A Mentor's Words to Me

I have been deep in thought tonight. I have had another week that has challenged me in ways I never expected. And honestly, today I made some choices that I wish I could take back. I think that's part of the whole "being human" aspect of this side of heaven.

I have contemplated two quotes that my mentor at church told me a little while back that have been some words that have helped me lately.

The first was "Don't ever let your memories be bigger than your dreams." I have clung to those words a lot lately. There is so much that God is talking to me about that I could get stuck on, but I am seeing that the point of all this is to look forward, not backward. That's true, but difficult too. I am praying a lot to God, telling him that I am trying to do just that. Hum...

The other one that I have really contemplated tonight is "Don't be surprised when things get heated up when you're about to reach a dream with God." Okay, so I shouldn't quote it like that because the exact words may not have been that, but that was the point.

I now have two interviews set up. One in North KC, and one in Lee's Summit. And for the first time in all of this, I am REALLY pumped. I feel something is about to happen. FINALLY. I have thought a lot about how I have wanted to be at IHOP-KC for 6 years, and now I'm almost there. Granted, I won't be on full-time staff, but I will be there, and that excites me in a way you can't understand.

I also feel it's almost there because I have more character built in the past 2 weeks. Life is still good, don't get me wrong. Nothing has been horrible. I have had character built in ways I wish it hadn't though.

We'll see what happens tomorrow at the interview...

Stay tuned!

Life.
Is.
Good.

Accountability

Today I had a long conversation after school with Collegekid. All day we acted like nothing had happened between us, but I could tell she was more on edge today and less chatty with the students, as well as with me. I was fine with that. I awoke this morning and said more than one prayer, so I knew God had it all under control.

So after school I sat down with her to go through her evaluation line by line and then talked to her about last Thursday's events. I could tell she was surprised by what I had to say. I went through my side of the events, and then let her state her side of things, just like I do in my classroom. (She went through a lot of tissues as we talked.) I was surprised when she said, "I think you're all making a bigger deal out of this than there should be." I just looked at her. Once again, I stated my side and she stated, "Well, it was upside down on your desk and I could see through it and I saw that you gave me a 5, and I never expected a 5 (5 is good here, by the way), so I wanted to see what it was in." I just looked at her. Amazing. She said it isn't a big deal, and that she wasn't unethical. I was puzzled, and honestly got more frustrated by the minute. In the end, she signed her evaluation, and left. I sat there thinking, "And she is going to be responsible for being a role model for the next generation...what a scary thing..."

I realize she's a broken vessel, and her story isn't different from my own 4th graders in my classroom. She's a wounded bird that shows the wear and tear on her emotional state just in her eyes. She is trying to make a difference, and honestly I think she's trying her best.

Honestly, I think that sometimes a person's best isn't good enough. For example, my best at singing a solo in front of the church would be embarrassing for everyone involved...(no joke!) and I think in this case, perhaps her best wouldn't be enough to do this job. I don't know.

I do know that my attempt at holding her accountable wasn't received. However, tonight as I lay my head down to sleep, I can tell God I did my best in this situation. And really, that's all that matters, isn't it?

Hum...
Life.
Is.
Good.

A Phone Call and Congas!

Today I had two things worth sharing. I could share just one, as I hear the bed calling my name, but I think they're both noteworthy in my little corner of the world.

First off, after some debate (not much, but some) I called the professor of my Practicum Student to share what happened last week. I had called Friday and left a message, and the professor called me back today. I say I debated because my administrator in my building encouraged me not to call, but I couldn't shake it. The student had crossed an ethical line, and I knew that I needed to let them know. Afterall, she wants to be responsible for the next generation of kids. If she will look at her evaluation in the dark in my room after I had just said, "We'll go through this together Tuesday", I have some real reservations in just sending in an evaluation saying she's a great student.

After relaying the story, I took a deep breath, wondering what the professor would say. I heard her gasp and say, "Woah" very slowly. To which I replied, "Yeah, that's kind of what my thought was too." I did go on to say she does have some strengths and although I had decided to re-do her evaluation, this experience hasn't been all bad. Character building for me, yes! But not bad. I told her I was only changing the "Professionalism" part of the evaluation, and wanted to mail it to her at this point because I have had trust broken with the student. She agreed and was glad I called. She apologized to me for the student's behavior and said there may need to be action taken at that level too.

I just pray tomorrow goes well with her. I have the student Tuesday and Thursday of this week and she's done. I think I've probably learned more than the student has through this whole experience. Hum...

Tonight we had a guest speaker at our church, and I was enormously blessed to be there tonight. I had been asked to play congas, and I get somewhat nervous when I am asked to be the only percussionist as I am not the best player in the world. I do it though because I know I am playing for God, not for men. It was REALLY fun. I have no idea if it was any good or not, but it was fun. I was smiling the whole time. Good stuff.

The sermon was really good too. It was on being a courageous woman of God. The speaker taught on a passage of scripture that I had never studied before, which REALLY blessed me. I was glad I went. I find myself so hungry for the things of God...moreso than I've been in a while and I think it's because I'm now free of the living situation I was in. I find myself almost returning to the old me...it's been GREAT.

Now it's time to do one of my all-time favorite things...SLEEP!

Life.
Is.
Good.

A typical Sunday...sort of...

Today was a typical Sunday...well, kind of...sort of...

The typical side of the day was going to church. I am REALLY happy in my church, and enjoy going and being a part of what God is doing there. I also love the fact our worship team is growing closer together, both musically and personally. I feel as if I fit in there, which is a blessing in ways I can't even describe. I don't take it for granted because there was a day I didn't fit in in a previous church. I am loved very well at BYKOTA. Once again, I THANK GOD FOR MY CHURCH FAMILY! Honestly, it makes me think, "I could stay one more year." Hum....

On the not-so-typical side of things, worship was INCREDIBLE today. I'll be honest, there are days that I don't get as close to God as I want to in worship at my church, but today was INTENSE. I. LOVED. IT.

