in , , , , by Erin Lynne, December 13, 2023

I don't remember every birthday I have had. Duh, Erin, none of us do. As a kid, I remember having A LOT of parties that were snowed out. (So much so, that one year in maybe 5th or 6th grade, my mom let me have my birthday party in July to ensure everyone could make it!) I remember Gurnie making my birthday cake every year-angel food with some kind of magic white icing that I have the recipe for, but have never tried to make.

I do remember turning 21 on a Sunday back when Lexington had a zero alcohol sales on Sunday policy. Wanting to buy beer, I went with some friends to Meijer after midnight. I don't recall when exactly Meijer's computers started operating on their Sunday functions, but it apparently was some time between midnight and whatever time it was when a bunch of college kids screwed around in Meijer and made it to the checkout. I tried to plead my case with the cashier but she said since it was all automated, there was nothing she could do.

But the birthday that I vividly remember was my 26th birthday.  Not because Gurnie made me a cake, or because my friends and I skipped around Meijer for two hours in the middle of the night, but I remember my 26th as the birthday that most people forgot. Of course I got a call from my parents. And I know I got a few cards. But a lot of my friends, my siblings, even my grandparents, seemingly forgot it was my birthday.  If I close my eyes, I am right back on the floor of my bedroom, calling my parents (on my landline!) crying that everyone forgot my birthday. I can still feel that ache inside. It was on that day that I realized that all of my siblings had their "own" families by the time they were 26, and for the first time I felt "less than" for being single... I felt like at this age, it's not "supposed" to be about your parents or your friends celebrating your birthday, it's "supposed" to be about your husband. 

And that would stick with me.

Confession: I have hated my birthday for 20 years.

It wasn't about turning older. It was about being alone.

You see, when you're single in your late twenties (and entire thirties, and half of your forties), you inevitably end up spending at least some of your birthdays alone. Even if you have the best friends (I do). Even if you're loved by lots of people (I am). It just happens. People are busy and adults have obligations and often when your birthday falls on a Tuesday, your friends can't just drop everything and go to dinner. You'll go Friday night, or to Sunday brunch, but on your actual birthday, you'll be alone (at least until you wise up and get a dog!)

I remember my 33rd birthday. It was on a Monday and I had said before in passing to my friend Andi that I hated weekday birthdays. So she invited me and a couple of our friends over, and made me a birthday dinner and even a blue and white checkerboard cake! This was not a grand gesture, but still one of the kindest things anyone has done for my birthday.

I vaguely remember my 40th birthday. Not even three weeks from losing my dad, I don't remember much from that time. I remember crying a lot and I remember that I certainly didn't feel like celebrating. But my DTO family decorated my office (I haven't even worked there in almost three years and I still find that confetti every now and then) and my sister took me to Tony's. What I remember most about 40 was that weekend. I thought I was just going with Megan to Shamrock's, and when I got there was surprised to find my closest friends already there. These girls weren't even all friends with each other, but had organized a secret group chat to plan this for me. If I wasn't all cried out, I think I might still be crying from the kindness and support these girls showed me. If you're really, really lucky, sometimes your "framily" shows up for you when you need it most. 

Sneak preview of my bridal party 💙

And 45? 

I will remember 45. 

45 was the year I woke up next to the love of my life, who later delivered me Starbucks before I had even gotten out of bed. (To be fair, he does this on days other than my birthday too!) 

45 was the year that my "bonus kids" showed up for me with gifts, a delicious cake, and heart warming words of gratitude. 

45 was the year that not only did Patrick surprise me with a trip to Savannah and front row tickets to see UK play in the Gator Bowl, but also a simple heartfelt card that I have read at least a dozen times since yesterday. 

Cheers to the best birthday yet-and to all the things that this year will bring! And double cheers to never dreading my birthday again.💙

18 years

in , , , by Erin Lynne, January 31, 2021

Friday, February 12 will be my last day in Jessamine County Schools after 18 years.

18 years.

The irony is not lost on me that amount of time is synonymous with adulthood.

You come into this world crying, but full of life and hope. You cannot take care of yourself, you need help from others who have been around for a while. You grow and learn and change, and one day all of those imperceptible changes have added up, and you look in the mirror and see an adult.

I first came to JCS as a tiny newborn teacher. I was a UK practicum student, who in fact was not full of life or hope (I can neither confirm nor deny that there was crying). My heart was hardened due to a poor experience with a professor who made me feel like I wouldn't be a good teacher, so even though it was 2001 and I had never heard of the Enneagram, this 1's defense mechanism was "Well, that's fine, because I don't even want to be a teacher anyway."

