Friday, December 31, 2010

December 31, 2010

2010 has turned out to be quite a year. Despite some very trying seasons, I will remember it as one of my favorite so far. Here are a few of the events that made this year so memorable. Most link to a blog post about it:

Paintballing for the first time

In between events, I got to experience so many special "everyday" things. Talking about our precious Lord with Erin so often, loving on two adorable Johnson children, dinners on Friday nights with friends, growing a deeper understanding about love through my grandparents, gaining a greater appreciation for family, and a stronger desire for God.

The greatest lesson of this year was the importance of listening: to God speak, to breaking hearts, to great joys, to prayers, to people's passions, to each other. Not only listening but patient, open minded listening. It amazes me how important the act of keeping quiet can be. It's humbling and changes you. I still talk a lot but much less than I did this time last year.

Thank you, Lord, for standing stone moments that marked this year. Thank you for letting us see you move and do your work. Thank you for experiences that draw us so much closer to you. Thank you for the joy you brought us. Thank you for the tears you cried with us and dried for us. Above all, thank you for your presence with us, for going before us, and for pointing us all back to you. Praise you for the gift of 2010! All glory goes to you!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Favorite Gift

A year and ten months ago, I visited Houston's First Baptist Church for the first time. I remember dragging my feet to go because I was scared - Not because I was concerned about not liking it or not knowing anyone but because I knew that I would love it. What would that mean? What choices would I have to make and how would they be received? What would my response to others be? More specifically, what would my response be to my family? I knew it would be hard but I went. I loved it, like I knew I would. Telling the family was scary and it has definitely been a growing process for us all. When I first told Mom and Dad, I told them that I would love for them to come visit with me but I wasn't going to pressure and bug them about coming. It was an open invitation for any time they were here. I never asked again but hoped and prayed for the day I would be able to share where I am now. Friday night, it happened.

Christmas Eve came filled with visiting, playing, and cooking. However, at 5:00, there we sat in the in Worship Center: Gregg, Erin, Liz, Mom, Dad, Bladen, and me. I felt like it was already Christmas morning and I was five years old again. We were sitting in this place that has grown to mean so much to me. On stage were the worship leaders that I worship with every week. We heard a message by a minister that the Lord uses in my life weekly. All around us were the body of believers that walk out this life together. All things and people that I have grown to love. On that night, I sat surrounded by all of these familiar things side-by-side with those I love most. It was a beautiful service - scripture intertwined with song only briefly paused by a wonderful reminder of what our response to Christmas should be. The kids did great. We stopped. We sang. We focused. We worshipped. We. We. We. All shared with my family. They got to experience a taste of this place I love. I got to share this part of my life with them. I got to show them the heart of where I worship. It was sweet.

Of everything that I received this Christmas, that service together was the best gift I was given. There are a lot of things that I have been hoping for in life. Not many of them have come to be yet but God was sweet to fulfill this greatest hope this Christmas. A nearly two year prayer answered - my family together at HFBC. Just once was all that was needed. They came because they love me. They came to see this part of my life. They came.

Hope fulfilled and prayer answered.

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. - I Thessalonians 5:24

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Hope of His Presence

In a couple of days, we will be celebrating Christmas. This holiday has grown to have deeper meaning to me each year. The past few months, I have been looking forward to Christmas a lot - the music, the lights, the joy of children (my family and students). However, this isn't even the part of Christmas that has captured my mind and heart the most.

A few weeks ago at Celebration, there was a section in which the prophet Isaiah sang of the lost state of Israel and the coming of a promised Savior. It immediately shifted to a scene of the Jewish people throughout the 400 years of silence between the prophecies and the birth of Jesus. I've thought about this scene a lot over the past few weeks. I've known this fact for years but can you imagine? Nothing from God for 400 years. That would be like not hearing from God since before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Nothing. Silence.

What would that be like? Everything promised met by what must have seemed like nothing. All of the hope of generations of people unrealized in their lifetime. They heard the stories and promises from their grandparents and parents. They told them to their children and grandchildren. They looked and listened in hope. For generations......

Not what they were expecting. Not what they were looking and longing for. He was all they had hoped for and more. While they would not see it, He was fulfilled promise, realized hope, God Himself. While they were looking for a king, God left Heaven and brought His presence to us. Our Emmanuel.

I think of Anna and Simeon - two of the first to see their hope fulfilled. Both were promised to live to see salvation. In comes this infant promise with His teenage parents. Both praised God, blessed the child, and left knowing they had been in the presence of God.

In case you haven't figured it out, hope and presence are the themes of this season for me. We can all say that the past few months have been sprinkled with things that have brought joy and pain. I'm no different. I've experienced disappointment, exhaustion, doubt, injustice, joy, beauty, and laughter. There have been times when hope has been hard fought for but there aren't many better things to fight for. There have been times of experiencing the presence of God so closely that the only thing keeping me on this earth is this flesh my spirit is wrapped in.

Many will celebrate the birth of a baby this weekend. It's so much more than that. It is God's fulfilled promise of salvation. He closed the gap that stood between us and God. He not only brought the forgiveness of sin but He destroyed the barrier between us and Him. We now have full access to Him! We can come to Him and He longs for it!

My prayer is for the joy of hope - that we would not lose ourselves or give up to discouragement in this life. My prayer is that we would be open to seeing God's fulfillment of our hope and not being blinded by our expectations of what that would look like. That we praise God, bless Jesus, and long for the presence of God.

Emmanuel has come! He is here! He wants to be your fulfilled hope and He wants you to know His presence. This is the message of Christmas.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Seeing First Hand

This poem was written by a man on staff at HFBC and was used in the Celebration presentation this weekend. It is lengthy but beautiful as it tells the whole story. Enjoy in this beautiful season:

Seeing First Hand by Stephen Smith

To say the scene in Bethlehem that night
was "only the beginning" would be a vast understatement.

For as the years passed, the boy grew.....

He would escape with his parents to Egypt
He would return to settle in the home city of Nazareth
He would be trained as a carpenter.

He would see his world differently than others
He would answer his teachers' questions with amazing clarity
He would love his earthly parents.

And all the while, there....Mary and Joseph
Seeing first hand the story unfold as the angels promised.

Even as the confines of his earthly body expanded,
So too, his spirit expanded to grip the reality of his calling.

For as the years passed, the man grew......

He would hear the voice of his heavenly Father
He would see his mission come alive in his heart
He would go down to the water to John the Baptizer.

