A Letter to Parents From a Teacher

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School is Closed for the Remainder of the Year

Last Thursday, on April 3rd, our Governor made the decision that schools would remain closed for the rest of the year. As a parent of three kids (ages 9, 11, and 13), I decided to write an email to the parents of my students. Even though it is awesome to have time with your kids, and be able to be a big part of their educational process, it s overwhelming when it happens and you were not necessarily expecting it.


A Letter to Parents from A Teacher

Good Morning:

This email comes from me as a parent as well as a teacher. I am not sure what the district has in mind for us as teachers, and the direction that education and daily life will go in the next few months. But, what I do know is that this is figuroutable. We were made to thrive. Over the next few months education will look different, but it will be okay.

First- Take Care of Yourself

First, make sure that you as a parent or guardian take care of yourself. Give yourself space, your children will benefit from seeing you make it through this time, and how you do it.

Secondly- Your Best is Perfect

Secondly, try your best. Nobody can ask for more than that. Your effort is what they will remember.

Thirdly-Less is More

Thirdly, less is more. Focus on doing a few things well. Focus on what went well. You can do everything, but you can’t do everything at the same time.

Fourth- Don’t Compare What You Didn’t Do

Fourth, don’t compare what you and your children are not doing to another family. Education and life in general looks very different for each house. Be proud of what you accomplish.

Fifth- Timeouts are a Good Thing

Fifth, it is okay to get frustrated, timeouts are not just for toddlers. They are great strategies for parents and teens. It is okay to walk away from work and come back to it.

Sixth- Focus on 3 and 4

Sixth, focus on 3 good things about each day, spending intentional and quality time with each family member weekly, and aim for 4 out of 7 good days each week.

The unknown is tough. Focus on what you can do. Lean into your strengths as well as your children’s strengths. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

Stay Connected And Be Filled With Hope

 If there is anything I can do (whether it is the subject area I teach or not) please don’t hesitate to contact me. Sometimes it helps just to run a strategy or idea by another parent or teacher.

Stay connected. Be filled with hope. You are amazing.

Sincerely, Laura McDonell

It’s Not About Where You are Starting From

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It’s not about where you are starting from, it’s about how far you have come. Often, the first time we do most things, there is room for improvement. I can remember some of my first races, the first semester in college, first-year teaching, first-year married, and as a parent. These areas each included challenging first moments.

Very few things can be controlled and excelled at during a first experience doing something. Expect to be terrible the first time.

Terrible First Time

Brené Brown recently said it well on her podcast. “This is your terrible first time making your way through a pandemic”.

None of us have ever navigated a time like this before. Expect it is like most first times, and will be tough. As our lives are becoming more simplified, they are becoming equally as challenging.

The best thing we can do is realize that first times are tough. The best thing to do is focus on grace. We can be better than we deserve to be when there is extra grace. Grace can be defined as undeserved kindness.

Show Yourself the Grace You Would Show Others

We need to show it to everyone around us, and most importantly ourselves. Be gentle with yourself. It’s your first time tackling something bigger than you could have imagined. And, you are exactly where you need to be.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8–9).

Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?


Become Who You Want To Be 

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The First Time I Called Myself A Runner

I remember the first time I called myself a runner.  I was on a first date with my husband, and we were waiting for a movie to begin. Trying to sound impressive to someone who had previously been a pretty good cross country runner, before I really thought about what I was saying, I blurted out, “We should go for a run some time together. I am a runner too”. 

What I had to do

After I got home that evening, I realized what I had said, and what it meant.  Since a ½ mile felt like a long way, and my running life had been limited to gym class and the sprints we had to do in basketball, I realized I needed to start running the next day. How tough could it be right?

Fortunately running is a sport that accepts you no matter what. 

I had always wanted to have the identity of a runner. So why not start becoming who I wanted to be. 

Now is the time to embrace an identity you have always wanted to have. You can become anything you want to.  Start before you are ready. Begin doing what someone who has that identity would do.

Humble Beginnings

Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be (Job 8:7).


Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?

This post comes from a devotional series called 4:00 AM Faith. It is written each morning and sent in a condensed format to several people. If you are interested in receiving a daily faith boost, email me at lmcdonell2001@yahoo.com and specify if you would like it to be sent as email or text, and if phone number, provide the number.

Train So You Can Tolerate it

 

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Embrace the Journey

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback, Nick Foles has experienced several ups and downs during his career.  From Superbowl wins to a broken collar bone, and a list of many other ups and downs, Foles has embraced the journey.

He says, “Our purpose isn’t football.  It’s impacting people”.

Foles says that when you read the word of God, and you understand it, there’s trials along the way, but it makes it possible for your heart to be who you are. 

Expect it to Hurt

“The Race always hurts.  Expect it to hurt. You don’t train so it doesn’t hurt, you train so you can tolerate it” (Mark Rowland).  The tough moments in life are going to hurt.

No matter the amount of good you are trying to do in the world, life will include pain, anger, disappointment, fear and sadness.  And, some days will be really tough.  

