by Jen Hatmaker on November 23rd, 2015

Speaking on the Women of Faith LOVED Tour this fall has been one of the great privileges and joys of my whole life. Everyone who knows me has listened to me blather ON AND ON about the team, the experience, the legacy, and the delight. It is so real. These women have changed me and loved me and shown me what it looks like to serve with the same team across the nation, over and over.

As a writer who speaks (not a speaker who writes), traveling and conferences and stages and teaching has always been a labor - a labor of love to be sure - but a labor. I am not intrinsically geared for it and have to work super, duper hard to be even remotely competent. (This is not a fish for a compliment so don't give one. It is a fact that speaking is hard for me and I am not naturally gifted at it and it requires ten times the work that writing does.)

But then...this:
Luci Swindoll is my spirit animal.
She is exactly twice my age and I am OBSESSED with her.

I can't explain it exactly, but working with these amazing women who have served God and women so faithfully for so long and yet manage to do this without a sense of striving or competition or pressure, and in fact have the most fun I've ever actually seen on the road, well, I'm changed.

I've basically cried my eyes out the last two events because our tour is coming to an end.

But it is with the greatest, most sincere thrill I get to finally tell you about what's next:

For a whole year, we have been dreaming and building and praying and scheming on how to build on the very best of 20 years of Women of Faith and pay it forward into the next generation. How can we take all the love, all the transparency, all the laughter, all the power, all the story-telling, all the community and build something new, worthy of the legacy?

I am THRILLED to tell you about the Belong Tour coming Fall 2016! Same leadership team, same parent company, same beautiful desire to love God and women in our generation. I am joined by literally some of the best people I know:

Shauna Niequist
Sarah Jakes Roberts
Nichole Nordeman

And because GOD LOVES US, Patsy Clairmont has agreed to join the new tour with us, and for this, I could weep hot salty tears of gratitude. I love her so desperately and I am telling you: She is the very best kind of mentor. She loves our generation and has so much to invest, and we are basically the luckiest girls on earth.

YOU GUYS. This team is coming all over the United States next fall! We've been listening so intently to what you care about:
  • FAITH: how to deepen it, find it, hold on to it, nurture it, use it, express it, grow it. Amen and amen. Let it be said of our generation that we loved Jesus. We are deep diving into faith together, and no matter where you start on that spectrum, you are so welcome.

  • RELATIONSHIPS: how to care for them, heal them, invest in them, own them, expand them, honor God in them, strengthen them. Marriage, parenting, church, neighboring, loving this world - we care so much. Every bit of this will be covered in Belong.

  • PURPOSE AND PASSION: how to discover it, grow it, prioritize it, use it, thrive in it, offer it, develop it, share it. Oh man. You are singing our song. We believe so deeply in women and how God has gifted us and we are here to love and serve this world together.
And listen, there is a REASON we are calling the tour Belong. Because you do. Your friends do. Your neighbors do. Your colleagues do. Your churchy church friends do. Your totally not churchy church friends do. We are setting a big table, girls. Come to us. We love you. We love your people. You can trust us with the fragile hearts you love. You can trust us with your daughters and sisters. This is not a gathering of "insiders" where language and assumptions automatically exclude people outside of faith or church. NOPE.

You can come to us confused or mad, passionate or on fire, disassociated and ambivalent, scared or burned. We will hold your stories with tender hands. We are for you. (And wait until you hear OUR stories. Oh my word. Sarah once rammed a woman's car in her SUV, but I've already said too much.) All I'm saying is that we are regular women who've struggled and tried to love God in the midst of life, which we KNOW can be very, very hard.

NOW. Here is the deal. The Belong Tour gets blasted out to the world this Friday, but we only have 12 dates and when the seats are gone, they're gone. I want you to come. I so want you to come.