He would stun the wedding party in Cana as the water turned to fine wine
He would open the eyes of a blind beggar
He would change the life of the Samaritan woman forever.

And all the while, there.....Jesus.
He would see first hand the story unfold just as his heavenly Father promised.

Even as the palm branches fell under the feet of the humble King,
He knew the mind and heart of the religious leaders.

And as the days passed, the crowds grew.....

He would wreck the moneychangers' stalls in the temple
He would join his disciples for the Passover meal
He would journey to the garden to pray and prepare.

He would be traded to the guard for a kiss
His hands would be bound
He would be tried and mocked before the religious council.

He would stand before Pilate
He would be tested with the whip
He would be paraded through the streets.

His hands and feet would be nailed to a wooden cross
He would be wounded for the sins of the world
He would take his last breath.

And all the while, there....his brothers and disciples
Seeing first hand the story unfold just as Jesus had foretold.

But to say the scene on the cross that Friday
was "the end of the story" would be to end the matter much too quickly.

For this "end" was no "end" at all, but a brilliant beginning
And as the day dawned.....the light grew.

And the light shown in the darkness
and the darkness could neither explain it, nor blot it out.

And all the while, we, who have known nothing BUT the night,
Have had our eyes opened and we behold His Resplendent Face.

He would rise from the grave...
He would ascend into heaven...
He would save the world.....

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Smiling in the Rain

This morning my car broke down. On the way to church this morning, it just started downshifting on its own and without reason. Well, I'm sure there is a reason. I'm just a girl that doesn't know much about cars. For me, this is a very scary thing. Something I don't understand or know how to fix. In other words, the potential for a bad day. However, it turned into a very good one. So, since I like lists so much, here are all of the reasons why the car breaking down wasn't such a bad thing:

- I was on the access road, NOT I-10, pulling into a parking lot.
- I was running late for church so there were no other cars around me.
- I got ahold of Erin on her phone which she usually leaves at home on Sunday mornings.
- I got ahold of Erin (and therefore Dad), as they are saying goodbye to get back on the road to go back to Pleasanton.
- Once I was able to talk to Dad, we were able to figure out what to do in a sensible way that I couldn't see before.
- Dad was able to rule out scary things that could be wrong with the car.
- I got to meet an interesting Lebanese man for 20 minutes to whom I will never speak again.
- I got to spend some extra, unplanned time with Mom and Dad.
- I got a day to relax at home with no guilt whatsoever.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Without Direction

This Monday my fall bible study came to an end. We spent two and a half months working through the book of Titus. If you would have told me that this book would be so incredibly challenging, I would have scoffed at you. And I would have been wrong. It was hard connecting sound doctrine to sound living. I know these lessons are not over yet and there is still a lot to learn.

One of the weeks was spent on the roles of members in the church - older and younger men and women specifically. As we talked about it, we all started to notice a common longing. None of us have mentors. By this I don't mean someone we look up to. None of us have someone who has intentionally decided to come along side us to show us what life looks like in the next stage. We don't have an older woman to invest in us - teaching and sharing the wisdom that they could share with us. No one inviting us into their homes or to meet with us regularly to share life with. On the reverse side, we don't have anyone we are mentoring either. No one younger than us to invest in, meet with, and possibly share what little wisdom we have. It is sad.

When did this happen? I know that in attempts for churches to help people walk out life together, we have allowed ourselves to be sectioned off into our own corners - college students, singles, newly marrieds, young families, youth groups/parents, empty nesters, "golden agers". However, the beauty of mentoring/discipling is being lost. We are becoming more and more isolated within ourselves with little direction from those who have been there and done that.

I know it isn't just my generation that is feeling this loss. I have a dear friend that is in her early 50s. She has lamented several times that she would love someone to mentor her. Yet, she doesn't have that someone. I'm not innocent in this either. Teenagers scare me to death (not joking or exaggerating here) and I don't know many people in college. I could be doing it but with who?

So I find myself wondering what the next step is. How do we fix what has been broken? Where do we find the wisdom we so desperately crave?

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Thanksgiving List in Pictures

I have decided to make a list of a few of the things I am most thankful for this year. So in no specific order here is a post of blessings from this year:

Multiple Times to Get Away From It All
Aspen Trees and Mountains

My Sweet Niece
My Adorable Nephew
A Job
Loving Parents
Adventures in Paintballing
Amazing Women in a God Filled Weekend
A Sunday Bible Study to Do Life With
A Brother to Laugh and Learn With
Adventures in Skydiving
A Best Friend Who Happens to be My Sister
My God Who Loves Me More than the Eye can See, the Ear can Hear, or the Mind can Conceive

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What a Way to Start a Week

This morning we started a study on John 4 at church. Gregg was talking about how our needs are never met, our thirsts are never satisfied, until we take them to Jesus. Anything else we take our needs to are our idols. Then he made a statement that kicked me in the gut. If this were all he said, it would be message enough:

We often do not lay our idols down at the foot of the cross until they break our hearts.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Who Needs Mr. Wizard?

A few months ago, a flyer showed up in my mailbox at work. It looked neat but we had just recently received an email that professional development funds are less compared to in years past. So I recycled it until my favorite co-worker suggested asking for funds. We asked, were told yes, and off we were to see Steve Spangler at his science boot camp.

oh. my. goodness.

I had no idea what I was in for. Seriously, amazing! I had no idea who he was until I walked in and saw the display table. There it was, the mentos geysers. Yes, he is THAT guy who introduced the world to dropping a mentos into diet coke. He is THAT guy who frequents Ellen and does crazy things in and around her studio. And more importantly, he is THAT guy that has given me some excitement about going to work again. Yesterday, I spent seven hours with the man and this morning, I woke up excited to go to work - for the first time in months. I cannot wait to work on these things with my kids!

So incase you have never seen the amazingness of Steve Spanger, here is a short 3 minute clip of some of his best of moments from the news station he works with in Colorado. I saw many of the experiments that are on it and then some other amazing ones. Enjoy and if you want to see more, look him up on youtube. You'll find lots of fun stuff!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Opening my Fist

God is doing a lot of stuff with me right now - reorienting my mindset on many different issues, giving me object lessons, making me rely on Him so much more... There have been common themes throughout it all. Try to guess what this one is:

Over the summer, Erin and I went up to Canton. I had never been before and the time had come to remedy that. So much fun! While we were there, we stayed with Erin's in-laws. One afternoon, CaLyn was putting some things away and she pulled out a glass cake stand. I mentioned that I thought it was pretty and the next thing I know, she is giving it to me. That was not my intention at all - in fact, my mind was thinking that Lord willing I ever get married, that would be something I would need to register for because I don't have a need for one at this time. However, it made it's way into my home. Erin shared with me that this is how CaLyn is - if you like it, it's yours. Now, I'm going to be super careful what I verbally admire of hers!

