Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Today I am 27...

And I have so many things to say and write about! But for now I am much too tired, and I need to sleep. I wanted to post on my birthday, though, so I cheated and did a teeny tiny post. It was a great birthday, and I am so very blessed with friends and family who made me feel special today with fun, phone calls, and messages on Facebook. Be back soon! :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

You are Beautiful...

This letter is one I am writing from my heart today. It is hard for me to believe four years of teaching have almost passed. Sometimes I don't know if I've made an impact on my students at all. I think they know I care deeply about them, but since they move so frequently with the military it is hard to know if they will remember me or not. I pray if they do remember me, above all what will stick out in their mind is how much I cared, how full of joy my heart is (even when it's hard to show sometimes!), and how much I respect each and every one of them.

Today one of my sixth graders I've had the privilege of teaching since she was in third grade shared a poem in class. For the last day of music for the year I let the kids share a talent or something else they wanted to with everyone. This precious girl wrote a poem that I wish I could copy and write here. She didn't want to share it herself, but wanted another student to read it, which I allowed. You have to know, this young lady is very plain, not "popular," has no fancy clothing, and struggles with ADD, but works so hard to overcome many of the challenges and hard things in her life. The poem talked about these things - about how she is plain but she means something too. She talked about how she may not be the same with nice clothes and lots of friends, but one day she would have that many too. She talked about what makes her unique and how she wanted others to know that she exists. I think she reminds me a lot of myself when I was that age. She is also the girl I wrote about here

I don't usually write notes to individual students because I don't want to make others seem less important, but I had teachers in elementary school who took time to write me a note, and I still have them and read them once in awhile. I plan to write a short letter to this wonderful girl before she moves on to middle school at the end of this week. The letter here is more to reflect my heart, but I want her to know some of these things as I write to her too...

Dear Child of God,

I wish you could see how beautiful you are. I wish you could know how much you have touched my heart in the four years I have been blessed to be your teacher. Your smile lights up my day, and your quiet heart is so deep with care and compassion for those around you.

I knew from the moment I became your teacher there was something special about you and your constant desire to succeed and try hard at all you do. I still remember the day we were celebrating the third grade Christmas program by making stars with student names on them and you brought me a beautiful picture of the manger scene, asking me to hang your star above it instead of putting your name on the wall, because after all, that is where the star belonged. Your simple heart for Jesus was a humble reminder to me that day about the One who loves us more than anyone in the world, and continues to remind me each time I see it. I kept your artwork, and I want you to know, I hang it proudly every year at Christmas time and it makes me think of you.

The poem you shared today was brave, bold, and true. Your ability to share your thoughts and heart through writing will help you to express yourself both now and in the future. I admire your ability to write about your feelings and share them so openly. God knows that heart of yours and He will use that ability if you continue to write. Your thoughts are so important.

Middle school is going to be a new adventure, and some days will be a challenge. I pray you will hang in there and see yourself as the beautiful person you are. You are so intelligent, kind, and unique, and God created you to be just the young lady you are. Sometimes it's hard to see the best things about ourselves when we look in the mirror. Sometimes the most beautiful things about us are deep inside, and few people are fortunate enough to see them unless we open up and share with others. I pray many others will see the amazing person you are both inside and out. You will always be loved, and especially by the very One who created you.

I am so thankful God allowed me to be your teacher, but more than that I will always be grateful He made YOU a teacher to me. Thank you for being a part of my music class for the past four years.

With Love and Joy, Miss W.



Saturday, May 19, 2012

Six Years Ago

Six years ago, just about this time, I was lying in bed at the home of a college friend, trying hard to find sleep, knowing I would be up in just a few short hours getting ready to head to the airport. We spent several hours packing (and laughing a lot!), praying, and talking about what was ahead of us in the next three weeks. We had spent months preparing as a team and seeking God's will for us and for those we would meet. We made our packing list. We put everything in suitcases. We got shots. We read about the culture. We learned some simple words in the language. We did everything we could do to be ready - and the rest was in God's hands! So, as I tried hard to find sleep, instead my eyes stayed open in the darkness imagining...imagining what it would be like to fly across the world for my first time ever out of the United States. Imagining who I would meet and how I would share the Good News of Jesus with them. Wondering why God allowed someone like me to go on a trip like this. Excited to finally see, hear, taste, smell, and fully experience the culture I had been dreaming and praying about for a year since God put Africa on my heart.

I am still amazed at how God worked through that three week trip. The next morning I boarded a flight to Senegal West Africa where I would spend three weeks of my life that I will never forget. Where God would call me and confirm in me the passion and desire He has given me to serve in international missions. A calling I am still trusting Him with and praying for His perfect will and timing for.

