The last two days I’ve been taking a class to be certified to teach at my gym. I have taken the class before, but so many years have went by.

Have I ever told you I have never been a good test taker?

I have never been a good test taker.

I have always struggled in school.

I can write things, and demonstrate things in front of people- so practical tests are ok- in fact what I don’t say correctly I can typically still pull off.

But multiple choice…true or false…fill in the bubble? Yeah? No.

I was trying to think back to when I started to struggle. But I don’t ever remember a time school was easy. I always had to work harder than others. It never came naturally when it came to book work, seat work. I loved to read and so I made up for things that way. And I was a good kid, so typically I fell under the radar. Teachers didn’t realize how much I struggled. How much anxiety I had about simple math problems. How I’d nod and they’d think I got it, when really I had no idea at all.

And then High School came- I had a couple
of teachers who said some pretty hard things to me and impacted me a great deal. One who saw how much I struggled said “you’ll never get into a college. Have another plan.” And another said pretty much the same thing. So I started to see what I believed they saw, a failure. I stopped trying so hard, and started thinking “what good am I going to do? They are the experts. They don’t think I can so why should I?”

I was so jealous of my friends who didn’t struggle, who didn’t know what it was like to study all night and have the words jump up and swim in front of their eyes. Who had never studied all night to see an F on the front of their science paper.

And then my Junior year came and I had four teachers who looked at Me. Not a test score. AT ME! Two English teachers, a Photography teacher, and a business teacher. All of them saw something. They encouraged my writing, they read it. One saw my creative side and pushed it. And one, helped me get my associates in business after I told her what my math teacher had said, “Well you just did college work in Business??? And have the paper to show for it. What does he know?!”

But I still had that nagging feeling that I’d never amount to much. Because I may never have “the” degree…

And I wasn’t smart enough.

There was also the fact that I knew my parents couldn’t afford to send me to a four year school. They were both working part time so that one of them could be with my little sisters, and My mom was getting her Counseling degree.

(Mom, do not, I repeat, do not feel guilty*you’ll see why)

Scholarships at my school didn’t go to kids like me…I didn’t have the grades or the talent.

I was faced with this defeating reality…because it wasn’t a possibility.

So I decided I would become a massage therapist because I knew that it didn’t cost so much and I could swing it.

But. But.

I loved Theatre. And I loved Writing.

My dream school didn’t give a lot of scholarships. And I wasn’t going to be a famous actress…or afford it at anytime…so I had to shelve that.

So I went and did youth ministry for a year.

And I decided massage school wasn’t for me right then…

I moved out of state.

I enrolled in a Community College to become a Middle School teacher and major in English and Theatre. And I did really well. In fact I was on the Presidents list, twice.

I started my own drama ministry company.

I made great friends. I lived in the same town as my love after two years a part.

I worked full time and paid my rent and for school…I didn’t have the typical college experience. But I had a roommate who made me laugh, and teachers that were invested.

In college they figured out I had a learning disability…in math. Something that no one had ever looked into before.

And life, not school, but life was happening. I was in love and had a job at a nursing home I loved. And family that I missed but talked to daily.

I got married, and went back to school. Then our house burned down(another post).

And I got pregnant, and decided to buy a house.

So I worked full time with Middle Schoolers, and was carrying a baby and school wasn’t an option for us.

And I was okay with that. My life path was different.

And totally blessed.

Fast forward 12 years…if you’ve read my blog for a while you know that I went back to school a year ago. Massage School, and I was so excited. But the workload was huge for any person, and for a Mom with four kids, too much. And as much as I studied I didn’t do well on tests. On hard days of studying I would daydream about my graduation and how my family would come and everyone would be proud. So proud.

Still. I hadn’t changed.

I was still me.

And it brought back all these insecurities. I would see my friends, my age who went back to school and had an amazing experience and feel that envy of how can you? Why can’t I?

After a term I said Uncle.

Because I was already doing what I wanted, being a Mom, writing, and working at a job I enjoy…

But even though I stopped, I began to give into all these feelings of being uncertain again, like a failure. We were at a graduation and I began to feel really sad, and anxious, because I never knew that feeling. And wasn’t smart enough to.

And I started being really self conscious that people would realize that I wasn’t smart.

