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'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 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 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."

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 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 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, 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 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?"

" 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


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

"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! :)