Heart Smart Classrooms in a Pandemic Time

In The EQ Intervention: Shaping a Self-Aware Generation Through Social and Emotional Learning, Dr. Adam L. Sáenz offers a free Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) assessment designed to help teachers increase student academic performance and encourage a more positive classroom experience.

There has never been a better time to explore our personality style and vulnerability to stress than while we are self-isolated. “Students are feeling disoriented being away from the friends and activities that largely define them. Students are also sensing their parents’ stress and fear of the unknown,” from @AdamSaenzPhD.

In his latest book, Sáenz offers personal stories and struggles from his childhood and classroom experiences. His inspiration comes from two teachers who believed in his abilities to succeed.  Although the book was written as an aid in teaching in a classroom, much of the material is very applicable to a home school environment that many parents now find themselves. The foundation of the work incorporates self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, social/relationship skills, and responsible decision making.

Consider taking the online assessment first and then jump to Chapter 3 in “The EQ Intervention,” How Can We Regulate Ourselves. It takes about 15 minutes to work through the questions to receive results for your psychological measure of personality and emotional intelligence called EASEL (Educator Assessment of Social and Emotional Learning).

At the end of each chapter are shortcuts and ways to improve such as learning to distinguish the urgent from the important and conflict resolution. It is not possible to manage every emotion, it is possible to maximize strengths and work on areas that need improvement.

“When students are able to identify and manage their feelings, and when they feel connected to those around them, not only are they less likely to resort to violence to express their emotions, but they are also more likely to develop healthy social bonds and to attain higher levels of academic achievement,” says Sáenz.

About the author: As a licensed psychologist, Dr. Sáenz conducts workshops across the country in the areas of stress management, the dynamics of effective relationship and team-building, and emotionally intelligent leadership. He resides in Texas.

For more information, visit www.adamSáenz.com, or follow him on Twitter at @AdamSáenzPhD.

The First Easter Sermon

By Grandpa Whit (1920)

John 20:18 “I have seen the Lord.”

In these words we have the first Easter Sermon. It will be observed that it is not by one of the twelve, nor by an apostle, nor prophet, but by a woman. And that in an age when woman’s standing was of the lowest. And this woman, Mary of Magdalene, was one who had been looked upon only with pity, if not contempt. There was not a single disciple of our Lord whom the disciples would not sooner have expected to be such an honored messenger.

Upon the first Easter morning, early, when it was yet dark in more senses of the word than one, the darkness without being nothing to the gloom with in the disciple’s hearts – Mary had made her way to the tomb, forgetful alike of womanly fears and superstitions, and horror of the darkness. Her object John does not here tell us. But doubtless it was to be near the body of her dearest Friend, the one who had brought her healing and happiness to her troubled life.

Through the darkness, Mary perceived that the stone had been rolled away. Without a gleam of hope, but rather with despair, she saw this, and bore the news to the disciples. John and Peter set out for the tomb – John, the younger, doubtless outstrips Peter and comes first to the empty tomb, where reverence detains him and he pauses looking down and in. Impulsively Peter enters, and John following they find the tomb empty. It is said of John that “he saw and believed.” What? Apparently their belief went no further than the statement of Mary that the tomb was empty. Merely an empty tomb- no matter of what emptied, or how – will furnish men with no great dynamic for preaching. Christ’s resurrection was to mean infinitely more than a mere empty tomb. They return to their homes puzzled, alarmed. Mary had not followed them into the tomb, nor did she follow them from it, but remained waiting. Why, she herself could not have told. But she waited, and her waiting was rewarded. Reluctant to leave, she stooped and gazed within, and there through the haze of her tears, she saw the messengers. 

The disciples had not seen them. The curious eyes of even these closest followers of Jesus failed to reveal what the weeping woman saw There are many things we see only through tears. The Christian on his knees sees further than the philosopher upon the house top; through what the world calls blinding tears he sees truth unseen by the keenest sight.

The angels have surprise for the woman’s tears but not comfort, for behind her in the background, they see the figure of the Master standing in the ever characteristic attitude of waiting. They know well the comfort he will bring. When Mary turns, hoping to find the gardener, she does not know him till he speaks her name, but at that sorrow and sighing flee away as clouds before the sun, and the gloom of the night of despair is changed into sunshine of the first Easter morning. And Mary receives the commission which comes with every vision, and goes back to the city to preach the first glad tidings of the resurrection in the words, “I HAVE SEEN THE LORD!”The meaning of the Easter Sermon. Mary in the exultation of her spirit could not estimate the full significance of the words uttered. Nor are we, after the lapse of nineteen centuries, fully able to realize the meaning of that all the resurrection means.

It means for one thing that at last death had been conquered. For the first time the power of the grave had been broken and it had given up its prey, not as a miracle by a divine command from without, but by its own overthrow. His resurrection meant the overthrow of death. He has become the captain of our salvation, and at his shout we will all respond, for he himself has won for us the battle.

Again, it proved that God accepted and placed thus his seal of approval on his work of redemption. We might not know that this was after all the Son of God, without the resurrection. Other men have given their lives for the truth, others seemed divine in the eyes of their infatuated followers, but Christ’s resurrection is the confirmation of that which we already know, that he is different.

Great and wonderful as these things are, the resurrections which Mary preached for the first time has yet another meaning. Over this we pause. Her simple statement “I have seen the Lord,” meant – though she may not have measured its significance – that the Jesus of Nazareth had become the Christ of universal experience – that the matchless Man of the first generation of the Christian era had in those hours become the Christ of all time. Death had not destroyed him or taken him away, but had rather freed him from the shackles of time and place, so that he who in his body could be in but one place, could now be every where. It is not for us to contrast the meaning of Easter, but this is not the least that Christ is risen and walks the earth.

