Friday, December 26, 2008
With time on the road, I have grown to really appreciate the beauty of audio books. I am a slow reader so this is the perfect way to get some "reading" done without having any distractions. I've recently read "Teaching Lolita in Tehran" and "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time". Both are very good and I would recommend them both to you. Today, I'm welcoming something with a little more depth. I'll be listening to "A Heart Like His: Intimate Reflections on the Life of David." I thought it would be appropriate because giants seem to be a running them in my mind the past three weeks. God is doing something here so I thought I would see how David handled a life so close to God's heart.
I hope everyone is enjoying this season of celebration, reflection, and anticipation. Love to you all!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Everyone start praying for the man now!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
So we got to school yesterday and it was 65 degrees. As we were going to recess it was 44 degrees. I was excited because I got to wear my scarf and fun hat with the fuzzy ball on top of it. We got out and it was COLD so the kids started acting like huddled penguins to stay warm. Suddenly they all took off fast towards to wall. Apparently, they found the dryer vent from our Life Skills class blowing warm air out of the dryer and they huddled around it to stay warm.
I have smart kids!
Monday, December 15, 2008
The second things I noticed was the quote for the month. I love quotes! Every issue of this magazine has one on the spine. This months is really good. Here it is: Life comes in clusters, clusters of solitude, then a cluster when there is hardly time to breathe. - May Sarton. Can I just say - so true!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
- God doesn't just show up. He prepares a way for Himself to come.
- The answer to our prayer is issued upon the beginning of our saying it. We just don't get it right away.
- Answer to our personal prayer is often wrapped up in the answer to a corporate prayer. There is often something bigger in play.
- He will bless you with what you want or He will bless you with more than what you did not know to want.
- Blessed are you when what comes naturally to others comes supernaturally to you. (This was the biggest one for me.)
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Then, the blessing of all musical blessings, we ended with "In Christ Alone".
Merry Christmas and love to you all!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Happy Winter, everyone!
Monday, December 01, 2008
- Being able to bless someone with a gift
- The smell of the new barbecue place just up the street
- Apple cider and iced tea (but not mixed together)
- The Christmas Song by Dave Matthews
- Gorgeous new pictures of my niece
- Waking up and feeling rested
- Anticipating a sister date for Converge (10 days but who's counting?)
- Getting the house ready to set up the Christmas tree
- Being finished with Christmas shopping!
- Climbing into a bed of clean sheets
I am truly blessed!
Monday, November 24, 2008
One of our elders and his wife are in our group. I remember meeting them the first time I visited and being very welcomed by them. I recall when the church here announced that they were considering men as elders, I hoped he was one of the men before they announced his name. Over the summer, she was in our bible study and I so looked forward to everything that she had to say/share. Since spending time together over the past three months, I have grown to love and appreciate this couple more and more. Not only are they amazing individuals, they are such a GREAT couple! I know it has taken 25 years of love and work but I love to watch them. Last night he was late and he winked at her across the room. They are loving towards each other and have learned what it is to be one. They seek God together and in their own lives and I believe fully that they know His presence in a very loving way. They have both touched my heart in very specific ways.
A few weeks ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend a training hosted by a local church. I was sorting through things said in the sessions and I asked for prayers along those lines. Simple as it sounds, she really stilled my spirit. She offered up a calm word (not really significant to anyone else) and winked at me. That's it - just a wink, a kind word, and a smile. Her heart spoke through that simple act and it meant SO much to me.
Last night, he was leading the prayer for our group. Without any prompting, suggestion, or request from me, he prayed for me. He prayed for my future husband and the man God is working him to become. The words hit me like a wall of power. I literally felt every word come against me and through me with fully strength. Never have I felt anything like that. It was SO touching and fortifying. I didn't even know it but I needed those words prayed over me in a big way. What he didn't know was that I have been contemplating things a little more than usual lately. It was such a blessing. I didn't thank him because I was just speechless.
Tonight, I am increasingly thankful for Bob and Alicia and their presence in my life!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Me: What was the pup riding in?
S: Writing? Like (mimes someone writing a letter)
Me: No riding. Like r-i-d-i-ng (stretching out each sound)
S: OH! Like "Yippy-ki-oh-ki-ay"?
Me: (trying not to lose it in laughter) yes.
Really!? That is the connection he made? Not riding in a car or on a bike but yippy-ki-oh-ki-ay (like a cowboy). Can you tell we're from Texas? Little boy completely made my day! :)
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I am having a Sheasby kind of weekend. This morning I am sipping on hot tea and thinking about Stephen because he drinks hot tea every night. Then, last night I watched a movie that we have been talking about for months. They would have loved it and I think you might too.
A while back, Ben Stein came out with his documentary Expelled. I finally got around to watching it last night while I put together guided readers (wild Friday night .... I know). It is investigating the scientific/academic world's reaction to those who believe in intelligent design. Basically, Darwinism vs. intelligent design. You may think that it sounds incredibly dull but it was SO interesting! I was amazed at some of the things that some of the scientific men were saying. Blew me away! Honestly, I don't think I have ever actually heard anyone blaspheme God but as I watched the show, I found myself in complete fear for these men's souls. Many said some VERY bold comments and one just truly shocked me. We know that God can hear all things but to say such arrogant, atheistic things for the whole world to hear (and with complete pride and self assurance) made me fear for them. These things are recorded forever and can be linked back to them throughout there lives and continuing on even after they pass. Part of me wants to share what they said here but I can't bring myself to say them let along type them. The semi-vindicating moment was at the end when the biggest proponent for Darwinism of our time completely contradicted himself.
The movie made some really good points and made me aware of some the possible affects that could come to be if intelligent design is further pushed under the rug. It is very well done and I think you will be very impressed if you have the chance to see it. It is in Red Box right now and I'm sure video stores will have it too. If you are interested, here is the website.If you just want to see more about the movie without reading, here is the trailer.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Where should I apply go?
