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. 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 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 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 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


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 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 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


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'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 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 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 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, 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!