Friday, December 25, 2009

Sharin' the Love of Jesus...

Tomorrow I leave on a trip to Piedras Negras, Mexico!

A team of 48 people from Westside Baptist Church will hop on a charter bus with a mission: We're takin' the love of Jesus to the people of Mexico!

If you know me, you know that God has given me a passion for missions and a heart to share His joy around the world. The first time I remember having the urge to go was in high school when our church hosted a missions fair. There were missionaries from all over the country and the world, but one couple serving in Scotland told the story of unreached kids there, and I suddenly felt a sense of urgency. The people there (and around the world) needed to know. They needed to hear the story of a Savior who was sent as a baby to grow into a King and eventually sacrifice Himself on the cross for our sins.

In college I still felt the urge to go, but it wasn't until my Junior year that I felt God providing an opportunity for me to serve overseas! He put a special spot in my heart for the continent of Africa, and that year our campus ministries group took a team to Senegal, West Africa. Here are some pictures from that trip!

Then, a year later, my church in college took a mission trip to the Amazon region of Brazil! I felt God providing another opportunity for me to go, and I signed up to be a part of the team. In both instances it was so awesome to see how God provided perfectly in His own ways through prayers, encouragement, and financial support. In Brazil we took a boat down the Amazon River then branched off onto other small rivers. It took 48 hours to get to the first village we would share with. We met groups of Indian nations that had not ever been reached by outsiders before! During those 10 days many people opened their hearts to receive the same gift that we had been led there to share. There were baptisms on a beach where just 40 years before, head hunters had made sacrifices. We slept in hammocks on the boat each night and got off to work in the villages each day. We visited four communities during our 10 days. God was so present there, and my heart grew even more passionate about missions.

I love to travel. And I love to meet people from all over the world. And most of all, I love showing them that Jesus gives joy. I may not be able to speak their languages, but it's amazing the ways God can use a person who is ready and willing to go.

So tomorrow I'm leavin' the country and takin' the love of Jesus with me to share with everyone I meet! I can't wait to share pictures and stories when I get back, but here are a few of the things we'll be doing:

VBS in the mornings.....
Sports evangelism in the afternoons...

Door to door street evangelism every day using the "evangicube"
And a team will be working together to build onto a Christian school there...

Please pray for us as we travel and work December 26-January 1.
I'm so excited to see what God has in store for our team and for me as I serve Him and share His joy with others around the world!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stick a Post-it on the Kids....

Christmas break is so close I can taste it! (Whatever that means!)
But was SO hard to keep going today, knowing that tomorrow is the last day of school - and that instead of teaching art, music, and p.e., we'll be watching Polar Express with the kids. Which means technically, today....I'm done! Woooooo-hooooo!
This is the time last year that I thought would never come. I was hanging on and surviving.
This year I'm hanging on, surviving, AND teaching. :)

A first grader today asked me if I had facebook. A first grader. Then I remembered that when I was in first grade, I didn't even know what the Internet was!

Sometimes my best activities in class are ones I come up with on a whim - about 5 minutes before my kids come. This week I decided to stick post-its on all my kids' backs with different note values on them. Then they had to go around the class asking other people yes/no questions about what was on their back. When they figured it out, they put it on their front, and we lined up from biggest note value to smallest. Then we stuck the post-its on the board in the shape of our "rhythm tree" we'd been practicing writing a lot lately. I was supposed to assess this skill for our "official common assessments" and I did! Only the kids didn't even know they were being assessed. And we all had fun.

Another time, after my kids had already come into the classroom, I suddenly had the idea to have them lay on the floor and make shapes of the treble clef letter names with their bodies. More crazy looks. But lots of laughter, and engaged learning. Times like these are when I love teaching the most!

What about do you learn best? Do you like traditional paper and pencil approach or active, hands-on (and sometimes a little crazy) learning?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sharon's Singles...(and looking!)

You just never know where God is going to take you.

One year ago...
Just moved here - close to home but on my own - looking for a church...

9 months ago...tired of church-hopping/visiting - wondering where to go - listening to God and giving my new church "another chance..." (The first time I said it was TOO big and I was NOT going back!) - This time I joined!

6 months ago...getting more involved in the church - was asked to lead preschool choir this year

But..."Lord," I said, "I still just want some friends. I have a caring church family and a nice adult Sunday School class, but (no offense) all these people are my parents' age."

3 months ago..."New singles class starting today at 11:00..." printed in the church bulletin - "But it's during the traditional service I like to go to, and I don't really want to go to the contemporary service..." - I went. And it was nice to meet some new people, but I still wasn't "sure" about it. It wasn't all people "my age." And besides, my home church isn't too far, I could still go there...

