Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Teacher Down! Crumbs on the Floor...I Repeat.....

I was in my classroom on a Friday afternoon in February, gearing up for the next school week, doing what I know how to do. Switching the daily schedule over to Monday, changing the classroom jobs, making copies, writing emails.......Wash, rinse, repeat. So many systems done in the classroom, especially if you've been teaching for any length of time, become somewhat 2nd nature. Little did I realize that I would have so few Fridays like this in my classroom before our whole lives would be turned upside down. I was looking forward to the weekend......time home to rest and relax with my family before a new cycle of school tasks began.

Fast forward a few Fridays, to a mid-March day, Friday the 13th, to be exact. I glanced out the classroom window to snow falling (!!??). Unusual for this time of year in the PNW, I thought! I knew it was coming.......the governor had ordered all schools to be closed for 6 weeks, starting the upcoming Tuesday. The Covid-19 pandemic felt like it was closing in on us. My teammates and I rushed to prepare a packet of work for our sweet 2nd graders, trying to find things to help them stay updated on their learning during their time at home. Sweat beaded on my brow at free choice, as I stuffed packet after packet, back hurting, willing myself to get it all done before my students left for the weekend. What if they didn't come back on Monday? I have to get this done now!! I thought. Alas, as fate would have it, that was to be our last school day anyway.

The hallways are now closed to staff and students. A country-wide stay at home order is now in effect. We were allowed to go in to our classrooms for 30 minutes to pick up materials and items we may need to teach remotely. I'm honestly still trying to process it all, as so many of us are. I'm staying positive as much as possible, reading my Bible, working out, spending time with my family.......and yet there is this nagging fear that keeps me awake at night and threatens to swallow the joy I've worked so very hard to cling to......Will the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace, even as I break??........

The familiar pangs of anxiety found me once again.......unexpectedly and at lightning knocked the breath out of my lungs and sent me flat on the floor, face pressed to cold wood laminate......

Let's back up to the night before. As a mom, I struggle to balance my home and work life right now. The sleep schedules of my children are completely off, and their own emotional needs have been higher lately as well. Their worlds, their feeling of normalcy, have also come crashing down. It was after a particularly late night with one of our kiddos, consoling worries, praying for peace and sleep to find us, that I awoke to an early morning teacher leadership meeting. Sleepy eyed, coffee in hand, I staggered into the dining room to join my teammates for what had become our weekly online meet up. I was fine then, smiling, going through the motions, answering the right questions, nodding and laughing when something was funny. I got on another team call and started feeling a little bit off as we planned upcoming work for our 2nd graders. I attempted to hold back a torrent of tears then, and some still spilled out. I felt a little better, then realizing that I had not taken care of the lunch needs of myself or my family. Another call loomed 10 minutes away, and I could hold on no more.

Then the wave washed over me.......the sharp pangs in my chest, where anxiety hits me the most......the strange gasping for breath, the ugly crying......suddenly I found myself face down on the floor, under our dining room table. I opened my eyes to slow my breathing, only to mutter with disgust at the crumbs all around me. How long has it been since this floor has been swept? Ugh! What am I doing down here? Get a hold of yourself, girl!!! I became increasingly aware of and grateful for the Zoom call feature of mic off, camera off, because it wasn't pretty, folks!! The guy on the call was saying all this wonderful stuff about online teaching, and how we would interact with our students in a whole new way, and yet my mind, body, and heart were on the floor grieving all the Fridays we were missing in the classroom. The face-to-face interactions with my students, the hugs, smiles, encouragement as the light bulb goes on. This time of year is the sweet spot in teaching......that time when many of my students "come alive" with hope and new-found purpose. The reading begins to click, the confidence awakens, and their little brains explode with knowledge and wonder.

This was supposed to be our week of student-led spring conferences, I whispered, not some out of body experience of learning how to teach online!!

So, I mustered up the courage to pick myself up off of that cold dining room floor. I uttered a prayer, a cry for help, and I sensed God whispering, Cease striving to my heart. Could I, in that moment, get real and honest about my grief, acknowledging my feelings, and allowing them to shape me into my purpose and calling? I KNOW this to be true. I have had conversation after conversation, email, call, text after text with other teacher friends who are feeling the same way!

My vulnerability allowed me to be brave, to access a joy deep down in the well that God has been calling me to. I've known for quite some time that God has called me to be an everyday encourager, an inspiration initiator.....born out of the depths of my own struggle. I offer #ichoosejoy to you because I understand this struggle. I am pulled by a deep desire to be back in front of my class once again, looking into their faces for read aloud time. For now, I press play on my camera, and read Magic Tree House books over videos, realizing my students and families are also scared and in uncharted territory. Seeing a familiar face and smile is calming during a storm.

