Madame Dallas’s Cafe & Bookshop Is Closing Down


I’ve been staring at this computer screen for an hour and I still can’t come up with the best way to open this blog post. So I guess it will just have to start there..with DANGIT. Because it’s happening. The day that we all knew would come at some point… the day that I’ve dreaded for the last seven years… the day that I have to say:

I’m leaving Springtown.

I feel like I’m graduating high school all over again. I’m leaving behind the place that has nurtured me, shaped me into the person I am, strengthened my talents, sharpened my skills, and walked with me through seven of the best years of my life. And when I say that about the place of Springtown, I really mean the people. The administrators, the staff, the parents, the volunteers, the students… Oh my gosh. My students.

*insert another long pause as I stare through blurry eyes and try to figure out what to say next*

Springtown I.S.D. renewed my contract another year. Nobody’s kicking me out. I have an awesome job working with some of the most creative and hard-working students in Springtown. I love my classroom. I’ve been allowed to decorate and do crazy things in here for years now. My boss is the BEST (I’m a Mark Wilson fan for life). I have some solid friendships among my co-workers. I’ve been awarded Teacher of the Year twice in my seven years there. I’ve had the support of my administration and have always been given creative freedom to personally grow myself and my students. My district works with me when I need off for author appearances and they’ve never told me NO when it came to an opportunity. All in all, I have it GOOD here in Springtown. I’ve put the time in and I’ve established good rapport in my job.

So why the heck am I leaving?

Because in the last four years, my teaching career and my writing career have grown in such a way that they are now in a stand-off with one another. Being an author takes me away from my students at times. Being a full-time teacher limits other opportunities I could have had as an author. Neither can flourish much more with the limited amount of time I have in a 24-hour period. I need more time to be good at everything I want to do. And God refuses to give me extra hours in a day. Instead He’s decided to move me out of my comfort zone and push me off a ledge to try out some newly constructed wings.

People always comment that they don’t know “how I do it” all the time with teaching, writing, ministering, traveling, and touring. Well, I don’t know either and lately I’ve found myself answering with, “Well, I’m not sure I’m doing IT well anymore…” I’ve learned to compartmentalize everything. When I’m with my students, I’m WITH my students. I’m not working on author stuff or writing. When I’m at home, I don’t grade papers. I try to be a good wife and spend that time with my husband or catch up on sleep. When I’m at church, I’m focusing on those teenagers, helping lead worship and teach bible study. When I’m commuting two hours a day, I’m listening to my Bible audiobooks and giving myself focused time with God. When I’m speaking at an author event or doing a book signing, I’m dedicated to meeting people and engaging them exactly where they are. And when I’m writing… well…

I’m NOT writing. That’s the problem. Not much new writing has taken place in the last year and a half of my life. And guess what? You can’t be an author – you can’t be a WRITER – if you don’t WRITE.

After praying for a couple of years about this, God has finally provided some answers. It started in the fall with this little word called OBEDIENCE. Yeah, most people don’t like that. But God was speaking and I was listening and obeying. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my adult life, it’s how to identify God’s voice in my life. And when He tells me to do something, I jump. Get your finances under MY control, Krissi. Cut out the unnecessary stuff. Now, I want you to give up your cute little house and find something cheaper. Don’t worry, I’ve got the home picked out for you. Just wait and follow when the opportunity comes. It’ll be hard, but if you want your life to change, you’re gonna have to make some sacrifices. Yes, Krissi, I know it’s only 600 square feet of home, but it will be your blessing if you just do what I say. Okay, now hang in there. You’re going to change publishers, release three books in six months, move to a new home, and now you’re going to leave the job you love…

Wait… what?! I can’t leave Springtown!! Can’t I just find a part-time position there? This is TOO much change, God. I’m only made of so much… remember that whole jar-of-clay metaphor you gave us in 2 Corinthians? Yeah, you nailed it. I’m nothing but clay and I will literally BREAK if you apply anymore pressure. Please don’t take away my support system…my comfort zone…my students.

But, no. I’m not breaking yet and I’m not looking back. Because, guess what? When you’re doing the right thing, there’s this strength and peace that comes with it. It’s the same feeling you get when you know you obeyed your parents and it pleased them and they looked at you with pride and joy in their eyes. There’s no greater feeling than living under the umbrella of a parent’s blessing. Multiply that feeling by 100 when your parent is GOD.

Even though I’d love to just become a full-time writer, that job is not lucrative enough yet for me to do so. I make no personal profit off my books, and whatever I do bring in goes back into a business account to cover all the other expenses – travel, t-shirts, marketing, publicity, etc – that are required to keep my author career going. Not only does the writing provide nothing financially, but I’m just not ready to give up teaching. I love middle school too much and I love the audience I write for too much to just quit. I’ve worked for seven years honing these skills and I’m GOOD at teaching. But I can no longer stay full-time if I’m going to make writing and touring a permanent part of my lifestyle.

