Tuesday, November 30, 2010


This year I really wanted to send out Christmas cards, but my lack of time to be able to create them was slowing me down. Recently, I ran across a promotional deal from Shutterfly. I'm pretty ecstatic about some of their services, especially the Christmas photo cards: http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/christmas-photo-cards
I hope you can find a way to enjoy these cards this year as much as I will sending them to you! Since I have made every Christmas present this year, I am even more excited to send out the cards. I feel as if I'm getting a year old everyday. First it was baking pies, then sewing, now sending out Christmas cards. But by the looks of Shutterfly's selection, I may not come across as grandmotherly as I once thought. Whether you are on the hunt for the perfect card or just wasting time on the internet, check out some of their products. Then maybe you'll be getting set for the best Christmas ever just as I am! Happy holidays!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

That's What Faith Can Do

I had planned on writing this blog in 12 days, but tonight seemed just as timely as any other. I'm not sure if it's my inability to sleep right now or tonight's Bible study on testimonies that has given me the guts to go ahead and type up what I felt would be more suitable in 2 weeks. Nonetheless here goes...

That past year has been a journey, a rough and ragged expedition, to say the least. A year ago today I was engaged to a man I wished and hoped and longed to live the rest of my life with. He was stunningly handsome. He had an attention-getting personality. His personality melted a room with laughter. In his presence I forgot the rest of the world even existed, and my stomach would roll over time and time again with butterflies.

I remember the day he proposed to me like it was yesterday. It took my breath away, and I stood there shocked as he was down on one knee telling me of his love for me. We both knew we wanted to get married, but I was caught so off guard by his timing that shock controlled the rest of my weekend.

The next few weeks and months were filled with showing off the ring, building a wedding website, dress shopping, engagement pictures, and the whole works. We searched all over for houses, put a bid in on 2 different ones, and finally accepted an offer on one. We were so excited to start building a life together. I thought.

On October 29, 2009, he came to my house I lived in at the time. When he walked in, I knew immediately my life was about to change. The look on his face was not the look I had seen since we had started dating. It was emotionless. Expressionless. Hopeless.

In five short minutes the entire life we had begun to build came crashing down like a straw house being blown down by a big, bad wolf. I remember those fateful words he mildly threw at me, "I don't love you. I never have. I don't want to marry you. I never have." Those words pierced me, and I could feel Cupid's arrow being pulled out of my chest. This was my fiance...the man I was supposed to marry in 4 months.

I struggled. Honestly, I more than struggled. I barely functioned. My friend Heather would come over before work many days and get me out of bed. I would barely manage to literally pick myself up out of the floor on multiple occasions. I remember looking in the mirror and telling myself, "One day you'll share these emotions to someone and you'll be okay. One day you'll be okay." I would repeat that in trying to persuade myself.

On my way to work one day, I found a Christian radio station. Kutless had a fairly recent single out entitled "That's What Faith Can Do." I whole-heartedly believe that song got me through my fiery trial. The lyrics say, "I've seen silent prayers get answered and broken hearts become brand new, that's what faith can do." The first time I heard that song I was on Adams Road driving to work with dew still on my windows. I cried out to God, "I want THAT faith. God, I want that faith that will make my heart brand new."

Christmas time came around, and my whole family was staying at my parents' house. It seemed unbearable still that I had to live daily without him. I was lying in bed and began to wail with such agony that my sister came in the room to check on me. I had my head stuffed so hard into a pillow that I couldn't manage to look up at her. I curled into a fetal position as she rubbed my back for hours just whispering, "Shhh, baby, shhhh...you're going to be okay." Through the sobs I somehow fell asleep, probably from pure exhaustion. I woke up the next morning with my sister's arms still around me in that little twin bed.

I was trying to get my life back in order as quickly and quietly as possible. Just a few days after the break-up, I had put an offer in on a house and had lived there for a month at year's end. I was hoping to find friends my age, maybe a church to attend more regularly, and get back out into the world. Still I would cry out that I wanted that faith that Kutless sang about. If God could just see me through with that kind of faith.

By Spring I was doing much better and to the naked eye, I was healed. On March 1 I sat in a Beth Moore Bible study in a little church called Southside Baptist. That evening Beth used the verses from 1 Peter 1:6-7 "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ." I wrote out to the side, "Thought I'd die if he ever left me, but I'm making it." I'm making it. Simply making it. What a staunch contrast from that moment to where God has taken me.

It was the next Sunday I visited Southside for the first time during regular worship services. To say my life was turned upside down is an understatement. In fact I can't even fathom my life without my church family now.

I made 2 of the best friends I could ever have in Zach and Leslie. Dee Ann and Phil have become my adopted parents, and I credit them for saving my life time and time again. The Dilbecks have opened their homes and hearts to me numerous times. Harold and his horses...how he always makes me smile when I see him walk in! Sunday morning worship. Sunday night dinners. Wednesday night youth. Crowning Creation. Women's ministry. An amazing preacher, to say the least.

It wasn't until May that I joined the church, but my heart has been fully entrenched inside those white walls since the moment I set foot in them. In 7 months I've jumped with excitement, kneeled in adoration, raised my hands in worship, cried tears of sorrow, and hugged with delight all within the confines of my new home church.

Tonight I sit here and don't remember the girl I was a year ago. The thoughts of an upcoming wedding have long surpassed, and my hopes no longer rest in man's arms. I've had no relation worth writing home about since that night, yet I have more joy in my life today than I did the day I got engaged. Tested by the fire? I thought I was scorched and scarred for eternity. But God saw me through that fiery trial. He not only held my hand, He picked me plum up and carried me straight out of it.

Looking back, the fire wasn't the break-up. The fire was the engagement. My sinful legs wouldn't have walked out, so God had to sweetly escort me back to His plans.

I had not seen or talked to my fiance since that fateful night in October.

A couple weeks ago, I had a visitor. He looked the same as my ex-fiance. He talked the same. He smelled the same. And he laughed the same. But he wasn't the same. He couldn't have been. Because I tried to look with all my might at what it was I would have been in love with. I scowered him over, up, and around..but there was no sign for a person I would marry. He asked me, "Have I changed?"

"No," I replied. "I have."

THAT is what faith can do.

No, THAT is what God will do.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Feels like *home* to me

I love homecoming. Just downright love it. This year proved to be yet another great year of festivities, but it had its own unique spin.

Teaching in Alma has been great for me on a professional level. I've learned so much about the art of pedagogy as well as making friends at work and church. Honestly, I wouldn't change being there as I have fallen in love with the Airedales. My students and co-workers are top-notch, and I am the most privileged novice teacher in the state. Alma has given me the ability to strive for more and to be proud of my students' accomplishments in the classroom. It is an irreplacable place to live and work.

