I was leaving my classroom today, sun beginning to set, and as I glanced back over my shoulder to hit the lights, I felt a bit emotional looking at my empty room.

Things look and seem different when the lights go down, when the room is empty, when everyone’s asleep. Suddenly you’re flooded with questions like, “Did I explain that well enough? Did I answer every question? Did I make time for them? Am I pushing them hard enough? Am I pushing them too hard? Did I use kind words? Was I fair? Do they know how much I care? Did I model Jesus for them? Do they know how much they are loved and did they feel it in room 38 today?”

These are the things that flood my mind, anyway.

Because for some reason, when everything is awake, you think of all the things you need to do. Like create science tests. And return emails. And dot the i’s and cross the t’s. The many, many i’s and t’s.

But as soon as everything is asleep, just like when you peek in on your sleeping baby, you forget the to-dos and you see the hearts. The eyes. The faces.

Clockwise from the top left: the welcome sign on my door & the first thing I see when I reach my home away from home every morning. Welcome is the way I hope everyone feels who enters my room.

Next, my stool and my step ladder – both of which I use for a multitude of things every. single. day. My favorite is probably sitting crossed-legged perched on top of the stool while I teach. It’s comfortable to me and I think it’s funny that the kids ask me how I can sit like that πŸ™‚ The step ladder is everything from my foot rest to my side table. I’d like to think some magic happens everyday – right from these 2 ordinary pieces of furniture.

Third is the front of my desk – filled with pictures of friends and family… All of them living in other states. The memories and faces in those pictures give me strength and joy and I just like having those people with me. So since they aren’t with me physically, I magnetize them to my desk πŸ™‚

Bottom-right is essential in every classroom and something I never have to remind my students to do: update the countdown until Christmas break πŸ™‚ I love their color-coding πŸ™‚ I love their joy.

Bottom-middle is my desk but what I’m looking at is actually past my desk. It’s the WALL of handwritten notes and drawings and thank you cards and encouragements that I receive almost everyday from the most amazing pre-teens: the children that I’m blessed to call my students. I seriously can’t think of a more rewarding profession other than parenting.

And lastly, bottom-left is a sign that a dear friend gave me that simply reads: Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful. I look at it all the time. I’m not perfect; my students aren’t perfect – but together, I think we are pretty wonderful. We are all growing together and I think it’s both miraculous and magical.

12/9/15: My thoughts, ramblings & emotions when the lights went down today.

Thanks for tuning in ❀️


Sage is in the middle of a cloud journal for school – so she’s currently recording her cloud findings everyday.

Today was a cloudless day and we were talking about it on the way home.

Me: “Where do you think the clouds go?! Do you think God puts them in His cloud box until He’s ready to put them in the sky again?!” 

I always thought that was a sweet idea.

But very matter-of-factly, almost offended, my 7-year-old replied:

“No!! God wouldn’t put anything in a box!! (my heart stopped beating for a minute) He just picks them up and puts them in the skies of heaven – where we can’t see them. But they’re still free. He wants them to be free. He would never put them in a box.” (and now I’m not breathing)

Sage: “When He’s ready to show them to us again, He just picks them up and puts them back in our sky. And I think He shapes them.”

Of course they’re not in a box…He would never put anything in a box…He wants them to be free…

Because freedom is one of the reasons He came for us.

β€œThe Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭61:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

You have to hear the whole story to know why this picture still GETS ME.

5 years ago today (thank you, Timehop), I was laying in my hospital room holding my newborn son. I waited in anticipation as my daughters were about to meet their (long awaited and highly anticipated) brother. I couldn’t wait to see my trio together… To see my girls faces when they saw our new addition.

I could hear their girly giggles in the hall before they even made it to our room. Brad jumped up to meet them; hold them; joyfully walk them through this process of expanding our family and our love.

And then they rounded the corner: Brad, Brie (then 4) and Sage (then 2). My mom trailed eagerly behind them… allowing room for our family moment.

