Monday, April 17, 2017

This Is The Educational Me

Well, folks. If for some odd reason you’ve ever wondered about the educational beliefs that drive me, wonder no more. Here they are...

But before I post, I must say this: I’ve spent a lot of time over the past couple of weeks hammering out this “Leadership Framework.” I completed the assignment for a graduate school class, but I found myself struggling to focus solely on my work in the schools because church life is so important to me. In fact, Christian Education was my focus during my years in divinity school. And that’s where the tension lies. When I was in divinity school, I struggled to focus solely on my work in church because school life is so important to me. In both graduate degree programs, I have found my heart split...and trying to apply my learning to more than just what the courses are supposed to prepare me for.

Several people have asked me recently what I plan to do when I finish my current graduate degree. I find myself honestly responding, “I have no idea. I know I’m supposed to be doing the program, but I have no idea what I’m going to do with the degree.” And I don’t. But I’m hashing out my passions and beliefs and praying that God will reveal the way. I’m not overly concerned. But I am glad to be finished with this assignment :-).

Philosophy of Education
I believe that education begins when we are born and ends when we die. Whether the learning is ours or the persons’ around us, and whether it is mental, physical, spiritual, or emotional, education is what happens each time we are exposed to something new and forced to do something with or about it. I believe that education is a process. It is continuous. It does not always begin and end with concept introduction, rather it is more often grown with time, intention, and experience. Education is formal in schools and churches. Education is informal in homes and relationships. I believe that education is trying, falling down, getting up, and trying again. Education is learning to walk and then acquiring the stamina to use the skill for good.

Philosophy of Leadership
I believe that leadership is the person or group of persons who lead whatever or whomever is being led. I believe that strong leadership is the person or persons willing to lead by humble, active example. I believe that leaders should lead with purpose and integrity, out of a sense of personal calling, and that leadership’s purpose should not be personal gain but organizational, group, and individual progress. I believe that strong leadership fosters success through relevant feedback, timely encouragement, wise decisions, difficult conversations, and a growth mindset for both itself and those being led. As a result, strong leadership creates thriving, healthy, positive, and growing organizations, groups, or individuals.

Vision for Learners
Learners learn in a variety of ways (musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and existential) and at varying speeds and will be given the time, space, and opportunity to do so. Furthermore, learners will gain relevant, practical skills and knowledge to help them live as healthy individuals who make positive contributions to society.

Vision for Teachers
Teachers are experts in educational and developmental theory, practice, and learning. Life-long learners themselves, teachers will be knowledgeable of their content area and how to relate it to learners’ lives. Teachers will enjoy working with students and peers and be both leaders and team players as needed to foster a positive, safe, and healthy learning environment.

Vision for the Organization
The educational organization makes formal education possible. The educational organization will:
• Provide not only a safe, well-maintained building and recreational space but also a safe, orderly learning environment;
• Seek to be sustainable and environmentally responsible whenever possible;
• Supply both the technological and non-technological tools needed for learning and make those tools available and accessible to students and teachers alike;
• Create a positive organizational culture and climate by planning and investing in ongoing community partnerships and promoting healthy lifestyles by providing physical and emotional support systems for students, parents, and teachers;
• Center all actions and activities on shared goals and values;
• Celebrate accomplishments both big and small.

Vision for the Professional Growth
Professional growth is the cornerstone for professional success. Professional growth will:
• Be ongoing and provide opportunities not only for strengthening content knowledge and work effectiveness but also for strengthening self-awareness and intra- and inter-personal communication and understanding;
• Be relevant and meaningful and lead to proactive change in thought and/or action;
• Be a combination of what all stakeholders need to know to be on the same page and what individual stakeholders desire to know to be stronger and more effective in areas identified as strengths and/or weaknesses;
• Occur in the regular work environment and at special trainings.

Method of Vision Attainment
Attaining any vision or goal takes time, determination, focus, and patience. Vision attainment is a journey filled with ups and downs, successes and failures, bumps and bruises, efficient pathways and unexpected detours, and long hours of listening and allowing others to help navigate and lead. I plan to attain my visions by bunkering down for the journey, enjoying the ride with whomever I meet along the way, and doing everything I can to leave the wake of my path better than it was before I walked it.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Who Cares?

