Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why I Love My Job (And How I Know I'm Doing the Right Thing)

It was springtime in 2010 when I made the decision to pursue a career in Special Education.  Little did I know how much my life would change in the course of two years.  Believe it or not, lots of people tried to discourage me from pursuing this vocation.  I heard numerous times that Special Education is "too hard", "it takes a special person to do that kind of work", "it's too much paperwork", you name it.  I was surprised by how many times I was told me how bad it would be, even though the persons telling me this had not worked in Special Education.  For myself, I knew that God had called me to work with children.  More to the point, God had called me to work with children with special needs.  I took a break from my profession to be a stay-at-home mom, but not from my calling. 

Has it been easy?  No, of course not.  It's been tough.  Some days are harder than others.  But every day, I love my job.  Every single day.  Even when I'm challenged by it. Even when I'm unsure where I'll be next year--whether or not I'll be a lead teacher with my own classroom.  Days like today make me glad that I stepped out in faith and took chances.  I'm glad I didn't let the discouragement of others deter me.

Today, remarkable things happened at school.  Little things.  Special things.  I mentor a little girl who is lacking in confidence.  She was so shy when I first met her, but I bought a journal and some glitter pens and I write to her a few times a week.  I leave the journal on her desk when she arrives at school, and she writes back to me.  I saw her after school as she was preparing to leave with friends.  Her friend's arm is in a cast, and my young mentee saw that it was beginning to rain.  She quickly took off her own jacket to cover her friend's cast so it wouldn't get wet.  What a sweet child!  I wrote to her today that I think she is very kind, and that I'm happy to know her.  It is the little things that a person does that say a lot about their character.  My young friend has a sweet spirit.  She saw a friend's need and sought to help.  I hope to build her up so that she can have confidence in the years ahead.  Life can be tough, and we all need encouragement.  Maybe she'll remember the teacher who told her that she is special because she is a kind person.  I like that I get to be her mentor.  I like that this is something that I get to do--not because I have to as part of my job--but because my taking this job puts me in an environment where I get to help children who need my help.

Sometimes, amidst the challenges of working with children with profound disabilities, I ask the Lord for some encouragement that what I am teaching my students is effective.  Just a small sign that my efforts are not in vain, or that I'm on the right track.  Today, I got that small glimpse.  I can't share details, but suffice it to say that it was one of those small things that revealed that one of our students was fully present and participating in class.  If you work with children with autism, or know someone with autism, then you know what I'm talking about.  Oftentimes, the "scripting" from tv shows and movies, the self-stimulatory behaviors--the quirks that make these kids seem far away--can make it seem like learning is not taking place. Trying to educate a child who may not appear to be benefitting can seem like an exercise in frustration.  I know it's not, but we all have our moments when we just need to know that we are making a difference.  Today, it happened.  And so today, my spirit soared.

I shared this moment with my principal, and she grinned and told me, "Jennifer, hold out for a Special Ed. job.  You're meant to do this."  I just smiled and told her, "Thank you."  I don't know what tomorrow holds.  I do know that right now, in this moment--tired though I may be!--I am happy and satisfied that I am doing the right thing.  God holds the future, and He will continue to guide my path.

Thank You, Lord.

Many blessings,


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Easy Weeknight Dinner

Even though I'm working full-time, I still want to provide my family as many home-cooked meals as I can muster.  Tonight, I made one of Brian's favorite meals:  Sausage and potatoes.  It is not low-fat, but it is very satisfying and tastes great. 

Start with Idaho gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced.  Sprinkle with seasoned salt and black pepper, and saute' in butter or oil on medium high heat for about 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally to cook evenly.

Slice one pound of your favorite sausage and add to the skillet.  Cover and cook for another 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender, stirring occasionally. 

I didn't take a picture of the finished product--Sorry!  It was delicious, though, and a quick and easy meal.  I like quick and easy--especially when I'm tired after work.  The good thing about this recipe is that it fills us up, and I nearly always have leftovers to take for my lunch the next day. 