About two months ago, Erin shared with me a blog she has been following. On it, one of the posts was about how this woman was reorienting her mindsets as well. One of her new rules was that she will never buy anything she wouldn't give away to someone else. It really resonated with my spirit.

So here's the theme - Letting things go. And by things, I don't mean that ambiguous term in which we loosely through around "Just let it go already!" I mean actual things - money, stuff, time, self...

Lately, God has been laying it upon my heart that what I have isn't mine. It's on loan for a time that only He knows. My home, my finances, my time - all of it. I am not the owner but the steward. Somehow, this feels like a much bigger responsibility that owning it. There are expectations, standards, duties at stake here. The weird thing about it is that even though it feels bigger, it is freeing too. I don't have to fret about what to do about this or that. I can ask Him and He will direct me. Here are a couple of examples of object lessons that have been given to me as I've started changing this mindset.

- I've been crazy busy to the point that something new being added to my calendar may be written in through tear filled eyes. So this past Sunday, I canceled some plans to enjoy the afternoon/evening just relaxing by myself. On Saturday, the opportunity came up to have a cousin come in to stay on Sunday evening. Honestly, my mind sounded like a three year old, "I don't want to share my home! I don't want to share my time! I just want to relax! By myself! With no responsibilities!" As my inner toddler ranted and raged, a calm still voice reminded me, "That apartment is not yours. This time is not yours. It is a gift. Steward it well." Oh yeah. So I opened my home and was so blessed by it. Because it isn't mine. It is a loaner to share - for His glory.

- Last weekend, I went to Half-Price Books to help de-clutter my bookshelves. I didn't get much but more that I had the 15 minutes before. On the way home, I stopped by Walgreens. As I was going back to my car, a man that frequents a few of the corners in my area was sitting by the door. We said hello as I booked it to my car to get ready for the above guest. As I got in the car, that cash was burning in my purse. I had a place for it to go - my share of the breakfast my grade level was providing this week. But the conflict rose - this man I know by sight who was using the Walgreens as his couch or muffins for a staff of 60 employed women. The inner debate was long and loud. In the end, the women got it - not the one who needed it. In my ears, it keeps ringing, "It's not yours. This money is not yours. It is a gift. Steward it well." Whether the decision I made was right or wrong is neither here nor there. The voice and the reminders are all that matter at this point - conviction, not condemnation.

I'm not talking about being a doormat here. I'm talking about knowing what is and isn't mine. I'm talking about using what I have been given to bless. I'm talking about one of the biggest paradigm shifts I have ever had. At the end of the day, this is what I'm starting to take to heart: If I can't let it go, what truly is my "god"? If I hold on to it with a death grip, what does it say to others about the "god" that I serve? If I open my fist, who truly is my God? If I turn it loose, what does it say to others about my God that I serve?

At the end of the day, when all is said and done, I want to have five talents, not one.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Looking Back

One of the things that I love about the Old Testament is the emphasis God places on remembrances. Events, scriptures, days, God in all of His wisdom sets forth times of remembrances. People hold feasts and celebrations, write scriptures of their doors and heads, and they set up standing stones. These last ones are my favorites. Standing stones that Israel used to retell the stories of God's triumphs and glory. When we look back, we can see so much of God and what He has done.

This blog for me has been post after post of standing stones. Maybe I'm the only one who goes back and reads former posts on my own blog. Maybe it's vain but I don't think so. For four years, I see the roads God has led me down to His glory - Silly little joys that He has allowed me to share, precious moments that are near and dear to my heart, struggles that He has brought me through, and His praises - they are all there.

As I was looking at the side of my blog tonight, I noticed something very different. There have been significantly fewer posts than in years past. So much has happened that He deserves praise for. So much is happening that He will get praise for. However, until it all comes to be, it stays where it belongs - in my heart. Something sweet between me and God.

So thanks for your patience in a remarkably quieter year. Please be encouraged to look at what God has done in the past few years. Look at your standing stone moments. Remember them and praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Permanent Static

When you live by yourself, there are a few things that you do not feel alone. The most common is to turn on the TV. It is someone's voice that engages you through story. However, if you aren't careful, if can become almost an addiction. It is something that you can use to numb yourself, to check out and not deal, or to just replace responsibility with. It is sly too. It makes you start to accept things that you otherwise wouldn't because it slowly draws you in through entertainment. I can say these because I am speaking from experience. It happened to me.

Two weeks ago, I made a decision - Get rid of cable. I called and cancelled it. I bought an antenna and what do you know but it didn't work. I had every intention to go get a more powerful one after work today so I boxed it up and placed it by my bag last night. But....

This morning I was brushing my teeth, a thought crossed my mind - what if I just didn't have TV? Really. Let's just think about this -
  • Last week before the antenna was purchased, I got so much done. I'm getting back so much time.
  • I'm never home to use it.
  • All of the shows I enjoy (except one) are online. I can watch them anytime I want with minimal to no commercials.
  • I can't "accidentally" pick up a new show.
  • My mind is sheltered from so much!
  • Time is given back to me - for God, for others, for reading, for being domestic.
  • TV watching is now a social event is which other people are involved.
  • All of that money is being put to better purposes.
  • My home is now truly a place to relax fully.
So I took the antenna back today and didn't get a stronger one. My TV is officially set to permanent static! It feels really extreme but freeing at the same time. I don't know how long this will last but for the time being, TV is for DVDs only. So if you need to disconnect for a bit, come on over! There's so much we can do together!

I think I'm about to learn a lot about listening....

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Beautiful Aspens

Even though it has been two weeks since returning from Colorado, I have thought about it multiple times daily. One of my favorite memories that touches my heart more than any other is that of the aspen trees. Most of the pictures here, I did not take but they are what I saw - what my heart fell in love with.

One of the things I was looking forward to the most about Colorado was seeing the fall colors. We don't have a fall here so I was ecstatic to see what it looks like in other places. As we were driving up, this is what we saw. This is Mt. Yale - across the valley from where we were. Needless to say, we had the same view. The second picture is Mt. Princeton - where the ranch was.

