Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Confessions From Wal-Mart

1- You know you've put off grocery shopping too long when you run into a wonderful co-worker and mother from school who comments about how your carts are "backwards..." hers (for a whole family) holding three or four bags, and mine (for just me) overflowing! lol

2- I seriously considered asking the man behind me if I could go to his house and eat dinner tonight when I saw some kind of good looking meat and a bag of charcoal on the counter behind my groceries...Mmmmm....barbecue! I wish I had a grill - and knew how to use it!

3- The "sample" people got me today. But really - who couldn't resist buying fresh fruit after one man served little cups of strawberries and the woman served a cup of shortcake covered in blackberries, strawberries, and whipped topping? I did not give in and buy the whipped topping and shortcake, although it was very tempting! I did, however, go back for strawberries and least the samples today were healthy influences, right? :) Mmmmmm....further evidence that summer vacation needs to get here and SOON! I'm already craving fresh fruit, ice cream, grilling (anyone with a grill want to be become good friends this summer? lol), and so much more!

4- I didn't buy anything from the clearance aisle! lol

5- I might have bought a few things that weren't on my list...


God blessed my heart through the talents and joy of children in many ways today. First as I got to see our Team Kid group lead worship with their musical this morning, and later this afternoon as I visited the district art show and got to see the artwork of students from our building and many others across our district.

I say that I got to "see our Team Kid group lead worship..." but really what I should say is, I worshiped with the Team Kid group as they led! Wow - how humbling to see a group of children in grades K-5 lead our congregation through the musical, "Hallelujah! What a Savior!" To see the joy on their faces, to sing along with them, to hear them boldly proclaim Scripture and truth about God's perfect love demonstrated to us through His Son Jesus Christ. God spoke to my heart about how important it is to pray for the children and youth in our world today - here and around the globe. They are the future, and we are helping to shape them each day. Wow...what a responsibility God has put into our hands...especially as Christians. I love the faith of children that is sometimes so simple, yet so honest...and so trusting. Thank you, Team Kid, for being an example to me today.

To all the children and teenagers in our school district who had artwork on display today - I know none of you will read this - but I am thankful for the work you do each day at school...and for sharing your talent and work with all of us who had the privilege of seeing it today, and will see it as it is on display this month.

I am so thankful God has given me the opportunity to be a part of the lives of children each day! What a privilege, joy, and responsibility! I look forward to one day having my own children to raise in addition to the many children I teach and learn from each day at work!

"Children are a gift from the Lord. They are a reward from Him." -Psalm 127:3

Friday, March 23, 2012

"Yet you Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are the work of your hand."
-Isaiah 64:8

I am so humbled when I think about how very much God does to shape me into the person I am. I am in awe when I consider even the finest details He plans, molds, flattens, then shapes again. Like my heart.

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." -Psalm 37:4

I've known for a long time that I wanted to be a teacher. And I knew throughout college that I would be a music teacher. Despite the challenges of surviving a music degree program having had no real academic-based music training before going, and learning to practice a million hours a day, and so much more...I just knew in my heart that I would teach music. Then God developed my passion for internationals, for service, for missions, and for ESL ministry. And I began to think my biggest purpose would be to one day live internationally and be a missionary somewhere around the world. And that might still be in store. I definitely have that passion to serve in short-term opportunities. But...

God has taken my heart into His hands and reshaped it yet again. He has reminded me that teaching is where I was called first. And that music is what I love. Often the reason I feel most doubtful about this calling is because I doubt myself and question my (lack of?) knowledge, (in-?)ability to teach effectively, and (still?) developing classroom management skills.

Today I was thinking, though. I love that I get to teach almost 550 children each week. I love that I get to talk with them and interact with them and care for them. I love that I am able to show them respect and model (hopefully!) a positive attitude and kind, encouraging words. I believe in them. I can't think of another mission field I would rather be serving on right now. There are so many needs to be met here, and so much joy and hope to be shared with these kiddos God has entrusted me with. He has taken my heart's desire to love, serve, and reach others, and put it right in front of me. Well, maybe it has been right in front of me for awhile (almost four years!), and I'm just now beginning to open my eyes and see the plans that He has for me right now.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. -Jeremiah 29:11

Most days I don't feel like clay in a potter's hands. I feel like a stubborn mess, wanting to make my own plans and have control of all that goes on as well as the purpose I have each day. But, even when I fall to the ground like a shattered work, God picks up the pieces again, and creates something even more beautiful...a mosaic that makes up my life and who I am. I am reminded that He is constantly at work, and he NEVER, ever gives up on me. Or you. His love is everlasting...100%!