On day one of my placement, my cooperating teacher, PJ Burns, asked me where I wanted to teach after I graduated. I quickly told her that I was just finishing my degree because my dad wouldn't let me drop out of school, but that I had no plans to actually teach. (That went over like a lead balloon.) In the post-observation conference of my first lesson, PJ said, "I really feel called to tell you this-I have never seen someone with such a God-given gift for teaching, and it breaks my heart that you are not going to use it."

And I was basically like

Between my apathy for teaching and anger at having to drive to Nicholasville every. single. day. (oh, the tragedy of it all!), I was so annoyed with this teaching placement. For five weeks, I worked my tail off and did everything by the book (again, Enneagram 1), but my heart was not in it. After one conceptual math lesson demonstrating the area of a triangle, a student came up to me, bright eyed, and said "Miss Waggoner! I get it! I get it!" My response? "Why are you out of your seat? Sit down please."

If I only had a heart...

What I would come to realize is that God knew exactly what he was doing (DUH) and had placed me in Jessamine County Schools because PJ Burns' class at Rosenwald-Dunbar Elementary was a NICU for this newborn teacher. After those five weeks, when I went back to classes at UK, I missed those kids something fierce. I realized then that my placement had breathed life into my weary soul and given me a real, live beating heart again.

I started to question my career path. The very next Sunday in church, the preacher was preaching from Romans 12 on using your gifts and said "If God has given you the gift of teaching, you need to be a teacher!"

Ok, God, I am listening!

I then knew not only that I was going to be a teacher, but I knew JCS is where I was going to do it. And other than one year in Woodford County, that’s been true. I started in Jessamine County as a fourth grade teacher, then a technology teacher, then as a digital learning coach, and currently as Director of Technology.

After being drafted by the Green Bay Packers, reflecting on his time at UK, Randall Cobb said, "Tennessee raised me, but Kentucky made me." I get that sentiment. Carter County raised me, but Jessamine County made me.

Jessamine County made me love teaching again.

Jessamine County made me a better educator.

Jessamine County made me a leader.

Full disclosure, it's not all been great. Lots of times I could say "Jessamine County made me angry" but let's leave that for a different post. 😉

Jessamine County helped me find my voice.

Jessamine County helped me grow into my own.

Jessamine County Schools is to thank for nearly every friend I have today. And not just that, these people are my family. This place is like home.

And yet there comes a time to leave home. A time to step out on your own, bags packed with the lessons you've learned, the memories you've made, and just enough audacity to think you really can make a difference in this world.

18 years seems as good a time as any.

Let new adventures begin. 💙

When God Seems Silent

in , , by Erin Lynne, January 24, 2021

Throughout my life, I have both audibly heard the Lord's voice as well as been sure that He couldn't hear me. 

This, dear friends, is a story about both.


Basically since the day I started my current job, I knew it was one I wouldn't retire from. I wouldn't last that long.

I am not stupid enough to say that my job is the hardest job on the planet, goodness, it's not. But it's by far the hardest job I have ever had. Teaching fourth grade was the most exhausting, but it was a good kind of exhausted, and at the end of the day, I had a couple of dozen students who told me how great I was (some of them still do!) 

When you are in charge of technology, it's often a thankless job. Just one day I would like for someone to call and say "Y'all, this morning, I came in, I turned on my computer, it booted right up, and dang this internet is fast!" While I know there are teachers who appreciate me and the work our DTO has done, it's just hard when you hear more complaints than compliments.  It's draining. 

A few years ago, I felt a stirring like maybe it was time to look for a new job. There was even a job open that I was going to apply for. 

But when I prayed about it, I heard God say "Not yet."

I have a necklace and a bracelet that say "Faith in God includes faith in His timing." I have always loved that idea. He clearly is smarter than me, His timing is perfect. Of course I had faith in both!

"Ok," I thought. That's fine. I can get things ready, and soon, it will be time. Honestly, it made sense. At that point, a lot of what had been built in the district as far as tech goes had me as almost too integral a part of it. If I lifted out, there was a chance things might fall apart. I had time to get my ducks in a row. A year, right? That's what made sense. I would work to get things ready for transition for a year.  I had a tiny UK notebook in my desk at work, I could use that for keeping notes of what to do each month in this job for my successor! I had a plan and a timeline. I was ready.

A year passed. 

Two years. 

No jobs in sight.

Things got harder. Devastating things happened in my personal life. At times, I was miserable. Surely God didn't want me to be miserable, right?

