Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Lately I have been thinking about this world of blogs. I love it because it is how I keep up with everyone that I don't see every day. It's a way for me to get all that is rumbling around in my head out. It is theraputic and great fun at the same time. Of course, I can't just leave it at that - I have to think about it too much! :)

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

Who Needs Comfort Food?

There is just something comforting about enjoying a classic from your childhood!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ishmael vs. Isaac

*** Before the real post - pictures are up of Erin, Gregg, and baby on her blog (link on the right)!!!!***

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

First Impressions

After MONTHS of waiting, Elizabeth is here! I got to spend some time in the afternoon with Gregg and Erin before she got to the hard part of pushing. She did SO great! Such a trooper! We were all hanging out in the waiting room, jumping at every footstep hoping it was Gregg and then there he was. The parents got to go in first, then it was my turn....

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

My Monica Moment?

I've been thinking about Erin and the baby a lot lately. I'm SO excited that I just CAN'T stand it! I'm so excited that I literally can't contain it. At the same time, it is more than just excited. It's something else that I can't even put words on. A few weeks ago I said something about Elizabeth being my baby and, of course, Erin attempted to correct me but she really is my baby. You may think that I'm joking but I'm not. I started crying on the phone with Erin the other day. Just this morning while I was blow drying by hair, I was thinking about her coming and just getting to hold her . I just started crying. I'm crying now writing this. I keep wondering if I'll start crying when I finally meet her or if I'll just be so excited that my face hurts from grinning. If things keep going like they have been, I'll look like Monica from this episode of Friends: itching to get her hands on the baby and just crying in joy. The main difference? This aunt won't always have gum (sorry little one!).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Too Good Not to Share

Today my 17 little barometers were spinning like crazy as several rain bands and a front blew through. The way it manifested itself was through obscene amounts of talking. After all day of it, I had enough. Here is what when down:

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

Breathing Easier

A few weeks ago, I noticed an announcement on our website that the superintendent of our district wanted to have an open genuine discuss about the future of the school I work with. All community members and staff were invited to attend. This has been a bit scary because there have been some scary rumors floating around. It is a known fact that there is a board member who has been pushing to tear our school down and sell our land for district profit. We are an old facility in need of much love so of all the rumors we have heard, this one sounded very plausible. Tonight was the meeting....

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

Ministry Opportunity for All of Us

Today was Abundant Joy - an area wide women's conference that was held at West Houston. One of our keynote speakers was sharing a story about a time when she was having a hard time making ends meet financially and had been praying for help with her car payment. A lady called and offered to take care of it for her. Initially, our speaker turned the help down but quickly called the woman back and accepted. The woman started crying with gratitude for allowing her to help out. It was at this point in the story that she said, "There is ministry in letting other people minister to you." My mind jumped two places at the same time (funny how it can do that!).

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

To Go or Not to Go

The dreaded 10 year reunion is coming for this girl. I have very little desire to go but will admit that there are a few friends that I would like to see. Curiosity is peaking about a few individuals. However, what holds me back from going is my personal expectations. Let me explain....

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.

Oh joy....

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Demonstrations of Faith

When I look through the Bible, I see so many different ways that people demonstrated their faith. Many, like Abraham, went to new places. Many, like Isaiah, spoke. Others, like Hannah, waited. Some, like the widow, were persistent. Many were faithful in multiple ways. So this has me thinking....

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

Henna Tattoos and Cameroon Accents

While Houston isn't my favorite place that I have lived, it has provided many blessings and allowed for a personal indulgences. One thing that I have always greatly desired has been to be surrounded by diverse people. This year, I got it! In my classroom, I have a little girl whose parents are first generation Americans from Pakistan. I have a little girl from Cameroon by way of Katrina wrecked New Orleans. Two little girls are twins. I have a little boy from Galveston who has just joined us and is giving me a run for my money. I have another girl who has joined us from New York City. One sweet girl is from India. I have the tallest and the shortest child in first grade in my class. I have a boy whose brother I taught last year. Several non-English speaking parents. I love it!!

Getting wrapped up in the starting of a new year and then getting through a hurricane has made me lose sight of how much I love being about such different individuals. However, today I have been gently reminded of the joy in knowing different people. This is from my little girl from Pakistan. She walked into class today with the most beautiful henna tattoos on her hands. She was absent yesterday for the celebration of the end of Ramadan. I was awe struck. I couldn't stop staring at them. Sweet little hands with tiny detailed flowers temporarily decorating them. I so wish I has a picture but she was pretty shy considering all of the attention she was getting.

My amazing team this year is no different. Our team leader has become a very dear friend to me. She is born and raised in Katy. She and I are the same age and the oldest on the team (I win with most experience). How did that happen!? :) Another teammate is a first year teacher from Ohio who recently moved to Texas. We were blessed to get to know each other through a summer bible study. Our third teammate has joined us from Atlanta by way of Hawaii and Katrina wrecked New Orleans. I am blessed to work with them day in and day out. Here we are:

Do I agree 100% with everything that everyone brings to my room? No. Do I love them for teaching me about world cultures and living together? Most definitely! I love it!!!!!