But that can never take away or attempt to replace home. At the end of the day, Ozark is home. I bled purple and gold my entire life, and a part of me will always love being a Hillbilly. I look at it as having 2 loves, albeit school or church. Any girl is lucky to have 2 loves. However, homecoming week belongs to my first love. HPRD!

I have the greatest assistant principal in the world, and I say that with absolute honesty. I know when he says something, he means it. His attention to the learning environment for our students is incomparable. As an employee it makes me try harder as I hope that my administrators are proud of the work I do. But he gets the favorite award this week for understanding my desire to sometimes just wanting to go home.

Friday afternoon we had homecoming festivities in Alma. Simultaneously, Ozark was hosting its homecoming pep rally in which the queen was to be named. Typically this would stir interest in me, but never the sheer desire to be there like this year held. A lifelong family friend and my younger cousin were both up for homecoming queen. At Ozark this isn't announced until the pep rally. My assistant principal understood my wish to want to see this, and he let me leave out a few minutes early to go be with family.

I went to Ozark as quickly and safely as possible, and I walked into the gym sporting my green and gold Alma Middle School shirt as the high school principal was announcing the first sophomore maid. He began announcing the seniors, and our lifelong friend (more like my little sister) came out with the title of senior maid. All suspense had led to the next few moments, when the maid of honor and queen were to be announced. As the principal announced this year's maid of honor, I noticed my cousin's name was not called. She was the queen!

As exciting as this was, it was emotionally over the top as all of us granddaughters have been in Ozark's homecoming. My mom and aunt started this tradition as my mom was the first homecoming queen in our family and my aunt a maid. At my granny's house, she has a wall dedicated to our homecomings, and each girl has her picture on that wall in either a purple or white dress. It stung a little bit to know the legacy of home and to not be there. At the same rate I hope a new legacy is being born in the shade of green.

After the pep rally, I went to my grandpa's house and convinced him to go with me to the Bank to see my dad. Dad showed us around the new facilities, bought me a coke (with shaved ice!), and took me to talk to the ladies I used to work with. Again, I felt another sting of wishing I could be home. Growing up that bank seemed like my second home, and I always assumed I'd work there one day. That one day took place in the summer of my college years--not the career I had expected growing up. Regardless, the operations center is gorgeous with its garden dedication to Vanesa. And if I'm in town during a storm, I'll be sure and head to this F-5 tornado proof building! Doesn't do much for cell phone service though...

I took Grandpa home and bribed him into going with me to the football game that night. To me this is where the twist in homecoming sure gets good. Mom and Dad were eating with old classmates at a tailgate before the game. My sister had her 10 year class reunion. Ozark was playing Gravette--where my sister and brother-in-law now teach and coach. And our cousin was the homecoming queen. How much more could a homecoming pack into it?

Last night I sat with my sister cheering for Gravette. It's still hard for me to cheer against Ozark, but at the end of the day blood is thicker than water. While Ozark may be where we grew up, we grew up as family. Home isn't the town or the school or the house that hold our memories. Home is the people who helped us make those memories. So at the end of the homecoming weekend, when all is said and done, we'll all take a little bit of home back with us. And when we get together again whether it be in Alma, Gravette, or Ozark; it'll feel like home to me.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Road Map

I know. I know. I haven't posted lately. Bear with me, I do have an excuse or two.

My grandmother passed away on September 18. I was supposed to be working at the simulcast our church was hosting that day, but my plans were obviously abruptly changed. I look back and think about that day. I had been focused on that day for 6 months. I literally would just get tears in my eyes thinking about my excitement for September 18 when I was going to get to unleash in praise and worship with Travis Cottrell. What I didn't realize all those days and months was that that day would have an eternal impact on me in a way I never imagined.

Sitting at my grandparents' house that day, family and friends were flooding in. I would stare for a while, talk for a while, cry for a while, repeat. I thought about how much I had looked forward to that day for the praise and worship. Then it hit me: my grandma is eternally praising and worshipping. While I had been counting down the days until my praise and worship high, I had inadverently been counting down the days for my grandmother's entrance into the pearly gates. It still hits me deep in the heart when I think about her walking the streets of gold adoring Christ.

Another amazing revelation from that weekend was God's orchestrating hands in every aspect of both life and death. I had not seen my cousin Shauna in probably 5 years. My sister had only stayed at my house one time in a year. And my entire family had not been together since I was a child. Ironically, before Grandma's passing, Shauna was in town from Washington, D.C. for the weekend. My sister and her family were staying the weekend with me. And my entire family had plans that Saturday night to meet for dinner. God chose that day to take Grandma, because God had already brought us together. It was not by mere chance that I had counted down to September 18. It was divinely planned.

I had the privilige to speak at her funeral two days after her passing. Although it was the hardest thing I had ever done, I hope it honored her life. I also hope that someone there was able to hear of my grandmother's love for Christ and that it touched them in the way only God can.

After Grandma's funeral, I went back to work the next day. At the time I felt that I needed to get back into the routine of life, but looking back I think maybe I should've taken some time. It all happened so fast. But I did what I thought was right at the time, so I have to be confident in that decision. Therefore, I went back to work that Tuesday.

It's been a wild couple weeks, but every last detail has been planned from the beginning of time...literally!! That's the neat thing about God. He knows. He knows what has happened, what's going to happen, and what will never happen. Although we can't guess how He plotted the road map, we can take the road He paved for us...or maybe gravelled for us...or blazed for us...regardless, He made it for us and it's time for us to take it!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The List

My job is amazing. I am absolutely in love with teaching my block of social studies and language arts. When I wake up in the mornings, I almost hop out of bed and sprint to the shower in order to share something new with my students that day. I hate missing school. Oh, it just rips my heart out.

I had to take the afternoon off of work today, and it was tumultuous to my routine. However, I got to have dinner with my dear friend Amy. She surprised me and bought my lunch! It's little gifts like that that really send my heart into deep appreciation for great friends. Then I was talking to my sister, and I found out she was going to be at my parents' house for dinner. Needless to say I spent the entire afternoon losing in baseball to my nephew and taking advice from my 4 year old niece.

We read books together, and I discovered that I have more voices inside my little body than I even knew: cajun dialect, Cinderella, an evil stepmom, mice, and the list goes on. I do believe, however, I was more impressed with the impersonations than the two little rugrats were. After a few airplane rides, and inevitably the same amount of airplane crashes, they had to head back up the hill to get ready for preschool in the morning. Man, I miss them already.

When they left, the three of us got to just sit and breathe momentarily. Once again we were sitting on Mom and Dad's back porch just talking about life. Dad asked me what exactly I was looking for in a guy. I do want to start with the notion that I'm not looking for a guy. But that being said, I gave him a list.

