Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011

Looking back over this year, so much has happened that I can't possibly name it all. But to help myself remember highlights, and to show how faithful God has been in every step, I'm just going to do a re-cap month by month. This is mostly for me and will probably be really long, but I hope if you read, you'll see the many ways God has been at work!

There are lots of events I haven't gotten to blog about specifically, a lot because my hard drive crashed earlier in the year, and now I have to pull pictures from my external hard drive, which just takes more time, but maybe one day I'll get all caught up! So...here it is - 2011 in the life of me! :)

January -
*Still waiting to find out whether or not I will be accepted into the Journeyman missions program, which would mean taking a job overseas for 2 years...hoping and praying!
*LOTS of snow days!
*Dress shopping with my best friend Brandy for her wedding dress!!
*January 12 - The e-mail finally came! I was accepted into the Journeyman program! I was to wait for a letter with more details and a plane ticket to the conference to come in the mail...and the conference was exactly 6 weeks away. I remember the minute I got the e-mail - it was ANOTHER snow day, and I was sitting at home at the dining room table. My stomach did a big flip flop as I skipped to the bottom to see the yes or no! :)
*Late January - Home sick for two days - went to the doctor because I'd been having low grade fever/fatigue several times in the past few months...nothing major, but finally went to have it checked out. She suggested I get further tests and see a specialist for the possibility of lupus.
*MMEA - always one of my favorite times of year! Attended the state music educator's conference and got some wonderful new ideas to take back to my classroom. Honestly feeling inadequate, burnt out, overwhelmed, and frustrated with my job.
*January 30 - Went to my first Helping From Home event hosted by Ashley! :) (I have to be honest...I was nervous about going! I didn't know many of the girls, and hadn't seen many of the ones I did know since high school...and I can be really shy! But it was SUCH a blessing to me, and I was thankful for your invitation!)

February-
*MORE snow! lol Teachers and kids love snow days, but I confess - we were getting a little tired of them by this point!
*Went to see a rheumatologist and was officially diagnosed with lupus - an auto-immune disease (the name sounds awful, and it can be a really serious condition, but thankfully I only had two of the many symptoms that can come with it and have had no problems/further symptoms all year, not even the symptoms I was diagnosed after having! Praise God!)
*E-mailed the IMB to update them on this health change and didn't hear back, so figured all was fine and they would just discuss it with me at the interview conference in a few weeks
*February 18 - Phone call from my missions application consultant...left a voice mail and apologized for all that was going on - told me he would be in touch and hoped everything would go ok with the lupus treatments, and to keep in touch with him about the possibility of a future conference after I regained health clearance.
-Same day - lots of phone calls later - found out they had e-mailed me this information a couple weeks before, but my e-mail had been mis-typed, and I hadn't received it. I would be unable to attend the conference I was set to leave for in just five days.
-My heart hurt SO much. (I'll type a longer post about this soon)
*Feb 27 - Visited my sister in Springfield for the weekend, and visited a really missions focused church there - Second Baptist....on their annual Missions Focus Weekend! (Tell me God didn't plan that one - the very weekend I would've been at my conference...) Of course I cried lots of tears through that whole morning and the service!
*Began thinking about possible "options" now that I knew I wouldn't be going overseas for at least a year. Looked at LOTS of jobs...I just wasn't happy where I was. (I am so thankful God has slowly allowed this to change now too, though!)
*Bridesmaid dress shopping with Brandy, Eva, and Angela...so much fun!

March -
*Spring Break!! (Minus two days because of all the snow day make-ups!) - Visited Arkansas and spent some peaceful time at my parents other home in Hot Springs Village.
-Also visited with some friends/former professors at my college campus. One of them, who was a great encouragement to me in college through work with internationals, ESL training, and leadership in our ESL community program (COPE), encouraged me that, sometimes God brings the world to us...when we think we are supposed to go to the world. She challenged me to look into ESL masters programs.
*My church started a Missions Committee to raise awareness and provide opportunities for our members to become more involved! (Still working on it and praying, but I'm so excited!)
*Another Help From Home party - this time a baby shower for the precious women of Mercy House!
*Applied for a job in Arkansas - went to a HUGE general interview day...never heard back, but God used this experience to remind me as I answered the questions, I am doing ok where I'm at...I know what I'm talking about. I am an adequate teacher - it's ok to feel overwhelmed, but not to feel inadequate!
*Also applied for summer employment at Ridgecrest Christian Conference Center in North Carolina
*6 week visit with the rheumatologist - no lupus symptoms, no reactions to the medicine (Praise the Lord!) - she cleared me to go overseas, but the IMB still needed the year.

April -
*Continued trekking through the school year. I knew I would make it to the end, but...it was a really, really hard year!
*Applied for an ESL teaching job in our district
*Applied to an online-based ESL graduate program - and was accepted!!! :)
*April 16 - Cupcakes...oh SO many cupcakes! :) Another Help From Home event - where we baked, iced, and packaged LOTS of cupcakes...and gave proceeds from the sales to the organization Sixty Feet. Another huge blessing, and so much fun!
*My friend Emily applied for a job teaching music in the same district as me and received the position! We would soon be roommates!
*Found out my dad applied for and accepted a job in Germany - my parents would be moving overseas again...for three years this time.
*Paid off my macbook! (Took a long time, but it was so worth it, and has been a blessing!)

May-
*Last month of school!
*May 3 - ESL teaching interview - gave it my best and was not selected. (Another blessing I realized later, though...just so much involved, and I would have felt SO overwhelmed this year! I am glad God gave me the chance to start classes first...)
*Submitted my contract for 2011-2012 - trusting God for a better year at the same place (and He has provided that!!)
*May 17 - Found out I was accepted as a Summer 2011 Ridgecrest employee!!
*May 20 - Another Help From Home event - a shoe making party for Sole Hope!!
*May 27 - Last day of 2010-2011 school year was finally here!
*Planned and hosted first bridal shower ever for my best friend Brandy - I got to be maid of honor!! :)
*May 30 - Turned 26!! :)

June-
*Busy month!
*Various school workshops and trainings
*My best friend Brandy got married to David...a wonderful couple, and so exciting! I was maid of honor and enjoyed sharing in their day SO much!!
*3-day ESL training in St. Louis - (paid for by my school district through some funding they had! They needed to send someone, and it was open to any teachers, so I went! It was wonderful! Even got to stay in a fancy hotel! lol)
*Left for Ridgecrest - drove myself! Got to go through lots of states and see beautiful scenery! -Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina.
*Began my training as a summer preschool teacher at the Ridgecrest Christian Conference Center. Met SO many fun friends - it was just a HUGE blessing, and I couldn't have asked God for a better summer!
*Parents moved to Germany

July-
*More time at Ridgecrest - lots of conferences, lots of kids, lots of fun! :) - Christmas in July, Guys' Cook Night, Fireworks on July 4, Asheville downtown touring, Belle Cher (A big festival in Asheville)
-Got to meet the founder of Sole Hope while I was there! Such a fun blessing - I had planned on trying to meet her, but it hadn't worked out, and I happened to run into her at the music festival and see the Sole Hope booth! I had just prayed to God asking for the chance to meet her before leaving with my friends because I hadn't seen the booth (among the hundreds there) and it wasn't listed on the big directory at the info booth...it was a God-thing for sure! :)
*Vacation Week - traveled to Washington DC by myself to visit Myra and Jason! Drove through Virginia and into DC - drove in the CITY!! Toured lots of cool places, took a ton of pictures, survived in the city! :)
*My fourth nephew, Gersham McAdams was born.