And so, today I'm thankful that God has put 550 kids in my care each day. And I pray I will do my best to serve on the mission field He has blessed me with, right here. I pray that I will trust His hands to continue molding and shaping me into His image. There is such joy resting in His will!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Random Letter Thursday

Another random letter blog entry...after all, it has been awhile since I've had a letter entry...and I promise these are as random as always - so here's a little of what's floating around inside my mind right now...

Dear Spring - I'm so glad you're here. Your beautiful weather, flowers, blooms, trees, and sunshine make my days feel so bright!

Dear Daylight Savings Time - I am glad you came! First - I'm glad you happened over Spring Break so I could get used to the change...and second - the extra daylight makes me feel like I can conquer the world!

Dear Exercise - I'll admit it's been easy to make excuses this week to avoid you...but I'm glad for the days I haven't given into the excuses.

Dear Music Teacher from Somewhere Else in Missouri - I am glad I found your blog. (And a bunch of other great teacher blogs from Pinterest too!) But I was even more glad when I watched a video you posted of your older students, and two girls at the front of the class kept making faces and weird gestures on camera. It helped me realize that, even really experienced teachers have squirrelly kids! :)

Dear Beatrice - It's just under a year 'til you and I become permanent friends. We've been road tripping together for almost five years now, but I've been working hard to pay you off for three of those years...and I'm about to start on the last year's payments next week! Eleven more to go, and I'll be a car owner!!

Dear Sports - I wish I understood you! lol But for now I'll just settle for nodding my head and smiling when other people talk about you and being ok with the fact that I may never be a true sports fan...ha

Dear Hockey - On that note - I feel like I have a secret inner-hockey fan inside me waiting to come out! :) I once got to go to a minor league game with my brothers and cousins in high school, and I was hooked. The guys got in a fight on the ice, and I thought it was so cool. I've wanted to go to another game ever since then. I just might go one of these days...and you might be the first and only sport I've ever tried to understand and like!

Dear Kids - I meant what I said today about choosing your attitude. Sometimes I'm not very good at that. But - I try my best. When I am doing something or going somewhere I'd rather not be, I still have to be there, so I figure there are only two there and be miserable and negative the whole time, or be there and choose to have a good attitude so the time hopefully goes by in a quicker and better way. I wish I could make you all love music, and I wish I were better at planning lessons for the upper grades - I am still learning/working on that part. But....attitude is a big part of everything in life, and so are choices about how your attitude affects you and others. You are the only one with the power to choose what that will look like.

Dear Grad School - We're doing ok together. You've been a little overwhelming this semester, but at the same time, I've learned to pick and choose what I stress over, and to realize in eight weeks, I'll have completed my first 9 hours of graduate credit ever....and it will be paid for in full! One more payment left this semester!

Dear Appetite - Why are you so weird this week? And so BAD? I'm thinking it's not a healthy thing to crave chocolate every day and only eat crackers, cheese, and hummus for dinner. Weird, huh? And yes - I've given into the chocolate cravings too. I even bought the super chocolatey milk at the store and drank it all too...yikes!

Dear - Jogging (super slow) - I've missed you a lot since my Cross Country days, and my college afternoons...I've wanted to start again for a long time but have been afraid to hurt my knees. But - I think I've decided a gradual and careful reintroduction won't be so bad...Here's to the 1 mile I've been running every couple of days over the past week!

Dear Teaching License - I just got the paperwork yesterday to apply super real, permanent certificate! I will have completed the four initial years of teaching, and will have a certificate to last for 99 more years. It's good to know that I'm good to go until I'm 126 years old! :) (P.S. - I can't believe it's ALREADY been four years!)

Dear Friendship - You are such a good thing, and a good place to be. I'm thankful God has given me so many friendships here and far away, new, and long-lasting. I am thankful for friends who make me laugh, friends I can talk to, honest friends, Christian friends, encouraging friends, chocolate-sharing friends, and that feeling of knowing friendship with a person is meant to be.

