Sunday, December 21, 2008

Worship at Home

I woke up at 3:30 this morning with some kind of intestinal virus and so being that it's the Sabbath, Ciaran and I worshipped at home together. I missed being at church (I really am starting to love the church we've decided to settle in at), but there was something nice about "church" at home this morning...even though I felt like vomitting through most of it. ;-) We listened to an old Mark Driscoll sermon online. The focus of the sermon was on God's foreknowledge and God's sovereignty. I love how doctrinally rich Driscoll's sermons are and he opened the sermon reading John 18 -19:1-16 to focus us in on Jesus as the King. Sooo good. We then used YouTube to listen to a number of worship songs and ended our time of worship in prayer. Even though I was sick, it was still a nice morning worshipping the Lord through the Word, music and prayer. Praise God that we don't have to be in a church to worship Him, that we can gather anywhere and worship him in spirit and in truth. But even though it was a precious time with the Lord, I still can't wait for Wednesday night when we'll be back home and worshipping at E Free on Christmas Eve with all of the believers there!!!!

This afternoon Ciaran let me sleep until my fever broke and then we watched the cartoon Grinch on TV and now we're about to watch White Christmas. Ciaran needed to get some work done at school today, but he offered to stay at home with me this afternoon since I'm feeling so crummy. He's so good to me. Hopefully I'll be feeling better by tomorrow because I myself have a ton of work to get done at school yet too. I don't want to have to cart home too many papers to grade; I know I'll have at least 90 papers to grade at home, but I'm going to try and get the rest of it done here before we head north late on the 23rd or early on the 24th. Well, I think it's time to watch our movie now. Hope everyone's enjoying a restful and joy-filled Sabbath as we prepare our hearts for Christmas!!! Enjoy your day!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hoping for a Snow Day

As the title shows you...I'm REALLY hoping for a snow day tomorrow. When I was in high school, I didn't really consider that teachers might get just as excited as us when considering the possibility of a snow day. But what I most certainly never considered was that teachers get EVEN MORE excited about the possibility of a snow day than the students. At my high school today, it was all we teachers could talk about and you should have seen us all piling out of the school today, heavy-laden with all our papers to grade over break, ever the optimists about the potential for this snow day tomorrow. The idea of a whole extra day to grade and lesson plan tomorrow just fills me with glee! To make matters worse, or rather to highlight my greediness for said snow days, I have to admit that while Ciaran trudged off to school on Monday, my friend Nicole and I were allowed to lounge because at 6:10am, we received the phone call that our district was without power and we didn't have to report to work. :-) So here I am, just about to enjoy a beautiful two week break and I only have taught three days this week and yet I'm still hoping for another day off. Pretty sad isn't it?! Let's chalk it up to first year teacher fatigue. ;-) The worst part is, my dear husband (who had to work on Monday) also has to go back and teach on Monday and Tuesday of next week, while I joyfully sit in my empty classroom getting ahead on lesson plans and unit planning for next semester. That's the only bad thing about teaching in two different districts...our calendars are different and oftentimes when one of us has a day off, the other doesn't. Well, here's hoping that both of our districts are closed tomorrow so Ciaran can get some rest before going back to work on Monday and Tuesday...and that I can get my grading caught up. :-) OK, thanks for letting me post these silly little hopes here tonight. Ciaran and I are now off to my school's choir concert; I have a ton of kids singing in this event tonight...I'm really excited! Enjoy your night!

Friday, December 12, 2008

For a Good Cause

Today at the high school I teach at, the students kicked out a bunch of their teachers and administrators and sent us to the curb in front of the high school for the day. Our mission, to beg for donations from passing cars to help us give twenty-six needy families in our community a wonderful Christmas. I was a little uncertain about this since it was my first experience with this annual event, but it ended up being SO much fun. To get me to the curb my students had to bring in money (we worked on raising the money for the past two weeks) and a dollar sent me to the curb for one minute. I stood outside, in the freezing cold and snow for just about an hour each block. I was so proud of my students for raising this money! After a day of chasing vehicles (my favorite was the massively large cement truck that my friend Nicole and I rushed--the driver ended up giving us a substantial donation), and standing in the freezing cold, I am exhausted, but have a wonderful memory to take with me from this first year of teaching. The other highlight from the day was explaining to very confused looking drivers that our students had kicked us out of the school. As soon as I would say that part of my little rehearsed spiel about our mission, the drivers would almost always laugh and hand me a bunch of money. One gentleman laughed and told me he wished he and his peers would have thought of kicking their teachers out for a day back when he was in school. And for those of you wondering who exactly was supervising our students as we stood outside all day...well never fear, we had a whole host of substitutes at the ready to take over our classes for us once we were banished from the building. We teachers also gave up our planning blocks to cover other classes. I actually only had one sub in my room today, the others were my colleagues which I think was fun for the kids too. Seeing your psychology teacher in your English classroom is always interesting, right?! In the end we raised over $6,000 dollars which was really exciting. What a fun day!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Praying for my Husband

One of the greatest privileges I've discovered in the past two and a half months of marriage is praying for my husband. I started praying daily for Ciaran last year when he was in New Hampshire, but now that we're married, my prayers for him have taken on a whole new dimension and I consider it such a privilege to support him in this way. And I wanted to share two wonderful resources that I have been using to aid my prayer efforts.

First I want to highlight Revive Our Hearts' "31 Days of Pryaing for Your Husband." I love this resource because each day has a different focus for prayer and then it has accompanying verses. The website also has a PDF download available for those of you that do not like the web format and want to print it out. I especially appreciate this because I love anything that I can easily access online.

The next resource aiding me in my prayer efforts is Stormie Omartian's The Power of a Praying Wife. I love this book so much! Each chapter has some commentary and personal reflections on the topic for prayer and then she actually has a written out prayer that you can pray word for word or use it as a starting point. Some of the topics for prayer include, his work, his finances, his mind, his purpose, his priorities, his obedience, his walk, his talk, etc. This resource is truly invaluable to me right now as it guides my prayers and keeps me focused on praying with an eternal perspective.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back to the Grind

I can't believe Thanksgiving break is over already. It feels as if Wednesday was only yesterday and I was beyond giddy about heading home to spend some quality time with family. And now it's Sunday and I'm back at the apartment, eagerly counting the minutes until Ciaran gets here. I didn't even get to go to Midland Free today for church because of the snowstorm. And my dear husband is driving all the way from Petoskey in this snowstorm too. He had to go up there to get a car for us to use from his brother's house. Ciaran, for those of you that don't already know, was in a car accident just about two weeks ago and so we're down to one car right now, which has made for an interesting two weeks with our crazy schedules. But thanks to his parents, we're going to have a car to use now until we are able to buy a new one.

And Thanksgiving was wonderful. I spent some quality time with my mom and her family and then spent some quality time with Ciaran's family and friends; we even got to go to a Spirit game while we were in town which was fun. But I'm struggling with feelings of dread tonight. My flesh is crying out against having to get back to the grind of work and the inevitable, hectic busyness of it all. It was so wonderful to have a few days to just veg and sleep and read and spend undistracted time with the Lord. It's hard not to be homesick when every visit is so absolutely wonderful. Goodness, now I'm feeling sad. I better go spend some more time with the Lord. And hopefully Ciaran will be here soon. :-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kissing My New Husband

Hehe. Kissing my new husband.
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Overlooking the Pond

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Memorable Moments

Memorable Moments Together After the Ceremony
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Another View of the Ceremony

This was the most idyllic setting. I felt ushered into God's presence as soon as I walked down the aisle. It was so perfect.
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The Ceremony

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Another picture!