August-
*Finished the summer at Ridgecrest
*Drove the "long" way home and stopped to visit Alyse and Andrew in Alabama! Again, drove by myself and saw so many beautiful things/places - Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, and finally back into Missouri!
*Another visit with the rheumatologist - same thing - no symptoms, no reactions, no sickness...God is good! No more appointments for 6 months! :)
*Emily and I moved into our apartment in Waynesville together
*Found out I would be a mentor teacher this year to our brand new art teacher! (It's only my fourth year, but it has been really fun, and has helped me to feel more confident as a teacher to help someone else!)
*Started my first graduate class ever - Linguistics! Also made my first payment for the graduate class...yikes! (Paying as I go, and it is so exciting to think that each class I finish is already paid for!)

September-
*Lots of fun times with new and old friends
*School was still really overwhelming, but living in the same town where I teach, having new friends, and starting my second year in the building really helped!
*First graduate paper due - and I got an A! :)
*My classroom was adopted by a military group on the adoptaclassroom.com website - $400 of grant money! :) (I chose some great new books, games, and resources with the money!)
*Applied for the Kappa Delta Pi grant and received $125 for more hand drums to go with rhythm/literacy focus! :)
*I feel like I'm forgetting something else here!

October-
*Served as interim music/worship leader at FBC Rolla, the church where I grew up. A blessing to worship and spend time with the people there again - always feels like family when I go back! (Also an unexpected financial blessing that has helped me have some savings throughout the Fall!)
*School continued to improve - feeling a little better about all I was doing/teaching
*Received a grant from the Army Thrift Store they provide to school applicants each semester - $200 for new movement props - parachutes, scarves, and bean bags! :) Things that are awesome for active listening activities and more - but I wouldn't necessarily splurge for with regular budget money, because they're not a major "need."
*Blessings of new friendships - lots of fun!

November-
*Graduate class still going well - two more A's on papers, the mid-term, and other assignments! :)
*Two music programs - fifth grade and first grade finished - they both did a great job!
*Thanksgiving with my family in Springfield - we all missed my parents but really enjoyed the time together!

December -
*Here we are at the end of the year...
*Survived second grade music program! :) (No, really...they did a great job, but I was a little nervous up to that final day...)
*Survived another semester of teaching...and felt ok about it!
*Finally content where I'm at...with teaching, being here, taking my graduate courses...serving, doing what God has for me here...I can't describe it, or say what happened - I just realized one day - I'm finally ok. God is good that way!
*Got to judge at the St.J speech tournament - I love doing that each year - it's at my former high school, and is an activity that I really enjoyed participating in throughout high school!
*Finished my first graduate course...and got an A! Also got credit for the 3-day training I took this summer and made an A! I now have 5 hours of graduate credit!
*Spent Christmas with my sister in Springfield - had fun picking out gifts for her and filling her stocking, chilling, laughing, and watching Christmas movies together...also had to participate in "silent, pew-shaking laughter" at the Christmas Eve service, of course! :)
*I'm sure I'm missing more here too!

Wow! What a year! I would say about my 2011 in three words, "wait," "trust," and "hope." God has provided, and though I continue to look forward to the future He has in store for me, I am also learning to be content and fulfilled where He has me now. I am thankful for my friends both from the past, and those I've met this year, for my family, and for all the awesome kids and co-workers I get to teach and work with each day. I pray your new year will be blessed, joyful, and filled with God's leadership.

Happy New Year!! :)

Being a Kid Again...

In other news, the old man working at the post office yesterday afternoon gave me a tootsie roll! lol

I'd been waiting in line a few minutes, and when I walked up to the counter, he just reached underneath, pulled the tootsie roll out, and slid it across the counter before he even said hello to me! :)

It kind of just made me smile to be a kid again.

Of course I'm going to try and have a real post later today for the New Year's Eve...so much to reflect on from 2011. I pray you have a fun and safe day/evening and a blessed New Year to come!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Best Kept Secret...

I was talking to a friend from college tonight. Well, not a same-age-as-me type friend, but more like a wonderful Godly example/mentor/adopted mom friend...and a "you will make your bed everyday" and learn to be a "grown-up" by eating things like salad and vegetables at our house, and saving chores for me on Saturday night, and teaching me to mow someone's lawn kind of friend....lol :)
She and her family were a blessing to me while I was far away from my own family during my time at OBU. I lived with them several summers while I took classes, and spent many hours visiting at their house throughout my semesters.

Ms. J has always been an encourager to me and someone who challenges me to keep my standards high and trust God with His perfect plan for me and the many ways He wants to use me. And...she loves to pray. So, when we talk about my desire to be married and have a family one day, of course she encourages me in the fact that God has a plan for that too. And we pray together. I think she and some ladies from my college church have been praying for my future husband since I graduated a few years ago, and even while I was in college. They also were convinced for a long time that since I was moving to a town called Waynesville, of course it would make sense for me to meet a man named Wayne and marry him. It's been four years, though, and I still haven't met Wayne. Or his brother...or his brother's friend....or his cousin...or his nephew.....or his.....well, you get the idea! haha

And sometimes that's a little frustrating. I go back and forth between being thankful for this time God has given me - this freedom to just have fun, take care of myself only, go on road trips when I want to, spend time with friends, work, start a masters degree, and so much more...and that overwhelming desire to meet the man God has in store for me and have a family.

I also, as most women do, struggle with wondering what someone will "notice" about me someday...and knowing that just because I didn't meet my husband in college, in high school, or even in the almost four years since graduating college, I'm not "odd." Just unique...and as my friend put it, "the best kept secret around..." haha When she said that I had to smile. There really are a lot of things people don't know about me - my passion for traveling the world and serving others, my former Amazon alligator hunting adventures, my love for playing drums and banging on loud percussion instruments, my joy in writing, my secret desire to go to a hockey game and watch the guys fight with their sticks, my goofy sense of humor which often leads to the infamous "laugh-cry" my sister likes to bring out at every chance...and so much more. So there you have it, friends...maybe one day I'll meet that one guy who will say, "Wow! You're the best kept secret around, and I've been waiting to find you for a long time!" Or at least, "Hey, you're pretty cool...maybe we should hang out together." I wouldn't mind that either, you know.

A girl can hope, right?...

My Heart is Smiling SO Big Right Now!

But while my heart is smiling, my eyes are full of tears!

I was in Family Christian Store this evening...and I suddenly stopped what I was doing to hear this song playing through the speakers. And I knew I had to have it. As I walked around the store wondering what it was and which CD it was on, I spotted it - (on sale too!) and knew it was worth spending part of my Christmas money to purchase! Brought it home and sat in tears as it played repeatedly on my computer...I can only imagine the day we ALL gather together in Heaven and praise our great God for who He is!

My heart is passionate about the world - about going, sharing, and spreading the Good News to as many people and nations as possible. And I believe God has given me the opportunity to do that starting right here where I'm at. I pray one day I will have the opportunity to go around the world as well.

I hope you'll take a minute to listen...I love the way someone took this and put so many pictures from people of all ages, genders, races, and nationalities with the music. Be prepared to stop and sit in awe of our Savior! (And maybe have a tissue ready too...just sayin'!)




Sunday, December 25, 2011

Glory to God in the Highest

I love the way God uses simple reminders to fill our hearts with the truth of the Good News.
In my first year of teaching, after the December program, my third grade students decorated stars with their names to hang on our bulletin board and celebrate. One of the precious girls in the class (who is now one of my sixth graders!!) came to me with this picture she had drawn in her free time after coloring her star and asked, 
"Ms. W...can you please tape my star to my picture?"
I hung her picture next to all the other stars and have kept it in the years since then. I love the simplicity and the joy of a child's heart. And I love that she wanted her star to go in the most important place...above the one who brings us joy and hope today as we celebrate the miracle of His birth...the Good News of Jesus!


"Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel of the Lord reassured them. 'Don't be afraid!' he said. 'I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior - yes the Messiah, the Lord - has been born today in Bethlehem, the City of David. And you will recognize Him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.'

Suddenly the angel was joined by a vast host of others - the armies of Heaven - praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest Heaven, and peace on Earth to those with whom God is pleased.'

When the angels had returned to Heaven, the shepherds turned to each other and said to each other, 'Let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about!'

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing Him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them." 

Luke 2:9-20

I pray your Christmas is blessed and joyful and that your heart, too, is blessed by the story of the birth of Jesus. I will never fully understand this miracle, or the love God showed for all of mankind the day He sent His son to Mary and Joseph. But I hold the truth in my heart, and I find hope in the Salvation I have received as a great gift...and now my challenge is to go and tell everyone as the shepherds did! 

Merry Christmas! 


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Just for the Record...

I have lots of other things to blog about, and I'm really looking forward to having time over my Christmas break to write more! I won't lie...I'm counting down the days (week days) of teaching left until I can take a deep breath, relax a little, then get caught up on a lot of things...and that number is 7.5 days. This week I have my final exam for my first graduate course - due Tuesday by midnight, and my last program for the semester - second grade- on Thursday afternoon. I had my annual formal teaching evaluation last week, so that was a nice thing to check-off! I just feel like once I survive this week I will be able to see that "bright light" at the end of the tunnel! haha And in reality, I know the week will fly by.

BUT - the real reason for this post is "just for the record." Since I sometimes look back at my blogs and remember important (and not so important) things that happened...I would just like to state for the record I have my lesson plans written, my clothes laid out, my lunch made, and all the cleaning from my "to-do" list for today complete....BEFORE 10 p.m.! :) It has been WEEKS since this has been the case. I feel so prepared and ready to hit Monday running!

Now I'm going to enjoy some "just for me" reading before I go to sleep at an EARLY bedtime! I am so excited about this...sometimes it's the little things...lol

Have a blessed week!


Monday, December 5, 2011

Random Letter Monday...

Dear Monday - You weren't so bad this week. Still not my favorite day of the week, but don't take it personally! :)

Dear 5:00 every other Tuesday - I am thankful for the spot you have in my schedule every other week. It  makes my Tuesdays go faster.

Dear Graduate School - I'm almost finished with my first course ever! All I have left is my final! My first course is paid for, my forum postings are finished, my reading is complete, my quizzes are taken, and as of 12:01 a.m. this morning, my last paper is written and submitted. All I have left is the final exam! YEAH!!

Dear Budget - Speaking of graduate school and being paid for, I'm trying hard to pay as I go and not take out loans. I hate to tell you (and myself) but you're about to get really tight. The bill for my next two classes just came today. We can do this. I have faith in us. (And in the One who gave me the desire to do this and allowed me the opportunity to start classes! He is a Great Provider, you know!) Plus, our November electric bill just came - it wasn't very pretty...and it's not even really winter yet! But I know people with good budgets who stick to them...now I just need to be one of them!

Dear Curve's Zumba Workout - Because of you I look forward to Monday evenings and survive the day most weeks! I might have grown up Baptist, and I may not be the most coordinated dancer, but I love the fun!

Dear Sing-Off - I love that NBC created and broadcasted you a few years ago and that this year you were a whole season long instead of a few short weeks. The a capella music is fun, and I think it's a great way to expose America to different styles of music in a unique way. I also love that your judges are encouraging and use constructive criticism instead of cutting everyone down. And....I'm excited that tonight is the Christmas Sing-Off episode! Can't wait for next year's season now! :)

Dear Winter - Please be nice this year - a little cold weather for the holiday spirit and a snow day or two in January or February would be ok, but other than that, I don't mind some temps in the 40s and 50s with low wind!

Dear Orange Juice - I would really like to drink a big glass full of you right now, but you're so cooooold!

Dear Christmas Cards - I would like to think I'm going to start writing you this week and typing/printing my Christmas letter. However, my printer isn't working, I can't find my complete list of addresses after moving this summer, and I'm just not sure I can deal with the idea of not procrastinating yet. So...you may turn into "Happy January!" cards instead.

Dear Sleep - I am fully convinced that in 11.5 days, you and I will be seeing a LOT more of each other! Oh how I'm longing for that nice long break!

Dear You - You are the most random and silly person I know. But I love all the daily laughter that has become part of my life as a result. You're a fun friend.

Dear Cereal - I think it is perfectly acceptable to eat you for dinner. In fact, I think I'll do that in a few minutes!

Dear Black Friday Boots - You rock. I've only worn you twice so far, and for some reason I haven't been motivated to leave the comfy, frumpy clothes in the past few days to be a super stylin' person...it's just so cold, and it's hard to get out of bed in the morning in time to dress up...don't worry, though - you'll get plenty of wear soon!

Dear Beatrice - You're almost at 130,000 miles. I just mailed your 33rd payment, and in only 15 months I will officially own you. 15 months is a long time, but we're over the half-way hump! I love road-trippin' together!

Dear World - I hope I'll be able to travel again in the next few years. There is so much of you to see!

Dear Card Making/Creativity - I really hope I'll make more time for you again one day. I miss making cards, surprising people with "real" mail, and creating other fun things.

Dear Santa - Is it too much to ask for you to make a little extra room in your sleigh and drop me off in Germany on your way back to the North Pole? I don't mind squeezing in, and I'll even bake some cookies...

Dear Fun Nail Polish - I want to believe I'm going to maintain your super color once I splash it on my fingernails. However, I have once again neglected the coat I painted on two weeks ago for Thanksgiving, and I have a feeling it will only continue to get worse as the days go on.

Dear Slug - It was NOT nice of you to creep onto our kitchen floor the other night. I'm not sure if you were making a reappearance after Emily saw you a couple of weeks ago, or if you are a friend of the other one who decided to visit, but you are just not welcome here. It is really not normal for people to have creatures such as yourself in the kitchen or the house for that matter! You are big and fat and slimy, and you belong outside where I threw you. I'm a kind hearted person, but...you just can't come in. Yuck.

Dear Speech Tournament - It was fun judging the tournament on Saturday. Sometimes I think I'd like to help with our high school team here. In my spare time. Then I remember I don't know what spare time is. Oh well. Once a year is good enough for me!

Enough letters for now!

Sincerely, The Somewhat Super, Music Teachin', Friend Laughin', About to Be a Crazy Tight Budget Makin', Grad School Takin', Creative, Cereal Eatin, and Much Much More Individual.....Me!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Moving Forward

Even though I have so many other things floating through my mind I could write about, I'm really just going to write one quick and short post. I know, right? Me keep something short while writing? We'll see!

Really, I'm just thankful for the chance to be in school again. In August, I started my first class, working toward the MATESOL degree. (Masters of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) I think I've dreamt of this moment since college but never really thought it would happen. I thought only super smart people got to go on to graduate school. I had tons of friends who went straight from college to grad school or seminary, and I just assumed it would never happen because it would cost too much, and I would forever be paying off the loans I had to borrow for my undergraduate degree.

But God is good. I waited. And even though it is going to take a lot of time and money over the next few years, and I will still be paying off lots and lots of undergrad debt when I finish this program (in my mind I still say if I finish this program, but I'm deciding to make the hard choice today and not believe my negative words and thoughts...) God provided the desire and the opportunity to go back this Fall. It's really perfect having the chance to study online because it means I set my own schedule and use my books, notes, and the professor's power points to really comprehend the material instead of just memorizing and disposing of the info like I often did in college to make it through exams! It is also super that I have been able to spend three years paying on my undergrad debt which a lot of people my age are not able to do, and I can temporarily defer my loans right now to make monthly payments on the graduate classes as I go instead. I will definitely have some new interest built up to pay when I finish, but that amount won't be near what I would pay if I took out more loans and added interest with them for all of my graduate classes.