As I lay in bed staring and studying my girls’ faces, I saw two completely different reactions. Brie had the reaction I expected from both of them: she squealed, giggled, was filled with joy and proud to be a big sister again. My 2-year-old, though, studied our newborn very intently. She didn’t make a PEEP. As Brad held her, I saw her pull her arms and legs in – and then I knew. She was scared of him.

My heart hurt as I watched her – never taking her eyes off him. He was scrawny and flailing – probably not at all what she envisioned when she thought about getting a new baby at her house. I imagine she pictured something like an 8-month-old – smiling, sitting up, waving and cooing. But that wasn’t what she saw in our hospital room that day.

The girls sat down on the edge of my hospital bed. Brie couldn’t get enough of Silas and Sage just stared at him – while sitting safely in her daddy’s arms. My heart ached for her – knowing she had been so excited and then realizing that this wasn’t the “gift” she had expected. We talked to her, tried to explain things – but we didn’t make her touch him or hug him. We just gave her space and love.

Fast forward 30 minutes. My room is filled with about 6-8 visitors. The girls are still on the edge of my bed. Sage has never taken her eyes off her wiggly, squirmy brother, nor has she left her daddy’s lap. And then she did it.

While we were all talking and sharing life together, my Sage reached out and held Silas by the foot. Completely out of nowhere – with no prodding from us. And my world froze for a minute. I wondered how long she had wanted to do that but had been afraid. She had to reach past her fears and feelings and maybe even disappointment of this strange creature. He wasn’t the baby she imagined, but she loved him anyway. And she wanted him to know it.

The things my kids teach me leave me speechless.

Over the next hour, Sage got more and more comfortable with Silas. Before long, she wanted to hold him all the time. I don’t think I’ll ever forget, though, how she looked when she saw him; how scared she was; how surprised/confused she seemed; and how she reached out and touched him anyway.

I can’t even put into words the lessons that teaches me. It still gets me choked up. I hope I grow up to be 1/2 as wise and strong and brave and as loving as my amazing kids. I would consider that a life well-lived.

Here are a couple more pics from that special day:

(Notice Sage still has Brad by the hand) 😊 
  Thank you Father, for the gift of my family. It is the greatest gift you have ever given me – except for your Son.

I remember middle school… Very clearly. 

And from what I remember – it’s easier to sit where I’m sitting now than it was to sit in those desks. And I don’t mean that the desks were uncomfortable. I mean the whole thing was uncomfortable. Here are some things I’ve learned / am learning as I attempt to be a leader amongst these precious kiddos we call middle schoolers:

1. Teacher doesn’t always mean academics. It also means counselor.

2. “Middle” can have such negative connotations: stuck in the middle, in the middle of nowhere, middle children…

Well it doesn’t have to be negative. There can be magic in the middle (think Oreos 😊) !!! These kids are transforming and it’s an amazing thing to have a front row seat to. I love my middle schoolers (and my middle child πŸ’—)

3. Things aren’t always / usually / regularly going to go as planned 😊 Keep breathing.

4. Sometimes your students are going to ask you things that you don’t know the answers to. Don’t run out the room.

5. Not everyone is going to like you. Listen, take advice, but hold on to your confidence. See Hebrews 10:35

6. Teacher doesn’t always mean academics…it also means disciplinarian. It’s not easy (for me) but you have to draw the line and hold it. They’re counting on you to.

7. Slim down those lesson plans… You’re not going to get all that done. Leave some MARGIN. You’ve got to get 20-25 people across the line together. It’s gonna take a little longer than you think.

8. Stop & take it all in. Smile. And try not to stress. 

9. Some kids may be smarter than you on certain topics. It’s ok. You have more life experience than they do.

10. Don’t put all your eggs in the technology basket. Always have a back-up plan πŸ˜‰

11. Keep your eyes and ears wide open. Trust your intuition. From the social game to academics and everything in between – there’s a lot going on in a middle schooler’s life. Pay attention. 