I'll keep posting these as I find them, but there are about 300 images for me to wade through, so I'll probably only be posting a few favorites each day. Sorry for the delay. This one makes me giggle because Ciaran (as always) was making me laugh uncontrollably. I had been SO nervous before the wedding so it felt REALLY good to laugh at one of his jokes just minutes after the ceremony was over.
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Wedding Pictures

Wedding Pictures Have Arrived!!!
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Much Better Day

After my grumbling and complaining about my day yesterday, I figured I needed to post today to share that God gave me such joy in my job today that all of my fatigue melted away. God is so good! And now tonight, as I sit here getting some paperwork together before our 7pm finance meeting, I feel joyful and contented with the work God has blessed me with. Praise God and thank you for your prayers when I was being a grumbler yesterday. :-)

Also, for those of you who love hymns, Covenant Life Church out in Maryland are memorizing hymns. Here's the link to Joshua Harris's blog post about it. They are memorizing "Amazing Grace" this month...sooo good. Next month is" Before the Throne." I love these hymns, especially "Before the Throne"!!! Check it out when you have a chance!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another Tuesday

Tuesdays, my favorite day of the week...not really. A long day at work, a staff meeting, fast food for dinner because I'm just way too tired to actually cook, watching a really, really bad movie while grading papers....the only highlight of my day was when my colleague and friend, Nicole, arrived here at the apartment and Ciaran got home from work. Nicole lives an hour and twenty minutes from our school and so Ciaran and I frequently make our guest room available to her so she doesn't have to make such a long commute every single day of the week. Tonight and tomorrow night are two of her nights to spend with us, so we're now watching Dan in Real Life as we grade papers, trying to erase Sweeney Todd (the really, really bad movie we just watched the end of...we missed the beginning of it, thank goodness) from our memories. Tomorrow is Wednesday, the middle of the week. I hope it's a better day than today.

On a more positive note, I was patrolling blogs tonight and came across this quote on the Girl Talk blog:

"It is faith that enlivens our work with perpetual cheerfulness. It commits every part of it to God, in the hope, that even mistakes shall be overruled for his glory; and thus relieves us from an oppressive anxiety, often attendant upon a deep sense of our responsibility. The shortest way to peace will be found in casting ourselves upon God for daily pardon of deficiencies and supplies of grace, without looking too eagerly for present fruit." -Charles Bridges

Wow, did I need this quote today. I desperately need for God to give me a fresh burst of passion and cheerfulness in my work. Nicole and I were talking tonight about how different teaching is from our dreams of teaching when we were in college...we both set out to change the world (or at least our small part of it); to make a difference, and yet we seem caught in a battle with papers and apathetic students and politics and sheer exhaustion. But I know that as I spend some extended time with the Lord tonight, He will revive me and give me the strength I need to keep going. Gotta love the first year of teaching. At least God has provided me with a wonderfully supportive husband (he is an absolute treasure; I realize this more and more with each passing day) and a great colleague who is fighting through her first year of teaching as well.

Monday, November 10, 2008

ESV Study Bible

All right, so I've been meaning to post about this for quite some time now. Has everyone had a chance to see the new ESV Study Bible?! I absolutely love this Bible and it was well worth the wait! The study notes are amazingly rich, the color maps are so helpful and the extra articles are theologically precise. Then tonight Ciaran and I were perusing various Bible reading plans online and I saw in our new Bible that it references this website for Bible Reading Plans. Check it out! Ciaran and I have pretty much decided on the "Every Day in the Word" plan, but all of them look really great. What I loved so much about these plans is the option to print them like my old fashioned Discipleship Journal plan that I have done for years, or you can access the text online complete with audio versions of the daily passages or have them e-mailed to you or sent to your cell phone. This is brilliant. No more excuses from me as to why I can't complete my daily reading. :-) It's at my fingertips no matter where I go! Ciaran and I aren't waiting for January 1st to dig into this new plan; we started tonight and it was such a nice time sitting here in our living room listening to our Bible passages online much better than watching TV as we unwind from a long day. Check this site out when you have a chance! Night!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

1 Month Anniversary

Ciaran and I are celebrating our one month wedding anniversary today! I can't believe it's already been a month! After church today, we watched a movie and then Ciaran announced he had a suprise for me. Now before I share what the surprise was, I have to share that I have been experiencing my first bouts of homesickness the past two weeks. Especially on beautiful fall afternoons have I been experiencing my worst pangs as I miss the beauty of home with the woods and the fall colors and the smells of home with bonfires and apple cider and donuts, etc. So today Ciaran drove me 20-30 minutes (I didn't time it b/c I was too curious as to where he was taking me to pay attention to something like that) to an apple barn and there I got to enjoy fall in all its brilliance and get apple cider, donuts, all of the fun treats that I get all of the time back home. When I asked Ciaran how he found this place, he told me he asked all of his students if there were any apple farms nearby and this was the only one they knew of. And I thought no place had better apple cider donuts than Bayne's...well Gull Meadow Farms just might have them beat with their glazed apple cider donut. Oh it's sooo good! I have the sweetest husband in the world...I still can't believe he took the time and effort to give me a taste of home by finding an apple barn for me. All right, I don't have time to share anymore because Ciaran and I need to run a few more errands before dinner tonight, so I have to end here. Hopefully I'll be able to find more time to post later.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

At The Cross

I love this song. I'm sitting in my classroom tonight prepping for parent/teacher conferences that will take place next Tuesday afternoon and evening. As I sit here working on paperwork, I have this song playing over my classroom speakers. It doesn't matter what point I'm at in my life, nor does it matter what mood I'm in...this song always is a wonderful balm on my soul. The perfect reminder of who I am in Christ; that my whole life is wrapped up in Him. Enjoy your night.

At The Cross

P.S. And for those of you looking at the time of this post and concerned that I'm neglecting my dear husband, have no fear...he's coaching tonight until sometime after 9. :-) I'll get home before he does.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Thursday Night Thought

Next week at this time, it will be the night before my wedding. Oh my goodness. I have been so caught up with teaching and lesson planning that I haven't had a good moment to really consider this. I'm entering my last week of unmarried life. And what am I doing this last week you ask? Well, teaching and lesson planning and grading papers (because it's all I seem to do right now). Late tomorrow night I plan on making the 2.5 hour drive back "home" because Saturday I have my final wedding dress fitting. After that I'll be working on stuffing and addressing wedding announcements while packing and once again lesson planning/grading papers. Sunday it's church and more packing and heading back to BC to work in my classroom. Then it's four days of teaching and then Thursday afternoon, my mom and cousin Katelen will make there way down to BC. After giving them a tour of HC, it will be time to head over to the place I'm staying, pack my stuff and then get to Ciaran's soccer game. My mom's going to get to see Ciaran coach at his new amazing school with the INCREDIBLE soccer stadium. I'm so excited! And that will bring me to exactly this time next week.

I am so in awe of God and where He has brought Ciaran and myself over the past seven years since we met. Our relationship is truly a testimony of God's abundant and amazing grace that He lavishes on His people. We cannot help but humbly stand in awe of how He has grown us and provided for us every step of the way. It is such a surreal thing to be sitting in my classroom tonight, typing away at this computer and looking around me at my "new" life and the new life that will be stretching before me come next Friday and I just have to look heavenward and praise our great and awesome God for bringing us here. Words cannot possibly even scratch the surface of what I'm feeling tonight.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Have a Job!

I have a job!!! I am the newest English teacher at HC in BC. Well, actually, it won't be official until the board clears it Monday it's almost official. I met with the superintendent today and even had the opportunity to get into my classroom for the first time! Ciaran and I are beyond excited right now and we're teaching at rival schools which will be so much fun during soccer season! I start new teacher orientation next Wednesday...everything is happening so fast.

