Friday, December 29, 2006

2006 in Retrospect

I know that it is a couple of days early but I'm not sure if I'll get to blog again before 2007 barrels into our lives. Looking back, 2006 was quite a year. Just like every year before it, and I'm sure every year yet to come, it had its high and low points. One thing that I have come to realize about myself is that I have a very selective memory. I only remember the good. After all, life is what you make of it. I choose to see the beauty of it all.

This year can be wrapped up for me in one word: Love. That's what it has all boiled down to. I was so blessed this year because I got to experience love in just about every way possible. From shared laughter to shared tears, it was all wonderful. It was all better than I could have ever anticipated and words cannot capture the thankfulness I have for it and for you. It gave me strength and confidence. It made me feel like something bigger than myself. I cannot tell you what it means to me and how you have changed my life through your presence in it.

The other thing this year has impressed upon me is the gift of simplicity. This past week, I walked dogs with my sister. She let me tag along with her to work and "help" her out. I honestly didn't plan on doing that while I was there but after the first night, I really looked forward to it. The joy and love that the animals had at first sight was so simple but so comforting. I think that 2007 will see a pet very quickly! But there was more than walking dogs for a day or two. It was getting lost in a book, the vibrant colors of plants as they came into full bloom, the feel of the breeze in your hair. It was a million tiny little things that get overlooked because we are so busy that we forget to stop and notice them. 2006 was about those awarenesses.

This was a year in which, for the first time, I felt like an adult. I took great pride in my work and found joy in it. Even though I find myself as confused today as I have in the past, I am thankful for the professionalism that I now feel. Beyond work, I feel independence and responsible for who I am and what I do. I don't know when it happened, but I don't see myself as a kid anymore. Somewhere in the past 12 months, I grew up.

There are things that I hope for 2007. I hope to begin my master's work in the fall. I hope to be in a house that stands independent of what I cannot control. I hope to see Boston. I hope I continue to look for the small things and find your love along the way.

Happy New Year to you all. Count your blessings and get ready to be piled up with more.

Friday, December 22, 2006

In Response to Jackie...

I was reading Jackie's Christmas blog this morning and I have been thinking about it. I was going to comment but it turned into the world's longest comment so now it is a blog. I have to start with a disclaimer though. I love the church. I really do. So here are my views on the whole Christmas thing. It may get me kicked me out of the church but I'm pretty sure that you will still love me.

Who cares if people are celebrating Christ's birth? If the whole world wants to stop for one day and one night to actually think about God...Go for it! I don't think He will mind. Why do we have to be the only ones that kick Jesus out of the holiday? I find it ironic that the church refuses to make one day any more significant that the rest when we do it so passively every year. Think about it…By trying so hard not to acknowledge it, aren't we actually acknowledging it and making it stand out? You know – don’t read that scripture about Christ being born today! That might make this day more important than the rest! Make sure that everyone knows we don’t celebrate the birth of Christ today but every day of the year! And those beautiful carols! We refuse to sing them at Christmas time but we don't sing them any other time of the year either. If we truly celebrate the birth of Christ on everyday, let's sing “Joy to the World” or “Oh Holy Night” in May. Oh...wait...we can't do that either! It might make people uncomfortable! If our minds are really supposed to be set on things above, I think that Christmas counts too. I don’t hold it more holy that any other but why not give it a better focus than the commercialism that consumes our society. After all, the whole family and loves ones side is usually a direct gift from God through Christ. It’s a shame that we can acknowledge it 364 days a year but not the one day that we could actually use it the most to evangelize. Oh...wait…make that 363 days…don’t forget about Easter…

Thursday, December 21, 2006


One semester down! As of 3:15 this afternoon we are on Christmas break! After staying up until 1:00 this morning getting ready for today, it went very well. It was the day of controled chaos that most people in my profession dread. Overall, the students did very well. They were spoiled rotten with gifts (see the picture below). They each got three gifts so our class tree was quite the sight. It was decorated with glass ornaments that we painted ourselves. So much fun! Half way through the day, it started hailing at our school. If you remember April at all, you can imagine the fear that came into the adults' eyes! It was smaller than pea-sized so it didn't do any damage - just gave us a good scare. The kids thought it was snow so that was fun. A student went to get a cup so the kids could see it. Perfect timing since we just studied weather! I'd post the picture but the student is in it. Privacy rights and all. Then our class shirts came in (check out those colors, Dad!). The party was sugar filled so the 3:00 bell was well appreciated by the teachers. Thankfully the kids took all of the food with them! :) I made it through without getting the traditional teacher mug. However, I now have a theme of bath sets. Hmmmm...what could they be trying to tell me? Now, I have about 2 weeks to be a person. What am I going to do with all of that free time!?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The More Things Change....

Sometimes you just gotta shake your head. I was walking into HEB after work when I passed an older woman very passionately discussing her frustrations with gift shopping to no one. In the past, this would have caught me off guard but with so many people using blue tooth and other hand free phone options, I just smiled. I laughed to myself as I quickly thought about how quickly things have changed. Instead of thinking her odd, I was actually quite impressed at her technological aptness. She looked to be my grandmother's age and here she was embracing the ever changing world of the cell phone. Then it happened.....

