Saturday, April 24, 2010


A little Weight Watchers Update...Thursday was my weekly weigh-in, and I had been gone the week before, but my two-week loss was 4.8 lbs!! And my total so far is........ -19lbs since February! (Only 2 lbs away from my 10% goal! Then I will set my final and long-term goal...) I can't tell you how healthy and non crazy-diet-ish this has felt. I have really just been more aware of the choices I make when I eat and the ways I exercise. I'm excited! This is one of the hurdles I faced in the JM application process before, but now the Lord is helping me with that too! Just wanted to share the success! :)

Where Do I Start...?

My God is at work all around me. In SO many ways. And He is giving me a joy and a peace that I can't explain. And a chance to learn. And to grow. Sometimes growing is uncomfortable, but in the end it is all worth the experience.

So there are many perspectives I could take in showing you how God is stretching me. But right now, I'll just begin with how He is at work...

One month ago - God laid it on my heart to begin applying for the Journeyman program again. I had begun this process at the end of college, but realized it just wasn't His timing. Yes, I had the overwhelming passion and desire to go...but I needed to wait. Two years later I continued to wait, but realized that I had not been praying wholeheartedly about the time I was waiting for. And God made it clear that this was the time. I submitted the first two parts of the application and waited patiently for the third. After three weeks, the IMB called! And after visiting about a few things, they sent part three just over a week ago. There were some things on my heart that needed to be addressed honestly, but God gave me boldness to approach them, and I am now diving 100% into the final part of the application. I could be in training to serve overseas in one year. Wow. When I finish the application, it will be completely the work of the Lord, and not me. Timeline - application due in August, job conference (if invited) in February, job offer (Lord-willing) in March, training in Summer 2011, Overseas Fall 2011!! So - the Lord was clearly at work there. Then He showed me how He can take our security, put it in His hands, shake things up a bit....and begin the growth process.

Last week - Friday - I was visiting family and college friends in Arkansas when I received a phone call from my principal. The district would be voting on Monday to close our building at the end of the year. No one knew. Not even was a shock.

Monday - The board voted. One person abstained. Pick Elementary will close at the end of this year, after many years of service to the district as a wonderful building with a small and unique atmosphere. It was official.

Tuesday - We have ALL been promised jobs next year - no matter what. What a blessing. If you have watched the national news lately, you know just what a blessing that truly is. The HR director came to meet with all of the teachers. This took all day, and some of us had to wait until the next day. Waiting. God is teaching me to wait on Him so patiently.

Wednesday - My turn with the HR director. "Where are you going to be?..." the question of the week. Well, again, I get to wait. I am only music certified, and there are no music openings. Coincidence? I think not. The art and p.e. teachers happened to have other openings, but I am kind of left on my own. They are looking into possible situations, but I will probably not be teaching music next year. I shared about my background in ESL and Speech Path classes...and they might just lead to something next year.

I'm excited - how often do you get to "try something out" for a year? Did I mention how glad I am to have a job? How blessed I feel? Honestly. The Lord is so good. So - I wait. I will honestly probably not know until the end of the school year where I am going. I have been praying that I will be a light to others who are not calm in my building. That the peace God has given me will shine through, and others will see me as a person of joy. But not my joy. His joy. The perfect, inexplainable joy that comes from  a Savior who loves and provides for me.

God is working in other areas too. But - I continuously stand amazed in His presence and goodness, in awe of how He is working in my life. And His timing. I am certainly human. And I'm not saying that every day this week has been easy. Nor is waiting easy. But I have confidence that someone far greater than me is making plans. And I am SO excited to see what they are...

I'll keep you posted...

How is the Lord working in your life? I would love for you to share...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

That "Not So Proud" Moment...

Well, in case I doubted it, I discovered today that I am human. And I needed a big attitude adjustment.

Today I had a "not so proud" teacher moment. I'll start by saying that it had been an ok day, not overly stressful, but just a "Monday." My head started hurting mid-day, and by the end of the day, it was throbbing. I don't think that is entirely what caused my unproud moment, but it certainly didn't help.

As I was standing in the bus room and supervising the 35 students who come there after school, many made the choice to run in, a couple decided to be goofy and tackle each other, and the volume level was out of control loud. So, I had to yell to get their attention. Which is normally ok, and once the talking stops, I can talk in a normal voice...but today the talking continued, the choices to act crazy, and not to follow directions continued, and so did my yelling. Loud. Angry. Yelling. Some students were surprised. I told a few who came to ask me questions to just "Sit down!" until things were under control. (I needed to get under control.) So...I know this is probably something that happens every day all over in lots of schools, but not something that I am particularly proud of. And not an effective way of setting an example for the kids either. Thank goodness tomorrow is a new day, and the Lord provides grace to us, even when we least deserve it. Thank goodness for the love that comes from kiddos even when we make mistakes. A little girl brought me this note just after all the yelling, while I was walking around. 