God also provided me a place to live for the weeks leading up to our wedding. I will be staying with a very sweet Christian couple. The wife is a fellow English teacher at the school. I feel so blessed and overwhelmed by how God just keeps abundantly providing for our every need in this hectic, but oh so fun season of our lives.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wedding Planning and Interviews

I'm sitting in my hotel room in BC working out wedding plans and waiting for Ciaran to finish coaching soccer for the day so we can meet up for dinner. I had my first teaching interview in BC today (my last one was up near Lansing). And I'm also waiting to hear back on two other applications I have out at area schools. It's already August 11 and I don't have a job yet; I may be subbing again this year if things keep up this way. :-)

And what wedding plans am I working on today? Well, I'm all about finding our location right now. Ciaran and I would ideally like to be married in an outdoor setting at an area B&B; something low-key and simple. We want a simple Friday evening wedding and return to work on Monday. We hope to go on our honeymoon during spring break (if we end up with the same spring break that is) or sometime next summer. After spending the afternoon on the phone, I have two appointments made for us to visit some B&B's tomorrow in the morning...Henderson Castle and Castle in the Country. We'll see how the visits go; I'm excited! :-) I'm also looking at a place called Greencrest Manor, but I haven't checked their availability dates yet. Both of the two we're visiting tomorrow currently have both our ideal dates available.

Oh and I found my wedding dress already. I hate shopping so I was dreading that task a bit, but it proved to be incredibly simple. I tried on maybe six dresses total between two different places and once I tried this particular one on, like my cousin Katelen said, it was immediately clear it was the dress. Simple as that. I love simple! Sorry I can't give any more details, Ciaran tends to frequent this blog in spurts...don't want to risk him finding out any details about it. :-)

Well, that concludes my interviewing and wedding planning update. Hopefully I'll have a chance to write again sometime this week.

Friday, August 08, 2008

We're Engaged!

Ciaran proposed on Tuesday night!!! Just wanted to post the exciting news. And we haven't set a date yet. I have an interview at a high school on Monday (just ten minutes from where he will be teaching this year) and once that is over we're going to begin discussing wedding dates. Sorry this is short and lacking fun details, but we're up in Petoskey right now. We brought Ciaran's ten-year-old nephew up here to visit Uncle Damien (Ciaran's second youngest brother) and of course to tell him our good news.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The passing of our beloved Benjamin

I'm finally working up the courage to post the sad news. On Wednesday evening, our beloved chocolate lab, Benjamin, had to be put to sleep. At nine and a half years old, we thought he had so much life left in him. What we thought was just a little flu bug last week though, turned out to be something far more serious. On Wednesday when I came in from mowing the lawn, Benny was breathing funny and refused food, even when I offered to spoon-feed him. I called my mom and explained what was going on. Then when I tried to take him outside so he could go potty, he staggered and almost fell over, leading me to believe that he had another ear infection which was messing with his equilibrium. When I got him back in the house, he started crying and Ben NEVER cries (he was always an incredibly quiet dog). So I called my mom at work again and she came home early to help me get him to the vet. I really believed that we would get to the vet's office, he would be diagnosed with another ear infection, given some medicine and we'd have him safely home by 5:30. But the vet just looked at us sadly after listening to his heart and checking his vitals and told us that he was in critical condition. It was as if someone had just poured cold water over my head. He was in pain and his heart was shutting down. It was so traumatic watching my beloved Benjamin fade so quickly and even worse to hear his labored breathing. Walking out of the vet's office that night was one of the hardest things I've ever done, especially since I went in never dreaming that he had congestive heart failure. I loved that dear dog so much. I've always been more attached to animals than to people, but Ben was so much more than just a wonderful dog. Through everything that has happened over the past 9 and a half years, he has been such a stable, constant, cheerful presence in our lives and the past seven years (after Grandpa gave him to us) he has never ceased to be the most faithful companion; our house seems so empty and awful now that he's gone. I've cried and cried and cried. Everything is so dark and depressing right now.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"Lord, As the Day Begins"

"In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." -Psalm 5:3
Lord, as the day begins lift up our hearts in praise
take from us all our sins, guard us in all our ways:
our every step direct and guide that Christ in all be glorified!

Christ be in work and skill, serving each other's need;
Christ be in thought and will, Christ be in word and deed:
our minds be set on things above in joy and peace, in faith and love.

Grant us the Spirit's strength, teach us to walk his way;
so bring us all at length safe to the close of day:
from hour to hour sustain and bless, and let our song be thankfulness.

Now as the day begins make it the best of days;
take from us all our sins, guard us in all our ways:
our every step direct and guide that Christ in all be glorified!
-"Lord, As The Day Begins" Trinity Hymnal (Blue) #399

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Busy Week

I was spending time with the Lord this morning when it hit me--this has been a wonderfully eventful week. God has blessed me with some very enjoyable time with my family, I've met some new and incredibly nice people and have run the full gamet of emotions during this time as well. So indulge me as I reflect on this week at length.

Sunday started with a God-saturated time of worship. I love Midland Free so much--rarely am I able to walk away from worship without having encountered our living God and enjoyed such sweet fellowship with the believers there as well. Pastor Jay's sermon on spiritual gifts was yet another reminder of how far God has brought be during this academic year (and how much He has worked through my mentor Bev to bring me to this point)...and also how far I have yet to go. :-) I still am not entirely certain about my spiritual gifts, but I did experience this year while serving in Chidren's Ministries that "joyful exhaustion" that Pastor Jay mentioned. I loved serving in this capacity and I loved how it so greatly affected my week as well. I was continually ruminating on our lesson for the children and God would bring many of them to my mind to pray for. I couldn't wait to see their little faces on Sunday morning and to help in teaching them God's Word, whether in play or in the craft or in the little activities after teaching time. I miss the kids so much and I know I want to be involved in Children's Ministries in whatever church I end up at next year.

Then after church Ciaran and I took my fifteen-year-old-cousin Katelen driving. She's just learning to drive (just got her pink slip!) and since Ciaran spent the better part of the past winter and spring learning how to be a driver's training instructor, we had a blast having her drive around Heritage's driving course and around Ciaran's neighborhoods. Katelen is a great driver and Ciaran of course is a great instructor. Katelen also got to meet Ciaran's parents and a couple of his siblings and then we took her out to dinner and back to my house for the rest of the night. It was so great to be able to sit around with her and talk and watch movies and just hang out; it's been a long time since we had extended time with her together. And she's grown up so much, she was just eight years old when she first met Ciaran...and now she's driving! Does time fly or what?!!!

The beginning of the week also included Ciaran and I going with my cousin Adam out to Delta College (Ciaran knows a number of people out there in admissions). Adam got so much done that morning (testing, meeting with an academic advisor and financial aid...all in just a few hours) and then of course we enjoyed a nice lunch with him. Adam's getting into the computer science field and it was SO much fun to spend time talking with him about that and just hanging out with him. But before we went out to Delta (just shortly after Ciaran pulled into the driveway to pick me up) a huge semi pulled up in front of our house. The moving van had arrived for Carter's stuff. As soon as Ciaran and I left my house, I burst into tears. I had been SO excited for Carter up until that point, but I don't know, it was as if the full realization of what was coming hit me full force over the head. My brother is moving to California!

Then also during the beginning of the week, Ciaran and I trekked to the west side of the state to go visit his new school (he had a meeting with the athletic director) and then we went and looked at apartments. Ciaran starts coaching on the 11th which is coming up pretty soon. We had a blast exploring the area and as for the school he will be teaching! The school he taught at out in New Hampshire was phenomenal (think small New England college least that's what it felt like) and obviously this new one can't compete with that, but it IS incredibly beautiful. Brand new building (they've only been in it since 2005) and it is huge! It's a class A school, but it still seems enormous!