The form of Mary’s sermon. It was the statement of a fact of personal experience. “I have seen the Lord.” There was no argument, no explanation, no citation of analogous cases, or quotation of Scriptures. No, nor any elaboration or her credentials as witness: Only – and that was enough – the plain statement, “I have seen the Lord.” This is the ideal form of a sermon and what every sermon should be, the statement of a fact. The world and men are asking for no metaphysical argument on the possibility, or defense, or explanation of the great facts of our faith. But they do demand a statement of them.

All Christians should be preachers of the resurrection. It is one of the very cardinal points of our faith. Many things are bound up with it. And we are called upon constantly to be preachers of it. Not perhaps in great cathedrals or large audiences, but nonetheless preach it. For every man or woman who takes upon himself or herself the name of Christian honestly, witnesses to a belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And this we must preach. We must declare that we will. Every true vision contains in it that which makes its beholder an evangelist.

But it was more than a declaration of a fact. Its objective side was there, but in the sermon, Mary there was the subjective side as well. “I have seen the Lord.” It is not the statement that the Lord has risen, great though that is, nor is it the declaration that others have seen him. It is not a second-hand information that Mary brings but her own personality is bound up with the message: “I have seen the Lord.”

Tell the needy and dying world that the Lord is not dead but is here, and that you have seen him, and hope will kindle in despairing hearts and men will rise up to serve God, saved by your vision. This is what the world needs, men and women to whom the great fact is that they have seen the Lord. This is what you must tell the world. You need not theories or argue. It cares little for your surmises, but tells that you have seen him.

Lastly, see how Mary gained her grasp of the truth that made her the preacher of the resurrection. Whenever a man or a woman has preeminently a message we know that some experience or another may be held accountable in a measure for this. We know that great heights are never gained with a struggle. And we know that in some way or another, there has been a reason. What could Mary’s be? Whatever we make out of the expression “Seven Devils,” (from Luke 8:2) we know that it was an affliction which robbed  her of respect among her friends. The most unlikely for this honor.

It was love and only love which was Mary’s claim to this high honor. It was love for this man that brought her to the tomb, while others remained home. It was love that bound her to the spot there last she saw the body of her lord. No hope had dawned in her breast. A greater love than she wrote about hope and faith being two great things in the world. But love was the greater yet. And love had outlasted hope and faith, and here, as so often, proved itself the greater and the more enduring.

The Cross and the Ordinary Man*

This Sunday begins a week at whose center stands the cross, the end of which comes Easter. Being coerced to think about the cross tempts one to insincerity and the danger is unreality instead of reality. The event which this week commemorates was terribly real. The young Prince of Glory, loving life and doubtless praying for more time in church to do his fuller work walked out instead with a cross upon his back toward Calvary and its horrors. Gethsemane and the Crucifixion were terribly real.

Just because Calvary was so dreadfully real to Jesus, however, it is likely to be unreal to us. It is so great – so terrific – that bloody cross on Golgotha with a man there broken in bleak agony and crying – My God, my God. Let us look at our lives in comparison, their ordinary preoccupations, their familiar burdens and sins.

What kinship is there between us and Calvary? There are souls which have learned that there is a kinship between themselves and Calvary in ordinary as well as extraordinary time and could not rest until they have equaled the most heroic and sacrificial deeds. But the most of us are not like that – not on ordinary days.

Let us seek some element in the experience of the cross so universal that it must become real to us in our daily life. When Jesus went to the cross, he was doing something that no one could have required of him. No law could be passed to coerce a man to sacrifice himself like that – if passed – unenforced. In going to the cross he was taking on himself something that no one could command. He was moving in the realm of unenforceable obligations. That is the practical message of the cross. If and when you experience the glory of life, it will come to you personally as you assume or realize your kinship with Calvary and move in the great realm of unenforceable obligations. 

Our ordinary life is made up of two things, enforceable and unenforceable obligations. On the one side – conduct that the law or custom of the court can command. On the other – the way of living that no law and no codes of custom can command. Even within the family some things can be lawfully demanded – but all great motherhood, great fatherhood, and beautiful family life move in the realm of the unenforceable obligations. It is true with the nation – the greatness of a nation lies in the number of its citizens who can be trusted to obey self-imposed laws. 

In our country, the importance of this might be obscured by the fact of our outrage – our lawlessness. Obviously, we would be better off if the laws we already have were observed – but that by itself alone would not make a great nation. The greatness of a nation lies in the higher realm where men and women in every relationship of life do far more than what is demanded of them. This is true in matter of common honesty. Take the case of the farmer writing to ask his Senator to vote for the Pure Food Law. The Senator surprisingly knew his practice, but the farmer wanted him to vote for the law requiring him to stop from the practice. That reveals our problem of human life – the inner difficulty of acquiring the kind of character that will yield obedience to the unenforceable obligations.

Reduced to its simplest and most universal terms, Jesus on that Good Friday was voluntarily taking on himself what no one possibly could have commanded. Consider our need for this kind of character. If with canny eyes one watches people, they fall into three general classes – lawless people; law-abiding people whose code of conduct comes from without – codes custom of society; third those people who get their criteria from within – of standards of character.

