Sunday, February 27, 2011

My mom has been scanning and uploading old pictures recently. These make me smile. My cousin Myrenda and I are two years apart in age (I'm two years older), and we used to have the best adventures at our Granny and Grandad's house in the summer time. Playing in the woods, pulling the wagon, jump roping outside, looking in the "Frog Pond," working in the garden, picking blackberries, running, and playing outside until it was too dark to see. When Granny bought this swing, and Grandad hung it up for us on the big tree out front, many more hours were spent flying back and forth, spinning around, and taking turns pushing each other. All in our bare feet, of course! I also remember Grandad's cookie and candy jars, watching movies like "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" during our rest time on a quilt in the floor, sleeping with the windows open and the bugs chirping at night, and so much more! I miss those days, and treasure the memories! Now we have fun talking, spending time with Myrenda's own sweet baby girl who is now two years old, and laughing together. We even find ourselves opening a coloring book once in awhile just for old-time's sake! :) Cousins are a blessing!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Letting go...

My heart is hurting....really hurting. It is like something was so close...I was about to reach out and grab it, and then, someone tore it away before I could. I know that's not how it really is - but that is how I feel. I think it's ok and even healthy to say I'm a human, so of course my heart is hurting and disappointed.

But I think how I deal with that hurt is where my test of faith comes in. I can simply give up on the dream, say it's gone, and choose to forget about it. I can complain and be angry and try to find my own solutions. I can blame the company, the doctor, or myself. Or.....I can let go and let my God. I have always heard that phrase, "Let go, and let God..." but I've never really thought about it before.

Realizing that this dream, though it was mine, does not really belong to me, has been something tough and scary. You see, if it doesn't really belong to me, if I truly believe it belongs to my faithful God who gave me the dream and desire, then I must also choose to let Him hold the dream in His hands at the same time it is in my heart. It's a tricky thing, that part. But when I am ready to fully let go, and say, "God, this dream is yours. You have given it to me, and put it in my heart, just for me. But now I give it fully to you and trust you to use it how YOU see fit. WHEN you see fit. Whether it is this year or years down the road..." I know He will take it, as He has all along, and give me a peace about walking in His will and plan. It is so hard for me to picture or fathom or understand right now.

I long to acknowledge this dream belongs to God, and I know He is good, and He would not have put a passion and desire in my heart that He was going to leave there for nothing. At the same time, it is hard to let go. In my mind, I think, "God...this is MY dream. I was ready. I was going to follow this dream, and I was going to serve you with all my heart. I wasn't going in a bad direction or trying to misuse the desires you've given me. I had a plan for this dream. Didn't you know that?!" (That just makes me laugh a little....of COURSE He knew that...) But again, faith is trusting in what we can't see. What we can't understand. And that takes trust. And work. Every matter what the situation is.

I'm working on the letting go part...I know I'm almost there. I'm probably working too hard at trying to hang on. I think so much about, "But what if giving it back to God means I don't get to go now OR soon?" Well...then God has other wonderful ways to use me I can't even imagine right now because my mind is narrowed in on one thing. I may have to pray every day to let go and tell God this dream is His...but I know He is waiting patiently.

"Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart's desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act." - Psalm 37:4-5, 7 NLT

A friend I know writes, "Pray your dream" at the end of her e-mails. And it makes perfect sense now. I have spent a lot of time saying my dream. But God wants me to pray it. Here I am God...ready to let go....ready to trust....and needing your help every step of the way.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Change in Plans

Sometimes God says, "Wait." And sometimes, He says, "No."

As a child of His, I choose to live with faith, trusting all He does in my life, the ways He leads, the opportunities He allows me to pursue...are all part of the desires He has given me. God knows my heart better than I ever will - He made it after all! 

Many of you know about my heart for mission work and loving and serving people overseas, as well as meeting and serving internationals here. I remember first realizing that passion in high school, and feeling excited as God provided continuous opportunities for me to pursue it. In college I went on my first international trip to Senegal West Africa, and I knew then that God was putting it on my heart to go back for a longer time. I prayed for a long time about when that would be and thought it might be when I graduated college...but then knew I needed to wait and teach here awhile first.

