Tuesday, March 26, 2019

How I Met Him

I met him on May 20th, 1994.  I was 22 years old and still trying to finish college.  I had taken a break for a year to be a waitress.  I decided getting an education was a better bet for me.  My father was ecstatic. So I went back.  I was going to Pace University at the time.  I had gone for a semester but found that I was no longer going to qualify for financial aid so I was deciding to transfer to Borough of Manhattan Community College for a semester to raise up my grades and GPA and then transfer again to Lehman College. This was the plan.

I was still active in my sorority, Eta Omega Tau.  I was still attending meetings.  I had just gotten a job at this hat store at the South Street Sea Port.  It was a Friday and there was a sorority meeting.  Prior to the meeting, I went to Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.  It wasn't far from Pace University which is across the street from City Hall.  I had taken the 1 train to Christopher Street and walked by the basketball courts to go to the park.  I was looking for my friend who was a street performer.  His name was Keith the Balloonatic.  He blew up balloons and had a comedy routine.  I hadn't seen him in a bit and I was wondering if he was alright.  I didn't see him so I walked the way to the school and attended the meeting.  Afterwards, my sisters and I hung out for a bit.  It was a nice balmy night.  I had the feeling that I should take a walk. 

My sister, Gisela, who lived by me offered to take the train home with me but I refused. I normally loved taking the train with Gisela but I felt the need to walk. I took myself down Broadway going uptown back to the Village.  I wondered where my feet were taking me.  I thought about visiting my friend, Eddie in the Lower East side but I didn't feel like making my way over there.  I was on Broadway not too far from Astor Place, past Canal street and in front of  this Reebok Store when I saw two guys coming my way.  The street was deserted and my first thought was that I was going to get robbed or killed.  There was no place to go to.  The stores were closed and there were no people on the street.  One of the guy had weird movement and I wondered if they were drunk or high. 

He came at me with purpose from afar.  I could see that he had a little smile on his face.  It was almost like he knew me.  I was going to be brave.  I continued walking.  He came right up to me and told me hi.  Did I know him?  I'm good with faces but maybe I met him and had forgotten.  How are you?  he asked.  I'm good.  I was skeptical.  Where are you coming from? He asked.  His friend had shaky movements still, but he was quiet.  Later I learned that they were making their way to his brother's house because he really had to use the bathroom.  His name was Jamal.  I told the other guy that I was hanging out with my sisters.  I figured that if he knew me, he knew I didn't have any biological sisters.  He just said that it was cool.  After a while, he asked me my name.  I didn't know him!!! 

I told him my name.  He told me that his name was James.  I gave him my pager number.  He said he would call me. He asked me what I was doing.  I told him I was going home.  He asked me to meet him later.  I said I would but I had no intention of meeting him later. I told him I would have to call my dad to let him know I would be coming home late.  This was the arrangement that I made with my dad.  He walked me to a payphone and gave me a quarter.  I called and left my dad a message.  He told me he had to go but that he would page me later. 

I kept on going with no intention of ever seeing him again.  I thought to myself, "He wouldn't last a month."  I was a notorious heartbreaker at the time.  I went to the park again, looking for Keith.  Instead it was busy with the bustle of strangers.  I saw someone I sort of knew from hanging around.  I was ensconced within a group just talking and laughing when James came up to the group.  We're in New York City!  How did he find me?  He came right up to me and took my hand.  He asked if I was ready to go.  He had mentioned that he had a gig at Nell's on 14th Street.  Later I found out that he was rapping  He was a rapper, a white rapper. 

He held my hand as we walked.  His weird friend around us.  He had picked up another friend and it was an entourage going to Nell's.  I heard him rhyme.  He was pretty good.  The club had a good vibe and we hung out for a while listening to music and hanging out.  It was late.  He asked me where I lived.  I watched his face as I told him I lived at the end of the 2 line.  He didn't even flinch.  He was going back to Brooklyn.  The trains run slow late at night.  He paid for my subway fare and went with me on the train even though his home was an hour in the opposite direction from where we were.  He got off the train and walked me to my block where I told him that he must watch because there was every possibility he might be a stalker.  Later he told me he counted the houses to my home even though he got it wrong.  It took him about three hours to get home.  He called me right the next day.  He didn't wait. 