You can use my code here (JEN20) and get $20 off select tickets through this Thursday! Plus, every person who’s already bought a ticket or purchases tickets through 12/18/15 (including groups) will receive a FREE BELONG Tour T-shirt:

So basically, use THIS LINK (code: JEN20) by Thursday, get $20 off your ticket, get a free t-shirt, and YOU'RE IN! Yall, I am so serious: invite your friends, invite your neighbors, invite your church, invite your mom and sister and best friend and daughter. Ask for a ticket for Christmas! Give a ticket for Christmas!

This is big.
Bigger than any one of us. Because it’s not about one of us; it’s about all of us. When we gather, connect, and share, something happens. We change. We grow. We don’t just create an event, but a community.
We care deeply, right? For our people. For our communities. For our world. We want hearty exchanges with the people we love and safe places to fall. We want to unpeel the layers and offer the best of ourselves.  Our best is rarely perfect, but that’s BEYOND OK. We’ll take real over perfect any day. And real happens here.
Faith moves us. We’ve encountered it, wrestled with it, and embraced it. (Repeatedly.) We have learned what it means to experience God’s love in a real way and renewed our belief in each other (and ourselves).
When we look at you, we see untapped power that can change the world. There’s passion there, and fire, even if it’s just a spark. Let’s fan that flame and make things happen. We can do this. You are not alone.
We’ve readied a place for you to come in, to share and to heal and to dance . . .

by Jen Hatmaker on November 3rd, 2015

It's time!!! It's time to DO THAT THING WE DO. We do it like a bunch of bosses every year, and together we have impacted thousands of kids and families and teachers and communities for the last three years.

Remember Help One Now’s first Legacy Project in 2012? When we went to Haiti and got the hair-brained idea to build a whole school? And you all bought in and we just went ahead and built it? It was birthed out of a desire to do something audacious, to build something lasting, to tangibly make a tremendous impact in our communities.
In short, we wanted to leave a legacy.
Now, every holiday season, we come together to build something HUGE. Something amazing. From a preschool to an actual school--every year, we aspire to do something that sounds so far out of reach that we shouldn’t make it, and yet, every year, our amazing tribe delivers.
This year, we’re again leaving a legacy of education.

~Nelson Mandela

This year, we’re changing five communities in four countries—truly a global impact. Together, we will bring education to hundreds of children in 19 classrooms in Haiti, Peru, Uganda, and South Africa through two paths of impact: 

Building A Legacy and Sustaining A Legacy.
Building a Legacy

This path will:

Fund the construction of 7 classrooms in Haiti, Peru, and South Africa, and it is resourced through generous, tax-deductible giving. They include:
  • 3 classrooms at Williamson Adrien Academy in Petionville, Haiti (our original Legacy Project) - these classrooms will add secondary grade levels to WAA!
  • 2 classrooms at Colégio Kairos in Iquitos, Peru - increases access to life-changing education to impoverished children from the slums of Belen and Iquitos.
  • 2 classrooms at Reagoboka Early Childhood Development Centre in Hamanskraal, South Africa - over 150 children receive meals, pre-school and after-school care, and even tutoring at our leader Elizabeth’s small home.
All these classrooms will increase their capacity to help neighborhood children and families! (BONUS! BONUS!)

Sustaining a Legacy

This path will:
  • Support 12 classrooms — 6 each at Aclaprotech in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and His Mercy School in Uganda.  
  • Fund 12 annual salaries for local teachers
  • Provide classroom resources such as textbooks, school supplies, and other necessities
  • Fund minor repairs to facilities
  • Provide training seminars for local teachers

The thing is, if we want it for our own children - good schools, great teachers, the ability to read and write, a hope and a future - we just have to want it for everyone's children. And if the roles were reversed, wouldn't we hope a group of folks across the world would decide that good for all is the way to go? These are our children and their parents are our brothers and sisters and their communities matter as much as ours, and we are either building a healthier, safer, happier world with the crazy advantages we were born into or we aren't.