So - last March I began the lengthy application process through a company related to my church denomination to go overseas. I finished the whole process in July, gained medical clearance (which you must have to go) in November, and waited until January when I finally found out I was accepted. I had shared that with many of you too! The final step after being accepted is to go for an interview conference on their campus where they get to know you and match you with a job somewhere in the world. I was supposed to leave on Wednesday to fly to the conference. In January, I had a health concern come up. It is nothing too major now- the doctor even said she didn't see it being a hindrance to me going overseas. Unfortunately it is a change in the health clearance I had before. I didn't know until Friday I would not be able to go. There was a miscommunication, and I didn't receive a message until then. This is not a definite "no." They are very good about keeping applications on file when things change, and this could only be a "bump in the road." They will definitely consider me for this Fall or next Spring if I receive health clearance by then. Of course my heart was...and is...disappointed, a little confused, and unsure of how to process this. 

This has been my dream, my passion, and my biggest desire over the past five years. Wait - notice how I'm saying, "my" a lot? Well...while I know it truly IS my heart to go, and I know God has given me that heart, I believe every hope, dream, and desire I have belongs to Him. This is one of the things He has shown me over the past few days. He KNOWS my love for internationals.  He KNOWS I long to go and to share His love and joy with others all around the world. And I know He won't leave me hanging on to those dreams and desires with no way to use them. But they belong to Him...they shouldn't just be "my" desires. So things are just on a different timeline now. Maybe even in a different way than I had ever imagined. 

When I began this process last year, I knew it would mean being a little "impractical," in the world's eyes - giving up a job I have here, and many other things, and stepping out in faith. But, now I see that even this program was very lined out for me, very planned, and very structured. And it may still be something I will be a part of later, we'll see! But - I can also see maybe God is calling me to step out in faith in a different way. Into the unknown and unstructured. The impractical, and the uncertain. I feel as though this was just a stop on the roller coaster ride to take a deep breath, and now I'm ready to jump back on, throw my hands up in the air, and say, "Let's go!"

I know God is good, all the time. I truly believe that with my whole heart. It is aching for what I am missing now, but longing for what God does have in store! Thank you for your prayers and encouragement through this entire process. Please continue to pray for me as I seek God's direction, clarity, and wisdom in where to go next. 

"For God is working in you, giving you the power and the desire to do what pleases Him." -Philippians 2:13

Still Filled With HIS Joy,

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day, Friends! :) 

I hope your day was special, no matter where you are, and no matter who you spent it with! 
And most of all, I hope you know that God loves you. Perfectly. More than anyone else you will ever know!

"Dear friends, Let us love one another, for love comes from God." - 1 John 4:7

"This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another; God lives in us, and His love is made complete in us. - 1 John 4:9-12

 "We love because He first loved us." -1 John 4:19

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Friday Fun...

It's been awhile since I've cooked Friday night seemed like the perfect time for...(semi)home made pizza! I won't be starting a cooking show on Food Network or a blog like Julie and Julia...but here are some pictures of the fun! :)

Gather the ingredients 
(Whoops I left out the crust, which is why this was only semi-home was one where you add water! lol Oh well!)

Sauce, cheese, pepperoni, and pineapple! 
(Which happens to be my favorite kind of pizza, although I usually add green pepper slices too! 
Yes, I'm a little strange...)

In it goes! 400 degrees for 15 minutes!

And....finished! D-E-licious! 

Add a chick flick with friends and hot chocolate with whipped cream...
and you have the perfect Friday evening! 

Friday, February 11, 2011


I'm sure a lot of people feel pretty "ordinary." I know I do. Sometimes I feel a little under-ordinary too. Yep, I think I just made up that word..."under-ordinary." Maybe that makes me extraordinary! Or not...

But I have something that does make me extraordinary. And no, it's not my super ability to balance spoons on my nose, my history with alligator hunting on the Amazon (it's true!), my super loud drum playing despite my quiet personality, my ability to BURN and ruin nacho cheese dip (yes the kind any child could easily melt in the microwave), or my super successful and delicious (non-burnt!) chocolate chip cookies.

Ok, just for the record, I did NOT catch this alligator...I did, however, pay $1.00 to hold him for this picture. And yes, his mouth is tied didn't think I was THAT crazy, did you?! 
But -  I DID go alligator hunting at night, on the Amazon River, during the same trip! :)

I have a living God who created me and knew me even before I was born. And I have Jesus. The Son of God, whom He brought to Earth as a man, living and walking, and facing life just as I do...yet never sinning and always loving. Obedient to His Father...even to the point of death on a cross. It is hard for me to understand. I know I never fully will. But it is through HIM that I am made extraordinary.