I continued to pray. Prayers turned to begging, begging turned to pleading, pleading turned to crying. There were a lot of tears. Sometimes I cried at my desk at work. I was overwhelmed. I was drowning. 


"Ummmm.... God? It's me again. Hey, remember when you told me "Not yet" that time? LOLZ, that was funny, huh? Why didn't you just tell me "No!"? I mean, clearly that's what you meant."

He didn't respond.

It's hard to pray when there's no answer. 

I'll be honest, I stopped praying altogether for a while.


My Google Keep is filled with excerpts of books I've read. I take pictures of pages and pages of things that I think I might want to/need to read later. But my very most favorite is this passage from Bittersweet by Shauna Niequest:

When you're in the middle, pretty much all you can ask for are little bits of flame to light the darkness that feels interminable. 
You don't know what the story is about when you're the middle of it. You think you do, but you don't. You make up all kinds of possible story lines: this is about growing up. Or this is about living without fear. You can guess all you want, but you don't know. All you can do is keep walking.
There is nothing worse than the middle. 
At the beginning, you have a little arrogance, loads of buoyancy. The journey, whatever it is, looks beautiful and bright, and you are filed with resolve and silver strength, sure that whatever the future holds, you will face it with optimism and chutzpah. It's like the first day of school, and you're wearing the outfit you laid out last night, backpack full of perfectly sharpened yellow pencils.
And the end is beautiful. You are wiser, better, deeper. You know things you didn't previously know, you've shed things you previously clung to. The end is revelation, resolution, a soft place to land.
But, oh, the middle. I hate the middle. The middle is the fog, the exhaustion, the loneliness, the daily battle against despair and the nagging fear that tomorrow will be just like today, only you'll be wearier and less able to defend yourself against it. The middle is the lonely place, when you can’t find words to say how deeply empty you feel..."

Y'all, I felt like I was in the middle for approximately 1.7 trillion years.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have said to myself, "But, oh, the middle. I hate the middle."

But God...

On my birthday, I went out for my free Starbucks in the drizzling rain, and happened upon the most beautiful end to end rainbow I had ever seen. It was gone so quickly, I didn't even get a picture. (I did get an Instastory of it though, because priorities). When I saw it, even cynical me said out loud "Hmmm... God's promises."

Two hours later, I found out about a job. Six days later, I got my "Faith in God includes faith in His timing" out of my jewelry box to wear it during the interview. 

On Christmas Eve, I got the call offering me the job.

God continued to wink at me several times in the 12 days between hearing about the job and getting the job, including the sermon preached the Sunday before Christmas which included this little nugget:

It’s one of the laws of spiritual physics that in order for our souls to grow, we have to get out of our comfort zones. And I think that in order to grow us and use us to do specific things in this world through our lives as Theotokos-- God-bearers-- the Holy Spirit of the Living God takes up residence within us and stretches us...


in , , by Erin Lynne, October 18, 2017
I got my first iPhone in 2009, after about 3 minutes I thought "How did I ever live without this?!" and I have been hooked since. You can spout your love of your Androids and how much better they are, but I am not listening. Maybe it's just because I feel like I'm too tired to learn something new, but I can't imagine ever having something other than an iPhone.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying I am getting the new $1000 version, but I do love my iPhone. It's pretty cool that I have a camera in my pocket and that I can catch up with friends (and enemies) far and near by just tapping an app. My abundance of email accounts and social media apps, coupled with my OCD kicking in whenever I see ANY little red number on an app means I am on my phone a lot. Like A LOT, A LOT.

As long as I have been giving PDs for teachers (read: 12 years) I have said some version of "And if you have any questions, feel free to email me. I will probably get back to you within the hour unless I am at Commonwealth Stadium." And this was pretty true. As soon as my email buzzed, I answered. Once I woke up in the middle of the night and picked up my phone to see what time it was, and saw an email, which I promptly replied to. The next day, the teacher stopped me and said "Do you ever sleep?"

My one exception to this has always been vacation. When I am actually ON vacation my email is OFF on my phone. It's the only way I can relax. I turn it off, I don't think about it, and when I get back to work after the week, I deal with the consequences of my choice.  Or as my former 4th grade teacher self would put it, the opportunity cost for having it off for a week at the beach is being chained to my desk for the first three hours back going through the 200 emails that have come in.

Last week was our Fall Break. Last week, I took a vacation and went to Pennsylvania for some much needed E&J time (and some E&J&J&J time).  When I came back to work on Monday, I spent the better part of the morning sorting, replying, fixing, and deleting. At around lunch time, I realized I hadn't turned it back on on my phone yet. And I made a decision.