I feel like I've thought this through. I'm not just doing this to "do it" or working on a degree just to move up on a pay scale or add a credential to my name. I feel like I have a plan and some goals. And I am excited it is a program I will one day use. For the passion God has put in my heart. I still don't know where, when, or how I will use it. But that is the exciting part. There are so many possibilities. I might teach ESL here in public schools, overseas while I serve and also share my faith with internationals, or at a university in an international studies department. But those are just the possibilities in my mind. Who knows what crazy and wonderful idea God has in store? He always does. And it always surpasses anything I could have imagined or thought up or planned for!

I'm so thankful to be studying and taking classes while I continue working and enjoying being a music teacher full time. Not that teaching every day isn't satisfying or adequate, but I finally feel like I'm moving forward!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...December...

Wow - tomorrow is December. Where did the year go? I've always heard people say, "The older you get, the quicker time goes..." I guess I just never realized that "old" meant 26. Because time is going quickly...and I'm only 26 years old! lol

So much has happened this year. So many blessings. So many challenges. So many new thoughts and things my eyes have been opened to. More about all of that soon. (For now the perfectionist in me couldn't stand to go to bed and leave my November post count at an odd 9 instead of an even 10! lol)

Happy Wednesday -

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Keep Walking...

I said something to a friend the other day that I have learned, especially over the past year.

"Sometimes you just have to keep walking."

It may not always be easy. It may feel like you are walking alone. But you aren't. God is right there alongside you walking every step of the way.

Today I am especially thankful for a God who loves me unconditionally. It is so hard for me to grasp that love. To fully understand it and to explain it to others. But I think that's something beautiful about it - you don't have to understand. He just does. And so I hold tight to the promises that He has already fulfilled and the hope that He provides for my future.

And I will keep walking...alongside Him.

Took this picture today on a walk by some railroad tracks with family after Thanksgiving lunch. 
I kind of really love it. A lot!

Today I'm Thankful - My Ongoing List

I started this list November 1st and am moving the post to the top of my blog for Thanksgiving Day. I'll be adding to this list every day during November. Of course this is the month we celebrate giving thanks, but we should be thankful every day. Maybe in 2012 I'll start a 365 day Thankful List...we'll see! :)

Today I'm thankful for -

1. Rest - Spiritual AND physical
2. Graduate school - I love getting to learn again and working toward something.
3. Another grant for my classroom! I will receive $125 for new hand drums to help incorporate literacy with rhythm! I'm thankful God has given me a desire to write and to seek grant opportunities!
4. Friends - Near and far (Almost missed today but made it by three minutes! ha)
5. Phones...and American phone numbers so I can call my parents even while they live around the world in Germany
6. Colors - beautiful colors all around me - fall leaves, window displays and decorations, painted houses, wild clothing colors (which really make me laugh sometimes!), sunrises/sunsets/blue skies, and so many more!
7. My room mate! :) Who knew when I started stalking her after she came to college (ok, she was a new freshman, and I was trying to be nice and make her feel welcome! lol) that we would remain friends and one day get to live together and teach in the same school district. She is a sweet woman of God, and I love our conversations and random t.v. nights!
8. 5:00 Tuesday nights...it's just a meeting time God has blessed me with, and I am thankful for the opportunity.
9. Hot chocolate! It's becoming a frequent evening drink choice lately! And yes - I definitely DID put some of my peppermint mocha creamer, whipped cream, marshmallows, AND a drizzle of chocolate syrup in it tonight! :) Mmmmm....
10. Cold, crisp air - and a winter jacket, scarf, and gloves to keep me warm. Many people do not have a jacket at all. I am truly blessed.
11. Music - The pure beauty of listening to it, playing it, singing it, teaching it, and experiencing it. The power of its words, and of its sounds. "Where words end, music picks up..."
12. My Computer - I know it's just a material thing...but I'm thankful to have it so I can stay connected with others, type papers, read news, blog, facebook stalk (lol...just kidding!), and have a place for pictures and many other things!
13. My Parents - they raised me in a Christian home and continue to support me and encourage me to be all God wants me to be today.
14. For being a teacher. I have a LOT of kids. And I am usually overwhelmed. I don't always feel like a "good" teacher. But I feel like a teacher who cares. I love my kids. And I love that I get to know every single kid in our school. That makes it the best job ever. I hope my kids remember me for how much I care!
15. My car. I know it is another "material" thing, but sometimes it's those everyday "things" we take for granted most. By having a car I have more than so many people in the world...and even my community. By being able to make car payments...I am rich. I am also thankful for the road trips I've been on in my car, for its dependability, and for driving the long way home sometimes.
16. Kids. I love them. God has given me so many to care for, to teach, and to encourage each day at school and at church. I pray one day He will give me my own to raise in a family.
17. A fun and successful music program - my first full program of the year! First grade presented a patriotic musical go to with our word of the month, "honor" and they did a great job! I am also thankful for our custodians, administrators, and co-teachers for helping me with decorations, risers, the sound system, chair set-up, and many other details that go into a program. It's great to have such support!
18. Pizza Night! My "adopted family" and I usually have Pizza Night every Friday, and it's always a fun time of talking about our week, laughing, and other good conversation. So to go with that - I'm thankful for the "adopted fam!" :) This is my best friend's family, and I have spent so much time with them since Jr. High they really have become my second family. We've had lots of adventures and memories together!
19. Saturdays! Sleeping in, making coffee, reading a book in bed, and blogging, time to clean house, and fun with friends later. Thank you, Lord, for Saturdays! :)
20. Lunch with a missionary family - they came to speak at our church this morning to raise awareness and encourage our church to begin praying about "to whom God is sending us." Part of our newly formed mission committee had the joy of going out to lunch with the family and it was wonderful to talk with them! :) (P.S. Dad - The man who spoke was a Sooner fan!)
21. Reading - for time to read, for the ability to read, for those who taught me to read...there are so many people around the world who can't do that. So many teachers who make a difference to children every day who will one day be able to enjoy reading. So - I'm just thankful for that...thankful I learned to read when I was little and to enjoy it. Thankful that I still enjoy it when I have time. Thankful for the book I'm reading little by little right now for enjoyment!
22. Exercise - The time and resources to do it regularly, and for a healthy body that allows me to exercise. I am also thankful for the ladies who work at Curves and those I meet when I exercise there. They are all so very encouraging and motivating. I love it! (Even when I don't love it...haha)
23. A day off! (Actually five) - A little break from school to enjoy friends, family, getting caught up on a few things at home, extra rest, reading for fun, and many other things! Happy Thanksgiving Week to everyone!
24. Thanksgiving! - I'm thankful for a day set aside specifically for giving thanks and focusing on the many blessings God has provided. I'm so thankful to have family nearby to celebrate with when I know many people will be far away from loved ones or alone. I am thankful for fun with nieces, nephews, cousins, grandparents, siblings, and aunts and uncles. I'm thankful for the meal we shared and the laughs we had. I pray God's joy will fill hearts and our thankfulness will be focused on Him today and everyday!
25. Fun - For games with my sister and friends, for cuddle time with my niece and nephew on the couch this morning, and for my first Black Friday shopping trip ever! (I went all by myself at 4:00 this morning to get a pair of boots at JC Penney...and I survived! Got the boots and some other good deals on clothes for work too! No worries, though, I'm not a "true" BF shopper yet, though...I only went to two stores!)
26. Rain - on a morning when I can finally sleep in and stay in bed to hear it falling! :)
27. God knows our hearts and our needs...even when we don't always voice them to Him. He is Provider.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Adventures and Minor Mishaps of this Single Gal...