"The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see they were ORDINARY men with NO special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized then as men who had been WITH JESUS." - Acts 4:13

In waiting for my interview conference, it is easy to have doubt. To question if I am "good" enough, or "smart" enough, or "knowledgeable" enough, or "bold" enough. I am certainly not extraordinarily gifted in using words to explain things, or understanding the history of the entire Bible, or the many other "requirements" I have set in my mind that I "should" have before I go. But the thing is, God has given me a passion. A desire to serve and to love people across the world in any way I can. And I know that He will send me if it is His will. And He will equip me perfectly. I will be adequate not through myself but ONLY through HIM! 

I guess the most powerful thing to me in these pictures, is the fact that I didn't have to use any words at first...I was there - serving through the Lord, showing what Jesus looks like, and THEN able to share.

"Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, '...There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved...'" - Acts 4:8,12 (It wasn't Peter doing the talking! It was the Holy Spirit speaking through Him!)

So, though I am definitely "ordinary" on my amazing to know I am never "ordinary" when I have Jesus. How awesome to know that no matter what He calls any of us to do - be a mother or father, work in an office, teach school, write books, public service jobs, and soooo much more, overseas AND from home, we can ALL be extraordinary, if we only choose to serve with our whole heart in Jesus' name. 

"'And now, O Lord...give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word...may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant, Jesus.' After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness." - Acts 4:29-31

And that, friends, is what makes ordinary me....AND ordinary you, if you only ask God, believe in the love and sacrifice of His Son Jesus for ALL of us and accept it freely, EXTRAORDINARY! 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Back to School...

Back to school tomorrow after four snow days! While that is a long time for most people, I have actually been gone even LONGER....because I had a meeting Monday, and a conference the Wed-Fri before Monday and the snow days....and I haven't even mentioned the first three weeks of January when I was gone two days each week for sick days and more snow boy am I ever ready to see my kids again and get back to teaching/having a schedule! I'm even ready to teach a FULL week. Here's hoping the weather holds out this time, and I stay well! :) My hope for the rest of the semester is to be the best teacher I can be and to be confident again in my planning. To be enthusiastic, and to help my students be enthusiastic and enjoy music more too. I want them each to go away with something, even if they don't feel "gifted" or "excited" about music - my goal is for them to have made some kind of connection before they leave whether it be singing, playing a game, exploring an instrument, or just interacting with their classmates in a way that is "out of the ordinary" from their regular classroom setting. It feels so crazy with time flying by - I keep thinking of more and more things I want to do this semester, could be my last one teaching for awhile! Still waiting for my conference in a few weeks. I feel so excited for that new opportunity, yet a little sad to leave teaching, even though it has been so challenging this year. I know God has plans in store though, and thankfully they are bigger and better than any I could make on my own! I have a feeling this isn't a forever goodbye to teaching!

I can't believe I didn't write a single post over all the snow days. I have a lot to write about, but...sometimes it's just a challenge to put into words that make sense. For now I better get some rest....5:00 is going to come EARLY after all these days off!

Here are a few pictures of the snowman I built today after shoveling for awhile...It is the first one I ever remember building, although I probably did build one as a child. I know he's a little short, but....don't judge! haha I also had to use some creative items for his face...and the mouth wouldn't quite stick on, hence the toothpick picture!

Working on the face...chocolate cookie eyes

A baby carrot nose...

And a mouth made of raisins...which wouldn't stick, so I tried a toothpick, but it wouldn't go all the way through - and now my snowman looks a little like an Ozark hillbilly, but...oh well! 

Finished! But...a little plain and dull...

So I had to add some color, of course! I think it is a snow girl now...haha

Still trying to get those raisins to stick...

Hey - not too bad, huh?!

I'm sorry, but I have to say it...That snowman's got a lotta "junk in his trunk!" or something like that! That bottom part is a little...broad and out of proportion! lol 

All the ingredients for a perfect snowman...minus a couple chocolate cookies whose extras might have been eaten after all that hard work, but I'll never tell! :) 

Happy new week, everyone! I hope it is joyful, blessed, and fun! I also hope you will give each day to our awesome Creator...and seek the plans HE desires for you each day! Oh, and remember to thank him for not giving us raisin mouths when he created us! :) 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Muppet Treasure Island: Cabin Fever!

Hmmmm...I'm working on a real post for later, but a friend just shared this on facebook, and I couldn't resist sharing it here...I'm pretty sure a lot of people around Missouri and the U.S. are feeling this way this week! I'm just glad, for your sake, that the Muppets made a music video about it first! With my lack of things to do and no way to go anywhere, I might just have gotten desperate enough to make my own music video! Wouldn't that have been a crazy sight! Haha! Enjoy! :)