If you were at Antioch yesterday morning, then you heard a somewhat diverse set of music. We started with a modern praise song, led by the praise team, and then we went directly into a congregational rendition of “Victory in Jesus.” Next we moved to another congregational favorite of “Just A Closer Walk With Thee,” followed by a very unique, somewhat high church, full of intricate, sometimes dissonant harmonies, choral arrangement of “Abide With Me.” We ended with one verse of “Blest Be The Tie.”

While I was very pleased with the choir’s rendition of “Abide With Me”—it was tough and we had worked really hard to prepare it for worship—and while I always enjoy singing “Victory In Jesus”—after all, it was one of the title songs of my former band—and while the girls of the praise team did a good job introducing a new song—what really hit me yesterday was “Just A Closer Walk With Thee.”

As I was standing in the pulpit singing, I suddenly caught myself smiling and thinking, “Yes!! This!! I hope everyone in the congregation and the world is listening!! This is so important!! Did you hear it, people?! You just sang something HUGE!!”

And what was it that evoked double exclamation marks after every thought?

“Through this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.”

Did you catch that?! Really catch that?!

The world is full of toil and snares, speed-bumps and potholes, obstacles and heartaches, failures and heartbreaks, injustice and bigotry, judgment and condemnation, mean people and meaner people, and all kinds of other mayhem that will trip us up. With every feeling of safety. With every risk we take. With any attempt at anything at all, we run the risk of success or failure. And guess what? We’re going to mess up as many times as we get it right! We’re going to goof as many times as we reach near-perfection. We’re going to falter as many times as we experience clear-sailing! But…who cares?!

Really? Who cares?!

What does it matter?!

We’re still alive.
We’re still human.
We’re still able to move forward on life’s journey.

So who cares if we falter??
Really? Who cares?!

Because, in the end, the God who created us and loves us is the same God who never leaves or forsakes us—faltering or not. The same God who created the universe and offers redemption to the world is the same God who shares our heartaches and burdens—willingly surrendered or not.

I don’t know about you, friend, but this all makes me smile and sets a little part of me free.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

What We Can't Un-See

About a year ago, I found myself drawn to a work of art entitled “Rock With A Hole In Its Heart.” The piece was created by a local artist and hanging at the local gallery where Barb-My-Former-Art-Teacher-But-Still-My-Friend teaches classes on weekends.

The piece is abstract. The movement, the lines, the colors—or lack thereof—and the title all spoke to me. When I looked at the piece, I saw the hole in the rock’s heart. I saw a little person sitting on a rock looking at the horizon. I saw an elephant blowing water. Then Barb pointed out the outline of a woman, faceless, featureless, with the hole where her heart would be. It reminded her of one of her works from high school. That piece is called, “The Womanless Woman.” I have that piece hanging in my room. I also now have the “Rock…” hanging in my room. And guess what I see every time I look at it? Not the rock. Not the little person looking at the horizon. Not the elephant. But the woman: the image that I didn’t even seen until Barb pointed it out. Granted, I don’t mind seeing the outline of the woman. It’s not offensive. It’s just that I can’t un-see it.

I was talking to a friend the other day about a mistake I made many years back. I said, “If I could go back, I would probably not do it again.” I suppose that sounds weird, but I can’t definitively say that I would not do it again because I know that I’m who I am today because of the past—good or bad—and I know that everything that I know has been learned from what I have experienced, seen, and heard. I can’t un-know, un-see, or un-hear my life.

Sometimes I want to. Sometimes I want not to feel the sting of regret. Sometimes I want not to remember difficulty, hardship, stupidity, and grief. Sometimes I want to go back and change all things bad. But I can’t.

Thankfully, I can’t forget the good things either.

When I got into the car on Monday, Sara Groves started singing. As she sang, I realized she was speaking to me. She was pulling at some heart strings directly connected to the broken hearts of a couple of different friends—a couple of different people who, too, wished that they could un-know, un-see, and un-hear some things. And yet…we can’t. None of us can. Full, broken, or empty hearts. And somehow…that is okay. Somehow, we are all okay.