This is so easy and you can do it one of two ways:
  1. You can Build a Community with a simple donation. The goal is 64K and we can do it in our sleep. 7 classrooms, fully funded, hundreds and hundreds of kids impacted, local jobs created, hope seeded in all these beautiful little hearts.
  2. You can Sustain a Community by purchasing this GORGEOUS 2015 Legacy necklace made in Haiti: hand-punched leather sequins and brass accent beads. Guaranteed to be shipped before Christmas, so BAM. Presents solved. 12 classrooms, new teachers, supplies, everything. The goal is 36K. Cake walk.
This necklace is so striking and original, every time I wear it, I get stopped a dozen times.
Plus, it is made by a Haitian artisan group, so MORE JOBS.

As a board member of Help One Now, I can just tell you that we are so in here. We are for the kids, for the schools, for the local leaders, for the communities, for the best practices, for helping and not hurting, for education, for the future, for this beautiful world and all its beautiful citizens. It is such a joy to share and empower.

And YOU matter so much. You have mattered to HON and the communities they serve over and over. You've funded jobs and construction projects and leaders and schools and wells, and it has all gone into the hands of the smartest, highest capacity local leaders in each community.

What I am saying to you is this: you can trust your dollars to count here.

Legacy Project 2015...commence!!! You can donate to build or purchase to sustain, and you can discover more about HON and the communities we serve and the leaders we love and the amazing work you've supported here.

Let's do this, you guys! Gather your children around your computer, show them the kids, look at the schools and teachers and pictures, talk about Haiti and Peru and Uganda and South Africa, and build your own family legacy of generosity, courage, and love.

by Jen Hatmaker on October 22nd, 2015

I don’t know if you know this, but chickens are low-hanging fruit. My girlfriend Katie asked me yesterday: “Did you have trouble with animals digging to get to your chickens? Did you have anything around their coop to prevent it?” No, we basically provided a free chicken buffet for neighboring raccoons, dogs, and coyotes. We started with twelve chickens and now we have two (RIP) (#neverforget).
But let me tell you about our two. These girls, they are survivors. I am so serious. They are two tough broads. All their sisters fell one by one to poor wandering habits and a basic ignorance of their surroundings, but these two own the hood. They never leave each others side and I’m pretty sure they are never going to die.
Until about three months ago, we let the chickens free range all over our one-acre (and sometimes the neighbors’ yards which accounted for the untimely deaths of chickens #4, #7, and #10). We would shut them in their coop at night all roosted together, and in the morning we’d open the door and they’d all run out at top speed to begin their thrilling day of hunting and pecking. I mean, I’d open the gate four inches and they squeezed out and ran for freedom.
But because chickens actually crap all over everything including your patio furniture and new porch, we fenced in a large area around their coop and confined them to a normal-sized free-range zone so we would no longer constantly sit on/walk through/clean up their irrational amounts of poop. They’ve been in there for three months.
Yesterday after texting with Katie, I decided to let the two plucky chickens have a field trip around the yard. Won’t this be fun for the girls! I thought. They’ll run around their favorite old paths and scratch under the trees and have a merry time. We had some rain so everything is soft and bugs are plentiful and this will be their #bestlifenow.
So imagine my shock when I walked over to the coop, excitedly threw open the gate preparing for the chicken sprint…and they just stared at me. Come out, gals! Look! Run like the wind! The whole yard is your playground today! But they just turned away and walked back toward the coop. I left the gate wide open all day, and they never left. The adventurous, seize-the-day spirit of our two survivors was gone.
I can’t quit thinking about it.
I’m a big fan of freedom, of wide-open spaces, of not being confined and imprisoned and stuck. This is absolutely God’s craving for us too: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). That first sentence is everything. Why did Jesus set us free? So we would be free. That’s basically it. He emancipated us from everything that imprisons because freedom is its own reward. To hear the Bible tell it, Christians should be the freest, most unstuck, unrestricted, liberated people breathing air.
I woke up thinking how many of us are staying inside the tiny coop while the gate to the big yard is wide open. There it is! Right there! Freedom! We believe we are locked in, but the confinement is imaginary. We’ve been imprisoned for so long, we cannot even recognize what an open door looks like. The small space, the fence, the latch, the borders; it has become our whole world until there is nothing even visible outside anymore.
Who told you imprisonment was your only option? What narrative have you believed that keeps you trapped, forfeiting your own freedom? And how long have you chained yourself inside? The prisons, they are many: toxic relationships, abusive churches, soul-crushing jobs, addictions, sorrow, impossible expectations, deferred dreams, the lie of scarcity, fear, regret.
These are hurdles, not prisons.

