Wednesday, November 21, 2012


This month is the Thanksgiving holiday, and while I'm thankful all year, I'd like to post a daily thing I am thankful for this month. I'm starting a few days late, and I may miss a day, but that's ok. I'll just make it up when I can! :) Actually, most people are doing this on their facebook statuses, but for some reason I'm kind of stubborn and when I see everyone else doing something, I don't want to do it that

Day 1 - Salvation. I am thankful I have Christ in my life and I am a child of God. I am thankful for the family and teachers who instilled this Truth in my life at a young age and continued to pour into me throughout my life.

Day 2 - Family. I am thankful God placed me in a big family with four siblings, loving and caring parents, a solid Christian foundation, and has now blessed me with eleven nieces and nephews and awesome brothers and sisters in law.

Day 3 - Learning. I am thankful for a lifetime of learning. For getting to grow up in school, the ability to attend and graduate college, and for continued chances to learn through colleagues and professional development at school, and for working on my masters degree right now.

Day 4 - Washer/Dryer - I'm thankful for having both of these in my apartment. Many people around the world don't have machines for this, and many people here don't have them at home and have to take their laundry somewhere and pay to wash and dry it all. I am thankful for the convenience of having it available here.

Day 5 - My passport - I'm thankful I've had the opportunity to travel many places around the world and look forward to many more trips throughout my life.

Day 6 - Pictures - I'm thankful for pictures to look at that help save and bring back memories.

Day 7 - My boyfriend. He is caring and fun, silly and serious, smart, and passionate about his faith and desire to share Christ with others. He loves to study and share theology in a way that is understandable to others. I am thankful that God knew just what I desired and so much more when he brought us together this summer.

Day 8 - My body and my health. I've had the worst year so far in my five years of teaching for being sick. I haven't had anything too serious, thankfully - just a fever, allergies, laryngitis, an inner ear infection, and some fatigue. But...I could have something so much worse. And I could be unable to feel or understand what it is like to be well when I am. So...I'm thankful for the way God has made my body and for the medical care I have available when I am sick.

Day 9 - Laughter. I am thankful for friends and family who make me laugh, even when I least want to. I'm thankful for funny pictures, t.v. shows, movies, books, etc. Life wouldn't be as fun without it.

Day 10 - My church family - I am thankful for the family I have now at Westside Baptist, for the people who know my name and seek to learn more about me, even when I don't always know who they are. For the chance to serve and grow, and to be encouraged by others there. I'm also thankful for church families of my past - for FBC Arkadelphia, my family away from home during college, for FBC Rolla where I grew up through my teenage and college years, and for other churches I've been a part of since birth. I am thankful I was raised in a home that taught me about the importance of having and serving a church family.

Day 11 - My job - I'm thankful I have the opportunity to teach and serve almost 500 children every day. I am thankful for the fun of teaching music and the variety of teaching so many ages and grade levels, with different groups every day. I'm thankful that my job is a mission field, and for the care and encouragement I get to share with my kids. I'm thankful God has called me to work with children full-time, and for the many great co-workers I have as well.

Day 12 - My car - I'm thankful to have a vehicle to get me where I need to go and gas for its tank. I'm thankful I will be finished paying for it in just four months, and for the first time in my life I will own a dependable vehicle that I have paid for myself. I am thankful for the many road trips I've been able to take with it as well!

Day 13 - Books/Reading - Though I don't get much time at all to read what I want to for fun anymore, I am thankful I know how to read, and that I can choose what I want to read when I have time! I am thankful for teachers, parents, and siblings who instilled a love for reading in me from a young age through summer reading club at the library, bedtime stories, classroom reading, and programs like Book-it and 600 Minutes when I was in elementary school.

Day 14 - Fun - I'm so thankful for the many times I've had "fun" in my life. Sometimes it's a game night with friends or a simple date night "in," sometimes a vacation, laughing with family, a great lesson at school, or some "me" time. But - lately I've almost forgotten what it is like. Sometimes being stressed out with so many things going on at one time can cause me to forget what fun is like or feel like nothing will be fun again...but I'm thankful to know these times are temporary, and fun will come again.

