Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Several years ago, I noticed that people were designating a word to guide their life for a year.  I played along and chose the word simplify as my first "One Little Word."  I haven't played the game in a few years, but have really been thinking of what type of change I'd like to make in my life this year.  Not a resolution...a change.  Something that will improve my life and the lives of people I connect with at home, church, school, etc. 

My "One Little Word" for this year is ENCOURAGE. 

I want to encourage others with my words and my actions.  I want the people who see me live to see a woman who lifts others up, who puts others before herself, who is a servant in this broken world.  But I also want to do things for myself:  I want to run ina  5K.  I want to lose weight.  I want to be debt free.  I want others to see me meet those goals.  If I can do it...anyone can do it! 

I want to encourage my children and husband to love the Lord.  I want them to see me fall more in love with the Lord. 

I want my children and husband to see me serve others.  I want to serve others with them.

I don't want to be a gossip who attempts to destroy the reputation of another.  I don't want to buy items on credit, using money I don't have, only to struggle to pay for it later.

I want my words and actions to encourage others.  I want to encourage others to rise above the expectations of this world.  I want to encourage others be a better version of themselves--to be more like the person God wants them to be.  

I am going to fail.  I am going to have to ask forgiveness.  But I am so very hopeful that by focusing on the word, the action, of "encourage," I can look back at the end of 2013 and said, "I did it!"   

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Thoughts on Tragedy

Oh, Jesus....come quickly! 

It's been a bit more than 48 hours since a 20 year old man walked into an elementary school and killed 26 people.  48 hours that 20 mamas have been missing their babies.  48 hours since daddies found out they would never finish raising their children.  20 children.  6 adults.  27 families destroyed in just a few minutes of utter chaos. 

I can't imagine.  I can't imagine being a mama who sent her child to school, never to hug them again.  I can't imagine being a teacher, hiding my students in closets and corners.  I can't imagine being a first responder, busting through windows and seeing the images that would forever be burned in their minds.  I can't imagine being the father and brother of the man who did this.  I just can't imagine. 

How does a family, a school, a community, a nation recover from this?  How do we honor the children and women who died, while dealing with the emotional toll this will take on everyone?  How do we heal and support a community that was safe, but is now violated? 

I don't have any answers. 

I don't even pretend to understand. 

But I do know that God has not forsaken his people.  He is not absent in this tragedy.  When we turn to him, we will find a way to recover.  We will find a way to honor the lives that were taken too early for our understanding.  We will heal and support.  We will find a way to balance a talk about gun laws and mental illness. 

There are other thoughts that I'm struggling with.  Thoughts of my own reaction as a teacher and a mother.            

Saturday, December 8, 2012


M and I had so much fun reading back through this blog and looking at her pictures.  So, I'm aiming for a Benson Family and other stuff revival.  For it seems our life is chock full of Benson family and more than our fair share of "other stuff"! 

I will admit that it seems a bit funny to post on here when I use face book as my social life.  Not sure what that says at me as a mom and friend! 

So, where are we?  What's going on at this, the new starting, point for The Benson Family and other stuff?

H: H closed his chiropractic office in the spring and has been working for our church part time, helping some friends who own a small business a few hours each week, and doing lots of handy-man work.  The Lord has been absolutely faithful in providing work for H.  He has not been without work a single day since he closed his office.  As each project draws near completion, someone has called him with a new project.  It's been amazing to see in action.

Me: I'm still plugging away in kindergarten.  There have been lots of changes in the school system this year and I'm really struggling.  I've also got a fairly difficult class (how in the world can a classroom of 5 year olds be so difficult?!?!) and I don't know if the constant strain is from the class, the changes in the system, or a combination of both.  I'm also not at the top of my game physically---waiting on gall bladder surgery on 12/19.  I'm hopeful that will relieve my discomfort and provide better rest, which will in turn, relieve some of that constant strain at school.  I know that the Lord is using this for a purpose.  I know I will look back at this time in my life and see His hand fully at work.   