For now, I'll get up off of the floor, brush those crumbs off, grab a broom and call for one of my kiddos to sweep up the pieces, evidence of life swirling all around us.......we are healthy and well. We will get through this together, even as we remain apart.

Reach out to me or to another friend or relative when you start to struggle. You are not alone........I are not alone!!!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Truth in the Struggle

I did all the good once.
Get engaged to love of life, check!
Graduate from college, check!
Cross Country move, check!
Begin teaching career, check!
Get married, check!
First 2nd grade classroom, check!
Pregnant with first child, check!!

Then came the overwhelming anxiety, nausea, and depression. Like an unwelcome dark cloud over a sunshiny day, there it was. Nothing could take it away. It had to be gone through, lived out day by day. The scars, the pain, it stays with you, a PTSD of the heart that swoops in again without warning. The meds, the prayers, the counseling....I could NOT do life without my community!! Have you had a similar experience? Anxiety and depression do not care who you are. They will overtake you without warning. It's not a topic discussed openly, and it comes back even with all the supports in place. AND we still need each other. Please know beyond a shadow of a doubt that on your darkest day, hour, and moment, you are loved, wanted, needed. Please stay here and fight for you. The good and bad. It's all worthy of time on this planet. I wrote this poem after a dark day. I hope it blesses you!

I didn't know how scared I'd feel
To let the Light shine in
I wasn't sure I'd counted the cost
To "be myself", and then...

The darkness came, of stifling depths
The struggle was real to breathe
The fears, the loss, heartaches great and small.
This path known as "anxiety".

The current was strong
A glimpse of joy broke free
Still I'm straining to see past
The shadows, of life
That truly belongs to me.

A healing road...a path...a plight
Comes to reach out and up,
Speak the truth,
Feel the light.

Be real, let them see
That healing takes time
And I claim, "BE SET FREE!"
By the truth that is mine!!

~Rebecca Joy Bunker

"I've got the Joy, joy joy, joy
Down in my heart.
Down in my heart,
Down in my heart.

I've got the Joy, joy joy, joy
Down in my heart.
Down in my heart,
To Stay!!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Choosing JOY...A Mom Like You

Hello friends!

There's been a lot of talk lately about laundry piles, and I remembered this poem I wrote back when Hailey Joy was a baby. I had 2 young girls at the time and postpartum knocked me down. Your body, mind, and spirit take a toll going through pregnancy, labor, delivery, and then caring for your young children, and it's okay to need time to heal. I brought this poem back out because I thought maybe another mom needs to read this. To encourage you, mamas. Deep breaths, reach out, and up. You matter. You are valued. You are loved. The well of JOY runs deep. You have to dip deeper to find your gifts in the darkness, but I promise you it is SO worth the effort. There is HOPE!

 Hannah at age 2 and Hailey at around 6 months 

Pumpkin Picking Time, Fall 2010 around the time I wrote the following poem:

A Mom Like You

From one very active toddler
Hugs and kisses, mommy's girl
To a newborn, oh so tiny
Welcome to my crazy world.

Should I put on my smile
To show I'm okay?
Go through the motions
In the busy, hectic days?

There's crayon marks
On my kitchen floor
Sticky fingerprints to be
Wiped off the doors.

Piles of laundry on the sofa
Dirty dishes in the sink
Put a smile on in the pictures
Show them what they want, I think...

Or...Maybe I'm a mom like you
Who wants the best for my kids, too
A comforting smile to see me thru
the tough times 'till the sun shines through

 Now back to work
I'm barely hanging on
I gasp for breath
And find it nearly gone.

Reaching up my hands
 I find my God there
 I ask Him to hear and
Answer my tear-filled prayers.

Because maybe I'm a mom like you
Who wants the best for her kids, too.
A comforting smile to see me thru
The tough times 'till the sun shines through.

There's a new kind of normal
In my life these days
 Filled with sorrow and sweetness
 Each one coming in waves.

Being careful to savor
Each moment in time
With these little loves
Now entrusted to mine.

I do believe I am a mom like you;
Learning to hold on, AND letting go, too...

 Sincerely, Rebecca

Fall 2010

My life now: 4 kiddos ranging from ages 11-3. My sweeties, my hope for the future. Carry on, mamas! There is wonderful hope in this perfectly imperfect life!

Saturday, June 1, 2013


"Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature." ~ Genesis 2:7 ~

"The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of Almighty gives me life." 
~ Job 33:4 ~

I am free. I write because I am ME.  I choose not to compare. Good things come from choosing joy. I am learning to be myself. I breathe. In and out. I pause to breathe in, and the air feels cool. As I exhale, the breath feels warm. Calm washes over me. I am God's child, and He is pleased with me. Not because of what I do. But because of I AM. God IS here. Now. With me. In this present moment, I am enough, because He is enough IN me.

