Exactly Where You Are Meant to Be

This would have been my 16th year teaching. My 16th time prepping my classroom for precious faces excited for a new school year. But my life took a turn 5 years ago and I haven’t taught since.

When I was a kid I fought the urge to become a teacher. My mom was a teacher. My aunt was a teacher. Their friends all taught. It was a mixture of feelings watching them year after year with the highs that teaching brings, and also the lows. But by the time I entered college I couldn’t resist this calling any longer – I declared my major as Regular and Special Education. I was right where I was meant to be.

Connor on his first day of PK and me on my first day of my 5th year teaching.

Shortly after I graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University with my degree eager to start my new job as a high school special education teacher I gave birth to my beautiful Connor. His numerous unexpected diagnoses and months in the hospital meant I would have to press pause on my new job and life. I was given a child with disabilities as my own when I was supposed to be teaching children with disabilities. It was hard to accept, in many ways, but I kept reminding myself that I was exactly where I was meant to be.

Fast forward a year later and I started my teaching career at Oak Forest Academy. It was a small private school where they welcomed me with open arms as their new junior high History and English teacher. This school was close to my heart as my husband and his family had all attended and our 3 year old was then attending. These young teenagers became my children quickly. They helped heal my wounded heart and reminded me why I loved teaching so much. I was exactly where I was meant to be.

Two years later I began teaching special education in the Tangipahoa Parish School System. My longing to educate these exceptional children had come to fruition and I enjoyed every second of it. Through the years I taught first grade through eighth, mild to moderate to severe diagnoses and anywhere in between. Some years were harder than others. Some years I questioned if I wanted to continue. Some years I couldn’t imagine leaving. But I knew God had me exactly where I was meant to be.

The wonderful staff at NFHF.

Then Connor’s health took a dive and we were living in the hospital more than in our home. I was missing school and needed income. Miraculously I landed a job with an online school where I could work at the hospital on my laptop sitting next to Connor’s bed. Along with this blessing came the ability to advocate more for Connor’s needs at the state legislature – particularly for medical marijuana to help lessen his seizures. A flexible work life that understood my family’s complex needs compounded with my passion for advocacy – it was exactly where I was meant to be.

My desire to help families like mine eventually overpowered my desire to be in the classroom. God was pulling me in a different direction and I was hesitant. But He sent me a sign with the newly vacant position of Northshore Families Helping Families Executive Director position. I told myself I wasn’t qualified. I told myself I wouldn’t know how to run a nonprofit. I told myself I should wait for another sign. Then God sent numerous people my way asking me to apply. After the sixth person reached out to me, I took the leap and applied. Their board of directors took a chance on a teacher with a deep love for advocacy and helping families living the disability life and I didn’t look back. I loved every moment working for this important organization. I felt I was exactly where I was meant to be.

Assistant Secretary of the Office of Behavioral Health Karen Stubbs, Senator Jay Luneau, and myself testifying on SB 213 in the Health & Welfare committee.

Over the next two years my family life took a toll; I was rarely home because leading a nonprofit is truly all consuming. While I still loved my job, I missed my kids and home life. The relationships I made through advocating at the state legislature made their way back into my life two years later and offered me a position I couldn’t refuse. I would be doing grassroots advocacy and lobbying work for those with mental illness. God saw me growing tired and guided me to this new exciting adventure. I was home more, I was doing more policy work, I was building new partnerships, I was doing more impactful work that still benefitted my home life. And I was working from home when the COVID-19 pandemic hit – allowing me to be home with Connor to ensure his health and safety. I was exactly where I was meant to be.

Stepping back and looking how God has guided me to so many places and points in my life is simply astounding. While I was in the thick of it in each period of my life it was hard to see God at work. I didn’t know that with each step I was learning and growing and he was molding me to become the person he created me to be as I continued to serve him.

Meeting THE Sister Helen Prejean during the 2022 state legislative session.

Creating my own public relations consulting firm, advocating on boards and councils, meeting people I would have never met, having experiences I would have never had, volunteering on political campaigns, writing legislation, designing policies that will positively impact Louisianans, learning how to be assertive and stand my ground, understanding emotions to advocacy is crucial, serving my community with these newly learned gifts, assisting families like mine, advocating in schools alongside other parents, all of it. All of these graces have been given to a very undeserving me. I can’t help but to think what a merciful God to pour His love down on me through my highest of highs and lowest of lows. It is such a gift to see God’s plan for me so clearly laid out now years later.

If you are going through a difficult time or a wonderful time or somewhere in between the two, remember to trust in God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. Be still. Listen to Him. Have faith. Do good. And know His plan is always better than our own.

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