Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Day the Pirate Surprised #WebbElem #KidsDeserveIt

Every chance I get, I talk about the power of social media.  I tell people the value in getting connected, sharing your story, learning from and with others from around the world.  I still get that "alien look" (like we talk about in "Kids Deserve It").  I still get those eye rolls, huffing and puffing, and those 'I'll never do that' comments.

But yet again, Monday was another example of why I choose to be a connected educator.

Monday was our first day of the new school year with kids.  We were so excited.  We were ready.  Because if you remember back in May, I wrote about how we didn't get a last day of school with kids.

The first day went AMAZING!  My team killed it with the excitement and bonding with kids.  There were smiles, hugs, and high fives everywhere.  It was a pretty perfect day (besides a few arrival or dismissal hiccups, like every school haha).

But the epic part came at the very end of the day.

You see, I do car rider duty every day.  So I was outside, in the HOT Texas heat, in the middle of two lanes of cars, directing first day car rider traffic.  Then, out of nowhere, I see a guy walking up to me.  Immediately I knew who it was DAVE BURGESS!

I remember the first words out of my mouth were "what?!?  What are you doing here?!??"

And I remember looking around and my teachers were all freaking out because they knew who he was too.

You see, Dave was traveling through Texas from one city to another, passed by a sign that said Navasota, knew I worked there, so he pulled over, looked up the address of the school, and decided to do a surprise drop in.

It's also worth it to note that I've known Dave for a little over 4 years now.  I followed Dave on social media because of reading his book "Teach Like A Pirate", then I was able to meet him while I was at an event in San Diego, and from there we've grabbed dinner a couple times, chatted over social media and the phone a bunch....oh....and he published my first full fledged book "Kids Deserve It" with Adam Welcome :-)

Well after getting over the shock that Dave was at my school, I begged him to stay about 30 minutes because we always do a quick "end of the first day; we survived!" staff meeting.  Of course being Dave, he said yes, and he was able to meet my whole team and even share a magic trick or two.

I share this story first of to show everyone how much of a great guy Dave is.  But I also share this story to share another example of the power of being a connected educator.  I would have never been connected with Dave, much less having him surprise my school, if I had never taken the leap on social media.

And now because of that act of bravery of putting myself out there, not only did I get a surprise visit, but my whole staff got to experience a little of the awesomeness as well.

It truly was the perfect ending to an incredible first day of school.

Can't wait to see what happens next!  As our theme this year states, "Let the Adventure Begin!"

Here's a video Dave made of his visit to Webb....

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Jesus, Friend of Sinners #KidsDeserveIt

There have been a select few posts I've written over the years that have addressed my faith more blatantly than others. As an educator and blogger, I've tried to walk the line of sharing without beating over the head.  Of allowing things to come out as they may.  My faith is a part of me and not something I hide, but it's also not something I shove down anyone's throat.

The last 6 months have been an extreme roller coaster in my life.  From the release of my first book, to the loss of 3 close friends and/or family members, to so much more I can't even put into words here.

And then I've watched the horrific events that have taken place around the world, this last year especially.  Because I have chosen to connect with others from around the world, I've been aware of horrific monstrosities for a while now.  But because of how prevalent things have become, even someone with their head completely in the sand knows about the pain that surrounds all of us.

Then there's the election.  No matter what side you're on, or where you sit politically, I think we can all agree this presidential election year has shown it's ugly side.  We've seen the mudslinging and name calling before in elections, but this year it's different.  This year it feels so much more....personal.

As I've written about several times recently, music is my calming force.  Music is what helps me heal.  On the way to work this morning, the song that came across my phone was "Jesus, Friend of Sinners" by Casting Crowns.  As I was reminded of the words to this song, I just sat and wept.  Truly wept.

So today, I wanted to share some of the things that stuck out to me. And yes, more than normal, there is a heavy religious slant to this post.  But, regardless of your beliefs, Jesus was a man who set great examples and shared great stories for us that we can and still do use today.

And before I begin I wanted to define this word "sinner".  So many take offense to that word.  The dictionary defines sinner as, "someone who violates a law, command, moral code, etc".

Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth's become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they're tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I'm so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided

I love how the song starts this way. It starts personal. It addresses the fact that we have to look at ourselves before we can even begin to think of looking at others.

I think about myself personally.  The times I've lost patience, lost hope, yelled, said something mean, talked about someone, made a poor decision even when I knew what the right decision was.

I think about how many times I let my pride get in the way.  I let my fear control my actions.  Sometimes the biggest person that stands in the way of the light, is us.

And I have to daily, if not moment by moment, look at myself and decide if the actions I'm taking, the words I'm speaking, and the thoughts I'm thinking are reflective of my faith.

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours

Let our hearts be led by mercy.  I love that.  The idea of giving someone mercy even when they don't deserve it.  Because I promise you, I don't always deserve mercy.

And the words "Help us reach with open hearts and open doors" and "break our hear for what breaks yours"....that just chokes me up every single time.  We have to keep our doors and our hearts open so that we can be there to when someone needs us to be.  And we have to also be empathetic.  We have to allow our hearts to break alongside others and see the pain, feel the pain, and help lead to healing.

Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who's writing in the sand
Made the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of these

In the bible, there's a story about a stoning.  And Jesus stops, kneels down, and writes something in the sand.  The bible never says what he writes in the sand, but after writing it, the people drop their stones and walk away.

So many times in situations we want to pick up that first stone and throw it.  Because we believe that person deserves it.  But we have to remember that we are the least of these.  That we aren't, and never will be, better that those around us.  Every one of us makes decisions and choices that are less than worthy.

Nobody knows what we're for only what we're against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did

This is to me, one of the most timely lines in the song. More and more these days we hear people complaining or picketing or revolting.  But just like these lyrics say, no one knows what we're for when we do that.  They're only reminded of what we're against.

We're given a great opportunity to put down our signs, put down our pitchforks, and stop yelling just long enough to cross over the lines and show love.  Show compassion.  Show forgiveness.

It won't always be accepted.  And even more so it won't be the popular option either.  But there was never been a hurt that's been healed in a protest.

You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they're the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

I love that I believe in a Savior who came to save every lost cause. Every outcast.

As an educator now, I try to live by that.  I try to live a life of gratitude for the forgiveness I've been shown, but I also try to make sure to be and an extra voice or set of hands to those who are still outcast.  To those who are still lost and hurting and alone.

You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever

And finally these words.  These were the reminder I needed this morning.  That even when I don't understand, even when my heart feels shattered into a thousand pieces, that God is still good. 

That I will never truly understand why things happen the way they do.  But I don't have to.  I just have to trust and know that God's plan is perfect.  And even though I don't know why things happen the way they do, or what people hurt, or why there's war, famine, loss, and more.  I DO know that I have a God who loves me.  Who wants what's truly best for me.  

And sometimes we have to go through the storm to see the rainbow.  And in the midst of the storm, all we can see are the dark clouds, be drenched by the pouring rain, and have the thunder clapping in our ears.  But once it passes, once we make it through the storm, there's that rainbow that comes out on the other end.  That rainbow that's there to remind us beautiful things can come from darkness.

So today I share this song and this post with you in the hopes that it brings you a little comfort.  That it may bring you a little peace.  That may even remind you of what we can do when we love others the way we've been loved.