Meryt:  Oh, help me, if M is not one of the most delightful children to ever grace my life!  She can be so thoughtful and helpful.  She plunged into 1st grade and is doing fabulous.  We have been beyond blessed that her kindergarten and 1st grade teachers love her so much.  Her grades are perfect (literally...as in, nearly all 100s!).  I struggle with wanting her to mess up so she knows that it's okay to do that and bursting with pride because she's doing so well!  I try not to brag on her too much because I don't want her to put pressure on herself to continue to make nearly perfect grades; yet, H and I want her to know how proud we are of her.  We're walking a fine line.  We sure do adore this sweet girl.  In her spare time, we'll find her playing with her animals (she's got quite the collection of plastic animals and other odds-and-ends animals), coloring/crafting, or helping me in the kitchen.          
Luke:  What a precious toddler L is becoming!  We've enjoyed eating out twice in a row now without any fussing or meltdowns...once by myself, even!  I never thought we'd see that day! :)  L is either on a super high or he's having a fit.  No middle ground for our boy!   He couldn't be more different from M and we couldn't love him any more.  He is all boy, all the time.  His laugh is absolutely contagious.  When he gets going, it's so hard not to laugh with him.  He's perfecting the diversion technique when he gets in trouble.  When I give him the stink-eye, he'll look at me out of the corner of his eye and grin or try to tickle me.  If I put him in time-out, he'll wait until I walk away, hop out of the chair, find me and ask a totally random question, like, "Where-dadda-at?" As if I didn't just put his naughty behind in time out!  He loves ALL things balls and cars.  He also happens to love permanent markers and he's quicker than lightening.  Twice now he's found a permanent marker and permanently decorated our carpet, wall, and the dog's kennel.  We will definitely be replacing the carpet whenever we move.  But we are permanently in love with this little guy.  In the summer, I was concerned about his hearing, so we had it checked.  No need to worry about his ability to hear!  He's a little chatter box now.  24 months was the magical age, as most other moms-of-boys advised.  He does struggle with ear infections, so we are going to put tubes in soon--waiting on the ENT office to call to schedule that.  I'm excited to see how his speech clears up after we clear up his ears!  Meryt and I can understand almost all of what he says (if it's in context...we do struggle when he asks a question and we don't know the context).   

So, that's where we are right now.  Just being the Benson Family.   

Sunday, May 6, 2012

There's a city on my knee!

This is just a funny story that I don't want to forget.  We listen to K-Love radio station, which is a listener supported Christian radio station.  We love the contemporary music and how it reaches our hearts and sweet Meryt's heart.  I love driving to and from school and listening to her pipe in or ask to hear a specific song.  Even more: when she brings up a song in conversation.  Her theology is usually pretty spot-on, but there are times I've completely missed the mark in my explanation.

Friday night, after a LONG day, I let Meryt sleep with me.  It was about 12:30 and I was EXHAUSTED and she should have been.  I noticed she was inspecting her knee. 
Meryt: Mama, did you know I have a city on my knee?
Meryt: I have a city on my knee.
Me: You do not.
Meryt: Well, that's what the song says.
Me: WHAT?!?! (realization sets in and I bust out laughing)  No, it does not say that.  The song says we are a city on OUR knees.  That means it would be so amazing if everyone we know loved Jesus as their savior and got on their knees and prayed to God. 
Meryt: That's not what the song says, Mama.  It says I have a city on my knees. 
Me: No, it doesn't.  (explanation again)

I feel rather pleased with myself that I've cleared up her confusion.  UNTIL Saturday night at dinner when she says to H, "Dada, did you know we are on God's knees?" 

I'm thinking further discussion is going to be required on this topic. 

Here is the song, just in case you're curious. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Beginning of Discipline

I think we've arrived at that place that is always so hard for me, as a parent.  The beginning of discipline.  I clearly remember the questions I had about my methods with Meryt, my doubt in myself, but my confidence that I must begin to discipline her. 

Does she understand? 
Does she know what she did wrong?
Does she know why she's being discplined?
How long is too long after the offense to discpline?

Luke, on the other hand, gives me absolutely no reason to doubt myself.  He clearly needs to be disciplined, but how? 

He's a hitter.
He's a hair puller.
He's a pincher.
He's a biter.
He's a spitter.

