Friday, April 22, 2011

New Eyes...

I want to share some pictures with you as I write, from one of the experiences I most treasure from college. These are my friends from a ministry called COPE - "Community Outreach Program through English." I had the privilege of teaching and sharing with them every week for two years during college, and THEY taught ME so much! 

On this evening we were having a party to celebrate Fall and Halloween. We all wore costumes and shared the October traditions celebrated in America.

Recently I've been praying for God to give me new eyes in seeing what my dreams to serve and love internationals might look like. I've been asking Him to affirm the desires I have and to lead me in HIS ways. In HIS timing. And to give my heart patience...

These two beautiful friends were just getting started on their creative pumpkin!

I have prayed a lot since I found out in February I wouldn't be going overseas this year. I have also felt disappointment, frustration, anger, sadness, hope. I am so thankful for a God who calls us to be honest and share our hearts. I am so glad that when I want to throw my arms up and have a temper tantrum inside...He waits patiently.

These are two of my favorite people in the world! This couple moved to Arkansas during my second year of college. I saw them grow in their English skills, adjust to American culture, finish school, get jobs, and now they are even starting a family there with a precious baby boy born in the Fall. They are a blessing to many! And you have to love their costumes! haha :) 

While it is still hard for me to understand just why God delayed my call to go overseas, it IS becoming clear that He has a purpose for me here. I have to admit, I have had one of the hardest years ever in teaching, and...well, while I do only have two others to compare it to, I still say this one has been many times harder than my very first year! I have been praying about whether or not I can stick with the same position again and have a better upcoming school year or not. I want to love teaching music, but it is hard leaving each day and feeling dissatisfied in the work I've done. I love teaching - I love being with my kids every day. I love calling all 540 kids mine and knowing I can be an example for them every day. But I've been trying to give myself some options. So far either none of the options I look at jump out at me as something I should officially pursue, or I have taken all the steps I can to consider the option, and the door has closed. I know if God wants me here for one more year, He will give me the strength to continue and a newfound desire to be here.

This is part of our COPE teaching team...I missed out on the chance to dress up, but someone lent me some pumpkin ears! haha

Recently over my Spring Break I had the chance to visit with a wonderful woman who was coordinator of the COPE program I mentioned earlier. She also coordinates the ESL program for international students at my college and served as a reference for my Journeyman application process. I shared with her about how my overseas opportunity was being delayed, yet my heart was still longing to serve God and to truly share His love with internationals. And with a few simple words, she encouraged me. "Alicia, I feel that maybe God is going to bring the world TO YOU for a time..." She spoke of how she had seen me care deeply for the international friends I served and taught in college, and of my gentle manner with their children. She shared the story of her family and their similar experience in feeling called to the mission field, then experiencing a change in plans. Then she told me about a project she had just received the day before from a former student - a compilation of ESL masters programs available through online studies...something she had been waiting to receive for six months, and I happened to visit the day after she received it. Yes I happened to visit. God is good. And God knows. And I believe God uses other people to lead and affirm His will sometimes...

There were college and graduate students, adults, and children...from all over the world!

This was one of our precious families.

So, I share all of that to say - God is giving me new eyes. Slowly but surely, my vision is clearing, and He is reigniting passions I have had for a long time in new ways. I am excited to say that last week I officially applied to an online graduate program in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages") through SEMO (Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau!) I have no idea yet if I will even be accepted or how it will work out financially. I only know that it is a desire I have had for a long time, but have not allowed myself to explore or to trust Him to provide for. And I know He will provide perfectly if this is something I am really to pursue! I am excited about the fact that, with this degree, I can spend time HERE (or eventually overseas) providing love and support to children who are struggling to find a place in this new and unfamiliar culture. I can't wait to teach them and watch them grow and learn from them and share cultural connections and help them share the pride of their culture while learning to adjust to ours.