Day 15 - Music - It really does make up my life. I love playing music (percussion!), singing, listening to recordings, going to concerts, teaching it to my kids at school, and making it a part of my life every day. The sounds of music as well as lyrics of many songs touch my heart, and I love the way it is so universal around the world.

Day 16 - Writing - I am thankful for the desire to write. I love to blog, write cards and letters, and write grants for school. Though I wish I made more time for it, I still love the freedom and joy that it brings, and the ways I'm able to encourage and help others through it!

Day 17 - A sister and brother-in-law visit - At the risk of getting in trouble for singling out one sibling, I first want to say I'm thankful for all four of my brothers and sisters and my brothers and sisters in-law. God has blessed me so much with siblings who care about me and who I looked up to so much when I was little and still do now as an adult. I love the way that each of them means something to me in a different and unique way. But today I want to share how thankful I am for my sister Carrie and getting to visit with her this weekend. She is like a best friend to me and someone I can talk to, laugh with, be laughed at by (only she's allowed to do that too! haha), and ask for advice. She has made a lot of time to spend with me over the years as I've grown up and continues to support me and encourage me in many different ways. I'm thankful she came to visit this weekend with her husband Michael and that I've gotten to spend some time with them.

Day 18 - Siblings - (I could cheat and get away with putting a sibling each day, but I'll put them together! Which means, hang in 18 is going to be a little long!) I am thankful for my sister Kim and the woman she is. She is an awesome mother, a loving sister, and an example of someone who seeks to serve her family with all her heart. I am thankful for her gentle spirit and the way she has quietly ministered to my heart through my life. I am thankful God gave her a husband and my brother-in-law Ken Michael and for the family He has blessed them with. Even though I don't see them often, I still treasure them in my heart and cherish our phone calls. I am thankful for my brother Mark. He is a strong man and seeks to love and provide for his family. I love the memories of him playing with me and even sometimes picking on me as I grew up :) I love the time he spent with me when I was little, the games he made up to make me laugh, the pranks he played on our family, and the strength he showed during his years in the Marines. He made choices that were not always easy to stand firm in his beliefs and morals and waited patiently for God to provide a wife and a family for him. He is strong in his faith, and I love to spend time with him and laugh now that we are adults. I am also thankful for Kristin, his wife, who loves and cares for their family, works hard to help provide, and enjoys fun and closeness with all her family. She strives to follow God with all her heart, serves others, and listens so well. She can have fun and laugh, be serious, and knows what quality time means. I am thankful for my brother Bryan who loves and cares for his family too. I love the memories of looking up to him when I was little - wanting to play drums because he did, watching him play in his local band, having him pick me up from the babysitter when he came home for visits, and spending time with him and his wife Melissa in the summers when I was little. I love the desire he has to follow God, the passion he has for serving God and others, the love he shows as he invests in each of his five daughters and his wife, and the corny jokes he still tells even now! I am thankful for his wife Melissa who invests time and energy daily into being there for her family, yet also works outside the home serving babies and families as a nurse. She is a good listener and fun to hang out with when the sisters and sisters-in-law get together for some girl time! :) While I mentioned Carrie and Michael in the last post - I was thankful for their visit last weekend. But I am also thankful for the people they are. For the way God brought them together, uniting in marriage, and for the chances I've had so far to get to know Michael. I love the heart Carrie has to serve others, meet needs, and listen. She can be fun or serious, a listener, an advice giver, and reminds me so much every day about trusting God in His faithfulness, forgiveness, timing, and provision. Michael is caring, funny, and giving. He is fun to be around and is one of those "quiet ones" like me that you have to look out for! Haha :) I can't wait for more opportunities to know him and to see them grow as a family. I am so thankful for each of the siblings God has given me and for the times I've had with them both growing up (they were pretty good to let a baby brat come into the family and to love me and put up with me for so many years!) and now for the years God is giving us together as adults. They are examples to me of marriage, family, faith, service, love, and fun. I love you guys!

Day 19 - Little bits of extra time - I'm thankful for extra time to get homework done. The schedule was a little different at school today, and we combined our groups of kids in grade levels to watch a movie together. While we were watching, I got to do a little homework too. God is good!

Day 20 - Extra Family - I'm thankful for extra family. For my #1 adopted family I've had since Jr. high and the many fun memories we have together and the quality time we still get to spend together. And that God has allowed me to live close to them again for so many years! I'm also thankful for adopted families in college when I was far away from home and needed love and support. The Thompsons and the McAllisters are so dear to my heart and always will be! I hope I will have the opportunity to reach out to students, church family, and community in the way they have one day! I'm thankful for my boyfriend's family. When God brought us together this summer, he not only gave me a wonderful match (see #7!) but parents who live here too and desire to know me and spend time with me as well. They have been so caring and encouraging from the start, and have helped take care of me while my family is far away too. I love having meals with them, spending time just being lazy and watching football (yes, doesn't mean I know what's going on), for adventures (where I learned how to hold a gun for the first time in my life, AND shoot it!), and for worshiping together at church. I am so very blessed and loved.

Day 21 - A lazy day and sleeping in - I'm thankful for a day off work with no plans, time to sleep in without setting an alarm clock, coffee, reading, writing letters, blogging, and homework. I might also be thankful for time to stay in my pjs 'til 1p.m. Just sayin'! :)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

First an Update...

I've been a little MIA again from blogging, and I've missed it so much. Ever feel like your plate is so full it's about to break? Or maybe you accidentally got one of those cheap styrofoam ones that you fill up and it starts buckling in the middle (you know - not the fancy rectangle ones, but the round kind that don't have separate spots for all the things you put on, so as a result you just keep piling and piling around the sides and in the middle...) and all too quickly you realize the many good foods you put there have overloaded it, and maybe, just maybe, you should've chosen more wisely? Sometimes you just need an extra set of hands to help you hold it up before it breaks or someone who jumps in just in time and makes an "awesome catch" as it starts to fall, saving it. Maybe if you're lucky, though, in the process of falling, you accidentally lost that helping of your great aunt Sally's mashed potatoes or your cousin Susie's triple cream pumpkin pie with whipped cream on top, and well - even though those were both good things, maybe even favorites, it really took a load (and a few million calories) off when you lost them.

Ok, let's put aside all the food analogies. (Can you tell Thanksgiving is coming soon?...)

Let's look at things in a real life perspective but in a non-complaining, very thankful for where God has me and how He continuously blesses me kind of way. This is how I put it this week in a facebook status - Sometimes you just have to take things one at a time, remember you're not alone in balancing it all, remember to be thankful, and remember you can only give your best (which is not the same as someone else's best). I'm thankful for where God has put me right now. 
"For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him." -Philippians 2:13

At this time in my life I am balancing teaching music full-time to 500 K-5 students in my school, taking two graduate courses, one of which is kicking my tail (Grammar...uggh), being a part of church and serving there, trying to spend as much time with friends and family as possible, exercise (which has been pretty non-existent lately), having a boyfriend (yes - I said boyfriend! :) But I think I'll save that for another post), keeping my apartment clean and organized, keeping really tight finances in line, and keeping up with committees and extra things at school (including the coolest club ever that I started this year!). I know we all have lists. I'm sure mine could go on if I really tried point is - all these things are "good." But I can't handle them all. God has put me in a wonderful place and given me the opportunity to be a part of these things, and 1- I have added more than He has given me, 2 - I haven't trusted Him fully with the load He has allowed me to have, and I'm running out of strength to do it on my own. 

But I don't have to. He is here...all the time. I am the child of a God who has taken me into His arms and desperately wants me to call on His name and trust Him to show me what I should keep on my plate and what should go. He will help me to give my best at all I am doing, (which I very often have to remind myself doesn't always look like someone else's best!), and He is here to give me rest. 

I hope you'll look at where God has you right now and remember He is with you. Sometimes I think God has brought me somewhere, and while He has allowed me to be there, I've kicked, pushed, pulled, and struggled to get there, thinking "I" was right, but when I let go and truly seek His will and direction, He shows me the path He has set out before me, and the struggle stops as I remember to rest in His arms and give up my "self." He loves you. He has a plan, and you are His child. Rest in Him.