I just killed...the most enormous spider....ever. It was even hard to reach! But I leaned over the stair railing, used the broom to sweep it down...then proceeded to "sweep" every step it might have fallen on, until I found it. Then I used my oh so dependable shower flip flop from camp living this summer - and smacked him! I'm sorry to any arachnid lovers out there. (I might have also screamed like a girl and made gagging noises as I smacked him, picked what was left of him up, and flushed the toilet...)

On Saturday my room mate and I were trying to vaccum when we realized our vaccums weren't picking much up. I brightly remembered a wise woman who once showed me all the filters in the vaccum cleaner and thought - we can totally do this. We took our vaccums apart, pulled out the filters, dumped them, washed, them, and basically showed them who's boss! (We are total domestic heroes...LOL)

I totally looked under the hood of my car last week...just to be sure everything was ok. (Like I would know how to see if it wasn't.) But I did it. Yep.

I absolutely lifted the speakers for our school sound system last week and helped the custodian move them. I also hooked up all the sound equipment. (Check out THESE guns! haha)

Dear Future Husband: I keep finding things to add to my list of qualifications for someone I will marry. The latest include spider killing, vaccum fixing, car investigating, and heavy lifting...you better come fast before I add anymore! lol :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Eleven for Eleven

I was going to post this on the eleventh, but that's ok! :) It can just be for the eleventh month. So - in honor of 11-11-11, here are eleven things you might not know about me!

1. I LOVE to play percussion! You might think I'm too quiet to do that, but I beg to differ. How else do you think quiet people like me get to yell? I came up with this quote in college, "It's like yelling...only on the drums!" :) I became a percussionist in sixth grade and have loved it ever since! I play concert percussion, world percussion, and was in drumline for ten years, playing snare, bass, tenors, and pit (side ensemble)! Timpani, djembe, and marching bass drum are my favorites! :)

2. When I was little, I wanted to be a secretary SO much! I loved to write, organize, and do other things. I still do! Now I just get to mix those qualities and desires with teaching! I still LOVE to write, and I have since I was little - handwriting and actual writing like this. I don't claim to be "good" at it, but I just enjoy it as an outlet and a hobby. Blogging, grant writing, and writing letters/encouraging notes to others are a few of my favorites!

3. I weighed 11 lbs 2 oz when I was born! And I was a week early! I was also almost 22 inches long! It was not too surprising though, because my brother and sister were each around 9 and 10 lbs...so I just had to out-do them and win the prize as "the heaviest!" haha My cousins on my mom's side were very close to this too. I need to add "low birth weight record in family" to my list of qualifications I'm looking for in the man I marry, I guess! lol

4. When I turn up the volume on the radio in the car, t.v., etc. I leave it on even numbers or multiples of five. Weird, huh?

5. In Jr. High I joined the Cross Country team after never having run in my whole life. I was pretty slow. I walked...a lot. But for some reason I joined when another friend did, and we were fortunate to have a great coach who just encouraged me to keep going and to set goals. By high school I was running on my own a lot, and though I still wasn't super "fast," I really enjoyed the distance running and could finish all the 5K races without walking at all and in around 30 minutes!

6. I began my personal walk with Jesus when I was six years old. At Vacation Bible School, I decided it was time to give my life to Him, and I made a public profession and was baptized. I have been so blessed to grow up in a Christian home and have always had a church family where I can learn and grow. I haven't always "understood" what it means to be a growing Christian. I believe in high school and college was when I truly started building that close relationship and truly trusting God with control over my life. I still struggle with letting go and giving up control a lot, but God has been teaching me some amazing things over the past few years, and I know He will continue! :)

7. Blue is my favorite color. I like almost any shade!

8. I still have a baby tooth. Yep...pretty fitting since I'm the baby in our family, I guess!

9. I make my bed every day. I believe this can partially be blamed on (or credited to) Ms. Janie, mother in the family I stayed with during many summers in college. It was a rule in their house that your bed must be made every morning before you do anything else! But - I also started doing this a lot on my own in college...I think because our dorm rooms were so small I felt like if my bed wasn't made, I'd lose things when I threw them on it, or studied there.

10. I really love to take pictures. Of almost anything. Outdoors - clouds, leaves, nature, flowers, people, Indoors - people, buildings, parties....I can't even begin to name the many things I take pictures of - if it looks like "nothing" to someone else, I'm probably taking a picture of it because it has "character."

11. I am a music teacher! Check out my new webpage!

So maybe you already knew some of those things, and there are lots more I can share...but you'll just have to wait for my "Twelve for Twelve" in December! I think I'll do one each month to give me something else to blog about! :)

Another Quote From the Magical Music Carpet...

Or rather - from someone sitting on the "magical music carpet..." (Hey, I needed some kind of catchy title!) haha

Me - "Why aren't you joining the rest of the class at the Smart Board?"
Girl Child - "Well, Ms. W...I'm just feeling very delicate today."
-Kindergarten

You know, I feel pretty delicate some days too! ha (I told her we would be very careful since she was feeling so delicate, but that she still needed to join the class, and she quietly agreed.) :)

I love that I get to teach and care about all these "delicate" kids each day.

On another note - remember this blog? It happened to me AGAIN! lol Twice in one year - in almost one month, even! This time it was a sweet kindergartener who was very calm and cool about the whole thing. Thank goodness for vaseline! And a patient school nurse! I'll say it again - Mom was right...it has definitely come back to get me. Should I be concerned now about all the other childhood mishaps and stories that will one day also "come back to get me?" lol

These are the stories and quotes that are going to make me millions when I write my book someday, right? :) I'll be sure to give you my autograph.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sometimes You Have to Choose...

There are so many choices in life. If you're like me, sometimes you want to pick the easiest one and move on. And sometimes that easiest one is not the best.

Sometimes you have to choose to believe in yourself. To hear what other people say and to know they just might be right. I'm going to share about one of the things I battle with most - perfectionism. If I can't do it right, I might not do it at all. Not in an "I don't care" way, but in an "I care too much and I'm afraid of messing up" kind of way.

I especially struggle with this in my career. People have told me since high school I would make a great teacher one day. In college, professors, friends, and others encouraged me and saw the love I had for kids and the creativity I brought out when I was planning, thinking about teaching, and writing. Then I got my first job as a "for real" teacher. Three and (almost) a half years ago. Already that long. Wow. I was excited! And...terrified. And people told me the same thing. Yes it would be a learning process, and no I would not be a perfect teacher (no one ever really is), but many people said, "You're a great teacher. Keep it up!"

Somewhere along the way I let myself believe those people didn't know what they were talking about. They aren't in my classroom every day, and they don't see how difficult it is for me to manage classes sometimes. They don't see how a class or two are so bored, and hear some kids saying they hate music. They don't see me wondering over and over again what I should plan or how I will teach it in a way the kids can relate to and want to participate. They. are. wrong.

Then there are days like today. Actually weeks like the past two...where for some reason I stop and say, "Hey - I did my best today, and that is all I can do. Some kids may have been bored, but I tried hard to keep everyone engaged somehow. Not every kid will love music, but I shared with them something that might make them enjoy coming to class." I am so truly thankful to God for two "good" weeks of teaching. It wasn't that I left school feeling like I accomplished everything I was supposed to, or that the kids learned every benchmark, or that my "to-do" list was all checked off. I just....cared. And I did my best. And that was enough.

So many people tell me I'm a wonderful teacher. And it is hard for me to believe them. (I'm certainly not writing this to brag.) These are people I know and see at school each day, people I grew up with, people I only see once in awhile, and sometimes even parents whose children "talk about music class all the time!" The easy choice is to believe the words and thoughts and doubts and fears I have in my mind, and to fight against the compliments. I feel inadequate a lot, but that can be a choice too.

