Monday, April 14, 2014

Teachers Really Do Change Lives!

Growing up, school was a given.  Something I went to every day for over twenty years without much question or objection.  I never dreaded it or fought to stay home, but I chalk that up to the passionate teachers I had from day one who made learning fun and new.

As I think back, I did find it hard to go from one grade to the next because I wasn't sure what teacher the following year would bring.  But in hindsight, I didn't have much to worry about as each year brought another driven teacher who's goals were the same as the last - to teach us and teach us well.

Just this year, my brother-in-law received his first teaching position and I've had a chance to see some behind-the-scenes work that goes into teaching.  It's been amazing to watch as he prepares his lessons and celebrates each of his students' progresses and successes, however big or small they may be.  The drive to help his students learn even the basics blows me away, yet it doesn't surprise me because I can clearly see the passion he has for what he does.  And Office Depot is seeing this same thing happening all over the country!

By teaming up with Adopt-A-Classroom, Office Depot has set out to find teachers across America who go above and beyond for their students day in and day out without asking for anything in return.  Their hope is to raise awareness about teachers and all that they do in the lives of their students.  It's not an easy job, but it's simple to see how teachers are changing the lives of their students every day.

Take a look at this video to see how these students' teachers have impacted their lives and inspired their future:

Testimonies like this video really give me hope for my children and their future education.  Every little thing makes a difference and teachers are really doing innovative things in the classroom to engage with students of all levels, so consider helping them by donating to their classroom or nominating them today!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Daring Greatly

As you can imagine, our lives have changed a lot since Charlotte.  Actually, they changed even before we met her.  Occasionally, I find it easier to talk about what happened and share our story, but more times than not, I find myself worrying over what my words will do to others (make them sad, make them regret they ever asked, etc.) and I get scared to be honest.   To open up.  To be vulnerable.

Enter: Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly.
To be honest, I have been in sort of a slump when it comes to reading books for the last year or so.  

It wasn’t that I wasn't read anything, but lately I was finding myself drawn to shorter stories from real life people (i.e. blogs), instead of long novels or self-help books.  But after receiving strong encouragement to read this book before Calvin arrived, I finally made it a goal & dove in.  And I'm so thankful I did!

I wasn’t expecting this book to speak to me the way it did by any means, but while reading through each chapter, I constantly found myself saying, “me too!” or "oh, that's why that happens", especially when it came to relating to our loss of Charlotte.

Pretty early on in the book, as Brené is introducing her topic and explaining her story, all the doubts on whether this book would be applicable to me were washed away:
"Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness." (37)

And that's what hooked me.  After saying goodbye to Charlotte, I found myself wanting to talk about her all the time, but the fears of hurting someone or them not understanding seemed to outweigh all desire.  But what I have come to realize is that my story is just that – my story and sharing it doesn’t make me weak.  It still isn't easy to answer the question, "do you have any kids?" or "is this your first?", but my answer is no longer overshadowed completely by fear.

Whether you're an extrovert or introvert, male or female, I really believe everyone can find something to relate to within this book.  From understanding the opposite sex to raising your children to giving grace to friends & strangers alike, Brené Brown does a great job explaining the importance of vulnerability and how we can use that to our benefit in everyday life.

If you've had a chance to read Daring Greatly, I'd love to hear what you thought and how the book spoke to you.  And to those who haven't read it yet, I'd strongly recommend adding this one to your reading list as soon as possible.

I was not compensated in any way for this review, but just felt called to share my thoughts.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Goals

Where did March go?

Between finishing some bigger projects at work, preparing our home for Calvin, and the cold that lasted too long (a couple weeks), I'm not too surprised we're already in April.  However, I was able to accomplish most of the goals I had set for the month, so I'm calling the month a win.

March Recap:
  1. Read two books this month: Tim Keller's "The Meaning of Marriage" and "Daring Greatly" by Brené Brown. Semi-complete.  When I made this goal, I was worried it'd be hard to read two books at the same time, yet these two ended up really complimenting each other, in my opinion. I hope to share my thoughts on "Daring Greatly" soon, as it was really eye-opening for me, but my thoughts on "The Meaning of Marriage" will have to wait a little longer (we're going through this one with our church, so I decided to hold off on finishing so we could continue with our church).
  2. Go through & clean/organize/purge from every room in our house. Check!  This was one goal I was thankful to have made because it forced me to not just talk about cleaning & organizing, but actually do it.  We managed to go through every room and closet and took at least three trips to Goodwill & listed a couple things on Craigslist.
  3. And for Lent - I am putting myself on a shopping freeze. So far, so good.  This is probably been the most difficult goal since I'm a fan of shopping & finding good deals, but this has already taught me a lot about the way I shop --- I tend to buy because I find a good deal, not because I necessarily need it.  And that just leaves me with a lot of "stuff" that I end up having to purge later on (see #2).  I have purchased a few things, but they have either been things we need (for the house) or birthday gifts for other people.

April Goals*:
  1. Finish "The Meaning of Marriage" by Tim Keller.
  2. Continue my shopping freeze for Lent.
  3. Spend some quality time with Sam before Calvin arrives --- I'm not sure how this will look, but I'm thinking no phones, no TV, just him & I enjoying each other.
*Keeping it simple this month as we welcome Calvin & adjust to our new life :)

Linking up with Hayley of The Tiny Twig.