The same letter is written in my heart by the Lord, Himself. He loves me. No matter what. And I'm so thankful for that. 

Today the IMB called!! The man who left the message said he had my application in his hands and would love to visit about it. It was too late to call this afternoon b/c of the time zone difference, but I will chat with them tomorrow! Praying the Lord will lead me to the next step of this process! 

So glad tomorrow is a new day with a fresh start...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Simple Fridays and Fantastic Fun...

I love simple and plain days at school. Especially Fridays. That just makes things doubly better.
Days when we get to be outside in the beautiful weather. When the sun is shining and there is a slight breeze. When I get to play "throw the ball up and catch it before it bounces - if it bounces once that's good, if it bounces twice that's ok, if it bounces three times, that's NOT good, Miss Whitaker!" with some Kindergarten boys. The kind of day when I get to TRY to climb across the monkey bars and then laugh at my attempt with some remarkable third grade girls. (Only to fall down after making it from one to, I used to be SO good at that!)

I sang karaoke twice this week. On a stage at lunch time in front of all the third-fifth graders in our school. I have to admit, being goofy and feeling famous can be somewhat exhilarating! Tuesday's special was, "We Got the Beat" by the Go-Go Girls, complete with a boa, crazy hat, and sunglasses, accompanied by the art and reading teachers. Today's selections were, "Don't Speak," "Material Girl," and an encore performance by demand of "We Got the Beat." This time I sang with our fantastic autism teacher and one of her amazing paras. We were quite the trio. I'm pretty much rich and famous now. Well, famous at least. At Pick Elementary School. We'll have to keep working on the rich part. Ah, laughter is so good for the mind sometimes.

I love teaching. Simple Fridays can make all the difference. My kids are special and amazing. All 300-ish of them!

A few side notes to end my simple Friday...2 more lbs at Weight Watchers this week. The feeling of success is a good one. -14.2 total. I'm on my way! Also still waiting to receive part three of my Journeyman application. In His timing, the news will come. Also was invited to join the praise team at my church this week. I am so excited for this new opportunity to harmonize to my heart's content while worshiping and leading others to do the same! I'm going to the Women on Mission meeting at church tomorrow. Looking forward to meeting some new ladies in the church and seeing how this organization works at Westside.

What about you? If you sang karaoke in front of an audience, what song would you sing? What's your favorite thing to do on a Simple Friday?

Happy Simple Friday and Wonderful Weekend! :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Today I made a big-girl-turning-my-kitchen-into-a-fun-place-to-be-making-exciting-new-things purchase...Or maybe just a 1950s June Cleaver one. Either way, I like the new additions to my kitchen. Those being a blender and a food processor. Looking forward to many new cooking adventures to come. Or at least a whole lotta smoothies, frozen coffee, and homemade salsa! Mmmmmmm...I even bought the $24 blender instead of the $13 one.

So - I've been trying to think about what to write. How to reflect all the feelings going through my head every day. And somehow I fail to put them into words. If I could put them into a few words though, they might be - Waiting. Peace. Contentment. Wholeness. Satisfaction. And God has blessed me with each of these.

Easter weekend was so meaningful to me. Don't get me wrong - it always has been. And each year has brought something special of its own. From being a child and going to the Easter Sunrise Service (well, at least once anyway), hiding (rotten) eggs (in my closet for a week or more...uh-huh - it's true...) when I was little, then spending the weekend with my special adopted family from church during college - they invited me to their home to stay. It was so special to be part of a "family" for that time. Then last year - being a part of the cantata at my new church - only not a "traditional" of the most amazing worship experiences I've ever been a part of with contemporary songs and truths, and actually leading others to join us in worship.

So, this year...I started the weekend off on Good Friday - focusing and reflecting on just HOW MUCH my Savior loved me. That He was willing to die...for ME. And Friday evening I attended a Casting Crowns concert in St. Louis. It was so powerful. I'm not one who usually critiques performances or shows or movie plots. I just enjoy them for what they are. And Friday night was not just a concert. It was a time of worship. Thousands of people uniting to sing and lift praises to our Savior. So many wonderful songs, and of course the new song "Until the Whole World Hears" continues to ring through my head each day. But one of the best examples of love between Christ and His body of believers was "At Your Feet." I just want to share it with you before I go. We all have different burdens, celebrations, needs, successes, failures, questions, dreams...and all He asks is that we lay them at His feet.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thursday Thrills...

I like alliteration. you have it, friends. "Thursday Thrills" though not-so-thrilling to anyone else but me that they might be! I'm glad you stopped by to read!