I saw what I saw and I can't forget it
I heard what I heard and I can't go back
I know what I know and I can't deny it
Something on the road, cut me to the soul

I say what I say with no hesitation
I have what I have and I'm giving it up
I do what I do with deep conviction
Something on the road, cut me to the soul

Your pain has changed me
Your dream inspires
Your face a memory
Your hope a fire
Your courage asks me what I'm afraid of
And what I know of love

We've done what we've done and we can't erase it
We are what we are and it's more than enough
We have what we have but it's no substitution
Something on the road, touched my very soul

Your pain has changed me
Your dream inspires
Your face a memory
Your hope a fire
Your courage asks me what I am made of
And what I know of love

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Maps and Puzzles

I first realized that kids were fascinated by maps when I taught at Erwin. I don’t remember what I was trying to teach, but I vividly remember standing in front of the map in my classroom and fielding question after question in rapid fire succession. I kept trying to steer us back to something somewhat musical, but I finally just gave up and answered my students’ questions.

Over ten years later—the world more technologically advanced than ever—kids still love maps. Not Google maps. Not Google earth. Not the GPS. But pull down, jump-in-fright-if-the-map-rolls-up-unexpectedly, topographical, political, geographical, continental, country, or state maps. In fact, the kids love maps so much that I have two huge maps permanently hanging in my classroom so that students can look at them whenever they want.

That being said, most kids—and I dare say most adults—are woefully ignorant when it comes to geography. I feel okay saying this because I, myself am woefully ignorant when it comes to geography. But. I’m happy to report that I’m getting better! And here is why:

I’m practicing.
And I’m practicing because I’m teaching.
And I’m teaching because the kids are interested.
The kids are interested in maps and the kids are interested in composers’ deaths and gravesites and the kids are interested in puzzles. Weird. I know.

One of the songs that I use as a springboard for a unit that focuses on basic geographical skills is “Hello To All The Children of the World.” In short, the song introduces the word “hello” in nine different languages from nine different countries: England, France, Spain, Australia, Germany, Japan, Italy, Israel, and Russia. [England’s and Spain’s languages, of course, cover America and Mexico as well]. As I’ve pointed to each of these countries on the map, I’ve learned where they are (not that they are overly difficult to find), and in the process I have paid attention to the countries around them. Not only that, I have watched a Little Big Shots video clip of Nathan-The-Four-Year-Old reciting all of the countries of Africa in under a minute.

So when I saw “The Global Puzzle” at Barnes and Noble last week, and the box challenged me to see if I could put together the puzzle without looking at the picture, I knew that I had to accept the challenge. With my mom. I don’t do puzzles without my mom.

My mom put together the border, North America, and Australia. Together, we sorted what we thought were the countries of Africa, Europe, Asia, and South America. After we sorted, we began putting together the continents. And it was hard—not because we’d sorted wrong but because we didn’t know where exactly the countries went on each continent! At one point, I gave up on country placement and moved to my puzzle forte: puzzle shape placement. Two hours after we started, combining both of our talents, mom and I had the world together. Now we will glue it together and I will take it to school where my students will think it incredibly fascinating.

There, I will add it to my classroom of real maps and globes—did I mention that I have seven globes in my room?—and I will continue in my attempt to teach my students basic geographical skills so that they won’t grow up geographically ignorant.

Now. Go find a map and locate a country about which you’ve always wondered. Then tell me about it. I’d sure like to know.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Corridor of Daggers

One of my friends has erased her finger prints by using so much hand sanitizer over the years. After being sick for the past few days, I’d gladly erase my own finger prints by way of hand sanitizer if it’d keep me from feeling like this again.

Maybe my tolerance for pain has lessened as I’ve gotten older, but I declare that I was absolutely miserable and felt a little like death at the height of this little bug on Thursday night.

It started Wednesday night with a sore throat. I jolted myself awake in the wee hours of Thursday morning and spent around ten minutes talking myself down from a panic attack of being sick, alone, and not able to breath. I woke up Thursday morning not feeling great, but I got up and got dressed because missing work is discouraged. The closer it came to leaving time, the more certain I felt that I really didn’t feel well, so I made the decision to stay home. I sent all appropriate messages and then went back to sleep.

When I woke up, I felt worse. And as the day progressed, I continued to feel worse. From no fever to a baby fever to a fever of 102; from a nauseous stomach to one that couldn’t keep anything down; from a sore throat to a sorer throat…I was not in good shape.

Different people had different ways to know that I was really sick: My mom knew that something was really wrong when I didn’t leave the house to volunteer for Harnett Off-Broadway; I almost always volunteer for my non-HOB nights. And my dad knew that something was really wrong when I didn’t have enough energy to let Bullet off the porch.