As dangerous as the lawless, the most dangerous is the second class, more of them, certainly no great society can be produced by the lawless, no more so can society – great society be sustained by those who are barely good and get by on a conduct required. So the greatness of a nation lies in the number of its citizens who yield obedience to the unenforceable laws. True artists of the nation belong to this class, must obey the inner impulse. True scientists belong to the class – must obey the inner urge. True public servants belong to this class. No law of the nation can demand what me like Washington and Lincoln endured and did.

But what I am trying to say this morning in the gift of the rays of light from the cross that EVERY TRUE CHRISTIAN belongs to this class. The essence of Christian living lies in breaking free from, and rising above, all legalism and doing far more than any law can exact or any person can require.

This is the rub and marrow of the Jesus spirit and teaching. “Whosoever shall compel thee to go one mile, go with him two.” That is His philosophy in a nutshell, the excess and overflowing goodwill. “If you love them who love you, what rewards have you? Do not the publicans say the same, Love your enemies?” That is something over and above what is expected of you. When you shall have done all the things that are commanded you say, “We are unprofitable servants – we have done that which was our duty to do.” So! That is the starting point in life – when we have done our duty.

Forgive not seven times but seventy times seven – said Jesus to Peter. Thus the privilege of generosity begins where the law ends. When Jesus faced and accepted the cross which no one could have commanded of him, it was the climatic expression of everything he had taught and done in his more ordinary days.

Our natural reaction to this idea of Christian living is to say, “Such is an extravagance of goodness that it can not fit in the rough and tumble of our business life.” Yet, when it is put into daily business life, we never forget it. Mark Twain was involved in a financial failure and saw his publishing house forced into bankruptcy with a large outstanding debt. No legal claim against him. But Mark Twain, voluntarily shouldered the debt at the age of 60 saying, “Honor is a harder master than the law.” At the age of 64, debt paid and he was ready to start life anew unencumbered.

Think of the influence this kind of character wields when it appears. We commonly estimate the worth of characters like David Livingstone going to Africa or Sir Wilfred Grenfell going to Labrador, in terms of service, they render.  But that is hardly half the story. The greater thing such men and women do lies in their powerful influence upon our whole philosophy of life. They shake our self complacency to pieces; they shall and subdue us by the simple fact that they undertake to do what no one could possibly demand of them. The sight of someone thus moving grandly off into the realm of unenforceable obligations is the most impressive thing in the moral world.

When you see David Livingstone in Africa, Sir Wilfred Grenfell, the Christian Physician, and Elizabeth Fry, the prison reformer as volunteers moving about in the real of unenforced service you behold the essential spirit of the cross in its simplest and most universal meaning. And seeing the cross in that light, you can not get away from it even on ordinary days.

Every boy and girl here, on every day in home and school can do something beyond what anybody could have demanded. Every man or woman here every day can do for someone more than one could have expected.

This amazing spiritual power, the most elevating and the most impressive in the world, is in our hands even in our ordinary hours. At the beginning the cross seemed vague and general. But now I am startled as though I hear my one name over the air – and a voice saying, “The cross means me, ordinary me on ordinary days. Every day I can do something beyond what any one has a right to demand.”

For this quality of life leads us straight to the need of personal Christianity – the kind that gets a man not from without but from within.

If we are going to move over into the realm of unenforceable obligations, something must happen on the inside – must find a potent philosophy of life within – a deep and inward propulsion of spirit must fall in love with something from within.

No man can hire or bribe or compel a man to live a life like the Apostle Paul. But Christ got Paul to do it. There is no telling how far a man will go when he loses his heart to something or someone worth following to the limit.

This inward experience can exist in many forms, but the highest and most potent form comes when a person feels that something has been done for him so great that he can never pay back the debt. His life is no longer his own. It does not belong to him anymore. He is bought with a price. The major element arrives when we feel some beauty, goodness, love, truth poured out on us by the sacrifice of others beyond our mirror or deserving, mothers, prophets, and friends put us under obligation we can never pay.

So at last, we stand before the cross of Christ and here we see one of the most towering facts in life – the realm of grace – the sacrificial gifts bought and paid for by those who did what we had no right to ask.

“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” by Issac Watts

Were all the realm of nature mine,

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all

At that point, you move over into the realm of unenforceable obligation.

Matthew 5:41 “Whosoever shall compel thee to go one mile, go with him two”

Also, The Lord’s Prayer in John 17

This blog’s worship comes from Christy Nockels, The Wondrous Cross


Life at Lee Academy

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Shirille Lee began documenting her time attempting home school through posts on Facebook titled “The Lee Academy for Hardheaded Girls.”

Shirille is keeping her humor while ensuring her girls are healthy, happy, and learning during the pandemic. The featured image above is a “before home school” and then the “after home school” image taken on April 2.

At some point, it became easier for Shirille to adopt a split personality and even brought her Mom in as a substitute teacher. Shirille’s postings on Facebook kept so many entertained that I asked if we could capture them in a blog and she agreed. I hope you enjoy these posts too.

“Clearly a Mom this close to the edge needs to be wearing a parachute,” one of Shirille’s fans.

The Lee Academy for Hardheaded Girls

Special blog by Shirille Lee

Well the first official day of The Lee Academy for Hardheaded Girls is over – thank God.

The Headmaster, teacher, custodian and bus driver left the students with a substitute teacher and went to her other job.

The students had their schedules – I mean classes didn’t start until 10:00 (2 hour delay because the sub is not an early riser- she is after all almost 81).

One student completed all the work assigned- headmaster left Social Studies off the schedule (it has been corrected for tomorrow) but the other student was rebellious.

