Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Being Moved

I believe I used the term "ranting" in my previous post, which implied a level of difficulty in my first year teaching.  If I had pursued teaching just after college graduation 20 years ago, my first year would not have been easy.  Becoming a first year teacher at the age of 40, with no time in the summer to prepare, while taking 2 master's classes from MSU, with 5 kids at home, a husband who coaches football, during cross country season, during play season... can you feel my level of stress rising?? It was not an easy year, BUT I loved the students and teaching.

In spite of being stress-paralyzed for the first semester, I finally began to figure things out.  Unfortunately, it was after spring break when I felt as though I was getting a firm grasp on teaching standards and figuring out a way to combine the goals of test performance with helping students discover a love for reading. (Or at least begin to acknowledge that books aren't so bad after all!)

I began to plan my next year with much zeal and enthusiasm, knowing that I was going to make it work the second time around.  I WOULD become a good teacher, and I had lost sleep in order to figure out how to make it happen.

The first week of summer, I received a text calling me into the office.  I was told that I am going to be teaching sixth grade science and social studies instead of ELA this year.

Being moved out of a tested subject area when you have expressed a desire to remain is regarded among teachers as a demotion of sorts. Similar to being moved from varsity to JV or losing a starting position in a sport, I was placed on the "B" team. After my meeting, I left and cried and beat myself up for three days. I all I could hear was, "Well, your test scores WERE low," and "We have decided this [taking you out of a tested area] is what's best for the kids" replaying in my mind. In other words, "YOU FAILED."

I. Am. So. Prideful. There are a hundred reasons why I should have been thankful and excited, but I am full of pride and care entirely too much about the opinions of others. I could only focus on myself and beat myself up. Although I felt utterly humiliated, I had not quite humbled myself, and there is a difference.

To overcome my feelings of being a failure, I began to tell myself, "I know what all I overcame this year. I know how hard I worked. I know how much I LOVED my students. I know the plans I had to improve test scores for next year.  And so it went.

And then I thought, "And I will NOT allow my self worth to be determined by others' opinions of me."

Wait. That isn't humility. That was just an ugly form of pridefulness. What WAS I going to allow my self worth to be defined by?? My opinion of myself??

Stop it, Heather! No! The fact is, I am a daughter of a King, who has been shown more mercy and grace than I can begin to describe.  As a matter of fact, I have NO worth apart from Christ, because all that I do otherwise is tangled up in selfish motives and sin.

Christ is enough. I have to remind myself that God's kindness shows me my heart and leads me to repentance. He saved me when I was His enemy, and though I continue to fail and default to self-sufficiency, He loves me. Psalm 73:26 says, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." As I rest in Christ, things are put into an eternal perspective.

After my little pity party, I resolved to continue to do my work diligently, but more importantly, as unto the Lord... regardless of the subject area I am asked to teach.

It doesn't matter what I teach. What matters is that I honor the Lord in my work and that I do my best to show love, grace, compassion, and mercy to my students.

I mentioned 100 reasons why being moved out of ELA is a good thing... As I have changed my focus to where it needs to be, I am getting excited about the prospect of teaching science and social studies. I have met with the new ELA teacher, and we are already planning some cross curricular studies. I am hopeful that I will be able to help her in her first year of teaching. Less pressure about testing ad fewer writing assignments to grade will allow me to focus on becoming a better teacher and give me the flexibility to implement some project based learning ideas. I am most thankful that my second year teaching will include a little more time with my family.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Hello!

     This morning, it is 7:00am and I am still in my PJ's drinking coffee.  This may not have been anything unusual a few years ago, but... oh man.  What a few years we have had, and I am THANKFUL for this much needed respite.  

     The last time I posted, I believe we had recently adopted Kayleigh and I mentioned that we were all going to school... even me to get certified as a teacher.  Because going into details would be exhausting for me to type and boring for anyone to read, I will stick to the short version:


  • Andrea came back to our home for several months and then was adopted by a family who lives elsewhere in the state.  She is now doing great and just graduated Kindergarten!
  • All the kids (even Will) went to school and loved most things about it. 
  • Hannah has had 2 hip surgeries and tonsils removed in the last 14 months. 
  • We have had some CRAZY goat adventures around here... Definitely will be recorded into its own post soon.  
  • I didn't get a job teaching in 2015.  Instead, I spent a year as the Director of Wellness and Industrial Relations for Baptist Hospital... Lessons learned as a wellness director should be its own post! 
  • In August of 2016, Kayleigh started Pre-K at EU and I started my first year teaching at the age of 40. My subject area for the first year was 6th grade English.  This put all seven of us at the same place... at last! Rantings of a first year teacher will DEFINITELY be its own post, but I am not sure when.  I just found out that I will NOT be teaching ELA again, and I am still trying to embrace this opportunity to be humbled. 
  • Scott began pastoring (in addition to teaching and coaching) at a nearby church, Parks Baptist.  It is such a joy to hear him preach regularly again, and we are enjoying getting to know our new church family. I have written this countless times, but I really do mean it (as I always do)... I am going to start blogging regularly again. I want to include sermon notes each week to help me remember things.  It's not that I think anyone reads this, but more because I like it as a scrapbook with lots of pictures.  It's fun to go back and remember all the craziness of life.  BUT, getting older and the regrets and sadness that come with looking at photographs is a post of its own also.  
  • Finally... MY BABY GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL 2 WEEKS AGO!!!!!!!  This will ABSOLUTELY become its own post, with lots and lots of pictures of graduation and her family crawfish boil to accompany it. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Thankful


My heart is overflowing with thanks.  This year we were able to celebrate Thanksgiving as a family of 7 DULEYS!!  


That's right, on the Friday before Thanksgiving, we went into Judge Mask's chambers and finalized our adoption of


KAYLEIGH IRENE DULEY


Born June 19, 2012


Joined our family through foster care July 3, 2013


Officially a Duley November 21, 2014


Scott's mom's name is Kay, and my middle name is Leigh.  We decided to keep her name the same and change the spelling to make it a family name.  My grandmother's name was Irene, and that's where we got her middle name.  "Tootie's" name was actually Eula Irene Lark, but I was a grown up before I knew Eula was her real name.  I think she would have been offended if we had used that! :)  


Did you know that when you adopt a child, you receive a new birth certificate with your names on it, just like you were present at the birth.  In the eyes of the law, the past is completely wiped clean, and that child is YOURS.  Adoption gives a new start, a new family, and a whole new life.  What a spiritual parallel!  This year I have thought much of our adoption through Christ.  How thankful I am that our past is wiped clean and we are given new life through Him.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Hamster Wheel is about to STOP.

Summary of a text conversation:

R:  Maybe we can get together soon when we have more time….

Me:  I just feel like I am on a hamster wheel, and I am getting very, very weary

R:  You say that every year at this time…


Yes.  It has been building.  Fall in our home means more craziness than usual, and this year we seemed to have more than our normal share of chaos.  In fact, chaos seems like such a calm, pretty little word.  Have you ever seen the movie, "Cheaper by the Dozen" with Steve Martin?  That was our house this fall.  Ha!  Well, it felt like it, anyway.  Seriously, we have always been scattered, but here is just a tiny summary of the directions we have been going:

Scott:  Head coach of EU Football, and this year they completed a football field and facility during the season, adding an extra slice of craziness.  To top it off, he lost about 16 starters to a variety of factors including injury, concussion, drugs, and bad attitude.  Ouch.

Hannah:  Continued to homeschool this fall and run for the Spartan XC team.  They had a great season, and she ran her best time at the NACA meet in Dayton, TN last week.  She also works part time at the store with me and is about to undertake an order for 30 dozen iced sugar cookies between now and Thanksgiving.  She has decided to go to EU after Christmas and join her sister in the ranks of brown and gold.

Sarah:  Decided to go to EU this fall and run XC there.  Leading the Urchins, Sarah finished 3rd at State last week in 2A, and she also made all A's on her report card!

Will:  Continues to homeschool, and he is actually a grade ahead this year.  He spends his free time learning computer skills and reading.

Josh:  Still homeschooling, and playing hard for the Sherman Cowboy little league football.  He is determined to get fast, lose weight, and be the next Josh Robinson (MSU).

A: Was with us for an entire year and just recently went to be with her forever family, who also happen to be close friends of ours.  We miss her dearly, but we know that she is blossoming with our friends.

Kayleigh:  We are hoping any day now to get our court date to finalize her adoption!!!  And she's two.  VERY two.

Me:  Wife stuff, mom stuff, schooling stuff, coaching the Spartan girls' XC team, working at Trails & Treads, and trying to get motivated to train for Boston 2015.

So there you have it.  I'm sure I lost all 3 of my readers about halfway down that list, but I just needed to set the stage for the level of busy-craziness going on with us.  My mind has been screaming words like STREAMLINE, SIMPLIFY, and STOP, but I have been paralyzed in that wild-eyed, "I'm going to implode if something doesn't change" state.  In fact, I have threatened to move to Mexico and jump off a cliff on multiple occasions.