Now on to the middle of the week: my first official teaching interview. This took place outside of Lansing and although I was pretty nervous the night before, the day of the actual interview I felt incredibly calm and just generally excited (all by God's grace of course). The interview itself was so much fun. They asked really insightful questions and posed quite a few challenging scenarios, but come on, two hours where all I talk about is teaching is right up my alley. I didn't want it to end. It was such a positive experience for my first teaching interview. I can't wait for the next one!

And now for the end of the week: Carter is winging his way to California right now. I cried and cried and cried. I promised myself I wouldn't cry in front of him, but of course, as he started finalizing things this morning I started getting all choked up and when we hugged good-bye right before he left, I completely lost it. You'd think I'd be better at goodbye's by now (after all those Ciaran and I had to go through), but I'm not. But I'm excited for Carter, this is such an awesome opportunity and he's going to have so many cool experiences traveling the world with this job. This is a good thing. But it's still sad right now. All right, Ciaran's on his way over to cheer me up (we're going to hit a few golf balls out in the field...that's right, Ciaran's teaching me how to golf--I'm HORRIBLE, but it's still pretty fun to laugh at how horrible I am).

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Offline for the Next Few Days

Instead of e-mailing everyone, I decided to just post this here. After a couple weeks of computer problems, we've finally decided to have our computer reformatted. So for the next 3-5 days, I will not have access to my computer. Just didn't want anyone to think I was ignoring their e-mails. Hope everyone's having a great week!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Currently Reading

I've been meaning to write a book post for quite a few weeks. After all, it is summer now and summer is always when I catch up on reading. So here it is, the books I am currently reading. Feel free to click on my Shelfari bookshelf (it's on the left, below my blog archive) to see others that I am reading or have just read (and even plan to read soon).

1. The Cross-Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney
-I love this book SO much. Ciaran and I are reading it as a devotional (we should finish it sometime in August). This book has forced me to really pause and savor and contemplate the cross. It is helping to draw me deeper and deeper in my relationship with Christ. I read one section each morning with my Bible reading and I find myself pausing throughout my day to worship Christ as I consider what I have read. I never want to "move on from the cross, only into a more profound understanding of the cross" (Mahaney 17). And this book is helping me to do just that. Ciaran and I are loving this book and we heartily recommend it to anyone who longs to live more fully "the cross-centered life."

2. Middlemarch by George Eliot
-Yes, I graduated from college with a B.A. in Literature and never read this classic. Of course I read excerpts and was reminded over and over again by professors and classmates alike that I need to make reading this book a priority, but alas I never got around to it. I had been told that Eliot was phenomenal and that I would find her characters absolutely fascinating, but unfortunately she has always been bypassed by me up until now. I've just started this novel, so maybe I'll post again about this book in the weeks to come.

3. The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne
-Another so-called "classic" which I usually only read one at a time, but a recent visit to the library with my cousin Katelen prompted me to add this one to my current reading list as well. I loved The Scarlet Letter and this was also another recommendation from lit. classmates.

4. Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol
-This was hailed a "must-read" for policy makers and since I eventually want to work in the field of education policy I decided to pick this one up. I usually read this one at bedtime and usually end up in tears. Kozol writes about the poorest congressional district in the U.S. and what is happening to our children there. Horrifying and it makes me want to pack up my bags and go help in anyway I can. I think this a must read for all Americans, not just policy makers. Welcome to the United States of America.

5. The Shape of Sola Scriptura by Keith A. Mathison
The doctrine of sola Scriptura, that's what this whole book is about. Need I say more?! I am gobbling this book up. This book takes you through the historical context, scriptural backing, the theological necessity of this doctrine, etc. I love, love, love this book! I can't believe it's been on our bookshelf for over three years and I never read it!!! My mom received it as a gift from some Bible study friends and I plucked it up as soon as I discovered it...and I haven't been able to put it down since. :-)

6. The Cross of Christ by John R.W. Stott
I wish I could say that I'm gobbing this one up too, but unfortunately it hasn't received a lot of face time and I'm still only on page 34. It's a theologically rich book and I can't wait to devote more time to it, but I just haven't gotten to it lately.

7. When Sinners Say "I Do": Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage by Dave Harvey
A book recommendation I picked up off of the Radical Womanhood blog. Carolyn McCulley says that, "you don't need to be married to learn from this book how to live redemptively in close relationships." And wow is she right! So far, it's been a challenging and convicting and simultaneously uplifting read as it's pointed me Godward, to the author and perfecter of my faith!!! This will be a book I'll read over and over again.

8. 35 Classroom Management Strategies: Promoting Learning and Building Community by Adrienne L. Herrell and Michael Jordan
Interlibrary loaned this for one of my fun, teaching books to peruse this summer. So far it's a good read, haven't found anything earth-shattering and new, but I'm only a few strategies into it. So we'll have to see.

And that rounds out eight of my current reads. You can click on my Shelfari bookshelf to find more, if you are so inclined. Enjoy your evening.

Oh and Ciaran comes home very late tomorrow night! I'm beyond giddy right now. I can't believe I was able to concentrate long enough to write this rather lengthy post. :-) Pray for him as he travels all day tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Kidney Stone Update: Surgery Scheduled

I'm sorry to all of you who have e-mailed me in the last few days and I haven't responded. I've been pretty sick with kidney stones. I met with my urologist yesterday and now the next step in this wonderful journey with kidney stones is to have surgery. My surgery is scheduled for next Wednesday, the 18th. I'm praying I pass the little bugger on my own though between now and then. :-) Hope everyone's having a great week!!!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Euro 2008 online

Quick update because I want to get back to watching the game, but I just realized that will be showing the games live as well, so for those of us that can't get to a TV at some point during the 23 game days, we can watch it online as well. :-) Enjoy the games!

16 Teams. 23 Days!

That's right, it's time for Euro 2008 (finally!). I've only been waiting for this moment since the close of World Cup in 2006! The only trace of sadness that is marring this glorious event for me is the fact that England isn't competing. But life goes on and the games begin in just about an hour and a half. If (horror of horrors) you've never heard of the UEFA European Championship, just click on the links below and enjoy your reading...or better yet, tune in to ESPN Classic at noon or 2:45 today and enjoy the fun with me!

Official Site

ESPN's site

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Kidney Stone Update

So it was back to the hospital for me yesterday. I woke up to intense pain in my right side again; this time the pain was so intense it made me sweat right through my pajamas. I army-crawled (there was no way I was walking in this state) to the living room to find the phone, called my mom at work (no answer), then quickly dialed my grandmother's number. Poor grandma, I didn't even identify myself but just blurted out something along the lines of "need help, come quickly." Then the nausea hit and I (even more slowly now) army-crawled to the bathroom. A lovely time in the bathroom followed and my grandmother arrived (she's had kidney stones before so she completely understood what I was going through). My mom arrived shortly after because while my grandmother was on the way over the nausea became so intense that I knew it was time for me to go the hospital and I left a message for her at work. I know they consulted on what to do at this time, though I was pretty out of it. And I remember my grandma calling my urologist's office and taking care of a bunch of other stuff for us, but I don't remember all of the details.

At the hospital, I was quickly given an IV with lots and lots of fluids, and the normal amounts of Zofran, Fennegrin, Toradol and Dilaudid (probably slaughtering the spelling of these meds). Within a couple hours my nausea had abated, my dehydrated body was properly hydrated once again and about four hours after we arrived, I was allowed to go home with even more intense pain meds and more anti-nausea. For the record Vicodin barely even touches the pain of kidney stones. It's laughable really. So my new stuff consists of "extra-strength Vicodin" piggybacked with Toradol two hours after I take the Vicodin. We'll see how this stuff works once my stone starts its trek again, right now its not moving much so I'm feeling little pain (thus not taking those meds). And my meds for an infection that has set in (this also occurs EVERY time I get kidney stones) just makes me feel so comfortably sleepy that today has been a quite lovely day, which basically means I've slept most of it away up until now.