Friday, November 07, 2008
What a moron!
Thursday, November 06, 2008
So after a VERY frustrating, concerning week (Elizabeth in the hospital, the election, not having a voice, etc....), I am gearing up for the weekend. Our Friday is an early dismissal day so I'm hoping to bust a LOT out before going home at our usual time Then on Saturday, I am attending a training for Ministry Teams through a local church. I'm WAY excited about that. Then that evening is a come and go dessert dinner for some dear friends. On Sunday is a day I have come to not look forward to. The friends who are being honored with the dessert dinner will be saying good bye to us on Sunday night. My dear, dear friends, the Sheasby family, are leaving Houston on Monday to begin a final month in the US with extended family before moving back to Africa to open orphanages and schools. It is an exciting time but I am selfishly dreading losing such constant contact with a family I have come to love and adore.
So prayers over the next few days are appreciated: for growth and enlightenment during the training and strength in the good bye. It's going to be a weekend of highs and lows. Definitely a weekend to remember.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Did anyone else know that Halloween is the biggest holiday of the year for fireworks? I didn't either but the church behind my apartment proved me wrong tonight. Apparently it calls for more than New Year's Eve and the Fourth of July (combined). Pretty but LOUD! I thought some kids had set some off outside my door. Talk about suddenly being VERY awake!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Most of the people who read this blog are those I love but don't see often. However, I know that for some of you, this is all we get of each other for lengths of time. Still others may happen across this blog via the handy dandy "Next" button or the ever addictive Google. I've become increasingly aware of the idea that what people read may be all that they ever know about me. It may be the only window into who I am, what I've become, or what I represent. That has got me thinking upon an even deeper question: How do I come across? What do people see when they stumble across this blog? Am I a light in the darkness? Am I the proverbial salt? Can they tell whose I am? Are my words sweet and uplifting? Do people see joy? Do readers hear trust, confidence, and peace? Is this blog a blessing? Do people want to come back and read again?
I don't ask these questions for affirmation. Just some things that have been put on my heart - being aware of my interactions with others, whether in person or just in words. I'm not talking about being Pollyanna or sickeningly optimistic. Even in the hard, tough times, where do I put my faith and how do I express that to others? I guess it is just a challenge to myself to be aware of how I come across in my words and deeds.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I recently finished reading a book by Kelly Minter called No Other gods. The basic premise of the book is differentiating between the Lord your God and modern day idols (our daily functional gods). There are many things that I have walked away from this book with - acknowledging things that I hadn't even considered as things I put certain amounts of trust in. I've had to take breaks from certain issues and am relearning to put things in the hands of the One who knows the outcomes.
The biggest impact from this book was at the very end. Kelly retells the story of Abraham and his two sons in a way that I have never really considered. She really spent time discussing that although we know that Ishmael was not the fulfillment of God's promise, he was Abraham's son. Even after Isaac was born, Ishmael was the first born and for 13 years, Abraham lived with and loved this boy. Yet, in order to more completely fulfill the will of God, he had to send him away. He had to kiss Ishmael on the head and say goodbye. This very much touched me. Something I had honestly never thought about. I've blown past this heartbreaking moment for so long because Isaac is the one we have always focused on. I've never been presented with this HUGE sacrifice of Ishmael. That's what happened - Abraham sacrificed both of his sons to God but only got to keep Isaac. He lost his first born.
Minter then went on to talk about how we have to do the same thing. There are things in our lives that we have grown attached to and deeply invested in that we have to let go of in order to receive all that God has prepared for us. I've done this in the past and it is HARD. It brings the idea of taking things into our hands into a whole new light. It makes me question my motivation behind some things that I do. Not everything but some things. It has brought peace and acceptance in many ways (but that is another post for another day).
So now that I am aware of all of this, I find myself wondering what the difference is between being proactive and taking matters into my own hands. There is some thing that I am considering right now but I'm not sure which it falls into - am I making an Ishmael-like decision by taking things into my own hands now only to have to sacrifice it later? Or am I just being proactive? I know that God can bless or use any decision I make. After all, He did bless Ishmael when Abraham asked Him to.
As we talked about in my Monday morning Bible study at work, this is a lesson I want to learn from the pages and not experience again!
Monday, October 20, 2008
As most of you know, I tend to have delayed reactions so I didn't even realize how special this moment was until I was talking to Esme tonight. Have Gregg hand me his daughter felt a little surreal. Almost like it wasn't us. Until I looked into her face. Her little eyelashes so blond that you had to look closely to see them. Her big blue eyes trying to open despite the bright light. The way that she grunted telling us all about what had just happened to her. Her soft little cries.
Above all of this, I can remember something very specific about our first meeting. First, she did not like being taken from her grandma so she started to softly cry. Gregg handed her to me and I talked to her for a second. She looked at me and stopped. Maybe it was the rocking or maybe it was the not being jostled but I know the truth - we already have a little bond thing going on between niece and aunt. I know because she kinda smiled at me. Yep, at an hour and a half only, she knows that she has this adult hooked.
On the funny side, Dad and I kept watching her in the nursery. She is SO funny! That blond hair started drying and getting a little "blonde bomb-ness" in it (taking after her mother). She would keep her entire back on the bed and twist her curled legs side to side. I found it quite adorable (but I'm not biased or anything)!
Picture on Erin's blog and I'm sure more will follow soon!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Me: When I tell you that this is a "by yourself activity", that means that you stop talking. S-T-O-P, stop! No more. No sound coming out of your mouth! Starting NOW!
(After 15 seconds of blissful silence, the students at Table 2 start singing together some random song I have never heard. This is BAD timing on their part.)
Me: STOP!!!! PLEASE STOP! When I say stop talking that means that you close your mouth and open your ears. That is how we show we are listening and learning in first grade. It does NOT mean start singing the song that you heard on the Disney channel last night. I am frustrated and if you do not want to see angry Ms. LaMore, you will follow directions.