After church, I went to lunch with A.K. I find myself doing lunch pretty regularly after church with different people, so going with Amie was cool. We have SO MUCH in common that we're growing closer and closer these days. We're both single, so we have a lot to share with one another that only another single gal could get. We even prayed for each other before we each headed to our own place. I tell ya, I am finding that God is blessing me with friendships in ways I couldn't have ever asked for, which is huge due to what happened last month. HUGE. :-) I am a blessed gal.

Finally, I went to a worship service tonight at church. It was good, but I honestly long to be back at IHOP. Somehow I think I will be there to visit sooner than I expect. ;-)

Once again...

Life.
Is.
Good.

Life. Is. Good.

I just returned from KC tonight after attending a conference in Lee's Summit and soaking at IHOP-KC. I just took some time to re-read my posts before writing this one. I should have realized my week was so hard because the conference and IHOP were so good! In the past, I have found that any time I have a REALLY rough time before time with God, it's just to get me off-track and not want to go to whatever event is about to come up. I know, for most of you, that makes no sense, but trust me, in my life it's true.

I got to Lee's Summit last night in time for the evening session of the Women's Conference. I had missed the conference all day yesterday because we were out of subs in our district, so I just went up after school. I could give you a run-down of everything that happened, but won't do that. I will simply state that I am a different person today than I was yesterday. Between the worship, teachings, and encouragement given by others on the trip with me and other conference attendees, it was a weekend I will never forget. I feel as if I'm walking closer to God than I have in a LONG time. I feel as if I'm not as alone in this journey. It was amazing. It is amazing how God gives us more than we could ever think or imagine because I never expected what happened this weekend.

I was amazed at how much I LAUGHED too. I was with 4 other gals from my church, and I haven't laughed as much as I did this weekend in a LONG time. It was something I didn't even think about until about 1:00 am this morning when we were still laughing and talking and turned to one of them and said, "I haven't laughed this much in a long time." VERY COOL STUFF!

After doing lunch with the ladies after the conference ended, I went to IHOP-KC on my own. I had a GREAT time. It was one of those days where I couldn't even explain to you what God did in me, but I can say it was REALLY good.

So, I am sorry I was such a downer this week on here.
But I'm glad to report my new favorite phrase...

Life.
Is.
Good.

:-)

Shortone's...

...Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Day...

There is a book that is read to the students in our Elementary School titled, "Alexander and His Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Day." Well, today I'm re-writing the story...

Shortone's Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Day...

It started at 7:45 this morning with my College Practicum Student on edge because her professor was coming today to observe her. She started the day by asking me, "Did you fill out my evaluation yet?" Honestly, I hadn't even thought about her evaluation form lately. While I knew it was coming up, I was dreadding the whole thing and was honestly in a state of denial about the evaluation. She is a very needy college student, and God has REALLY stretched me this semester by having her be a part of my classroom. She's a nice enough gal, but she would honestly be in my classroom if she was in the fourth grade.

She was a Nervous Nellie and I sent her down to swing Tearsboy while I gathered my thoughts and took a deep breath as the day started. I prayed silently too, as I had a feeling it was going to be a busy day. I filled out the evaluation form while she and Tearsboy were out of the room and turned it upside down on my desk. I knew I would have to go through the evaluation with her at the end of the day, but set it aside without giving it much thought after that.

Then, I was headed down to tell the 5th grade teachers that I had an 8:00 meeting, and I couldn't take their students first thing. On my way, I heard some noise in the boys bathroom. I stood at the door and waited. I couldn't see what was happening, but I could hear the ruckus on the other side of the restroom. (Our bathrooms are set up in which you can hear things, but not see into the actual stall part of the restroom.) Eventually two third graders came out. I took them down to third grade and explained it all to the teacher, which turned into a fifteen minute mini-lesson on how not to lie with the third graders. I was then late for the meeting AND had little people sitting outside my door. I sent the kids back to their classrooms, gathered my meeting information, and headed down to the conference room.

The meeting was on a good kid in my class, so I didn't expect much out of the meeting. The only problem is that the kid misses about one day per week because the parent doesn't get her to school on Mondays. I had to start out the meeting with addressing the absentee issue. The mother was offended, which made the whole meeting difficult. I ended the meeting with a thought (literally) of "This day has to get better." I didn't pray then...I wish I had though!

Fast forward to Collegekid teaching the kids about apples. She did a decent job, but made some obvious mistakes in her lesson. I sat with her professor and made chit-chat as the lesson came to a close. After that, we sat with the practicum student and talked about the lesson, where she wound up crying. My thought at this point in the day was, "The hits just keep on coming..."

Motormouth entered my room and had a Science Test to complete. He started out well, and wound up challenging me quickly. He spent 45 minutes working on the test by himself. (He's capable of doing the work, but is great at wasting time too!) After the first 45 minutes, I looked at the page, and he had about 2 questions out of 13 done. I gave him my usual look, took a sticky note that said, "Focus Here" with an arrow on it pointing to the questions, stuck it to his paper, and just looked at him. He frowned. After about ten minutes, he said "I'm done." I just looked at him. I wasn't in the mood. I said, "Okay, go turn it in."

I went ahead with the Math group, and he returned with the Science Teacher. Apparently he just wrote stuff down, and didn't answer the questions. Truthfully, I figured as much but figured that I wasn't in the mood for the battle today so had let it go. The teacher requested that he re-do it during recess and I was fine with that. He sat down and I gave him math to do. I figured she had said, "During Recess" so I gave him something he enjoys doing. I let it go...