All right, back to the recliner in the living room I go. I watched the movie 27 Dresses with my mom, Aunt Martha and cousin Katelen last night. Very cute. I think I'm going to go watch it again. :-)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The World of Finances

Now that I'm done with my teacher certification program and embarking on the official journey to my new career in the world of education (Lord willing of course...if I can FIND a job in my area of certification here in Michigan), I've begun to really delve into researching financial planning. After all, I definitely want to make my teacher salary stretch as far as possible. Armed with my new budget courtesy of YNAB (thanks Jen for pointing me to this system and software!), and some really God-centered, biblical books/resources (more to come on this in another post) and the fun that has come from praying and playing with the YNAB system, I've really started to enjoy reading financial blogs in my spare time too.

Here are just a few of my current favorites:

Get Rich Slowly

The Simple Dollar

YNAB Blog (I actually don't go to this one that much because I have the e-book and I've taken the YNAB free e-course, but I had to list this because the software and e-course are so phenomenal.)

And once again I've run out of time to post. Enjoy your night!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Somewhat Clear-Headed

I'm somewhat clear-headed for the moment, so I decided now would be a good time to post to my blog. I STILL haven't passed my kidney stone and today was the second worst day of pain I've had so far with this silly little thing. Thankfully I still have Zofran and Vicodin on hand and was able to medicate myself enough to get through this rough patch without having to accrue another hefty hospital bill. My cousin Katelen came over and kept me company today too, so that made an otherwise frustrating and unbearable day quite pleasant. Pray for me. I'm so ready for this whole ordeal to be over. I'm exhausted!

In other news, it's now official--my brother is moving to California in July! He's so excited and he and my mom enjoyed a few hours working in his bedroom this afternoon, cleaning stuff out and starting to plan what's going to go and what's going to stay. I'm so excited for him!!! It's so great to know that he's found a job he can get really excited about. What an answer to prayer. Well, it's starting to thunder and lightning outside, so I had better end here. Enjoy your night!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Reader Beware: The Shack by William P. Young

Christians are really getting caught up in ideas espoused in a book entitled The Shack by William P. Young. Although I haven't personally read it, I have been overwhelmed by noting the response to it in Christian circles and wowed by the mass number of reviews on Amazon. Since I haven't personally read it, I do not feel free to stand on my little soapbox and freely declare my opinions at length. But what I do want to do here is refer you to an excellent and comprehensive review of this book if you have read it, are considering reading it or have family or friends that are reading it. The PDF below is written by Tim Challies, a well-known and respected Christian and blogger. I've mentioned him before on this blog. Please, take the time in the next few weeks and read this document. It is definitely well worth the time. :-)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Let The Mourning Begin

Champions League Final:

Manchester United won.
Chelsea lost.
Enough said.

Let the grieving begin. (Congrats Ciaran...and all of you other Man. U fans out there.)

May Giveaway at

The battle to pass this one last kidney stone rages on so unfortunately I don't have a lot of exciting news or personal thoughts to post about. But I do have a link here to a wonderful giveaway at (one of the blogs I frequently view). is giving away gift certificates to Monergism Books. Three to be exact. Click on the banner for more details (and give me a referral at the same time). :-)

May Giveaway

For those of you who haven't heard about Monergism Books, check it out here. I love Monergism Books because of the quality Christian literature they keep in print, especially some of the older classics.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hospital Visit

Friday I had to break down and go the ER to get relief from my newest bout with kidney stones...or rather a kidney stone that has been lodged up in there since 2006 or even before. Also, when I say "break down," I literally mean break down. I called my mom at work in tears about 9:30am begging her to come home because "it was a bad one." Within about twenty minutes I was lying in my bed in fetal position, white-knuckle grasping the bedsheets and wishing God would just end me right there. Then came the vomiting, at which time we began our preparations to head to the hospital. This routine, I have to admit, my mom has become quite good at. In a matter of moments, I was safely tucked in the backseat of her car, bucket on the floor, blanket wrapped snuggly around me as I violently shook and dry-heaved at the same time...a plastic bag was placed next to me with a water bottle, napkins, Kleenex, and gum (to get the puke taste out of my mouth should I need it). Cell phone in hand she made some necessary calls as she double-checked her purse for the notebook she keeps with my med. lists and prior kidney stones information that they always inevitably ask for in the ER at some point. She's a pro, what can I say.

The visit itself was quite nice. Aside from almost losing consciousness twice, vomiting so much that the dry heaves made me pull a muscle in my left side, and generally wishing my life would just end, I was whisked into my own little room at an incredibly brisk pace. The lovely nurse arrived quickly, joking about my ashen skin and lips and how they always know a kidney stone patient by our bent over position and pasty skin and lips, and I dazedly listened to her chatter as I willed her to get that IV into my arm as quickly as possibly. But alas, my veins wouldn't cooperate and after doing a number on my right arm, and then my left arm, we finally settled on my left hand and FINALLY my dear little friends came flowing steadily into my body. Friends with names such as Zofran, Toradol, Fenegrin and my new favorite...Dilaudid. In a matter of minutes, I went from going-out-of-my-mind pain and violently shaking from both pain and incredible coldness to this delightful warm, weighted sensation--I felt as if I was being wrapped in a warm, cozy, little cocoon.

And then there was the wonderful man who did my CT Scan. Through my medicated stupor he asked me where the pain was. "Pain," I slurred through my aforementioned medicated stupor. "What pain?" The nurse at my side laughed and asked where WAS the pain. Much better, I thought to myself. We must be accurate. I feel no pain. I quickly pointed to my right side to answer their question. The guy who did my CT Scan also chatted it up with me about his last bout with kidney stones and then told me about the grown men they get in the hospital sobbing like little babies and women with kids who say giving birth is nothing compared to the pain of kidney stones. I remember him saying these things, but once again, I'm in a medicated stupor, and all of this just amuses me. The pain is just a hazy memory now and I just want to be back in my little room with the warm blankets and sleep, sleep, sleep. Oh yes and keep the meds flowing through that IV for heavens sake!!!

And now, a few days later, I'm home and completely off both the Zofran and Vicodin they had me on for here at home. I still haven't passed the stone, but it's out of my kidney where it really causes pain and I'm trying to pass it on the lowest dosages of meds possible. I'm praying I get rid of it in the next two days...without going back on Vicodin. All right, I've run out of time to expand on my kidney stone narrative, so I'll end here for the night. :-)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

FlyLady and Podrunner

Since this is my blog (i.e. my little soapbox), I’m going to rave about two new things that have me wowed right now. First is FlyLady. This system which I stumbled upon a couple months ago now has completely revolutionized my entire approach to housework. No more am I overwhelmed by a messy house and the daunting “to do” list that accompanies said messy house. I look forward to encouraging little e-mails every day that give me a “mission” to do around the house in ONLY 15 minutes. I love this! I can almost always carve 15 minutes out of my busy schedule to accomplish these fun little missions AND the best part is, I’m starting to see major results around my house. I absolutely LOVE this system so check it out at OR even better, check this book out, Sink Reflections. I checked it out at my local library, but I’m using it daily, so I may be purchasing this book in the near future.