When I wrote Olga-Bullet’s-Real-Mom to ask her to take care of Bullet, she asked if I needed anything. In my fever-induced drunkenness, I asked for Gatorade and Ibuprofen. Sometime later, after a mystery Adam Sandler movie, during Home Alone 2, both of which I only saw bits and pieces because of said fever-induced drunkenness, Olga knocked on the door and delivered Gatorade, Ibuprofen, and raspberries for tea. She wanted to help her neighbor, and she did helped her neighbor indeed.

My fever broke sometime during the night that night. I was up and down all night—hot, cold, sweating, freezing, trying to swallow through what felt like a corridor of daggers. A good friend brought Lysol to the house on Friday so that I could disinfect my sick living quarters. I spent Friday resting. I spent Saturday resting—although I did move my resting position to the movie theatre to see Beauty and The Beast (which was very good) and then to Urgent Care to receive a negative strep throat diagnosis but medicine anyway because my throat looked so bad. I had to work yesterday, but every moment not working was resting. I had to work today, and go to class tonight, but in between I took a nap.

My throat is still very sore. The corridor of white daggers still there. For now I have all fingerprints. But if sanitizing my hands to avoid walking this corridor again is what I need to do, then I will be a glad sanitizer, disappearing fingerprints and all.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Snowy Sabbath

I like church. Really, I do. Please hear that. I like joining together with my community of believers and worshipping with the choir, praise team, and wider congregation. As messed up as the church can be, I like doing more through the church than I can do alone. I like church. I believe in the church. But I declare that sometimes it’s nice to have a day off from church.

I accidently woke up early yesterday. I think my body thought it was a school day. I saw that it was snowing outside but I left my alarm set for church and went back to sleep. A little while later, I woke up to the sound of the phone ringing and then to pots and pans being put up. In a state of semi-consciousness, I listened to the sounds of the kitchen and mused about how productive my parents were being so early in the morning. Then I looked at the clock. It was 9:15. My parents should have been leaving for church. At that point I literally said aloud, “Something is weird here.”

On the next multiple of five (I only get up on multiples of 5), I popped out of bed and went downstairs. When I saw my dad in his pajamas, I knew: Church had been cancelled. I asked anyway: “Was church cancelled?!” When he said yes, I cheered. I literally cheered. I clapped. I jumped up and down. Then I ran into my parents’ bedroom where my mom was working at her computer and I hugged her. As I squeezed her and rejoiced, she said, “You’re not supposed to be this happy about missing church.” Then she smiled at my excitement. Then I ran back into the kitchen, arms fully extended for a hug, and threw my arms around my dad and said, “Thank you so much” (although I knew that the decision was not completely his). Then I jumped up and down and clapped some more. Then I cried.

I was so happy and relieved to have a day off that I couldn’t hold back the tears. Then I volunteered to cook breakfast so that mom and dad could prepare for their visit to see my grandmother.

Last week was extremely busy. Six days of early mornings and very late nights with no down time in between takes its toll on an almost-40-year-old. This week will be mostly the same, just without the stress of preparing for Harnett Off-Broadway. Yesterday was supposed to be another work day. But with the blessing of the snow, the day ended up being a day off. It was rest for the weary. It was true Sabbath. And it happened because I didn’t have to go to church.

Swirly, dancing white
Calm silence nourishing souls
Peaceful rest, Sabbath

I like church. Really, I do. Please hear that. But I declare that sometimes it’s nice to have a day off.

God, thanks for a day off yesterday. Amen.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Love Can Build A Bridge

“Tell your kids that they moved a grown man to tears today. No. I’ll just tell them myself.”

We have no costumes. No make-up. No overly fancy choreography. No medley of show-tunes.

But we have a group of kids who love to sing. And we have a very clear theme to sing about and a very poignant message to share: Love.

Love gives us purpose.
Love gives us hope.
Love gives us reason for living and giving.
Love helps us bridge any gaps that keep us apart.

We’ve only had about six hours to practice with our kids this year. Thank God for Alasha The Queen Bee Guidance Counselor who has loaned me her room and artistic talents and helped pull everything together. Two schools and 33 classes between them doesn’t leave me much time for anything. Yet I hope that when the kids look back on Harnett Off Broadway this year they will remember the theme by which I try to live every busy day: Love.