My joy well! My choice!
If I never get the chance to see my writing published, never get the thrill of having my words become bound and set for all time and ages, I am still ME. I am free. I am awake and alive. My soul has been set free. When you look at me, I want the joy to reach my smile. To light up my eyes and become the very real connection that says to you, "I care. I see you. I understand."

I can share joy because I have KNOWN the depth of pain. I have felt the choking misery of fear and defeat as anxiety and panic have torn at me, from the inside out. Those things are ugly. They threaten to steal joy. God has taken hold of me and redeemed me. I have a story to share. A footprint in the sand that is unique. I choose to open my hands, fling wide the door to my heart, and say,

"God, whatever You will, have Your way."

We took our oldest to a Chris Tomlin concert last month.  It was a triple birthday celebration between Hannah, Matthew, and me. We made a trip of it, spending the afternoon and evening together in Seattle. I felt reflective that day.It has been 5 years since her birth.

I have felt the weight of that time with both joy and pain. Just looking at her sweet little face, her smile, her heart for Jesus, and I melt like butter on warm toast....the joy of motherhood. There are thoughts that also come at me, threaten to overtake me. Why her? Why that first pregnancy and not the others? What was the purpose of that panic, God? A pattern of pain starts with one single snare. If there is but one small rip in the rug, when you tug on it, even just a little, the whole is weakened and the fabric starts to unravel. Bit. By. Fragile. Bit.  God says to me,

"I am at work! Have faith! This is for My glory!"

I have known the joy that is born from pain. I gave birth to 3 beautiful children, grew them in my own body, had 3 different experiences but known God all the same. He was there for every ripping panic attack that threatened to tear the very life from me and my little girl inside of me in that first pregnancy. He saw. He breathed. We are because He is I AM.

I watched my girl DANCE that night. There is NOTHING like seeing the sweet, innocent purity of your almost 5 year old big/little girl raise her "on the verge of losing their little dimpled" hands in unashamed praise to her Father in Heaven.  We knew all the songs.  We belted them out and I was challenged to raise my own hands in praise. There is no shame in worshiping your Creator, no matter how old or young you are.

I am learning that to know and experience true joy, you sometimes have to experience deep sorrow and sadness. At that concert, a truth came to me so clearly. I closed my eyes, and in that moment, I felt free. I sensed God speaking to my soul,

"Daughter, I am healing you. You can trust me."

Have you read that passage of Scripture where Jesus spits on the ground, makes some mud with the saliva, and places it on the blind man's eyes? You can read the whole story in John 9. As I stood there that night, arms open, palms up to my Father, I felt like He was placing mud over my spiritual eyes and allowing me to "see" things new again. He tells me that I can walk in faith and freedom. I can trust Him with my life, my family, my future. I can trust Him now.

I AM is here with me. He has been here all along. I feel awakened.....renewed.

God is here, in our midst. Has your life taken a turn that you never thought possible? Are you at your own impasse? Do you also need to rediscover joy? May He whisper to your heart,

 "I am healing you. You can trust Me."

Believe with me and let your childlike faith soar. Cry out: 

Arms open, my soul! Awake!!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Rest

I admit it. I have started anticipating Friday for another reason now. Not just because this day signals the beginning of the weekend, but because I am excited to see the topic for Five Minute Friday! I'm going to give it a try again this week! As soon as I saw the topic, I thought of this verse:

"Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, 
and I will give you rest.'"
Matthew 11:28

In the midst of the crazy sting of life, this is where I come to Him...


I would LOVE to rest on a warm beach right now. To hear the water lapping against the shore, to see that Atlantic Ocean meet the skyline, stretching out endlessly in front of me.  To close my eyes and push my toes deeper into the heat of the Florida sand, to breathe in that salty sea air, feeling that mixture of hot sun and cool breeze spread across me....radiating from the inside out.  I grew up there.  For 18 years of my life. The ebb and flow of time and reality weighs heavy on my heart and soul, but when I close my eyes, I seek rest by the tropical sea. That place is as much a part of me as where I now live.  

In contrast, I can also close my eyes and picture myself at the base of Mount Rainier, sky filled with the vast beauty of that majestic mountain. I am there with my journal, in the middle of a field of flowers, writing poems and prayers, and I am captivated by the beauty and stillness.  I can almost hear the faint sound of a waterfall in the distance. Please don't interrupt me when I go to that place.

I go there to seek God. I cannot physically go to either of those places as often as I would like.  The clatter of dishes or the banging of little feet, the honking of a car horn or the stinging words spoken out of anger in this world around me interrupt the is spinning and swirling so fast that at times I can hardly catch my breath....yet when I close my eyes, my friends, I can GO there.  I can choose to close my eyes and create a mental image of the rest I so desperately seek, to breathe in the presence of God like the oxygen my body so desperately needs for life. 