“…through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1). Somewhere along the way, the idea of misery became enmeshed with the notion of Christian sacrifice. God became this irrational, confusing abuser who kept his kids locked in poisonous or barren environments for the sake of…I’m not sure what…the kingdom? Longsuffering? Death to self? I’ve heard abused women say, “God has not released me yet…” and I want to scream YES HE SURE AS HECK HAS. I’ve seen folks shrivel and shrink under toxic church leadership, dreamers desert their gifts under the double lie of scarcity + fear. I’ve seen the emotional surrender to addictions, imagining freedom is for other people.
Why do we think we only deserve the coop when God gave us the whole yard?
I remember the day I realized Brandon and I could walk away from a toxic environment that had broken our spirits. It was like a revelation, the moment my eyes saw the open gate. We can leave?? There was no Protestant work ethic that demanded we forfeit our souls for “loyalty.” There was no requirement of emotional loss so someone else could gain. God never asked for our full erasure to serve a bottom line. We were free.
We always had been.
Dear one, I don’t know what prison you are in, but listen to me: the gate is open. We are loved by a God of freedom and liberation and adventure and meaning. Run like the wind! Look, right outside the fence, there it is! We are not a people of prisons. Perhaps your spirit has been broken, because small locked spaces can do that after awhile. But you are not a slave to those shackles. Jesus set you way too free for that nonsense. There is so much life out there, so much to see, so much to experience, so much to enjoy, so much space to heal and find your legs again and run.
I know those first few steps outside can be terrifying; prisons confine and restrict but at least they are familiar. But if Jesus is to be trusted, He opened the gate because evidently freedom is how to do this thing, this life. It is his plan and will and He believed so deeply in its power that He went all the way to the cross to secure it for us. You are pluckier than you think; it’s still in there down deep. I know it feels risky, even unchristian if you’ve been abusively programmed. But you can do this. You can sprint through that gate. The whole yard is yours.
Off you go.

by Jen Hatmaker on October 7th, 2015

In a leader, you really want tenacity. Friends, I want you to know that you can trust my influence because I totally committed to the entire Gilmore Girls series this summer. I see through my vows. I am not a quitter.
A lot of you followed “my journey” through GG since June, and the thing about Gilmore is that you want to talk about it with other addicts enthusiasts. Because Brandon refused to join me on my journey (BYE FELICIA), most GG observations have pooled in my brain and need voicing. They need to be heard and understood by other Friends of Gilmore. So can we talk about the quirky, hilarious observations only people who’ve watched 154 consecutive hours of the same show can appreciate? In no particular order:
The coffee. This has several subpoints:
  • Luke only pours about three swallows of coffee into everyone’s mug.
  • Lorelai and Rory never pay for their coffee, which is only fair (see previous sentence).
  • The to-go cups of coffee are clearly empty. The girls wave them around like the empty Styrofoam containers they are, and they can carry a whole carton of coffees like they weigh nothing at all and will never spill. Which they don’t and won’t.
  • Always black coffee? What is this, Communism?
  • After ordering coffee at Luke’s, Lorelai and Rory take one swallow and then leave in a rush to the inn/Chilton/Yale/town meeting: "Thank you for this huge cheeseburger! Oops. Gotta go." They clearly don’t value their food purchases, which is a wash since they never pay.

