Category Archives: fear and worry

The Trauma I Never Knew I Had…

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Covid has wreaked havoc on education. Sub shortages, teachers leaving the profession, kids with anxiety and on medication…now even the leaders are retiring. So the big question is “Why?”

The short answer is apathy. In order to keep schools afloat and not ruin an academic future, schools required as little as possible. We took one grade per week, made most assignments optional, gave a choice to show up in person…we made learning easy and students got comfortable. However, what we were doing was hardly education. We were surviving.

When schools reopened, we again made many things optional and the virtual experience became a joke. Students got a year of very minimal learning as most teachers were forced to do a hybrid learning model. So now even though school was back in session, the learning struggled as teachers were overwhelmed balancing both. Later, Texas tested all of our kids while saying it did not count…was a baseline for the future. Wrong!

HB4545 is attempting to bridge the gaps of the horrific scores that “did not count” while frustrating teachers and making them feel defeated. Students have seen how minimal effort can bring a grade and failing is still nearly impossible so why put in more than the minimal? Then we got the sub issue.

Certain districts pay more than others so subs are really community members that love their community.

Watching the Amazing Race episode 3 when they shut down due to Covid, reminded me I have trauma. Trauma from life shutting down and my job closing. Trauma from sending kids home with one hug and a good bye. Trauma from virtual teaching. Trauma from homeschooling as a teacher. Trauma from learning new things and putting them to use quickly. Trauma from wanting to teach but realizing we are just giving a grade…most kids did as little as possible.

The teacher trauma is real!

Now we have schools with anxious students and teachers and leaders in very stressful situations. Balancing everyone’s mental health and not wanting anyone to break.

So here we are…brave educators digging in deep to ride this out. Kids are fragile so we all must walk carefully. No other job impacts children like teaching and I am here to stay…but things are challenging as you have to choose between scores and sanity.

It is what is, but the more support the better! Parents show you care. Teachers check on each other. Leaders show grace and compassion and serve your staff. Students come to school to learn. We can conquer this together. God is with us and suffering produces perseverance. The answers are complicated, but hope and love are strong and I believe in our business and system.

Which Flare? What does a Lupus flare feel like?

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Today I go to two doctors to check on symptoms of inflammation. One is an eye doctor…my eyes have been on fire lately and the second is my regular check up to see if the Methextrate is working or we need to try something new. Many Lupus drugs have serious side effects, so I need to be careful and check blood work often.

Going to the doctor today got me thinking about all my flares the past ten years. I often get asked “What does a flare feel like?” My response is “Which one?”

My first flare was my worst…achy joints, high fever always, weight loss, fatigue, cold all the time. We started Plaquenil and within three months I was feel good again…a new norm of anemia, infertility and fatigue always, but not hurting.

My second big flare was achy joints, fatigue and hair loss. Patches of bald spots and an itchy scalp that kinda surprised me since I did not know my hair was connected to auto immune issues

My third big flare was my scariest. Lung inflammation. I felt like I was going to have a heart attack. I could not catch my breath and my chest hurt. Again, no clue my lungs could be connected to my Lupus.

This one has lasted the longest…mirrored more Rheumatoid arthritis than Lupus. It caused me to change my meds to focus on joint pain rather than fatigue. It caused my hands to go crooked and surprisingly has impacted my eyes. No clue if it is inflammation or allergy or random coincidence but my eyes have been burning. This flare also impacted my weight and fatigue and now thinning hair. A big surprise is the new inflammation in my stomach…food does not process which makes me feel malnourished.

The crazy thing is insurance causes me to need referrals and it is hard to know what can be treated with a GP versus a specialist. So much is determined by Lupus and is just confusing. So my goal today is to get answers and maybe a better plan. I feel good mentally, but Lupus can cause depression too and I have had that this time as well. Pray that God leads me to answers and wisdom today!

I am blessed with all the advancements in this tricky disease. I am learning to accept myself at my lowest weight, infertile, bruised from blood thinners, thin hair that does not grow out and feeling tired all the time. Learning I am who I am with this disease. No one can truly understand it through my eyes and what I go through each day to make it to the next as a mom and teacher and wife…but God is using this for His glory! Adoption and more has been a gift in this and I am not dead. I have felt like dying is near at times or even frustrated that my quality of life at 42 is so different …if this is 42 what will 62 feel like…will I live to see 72? Does my child get the mother he deserves?

In it all, I will take this life and live it awake. I will appreciate what I do have through a support system and medical team. God is good!