Today I chose the not so easy option. It was a crazy day (Wednesdays always are in our school - the schedule is a little different and lots of things are going on on this day) - I had some challenging times where I was fighting to think of ways to engage my kids and some classes where I knew the kids left confused. But - I had some classes where the kids remembered some things from the past few weeks, and some classes where the kids were excited to sing. I had a group of 100 kiddos getting ready for a music program tomorrow (who I am so proud of and excited for!) and some special observers who dropped in (and even one who stayed the whole time) during three of my classes. But at the end of the day, I felt like a teacher. I thought - even with the crazy day when I was counting the minutes until it was all over, I knew my kids knew I cared. And one of the observers said, "You have great demeanor with the kids. You do so well with them." She had no idea how much I needed to hear that. And she was in my classroom. She did see. I was so surprised.

I guess I share all that to say...choices are a day by day thing. You can take the easy way, or you can take the not so easy way. But the choice is yours. Today I choose to believe God has called me to be a teacher right now, and I am following His calling...the best I can! He doesn't ask for perfect. He takes who I am, and what I'm doing, and makes it His. And that is what makes me a "great" teacher.

"Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed." -Proverbs 16:3


Saturday, November 12, 2011

How Marvelous...

I have to admit the last year...or few years has/have been really tough. I go back and forth in my mind trying to tell myself I am being selfish or weak because I feel like things are tough, yet I am not experiencing a "real" trial or storm as some people might be. But the truth is...my life is real to me. Whether or not my storms are as big or tough as someone else's is not the issue. The issue is that God is here. He is stretching me. Challenging me to trust Him every day...no, every second of every day. To find Him in all things - big and small.

"How marvelous, how wonderful, and my song shall ever be..."


It's easy to lose focus. To see circumstances or only one moment of time. To forget about the big picture and to wonder, "Why me?" "Why now?" "Why...." But as each day comes, God puts a song on my heart - a marvelous, wonderful song. A song that is filled with His promises for me. For the desire to do His will and to be a part of what pleases Him. A song of hope.

"How marvelous, how wonderful, is my Savior's love for me."


I can't even fathom the love my Savior has for me. Every moment. Every day. So often I have to remind myself things are not always all about me. Worship is not about me. It is about glorifying the very one who created me. Last Sunday as I sat alone in a pew for what seemed like the millionth time I let myself feel pity. I thought about how lonely I was. How I shouldn't have to be alone at church and how "if someone would just ask me to sit with them" or "if we just had a young singles' ministry," or "if, if, if...." Yet God has not called me to be lonely. He has called me to come to Him with my burdens and weaknesses and selfish attitude and everything I am...and to be complete and fulfilled in Him.

That doesn't mean I won't feel lonely. That doesn't mean it won't still hurt me that it is so hard to "fit in" at church. That doesn't mean it is wrong of me to have feelings. But my point is, God spoke gently to my heart and reminded me I need to honestly come before Him with those areas and concerns. He is a God who hears me when I cry out.

Today I am thankful for God who is infinitely greater than anything I can imagine. For His peace that passes understanding, and for His joy that brings contentment and fulfillment. And I pray I will be faithful in trusting Him to embrace me in His marvelous love and forever be my song.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I'm a Little...Spatula?

First Grade -

"Ms. W, can we PLEASE sing that song with the, with the....you know, the SPATULA and that other thing if we have time today?!"

"I'm sorry, Mr.O...I'm just not sure what you're talking about. Can you describe it with more words?"

"You know...that one with the...spatula. You have it on your computer!"

"Mr. O, I have a LOT of songs on my computer. Do you know how it goes? Do you know what actions we did while we were singing it?"

"Ummmm....you know, where we put our hand here (hand on hip, elbow out, other arm up with hand sticking out..."

"OHHHH! You mean, "I'm a Little Teapot?"

"YEAH! That one! With the spatula and the handle!"

My kids are worth a million smiles, every day.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thankful...

I've been trying to focus on things I am thankful for all the time, in my everyday moments, and especially when I want to be negative instead. But - since it's November already, and the Thanksgiving holiday is coming - I thought I'd share some things on my blog as I write.

Today I am thankful for rest. God calls us to rest. Physically and spiritually. HE provides rest. He calls us to rest in HIM! That is such a relief when I sometimes feel like I can't find rest on my own. But tonight I'm thankful for physical rest - the chance to be at home with no obligations, to curl up in my p.j.s at 7 p.m., (I had a major headache!), and to just...rest.

"Then Jesus said, 'Come to me all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.'" - Matthew 11:28 NLT

I also watched this video from a post I made last year, and it made my heart smile again. Enjoy! :)



Monday, October 31, 2011

Random Letters Yet Again...

Dear Arkansas, It was nice to visit again last weekend! You will always be second home for me, and I love all the memories I have from my five years there!

Dear Weather, You've been beautiful lately! Even with the nip of Fall in the air! Today the sunshine and temperature were perfect. Keep it up! haha

Dear Fall, You are still my favorite season. Something about the cool, crisp air makes me feel like I can do and accomplish anything. The colorful leaves make me smile, and I can't seem to take enough pictures! I love you for the first cups of hot chocolate of the season, the chance to curl up with a blanket again, and wear jeans and sweatshirts. I also love all the Fall memories I have of marching band, cross country meets, Homecoming street painting and parades, and just hanging out with friends. I wish there were more Fall to every year!

Dear Curves Workout, I really value our time together three times a week. I have to say, I totally rock now, and according to our Curve's Smart computer check-in, I'm the second strongest member at hte club!

Dear School, I'm taking you one day at a time. But...sometimes you can be really overwhelming. I'm doing my best!

Dear iPod, I like you more everyday. Now if only I had as many kickin' tunes as everyone else does on theirs.

Dear Chacos, I'm sad to say sandal season is almost gone. I'll look at you on my shelf all winter and wait patiently for the day when we can hike, wade in the water, and walk miles together again in the Spring!

Dear Weight Watchers, I'm working on it! I'm almost to -30lbs!! I will get over that hump and keep moving toward my goal!

Dear Germany, I wish you weren't so far away. My parents are enjoying their adventures there, but it's not fun for the rest of us.

Dear Book, I am enjoying reading a few pages from you each night. I'm looking forward to the day when I can sit down and read you for a few hours sometime though. And for the day when I finish you and get to order the fourth book!

Dear Graduate School, I like you too. I wasn't sure how it would go, trying to spend time with you and be a full-time teacher. But...so far, so good. Linguistics is interesting. Super complex, but great so far. I have an A!

Dear Blog, I promise to write something real soon. I just needed to fill in some randomness today. I'm sure I'll add more letters to this post in the next day or two as I remember things I've forgotten. I'm not abandoning you!

Dear You, If you're still reading this, bless you! haha They're not even interesting letters! Have a great week!



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Someday to be Famous Scat Singing Kiddo and Other Successful Teacher Moments This Week!

Sometimes it's just so good to laugh. Especially in those moments when my kids make me laugh...and then I can't stop...and they don't know what I'm really laughing at, but they start laughing too...and we all just kind of fall to the floor and lay on our music carpet until the giggles stop! haha :) It's times like those that sometimes make my day or week.

So what were we giggling about?

