foot off the clutch and start to roll.
Try the brake. Nothing. Roll.
I repeated this process AT LEAST 15 times.
No matter how far I moved up or back, I couldn't find a flat enough place to keep the truck from rolling.
I didn't have my cell phone on me to call Mr. Farmhouse and see what his advice would be, so I started honking the horn.
You have to understand that the horn DOES NOT HONK like a normal horn. It sounds like Beaker off the Muppets.
I honked and honked and honked...no response from Mr. Farmhouse.
I tried the parking brake about ten more times and FINALLY it took.
I got back inside and looked at Mr. Farmhouse.
Me: Could you not hear me for the last 15 minutes honking the horn on the feed truck?
Mr. Farmhouse: Oh, is that what that noise was?
Me: Uh, yeah. The parking brake wouldn't stick.
Mr. Farmhouse: Yeah, it does that sometimes. It's so annoying.
Me: Yes, yes it is. And now I'm almost twenty minutes later than I wanted to be.
Mr. Farmhouse: Not good.
I got the girls in my vehicle (that was PLENTY warm at this point) and I dropped them off to my parents.
And then I started laughing.
The mental image and leftover soreness from the fall the previous day, combined with the situation of me literally being stuck in the feed truck for 20 minutes with no help just got to me.
I giggled almost all the way to work to meet my coworker that I needed to go to the meeting with (I was only three minutes late!).
At this time, we hopped into the car quickly (no icy parking lot this time, thank goodness!) and headed north to pick up another colleague.
We put his home address into Google Maps and started following the directions.
The navigation system took us northeast of the school about 35 minutes and when we pulled into the driveway, nobody came out.
We assessed the situation.
We were in the driveway of a house (I thought this coworker lived in an apartment).
An unfamiliar car in the driveway.
Christmas lights on the porch.
I called him. No answer.
I thought I remembered this coworker living in Overland Park...not Grandview.
So we accepted the fact that GPS has led us astray and we started heading in the opposite direction of where we needed to go.
I kept trying to call and text our coworker, but to no avail.
We hit MAJOR rush hour traffic going west on I-435 and we had resigned ourselves to the fact that we were going to be late.
The driver who I was riding with was NOT happy.
He is ALWAYS at least 20 minutes early when he needs to go somewhere. He is prompt for every meeting and it makes him crazy to walk in late somewhere.
So the fact that we were sitting in traffic facing west when our meeting was east just struck me as funny.
I started giggling and looked over at him.
Not even a crack of a smile.
Which made it even funnier to me.
I ended up Facetiming Mr. Farmhouse to share our situation with him and he didn't think it was funny...until I turned the camera to Mr. Grumpy Pants in the driver's seat.
Still no smile.
Now I absolutely cannot control the laughter.
The elbow pain from my fall the previous morning,
the 15-minutes in the feed truck rolling frontwards and backwards as I tried to engage the parking brake,
and now the mix-up on the address of our co-worker.
It was all too much.
And then my cell phone rang.
It was the guy we were picking up.
Me: Hey! You finally found your phone and saw my missed calls and text messages! We got a little mixed up, but I think we're headed to your house now. What city do you live in? The address didn't have a town listed on there.
Coworker: It's actually a KCMO address, but basically Grandview.
Me: Uh. Do you have a little brown car in the driveway and Christmas lights on your porch?
Coworker: That's the one...are you here?
Me: Not exactly. Give us half an hour.
Driver: You've got to be kidding me.
Sometimes you just have to laugh.
Still laughing in the farmhouse a week later,