“What you did today, boys and girls, was really good. When you have a message to share and when you sing from your hearts, you don’t need all of that other stuff. Music has the power to move people. And what you all did today moved me. And not just me. There were people all around this auditorium who had tears in their eyes as well. So. Don’t worry about all of that other stuff. Just do what you do well and be yourselves tomorrow night. Let the music in your hearts do its work.”

Monday, March 6, 2017

Unexpected 7th Grade Blessing

Yesterday was this year’s Harnett County Young Author’s Celebration. For a couple of reasons, I didn’t get the invitation until the beginning of last week and didn’t have time to talk to the other school winners, so I wasn’t sure if anyone else was going. [Johnsonville had the most entries in the county, two student winners, and three Forever Young (adult) winners.] Since today started two of the busiest weeks of my year, I really just wanted to stay home and take a long Sunday afternoon nap. But I’m a strong supporter of the Young Authors program, and I knew I needed to show that with my actions and not just my words. So I went. And I’m glad I went.

I must admit that I feel a bit silly sitting on stage with all of the student winners. I fear that it appears like I want to be honored. But that’s not it. I want to sit on stage with the students from my school so that they don’t feel alone. I want to be on stage with them to give them courage. And I want to read my writing aloud to model public speaking—not just to my students but to all the kids on stage.

When I got to the celebration yesterday, I saw my principal and one of my coworkers sitting in the audience. I also saw one of my students on stage! My coworker was not only the student’s teacher but also a Forever Young winner, so I grabbed her to go on stage with me. As we sat with the students, listened to them read, and watched them get their awards, I noticed a late-comer walking down the aisle. She looked frustrated. As soon as she made it to stage, her name was called to read. She read. Beautifully. Then she came to sit by me because it was the only seat left on stage.

After pictures were made, snacks were eaten, and everything was over, I went to my car to go home. As I was getting into my car, I saw my stage neighbor walking toward me. At first, I thought that she and her family were having car trouble. But then I heard her say, “I just wanted to tell you thank you for reading today. You did a really good job and it was really inspiring. It’s nice to know that older people still write and that not everyone has given up on it. Writing is so important.”

Humbled, I properly thanked my stage neighbor for her for her compliment (and overlooked that she called me old ), and then we had a fifteen minute conversation about writing, emotional expression, Harry Potter, literature, and band. I’m pretty sure she’d have kept on talking if I hadn’t realized that her mom was just sitting in the car waiting for her. But kudos to her mom for encouraging her to come talk to me. My stage neighbor, a 7th grader, had seen me walking to my car, wondered if it was me, debated whether or not she should speak to me, but finally walked over because her mom told her to go on and talk to me.

Knowing that it took a lot of courage for a 7th grader to speak to a stranger, I prayed through the whole conversation that God would give me the words that she most needed to hear, the questions that she most needed to answer, and the encouragement that she most needed to take away. I hope that I offered all of those things. And I hope that I will never forget the moment when I drove away yesterday and said aloud, “Well. I wasn’t expecting that. I guess it’s a good thing I came. Thank you, God, for guiding me to come. And thank you for unexpected blessings.” Amen.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Chainbreaker Ethan

My dad made me laugh during church yesterday.

While sharing a story from his teenage years, he said, “When you’re dumb, you don’t know you’re dumb.”

And how had he been dumb? When given the opportunity to preach at the age of 14, the text he chose was from Revelation. He wanted to tell the church that they needed to be on fire for Christ instead of lukewarm in their faith—lest God spit them out! Little Dan was frustrated that after coming back from summer camp on a spiritual high, he had watched his fire go out at the hands of those in the church. He admitted, lover of the church he may be, that “the church has a way of squelching people’s fires.” And I thought, “Yep, dad. You’re right. As much as we try, the church so often goes wrong.”

Yet sometimes we get things right:

This past Saturday, Rebecca the Children’s Minister worked with the children to make 100 crisis bags to take to local hospitals and fire stations. The kids wanted to provide something comforting to other kids who were experiencing traumatic events.

Yesterday afternoon, our women’s ministry group served lunch to numerous couples who have been married for more than 50 years.