It was a while before he told me why he came up to me with such certainty.  He told me that he had seen me when I got off at Christopher Street.  He was taken with me from the start.  He was going to approach me but he said that a little voice told him that he would see me later and I would be less busy.  I hadn't told him that I was in the Village before.  I hadn't mentioned how I made my way by the basketball courts to look for Keith in Washington Square Park.  He told me what I did as he watched.  I was in awe. Even from the very start, it seemed to be destined.  My sweet guy always had a thing for me.  Thank God I decided to go for a walk.

Monday, March 25, 2019


They say that nothing is certain in this life but death and taxes.  This post has both.  This past week, I have been on Spring Break.  There are a lot of little pieces that I am working with and none of them are going my way.  Today has been one of those crazy days but I want to say that I am definitely in some sort of season.  I would like to focus on something as wonderful as taxes. 

Last year I did my taxes late.  I couldn't even remember what day was what.  I was completely numb.  It was all very difficult.  It feels like a fall.  Have you ever taken a fall?  I mean, I used to fall all the time as a kid.  There you go running and feeling almost like you are flying and all of a sudden... Clunk.  You went down.  I have spoken of this.  My friend sent me an excellent giphy of just such a thing.  Well, you don't even realize the damage that you have incurred until much later.  Well, let's just say that in my life, it's much later.  I went on Friday to sit with my tax professional.  Every page had SPOUSE DECEASED on it.  Something long buried began to rise to the surface as I started talking about my past year.  It was like something was loosened.  By the end, I was signing for my husband and I could feel the lump in my throat and the tears begin to start.  It is the last time that I am filing as married filing jointly.  Next year I will file as a widow.  The following year I will file as Head of Household.  I think it was the way that the tax professional said, "Married filing jointly is best."  I wanted to tell him that this is no longer an option for me.  I wanted to tell him that I would if I could but I can't so I won't.  There were no words.  I held myself together and just tried to make it to the car.  I couldn't stop crying till Sunday evening. 

The preaching on Sunday talked about casting my anxiety on God in I Peter 5. I don't want my anxiety.  I'm waiting on things.  I am waiting to hear back on things.  I am working on work stuff and school stuff.  Waiting causes me anxiety but I think God can handle it. 

I don't know who is reading these posts of mine.  I know that I need to write them as much as someone needs to read them.  This week, keep my little family in prayer.  Thanks.  Until then, thankfully there is something else besides death and taxes that is certain.  God.  God is certain.  Amen for that.

Friday, March 15, 2019


I had a rough week where the world felt heavy and it was hard to navigate.  Ever have days like that?  It's like trying to run when you're struggling walking.  Even your hair hurts!!!  You don't see anything but the bad all around.  What do you do on days like this?  

I'll tell you what I did.  I took everything that I was feeling.  I took all of the worry and stress and I poured it into God.  I often pray to God.  I'm driving, I'm praying.  I'm walking, I'm praying.  If you ever see me talking to myself (and let's face it, you probably will) I am either telling myself a story or talking to God.  Sometimes I'm telling Him the story.  I also have prayer journals.  Yesterday, I prayed as I went home and then before I went to sleep I prayed long prayers trying to tell God everything by writing them in my journal.  I feel that this is more deliberate praying.  I confessed to God about my selfishness and doubt.  I asked for clarity.  I prayed for strength, the strength I didn't feel I had.  

Something strange happened.  I thought I would continue with the heaviness but it was gone!  Took a shower and I felt... free.  I felt... happy!!!  I'm scared of this word.  I feel as soon as I say it then something comes along that takes it away.  People call it joy.  People call it satisfaction.  People call it contentment.  I think that they're scared to be happy too. Right now, I'm calling it happy.  How can I be happy?  How?  I don't know.  It's a miracle.  I thought I would never be happy again.  I thought I would have to go without make up and paint my wardrobe black.  This is what I knew of widows.  I thought I would have to put away the pieces of me that shine bright like a sun, away into a closet to show the work of death on my life.  I think God made me to show His work on my life.  I know that He made me to be a light in dark places, even when those dark places include death. Death no longer has its sting (I Corinthians 15:55). 