Yes.  He's a spitter.  That just started yesterday morning.  I was so shocked the first time he spit at me, that I busted out laughing.  It is slightly humerous to see your chubby, sweet faced, blue eyed toddler bend at the waist and slobber toward you.  He was so mad that he didn't even notice that I had a moment of amusement at his expense.  He just spit {spat?} again. 

We've tried "time out" where we put him in the chair for 1 minute.  He just screams--because he's still mad about whatever caused his aggressive behavior.  Not because we've put him in time out. 

We tried a quick pop on the hand or the leg.  Um...that just led to more hitting. 

The wooden spoon is what we use when Meryt needs some discipline, which is not very often.  So, this morning, I busted out the wooden spoon for Luke. 

The first time he spit, a TINY pop on the leg.  He was shocked, so he immediately spit again.  Another tiny pop.  Another spit.  Another tiny pop.  Another spit.  This went on and on and on. 

Oh...did I mention Luke is INCREDIBLY strong willed? 

By nap time this morning, he wasn't spitting back after his pop. 

So, at just a few days shy of 18 months, we are at the beginning of displine.  The hard core, we are the parents-you are the child type of displine.         

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Luke's Talking...or not

I am typing this post for one reason only! : ) So I can one day look back and laugh at being such a worry-wart mom. Or I can look back and know that perhaps there was a problem. I'm praying that the first situation is the reality.

Luke is 17 months old as of April 9 and not talking. He whines and fusses a lot, indicating that he's very frustrated with his inability to communicate his wants and needs to us. There is lots of melting down and throwing of objects when they are offered.

Signs of hope:
Luke signs please, more and all done when prompted.
He occassionally signs please spontaneously.
He is beginning to make the /p/ sound when signing please.
Words: Mama (not necessarily for me), MY! (means Mine!), and tonight he said, "nigh-nigh" when I said, "Are you ready to go night-night?"
Just yesterday he started giving mouth (his) to face (mine) kisses while making a sound.
He waves all the time, even when no one is around. As soon as I unload him at his babysitter's house, he starts waving.
He touches his head when asked. He touches his nose when asked.
He made an animal sound one evening this week. (I think it was moo for cow.)
He tickles us.

Worrisome signs:
He doesn't consistently call me mama.
He doesn't call Meryt anything.
He rarely responds to his name (turning to me, laughing, etc.)
He doesn't make animal noises.
He doesn't know his body parts (except head and nose), despite us talking about it every bath.
He screams A LOT. (He's perfecting this horribly annoying screeching scream that is so horrendously high pitched that it hurts your ear drum.)
He just doesn't have any words for common things: cup, food, basic needs, etc.
Since September, he's had a lot of ear infections--he is not usually symptomatic, so I never know if he has one unless I just think there is something wrong and we have him checked. I've been caught off guard twice because I didn't even realize anything was wrong.

I know part of this is a comparision between Meryt and Luke and that isn't fair to either of them. I don't want to do that. But I want to be aware of any delays or concerns so I don't let too much time get away before dealing with any issues.

Luke is very aware of his surroundings. He watches what other childern do and mimics them. He tackles Meryt to engage her. He knows how to climb up a ladder on a playset and slide down. He loves our {almost unlovable} dog. He is jealous when I give someone else affection (like holding another baby, loving on one of his school friends, etc.). He saw Meryt hunting Easter eggs and wondered around the yard to collect a few for himself.

Just to remember what Luke looks like at almost 1 and a half, feast your eyes on this complete cuteness:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Thoughts

On The Macon Miracle
The opinions, thoughts, and ideas expressed in this post are MY OWN and do not reflect the opinions, thoughts, or ideas Board of Education or any other employee of the Board of Education.

For those of you that don't know what's going on in this community, we have a new superintendent who was hired to come in and completely revise our public education system (the problems of which deserve their own post...maybe another day). I will refuse to comment on the man. I'd rather focus on the PLAN. I am writing this so in years future, I can return here and revise, reconsider, reevaluate how I feel about the changes that have taken place.


