Saturday, October 15, 2016

where are you headed?

Back in my college days, the days I had time to work out, I would go to the gym at least twice a week. It was my wind-down time. Time I got to stop the going, going, going and just be for a bit. And when I say "just be" I mean, I ran on the treadmill... I was going nowhere fast. But it was so good for me. When I was on the treadmill I had to look straight ahead. It was impossible for me to look up at the TV because I wasn't headed in that direction. I was running straight, not up. And when a friend came with me and we ran side by side I secretly hated it because I couldn't look over to talk to them. If I did, I started running in that direction ever so slightly. I had to hold my arms out onto the handle bars and force myself to go forward. I know what you're thinking, I'm a klutz. But hear me out on this one.

Flash forward to today, when most of my exercise comes from walking a line of 22 nine year olds through long hallways. They like to turn to their neighbor and talk, just like I did on the treadmill a few years back. Or they completely turn around and face backwards. What the what?! And so I came up with this funny question of asking them where they're going, because the direction they're facing isn't going to get them there. Sometimes they're facing a completely opposite direction (like when they're literally turned around), and sometimes they're just off a little bit, but still... we're supposed to be in a line here people!

Anyways... after I asked this question for the ump-teenth time, I started thinking about it in my own life. Where am I headed and what direction am I facing? I'm talking bigger things. Not like I'm trying to get to Target and going the wrong way. I mean really, where am I headed? I want to be the best wife I can and someday even be a mama. I want to love people in a way that points them beyond myself. I want to live life in the slow lane and with intention. I want to go beyond the classroom and lead teachers. I want to create a home that's inviting and welcoming and full of love and laughter. That's where I'm headed.

And if I'm headed in that direction, or at least want to be, I have to ask myself, what direction am I facing? Am I completely turned around trying to figure out what my friend behind me is doing? Or am I turned to the side, running my friend's path for a bit.

When I was in college running on that treadmill, I had to stare straight ahead. It just so happened that our gym had giant windows overlooking the football field. I fixed my eyes of the goal post and I ran. I didn't stop looking at that goal post until I reached my goal for the day. And now, when I walk my class down the hallway, I tell the kiddos to look up and straight in front of them. That's where they're headed and that's where they need to fix their eyes.

So in my own life, if I'm headed towards being the best wife I can, where are my eyes fixed? On the marriage next door or on my own? And if I'm headed towards loving people in ways I never thought possible, the only place my eyes should be fixed is on Jesus, the one who demonstrated that perfectly.

It's funny sometimes how these little things from the past and silly things from today collide to teach us something totally new. But they do, and right now I'm learning that there are many paths in this world. Not all are right for me. I need to stop and figure out where I want to be headed and then align my life to face in that direction. I believe we all need this once in a while, so I challenge you to make a list of where you want to be headed and really think about if your life is facing in that direction. If not, what can we do to change that?

Saturday, May 7, 2016

thank you momma.

Dear momma,

It's in the still, quiet moments that the memories flood back in, like a well-known movie replaying in my head. I can see that tiny house we called home and smell the fresh cut grass as I played under the big pine tree. The memories that were made in our fast-forward world replay in slow motion and all I can utter to say is thank you.

Thank you for sharing your love for the outdoors. Thank you for showing me that under that big pine tree is a great place for a fort, and teaching me how to keep a garden. I didn't know it at the time but those afternoons picking weeds taught me that some things in life need to go if we want to have fruit. Thank you for teaching me that raking pine needles is exhausting and exhilarating. Thank you for sharing your love of flowers and nurturing something beautiful.


Thank you momma for teaching me how to make a house a home. Thank you for making me clean my bedroom all those times I stomped my feet. Thank you for making doing the dishes a family affair and telling me to sweep the floor. Thank you for teaching me how to keep a house clean, but most importantly that in order for a house to be a home, you need a lot of love and grace. You need a kitchen table that can get messy and a comfy place to relax. You need laughter and joy. You need family.

Thank you for being my role model and teaching me about kindness and compassion. Thank you for teaching me how to talk to adults with respect and honor. Thank you for teaching me how to share my toys and eventually my time, passions and love for people. Thank you for reminding me that life isn't just about me, especially when I didn't get what I wanted.