So... here I am.  What do I do with this?  That's easy.  I spread it.  I hug people with warm hugs that attempt to take away a little of their burden.  I find that my arms can absorb people's negativity.  I find that there are times when my fingers can alleviate back pain.  Maybe it's a gift.  I don't know.  I smile at people.  I look like an idiot when I'm smiling to myself.  When people cry, I cry with them.  Why not?  I'm clay in the Potter's hand.  I'm just a little blade of grass, here today and gone tomorrow.  Why not spread God's joy and peace to the others around me?  I know what should be done.  I should act my age.  I should be somber as a widow of a certain age (even as I'm writing this I'm laughing).  I should probably not dye my hair purple and I should cut it into a mature style instead of letting it grow long and wild down my back.  I should probably do my make up in more natural colors instead of pinks, golds, purples and blues.  Should widows not wear red lipstick?  Should widows not laugh?  I know.  I probably shouldn't.  I was never one for shoulds and shouldn'ts.  If you know me at all you know this to be true.  

Today I will pray for you.  I will pray for God to bless you and give you peace so that you can spread it around like wild fire.  Yes, there is evil in this world but think how millions of little candles can light the world.  I pray for you to be happy too and then I pray that you can spread it!!!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

When the Water Gets Too High

What do you do when the water gets too high?  You float.  That's what I do.  You think I'm kidding.  Right now, for a minute, I was thrashing in the water.  You know what thrashing does?  It brings you down into the icy depths of despair.  Instead, I tell myself that God's got this and I do what I can but I lay back and float.  I think I'll be able to figure everything out within the course of a week.  I'm looking at financial paperwork.  I may be going through hormonal fluctuations.  I'm doing my work for work.  I'm organizing my life and my house.  We are making plans.  I'm floating.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


I have this long curly hair.  I haven't had long hair since I got married almost 20 years ago.  I have rocked a curly, fluffy bob for about the same amount of time.  I'm finding that I like long hair and I am also finding that this long hair suits me.  I'm also finding out that with every good thing, there are not so great things.  My long hair tends to get tangled.  Just last night I was in my bathroom attempting to detangle this mass of hair just to braid it and go to sleep.

What does this have to do with anything?  Well, stress has hit.  It's the end of an academic quarter which could always be stressful for me.  I don't know what happens when the weather gets hot, people tend to lose their minds.  Throw in just for fun, a remodel, school and the presence of a teenager and a pre-teen.  It's not fun.  I have tangles in my life.  There is other stuff all over the place.  Little things like making phone calls to find out information during my day when all I want to do is just do my work in peace.  Those were the things that Santi did.  Then I come home and I need to deal with hungry kids.  Do they ever stop eating?  Man, I had help for the majority of their lives.  I can't imagine how single mothers do it when the kids are younger.  Right now it's two against me!!!

I don't let tangles bother me though.  I'm not one to stay home because I can't get a tangle out.  I use some detangler (Jesus, prayer, The Bible) and I wash and condition my hair.  If the ends get too dry, I cut them off.  It's not a problem.  I can be stressed out because adulting can be hard but I still have a good God to go to even when it gets hard.  Praise the Lord!!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019


John 11:35
"Jesus wept."

Psalm 126:5-6
"Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!  He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him."

When my mother died, I didn't feel the need to cry even though I felt the death acutely.  Tears would not come.  I felt detached.  It took me a long time to process the death of my mother.  I remember going through the phases of grief throughout my entire adolescence.  It took me years to get out of denial.  I was on automatic mode.

Losing one parent opens you up to the fact that everyone dies.  I had a sense that my father would die before me so years before, I would cry about his death in preparation.  When he died, I cried bitterly. I remember being truly mournful when my father was laid to rest.  Even preparing for death doesn't prepare you for death. However, when I was done with my crying, there was the peace that I needed.  It was present and pervasive.  I wanted to take blame for my father's death.  I wanted to tell myself that it happened because I didn't do a good job taking care of him.  The peace that I felt did not let me take blame.  It was the will of God and His sovereignty that my father died.  This was clear even when I didn't know what God's Sovereignty was.

