Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Conference Night Thoughts.

In the life of a school teacher, the ritual of parent-teacher conferences is an unavoidable event.
Being able to sit down with the parents of the students who you spend a majority of your day with is actually something that I do find informative and very necessary. Today was that day and I'm struck by the lessons that I seemed to learn from my evening. Who knew lessons of perspective, thanksgiving, and spiritual insight could come from a parent teacher conference night?
Perspective is critical. For some reason, I seemed to gain valuable insight into the reality of home life for many families. The daily struggles of attempting to raise a family and 'make it' can oftentimes become lost upon someone such as myself. It's strange too because we all know, of course, raising a family is no easy task, even with the resources that you need. I "know" that, but God seemed to be revealing a deeper, richer reality as far as what that looks like in the lives of those around me. The need is great. Parents need the skills to be able to provide consistent discipline, encouragement, and academic support for their child. In so many situations, I'm reminded of a psychological theory proposed by Abraham Maslow back in the day, circa 1940, let's say.
Basically, this hierarchy is depicted as a pyramid and, if the basic needs at the bottom of the pyramid aren't met, then you can't move up the pyramid and 'self-actualize'.
This is getting too academic! haha. ok, well, basically, what I'm trying to say is many families are struggling to provide those foundational needs and, therefore, unable to provide the support necessary in other realms of academic and personal growth for their children.
This struggle just seemed to become a little more real to me tonight. It's hard for me to even imagine being a parent, the thought is mind blowing in many regards.
This is where I transition into a deeper gratitude for the season of life I find myself in at this point. To those of you with families, of course, the rewards and benefits are surely of a level that cannot quite be put into words. Sharing memories, seeing growth within and through each other, and just 'doing life together' is surely a blessing that is to be cherished.
Each day I'm learning to embrace where God has me. Seeing opportunity to be thankful for where I'm at is critical. It's nice to be able to sit alone on my couch, listen to some Jon Foreman, and write a blog. I'm increasingly realizing that that daily solitude is something lost to so many people. I'm thankful.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

God loves us most when we're at our worst.

God's love is blowing my mind. Pastor Juan had a good word today that I felt was downloaded just for me. "God loves us most when we're at our worst, cause he knows we're one step closer to getting it right". Deidre actually was the one to speak that first. So.. God knows we're going to mess up 69 times (or whatever..only He really knows) we've messed up for the 49th time, God sees us in love in our sin, seeing that we are one step closer. That just really messed with me tonight. That kind of love cannot be fully comprehended. Should sin then increase? No, that would be distorting it. A response of adoration and thanksgiving for that kind of love should follow. Yay God.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Coldplay ~ Oct. 21, 2008 ~ Cleveland

Carrie and I went to Coldplay's Viva La Vida concert last night in Cleveland. It was amazing. I love their music. Our seats were up high but we could still see really well. There were these sphere globes hanging from the ceiling that projected video of the concert on them. They were sweet. There would also be random colors and designs on them throughout the show.

There was also a point in the show when Chris Martin said "we'll be back in 30 seconds" and we assummed that they were gonna take an ultra quick break or something. Instead, they ran off stage and through the corridor and ran all the way up into the crowd a few hundred feet away. They sang a few songs right up there wit the people who were "in the back". It was great and totally unexpected.

I loved everything about the show, except when it ended. It seemed short.

I took my first personal day today too. It was about time :)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fall is Here.

This may be my favorite time of year, as far as seasons go. The air is changing, no longer summer but oftentimes not cool enough to need a jacket. It's beautiful.
October is upon us.
Here I am. The apartment dweller that I am. Two and a half months on my own! Very cool. What a journey I'm on! As always, God has been faithful through everything and will continue to be. He's the best roommate I could ever ask for. This weekend has had a tinge of loneliness, although I'm thoroughly convinced that this season is preparing me for big plans that God has for me. I was alone all day, as I am many days actually, but it just seemed to stand out to me today. Spent the morning doing some work for my grad class, went to the mall, and then grocery shopping. All alone. Made dinner. Alone. And here I am. But I'm not alone, I know, I know. My heart is at peace while at the same time my aloneness stood out today.
I'm setting the foundation for my family. It is exciting to think about, to speak life into those areas of my present life that are non-existent. I'm speaking life into the family that God is going to put together. He will. I know He will. The husband who I've never met. I'm setting an amazing foundation now for the life that we will have together. My heart wants to explode when I think about it. NOW.. faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. I love the NOW. It's right now. .. while I'm sitting alone in my apartment, praying for the family that God will bless me with, for His glory. I'm developing discipline and a life that God is molding daily. It's exciting.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Goodbye Summer.