And now on to the topic of Podrunner. Thanks to Jen and Shannon and their mission to run a 5K, I am now hooked on this as well. I’ve focused on keeping myself marginally in shape this winter (or so I thought) and so when Jen and Shannon were glowing about their new running regimen, I thought I would check it out. [Keep in mind, I am so not a runner.] I looked up the program online which is called Couch to 5K, wrote down the week one training schedule and set out yesterday on the road to running a 5K...eventually. A day later I am sooo sore! I thought I was in shape...apparently not. Then today Jen sent me the link to something called Podrunner. It is SO great! I downloaded the first two weeks onto my ipod and they sound like so much fun. Basically it's the C25K running program set to great music with audio cues for when to walk and when to run. The music tempo increases when your speed should be increasing. LOVE THIS! If you want to get in shape this summer, check out the website. I’ll be blogging about my progress in this area of interval training in the weeks to come, but I had to rave first about how cool these Podrunner downloads are first! Thanks Jen for sending me that link!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Return of Wednesday Night Soccer

Ah, summer has, not really, but Summer League Soccer has arrived. I look forward to this every year. Yet when Ciaran moved to New Hampshire, I was sure my viewing of Wednesday night summer soccer would be lost too. Enter Gerrard’s Kopites, and problem solved. Some guys from my church put together a team and so not only do I still get to watch fun summer soccer, but I get to enjoy watching it with a bunch of girls from my church as well. So as you can probably tell, last night was a blast! For the record though, I still miss watching you play, Ciaran!!! You and Carter are still my favorites to watch!

In other reflections, Ciaran and I just began reading C.J. Mahaney’s Living the Cross Centered Life. I’ve skimmed this book before, but Ciaran and I are reading through it slowly, really savoring and working at applying what C.J. Mahaney writes about. This has been such an awesome and convicting experience so far. For example, read my blog and what pops up the most...hmmm....Ciaran, soccer, teaching, etc. Does the gospel? When you read my blog to do you see Christ permeating the entries? Hmmm.... If someone were to read my blog or talk to me at length, what would they say I am most passionate about? Probably they would have a long list because let’s face it; I’m passionate about a TON of stuff. Yet Mahaney says,

“If there’s anything in life we should be passionate about, it’s the gospel. And I don’t mean passionate only about sharing it with others; I mean passionate in thinking about the gospel, reflecting upon it, rejoicing in it, allowing it to color the way we look at the world and all of life.”
Mahaney goes on to say,

“In the Scriptures we discover a profound urgency for focusing all we are and everything we do around the gospel of the cross. For not only does this good news come first chronologically in our Christian experience, but it stays foremost in critical importance for creating and sustaining our joy and our fruitfulness—a fact we too often overlook” (15).
Is my joy and fruitfulness in Christ waning? Here is the solution. The gospel needs to be my one supreme passion, the very center of my life in all I say and do.

Hmmm...lots of stuff to pray about and so I’m praying this day that God will change my heart so these words typify my life, “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” -Galatians 6:14. Well, I’m now off to run errands for a bit with my cousin Katelen, she may find me a bit distracted as I meditate on these truths this late afternoon. :-)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Job Search Has Begun!

Today marks my first official day of job searching. A wretched two weeks of passing three kidney stones kept me from beginning my job search in earnest and then another week of having Ciaran in town kept me occupied and determined to ignore the looming search that needed to take place. And then yesterday I allowed myself to wallow in misery and grieve Ciaran being back in New Hampshire, but after a refreshing evening with my mentor last night and a rousing morning of housework, I began the job search this afternoon in earnest.

So where will my job search take me?! Only the Lord knows the answer to that one. I will be applying for jobs this week in Wisconsin and Indiana and there's actually one in Michigan as well (the same school Ciaran interviewed at last week on the west side of the state...although that one is a high school position and my experience is at the middle school level--thanks for the lead though Ciaran!). Pray for me if you think of it, I'm excited about this process, but I know I need wisdom and a clear sense of God's leading as I navigate these waters in the months to come.

And now for a brief recap. of my enjoyable week with Ciaran. OK, I just wrote that and immediately started to feel sad so I'm going to keep this short. It was a wonderful week! I know I conveyed that in my last post, but words really can't do justice to how nice it was to spend time in person with Ciaran again. And Ciaran's uncle and aunt were in town from Ireland and I hadn't met them before, so I enjoyed some time getting to know them as well. Ciaran's family is so fun to be around and his Uncle John loves literature and I so enjoyed some time discussing Oliver Goldsmith's The Deserted Village (one of his favorites as well as my own) and James Joyce and a whole host of other Irish literary figures. I always enjoy discussing Irish literature with Dr. Byrne, but having his brother to discuss this with as well made for some immensely enjoyable hours. And then Ciaran's Aunt Beatrice (she's originally from Spain and has a beautiful Spanish accent) also is inclined toward literary pursuits and so all around I was able to bask in the joy of discussing literature at length with both of them. What a joy!

All right, I'm going to end here because thinking about my time with Ciaran is making me miss him more...and I have AT LEAST seven more weeks to go before I see him again. :-) Hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful's absolutely gorgeous here, I might even take Ben for a long walk before the night is over!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A Wonderful Week

Ah, where do I begin?! First, Ciaran is in town!!! It has been so amazingly wonderful to have him here. Talking on the phone, sending letters via snail mail and e-mail is all grand, but nothing beats being together in person. It's been a moment by moment reminder of the hundreds of reasons I have treasured our friendship so much over the past six years. So what have we been doing during this time...I'm so glad you asked...because it gives me a chance to "gloat" as Shannon commented in the previous post. First, Ciaran has had a few interviews so that's taken up some time because one of them involved traveling (I'll get to this one later). But let's first address some good ol' soccer because it's been a GREAT week for classic English football!

So on Sunday afternoon, Ciaran and I watched the Chelsea v. Man. U game (his brother, Paul, had recorded the Saturday game). My boys defeated his team, much to Ciaran's chagrin and now our teams are tied for first in the Prem. race...too fun! Nothing like some good healthy competition between the two of us. And while I'm on the topic of soccer, why don't we waltz over to the topic of Champions League Semi-Finals. So first, Man. U v. Barcelona...being the loving girlfriend that I am, I sucked it up and supported Man. U on Tuesday (partly because I was being said loving girlfriend, the other reason being I wanted an all English final in Moscow--ah the truth comes out doesn't it?! Hehe.) And thanks to Scholes (who moments before his amazing goal was delivered, Paul and Ciaran were fiercely critiquing his worth to Man U these days...too funny), Man U. is headed to the final in Moscow on May 21st! Then yesterday arrives, the moment of truth: Chelsea v. Liverpool!!! Ciaran being the loving boyfriend that he is supported Liverpool (they have a strong Irish population in Liverpool after all, but I think he was still nursing some wounds from Saturday's game). And yet, who is heading to Moscow on May 21st to go up against Manchester United?! Ah yes, that would be CHELSEA!!! When all is said and done though, I thought that was the best semi-final match I've seen in a long time. I was on the edge of my seat through the entire thing! I'm sorry Liverpool fans (Jen and Jared and Garrett and all the others that Jared has successfully marketed to his side that I don't know about yet). Your manager should never have taken out Torres, but alas he did and it was a brilliant day for my boys! OK, enough gloating. I've taken up too much space with soccer, but it's been an eventful week in the world of soccer and the best part has been Ciaran's in town to share it with! I've missed his brilliant commentaries so much!