I cried when my husband died.  I cried but I was surprised when I didn't have more tears.  People would ask me how I was doing I and would tell them (and I still do), "God is good!" There was no stiff upper lip.  I truly was okay in that moment. Some would tell me, yes but even Jesus wept.  I didn't feel like crying though. The pain of loss doesn't always bring you to tears.

Now that a year has passed, I still have tears.  I feel that these tears are not for Santi... These tears are for me.  These are selfish tears that I cry when the silence seems so loud.  These tears are for the years that I have yet to live on this earth.  The tears, I think, are for the long days not sharing life with the one that I love. I tell stories now and I have to give people a warning that I am going to cry.  I'm always so surprised when the tears come.  I let them.  I let them drip down my face and I wonder what damage they are doing the the make up I put there.  I wonder if the highlighter and blush will betray me to make tracks down my cheeks.  I walk around with concealer in my purse.

I was of the notion that crying was for the weak.  Now I embrace the tears and I see that being brave in crying allows others who feel like crying to pour out their emotions instead of holding them all inside.  I'm a cryer.  Yup, that's me.

You want to know what really makes me wail?  Jesus.  I'm driving to work and I'm listening to the Christian radio station, crying.  I'm careful not to look at the other drivers.  I know what they are thinking, "Another emotional female driving on the road."  When I'm driving with my son he is always worried.  "Mom, don't cry!  You're driving!"  He turns off the station or changes it.  He's so funny.  He makes me laugh.  There are times when I just can't help it.  It's like the joy of knowing that I am loved and safe pushes out all the doubt and fear until I am left...better.  This is what Jesus does.  I am so thankful to have a Savior who understands what it is to cry.  Jesus wept and so do I... and it's okay.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Warrior Princess

I have spoken about growing up with my mother.  She was sick.  She had Lupus.  I was her miracle baby.  I felt how much she spoiled me when her presence was no longer there.  Why do I bring this up now?  Because I always felt like a princess.  My mother was the beautiful queen and I was more than willing to learn how to smile through suffering from her.  I love her so much still.  She was a force to be reckoned with.  I am my mother's daughter.  Even now, thinking about her 36 years after her death I think she is the most beautiful woman I have ever had the privilege to know. 

It took me a while to get my bearings but I went from princess to warrior.  My father was quick to teach me how to fight.  I remember getting into a physical altercation with this kid at church camp I still talk to (Hi Paul!).  My father took me aside and taught me how to throw a punch.  I couldn't wait to fight!  This poor kid was the one I first tried out my fighting prowess on.  I was like four years old.  One day when I was in college, my dad takes me aside and tells me in Spanish, "You are a woman, you're Latina and your are fat."  I remember telling him, "Thanks, Dad!"  He says, "No!  You are a woman in a world that is man dominated.  You are Latina when the powers in charge are white.  You are fat when it is skinny that people want.  Now that you know all of this, what are you going to need to do in order to fight in this world that does not look like you."  I don't mention this as an affront or to be racist.  My father talking to me this way was in a way telling me how to navigate in this world.  I believe that he was asking me, "How are you going to fight in this world that is different than you?"  

It feels like I have been fighting my whole life.  Every moment I am fighting something.  Sometimes the biggest thing I am fighting is myself.  I know what it is like to lose in a physical fight.  I know what it feels like to have my clock cleaned and what it feels like to have a black eye.  I know what it feels like to have a bloody nose and a fat lip.  I know that what wins a fight is not physical strength.  It may not always be mobility.  What wins is will.  The will to win in a fight; and sometimes it is not enough.  

I see this world as a battle field.  I Timothy 6:12:  
Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

II Corinthians 10:4:
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

I see myself as a warrior princess.  In my mind's eye I walk as such.  I walk with the Lord of Hosts by my side and an angel army behind me.  Wherever I go, I roll deep!!!  Whenever I think about hard stuff is, I remember what David told Goliath, "The battle is the Lord's."

I'll leave you with the link to this video that bolsters my strength when I need it.  