A new season of my life has begun. Summer is over, we've been in school for four days already. It is very hard to believe that this is my third year of teaching. My prayer is for a peace and trust in God to just invade every aspect of my life. It's been such a long journey and I still have a long way to go here. God's kingdom always moves forward. It never goes backward. I'm thankful for that and I'm determined to move forward in my life.. growing and learning from mistakes.
I thank God for never letting go of me. I've failed him so many times. Even this day, I feel like I've slipped a little bit as far as the progress I've been making goes. Here's what will be different, though. I won't give up. I won't look back. I'm looking ahead, not letting mistakes destroy me like I have before. Giving myself grace is such a hard thing for me. Satan would have completely destroyed me by now if it weren't for Jesus. I'm certainly not letting him have any strongholds on me. I won't be destroyed by his lies and deception.
It's been a pretty good weekend here. Somewhat lonely. I've been living all on my own for a month and a half already! wow. Thats hard to believe. Went to the fair yesterday with Jessie, Dan, and her aunt, uncle, and cousins. Got some good food!
So, here's to another Labor Day - the end of summer. I'll never forget this summer. I've been learning a lot. Growing...oh so slowly...but surely. Praise God.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

I'm making big decisions. Signed a lease for my first apartment a week ago. I move in one week.

I've been talking about moving for years now and I honestly believe that this is going to be a turning point in my life. I realize that moving isn't a 'cure all' for the issues that I've struggled with the past few years, but I certainly believe that it's a step in the right direction for me.

This is going to be tough. A good kind of tough, though. An adult, mature, responsible toughness. Exactly what I need. I know that I am capable and ready for this but it's still nerve-wracking.

I've just been praying for the place, the apartment building, the people already living there. I want it to be a good experience. I have to remember too that I didn't sign a 30 yr. mortgage, it's a one year lease! I'm not locked in forever by any means. It's a small, cute place on the bottom level of an apartment building.

I've already bought some stuff and I need to get some furniture very soon here. I'm excited. God has always been faithful and I know that he will provide for me as I enter into this new season. I hate my doubt. It's gonna be a tight budget. But, again, when has he ever left me hanging? Never. I need to keep that on my heart as I enter this week and prepare for this move.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I can't forget this season.

I never want to forget this season. I can barely find the words to accurately describe it. Let's just say "it sucks". I can't go on like this and I know it. Here's the quote of the hour for me - "people don't change until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing".

Honestly, I'm not quite there yet. Not quite in enough pain. That makes me mad. Cause I should be. I know I'm going to do this. Somehow, someway, I know that I'll be able to look back at this post and remember. I'll be glad because I'll know, really know, God's faithfulness and I'll believe in myself. So, I suppose all hope isn't lost. I just want to remember. I so easily forget these seasons. Then I end up in them again. I don't want that to happen.

Ugh. here I am.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Equally Skilled

It's late as I write this, so forgive me if this sounds like rambling randomness.

I'm not quite sure how I got here. It's a lot to think about and reflect upon. I'm in a bad place as far as life goes. Trying to be honest about it here.

I've been listening to all my Jon Foreman EP's lately. He's such a great songwriter.

"Equally Skilled" is a song off of his Fall EP. The lyrics are so accurate as far as describing how we, as humans, are so completely capable of doing good as well as doing evil. Both of our hands are "equally skilled".

How miserable I am
I feel like a fruit-picker who arrived here after the harvest
There's nothing here at all
Nothing at all here that could placate my hunger

And both of our hands are equally skilled
At doing evil, equally skilled
At bribing the judges, equally skilled
At perverting justice
Both of our hands , Both of our hands

I think this speaks to me because it shows both ends of a spectrum. I make horrible choices. I make great choices. I'm "equally skilled" at both doing good and sucking horribly at life.
Lately, I've been feeling like I'm just getting better and better at the bad.
Have I just been disillusioned? I always hate to say "I'm confused", but, honestly, I'm confused.
How did I ever get like this? Tough question that does not have a simple answer.

Ok. Let's look at another song. Off of his newest EP, Summer, Jon Foreman has several songs that speak to my state of being :)
"Again"..great lyrics and a cool oriental vibe to it . I think that title speaks volumes to me, actually. My life seems very cyclical in so many ways. Here I am "again" in the same place I was 6 months ago, a year ago, five years ago.