Yesterday, school closed at noon and every employee in the county was required to attend a celebration as the plan was revealed to us. In the fall, the employees, parents, and community members participated in two days of "strategic planning," during which our thoughts and ideas about how to change the system were collected and organized and used to draft "The Macon Miracle." I do, shockingly, believe that SOME of our ideas were heard and implemented into the plan--or at least the plan already contained some of the changes we believe will help improve our school system.

Last Friday afternoon, after some serious misjudgement on people in charge, there was a BOE meeting where the plan was revealed early. The public was outraged, immediately polarized. No one should have been shocked by that--that's what this community does best.

Another board meeting was held Thursday. Attendees were invited to come early and submit their questions prior to the meeting. I did not attend, but it seems as if those that did felt that their voices and concerns were not heard.

Also, Thursday morning, a peaceful group of highschoolers protested the plan. They spoke with the media beforehand, sharing their concerns. They elected spokespeople, had their concerns laid out and even had solutions for their problems. They tried to contact members of the Board of Education and were brushed off. Employees at the top of the food chain KNEW they were coming, yet the students were not even allowed to step foot in the Board of Education. The Superintendent and all of the deputy superintendents were unavailable to meet with them or listen to their concerns. The Director of Risk Management met the students outside and refused to let them in. I find this behavior deplorable. These kids were TRYING to do the right thing.

Friday's Meeting:

We were seated and ready by 1:00, with a start time of 1:30. Honestly, I was shocked that there weren't many community members there--the public reaction was dismal. I expected the arena to be filled to capacity.

I was beyond shocked when 2 classroom teachers opened the celebration. Seriously!? After all the fallout from the public, I expected Board members to kickoff this celebration.

Listening to the recorded message from a previous keynote speaker was a major waste of time. Not only could we not understand a single word he said, it was not a positive way to gain our attention.

The video? POWERFUL. I'm probably the only person who liked it, but I thought it was very nicely done and I thought there was a nice representation of community supporters. It was nice to see influential community members say they will support public education. I also liked that black and white community leaders were heard from. Too bad that's not always the case. I'm also a sucker for a good documentary and that's sort of how the video was done. Could have done without the children in it--even though I know all of the children in it.

The high school singer? Nice voice. Terrible choice of song in light of the speech that would be given in a few minutes.

Okay...the heart of the matter.
Finally, the superintendent showed up. I felt like the presentation was a rally cry for the employees. There was NO unveiling of the plan. He did not give us any new information. Everything he said had already been presented in the media. He did not provide any research to support his decisions (Mandarin Chinese, anyone? Extended day?). He did not touch on ANY of the hot topics. I was looking for him to actually present the plan, if not point by point, then at least a glossed over version of it. Instead, he spent a lot of time talking about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Not where I would have gone given the state of race relations in this community. I'm not sure if he was comparing himself to MLK, Jr. That wasn't the impression I got, but I might have missed that.

These are the things he did talk about:
Mental health support for children who are struggling in the classroom and their families.
Transitional programs for students who have been in the judicial system and are returning to the classroom.
Extended day (basically current afterschool programs) with support from teachers.
Class size will be capped at 25.
Closing 12 elementary schools because some schools are not filled to capacity and we need to utilize our resources.
There will be no layoffs. The 300 less teacher positions will come from retirement over the next 5-10 years.

Basically, that was it. He shared his personal story. He preachered-up on us at the end, which felt like the rally cry. Some teachers and the small-ish group of community members were standing and clapping. Other teachers were sitting quietly. He marched off the stage and that was that.

A major let down as far as presentations go.

I will not discuss the Chinese artists. Don't ask.

My opinion didn't change. There are still a lot of things I like. There are still a lot of things I have concerns about.

I'm sure I'm going to get hate mail about my next comment. I've taken measure to protect my heart from hateful comments.

If I had to decide for or against RIGHT NOW...

I'd have to say for.

I have many, many questions. I'd like to see research. I'd like to hear answers to my questions and know that I'm being heard. I hope that some of the things in the Macon Miracle change to better reflect the needs of the community.

But this system is FAILING it's students. We are working so hard and spinning our wheels. Something has to be done. Out of 164 systems in the state, we are ranked 151. Dismal.

I'm willing to try being part of the change.

Please, don't be a hater.