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Raising Kids

Thank You, Teachers


Thank You, Teachers

I was ready to purchase Lillie-Mae’s kindergarten curriculum and Dallas’ fourth grade books for another year of homeschool when I sensed the Lord leading the Guess Tribe in a different direction. For three years, home was where I birthed two babies and played teacher. 

It was the most growing and strengthening time as a woman. To be responsible for all areas of a child’s growth is huge. There is no principal to answer to, guidance counselor to send an emotionally needy child to, and no lunch lady to cook the meals. 

Homeschool moms are everything. 

Homeschool can get a bad rap with Mom’s believing the lie “I couldn’t do that, I just don’t have the patience.” You can do anything you’re called to do and are stronger than you think. Quit selling yourself and your Creator short. Who am I to tell you that? Well I was the Mom that said “I will NEVER homeschool my child.” But then I had a very wiggly, energetic, beyond smart for his age child that was put into a box of a school room and needed out. The three years he was at home taught him how to study, listen, and discover that learning is outside of a book. For me, the same things were taught. I studied my child to pay attention to cues that life wasn’t great and learned to listen, because his words mattered too. I learned that some of the best life lessons are taught at Aldi when your seven year old unloads groceries for a worn out Momma with a screaming newborn, without being prompted to show compassion. 

To say it was a shock to feel peace that my kids would enter into public school is an understatement.

Ask Chris, I don’t lose sleep over many things. I lay down, close my eyes, sleep. But those nights feeling restless was a struggle. He felt it too. What’s faith like? It’s a consistent, close walk with the Lord on a path, and then one day He pulls your hand to go a new direction. You can either hold tight and move, stand still and think whether you want to go along, or let go and keep going the way you always were because it felt comfortable. 

Faith is holding tight and moving. Continuously. Blindly. 

Needless to say, I woke up one night and said the name of the school my kids now attend. Telling Chris about how we should check it out, he said it was where he knew they should be for a couple of months. Why didn’t he tell me that? Because I needed to hear it from God too. 

My first worry turned prayer “Let my kids have nice, caring, better than their Momma teachers that give them love and patience and kind words and encouragement.” Mrs. Bussey was that for Dallas. He would have a hard day at school, be misunderstood by one of his many teachers, and I would tell him, “Find Mrs. Bussey, she will give you a hug.” Sometimes when a kid isn’t really wrong and there are a lot of students and opinions, their side can be shut out, and I get that. Coming from a school room of one to 25 was a shock for Dallas in that area. He always had a safe place though to feel comfortable and grounded. 

Lillie-Mae is the kindest, most soft hearted child I have ever been around. She is made up of all the niceness of her Daddy and the little bit that I had to give, and that’s it. I was terrified her kindergarten teacher would be too energetic, the classroom too loud, and she would be looked over. Turning six on the first day of school meant she was starting at the bottom of the totem pole. Leaving her in that classroom the first day, I bawled my eyes out (still crying now thinking about it!). The superintendent, Mrs. Day, gave me a hug and said it will be alright Momma! Mrs. Stansell was the perfect teacher for her. Calm and quiet and always smiling. The type of personality I imagined Lillie-Mae to grow into as an adult! Every day was exciting for her to go to school. The first month she was tired and cried after school but was always ready to get up and go the next day! 

And this year... Mrs. McBryar, I can’t say your name without thanking God right after. Lillie-Mae was worried no teacher could be as nice as Mrs. Stansell. Says right there in her card “I can’t believe how nice you are to me.” You were an answer to her prayers over many nights. And the first day of school, “I can’t believe she knew my name and she has two names too! She even gives hugs and I wanted to kiss her but didn’t know if I could.” 

Dallas has all male teachers this year, and it’s teaching him to be more responsible and focused on goals. There might not be any hugs, but he admires every one of his teachers. They’re giving him something to model after as men. 

Elementary teachers, you are like school Moms and Dads to our kids when they’re away, and I’m am so thankful for you!


Easter Baskets


Easter Baskets

Easter season to me means a focus on new life and celebration. Spring is a season of new growth. Where the seeds planted literally spring forth!

It’s a great celebration for a Christian. Walking day by day, Jesus’ last week and last hours on Earth puts the magnitude of sacrifice into perspective.

So where do Easter baskets play a roll in this? I’m not googling the Wikipedia article that shows that we shouldn’t celebrate bunnies or flowers. A heavy focus is on Jesus during Easter. And what did His life teach us? To love others well, unashamedly, consistently. To follow Him, trust His Word, and show up daily in this Love even when it seems like death has won.