Fill Your Mind with Fuel that Offers Hope

Focus on filling your mind with fuel that includes, hope, courage, scripture, great moments, love, encouragement, beauty, opportunity, challenge, growth, and friendship.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, that’s why we are not discouraged. Even if outwardly we are wearing out, inwardly we are being renewed each and every day.

You Train so You Can Tolerate It

The daily training, called life, is tough. But you don’t train so that it will be easy and not hurt.  You train so you can tolerate the really tough moments and somehow keep fighting.  


Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?

This post comes from a devotional series called 4:00 AM Faith. It is written each morning and sent in a condensed format to several people. If you are interested in receiving a daily faith boost, email me at lmcdonell2001@yahoo.com and specify if you would like it to be sent as email or text, and if phone number, provide the number.

A Good Coach

When someone requires your best, take it as a compliment

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What a Good Coach Demands

A good coach, who I admire posted the following quote yesterday, “Athletes, a good coach will demand in direct proportion to how much they believe in you and care for you. When someone requires your best, take it as a compliment”.

The Challenge

If you are fortunate enough to find a good coach, you are blessed. The role of a good coach is a challenging one. A good coach believes in his or her athletes, asks the right questions, recruits, designs plays, organizes competition, and articulates a strategy to win. A good coach studies an athlete and creates a plan of action. A good coach tells you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11).

A Good Coach Believes in You

A good coach requires more of you than you thought was possible. A good coach believes in you.

Jesus is a Good Coach

Jesus was a good coach. He recruited 12 disciples and was relentless about the goals he had for them. He saw the potential in the 12 and pushed them when they were tired. Jesus is a coach who has not retired. He recruited you and is requiring your best. A best, that you might not even realize you are capable of. He has sought out opportunities and is organizing a strategy for you to win.

Take the fact that Christ requires a lot from you as a compliment because it is in direct proportion to what you are capable of.

Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?

This post comes from a devotional series called 4:00 AM Faith. It is written each morning and sent in a condensed format to several people. If you are interested in receiving a daily faith boost, email me at lmcdonell2001@yahoo.com and specify if you would like it to be sent as email or text, and if phone number, provide the number.

 

A Great Future Doesn’t Require a Great Past

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Doesn’t Require a Good Past

A good friend shared one of her favorite quotes with me.  “A great future does not require a great past”.  


The Purpose of Our Past

We are the sum of everything that has happened to us. Whether our past is filled with things we are proud of, sprinkled, or even packed with moments that overwhelm us too much to revisit, future success is dependent on our imagination, vision, faith, and desire to move forward. 

Own the Past.

It is important to own the past, even if some of it was out of our control. The purpose of our past is to build awareness, character, faith, bonds, habits, stamina, resilience, opportunity, and courage so that we can thrive in the future.

You have been designed to be victorious not a victim. Your story is not over.  

The Future is What Matters

No matter what yesterday, a week ago, or 30 years ago looked like, He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).


Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?

This post comes from a devotional series called 4:00 AM Faith. It is written each morning and sent in a condensed format to several people. If you are interested in receiving a daily faith boost, email me at lmcdonell2001@yahoo.com and specify if you would like it to be sent as email or text, and if phone number, provide the number.

The Fight Is Yours To Win

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When You Hit Rock-Bottom

I know that I can deal when things are bad. I can come back when things are at their worst. I’m not afraid of losing all my money or losing my career because I know I’m capable of living in my car and rising up. 

Once you’ve conquered the worst things that could happen, there is no need to fear the unknown. The fight is yours to win. – Ronda Rousey (Professional Wrestler) 

My Fight Your Fight

In her book, My Fight- Your Fight, Rousey talks about low points in her life.  One was when she was living in her car and had lost everything. You may not have lived in your car, lost your money or career, but you have hit rock-bottom in another way or had really low moments that you might be embarrassed to share, but will always remember.  

And, because you are still here, there will be more difficulties to face. Don’t despair, the fight is yours to win. With God’s help, you are capable of rising up and coming back.  

You Can Rise Up

But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high (Psalm 3:3). You are capable of amazing things. Yes, you can rise up and come back.  The fight is yours to win. 

Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?

This post comes from a devotional series called 4:00 AM Faith. It is written each morning and sent in a condensed format to several people. If you are interested in receiving a daily faith boost, email me at lmcdonell2001@yahoo.com and specify if you would like it to be sent as email or text, and if phone number, provide the number.

Craving a Connection

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Leaning Into Lent

Chocolate, Diet Coke, Social Media, time on my phone, complaining, or snacking. I wondered what I should give up.  On the way home from school Tuesday, it dawned on me that Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent was soon approaching.  Throughout the years I have given up several different things, although I realized that in the last couple of years, I have not taken the time to meditate and dwell on why I want to sacrifice something for 40 days. 

As is the reason so many people do things, the connection is craved. 

Determined to Find Connection

As Tuesday evening drew to a close, I was determined to do something for Lent.  I searched Pinterest in hopes of finding a creative idea online. I stumbled across a website that talked about fasting, sacrificing and giving each day.  I was intrigued. I thought to myself, “I could commit to sacrifice and giving during each day of Lent.” I like the idea of not allowing myself to complain.  It will be difficult to commit to a complaint-free 40 days.