Thank you for cuddle time and reading to us every night before bed. It felt like everything was right in the world when I was tucked under your arm.  Thank you for introducing me to a love of reading. Thank you for the Bernstein Bears and Little Critters who seemed to become a second family to us.


Thank you for putting aside your hopes and dreams for us. Thank you for spending evenings doing homework and watching soccer practice. Thank you for giving up your Friday nights for sleepovers and family movie nights. Thank you for saying no to so many things in order to say yes to us. Thank you for sacrificing your time to make every minute with us count.

Thank you for your constant encouragement in every endeavor I decide to take, even when it takes me a little bit further from you. Thank you for pushing me towards my college goals and cheering me along the way. Thank you for driving me half-way across the country and leaving me there so that I can pursue something I've always dreamed of. Thank you for saying yes when my sweet boy asked if he could marry me and move me to Texas. Thank you that you never stop saying "go get 'em" and "run after your dreams".


Thank you, momma. I don't know what this world would be without you and I pray it's not just Mother's Day that you know I am thankful for you. It is each and every day. In the good times and bad, I am who I am because of you and I am so grateful for that.

I love you momma. Thank you.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

doubt.

It's that time of year where we fix our eyes on the cross and what Jesus has done for our sins and for our lives. We ponder the ideas of Good Friday and maybe even continue to ask why it is "good" when it is remembered as the day Jesus died. We remember the beatings Jesus endured, the calling out of scoffers and hear the pounding of the nails as they pierced Jesus' hands and feet.
A few days later we praise the One who brought the dead to life. We celebrate the victory Jesus had over death, our sins and the world. We are filled with awe and wonder that someone could take our place, take our punishment, so that we may have life. 

In the midst of those two days, I am thinking about doubt. I know... how fitting... I celebrate all of these things for years and at age 24, I doubt. Maybe not necessarily that I doubt Jesus dying and coming back to life, but I doubt that Jesus has power in my life. Some days I doubt that I have the patience I need to work with 21 ten-year-olds. Some days I doubt Jesus has the power to change me. Some days I doubt there will be healing in places of hurt. Some days I doubt Jesus has power in a world filled with terrorism and shootings and drugs. Some days I doubt. In fact, I would venture to say I doubt most days... or even every day. 

But then I was reading in the book of Mark about a family who doubted in ways similar to my doubts I think. Here's a little background story... The family knows their daughter is sick and dying so they send someone to tell Jesus and ask him to come and heal her. He agrees but since there are so many people now following him, it takes him a while to get there. He makes some stops along the way, heals other people and in the mean time, the daughter dies. It's sad. Tragic. The family is broken-hearted, hurting, and in disbelief. When Jesus finally gets to their house here's how it goes... 
And when he entered, he said to them, "Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. 
Stop right there. This isn't the kind of laugh like Jesus is funny (although he can be). This is a "are you freaking kidding me?!" laugh. The family is looking at their dead daughter, Jesus says she's just sleeping, and they doubt him. They laugh in their doubt and disbelief.   Keep going...
But he put them all outside and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, "Talitha, cumi," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise." And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.   Mark 5:39-42
Woah. So here they are laughing in doubt and Jesus doesn't seem phased by it. He doesn't get mad that they doubt him. He doesn't say well then, I'm outta here since you clearly don't understand my power. He stays. He heals their daughter. He does what they say he couldn't do! Despite the family's doubt, Jesus shows his power.

After I read that story, I was reminded of an old lady named Sarah and her husband Abraham. Sarah was getting along in years, well past her child-bearing opportunity. But one day an angel of the Lord came to her and told her she was going to bear a child. And you know what she did when she heard it? She laughed. She didn't believe at her old age that she could have a child. Nevertheless, here's how it goes...
The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age.   Genesis 21:1-2
Sarah laughed in doubt, but that didn't stop God. He still did what he promised to do.

