Jul 28, 2013

1000 Gifts

For weeks, I kept seeing posts on FB #1000gifts. I got nosy and checked out the book for myself from the library. The author's writing is compared with CS Lewis. (meaning, read it with a dictionary) She uses alot of figurative language. Underneath it all, is a beautifully simplistic message. Thanksgiving is an act of worship. Thanksgiving is the vehicle that will bring us to truly experience and FEEL the fulness of the joy of our salvation. She is very spiritual, and very poetic. So she's thankful for things like the creaking of her knees of chirping of the birds. I, on the other hand, have been writing down things like new kitchen backsplash or extra money. God worked it out that my friend Keri was starting a Bible study on this very book. I got to see the author in person teaching out this concept of gratitude and how it equaled joy. What she says, after studying scripture, is so incredibly profound and yet delightfully simple. Being the teacher I am, I took copious notes. I thought I would share some of the things she said that impacted me the most.

Eucharisteo (greek word for thanksgiving)

Eucharisteo always preceeds the miracle.

Thanksgiving creates abundance.


Habits can imprison you, or free you.

All new life comes from dark places. Emptiness births the fullness of grace. God wastes nothing.

Lam. 3:33 All is being transfigured to bring glory to God.

Fear keeps life small. Trust is HARD work.

Trust is the antithesis of stress. Stress is disbelief. Trust is active belief.

The Israelites theology was built on reflecting and remembering the goodness of God.

Gratitude is memory of God's heart.

When I surrender to stress, I advertise the unreliability of God. (ouch)

In Christ, blessings never end.

I am learning, to live a life of thanksgiving. To be thankful in the small moments, and in the big. And in my life, holding on to the blessing of a few moments past, gets me through the tough moments that are hard to swallow. And these blessings, like creaked knees, or slobbery kisses, are gifts. Gifts that no-one can take. Blessings from a good God who gives and takes as He sees fit. When I remember His goodness, I am thankful and when I am thankful I can trust and when I trust there is peace and joy, real joy.

Mar 6, 2013

I didn't answer the phone today

Four people called me today. Normally, I would be thrilled to call all of them back and chat away. But the first question any person asks would have left me speechless. "How are you?" Well, today a check bounced, the gas tank is on E and my child has decided to try to do every-single-thing he is not supposed to do. On top of that, I made a small goof up and will face an awkward apology tomorrow. Because I cannot stand to be fake and simply say "Great, you" I just didn't answer the phone. It was as if saying all my troubles out loud would be reliving/admitting/fessing up to all of it. Minus the free will of my almost -two-year-old, the rest of my day, can be blamed on poor choices I made earlier. That is probably the worst part of it all. The only person I can blame stares blankly at me when I look in the mirror. No one to be mad at but myself. No one to give the silent treatment to, no one to be upset at. I suppose I could shake my fist at Wednesday, blame it on the calendar, but I won't. I will put on my big girl britches, dust myself off, and make better choices tomorrow. And on Thursday, the day I am not currently mad at, I will call all of you back. :)

May 6, 2012

Every Life Has a Lesson

What's the one thing you want people to learn from your life? What do you want to teach others? Better yet, what are you teaching?

When answering that question for myself, the one thing that boldly came to mind was this one statement "YOU MATTER". It's the one thing I want people to learn from my life.

I grew up in a family of six. I am the oldest of four kids. I have a brother, David who is 14 months younger and twin sisters, Amber and Amanda who are six years younger than I am. My parents were Christian school teachers. We grew up in a 900 square foot, one and half bathroom house in Pinellas Park, Florida. We spent most of our days either in school or at church. There was never a doubt in my mind that God was real, present, our redeemer and the world's creator- until-my world came crashing down at the age of 14.

My dad made a mistake, a big one, and he and my mom were separated. My dad was the ultimate father figure and when I learned he was fallible. When I learned he was human. When I learned he had a sin nature, it crushed me. It shook my faith to it's core. For the first time in my life I asked the question "Is God real?". My dad's betrayal to our family was painful, but the idea that God may not really exist, well that was earth-shattering. I moaned and wailed and wept and simply cried out to God, "Are you there?". I needed proof, I was 14 and wanted something. In a deeply painful prayer I asked God if He was there at 2:00 am to make the poster on my wall fall. I had had this huge red poster hung on my wall for years with over 2 packs of sticky tack, the thing never budged. A moment after I uttered the prayer in my heart, I heard a pop. The poster fell ! I wept tears of joy because I knew, at that moment the Creator of the Universe, was in my little room and cared about me! Lesson One- God cares about your problems. He is with you in sorrow.