Easter baskets are a way we show our kids love this season. The Guess Tribe isn’t big on giving gifts or buying toys apart from celebrations. We are keeping the focus heavily on Jesus but also celebrating new life.

Easter Basket Ideas:

• Items they already need
• Gift cards for older kids
• New Bible or Devotional
• Art Supplies
• Outdoor spring toys
• Handwritten card
• Candy

Is there something your kid needs that you could tuck back and give in their basket? Maybe spring tops, fun socks and even underwear! School supplies might need to be slightly replenished. Girls always love new bows! A bathing suit was in my Easter basket one year, and I loved that! Go for the glitter pencils that only last a month anyways. Target Dollar spot had lots of highlighters, pens, and notebooks.

Thinking of older kids, gift cards would be a great idea! These could be to their favorite restaurant (Holla, Chick-fil-A!) or an experience they’ve been wanting to do. Maybe there is an arcade, indoor rock climbing place, or movie that could fall into this category.

Probably the most Jesus thing you could pass onto your kid is a new Bible or Devotional. A good family devotional for kids of all ages (and especially good for non readers) is Louie Giglio’s Indescribable. A boy devotional Dallas has liked was The One Year Book of Devotions.

Target Dollar Spot will have all the needs for toys and art supplies! We got the cutest sand terrarium there, some 3-D wooden puzzles, coloring books, silly putty, and spring garden items for kiddos. For Dallas we got him some kinetic sand (didn’t think of getting this for an 11 year old, but it was a hit for him at cousin Henry’s birthday party). Sticker books are a huge

Your spring and summer outdoor toys are probably either lost, broken, or old news. Refresh those for their Easter basket! Nerf balls, water toys, sidewalk chalk, special markers or crayons, paints and art books. This idea has endless opportunity to pass on some intentional, kid specific items.

An Easter basket shouldn’t be stressful and size is irrelevant. The thought is what counts! That’s why I love sticking in a handwritten card to your child. Words of affirmation and love, sharing what you see in them that’s new and exciting! Especially if they have recently had a heart transformation to let Jesus into their sin filled lives, celebrate that!

Candy… oh how I loathe and love it. I’ve already went through a pack of Reese’s Easter eggs, personally. I preach that food dyes and high fructose corn syrup are horrible (daily staples) for a kid’s diet. However, is that the message I want to get across to my kids. Just the same as I don’t want them to hear loudly the “Don’t do’s” of Christianity, I don’t want them to be focused on the “can’t haves” so much that they miss out on a fun celebration. The kids got a couple of Easter treats in their baskets, and I’m so thankful for the organic and dye free options! These can be inexpensive! Don’t read organic and think “break the bank”! Once again, thoughtfulness and being intentional matters most. Lillie-Mae will freak out and feel so special that I got those yellow Peep Bunnies for her. Easter eggs are filled with Black Forest gummy bears.

How do you handle when to give Easter baskets? Growing up, my Dad hid them somewhere in the house on Sunday morning. My sister and I would run through with sponge foam rollers in our hair, looking for them. Then stuff candy into our mouths until our parents made us quit and start brushing out our curls for church. I tried that approach once…. It was already stressful to get everyone ready for church with feeling the pressure to look a little extra, adding an Easter basket reveal was not joyful AT ALL! So now we hand them over the day before. This doesn’t make us more holy, it’s just what works for the best, fun outcome.

I planned to have Easter baskets done to show you fancy pics. However, 1. I don’t want the pressure of comparison passed on from my platform 2. There is no plan for extra cuteness this season for the Guess kids. (They won’t even notice.)

Friend, hear me on this. Easter is the most important holiday for a Christian. Without Jesus’ death and following resurrection, we wouldn’t be able to live in the spiritual freedom in relationship with Him that we do today. If you’re struggling with having peace in your life, have a foundation of anxiety that you can’t get to the root of, I want to urge you to call out His name and just have a conversation. This might be weird to talk out a conversation with someone you can’t see. But just starting with “Jesus, I believe in you. I know there is something missing from my life and that something is you. I know that God created me with a purpose to worship You, and I commit to that by admitting that I am a very lost, sin filled human that needs You in my life. I love you! Thank you for loving me!”

If that’s a conversation you have for the first time, please let me know! Whether you’ve been in church or never have in your life, this might be a prayer conversation you need to have today.