Dear Piano Rock - Who knew?! I'm excited to have a friend this year who has introduced me to a whole new genre of music I never really noticed or thought about before! I think I could listen to you all've been trying to practice piano a little more - maybe this will be motivation for me to practice ALL the time and become a piano rock star! :) (After I become a girl rock star drummer first, of course!)

Dear Heart - God has been working and changing you a lot over the past year. I'm amazed every day at how differently I see and think about things than I did before. I still have such a desire and a passion to serve others and do mission work...but I feel like God is giving me such purpose here right now. When I think about the 550 kids I get to teach and talk to every day...I pray often that, even though I can't always talk openly about my faith, they will see that in my actions and words. I think it is so important to be respectful to them and not to lose my temper or yell...I am also learning how inconsistent and difficult many of their lives are - even more than I can even imagine. So - I am thankful God has opened my eyes to a mission field here...and so excited to be a part of it every day!

Dear Fun Spring/Summer Dresses - I love looking at you when I'm online and seeing you in the stores. It makes me wish Summer were here already and has me longing for Friday nights at the Muny in St. Louis with friends! It's so fun to dress up and go somewhere exciting!

Dear Friday/Saturday - I sure am glad Friday is almost here! And I sure am glad that means I get to sleep in on Saturday! It's been a long week coming back from Spring Break!

Dear Germany - You are still so far away, and my parents are too. I miss them a lot! But, I'm thankful for phone conversations and e-mail!

Dear Singleness - Sometimes it's hard to be single at this time in my life. I always thought I would graduate high school, go to college, get married, then start work and a family. That's how it works, right? Ummm...guess not. At least not for me. But I'm learning to be thankful for this time. I'm seeing that God has given me a lot of opportunities to watch and learn from other couples, parents, and families. He has given me free time to enjoy just taking care of me and time to learn about my job, my passions and desires in life, and my ability to travel and enjoy time how I choose. I know one day I will look back on this time and miss it too, although I pray I will also be thankful for the next season in my life as it comes. So...being single isn't so bad. God knows. He's got a plan better than I could make, myself!

Dear Blue - You are totally still my favorite color! I love, love, love things in (most shades of) blue!

Dear Camera - I miss our time together. I've been taking way less pictures than usual lately, and I'm not really sure why. I'll have to fix that soon!

Dear Bright Neon Socks - You make me want to put on my tennis shoes with you and exercise with your bright fun-ness! :)

Dear St. Louis Teachers Recycle Center - You are one of the coolest stores I've ever found. What a great idea, and how fun for kids and teachers to come and see what "treasures" they can find and re-use. I'll be back again!

Dear Encouragement Cards - I've enjoyed so much, writing again lately! It's been too long since I've just made the time to sit down and do that. It has been really fun to surprise other people with little, unexpected notes during the week. I love looking for positive and encouraging things to share with them!

Dear Random Letters - I'm sure there are more that I will remember later, but for now, I guess it's good night to everyone who read them! I promise (hope) to write some more real blog posts again soon! :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Managing Blog Subscriptions...

Ok expert blogger friends -

I am subscribing to more and more blogs...especially some super awesome music teacher sites I found through Pinterest! :) But...up to now I've just viewed them all on my "dashboard" thing here on the Blogger site. When you update your blog, it shows up at the top of my list in the window with newest update at the top. Generally I just scroll through each day and click on the updated ones to read.

So - my question is...I know lots of people use Google Reader, and I clicked on a link and went there - I even saw my blogs listed, do I organize them?

If I continue using just the dashboard here - is there a way to group them? Like Music Ed, Friends, Faith, etc...? Or on Google Reader? I just know it is going to be a lot to scroll through each day if I continue leaving them in a random order on my dashboard here.

I want to organize and be sure I don't miss out on any of your great posts! Help, please?...


Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring Break Fun!

Can you tell Springtime is here?! 

I could spend all day looking at the beautiful blooms God is painting the trees with once again!

This year Spring Break fell at the perfect time! The weather has been BEAUTIFUL! 
In the 70s all week with plenty of sunshine, and only a little rain. 
And with that kind of weather, who couldn't resist a little outdoor fun? roommate and I packed up and headed to St. Louis for a day-trip on Tuesday!

