Saturday, December 31, 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! 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!)

*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 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, 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!)

*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!! :)

*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

*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 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.

*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!)

*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 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!

*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!

*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 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 :)
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

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 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. 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''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, 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!