Tonight - Laughing my head off, eating junk food, playing games, "filtering" (don't ask...haha), getting to know more people, karaoke (if you could call it that!) - and thanking God that He knows what I need, even when I complain, only think inside my "box," and question Him!

"So," you might ask, "just what IS Sharon's Singles?" (And looking...) <----We added that part on the end of our sign at our last get-together! Well, you'll just have to join us at 11:00 on Sunday at Westside Baptist Church. But be prepared to laugh, be challenged, and meet people of all ages and backgrounds who will soon become new friends! You never know what will happen - from game nights, to Fall Festival costumes, to church visiting (with an unexpected late-evening trip to Steak and Shake), to Christmas parties....Oh, and Sharon is our wonderful and fearless leader who probably had no idea what she was getting into when God led her to start the group!

God always provides. He knows more than I ever will. And I am so thankful!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The List

Acka backa soda cracker, acka backa BOO! Tell me your best present, how about....YOU?!

Everyone in the first grade class took a turn. Then it was my turn. When I couldn't think of an answer, I decided to ask the kids...

I thought I should list the things my first graders thought would make good gifts for me while I remember!
*a new car
*a pomeranian puppy
*a schitzu (how does one spell that appropriately? ha)
*a ring
*a necklace
*shiny and sparkly shoes
*a new dress
*a baby doll
*a video game
*good kids
*a husband (These kids are too smart...I heard two girls saying, "She IS married!" "Nuh-uh, she doesn't have a RING on!" ha....)
Last but not least...
*a strong man

(I think I'll do this again and see what answers my other classes come up with!)

Singing Commercials and A Strong Man...

Today I have two funny stories. Well, maybe you had to be there, but I laughed!

I have a new potential singer for commercials in my music class. I used to hear kids going down the hall singing, "Five...five dollar footlongs!" But this year the singing is a little, uh....different than sandwiches! We were doing an activity at the Smart Board when all of the sudden I heard a little boy singing, "Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, everyday.....Loo loo loo loo loo loo loo loo loo loo loo loo looooo!" (I think I got all the loos in there!) Yes friends, he was singing the birth control commercial from t.v. If only he knew! They always wonder why I'm smiling and holding back a laugh! Oh yes, a third grade boy!

In another class, the kids were echoing a speaking chant after me, and at the end each one had to say what their best present ever was or what the best present they could get would be.
Enter super-giggly first grade boy who is usually very quiet. He said he would like a super hero. Ok...a boy who wants a super hero. Nothing unusual there. But when it came to my turn, I couldn't think of what I should say, so I asked the kids what would be a good gift for me. I took a few answers and by this time he was giggling so much I couldn't understand his words. Until the girl next to him said, "Miss Whitaker....he said you should get a strong man for a present!"
Hmmm....if you're that strong man and you're reading this, just talk to my first graders, and I'm sure they'll let me know who you are!

Sometimes the things my kids say make the profession so worth it! :)

Do you remember any funny moments you or your kids have had with teachers? Or if you're a teacher, funny things your kids have said/done?

Here's a cheer for the weekend!

Edit: I do have to admit the commercial has a catchy tune! And I wouldn't turn down a strong man for Christmas....if it was the right one! haha

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's been awhile...

I don't know why I haven't been motivated to blog lately. But I've been reading back over my old Xanga posts from college, and it was so fun to read them, I thought I better keep writing somewhere!

I wish I'd started a blog last year to remember all the funny things that happened in the first year of teaching! But I'll just have to start now and make up for it!

I love teaching. As I hugged a crying little girl one morning this week and calmed her, I realized I don't remember all of the details about the academic lessons my favorite teachers taught me. I remember things they said and how they treated me. And then I thought...this is why I love teaching. I hope I can be that teacher who is remembered one day.

What do you remember about your favorite/best teacher?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

How to Become a VIP...

You may not have realized it, because I certainly did not, but I'm here to imform you that I have just become aware of my status as a VIP...a celebrity even, maybe! :) haha And it all came to me in the frozen food Wal-Mart.

Ok, so maaaaaybe I'm not a "real" VIP, whatever that is, but I guess all you really need to do to be a "very important person" is feel like one, and if you ever need help with that, becoming a teacher can do the trick! Really - then, once you become a teacher, (or a number of other equally wonderful positions, but I'll use my situation today...) you simply need to go shopping at your local Wal-Mart. Yes, friends, it may not happen on the first trip, but rest assured, if you are persistent enough, you will meet one, or more, of your favorite (and sometimes, not so favorite, but still very loved!) kiddos coming toward you, and usually offering free hugs and smiles! But this is the best and probably most humorous part, the fame has just begun. Because the next time you return to school, the said kiddo will probably want to tell you and everyone in the class, repeatedly that "I saw Miss Whitaker at Wal-Mart!" "Remember when you saw me at Wal-Mart?!" And so it goes...once the fame rubs off, you're sure to have a grocery list long enough to head back and walk the red carpet.....errrr.....frozen food Wal-Mart.