Click here to visit UME Prep’s Website!

That’s why I am honored to announce that I’ll be joining a fabulously creative group of people in starting a new school! Sam and I are one of the founding families for U.M.E. Preparatory Academy – a charter school opening near DBU next year. It is a university-model public school, but operates a lot like a private school. While all of the details of my involvement with U.M.E. are still being finalized, I can say that I will still be working in a middle school capacity and be somewhat like a professor who instructs only 2-3 days a week. I am incredibly excited about the fact that God provided not only a part-time teaching job for me, but at a brand-spankin’ new school! If you know me, you know I love getting in from the ground up on things and building them into something special and unique. The fact that I get to help establish a strong foundation for a new school is extremely appealing and invigorating to me. There will be a new learning curve for me and a lot of new challenges, but I know U.M.E. Prep is an answer to so many prayers I’ve prayed over the last year. I hope that I can be an equal blessing to them!

And when I’m not teaching two days a week, I’m going to WRITE. I’ve got other writing projects I want to work on – a couple of which I started, but never found the time to develop. I want to give myself over to the creativity. I watch my students write so freely the stories that pop into their heads – and I’m jealous sometimes. I long to breathe again through the pages of a story only I can tell…

And I’m not doing this just for the writing… I need to be a good WIFE. God gave me this man who takes such good care of me and who supports every creative and dramatic bone in my body. He is so my perfect match in every way. And I need to start taking care of him too. I want to be in my home long enough to clean it. I want to be able to cook healthy meals for us, to take our puppies for walks, to enjoy the simpler things about our lives, lest these years pass us by in a blur of crazy activities. The future is exciting and scary and freeing all at the same time!

But the changes are bittersweet. And here I am with the dilemma of how to say goodbye to Springtown.

I’m currently gazing around my room as I write this. I don’t see a classroom with coffee shop-themed banners and movie posters on the walls and agendas on the board and papers to pass out. No, I look around this room and I see the faces of my students, past and present. Even when they’re not physically here. I see their light-bulb moments when something suddenly clicks. I see the laughter on their faces when we share a joke that will electrify the atmosphere in here and bring us one step closer to each other. I see the tears in their eyes – sometimes of pain and frustration, sometimes of shame and repentance. I see their yawns on days when they can barely keep going. I see their confident smiles when they’re victorious over new concepts. I see the anticipation on their faces when they come in for a new lesson with me, wondering just what I’ve got up my sleeve. I see them entering a magical tollbooth and scaling the Mountains of Ignorance and sipping drinks at Javahouse Friday and viewing microscopic blood infected with ebola in a Level 4 Biosafety Lab and questioning the motives of the people in Tangerine, Florida and launching paper airplanes and making trips to Mount Olympus and conquering their first thesis essays… All those adventures and more contained within one tiny classroom at the front of the 100 Hall.

But the four walls of a classroom are just that… just witnesses to the lives that merge together there for 50 minutes of their day. But those 50 minutes of each day have the power to shape our lives. I know they’ve shaped mine. I will always look back fondly on my time in Springtown. I know it sounds crazy, but I am confident I will continue to remain in touch with the students I had there… I’m definitely having a Whitnee/Krissi crossover moment when Whit faces saying goodbye to her campers in Watercrossing.

…my heart hurt knowing that this time where my life intersected with theirs was coming to an end. Living and growing together for this long had formed bonds stronger than normal relationships…

I don’t know how to say goodbye to the 7 years of 9 different graduating classes of students who have gone through my classroom. I don’t know how to say goodbye to my seventh graders who I only had for one year. Yes, they are crazy. Yes, they demand ALL of my attention and energy three periods a day. But they have also stolen my heart. I’ve always said and it’s still true… I like kids with spunk. And there was no shortage of that with this year’s seventh graders. They will always be the LAST class I had in Springtown. I don’t know how to say goodbye to what might have been…to those students I’ve been waiting on to move up into the middle school, the younger siblings of former students… the ones I’ll never have in Madame Dallas’s Cafe and Bookshop.

But I hope someday when they are faced with pursuing a dream and the sacrifices it might take, they’ll remember their old teacher… ol’ what’s-her-name with the tissue paper lights that broke fire code… yeah, her. I hope they remember that if I can find the strength to pursue a dream, to take a risk, to leap with faith at new opportunities, then they can do it too. And I hope they remember they’ll always have a fan in me. I’ll cheer them on, because I’ll always remember the ways they cheered me on. (And please don’t quit on me, yall. I will need your support and love even more as I move on in this phase of my life. It’s scary out there.)

I don’t know what awaits me outside the borders of Springtown. But I know I can’t find out if I don’t go.