Thursday, March 7, 2019

Thankful for Church

Probably not the last post I write on thankfulness.  I am so thankful.  I'm so amazed at God and how He has given me so much.  I go to Trinity Bible Church in Phoenix.  It's found almost on the corner of Peoria Avenue and 35th Avenue.  Yesterday was dinner and Bible Study.  I went.  I was happy to sit with my brothers and sisters and Christ and just be.  So many people came to check up on me.  Thank you.  This church watches and helps me with my children.  The pastors and elders are not just leaders, they are my friends that feel more like family.  I was hugged, prayed over and just loved.  Loved in the way that I was smiled at.  Loved in the way they are genuinely happy to see me.  Loved when I ask dumb questions and they laugh.  Loved when I'm being feisty and quote back Kesha lyrics when I shouldn't. 

You don't seem to understand.  They let me hold their babies and smell their heads.  I love to sniff them. They actually wait until I'm ready to give their precious cargo back.  They let me tickle their toddlers and hug their children.  My kids watch their kids.  And the ones who watched my kids when they were little are still working with them as tweens and teens.  During worship I sing with them and I can cry and let go to God all of the hurt and pain as I lift up a sacrifice of praise to the Creator.  This is such a blessing.  I am so thankful for my beautiful church family. God always seems to know what I need.  Thank You, Lord.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

This Day Last Year

This whole blog has been about writing as a form of therapy.  Somehow, I found that I had an excess of words and thoughts that I needed to put forth.  I always feel the need to be honest.  To this end, I will write about the thoughts that I have been having leading up to this day.  Last week was when I felt really bad.  I knew this day was coming.  But like many things in this year, anticipation of a thing has been worse than the actual thing.  I'll give you an example.  I thought Thanksgiving and Christmas would be terrible so I stressed the days leading up to the holidays.  But thank God, there was peace.  There is peace today even though on the periphery, there is sadness.  I thought about keeping the children home from school but they didn't want to stay home the week that it happened.  They were only too happy to put on their bookbags and leave me with my thoughts. 

When Santi passed, I felt peace in the fact that he was in a better place.  There is no longer any need to fear what will be or when it will be, the worst thing happened.  I lost my person.  Even in my sadness, I am so happy for him and I know that I will see him again.  I know that my journey continues and I am happy to take up my responsibilities and raise my children.  I am HAPPY to do it. I am glad to be here for them.  They are happy that I am here still.  We are good.  It feels like falling and being able to stand and testing out your legs to find if there has been injury and discovering that not only is there no injury but that you are strong.  There is strength in being able to get back up and shake the dust off of your pants and shoulders.  There is strength in saying, "I fell but I got back up again."  That has to be the work of God in my life.  There is no other answer!!!

HOWEVER (Yes, note the capitals), I am missing the person that knew about my brand of crazy.  I am missing the person that saw the worst parts of me and loved me anyway.  I can be awkward and inappropriate and funny and not even know it.  So many times I would say or do something and he would laugh and laugh.  "Why are you laughing?"  I would ask him indignantly.  He would look at me with his beautiful shining eyes and tell me that I was funny.  "I didn't mean to be funny." I would tell him in my attitude-y way.  Wiping the tears of laughter from his eyes he would tell me I was cute. I still don't know if it was an insult when he would say I was incidentally funny.  I never had to explain what I meant with him.  He got me.  We spoke the same language.  This is a precious thing and I think this is what I miss the most.  Someone on your same page that you could just say whatever and it be okay. 

So I pray.  I talk with friends.  Praying is better.  I pour all my craziness out on God knowing that sometimes I'm not even making sense and He hears me.  He allows me sleep and peace and I am thankful.  I have friends that have come forth, unlikely people to ask how I am doing.  I know that they are with me for a reason, or a season, and maybe even a lifetime.  I am in debt for the gratitude that I have for them.  I don't want to impose on them or take advantage but sometimes I become too needy and it's not fair to impose on them.  This feeling of imposition is hard.  The pockets of loneliness that come out of nowhere and leave you with tears in the dollar store.  Who do I call?  In that moment, there is no one but God there when there was a person to call and tell me to get in the car and come home.  Home used to be where his arms would hold me and he didn't mind at all.  I could stay there all day if I needed to.  These are the difficult parts.  These are the parts that nobody tells you about.  I assume it's different for everyone.  I don't know.  I've only lost my husband once and it is so different than losing your parents. 