Miracle Baby

Chemo round 4 of 6 for this miracle baby! Man how I wish I could reach through the phone and hug them all. Love you so so much, Becnels! Our hearts are with you EVERYDAY!!! #family #pray #healedandwhole #adventureswithcharlotte

It’s my blog, I can post what I want to… Post what I want to… 🎡

(Well, ok, within reason)

(And if you don’t want to read it, no hurt feelings here)

So sometimes it’s teaching or mommy hood or Brad or reading or friends or missing friends or Jesus… Or WHATEVER… 

But tonight it’s food πŸ˜‰ 

In my past life, exactly 28 days ago actually, I was a dietitian for about 11 years. I care about nutrition. I also care about yummy food. 

In the middle of the school week, amidst the 100,000 things that go on in my house (from feeding the baby betta fish to making sure there is milk in the fridge) on a school night, things can get a little reckless around here. 

I literally pulled homework out of my dog’s mouth 2 nights ago. Sorry, Mrs. Curtis.

But still – in the middle of our lovely zoo – I care about what my littles eat. But it’s gotta be something that can be made FAST. We’re talking 20 minutes prep here – max. Or else we might forget to study for the vocabulary test. Or somebody might not get bathed 😳

So tonight was chicken pesto pasta and it is so easy it’s embarrassing but it made me happy so I’m writing about it. My kids had a hot meal (and happy faces) in no time and my mom heart felt a bit more settled when I tucked them in.

And now they’re all asleep.

And Bill and Ted are on tv.


Praise Him from whom all blessings flow ❀️😘

I just can’t put my camera away during dance class. It’s too beautiful πŸ’—

My hardworking ballerina tonight πŸ’— 

Well I guess you can say that I’ve been a teacher for about a week and a half now. It is still very much surreal. Life can be so surreal.

That being said, I’m still standing πŸ™‚ It is like swimming against the (STRONG) current to learn something new… But I’m so glad I am. These kids have no idea how much they are growing me just by being my students. 

In the back of my room I have a board that I call my “Be Board”. I am not crafty… In fact, if you look up the opposite to crafty – that would be me 😊 Since the first time I put a big bow on Brie’s newborn head, people have been asking me: “did you make that?!” To which (sadly) I’ve always had to respond with a resounding “no”. But I can usually tell you where I bought it πŸ™‚ God bless all you crafty souls out there who make cool stuff for us un-crafties.

Back to my Be Board… 

Since I can’t make a bulletin board – and I wanted this to be student-inspired anyway, I simply put the word “BE” in the middle of this small bulletin board and let my students come up with the rest of the words. 

I love the way it turned out. I love their hearts.

So I’ve survived the start of school, spiritual emphasis week, meet the teacher, & back-to-school night (some of those as a mom, some as a teacher, some both).

AND I managed to steal a quick date with my favorite 3 today:

My heart is thankful, overwhelmed, exhausted… And thankful again ❀️


God is good. Life is good. I need a pillow 😊

My little peanut is just having the time of her life in theatre. First there was Scrooge; then there was Oklahoma; next, Aladdin. I wish you could hear and see these kids’ talent – they are nothing short of amazing. And the really cool part is that they’re amazing on stage and off… Inside and out. Here are a few of my favorite pics from the past few weekends:  

My favorite pic is the cast praying together before they take the stage. Really… Who could ask for anything more?

#thankful #making memories 

Dental Drama

Sometimes your baby teeth don’t fall out on their own like their supposed to. And when that happens, you will find your cute little self in one of these chairs… Waiting on your name to be called.  
And then they will call your name. And you will spend a looooong… Way-more-than-your-time-slot amount of time with a wonderful woman like this. Wonderful and patient. Oh so patient 😊 

And after much weeping and thrashing and gnashing of teeth, you will leave with a little prize!

And although your mom’s nerves will be completely obliterated for HOURS, you will soon be smiling and bouncing and looking oh so cute πŸ’— & with a brand new smile πŸ˜ƒ

Happy 1st two teeth lost, Sage! Maybe next time, we can get those out on our own, sweet pea  πŸ’—πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜‰πŸ˜˜