My dad repented, and in a huge way. He went before the church for forgiveness and came home a year later. He and my mom will celebrate 33 years of marriage in June. As an adult, I realize now, he was human. He has a sin nature like we all do. No one is perfect. We all need grace, every moment, every hour, as much as we need oxygen. I am so proud of my dad and the man he is today.

While my family was dealing with their struggles, I was dealing with being 15. I was at a new school and I was bullied. Girls threatened to beat me up. The only person who would let me sit by them at school was the girl who always had lice and rarely showered. I would go to sit down at lunch and hear "seat's saved"- when noone was coming. I can't tell you why I was bullied. Maybe because I was the teacher's kid, maybe because everyone knew about what was happening, maybe kids are just mean. Either way, I felt unwanted. I told myself that my parents didn't pick me. I was just what came out. I had no friends. I was depressed and suicidal. I would have killed myself, but I don't like pain. I just kept thinking that no one would miss me if I was gone. My parents moved me out of that horrible school and the next year I made friends. I still struggled with the feeling of being not good enough. The summer before my 16 th birthday, I went to church camp. It was the highlight of my short life. For one week, I was the popular girl. Then, I hit high school.

Another new school and this time I had only one antagonist. A boy named Stephen who made it his life's mission to harass me. When I would walk into a room he would get the other boys to sing "here she comes, Miss America". When I would ask a question in class, he would quickly remind me why I should already know that. He tried to make me feel stupid for asking. However, I hated not understanding things so I asked the question anyway. This time I could deal with Stephen because I had a whole army of church friends thanks to summer camp. I didn't need school friends to feel important because I had great friends at church. In fact 15 years later, I am still close friends with the people I met at camp. However, as a girl, I still struggled with feeling ugly, unwanted and not good enough. One day in my Bible reading I read the verse from Psalms "I will praise you Oh Lord for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, marvelous are thy works and that my soul knoweth it well." I knew God looked at all his creation and said it was good. I realized that God doesn't make mistakes. And since God made me, I was not a mistake. I was fearfully made. I can feel pretty, because of my Maker. Lesson Two- God doesn't make mistakes. You are beautiful! You are wanted! You are perfect, AS IS.

This revelation has stayed with me for the last 15 years. At 30 years old, I still remember that moment of the edge of my bed. The moment I realized I mattered to God. I had a coworker ask me once if I was always so confident. He was sure that I had been the popular girl in school. I laughed and then smiled really big and told him my story. In college, I got to tell my story again as a Resident Assistant in the dorms. I realized that women always face these questions, "Am I good enough?" "Am I pretty?" "Do I matter?" no matter how old you get. I suppose insecurity and self doubt is a struggle regardless of what year you were born. My life's lesson is this Your God is good enough. You are HIS , He loved you enough to send his only son Jesus to die on the cross to redeem all your sins. You were enough for Jesus to suffer a cruel death. You were enough for Jesus to rise from the dead to experience RELATIONSHIP with. You are ENOUGH because you my friend are RADICALLY LOVED by an amazing God. When you embrace your position with Christ and who you are as HIS, you too will break the shackles of insecurity and when you do, tell your story!

May 5, 2012

Why being a mom makes me a better teacher

Today I was scouring Pinterest (the website I love to get lost in) for ideas for baby boy. Instead, my thoughts immediately transferred to the classroom. "Child's sensory table"- Hmmm... how can I add sensory tables to 4th grade? Would the new principal mind a small sand table in my room? We could be digging for fossils or sight words?

Then, I read an article about science experiments creating simple machines. Immediately my mind wanders... Pulleys... don't they use those to hoist sails?.... how to I make a pulley? Could I create a pulley for kids to turn in their work by hoisting it up as a flag using the ceiling grid?

If not a pulley, how about a zip line? What can I do to make turning in work fun?

Toddler Craft- painting bubble wrap then transferring the dots to a cardstock Easter egg. My brain.... could I use this for probability? What is the probability there will be more green dots than blue?

As you can see.... the more I learn about child's play the more I am convinced that kids don't outgrow their need to learn through play. And lest you think by now that this hoisting classwork momma is all fluff, I will share with you some very hands on things I plan to use next year in my fourth grade class.