I'm not doing it.

I am not turning my work email back on on my phone.

Monday and Tuesday, I was in my office all day, so during the day it was a moot point...or as Joey Tribbiani would say.

However, today I was out of the office from 8-3 doing Learning Walks in some of our schools with the leadership teams from our schools and central office. I didn't bring my laptop, our Learning Walks are old school take notes on paper deals, so I didn't need it. Plus, I figured that I was with most of the people who would need something from me anyway.  The most interesting part of the day was in the hallways between classroom visits, in the school media centers during breakfast/lunch/breaks, basically any time we weren't watching a teacher and filling out our Plus/Delta sheets, every single administrator I saw was on his or her phone. Every. Single. One. It's funny the things you notice when you are NOT on your phone.

Hear me out, I am not judging, because I was that person just a couple of weeks ago. But I just don't want to be that person anymore. When I got to my office today, it had been approximately 22 hours since I had checked my email, and the building was still standing! I had 36 emails in my inbox, and another dozen or so in subfolders (thank you inbox rules). Nothing in there was too crucial (I fancy myself pretty important, but no one's going to die because CoolMathGames is blocked). Plus, I know that the most important people in my school district have my cell phone number and would text me anyway. Also, to be perfectly honest, there were a couple of emails in my inbox that had I seen them, they would've changed my attitude and put me in a bad mood all day today...and no one wants that to happen.

So, at least for the time being, if you e-mail me after 5pm, expect an answer in the morning.  As I told a friend tonight, I don't have a husband and kids I spend my evening with, but I do have a Deacon, and sometimes, I just have a couch I want to lay on.


in , by Erin Lynne, July 21, 2017
I've seen the sun rise on water several times. The first time I watched the sun rise at the beach, I was at Hilton Head. We woke up and it was already light out and we thought we'd missed it. But the light comes first, then the tip of the sun, then it pushes out of the water and the waves dance with all the colors of a new day. It's always refreshing, invigorating. It always makes me want to say "Thank you God for waking me up this morning and giving me the chance to try again" (which is something I try to say every morning, but it seems more heartfelt when you're watching the sun peak over the horizon). This year, I was blessed to watch the sun rise on the ocean at Jacksonville Beach on New Years Day, and I was immediately filled with hope for the possibilities to come in 2017.

 My Bucket List also contains watching the sun set on water. I've been close a few times, in San Diego, in Clearwater, Florida, and now in Pensacola, but I've never quite made it. There's always a house or a cloud or a peninsula jutting out in my way. They're always still lovely, even though I've not seen the water light up like a fire as the sun tucks its head away for the night. But it's not as exciting, is it? While the sunrise seems full of promise, the sunset seems to taunt me, whispering "Another day is gone. What do you have to show for it?"

Some days I think my answer would be "Nothing." Logically that's probably not true, but some days it feels like I'm just going through the motions with not a lot to show for it.

But on this particular day, my answer is a few more freckles, sandy toes, a full stomach, and several new pictures on my camera roll.

I think that's enough for today.

We'll see what I have to say to Mr. Sunset tomorrow.


in , , , , , , by Erin Lynne, July 17, 2017
Contradicting the laws of what I think should be true, but confirming the laws of mathematics, my 20 year high school reunion was this weekend. While it was a low turnout (class of 97, if you are reading this, I vote Keeneland for our 25th), it was a fun night with familiar faces, laughing about old times until the wee hours of the morning.

I had stumbled across this picture a few days before the event, taken the summer between high school and college on our way to the Carter County Fair. Inspired by dozens of sibling sets I have hilariously seen do this on Pinterest, I wanted to recreate this picture after the reunion. 
If you're wondering why this is a circle, all I can think is it was the 90s and I probably had a circular frame it was in...or just it was the 90s.
When I texted this to the always active group text with Megan and Jen(ny), Megan replied "I am not making that face." To which I corrected her "Yes you are. That's what recreating the picture means." And she did it because I am bossy and maybe she is still scared of me a little. Anyway, we didn't make it back in front of that house, and sadly that 1989 Prelude (that you can't really see but that I know is in the background) is long gone, but we did end up with this:

Now, if you are friends with me on social media, you've already seen this, because I posted it immediately. It honestly might be one of my favorite things of all time. I can't help but smile whenever I see it. How has it been twenty years since that top picture? TWENTY YEARS?! I don't get it. As I was looking at this picture over and over every time a notification popped up, I was thinking about the difference in those girls. And not just the few grey hairs and wrinkles that we might be covering up, but the deep down differences too. Not to be too Brad Paisley over here, but if those girls at Grayson Lake could sit down with those girls on West Main Street, what would that conversation look like?