Not only did the sub have to take her phone for playing gospel music in the classroom during work time, student refused to do spelling because she said the headmaster could not assign spelling words! Well, it’s on now!

The Substitute

The headmaster, teacher, custodian and bus driver will be in class tomorrow.

Plus the sub quit I think. I don’t know if she’s angry or cold.

Day 2

Today at the Lee Academy for Hard headed Girls went better- well depends on your definition of better! We’re all alive and no licks were exchanged!

Our day began with the Headmaster/teacher/Custodian/Bus driver-and newly added, Nutrition Director seeking God for patience , guidance and wisdom!

God is good – the work is done and everyone is unscathed and alive!

Areas the students must work on:

  • Your teacher is not a mind reader! When she calls roll, you need to acknowledge that you heard your name! Don’t cause said teacher undo annoyance!
  • When your break is over, it’s over- there is no “one more minute” or “let me finish my game”. It’s OVER!
  • When said teacher says “little girl” stop what you’re doing and look at teacher with apologetic eyes.
  • Teacher does not care what the schedules say, just do what the teacher said do (don’t argue, the teacher will win).
  • At the end of the school day, just thank God the teacher didn’t flip out from 1-4 and you’ve lived to see another day!!!!

Areas for the teacher:
* Stop trying to get the Headmaster to suspend the students. You know they really need to be in school!
* And at the end of the day, despite your many un-Christian like thoughts about your students, God still loves you!!!!!

Whew, what a day! I may go to bed before my students!!!

Day 3

This day at the Lee Academy for Hardheaded Girls began with the Headmaster/teacher/custodian/bus driver/ Nutrition Director and newly appointed IT person in prayer asking God for patience, guidance and a way to get in touch with the Governor to reinstate public school.

No response on the governor but I know His time is not my time but I hope He sees the desperation in my heart ❤

Classes started promptly at 10:00 with Kimberly working on Social Studies and Jay reading to said teacher.

The teacher realized quickly that she needed to go back to the prayer closet because if you said the word on the first 4 pages, it’s the same word on page 5. Don’t try to pronounce it different, and then look at me when I ask you to go back.

You said it wrong, little girl. 10 deep breaths and we move on.

Then when teacher ask questions about the story you just read, you look at me like I’m speaking a foreign language!

Little girl, you better answer your teacher!!! 10 more deep breaths- break time! (Lord, I’m going to need you to come on here and see about me and this little girl that is in mortal danger)

Kimberly calls because she needs the code for Zoom for her ELA class. Teacher checks her phone for the code that former teacher has not sent – she said she would.

Patience! Patience! Code is sent and we’re good.

Jaceonna and I took a break from work to do some community service, then back to work.

Jaceonna will work independently while the teacher works with the other student.

Kimberly informs the teacher she is on her lunch break. After a brief check on what work has been done, teachers go back to first student to find her sitting there – waiting because she has completed her work.

When teacher asked to see the work she was met with attitude! THAT’S it- go see the Headmaster!

Headmaster gives a heavy sigh and scratches her head. We will not tolerate insubordination – take the rest of the day to think about your behavior!!

Other student cries not fair and mutiny is in the making! The Academy will not tolerate this kind of behavior!

There will be consequences!

Kimberly says she wants the consequences if it means expulsion so be it!

Headmaster quickly realizes her precarious position. Thank God the headmaster remembered Jay had a doctor’s appointment and would have to release her to her mom.

After leaving Kimberly with a napping substitute (times are hard and good help is hard to find), Mom called Kimberly to remind her she had a math class via Zoom at 3:00.

Kimberly claimed she needed IT support to connect- what???

“I don’t have the link, it’s on your phone,” said Kimberly.

I can’t stand smart aleck children!

I think the Academy will have to close after 3 days. The teacher is threatening to walk!

Day 4

This day of the Lee Academy for Hardheaded Girls began with the Headmaster/teacher/custodian/bus driver/nutrition director/IT person and newly appointed title of Nurse in prayer- not asking God for patience (according to a friend, God is building my patience through these trials) but asking God to lead the custodian and nutrition director to the store that has eggs and Quilted Northern toilet paper.

The nutrition director scored but the custodian had to explain to the headmaster that the behinds at the Academy may have to adjust to generic toilet paper if things don’t change in the next week. The academy is not off to a good start. Nutrition director prepared breakfast for the students.

First assembly of the academy began with Kimberly telling the Headmaster she was a Headmistress (not the right time little girl).

Classes began on a delayed schedule.

Kimberly began with Science, Jaceonna with reading.

The substitute teacher (yes, she’s still hanging around) reported that Jay has been stealing toilet paper to shred and play with in which the headmistress went into overdrive– stop stealing toilet paper or charges will be filed. This is serious. If found guilty, you will serve time. Because of the toilet paper shortage, this could be a felony that comes with automatic jail time!

Student seems unconvinced so the headmistress asked the custodian to buy the generic paper and was told later that the store was sold out!

Missed opportunity! Jaceonna now must show both hands at the same time when exiting the bathroom to ensure school staff that she is not stealing the now coveted Quilted Northern toilet paper.

Because staff is now under tremendous pressure, students had a long lunch break while staff attended to other needs (like a paying job).

Jay reports her ear hurts and wants the nurse to look at it! Custodian thinks she may have toilet paper in it, but nurse couldn’t find any evidence.

Staff has decided that Friday will be a much needed mental health day.

