Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Great Debate

Okay, I couldn't resist a quick post about this.

It's apparently a great debate. A dividing issue. Something worth (laugh) mulling over, discussing the pros and cons, even voting on.

We've debated about it at my house. My husband doesn't understand my viewpoint, but he tries to acquiese when he remembers. When he doesn't, I fix his mistakes, and sometimes he grumbles about how it doesn't matter and his way works, too. But I argue that my way is right.

What I didn't know is how great this debate really is. It's, to quote my new pastor, a big dang deal.

What am I talking about? The "Over or Under" Debate, of course.

There's a vote going on over at Cottenelle. (Seriously, this just cracks me up!)

I, of course, do the right thing.

Over. Duh.

Friday, January 29, 2010


You know, it's beginning to be one of my favorite things to do to link up with you coffee company girls, knowing that we're all part of a family, drinking our coffee/tea/hot chocolate/diet Coke, encouraging each other, and almost being a part of each other's lives. Last week I didn't get a chance to comment on anyone's blogs, so I'm determined that, even if it's not until a few days later, I'm going to leave some bloggie comments to my bloggie friends.
Anyway, this has been a long week. I'm pretty emotionally and physically spent this morning, and I'm trying to write this before my students come in all in a panic (see number 2)....oh wait, too late, one just got here. (Literally, as I was typing that I wanted to write before they got here, one walked in..... oh and here comes another one.) Back to my point. It's been really hard to get up in the mornings, because I think things have been so busy (busy busy busy) and there was a particularly hard day and our house is in chaos that I am just exhuasted. But I have to get up and get to school early, because my students are coming in every free minute of my day (back to number 2). So I'm beat, and I have never been more thankful for Friday.

But, before I tell you a few things that have been going on, let me focus on something incredible.

I always have the radio on in the mornings, but I don't really pay attention to the words of the songs- in fact, I often just sing what I want as a prayer to the tune of whatever song is on. This morning though, I was too tired to do anything but drive and try not to get in an accident on my icy drive to work. But through the fog that was my mind, I heard a clip of a song - actually heard it. And here's what I remembered.
Hallelujah. I will sing to lift You up forever. You are my King.

New favorite, although no idea what the song is, or what the tune is, or who wrote it.

Anyway, here's my life.

1. Both last Wednesday and Thursday and this Wednesday and Thursday saw me not going home from 6:30 am - 9 pm because I had meetings after school and then had to be here for 8th grade night, Choice night, Acoustic Cafe, and Lyrical Lounge (as the Student Council sponsor). All of it was fun, but it's hard to be here (at school) that much.

2. Literally every free minute of my days at school this week has been taken up with students. It's my own fault really, because I gave them what I call a "No-fault Quiz." This was a quiz given on the first day of the semester as a review of the major grammar concepts from first semester- and the deal was they have to get a 100% or they get a 0, but they could take it four times a day until the end of January. It worked out to 41 opportunites to get a 100%. But, as is normal, most of them waited until the last few days to re-take.... and so they have swarmed my classroom before school, during Seminar (a free period), at both lunches (my only planning period), and after school. Today is the last day, thank goodness.

3. I had a really hard day on Tuesday. An angry mother called and hurled accusations from years past - the things that were said were mean, hurtful, and often crazy sounding. What triggered the call was a minor detail, but she took the opportunity to vent everything she had apparently been holding onto for years. I managed myself pretty well, I think- was calm and listened and didn't try to defend myself- she wouldn't have heard it- but I did try to make clear that I enjoy having her son in class. Afterwards, my administrators told me she'd pretty much earned herself a reputation as a crazy and that I shouldn't listen to her and if she ever called me again, to hang up and let them deal with it. Sigh, what a relief. That didn't stop me from bawling my eyes out and going home and putting on pjs and just crashing.

4. Kitchen progress is under way. It's exciting, but it's a disaster, and with how busy I've been, the disaster has crept into other parts of the house. (I won't show you those pictures, though!)
A few pictures of the mess getting worse...

And a few pictures of things getting a little bit better...

5. We have small group tonight, which is a good thing, but this last week held a few a surprises with that, as well. I'm looking forward to spending some time with friends and hearing a new friend's story, but I wonder how or if we'll talk about any of the other things. And I'll have to try to stay awake.... but they usually don't mind if I'm drowsy.

Okay, that's it for me! (It's only taken me a few hours to get this post done from start to finish, with student interruptions and a class to teach.)

May you have a blessed week, and let's remember to sing to our King.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Smashing Idols All Week Long

Yesterday I spent pretty much the whole day at church.

I went to first service (8:15!) because I wanted to hear the pastor's sermon and I was working in the nursery during second service (ummm..... I haven't ever been motivated enough to go to that service, so that tells you how excited I am about our new pastor).