It was breath-taking, to say the least. One thing we talked about was that God uses His creation to show off His beauty. He uses it to woo us to Him and to show His love for us. Who needs a dozen roses when you can get something this beautiful, right? Their long, white trunks were so smooth and soft. And just to prove how wonderful these trees are, just check out their leaves. To me, they look slightly heart-shaped. We saw them on hikes and they littered the grounds where I chose to spend my quiet times. When you are working through things and God is breaking down those areas only He can rebuild, its nice to be surrounded by hearts to remind you of His.

The ones most immediately surrounding us had only just started to change. In fact, we saw one tree change from pure green to almost completely yellow over the four days we were there. It was amazing. However, the green was beautiful too. The leaves are almost transparent. As the sunlight would shine through, every shade of green would twinkle at us. My favorite color is green so you know I was delighted! It almost seemed as stained glass.

What made the leaves twinkle shades of green in the light was the wind. A slight breeze would blow and the leaves would lightly twist and dance in the breeze. The sound was like no other - almost like a stream. They clapped for their Maker. As if their celebration in the air weren't enough, their shadow would dance too. It almost looked like the flutter of butterfly wings on the ground.

In case you can't tell, I grew to love these trees very quickly. I see the Creator in them. He used them in powerful ways to minister to me over those four days. When I think about Heaven, I hope a portion of it will be sitting in a grove of aspens, talking to Jesus. I think He looks forward to it too.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Captivated and Captivating

Last weekend, I was blessed beyond measure to attend the Captivating Event put on my Ransomed Heart Ministries. I've thought for a week about how to blog about these four days and even now, I am at a loss for adequate words. God blew open the doors of healing, love, and redemption as He never has before. I know it wasn't Him that changed but me. I came ready to work and worship and He met me there. And, just as He told us, He began a good work and is carrying it through to completion. Even though I left a week ago, He continues to work in those areas I need Him most. Even a few moments ago, He reminded me of the sweetness of His freedom. He leaves me speechless. My life and my worship is forever changed.

The weekend was deeply personal - intimate even - and sharing it all here just doesn't feel right. I am holding it close, as a treasure to be fiercely protected. However, I was to encourage you to take a look at the book. I'm happy to share my story so email me or we can visit when I see you next. Until then, here are a few images of the weekend. Each really is worth 1,000 words to this heart:

Looking out across the valley area. You can't see it with my little point and click camera but there were ribbons of yellows and oranges that brought the soul to life.

The six girls I bonded with. They are more loved than they will ever know!

With a beloved aspen tree. I think God made them just for me. Be looking for a future post about the greatness that is God's gift of the aspen tree.

This was taken from a bridge where I sat during one of our quiet times. It's song soothed my spirit.

As a woman who has been ransomed and redeemed, you can be strong and tender. You speak to the world of God's mercy, mystery, beauty, and his desire for intimate relationship. You are inviting; you can risk being vulnerable, offering the weight of your life as well as your need for more because you are safe in God's love. You labor with God to bring forth life - in creativity, in work, in others. Your aching, awakened heart leads you to the feet of Jesus, where you wait on him and wait for him. The eyes of his heart are ever upon you. The King is captivated by your beauty. (Captivating, pg 217)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

When I Became A Christian

My bible class teacher shared this poem in class today. It's a little long but worth the read.

When I Became a Christian, by Adrian Plass

When I became a Christian I said, Lord, now fill me in,
Tell me what I’ll suffer in this world of shame and sin.
He said, Your body may be killed, and left to rot and stink,
Do you still want to follow me? I said, Amen! – I think.
I think Amen, Amen I think, I think I say Amen,
I’m not completely sure, can you just run through that again?
You say my body may be killed and left to rot and stink,
Well, yes, that sounds teriffic, Lord, I say Amen – I think.

But , Lord, there must be other ways to follow you, I said,
I really would prefer to end up dying in my bed.
Well, yes, he said, you could put up with sneers and scorn and spit,
Do you still want to follow me? I said, Amen! – a bit.
A bit Amen, Amen a bit, a bit I say Amen,
I’m not completely sure, can you just run through that again?
You say I could put up with sneers and also scorn and spit,
Well, yes, I’ve made my mind up, and I say Amen! – a bit.

Well I sat back and thought a while, then tried a different ploy,
Now, Lord, I said, the Good Book says that Christians live in joy.
That’s true, he said, you need the joy to bear the pain and sorrow,
So do you still want to follow me? I said, Amen! – tomorrow.
Tomorrow, Lord, I’ll say it then, that’s when I’ll say Amen,
I need to get it clear, can I just run through that again?
You said I will need the joy, to bear the pain and sorrow,
Well, yes, I think I’ve got it straight, I’ll say, Amen – tomorrow.

He said, Look, I’m not asking you to spend an hour with me,
A quick salvation sandwich and a cup of sanctity,
The cost is you, not half of you, but every single bit.
Now tell me, will you follow me? I said, Amen! – I quit.
I’m very sorry, Lord, I said, I’d like to follow you,
But I don’t think religion is a manly thing to do.
He said, Forget religion then, and think about my Son,
And tell me if you’re man enough to do what he has done.

Are you man enough to see the need, and man enough to go,
Man enough to care for those whom no one wants to know,
Man enough to say the thing that people hate to hear,
To battle through Gethsemane in lonliness and fear.
And listen! Are you man enough to stand it at the end,
The moment of betrayal by the kisses of a friend,
Are you man enough to hold your tongue, and man enough to cry,
When the nails break your body – are you man enough to die?
Man enough to take the pain, and wear it like a crown,
Man enough to love the world and turn it upside down,
Are you man enough to follow me, I ask you once again.
I said, Oh Lord, I’m frightened, but I also said Amen.
Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen,
I said, Oh Lord, I’m frightened, but I also said, Amen.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Weekend Between Retreats

Last weekend, we had our fall class retreat. We went to a ranch house about 5 miles from the trailer that we lived in when I was pre-school aged. Such a good and needed time! We spent the weekend in the book of Lamentations learning about suffering and what to do with it. It was hard but beautiful. God provided an object lesson the week leading up to it so it was timely as well.
Later this week, I am headed to the great state of Colorado for a women's retreat in the mountains. I cannot begin to share the level of anticipation and excitement that is growing within me! The content, the setting, and meeting with my God. I almost feel like I need to pinch myself to make sure it is real!