(The room goes silent and one brave soul raises his hand at Table 2.)
Me: Thank you for raising your hand and waiting to be called on. What is your question?
Student: Did you watch that show last night too?
At that moment NO words or sounds were functioning. I was beyond words. I just stared at him a moment and then walked away, wanting to pull all of my hair out. Now, hours later, I can appreciate the moment. Not only is he adorable but he has some comedic timing too. Bless them all!!!
Monday, October 13, 2008
Thankfully, the plan is to completely rebuild our campus! It may not be for a few years and there are some major bumps in the road but we aren't going anywhere. There are some major decisions still to be made - make up of the student body (K-5th vs. K-8th), the type of school it will be (regular, charter, or magnet), where on our property to build, possible sell of some of our land, etc. We are just SO blessed by the amount of support that came out for our campus! Our school is a WONDERFUL place but the love of the community was overwhelming. It made for a LONG day (got home at 9:45 tonight) but we are all sleeping easier. What a blessing!
Saturday, October 11, 2008
First, HOW TRUE! I have been on both sides of this statement. I have needed help so badly and not known how to get it when God supplies it unexpectedly. To accept it is hard - especially when it feels like you have brought your current situation upon yourself. Yet, here you are being blessed by the ministry of someone else. At another time, I was so steeped in self pity that I needed to get outside of myself and help someone else. They will never know it but by letting me help them, they ministered to my spirit. They allowed me to serve instead of wallow. It is a hard thing to do but if someone is willing to open themself up to being helped, they are serving more than they are receiving. I am in the process of learning to stop rejecting help and blessings from others for this very reason. It is more blessed to give than receive. I am learning to bless others by allowing them to help me. We need each other and cannot do this thing called life alone!! I have no doubt that everyone can relate!!! It truly is a win-win situation. You might even say that it is a win-win-win situation because both parties are ministered to and God is glorified. (Sorry but I had to throw in an inside joke with a spiritual twist for those of us that are fans of The Office).
My second thought went to one of our own. Always wanting to serve others and put herself last. Working so hard and carrying so much without wanting to bother anyone. Here is a word of truth spoken directly over you with all of my love - "There is ministry in letting people minister to you!" I pray that this is a ministry that you can let yourself take part in very soon. I pray it is a ministry that we can ALL take part in very soon...
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
There is SO much I would like to go back and tell "Senior Year Dana". So many things that I have learned and been lead through over the past 10 years. I can honestly say that my life today is very little is as I had envisioned it being at 10 year reunion time. In some ways, there is disappointment but in others, it is far better than I could ever have hoped for. It is sad that 10 years after seeing many of these people, there is still a part of me that cares what they will think. Still single, no kids, nothing hugely successful (by the world's standards) to my name. I don't want to walk in and share that with everyone I knew. The funniest thing about it all is that I wasn't that to anyone in my graduating class to begin with. I couldn't wait to move on! I haven't kept in touch with any of them - not one. And it goes the other way too. Yet, 10 years later, I feel myself reverting into that insecure 18 year old girl.
On the flip side, Mom was telling me about a conversation she had with a co-worker who is exactly my age. The lady described herself to Mom as "a divorced 28 year old with kids". Hidden in that is I hear a lot of the same insecurities and disappointments that I hear in myself.
I find it ironic that I assumed that everyone would be living this wonderful life and I would be the odd one out. There are most likely people in my class that are divorced, single parents, or in my same boat. Life takes us all by the hand and we just hold on, hoping to make our way in spite of the great unknown. I know Who is leading me and am SO thankful. I just need to remember that if I decide to face all of those people from good ol' PHS.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
I have full faith in God, who He says He is, and what He has done/is doing/will do. I have full faith that my life is in His hands where my name is engraved (Isa. 49:16 - it's a personal favorite). I have full confidence that when the time is right, God will reveal His plan for me just as He did for my job here in Katy. It is a reassuring trust as I've never known. There is no room for doubt. But in the meantime....
How do I show this faith? Do I beg as the persistent widow? Do I beg and plead pouring out my heart in full confidence that prayer will be answered by the only one who can provide? Or do I lay it at the feet of God as a sacrifice and just walk away from it knowing He will do His perfect will in unexpected, indescribable ways? On one hand, I feel as if I am not turning everything over to God but on the other, I feel as if I am giving up? What is the right way to show faith?
I'm just thankful to have a relationship with God where I can say, "I trust you 100% and have full faith in whatever you are doing with my life. I just don't know how to show you that right now. Tell me how to be faithful."
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
So last night I write my post, hit publish, and go read in bed like I do every night. Right now I am reading No Other Gods by Kelly Minter. The subtitle explains what it is about: "Confronting our modern day idols". Very good and I highly recommend it! Anyway..... Keep in mind that this is happening less than 15 minutes after I posted about this annoyingly haunting question that won't leave me alone. I flip open the book to my chapter for the night entitled "Lies". She is sharing some ah-ha moments from a discussion based on the Genesis 3 passage about Eve's temptation and man's fall. This is what my eyes run across (sorry but it is quite lengthy):
When I think of the lies I am prone to embrace, I realize that many of them begin as questions. It's not as often that I'm thrown by someone or something that comes right out and denounces my set of beliefs. Those are a lot easier to dismiss. But more often I am sent down a doubtful path when my beliefs are simply questioned. Because a statement doesn't require a response, but a question demands an answer. When a person or idea asks, "Did God really say?" suddenly we are in a state of thought, reason, and possible defense. A question engages us in ways that statements do not. I have to believe that Satan knew this.
But here's where things get trickier than I ever realized: Not only did the Serpent begin with a question, but his question was fundamentally flawed. "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" There's something eerily wrong with this question - notice the word any. God did not say that Adam and Eve couldn't eat from any tree in the garden. He said they could not eat from one. Just one. This is a world of difference. If Satan can lure us into disputing the wrong question, in a sense we have already lost.