Headmistress shared the news with students. Kimberly was happy. Jay decided she wants to work tomorrow. Teacher reminded Jay it’s been difficult to get her to complete work the last 4 days.

 “Yes, but I had toilet paper to play with. I can’t play with it tomorrow because you said I would go to jail and the Coron virus ( not Coronavirus) is out there, so I’ll just do my work tomorrow, “ said Jay.

She will be working independently because staff is out!!!!!!

Day 5

This day at the Lee Academy for Hardheaded Girls was different. Campus was closed today for community service event, yard work, and because the headmistress/teacher/custodian/bus driver/nutrition director/IT person/Nurse needed to work other job (the paying one).

My friend Jennifer suggested letting the girls write today’s entry. So brace yourself for these are quotes from the girls! (For those of you that don’t know my girls, Kimberly is very sarcastic about everything and Jaceonna is normally the kind one)

Me: Kimberly, could you write something describing this week at the academy?

Kimberly: Yea, it sucked!

Me: No honey, write a paragraph or two, describing what the week has been like for you?

Kimberly: why do I have to write paragraphs? Writing more is not going to change anything. I love YOU mom, but these alter egos or whatever you have been calling yourself this week suck! Terrible headmistress, terrible teacher, terrible….. well I guess you were okay as bus driver and custodian, but terrible IT and what’s the other one? Mom you’re obsessed with toilet paper and I think you need help. Let all them other personalities go and get you some help!

Me: Okay, thank you for not writing that. My feelings probably would have been hurt.

Kimberly: get over it mom!

Me: (trying to keep a straight face) Jaceonna, what did you think of this week?

Jaceonna: (shakes her head, gives me a thumbs down) It was bad mom! (turns and walks out)

There you go Jennifer, they’re even more entertaining than me!

Next week – same thing!!!!

Day 6

At the Lee Academy for Hardheaded Girls, this day went better, maybe.

The 3 days were good to have to re-establish our loving relationship – it had been tested prior days.

The girls were informed that at 10:00, school work would begin.

There was a lot of whining and mumbling, which ended with the teacher telling them to be quiet and get their packets. Jaceonna was asked to get her next reading assignment, so she could read to the teacher then work independently. She grabs last week’s schedule but the teacher explained it was a new week, new schedule.

Kimberly asked if she could decide what to work on and the teacher agreed. Kimberly decided she would work on Kinetic Energy. Science – good! Instead of getting her packet, she gets her Nintendo Switch.

 “Kimberly, what are you doing? It’s work time and you said that you were starting with Science,” asked the teacher.

“I’m not doing traditional Science. I’m working on my hand-eye coordination, Kinetic Energy. Come on my mom you can’t call yourself a teacher and not understand kinetics,” Kimberly responded.

Teacher told Kimberly she would have to stick with the packet of work given by her former school.

“I don’t understand why this school can’t be original. You should be encouraging my creativity, not crushing it! Geez…….,”exclaimed Kimberly.

Day 7

This was a very peaceful day at the Lee Academy. It was clear the Headmistress/teacher/custodian/bus driver/nutrition director/IT person/nurse/therapist was medicated (not sure who’s in charge of the medicine ) and calm. She remained calm when Jay asked for the 15th time if it was raining and when she asked what was for lunch 10 minutes after eating breakfast.

She even kept her cool when Kimberly challenged the very existence of the Academy.

“Other students have parents that are just parents that simply ask their kids if they’ve work on their packets. Mom, it’s not ideal for any of us to be home, but we are and I really don’t need the alternate personalities. I concerned mom that you may be on the verge of a psychotic episode. It’s a terrible time to get sick – even mentally. And I hate to tell you mom, if you go over the edge, you’ll probably have to stay – hospitals and doctors are too busy. You can’t stay here. Just think about it mom. You need a place to stay.”

Psychotic??? Me?

Day 8

The Lee Academy for Hardheaded Girls had another good day. Since the Headmistress and teacher have mellowed out, school runs much smoother.

Highlights from our day: The custodian scored big with an early run to Walmart. Yep, we scored Toilet paper and not just any toilet paper either. Quilted Northern!!!! The school Hineys will not have to adjust!!!!!

Kimberly and I listened to the robot call from the school.

AT NOON ON FRIDAY, APRIL 3RD, SPRING BREAK WILL BEGIN AND RUN THRU APRIL 13TH. THE SCHOOL SHALL HAVE NO EXPECTATIONS OF WORK FROM THE STUDENTS OR THE TEACHERS. USE THIS TIME TO REFRESH AND RECHARGE TO PREPARE FOR MORE IMPROVED AND INTERACTIVE ONLINE INSTRUCTIONAL LEARNING.

We are both a little teary-eyed by the end as it was proclaimed that spring break would begin at noon on Friday.

HALLELUJAH !!

The joy I felt had to be comparable to what slaves felt when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 (history lesson) or what Nelson Mandela felt when he was released from prison!!

I love my girls, but this experience has been too much, especially since salons are closed and I cannot get my roots colored.

For spring break this year, I plan to go…… I forgot, I can’t go anywhere! (Deep breathes)

In a few months, after all this is over, if asked, I will lie and say this was a great learning experience for me and the girls. RIGHT

Day 9

We got off to a slow start at the Lee Academy. Students were already celebrating spring break. The teacher had to rein them in to get work done. Of course, it was not the teacher’s brightest moment when she suggested taking the students outside to work in the fresh air and sunshine. So teacher tried to inspire with a group shot but it’s clear we’re done and ready for a break!!!

