Thursday, May 23, 2019


Yesterday I wrote about perfection - perfect practice makes perfect.  I'm a recovering perfectionist.  Or I'd like to think I am.  What I really decided is that somethings require perfection and somethings do not.  Taxes require perfection.  Gift wrap does not. 

I have the cutest puppy dog, Dobby.  I'll have to write about him next week.  He's 10 weeks old and we're trying to crate train him.  Yikes! Back to newborn land.  I was up at 1:30 am taking him outside this morning.  The moon was full and light, thin clouds (sorry Mrs. Rakow, I don't remember cloud names) were floating past occasionally covering the moon.  The idea of perfection floated into my brain. 

You know who doesn't require perfection?  God!  You don't have to get all your stuff first before you come to him.  You get to bring all your mess and give it to Him.  God's not an automatic fixer.  You don't bring you junk, hang it to Him and an hour later He hands you back a gift wrapped life.  God uses your junk to change you and bring you closer to Him. 

So yes, getting better at a sport or instrument requires perfect practice.  Strive hard to do each part of the play or piece to absolute perfection.  Get better each day but improving 10%.  Be 10% better every day.

But do not strive for perfection in your walk with God. Be honest with Him.  Let Him heal and help you with your junk. He loves your imperfection.  Always remember that you will never actually be perfect.  Only Jesus was perfect.  He gave His life to make you perfect in the eyes of God!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Practice Makes Perfect?

I was a Stingerette in High School.  Unless you're from Rockwall, Texas, you probably don't know what that is.  Stingerettes is the varsity drill team for Rockwall High School.  I grew up in Rockwall and I wanted to be a Stingerette my entire life.  I have a newspaper clipping of a picture of me watching a Homecoming parade and the caption says "Aimee Gheen, future Stingerette, watches the parade".

When I tried out for Stingerettes at the end of ninth grade, I made alternate.  That meant that I would only get to perform on the football field if someone was sick or out of town or didn't pass their classes.  Stingerettes marched a very intricate show with our band and performed a dance at half time.  I had to pay close attention at practice to learn lots of different parts. Wanted to be ready to go in at any minute.

I remember my first performance, I had to be a line leader.  It was going to be super obvious if I messed up.  But I had paid close attention in practices. I was nervous but confident.  Plus, the girl behind me helped me know where to go with gentle promptings. 

I think it was during this time that one of our directors, we called them M&M (Mrs. Martin & Ms. Moore), said something that stuck with me a long time:

In Outliers Malcolm Gladwell references work by Anders Ericcson that's become known as the 10,000 hour rule. Gladwell gave the impression that anyone who worked on something for 10,000 hours would become great at it, according to Ericcson.  However, Ericcson says you actually need to be deliberate practice.  You can't just be playing the violin, you have to be doing things that will help you get better.

Perfect practice, perhaps? 

Monday morning on his podcast Increase Your Impact, Justin Su'a discussed deliberate and purposeful practice.  He outlined 4 things necessary for purposeful practice,

Purposeful Practice...
1. has well defined specific goals
2. is focused
3. involves immediate feedback
4. requires getting out of your comfort zone - progress is made on the edge of your comfort zone

What are you trying to improve?  Are you engaging in purposeful practice to get better or are you repeating the same thing over and over hoping it will get better?

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

It's Personal

The theme of #OC19 was It's Personal.  All of the main stage speakers used the theme as starting point. 

Jon Acuff had my favorite quote on the topic

Reggie Joyner presented 5 questions that will change a kid's life if you know the answer:
1. Do you know my name?
2. Do you know what matters to me?
3. Do you know where I live (how they live)?
4. Do you know what I've done?
5. Do you know what I can do?

Over and over we heard examples of how Jesus knew the answers to these questions about the people he served.

The questions have great application for me.  Of course, I need to know these things about the kids I serve. But also my volunteers.  However, the situation that stayed on my mind was school, the kids that come into the library. 

Many times the kids that like to spend time in the library are looking for a place to fit in.  Sometimes they are quiet, reserved or withdrawn. They need to know that they are worthy.  The library, the people who work in it, can be that place for them. 

My job is going to change next year and I'll serve all four of our district's library.  I will also work with an instructional aide at each campus.  I plan to share these 5 questions with them.  We can not know the answers for every kid on campus.  But we can, and should, know the answers for the kiddos who spend the most time in our libraries. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


Every year I get to travel to Atlanta (actually just outside of Atlanta) to attend the Orange Conference.  Read about OC18 here.  Read about OC17 here. My first OC was 2016 and I wrote about that here.