I know this one too well. I have spent countless hours wasting my energy on things that didn't deserve it. I have spent exorbitant amounts of time fighting the wrong questions. Though I do not pretend the Christian life is neatly packaged or cut and dried, the Bible is full of countless truths that can keep me from having to enter countless unnecessary wrestling matches. Too many times I've limped away broken and bruised, only to hear God say, "I never asked you to fight this one."
When I ponder the time I have wrestled with lies, often I find myself set up in the same way Eve was - to fight the wrong question.
I near about fell out of my bed! Can we give a little praise for God's timing!? What a blessing and release for me! Today, the question has been silent and I honestly had forgotten all about it until I did my daily blog check. God is SO good!!!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
In between times of rest, my refreshed mind has been rolling things over. I thought I would share one with you. I am sure many of you can relate. Have you ever had someone make a statement or ask you a question slightly in passing and it haunted you? It was not intended to be one that lasted more than a moment to make a point but is echoing in your ears? One of you asked me something a few months ago and for the past week-ish it has been bouncing around in my brain. Over and over, the question rolls. On one hand, it makes me doubt a choice I have made, but on the other, it makes me mad because I feel like it is bullying me into doing something that I (with 100% certainty) no longer desire. It is haunting me because it won't leave me alone. It won't go away!!! So what does that mean for me? Those of you that know me so well know the answer to this question - I am privately analyzing it. God is getting an ear-full right now because I don't know why it won't leave me alone. Is He trying to tell me something or is Satan trying to get a foothold in my weakness? I do not know.
I'm sure you understand.....
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Today in math, we were assessing students' ability to perform basic addition and subtraction. In order to help, each student was given manipulatives. In our class, we used "Binkys". Basically, they are little deformed animals. Last year, the teacher before me called them Alien Hippos. We call them Binkys because they look like that character from the Arthur books. Anyway, the students completed the addition and then were given two minutes to play with their Binkys to clear their minds before hitting the subtraction. After subtraction, the students were given the choice to draw or continue playing with their Binkys. All but one chose to play.
What was most interesting to me was watching how the boys and girls played with the Binkys. The boys' Binkys were very interactive. They jumped, attacked, flew, and body slammed. They had silent sound affects (their mouths shaped sounds but none were heard). On the other hand, the girls were much more subdude. Instead of active Binkys, theirs were orderly and silent. Instead of "playing", the girls spent their time arranging them. Parallel lines, one long line, circles, matching Binkys on the letters of their name plates, etc etc etc... If there is a way to arrange Binkys, I saw it today.
Just another example of how boys and girls are so different.
Friday, September 19, 2008
"Risk Management Assessment Inc., which quantifies risks for insurance companies, estimated Ike's impact would land in the low end of the $6 billion to $16 billion in insured losses that the firm initially predicted."
WOW!!! And these are the statistics with a large amount of customers without power. Insane!!!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
So what about my district? We are scheduled to resume classes on Monday unless something we are unaware of happens. However....At the bottom of our Hurricane Recovery page, what will you find listed below the closings and reasons for closing? The athletic schedule for THIS WEEKEND!!! Don't believe me? Click here. So basically, things are not ready to educate students in a safe, productive environment but by golly, there will be football!
Aren't you glad to know that our priorities are in the right places?
Monday, September 15, 2008
One of the stops we made was to Motherhood Maternity so Erin could pick up a couple of things she needed. She was trying on a shirt and called me in to help her untie a knot behind her. I got it out relatively quickly and for some reason, my eyes stayed there while she tied the pull behind her back. In that instant, my mind flashed back to her hands at six years old. They were tying her shoes instead of her shirt tie. She didn't notice but I caught my breath. I've seen those hands grow from gripping the tag on her Care Bear to playing a clarinet to wearing her wedding ring and soon to holding the hand of her newborn daughter. It was a very real moment for me that my baby sister is having a baby. She will be tying shoes for her daughter very soon. That moment of watching her hands still sits with me now. So beautiful.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Love you all and see you on the other side of Ike! :)
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Leaving school was so tough today. I spent the last hour of my day (yay for conference period last!) putting things in cabinets, moving items away from the windows, turning shelves/drawers to face inside walls, and deciding what is too valuable to leave in the 50 year old building. We are all concerned about the roof. We are expecting at the least leaks or at the most for it to be blown off. Leaving all of my books was NOT easy. The kids were pretty shocked when they walked back in the room after music. Dismissal came a couple of minutes early and we were rushing to reassure their little spirits and remind them not to come to school tomorrow. As we put the kids on the buses, it was difficult knowing that they didn't have a full concept of the scariness that awaits them over the next few days. They think it is just a big thunderstorm. I'm sure there will be some stories on Monday! I hugged each one, looked them in the eye, and asked "Who loves you?" to which they all replied correctly - me. Such smart kids....
After getting the kids loaded, we made a very last minute final sweep of our rooms. As we all rushed out, we gave each other that concerned look. I know that several are concerned about the winds because of huge beautiful old trees in their yards. Others live in floodplains. Many, like me, are afraid of the unknown. One of my new teammates was in her first year teaching in New Orleans when Katrina hit. She said this is a little too familiar to her. Bless her heart!!! We have no clue what we will have on our plates on Monday when we get back to school (Lord willing).
At some point tomorrow, I'll head to Erin and Gregg's house. I'm dreading leaving my home. The apartment is a little bit higher than everything around it so I'm not too concerned about flooding. I'm on the first floor so I know that I don't have to directly worry about a roof. I just don't want any damage. I keep telling myself that it is all material possessions - easily replaced and not of eternal value. However, it is the things that make where I live my home. It has meaning to me. I can live without it and be fine. I just don't want to.... Some things will go with me but not much. I'm just going to trust.