So as I sit between retreats, I am looking at where I am. I told Erin tonight that I feel like a punching bag right now. Attach after attach, it isn't slowing down. First the object lesson. Now are the constant struggles that ebb and flow with life in general. Right now, they are all coming in at full force. On one hand, it is difficult. On the other, I feel really excited about it. We are not attacked until Satan feels threatened. So I look forward to a second retreat - full of work and full of grace.

Until then, enjoy some pictures from last weekend:

Kim and me relaxing - our traditional retreat picture:

I learned chess on the back patio:

Our homework/quiet times were spent on the river just behind the house (the "splashes" on the water is the rain coming in):

Part of our group from the weekend:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Warrior Princesses

In a few weeks I am headed to an encampment just outside of Buena Vista, Colorado for the Captivating Event by Randsomed Heart Ministries. Captivating is the book that John and Staci Eldredge wrote about the importance of our female hearts to God. In it, they present that at the very core of who we are, women have three longings: to be romanced, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and to unveil our beauty. It is about our relationship with God and how He so perfectly molded our hearts in His perfect way. It is about how we can know God through our perfect design and how we can be known by Him. I can identify with all of these but right now one is screaming at me. And I don't know what it means.

Lately I have had a restlessness growing in me. I've had the desire for something new - an adventure, if you will. I'm not sure why. Honestly, the thought of adding anything new to my already overflowing plate is daunting. But I'm feeling it. The need for something greater. Something bigger. Something that will push me as a person. Something....... I'm feeling that itch of "There's got to be more to life than this." Don't get me wrong, I love my life. I spend my days with six year olds who have already given me more stories to tell in three weeks than I got all of last year combined. I live 30 minutes from my sister/best friend and her family. I have parents that lift me up in prayer and take phone calls about nothing. I worship with a body of believers that are changing my eternal life for the good. I have friends that know what it means to laugh with those who laugh and mourn with those who mourn. I have a roof over my head and every need met. But there has so be something more....

I receive emails daily from Ransomed Heart with excerpts from various books. When I opened my inbox today, it hit me in the gut. This is it:
Women are often portrayed in stories and tales as the "Damsel in Distress." We are the ones for whom men rise up and slay dragons. We are the "weaker sex"; said to faint at the sight of blood, needing to be spared the gory details of battle whether on the field or in the market place. We are the ones waiting in our flowing gowns for the knight to come and carry us away on the back of his white horse. And yes. There are days when a knight in shining armor would be most welcome. We do long to be fought for; loved enough to be courageously protected. But there is a mighty fierceness set in the heart of women by God. It is true to who we are and what we are created to do.

Women are warriors too.

Redeemed women of God have tender, merciful hearts, backbones of steel and hands that have been trained for battle. There is something incredibly fierce in the heart of a woman that is to be contended with, not dismissed, not disdained, but recognized, honored, welcomed and trained.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Stolen Video

I am stealing this from a friend's blog to share. Kevin Anderson has been battling bowel and liver cancer for the past 11 months. This is the video he made for his wife's birthday. Amazing.....

Rachel's Birthday Video from Kristian Anderson on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Worst First Date Ever

When single women get together, often the topic of conversation turns to guys. Sad but true. It's only a matter of time. It happened recently. I met up with three other ladies for dinner and it took two hours but there it came. So in order to make it a little different, one of the girls decided we should share our war stories (i.e. worst first date stories). Mine ranked up there but my friend's story took the cake. It didn't happen to her but to a minister she heard speak. It's too good not to share. Enjoy and be thankful it wasn't you!

He was a single minister in small town Wisconsin (I think) and "of course" needed a wife. So the sweet, well intentioned ladies of his flock decided to set him up with a nice girl they knew. He picked her up and went to dinner in a bigger town about 20 minutes away. The food was good but that was about it. No spark. At all. And it was mutual. So they finished their meal and left the restaurant. Apparently while they were eating, a pretty good sized snow hit. They were having to drive slow so the trip was lengthen. His date decided she needed to go to the restroom and could not wait. She asked him to pull over and please not look in the rearview mirror. He found a safe spot, pulled over, and behaved like a gentleman. However, after 10 minutes of waiting, he decided to see what was going on. He opened the door and discreetly made his was to the back bumper. She was SO thankful he got out because.... Instead of "hovering" she decided to balance her toosh on his bumper while she relieved herself. On a snowy night. In Wisconsin. So what happened? Her rear froze to his bumper! So there she sat, bare-bottomed, freezing, and stuck! We all know not to yank when your tongue freezes to something but what about your bum? After some quick brainstorming, they came up with a solution. There was no other choice really. When you stop and think about it, it was the only logical thing..... Melt the ice. Yep. She looked away as he peed on her/the bumper to melt the frozen connection she had made with his car! She dried off, got dressed, and he took her home. Eventually, he married her too. After going through such a thing, I guess you are bonded for life. But really.....

Can you imagine!?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Class of 2022

Made it through the first week. In some ways, it went great. In others, it was OK. The important part is that everyone survived and the tears were few (4 kids cried this week and I only cried once). I know some people love the first week but I don't. I would like to just get in our routine and get to work. The training and "breaking of the students" is not fun to me at all! I'm a week closer to teaching now! Here are some stats about my class for the 2010-2011 school year:
- 12 boys and 8 girls
- 6 nations are represented in my 20 kids (U.S., Mexico, India, Pakistan, Scotland, and Africa-I know not a nation but I haven't figured it out yet)
- By race, I have 7 White children, 7 Hispanic, 4 African American, and 2 others

Favorite realization of the week:
- According to the getting to know you activities, my class if full of kids that are mathematically minded, artistic, athletic cowboys/girls who love to dance. Yes, they are 6....

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Copy Cat

Earlier this week, Erin blogged her always, sometimes, never list. Now I'll take a turn:

I always:
- write in bulleted lists whenever possible
- want to beat my brother-in-law in whatever game we are playing
- dream
- count steps when using stairs
- love a good hug
- make a new recipe when I invite people over for dinner
- rub my eyebrows to help myself relax

I sometimes:
- wish I had a house
- think to myself out loud (often with great emotion)
- use Starbucks as personal incentive to get to work early
- miss my French Horn
- want to learn to fish or play golf
- consider deleting my blog
- think about chopping all of my hair off again

I never:
- stop reading in the middle of a chapter
- cook with Velveeta (gross!)
- take a sick day unless I'm actually sick
- go to the grocery store when it's raining
- chew gum
- can keep a secret from my sister
- pass up a chance to hang with the Johnsons

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hiking With(out) Dad

Today I decided to run away for a few hours. I was needing to get out of the city and my mind wandered to Huntsville State Park. I hadn't been to a state park in years. The thought of getting away from anything related to my normal life appealed to me greatly so off I went.