After lunch I made a phone call to one of my credit card companies. In the move last month, one of the bills never got to me, so I figured out last night that my minimum payment due is now more than my car payment AND the interest rate was more than doubled. Now, I will state that I am RESPONSIBLE with my bills. In fact, I'm a bit OCD when it comes to bill because I want to buy a house one day. Yeah, well, apparently after a 25 minute call with my credit card company I found out they won't help me a bit. Let me say that again, WILL NOT HELP ME A BIT. I have never ever been late on a payment, and have paid more than my minimum every month. I was in tears, literally. I'm not one to cry much, but I was in tears literally saying, "I have been faithful, why won't you help me?" Of course, they are within their contract, I messed up, but it still made me mad. Who does that? So, needless to say, I have some research to do to switch companies. I was a mess after my phone call. I honestly thought I would call and get some help, and instead found myself incredibly frustrated. Ugh...

I went back and vented to a friend before taking on my students. They knew something was up, but didn't ask because they could tell I was upset. I was thankful for my friend, she is a great gal. Kim is always there for me these days...

At about 1:45 Motormouth appeared again. He needed to get Science done. I have learned with Motormouth that I need to ignore him in the afternoons so he can get his work done. Of course, Collegekid wanted to help, and more than once I had to say, "It's a test, and he's allowed to use his book. Don't help him." She thought I was being mean. I didn't care, I know MM well enough to know how this game works. And, true to form, he wasted time all the way up to 3:00. I didn't talk to him, just ignored him but had to repeatedly remind my college student to leave him alone. By 3:00, he had 8 questions finished and I was done.

Right before I walked MM down to his classrom, I saw the Collegekid's evaluation turned upside down on my desk. I looked at her and then at MM and said, "We'll do this Tuesday, ok?" Honestly, I knew if MM heard a word, the whole universe would know about it, so I wanted to wait. She was fine with it.

I walked MM down to the Science Teacher to see if she would accept it or if we could send it home for homework. She was fine with the homework, but he was headed to the afterschool program so I had to let them know not to help him. I was headed to the cafeteria to tell them when it hit me that I hadn't asked our reading teacher if he had any work due tomorrow. Sure enough, there was reading too. I walked MM to the after school program and looked at the clock. It was 3:10 and I had to be at the high school by 3:30.

I headed back to my classroom. I walked up to it, and noticed my light was out. That seemed odd, but then again, Collegekid was the last to leave my room so I figured she turned it out. I walked in, turned on the light, and standing in front of me was Collegekid reading my evaluation of her. I just looked at her. I couldn't believe it! She was standing in the dark room reading something I had just told her, "We'll go through this together on Tuesday." I looked at her... She said something like "I just wanted to see what you wrote." I looked at her and very codly said, "I wanted to go through that with you." I was disappointed beyond words. Still am, honestly. I told her to go and we would talk on Tuesday. She could tell I was pissed. I have never had anyone go through my stuff like that, much less have it be an evaluation that mattered. Ugh...

I had a meeting after school, and by the time that was over I was wiped. I decided to skip making dinner and order pizza. Of course, it got here and they sent me the wrong pizza... I called and just did a credit to my account. I was too hungry to wait for ANOTHER pizza.

I tell ya, this has been a day...A horrible, no good, very bad day...

I think I'll pretend people don't exist tonight and watch Bones and Grey's.

I'm glad tomorrow is a new day...I can't handle any more stuff today.

Later...

Marley and Me

I came home tonight and needed some down time. I had papers to grade, but needed to unwind. MotorMouth's Grandpa is leaving tomorrow and this week has definately built my character in a way it hasn't been built in weeks. He had been doing so well up until this week...and now we're back at ground zero. I needed a night of relaxation...

I had ordered Marley and Me a little while back to add to my DVD collection and tonight I put it in and relaxed a bit before diving into grading papers. (I had to be a little productive!) :-) I had seen the movie in the theatres over Christmas Break with my parents, but I wanted to see it again. I had read the book before I saw the movie and it really impacted me deeply.

See, a couple years back we had an ice storm, and I read Marley and Me during my week of being trapped indoors. I LOVED the book. I mean, I ended the book and cried because I wanted a dog so badly by the end of the book. (And for the record, I'm NOT one to cry!) I have always dreamed of a family of my own, and while Mr. Right hasn't come into my life to stay, I have longed for a dog. I can't manufacture a husband to come home to, but I know that coming home to a dog would be a healthy way to start a family for me.

When I was growing up, we had a lot of dogs come and go, but we never raised them up from a pup and kept them until they died of old age. In the movie, the dog lives his whole life with one family. And that in and of itself inspires me. I have seen dogs given away over and over again in my lifetime, but have only known one gal who has raised a pup to an adult dog who died of old age. She's now on dog #2 and spoils her rotten! I imagine that's how I will be!

So tonight was really good for me. In this apartment I can't have a dog, so I will have to wait, but I know when I move again I will get to have a pet (I'm praying for that now!) and can't wait. It was fun to laugh at the dog and cry at the end of the movie.

If you haven't read the book or seen the movie, read the book first. I think books are always better, and it is true in this case too. But, I will warn you, get the tissues, you know how it ends!

As for me, I will continue to HOPE (Hebrews 11:1) for the dog that will one day be my own. And I pray I will be able to love on him his whole life.

Life.
Is.
Good.

Good News....well, for now...

I have debated all day about what to write. There were plenty of events today, and I felt pulled in so my directions that I could spend a lot of time explaining just how many hats teachers wear and how many I have worn today. I am glad to finally be on the couch and honestly will crash after this post as this day has felt like several days all rolled into one. It hasn't been bad, mind you, just insanely busy. I am thankful we don't have CITH tomorrow night, I need a night to relax at home.

At any rate, I wanted to share a bit of good news in my little corner of the world. I have been dreadding the day contracts come out for the next school year, as I am job searching in the KC area right now and I really didn't know what I was going to do when contracts came out and I still didn't have a job up north yet. So, needless to say when I walked in yesterday morning and contracts were waiting for us, I got a knot in my stomach. Then I opened the envelope! I have until June 1 to turn in the contract! So, I get to job search for another month! YIPPEE!