And that's why I'm thinking about my doubts at this time. Just as in these two stories, I'm betting there were a lot of people laughing on Good Friday and the days that followed... not because there was anything funny, but in disbelief. I'm betting some people laughed when Jesus said he was going to return. I'm betting some people laughed when they saw people waiting at Jesus' tomb. There must have been some serious doubt when Jesus died. Was he really who he said he was?

But their doubt, and my doubt, does not stop Jesus. He did not abandon his people simply because of their laughter. He didn't stay in the tomb just because people doubted his return. No. Despite their disbelief, Jesus still showed his power. Despite our doubt, Jesus rose again and took away our sins.

So as I celebrate Easter this year, I am also celebrating the fact that no matter what my doubt, Jesus is still going to show his power in my life. Even though I doubt I have the patience to get through the day, Jesus does not abandon me and prove my doubt. He shows up and proves his power. Just because I doubt Jesus has the power to change my selfish ways, he does not prove me right and let me be as I am. He changes me from the inside out. And just because I might doubt Jesus could really take away all my sins, it doesn't stop him from dying on the cross for me and for you. Despite our disbelief, he died and rose again. He showed his power in ways I could not imagine.

It's almost as if I hear little whispers... "it's okay, my child. Your doubts do not stop me. I will still save you. Keep pressing on and one day you will doubt no more."

Saturday, February 27, 2016

dear parent.

Dear parent- there are so many things I wish I could tell you that just don't fit in a parent conference or are appropriate for school function small talk. I want you to know that I love your child more than I thought I could. He has this way about him that is special and unique and I know there is none like him. I want you to know that I would give my life for you child. She has the world in front of her and there is so much yet to be discovered.

Dear parent- thank you for supporting my obsession to paste all great things into your child's math journal. I know you didn't anticipate needing 30 glue sticks this year, but we are foldable fanatics and loving it!

Dear parent- your child is the one I think about in the middle of the night and on a still Saturday morning. Your child is so important to me and my mind never stops running with new ideas and ways to reach your child. I want so badly for your child to succeed, but even more than that, I want your child to know that his identity is not in his performance. I want your child to know he is loved and accepted and enough. I want your child to leave my classroom with the confidence that there is nothing he can't do. I dream to see your child walk across the stage on graduation day and read about his achievements in the newspaper. I think of what she will be one day and how she can change the world with her love for others.

Dear parent- I want you to know that you play such a key role in your child's life. Even when you think they are not looking, they most definitely are. Please set an example for them on what it means to be honest, devoted and true. Let them know that there are troubles in this world, but to take heart. Show them how to treat your best friend and your elders. Teach them respect and how to lend to a neighbor. Oh, dear parent, how our classrooms would run so differently if this were our way of living.

Dear parent- thank you for telling your child silly jokes and taking them on adventures. I love hearing stories about your family and your child's love for the outdoors.

Dear parent- I know homework is not fun and sometimes it leads to arguments and tears. But I promise you this... one day your child will look back and treasure those moments at the kitchen table. Please take the time to help them with it and encourage them in how far they've come. What progress we're making!

Dear parent- I want you to know that I respect you beyond my words. You have given birth to this child and made her your whole life for the past 9 years. Thank you for trusting me with your most prized possession 8 hours of every day. Thank you for your giving me grace when I don't have it just right. I am by no means perfect and I am so appreciative that you don't expect me to be. Thank you for being on my team and cheering for me along the way. I don't know what I would do without you.

Dear parent- thank you for sorting through all those papers every week. If I had my way, I wouldn't send you that much stuff, but by golly, you seem to take it like a champ (or maybe you just throw it away... that's okay too!)

Dear parent- I want you to know that I realize this is a once in a lifetime deal I have on my plate. Your child will only be in my class once and I want to make the absolute most of it. I long for your child to be equipped and prepared for where he is headed... whether that be 5th grade, college or Congress. I want you to know that I am doing my absolute best with what I've been given and when I fall short of that, I will pick up the pieces and try again.

Dear parent- what I really want you to know is that you are not alone. I love your child. Please trust me in my career and that I am doing what is best for your child.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

holiday home tour.