Now to follow up with Ciaran's interviews that he has been blessed with this week...I'm not going to share too much about them since this is a public space and we don't know the outcomes yet, but I will share this. The interview he had this morning on the west side of the state was enjoyable, but the last question of his interview had to have been the BEST question I've ever heard about in a teaching interview. It went a little something like this[keep in mind this isn't a direct quote because Ciaran's not home yet to get the exact one from him...don't want to bother him while he's driving after all]...OK, here it is:
"Well, this will be the last question for today (insert pause here), and I have to know...what did you think of the Champions League semi-final yesterday?"
Hahahaha, that's right, I'm sorry, not to rub salt in an open wound to all you Liverpool fans out there, but come on, this is too priceless!!! Oh and I'm actually serious, the last question in Ciaran's interview today was exactly that. I guess the principal is a huge Liverpool fan and is pretty upset about why Rafa didn't put in certain players and why Torres was pulled out. But that is TOO PRICELESS, any attention drawn to the fact that Chelsea won is perfect for me. OK, I've run out of time to write, so I'll post more later about this wonderful week with Ciaran.

*Oh and sorry for all of the upsetting grammatical errors, I know they are there, I just don't have time to go back and edit. Just look at this post and really all of my other posts as stream of consciousness writing or a simple free write activity. :-) Enjoy your day!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ciaran Countdown

Just over 30 more hours to go and then Ciaran will be in town for a week!!! Sorry, had to share my excitement with everyone!!! :-) We will have survived just four days short of four VERY LONG months apart. Yay!!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cabin Fever

I officially have cabin fever. The kidney stone pain keeps hitting me intermittently in intense waves, which makes outings away from home next to impossible. I don't know if I still have a kidney stone passing through, or if this pain is just due to the after effects of the inevitable damage a kidney stone brings to my inner body as it passes through. Either way, I'm frustrated. This week was supposed to be a week filled with fun substitute teaching experiences and lots of cleaning and catching up with all that has been let go for the past fifteen weeks because of student teaching. Grrr...I'm a bit grouchy can you tell?! :-) But when I step back and pray for a moment, I realize that I should view this time as a gift from the Lord, time to slow down after the hectic schedule I've kept and delight in Him during this extended quiet time I now have before me. It truly is a gift when I think about it from that perspective; I just wish this gift didn't have such intense waves of pain to accompany it. Hehe.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New ESV Study Bible!

I'm so excited! The long-awaited ESV Study Bible is set to come out in October!!! I can't wait! OK, whew, having gotten that off my chest, now for a little bit of a life update.

So my student teaching experience ended on Friday. I received lots of hugs and presents and the kids had created (with the help of the art department's student teacher) a banner for me and a bunch of the kids signed it and wrote little notes to sweet! It was a memorable day and I managed to not cry too much. Then Saturday came. As I graded the kids papers, I found myself choking up at the oddest moments. About two hours into grading, and my sadness was reaching its peak, there was a knock at the door. I went to the door and there waiting for me was a flower delivery...a dozen pale pink roses to be absolute favorite flowers!!! Ciaran had so sweetly anticipated my Saturday let-down after student teaching ended and sent them to cheer me up. Ah Ciaran, you never cease to amaze me! The weekend wore on (more pleasantly with the beautiful roses to gaze at) and after roughly nine hours of grading my student's projects, papers, etc. , and entering grades into the student teaching officially ended. I was feeling a little sad still and now had some rather annoying lower back pain to accompany my sadness, but other than that, I was ready for a new week and whatever that may bring.

And then Monday arrives...and with that some more rather intense pain...pain that made me drop to my knees crying! That's know that rather annoying lower back pain I experienced all weekend??! That wasn't the result of being hunched over all weekend grading papers, it was actually the start of none other than...KIDNEY STONES! That's right, my mortal enemy, the dreaded of the dreaded, kidney stones. So with lots of prayer and lots of pain meds and a whole lot of water I managed (by God's grace) to pass
this morning a kidney stone without going to the hospital for an IV! Woohoo!!! Praise God! I'm still pretty worn out from it, but hopefully that was the only stone and I will be getting back to my normal self soon! All right, that concludes my update for the evening. I hope everyone is having a great week! I sure that the wretched little stone is out of me. :-)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Crying as I Grade Writing Journals

It's Sunday night and that means I'm grading papers in front of the TV. I just finished grading "Writing Journals" from last week. This is something I put off all weekend...not because they are tough to grade, but because I typically end up in tears and exhausted by the time I finish. And this week is no different. My kids' lives have been so tough, the things they have experienced are so far from my realm of knowledge and experience and it just tears me up to read about their experiences in foster homes, at the homeless shelter, living in cars, watching their siblings/family members/friends get shot in drive-bys or other violent acts, and then of course to read about the bullying that goes on. I inevitably every couple of weeks also have something I have to report to a social worker...those topics I cannot highlight here because of obvious reasons, but I do encounter those as well. As much as I am saddened by the fact that I am heading into my last week of student teaching, this emotional weekly ritual is one that I don't think I'm going to miss that much, although I will miss hearing my students' voices as I read; they have such amazing voices as writers and that has been a joy to experience and work with!

Oh and in other news, we found the owner of the stray dog I mentioned in my last post! He lives on another road not far from our house and is now safely returned to his owner. :-)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Stray Dog

So we have the cutest dog sitting on our back deck right now. He's a chocolate lab, about one year old. Neighbors first started calling us about him on Thursday around noon because everyone thought it was our own beloved chocolate lab, Ben, roaming the neighborhood. But no, Benjamin was safely in our house at that time. So it's now Saturday, and dear puppy whom we've dubbed Jake, is now safely in our backyard, with a collar on, as we canvass the area trying to find his owner. So if you know of anyone missing a chocolate lab in the area, let me know!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Lessons in Domesticity

Student teaching has been an intense experience; one of the best experiences of my life so far, but intense all the same. So unfortunately as a result, my house has received little attention since Christmas. That is, until this spring break when I stumbled upon this lovely little website, I know, it sounds like a hokey website, but there are some amazing tidbits of information at this site. It's a great source for lessons in domesticity, if you are so inclined.

Because of this site, I now see the value in "getting dressed to my shoes" first thing in the morning (this only applies for me on non-work days...I hold off getting into high heels until I am exiting the house), shining my sink at the end of my day, working through overwhelming areas of my house in 15-minute intervals, decluttering in a systematic way, and a whole host of other things. Plus, when you sign up for their e-mail updates, they send all of these interesting ideas and helpful tips/motivations for keeping your house in working order. They also give advice on all areas of domesticity, not just cleaning. I'm thoroughly enjoying this little web-service and best of's free!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Back in the Swing of Things

It was so nice to walk into the classroom again this morning. I'm such a geek, I love the smell of school. The chalk smell, the smell of the books, papers, pencils, etc. I love seeing the 28 desks in their little clusters and my freshly washed chalkboards and of course the joy of writing the day's agenda on the board for each class I teach. I love everything about being in the classroom first thing in the morning!

As for my lessons today, I had some technical difficulties with laptops and our ActivBoard so I had to postpone one of my scheduled lesson plans and pull my lesson plan that I was going to do on Thursday to today. Another lesson I am continually being reminded of each and every week: teachers need to be flexible, especially when integrating technology into our teaching. I was a bit frustrated because I had been so excited about this particular lesson. I had this fun PowerPoint created, complete with music to accompany writing prompts, and I was going to do this whole dramatic reading of a Chinese fairy tale. I even had created a background soundtrack of sorts with traditional Chinese instrumentals to make the reading more fun for the students to listen to. Then we were going to conclude the lesson by munching on fortune cookies (which I bought yesterday at Gordon's) as we completed the writing prompt for the day. Oh well, hopefully tomorrow will be better and I'll be able to teach what I had planned.

So as you can probably tell, I'm back into the swing of things now. Spring break is over and it's time to dig in and finish these last two weeks of student teaching. So with that, I'll end here. Time to get back to my work! Enjoy your night!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

We Survived!