As I was passing her, she turned and smiled at me. I phone or phone accessories anywhere! I was no longer looking at her with admiration. She really was that crazy old lady walking through the parking lot and yelling at herself! Oh my goodness!

I guess things haven't changed that much after all!

Monday, December 18, 2006


One thing that I love about the Holy Spirit is that it speaks on our behalf - making sense of the groaning that our humanity can't express. Sometimes that groan is an indescribable joy and other times it is intense sorrow. Tonight, my soul groans.

You know the blog that Jackie wrote about asking for prayer requests but not vocalizing them? That is what I am doing tonight. I am ok but am VERY shaken on someone's behalf. I'm talking blurred vision and literally shaking. Please, pray for intercession on their behalf and peace on mine.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mutualism in the Church

There is a scientific term that has been running through my mind today - Symbiosis. Symbiosis is when two organisms live together for the benefit of at least one of the two involved. A branch of that is mutualism and it is exactly the same except that both organisms benefit from the relationship rather than just one. I think this is what God had in mind when he established the role of elders in the church.

Today, Randy preached at both morning and evening services about the need for pastoral prayer - prayers for our elders. Now, I have to admit that the topic of the eldership has become increasingly more important and personal to me in about the past year. I obviously can't fill that role but as a daughter of an elder and a sheep in God's flock, my relationship with my leaders has taken on a whole new light.

We are given example after example in scripture of the role of elders in our church. When you boil it all down, we basically see that an elder is responsible for the spiritual well-being of the souls in God's church. They are to stewards of God's word and in constant prayer over the church. There is so much more to the position but that is the foundations of it all.

If I expect my leaders to rise to the standard which has been set for them, I have to do my part as well. God put the men in the eldership there for a reason. If someone wasn't qualified, I honestly don't believe that God would allow him to come into that role. My opinion of them doesn't matter as long as they are scriptually qualified. If I "don't like" one, I thank God for there being a plurality of leaders. I remind myself that someone needs them as a spiritual leader and that they are part of the leadership that I am under. I commit to follow who and what the Lord has established.

Randy has encouraged all of us to pray over our elders in several areas: their personal lives, spiritual leadership, administrators, prophets, and as teachers. If we do not edify and support our leaderships, they will be ineffective. Any complaints we may have not only destroy our relationships with them but also with God. I'm not saying we should ride the benches of our local churches. I'm just saying that we should attempt to understand the responsibility on their shoulders and encouraged them the best way that we can. We need to give back to them as much (if not more) than they give to us. They are only as strong in leadership as we are as followers. That is the mutualism in the church.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

And the Number One Reason Is....

Lately I have been gripping a lot on here. Sorry! I'll try to get better about that, but tonight I need to vent one more time.

I am moving this summer. There are several but here is the number one reason why it MUST happen: My neighbors smoke. Up until now, it hasn't been that big of a deal. They smoked on their porch outside. Just a little annoying because I couldn't open my windows without the smell coming in but overall, nothing to really be concerned about. However, lately their smoke has moved inside. How do I know? It smells like a chain smoker lives in my apartment. This is not just me being sensitive either. Others have commented about it too. It is keeping me awake right now because of the stink! Their nicotine is coming up through the floor and vents. I reek of smoke and my apartment does too. When my home in invaded by someone else's habit, I am not a happy camper! Especially if I can't do anything about it! I'm calling the office tomorrow but I don't think they can do anything either. GRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!

If I get lung cancer and die, sue the guys below me!

Monday, December 11, 2006


At the end of each six weeks, we give our kids benchmark tests. Honestly...I hate it for so many reasons. I could seriously rant and rave right now like you would not believe. So I'll just pick one rant, say my peace, and then let it go. (yeah right)

For five weeks, my classroom busts its hump. I work ungodly hours and I push my kids pretty hard. I have high standards and I expect them to be met. The standard may not be the same for every kids but the expectation for growth and learning is there. So we WORK. Then, from somewhere way higher up than I, a test finds its way into my classroom. I don't see it until I give it. Therefore, I am just hoping that I have given them the information they will need to pass this test. Most of the time they do pretty well. The other times - not so much.

So here's my beef....Like I said, I hold a high bar for my kids. They are really good about meeting the standard. However, the benchmark doesn't always reflect that. In fact, most of the time, they are being tested over things they are not expected to have secured until April. I KNOW that my kids have learned and I can prove it. Yet, those stinkin' tests just don't show the improvement in them. It is so hard to lift their little chins with the graphs, wall movements, and score increases when that benchmark grade is looming over their heads.

My biggest fear is this....what if they come to expect failure. Once that acceptance sets in, there is no going back. I just hope that the love, pats on the backs, and mini-celebrations can be enough for them to see their growth over time.

What a mess!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Shooting Myself

So I wrote yesterday about how much I love my job and how everything is great. Then today hit. I guess my bragging set myself up for it....