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. I love the lights and the trees and the holiday treats and the good cheer. I love giving gifts and spending time with the ones we hold dear. 

And with that,  I would like to invite you into our home. Oh how I wish we could host you all for a warm dinner or a cup of coffee, but for some, time and distance will keep us from that this year. So instead, I invite you in via pictures and words. It is my prayer that you would feel the love and cheer we share in our home as you take our holiday home tour. 

First, I invite you into the kitchen where the majority of the holiday madness takes place. I bought this adorable snowman spatula you see below at Williams-Sonoma. It reminds me of my granny who always made it a point to bake with me during the holidays and has a beautiful snowman collection. 


 One of our naughty elves also resides in the kitchen atop our cabinets. I like to think he's supervising the holiday baking. These elves are just two of my great-grandmother's collection. It is so sweet to have a little piece of Christmas tradition that has now been passed down 4 generations in our home.




My favorite part of our entire apartment is our dining room where we have our tree and we host friends and family. The space is a little tight, but then again what space isn't tight in a one bedroom apartment. 


When you don't have a fireplace, you must get creative with the stockings. 


Our centerpiece is something new I put together this year with a little help of Pinterest inspiration. I got this beautiful red ceramic bowl on clearance at HomeGoods and filled it with pinecones from the Wisconsin north woods my mom picked up for me (she's the best!). I added 3 pillar candles in the center, a few greens and bam... a gorgeous centerpiece that reminds me of home and the quiet woods. 


We have these letters up all year, but I really love how they look with our natural, rustic Christmas tree. I don't think I could've planned it any better. 


Most of the ornaments on our tree were handed down to us from my momma. She and I picked them out a few years back from "the idea store" in Green Bay. It is seriously the best place to get Christmas decorating ideas. 




Okay, let me tell you about these colored lights you see. Roy's parents so graciously gave us this tree to have this year (thank you!).  It is a gorgeous tree, however it is prelit. With colored lights. Not my thing. So we did what all teachers do... we problem solved. We just took one bulb out of each set of colored lights and there you have it... no colored lights. Well, at least none that come on. When you look at our tree from a distance, you would never know there are colored lights on it. It's only when I take super up close pictures that it looks a little funny. But like I said, the tree is so full and beautiful that I just couldn't turn it down simply for it's colored lights. 


Although I like to carry on the themed tree, there is always room for the Packers ornament. 


Elf #2 (they really need some names... suggestions appreciated!) hangs from the top of our tree. I imagine he's climbed all the way to the top and now doesn't know what to do with himself at this point. 


I originally bought this lantern for our wedding, but I've changed the candle with each new season and it's like a brand new lantern every time. I love the versatility of it. Our Christmas countdown was also a Pinterest inspired homemade creation. I just used some scrap wood, letter stamps and a clothespin.

 

And of course our family room has a few little touches of Christmas. 


This tree was given to us by my dad and the snowman was my mom's. One of the reasons I love Christmas so much is that it is a time to spend with family, and even if this Christmas means I will be spending it away from them physically, they are definitely in our home spreading holiday joy and love.

Thank you so so much for spending some time with me in our home for the holidays. It is a joy and honor to share with you.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

one year.

A year ago today, Roy was wandering the streets of Chicago carrying on normal text conversation as though he were teaching back in Houston.

I awoke as normal, put on an old college sweatshirt to match my school's spirit day, and packed my things to leave for home after school. I had 2 eggs and bacon, per usual, with my best friend and her husband (also my roommates and lifesavers), made my coffee and went about my day. I had no idea what was about to be.

My day was normal. I taught some sort of American History to 8th graders who didn't really care to listen. At the same time, Roy was riding a train to Chicago, wandering the streets of the city lined with Christmas lights (my absolute favorite) and waiting for my sweet friend Amy to pick him up from the train station. She so graciously brought him to Green Bay to pick up the ring and anxiously wait.




After school I headed for home and planned to meet my dad and Russell at the Botanical Garden of Lights. On my way home I tried to call and talk with Roy but he was "out to dinner with family and couldn't really talk". Instead I listened to the sounds of the seasons (aka magical Christmas music) and answered every call from my dad, mom, and best friend asking how the drive was going and where I was. Little did I know, this was the longest drive of their lives.


When I finally got into town, dad gave me strict orders to meet him at the Botanical Gardens. I was not to meet him anywhere but there. At the front doors. Park and ride the shuttle yourself. I thought it a bit harsh, but then again, dad always has a plan. As I rode the shuttle to the entrance gate, a Christmas wish ran through my mind... what if Roy surprised me and came to Green Bay for the weekend? Just as fast as that wish came into my mind though, I denied every possibility of it. Where would he fly into? How would he get all the way to Green Bay? Surely everyone couldn't keep that secret from me.


But as my dad and I walked in to Garden of Lights, I felt a gentle tap on my right shoulder and what to my wondering eyes should appear but... my dear.


In a flash my dad left us with 2 tickets and I was in a whirl-wind. We walked around the lights, Roy seeking the perfect spot to do what he'd waited so long for, and I still trying to figure out how everyone pulled this surprise off.


Roy suggested we jump the fence to get a picture under the arbor and I followed in my giddy state. Just as I took a picture of us, Roy dropped to his knee. I wish I could tell you all that he said and what happened next, but all I remember is saying yes!


We kissed and hugged and people around us cheered.



We walked around to see a few more lights, but Roy had more plans in mind for us. We headed to the restaurant where my friends and family sat anxiously awaiting our arrival.






One year. It's crazy what can happen in a year. And it's even crazier how much more you can love someone in a year.

Thank you Roy for your constant surprises, laughter in all of my days, and love that knows no bounds. I am honored to be your wife and will never forget this magical day under the twinkle lights.


Saturday, October 31, 2015

the essential.

The steady rain and thunder keeps us inside this morning. But it's quite okay because sometimes we need that. We need slow mornings to lazily get out of bed and sip coffee as we read a book that started to collect dust. This is what fall is for.

I've been thinking a lot recently about priorities. A mentor once told me to make a list of my top 5 priorities in life... what are the five most important things to me. I never actually took the time to write these things down, but I could easily tell you what they are. And as I think about those things, I feel a mix of emotions. I feel some guilt because my priorities and what I spend my time on doesn't match up. I feel sadness knowing that things that are so important to me continually get pushed to the side. I also feel glimmers of hope knowing that it doesn't always have to be like this. I have the ability to change.

The reality is I don't prioritize things in my life in the ways I would like to. And I would also venture to say that you just might be able to relate to me in this. We put time in to things that don't really matter to us and we don't give enough time to the things that do.

I'm currently reading The Ragamuffin Gospel (which I've been reading for months now, hence the dust on the book). In it, Brennan Manning says,
we are so caught up in the urgent that we forget what is essential. 
Wow. Yes. The urgent being teaching these standards to mastery in just two days, making sure I am wearing the latest fashions, getting caught up on social media, cleaning the house... the list can go on. There are so many things in our lives that are urgent. We must do them today, right now or people will be disappointed in us. Or we will be out of the loop. Or whatever the case may be. The urgencies take precedence in our lives and we feel pressure when they don't.

But what about the essential? What about calling my best friends to tell them how my week is going and ask them about theirs? What about reading the book of life? What about taking time to love my husband to the best of my ability? What about spending time with my family... sending a gift of gratitude... stopping to help a stranger?


These are essential. These matter. What I think I'm in need of the most is a shift in perspective... a shift in priorities. I want to see the things that matter, I want to do the kingdom work, I want to grow spiritually and be filled by the giver of good gifts.

Maybe the things that are urgent to us are so because they are fleeting. In due time that lesson is long forgotten. In due time that fashion is out of style and laughed at. In due time the house is dirty again and the fridge is empty and the nail polish is worn off and my book is still collecting dust.


You see, the urgent are only important today. Tomorrow they are forgotten about. But the essential are everlasting, imperative, and will not fade.

So on a rainy Saturday I fall on my knees, begging for grace and pleading for a shift in perspective. May the urgent be set aside and the essential take precedence. May I find myself spending more time on the things that are lasting and less time on things that are fleeting.