Some people may be taken aback that I have a "list" of things I feel the need to have in a man. Regardless, I do have things that I just desire. From what I've read in Psalms, God will give me those desires if I follow Him. Therefore, I just go ahead and lay it all out there for Him...just to make sure He knows!

While I was in the middle of talking about this man I haven't met yet (ohh...that song.."I haven't even met you yet...ahhh), I just stopped and said, "Man, I really need to lower my standards. No one will ever fit this mold." My dad's a genius, if you haven't figured that out yet.

His response was this, "If you lower your standards, you will get a husband. But if you keep your standards, you will get a husband you love even when he is old and fat." Yes, I laughed. But there's a lot of truth in that, honestly.

For now I am more than contempt on being by myself. As I told my parents, I can't imagine a life better than mine. After listening to my sister cry over stress from a family, job, and husband and seeing friends go through divorce, I'm pretty satisfied with the bubble baths and soothing nights of writing I so much enjoy. To get married would put a 180 on my life. Africa would be out of the picture for next summer. Charlee would be by himself. My students would have to call me by a new name. And I'd have to cook for twice as many people. Plus, it'd be kind of depressing to have to share a bed. I really like sleeping in the middle.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Before the summer started, my goal for the 3 months following were to rest. I went swimming a lot. I stayed up late and slept in. I took naps. I took trips. I skipped church a time or two (oops). I took prescribed Vitamin D pills. And I ate a lot of junk food. For some reason, however, I just didn't feel rested when school started.

It was a day before students were coming, and I felt that I was more tired then than I was when my previous year's students left back in May. To say I was aggravated would be an understatement. "Rest!" I would yell at myself. "Just rest!" But how do you "rest?" What in the world does that mean? How in the world do you do that?

I gave up on the idea of rest. I decided I was just going to live life in a downright busy manner and just deal with the fact I'm always tired. But a girl can only take being tired for so long until she just gets snappy.

For starters, I pulled the E-brake on the roller coaster my heart had been on for 6 months. In getting that buried, I put on the black robes for all the minor bumps in the road I had been encountering as well. It seemed as if the moment I spit fury in the face of the roller coaster's operator, I was on a roll.

Somewhere between starting a new school year and retrieving my heart, I learned the word "no." It seemed at times that I forgot what the word "yes" even meant. No, I don't want to hang out tonight. No, I just don't have time to call you back later. No, I can't eat dinner. No, I won't be there this weekend. No, I really wasn't wanting to date you. No, for real.

So, maybe snappy doesn't completely define what I was being! But in saying no and laying it all out there in brutal honesty for people, I have found myself doing the things I loved. I am loving every moment of teaching. I am loving the afternoon workouts and geocache dates with friends. I am loving going to bed early and even getting up before I have to in order to get to Jethro for breakfast.

I spent the entire day at my parents' house, which I have dubbed "God's country." It really is God's country to me with its serenity and unique beauty held by the Ozark Mountains and Mulberry River. We hiked through parts of the National Forest this afternoon partly to geocache but moreso to just enjoy the day. Mom had a roast in the crockpot for dinner when we got home, and she topped that with a brownie treat that Dad and I literally inhaled.

We sat on the back porch eating dinner and watching for deer in the hay meadow. That's when I found the most precious cache of all: rest. It hit me tonight while sitting in Mom's new lawn furniture that rest didn't mean sleeping or being lazy. Rest simply means finding rest within yourself, having the ability to say no to things you don't really like, and going full force with the things your heart passionately desires.

It was a revelation for a young woman like myself to discover this secret to life. In Bible study this summer, the oldest woman in the group said she would sum up her life's present situation in one word: rest. I envied that. I couldn't fathom how she could be so at peace. And I longed for the day I too could retire in order to rest. But what I discovered today was that rest is an inner quality that comes with the enjoyment in life...not some 30 year from now fantasy that I can only have once I have given my life to everyone and everything I never really wanted to entertain.

Rest. I believe that one simple concept will not only slow my life down, it will also open it up for even more ideas that life will throw at me. It's about resting in geocaching. In breakfast. In work. In dateless nights. In political debate. In lesson planning. In attending Amish church. In drinking sweet tea. In canning pickled okra. In writing. In making a surprise visit to see my niece and nephew. In celebrating a close friend's accomplishments. In sitting. In standing. In walking. In running. In singing. In not saying anything. Because pure rest is not in what you do or don't do. Pure rest comes when your heart has opened itself up to release the burdens that have kept you so tired. Then doing becomes less tiresome and sitting becomes less gruesome.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Road Less Traveled

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

This quote is on the front of our agendas at school this year, which has made me think of the meaning of it even more than usual. But this quote strikes me so much today because I've spent the last week looking around. I've wondered why people make the choices they make. And to me, it's a pretty simple answer. People take the road most traveled by..the easiest way out. The answer is that obvious.

What originally made me take note of people's actions is the vain human desire of relationship. Vain? You ask. Yes, vain, when it becomes the sole purpose of our existance. It is vain when the value of the relationship is not measured by depth but by the lack of. It is vain when it runs on mere feeling.

I was talking to a young man last week about my choice of not wanting to date him, which was a really awkward conversation for me since I haven't dated in almost a year. But I called him in pure obedience to the Lord, knowing a relationship with him was not what God had in store for me. I told this young man the truth...that he was a neat guy, and I had a lot in common with him. In fact I wanted to date him..because I liked him. However, I had to tell him that God has called me to a different lifestyle. I didn't feel like it was the most optimum time for me to date anyone. And in fact, as much as we had in common, God had called me to something bigger than merely living. Of course he didn't understand that, because God has not yet revealed that to him. Or maybe he has never listened to God.

I'm not here to dog on this guy. Not at all. But his response to me has had my mind in continual thought for the rest of the week. He says to me, "You're just a genuinely great person. I'm not even close to being the person you are. I'd have to work a lot to be the person you deserve." Needless to say, he spent the rest of the week with his ex-girlfriend. No other words were ever exchanged between us after that, and I don't anticipate a conversation ever stirring there again. But I felt for him. I really did.

That's when it hit me that people want to take the easy way, even in relationships. No, especially in relationships. I assume this guy and the ex are glad to be back together, and I truly hope the best for them. But I also suppose she doesn't deserve the person he could be? He knows he has a lot of work to do. He knows if he was with me, I'd challenge him continuously to serve and love our Savior. But I guess she doesn't deserve that? That killed me for this girl...because in fact, she deserves that too.

This is something I can't wrap my mind around. I just can't even fathom how someone could know they could be a better person, but they just ignore that fact. They would rather have a relationship that makes them happy now than one that makes them become a deeper, more purpose-driven individual...which ultimately makes life more peaceful, meaningful, and joyful.