Last week on the way to Dayton, TN, a friend gave me a book to borrow.  It was called 7, by Jen Hatmaker.  In the Lord's good timing, Candice gave me this book at the beginning of a 6 hour road trip, in which I was not the driver!  It also happened to be the beginning of the end…. The beginning of the last weekend of utter craziness before the winter.  "A" had officially moved to be with her forever family, high school and little league football were over, and this was the last XC meet for both Hannah and Sarah.

I gobbled down the entire book in one day.

7 is the story of a Christian lady who was feeling overwhelmed by all the "stuff" in her life and felt the need to cut out the excess.  (Maybe I am projecting, but as I read, I thought, "I know exactly how this lady feels.  The crazy train has to stop.  She is jumping off her hamster wheel.")  She did this by identifying seven areas of her life and using the number 7 in various capacities to cut away extras.  For example, she only ate 7 foods, chose 7 green habits to begin, etc.

This could have easily been construed into a humanistic effort, but she made it pretty clear that she wanted to use the time as a type of fast.  One of my favorite quotes is, "I have simply said, 'Jesus, may there be less of me and my junk and more of You and Your kingdom.'  I will reduce, so He can increase."

It has been four days since I finished the book, and I have been thinking and praying about what my response to the Lord is going to be.  I feel that he is speaking to me through conviction, through His Word, and through circumstances like the timeliness of that book.  I don't think that Mrs. Hatmaker's way is THE way, nor do I feel called to cut my wardrobe down to 7 things or simplify our food… we pretty much eat about 7 foods anyway, and I am NOT a clothes horse!  However, I know that things can not remain as they are if our goal is to bring glory to the Lord.

This weekend Scott and I have been given a two night hotel stay in Nashville!!!!!!!!!  I can't tell you the last time we did ANYTHING like that.  I have gone on a quick trip with him to a coaches banquet, and he drove me to my triathlon this summer… but I don't know WHEN we just hung out together.  One thing we both want to do is take some time to talk through things.  You know, talk…. it's what people who know each other do, right??  Haha, yes, it's been that crazy.

Anyway, we are going to get down to nitty gritty specifics about the details, but I know we both have the same heart in this matter.

REPENT- We have been reading an excellent book by Richard Owen Roberts called Repentance.  I have been praying that God would show me the areas of my life that are not bringing him glory, and I know Scott has too.

REDUCE- We are going to have to reduce in spending in order just to make our budget work.  (Going back to a cash system next week, so I can't rob Peter to pay Paul anymore…)  However, the things I had in my mind just a few days ago as necessities are not seeming quite as important.   Hopefully we can reduce enough to give and save more.

RETURN to a more disciplined lifestyle- This has been a topic of discussion for a while with us.  But it's time.  No more excuses.  We have already started going to bed early in order to get up early and start our day off right.  This weekend we also plan to talk about other ways we can reduce distractions in order to return to a more disciplined lifestyle.  Media/ screen time is a big one.  For all 7 of us… even Kayleigh, who now clamors for Care Bears constantly!  We have to figure out a good long term solution, because I feel like I am less productive now that I have all of these great time saving things like text messages and email.  I have a love/ hate relationship with my phone.  Lately mostly hate.

That whole no more excuses thing… well I make a lot of them.  And I have let myself get way out of shape after tearing my calf in the fall.  It's time to start returning to discipline by changing eating habits and getting back into my exercise groove. (How am I thinking I am going to run Boston in April??)

REFRESH-    WAY MORE IMPORTANTLY than marathon training or cutting out junk food, I have a desire for spiritual nourishment.  I have not memorized Scripture in, well, I am too prideful to even tell anyone when.  But it has been too long.  My quiet times have been dry and spotty for the last year, and I feel like The Lord is warming my heart and drawing me closer to Himself again.


SOOOO… There you have it.  For friends who I don't see regularly, I know this post actually dropped a lot of bombs.
1.  Sarah went to public school.
2.  Hannah is going to public school.
3. We did not decide to adopt A, and it worked it out for her to be adopted by our close friends.
4. We are about to OFFICIALLY have a new Duley… and her name is going to be Kayleigh Irene.
5. Scott and I get to be alone together for two days!!!
6. I didn't drop this bomb, but I might as well… I have applied for grad school at MSU in order to renew my teaching license.  If I take two online classes towards my MAT, then I will be able to teach.  Not sure if anything will come of it, but there it is.