I'll tell you, just the act of driving out of the city limits makes a world of difference. It feels like I'm stretching my legs and letting out a deep breath I'd been holding all at the same time. The park was perfect. There were no signs of people anywhere. I only saw a handful of people on the trail. Exactly what I needed.

As I hiked, I thought about growing up. We went through a few years when going to the state park was a pretty regular thing. Mom would pack a cooler of food and we would head off to any number of parks. We would drive the park, eat, and take off down (or up) a trail. As we got older (and busier) we stopped going as much. However, the last few times I've been, Dad and I would take off together - just the two of us. We would hike and talk more then than probably any other time. It was something I looked forward to.

Today, I thought about Dad a lot. I thought about his little hiking reminders when my toe would catch a root, my fingers would start swelling, or there would be a steeper part of the trail. I thought about what we would talk about - work, church, family, God, something we were reading, or the occasional guy whose name he had started hearing. I thought about how we always stopped at the prettiest place on the trail to just be quiet and enjoy the beauty around us for a few minutes before moving on. I tried to guess where on today's hike that would have been. I found a few spots I thought he might enjoy. I wondered if he had hiked that trail in college. Every time I passed another hiker or a biker and said hello, I could hear his "howdy" in the back of my mind.

It's funny how even though someone is miles and miles away, they can be with you every step of the way. Maybe next time I go, he can come too.

Monday, August 09, 2010


So its that time of year again - I've already spent quite a bit of time in my classroom. It's almost finished and looks pretty good, if I do say so. Lots of warmly decorated, empty space to hang up learning as we go. My favorite part so far? A bulletin board outside my room with owls/moons (to be labeled with student names) that says "Look Whoo's in First Grade". It's simple but too cute.....

As glad as I am to be getting this done early, I'm already thinking about time. How quickly the summer went. How I'm not quite ready for it to be over. How to readjust to getting up with the alarm. How to balance work with the rest of my life. And on it goes.....

Last school year (and this summer, to a degree), my schedule was packed. My calendar is already filling up for the next two months. Craziness! So this is my personal prayer as this school year starts: That God will show me what activities to hold on to and what to let go of. That He show me where to make room and how to prioritize my activities. Where to spend my time and where to rest. I'm having to let go of some good things to make room for the better things. And sometimes resting is better.

Now if I can only practice what I'm preaching.... :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Time for Everything

The past couple of days, I'm just been hit by the ebbs and flows of life. On Thursday, we got the devastating news of a family who lost their child two days before he was due to be born. Devastating doesn't even feel like an adequate word. So some of us gathered together to pray with them last night. My life group was meeting as well so we excused ourselves after some time. As I was driving away from the house, I was overwhelmed by how surreal everything seemed. Here was a family whose world had just been shaken so strongly. Yet, all around them, everything was going on as if nothing had changed. Errands were being run, gas was being pumped, and dinner was being made. When we got to life group, we visited about everything and nothing - laughing and eating to our heart's content. It almost felt like a completely separate world. Then I went to Erin and Gregg's house to visit. We talked about upcoming plans for the week and weekend. Again, we laughed at how "funny" Erin is and how Gregg just can't keep a secret (with no help from yours truly).

When I was finally driving home, I couldn't help but think about how complex life is. All around us, people are making plans, celebrating great joys, and mourning deeply. I kept looking at my fellow drivers wondering which it was that they were doing. The truth is, you never know what someone is dealing with. I think that so often I have read Ecclesiastes 3 selfishly. I will go through all times in my life and God will make everything beautiful in its time. While there may be truth in that, I think I missed a big point. I missed that these aren't definable seasons with beginnings and ends. They are going on all around us all of the time and we just don't know it. They change moment to moment and person to person, interwoven all around us. You just never know what someone is dealing with.

It humbles me....

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Channeling Julie Andrews

Yesterday I was able to experience one of my favorite things. I LOVE when the sun is shining and it is raining lightly. It's perfect! Rainbows come from days like this and even if they don't, I just love sunny, rainy days. As I enjoyed the sun/rain, I got thinking about other things that I love. Just thought I would make a list. Feel free to add on to it or share your own:

- the smell of fresh cut grass
- a gentle breeze on a warm day
- a sweet little voice saying "It's D!" and singing "Sing Swee' Ni-gale Awwww...."
- the face of a little boy eager to get some solids in his mouth or taking a lunge across the floor
- folding yourself into clean sheets
- holding hands
- the smell of a bookstore
- pretty toes after a fresh pedicure
- coming home to a clean house
- rainbows
- the perfect song that you haven't heard in a while
- laughing until you can't breath
- the sound of a river
- discovering a fantastic new recipe
- a long, safe hug

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Houston Project 2010

Last year I joined the Houston Project for the first time. It was a HUGE learning experience for me and God opened my eyes to so many different things. It was pretty mind blowing. This year, God still did some amazing things but as all annual experiences go, it was different.

Again I worked with the three and four year old group. They are full of such sweetness you want to scoop them up every time you get the chance. Since most of our kids are either Bhutanese, African, or Hispanic, they all have those deep, chocolate brown eyes that you can stare at forever. And their smiles just melt your heart - even if most of their teeth are silver.

Unlike last year, I was not able to go all five days. On the fourth day, I missed it due to prior commitments. It was a blessing because the night before, I was wide awake from 1:45 - 4:00. So what do you do when you can't sleep? Of course, pray. The kids were on my mind so they were the focus of my prayers. I was telling God about how last year was so much about how big He is and how much He can do if we are just obedient to go where He needs us. So I asked Him what this year is about - not just for me but for us all. I kept hearing the word, "joy". The more I prayed and thought about it, the more "joy" made sense: His provision of strength, the joy from the kids and from the volunteers, His joy over the week, it all fit. So when I went back on the last night, I soaked in every last smile, giggle, ah-ha moment, and bead of sweat that ran down our faces for the sake of these people. Yes, it was a joyful week.

I do want to share one story. This sweet little man is Hope. His family is from Africa but his English was almost perfect. He stole my heart pretty quickly. A little ball of energy and full of desire to participate, he made driving 45 minutes to the site each day easy. Thankfully, he took to me too. Sorry I don't have one of his sweet face. It might be better because you would melt if you could see those eyes!