I also know that I’ll never find time to write that series of books I already started about a magical classroom with a magical teacher and a quirky group of teens in a small Texas town called Summertown. Yeah. You think I’m kidding. *wink*

Always in my heart, Springtown. I love you – all of you. I’m proud to have been a Porcupine for seven years and there will always be quills underneath whatever I wear. But as I say every year to my 8th graders when they leave me for high school…

“Let’s not say goodbye. Let’s just say ‘see you later’ …and then make that a reality.”

TLA Conference 2012 (Aka. Texas Library Association… OR Totally Lost Author?) The Toothpaste Tournament – How To Get A Character Named After YOU!
TLA Conference 2012 (Aka. Texas Library Association… OR Totally Lost Author?)
The Toothpaste Tournament – How To Get A Character Named After YOU!

Comments to “Madame Dallas’s Cafe & Bookshop Is Closing Down”

  1. Im going to miss you so much mrs.Dallas! I love you so much! Saying goodbye is so hard but I'm so proud of you for making such a hard choice and making the right one!!! I'm so sad and IM GOING TO WIN THAT CHALLENGE SO YOU NEVER FORGET ME!!!!!!!!!

    -Jill Rutherford

  2. ive looked up to you as a mentor ever since i walked into your class last year. you have been an awesome, encouraging, suportive and an unbelieveable mentor. i cant belive that you are leaving springtown. ill always look back at the last two years ive had the privalge to know you. i know god has plans for you and i pray that he will help you and sam get throug hthe rough road ahead. youve helped me so much and i will always remember the guidenss that youve given me. but i cant understand y you would leave here on the last day of school and not even look back at the students who love you and need you. so all i geuss i can say as a student of yours is i wish you the best of luck mrs.d and i hope you and sam the best of luck and thanks for always being there for me and listining to me and giving me the help i have needed to get over the death of my clolses friend and brother. i hope to see you and im glad that god has given you this opportunite to use your talents and be able to help other studnts

  3. awww. Mrs. Dallas, well I know you want us to call you Krissi, but its hard to get over the fact that you are no longer my cool and creative english teacher anymore. I just read this and it made me cry. (not many people can do that). I was hopping once I could leagaly drive I could just drive over to the middle school and come visit you and tell you all about my english adventures in high school, and all the amazing books I'v read (I'm about to start yours. I'v heard a lot of great things about it!) But I guess I will have to forgive you since this is what God is calling you to do :). I hope your author career keeps progressing as the future passes. (im sorry if there are any miss uses of words, gramatical errors, or miss spelled words. I havn't mastered the art of correct spelling and …STUFF. haha. 🙂 love you, Krissi!
    -your former (not trying to brag or anything but…) AMAZING student, shayna johnson

    • I'm sorry you cried! I hope it was a good cry. 🙂 I love and miss you guys SO MUCH… I guess that was it. It just wasn't the same without you so I had to leave… hahaha. I'm so proud of you and proud to call you MY student. Thanks for always being supportive and hard working and dedicated to what's important – those qualities will take you far in life! You are a blessing. ((Hugs))

  4. Wait…you lost me at school near DBU!?!? Could it be??? Will you be close to me? As in, we can get together? Have lunch? Catch up? OG????? I am so excited, I could just explode! 🙂 I am so proud of you listening to the Lord and following His call on your life! You will be greatly blessed in the future when you get to hear about all the wonderful things your students are doing thanks to the impact God allowed you to make in their lives!

    • Yes, yes, YES!!!! I am looking forward to bugging you when I'm in closer proximity!! OG, it shall be!! 🙂 More details later. Love you, friend!

  5. Krissi – Wow, girl! Sounds like the Father is doing some big stuff in your life! It'll be awesome to see how He continues to use you in mighty ways! You're so right, it is hard to step out in obedience but He definitely has good things in store for you!!!
    I just got a thing in the mail (well, my parents got it in WY) for our OBU 10 yr reunion. You guys going to it? It'd be great to see you guys and catch up in person, if so!
    Many blessings and keep pressing on!
    love, mandy

    • Hey, Mandy! It's good to hear from you! Yes, we will be there in the fall! I can't believe we are this old… hahaha. Thank you for the comment and I can't wait to see you!!!

  6. What a great post! I have to admit that I teared up when reading the part about the changes that are coming allowing you to focus on doing the important things well. I long to turn that corner, and no longer have so many things on my plate that most of them are only being done half-way (if at all). God bless you on your journey, Krissi! You are an inspiration to me to keeping pressing on, doing the things God has called me to do today in order to end up where He wants me to be down the road somewhere.