After the early break, students returned to their rooms to work. Jay tried the teacher’s patience by asking upsetting questions.

Jay: Is it going to rain?

Teacher: I don’t think so, the sun is shining.

Jay: the phone says rain.

Teacher: the phone is wrong

Jay: no, you’re wrong – the phone don’t lie!

Teacher: (to save argument) Ok, it’s going to rain.

Jay: Why would you tell me that?

Me: you said it first. I’m just repeating what you said.

Jay: that’s not right

Me: Whatever….. (What????)

Then teacher checked on Kimberly.

Kimberly: I don’t need you checking up on me. I know what to do.


Teacher: okay, that’s great! What are you working on?


Kimberly: not being disrespectful mom, but can the teacher just call it a week and leave? I know how to do my work.


Me: So you don’t like the teacher?


Kimberly: Don’t like any of y’all- headmistress, teacher, custodian, nutrition, IT, nurse, definitely not the therapist


Me: You forgot the bus driver


Kimberly: no, bus driver is cool. When I get money from my mom, I need the bus driver to give me a ride


Teacher: you can’t go anywhere


Kimberly: no store is going to turn away money. Want to try it?


So glad spring break is here!

The Lee Academy has officially closed for spring break- Thank God!!!


These are trying times even for the most patient, most kind-hearted, most funny of my friends. Shirille entered my life many years ago when we worked on a very special adoption project. Over the years, Shirille has brightened my life with her entertaining stories of mentoring youth in Chatham County as well as her adoption story of two very special young ladies.

Thank you Shirille for the laughter and for being an inspiration. Over the years you have been a Mom and so much more for over 40 foster youth, a mentor to youth at Chatham County Together, and a friend to so many.

 

April Be Kind Day

It’s official. April Fool’s Day is canceled. In its place, let’s start an April Be Kind Day movement by sharing acts of kindness on social media using #AprilBeKindDay. Instead of online trickery, bad jokes and hurt feelings, we can put kindness everywhere.

It’s been about two weeks since life slowed in our home. We’ve been intentional about where we go and what we do. Our busyness is focused on helping others. Here are just a few ways:

Take-Out Surprise: One of our neighbors is self-isolated because of age. When I saw his favorite meal was available for take-out through The Mayton Inn, I picked it up and delivered it to the front porch. I rang the doorbell so he would know the meal was there and then walked up the driveway to wave as he opened his door.

Flower Surprise: When Preston Flowers had to close, they offered customers a chance to pick-up bouquets from an outdoor bin. After leaving a donation for this delightful company that supports the community in so many ways, I picked out a big bouquet that I brought home to divide up before delivering to three sweet friends.

Little Free Library: After receiving a donation box of children’s books from Dog-Eared Books, we restocked the Little Free Library in our front yard with great books for kids. For added safety, we put a bottle hand sanitizer by the library. If you live in the Wake County area, Dog-Eared Books offers free delivery. Check out the selection of educational books that can add to your child’s homeschool experience.

Chalk Art: It’s been fun to add messages to sidewalks and trails. The “Keep Moving” piece was part of a Custom Fitness by Marie effort to add fitness inspiration along the White Oak Trail near my home. It’s been fun to take walks and see the messages neighbors are leaving on their driveways.

Neighborhood Bear Hunt: If you look carefully, there are bears popping up in the windows of homes to encourage children to go on a “bear hunt.” The idea for a social-distancing scavenger hunt comes from the book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.”

Sheila Ogle, owner of Cary Pink House is running a contest now through April 17 encouraging families to post pictures of their bears. A drawing will be held and the winner gets a copy of “The Pink House” and a much-loved rainbow Care Bear.

Activate Good, Wake County Schools and other groups are sharing ways you can volunteer to make an impact. Many companies are sharing acts of kindness instead of ads. It’s truly a way to brighten the world. What are some things you are doing to help others?

The Loneliness of the Cross

As our world is feeling COVID-19 isolation and asked to pray the Lord’s Prayer, I wanted to continue working through Grandpa’s study on Easter sermons. The image with this blog is the cross stitch my Mom created in 1960 from Matthew 6: 9 – 13 and is hanging in our dining room.

Grandpa Whit’s message on the loneliness of the cross is drawn from Matthew 27:46,”My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” The words below are Grandpa’s and I haven’t changed anything except formatting.

Loneliness was an unlovely and a trying experience to which Jesus of Nazareth was not a stranger. It met him very early in his ministry and from then on seems to have come with frequency and severity. He had hardly gotten more than well launched in His career before members of His own family turned on Him.

Sometime later, His fellow townsmen of Nazareth followed suit. A little later on, we have the startling statement “From that time, many of His disciples went back and walked no more with him.”

As though hurt by their desertion, He turned to those who remained loyal and inquired, “Will you also go away?”  At the close, one of his own circle abandoned Him and betrayed Him into the hands of His enemies. When the soldiers came to arrest Him in the garden of Gethsemane, His closest friends with one accord forsook Him and fled. Then while on the cross – that crude instrument of torture, as thou the last vesture of strength, support was gone, in despair – He cried, “My God, My God, why hast though forsaken me?”

As all the evidence concerning His love reached the climax when he went to the cross, so there too as a climax to all, His discomforting experiences came that which was the most trying, that of being forsaken, of being left alone.

Of a truth, He had to tread the wine press alone unattended, unsupported. If one ever knew what loneliness was like, surely Jesus, while on the cross, became acquainted with that in the superlative degree.