Of course, there are many people in my little corner of the world who don't want the search to be successful...hehehe...well, they do for my dream to come true but hate the idea of me leaving. I am loved very well here...and I recognize that. :-)

So, all that being said, go, stay, I'm good. I do want to be closer to my family, but whether it's this year or next that's okay.

I just know I now have one month left (plus a little more actually!) before I have to turn in my contract!

Life.
Is.
Good.

An Off Day for MotorMouth

Today was an unusually rough day in my classroom. I think I remember seeing that this Friday is a full moon. Perhaps not, but it sure felt like it in my little corner of the world today.

It started with MotorMouth purposely not coming to meet me for his morning time in the swing, after I had just said, "Yeah, you can go to the restroom, meet me down in the room." He never showed. I was a bit miffed. I know him well enough to know he purposely didn't come down. He knew it too when I found him a while later and said, "That's a behavior check for not coming down." He replied with something about thinking he was too late. Yeah, well, I just looked at him and got the frown look from him. I let it go. He got the message.

When he came to my class for reading/writing/math stuff, he would not be quiet. I kept saying, "please, work and be quiet." He would be quiet for a little while and then start back up. I was spent a lot of my time wondering if it was just me or if he was really bad today. I determined it was him because I was fine with all the other kids. Then he came down this afternoon...

I was letting the kids stay in during second recess to get their work done so they wouldn't have so much homework. He. would. not. shut. up. I was getting frustrated.

It didn't help that earlier in the day it was determined that he can't walk alone in the halls so he's not allowed to go anywhere alone. Yeah, the teacher the imposed that rule wasn't thinking how much that was going to make my life harder...

So we were working this afternoon and I had had it. I turned to him and said, "Go for a walk and get a drink of water." He then reminded me that he couldn't walk alone in the halls. I was even more frustrated then. So, I asked a student to walk him when another teacher walked in and I said, "Can you do me a favor and take him for a walk? I need 30 seconds of silence." She saw I was tired and said sure. I enjoyed the silence. He came back in and worked. Not completely silently, but it was a little better.

I walked him up to the entrance of the school at the end of the day and asked Grandpa if meds had changed. He said no.

I REALLY REALLY hope tomorrow is better. Spring time isn't easy for teachers.

And with Motormouth in the fifth grade, this is going to be an interesting end to the school year.

Later.

Young Author's Conference at PSU!

Yesterday I attended the Young Author's Conference at PSU. It is a conference for children grades 1-6 that have written books that were selected at their schools by being the top books in their grade. Every year I have been at the school that I teach at, I have heard about the conference but have never attended. The past two years I have been a judge for the books, which has been fun! So this year I was invited to go to the Small Group Leaders Meeting at PSU, and decided I wanted to go the conference. I wasn't signed up to go but our coordinator and small group leader said I could go. On Friday they approached me and asked me to take pictures. I was pumped, I was getting to go AND had a job to do!

At the conference the kids got to hear an author of Children's books speak. They also read their own books to kids in small groups. The highlight for everyone though, was the juggler. I know, you're sitting there thinking, "What does a juggler have to do with writing?" Actually, as he juggled, he talked to the kids about working hard, and letting others help them grow in their writing abilities. He also talked about how it all takes practice. Lots and lots of practice.

The biggest trick he did was balancing this table on his chin without any hands. It was an incredible sight, and the picture doesn't do it justice. I sat there and thought about the impact that little trick had on those young readers and writers. Practice, practice, practice. I can only imagine how much practice it took him to get this trick just right.

It taught me a lot too. (I know, you're shocked!) He could have quit after the first time he tried that trick, but he kept at it and is now using his gifts to encourage young people in their endeavors. That is wonderful.

The whole day was a lot of fun, and next year (regardless of where I am physically, here or in KC), I'd like to be involved in that again. It was special for me.

Life.
Is.
Good.

2 stories for the price of one...errrr...free!

Tonight I have two stories to share. I would say they're two for the price of one but you read this for free, so I guess it's a two-for-one night! Ha! They are my two highlights for today. Yeah, two highlights! It was a good day!

First off, this morning I was talking to Speechgal about a student's progress, and wound up sharing my dream of moving with her. I know, you're all thinking, "You just moved into an apartment." True, but I have a deep desire to be a part of IHOP-KC. I've had it for several years, but waited, hoping my former roommate would be able to financially support herself and I could move up there. Well, now that I'm free of that responsibility, I am ready to walk out my dream. However, I don't have a job yet. I've had interviews, but not any job offers. Which is fine. Whether it's this school coming school year or next, I am cool with that. So, as I shared my heart about moving to KC, Speechgal teared up, stating she understood my desires, but hated to think of me leaving. I was blessed. I am loved so very well here, and it was a reminder that me just being me is making a difference. It touched my heart...

Secondly, I had some friends over tonight and they blessed me in ways I can't even express in words. SingingGal brought her two kids, and we ate pizza and wound up going and renting "Bolt." (Good movie by the way!) We laughed and joked a lot. SingingGal and I also had some time to just talk. That was precious to me. After all I've been wrestling with about friendships, and how one recently ended very abruptly and with a lot of pain that God and I are discussing a lot, I am reminded tonight that there are some WONDERFUL Christian friends around me, supporting me in ways they don't even see or know. And in light of everything I'm processing, I don't take one ounce of love from my friends now for granted. And I thank God for each and every one of them...

Life.
Is.
Good.

Makin' Music!

Today the highlight of my day was worship team practice tonight. I tell ya what, as a team, we have grown together as musicians in such incredible ways! Now, I will state upfront that I'm not a professional musician by any means. About 5 years ago I had a deep desire to play congas, and just started playing. I never had lessons, I just play as I feel led by God. I'm not the best player, by any stretch of the imagination. But, I will say I play with all my heart. God knows I am wanting to please him as I play music with the team. And honestly that's all that matters.