Many blessings,


Monday, March 19, 2012

Laundry room redo, part I


Laundry room redo 002

My laundry room, or the tiny space that serves as my laundry room, has been in dire need of a spruce-up.  Brian and Jacob spent a few hours Saturday installing a counter above my washer and dryer.  Brian picked up a piece of melamine to install, since it would not require painting or sanding and would be durable.  He placed the counter a few inches above the appliances and installed supports under it with a brace in the middle. 

Laundry room redo 004

As you can see, it has given me quite a lot of workspace.  The small room needs to be painted.  I started out painting the room a neutral beige color, but I am not really a fan of the color.  Brian is suggesting that I use a bright color or a variety of colors.  I’m thinking that I would like to use a color that coordinates with a lovely picture I picked up in Savannah a few years ago.  The picture is of “The Bird Girl” statue made famous by the movie and book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  My friend, Michele Green, and I went to Savannah several years ago and had such a ball.  I’d like to put the picture in the laundry room and decorate with touches of ivy green.  I love the color green, but I don’t want the room to be overwhelmed by it.

Photo courtesy of

The room already feels larger, and I am finding that I am enjoying laundry a tiny bit more.  Hopefully, once it’s painted and decorated, I’ll enjoy laundry even more!

Many blessings,


P.S. I’m linking up with Susan’s Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch.


Met Monday pic

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Catching up!

I have not been terribly faithful in keeping up with this blog in 2012! The funny thing is that so much is going on in our lives that I can scarcely take the time to write it all down.  The last couple of weeks have been busy.  We travelled down to Waco to help my parents at their new place last weekend.  Brian and the boys repaired the roof and worked on a fence, and Jesse and I and my nephews planted trees and flowers with my mom and dad.  My brother did a little of everything, and my sister-in-law graciously carried us all to the store in her big pick-up truck and bought the kids candy and soda.  She is making great gains in being the kids favorite aunt! :)
Brian and Jacob repairing the roof on my parents' home.  I have a generous and godly husband and Jacob is growing into a fine young man.

Unfortunately, Brian over-exerted himself and wound up getting sick.  He ended up with an upper respiratory infection and had to take a couple of days off.  I didn't feel well this week, but mostly this was due to allergies.  Everything is blooming here in North Texas.  Winter is over. This is good news, but for those of us with seasonal allergies, we suffer.  Friday, I took the day off and drove into Dallas to take my English as a Second Language (ESL) supplemental exam.  Provided I have passed the exam, I will be certified to teach ESL, in addition to General Ed. and Special Ed.  In the district in which I work, it is highly desirable for teachers to be ESL certified, so I am essentially trying to 'hedge my bets' by getting this certification so that I can be hired.

It's been a fast and furious year already.  I can scarcely believe that Spring Break is next week!  I've always thought that school seems to shoot by after Spring Break.  Before I know it, school will be over!  I try not to think too much about what lies ahead.  I am certainly planning lessons and am making plans to do things over the break, but I am finding that if I think too much about the upcoming school year, I get frustrated and anxious.  I am trusting the Lord to guide my path.  I am certain that my hard work will not have been in vain.  I think part of relying on God for His provision with regard to a lead teacher job in the coming school year is not trying to anticipate what's to come. I've always been such a control freak that it's hard not to try to figure out what I'm supposed to do next.  Right now, frankly, there is only so much I can do.

One of the things I've been doing to cope with the new direction my life has taken is to listen to the career change stories of others.  I've been blessed in that I have a lot of colleagues who have made the plunge from one career to another.  Just as one person leaves one profession, another comes to take his or her place.  The encouraging thing about hearing these 'leap-of-faith' stories is that in each one, the person is happier after having taken the plunge.  I have met very few people who were dissatisfied after pursuing a new career.  What I have found is that the people who are unhappy with their profession were generally unhappy with life before their career change.  In those cases, changing careers won't fix your outlook on life; we have to look to the Lord for our joy. 

I have always been drawn to the success stories of others; of inspirational men and women who changed courses in order to find fulfillment in their career or who wanted to make a new life for themselves and their children.  It's nice to know that life can begin anew for some of us in our forties.  I anticipate that if I can go through all of the hard work and the challenges of the last two years, I might have yet another course change in the future.  The possibilities exist....

Many blessings,