In Which I Put Myself in Time Out (#SmallWonder Link-up)

I was sick and tired, literally.

And it was Friday afternoon. 

I was a few minutes away from the end of my last lecture for the week, just digging in to the part where I talk about my personal connection with the text.

A few minutes earlier, during a brief break between lectures, I talked with my husband about my oldest son’s fourth strep diagnosis since November.  Thoughts of specialists, surgery and possible hospitalization swirled in my head. 

Did I mention I was sick?  And losing my voice?  Sipping scalding hot tea between sentences I relished the burning liquid that rendered my throat numb for a few precious seconds of relief.

Looking up from my outline I saw them.  Back row, middle seats, directly in my line of vision.  She leaned over his desk, they giggled and passed a paper between.  Continuing to speak I watched as she started writing on the shared paper.  I had a quick memory of the notebook passed between a friend and I during a year's worth of Spanish classes, page after page of words scrawled in large loopy letters. 

Thoughts about the application of the Hebrew bible’s prophetic texts stopped mid-sentence and I blurted, “Really?!  Passing notes?!  This is college, people!”

This is what it must be like to be an extrovert – words flying out unfiltered, unmeasured.

They both looked up, startled.  The rest of the class halted, confused. 

Then he did the worst thing possible, well, two of the worst things possible. 

First he shrugged his shoulders his hands thrown out to the sides.  Not a word was spoken, but his body said it all, What’s your problem, lady? 

His gesture added fuel to my fury and I prodded, “What?  That’s what you’re doing, isn’t it?  I can see you.”

Then he blamed the girl, threw her under the bus in his own defense. 

Oh, for shame. 

They were Adam and Eve, caught, in the garden and I was an angry God. 

I stared in disbelief, astounded at his defense, not the nature of it, but that he had the nerve at all to stand up before me, that he didn’t hang his head in shame.

I was done.  I looked at the clock. 

“Ok,” I said, “We’re taking a break.  We’ll come back together at 3:15.” 

I abruptly left the room, tea cup in hand.  Students sat stunned. 

I sank into a chair in the dark teacher’s lounge. 

This wasn’t the first time I snapped at students in the classroom – sleeping students, texting students, silent students who refused to throw their teacher a line.  But it was the first time I had sense enough to call a time out, to send myself to a quiet corner to reflect on my behavior. 

I sat in silence and a few tears, the ones I’d felt lurking all day long, sprang to the corners of my eyes.  Rather than blaming the students who were, by the way, just acting their age, I looked into my own soul.  I saw someone who was trying awfully hard to meet nobody’s expectations but her own. 

The truth is, I’m the kind of person who snaps, like a little dog, when cornered.  And I felt cornered that day – by fatigue, by sickness and the demands of parenting and my own high teaching expectations.  My self-imposed time out allowed me to see my snapping as an invitation to grace and compassion.   

I decided to throw myself a line. 

After my time out I went back to the class and finished the lecture.  We moved on, together, until our time was up.  Then I went home and recommitted myself to all the ways I know work best to keep myself from feeling cornered.  Mainly, I lowered my standards and got some rest.  I served myself up a healthy dose of compassion, so the next time someone near me needed grace, there’d be more than enough to go around.

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We finally have a #SmallWonder button!  If you want to use it, simply copy the image, then add it to your post or sidebar with a link to  

Are you or do you have writer friends local to the PA, Maryland, New Jersey area?  If so, would you consider attending or sharing the information about the upcoming writing retreat to be held here at the farm house?  You can find more details under the Writing Retreat tab.

Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.  

What if we chose to deliberately look for the small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God? 

That's my proposal - that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.  

You're invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder.  Don't worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right - you're welcome to come as you are.  

While you're here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.   


  1. Oh, Kelly, I can so identify with you on this. I can think of plenty of times during our homeschooling years that I would have done well to give myself timeouts and huge doses of compassion, but so often I just kept going. I would finally snap, lose my temper and yell at the kids. Of course, then I felt really bad, but kids are so forgiving. I've learned a lot since then and I'm showing myself more compassion and I hope I'm encouraging my grown children to do the same for themselves. Blessings to you! Thanks for such a great post!

  2. I have sent myself to my room a good many times, and should have done it even more than I did! Good for you. I do hope that you will feel better soon and that the specter of strep will leave your home for good.

  3. Sick and can I relate!

    Going thru this cancer treatment, I keep telling Sherri, "It's not so much that any given moment is completely unbearable. It's just that I am so sick and tired of being sick and tired!"

    Thanks for sharing such an encouraging story of grace for self!

  4. This post hits home. I substitute teach and some classes I have a hard time with - the talking, the notes, the phones. I leave home with humility and sometimes even wearing that bracelet on my arm, BUT I'm not always humble.

  5. Sounds like this "dog" is learning a few new tricks, Kelly. Well done, giving yourself a time-out, recognizing your need to rest, and giving yourself that gift. thanks for hosting, have a blessed week!

  6. Kelly I can so relate. I lose my cool when I'm teaching first and second graders for the very same reasons--I forget how old they are and expect way too much of them and myself.
    God is always changing us. Praise Him!

  7. Kelly, such a well-written post. Your honesty in sharing is refreshing, and helpful. I think there are many times that the people we teach - whether in a classroom or somewhere else - there are times when they forget that we are people, too. And we come to them with our own hurts, worries, feelings. You were so wise to *time out*. We forget to do that in the hustle and bustle of life's deadlines and expectations. Self-care is very important, and we are wise when we recognize that and do something about it.


    (Note passing??? I'm afraid that would have tested my cool, too)

  8. I'm in time out today. For a handful of reasons I gave myself permission to skip our weekly Monday co-op. I got up with every intention of going but found road blocks piled up and around me at every turn. As my tension and frustration grew I heard myself say - it's okay not to be ALL the things. Every day. I felt bad until relief washed over me. Grace to you Kelly. I feel your struggle and sit with you in a much needed break. Stay gentle my friend. You're already all kinds of awesome!

  9. Gosh I know this snippy thing so well..I'm the same when I'm stressed and backed into a corner. You handled it so well..give ourselves some slack. Those students hopefully will pay attention now!
    Love the Adam/Eve/God scenario..Take extra good care. Teaching, kids, preparing for teaching, home life, marriage, work..all alot!!

  10. Aren't we grateful we can time ourselves out! It really is our saving grace some days - just to get alone with Him for a few minutes to regroup. Glad to get here tonight before heading to bed. :) I so wanted to get here all day & the day just got away. Yes, it's all grace. Blessings, Kelly!