Monday, September 08, 2008
It's funny how you can read a passage of scripture so many times that in some ways it becomes that verse that everyone knows and uses as cliche. In the past few weeks, these inspired words have taken on renewed meaning to me. I read it now and feel such a blessedness from it. There is a great secret to being content and I have found it.
A few months ago, I took part in a Bible study in which we were asked to prostrate ourselves before God in prayer before diving into the study. This was hard for me because it was so far out of my comfort zone. I did it and it made a difference! Then, due to various injuries, it was not an option. The study ended as the injuries healed and that closed the door on "fall on my face" prayer. Until....
God is SO good in His timing! In recent weeks, I have been convicted and moved to surrender some difficult things to our God. As part of that, I have repeated found my innermost being compelling me to get down before the mercy seat of God. Knowing how the Spirit speaks, I've found myself spending more and more time getting the pattern of my carpet pressed into my forehead. In doing so, the beautiful gift of acknowledging His ways and His plans before my own has taught me the lesson of contentment. Yes, I do know what is it to be plenty and in want. Yes, I still struggle with that and what that means in my daily walk. I don't have all of the answers but I do know this: Giving it all to the One who holds all of the answers results in freedom that I am just learning to experience. So what is the secret to being content? Laying it all at the feet of Jesus in purest, most sincere surrender! As difficult as it some days, this truly is the best of all ways to be content in every circumstance.
How lovely that the very next verse following the call to contentment reads, "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13) Even when it is hard to surrender and trust in the unseen, it is His strength that makes it possible. His strength is the source of our contentment!
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Friday, September 05, 2008
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Monday, September 01, 2008
YES - the sight of a caravan can make you sink
YES - watching the other side of the highway can be very important
YES - selfishness can turn itself around
How do I know? This afternoon I spent a very LONG three hours driving back to Katy. Along the way, I saw 33 evacuee buses and 201 ambulances. I wish that I was just exaggerating my numbers but I'm not. That's after most stopped in Houston! The flashing lights of the ambulances were the worst. They drove in caravans of 5 to 11 - most with flashing lights. Inside each one, I imagined, was just one individual. Sick or seriously injured, they were being taken further away from their home without any idea of when or if they would return. And they were doing it pretty much alone. I doubt they had anyone with them other than the EMT that they probably didn't know from Adam before they got on the road. How scary!! A had a constant lump in my throat for the entire way home.
To make matters less pleasant, God decided to step on my toes. Apparently, when Katrina hit, my school was past capacity. I've been saying for days that I don't know if I can handle that this year. Now, all I can think about are those little six year olds so far from everything that they know. I'll take any one that I get if I can be any source of comfort to them. No child should have to go through this let alone twice in their short six years of life.
Prayers for everyone affected by Gustav!!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I now greatly appreciate the prepackaged school supplies. In a school where half of the kids are doing good to bring pencils, the consistency and uniformity of the shrink wrapped kits we get are a HUGE blessing! I understand that special folders and pencils are pretty but life really is SO much easier when parents just buy the kits from the school so we can share!
Sometimes teaching routines and procedures feels like being a bully. I struggle with feeling like I'm crushing their spirits when I know it is just teaching when they can and cannot talk. What a fine line!
Seeing last years kids is the BEST part of back to school!
First graders are just SO incredibly cute!!
On the writing prompt "I like ______." one of my boys showed me "I like met. The bet met is stak." For those of you not accustom to our little ones, that is read, "I like meat. The best meat is steak." And the boy DID like his meat!
I now believe that the word spaghetti was created so we could hear the attempts of "spud-betty".
One of my co-workers is Mrs. Lagarde (read la-guard). When I asked a little girl who her teacher was, she said Mrs. Lagarden.
You can tell a lot about a kids family by the most simple of statements. When modelling writing about my family, I said Dad is a probation officer. My meat boy's hand shot in the air and he declared, "I know what THAT is!" I bet you do.....
They are FASCINATED about Erin being pregnant. They want EVERY detail of anything I can tell them.
Sometimes the most snaggle toothed smile is the sweetest!
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
On Friday, I drove to SA to meet Alissa and together, we spent the weekend in study and praise through Living Proof Live. We were blessed to study with Beth, praise with Travis and the LPL worship band, and Q&A with the Moore girls. It was almost too much! SO many things to be thankful for. I'm still processing it! When that happens (IF that happens), I'll share more then. Until that time comes, here are a few of the highlights.
- Catching up with Alissa
- Beautiful hotel room
- Even though you are surrounded by thousands of people and very dear close friends, there are still those you wish were there to experience it all with you. What a gift of His people!
- Singing SEVERAL of my favorite praise songs with thousands of women.
- It has been confirmed that "In Christ Alone" remains in the top five best songs of all time. When we sang it, I know that the only thing that kept me from exploding into a thousand pieces with joy was the skin I'm in.
- Sometimes, those hands just won't stay down!
- AMAZING study on being heirs and our inheritance (Psalm 16)!
- After years of slow but steady work, God broke through this hard head. At last, there is peace!
- I am convinced, now more than ever, that there is something wonderful looming on the horizon. I have NO clue what it is but I know that God is already there and He is guiding me all the way.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
We have a wonderful PTO at our school. Every year they feed us on the Wednesday before school starts. This year was different. Instead of the traditional Lasagna House, they fed us Japanese food! To say that it was a feast is an understatement. Here is the menu. I am putting a star next to everything that I tried. No, I'm not a pig. I was an adventurous sampler! Hey, when someone else else is footing the bill, why not try little bits of something new!?
Appetizer - Edamame (soy beans)* and Pan Fried/Steamed Chicken and Pork Dumplings*
Main Dish - Assorted Maki Sushi Rolls*, Chicken Teriyaki*, and Shrimp Tempura*
Soup - Miso Soup
Salad - Seaweed Salad*, Green Salad*
Dessert - Assorted Petite Cheesecake*, Cream Puffs, and Peach Cobbler*
Can I just say that I was VERY surprised to find out that seaweed salad is SO good!? It tasted a lot like Pad Thai but is TONS healthier. And the Dumplings were AMAZING! However, the best part of the meal was watching my teammate's face as she tasted new things. Too funny!