About 11 weeks ago we switched worship leaders and Scottie has taken over with two other worship leaders in the church. Primarily though, Scottie leads. And, I tell ya what, God has moved more in my heart in worship the past few weeks at practice than I can express in words to you here. I find myself in awe of how God pours into our lives as we pour into His.

I went to practice tonight and found myself one of two girls, with 5 guys present. I'll be the first to admit, I would rather be around guys than girls because they seem to be happier people. (Sorry gals, don't mean to slam us!) So that was cool.

The amazing part for me was how much fun we had just playing. Noone was in a hurry to leave at all. In fact at 8:30, we pulled out a whole new song and had it learned by 9:00. Scottie commented how much fun it was, and I wholeheartedly agreed. It was time well spent. :-)

Life.
Is.
Good.

Defining Moments

Everyday I spend time in thought, wondering what I will blog about each night. Some nights I don't blog simply because I recognize I am in a bad mood and it's better that I don't communicate my thoughts on that particular night, or I simply am too tired to write. Today I had quite a few funny moments, quite a few tough moments, and quite a few "God I just need to hear you" moments. I knew homegroup was going to be REALLY good tonight because I was really tired and I could hear myself thinking, "you could skip and fall asleep on the couch." I am REALLY glad I ignored that inner voice saying stay home.

The thing I love about my homegroup is that we just talk and God moves in what is said and lives are touched. It's not anything super-spiritual or anything like that. It's just a group of people coming together to draw closer to God, and ultimately wind up growing closer in relationship with each other as well as with God. I. LOVE. THAT.

So tonight we opened up with a question...what is a defining moment? Is it something that happens to us, or is it something that happens as a result of what we do?

Tonight I was not shy, and shared my heart. Others did too, which was even cooler because God moved between all of us in what was said. I LOVE THAT TOO!

I stated that I think that a defining moment is when your eyes are opened to something you didn't see before, and most of the time it's something revealed by God. And, honestly, I think it's both, you can have it be something that happens to you and it can also be something that you choose to walk through.

I was amazed that defining moments was what the topic tonight, as I was driving to homegroup tonight and remembered that three years ago tonight was a defining moment for me. I was in a church that wasn't healthy, and the pastor got into a scriptural debate with someone in the congregation in front of everyone. It wasn't healthy, it wasn't right, and I knew it was time to move on. For me that was a defining moment because I stepped out into something new and unknown. I walked out of an unhealthy church into something more than I ever could have dreamed or imagined. Don't get me wrong, I know it's not perfect, and I need IHOP-KC to balance out my walk with God, but He put me in the place that fits me. Go figure, God knows what I need before I need it! :-)

My favorite part of tonight was when a couple of the ladies talked about some hard defining moments in their lives that they are still walking out the results of, and are in such tough places that they needed simple encouragement. I thought it was great how everyone encouraged one another. I also loved how God used me to speak into their lives.

I ABSOLUTELY love it when I get to encourage others in their walk with God. I have always been an encourager and have a deep heart for people. And tonight was really cool because I could feel God's presence as I shared what He gave me. It has been A LONG time since I've experienced that! I love it when God moves, and chooses to use me in the process. It's not about me, don't get me wrong, but to get to be a part of what God is doing in other's lives is one of my favorite things to do! It was AWESOME!

I will probably share in the next few days some defining moments that have changed my life, but for tonight I am just thankful that He used me to bless His kids!

Life.
Is.
Good.

Facebook Connections

Last night I logged into my Facebook account, and found that several of my friends from college had requested me as a friend. I was excited, as it has been YEARS since I have talked to several of them. I have kept up with one friend over the years, but other than that I had lost touch with almost everyone else. Most of them have gotten married, had kids, and moved all over the country. I found out that one friend and his wife are now expecting their first child, and I'm not so sure we're ready for a little version of him! Just kidding! It really is nice to hear how well everyone is doing.

I think it is refreshing to see something positive on the internet. So often I hear about all the bad stuff you can get into on the internet. And while that is true, the internet is like anything else in life, you can choose to see the good stuff or the bad stuff.

I sit here with the Prayer Room playing in the background and surfing my usual webpages.

And I feel blessed because through Facebook, I am reconnecting with old friends. We are even trying to pull a small reunion together in June.

Life.
Is.
Good.
Later!

Hebrews 11:1

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

Tonight I went to the Encountering God Service at IHOP-KC. I realize part of this won't make sense to many of you, but I feel compelled to share it anyway.

I have been longing to be in a service where the music just keeps going. I have been to several services around here that have been good, but just as I have entered into a deep place with God, the music stops for something else in the service. And, to be honest, I understand why there is so much stopping in services. Not everyone is wired the way I am. I can spend hours before the Lord and not grow tired of it the music portion of the service. At the same time, many people find 30 minutes of music/worship too much. I get that.

But in light of all the "stuff" I've been in, I have needed time with God. Deep time.

So I entered the building tonight just as service started and sat in the back because I knew I was going to have to jet out at 7 so I could get back here at a decent time. I was on the next to last row, which is the complete opposite of the true Shortone. I usually sit up close so I can focus better.

As we entered in, I found myself guarded, which was odd. Then I realized what the problem was, I was expecting the music to stop. It's like anything else in life, I think. Once you're conditioned to something, you expect it. Of course, then I thought to myself, "I'm at IHOP, they don't stop for an hour!" (EGS services are the only time they stop music at IHOP for an hour teaching on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as FCF services on Sunday) So, I entered in...

It was GREAT. Luke Wood led worship, and as usual it was GREAT. I will admit, Luke isn't my favorite, but tonight he did an awesome job. I entered in and was in a place with God that I haven't felt in quite a long time, to be quite honest. And just as my mind wondered, I felt a feeling of depression (Which is something I've been battling a bit of since I have moved.) Stuart Greaves said in the mic that he felt that there was a spirit of depression in the room and if you wanted prayer, to lift your hands and people would gather around you and pray. Now, I'll be honest, I have been REALLY prideful lately and haven't let others in to pray for me like that. I've been doing the "Yeah, I'm fine" bit so people don't worry about me. But, I wanted prayer. I wanted some of this "stuff" gone. So I lifted my hands...