See any resemblance? :)

I also have another "option" I've taken the chance to apply for, and now I'm praying about, because it is fully in God's hands. If it works out, He will truly have His hands in the situation! I will share more about that as I can. It is something that is hard not to get my hopes up for, but please pray with me that if God has it in store, He will make a way!! :)

Sometimes God takes our dreams, shows us they were really His all along, and transforms them into something bigger than we could ever imagine or plan on our own. We just need to ask for "new eyes" to see them...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I felt like I should be on the show Cupcake Wars, where they whip together super fabulous cupcakes with super odd ingredients super fast! lol Only our ingredients weren't super odd, they were super delicious, and it was teamwork and the blessing of borrowing a big facility that made it somewhat super fast!


LOTS of ingredients...for cupcake batter and icing! 

Mmmmm...I have to say it WAS a little tempting not to sneak a taste with all the cupcake goodness everywhere! haha 
This was the first batch of Strawberry flavored cupcakes!

Lots of good conversation, teamwork, and fun while we worked and waited...

Who could resist the cookies 'n cream goodness made from all these Oreos?! 
Another delicious flavor choice!

Working hard! Look at all of those cupcakes!

Icing time!

Coffee flavored goodness...and more teamwork! 

I got the sprinkling job...too much fun! I was glad because I wasn't brave enough to do the "icing" part!

First few batches iced and ready to pack! :)

And what would the work be without a taste test?

I think they were a success!

So...why all the cupcakes? Well...over the past few months, I have had the blessing of reconnecting with some wonderful girls I knew in high school. And sharing the heart God has given us for taking His love to the world...from our hometown! These cupcakes were a part of a month-long fundraiser for the organization Sixty Feet inspired by some amazing kiddos here in our own nation! You can click on the first link to learn more about the precious children in Uganda who are being cared for and taken out of imprisonment conditions to see and experience the love and freedom of Christ. The second link tells the story of some amazing kids who decided to make a difference...and haven't stopped since! What an inspiration and an encouragement to see how we can all be used by God no matter what our age or where we live, even through something as fun as cupcake making! :) The cupcake funds went to help Sixty Feet, and by the end, there were over 90 dozen ordered! I was only able to help with the first few dozen, but what a blessing that was to me! I am thankful for the chance to reconnect and serve with new friends. Head on over here to read about how our cupcake project began! Thanks, Ashley, for sharing your heart and faith with me and many others!  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Roller Coaster...

As I typed that title, I heard it as a song...Isn't it an 80s song or something? Maybe 90s? Oh, says 1975, and I guess what google says, goes...I should've known it was an oldies song - most of my life soundtrack revolves around oldies songs. :)

Well, whatever year it was made, it definitely describes my life over the past many ups and downs. So many unexpected turns. So many chances to throw my arms up in the air and enjoy the ride...or close my eyes and wish for it to be over. I've done both.

A year ago today was a significant date for me in stepping on that roller coaster. Actually a little over a year ago, I made the decision to start the application process for the Journeyman overseas missions program, and THAT was a step toward the roller coaster, but April was really significant for me. One year ago today, the school board voted to close the building I was teaching in. It was a shock to everyone and a definite transition, but the hardest part came in waiting. Most teachers were placed into new positions for this year within the next week. There were no music openings, though, and I had to wait. And wait. And wait. Five weeks went by, and finally, I was placed for the new school year. I felt such a peace through that time, knowing it was in God's hands, and thanking Him for providing a job.

A year ago, I made a bold decision...more so than any I've ever made, and again I felt peace about my honesty in that situation. God has continued to bless that decision, and He has been faithful to maintain many factors in the situation. I'm so thankful for that.

So many other things have happened. God has challenged me. Helped me to grow. Put new friends in my life. Surrounded me by love and support. Challenged me more. Stretched me. (Ouch!) Asked me to trust Him more. Helped me to remember specific times He has provided and cared for me in the past. Called my heart so strongly to something, then called me to trust Him with that dream and desire as it belongs to Him and not me. And....the list can only go on.

So now - a year later, when I thought everything would be lined out just the way "I had planned..." God had other plans. A year later, when I thought I would be through the waters of uncertainty I was treading through then - here I am again. At the same place. In much the same situation. Uncertain of what my next year will hold. Hoping for so much, yet trying not to hope too hard. Seeing what it really means to have faith...and to follow through with that - not just say it.