Today I am focusing on Psalm 136:1. I am giving thanks to God. Thankful for my body. Thankful for my medical team. Thankful for prescription drugs. Thankful for a supportive husband. Thankful for prayer. Thankful for days to take off for the doctor. Thankful for the beauty in the ashes. Thankful on purpose.

Healthy Changes

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So over the past few months I have continued to lose weight without trying. Sounds awesome, but not when you look sick and you are down to a size 0 and under 100 pounds. Only in small outfits does it look sexy…in most clothes I look ill. So I have had to pause Camp Gladiator so I can visit doctors and figure out the root. When you need every calorie, you have zero to burn!

So far I have been to three doctors and received an ultrasound of my thyroid. Gastronologist is next along with a high protein diet, delivered meal plan so I snack all day and eat and protein shakes from Crandall Nutrition. Again, blessed to not worry about losing pounds, but never Google unexplained weight loss.. it is scary! Join me in praying for some direction!

Finally, in all the day to day, I am leaning into my self. Put a pause in working on my relationships, and am focusing on God and my mental health. Sadly, I tend to lose me in us and it is time to look at who God says I am.

Turning 42 flipped a switch. Who am I? Where do I want to be in a year? Who do I want by my side if I have to battle a deadly disease tomorrow? No time to question loyalty…I need to know my team and live in it! Stay tuned for Julia 42.0!

In Lupus related news, I am now on Methextrate and off Plaquenil. Over time, my symptoms began to look more like RA and the joint pain became too much. I now have side effects of headaches and mouth ulcers, but feel better than ever joint-wise. Kinda scared to find out what 62 feels like since 42 already feels like 92, but believing in a cure and a good Lord comeback!

Adopting in a Pandemic

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As we restart our adoption journey, but this time through foster care, one major difference is all the courses available online. We lose the community…we loved our adoption community and still keep in touch with those families…but learning in your pajamas is pretty awesome too. In fact, doing the courses online is one of the big reasons the fire was lit to start. I learned today even CPR was online so that is pretty amazing also! I say all this to say if you have been praying about adoption then now is the time!

On another note, Happy Law Enforcement Day!

The biggest reason my husband got out of police work, is we adopted our son. Now we had a baby to care for and working nights, weekends, holidays just would not work anymore. He struggled that he was missing all the good stuff needing to sleep so he could go to work. He also realized the reality that he could be hurt or killed while on the job and there were other things he could do…so he resigned and started a new career.

Staying married while doing that job was hard, so I will always have respect for those that serve others and risk their lives for strangers.

Adoption is not Easy

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I have some friends going through the adoption process and I hate to say it, but when they ask how it is my first words are “really hard”. It takes a lot of time, paperwork, classes, background checks, videos, meetings and so many questions!! I think what makes it harder is you know you are doing a good thing so why so many obstacles? Also compared to giving birth, you have to prove yourself as a parent. Even 8 years later, the thing I remember most is how hard it ended up being.

The thing is you have no control. The timing, the person, the process…it is out of your hands. A lot of praying and trusting that others are looking out for you. But in the end…it is so worth it! When you meet your child and it all makes sense…adoption is the best gift from God!

One of our best blessings is our adoption is open! I posted this pic today and the first person to like it was his birth mom. Love we can keep up in this way and she can share in these moments with me. If God has put on your heart to adopt…go for it! No one I have met has ever regretted it!

New Habits

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2020 was the year our trauma was exposed. The year we had a moment to step back and see what God was seeing. Busyness. Greed. Selfishness. Chasing after the wind to gain power, success, money…but losing family, health and righteousness.

2021 can be the year to repair what the trauma exposed. Relationships with family, clarity in our mission, a new way of doing things. A greater focus on what matters and what you really “need” to thrive. God’s way is simple, but costs us everything. God’s way brings life.

2021 is the year of new habits. New mindsets that 2020 revealed are needed. Mindsets of humility, grace, health, knowledge of God’s word, seeing trials as a process for change.

This year starts some new healthy habits that will be game changers.

1. Reading the entire Bible. God gives us direct access to Him and I am taking advantage of it.

2. Changing what I put into my body. More water specifically.

3. Discipline through CG workouts. Build muscle, grow lung strength, push yourself mentally and encourage others around you. Take an hour for yourself to take care of your body and grow your mental toughness.

4. Choosing family and quality relationships while putting down the things that keep us from it. My FB friends do not fulfill me more than family.

5. Financial freedom. Stop using things to buy happiness. Get out of debt .

I struggle being generous because I fear not paying bills, but the truth is I am spending all my money on things for myself to make me happier. Time to stop.

This year is the year to make changes needed now that God has my attention.