Wondering where you can go to church this weekend to join in the celebration? My church, Calvary Chapel Chattanooga, has services Saturday at 4 and 6 pm, and Sunday morning at 9 and 11. We will be there Sunday morning, come sit with us!

Where do you stand with Jesus and Easter baskets?


Seeing Color

Seeing Color

Did y’all ever watch the Facts of Life? I remember as a little girl wishing I could be a part of their boarding school and “Tootie” would be my friend. At the time, I saw her as just the fun, always into someone’s business, roller skating girl. As I looked around my elementary school classroom, I didn’t see a Tootie. Somewhere around fifth grade I started to see that all my friends had the same color skin as me. Living in a small town in North Georgia, that was pretty much the norm.

Questions have evolved over the years as I look at the people that surround me…. are they kind, do we share the same values or faith, what’s a gift I have that would be helpful to their life and vice versa? Seemed deep enough for me as I waded through my teens and early-mid twenties.

When #blacklivesmatter started up, football players were kneeling during our National Anthem, and YouTube videos of young black men being handled inhumanely during routine traffic stops flooded my newsfeed, I ripped off my rose colored glasses. From the time I was 0-28, I lived with the motto of “We are all equal”. But that’s not the case.

In Chattanooga alone, neighborhoods are very segregated beyond income status. Churches have one dominant race per congregation. Jackie Hill Perry stated, “Our oneness as the body of Christ does not eliminate our uniqueness as the body of Christ.” I want my women of color friends to see themselves on the same stages and in the same places as white women have been; sharing their stories from their unique perspective. We all have much to give! We all deserve shared spaces!

Seeing Color

Here’s the question that poses now, “How can I see color? How can I help my kids to see color? Beyond that, what can we do to help blend?”

Since kids say what’s on their minds, I asked my 10,6, and 5 year old the same question, “What color are you?”
5yo “Ummmm a little not tan right now.”
6yo “I’m skin colored!”
10yo “Girls, you’re white. We are white.”

That was a good starting point… leading into a conversation about whether or not it mattered if someone looked differently than them, should they still be treated the same. “Yes!” Could have left it there, but I led them into my own question,

”How do we make sure that we are part of the solution in everyone being treated fairly, regardless of the color of their skin.” The two youngest kind of zoned out without a response, expectedly. But they were listening.

”We just make sure everyone is included when we play football on the playground?” My son has a start, and I’m not much beyond him.

What do we do. What would Martin Luther King Jr. say today if he walked into my home, went to the places I went, and attended my children’s school? Surely he would be proud of how far we have all come, but there is still a sense of repression and division.

I don’t have the answers! This is open for discussion and learning. Don’t write me off as a white woman wanting to simply make a difference. I want to play my part well among all races.

Here are some tips for a start:
• Start a conversation: Even if your kids zone, I think we need to shift from “Don’t see color, just avoid it” to “See the color. Be the change.”
•There are some great books written to help guide us! When God Made You and Let It Shine are two good ones to start as a family with young kids! The Chattanooga Library has shelves full of titles, and they are ready to help you and your child according to age.
•Let your kids choose their dolls. This might seem silly, but I have seen Moms steer their kids to a white doll that “looks like them”. Now, this is not a conscious behavior to say “This one is better.” but it is…. Let your daughter choose the one she wants! My youngest will always choose the Asian doll. Her older sister, the “tan one”. Pretend play should be as colorful as you expect their world to be!

First of all, Ted Gocke from Chattanooga’s J103 radio station invited me to feature weekly on the morning show! More about how that’s humbling in this season of finding my voice and choking out fear. God’s timing is always right on time!

Secondly, he asked me if I had any topic ideas. The main theme is “A Mom’s Best Guess”, taking a hot topic from the week and giving my two cents + help on it. I opened my mouth and inserted my foot then said “SURE I do!” Then we recorded three bits as tests. He liked them so much, they got scheduled for the first three weeks! Wow! Before I went into the station I prayed like a mad woman for the Lord to just let my words be honest and true. No fluff or exaggeration.

The first topic that came to mind was Martin Luther King Jr. day and how some Mom’s were intentionally embracing the holiday, not just making it another day off from school. Thus, what is heard by thousands on the radio this morning will be my two cents worth of raising my white kids to see color.

I pray this space here on A Mom’s Best Guess, and my voice on the radio lends a building block to some firm foundations in your life!

Danielle Guess