Maybe one day soon I will post again and fill in the gaps on all this.  I would love to share about our experience as foster parents, but I probably won't anytime soon.  It's too complicated, too raw, and I don't know that any amount of typing could convey the joys and the pains of that roller coaster.  Hannah is already angling for another foster baby… I have promised to consider it in the spring… but we need a while to re-group.  Hmmm… REGROUP… I should have used that one after RETURN… :)


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Baby Steps

I have learned a lot from our fostering experience, and one day "soon" I would love to blog about the journey we have taken over the last 8 months.  Meanwhile, I decided not to let the burden of catching up my blog keep me from posting what is currently happening.

One of the MANY things I have learned about being a foster parent is to rejoice in the small victories.  It keeps you from going crazy, and helps you remember to thank the Lord for progress.  In the last 3 days, we have rejoiced in two such victories concerning our three year old little girl who came in September.

Miss A hears "I love you" and other affectionate phrases frequently throughout the day, and we all make it a point to give her physical affection.  She reciprocates with physical affection, and it is obvious  she truly appreciates it.  However, when verbal affection is given, she frequently responds with an adamant "no" or the averting of eyes.  VERY RARELY does she respond positively or say anything on her own.  Saturday she was playing independently and Hannah heard her talking to her baby dolls, saying, "My mommy… My mommy loves me."

May seem small, but it meant the world to me.

Yesterday night we had a similar moment.  In September we received a little girl who refused to eat healthy food, especially wheat bread.  She had been fed a steady diet of fast food and could recognize signs and tell you what she wanted from the menu of each and every fast food place as we drove across town.  Passing Taco Bell she would shout, "Want soft taco!!" Upon seeing the yellow arches she would cry for "Chicken nuggets!!!"  While getting gas she would cry for pop and ice cream, and so it went.  Needless to say, her system faced quite a shock when she began eating "real food," most frequently NOT by her free choice.

I'm not sure where this little girl went, but last night our 3 year old ate a decent dinner, ASKED for apple slices (ate them), and then ASKED for a piece of homemade wheat bread.  As she took the first bite of bread, she declared, "YUM! Good!"

In that split second, flashing back to battles over meals in September, I realized that we have come a long, long way.  It gives me hope for tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Another type of new addition...

We have thought about becoming foster parents and adopting for years.  In fact, I think I even posted about us applying to be foster parents just before I was approached about coaching for BMC.  When I decided to take the coaching job, we put fostering on hold.

The Lord has kept bringing this up before us, and most recently we felt like the timing was right.  In March we got another application packet and began working on it.  During the month of April we went to certification classes, and things have just now come together at the end of June.

We got a call a few days ago, and we will be getting our first placement tomorrow!  Because of privacy issues, I really can't say much about it all, but she is a beautiful 12 month old girl, and we are all looking forward to meeting her.  

We haven't had a baby in our house in a LONG time, and we had way too much fun in Wal-Mart last weekend!
 I think we have most everything we need... I am sure I will remember things forgotten as we go, but I at least have the basics.  So many people offered to help by loaning us a crib, high chair, and other things... It was touching!
 Baby K comes tomorrow at 3:00, and we can't wait!!

New Additions at Daily Bread Farm

It's summertime on the farm... and that means lots of babies around here!  We received our order of 100 meat birds and 25 laying hens in the mail!  Yes, in the mail... You can order chickens online, and they get mailed to your post office.  The post master calls us as soon as they arrive, and we go pick them up. Crazy... you can get anything online these days!  

 The above chick is a meat bird.  They are all some type of Cornish Cross Broiler breed... I forget the name exactly.  Below, the little brownish chicks are the Rhode Island Red hens.
 In addition to the baby chicks, we have baby goats!  Our two does, Sally and Linda were both due at the end of June.  As of now, July 2, we are beginning to wonder if Linda is actually bred or just incredibly fat and full of milk.

Sally, on the other hand, came through for us.  One night I went outside to plug in the heat lamp for the chicks.  Strangely, Linda was out of her fence and under the shop, and Sally was no where to be seen.  I went down to the barn to check on her, and sure enough, there were two BRAND NEW babies in the barn!  I mean BRAND NEW!!  What good timing!  I ran for my headlamp and Hannah was awake to know what was going on.  She came out and jumped right in with the clean up.  It was so neat!




 The baby goats are about 10 days old now, and they are frollicking, playing, and grazing with their mama and "Aunt Linda."  Every morning I walk outside hoping that I will see two more babies in the barn!!  Meanwhile, I might need to research false pregnancy or overdue goats.
 The chicks are actually growing quickly also!  It is hard to believe that the broilers will be full size at 6 weeks!  The hens are growing more slowly, but they are definitely getting stronger and bigger too.