Maybe something like this...

Enjoy the moment you're in. Even if you don't want to be in that moment forever, enjoy it while it's here. 
Travel more. Spending money on experiences is much better than spending money on "stuff." You already have plenty of stuff.
Stop worrying. 
Stop obsessing about your make up. (Your college roommate is going to tell you that everyone looks basically the same without make up and with. You're going to think she's insane. At age 38, you will believe her.) 
Stop comparing yourself to other girls. You are different. Different is good. You weren't created to be them, you were created to be you. 
Stop overanalyzing.  
Stop and take a walk (you're going to wish you started getting those 10,000 steps a day a lot earlier than you did). 
Stop and look around.
Listen to the birds. 
Listen to your friends. 
Listen to your heart. If that little voice tells you he's not the one, guess what? He's not. LISTEN.
Call people you care about. Even when this thing comes along called texting and you never "have to" talk on the phone, it's good to hear each other's voices.
Stand up for what you believe in.
If you don't want to do something, don't do it. And don't think you have to have an excuse, you don't. Just don't do it.
Tell that boy you think he's cute. Boys are slow sometimes, he might not be catching on.
If it's not something you can talk to your mom about, then you probably shouldn't be doing it.
When the credit card bill comes, pay it off every month (or at least pay more than the minimum payment).
Speaking of money, in 7 years, this thing called Google is going to start selling shares for $85 each. Buy some of those.

Oh, and I know unlike these other two girls, you weren't ever a Girl Scout, but I know you've heard them sing the song "Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold." Take that to heart. These girls will be there for you when no one else will. There will be times you are completely convinced there's no one in the world who even notices you besides them. The next 20 years will be much more eventful than the first ten or so since you met. You'll be there for each other for big things-amazing things and devastating things. You'll hold one another up when one of you can't stand. You'll pray the prayers for one another when one of you is too tired or sad or overwhelmed to even muster the words on her own. There will be a day when you will get to meet their husbands and then, hold their babies, and those moments will be precious. Realize what you've got here, and hold on tight, even when life pulls you apart. In the end, it will be worth it.


A Little Bit of Decorating

in , , by Erin Lynne, September 15, 2015

The Problem:

I need something above this television.  I have never had anything there, but I just cut the cord with my cable (thank you Sling!!!) and now that the DVR box is gone, and I can finally display these lamps that were my Gurnie's (The story goes, my Papaw bought these at "the thrift" when they lived in Vero Beach, Florida. Gurnie told him they were ugly and were NOT going in her house. Then somehow, she found out they were worth hundreds of dollars, and they adorned her mantle every day after that!)
So ugly they're fabulous!

Anyway... back to the empty wall space.

So I wanted something above the television.  But the walls are plaster and it's a brick chimney behind them, and, well I didn't really want to hammer/drill/whatever to hang something.  I thought about doing one of those vinyl wall decals, but I have one on the adjacent wall that leads to the dining room, so I thought that was overkill... but I did like the idea of a word: blessed.

Among other things, every morning I pray that God helps me remember all of the blessings I do have and not to focus on the few things I don't have. It's easy to focus on what we don't though, isn't it?  I do try to be grateful and understand that I truly am blessed... but I will admit, sometimes it's harder than others.

The idea of this word blessed morphed into a Pinterest worthy idea, and I am pleased at how it turned out!

I went to Michael's for some canvases, paint, and brushes.  Can you believe that the $14.99 canvases were three for the price of one this week, and I had a coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase and my total was just at $25. See, I told you I was blessed!

Step one was painting the canvases a tan color. Oh, I'm sorry, "Unbleached Titanium." Which makes sense, because who wants bleach in their titanium?

Because I am highly aware of the fact that fonts are WAY cuter than my actual writing, I had found this free font online (I found it at but I can't remember which of the 1001 it was... sorry) and printed the word in like 635 point font. I wish I could've used this size on my 30 page grad school papers.  

I then turned it over and shaded the back with a pencil, so I could rub the outline of the letters on before I painted.

Look closely and you'll see the outline

Then it was just painting over the letters (which I readily admit I should've practiced before I went right in to the canvas, but hindsight is 20/20, right?) Today I bought the Command strips that are kind of like velcro, cleaned the wall and hung them up.  Those strips are the best because part stays on the wall and part on the wooden back of the canvas so I could straighten, move, etc very easily. I love those things.

So here it is now!

Again, the letters don't look as good as I wanted, but all in all I am happy.  And blessed. :)

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