Tag Archives: teachers

Podcast with Rachel Phillips – she shares her story of living with anxiety

Friends, this podcast is powerful! My friend Rachel Phillips is brave and beautiful and amazing! She shares her story on the podcast of the anxiety that has been gripping her since she was a young girl.  This is a story many of us can relate to and yet, sometimes we don’t talk about it.  My hope is that in hearing Rachel’s story, those who suffer can know that they are not alone.  There is help and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  We touch on marriage, kids, parents, moms, and how anxiety can affect the entire family.  We talk about the isolation and shame that can accompany anxiety.  We even talk about the church and what role the church can play when it comes to suffering.  Rachel courageously lets us in on all of it and we are better for it.  If you have anxiety or if you love someone who does, you won’t want to miss this! This is a triumphant story filled with truth and hope, redemption and joy!

An exciting and fun part of her story is that Rachel’s husband, Josh Phillips, is an American Ninja Warrior! He is called the Family Ninja and can be found on Facebook at @familyninja.

Here is a beautiful, inspiring video they made for American Ninja Warrior: https://vimeo.com/198150018

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

To My Daughter with Learning Differences

Update!!! So excited this  was also shared on Huffington Post! Click link to check it out!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/to-my-daughter-with-learning-differences-whom-i-once_us_573a3382e4b06dede18b9937?hd45lep4nfyctyb9

This letter was written and submitted to The Mighty before I posted it here.  It is also posted on www.themighty.com with a few minor edits. I’m so grateful to my daughter for letting me share her story.  I pray it encourages others.  

Dear Daughter,

Thank you for being my child. I need you. Thank you for being you.

Although I never thought I’d say this, I’m grateful for the struggles we have had surrounding your ADHD and dyslexia and sensory issues. While I know for you, this has made school difficult, and it has made life challenging, I want to go on record and say that you have made me a better person.

I spent years wishing you were different. I didn’t want you to have to suffer. I have to admit it and we’ve talked about it before…it’s not easy to parent a child who is struggling. You become a mom who is struggling. You look at all the kids who are “thriving” and you wish they were your children. You start to resent the other moms. You close down and protect and build walls. I did all of that.

But you know what else I did? I fought for you. I fought with you. We stood together and reckoned with the future. Sometimes our fists were up and sometimes our hearts were open but we were in it. We were strong and courageous. Together.

I told you that you could do anything and you listened. You did it. High school graduation is upon us and you are headed to college.

 

natalie book

I think back to kindergarten and the teacher telling me that you didn’t quite understand the letters. In second grade when you were formally diagnosed with a learning disability, they kept saying, “She understands, she’s so smart, she just can’t decode the letters”. Or “She knows the material, she just can’t get it on paper”.

While often we were focusing on the decoding and the “treatment”, we tucked away the truth, “She’s so smart, she understands” in our hearts and we believed. I hope and pray that’s what you heard.

We had years of doctor appointments and therapy and meetings at school and tutoring and scary trips to the neurologist and so many questions. We fought for extra time on tests and notes written out. The paperwork alone takes up a whole room.

We were blessed with a school district that had resources and teachers who understood. Except for a few losers. Remember the one time we were so happy you got a D- we jumped up and down and cheered? Remember how I called your one teacher an “Asshole who doesn’t understand”? Well, I stand by that. Some people don’t get it. But because of you, I do get it. I am so grateful to be firmly planted on the side of understanding and compassion.

You can always be assured we’ve got your back.

Oh how I worried about you. I sought to understand you. I didn’t understand you. I cried and felt sorry for myself. My sense of entitlement was called into question. That one time when I was complaining to Dad and he said, “It’s not about you” was a moment of truth that changed the way I parent and live.

In an effort to get you what you needed, I called in the experts and I read the books and I prayed in a way that required surrender and trust. You gave me courage and you taught me to ask for help and you brought me closer to God.

You are heading off to college next fall and while I know I am not always a perfect mother, I can honestly say you are the perfect child for me.

I read a quote the other day that said, “Why do you keep trying to change the people God sent to change you?” This hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m sorry for trying to change you.

I think at times I might have justified my desire for you to change by explaining that it would just be easier for you if you were “like everybody else”.

I take it back.

Can I take it back?

You are a gift. You have changed me for good.

This is only the beginning. Now you get to go out and bless the world. I will be cheering you on forever. I’m thankful that I have been close enough to see you…God’s unique, beautiful creation…becoming.

So thank you daughter, for helping me become a better me.

And thank you God.

For knowing what I need and giving her to me.

