Today, I opened up a box of new dishes that I purchased almost two years ago. I was waiting for the right time to welcome these beautiful pieces into my kitchen, and somewhere in that timeframe life happened. As I began to unpack these perfect blue and green dishes, I discovered a missing setting and two large pieces that shattered during shipping.

I sat looking at the broken pieces for almost an hour and thought about how this moment could represent so many other things.

Waiting for the perfect moment.
Shattered on the inside.
Illusion of perfection.


Life is a beautiful mess. We are not guaranteed things. Use the damn dishes. Today.

Don’t unpack the box two years from now and find yourself wishing you would’ve done it sooner.

New Name, Same Me

34 is not a monumental age by any means.
For me, it is a little more bittersweet.
I have now lived half of my life without my dad.

In order to honor him and everything he brought to my life,
including my love of learning and a personality that draws people from across the room,
I am bringing back his name as part of my own.

Call me Ishmael.
Because I’m pretty excited to bring this small piece back into my life.

New name, same me.
Kristina Ishmael-Peters

Saying Goodbye

Twenty years ago this month I sat in my freshman English class with a brand new Mead 5 Star Notebook covered by a sticker with my favorite band at the time – Shaded Red. A boy walked by my desk and noticed said sticker, then mentioned that he would be seeing them in concert that evening. After negotiations with my parents to join this new friend and his dad for the concert, I knew that the Mugfords would play an important part of my life for years to come.

Shortly after our concert experience, I started attending the youth service that Jeff Mugford led, aptly called Hot Church. This youth group was unlike anything I had experienced. There was a full band rocking out with a team of high schoolers leading vocals, relevant and timely messages for teenagers, small group options to learn more about God, and a tight knit community that supported one another in life. Within months, I joined the worship team and a small group, and even convinced my parents to move churches.

There were weekly rehearsals, weekend camps, yearly overnights to Magic Mountain, summer missions trips, and SO many concerts. The memories are vivid and the relationships still exist.

Today marks the Hot Church Reunion where we all come together to reminisce and bid farewell to the facility that convened us during our formative years. As we have all prepared for the service that will take place and shared memories, I have braced myself to feel all the feels. This building was my second home, more than any other place. It was my church from freshman year of high school until I graduated college and moved to Nebraska. It was my first job when I helped program music for services. It was the place where we said our final goodbye to my dad in a sanctuary filled with friends and family.

Today we say goodbye to Hot Church, but not to all the memories that we keep forever with us.

You matter to me and you matter to God.

I Didn’t Know

Fifteen years ago tonight, I said goodbye to my dad for the final time.

I didn’t know it would be the last time I would give him a hug and tell him I loved him. I didn’t know that his heart couldn’t take anymore. I didn’t know that I should have gone with my mom to the hospital when they called. I didn’t know how to react when the doctor came to tell us he was gone. I didn’t know how I could feel pain so severe, while simultaneously be completely numb to it. I didn’t know that I would somehow sing at his funeral days later. I didn’t know that burial felt so concrete.

I didn’t know that I would start my freshman year in college without a father. I didn’t know that I would get married almost four years later and not have him there to walk me down the aisle. I didn’t know all of the milestones in my life that he would miss.

I didn’t know that my heart would still ache fifteen years later.


Taking Time to Model Reflecting


Image is CC0 Public Domain

At the end of most of my sessions, I try to build in time for reflection because it’s a great way to process new learnings, consider applications, and bring our time together to a close. One of my favorite ways to do this is to use Padlet and show the real-time reflections in the room. I’ve done this several times recently and it’s because of how one experience caused me to pause and take note. Normally, I encourage participants to share key takeaways and next steps. Not too long ago, I was doing this and several constructive comments were written regarding some choices made over the course of the day. Instead of just reading them and letting them sit there, I wrote some notes speaking to each comment and addressed each of them as we came back together before the end of the day. There were intentional choices made during the day that were important to point out and explain. This exercise was very powerful for me. Not only did I read the comments, I modeled processing them.

We often discuss coaching as an effective model with teachers and students because of the feedback loop involved. Yet, I rarely see it in action. That is not to say that it doesn’t happen. But how often and where? As part of our evaluations? During professional learning opportunities? Even if we consider session evaluations as part of the feedback loop for professional developers, do we read and process them? Do we read them, fixate on the negative ones, get defensive, and not change anything in our future work? I’m all too guilty of this myself. I’m not quite sure what made me approach this differently, but I did. And it was a powerful practice for me. I will be very intentional of doing this again in future work, as uncomfortable as it may be. It’s important for growth and a great way to feel empowered. Imagine if we all practiced this and modeled this process for educators and students.

Five Things To Do INSTEAD of Watching a Movie Before Break

Dear teacher,

It’s the last week of school before break. You are reaching your limits, and so are your students. Your personal holiday busyness is bleeding into your classroom…and you just want to put a movie in. I get it, I’ve been there. But before you do, think.

  • Did you know that watching a movie for entertainment (not tied to curriculum), is not considered fair use and is a violation of copyright?
  • What message are we sending students and parents by watching a movie during instructional time?
  • Could this time be used for something else?

Instead of watching a movie this last week before break, here are five options to consider:

5 by Leo Reynolds is licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA
  1. Design: 
  2. Create:
    • Build a makerspace with everyday objects
    • Make commercials and record (even use YOUR phone)
  3. Play:
    • Pull that book of reader’s theater out and put one together
    • Bring back art activities in the classroom: paint, draw, sketch, build
  4. Investigate:
  5. Code:
    • Give students more time to get in and play with all those great sites that you discovered during the Hour of Code week.

It may be tempting to pop that movie in, but look at all of these meaningful activities that could happen instead. Imagine the problem-solving, critical-thinking, creativity, collaboration, and fun that could take place. Share what you end up doing with your students – I’d love to know!


It’s Time for #EdcampGift 2015

The Edcamp Foundation has partnered with Remind again this year to bring #EdcampGift 2015. This is a great way to engage with fellow Edcampers and share stories. Oh, did I mention that one person will also be selected each day to donate $100 to their favorite Edcamp?!

Join the conversation by using the #EdcampGift hashtag on Twitter and Instagram!

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#EdcampGift 2015