Word of the Year

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Last year leading into 2020 I posted that the good Lord put a word of the year on my heart that I hated. This word confused me, angered me and I was embarrassed to share it.

The word was vulnerable.

I remember sharing it with others and saying…I do not get it, but this is the word. Flash forward to the end of 2020 and this word has been all over the place! Definitely a Covid 19 word. God prepared the way for my heart with this word.

I grew vulnerable with my students and how I learn to love them. Vulnerable in my marriage with sharing my concerns. Vulnerable with my child that he will not always be perfect and that is okay. Vulnerable with hugs and touch and phone calls that I normally do not like. It also led me to start the foster care process to love the vulnerable that need to know they are loved.

This word led me to the writing and documentary of Brene Brown and her insight and wisdom. This word changed me. This word grew me. God used it in big ways and continues to challenge me with the truth.

Vulnerable started out as an insult but has become a sign of God’s sovereignty.

Left the Mess to Relieve the Stress

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This is how my kitchen looked all day yesterday. I should have been cleaning, wrapping presents, maybe baking a yummy dish but instead this was me all.day.long.

I binge watched Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies. The trick to doing this is neglecting your child by letting him play all day and making sure your husband stays at work. It was a huge success and I feel ready to conquer the holidays. In the midst of the hustle, follow God’s lead and rest, be still and choose joy with the people God has placed in your path.

If you are experiencing grief this season, know you are not alone and covered in prayer. Merry Christmas!

Taste the Shark

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One of the things living during a pandemic has taught me is that life is short so live it. We worry so much about tomorrow that we often fail to enjoy today. Life changing lesson taught to me by a man that was about to die is to “enjoy the sandwich”. Creative way to say appreciate the moment rather than looking toward the next big thing. For our family, that involved taking a vacation that was probably not in our budget but filled us enough to remember why God put us together. We are family and God is using us to grow each other and be Christ to others.  Well for us that meant trying a fishing trip!

To see God’s creation on water is a sight to see! On this particular day, the storms were coming so the water was restless but we pushed through safely to experience the new memory as a family. I understood Peter’s fear in the storm…I prayed a lot on the boat! Prayed for calm (He answered), prayed to not get sick and prayed for God to share his creatures. He answered BIG with my son catching a Bonnethead Shark. What a memory for ALL of us!

As a scuba diver, I think I loved the shark most of all. Seeing sea life up close and personal and then hearing all about it from a biology teacher on the boat…day made! We would never kill a creature for the fun of it, so we googled recipes to eat it. I know we were all uncertain…but we each took a bite…it was delish!

Big finale to the highlight of our trip and a huge testimony to God’s love for us and how real the Bible is in our daily lives. That storm on the water was real, Jesus slept through it then taught us all about faith and trust. I will never read that story the same. Thankful we experienced this new thing together…when given the choice…taste the shark!

No mother should worry about her son jogging in his own neighborhood.

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Not all mothers share the privilege of their son being outside without fear or worry. Unfortunately, 2020 still proves we have a discrepancy in how we are allowed feel about protecting our children. One mom can say “be safe” and move on, while another mom (a mom of color) has to teach a list of unspoken rules then be left to worry. It is not right. Sadly, for far too long we (as in white) have kept quiet refusing to see the truth out of guilt that we live a more privileged life. However, we are called to speak up against injustice and there is nothing more unjust than criminal acts going unnoticed simply because who is alive to tell their side of the story. We should not need a video to take the time to seek the truth. My white son would not have been attacked that day jogging, or in his apartment in Dallas or at the party in Mesquite; all relevant stories of moms that grieve a son killed needlessly in large part (if not all part) because his skin color.

In this time of isolation, take time to reflect then speak up-destroy any blindness that does not see the truth of the situation or implores us to stay silent out of fear of conflict or to mind our business. While I have sat in the longest time out of the 21st century, my eyes have been opened to some #Coronatruths that we are 1. way more connected globally than we think we are (how one virus in one country around the world can spread that fast goes to prove our separation is not that separate) 2. we live in a world with lots of noise (my classroom Zooms prove some homes have lots of background noise and the mute all button has become my friend). This background banter needs to be blocked out to see what is important and to give ourselves permission to feel. We need to change the culture we live in. Stop looking the other way or excusing yourself from the conflict. Do not leave it for someone else-this problem belongs to us all.

On this Mother’s Day weekend, I run for the injustice done to Ahmaud and for his mom that lost her son. We must join hands and step out of the darkness that separates how moms experience raising sons based solely on race. ALL moms should say with peace “My son is jogging and will be right back.”