    • And you inspire others, as well, Becky!! Keep with your vision and keep dreaming big. You are so talented and I admire your persistence and hard work SO MUCH more than you know! Thanks for making this world a more beautiful place – through music. 🙂

  7. Mrs. D,
    I love you so much. I am so thankful that God put you in my life. I tried so hard to sum up everything you were to me in my college app essay, but I just can't seem to put you into words. Thank you for pushing me along my journey.
    Makayla Higgins

    • Oh, my Makayla… you will always be so precious to me, as well. Sometimes words fail us, and that's okay. I am thankful for all our memories together, all our talks, and I'm very proud of the young lady that you are becoming. Stay true to yourself and everything you know to be right in this world. Praying God blesses you as you faithfully follow after Him. Love you, sweetheart.

  8. I know they will miss you but what a great lesson they will learn as they watch someone follow their dreams.

    • I hope so! Thanks for the encouragement, Randa. 🙂

  9. Congratulations on your new ventures. Remember, slow, deep breaths and put one foot in front of the other. You can do this! 🙂

    • Very good advice, Heather!! 🙂

  10. I'm glad your my teacher I've never had someone care about me that was a teacher and related to all of my stuff I lie you mrs.dallas and I will always remember our amazing memories being in your 8th grade class is amazing I cried when I saw this because I always thought about crying saying good-bye going to high school but now I have to say good-bye and not see you in springtown. Your my inspiration I don't know what I would do without you in my life I don't know how after two years with your students you say good-bye because just hearing you leaving this town makes me cry but happy your continuing on with your dream. I love you mrs.dallas
    Love always
    Makayla 🙂 <3

    • I love you, too, Makayla! And all these trials in your life are working out something amazing for you – maybe so that one day you can help others going through similar things. I pray God strengthens you and draws you to Himself through everything. You have such a precious heart and I know you will continue to succeed as long as you put your heart into it. Love you so much – glad I had you for a year, at least! Once my student, ALWAYS my student!!

  11. Wow! Words cannot express how grateful I am to have had you as a teacher. As I am pursuing my education degree, I am keeping all of your fun and creative ideas in the back of my mind. Even though I'll be teaching the younger ones, I know that I can still use some of your teaching methods. Thank you for being a true believer in each one of your students' potential. It was evident as a student in your classroom and even now, as a college student. I can't believe it has been seven years since I stepped foot into your classroom. I was so excited to start the new year with you as a teacher. Who wouldn't be? The lights were pink and blue! Haha. There were many other reasons too, of course. 🙂 Thank you for listening to God. He led you to Springtown to teach some crazy middle school kids and you have blessed the lives of so many. Now, God is leading you somewhere else and His light is going to continue to shine through you. Thank you for being not only a great teaching example, but a Godly example as well. I know that you will bless many more lives in the years to come.

    • Oh, Tara, you are going to be an AWESOME teacher!! I'm glad to know that there pieces of me you might take with you – however, the most important thing I hope you remember is to love your students and love what you do. Kids can sense when you genuinely care about them or not. And you have so much love in your heart, your classroom will be so blessed!! I'm so proud of you and all the wonderfully exciting things coming up in your future – the travels you'll be taking and the lives you will be influencing. Love you so much. Thanks for always keeping in touch with me. I consider you a blessing in my life. 🙂

  12. <3

    • Thanks for the love, Myra. 🙂

  13. Good luck out there. I will always be a fan of your.i know you will do grate. No matter how scary is gets you are never alone and god will always lead you in the right direction. Now that you close this chapter of your life, if will never be forgotten. We you find your self in a hard spot or having writer back just remember back to springtown and the people who believe n have faith in you, or just take a walk out side n spend some quiet time with god. As you know he will never lead you wrong. Again good luck and all the best wishes to you and your family.

    • Thank you for those good reminders, sweetie! So glad I got to meet you and your precious daughter at the Watercrossing Party! Blessings to you in all your endeavors – follow your dreams. 🙂

  14. This brought me to tears. Change is so hard:( May God continue to bless you, my sweet friend! He sure has blessed all of us after all those painful goodbyes and tears were shed our Senior year! You are an amazing teacher and I am so happy to see you will continue to teach, what would this world be like without teachers like you? LOVE you lot's! Can't wait to see you tomorrow!!!

    • Yes, our lives have definitely seen many changes, haven't they, Sarah! So blessed to call you a lifelong friend of mine!! Hope to see you again soon and spend more than a couple of minutes chatting. Ha. Love you.

  15. What a big transition. I'm bitter-sweet for, proud of you! Your students will miss you, but I also know they'll never stop being your biggest fans. I'm thrilled about the new opportunities that await you. You're a rock star.

    • Thanks, Renea… I'm super blessed by my students. 🙂

  16. That made me cry Mrs. Dallas and I never even had you as a teacher! I saw the impact you made on my friends and my sister. They all loved you!!! I wish you the best as you move on and I know that with God's help, you'll succeed at everything you set your mind to do!

    –Rachel Alvis

    • Thanks for the sweet words, Rachel! I wish I would have had you as a student – you obviously soared to amazing heights! I hope college is going just as well. Blessings. 🙂

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