Often a man is robbed and left half dead, all become incensed that the injured is left unattended to follow the culprits. We become highly indignant of those who left the master. While we have given little attention to the painful wounds and suffering which Jesus must have experience as a result of his loneliness.

Who did He have in mind when He used the pronouns You? Those who stood by were uncertain as to the person or persons to whom Jesus referred when He claimed He had been forsaken. Those at the cross were not agreed.

Who was the “you” in this most difficult passage? Some claim the “you” referred to those about the cross. It is hard enough when your enemies will have nothing to do with you. Still harder is it when those you assisted turn on you; still it pierced deeper when friends forsake you. Others claim He referred to God. He that spared not His own son, but delivered Him up for us all.

It is hard enough when some of your friends have turned away from you. But to know that you have been left absolutely alone will break the spirit of the most determined mind. Jesus hung there on the cross, a convicted and doomed man, with no one at all, not even God, who seemed to care about Him. It was enough to take the heart out of any man and cause Him to cry out in despair.

As long as man has God with Him, hope lives. Take God away and no true estimate can be given of his hopeless, helpless, situation.

There was darkness over the earth; the veil of the temple was torn asunder. All this added to that deeper darkness which enveloped His soul.

Upon the cross Jesus was making atonement for the sins of the world, “bearing our sins in his own body on the tree, for upon Him was laid the iniquity of us all.” He was closely identified with the race which He came to save, that he felt the burden of its sin, and cried as a representative of humanity, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

If Jesus was weighted down and all but crushed by the experience of loneliness when He hung upon the cross, what must be the degree of his anguish if we now forsake Him and leave Him alone?

Surely he has born our grief and carried our sorrows.

He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. The Lord has laid him the iniquity of us all. He has poured out his soul unto death. He was numbered with the transgressors. He bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.

We shall ever wonder at the way in which the prophet so long before the days of the Lord in the flesh understood and revealed the inmost of our Christian faith. He brings us right into the presence of Calvary.

He grasps and portrays the one way of salvation through the transcendent sacrifice of God himself.  All of this helps us to understand that the cross is a timeless thing, that the lamb of God was slain from the beginning for us, and that how in other ages than our own that men could find a way through the precious blood of the lamb and that Christ can minister; in a way that we know not of.

To contemplate the gospel of the Old Testament, we are told that the sufferings have power in them to avail for the expiation of our sins. He shall justify many. He shall bear their iniquities. He shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.

As long as man shall live, the cross which Isaiah places before us today shall represent to us the deepest facts upon which our redemption is built. It tells of eternal justice, for the Lord laid our transgressions on Him. There can be no love without justice. Otherwise, weakness. God must recognize and take an account of son.

His commandments are of his own righteousness. Righteous nature and he must enforce them. It is only a just God that we can trust. The cross will stand to us for eternal holiness. Surely sin must be a terrible thing to cause this infinitely affecting picture of the innocent, suffering, non-resisting servant brings to us as nothing else can the true depravity and degradation of sin.

When we think of the how the bearing of it racked him, when we think of Gethsemane’s cup and the awful cry from the cross and then realize it was for you and me, we can only cry out, “Lord be merciful unto me a sinner.” The cross will ever stand out as an emblem of love for us.

God commandeth his love to us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

And when we reflect that it was for us that love incarnate bowed himself in all the bitterness of the passion, it cannot fail that answering love shall be awakened in us as deep answers unto deep.

I know no more exalted words in scripture than the prophet’s vision which for us has been born out in fact; “He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.”

He suffered a passion that no man can ever appraise, and in the midst of it he was glad. The message of the cross has reached its height:

I know not how that Calvary’s cross

A world from sin could free;

I only know its matchless love

Has brought God’s love to me.

E. Stanley Dover – Christ and Human Suffering

A revelation of God – the cross. It tells as nothing else. What sin will do. It tells what God will do. Paul’s estimate of the cross. The power of God. The wisdom of God.

“At the Cross” is the song for this blog and comes from Hillsong. If you have recommendations of music for this blog, please add them in the comments section.

Grandpa Whit’s Easter Sermon Series

Looking for peace and comfort, I was drawn back to my Grandpa Whit’s sermon collection with an intention of updating a devotion I started. What a joy it was to discover a file marked “Easter.”

It is extraordinary to have this rich body of work to study at time when our world is in need of hope that all will be well and knowing that whatever approach you make to the life of Christ, there is a cross that says love is the most powerful thing in the world.

I plan to update the collection for blog posts to this website and include the completed series in the 2nd edition of “Grandpa’s Whit and Wisdom.”

“Look to the Cross” is the first sermon in Grandpa’s Easter series and is also among the shortest. I am guessing he drew a lot of his message from the worship music that day and didn’t write as much in his journal. Grandpa was urging the church to …

 “Seek the meaning of the cross. Seek Jesus for Jesus’ sake and you will find the eternal symbol of your faith, hope, love and salvation. Jesus accepted the cross that was meant for evil. And thus we will discover that we must share with him the burden in the redemption of our fellows was all the realm of nature.

Will you see him? If and when you do, you must exchange your easy cushion for the cross.”

In Grandpa’s journal he jotted the lyrics from hymns including “When I Survey the Wonderous Cross” by Issac Watts:

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

The next hymn must have been “In the Cross of Christ I Glory” written by John Bowring because Grandpa jotted this into his sermon notes.

In the cross of Christ I glory,
towering o’er the wrecks of time;
all the light of sacred story
gathers round its head sublime.