And weren’t proud of who I was.

But one of my closest friends has a doctorate in Math and asked me to be her daughters godmother…and when I spent a weekend with them, I never ever got the feeling she didn’t respect or think I wasn’t on her level.
I love her, not because of her education but because when we talk –we just get each other, and love each other. And while she has helped Jonah with a math problem over the phone, her education doesn’t even hold a candle to the beauty she brings into this world as a mother and as a friend. And her students are blessed because she sees the person first and is the best sort of teacher.

It seems like the more real I am- the more I see where I have placed expectations on myself, and placed my self worth in what I thought they needed to be in…

My body.
My education.

But really, truly, the people I respect and whose stories are the most are precious to me, are not because of their education or bodies, but are the people who loved the most. They changed the most through their love. Through their resilience. Through their faith.

Mother Teresa.
Louis Zamperini.
My Grandma.
St. Maximillion Kolbe.

Because there’s something you can only get by seeing and loving the whole person.

In their real. In their broken. In their poverty.

*You see while my parents couldn’t afford to send me to a four year school, they gave me something else. All growing up, we gave Christmas to a family who lived in a one room house. They worked in the Orchards and lived in a home with no running water and a wood stove. When we would go there, even though we thought we didn’t have a lot, we realized how incredibly blessed we were by so much. They would make us tamales and we would sit and enjoy time with them. And I knew if I was cold, they would give me a blanket. Even though they had nothing, they would keep me warm.

And that gave me so much more than I could have ever taken from any class.

And my Dad who never went to college, is the most resilient person I know…and is always learning. He knows more about Lewis and Clark than Lewis and Clark knew about themselves.

He taught me that we have to always fight and keep going, and never stop learning and changing.

Today, my little family has adopted families, and continue to ask God how we can give more and to who. And I see my kids becoming aware of the needs of others and really seeing people for their soul.

I have realized that if my kids want to go to College which I hope they do, great. But if a God is calling them to something different I hope they serve others. I hope I have passed that on to them, the calling to serve. As long as they never give up. As long as they keep learning.

But still…once in a while it hits me that I may not be worthy because I don’t have a degree. Two weeks ago I sat in my counseling appointment and said something to that regard and my counselor stopped me, and asked me to repeat myself.

And then asked me to say it again. And actually looked shocked.

He asked me this question, “Do you, Kristin think you are smart?”

And there it was. Those words. The words that I have said to myself for years that I haven’t admitted to anyone. Because I haven’t thought I was.

“If only you were smart…”

And I told him that.

And he began to unfold my life and the past year…the things I have done, and overcome. And how I spent last year taking care of someone and kept them alive. How My kids have thrived. How Friends call me to listen to their son’s breathing, and to ask for what they should do with the stomach flu. How I speak to men and women every week about being healthy and encourage them in their health, and watch them transform! He reiterated…I have been doing with what God tells me, and living and giving with all my being. And that makes me who I am. Who is more than worthy.


I took my certification test yesterday and passed. Which was a big deal.

A really big deal.

Because I’m not a good test taker.

But then I came home, and ate dinner with my family and we talked about adopting a family from a different country. And then we went and prayed in front of a friends house. And I texted a friend who is eight months pregnant with her fourth, and needed a little encouragement. I read to my daughter. I fell into bed and slept really well.

This morning I woke up…

I lay in bed and thought about my life. And really thought what I want to define me.

I don’t have to prove anything.

Because the life I am creating is beautiful. I
am raising good kids, who are smart but also interested in a million other things. I am
Married to the smartest person I’ve ever met who treats a heroin addict the same as he treats a DA. My friends are my friends because they are beautiful human beings.

I am good enough. Worthy enough.

So I’m not a good tester taker.

I may never go back to School.

Does that make me less worthy?

My path may be different. But it’s my path. And I know that my life experience has taught me more than I could ever have learned in any classroom. I have a life I am grateful for, and an associates in Business I may never use.

I will never stop learning and growing.

This past year I took the hardest test of my life.

And survived. And I passed. I lived through it.

If people find my self worth to be less…that says more about them than me.

Because It doesn’t matter.

What matters is living a worthy life.

A beautiful real worthy life.