The major difference this year was the number of people who went.  We took 16 people!  1 NextGen pastor, 4 Children's ministers, 4 Preschool ministers, 3 Youth ministers, 1 Special Needs coordinator, 1 Child Care coordinator, 1 Administrative Assistant & 1 volunteer.  I really like all these people but that's a lot of people to be together with for 4 days.  I'm a extroverted introvert.  I can do crowds and enjoy it but I need rest.  There's not a lot of time to rest at Orange.  The conference goes until 9 or 10 both nights.  Feeling like I need to sleep more makes me even more introverted.  So, there's that.  But everyone who went are awesome and I did love spending time with them.  It's always a great time to spend time from people from other campuses that I don't get to see often.  I had great conversations with people that are new(ish) to our staff.  Good stuff.

I didn't get to meet up with Carey Nieuwhof this year.  Read OC18 for more info on this story.  I tried to be proactive so I tweeted Carey BEFORE OC this year.  He replied and put me into contact with his assistant.  It turned out that we wouldn't be at Orange at the same time.  But, Carey would be at ReThink Leadership and so would our campus pastors.  Joe Paris to the rescue.  I told he what I needed, sent him screenshots of everything to prove that I wasn't crazy and sent him to meet Carey.  The pictures Joe sent me were priceless.  They made me so happy!
Carey seems happy to participate; Joe not so much

I was so happy that I didn't care about my name
The Sunday after we returned Joe told me I owed him.  I don't think he's thinking about this the right way.  I brought him into a fun and funny tradition.  You're welcome Joe Paris!

Orange actually ends Friday at 5 pm.  We went to our favorite BBQ joint - I can't think of the name. I think it's 2 dude's names. They have yummy rolls and awesome peach tea.  I'm definitely a go-alonger at Orange so I don't have to remember the name of the BBQ joint or the outstanding taco joint we eat at each year.  It's so nice. 

Anywho...Friday night we went to an escape room.  I love that kind of stuff. I've done 2 other escape rooms and had a blast both times.  The first time my team won. The second time my team did not win.  I like escape rooms but I'm not so great at solving the puzzles quickly.  Same story this time.  My team did get out of the room before hour time limit but not before the other team.  But, oh my goodness, it was fun!!

Our group minus one who was sick at the hotel

Our 2nd place team (out of 2 teams) 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


We've all heard the old adage...

I've been thinking about it since I started reading No Hard Feelings - The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy.  In the book, the authors are discussing taking a break.  The title of the section is actually "Falling Out of Love with Your Phone" and offers advice from Shonda Rimes and Dan Calista for leaders. 

I've read similar advice in the past.  I thought it was in Culture Code but I couldn't find it in my notes.  The basic premise is that if you lead people, you set the tone.  You have to make sure your actions, words and priorities align. 

In New Power, Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms define signaling as "the way a new power leader makes a crowd feel more powerful through his speech, gestures or actions".  I feel like you can also signal negative things. 

If you, as the boss, say that you value time with family but then send emails at 7 pm and expect them to be answered quickly, you're signaling that what you've said isn't really true. 

If you tell your children not to smoke because it's bad for your health but then continue to smoke a pack a day, you're signaling that what you've said isn't really true. 

Of course, none of us are perfect.  We're going to send mixed signals from time to time. The key is to be upfront and honest with people. 

If you're the boss and your prime email time is 7 pm or 10 pm or 1 am, talk about that with your people.  Tell them what your prime email times are AND when you expect them to respond.  "I'm may email you at 10 pm but I don't expect you to get to it that night.  Please respond the next morning.  If there's an emergency, I'll text you."

Tell you kids that horrors of smoking but then let them seeing you trying to quit. Let them help you quit. 

Once again, clear communication is the key. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


One of favorite left over phrases from the 90s and my most used bitmoji is

I've always understood that WORD means yep!/oh yeah! I looked up the origins of it and found out that it came out of prison culture and is short for "my word is my bond".  So it really means "YES! I'm telling the truth!" Man, I love that!

Yesterday I wrote about a sign we have under our TV.  This made me think about all the words all over my house.  I had a weird realization that I love words.  What a dumb realization.  I'm a writer, of course I love words.

I really love the power of words to remind us of who we are.  Or perhaps I should say, who we want to be.  When I'm busy or under stress my lizard brain takes over and often I make choices that I'm not happy with. Choices that don't align with who I want to be.

So, I surround myself with words to remind me of who I am and who I want to be.  I have words on my computer. I have words on my skin.  I have words all over my house, I decorate with them.  Same principle as yesterday's sign - we talk about these things a lot but I'm hope seeing the words digs them deep into our subconscious.

This my favorite group of words in our home.  The first time we looked at the house, I knew I wanted to put in a banquette and large table in the kitchen dining area.  I wanted it to be a hub in our home.  On the wall behind the table I wanted something unique.  I found the word FAMILY.  But it wasn't enough.  Then, I found a place online that would cut your words out of wood.  I asked each person in our family to think of one word to describe our family and had those words cut out.  I painted each word a different primary color (primary colors are my favorite) and then did a light coating of gold over each one.  I wrote each person's name on their word.