I was obsessed with the background activity. I have never seen a show with so much going on. Constant people walking (near and far), cars driving, people fake talking, someone decorating the square (again), people eating, mamas pushing strollers, folks standing in line, people shopping. It was someone’s whole entire job just to coordinate the background activity. I always tried to find repeats. WHICH I FOUND. That same car sure loves to circle the square. 
People "eating" at Luke’s. A cousin to the background activity obsession, these people had full plates of food and never, ever ate. They pushed the food around, picked up food with their forks and put it back down, shook a lot of salt, held their (mostly empty) coffee mugs, talked with no actual sound, nodded and smiled, dabbed their mouths with a napkin, cut food with a knife repeatedly, and basically acted like a toddler pretending to eat. Well done, Fakers.
Related: in general, I have never seen an empty or even half-empty plate on GG. Every Friday dinner at Emily and Richard’s? They leave full plates. Luke’s? Full plates. The dining room at the inn? Full plates. No one eats in Stars Hollow. It is a town of abundant food and zero consumers. This is why Lorelai and Rory constantly eat like 18-year-old frat boys at a fast food convention and still zip up those size 4 jeans every day. WHATEVER, fake eating skinny girls.

Apparently in Stars Hollow it is always and only Fall and Winter. There is a tiny window of spring for one episode and then all major characters take a full summer vacation/summer job/traveling responsibility/distant internship. Summer is dead to Stars Hollow. Spring is hanging on by a thread. The bread and butter of Gilmore is Fall and Winter. The chief mascot of Stars Hollow is the pumpkin, which adorns every home, stoop, business, and town activity in 91% of the series.
Sookie’s kitchen looks like a staged fresh produce commercial that is entirely, completely impractical.
Overflowing baskets of fresh bread, a sink full of beautiful washed lettuce, giants bowls of cherries/peppers/oranges/purple onions, perfectly decorated pastries and pies just sitting there (never covered and no pieces ever cut out), pans of tiny, lovely roasted quail, a glass-front refrigerator that looks like an ad for OCD medication. And absolutely zero chopped anything, no mess, no dirty bowls piled up, nothing in the sink (except that beautiful produce), nothing half-prepared, no sloppy utensils, no used pans, no foul-mouthed, sweaty chefs, no signs of actual cooking. I make one average meal for seven people and my kitchen appears ransacked by drunken raccoons.
Where is all the nasty crap?

The boyfriend dilemmas. The rotating cast of boyfriends/fiancés/husbands was our cross to bear during Gilmore. I guess Amy Sherman-Palladino wanted us to kind of like each one and kind of hate them. Dean was so kind and considerate…but OH MY GOSH STOP YOUR WHINING. Jess was intelligent and deep (compared to Dean the sweet dumb-dumb)…but if he opened that fresh mouth one more time to Luke, I was prepared to snatch him bald-headed. PRACTICE YOUR MANNERS, YOUNG MAN. I never bought Max for Lorelai. And the Luke/Christopher conundrum drove me to the bottle. The only boyfriend I really liked was Logan. I don’t care what you say! Team Logan! And we all know how that ended. THANKS FOR NOTHING, PLOT SUBVERTERS.
Low: my least favorite part of the series was when Lorelai and Rory were in an eight-episode silent standoff. I basically hated that whole season. Are you kidding me? Eight episodes of childish, heartbreaking silence?? I actually googled: “Were Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel in a real life fight and Amy couldn’t write them into scenes together?” Because otherwise I guess the writers just hated us. I was so mad at Lorelai and Rory during that fight, I actually prayed for their reconciliation. And God was like, “Get a life, Hatmaker. I have people to help who are not imaginary.”
Second low: Rory and Married Dean. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. No. No. No. Hate. Sad. Tears. Despair. Fury. Disappointment. Five stages of grief. Never reached “acceptance.” Terrible. I want to go back and write that part out of the show.
Highs: Rory’s high school graduation speech.
This was my actual face during that episode.