After the cramps of emotional pain end; after the restlessness that comes from fear of what will or will not be; after the pockets of loneliness and isolation that hit, there is truth that comes forth in knowing that I am never alone.  I have God with me not just standing with me but holding me and covering me.  I have knowledge that He is a good God with a good end plan.  And so... I go forth, smiling, with red lipstick (I just got a new one that I have to wear tomorrow. Fenty...) knowing more than emoting that I am more than a conqueror through Christ who strengthens me (Romans 8:31-39).

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Baby Boy's Birthday

Today my son is officially 13 years old.  So I am dedicating this post to the one who made me a mom- David.  I knew that David was going to be a special kind of boy from in utero.  He would dance when he heard music.  He would stretch so much that you could see him from outside of the belly.  His stretching would disrupt my whole entire class.  I fell in my 8th month and I was taken to the emergency room to monitor the baby for four hours to make sure that all was well with this little boy.  David found the microphone and proceeded to bang a beat on this microphone from inside my belly for 3 HOURS!!!!  His due date was March 15th, the ides of March just like a wonderful cousin of mine. This already was weird.  I remember pushing him out expecting the cries of a newborn.  I could not keep James on the head side of me while I was in labor.  I was alarmed when he was out and I didn't hear anything.  Where were the cries?  Is my baby okay?  Why was everyone looking down at me that way?  I asked, "Is everything okay?  Is the baby okay?"  I remember James telling me, "Oh, he's okay."  They took my bundle away to be measured and prodded and poked and it was then that he finally cried.  Later I asked James what had happened.  It's a story he used to love telling.  My dear son came out with his eyes open and his little hands clasped looking at everyone quietly. 

Let me tell you about David.  He likes things neat.  He is rational and can be reasonable.  He tries and makes sense of the world.  Right now he is taller than me.  He likes to play video games and watch really silly videos.  I have to keep an eye on what he watches.  He is quick to understand things.  He is quick to make inferences.  There are times when he sends me weird pictures that makes me laugh.  He is both protective and a little mean to his little sister.  He is the man of the house but he understands that I am the Queen Bee or the Queen Mother, if you will.  I think he understands that my purpose is to raise a good God fearing man. 

I asked him about living with him when I got older.  His response?  I'll ask my wife.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Scary Mom

I hope all of you have had a great weekend.  This weekend I spent with my family.  We celebrated my son's 13th birthday.  He is such a character.  I love watching him grow up into who he is going to be while facilitating that growth.  I think as a little family, we have a good flow going.  My prayer is to keep the good flow going to raise good Christian men and women. 

So, I began to understand how my children view me a while back.  I think they are getting to know me without the lens of my husband.  My husband was always a sweetie so I can see him protecting them from the harsher parts of my personality.  I vaguely remember him telling them that I was tired when I was livid.  I remember him telling one of them not to mess with me or I was taking a nap when I was just decompressing.  I understand now that he was creating a barrier so that my children would think of their mom as nice.  They are learning that this is not exactly true...

I was watching a movie and there was a kid in the movie that got into a fight.  I remember my son saying, "You see this.  This could never be me."  I asked him what he meant.  He told me that if he ever got into a fight that I would come to the school.  I wondered what would be the problem in this.  I'm a reasonable woman... aren't I?  He said that when he thinks about retaliating with physical violence some regular old stupidity, the thought of me walking on his campus (with my walk) stops him.  Apparently, this vision of me is THAT effective.  I nodded to myself.  My son uses a vision of me for impulse control.  This is... interesting. 

This weekend, I was hanging out with Janet on my bed.  We were lounging.  She has taken up this thing where every chance she gets, she calls me scary.  Scary Mom.  She tells people this liberally.  I have heard her tell people at church.  I hear talking to her friends.  Yes, my mom is scary.  What?  My daughter is very complimentary.  She loves to see the best in people.  She is very sweet.  That's not a hyperbole.  People who know Janet need to understand that she is naturally sweet as a banana split sundae.  I never understood how this is to be considering that I am NOT sweet.  James was not that sweet either.  So, for Janet to tell people that I'm scary, that's a lot! 