From college until now, I have had experiences in about 4 different school districts. My current one is unlike any of the rest. Their expectations are high and that is the biggest double edged sword I know of. On one hand, I am growing as a professional leaps and bounds. On the other hand, they are slowly sucking the life out of us. I'm talking pressure and nervous break downs like you would not believe. I've been places where the anti-depressants were being taken to deal with the atmosphere but this is a whole new ballgame. This afternoon some new information came down the shoots and we nearly hit the fans. I don't cuss so at the moment, there are no words in my vocabulary to express exactly how strongly any of us are feeling about our current situation.

My list of soap boxes I would like to stand on is growing by the day. I mean, come on...seriously!?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Fine Line I Walk

As much as I have gripped and complained about my job, I love it. I love the curriculum. I love the kids. I love my co-workers. I love how it pushes me to give even when I don't think there is anything else to give.

This year, I have been so intensely focused on work that I have come to a realization. I am walking the fine thin line between loving work and becoming a work-a-holic. Truth be told, I pour my heart and soul into this job. Just about every waking moment is spent working or thinking about work. I'll take breaks to see my friends a few times a week but I would estimate that the majority of my time is work driven. I think about work as soon as the alarm goes off. I work all day long and well into the night. I work while I watch TV and while I talk on the phone. This weekend the school is open. I will be there when it opens.

Last Friday, a co-worker and I had lunch together. She is engaged and she told me that she never thought she would chose work over being at home with a family. I see myself having that thought one day.

Is 26 too young to be so intense about work?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Addicted to Christmas

I just got home from getting a tree for my kids at school. They wanted one and Target had a good one for a good price. I got gift tags instead of ornements. This was they are cute but still won't break. I'll probably have a picture of it up soon. I saw Erin's blog and decided to do it too. Merry Christmas!

*Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot chocolate (especially from Starbucks!)

*Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? wrap in color coded gifts so we know who they belong to

*Colored lights on tree/house or white? white (Unless we are at the Griswald's house in Houston!)

*Favorite Holiday memory as a child: Erin and I would always wake Mom and Dad VERY early. Favorite time was in high school (sad but true), we misread a clock and got them up at 4:30 a.m. They weren't too happy when we all realized it. Oops!

*When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I asked Mom in 5th grade. Talk about disappointed!

*Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? on even numbered years in Houston

*How do you decorate your Christmas tree? While watching a Christmas movie and drinking hot chocolate

*Do you remember your favorite gift? Nope

*What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Time with the family and friends without having to rush back to work or feel guilty about it.

*What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Fat Ladies!

*What is your favorite holiday tradition? Opening stockings first or driving round and looking at lights

*What tops your tree? a big maroon bow

*Which do you prefer giving or Receiving? giving - especially it I know they will like it!

*What is your favorite Christmas Song? either The Christmas Song, White Christmas, or Silent Night

*Candy Canes - Yuck or Yum? Not so much

*Shop all year round for gifts or are you last minute shopper? Plan for months but shop last minute

*What's your favorite holiday movie and why? Serious would have to be It's a Wonderful Life. Talk about a great reminder of what's important! Funny is Christmas Vacation with the Huttons and Kellys.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

It's Been a Long Time Comin'

This is a long one but please take the time to read it. It’s a big one for me!

We all have times in our lives where we look back and think about the “what ifs” and “if I could have onlys”. We find comfort in telling ourselves that hind sight is 20/20. Other times, we are in a moment and we know exactly what is going on. We can put our finger on it and name it. For me, the past few months have been spent in the “what ifs” but yesterday, I had an epiphany.

I guess that it really started about a week ago (see the over-analyzing blog). I’ve been reassessing several things and letting go of even more. Then, this week, work was crazy but it didn’t seem to bother me as much. But the moment that I could put my finger on and name happened yesterday.

I had a great lunch with Mom and then went to see some incredible friends perform on the AMC show. They were phenomenal! I was watching them and realized that I didn’t want to be in the back with the camera. I wanted to be up there with them. I decided right then that as much as I like my job, it has to stop being my life. I gave up something that I want to do to work myself to death. That is dumb and must stop. I have to make time for what I want and that starts now.

Then later that evening, we went to the Chordsmen show and watched the chorus and Exclamation! sing on the Christmas show. It was the first time in about 5 months that I haven’t cried during (or after) a performance. The best part was that it didn’t even occur to me until after the show. Whenever I realized it, it was like a HUGE weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I just had to sit back and take a mental picture. Definitely an exact moment that I wanted to remember!

After the shows, we went to Earl Abel’s for dinner. I adore my friends but we are ruthless. Mess up once and you will never be allowed to forget about it. We spent a few hours picking on each other and just laughing. At one point, I looked around and felt at home. That is right where I needed to be - in the middle of people I love and that love me - laughing.

Today I feel still and quiet inside. Peace feels good!

Friday, December 01, 2006


Tonight was a chorale concert up at TSU. About eight people I know were involved so I decided to spend the $2.00 and make a night of it. It was SO beautiful! There was a touch of classical music but LOTS of hymn and folk type songs. Several were just calm, soothing pieces. A wonderful end to a chaotic week!

Next weekend, they are performing Handel's Messiah in Austin. For years, I have wanted to hear it sung at Christmas time. Looks like it's finally going to happen. :)

Hope your weekend is off to a good start!