I carb loaded to prepare for this episode and it still didn't help.

Other highs: Kirk’s night terrors. LOLZ. The fast-talking babbling. Paris’ hilarious commentary (she really grew on me, that one), Lorelai’s sarcasm (to Rory before her Yale panel presentation: “Good luck, honey! But just remember: if you don’t do well, we will stop loving you.”), Rory’s bangs, Emily’s outrageous elitism made me howl.

And I know I am in the minority, but I loved the series finale (minus the absence of beloved Logan; still bitter). I started crying when Lorelai watched Rory sleep and I bawled like a newborn baby until the very end. The tents Luke sewed together, the townspeople, the signs everyone was holding (when they pulled up in the Jeep and saw the signs in the rain, I’m pretty sure I needed a therapist). It tied up the series with a lovely bow and I thought about it for three straight days. (Brandon was just happy it was done. He was like, "Remember that summer all you did was watch Gilmore Girls? That was fun. Good times.")
Gilmore made me feel so many feelings! I loved it. Loved, loved, loved. I was devastated it was over! (I heard rumors that Luke and Lorelai didn’t get along in real life, and I CHOOSE COMPLETE DENIAL ON THAT.) I read all the articles (Liza Weil tried out for Rory and was so interesting, Amy wrote the character of Paris for her), clicked on the Gilmore-related Buzzfeeds, listened to the interviews, and watched the reunion taping from earlier this year. I drank all the koolaid and it was delicious.
Thank you, Amy Sherman-Palladino! Please make us a Gilmore reunion special or, better yet, a Gilmore movie. It must seem obvious at this point that millions of psychotic fans will beat down the doors to every theater in the country. We are incredible weirdos and you made us this way. We used to be normal, but now we are Gilmore lunatics. We miss Stars Hollow and that wacky cast of characters. Please bring them back to us.
I would still be in mourning…but I’ve already started Parenthood.
EDITED: I can't believe I didn't mention Michel! I am hopelessly devoted to him: "People are particularly stupid today. I can't talk to any more of them."

GG Fans, what else did I miss? Funny observations, quirks, best and worst moments, favorite scenes, favorite quotes. We could do this for DAYS.

by Jen Hatmaker on September 14th, 2015

I learn everything the hard way. Apparently this is my thing. I learn lessons by omissions, failures, neglect, and mistakes. Yay, me! Patsy Clairmont calls these "strict but faithful teachers" and they certainly are. I'm that student who needs them.

One thing I keep relearning each year as a mom to two adopted babes is that I am more than their mother: I am their advocate and community educator. I am their voice when they are in spaces outside our home. It is my responsibility to prepare teachers, coaches, friends' parents, and church workers to best lead my kids. Because adoption and all the unique circumstances in parenting kids from hard places is second nature to me at this point, I sometimes forget that not everyone knows what I know. Our kids are so bright and lovely and appear so like their classmates on the outside, it is absolutely not instinctual to understand what is under the surface.

I've learned this the hard way by not giving the kids' teachers the information they needed to protect their stories in a public school setting. This has resulted in tears, embarrassment, and awkwardness for my littles.

SO YEAR FOUR, I'M ON IT NOW. Be impressed.

I thought I would share with you the email I send their teachers at the beginning of the year which has been received beautifully time and again by our outstanding educators. They want our kids to thrive in their classrooms as much as we do; we are totally on the same team. This helps them with blind spots that are truly invisible to the naked eye. 

(And while this letter to Remy's teacher deals specifically with adoption-related issues, this same principle applies to any of our kiddos that learn differently, have emotional triggers, live in a non-traditional family, or have unique needs not easily detected or labeled. We are our kids' advocates and their teachers are not clairvoyant; it is our job to help them understand and lead our children in the healthiest way possible.)
We are so excited about this school year! Thank you in advance for the zillions of hours you will invest in our kids the next nine months. We are grateful beyond words and promise to be entirely on your team this year.