Ciaran and I have weathered another storm (which I know goes with being 850 miles apart) and we survived! Thank you to all of you who continue to lift us up in prayer. We fully know that God is the one who is carrying us through this tough time apart...and your prayers on our behalf are truly coveted. Continue to pray for us as we seek to glorify God to the utmost through this long-distance relationship.

In other news, I've been thinking about how my time student teaching is drawing to a close...I only have two weeks left and this amazing experience teaching inner-city will be over. Goodness the time has flown. I was standing in front of my classroom last week (teaching at the time, mind you) and I almost got choked up as I realized how much God has grown me this semester, both as a child of God and as a teacher. I still have so much to learn and so many areas I need to grow, but I can clearly see God's fingerprints all over this entire semester. And my students, oh I am going to miss them so much. They have challenged me beyond anything I thought was possible, but oh do I treasure them! I am currently in the process of putting together little gifts for each of them. With somewhere around 130 students, this is proving to be a challenging task, but well worth it all the same. And I'm also trying to put into words (i.e. little notes) my thanks to all of the teachers who have so profoundly impacted me this semester. I will forever stand in awe of these amazing teachers who give of themselves so unselfishly and so tirelessly each and every day at this school. The battles they face on a daily basis are so different and far more CHALLENGING than anything I ever anticipated a teacher would have to face and yet they meet these battles head-on and with such amazing attitudes. And through it all, so many of them still have such a passion for their profession and a hunger to keep growing as teachers and professionals in their respective fields. I have been truly blessed to study under them this semester!

Well it's getting late and 5:15am is going to come quickly tomorrow. That's right, I'm getting back into my teaching schedule starting tomorrow. I have thoroughly enjoyed my spring break, but it's time to start getting back into my normal routine again. Goodnight!

My New Little Desk

See my new lovely little lap desk! I absolutely love it! I love its design and the fact that it has Psalm 46:10 scrawled across it (a much needed reminder at any point in my day). I bought this little desk to use when I am grading papers (since I quickly discovered I don't enjoy grading papers at the kitchen table). But I have found that it is perfect for my morning quiet time, for working on my Bible study homework, for journaling, and of course for a comfortable evening of grading papers and lesson planning. I even used it this morning as I sat in the back room making my "To-Do" list for the day and drinking tea. Ah yes, and that brings me to my next point. I'm becoming a tea drinker! After all these years and all my friends allowing me to taste test different teas, I've finally discovered a tea I like: chamomile! I don't even have to add anything to it (i.e. honey, sugar, milk, etc.). Hehe. All right, so this a pointless post today, but so much fun to write. Have a blessed day everyone!

*I bought this lovely little desk at Click on the picture if you want to see more details. :-)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Singing As I Clean

As I clean today, this song keeps repeating itself inside my head. So as a result, I've been singing it over and over again as I work which then prompted me to share here the two verses that I keep fixating on.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
Save in the cross of Christ my God
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.
From Isaac Watts' hymn "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross"

A New Look

Spring is here and with that comes spring cleaning! And of course my blog cannot be exempt from the wonderful joy of spring cleaning either, so with that I'm cleaning out the old look and bringing in a new one. Also if I could draw your attention to the left side of the screen you will see my new Shelfari Bookshelf. I absolutely love this new feature. I stumbled upon it when I was exploring blogs this morning. I haven't had a ton of time to tinker with it yet, but I've found enough time to place six of the books I am currently reading on its shelves. Well, back I go to my cleaning. Enjoy your day!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Grading Papers & Lesson Planning

Today marked the first Saturday morning of my student teaching in which I graded papers without the joy of watching soccer at the same time. That’s right, we no longer have Fox Soccer Channel at our house. :-( At the beginning of the year, my mom and I revamped our budget and alas, FSC was one of the little “extras” I had enjoyed that needed to go. Yet, it took until the end of February to finally make this much needed cut. How sad it is that I cling to worldly things with such a vice-like grip.

In other news, student teaching is still going well, but has gotten progressively more difficult with each passing day. My students have “cabin fever” because of the long, hard winter which makes classroom management a moment-by-moment (exhausting) battle. Last week the students were so off the hook when I was teaching them about figurative language that I finally just shouted, “Everyone stand up!” I then proceeded to label three corners of my classroom , “Simile,” “Metaphor,” and “Idiom.” Then I read the sentence containing the use of figurative language and had the students move to the corner they thought was the right answer. It was such a simple activity (an adaptation of a teaching strategy called 4 Corners), but you would have thought I’d just awarded my students a million dollars. One of my especially challenging students asked me the next day if we could practice identifying figurative language again. They were so excited to be out of the seats and competing against one another and as an added bonus, by the end of class, I think about eighty percent of them fully understood what a simile, metaphor, and idiom is. I’ll still have to do a considerable amount of follow-up work to get the other twenty percent. But that activity was so not a part of the original lesson plan that I had spent over an hour planning the previous weekend. We also finally finished reading the novel Hatchet by Gary Paulsen in three of my ELA classes. It’s taken us two months to wade through this novel (after snow days and standardized test interruptions). To celebrate the conclusion of the novel and review for the test, I created a Jeopardy review game last weekend using PowerPoint (complete with the fun Jeopardy music) and then went to Staples and bought three desktop call bells (to use for buzzers). Then on Wednesday we spent the hour playing the game (i.e. reviewing for the test). The kids loved it and what was even more exciting; they turned around and collectively did quite well on their unit test. And I had at least two dozen of the students ask me on Friday if we could play Jeopardy again to review for our next unit test. Yay, my students interested and excited about reviewing for a test! What more could I ask for?!

All right, enough about teaching. Carter’s home this weekend! He’s been working so many weekend hours at Detroit Metro the past few months that I feel as if I haven’t seen him in years! :-) So off I go to enjoy him being home. Enjoy your Saturday!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Valley of Vision

It has been such a long time since I last wrote so I know full well this post is long overdue. My semester of student teaching inner-city at an “at risk” school is commandeering almost all of my time at present. I can’t go into details, nor can I share some incredibly fun pictures of my students, but I can share that this is probably the single most challenging experience of my life and simultaneously one of the more enjoyable experiences as well. It is challenging because I am stretched daily, or rather moment by moment, so far out of my comfort zone where I can do nothing but look Godward and trust Him to work through me to serve this school and more importantly, these children that God has placed before me. Some days I am heartbroken by the sadness before me, frustrated by injustice, my own ignorance and inability and a whole host of other things. Yet other days, I want to dance and sing at the top of my lungs as I revel in the joy of teaching in an environment where you are needed so much. It kills me not to be able to go into details, so I’m going to cut this post short. Oh yes, one more thing...the song I have shared below is from the CD Valley of Vision by Sovereign Grace Music. Shannon Harris sings this song on the CD and every time I listen to it, I am almost moved to tears because this PERFECTLY describes this semester. Enjoy!

“In the Valley”
Bob Kauflin 2006
Sovereign Grace Praise

When You lead me to the valley of vision
I can see You in the heights
And though my humbling wouldn’t be my decision
It’s here Your glory shines so bright
So let me learn that the cross precedes the crown
To be low is to be high
That the valley’s where You make me
more like Christ

Let me find Your grace in the valley
Let me find Your life in my death
Let me find Your joy in my sorrow
Your wealth in my need
That You’re near with every breath
In the valley

In the daytime there are stars in the heavens
But they only shine at night
And the deeper that I go into darkness
The more I see their radiant light
So let me learn that my losses are my gain
To be broken is to heal
That the valley’s where Your power is revealed

Let me find Your grace in the valley
Let me find Your life in my death
Let me find Your joy in my sorrow
Your wealth in my need
That You’re near with every breath
In the valley

You can listen to an excerpt of this song at Sovereign Grace Music’s’s the first track on the album.