Focus on Giving

But, with an intentional focus, I will be better than before. Generosity also feels important. Since the message of Easter is about giving (He gave his life so we could have ours). Giving up the ability to complain is a gift I can give other people.  When I think about all of the times Christ could have complained so many different times throughout his life on earth. I am in awe of his sacrifice for so many reasons.

I crave a connection to someone who did what seems impossible.

And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and, He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him (Mark 1:13).

I crave connection to Christ, what he stands for, and everyone else who leans into his or her faith during this time of the year.  

Tap Into Your Strength and Unique Style

Everyone has different tendencies, styles, and strengths.  God has given us opportunities to lean into ways that will connect us to Him.  It’s not really about what we choose to give up, what we fast from or take on. The method used should be something that inspires you and works for you to stay focused on why you are participating in Lent.  

It is about your desire, and the connection you crave during the season of Lent.

Imagine a World Without Waste

Why I Choose to Shop Second-hand

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Solving world problems is a challenge.

I want to contribute to making the world better than I found it. I am passionate about a number of ways this can be achieved. I know my faith, parenting, commitment to education, and the writing I produce will certainly make a difference for future generations.

I also want to contribute to making our planet better.

Women’s Clothing is Hardly Worn

Speaking in terms of averages and general information, it is not uncommon to see women donate clothing with tags or pieces that have been hardly worn. Overall women seem to go through clothing more than men. Styles change, clothes fit differently, and women tend to want to update a wardrobe more regularly. Clothing continues to be designed, created and produced at a rapid speed. Unfortunately, the abundance of clothing produced are never really used to its full potential. Once the items is no longer of interest it is either donated, passed along or thrown away.

I am a Critical Part of the Cycle

If an item is donated to a or sold to a consignment shop, the original owner feels great. He or she has completed the first step. However, the third part of the cycle is critical. If there is nobody to shop for items that have been passed along, they will ultimately end up in the garbage. Buying from a thrift shop allows me to be part of making the world a better place.

Up-cycling allows for Creativity

Using what we have requires us to be creative. It makes us smarter. We have an opportunity to use pieces of our wardrobe in different ways as well as combine items that we may not have originally thought about when the purchase was made.

I love the opportunity to look through racks of clothing and find a unique piece. I have found that when I buy something second hand, there is a pretty slim chance that someone else will have an identical item. I can take this creative mindset into other areas of life. Rather than focusing on purchasing a new item, it is a lot more fun to see if things in our homes can be rearranged in another location, or for another purpose.

Buying something new does not stretch our creativity.

I Can Be Picky

Thrift store shopping requires a level of pickiness. I do not choose items that look worn-out, stained or ripped. It is about being selective and realizing that you can always find something worthwhile if you are willing to look for it. I am showing my kids how to choose what they want, and realize that they are in control. They are exposed to several ways to purchase items and can determine which way works best for them.

Other Benefits

In addition to focusing on my carbon footprint, I can save money. Sometimes there are items at a thrift store with tags still attached. I have also scored unique hockey and soccer and football jerseys for an affordable price.

I have found that I enjoy nice brands of clothing that last for a long time. I like the way several name brands fit and find that they last longer.

I am excited about the effort I am making to make the world a little better than I found it. As Theodore Roosevelt says, “We have to do what we can, with what we have, wherever we are”.

I enjoy the opportunity to contribute to passing my knowledge as a thrift store shopper to my kids so that they can continue the legacy.

When to Turn Back

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The Quest for the Summit of Everest

I recently watched a documentary created by Rizza Alee, an 18-year-old mountaineer who filmed his journey climbing mount Everest. He had spent years preparing, dreaming and saving money in an attempt to reach the highest point in the world. The cost of the trip averages between 50 and 75 thousand dollars, not to mention the time, an average of 40 days involved in the climb, and emotional energy invested in the quest to accomplish the dream of a lifetime.


When the Unexpected Happens

Alee shares his experience crossing some of the toughest sections of the mountain to find himself at a crossroads after his oxygen regulator failed. The traffic jam of climbers sharing the same rope created an unsafe experience. Devastated, he listened to his guide who advised him to abort the climb.

He was only 1,000 meters from fulfilling a life-long dream when he decided his life was valuable and Everest would always be there.

When to Turn Back

There will be moments where a lot of money, time and effort have been invested. These might be moments where you get a chance to reach the summit, or they might be the moments when you have to turn back.

Did Alee fail in his attempt to climb Everest?

After contemplating his story, my students and I decided that he did not fail, but spent two months learning resilience, perspective, humility, bravery and found a way to share a story that continues to inspire people to not only reach their goals but realize how valuable life is.


Your Life is Valuable

Your life is valuable. You matter. You have a story to tell. Indeed the very hairs of your head are all numbered (Luke 12:7).


Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?

This post comes from a devotional series called 4:00 AM Faith. It is written each morning and sent in a condensed format to several people. If you are interested in receiving a daily faith boost, email me at lmcdonell2001@yahoo.com and specify if you would like it to be sent as email or text, and if phone number, provide the number.