While I have you, I wondered if I could put a small bug in your ear about Remy. We adopted Remy (and our 6th grade son Ben) four years ago from Ethiopia. The birthdays on their birth certificates were approximations. We changed her birthday but it is still entered as December on her paperwork. It is a real grief to her that no one knows when she was born. You can tell her "What a wonderful day to celebrate your life!" if she mentions it. She is the biggest celebrator of events I've ever known. She'll probably start talking about her birthday in September. ;0)

The kids didn't speak any English when they got here, so you will be pleasantly surprised how bright and sharp and caught up Remy is.

She asks so very many questions, mainly relating to time and calendaring and schedules. Thank you for your patience with her. Her life has been hard, and one of her issues is needing to constantly know what is going on and when and for how long. It is one area she can control, so her questions are endless. Please feel free to correct her like we do if she asks the same thing over and over: "Did we already talk about this?" or "What is your best answer to that question?" You can also help her learn to limit her questions, because we are trying to teach her some of the same self-control. Also, telling her up front what is going to happen and when is super helpful. This calms her down and reduces her anxiety.

She is an absolute dear. She doesn't have one mean bone in her body. She will love you with a fierceness that might surprise you. Important adults left her at such a fragile age, so she clings quite tightly to adults who are supposed to love her. Goodbyes are devastating. She starts crying in March trying to get prepared to leave her teacher. Reciprocated affection from you is worth more than I can explain. Thank you for kindly receiving all her notes, letters, drawings, and gifts. She will give you approximately 100 million this year. Might want to rent a storage unit.

One thing I'd like to put on your radar is this: Please be sensitive with any assignments that have to do with family tree or heritage or "life stories" or even worse, "birth stories." Remy's story looks nothing like her classmates, and her childhood was marked by trauma. When other kids get to happily recount their early years, it is painful for her. If you could give me a heads-up on any projects that deal with her history or family history, I would so appreciate it.

It can be hard to be black in a white family, to be adopted when most kids are biological, to be Ethiopian when most kids are American. We instill much pride in her for her country and heritage (and would be so glad to come talk to your class about it!), but we try to not blindside her when she is not ready. We never want her to feel "other" or "lesser", and sometimes school projects unintentionally alienate kids like Remy. Obviously, this applies to lots of kids in your class who don’t have traditional families. There is no “normal” anymore, so your sensitivity is so incredibly appreciated.

Thank you for keeping her history in the back of your mind. Because she is so delightful and darling, it is easy to forget that she came to us just four years ago from immense loss. We just want to treat her history with such care. I appreciate you so much in advance! I have enormous love for teachers, especially the ones who love my kids. ;0)

I’ve written about teachers below, just so you know how much of a fan I am:

Dear Teachers Everywhere

My Wish List for Teachers
First day of school this year.
Please notice the scrambled eggs, not the nutritionally void white bread. Thank you.

I would have appreciated this so much as a teacher, and ours have always responded with incredible grace and love. Remy's teacher last year got super creative on the "inherent traits" unit (taught through robots and puppies!) and instead of sending in "baby pictures," she asked us to send in our very favorite pic of our kiddo at any age. I'll be forever grateful for these modifications that still teach the concepts without isolating Remy and other kids like her.

Do you have a babe that needs special care? Maybe it is his learning style or recent loss. Could be a fear or trigger. Maybe it involves social skills or a tricky relationship with another student. No one knows our children like we do, and we set everyone up for success when loop important adults into their stories instead of expecting them to read their minds.

It takes a village, y'all! Thank you, teachers, for being such a crucial part of our village. Your work matters so much, and you are literally helping us raise our children. Your legacy in their lives will last long after they leave your classrooms. I honor the hard work you do and how much you care, and it is our great joy to come alongside you and cheer you on.

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