At that time, I was surrounded by prayer warriors. Most of what was prayed, I couldn't hear. And honestly, I knew NOONE who prayed for me. Then I could hear a gal praying for me, and she prayed Hebrews 11:1 over me, and I felt that feeling of depression lift! I was grinning ear to ear. This gal didn't know me, and yet she stated the EXACT scripture I have been standing on lately!

There are SO many things in my life that I am waiting on God for, and I don't see them happening. I see them happening to people around me, but not me. And that has been insanely hard.

But tonight while I was at IHOP, I was reminded through that prayer warrior's words, that God is listening, and hears my MANY pleas. Sometimes we need that. We need God to speak through someone else because we're having trouble hearing Him from time to time.

Tonight I was encouraged tremendously by the fact that God had that gal pray Hebrews 11:1 over me.

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see."

Praise God!

Later!

A day off...

Today I had the day off due to "Good Friday." I needed a day. Standardized Testing wears out the teachers just as much (if not more) as the students. Not to mention there was a full moon this week, so I was glad we had today off.

I wish I could say I was this massively productive person who got a lot done today.
But, I can't.
Instead I managed to:
1. Sleep In.
2. Drive to the Prayer Room in KC.
3. Soak in the Prayer Room in KC.
4. Come to be with the two coolest pups on the planet.
5. Cuddle with the two coolest pups on the planet.
6. Surf the web.
7. Watch Flashpoint.
8. Surf the web.

Well, okay, so it wasn't massively productive.
But it sure was fun.
I love three day weekends!
Later!

Teaching can't be taught...

I have been giving some thought to what I do each day, as I encourage kids all day long. And, today I was reminded that the kids REALLY like to be in my classroom. Right before lunch the kids were on computers and one of the kids said, "Ms. S., it's time to go" and the whole class said, "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" in unison. I laughed. And I got to thinking (I know, shocker that I would be pondering something!) about connecting with kids.

There are some things in life we must be taught. For example, you must be taught how to drive. It looks easy enough, but remember back when you first got behind the wheel? There were questions a mile long, and you had to be TAUGHT how to drive. And, honestly, you can't get a license without some sort of practice and a test.

Teaching kids isn't something that can be taught. I spent years in college in classes that were to prepare me for the classroom. They can teach you how to lesson plan, follow IEP's, and figure grades. They cannot prepare you for abused kids, autism tantrums, or angry parents.

However, the biggest thing they cannot teach is how to connect with students. They can't teach you boundary setting or hotlining parents, or everything that falls in between. I was sitting in class today and realized how much I just do without thinking and it works.

For example, I can look at one student how uses tears to get out of anything and say "Don't even start those tears with me." And it works. They told me in college not to damage their self esteem. They said to always be careful how you phrase things so as not to scar them for life. While I do that, I am more straightforward with my students than I ever thought I would be when I entered in teaching. What they taught me in college didn't prepare me for Tearsboy.

On the other end of things, noone prepares you for kids who will lie to your face to get out of work. I will admit, I was a decent kid who didn't really think lying would fly (Honestly my attempts to lie failed miserably, as my parents always knew and I was punished!) and knew if I tried to lie it never worked anyway. Noone prepares you for kids who lie and manipulate to get out of work. I have to look at a few of my kids after I say "Do you have any work in Science tonight?" and they say "No", I have to follow with, "Okay, so if I go ask Ms. Sciencegal she'll say you're done?" and then they say, "Well, I thought I was done...I'm not sure." Either you're done or your not...there is no in between. Hum.

I also think about the ability to balance being a teacher, counselor, parent, referee, and unconditional support to these kids. Noone taught me that.

I have thought about how God gifts us all differently. Noone taught me how to connect with kids. I don't even know what I honestly did to make the kids WANT to come to my class, I just know that they do. In fact, so much so that there are days I need a break from them at the end of the day.

I do know that today in my classroom during computer time I had the 5th grade program music playing and they sang along as they worked. And, we laughed A LOT! I don't remember being taught how to do that in college. I just have an innate ability, or gift as I like to call it, to know how to connect with the kids in my life.

I have thought about how dogs know it when you like them, and kids are the same way. I can connect with kids on levels that I can't even explain how I do it. I just know I do.

I have given a lot of thought to this, and have wondered if it's the same with singers. I can sing, but not professionally. I wonder if those who can sing professionally think, "This isn't that hard people! You just do it." But honestly, we know that's not true. You've seen people on American Idol, not everyone is born to sing. Sidenote: I am one of them, but am not going to go on National TV to be told that, I already know! :-)

We have a few teachers, and I will say it is only a few, who cannot connect with kids naturally. And I have wondered how that happens. To me, connecting isn't that hard. But there are so many unspoken rules you have to be able to read, if you can't read those rules you're sunk! At the same time I think, "Kids are kids, this isn't rocket science!" I guess it's all part of the way we're wired. God gives us all different abilities and gifts to do what we're created to do. I'm created to teach Special Education Students, and everything I seem to do is not something that's taught. I just know what to do and when to do it.

Hum....I guess I'll end this by saying I'm glad I am gifted to do what I do, as I am convinced I have the BEST job on the planet.

Kinda cool, eh?

Later!

At home at Homegroup!

I tell ya what, tonight marks four weeks here in the apartment, and I feel as if I'm returning to my old self. Not that I'm old...well, anyway, I feel as if I'm walking back into the "happy" shortone version of me. I really believe that it's all part of the healing that I'm reaching for, and receiving from God. It feels good.