Well, we've been singing a song called "Ten Big Pumpkins" this month and it has a kind of jazzy feel. There is a little part in between a couple of verses that goes, "Ba da ba da ba da wah wah wah wah, ba da ba da ba da wah, wah waaah...." and I heard one little voice just singing away when it came up. So this week I'd kind of forgotten about it, when all of the sudden we're singing it again, and the little guy starts belting it out! I just had to look at him and giggle...it was TOO cute! Later when one of the girls was humming that part of the tune, he quickly corrected her and said, "No, you gotta do this..." and proceeded to sing the scat part again exactly how it goes. I wish I could put a recording of the song on this blog. If you really want to hear what he was singing go to www.musick8.com and type "Ten Big Pumpkins" in the song search box! :) Then picture a little kindergarten guy singing his heart out! I think one day he'll be a famous jazz scat singer, and he can say he got his start in Ms. W's music room! Yep, I'm sure of it! haha

I also have to say I'm amazed at how enthusiasm can sometimes change the entire setting of a class. I admit sometimes I have trouble with my older kids because I just "don't know what to do" with them. I don't want them to be bored, but I don't know what they like (which isn't a lot right now because they are on their way to middle school soon...ha) But anyway, last week I just had the idea to let them choose. To present some things we were going to do in class that day and let them vote on what the order would be. And you know what? They liked that. They had some ownership, and we made it through and even had a little fun. Then today we started another activity where they had to listen to a story (which usually seems "too young" to them) and they actually listened because I told them we were going to do something similar to the story and add sound effects using instruments to our own. I felt like I had a break through...at least for a few days! :)

Just a couple of fun moments from my week to help me remember and keep going when the going gets tough! Thank you God for little moments of success and joy to help me see I'm really doing my best at what you've called me to do right now.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Hometown

I grew up in one town for almost all of my life. We moved there when I was one year old and moved away for a short time during elementary school, about a year and a half, then moved back, even to the same neighborhood. I went to college in another state, and after graduating began teaching in a nearby community, but I will always consider this my hometown. Shortly after we moved away in fifth grade, my new school had an essay contest called, "My Hometown." Since I had only lived in Farmington for a couple months, I got special permission to write about my real hometown...and I won the prize! Anyway - I found the essay this summer when I was moving and wanted to share it here...with some pictures I took recently (plus one "borrowed" St. James sign picture from google images and a couple older pictures!). Do you have a place you consider to be your hometown?

"My Hometown" by Alicia W. - Fifth Grade - 1995

My hometown is St. James, Missouri. Even though I live in Farmington now, St. James will always seem like my hometown.


When I was one, my family moved to St. James. We soon met our neighbors. My mom said they were very nice to us.

Soon, when five years had passed, it was MY turn to go to school. One thing I liked about St. James was their schools. I went to one of their two schools. It was called Lucy Wortham James Elementary. It had kindergarten through sixth grade. The other school was John F. Hodge High School. It had seventh through twelfth grade. Their schools were gun, drug, and gang free. (Ok, so I THOUGHT so at that age...sad to say it may not have been completely accurate...) Every student got a good education.

One of many things you could count on was good friends. I had many good friends there. Also, when you went to the grocery store, you were usually known by your name. Not just ma'am or sir.

At St. James there were neighborhoods large and small. No matter what, they were safe. We had tall houses and short houses, old houses, and new houses. Your neighbors were nice, and when you needed them, they were there.

There were many typical stores in St. James that sold things like medicine or groceries and food. Many were gift and antique stores, though. If you needed lumber, tools, or garden things, there was a Scott's True Value Store and a Wilson Lumber Company, right in town.


In St. James, you could always feel secure. There was a police department, fire department, and city hall in the middle of town. When you needed to mail a letter, or buy a paper, you would go into town.


Do you like movies? There was even a movie theater.


When you needed food for horses, cats and any pets, there was a feed store. You didn't even need to place a special order.


In St. James, there were many flower shops. At Larken's Flower Patch, you could get flowers, gifts, cards, plants, and balloons. It was the best!

In the summer, I liked to go to Nelson Hart Park. There were three baseball diamonds, restrooms, two basketball courts, a soccer field, a community center, and a parking lot.

When it got hot, I really liked to go to the city park. They had three pools, two basketball courts, four playgrounds, a nature trail, a lake, restrooms, barbecue grills, picnic areas, one baseball field, bleachers, and a cemetery. It was fun.






My favorite place to spend time in the summer was the library. I liked to go and do the summer reading program, hear stories, and check out chapter books.


In St. James we had a winery and an apple orchard. Sometimes I would go to the grapevines and pick grapes.

My favorite time of year was August. We always had the Grape and Fall Festival. It was just like Country Days only smaller. It was neat!



At St. James there were at least five churches to pick from. I went to the Baptist church. People there were very nice.

A few miles away was Meremac Springs. It was a natural park. It had springs, playgrounds, fish, history museums, and a look-out tower. In the fall, it was beautiful!






Sometimes I think St. James is just a little town, but then I look back and say, "Wow! Look at that town grow!" I am proud because St. James will always be my hometown!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Perseverance

When do you give up?

It depends on what you're giving up on, right? Sometimes.

But what if you are giving up on eternity? An eternity spent with Jesus. That might make a difference in your answer. Of course most of us would say, "Never!" But do our attitudes and actions always match our thoughts?

"For the past twenty-three years - from the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah, until now - the Lord has been giving me his messages. I have faithfully passed them onto you, but you have not listened." -Jeremiah 25:3

Oh to have a heart like Jeremiah. Twenty three years. Twenty....three. As our pastor shared that verse, that example, this past Sunday, I thought...wow. I don't know if I could do something for twenty-three years with no results and continue every day. Without ceasing. It would have to be a whole lot about God. And a whole lot not about me.

So here is the matter at hand. Are you confident you will spend an eternity one day with Jesus? Have you given him your heart? Really given it to him, trusting Him to lead your life, thanking Him for the sacrifice He made on the cross so that WE could live lives free of sin?  If you have, praise the Lord! You are my brother or sister in Christ, and I will one day see and know you on the other side of this life on Earth. If you are not, please let me share with you how you can find that confidence! Oh how God longs to share that gift with you.

And if you are a Christian, how then, do we live a life in which we refuse to give up on others we know who will not spend an eternity with Christ? Our pastor shared these thoughts and suggestions-

*Spend time dwelling on the true condition of people. Really dwelling...praying...about the fact that those who don't know Christ are missing out on the greatest gift they could ever receive. 6 of 10 people do not have a personal relationship with Christ. That's a lot. That's almost the whole line at a grocery store. That could be ALL the people in the booth next to you at the restaurant. That could be....well, its' just a lot.

*Pray. Pray DAILY. And pray diligently. Ask for courage, intentionality, perseverance. Pray through your anger, loneliness, joy, and praises. Be honest with God. Jeremiah gained courage and strength by building such a relationship with God. He was honest, and his heart was longing for God to use Him each day. We may not know who or what God has in store, or how He is using us at the time, but HE does. And that is the most important thing. If you are even just a link in the chain, hang in there.

*Trust God to use your efforts. This is a big one for me. I want to be in control. I want to see results. If I can't do something the "right" or most perfect way...I want to give up. But like I said earlier, this need is too important for ME to get in the way. I can't save souls. God can. He can use me in the process.

A man once wrote a book. When asked how he wrote the book, he said he had no idea what it would become when he started. He simply wrote what he could every day for a whole year, and by the end of the year he had a wonderful 365 page book. What can you do today? What can I do to make a difference in the life of someone else? How can I reflect Christ and outwardly share about His love and truth?

I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to give up yet. I'm ready to dig deeper now. I long to have the heart that Jeremiah had - one that wakes up living and breathing God and as a result, longing to speak of His truth every day, even if no one listens.

Perseverance. I will not give up. People need the Lord...and it's time for me not to just say it and sing it, but to act on it. I'm praying God will give me all I need to be the witness He has called me to be.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Whacky Tacky Wednesday...