And yesterday morning, our entire worship service was planned around a theme selected by my bass player, Ethan. Ethan joined the praise team about a year ago, decided that he wanted to play an instrument, and learned to play the bass. He even got a bass for Christmas. Ethan also joined the adult choir. As one point last year, as a 6th grader whose voice was changing, he was singing in both the children’s and adult choirs! Ethan quickly became my errand boy. If I needed to turn on the sound system—I asked the boy to do it. If I needed an actor—I asked the boy to do it. If I needed a music stand—I asked the boy to get it. Ethan was at every praise team practice, singing his heart out, boy band faces and all.

Yesterday was Ethan’s last Sunday with us. His dad received his Permanent Change of Station orders, so the family is moving to New York. As his swan song, Ethan requested that the team learn the song, “Chainbreaker.” After weeks of properly Antioch-izing the song (AKA, making it doable for our little praise team with no drummer), we sang the song yesterday. We also centered the entire service around the theme of God being the one who could break our chains. We laid the altar with chains, we sang songs of freedom, we read scriptures of freedom, and my dad preached about freedom. If it were up to Ethan, then everyone would have left church yesterday with a souvenir chain. But chains are expensive (I did look)! So only the praise team left with commemorative chains.

Friends, I don’t know what Ethan will be when he grows up. I don’t know if he has been called into the ministry like my dad or if he will follow in his dad’s footsteps and be a military man or if he will do something completely different. But what I know is this: I hope that no church, no school, or no human being will ever squelch my boy’s fire for God and enthusiasm for life.

If you've been walking the same old road for miles and miles
If you've been hearing the same old voice tell the same old lies
If you're trying to feel the same old holes inside
There's a better life
There's a better life

If you've got pain
He's a pain taker
If you feel lost
He's a way maker
If you need freedom or saving
He's a prison-shaking Savior
If you've got chains
He's a chain breaker

We've all searched for the light of day in the dead of night
We've all found ourselves worn out from the same old fight
We've all run to things we know just ain't right
And there's a better life
There's a better life

If you believe it
If you receive it
If you can feel it
Somebody testify

If you need freedom or saving
He's a prison-shaking Savior
If you've got chains
He's a chain breaker

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Ugly Shoes

Dr. Smith starts every class with a metaphor.

If I were following her lead and starting class tonight, then tonight’s metaphor would be my shoes.

I would place my shoes in front of the class and ask everyone to come up with the metaphor.

After a few moments of silence, everyone would start sharing their thoughts. I would be grateful for the thoughts and celebrate each insight, but the insight that I would most want to hear would be something like this:

If you don’t regularly care for your shoes, then they will dry out, crack, and end up looking and feeling rough and being difficult to restore. The same goes for your body and spirit.

Something I don’t talk about a lot is the fact that I pray for my shoes when I buy them. I pray that God will use them to help me bless the places I go and the people I see while wearing them. I also pray that God will honor the money I’ve spent because I hate spending money on myself—yet I believe in wearing quality shoes because I’m on my feet so much.

I bought these particular shoes over a decade ago. I’ve worn them a lot—though I only have one specific memory of wearing them before today: Spray painting rhythm sticks silver for Harnett Off Broadway while working at Erwin Elementary. I don’t remember which year’s performance needed those sticks, but I remember having on these shoes because they got showered with spray paint residue and subsequently sparkled for a long time afterward. I was not impressed.

What I will remember about wearing these shoes today is this: One of my coworkers looked at my feet at the end of the day and said, “Deaton! Those shoes look rough! They must have been through a lot.”

Since it’s Thursday, I could have easily answered yes. I have often left school on Thursdays feeling like I would quit if given the opportunity. My patience and energy have been sucked out of me and I have been left feeling rough. But today, contrary to the appearance of my shoes, I didn’t feel that way. I was tired, yes. My weeks are long. But I felt okay.

Tonight, when I got home, somewhat embarrassed by the declaration about my shoes but moreso glad to have a few hours at home before bedtime, I polished my shoes. I decided to change their reality.

A couple of weeks ago, after a particularly rough Thursday, I decided to change my reality. I decided that I had to shift my spirit lest I constantly be in a state of cracked ugliness—especially on Thursday afternoons.

Shoe polish helped my shoes. Prayer, deep breathing, picking my battles, accepting my boundaries, and calling on the name of Jesus helped my spirit.

Are my shoes now back in perfect condition? No. Are my Thursdays now wonderful? No. But both are better because both have been tended to.

I think I’ll try to tend more often and more intentionally. And I think I’ll keep my eyes open for more metaphors. I think it will make Dr. Smith proud.