As I said, I was gone on Wednesday so when I got back on Thursday, I went to collect our materials from the apartment. As I opened the door, he walked out. His whole face lit up and he held his arms up to be scooped up (which I did, of course). He touched my face and said, "My teacher's here! Where were you yesterday? I missed you." I told him that I missed him too and was glad to see him. The conversation immediately turned to bubbles, balls, and could he carry our class sign but he would not let me put him down or stop touching my face. I could have stayed in that moment all night.

Thank you, God, for little boys like Hope.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Take a Bow

Last Thursday, I took my friend Kim to see Wicked. I've seen it before - several times. In fact, this was time number five. Yes, you read that right. However, if you have seen the show, you know that it is the type of show which you want to share with people over and over again. It was a great cast and it just never gets old. Especially when you see it with someone for the first time. All of the laughs and gasps are just fun.

I've mentioned it before but I've really grown to love the standing ovation. Not for me - I would hate the attention. You've seen me selling tickets, helping with costume changes, but never on the stage. Not my thing. I'd rather be backstage! For those on stage, it is one of my favorite times of the night. After months of hard work - acting, singing, choreography, and being on the road - they do their thing in front of a packed house. To say thank you, the audience shows love - lots of it. Clapping, whistles, hoots, and longevity of it all. On Thursday night, it was one of the best I've ever seen. From the time the curtain when down, people around me are literally leaning forward of the edge of their seats to just dying to get up and show some love. When the time came, you couldn't keep them in their chairs.

It isn't my place but when that happens, I can't help but feel a swelling of pride on my chest. Seeing people appreciated and to experience such recognition for their hard work just makes me feel proud of them. Then they get to take their bow. It's great. I can't even imagine how a parent would feel.

Reason number 4 why live shows are so great - the standing ovation!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Oh What a Night...

You know how some days just exceed your expectations? Yesterday was one of those days. Nothing huge happened but it was just a really good day. Church was amazing but that will be another post later this week. This one is about the less meaningful but fun-filled evening.

Several of my friends took advantage of the long weekend and got out of dodge. The few of us that were still in town broke up into various groups and hung out for the 4th. My friend, Jennifer, opened up her house to about 10 of us. The guys grilled out and the girls made sides. There was lots of eating involved but someone was gracious and didn't subject any of us to the horror that is always mid-bite pictures. After dinner, we played some games (some of us aren't smarter than 5th graders but we do know the physics of catching grapes in our mouths with various changing variables) and cleaned up before heading out to the fireworks.

We all piled in the back of our friends truck and rode to watch the fireworks. You would not guess that it was July last night. PERFECT weather! We all kept saying how we couldn't believe how nice it was. When I got home, I checked the weather - 81 degrees! On July 4th! In Houston, TX! When does that ever happen? Add a light breeze and clear, star-filled skies and you've got our amazing night.

The firework show we went to was a dud but behind us, there were about three HUGE shows going on. We just turned around and watched them from a distance. They were gorgeous. I bet they went on for about an hour and it was non-stop. So instead of one right above us, we watch the horizon explode in color all around us. We enjoyed it and decided to go there next year. We headed back to the house for desserts, silliness, and Catch Phrase. Then it was time to head home. It was a great 4th!

This just shows you the amazing guys I know - They volunteered to do this without anyone asking:

Before leaving for fireworks, the great Catching the Grape in Your Mouth event commenced. We all rode in the back of this truck to the firework show so it became about doing it in a moving vehicle with wind and curves. Childish maybe but definitely entertaining for all. We all played but my pictures are not attractive at all. Use your imagination.

Here we are waiting for the fireworks to begin:

The girls stayed in the truck and laughed at the boys playing frisbee in the very muddy field around us.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Erin's Not the Only One....

Two years ago, we had the lovely opportunity to experience Hurricane Ike. Seeing as I live alone, I decided (after some convincing on my sister's part) that I would go to her house with she and Gregg. At some point, we decided to go to bed since nothing was going on. We all stayed in Erin and Gregg's room because I'm a scaredy cat - girls in the bed and Gregg in the recliner. In a matter of hours, the storm hit. Gregg and I were up all night. Being the smart individuals that we are, we would either lay there wide awake or stand at the window watching to storm. We traded spots at one point so her could "get some rest". Who do you notice missing from this story? Erin. That is because my sister literally slept through a hurricane. She has received ample teasing on that subject.

Fast forward to last Friday. It was about 7:00 in the morning and my phone chimes that I have a text message. A friend of mine was checking on me because of the apartment fire she saw on the news. I told her it was another apartment (I have four other complexes around me) because I would have heard the fire trucks if they came. As I laid there waking up, I heard the ominous sound of helicopters flying over repeatedly. So I decided to get up and check it out. As soon as I opened the door, the smell of smoke was overwhelming. I stepped outside and just a couple of buildings over, a HUGE fire was raging. Turns out that the office building was engulfed in flames from the inside out. Suffice it to say that about 7 fire trucks were onsite for this one. Big fire! The fire trucks had been sent out before dawn and guess who slept through it all. No cause has been released to us yet so we are waiting to see how it was started. I know where to find video of the fire but it would share my address. Sorry folks.

The moral of the story? I can no longer tease my sister about sleeping through a hurricane.

A couple of pictures of the building. Note to anyone thinking of doing this: Don't take pictures of the crime scene when a security guard is watching. It makes for some very suspicious looks.

Friday, June 18, 2010

So Far This Summer....

Lately a lot of people have been asking me what I am up to this summer. My evenings are pretty full (Tuesday night is the only free night during the week) but my days are very flexible. I have some fun things coming up but I don't want to ruin the upcoming posts. So in the meantime, here are some things that are filling my days:

There has been a little of this:

A lot of that:

Today I decided to don my new apron:

and make my very first homemade apple pie! This may become the summer of baking/cooking!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Good Day, Sunshine

Yesterday I joined some girls and we headed to Galveston to celebrate a friend's birthday. This was my first event of the summer and it was such a good time.