There are so many words to describe the amazing ways God worked there - both in the lives of the people we met, and in my heart. The way he pieced so many things together for me and showed me the purpose of earlier experiences in my life leading to this one. Yet it is also hard to describe it in words. I love reading my journal again and again to see just what happened every day.

A piece of my heart is still in Africa. Since I left there, God has blessed me with the opportunity to travel on two other international mission trips and also to see Japan and Europe through other opportunities. He has deepened my desire to serve internationals and placed a special spot in my heart for one day going back to Africa and/or somewhere else in the world. I don't know if it will be a long-term or many short-term opportunities, but I do know I trust Him to show me what He sees fit.

I am so thankful that six years ago God took someone like me and worked through me in Senegal. It was only through His presence and prompting that I was able to serve in the ways I did. To Him be the glory! Here is a post I made two years ago (already?) with some pictures from the trip after four years had passed. I still can't believe it's been six now...


Friday, May 18, 2012

Honest...

I have been finding little ways to celebrate each day and haven't kept up with listing them via blog this week, but I'll try to catch up on those this weekend. I've decided that if I don't have a "celebration" (and even if I do) I should also think of something I'm thankful for each day. Looking forward to making that list too.

I'm going to be honest. I'm feeling really frustrated, tired, and annoyed with a lot of things right now. I am tired of the negativity of others around me. (I'm not perfect and not always positive, and that statement wasn't meant to make me sound like I am...like I said, I'm just being honest about where I'm at right now.) I'm ready for some change. And I'm at one of those points where I just want to go away somewhere for a day or two, be alone, and recharge my introverted side. It's hard staying positive when you're also trying to recharge negativity around you. I feel restless, and I feel like I've poured 110% of myself into others and neglected the most important thing to refuel myself...

Which leads me to the fact that I can pinpoint the exact reason for these feelings of overwhelmingness. I need to pray. To stop. To talk and most of all to listen. I need to dig deep into the Word and see what it is God has for me right now. Yes, I've been trying to pour "positive" into all the situations in my life, but I've been doing it on my own, and where my absolute human amount of "positive" stops, I've failed to ask the Lord for His joy and strength. I've held tightly onto the reigns and taken control where I need to let go. No, everything is not perfect when you are a Christian, and things are definitely not always easy, but oh how I seem to forget how much lighter the yoke is when I give things over to God and let Him pull me through. I feel so tired, frustrated, and mostly annoyed, and you know what - God knows that. But He also knows how it is when I yield to His presence and provision obediently and tell Him that, asking how He wants to help me through.

I'm praying I will not just write these words here but I will actually take time to stop, pray, and believe them. I need God to give me His yoke right now and give me rest. I don't think I can take anymore "negative."

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sweet Saturday...

I'm actually keeping up with the days this year! I know these haven't been the longest, deepest posts lately, but sometimes it's just good to look back and see how thankful I am for the little things! :)

Birthday Month Celebration #12 - Saturday morning with NO alarm clock and nowhere to be at any certain time. Ah, the joy of sleeping in! Then an afternoon in Rolla for a haircut, dinner and ice cream with a super friend, and...bright new socks, to wear when I'm running, and just for fun! (Sometimes having fun socks secretly motivates me more when I exercise! lol) It's been a blessed day! I also drove to Rolla and back the long way, windows rolled down, breeze blowing in, music turned up, and the sweet smell of honeysuckle and spring...it was so good!


Already enjoying the new socks! :) Also the quilt behind them makes me smile because it was my birthday gift from my mom and dad last year! 

Hope your Saturday was blessed and joyful too! I'm so looking forward to summer after the beautiful day today and the preview of sweet freedom from schedules, obligations, and other things. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Little Celebrations...

Even with the busy week, the birthday celebrations have continued. Trying to have fun and enjoy something about every day!


Tuesday - Day #8 - Drove the long way home with the windows down, spring breeze blowing in and music turned up...ah, summer is just around the corner!


Wednesday - Day #9 - Took pictures of the clouds....they were so, so, so pretty, and the sky was so blue! (Wanted to include a pic here, but for some reason my camera is having trouble uploading the pics!) ***Got them to work today!***


Thursday - Day #10 - Frozen yogurt with my roomie to celebrate our end of the year programs and me finishing my graduate courses for the semester....Yes, I'm FINISHED!! Hooray!