Who knew Japanese food was so good!?
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Over the past two years, God has been doing an overhaul on me. He has been gently molding this clay to see and experience Him in ways that I never expected. He has been faithful "to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" (Eph 3:20). It has been so gradual that it has often only been in retrospect that I have seen exactly how far He has brought me in our relationship.
When I look back at who I was two years ago, I remember feeling so proud of myself for not having done anything "that bad". At the time I didn't see my pride but now - WHOA! I was deep in it! I was sure that I had God figured out and that I knew how to do this Christian thing pretty well. Thankfully, through many circumstances and over time, God has revealed what He looks like. He is showing me that He does not think as I think or even how I expect Him to think. He is not confined to what I think He should do or to act as I think He should act. He is teaching me what love is and what it means to be loved in its purest form. He is teaching me about relationship over all things. He is revealing the beauty of grace and forgiveness for others.
As I have look at myself two years ago, I struggle with the misconceptions and times I missed the mark. I have spent much time wishing that I could go back, grab my shoulders, and give myself a good shake. It has been a difficult pill to shallow but today has produced the cure.
As I listened to "I'm Not Who I Was", I did not associate it as a song meant to be addressed from me to someone else. I heard it as who I am now sitting across a table talking to who I was two years ago. It was beautiful and freeing all at the same time. It released anger, sadness, and disappointment in who I was, what I thought, and what I had missed out on. It was a song about forgiving myself. This morning, listening to Brandon, I just wanted to step back in time and hug myself, saying that even though it would be a tough couple of years, everything from here would only go up. Now I know that I was right where I needed to be for God to do what He needed to do. I cannot forget that. I cannot forget who I was because that has helped form the foundation of who I am. I am thankful to remember but to never go back. Now I know that up will only continue in His hands and at His feet.
"...to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." - Eph 3:21
I'm Not Who I Was by Brandon Heath (lyrics )
Friday, August 15, 2008
10. Watching the men’s 4x100 free relay with Gregg
9. Doors have been opened amongst God’s people through these games like never before.
8. The sense of unity among those usually in conflict
7. That everyone sounds like experts when discussing sports we only watch once every four years
6. Chinese Gymnastics team and hearing the Chinese cheer on their team
5. The ridiculous amount of times I gasp or hold my breath for the athletes
4. Aaron Peirsol – enough said
3. The rise of the underdog
2. Watching Michael Phelps blow everyone away
1. Dreams coming true
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The gift of A&M and, more importantly, Aggies for Christ, is by far one of the biggest blessings God has put in my life. I honestly cannot think back on who I am today without my years there. When someone asks where I went to school, I am extremely thankful and proud to say that I am an Aggie. However....
On the way to work this morning, I was behind someone who had a longhorn decal on the back of their car. To my surprise, I found that I had just about the same amount of affection for it as for my beloved block T. I have never really had any other the rivalry feelings for it as others have had. In fact, from their response to the bonfire tragedy, my respect started to grow. Today, I realized that it never stopped. The longhorn emblem offers me a rush of warmth and memories of a place I love. I do not claim to have any affiliation with UT but after living so close and loving that area so much, I now highly appreciate the school.
So to some of your dismay - Gig'Em Horns!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
- I am LOVING the Olympics! Michael Phelps is a beast and I am SO proud of all of our athletes. I am officially hooked! Now if only I cared enough about current events as I do about the next two weeks in China....
- School is back in full swing for Katy ISD teachers. The room is coming along well and I'm sure there will be pictures within the next two weeks. It is significantly easier and more fun the second year than the first. I have some wonderful new teammates and we are enjoying getting to know each other. It is weird to be tied as the oldest member on the team!
- I finished the Mark of the Lion series on Sunday night (Thanks, Jackie!). I HIGHLY recommend it to everyone! Not only are they some of the best writing I've read in a while but they really taught me a lot about first century Christianity. The scary things was that sometimes I would forget the story wasn't set in present day (but that is another blog for another day).
- Thanks to Julie's recommendation, I started reading The Shack last night. I'll let you know how it goes.
- I am feeling more confident in choices I've made over the past six months. God is good to answer prayers and to bless us when we lean on His understanding!
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Today I drove to San Marcos and had lunch with Adrienne and Danielle. The three of us taught together my first year in San Marcos (my only year in 6th grade). No matter what happened before I got to work, the attitude that the students gave, or, on occasion, the attitude of fellow staff members, I knew that these two ladies could make me smile. They were a constant source of understanding and joy. Adrienne was upbeat and always reacted the appropriate way when needed - whether in joy or in sympathetic frustration. Her smile and optimism were contagious. Danielle always reminded me about what things were really important. She had these sayings that always made me smile because they were unique to her. Both inspired me to be a better teacher and both made me laugh in their own unique ways. They helped me remember to have a life outside of the classroom. They loved their students deeply and did their best for the kids' benefit. I would not be the teacher I am today without them. They taught me, inspired me, and built my confidence without ever knowing it.
So we sat at Chili's for an hour and a half today - catching up personally and professionally, sharing "war stories", and talking shop about new things we have learned. I was looking forward to seeing them but sitting in that booth, I realized how much I miss them both. Being so far away, I don't get to see them often so I cherish the time we had today. I'll know that I'll be making that drive a little more frequently and stepping up the email a little bit. They are too precious to not keep up with.
We said goodbye and went our own ways - Adrienne to pack for a trip to San Francisco, Danielle back to lead a training, and me back to Katy. Adrienne pulled out with a hug and a huge smile. Danielle called out "Nothin' but love". Both so perfect. It was nice to know that even though we are now all in different districts and in different positions, some things just haven't changed. They are still the women that inspire me to be a better teacher than I am. They still make me laugh and smile like no other can. They are still wonderful friends that I know I can count on in a heartbeat.