When the woes of life o’ertake me,
hopes deceive, and fears annoy,
never shall the cross forsake me.
Lo! it glows with peace and joy.

Searching online for resources, I came across this song, “Look to the Cross” by Hillsong London that captures the essence of Grandpa’s message. Take a moment to listen.

Let’s Get Ready for School

Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten (English and Spanish)

Let’s Get Ready for First Grade

When it comes to children’s books, I have a little bias towards Stacey Kannerberg. She is a fellow Mom Congress delegate and friend who recently sent me her books to help stock the Little Free Library in our front yard. I wanted to do a book review because I believe Stacey’s book series gets kids ready to learn. I like the bright colors and style that reminds me a little of “The Magic School Bus” with characters who care about learning.

When I think back to when my children were in elementary school, there wasn’t a clear guideline on what to expect or how to help continue the learning at home. Stacey’s book offer that and include tips for parents as well as ideas of what you can expect your child to learn.

Stacey’s books offer an early learning series that is curriculum based and includes engaging story line. The bonus is the books are sturdy enough for kids to use over and over with dry erase markers.

About the author: Stacey Kannenberg is an author, publisher, motivator, consultant, spokesperson and known as the “Get Ready to Learn Mom.” Stacey is a nationally renowned education expert and co-author of the award winning Let’s Get Ready series. Stacy is the founder of Cedar Valley Publishing. To learn more visit www.cedarvalleypublishing.com or order books through Amazon.

The Badass Girl’s Guide: Uncommon Strategies to Outwit Predators

CJ Scarlet packed “The Badass Girl’s Guide: Uncommon Strategies to Outwit Predators” full of tips and resources to help prepare in the event you are attacked.

This is a book to be taken seriously. Read it and then share with others. CJ is a survivor. She found a way to move forward from a rape when she was in college to become an advocate and empower others who have been victimized.

“My hope is that The Badass Girl’s Guide will encourage women and girls to stand up for themselves, making them feel more confident and secure,” CJ said.

Make the time to watch the videos CJ created that demonstrate possible ways to defend yourself from an attack. This ones shows ways to use your arms for self-defense.

CJ sums up her advocacy effort by saying, “You ARE worth fighting for.”

If you are interested in learning more, the two best resources to check out are the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (www.nsvrc.org) and RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (www.rainn.org).

About the author: CJ Scarlet is the author of “Badass Parenting: Prepare Your Kid to Deal with Danger without Scaring the Hell Out of Them” (pub date June 2020), “The Badass Girl’s Guide: Uncommon Strategies to Outwit Predators,” and “Neptune’s Gift: Discovering Your Inner Ocean.”

The Badass Girl’s Guide, winner of the Eric Hoffer and Pinnacle Awards, and finalist for the International Book Awards and American Book Fest Best Book Awards in the self-help category, is THE definitive guide on how to stop living in fear of becoming a crime statistic. Learn more at www.cjscarlet.com

“The Stress Overload Solution”

Imagine waking up to discover life is wonderfully easy. This is the idea behind Laurel Mellin’s latest book “The Stress Overload Solution.” Mellin offers a 30-day approach to rewiring your brain and respond to stress in a way that promotes well-being.

Stress is defined as the difference between conscious expectations and unconscious expectations. It makes sense when I realize there are times I feel overwhelmed by a situation and can’t easily pinpoint why. Mellin refers to this as cognitive clutter and indicates that at times, we have can have a series of stressors that zap our joy.

Mellin’s books is fascinating study in healthcare that begins with the magic potions from 400 B.C. to the possibilities of Emotional Brain Training (EBT). Looking through some of the history, she tracks the Germ Theory that led to eliminating some infectious deaths that brought longer life and then chronic diseases.

Researchers began working on drugs to treat the chronic issues. In the wake of some of the treatments lie opiod addictions and deaths from adverse reactions to some medicine.

Mellin suggests a solution to better health and well-being may not come from a pill or a bottle. It could come from understanding the synaptic connections between neurons in the brain. There is a lot to the study of neurophysiology and with a 100 billion neurons – give or take a few – learning how each of these tiny nerve cells work with 10,000 synaptic connections could take a lifetime.

Fortunately, Mellin lays out the process for rewiring for joy through the following 5 Stress Solutions:

  1. Live for higher purpose.
  2. Enjoy natural pleasures.
  3. Choose healthy comforts.
  4. Give and receive love.
  5. Create safety from within.

The five solutions can be used to reset your lifestyle by exploring ways to have fun, learn new things and ways to reduce the physiological stress in life.

If you are ready to embark on a journey to rewire your brain, then Mellin’s Emotional Brain Training  (EBT) could be a great way to do just that. The end result will be to reap 7 rewards: sanctuary, authenticity, vibrancy, integrity, intimacy, spirituality, and freedom.

Learn more by reading the EBT Blog. You can purchase “The Stress Overload Solution” through Amazon .

About the Author:  Laurel Mellin, Ph.D., is a New York Times bestselling author; health psychologist; Associate Clinical Professor, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco; and founder of the Emotional Brain Training (EBT) method. She is also the leader of the Brain Based Health Movement, mobilizing individuals, universities and corporations to access the natural pathway in the brain to rapidly get from stress to joy. She has been a faculty member at UCSF for more than 30 years, and her work has been featured on KQED public television, Oprah, Today, Good Morning America, and in U.S. News & World Report, Time, The Conversation, Psychology Today, and many more publications. Her method was named one of the “Top Ten Medical Advances of the Year” by Health magazine.