Today - Day #11- Double Bonus! :) Friday pizza night in Rolla with my roomie and adopted fam, AND I bought some pretty nail polish today - just because! (Plus it was on sale buy one/get one 1/2 off, AND I finished my graduate courses, so I counted it as a birthday celebration and a little treat for making it through all the hard work this semester!)


Happy Weekend! I'm excited to finally have time to write for real again soon!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Day #7! :)

Fun "me" celebration #7 - Fresh polish on the fingers and toes! I love this spring/summer sandal weather! :)
(This picture was actually taken on Spring Break in March...I was super excited to get out my Chacos I bought last summer for a new year!) 


Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Day We Were Famous...

God Bless America


video

So I've never tried uploading a video on here before, and I don't really upload anything onto youtube, but here is my group of famous kiddos who sang God Bless America at the Springfield Cardinals baseball game last week! We didn't know 'til we got there it would be a capella, and they couldn't really hear me for a starting note, so....I just said a little prayer, counted to four, and off we went! I think they did a great job, and they were so excited! I love it at the end when one of the kids says, "We were on the BIG screen!" 

I survived my first real field trip and major public performance in my four years of teaching! :) 



Fun Things

Well, I said it would be a little hard to keep up with the birthday month celebrations, and I might miss a day or two...and I said sometimes I have to be "creative" in finding what will be the fun part of my day...but here's my update for the last few days!

Thursday - Day #3 -  Coffee and "me" time

Friday - Day #4 - (I was finishing a paper, staying up late, working all day, and slightly stressed out, but....) I stayed home, made a pizza, and finished my paper - turning in that paper - my biggest project of the semester worth 110 pts was a celebration in itself! ha

Saturday - Day #5 - I ran another 5K!! This time it was our school district's annual wellness event with a 2 mile walk/5K run. There were even hills, which I didn't know to expect...and I didn't walk! My time was 35:49, 15 seconds longer than my first 5K a few weeks ago, but for having so many hills this time, I felt good that I was so close to that time and still within my goal of no walking and staying under 36 minutes. Hooray! Here's a picture of our awesome Wood Elementary group - who happened to win the trophy for most participation (aka most awesomeness! lol)



Today, Sunday - Day #6 - Going to have dinner with one of my best friends in Rolla. We try to get together once a week. I love our talks and laughs, and am so glad God has put us close together again for the past few years!

Still so much on my mind to write about - I should probably start a list of ideas so I don't forget! Fourteen more days of teaching school for the year, and three more days of graduate coursework for the semester! (Taking the summer off, and I think I will enjoy the break!)

Happy Sunday to you!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Five Minutes of Fame!

Today I had my very first "for real" field trip of my teaching career...and my very first big deal public performance! My fourth graders got to sing God Bless America at the Springfield Cardinals baseball game. It was a fun (and long and hot!) day, and they did a great job. (We found out when we got there we would be singing a capella, and why it had not dawned on me at any point in the last month to practice this way "just in case" I have no idea! But - I just said a quick prayer, counted to four, and....we sang! lol) Here's a picture - not my best side, but then, that's one of the joys you get when you're a music teacher - you always have to think about how the back of you looks instead of the front! haha


Birthday Month Day #2 - Today's birthday celebration was sharing "five minutes of fame" with my wonderful kiddos! They really are super stars in my eyes! :)



Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It's May!

Happy Birthday Month to me!

Yep, I said month! A couple years ago I decided, having a birthday at the end of the month, it would be fun to celebrate something small every day until the 30th. So - I set out to find 30 fun things to do once May came. Nothing big or fancy - just little things to enjoy in each day. I did the same last year, and though I missed a day or two and sometimes had to get creative to think of something I had done during the day and "make" it into my fun celebration, I still enjoyed it!

So - May is here! And my birthday is in 29 more days (May 30.) And I will be 27 years old this year. (Which a friend and co-worker who happens to be on the way to 26 this year told me is finally when you become and "adult." Thanks, friend...whatever you say! haha Just remember, you'll be there next year!)

Anyway - I decided it would be ok to take a break from homework to tell what I did today that I consider celebration/special.

Birthday Month Day #1 - I enjoyed a low-fat strawberry smoothie at Panera! (And it happened to be a FABULOUS treat after my other accomplishment for the day....running FOUR miles!!)

Yep - I am so excited! I tried a new route today recommended by a runner friend, who told me it was 2 miles long...and I pushed hard and ran the whole thing twice! I was certainly not fast by any means, but I was pretty consistent...and I finished without walking...and there were a few small hills which makes it an even bigger accomplishment to me!

Here's to 29 more days of celebrating me! (I think it's ok to celebrate yourself sometimes...I think we don't do it enough!) Happy May! :)