I’m forever grateful.
©2016 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved

Middle school and life…what is learning anyway?

I had my first school parent coffee in Texas.

Yep, that’s right. I did it. I checked in, showed my license, put on my name tag and entered the scariest place of all…the middle school lunch room.

lunch room

I have to say it has gotten much better.  It’s still not easy but I’m okay. I can enter without the panic of, “Who will I sit with?”

Being new to town and the school and the state and well…just NEW in that way that feels sort of confusing but also funny because there is no way you can hide it.  I mean, I walked in and started wandering around and a teacher asked me, “Are you lost?” and I thought about answering, “Honey, you don’t know the half of it.” Literally, just getting to the school was a major feat.  Needing to know where the lunch room is is way beyond.  I just can’t.

So, it’s obvious.

Thank God I ran into someone I did know right away. By saying I know her, I mean I met her once and I thought it was her so I approached and thank God she recognized me and we started chatting.  I guess maybe the lunch room hasn’t changed that much.  We still look for someone to sit with. I’ve just become much braver.  And wiser. And more comfortable in my skin. Which takes a lot of years of walking into the lunchroom, board room, dorm room, new job, new neighborhood…you get my point.

The Principal started talking and I realized that this school, this experience,  this whole Texas thing…is different.  He said he started in education in 1953. I was doing the math in my head and he clarified…that’s when he started FIRST GRADE.  And he said, He’s “loved education ever since”.  His title is Dr. so I know he’s gone to a lot of schooling but I couldn’t give a hoot. (Don’t I sound southern already?)  I was more interested in what he said about the CULTURE and how important it is to him.  He talked about when he was a principal before and he was widowed and he suffered so much and he just couldn’t do it anymore so he retired.  He said he couldn’t “run the race” anymore.

He said he was blessed to find a wonderful woman who is his wife now and she brought him back, reminded him of how much he loved being in education and he came out of retirement.  He said school is important and he loves it but he loves his wife and family more.  That school and learning and accomplishing and all that we do here in this building is really, really important but not as important as your family.

He assured us that even though the school is new and the technology doesn’t work yet and there is confusion and the busses are late…the teachers love our kids and are trying their best and working really hard.  He asked for our patience and asked if we could please encourage and support the teachers.  He reminded us that we are all in this together.

There was a mom that shared her daughter was not allowed to go to the bathroom because she didn’t have a “pass” so she had an accident.  He was mortified and so sorry.  He launched into this whole thing.

He said there are 2 camps. “Rules and Regs” and ‘Culture”.  He said he’s not much of a rules and reg guy but he knows they are necessary.  He’s more into relationships and getting people what they need and OFFERING GRACE.  

Of course, this made me cry. Me too! I wanted to shout! Me too! Amen! 

There were moms there of course who kept pressing about bathroom passes and the busses and complaining about homework.  I was having an out of body experience.  I was watching and listening and I wanted to shout!! Did you hear him?!?! We are offering GRACE.  It’s about GRACE!!  All are doing their best!!

Now don’t get me wrong, parents have every right to ask all of those questions and all of the administrators there were lovely and accommodating and trying their best to help everyone.

It just reminded me of how we get sometimes about God and Religion.  We put all the rules and regulations in.  We start keeping score.  We demand. We perform. We measure.  We get so tired we can’t “run the race” anymore.  We forget that we are in this together.  We get so worried about people having a “pass” that we don’t see they are about to have an accident right in front of us.  We don’t recognize the suffering.  We make them jump through hoops.  We abandon. We criticize. We humiliate. This is love? This is Christian living?

But then Jesus comes in and goes, “Hey, guess what? I’m not much of a rules and reg guy.  I’m here to offer grace.”  He assures us that he loves us and he’s for us and he cares about our CULTURE.  He sets us FREE. To go to the bathroom or whatever.  He says, “You don’t need a pass…I AM THE PASS!!!”  You are all good.

Okay so at the end of an hour of people questioning, complaining, etc…a woman stood up.  She stood up and said, “I want to thank you.  For coming in here and talking about CULTURE and GRACE and for making it a priority to make this a GOOD, KIND place that offers understanding and support and encouragement.” Actually, I have no idea what else she said. But she was tracking with what I was feeling and a lot of other people in the room.  I couldn’t even hear her.

I was crying Holy Spirit tears and shaking my head and saying “Amen!”

Because honestly, he’s a principal but he’s also a missionary.  Right here. In Texas. In the Middle school lunchroom.

It was a lunch room.

But it felt more like Church.

 

©2014 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™, All Rights Reserved