First stop - World's Largest Rocking Chair...just a few miles past my hometown! 
(We resisted the urge to stop just for kicks at the Vacuum Cleaner Museum there, 
but we'll make it one of these days! haha)

Also a perfect day for a picnic lunch outside at Forest Park! 
I'm SO excited it's time to bring out my Chaco sandals, painted toenails, and shorts again!
I also decided to be a little silly and adventurous and "climb" the tree we ate underneath! :) 

We saw lots of animals out enjoying the sunshine! 
Hippos, penguins, camels, and zebras, among many others! 
Well...the penguins weren't in the sun, but they were enjoying their cool, indoor habitat!

We're both teachers, so of course we ALWAYS follow the rules...*ahem* ;)

More beautiful and amazing color, up close!

Ok - so I'm lookin' a little over-enthusiastic about the sea lions, I admit. 
But I have a friend who says they are the most "underrated" in the animal kingdom.
Everyone always goes to see them at the zoo, but when you ask people what their favorite animal is, no one ever says sea lions. What's up with that?! 

And finally - what better way to end a fantastic day than St. Louis' own Ted Drewe's Frozen Custard?!
Apparently it is quite a staple around there...and E was nice enough to introduce me to it!
I may have to plan another visit there soon, when summer comes! :)
(Don't tell our moms we ate ice cream before dinner again! haha)

I'm thankful God has given me a week off to rest, relax, play outside, have fun, read what I want to, spend time with friends, and so much more! I also got to visit my siblings and their families in Springfield the first weekend, and my aunt in St. Louis area this weekend! We even fit in a dinner with our two adopted-international students in Rolla! I don't regret staying in the area and not traveling too far at all. Sometimes a break is just what is needed to refresh my heart and prepare me to go back and be the best I can for my kids at school each day. I can honestly say I'm looking forward to heading back on Monday, but I'm really looking forward to Summer vacation now! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It's Good.... be me!

I wrote not too long ago about being the person I am...and what that means to me.

I have to say - it takes a lot for me, a person , most people, I truly like who they are. Everyone has some kind of insecurity, and if you are the one person in the world who does not have anything you would change about yourself...I would like to meet you. And find out what your secret is. And applaud you. But - I bet the truth is, you might secretly have something you wouldn't mind changing about yourself.

Finding out who I truly am has been a lifelong process. I mean, I think we are all always growing, changing, and becoming the people God created us to be, whether we are aware of His hand in that, or not. And I will continue to do that. But the past year has been the biggest growing experience I have ever had in my twenty-six (Almost twenty-seven already? Yikes!) years of life. I have spent a lot of time praying, seeking wisdom and counsel from other Christians, and truly looking at myself inside and out. And while I will always be able to find something about myself I would like to change, I have something to say that is kind of a big deal a HUGE deal for me.

I like who I am.

I don't know that I ever thought I would be able to say those words. Especially not out loud, in public, or on a blog for everyone to see. I am finally beginning, not to just say I see myself through God's eyes, but to believe it. To stop myself in those negative self-talk instances and ask why I'm thinking about myself in that negative way. I'm understanding that it's ok not to be perfect, and that no one really expects me to be. I don't have to meet unrealistic self-set expectations. I am becoming thankful for the time of life God has given me as a teacher, daughter, sister, friend, aunt, single person, and any other things you might think of, and also thanking Him for what He has in store for matter what it might be. I am learning to speak His truth from Scripture and fill my mind with His words when mine want so desperately to take over and put myself down.

I will always have anxious moments/hours/days. And I will not always jump for joy when I look in the mirror. I am normal! But...I am an individual worth knowing. I am a teacher who cares 110% about the kids God has given me to reach out to each day. I am a friend who loves to spend time and build relationships with others. I am a daughter, sister, and aunt who is blessed by the family who challenges me to learn and grow constantly through their Christian examples. I am a mistake maker. I am a single person who has time now to explore the world on my own and enjoy the time God has given me to take care of myself...yet know with hope, that He has a plan and purpose for me in the future to share my life with someone else. I am a child of God, loved unconditionally, and made unique in the Creator's image.

I don't have a magic step-by-step process for getting to this point. There will be constant work ahead as I live in the world, and I know it is so easy to fall into the pit of disbelief and discontentment. But God is good....all the time! I'm saying all of these things, not to brag. Not to say how I'm a person any better than anyone else. But to share the amazing power and blessing that has come in finding assurance through Christ that I am who He has created me to be. What joy! How can I not share that with the world?! Life is a lot more fun when you can enjoy who you are created to be. If you are reading this, you matter, and God made you are an amazing person. I hope you'll be able to say these words one day with truth as well, "I like me!"