So, Janet is on my bed and she tells me, "You're beautiful.  You're smart.  You're scary." 
"I'm scary?" I ask.
"Yes, you're scary!  You are scary mommy!" 
"And you like this?  You think this is good?"  I ask.
"Yes, this is very good.  I wish I was scary like you."
"Because it makes you strong.  You are not a pushover."

Ah....  What my dear sweet daughter calls scary is my assertiveness.  She understands that I am strong-willed.  In our dialogue, it came out that she thinks I am exceedingly direct and honest in the fact that I don't lie.  She told me that I was not mean when I told the truth but that I told it.  As I hear my daughter tell me her image of me, I see that she admires these qualities of who I am.  She likes that I'm scary.  She tells me that my "scariness" makes her feel safe.  My dear sweet girl needs to know that there is a parent who will provide structure.  She needs to know that there is a lioness behind her who will have her back.  So, I will gladly be scary for my children.  I will continue to be who I am.  I'm sure there is a better word for what I am than scary but I'll take it.  I pray that I can always be scary for my kids. 

Friday, March 1, 2019

Some Thoughts on Love

Love.  I want to talk about love today.  No, not romantic love, just love.  I'm going to start with the best advice I got as a teacher and I feel that this is the best advice that I give to new teachers.  I was pregnant with David when I started grad school for my degree in Education.  The first class was taught by an actual teacher who referred to her students as 'kiddoes.'   She went through all of the different ways and schools of thought on education.  There is constructivist teaching and Montessori teaching, etc...  I remember after the class, I felt overwhelmed.  I went up to the teacher in a panic.  "How am I supposed to differentiate instruction for 30 students?"  I could see a whole generation of kids losing out on basic education because I was a lousy teacher.  Teaching is a calling!!!  The teacher looked at me with her years of teaching and told me something I have not been able to forget.  "Love your kids."

Let me lay out this disclaimer.  I am not talking about anything inappropriate.  I had to go home and think about loving my kids.  Just love them.  When they come to you dirty and sweaty, love them.  When they drive you nuts, love them.  When they curse you out and are lashing at you because they don't know what to do?  Love them!!!  I think this is the secret to effective teaching.  Love your students. Look at them through the lens of love.  See that they are tiny humans (or not so tiny humans) who have already had hard lives and are only acting the way that they know.  I see kids who act out and who don't know better.  I see them out in the world and how the world will respond.  I have a responsibility to love them first and then to teach them.  Love your kids.  I have been able to do more with this advice than anything else I can tell anybody in teaching.

What does this look like?  It looks like standing in front of a class full of faces waiting to be instructed and telling all of them that you are there not because it is just a job, not because you couldn't find something else.  You stand there and tell them, "I love you."  I also tell them I will believe with and for them until they can believe in  themselves.  I tell them that they have a bright future despite their past.  These are also the tenants of our school by the way.  What I tell them is part of something that I have been a part of by working at my little charter high school.  I have had students break my heart.  I have had students die.  I have had students fail and I continue to love them. 

Here's the thing when it comes to love that I have figured out.  I don't have love in limited reserves.  I know that God is Love.  He is the source of it so when I feel that I am running out I go to the source and renew my love through Him.

I John 4:7-12
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

So when the kids think that I'm a dummy for loving them (because they do), I tell them that loving them is my business.  I tell them they can't tell me not to love them.  I tell them that I will allow them to come into my heart and break it with their words and actions and it will be okay because it is my problem, not theirs.  I will love them anyway.  I will love them fiercely.  I will love them and believe in their potential.  I will.  I do.  I have.  And I will continue.

So when it's not a kid but a messed up human, I will love them.  When I am warned that they will only break my heart, it's okay. My heart will not be broken.  My heart is no fragile thing.  It has been strengthened by the act of loving like working our with weights... for decades.  You can't tell me not to love.  I will love anyway.  I have enough.  Don't worry.