So three weeks ago when I was asked to teach at homegroup tonight I was not sure what I was going to say. However, over the past 3 weeks, God gave me some neat stuff to share. Go figure, God would give me something to share...ha! So tonight I had so much fun sharing and then praying over people, which is one of my favorite things to do! At the end we prayed for people and it was just fun praying over everyone. I even prayed outloud over two of them. It was so much fun!

Life is good!

Later!

KU Egg

Yesterday I was on duty in the lunchroom, and Mac (Fifth Grader) came up to me and told me he had an Easter gift for me that he made for me in art class. I was amazed to hear that one of the kids thought of me in art class! After school, Mac brought me the KU Egg displayed now for you to see! Now, I know it's not Picasso or anything of that magnitude, but to me it's priceless. Mac isn't even in my class, he's just a teacher's kid that hangs out with me from time to time after school. I tell ya what, I'm still convinced I have the BEST job on the planet. A KU Egg...this one is the only one on the planet like this one. He knows I LOVE KU basketball. I tell ya what, I am loved VERY well!

Later.

TEPS...sort of...

Today I went into work and one of my teacher friends stopped me and told me I could ride to Springfield with everyone from my school to the TEPS meeting. I looked at her and said, "I'm not going. I didn't turn my name in on time." Truthfully, I had not wanted to go tonight because the college basketball championships are tonight. I don't miss this game. It doesn't matter who is playing, I. DON'T. MISS. THIS. GAME. So, I was ready to walk off and she said, 'Well, you were on the email list to go." I stopped. Did I sign up and forget? Possible. VERY possible. However, I tend to think that when I emailed about information for the members in our building, our district gal thought I wanted to be included in the list. I checked my email files, and sure enough, I was signed up. Hum. Okay, so I was suddenly slated to go to Springfield when I had planned to plant myself on the couch and watch the game. All day I was a bit bummed. Not majorly, I mean the meeting is always fun and time well spent, but when you're ready to relax on the couch, well, I was bummed... Then Mr. C. became my hero of the day!

As I was walking to lunch, I caught up with him and asked him if I could ride with him and the gang to Springfield. He said that I could ride with him but he was headed back early to watch the game with some friends at his house. I smiled. YESSSSSSSS! While he apologized right then because it was a "guys" night at his place, so I wouldn't be invited to stay and watch, I WAS SO OKAY WITH THAT. My couch was my goal...

So, I rode to and from with him and now am relaxing on my couch. I know, you're all wondering how the meeting went. It was okay. We were seated in the back where we were served last for absolutely everything, so our table was a bit disgruntled. We left just as the meeting was really getting started, but I was glad. You have to sit through "stuff" to get to the good stuff, and I was tired of stuff. I wanted to come home.

I am feeling a bit under the weather, and hear my bed calling my name...

Later!

Movie Reviews...

For the first time in quite a long time I have taken some time to watch some movies lately. I will admit, the DVR has taken over most of my evening viewing, but I have seen two movies in the past week and I wanted to share a couple thoughts with you. I encourage you to see them and come to your own conclusions. Of course, any thoughts you would like to share would be appreciated too!

Seven Pounds
I wanted to see this movie while it was in theatres, but never did. Honestly, I am glad I waited to see it on DVD. It was a bit much for me and if I had paid full price for it, I think I would have been really disappointed. I should back up and say I saw Will Smith on Oprah months ago when he was promoting the movie, and I was really really excited about the movie. He stated he wanted to make a movie that had a point. He believed that we are to live our lives with purpose. I agree with that statement. We are to live our lives with purpose, but the movie didn't inspire me to live a life with purpose. I understood what they were doing in the movie (And I am leaving out the turning point of the whole movie in case you want to see it) but this movie did not inspire me. Honestly, I will state that it was a really good movie, but I didn't like it. See the movie...you'll see what I mean.

Twilight
I work in an Elementary School, and Twilight has been a hit with the 5th graders. I heard it was about vampires, and was not inspired to pick up the books that inspired the movie. I wasn't even sure that I wanted to see the movie. I remember years ago when I was a teen the big vampire movie was "Lost Boys." We loved it. Honestly, I think if I saw it again today I'd probably still like it. It's been YEARS since I've seen it. So, anyway, on Friday one of my students loaned me Twilight. I went into it with an open mind and watched it tonight. And my conclusion is that it was an okay movie. I find that the older I get, I gauge how good a movie is by wondering whether or not I would buy it and watch it again. I wouldn't watch it again. I'm not even sure that I will see all the sequels that are coming to theatres near you before we know it. I will say, I understand why the kids like it. Honestly, I think grade 5 is a bit young for the kids to see it. Afterall, it's rated PG-13 for a reason. (If this were 20 years ago, it would have been Rated R, I am sure of it.) So, all that being said, it was okay. It wasn't bad. It wasn't horrible. I will just say it wasn't my type of movie at this point in my life. I have wondered tonight if I would have loved it 20 years ago, and I think I would have. I guess I'm coming to the realization that I'm getting older...hum...

I now have a list of movies to see. I have discovered the joy of Redbox, where movies are $1 per night and can be reserved via the web. I see myself using that A LOT in the future. My list of movies to see include Bedtimes Stories, Slumdog Millionaire, and The Boy with Striped Pajamas. Stay tuned for futher reviews!

Later!

Peace...

I don't have much to share tonight. Today I slept in, went and played mini-golf with a friend, came home and relaxed, and then went to Citywide tonight. It's not IHOP. I mean, nowhere else is supposed to be IHOP. But honestly, it's the closest I can get to IHOP from my little corner of the planet. And tonight was very peaceful. I left there glad I went tonight. It was really fun. I think I may go to Feed the Flock tomorrow afternoon too.

Later.

Head in the Clouds!

Today was a really, really, really cool day. To you, it won't seem that great, but I tell ya, the older I get the more I am finding joy in the simplest things in life. I also find that working in an elementary school is a bonus too.