I talked to my mom about this idea this afternoon. She says they just don't know. And until they know, they won't realize what they are missing. But I can't fully agree with that. I think people do know there's more to life and love. I think people choose to ignore that so they can have immediate affection and answers. But that's not what I choose. I hope I take the road less traveled by. And up to this point, it truly has made all the difference.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Playing Cinderella

Can we just start with a shout out to our Lord? I want to go back to 1997 right now and raise the roof. For real. Because God's "got it going on." I truly believe that if King David was alive today, the Psalms would read more like that.

You would think as many times as I have taken the reigns in my life that I would have learned my lesson by now. But no. I apprently didn't. However, when a Monday back to work sounds like relief from the weekend, then you know it's been a bbaaaadddd weekend.

When I decided to pursue Christ, it was easy at first. Like..I just loved loving Him. And we had this pure relationship that manifested in my daily life. Oh, I could just praise and worship all day long. But then came reality. And reality was that Satan was going to attack me at every possible curve. The really scary thing about Satan is that a lot of time he does his little sneak attack..where he just weasles into your life and the BAM hits you in the face. It's almost like he laughs when he does it, because he knows how he just disrupted not just your life but also your relationship with God.

The really neat thing about our relationships with Christ, however, is that His grace is unending. Several days ago my dad and I were talking on the way home from the hospital just about life. Tears began rolling down my face as he talked, and for the first time in my life he just reached over and grabbed my hand. He told me it was all going to be okay. (Okay..he didn't just say that..because he has infinite amounts of wisdom.) I just listened to my father talk and heard his heart for me unfold. I've always known my dad loves me...but never to this extent. He just poured into me like I was a bottomless vase..and I was grappling for every word he said.

I couldn't wrap my mind around it though. I said to him, "But what if God is telling me something different? I don't even know what He wants from me anymore!!" My dad looked at me and said, "God doesn't always talk through a burning bush..sometimes God talks through your dad." I sat in silence for quite some time.

What you're thinking is that I probably soaked in my dad's advice and went on. But I have to admit that I didn't. I ignored it, because that was easier. And a couple days later I was wishing I had listened to my dad a lot sooner! He truly did know.

Having to wait on God seems bad...until you wish you would have waited on God. I try to take matters into my own hands at times. I don't know why either.

When I was little (and still today), I loved my dad telling me how I pretty I was or that I did a good job on a paper or that I was the best in my game. I distinctly remember every Monday night during football season standing between him and the TV during commercials as he threw a ball into the air to get it over my head. I would jump as high as I could to swat it down. As I got older, my vertical got higher, and I beat him a lot more. But even when I got to where I could touch the ceiling, my dad and I would play that game when my mom wasn't looking.

Then there were the Sunday mornings before church that we would get up and watch "Meet the Press." We would argue as he is Democrat and I Republican. We would have it out all the way to church and try to make the preacher's sermon fit our side of the controversy. I remember when Tim Russert died. My dad and I just sat there that first Sunday morning not knowing what to do without our Meet the Press ritual.

I could go on and on with stories about my dad. But I'll sum it up in this: I can't fathom his love for me. When I play Cinderella, he wants to keep me from every frog, prince, and white horse. Even today. That's the same way with my Heavenly Father. Sometimes I play Cinderella, and I try to find my own Prince Charming. But God just wraps His giant love around me, and He escorts me back with His grace. I got a good dose of that escorting this weekend. I've never heard my Father audibly speak, but I think I almost heard Him yell at me a little bit.

But I praise Him for it. I made a hard decision today I didn't want to make. But I made the decision following God, knowing He was there to comfort me and to love me. Once I followed Him with both words and action, He restored my peace. He gave me light when a moment earlier I felt surrounded by darkness. I guess I conclude with one thing...we might play Cinderella, but God needs to be the writer of the script.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The only thing that stays the same is that everything changes

I asked my mom the other day if I am 23 or 24, because I honestly couldn't remember. I think I've been telling everyone 23. However, my mom informed me that in fact I am 24. Geez. 24 years old. Seems so young right now, but I remember when it seemed so old. And not old as in it was time to head to the nursing home and play with oxygen tanks..but old as in mature and settled with life figured out. If you would've asked me at 14 where I saw myself in 10 years, I would have given you this list:



-high paying job

-living in my hometown

That's honestly probably all I would have known to say. I didn't know there was more to life than raising a family. Although I may not be living out the American Dream I set for myself in 9th grade, I am living out a dream I never even imagined. I have been so blessed to meet new people, travel to new destinations, and embark on new journeys all because I didn't get married and start having kids. Now, one day marriage and kids will be great. Perhaps for some people that is great at 24..or even younger. But for me, it'll be great much later in life.

What got me to really thinking about how old I am was that I was thumbing through old pictures earlier. I saw pictures of my friends from high school and that just seems like eons ago. I was really just a kid then, although you wouldn't have convinced me of that then. But the pictures that really got to me were from college. I thought about the hundreds, literally, of friends I made. Yet at the time I didn't think I had any. And how many places I got to go. Yet at the time all I wanted to do was go home. College was just 2 years ago, but it gets farther away everyday. I started thinking about what life would be like if I went back to UCA now...2 years later. All my friends have graduated. Most are married, many with kids. They have houses and careers. What if we were all taken for a day and put back into college? Would we change the person we hung out with that day? I mean..knowing what we know now..about how each of us have molded ourselves...what would we change?

I love going back to Conway. It's neat to see everyone, sure, but it makes me feel accomplished. I didn't spend many evenings out in Faulkner County. I rushed through homework in order to go home every weekend. I probably didn't enjoy college as much as I could have...but I am sure enjoying where it got me. But if I could go back...for one day...what exactly would I do differently?

I wouldn't take for granted my summer job at Camp War Eagle, working with hundreds of people my age for an entire summer. I would get extra marinara in the Student Center, because I never spent all of my DCB anyway. I'd shoot another music video with my roommates, despite it being our biggest nightmare today. I'd wear just as many t-shirts...cook a little more...stay off of Facebook (ok..maybe not)...laugh with my best friend in the entire world...and have 2 catch phrase nights per week instead of just 1. And I definitely wouldn't love as fast, but I'd love a lot deeper.

Ironically, I got to go to my alma mater this past weekend. And I did spend time with Katie...just laughing and playing. To top that off, we spent time with some other old friends. I got to have my one day back.

Five years ago I was a sophomore in college. I met this young man who just really caught my eye. He was so stinkin' cute...and I couldn't believe he wanted to hang out with me. That lasted for a week or 2, really, that's all. I remember it like it was yesterday, and I'm not so sure why. I was sitting at the new fountain, and I got a text message from him. He said he was going to go back to his ex-girlfriend. I saw him a few days later...and for some reason it just tore my heart out. I suppose because I was young and naive and thought everyone should love me like my momma does. Or maybe I did like him a lot. I couldn't tell you. But it broke my heart.

He hung out with Katie and me last week. Five years makes a world of difference. We're both grown now...with steady jobs, houses, and bright futures. When I was driving home, I started thinking about the irony of that situation...and how 5 years changed both of us dramatically. How it's changed all of us...every single friend I made. Sometimes it is fun to go back...to reminisce...to be carefree again. But at the end of the day I yearn the most to come home to my house so that I can prepare to be a better teacher than I was the day before. Life's about changing, nothing ever stays the same...how true those lyrics are! We have to keep thrusting forward in life...turning the page to see the next chapter unveiled. I'm not too sure what God will write in the next few days, weeks, or years. I suppose that's the exciting part! I never thought in a million years God would put me face to face with someone who hurt me so long ago. And never in a billion years would I have expected to meet that person with such different eyes. But the most overwhelming thing to take in is that never in a trillion years would I have guessed that as much as I've changed, he's been molded even more. And while all of our circumstances and feelings have changed in 5 years, I believe some things never change...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Life is a Highway

I helped Zach and Leslie pack up their last tidbit of stuff tonight.

I teared up when I got in my 4Runner. I thought about the fun times we had over there...the catch phrase games and dinners cooked. I wish more nights could've been had..just so much going on that it was hard to do so.

Zach and Les are pretty much a power couple. Law school. Med school. Les and I were talking about it tonight. How crazy is it that they met in high school and are now moving to Little Rock to receive extraordinary educations? I'm pumped for them. I can't wait to go see them...which will be next week! And of course, we're hitting up some Hog football when the Pigs play in LR.

Looks my life will now be on a highway. I hate that drive...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

This thing..called love...I just..CAN'T HANDLE IT!!

Give me a minute here. Maybe even give me an hour. Because I'm about to unleash on this notion of marriage and love..and I might hurt someone's feelings. Those feelings may be yours. But you know what? That's okay with me right now. Someone's toes need to be stepped on so that their whole heart doesn't get crumpled in five years when they realize their marriage is hog wash. Yeah, I just said that.

I think every weekend this summer I've been invited to a wedding. It seems to have been my sole purpose of living for the past few years: attend bridal showers, bachelorette parties, weddings. And I'm so over it. Just plain done with it. I guess it'd be one thing if I felt that the couples going into these marriages were so crazy in love with Jesus that they were clinging to Him for survival. However, I just don't see that happening. What I do see happening is the inflation of divorce rate.

Since I was 16 I've been a bridesmaid in at least 6 weddings that I can count off the top of my head. That's not including the grueling tasks of cake server, guest book attendant, etc. eh stinking cetra I've been conned into doing. I've noticed a pattern in these "few" years I've spent slaving away for bridezillas: a wedding apparently isn't good enough anymore. What happened to the days when people got married because they loved each other and wanted a marriage? Apparently those days were thrown out the window and replaced with this attitude of "never having enough showers or parties and the wedding is just icing on the cake for all the fun stuff we get to do before we decide if we like each other or not."

It's come to my attention that couples are having more and more parties and showers to celebrate their marriage. That's ludicrous. I didn't stutter---ludicrous!!! The wedding celebrates the marriage...which celebrates your lives together. You don't need an engagement party to celebrate your marriage. That's what your wedding does. You don't need 15 wedding showers getting gifts from girls you knew your freshman year of college and just reconnected with on Facebook. That's what your wedding does (if you have a big one, of course, like too many people have). And you certainly don't need to have bachelor/bachelorette parties to celebrate your "last night of singleness." Although that's not what your wedding does, ha, you're certainly not single. You have promised your love to your fiance. It's not like you wake up on a Saturday morning (or Thursday if you're Amish) and decide you want to get married. Okay, so some people might do that. But not most. Typically there's an engagement period in which the couple is excited about the too many festivities going on to truly appreciate their time of non-physical commitment. Ha. Enjoy that one.

Let's just face the bitter truth so that I can go to bed. Or at least so I can stay up later and do something more meaningful like texting..oh, I'll have a rant for that one too one late Friday night. People don't know what love is anymore. They know what lust is. And they fall madly into it with some person of let's hope the opposite sex that is close to equally in lust with them back. They get married. Life "starts." (I HATE THAT SAYING.) All of a sudden nothing is holding the two lives together. Perhaps it's different religious views. Or maybe it's different passions. Or..hold that thought..maybe it's the fact that they don't even know that person. That's a novel thought. Get to know someone...really know someone. (And by the way...I hate when someone gets married and all of a sudden doesn't know what to do when they are alone for a miserable one night. Get over it...)

You know what I see happening all around me? I see a bunch of grown up kids trying to be like the other grown up kids they are close to running off and getting married so that they can have cute pictures and a pretty white dress. And I can say that, because I almost did the same thing. Love? Love was everything my fiance did for me. It was having someone to spend time with. And it was about thinking he had the cutest booty in town. Sure, he was a nice guy. Sure, he took decent care of me. But is that what love really is? C'mon on. We both knew we were doing what was expected of us because it was "time to get married." By the grace of God we were both saved from a disastrous marriage. I'm sure we would've stayed married, because that's what was expected of us..and we had plenty of fun together. But there's more to marriage than just having fun. There's having serious too. It's not just about laughing together, it's about crying together too. It's not just about worshiping together, it's about praying together too. It's not just about doing life together, it's about building a life together too.

A marriage partner is not just someone to keep you company. Get a dog. A roommate. A friend. A marriage partner is someone you vow to God that you will never leave nor forsake. Someone you will love and cherish through thick and thin. Those are some mighty big shoes to fill. And you just promised them to a mighty big God! Time to reevaluate that novel idea of yours to walk down the aisle to that man you like but maybe wasn't your dream? Or stand at the other end of the aisle as that girl that doesn't quite meet all you ever wanted but sure is pretty walks with her dad to meet you? Those may be some tough ideas to swallow. But I can rest assured they're easier than that broken glass of divorce that will be shoved down your throat.

In all the weddings I've been to (and they are countless), I can tell you of ONE that was my dream. Not because the guy she was marrying was just darling. But because the guy she was marrying pursued her in such a God-fearing way. He went to God for her. And you know what happened then? She just blossomed into this beautiful young woman who had eyes for her man only, and she respected him above all else. How does that work, you wonder? It's called the image of God...

Maybe you're reading this and you are a little frustrated that you're going to all these weddings and never catching the bouquet or garter. Don't you want the most amazing love story written by the Author of creation? Let Him pen it for you. Maybe you're reading this and you are getting married yourself. Save your friends and family the trouble of a gazillion things focused on you. You yourself focus on the person you're about to commit to spend the rest of your life with. Love him or her first and foremost. And I promise, pinky promise no crosses count, that you won't need all the hoopla. You'll have the hoopla on your wedding night. (And I honestly didn't mean that in the bad connotation it was probably just taken. But if the shoe fits...)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Oh, the irony...

An update from my last example on my last post. Tonight I went with my friend Grant to Bogg Springs to see our friend Jake and my old youth group I helped lead while back home in Ozark. It was amazing. But you won't believe this. It was raining (same incident started building right there...), and so I was extra-cautious. Naturally. One of the men from my old church spotted me, and he says, "Avery, it's raining. Don't fall!!! hahhaha." Hardy har har..he thinks he's funny. I walk into the tabernacle, and do you know who is playing the worship? THE SAME BAND!!! I wanted to die and go to Heaven right then. It was like a bad omen. Except you know what? I didn't fall this time. I had kids running up and hugging me...but I stood my ground. And I didn't fall! haha. It sure was nice to see their beautiful faces. One of my boys, Jarrett, spotted me first. He didn't say a word to the other boys...just walked off and came and grabbed me. Then the other boys saw who I was...so they ran over and tackled me. I think that might have been when the tears started flowing. Then I was standing inside talking to some of my girls, and someone puts their arms around me and wouldn't let go. I finally knock him off of me to see who it is..and it's Jake..one of my precious ones!!! Not the one Grant and I went to see..but one of the ones from the youth group. And sweet Ty saved me a seat and wouldn't let me out of his sight until I promised I would sit by him. Ahh..how I miss home. I'm extra close to those boys, because I taught their Sunday school class when I was in high school. After college I was their youth leader, and I had some of them in class last year. So we're tight, to say the least. It was great to be around my family and enjoy an evening of service with them!!!! Although I wanted to question God's reason for taking me away from them, I know without a doubt I'm where He has called me to be for this season of my life. Now I get to enjoy two church families...two great youth groups...two wonderful ministries. I hope we can join with them and do activities together in the near future! Okay. Sleep deprivation. Goodnight.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Why do awkward things always happen to me?!

If you read my blog, and you don't know me...you probably think I'm a bore. I don't give a good perception of my life on here. A lot of that is due to the fact I'm not really sure how to do this blog thing just yet. And the other part of that is because sometimes I myself even get a little embarrassed by the stupid, yes--I just said stupid and meant it, things that happen in my life. Bad thing? I usually provoke it. So I figured I could spend just one post telling you how awkward my life is. Okay, for the first example: a lady I go to church with is just so precious. She doesn't live in our town, so she's just getting to know some of the people in our church. We text sometimes, but I had lost all my numbers a few weeks ago. Well, she sent me her number so I could text her again. Cool. The weekend before Crowning Creation, I sent her a text asking her if she was coming to the banqet. We had a conversation (remember this, a conversation) via texts asking if she was coming. Although her sister was going to be in town, I think she was really considering coming. So Monday I sent her a text asking if she was coming. She never really responded, but I looked for her anyway. She didn't come. A few days later I send her a message telling her I love her and that Mom and I are praying for her. This lady finally tells me I have the wrong number...I mean, really? She had had CONVERSATIONS with me!! Who does that?! hahaha. But this new lady and I shared sweet words to each other...and I hope she was a little encouraged anyway. ?! Second example: I admit. I think Manny Pina is hott. He's the catcher for the Naturals. Now, I LOVE BASEBALL. Baseball has to be my favorite sport of all time. But #9...he's smokin'!! ha. My friend and I decided to hit up another Naturals game the other day. We were told by this couple in front of us that some of the wives usually sit by our seats. Oh, whose wife? I wondered. MANNY'S WIFE!! Not awkward...I just thought he was cute. Like..in a Venezuelan, pretty skin kind of cute. His wife sits in front of me with another one of the wives. Now, I had been told they don't speak English. So what do I do? I speak Spanish of course. You must be thinking, "Wow, this chick is bilingual." I'm not. At all. Before I spoke to the Venezuelan girls, I told my friend Spanish was my minor in college. It was. For a year. My freshman year. I must have turned Pentecostal that day...because somehow I really did talk to the chica bonitas. A full-fledged conversation...3 different times! Blow my own mind. They invited to me to a fiesta with the players the next day. Just too bad I already had plans. And for the last example...one that sticks out so bold in my mind that I just have to tell you about it. As the youth leader in my first church, we took our kids to Bogg Springs. I played and praised and all sorts of stuff with the kids. Now, my kids were pretty cool. But they had one issue: they always wanted to hook me up. Ugh! What I get for being single and in youth ministry, right? Just so happened at The Bogg that year, a band of young men led our worship. I admit, the guy was attractive..but I didn't want to go there. At all. My kids insisted I HAD to meet this guy. Well, we all got ready for service that night. Just so happened I brought this little black skirt and some black flip-flops to wear that night. Cute, right? Well, not so cute when I walked in and the guy was just staring me down. I smiled politely. He smiled back. Ughh...don't do this..I kept thinking. I kept walking and looked back. He was still looking at me smiling. So of course I'm not paying attention to where I'm going. And I really wasn't expecting a water puddle to be IN the sanctuary. About the time I turn around and notice the puddle is about the time I was laying in it. I didn't see the guy from the band the rest of the week. Probably because I was avoiding him..but maybe because he was avoiding me too!! haha. Better luck next time. I get to go down to Bogg Springs this week and see my old youth group. I'm ecstatic to see their beautiful faces. I'll watch out for water puddles this time...and I'll be sure to wear something...ANYTHING..besides a skirt! :)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Crowning Creation

If I write too much about the banquet, it will take away from the night itself. Words can't express how beautiful everything turned out! The women were gorgeous, and I believe they enjoyed looking and feeling this way for a night..and oh, to be pampered! The sweetest thing was Shirley Fairfield. She came in this fancy dress and had on a bracelet with all kinds of jewels on it. I said, "Oh, Shirley, you look gorgeous! And ahh...look at your bracelet! And clutch!! Girl..you look so awesome!!" She says, "This is a bracelet my husband got me for a wedding anniversary. I never get the chance to wear it." I think seeing her face when she was talking about that made my whole night complete. Made all the hours of writing addresses worth it. Made the sleepless nights when I knew I was missing something worth it. Every ounce of energy poured into the night was worth it to see her darling face light up!! Our men...they rock my world...they did whatever I asked of them whenever I asked them to do it (esp Zach...who withstood my rants for 2 nights!). You've heard of Bridezillas...I might be a Banquetzilla. I tried not to be..and to just enjoy the process. But it's pretty stressful putting on a banquet. I can't lie about that. But with the help (ha..I say "help"..more like the devoted work and dedication) of several women setting up table decor, a speaker whom I have loved becoming friends with, a sweet student of mine belting out some lyrics like nobody's business, men of God serving diligently..there wasn't much left for me to do! What a fun, fun, fun night!! I hope we get to do more events like this in the future. However, first I must find something for my sweet men. Okay...I'll let the pictures speak for themselves!!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Imago Dei

I have a lot to tell you today. So if you're not ready to read a long post, you probably want to either A. grab a snack and change plans or B. just come back later. I've had an interesting last few days. What a glorious God we serve--El Shaddai, God Almighty!

Thursday evening I didn't go to swing dance. I opted to take my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and go to the Amish wedding I had been invited to. If you've never been to an Amish church, you are really missing out. The men and women sit on different sides of the church, always, even weddings. But their children..it never ceases to amaze me how well-behaved they are! I looked over when I heard this little child shout out. The mom popped him in the mouth, and that kid (no more than a year old) shut up and didn't disrupt anymore. They don't tolerate disrespect. And oh..their sweet hearts!! I just love being around my Amish friends! The wedding part was interesting. The bride and groom have 2 witnesses each. One couple walks in front of the marrying couple, the other couple walks behind them. They all sit together in the front of the church. Like..the front pew..not even being noticed. Someone (a man, always) brings a word. This particular man spoke of love, and he started with the verses in Genesis 1:26-28..how we are made in the image of God. I didn't understand the words he said, because the scripture was in German. But I knew those verses by heart, because that is what our banquet is all about on Monday night! How amazing!!! (God sure is awesome!) He talked about love...and how we are to love one another. After he spoke and some songs (mostly in German) had been sung, about 8 different deacons (?) got up to talk. They do this at church too. It's supposed to solidify what the speaker had said, and that each of these men individually agree with what he spoke. They say, "This is the message and how I heard and understood it..." then they summarize what they heard. They also gave "a heart, a yay, and an amen!" to the marrying couple.

After the wedding I went to the reception which was at the school. I was so nervous driving there, because I was trying to follow this Amish car (you know it's Amish..b/c they all drive black vehicles). Well, this guy was a maniac behind the wheel. He lost me in no time. But I looked behind me, and I saw an entourage of Amish trucks, vans, and cars following me! I was freaking on the phone with my BF Katie. I kept yelling, "Amish people..they're following me..Amish people!!" I couldn't call my Amish friend Renae, because she is hard to understand. We seldom talk on the phone, because our accents make it hard for the other to really comprehend the conversation. But I found the church needless to say! So after a 2 hour wedding (yes, a solid 2 hours), I went to the reception. Come to find out it lasts even longer. My friends are so funny though. After songs and a quick word by the dad, they started passing out plates. They served sandwiches (come on..I wanted some Amish bread!)..and like 15 desserts. The reception was decorated with a bulletin board...and a table that had 6 skinny candles. That's all. And there was a cake...a big, beautiful cake in front of the bride and groom. (Oh yeah...before the reception started, people would congratulate the couple. The men would kiss the groom on the cheek. Interesting how different cultures respond to different things.) I asked my friend which one of them made the cake. She said they bought it from Wal-Mart!!!! haha...crack me up. Amish people buying cake from Wal-Mart. That's too funny.

I stayed until 9:30 (the wedding started at 4) talking to my friends and the little girls. By the time I left I had about 8 young Amish women and children sitting around talking to me. I had too much fun telling them about my life..and getting to know more about theirs. I told the little girls if I were them I'd save my money and buy a dishwasher. This 12 year old told me I was lazy!! hahahaha. I guess I am. I taught them how to fist pound and thumb wrestle. They acted like they didn't want to, but I told them, "Tomorrow when you're doing the dishes, you'll be fist pounding each other and wanting to thumb wrestle. Then you'll think about me and how I'm putting dishes in my dishwasher." I told them I'd take them to McDonald's sometime..and the 12 year old who thought I was lazy...she decided she really did like McDonald's. But they didn't understand why I didn't cook so much. She also admitted to me that her cousins (not her of course) had gotten on Facebook at the library. But NEVER EVER would they put their picture on there!! Those little heathens....

Friday and Saturday was Living Proof Live with Beth Moore and Travis Cottrell. The praise and worship was one of the most heartpounding moments of my life. My mom looked at me and said, "If nothing else, I'm glad I came for this!" I was skeptical about my mom's willingness to go on this trip. She doesn't do women's conferences. Not that she doesn't like women...she just lives in a man's world. She farms. She fishes. She hunts. She brush hogs and mows and weed eats. And she doesn't like anything very girly, especially 7,500 women with a lot of estrogen. But she went, because I begged her to. And at the end she started crying and gave me the biggest hug (which is saying a lot..b/c she's a hugger like yours truly!) she's ever given me. It was from way down deep...and I knew she was glad she went. During the conference, Beth Moore talked about Imago Dei and how we're made in the image of God. This was quite phenomenal, because everything in my life has been revolved around this theme lately. I think God might be trying to tell me something!!! haha. She started out with the same scripture as the Amish wedding--Genesis 1:26-28. Blow my mind.

Overall, the weekend was pretty much near perfect. Being covered with scripture is the most uplifting weekend I could ever imagine. I can't think of anything I love more than praising our Creator and learning more about Him. I honestly love that more than anything in the world, even above riding horses and swimming in the creek (and sweet tea). And that's saying a lot!

Zach and Les had their departing luncheon today. When I walked into church, I looked at Zach and told him not to talk to me. Then I started bawling. And I don't mean a tear or two. No, this chica flat out BAWLED!! I went to give Les a present (a candle that smells like a cupcake..HAHAHAHAH), and I couldn't even control myself. Her mom hugged me and thanked me for being such a good friend to Les and was sad she had to leave right when she had made a friend. Zach preached just a tremendous sermon this morning. Exactly what I needed to here...when going forward in life, look back and see how God has always been faithful. Right down to the last drop He has!! It seems like right now I'm playing a waiting game. God is saying..do this...this is what I have for you. But "this" is not showing up..and my patience gets worn down. But I look back and see all the things God has come through on..and I see how He has put me in this position. And I do believe it's for "such a time as this." Needless to say, I'm going to miss Zach and Les. We've had some good times! Many hours of catchphrase, numerous Sunday dinners, and more laughs than a stomach can keep up with. I love them so much...but I know God has major plans for their lives. Therefore, I'm so ecstatic to watch them as they go to Little Rock. (LOVE YOU BOTH!)

Tomorrow is our big Crowning Creation banquet!! I have some Amish friends that may come. My mom is coming. And some dear friends may show up as well! We spent all evening at the church getting ready to rock-and-roll. The activities building looks just perfect. Many times I thought I might cry. I got a text from Kristi as I was leaving saying how excited she was about speaking. Although tomorrow excites me, tonight was just about perfect. I got to spend some precious hours with some really amazing women from our church. Just hanging out with them as we decorated and got the church ready was so rejuvinating. God has put some sweet little hearts in that church. I can't imagine not being there! I LOVE THAT CHURCH FAMILY!!! I love the servant leaders. I love the women. I love the youth group. I love the preacher. I love Sunday night dinners at Dee's. I love swimming at the Thomas's. I love the music. I love the spirit. I love the purity. I just am so in love with that church that I can barely contain myself!! Tonight was just a reinforcement of how blessed I've been. God has really taken care of me in this new town..giving me such a sweet church to call home.

Dee Ann and I went to eat dinner at 9:00 when we got "finished." haha. We were both so beat from the weekend. Although we've had a blast, we're also worn plum out! Tomorrow is exciting..and Tuesday is looking pretty good too! I just love her precious heart to pieces..and she's encouragement when I need it most. Okay, I must go to bed. Big day tomorrow in the house of the Lord!!!!!! Praise Jesus for the blessings! It's raining down outside now...like He always does!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

1 Kings 19:11-12

Pic to the right--->a fun picture I took with the precious women of the Dilbeck household going up an escelator to the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando. Wow, what a fun fun fun night! We heard Casting Crowns and an out-of-this-world testimony. Seeing this picture gets me sooo pumped about my church family whom I just love to pieces!! Those sweet hearts at Southside Baptist Church make me excited about doing life with them. Today we started our Siesta Bible study on Ruth. If you get the chance, you need to take 6 weeks and study in depth in Kelly Minter's workbook. Words can't describe its value for both male and female. One thing I noted in Bible study this morning was the age range. I was the youngest (which just overwhelms me) at 24. In contrast we had a lady in our group who has been retired for 17 years. Talk about an array of ages! The six of us got to talking about life and the one word that would describe where we are right now in life. Words like patience, faith, transition were thrown out time and time again. I was taking notes, and it was revealed to me the irony in it all. It didn't matter our age. It didn't matter our marital status. It didn't matter our career paths. It didn't matter the number of children we had. We all were searching for an answer from God. While God calls us to do His will and live according to His word, sometimes that means we have to sit and listen. We can't just do, and go, and figure it out. We're called to listen to God...with both ears open and mouth shut. Trust me, that's hard for me! I'm the talker of the family...I'm the driven one with an agenda...I'm the jokester that can't allow anyone to be upset. So sit? Listen? Not my typical task. But God calls each of us to this point in every season of our lives. Remember, precious one, when we are sitting..we are listening. Do you know what that means?! That means God is about to give us something to hear! So relax...open your ears for His sweet words. You're in the prime position for one of God's holy words!!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Save a Place for Me

I don't mean to be a drag, really. And I'm going to do my best to get through this post without crying. In that picture is my very best friend in the whole world. His name was Shane. I have this picture on my refrigerator...look for it next time you're over! I just love, love, love talking about my precious friend!!!!
Three and a half years ago I received a phone call in the middle of the night that would change my world as I knew it. It was a boy named Abe, Shane's dearest friend and hunting buddy, asking if I had talked to him. I had not, but we had plans to eat dinner together the next day. I would just talk to him then.
But I didn't get to have that dinner the next day. Little did I know that that Friday night preceding that weekend would be my last conversation with Shaner. I could sit here and talk about him all day. I miss him...every single day. He was the greatest friend anyone could have, and the one man hitchhikers loved to see coming. Because it was inevitable, Shane was going to pick them up! ha.
But the real reason for this random post is because of Abe, the one who called me looking for Shane and told me of the tragic events a few short days later. I was informed at midnight last night that Abe passed away yesterday morning. Of course I cried, but for 2 reasons: 1. for Abe 2. it reminded me of my deepest hurt. But I sat there, and I thought about how happy Shane must be to have his hunting buddy with him now. I bet they're just having a ball. I love that song by Matthew West--Save a Place for Me. I know Shane saved a place for Abe. They're probably sharing turkey hunting stories now. I just hope they save one extra chair so I can join them one day too. But I have better stories than them anyway. :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Even When the Rain Falls

We are truly washed by the water. At times I get into a rut...going on with life like everyday is just a day and not something incredible made by our Supreme Love. It was raining when I woke up the other day. I just laid in bed and listened to the drops hitting my roof. "Wow!" I thought, just mesmerized. "It's like God is truly raining down on me." And I could feel His presence. Big decisions were made that week at church, and sure enough--God rained down in some huge ways. But the cool thing is, God was raining down even during those thunderstorms each of us had endured the several months leading up to the restoration of our souls and situations. Now, temporarily, we get to see the rainbow. We see that silver lining peaking out from behind the clouds. More storms are sure to come, but soaking in God's rays now will prepare us for those drizzling moments. But rest assured, it's God who keeps us afloat during those floods of storms. How amazing He truly is!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I don't know what to do with my hands...

So this is definitely a new thing for me...blogging? I don't even text. But when I realized I would never be able to access my beloved Facebook at work any longer, I decided to find something I could do...during my planning period of course. Plus, I love reading Leslie's blog and really just wanted to leave comments on hers.

A full week of Benchmark is behind us. This means my students have learned almost everything they will ever learn in my class, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. I took my testing group donuts and juice this morning, and to my surprise they all said thanks and seemed to sincerely appreciate it. I was just glad that I had a bribe to keep them quiet. But 8th graders will surprise you when you least expect it. Sometimes I get caught up in the humdrum of school, and they really shock me with their mature...rare...but mature comments at times. Definitely makes it easy to get up every morning.

My feet, however, aren't so thankful that I teach 8th grade. My boys have asked me all year if I ever played sports. I always respond with, "Yeah...I dabbled." But it really takes me aback that they just don't know how many hours I've spent on a basketball court, track, or softball diamond. Probably more hours than they've been alive to this day. But needless to say, I felt I should prove myself to them this week. And in trying to school 13 8th graders at one time (we play 13 on 13..not 5 on 5), I tore the bottom of my feet up so bad I couldn't walk for the past 2 ways. I hobbled. See, I played barefoot on concrete, and I couldn't let them beat me. You would've thought I would've learned my lesson when the nurse told me I needed to keep my feet elevated and medicated or I would get staph, but no...this teacher doesn't learn like she would like her students to do. Now two days since the first incident, I wrapped my feet up during 7th hour, drank some water, and got ready for those mischievous 8th period boys to walk in my room. We actually go the number down to 7 on 7 today. They told me that it looked like I had played in high school! Bless their hearts...I should have given them candy. Or maybe I did..?!

Going to Leslie's tonight for dinner, dessert, and a movie. It's always such a blessing to be with her. Although I know she and her husband will enjoy their next few years of schooling, I hate to see them leave when we have just gotten to be such good friends! But we'll take plenty of pictures of our rainbow cake. And no promises, but I sure hope they turn out better than the cupcakes that turned to ashes in my cupcake crematory. We will see. Until next time..have a very blessed day!

"But by the grace of God I am what I am." --1 Cor 15:10