I need You, God. You are my everything.  When the pressures of life come raging against me, when that water seems stormy or the mountains threaten to fall, You are there. I lift my hands, I close my eyes, and I SEEK You.  I fall hard into Your arms. As I open my eyes, the needs remain.  They press in, almost mocking, taunting me to crumble, yet my eyes are on You.  Help me, God!  THANK You for the rest You bring!


Do you want to link up and try this Five Minute Friday thing with me?  Here's where you can get started:

Friday, March 8, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Home

Here I am again! I loved writing the 5 minute Friday from last week so much that I am giving it a try again.  Here it is...honest and unscripted.  I am enjoying the people I encounter along the way.  We are all seeking and searching in this crazy life.  Thanks for stopping by my site! Give it a try for yourself soon!  Head over to Lisa Jo Baker's blog and connect with others on this journey of writing and authentic living. I am so glad I did! 5 minute Friday..the "How To"


Home is where I hang my heart.

When I came to Washington 9 years ago for the first time, as soon as that plane landed, I felt like I had come "home".  I saw those evergreen trees, and I was completely taken. I have been building my life here these 8 years since I packed up my childhood and moved across the country.

Home is my resting place, where I can let down my guard, wear pajamas and no make up, hear my husband chasing my girls around the house, listening to their squeals of delight.

Home can also be a place where I hide. I push aside my piles of laundry. I take them upstairs to my bedroom and throw them in a pile on the floor so that when you come over, you will not "see" that and judge the messes as I imagine you would.  That is pretty superficial, isn't it?  To assume that when you come to see me, that you would judge my "home" by its outward beauty instead of the love and warmth inside.

I beat myself up over the mess. I want it to go away, but I am too tired from running around and stepping over the toys of little ones, drained from a full day of work and learning to live this crazy life to consider really organizing my home.  Instead I stuff and stow away, hoping that when you come over you will not ask or need to visit those places where I hide my mess.  This was not as happy of a post as I would like, but it is the honest truth of where I am.

I want to hang my heart on this home of mine, to allow peace free reign, where I can learn to organize my chaos for myself, to learn to be myself again in this home of mine. To smile and allow it to reach my eyes once again. If you stop by, I can't hide the mess anymore.  This is simply me. Not where I want to be but striving for more.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Five minute Friday: Ordinary

Okay....I know it is not Friday. It is Sunday afternoon. consider this my first attempt, my dry run if you will at this concept of "Five minute Friday". I have been following Lisa Jo Baker's blog this past year. Check it out when you have a chance!  You will be blessed!  Lisa Jo Baker - The Gypsy Mama  I had started feeling like my ordinary moments were just that...plain old ordinary living. I love connecting with my far away friends through words and photos.  I love finding real and authentic people willing to step out on a limb and share the truth of who they really are...flaws and all.  This author admits to having cheerios on her floor, to losing her cool with her kids at times, and for loving her life and Lord with a passion that is so very inspiring.  Some of my friends from college have linked up with Lisa Jo's 5 minute Friday blog. I have been wanting to give it a try. They are also busy mamas and are my source of inspiration for trying this out. There are a few rules. I decided to try it this afternoon. I set a timer for 5 minutes and just wrote. Here's what came from my 5 minutes "on the clock". Enjoy! :)


Is it so ordinary...this life of mine?

I strive for so many things.  I want to be a good wife, mommy, teacher, and friend.

Is it so ordinary, that I traveled across the country to marry the love of my life 8 years ago?

That I would leave home and family of origin to start a life of my own?

Ordinary life becomes extraordinary when held out as a blessing. An offering.  A miracle in the making.

A life so bold and beautiful may feel ordinary in the mundane activities of the day, but when the layers are peeled back, it is the ordinary moments that transform a lifetime into something great.

Many ordinary moments all strung together form a beautiful necklace of faith, hope, and purpose.  I think about the "ordinary" beads of life I am stringing right now.  That race against time in the mornings to get myself up, dressed, baby fed, girls up, dressed, fed, and out the door with all the right materials to be successful in their day at Grandma's house.  The way I care for my second graders in more ways than just their academic needs.  Someone needs a shoe tied, a listening ear.  Their grandmother has passed away.  They miss their mom.  I teach life lessons as well as book learning.  These are my ordinary moments.  I love them.  I am starting to see them as blessings and not dread the future with worry.  The next ordinary moments will be strung on my life's necklace too.  I wonder how many more miracles are in store for me in the disguise of ordinary living.......


Five Minute Friday: Ordinary