Oh Lord, God of our Fathers
This day, let it be known
That you, Lord, are God of the present tense

Oh Lord, Father of history
This day, let it be known
That you, Lord, are present in a human event
Answer me, oh Lord
Let your people know
That you're turning our hearts back to you
Turning our hearts back to you
You are turning our hearts back to you
Again Again

I guess my question is "will I let you turn my heart back to you"? I'm sad that I even need to ask that question.

I'm far. The human condition truly baffles me. I know that I can't give up. I know that you won't give up on me. That's about all I know right now. Changes have to be made. I know that. The sadness comes with the realization of how far I've gone and how bad some things really are. I'm not sure that I've ever truly acknowledged that. It's tough and messy. Maybe the realization that this will take some time is important too. I'm all about "results". Maybe that's part of the problem. This is a step by step, fail, start over, kind of thing. This will not happen overnight. I really need to get that, take it to heart.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

School Mode.

Hello Thursday night. I'm bummed that there are no more new episodes of The Office anymore. The season finale was so good , though. I rarely watch TV, but you guys know I love my Office.

I'm in school mode right now so most of my posts will be centered around thoughts pertaining to my various school mentalities and reflections, whether it be teaching school or grad school. It's always school, school, school, huh?? I have exactly one week to get a ton of stuff done to wrap up this year. I know I'm farther ahead than I was last year at this time, although, no matter how hard I try to keep up, it just seems increasingly more difficult. I worked so hard this weekend. Grading stuff, averaging grades, filling out report cards, and preparing for my grad class. I'm sorry if it just seems like I complain. I wouldn't categorize much of it as complaining. It's a continuing analysis of how my life is operating. Why does it seem that others are able to have a life? Do I expect too much of myself? (I've had many people tell me this is the case) I want to work hard and do my best. I feel like this job is so completely draining that it's almost impossible to stay on top of everything and maintain any type of sanity. I guess I feel a little better when I see people with much more experience than me expressing the same types of thoughts and emotions, also.

I know I can do this. I have done this. In one week, I can say that I've successfully completed two years of teaching in my own classroom. That's some cool stuff. I've worked hard and I'm looking forward to gaining more experience and expanding my teaching abilities. I want to be that teacher. The one that you remember for all the good things. How she treated you. How she made you feel. Knowing that she valued you as a person and worked as best as she could to share her depth of knowledge with a sense of caring that dominates the atmosphere of the classroom. Yeah ... I want that to be me.

Teaching is leaving a vestige of one self in the development of another. And surely the student is a bank where you can deposit your most precious treasures. ~Eugene P. Bertin

Who dares to teach must never cease to learn. ~John Cotton Dana

A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron. ~Horace Mann

Monday, May 26, 2008

Summer is almost here.

The weather is slowly getting nicer. Emphasis on the "slowly". It's coming along, though.
Eight more days of school. This year has literally flown by. It truly boggles my mind to know that I've completed two full years in my own classroom. Good job me! It's been so tough, but I knew I could do it. This year has it's own unique set of challenges. I'm tired out. My heart's desire is to do right by the students. I want to know that I've made a difference, that they've benefitted from being under my instruction for the last nine months. It's difficult when the results are not necessarily tangible. I just have to believe.

This graduate school stuff has also become a burden that is wearing me down. I keep telling myself that it will be worth it but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't doubt this some times. How will it be worth it? A little extra money? Yes, that's a good thing, though I feel like I've sacrificed so much of myself that I don't know if that will make up for it. I wonder why I can't ever seem to catch up. The work is never-ending. If it's not 3rd grade work it's grad school work. Non-stop.

I'll graduate next August. That sounds so incredibly far away. I really want to complain about that and it takes everything in me to step back and evaluate that statement with a heart of understanding and gratitude. Ugh.. but I will. I'm grateful that I have the mental capacity to not only attend Graduate school, but to excel. I'm grateful that I already have completed 5 classes.
I'm glad I'm getting this done as quickly as I can!

Well, Happy Memorial Day to all. I kicked but working hard this weekend. No fun for me. It does feel good to get stuff done, though. Let's see, Friday night I graded 20 Fairy Tales, Saturday morning I graded another 20. Saturday afternoon I read 3 Chapter for my Psych class and made up 15 questions, averaged grades for report cards, filled out report card comments, worked on a Powerpoint for a Wednesday presentation. Yeah! I worked hard!