First stop was the beach. We got there and had a quick picnic lunch. After PB&Js with some fruit, we lathered up with sunscreen. I was especially careful to make sure this was done properly. Seeing how I am white as can be, I used SPF 70 (yes, 70) on every inch that needed it. Repeatedly. With friends helping to reach my back where my arms could not. And this is after an initial coat before leaving Houston. Once it soaked it, we hit the waves. Well, actually the waves hit us. It was a red flag day so we only went in up to our waists. Often we were in deeper water due to the swelling of the waves. It was a blast. We stayed in for a while jumping on waves, floating with the rises and falls, drifting with the current a bit, and just having a good time together. It was fantastic! We got out, dried off, reapplied the sunscreen, and I wrapped up in a towel so I wouldn't fry. Eventually, we decided to head out so we hit the showers and drove over to The Strand.

Touristy as it may be, The Strand was fun. We were exhausted so walking from shop to shop was a good way to kill time until dinner. First stop was the ice cream parlor/candy shop. So yummy on a hot June day! We walked in and out of every boutique and gift shop on the street. I wasn't planning on buying anything until we went to the last shop called "Christmas on the Strand". Yes, after a day at the beach, I bought two Christmas ornaments. They were too cute to pass up. They are red and are painted like bandanas.

After The Strand, we met up with some other girls we know for dinner. We had the best waiter. He knew how to earn a tip on a table of 11 girls. :) As we were leaving, one of them noticed that I was looking a little pink but we both bushed it off. After all, there were multiple coats of SPF 70 (yes, 70) throughout the day.

When I got home I wanted to go straight to bed but decided to take a shower to get the rest of the beach off of me. That was when I saw it. My cute new ornaments were not the only things red that came back to Houston. Grrrrr...... To top it off, this might rank up there for worst sunburn to date. At one point, I rolled over last night and it woke me up. I didn't make it to church this morning because what you see below is all I can wear. Thankfully my legs are not bad. It's the upper body that is hating me right now. If you look closely, you can see where the straps of my swimsuit were.

The pictures don't do it justice!
Both arms looks like this up to my neck. You can't tell here but my fingers got a bit burned too.

So I've decided not to head to the beach again for a while. It's too bad because it really was a great time! The sun just doesn't have any love for me. For now, I'm just loving me some aloe vera and remaining thankful it is summer so I don't have to go teach tomorrow!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Boss of my Heart

The following prayer was posted by Scotty Smith on Monday. It really stuck with me so I thought I would share it with you:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Dear Lord Jesus, today, like every day, somebody or something is going to gain the upper hand on the attention, affection and allegiance of my heart. My heart will be ruled… that’s an indisputable fact. Some entity will be the “boss of me.” It could be my bitterness, pettiness or cowardice. It could be evil masquerading an angel of light. It could be overbearing or aggravating people. It could be my lust to look like people on magazine covers. It could be my greed to have a little more. It could be religion or my hatred of religion. It could be old regrets or new fantasies.

But, by faith, right now… I choose your peace as the ruler of my heart… as the “boss of me”… as the centering and sending power for this one day. And who knows peace better than you, Jesus? You are the Prince of Peace! On the cross you secured God’s peace with me and my peace with God. The enmity and hostility between us have been obliterated and eradicated. Peace with God is now a legal right of mine… a done deal… a settled issue. How can I not overflow with gratitude, as this day begins… and continues?

Jesus, please make this legal right a personal delight—an actual power mightily at work in my heart today… and in all my relationships. For you are not just calling me, but US to peace. Yours is a much better story than simply a tale of calming down my restless, wandering heart. Yours is a story of reconciling love. You make enemies friends. You humble stubborn people. You soften hard people. You gentle angry people.

Because you have forgiven me, I will choose to forgive others. Because you have forgiven me, I will choose to ask forgiveness from others. Because you are at peace with me, I will do everything within my power to live at peace with others. So very Amen, I pray, in your holy and persistent name.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Year Seven - Done!

Friday afternoon I checked out with my principal to close out my seventh year of teaching. What a crazy thought! Already seven years. Wow! The last two weeks were insanely busy and I am now on to slower days. I'm not reflecting on it too much since I had plenty of time to contemplate during the craziness that was the end of the year. So in regular Dana fashion, here are some retrospective thoughts about the past ten months:

1. Never get comfortable where you are. This year was the most uncomfortable, stretching position that I have ever been in. It has taught me how to work with difficult people, how to see things from another point of view, and how to advocate like I've never done before. None of those were easy things but as the year went on, it became so. It stretched me as an educator and person. I would LOVE to be back there as soon as I can.

2. God will never ask you to go somewhere He won't walk with you. While it was not the valley of the shadow of death, I had some pretty intense anxiety at the beginning of the year. He not only got me through it, he grew me to relax, trust him, and enjoy it.

3. What doesn't make sense at the time always turns out to have meaning in hindsight. This I knew but needed a good reminder. When I was told I was being moved to "the trailers" (Comp Ed), it felt so out of the blue and didn't make any sense. In hindsight, here is what I see:
- There were lessons I needed to learn personally and spiritually I couldn't learn anywhere but back there.
- I couldn't have stayed with the Johnson's after Bladen was born if I had been in the classroom.
- I couldn't have helped out with the grandparents like I was able to if I had been in the classroom.

4. Sometimes, we all just need someone to believe in us to help us succeed. At a meeting at the beginning on the year, the district level person over my department reminded us that 80% of our job is emotional. I've never seen that to play out as more true as I have this year. Giving love and confidence can make a kid soar as much as imparting information. At the same time, some kids need more than we can give. We just have to love them until we can get them the help they will need.

5. Most importantly, never be anxious about working with people who are different from you. My team was so different than any other I've ever had. There was a co-worker I was most concerned about working with. She ended up being my favorite person on my team. Even better, God used her the most to teach me about his love. Another co-worker and I grew pretty close. She told me on Wednesday that as soon as a spot opens up on her team again, she's getting me back. I told her she better follow up on it! You never know the impact someone is going to make on your life or you on theirs.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

What a Weekend

I am exhausted. I am so looking forward to crawling into bed. However, it will wait a few more minutes. Honestly, if you look at what I did this weekend, you wouldn't think much of it. Yes, I got a lot accomplished but there was down time too. Most of the days were spent alone with my evenings filled with good friends. However, when you get alone with God, he does some pretty heavy duty stuff. He deals with the stuff you are pushing to the side. He knows that laundry needs to be aired and he sure does take care of it. However, he doesn't just leave it at that. Once those spots are cleared out, he puts things on your heart. And this weekend, he sure did that. While I may not understand some of it, he has given me some hard things to sift through and pray over. So that is what I'll be doing for a while.

Getting alone with God - it is the best kind of exhausting there is!