After a week of so many wonderful things, today was definitely the icing on the cake!
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
While not one of the Psalms of Ascent, I have really grown to love Psalm 84 though this study - specifically verses 5-7. God gives us strength between "a good time remembered and another good time hoped for." It is His strength that sees us through.
Here is the entire Psalm 84. I pray it is the blessing to you that it has become to me!
1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you. Selah
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.
8 Hear my prayer, O LORD God Almighty;
listen to me, O God of Jacob. Selah
9 Look upon our shield, O God;
look with favor on your anointed one.
10 Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
12 O LORD Almighty,
blessed is the man who trusts in you.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Sunday, August 03, 2008
On Friday night, I was talking to Esme and she spontaneously invited me to come have dinner and a movie with her family. When I got there, she and the kids were at the pool. Stephen was working on something but he visited with me for a minute before getting back to the task at hand. When Esme got home, she told me the SWEETEST thing. Being the considerate wife that she is, she called Stephen after we got off of the phone to make sure it was alright that she had extended the invitation to me. His response, "Oh yeah. That's great. She's like a sister." How great was that! It is SO nice to know that my friend's husband looks at me that way. Not that I am going to take advantage of that but it is a comfort to know that he doesn't mind my being around. It's just nice to know I have another brother.
Friday, August 01, 2008
I have decided that in addition to prayer being a line of communication between you and God, it is also a practice of love and relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It seems that lately, I must pray continually just to keep up with what Satan is dealing out to us. We carry so much of our own stuff that we have to lay at the feet of Jesus - our hope and dreams, our fears and hurts, our praise and petitions. In addition to our own stuff, there are so many things going on around us that it seems that prayer is the only way to keep up with it. Satan is out to get us and we have to fight for each other. It can be those we know dearly, those we are acquainted with, or those we've never met but our hearts break for. I find that in prayer for others, it opens my eyes to truly see them. My heart is softened to their plights and my love for them grows. It makes me less selfish as I see them more. I know that God gifts us the chance to see them through His eyes when we lay them before His throne. I have been blessed to experience the gift of being prayed over and prayed for. Time to give back in love.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
There is NOTHING more moving and freeing than being prayed over by godly women. The prayers of spirit-filled, bold, loving sisters is one of the most beautiful gifts God has given us in this life. Women who will cry with you, laugh with you, lay hands on you, and just genuinely love you are a blessing like no other out there. That is the gift I received today. During a lengthy prayer time for all of us, a sweet sister whom I have grown to dearly love prayed over me. We all cried together and a few women put their arms and hands on me for comfort. The peace and love that flooded me was overwhelming. After the prayer, I talked to a woman whose story is mine. She has gone through the EXACT same thing that I have and she was SO encouraging. What hope!!
These women are a huge reason for a decision that I have recently made. I have decided to stay as West Houston instead of seeking a church home elsewhere. How in the world could I be anything other than thrilled with the future knowing that these women are in it with me? What a blessing to have such sisters in Christ!
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Please pray over the next few days....
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Somehow, that doesn't make it feel any better when you realize that you have been left behind as the group moves on together without you.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
You see, I am more open to listening to people and seeing what they believe. I am a very curious person and am willing to hear people out to see what they think/believe. I am grounded enough to know when a truth is spoken and when something doesn't sit well with me. However, something that I would one day like very much is someone that I can call my plumbline. I know that is the Word of God but follow me here. I would love to be with someone who encouraged me to grow and study in faith, seek a closer relationship with God, and study with me. To be able to talk about what I am learning would be SUCH a blessing. To have someone who would listen to what I'm a little unclear on but is grounded in scripture to patiently sit down and open-mindly seek truth. To discuss and study together. To listen and learn from as a partnership. To be that spiritual leader. I'm not looking for a theologian, just a student of God Himself.
I have no doubt that God will provide that for me (despite the extreme emotional ups and downs of this time of preparation by God). I await in excited anticipation of the plumbline God is preparing for me and, I pray, that He is preparing me to be!
Thursday, July 17, 2008
A few weeks ago, I was in a lot of pain because of running stuff. Legs, knees, and pelvis were KILLING me. I went to see a massage therapist and it helped a little but not enough. After weeks of rest, I was feeling almost ready to head back to the group and start towards my goal - January's Half Marathon! WOO HOO! If only....
On Monday, I had the WORST lower back pains that I have ever had. Nothing was comfortable, pain was shooting to my ankle, and I had a headache that grew as the back pain grew. I've had lower back pain before but never anything like this one. It has gotten better as the week has gone on but I'm still uncomfortable. However, better to be safe than sorry so I went to the doctor today. Turns out that I had a disc slip out of place in my bottom five vertebrae. Fun stuff. Thankfully, he said that it sounds like it is slipping back in on its own so no further tests, doctors, or surgery (yes, I was worried about that one) are needed. I got some muscle relaxers that I am going to partake in as soon as this is published and that should allow for the disc to slip back in with more ease and less pain. Lots of rest and no lifting.
Great news, right!? I was pretty excited and relieved until he started discussing longer term preventative care. Basically, he said that since I have a tendency for my disc to slip and then heal itself, I need to avoid weight bearing exercise like...you guessed it - running. He told me that using an elliptical and swimming would be best but even biking would be "iffy". He didn't say stop running altogether but to cut WAY back. No more than a few times a week and shorter distances (~3 miles). Translation - no half marathon for Dana. My body has kicked me out of the race for good.
I'm pretty disappointed. I really wanted to do it! I was loving running and I felt better about myself physically, mentally, and emotionally than I have in so long. Now I'm out of it. I know that I can still run and get that feeling but the whole "working towards a goal" thing is gone. I'll miss the group I was running with. I cannot tell you how thankful I am to not have worse damage. I am SO glad to have avoided surgery or other injury. I'm just so selfish!
Definitely much to be thankful for!
Monday, July 14, 2008
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
The thing about seeing God's work is that, for me, it is never enough. Lately I have been praying for open spiritual eyes and ears all around me - especially when studying. God has been good and has blessed me immensely. He has been faithful to reveal Himself as all knowing on a very personal level not only about me present but about my past and my future. He is teaching me what it means to approach His throne of grace with CONFIDENCE and to anticipate Him in exciting ways. He has also been revealing truths to me about who I am what I need. I have been presented with challenges about prayer and knowing scripture that I look forward to working to meet. I know He'll meet me there.
It has been a good two weeks!
Thursday, July 03, 2008
I've always been relatively proud of being a well rounded reader. At the same time, I have been a little bit of a snob towards one genre - Christian fiction. For some reason, I thought it would be less than other genres, filled with gooshiness and less than quality writing. Thankfully, I have been corrected in that area! How foolish of me to think that God wouldn't use that talent for Himself let alone bless others through it! I've read a couple of stand alone books, started on a GREAT series called "The Yada Yada Prayer Group", and am about to start the "Mark of the Lion" series (Thanks, Jackie!). I'm excited!
So if anyone has any authors or specific novels in this genre, let me know. I'm new to this one and loving it!
Monday, June 30, 2008
On the way back yesterday, I thought about that some more. How many of us know what we have been called to do here on earth? Sure, we know our jobs that we do to earn a living but what about our specific roles in the kingdom of God? Honestly, I have NO idea what God has for me to do and it is frustrating some days. I feel like I should be doing something but I have no idea what it is.
It is easy for me to see where other people's talents lie but I struggle with seeing my own. Maybe that is the point. We need to look out for each other to help point in the right direction. In my running, I've thought a lot about how well I did in Jr. High. I was running seven minute miles (which now seems very fast) without any coaching or training. I was one of the top five in my grade level. How come the coaches didn't encourage me to do something with that? How come they just let me pick something menial to do but never even suggested that I pursue something that I was good at? Maybe I could have been really good if someone would have taken the time to work with me on it. Maybe I would have loved it then like I do now. I look back and that is 14 years that I lost because no one stepped up to point out something that I was good at and mentor me to better that skill. And that is just running!
Are we the same way? Do we see talents in others, just notice it, and walk on? Or do we take time to try to help each other grow a gift from God to be used for God? Do we see where others can be used and ignore it or do we step up to help each other learn to use their gifts from God?
I know what I would appreciate!
Thursday, June 26, 2008
I've decided that one of my love languages is physical touch. I LOVE hugs, holding hands, patting/scratching backs, playing with hair.... It is the best! Now that I know that, it explains SO much! I cannot wait to hold, rock, hug, tickle my soon coming sweet little niece. I just hope she likes me as much as I already adore her! I cannot be around my sweet students without showering them with hugs, holding their hands, and wanting to let them it on my lap when they are crying. Looking back, the students that I have not felt close to are the ones that did not like to be touched. I never noticed that until VERY recently. It also explains why I've felt a closer connection in some relationships than others. In my SAP training a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to hug everyone that shared something difficult in our group. I have been able to see a college friend many times in the past couple of weeks. It has been filled with hugs, laughter, and just good talking. The best part have been the hugs. No one can give a hug like Mark. Given the chance, there are certain people that I would hug to show appreciation to if I only had the chance to meet them.
Here's the catch with this love language though - it can't be from just anyone. Since it is a love language, there is a level of intimacy and relationship that goes along with it. I don't want some random stranger coming up to be and giving me this HUGE hug. I've been visiting a new church on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. We had a cookout last weekend and as everyone was leaving, one of the people I have hung out with a little more gave me an awkward hug. It threw me off like you would NOT believe.
I'm looking forward to this weekend. Today I head to San Marcos to see some friends and I know there will be LOTS of hugs tonight!! Then on Friday, down to Pleasanton. Hugs galore. I don't know what I'll do with all of the love!
Friday, June 20, 2008
As I walked among the displays, I found myself thinking so many different things. First, I saw the horrors of those caught my the eruption. In the 1800s, plaster was used to create casts of the people found at the sight. While a few were very detailed, most were not. You could tell it was a person but no detail was present. Two gripped me the most. One was a grown man squatting with his back to the wall and his face in his hands. He was found in a public gym trying to escape the blast. I couldn't see much detail but he looked to resigned to what was coming. He was just waiting for the end. The other was one that had more detail. It was a child. You could see more detail in this face than in any other face. The fear and shock were heartbreaking. I couldn't take my eyes off of it. There were other casts that broke my heart as well but these two really stood out for me. What tragedy!
The greater thought was that this happened just after Christ was here on earth and the New Testament was being written. I saw household idols, statues/frescoes of the gods, and the culture that early Christians were surrounded by. I saw actual coins with various emperors' faces. The one that took me aback the most was Nero's. I saw a handful of silver coins and thought that this is what Judas traded our Lord for. I saw denarii and thought about so many references to the Bible. I saw oil lamps and thought about the ten virgins and the light in the house. I thought about John on Patmos just a short distance from this sight. What in the world must he have been thinking when this happened as he was penning the Revelation? But the thought that crossed my mind the most was how wrong my mindset of those times were. When I think about biblical times, I think about deserts and primitive life. I forget that Jesus taught in small towns but was surrounded by very modern things. I forget about the baths, highly skilled doctors and women that owned property/businesses. These were things that Jesus was a contemporary of. This was Jesus world.
I was expecting to enjoy this exhibit but I was in no way prepared for what I saw. Coming out of it was surreal but I'll post on that later. I'm so glad that I went. If you are interested in seeing parts of the exhibit, go to www.mfah.org and click on Pompeii: Tales from an Eruption before June 22. It doesn't show everything but you can see pictures of some things on display. It doesn't do justice but you'll get the idea.