Tuesday, August 21, 2012

23 Gifts

I’m giddy.  Wanna know why?

I know the names of 23 children that will be spending the next 10 months in my classroom, starting tomorrow.  23 hearts – tiny people – made in the image of God, ready to learn all the grand things we learn in 3rd grade.  Multiplication, making a generalization, evaporation, the Constitution…the list goes on and on.

They don’t know me, and I don’t know them.  And our journey begins. 

We’ll all be timid at first, but as the ball gets rolling, we’ll quickly settle into the rhythm of 3rd grade.  We’ll get excited about learning, and we’ll get bored with learning.  We’ll squeal with excitement at the start of a science experiment, and we’ll let out exasperated sighs when asked to get our grammar books out (teacher included, sometimes).  We’ll laugh together, pray together, and struggle together as we learn math and spelling and history.

What a beautiful privilege it is to serve the Lord in this way.  What a beautiful privilege to be used as His instrument.  In the excitement and chaos of the beginning of the year, I don’t want to lose sight of my job description.  Teaching, yes.  But before I’m a teacher, I’m a child of the living God.  Which means I have a much more important and beautiful job to do.

I get to proclaim His excellencies to these 23 children. 

Every day. 

I get to tell these 23 about Jesus.  I get to talk to them about the One I love and how He loved me first.  About how He brought me out of darkness and into His marvelous light.  About how He can do the same for them, because He came, lived, died, and rose again to save sinners.

So when there is conflict, I get to point them to Him.  When my students get frustrated with math, I get to point them to Him.  When I lose my patience and have to apologize, I get to point them to Him.  When we celebrate victories and identify strengths, I get to point them to Him.  In all things, I get to point them to Him.

By His grace, I’ll do my job.  I’ll keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfector of my faith. 

He’s given me this job to do within the context of teaching.  Which I love.  So will we learn math?  Yes.  Reading?  Absolutely.  And we’ll have a blast doing it!  Well, at least I will…

But if I lose sight of the reason I’m there, somebody please remind me.   God has given me 23 gifts to love with His love this year.  To Him be the glory.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


A generous family from church offered their place in Florida to a group of small group leaders, so my roommate and I were treated to a week at the beach.  What a blessing it was to get away and enjoy the sun and waves for a few days!

This godly woman was in charge of organizing our week.  Mary supports and pours into the women's small group leaders, and she has ministered to us in ways she doesn't even realize.  We're thankful to the Lord for her.  Throughout the week, she was purposeful in her time with us, seeking out opportunities to spend time with each of us individually.  The week was full of fellowship, reading, relaxing, games, and yummy food!

During our stay, we had access to a beach with a staff that set up chairs, tables, and umbrellas for us to use each day.  Talk about pampering!  They even had boxes full of sand castle building supplies, which were obviously used during our time there.  Below are some pictures from the week...enjoy!

The obligatory toe shot...

Sand castle!  Check out the awesomeness.  I worked on this with my new friend Hollie, who worked for Habitat for Humanity a few years out of college.  Seeing as how she had the construction skills (and seeing as how I knocked over two towers within minutes), I didn't last long in the building process.  So I collected shells to make it look pretty.  We all have our gifts.

Not sure if you can tell, but Hollie added some sea life to the moat.  The seagulls were quick to snatch up this Pepperidge Farm treat for an afternoon snack.

My building buddy!  I really enjoyed sharing stories with Hollie throughout the week - it was encouraging to hear how God is working in her life.

So beautiful...

Dolphin sighting!  This was actually super exciting...we spotted an injured fish by the shoreline, and this dolphin was determined to have him for lunch.  He was relentless in his pursuit...until more and more people arrived on the scene and ruined his plan.  He promptly swam off after a crowd gathered in the water around him.  Oh, well.  There are other fish in the sea.

You might be wondering if I forgot about Cow Appreciation Day since I was on vacation.  Ha!  I laugh!  Rachel and I were prepared for the big day, and we even recruited two new friends to join us!  

The last day we drove out to Sanibel Island, where we had lunch and walked along the beach.  The water was lovely there!

It was a great week!  I'm thankful for the opportunity to get to know Mary better, and I loved meeting new girls in such a beautiful place!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cousins: Last Day in Dallas

Tomorrow I take the girls back home, so we decided to end our week with a bang...at the Dallas World Aquarium!  I LOVE this place (Julie, I want to take you and the kids here sometime!), and today did not disappoint.  AND - a special treat - Cousin Becca came with us!

The whole place is set up like the layers of the rain forest, and here we are at the beginning of our tour, looking down at something cool.  I can't remember what it is (my memory is going, I'm nearing 30).

This picture is my favorite of the day. :)  I understand the determination to capture a picture - those marmoset monkeys are cute.

Annabel loved the otters, and they were so playful with her!


Freshwater creatures - the manatee amazes me every time.  It's just so large.

Such a cutie...in a strange manatee-ish way.  I named her Barbara.

The shark tunnel - cool and creepy at the same time!

Allison and Annabel were so brave!

There were tons of these beautiful birds to admire.  I continue to be intrigued by their sleeping habits.  I thought I would try sleeping on one leg tonight, but maybe some other time.

Such fun! :)

After the aquarium we went to see...

...with my roommate Rachel and friend Caitlin.  Pixar's animation is incredible, but I have to say I was surprised by this movie.  And I can't say in a good way.  This website describes the movie in detail, and I wish I would have checked it first.  As far as Pixar movies go, Finding Nemo is still my favorite, by far!

It's hard to believe our week is over.  It has been wonderful having these two precious girls here - I've loved getting to know them even better over the last few days.  Thanks, girls, for an awesome week!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Cousins: Day 4

Swimming day!  Megan and her boys came over to swim at about 10:30 this morning, and my roommate Britt joined us for our excursion.  The pool was the perfect temperature, so we stayed for quite awhile playing games and "boinging" with Bennett.  More on that later.

Megan invited us to Chick-fil-a, so we ended up joining them for some tasty lunch.  One of my favorite parts of the week was shortly after our meal, when we drove to Sonic and picked up 8 large ice waters to drop off for the construction workers in our neighborhood.  They've been working hard the last several weeks and it's HOT.  I hope it was a refreshing treat for them!

After showering, the girls prepared the calzone dough and set it aside to rise for the afternoon.  We ran a few errands and returned to find Cousin Becca and some fluffy dough, ready for baking (the dough, not Cousin Becca).

Becca and Allison masterfully create their pizzas/calzones...

Rachel and Annabel show off their "cheesy smiles" (ha, get it?)...


Family dinner!

The evening craft involved making a journal, so Becca helped get the girls started on their projects...after dinner they modged-podged like they'd been doing it for years!

We finished the evening with the grand finale of Anne of Green Gables, and it was just as good the second time as the first!  It's such a beautiful story, and I'm so glad the girls enjoyed it!

Exhausted, Annabel and Allison climbed into bed and we read two chapters of the Jesus Storybook Bible - a great read that has provided opportunity for great questions and conversations this week.

We're looking forward to our last full day in Dallas tomorrow...this week has flown by!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cousins: Day 3

Today was such a blast...and we spent four hours cleaning!!! :) We arrived at my church at 10 and received our assignment in the preschool ministry.  I'm thankful they had projects that needed to be completed, because we had so much fun helping.  We emptied and washed the snack bins, refilled them, organized and dusted cabinets, disinfected baby equipment, etc.  When we took a break for lunch, I asked the girls if they wanted to stop and was answered with a confident "no".  They were both eager to complete the list we were given.  It was such fun to watch them serve!

Turns out there's a street named after Annabel RIGHT by the church - spelled correctly, too!  Of course we had to take a picture, so as soon as we left we made a quick stop...

Snow cones were a refreshing treat in the middle of the afternoon, and after we slurped those down we went to paint some pottery.

We pulled into our driveway at about 6, exhausted after a looooong (but fun!) day.  The girls helped throw together - okay, they pretty much threw together - a meal of parmesan chicken, yummy pasta, and green beans.  Have I mentioned that I love having two helpers around?

After dinner we began the evening routine we have come to love - Bananagrams, Anne of Green Gables, and sopapilla cheesecake. :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cousins: Day 2

This morning began at my friend Megan's house, where the girls and I were able to play with some super cute kids (and see my super great friend!).  We arrived mid-morning and Annabel dove right into the train set, building an amazing town she called "Birkensmutzville".  Hurricane Bennett knocked a few things over, but that didn't stop Annabel from rebuilding.  She had a used car lot and everything!

When little Grant woke up from his morning nap, we all enjoyed lunch together before playing a bit more.  Allison entertained Bennett and Grant for a while before we left.

We returned home mid-afternoon and watched the remainder of Anne of Green Gables (Disc 1 - Why can't Anne and Gilbert ever like each other at the same time??).

Because we needed dessert after our evening excursion, the girls whipped up a pan of sopapilla cheesecake to be chilled in the fridge for the next several hours.

Cousin Becca met us for an early dinner, and the rest of the evening was spent on a grand adventure that I can't say any more about.  I will say this...it involved 104 degree temperatures, Gatorade, Rascal Flatts singing "Life is a Highway", and ant bites on my ankle that sting more than anything I've ever experienced.  But I got to spend time with these girls. :)

We were glad to get back home to our cheesecake, a little more Anne, and our evening devotional.  Looking forward to tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cousin Week!

My sweet cousins have come to stay with me for a week, and today marks the first day of our many adventures!  Lord willing, we'll be able to do several fun things around Dallas this week - some familiar, some brand new.  I asked them to remind me to take pictures of everything...after I realized I'd already failed at documenting what we did today.  But here's an overview anyway! :)

Annabel and Allison were dropped off at my Cousin Ashley's house mid-morning, and we decided to stick around for awhile.  Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head were obviously in need of makeovers, so we worked with the little ones to make them fancy...

Annabel got a little distracted...:)

 After that, Olivia had the great idea of playing dress-up, but for some reason Annabel was the only one really changing costumes.  I think Olivia took it upon herself to make sure Annabel was making the best use of the costume box.

A quick bite of Chick-fil-a, and we were off!  The girls and I stopped for some frozen yogurt to discuss the week's plans, and then we made the trek back to Dallas.

Upon arrival, we went grocery shopping for the week's food (I love grocery shopping with two helpers!).  For dinner we made beef tacos, enjoyed homemade shakes for dessert, and settled in to begin Anne of Green Gables.  I wasn't sure how the girls would respond to it...I think the beginning was a bit rough for them (we actually took a break and played Bananagrams), but once we had pajamas and our stuffed animals, we tried again and were hooked.  They didn't want to turn it off!  Or wait...maybe I didn't want to turn it off...

A great start to our week!  Thanks, Aunt Becky and Uncle Mark, for trusting me with your girls!