Thursday, August 28, 2008

What a Guy!

This one is for all of you teachers out there (or those that just need a little faith in the generations to come). This is a clip of the keynote speaker for Dallas ISD's back to school convocation. AMAZING! It is only about five minutes and it will blow you away! Just start watching it to see who the speaker is and then listen as you do something else - if you can. I turned it on with that intention and then was glued to the clip. Trust me, it is a MUST see! Click here to be blown away!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

And on the Third Day....

We are over half way through the first week of the 2008-2009 school year. Despite the accolades that many sing about loving the first day/week, it isn't everything it is cracked up to be. However if definitely has its high points! Here are a few of the highs and lows of the first three days of school in my first grade class.

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

Better Words Than Mine

This afternoon I heard this song on the way to church. It puts everything I have experienced this weekend (see post just below) into perfect words. It is called "Whatever You're Doing" by Sanctus Real. Click here to listen to the song.

It's time for healing time to move on
It's time to fix what's been broken too long
Time make right what has been wrong
It's time to find my way to where I belong
There's a wave that's crashing over me
All I can do is surrender
Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something heavenly
Time for a milestone
Time to begin again
Reevaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow your will
or just climbing aimlessly over these hills
So show me what it is you want from me
I give everything I surrender...To...
Time to face up
Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
That I've wanted to say for so many years
Time to to release all my held back tears
Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but I believe
You're up to something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly
Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but now I can see
This something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly
Something heavenly
It's time to face up
Clean this old house
Time breathe in and let everything out

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saving the Best for Last

This has really not been the best summer of my life. There are several things to be thankful for and that I highly enjoyed but it was tough along the way. Thankfully, God saw fit to make this last weekend of summer break the best one! As it began, I couldn't help but realize how sanctified this weekend was for so many thousands throughout our state. While 10,000 women met in the Alamodome, thousands of men met in Houston for Men at the Cross. What a blessing!

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

The Days Before Kids

Our district started teachers back to school about a week before everyone else in the state. After DAYS of conferences and meetings, we are now on final countdown to children being here with us. So I thought I would share how our parents greeted us yesterday.

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

Same Song, Ten Months Later....

Last October, I posted a video of Brandon Heath's song "I'm Not Who I Was". I remember that it spoke to me so strongly of forgiving past hurts. It has continued to be one of my favorite songs and today Brandon sang it live on KSBJ with just his guitar. I was thrilled to hear it but I realized that it sounded significantly different than I have ever heard it before. The words and the tune were the same but it spoke to my heart in an entirely new way. Here is how....

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.

" 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

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love the Olympics 2008 (so far)

In no particular order:

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

Dangerous Confession

What I am about to tell you may shock some of you and disgust others. So in advance, I apologize...

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

A Pinch Here and a Shake There

Here are the little things that are spicing up my life these days:
  • 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

The Icing on the Cake

After several less than wonderful weeks, things have turned around. The past week and a half have been so much better. The move went well, the apartment is settled, I got to work in my classroom, bible study has been amazing, new friendship continue to bloom, and this weekend, we travel to Dallas for my baby sister's first baby shower. How could things get better?

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

From Strength to Strength

Today our group finished Stepping Up: a Journey through the Psalms of Ascent. While bands of rain alternated with breaks of cloudy calm, we celebrated what we have each taken from the psalms that the Jewish pilgrims sang on their way to the feasts. Through this study and these women, my heart has new longings to look into the hidden things of God. I have a new found desire for relationship within the body and a desire to encourage and serve. I have been blessed immeasurably.

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

The New Place

Here are a few pictures of the new place. I know that parts of it (specifically the bedroom) don't look too different from the other place but its an apartment. You do what you can. :) Enjoy!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Oh Brother!

One thing that I am constantly aware of as a single woman is being considerate of my friends significant others. If I meet a man, I make sure that I meet their wife/fiancee/girlfriend and make a point to show interest in her. However, that isn't really my greatest concern. I am very aware of the amount of time that I spend with my girlfriends and try not to take too much of their time away from their family. One of my biggest concerns is that the husbands think, "She is over here ALL of the time!" or "Her again!?" I feel very blessed that Gregg "gets" the sister thing. Not too many in-laws are as understanding as he is so I try not to take advantage of it. We have grown into a sibling relationship ourselves. That is a huge blessing since I've never had a brother and he's never had a sister. I feel the same way about my other friends' husbands as well. In San Marcos, I was always aware of Alissa needing to spend time with Jeff. I was very blessed that we got along as well. Now I am aware of Esme needing to spend time with Stephen. This is where my story starts.

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

Pray Continually

For many years, the idea of praying continually has been a mystery to me. Taken literally, the monks in silent monasteries have it right and I do not. Taken in the command to practice that spiritual discipline, it seems to lack something. So lately, I've been thinking on this verse and have reached a new level of understanding about it. I may be wrong but its what I've got today.

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.