I wish I could post pictures of the 300 kiddos that make me feel like the VIP that I am, but I can't, so instead I'll just have to leave you with this - find out what makes you a VIP...and live it up!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

So...serious post kind of day...

I was looking back at some old blogs from Xanga today and came across this one. It's fun to think about how I am now on the "mission field" I was wondering and writing about then. God has put me at a time and place with, I think, one of the most unique outreach opportunities I could ask for. I have the privilege to serve those who are serving our country every day, by teaching their children. And I love it. -

Saturday, 19 January 2008
Three days on the Block...ten to go. (For non-OBU people, that is 2.5 weeks of education classes from 8-5, all day, every day, that all the interns take together on campus before they send us out to teach...)I feel like I have learned so much. And I have SO much more to learn. Mostly I feel like no matter what I learn here, I won't truly learn anything until I have the opportunity to experience it with those students. I'm excited...and terrified.
I've been thinking about how blessed I feel to be here. Here at OBU I mean, and yes...on the Block. Because it's not really education training. It's mission training. And as we were told this week, whether we signed up for it or not, we are about to go serve on a mission field that is bigger than we could ever imagine, and closer than any other we might find. And that excites me. That keeps me getting up and going every day from 8-5 and coming home and reading and doing projects and soaking in as much as I can. Then I wonder where I will be when it all finishes. Where will my next mission field be? I want to plan that so badly, but it's not in my hands to plan, because any plan I make could not compare to the one He has for me. I just heard precious children singing these words on the radio...
"Here am I send me, 'til every nation knows the power of your heart. Give me a hunger, to know where it is you want me to go. Father I'm saying, "Here am I, send me.'"

"We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall." -Proverbs 16: 9, 33
"But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying, 'You are my God! My future is in your hands..." -Psalm 31: 14-15

So, in response to this old post...I am serving, and I am on a mission field. Every day. My heart may long for a field that is overseas, but I have learned that God knows our desires. He gave them to me, and He has promised to fulfill them, in His time. And I am to trust that where I am now, is also in His will. Lord, help me to seek your plans daily, living in the center of where you want me to be.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Last Minute Louise...

Most of the time I'm a last minute kind of girl. Papers, lesson plans, cleaning, organizing, phone calls...whatever the task, I stand firmly in my belief, "If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done!" But despite my last minute habits, everything always seems to get done somehow, and even better than if I had done it far in advance. I thrive on the last minute stress.

I say all that because right now I'm watching Gilmore Girls. And drinking coffee. And not going over my entire K-5 music curriculum, picking out all my program songs, figuring out what to teach when, and lesson planning for next year. Oh yes, I intended to do all that when I started my summer. But what I didn't realize was, I also planned to enjoy my time off! I enjoy those other things...but summer is for relaxing. And for the first time, I think I'm getting used to that idea. I like it!

So, here's to many more days of coffee, Gilmore Girls, reading, swimming, laughing, hanging out with family and friends, and...summer vacation!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


There are different meanings of the word reflection. But I've been thinking lately about a mirror reflection. The one where you stand in front of that, sometimes dreaded, and probably overly honest piece of shiny glass...and see what is looking back at you.

Sometimes when I look in the mirror it's for a "dressy" occasion, and I think to myself, "Hey, I can do this, bring on the reflection...lookin' good!" haha (Ok, maybe not so much that exact dialogue, but you get the point...)

Then there are days when I have that "morning" reflection. You know. The one where the alarm has been going off for the past hour, the sleep button refuses to stop time, and pulling the covers back over your head, unfortunately, doesn't push the day ahead out of the way. Usually in this instance, my eyes are fogged over, which can be very helpful in NOT to see the things I don't want to...the baggy eyes, messy hair, etc. Well, you get the idea.

I love to watch little children who have just discovered the mirror. They play endlessly in front of the glass, running back and forth to see if what appeared the first time has disappeared. They are full of curiosity and precious giggles and just can't get enough of seeing their reflection again and again. They haven't hit the dreaded "mirror complex" yet.

Anyway, I guess my point is...some days I like what I see, and other days I'd rather just bypass the mirror and face the day without knowing. What you don't know can't hurt you, right? ha
But ultimately it's not about what I see in the mirror. It's about what I'm reflecting to the world.
When they look at me, am I full of the light and joy that I see in the amazing God? Am I reflecting the woman He has created me to be?

Here is a verse that really started me thinking and inspired the name for my blog. I'm sure the posts won't always be serious and hopefully not tooooooo long. But I hope they will reflect the me that God wants me to be!

"And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more." 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT