Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

We had a wonderful Christmas this year as always!
This blog is all over the place, but I do like that it serves as a keeper of our memories. In fact, I looked back at our post from last year to settle a question about what we had done. It's crazy how quickly memories escape us. At Christmastime, I am especially keen on traditions and memory making.

So, right in line with that, we continued our tradition of going to see a movie on Christmas Eve. This year, we saw...
The Muppet Movie! Jason was thrilled about the scene to pose with:
Some of my friends had been posting on facebook about the treats they had been making which made me wish I had made plans for some. So we went by Publix and got the makings for Oreo truffles. New tradition? I think so.

We actually went to two Christmas Eve services this year. One at Jason's family's church and then one at our church (which we joined last Sunday!); Both were wonderful and full of joy and reflection. At our service we were able to take communion and then pray as a family. I'll never get over the fact that Jesus came.

Between the two services, we had a dinner of taco soup. Delish!
We went to bed, and I'll admit, I couldn't sleep very well. There is just something magic about Christmas Eve night.

We woke up Christmas morning and the magic began:

Jason cooking breakfast: bacon, eggs, and french toast. What a man!
 Christmas breakfast table: please note the precious eyes peering in the window.
 Jason reading Luke 2: the true "magic" of the day.  God coming as a helpless baby to save us? Wow.

This quote from Donald Miller really spoke to me this year:
 "I can't think of a better way for God to enter the world than as an infant. He became on of His creation, for the sake of His creation. For a period in world history, mankind changed the diapers of God. He nursed at his creation's breast. How discerning of him. What a fantastic way to build a bridge between infinite God and finite man. He depended on us for food and shelter and even life. He gave up power and control in an effort to love and rescue. Merry Christmas indeed!"
The pups enjoying the breakfast bounty:

 Next, we opened presents. Jason was so sweet and thoughtful, he is lavish with his love. He gave me all you see pictured (including jewelry hidden on the tree, a Christmas book for my collection for future kiddies, and a favorite childhood Christmas movie) as well as tickets to go to see lights at the Botanical Gardens. My man, he is tops.
 I did my best to speak Jason's love language through blu-rays, clothes, a new grill cover, and some hot sauce. I told him his presents were very manly, and that we were officially dorks since we got each other superhero shirts. 
 We got ready and headed to a beautiful Christmas morning service at church.

I'm calling this the official Christmas picture of 2011:
Next, we headed to my Mom and Dad's for some yummy christmas lunch. Many wonderful times have been had around this table with these wonderful faces:
 Present giving ensued where we were lavished with way too many wonderful gifts as evidenced by this before and after shot of the living room:


Joy commenced with some self-timer picture taking. I love my family:

 We topped off the evening with a favorite family past-time: board game playing. This particular game had Jason making donkey impressions from Shrek: hilarious.

Next, we headed over to Jason's parent's house. I don't take for granted the fact that both of our awesome families live in the same county as us. A great blessing for sure!

Christmas magic and joy was put into hyperdrive with these sweet kiddos around:

 (This is post finding some tinted chapstick in her stocking, oh my! Haha!)

 We had more delicious food and were overwhelmed with many more extremely generous gifts. Honestly, our families are amazing. Then, we talked them into some more self-timer picture taking:

(I love how all the kids followed Jason in sticking out their booties, what a influence! Ha!)

We headed back to my parents house to end the night with a hilarious and creative scavenger hunt! My Dad is so creative in making up the clues!

We headed home and fell exhausted into our beds. We drank up all the sweet goodness that Christmas had to offer us: spending time as a couple, sweet time with family, and worshiping our sweet savior. What a joy, what a gift, what an abundant life!

Merry Christmas 2011!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Love

I've been terribly absent here. My goal is to post once a month, which I obviously failed at in the past few months. I even considered closing up shop on the old blog, but I do love the unique outlet it gives me to express my thoughts and to potentially encourage others in the process.

I've had many ideas of things I wanted to blog about, and perhaps I will do that sometime; lessons learned in the past months, primarily about being light in the world. I do hate that so many of those thoughts I had and lessons I learned have so easily slipped through my fingers because I didn't take the time to write them down. All the more reason to chronicle and reflect...

For whatever reason, I've been feeling especially adult lately (some of you are probably laughing at me). I think it began when we bought our house, something about the magnitude and responsibility of that really resonated with me. But, it's more than that too. Lately I've noticed that my thoughts and feelings about life and the world have changed (in a good way). It's difficult to put it into words exactly, but I find my views expanding, the grace I give to others and myself increasing, and the magnitude of my purpose and the brevity of life coming more and more into focus.

One unfortunate side effect of adulthood I've discovered is how much more quickly time passes and  how much more elusive magical moments have become. But last Friday, I was given a gift. It was my first elementary school Christmas party experience as a teacher (since my previous years as a middle school teacher held only exams on the last day before break). The morning was already wonderful, we were all allowed to wear our pajamas to school (a definite perk) and I had been absolutely overwhelmed with wonderful gifts from students and co-workers. Joy was in the air as our sing-along program commenced. The premise of the program was to collect toys for Must ministries, and as the children filed in to give the gifts, the chorus sang the song "believe" from Polar Express. 

And in that moment, I felt it, that magical Christmas feeling that we all remember from childhood. I was trying to put my finger on what allowed me that moment, in hopes that I could recreate it for the future, and suddenly, it was obvious: it was love.

As I looked over my room full of students, I was overwhelmed with love. A few weeks ago at my home church's homecoming, my mom talked about how she had always felt "covered up with love" at the church. That is exactly what I wanted to do in that moment. I saw a room full of students, many of whom aren't loved by their families as they should be, and I longed to cover them up with love too.  I prayed that they would know that they were loved by me, and infinitely more so by a creator who longed for them.

Later in the program, I probably broke ever good-teaching practices rule there is as I led my students around the room in a Conga Line to Feliz Navidad. But the smile on my new non-English speaking student's face and the exclamation from another student that I was "the best teacher ever" made it all so worth it. I'm so thankful for my daily opportunity to love on kids. What a gift.

I love Christmas: the magic of Santa Claus, the giving of gifts, even the hustle and bustle, because for me, it all points to love.  I pray that my home and my life can always reflect this at Christmas and always.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whosoever shall believe in him, will no perish, but will have everlasting life.

Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, will together with all the saints, be able to grasp how wide, and high, and long, and deep is the love of Christ.

Love one another for love is of God, He who love is born of God and knows God. He who does not love, does not know God: God is love.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite Christmas songs from my very favorite Christmas movie:

It's true, wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas.

Merry Christmas!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

All of us like you.

A few weeks ago, one of my favorite students who happens to have special needs gave me this beautiful note.

It's hard to read, but the time she took to type it and highlight it in pink had to be taken note. It says:

You are the greatest teacher ever. All of us like you.

How powerful. How beautiful. How profound.

This child, who understands at about the capacity of a first grader spoke more truth into my heart with those 11 words than any accomplished author or scholar ever has or will.

Now, do I believe I am the greatest teacher ever?
FAR from it, I assure you.

And do I think every single one of my students like me?
Absolutely not.

But sweet Hannah reminded me of a lesson that we can all learn from and be reminded of.

I am valuable.

What if we had this outlook on life? Instead of the constant questioning, comparing, and degrading of ourselves, taking on the attitude that...All of us like you!! Of course not in a conceited way, but instead in a way that asserted our own value.
One of my teacher friends who is going through some very hard times right now sent me an email that a friend encouraged her with that instructed her to envision the Lord enjoying her all day. What a thought, but how true! After all, it is in Him where our value comes, and how He does love and delight in us! If we would only believe it! 

Just as Abileen's mantra from The Help said, what if I believed AND worked to show others that...

You is kind.
You is Smart.
You is Important.

 Did you hear that? You are valuable and ALL OF US LIKE YOU!

I really do believe that all of my struggles would be solved if I could come to really believe this. No more self doubt, no more destructive behaviors, no more comparisons to others, no more jealousy. Just believing in myself, treating myself with value, deciding what to be and being it! Just love and acceptance for myself and for all who I come in contact with.

Really, this is the whole message of Jesus and the mission of my life. 

To love and be loved.

Hey you,

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Great is thy Faithfulness

For many reasons, August has been a tough month. Without going into too much detail, I'll just say that it has been a time of transition and trial, but also one huge display of the faithfulness of God. 

I wish I could enumerate all the ways, but I just don't have words, but so many times over this month, He has made Himself and His love known to me, and I'm just so thankful.

Great is thy Faithfulness, Oh God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with thee
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not
As thou hast been, thou forever will be

Great is thy faithfulness, Great is thy faithfulness
Morning by Morning, new mercies I see
All I hath needed thy hand hath provided
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

Tomorrow is September: a new day, a new season, and new mercies each day.

I hope to be back soon with some recent thoughts and lessons. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Deep thoughts from Zero

Good Morning! Zero here, I just wanted to give a quick shout out to all my adoring fans out there!

Mom took these shots of me the other day. I'm not sure why it makes her laugh so much when I perch on the rail like I often do. I  mean, I hear a noise and I want to see what it is, so the only logical explanation is to hop up on the rail to check things out.
My mom is so hilarious with that camera of hers, she was shooting my good side, so I thought I would let her snap a few. We've been running together this summer, so I wanted to show off my new figure to everybody anyways.

Then, Mom came out and took a few more pictures. I wasn't really in the mood to talk, so I just let her take pictures of me in my deep mood of introspection.
 Many times, I enjoy just gazing off into the distance and pondering the mysteries of life.

I hope you can take some time today to ponder the beautiful things of life. There's just so much beauty to gaze upon and enjoy.

Much love to all,

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Journey Continues

Two years ago, as I finished up the most amazing student teaching experience anyone could ever ask for, my mentor (who is one of the greatest teachers and people I have ever known) surprised me with the most amazing and emotional moments I have ever experienced.

He had all the students leave the room, and then asked me to close my eyes and take him by the hand.

 And, at the end of a seemingly long walk, he leaned in and whispered...

This is where your journey begins.

Then, I walked down the hall as the entire 7th grade stood and cheered.

I don't think I'll ever forget that moment, and what it meant to me. I think of it often even now.

A few months later, I was praying and pleading that I would somehow secure a teaching job in a dried up market, and I was so, so thankful when I got the call from E.T. Booth Middle School, first inviting me to interview and then offering me a job.

For the past two years, I have had the honor of working at Booth. I prayed when I got the job that I would not forget how badly I wanted it and how blessed I was to get it.

A few months ago, I interviewed and was hired at a new elementary school in my county. I'll be teaching 6th grade there, and although I am very excited about it, I am so sad to leave the place that first made me a "real teacher".

I have taught a total of three years (including one as a student teacher), and for each year I have an envelope with letters I received.

I took some time tonight and looked back over these letters; the representation of this journey that I'm on, and I was so, so blessed by them once again...

2008-2009 Student Teaching at MMS:

Some letters made me laugh...

Some made me cry....

2009-2010 School Year BMS:
 And with each letter, you pray that sometime between the "Please sit down and don't talk"s and the "Do you have your homework"s, that you truly did impact their lives...

2010-2011 School year BMS:

You pray that perhaps sometime in the future, they might remember something you said or did and that it will make a difference...

...and you see just how much these "students" have taught you...

As I look back over my journey thus far, I see more than just students. I see so many teaching giants that have stood in front of and beside me.

From my own K-12 teachers to the many great professors I had at Berry including the late Dr. Prince who penned this kind observation that I will always cherish...

to the friends and teammates I am so very sad to leave behind at Booth who's emails and letters I will also hold dear...

I'm so thankful for each person that God has placed alongside of me along this journey. And as the journey continues, I know I can trust Him to plan and guide each step.