I choose to throw my hands up, keep riding, and wait for God to stop the roller coaster. Or at least to take a small break and let me hop off. Yet when I think of the excitement in running toward a roller coaster, waiting in line, pushing through a crowd, anticipating the adventure to come...I long to run toward all that God has in store too. I ache to serve Him, trust Him, glorify Him, and know that He is God. He is a GOOD God, no matter what, and He is with me through all the ups and downs and the twists and turns.

Thank you God for the chance to take the ride of a that I think is just the first of many adventures I will take in this life you have given me! I throw my hands up in the air (sometimes, singin' heyyyy-oooo, common' let's go!) Sorry, I just had to add another song, though I probably mixed up a word or two! :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Things to do on a (not so warm or sunny) Spring Saturday morning...

-Sleep in!!
-Bake LOTS of cupcakes! (But more to come on that soon!)
-Apply to graduate school. (WHAT?!) Yep...I said it...and now you'll have more to read about that soon too!

Ooooh....are you in suspense yet? Because I certainly haven't composed a REAL blog post in a long time!
But - that will have to wait until later tonight/tomorrow, because now I'm off to another wonderful thing to do on a (not so warm but LOTS more sunny) Spring Saturday afternoon...
-Spend the evening with the son of close friends while they are out, and have fun playing the evening away! =)

Be back soon!

Monday, April 11, 2011


I think I've officially declared Mondays my "Me-Day"...or at least my "Me-Evening." I love the fact that I don't have any meetings after work, I can leave when I want to, I stop to exercise on my way home, then make the commute to my hometown and get there around 6:15 instead of 8:30-9:00 like most evenings.

I've also started doing things for myself on Mondays...
-Zumba class at Curves - super fun, though I'm super Baptist, and it shows! haha
-Reading a book - my plans are finished for the school week, so I have time to read for enjoyment!
-Walks - now that it is lighter longer, I can even go for a walk when I get home!
-Phone dates with friends - it's so good to catch up!'s just nice to have time. Commuting this year has made time a hard thing to manage, but on Monday nights, I have enough time to really enjoy it!

So, while the work-day can be hectic on Monday, I love the evening time! I love the "me" time I don't always get on other nights of the week. I like that I am finally understanding it's ok to do some things that I want to do...just for me. And I love that I am totally going to bed at 10:30 instead of 11:30 tonight!

Good Night, and Happy Monday! :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

An In Between Post...

I'm looking forward to summer so very much, will mean time off to really enjoy things like blogging again. Right now I feel fortunate if I get one post in a week. I'm still reading all the blogs I follow, even commenting...but even though I sometimes have ideas to write about - I can't seem to find the time and energy during the week. So - don't give up! I'll be back on the weekend, and I'll be in full swing this summer! I love writing, not that I claim to write anything super spectacular, will be so fun to enjoy it more often!

Here are a few little things until Saturday...

-First Grade program tomorrow evening! I have to admit I've been a little overwhelmed by having 101 kids this year and putting four classes together at one time successfully with full attention span - but...I am still proud of my kids and excited, because no matter what - they are first graders, and they will be excited too! :)

-WW Weigh-in Day today...-3lbs this week! (A surprise, actually...but a very nice one! lol...Total of -26.2 since Feb. 2010!)

-Short road trip to NW Arkansas last Saturday. Exploring options. Praying for the chance to have an option. Thanking the Lord for new found confidence and a positive experience. (More on all of this later.)

-34.5 days left in my third year of teaching. Third year...that is crazy. Super crazy.

-My kids were really engaged on was the first time almost all year I have truly felt like I was teaching them something they are "supposed" to know for our benchmarks...and they were getting it. It was a good feeling!

-It has almost been one year since my whirlwind of changes began and God started really showing me what it means to trust and wait. Also one year since I made a brave and bold choice that I am still really proud of and thankful for.

Ok, so that was a longer list than I expected, but now I'm looking forward to writing more and reflecting on all God has been doing. Have a blessed and joyful week, friends...I'll be back soon! :)