1. Egg carton math. Score the bottom with numbers. Add two buttons, shake. Multiply the two numbers. First one to 500 points (by adding the products) wins.

2. Bill board reading assessments. Students will create 4 rectangular prisms. The four prisms will stand up next to each other like a bill board. Each face (meaning all 4 together) will show a comprehension strategy. Then, when you turn the prisms (like those rotating bill boards) to a new face, you get a new concept. Each face will be colored a different color to create effect. Tactile and visual!!

Some ideas

- Main idea, 3 details from text to support main idea
- Authors Purpose
-Cause and 3 effects
- Connections
-Questioning the text 

3. Locks and keys, stick adhesive dots on lock and key. Score with math problems and solutions. Mix up keys and locks. Kid has to answer the question correctly to unlock it!! (The answer is on the key)

Loving my son and watching him learn has taught me volumes about how kids learn. My fierce love for him has tempered my heart for all the parents who so willingly entrust their best and finest treasures into my care. I want to be the teacher I would want my son to have. I want to take care to teach to the best of my ability. Because all kids, no matter whose they are, deserve nothing less.


Today I want to just be thankful. I want to remember today for days when discontentment tries to steal my joy. Should you be reading this list and think for a moment that my life is glamorous- please hear my heart- it's nowhere near glamorous, in fact, we're about broke at the moment. But we're happy anyway.

1. I have a very healthy, outgoing one year old who now weighs 20 pounds and is 30 inches long!
2. I have a husband whose love for me is unshakable. He is steady when I am a tornado of crazy at times.
3. We have a roof over our heads that we love to come home to.
4. We have a loyal, silly dog that reminds us daily to just be happy with the little things, like toast with peanut butter.
5. Noah's one year pics only cost us 10.00 due to a coupon!
6. Hubs took his watch in to have the scratches removed and they replaced it with a new one and gave him $3.00
7. I managed to walk away from Wal-mart only giving them 49.00 for groceries!! (This is half of my normal trips) (I don't coupon... we're just eating really cheap this week.)
8. Baby boy did outstanding with his one year shots. We were overjoyed because based on prior visits we were prepared for D-Day.
9. My classroom is all packed up! One HUGE thing off of my end of the year checklist. Now, I can plan for summer school.
10. My sister has a healthy baby in her belly and I am thrilled for her!!

If you have made it this far, thank you for reading! :) What are you thankful for today? And thank you Carly for asking such a great DQ today! 

Mar 28, 2012

Within Reach

I have the most adoring group of third grade students. They love to compliment and love to help. At the end of the day, they jump up and down with the eraser to erase all the work on the board. After school, I erased the date and a title which was at the very top of the board. It was above their reach and therefore left unerased. It made me think. Nothing in education should be above our students reach. My goal as an educator is to make material within their reach. I do not want information to be stressful or to be "above their heads". I will explain a math concept 5 different ways because only one way will make sense to some kids. It doesn't matter to me which way turns the light bulb on, I just want it to go on. :) Whenever you are teaching a child a new concept it is important to make sure you create an environment for success. And while I chuckle to myself because someday, those 9 year olds will outgrow me and that date on the board will no longer be out of reach- I also know that someday, they will think back on their year in my classroom. I hope that they feel that third grade was easy, because I made it within their reach.

Feb 7, 2012

Planning his first birthday

My son is turning one in April. I figure if I search for and gather ideas now, I'll be ready for his big day.
So here is my working idea list:
Centerpieces- A mason jar filled with a 1 candle and m and m's (See my pinterest, party ideas for pics)
Banner- A photo banner of pics of him from birth through 12 months
Food- I love the idea of turning cake balls into a larger shape
Decor- I want to cover an inside door with wrapping paper. Print the word ONE in several languages and add it to cardstock and patterned paper then add those words to the door. I think I will gift wrap my picture frames as well.........that or switch out the photos so it is a montage of my son. Hmmm... decisions, decisions
  Cookies and Milk Bar*** So doing this! With Alphabet cookies with the letter N and possibly number 1- need a good sugar cookie recipe
May do the wreath.... anyone know how long it will take?

Cookie Dough Dip**** I am in heaven!! .......maybe I should do a cookie monster theme???

Any suggestions are welcome! :)