Monthly Archives: November 2015

Doing “the next…”


Everywhere I look:2403AE05E9

Here’s all you need to do to jump-start your dream

What could you do better if you just followed these three simple steps?

How to stop getting in your own way.

I swear, it is a conspiracy.

While I take small steps to grow my own freelance business … (and for those of you who don’t know, I’m trying to grow my own freelance business) … I let myself be distracted by the hundreds of internet sites and books and webinars and 2-day conferences that promise success.

It’s exhausting.

First, you must do this, but make sure you have that in place, which you can’t do until after your site is up and running, and don’t forget these four essential pages, including your testimonials and feedback which, unfortunately, you don’t have because you haven’t gotten a gig, so, you should also be marketing and pitching. Oh, you’ve never done that before? Well, here is a 6-session minicourse…  

But, wait. Why aren’t you writing?

This is no different than any other profession or calling or mission. I felt so woefully under-prepared for my first teaching position that I cried every night for three months.  Dear God, what have I gotten myself into?

In fact, the world is full of rookies and firsts: the nurse’s first injection, the hair stylist’s first paying client, the attorney’s first court case, the pastor’s first wedding – or funeral.

But even though I know that I’m not alone or that experience doesn’t come pre-assembled or free, I can’t shake these feelings of inadequacy and fear. I am so tangled up in prerequisites that I’m spinning myself right into the ground. Right up to my neck.

And I’m forgetting how I got here.

  • Mr. Doctor said, “Well, there’s more to think about than money. Have you considered an earlier retirement?”
  • One small, whispered “Wow” at the writer’s retreat gave me permission to say “I’m a writer.”
  • Sinking into the cushions of my friend’s couch, the words “I don’t think I can teach anymore” just tumbled out of my mouth.

And not one of those things cost me a cent.

None of those things was on the “required” checklist.

I didn’t have to sign up for “Bloggers Perfection in 8-Weeks” or make sure each post was SEO-ready to hear the clear voice of the Father.

All He asked me to do was take the next right step. Just the one. Just start writing.

Yes, I know that anything worth doing will take time and attention and diligence. I wasn’t promised easy or immediate. I don’t even know for sure what direction I’m going.

But I do know that when I do the next right thing, I will be blessed. I will find peace in a sea of confusion.

And then I’ll do the next right thing.

The nurse brings healing, the attorney fights for justice, the stylist uncovers natural beauty, the pastor offers wisdom and solace.

And I tell stories, inspire, and encourage.

So, I’m writing.


Public education: snapshot or video?


“Data driven.”

The catchphrase of public education. Teach and test. Graph and compare. Complete the spread sheet.


I hated it. In grade-level teams, we would pore over the scores of short, frequent assessments to determine progress. We isolated skills and used contrived text to teach and test. We took the information and created ability “snapshots” of each of our students. Then, we grouped, categorized, and inserted these snapshots into a sort of reading photo album, each ability level and skill on a separate page.

Then, in two weeks, we did it all over again.

But students are not a series of snapshots.

They are videos, captured each day by devoted and professional educators. On good days. On rough days. On the days that we didn’t take those reading snapshots or gather data.

And every frame of the video should be…must be included to tell the whole story about the whole child.

Part of that story may be about a baby sister who had to go to the emergency room at midnight. “We all had to go with my mom because my dad was at work. He doesn’t have a cell phone.”

The story may be, “No, I didn’t have breakfast because my big sister didn’t wake up in time to get us ready.”

Or, “My glasses broke. But, I’m getting new ones as soon as we pay for the plasma TV.”

Or, “The art teacher lets me come in after school to do pottery and we’re going to fire it on Tuesday. I never got to do that before. She says I’m really good.

“I wish I could take piano lessons.”

Those scenes are never memorialized in a reading test snapshot. Real life scenes that don’t make it into the hallowed circle of analysis when we decide who is succeeding and who is not.

That data is not included when we make monumental decisions about student success. Because success is defined and measured only by how well and how fast you read and understand grade-level texts.

We tell students to be themselves. Don’t follow the crowd. You are unique.

But, when they are successful in any arena outside of academia, we give no more affirmation or encouragement than “that sounds cool” or oh, wonderful.”

Or, even worse “Your parents must be so proud. Ummmm, did you have time to finish your math homework?

Yes, we pay lip service to artistic individuality. “Where would we be without Beethoven, Picasso, Katherine Hepburn, and Robert Frost, successful people who marched to their own drummers?”

All good examples. Not, however, roles to which we can reasonably ask most of our students to aspire.

No, the argument is that EVERY child, whether destined for fame or not, is blessed and gifted and impassioned with something. And it may very well be reading or math.

But look deeper. Their hearts may be on the soccer field, or in the mechanic’s garage, or at home with the babies, or stitching a leather saddle by hand.

morning_picdump_143_640_12Yes, it’s true. If our students can’t read, life will be tough. We need to be diligent and work tirelessly as they learn the skills necessary to survive in the real world.

But, for some of them, if they can’t cook or run or sing, life will be miserable.

God designed every life with its very own purpose. Every life matters to Him. And every life should matter to us.

Because every precious life will, in its own way, make a real difference in the real world.