This is a small sampling of other words around out house. I especially love our window pane with our family motto on it - Show God's Love.

With all these words, I'm saying WORD! These words are the truth about me and my family.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

3 Things

In the school world, this time of year is strange.  There's a lot going on.  We've got state testing this week and next.  This week is teacher appreciation.  Performances, banquets and graduation celebrations are filling the calendar. 

The weirdest thing that happens around this time is getting ready for next year.  It's a strange limbo. You're not finished with this year.  The next year hasn't started.  And yet, there are things that need to be done to prepare of the next year.

I am both anxious and excited about next school year.  I'm going to have new responsibilities at work. Sam will be a senior.  Zac will be driving.  Brennan will be in a new school building.  Lots of changes in the air.

I bought this little letter board in the fall. I'm having fun putting up messages for the family.  I don't know if anyone reads it but it's right under the TV so I have to think so. ;)

The last time I changed it, I wanted it to say "Control What You Can Control".  But, I didn't have enough c tiles.  I tried a few variations on that theme and couldn't make any of them work. 

So, I thought about what you needed to do in order to control what you can control.  Here's what I came up with:

I wanted "Pray" to be first because you have to stay focused on God above all else.  Prayer helps you know what to do next. I chose "Focus" to remind us that there's a lot to do but only so much that can devote time to.  To do our best, we need to focus on a few things.  "Work Hard" is obvious.  You can't expect to get ahead if you don't work hard. 

These are things we talk to the boys about on a regular basis but teenagers aren't always awesome at listening to their parents.  Hopefully, the sign will help the ideas get into their subconscious. 

Thursday, May 2, 2019


Funny, unrelated stories from our B-man

He and my mom were driving through her neighborhood.  One street was particularly crowded with cars parked on both sides of the street.  Nene was frustrated and complaining about it.
B says to her, "you do the same thing when you come to my house."  She parks on the street at our house.

B & I are working on his math homework. The work involves reading a chart and interpreting the data.  Several questions asked about outliers.  B & I have different definitions of outliers.  I finally get him to agree to my definition.  I even tell him I've read an entire book about outliers so he can trust me.   One question asks him to explain why he thought the outlier was an outlier.  He wrote, "because it's not part of the group, it's alone. This is my mom's opinion". He told me he wrote "This is my mom's opinion." in case I'm not right.

B goes into the bathroom after being asked to brush his teeth.  He comes out a short time later to the sound of flushing.
Me: did you brush your teeth?
B: ummmmm yes
Me: are you sure?
B: (no hesitation) sorry no, I only peed
He's a truth teller!

Our district offers Autism Awareness shirts and people who buy them wear them on 2 particular days.  B wears his shirt.  They call everyone to the office to take a photo.  B's not interested.  The principal asks him to go, he says no.  She asks him if he'll take a picture with her.  He agrees but says "but don't send that to my mom"

Me: are you nervous about your test (state standardized writing test) tomorrow?
B: about 50% nervous

One of the elementary school teachers flew a drone at field day and B got to check it out.
B: I was surprised that it was Mr. S.  I thought it would be the French"
Me: Oh, do the French fly drones?
B: Yes, it's a very French thing to do along with drinking wine and eating baguettes.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

What We Want You To Know 2019

The past two years, I've written this post as a part of April and Autism Awareness month.  Here's 2018's version and 2017's version and the post that sparked the idea in 2015.  I didn't write much this year about Autism Awareness month.  I'm not sure why.  I haven't been great about writing this month all together and I've largely ignored Autism Awareness month.  I'm fully aware and I'm not interested in rehashing my ideas about Autism Speaks.  It's all out there and my position hasn't changed.

Yesterday I realized it was the last day of the month and I haven't written anything.  I asked the boys what they'd like you to know. 

"I wish people knew that he, more often than not, does not know what he is saying. What I mean is whatever he says is just the first thing that popped into his head no matter if it’s hurtful or funny or some like that."

This has a lot to do with impulse control as well as lack of social awareness.  B isn't trying to hurt your feelings, he's just not great at filtering.

"I would like people to know that he thinks through and understands things way differently than we do, and sometimes it causes him to have meltdowns or stuff because he doesn’t understand how we think and why it’s different than our way"

B just thinks differently.  Often, he doesn't understand our way of thinking just like we don't understand his way of thinking.

"B is quirky and sometimes he can't control his quirkiness.  But mostly he's awesome."

My main thing lately is please listen to us when we tell you the best way to handle B.  When he's having a hard time STAY QUIET!  When you keep talking or asking him questions or give him choices you're overwhelming him more and more, prolonging whatever the trouble is.  

"Autism is a curse and a blessing. A curse because people don't understand and may mock you. Blessing because I have it."  (excuse me while I bawl)

We are always happy to answer questions about B and autism.  If you have any, post them in the comments!