I started the day with a hug from my adopted child, Chase. Okay, so he isn't really my adopted kid, but he is in a way since his Mom is one of my good friends I am allowed to treat him as such. Everyday I start my day with a hug from Chase and I tell ya, it is one of the highlights of my day everyday.

I proceeded to do state testing with my new student. He is a sharp kid, who is becoming one of my favorites very quickly. After he was done, he turned to me and said, "So, do you have your coffee today?" And by coffee, he meant, "Do you have your Pepsi today?" I just smiled. The kid knows me well already. I love that!

I checked email before lunch, and I had an email from my friend who ended the friendship with me last month stating that she has gotten a job teaching in another district. I found myself excited for her, and am glad God used me to help her start a new career. It is my prayer that her dreams will continue to come true, even though I'm not invited to watch them come to pass.

I did lunch recess today, and sat on the picnic tables to watch the kids. I had students come and go, chit chatting with me off and on. This is normal. At the end of recess, a girl came up to me and told me she was upset because another girl had said that she wouldn't play with her. I stood there and listened, and pulled the other girls over and talked to them. I stood there and we talked for about ten minutes. I shared how friendships can be hard, and I shared that I just recently lost a close friend because I was told that she didn't want to be my friend. They seemed to appreciate the honesty. The girls looked at each other, and seemed to work it out, which was nice. Apologies, and an invitation to play the next recess were exchanged. I realize they're fifth graders, and it's spring of fifth grade, and fights will still come. But my thought was, maybe God gave me the last chapter of my life to be able to relate to these kids better. I realize there was a whole lot more for me to learn from the last chapter of my life, but I was glad I had some insight to give them that I didn't have before. Kinda cool.

After I came in from recess, Mr. H. came and asked me if I'd be willing to talk to Mr. C.'s class about CP. I told him sure, anytime. And then Mr. H. wondered if I could go right then. Well, considering all I was doing was reading email, I said sure. I went in and got to share my CP story with a class of fourth graders. Apparently when the kids were coming in from recess, one of his kids was not saying nice things about me as he entered the building. He didn't tell me the child's name, and that was perfectly fine with me. It was just fun to share my story. Mr. C. doesn't know it, but he and his wife really are two of my favorite people on the planet, and it was cool to get to share my story with him. Very cool.

I went and tutored Jay after school today. He was BOUNCING off the walls. I mean, the hardest day I've had with him in A WHILE. It took about the same amount of time but keeping him on task was hard. Anyway, part of the way through the session he said, "Will you come to my graduation from High School?" I stopped. I haven't had one student say that to me. I was blessed. Very blessed...

Tonight I had Amie K over for the evening. She is a strong woman of the Lord, also in her season of singleness, and we had fun laughing and sharing our joys and struggles. I love to be reminded that there are other single people waiting...strong women of God who are digging there own well and having their OWN history in God. I LOVE that. Amie and I also share our love of Pepsi and M&M's. Tell me, how much better can life get?

All this was great, but my favorite part of the day was during second recess. I sat on the same picnic bench to watch the kids, and Mac came over to chat. I looked at a cloud in the sky and asked Mac what he saw. We spent most of the recess sharing what we saw in the cloud. Some of the things we saw were a boat, a tuba, a fish, and a hat. It was priceless...we just sat and stared and watched it change, and move. At the end of recess, we saw a cross in the cloud. And, I could make out a person on a cross. And it even had a halo on top of it! I wish I had taken a picture! It was INCREDIBLE! Some of the kids thought it was an angel with a halo. I was OKAY with that. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. I went over after the kids were lined up and shared it with a class. It was priceless, and something I will never forget. It was the highlight of my day!

And now it's the weekend, and I am pumped. I get to sleep in tomorrow!

What a GREAT day!

Later!

Thursday...almost Friday...

I tell ya, this week has flown by! It hasn't been all that noteworthy, but for whatever reason I am really wiped tonight. I do have a few tidbits to share:

1. Testing has continued and has built my character. My most frustrating moment came on Wednesday when I was reading to myself the first story of the test that the students had to take for the day, and I wasn't even done with the first story of about 4 on the test, and a student turned to me and said, "I'm done." ARGH. Seriously...that boy is smarter than that.

2. Homegroup was a lot of fun last night. I find myself thanking God continually for the blessings he has given me in the Church Family I am a part of. Years ago I was trying to find a new church and prayed for a special group of people, and He has given me more than I could have ever thought or imagined. Gee, I'm pretty sure I read that somewhere too...

3. I was reminded that there are some really good people in the world. I had a friend who needed to find a car seat for her nephew who was coming to visit for two weeks, and I put it on our school district trading post asking for help, and a gal offerred me her car seat. When I explained the situation, she said that was fine, and if I ever need it again to let her know. I tell ya, there are some really nice people in the world that want nothing in return. Just to help people. Very cool.

4. I got a call last night from my former landlord. I had sent a nice thank you card for all that they have done for me over the past 5 years, and honestly had wrestled with leaving the way I did. I wanted to give them more notice, and move out in a timely manner. That plan was obviously thrown out the window, as I moved out and gave less than 30 days notice. I had contemplated the whole deposit aspect of it all, but had dismissed it because I figured I moved out quickly and didn't go back down that road again...literally. I didn't care about the money. What is important is that I'm in a peaceful environment now, and I figured that was worth losing the deposit. Well, as it turns out, he's sending me a check for the deposit and wanted to let me know what a good renter I was, and he wished I was still there. That blessed me. I left in a hurry, without notice, and I still get the deposit back. Once again, I was reminded that there are some really good people still in this world. Very cool.

5. Finally, I went over to a friend's tonight to tutor her kids, and had a ball. I think it's going to be a weekly thing, and I am so excited. They are NEAT kids, and I am blessed to have this family in my life. Very blessed. Life is good.

For now, I need to sleep. Tomorrow is Friday...I am ready for the weekend!