Erik, our youth pastor, was at the Junior High School retreat, so I taught Senior High Sunday School between services. As mentioned, I worked in the infant nursery during second service- a quick aside on this- I do not love it when parents write down that it's not okay for their babies to cry at all, because I mean, at all? Can they not cry for a minute while I try to figure out how to get them to stop? I had one of those babies yesterday- fortunately, she didn't start crying until the last song at the end of the service, so I felt justified not calling the mom right away.

Anyway, back to my church-y day- Husband and I had a nice lunch together and then I put laundry away while he prepared to lead high school youth group - worship and teaching- and then we each went back to church- him to youth group and me to the Annual Meeting (my first one as I decided I should be a grown up now).

But here's why I'm writing.
I continue to be amazed at how when God wants to make a point, He does.
He makes sure you hear the point every way possible.

I told you about how our pastor had really challenged me to not let control and order be my idol- good things that I turn into ultimate things, making them bad things.

Yesterday he gave another good sermon continuing with the same overall vein, concluding the four week series on idols.

But here's where God really got me- in high school Sunday school, we were reading about Hezekiah. The moment he became king, he re-opened the temple, prayed for healing, had a big Passover party where worship was the focus of it all, and then went around smashing all the idols and pagan altars that had been set up.

After we'd gone through the passages and were identifying some big themes (worship, repentance, seeking God, etc.), I asked the kids to think of some application to themselves. One boy, who never fails to think deeply and provide insight to us all, really nailed it. Here's the gist of what he said.

Basically, Hezekiah and all the people had a huge Passover Party- a celebration- a time of total worship and God time. That's like when we go on a church retreat or even sometimes Sunday mornings. It's a Jesus high. But Hezekiah and the people didn't stop after the celebration was over. They went around and smashed all the idols and kept on living for God and worshipping and making changes in their lives to live for God and be pure and holy in His sight. We also need to keep going - we shouldn't only serve and worship and celebrate and strive to smash those idols on retreats or on Sundays- but all through the week, every day.

So here's to smashing idols all week long. May you and I continue to grow closer to the One we worship, may we seek him with our everything, and may we make Him our only ultimate thing.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Let the Renovations Begin

Before I show you some pictures, I just need to complain for a minute. I spilled half my coffee this morning (over some students' quizzes- oops!) and so I haven't had my full cup. I'm very sad. :( Hopefully, you've had some, though, and are having a terrific Friday.

Note- as I wrote this- one of my students, who works in our school's coffee shop, just brought me a cup as a thank you for something else. Hooray!

Anyway, a while ago I wrote about how Rachel Anne inspired me to make my Home a sanctuary. Since then, I've been doing my minimal maintenance as often as possible and really, overall, having a great attitude about the house. I've also been reading at lots of other people's blogs about what they do, too, and getting very inspired and encouraged.... isn't bloggie world wonderful? (I only wish I had a little more time to spend visiting!)

Well, Husband and I have been talking, and as we think we're going to stay in our townhouse for several more years, we're going to put some time into making it a little bit nicer and have a little investment- nothing too big, just enough to add to the house. We have decided to start with the kitchen and dining room, giving them a face lift.

Dining Room, pre-floor face lift

notice the boxes of laminate flooring waiting to be installed

Kitchen- alas, we can't replace the counter with the broken laminate, but it's minor

our white cabinets without handles show EVERY bit of dirt and yuck you can imagine.

We're taking the 1985 linoleum out of the kitchen and the carpet out of the dining room and putting in wood-laminate floors, we're painting the cabinets and adding hardware so that not every smudge of yuckiness shows on them, and, the coolest of all cool things, getting a new sink to replace the old yucky ceramic white one that has chips and rust and is impossible to keep clean.

our 1985 linoleum kitchen floor that has gouges in it and is impossible to keep clean

But money is tight. So all we asked for for Christmas was the Home Depot, which is what we got- well- gift cards, anyway.

With that money, we've already bought the floor, which is in boxes in the dining room to be installed after the painting happens, and Husband just started working on taking the cabinet doors off and removing the old paint. We're still working on picking colors and hardware, but that will happen soon. The sink, although I really wanted one, was at the bottom of our list, because we couldn't really afford one and ours works fine, but Father-in-law, a contractor, found us a new stainless steel single basin (what I really wanted) $500 value sink for $90. Can you believe it!!!!! Thanks, Father-in-law, and God!

Back to my original point. I've been trying to make my home a sanctuary. Right now, it's anything but a sanctuary, and I can only imagine it will get a little (or a lot) worse before it gets better..... but I'm going to be pretty excited about the end result.