Random Thoughts From the Zoo...

And I'm not referring to my mind as the zoo, although it certainly feels that way sometimes...haha

Yesterday my roommate and I went to the St. Louis Zoo. It was such a beautiful day outside - God couldn't have blessed us with more amazing weather to enjoy a Spring Break day!

Of course it was busy on a pretty Spring day, and there were many families and children of all ages walking with parents, taking in the sights. And I just started to wonder...when you are a mom, do you just become less selfish?

I've heard many people I know say once you become a mother, your heart changes. You love in a way you never could have imagined before. You do anything you can to protect, nurture, educate, and love your children, and they are forever yours. Some have also said, though it's hard sometimes, you just learn to put your children first. So...I'm sure that it's a little of both - part of it is just natural, and part of it you have to work at like any relationship in life.

It's a feeling I can't imagine right now, though, because honestly...I don't even know what it feels like to share my time, energy, thoughts, etc. with a significant other. So far - life has been all about me. Not that I only think about me - I love serving others, doing mission work, getting to know people, building relationships with friends, and teaching/loving/caring for 550 children every day. far as the things I do outside of my job - the ways I spend money, what I save for, girls' nights out, "me" time, what I read, watch, etc., traveling....and the list goes on - I really only have to stop and think, "Do I have time or money to do that right now? " or "Do I feel like going there today?" or "I think the laundry can wait another day..." Just so many different things that only affect me.

I also wondered, as I watched the parents interact with their children - will I be a mom who teaches my kids each day? Will I seek learning opportunities anytime I can and encourage them to explore and grow? Will I let them make mistakes and learn from them, or will I try to do everything for them? Will I be a stay-at-home mom, or will I want/need to work? Will I be a mom who puts my kids in front of the t.v. all the time because I'm too tired or don't feel like making the effort to play/teach? (I'm not judging parents who allow t.v. time - no worries! I'm more concerned that I will use that as an "all-the-time" excuse to not do other things...)

So, moms out there - do you become less selfish when you are a wife/mother? Is it hard to balance yourself and the needs of others?

I feel like right now I'm too selfish to be a mom. But...I also feel like God will ease me into that transition from "only me/selfishness" to slowly sharing myself with a best friend/life-mate, to sharing our time with a child/children...maybe it's just another one of those things that happens and you don't even realize it, then you look back and say - Wow! Look how God has changed me/my heart and blessed me with a family I could never have imagined myself?

Who knew going to the zoo could bring on so many thoughts... :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Little Glimpse...

Teaching on a military base means lots of moves in and out - lots of wonderful kiddos who, unfortunately have to leave after knowing them for just a short time, and the chance to meet a lot of great new kids as they move into the district too. Sometimes, I also get the rare chance to have a student for multiple years. It seems so odd to me that I've now been teaching almost four complete years, and that I can even have students who have been with me for "multiple" years...but it's true! And a small few, maybe 5-10 students, have been with me since my very first year at my very first school. Even after it was closed down and combined with my current school, some of them are still with me!

So...Friday was a hard day when one of my amazing kiddos I've had all four years, since she was in first grade - had to move away. She'd been reminding me since January that the day was coming up, and that she was really going to miss me. And I got to thinking this week - I'm really the only consistency she's had in teachers since coming here in 2008. With a new classroom teacher each year, and multiple Art and P.E. teachers, no wonder she really felt secure in my classroom. And I felt honored to be important to her.

I guess this is the first time I've gotten to see the long-term impact I've had on one of my students. I think she truly knows I cared about her and that I believe in her, no matter where she goes. And I hope she'll take that with her and remember for years to come that she is a super young in fourth grade!

I look back, and I remember so many of the teachers who influenced my life. I've always wanted to be like them - to have students look back one day and remember how much I cared about them. And I've often wondered, working on a military base if that would ever be possible since I see so many children for different lengths of time. But - I am thankful God allowed me a glimpse this week of just one life I've touched so far. I pray there will be many more!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Just for Me Monday...

I am thankful for a job where I have enough leave time to cover sickness, appointments, etc. But one of the things I find myself most thankful for every year are our three "personal business" days. If we don't use them, they just roll into sick leave for the next year, so it's not like we lose them...but I always think, at least at this point in my life where I don't have a family of my own and the possibility of needing sick days to help care for others, I should use them for me. Sometimes you just need some "me" time.