Sometimes being silly is a big part of why I love teaching. 
Whacky Tacky Wednesday for Spirit Week at our elementary building was today.
I was wacky.
And I was DEFINITELY tacky.
I got a lot of good laughs...some, "I like your clothes, Miss W..." from my little ones (who were probably a little confused by my suddenly super-fashionable looking wardrobe...HA!), and I had fun seeing other teachers and students enjoying the day too. 
Don't worry...no need to call Stacy and Clinton or nominate me for What Not to Wear...
Tomorrow is Thursday, and I promise to wear jeans like a normal teacher!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thankful...

I don't write this to step on anyone's toes or sound like my life is perfect, but I do write this from my heart...a heart that is truly thankful for the ways God has blessed me, shielded me, and protected me throughout my life.

Some people have a testimony about a night and day change or experience that caused them to find faith and turn everything around. My story is a little quieter than that. But it is a story God has written. One he has allowed me to experience and grow in. I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home. My parents are both Christians, all four of my siblings and their spouses are Christians, both sets of grandparents are and were Christians, and a majority of my extended family - aunts/uncles/cousins are as well. Wow. Just reading that really blows my mind. Unfortunately that is not a statistic that holds true for a majority of people.

So - I write this, not to say that my family is perfect. I don't want to give the illusion that living a life surrounded by strong Christian heritage makes things easy or lovely all the time. We are all humans, and we are all faced with the many issues, temptations, and challenges of the world. But the eyes I have...the heart I carry, the values I hold...these have all been instilled in me because of my Christian upbringing.

That is why, today, as I sat listening to some other ladies discuss parenting, siblings, and values...I was truly thankful. While one woman talked about having unreliable parents and helping to raise her sisters, she mentioned how proud she was of her "open" relationship with her younger sisters and the "sense" she has instilled in them to have "responsible sex." She told them it is important to discuss with their boyfriends up front that they are not ready for this, and when they are, they will know because they will be old enough to go and get birth control and understand possible consequences. She said plainly, "I know teens are going to try it...it's whether or not they try it again that matters."

Another woman spoke of teenagers who try drugs and alcohol. Teenagers who wear very "little" to school and crave negative attention. They talked about kids whose parents allow them to try things so they are not "sheltered."

So...I'm not a parent yet. I don't know everything about life. I am not perfect, and I have definitely been faced with a lot of opportunities and temptations in life. But...because of the strong values my family instilled in me - because of the love God has for me, redeeming me of all my sins...I am thankful. Sure I was taught about "safe sex" outside my home. Of course I had peers who "tried" alcohol at a young age. Of course I sometimes feel a little discouraged that I have never had a serious boyfriend, and I don't have many of the experiences that others my age have.

But - I think God has shielded and protected me from many of the mistakes I could have made in my past. I know He has a perfect plan for me that is unfolding day by day. I realize that remaining pure and abstinent throughout my life is not something to be discouraged about but something that makes me unique. I guess these are odd topics to talk about - and I didn't really mean to ramble around them...my real point is that I am thankful. Thankful for parents who cared enough to teach me it's ok to be different than the world. Family who encouraged and continue to encourage me in my walk with Christ and my desire to be like Him, walking fully in His will. I am thankful that God has given me a testimony that may not be full of dramatic changes, but is still full of Him. And I pray that one day, I will be a parent who continues the generations of Christian heritage my life has been so solidly built upon. Thanks, Mom and Dad, my family, and the many others who have taken time to invest in who and where I am today!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Well, Mom...It Came Back to Get Me...

I haven't shared any funny classroom happenings in a long time, but I had to share this one! I'm sure we've all heard our mom say a time or two, "This is going to come back to get you when YOU have kids one day!" And while I don't have any kids of my own yet, I do have 570 great kiddos to take care of where I work and teach, and well...my mother's words definitely rang true last week.

As students are lining up to leave the classroom, I see a child in tears (the silent painful kind - streaming down his face!) and he is not moving. Upon further investigation, I hear another child say, "Ms. W....He's STUCK!" Sure enough, caught in between the metal stair rail and the wall near the exit of my room was one child size elbow...that wouldn't budge! Thankfully there was an assembly that day, so my next group of kiddos were not waiting to come in, and I sent the others out to meet their teacher and another child to the office to ask for help.

One good Vasseline "greasing," wrench (or whatever you call that tool!) turning, screw-loosening minute later...and he was free. (Thank you to our wonderful Nurse W. and our custodian Mr. D!) I was trying so hard not to giggle the whole time. Not because of the situation...believe me, my heart went out to the child and his, uh...creative situation. But I couldn't scold him, and here's why!

Enter the scene myself, my siblings, and may parents at a community Thanksgiving service over 20 years ago. I think I was probably only four years old or so, although I could have been a little older, I'm not sure. We are at another church in the community, not our own, and they are having two services to serve the large number of people attending. The first service we are attending is almost over, and..........I decide to stick my elbow in the back of the pew where the hymnals go. Why?! Well, why not?! lol Except that....it got stuck. And the tears started coming down my face. And my mother had already said, "Don't do that!" And, ummm....enter the scene three or four strong men who had to CARRY the pew out (thankfully we were back-row Baptists and had been sitting in the very back where they had placed some 'temporary' removable seating for extra guests) to the lobby. Enter the tools they had to use to unscrew the hymnal holder and free my elbow...and enter a furious mother, embarrassed siblings, and...well the rest is really history. I still have my elbow, and now - I've had my payback, I guess! At least until I have a child of my own who will probably decide to stick their nose or another random body part somewhere and get stuck one day! :)

Moms always know...

Hope - True and Amazing Hope...

"My hope is in you Lord, all the day long. I won't be shaken by drought or storm."

This song has been in my head so much over the past few weeks. It's funny that it seems to be the last song I'm singing before I go to bed at night, and somehow the first song in my mind as I wake up. It even came on the radio first thing when I turned it on this morning as I was getting out of bed.

The peace that passes understanding is my song, and I'll sing - my hope is in you, Lord...in you.

Isn't it amazing that God promises peace that passes ALL understanding? I think the best part about that is I don't have to understand. I'm not supposed to. God is so big, mysterious, and all-powerful...that the peace he provides passes all understanding.

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:6-7

It is so hard sometimes to stop and pray. And it is so hard sometimes when I feel frustrated or sad or joyful or anxious or any other emotion - to know that God already knows that and understands it. I can look at all He has done and thank Him - that part is easy for me. But to truly trust Him to bring peace beyond ANY understanding...that can be difficult. That means letting go and handing over the reigns and taking a risk. But oh what hope comes from doing this! Oh the guard I long to have on my heart and mind as I wait on God, His perfect timing, His will for me, and the purpose I am serving.

"I wait for you, and my soul finds rest. In my selfishness, you show me grace."
"I will wait on you. You are my refuge..."

The first few times I heard this song, I was taken aback by the words about peace being my song, and I thought - how perfect. I long for this to be my song. I long to trust in His hope and to be filled with His peace. But today, another line caught my attention. I will wait...and...You are my refuge. How powerful. Waiting is HARD. Waiting is not always certain. Waiting takes patience and trust. But these words say God is my REFUGE as I wait. Wow. Those are some powerful words.

So...I challenge you to find true hope. I pray you will experience God's peace that is beyond comprehension and that instead of trying to understand, you will simply rest in His peace and hope.
Here is the song that has been my encouragement the past few weeks...I hope you enjoy it too and the words sink deep into your heartt! I hadn't seen the actual video before today...and even though it is a sad one - it shows such promise and need for hope in Christ despite any circumstances here. Sometimes we have to choose to rejoice and seek hope. God is always there waiting for our call to Him!