When I came home from work yesterday, Husband had already started the project- tomorrow I'll put away all my "trinkets" so they don't get yucky.

Will keep you posted!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

To Have a Plan

Having a plan is something I think I do well.

Or at least, I thought I did well.

Let me back up.

This weekend I went with our church's youth group on our annual retreat, High Altitude. You can read what my initial post before we left here, or read my good friend Kerri's post about what happened here. Hopefully I'll get some pictures soon (I didn't have my camera, so I'll be facebook stealing them as soon as others post.)

It was everything and more than I expected.

Highlight- one of my favorite high school friends, whom I've known for about four years, decided to accept Christ as her Savior and Lord!!!!! She's been pursuing God for a couple years, but on this retreat acknowledged that she'd never actually given her life to Him and she wanted to put aside her fears, questions, and doubts, and do it. It was beyond awesome!

(Sidenote- I've never been the person to pray for new life with anyone before this time- I wanted to run out of the room we were in whooping and hollering and dancing with excitement- but of course I didn't since she wasn't really quite ready for me to do that- but the next day she let me share it with everyone at our last chapel, and you bet there was some cheering then!!!)

Anyway, the retreat was great- we played, talked, ate, and learned, and did it all some more. But I digress. My point is about on planning.

See, our new Senior Pastor came up on Saturday to talk to the us about three things:

1. growing (by being in the Word)
2. connecting (to others in our circle)
3. serving (those outside our circle)

And with each step, he reminded us that we need to have a plan when it comes to each of these things.

Now, I'm a planner and an organizer and I like to be in control (see my recent revelation on that topic - our pastor is really challenging me- here). I have schedules and order and when I wake up in the morning, I immediately am planning the day.

But when it comes to growing by reading the Word, when it comes to connecting to other people in ways that I need, well, I don't plan that so very well. I'll say, "I need to read more," and that's that. Or I'll say, "I wish my friend so-and-so would call me because I could use some connection time," but I don't call her. Or I'll complain, "There's nowhere for me to really connect at my church," but I won't go to a Bible Study..... well, it turns out folks, I need a plan.

A plan will help me figure out what I really need and want to do.
A plan will help me decide what I most need in my life.
A plan will help me actually follow through on making the necessary changes.

So today, as I'm unwrapping the gift of planning and linking up over at Tuesdays Unwrapped, I'll be thinking about how THESE plans are pretty much way more important than the what's on the menu for this week or how I'll get my grading done.

These plans are going to help my heart.

Friday, January 15, 2010

High Altitude Awesomeness

Good morning, ladies! Now that I'm back to "real life," my coffee company time is minutes stolen between classes..... but I always look forward to catching up with you on how your weeks have been!

Sadly, this week I'll have to wait until Monday night to really get a chance to "chat." I'll be joining 6 other adults and 49 students at our church at about 5 this afternoon to head up into the mountains for our youth group's annual retreat, High Altitude.
I doubt there will be this much snow there right now (it's been warm the last few days- in the 40s!) , but this is indeed a mountain in the background we might see - and we'd defintely see the trees.

I haven't been working with the youth group as much as I used to because I took Sunday nights (when they have regular meetings) off to work on grad school. I still went to special events and had the girls over for dinner once a month (a tradition called Taco Tuesday), but it's been different not being there every week. I'm not sure I feel called to go back to being a full-time sponsor, but I do LOVE the kids and know I want to stay involved in the youth ministry at our church in some way.

This weekend (from about 5 today till about 12 on Monday) will be spent hanging out with the kids, having chapel and worship, leading fun little ice-breakers throughout the trip, playing indoor, outdoor, and everywhere else games, drinking lots of coffee at breakfast to energize me from the late nights, growing, praying, singing, laughing, talking, and lots of other -ings, and much more. Should be fun!
If you think of it, I have a few prayer requests.

1. that our kids would make connections with the Lord and with each other
2. that their faith would be strengenthed for coming back to a world determined to weaken it
3. that they would get out of their comfort zones and learn to love each other
4. that sponsors would be able to be intentional with the kids
5. that we would be healthy (we've had lots of issues with illness on retreats)
6. that we would be safe

Hope your weekend is as incredible as I know mine is going to be!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I Knew Coloring Was Good For Me

Good morning, coffee company girls!

This morning I'm enjoying my homemade gingerbread latte in my to-go mug as I sit at my desk in my classroom- and since my classroom chairs are rather uncomfy, I'll just let you stay relaxed in what I hope is a comfy chair instead of inviting you "in." :)

I've always thought coloring was very therapeutic. In high school and college, I carried coloring books (Winnie-the-Pooh and Disney were my favs) and crayons in my bag and often pulled them out for a "color break" regardless of where I was. (I used to laugh because you would be surprised at the amount of college-aged boys who would want to sit and color, too.) And I happen to be a pretty good color-er, if I do say so myself. If could have a job as a person who colors things other people drew, I'd take it!