So today, I did just that!

I had no agenda. I thought it might be nice to catch up on some things for my grad classes and finish my lesson plans for the week, but I also agreed with myself that if I didn't complete all of those things today, I would be ok with that because, after all, it is a "me" day. And that means relaxing. And not having unrealistic expectations. And enjoying doing things that I would not normally do on a school day.

How did I use my first "me" day of the year?

I slept in.
I read my Bible and talked to God.
I made coffee, and a for real breakfast - omelette with cheese and green peppers!
I called my mom in Germany and talked to her for almost an hour.
I sent a long e-mail to my Granny and received one back. Oh how I love talking with her - in person especially, but in writing when we can't be together!
I drove to a nearby town to get a haircut, browse in a clothing store (where I used self-control and realized I didn't really need anything right now, anyway, but it was just nice to have time to
And....of course I went to Panera, where I am sitting and enjoying my "Pick 2 Lunch" some music, a Diet Pepsi, and some time to blog and read others' blogs.

Here's a picture of the (not so) new haircut...(I'm pretty boring, and I get the same thing every time, but I like it that my hair stylist knows just how I like it, and it always feels so good to get that extra length/soon-to-be mullet taken off! haha)

Today I'm thankful for good friends, time for fun, new experiences, and a "me" day! :) 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saturday Success...

Success for me on this Saturday morning (now turned afternoon...) is the fact that I got out of bed, even though my whole body was at that super tired, hit by a truck, type feeling...and going to exercise anyway! Even before I made coffee! lol And - I also need to add that if I had any doubt I love working out at Curves - it was gone this morning when I was able to go there with hair slightly (ok a little more than slightly) messy from sleep, and no make-up (not that I usually put on make-up just to work out, but still...) and know that no one there would even care. (I like that it is an all women's gym, big buff guys to impress today! haha) And sure enough - I walked in and Laura and Louise, two of my favorite ladies who work and exercise there, encouraged me with smiles and conversation as I gathered the motivation to make it around the machines in my super-sleepy, less than appealing appearance, Saturday morning state. Oh sweet Saturday success!

Saturday success also means that (after I got home and made my Saturday coffee!) I got to spend over a solid hour just sitting, praying, and reading my Bible. I would like to say that I spend this much time every day. Of course I want to. And of course I should. reality it doesn't happen that way. I am, however, doing a much better job at realizing the importance of starting every morning with prayer as I prepare for the day (even while I'm doing things I just talk to God...) and at least a short devotional or some verses to start my day. I know Bible study and prayer shouldn't be just something we "do" or "check off," but my point is - starting my day off with even a small portion is better than making no effort at all. I feel a lot less anxiety going into my day knowing that God is with me and He cares about every detail. Which leads me to the fact that I've been seeing God in little things a lot lately. And thanking Him for that. Sometimes I think I get so stuck in trying to see God in His provision for the big deals that I fail to see and thank Him for just helping me make it through that one hour at school, or a safe drive to work, or for the sunshine during bus duty, for a body that is healthy enough to exercise, for friends at work this year...and many other things that are part of each day. I love that God knows and cares for each of us, more than we will ever fully understand.

Saturday success is knowing that I made it through a long week with many challenges - and especially one that started off with a less than ideal situation. But again, God gave me the grace, peace of mind, and strength I needed to make it through that, and my week went on. But - thank goodness for weekends!

Saturday success is knowing that I am a seed planter and a waterer in sharing Him with others, but only God can "grow" the seeds that have been planted and watered in life. My role is to be open and willing to share Him with others however He calls me to do so. Whether through encouraging words and thoughts both written and spoken, prayer, an invitation to church, a word about how he has blessed me, service to someone else in need or enjoying helping "just because," and so many other ways. God doesn't always require a big speech, a preaching degree, or some other "loud" proclamation. He does use those things, and when He asks them of me, I pray I will be ready and open to how He will work through me in a "louder" way, but He also calls us to be ourselves. And my prayer is that each day I will seek Him in things both big and small, have a heart that is open and sensitive to how He wants me to show His joy and presence in my life, and that I will trust Him to do the "growing" part in others' lives. My Bible study this morning was about that, and oh how real and applicable it was to me. I'll write another post on that soon.

I pray you are having a blessed and joyful Saturday too!