Lately I have been craving salsa. A LOT of salsa. It was only just a few years ago when I would only dip my chip in the "juice" enough to get flavor but avoided all chunks at all costs! Hmmm...yes I just said chunks. Yum. Haha...Now it's nothing for me to pour it into a bowl and scoop up a big bunch on a chip, pop it into my mouth, and enjoy its tasty goodness! Mmmmmm...

Today I found out that I received the money for the grant I wrote in January through the American Orff Schulwerk Association. I was. So. Surprised. You see, it was a competitive grant, and people all over the nation apply to use the money for summer training, classroom projects, and instruments. Wow. They. Selected. Me. (I suppose I'll stop typing with incorrectly punctuated incomplete sentences soon...but I need to make my point.) Yes, friends, I am the recipient of $1,000 to be used toward classroom instruments (world drums!) for my music program at Pick Elementary. I feel blessed. And excited for my kids and the learning opportunities they will soon be able to take to a new level.

I love to write. Letters, cards, reports, grants, articles...I've never really considered myself great at it, but I guess I should rethink that since my writing has helped me to be the recipient of multiple local/national scholarships my senior year of high school, an A on my Music History paper in college, a trip to Europe my senior year of college, and two large grants since I started my job as a teacher. I actually enjoy writing grants, and I think I might seek further training in this area eventually. Oh, but I ALWAYS write things at the last minute. I mean ALWAYS. And I couldn't do it any other way....something about that deadline pressure...I think it's because if I try to start ahead of time, I think too much about what I "should" write. But if I write it at the last minute, there is no time to think.

I am still waiting on Part 3 of my Journeyman application. It's hard to wait! I don't think it took this long the first time I applied at the end of college, but I also think they are trying to be very wise about who they send where right now due to budget issues. I also feel a peace knowing that someone out there is really reading and praying over my application carefully and not just sending me on to the next phase because I applied. I have to admit - the news about the grant today made me want to stay at my school for even more years so I can build on and use the instruments we will have soon. But then I realized - I committed to finishing this application, and if God allows me to have the third part, I will finish it and rely on His peace and direction for the rest, even if it means leaving the wonderful new resources behind.

Last night I went to Wednesday night church, which I confess that I haven't been attending since last summer. I would love to go in the middle of the week but never seem to make time for it, and am usually just finishing exercising before the service and don't want to bring with me the lovely aroma of sweaty, work-out-ness. Hmmm...I think I should create a new body spray and name it that. I really like the "ness" part I added on the end. So anyway, I was singing my heart out during the worship time, and after church, the associate pastor who had been sitting in front of me came to me and said, "Two words. Praise. Team." This is not the first time that has come up in the past few months, and I'm considering giving it some serious thought and prayer. We'll see.

I lost 1.8 more lbs this week and found out today at my Weight Watchers weigh-in! Last week I reached my first goal of 5% of my starting weight - 10lbs. Now I'm at -12.2!! I'm on my way! :) It's so exciting to have a program I can feel successful at and see results. I'm loving it, and also keeping up with my Curves workouts a few times a week! Fun times! Yesterday I got a pedicure to celebrate the 5% loss. A real pedicure, at a real salon, where I spent an hour and a half laying in a massage chair, with a free diet coke, watching Gilmore Girls on t.v. with headphones. It was so relaxing! And I didn't think about anything important at all. I could get used to that!

I love my kids at school. Every day they say or do something else that makes me smile. And sometimes they do and say things that don't make me smile. Uggh. But at the end of the day, their hugs, and little minds, and smiles make teaching worth it. Children are precious! (Psalm 127:3) Also - I am having my very first observer come on Monday. A college student home on Spring Break. Coming to MY classroom. To get music practicum hours. Wow - it was only three years ago that I was doing the same thing!

It's only 2 weeks from tonight until I will be going to Arkadelphia! I'm so looking forward to staying with my family from church, visiting friends that I miss SO much, going to church there, and just...visiting! So far I've made a trip there once a semester since I moved away and spent some summer and Christmas vacation time there too. I can't help but wonder how much longer I will be able to do that/still know friends who are in college there to do that. Soon even more of them will be graduating - crazy!

I'm looking forward to a day off tomorrow and a relaxing weekend celebrating love far greater than anything I could put into words. The love that my Savior demonstrated when He chose to put His son on a cross to die for me. For ME. Wow. I feel more in love with Him this year than ever, and I'm so thankful and undeserving of the sacrifice He made. I only hope that I show that love to others each day through the joy in my spirit. I'll also be going to a Casting Crowns concert tomorrow night! Fun times! :)

So....there you have it - the book of Thursday Thrills from the mind of a marvelous music teacher! (I told you I like alliteration!)