Over the last several years, I haven't really had as much of a chance to color, but I have been a doodle-r. I often have words and squiggles and shapes doodled around the corners of pages, or even whole sheets filled with nonsense. While this isn't necessarily artistic, it's quite fun.

But recently I found out that it's not just fun, it's GOOD for me!

For Christmas, my aunt gave me a book called Praying in Color. A woman named Sybil MacBeth stumbled upon the idea that some of us might find value in praying with doodles and scribbles and drawings and words and color. It can help you focus as you pray and the visual images stay with you in your mind. The idea is that you don't have to be artistic, but you can doodle, color, and pray.


This is perfect for me!

So.... keep in mind that I'm not an artist.... and these are just doodles (and not that well-colored).... but here are some of my heartfelt prayers.

For my college best friend's family.

for Husband and myself

about teaching

Next I'm going to borrow some thoughts from my new bloggie friend Southern Gal, who wrote and inspiring post about colors. You should check out her thoughts here.

Try it! It's pretty fun- you just need some paper and some markers, colored pencils, or other coloring utensil of your choice.

May YOUR day be very colorful!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Messy Perfectionist

That's me!

I didn't know that was my title, but it is.

You can read about it over at Home Sanctuary.

But here's why I'm really writing this morning.

Since I'm trying to do this whole "find joy in making my home a sanctuary" thing and also learning to do minimal maintenance, this morning I found I had already completed Rachel Anne's small thing for today without knowing it.

See, we've been doing some painting, sanding and re-finishing of old tables, hanging drywall in the basement where it was torn out because we had a leak last May, etc., and there have been tools and cans of finish and painters tape and etc. etc. etc. all over the house. This morning, I scooped them all up and put them into one handy bag and put that bag aside so we could use the things again, but didn't over-obsess and put them all away in their proper places. Then I read Rachel Anne's post about doing something "good enough," and thought, "hooray! I just did that!"

Boy, am I starting to feel pretty good about myself!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Back to (a meaningful) Reality

Tonight is the last night of my vacation. Tomorrow it's back to reality. Back to work in the morning, with a work day to prepare for students who'll come on Thursday. Tuesday and Wednesday will be inservice days, full of meetings. Husband is working, too (not that he had a big vacation, but he did get a few days at Christmas and then a few at New Years). I can't run... it's coming.

But. I feel a little bit like this picture that Husband took of a local sunset.

Even though it's a sunset, not a sunrise, this picture makes me think of the possibilities. It makes me think of what's new. It makes me think of what's coming.

A new year always makes us think about what we hope life will be like. I tend to operate on a school year more than a calendar year, but this New Year feels a little different. There's a new reality on the horizon.

See, grad school is over, and I'm already beginning to feel the effects of my "free time"- I didn't think it took that much of my life over, but it did- the pressure of always needing to check in and contribute to discussion forums and getting assignments figured out and readings done and papers written in addition to my regular teaching day job and grading to do- well, I feel pretty free right now.

So with the New Year comes a feeling of possibility, of time.

I don't want to fill it with (excuse me) crap. I want to fill it with meaningful things.

Meaningful might mean watching a favorite tv show with Husband.
It might mean actually scrapbooking my honeymoon (from a year and a half ago).
It might mean reading a good book (and I already went to the library and got a few!).
It might mean going for a run (and by run I mean jog).

Perhaps meaningful means reading the Bible. (duh!)
Or engaging in my new favorite prayer time, praying in color (more from me on this when I get my camera working!).
It might mean joining a women's Bible study (although the one I really am interested in is during the morning- which doesn't fit a full-time job).

Regardless, I want this year to be meaningful.

I don't expect it to be perfect.

Just meaningful.

Hang in here for a minute- I'm processing, and I think this next thought relates to a meaningful reality... I think.

Today in church our pastor (we have a pastor!!! We've been without one for a year) was talking about how we have a tendency to turn good things in our lives into the ultimate thing, thus idolizing them.

As he was talking, I knew instantly what my potential "ultimate thing" is: my need for control and order. Being on top of things isn't a bad thing, it's a good thing. But I think I border on (if not fully embrace) a semi-insane need for control and order. Even just thinking about it for a short while today, I was able to see how that control keeps me from letting God be my ultimate thing, and ultimately, even results in my losing control over many areas of life.

I think the connection here is that if I want to fill my new reality meaningfully, then I need to make sure I am relinquishing control and putting God at the top, making Him the ultimate desire of my heart.

Still working on this, but would love to hear your thoughts.
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