Friday, December 11, 2009

A Fantastic Celebration...

What a great week! I finished my graduate class with a bang and I am headed into an exciting weekend, then one last fun week of school, then CHRISTMAS!!!!

Tomorrow morning I am hosting a graduation dinner party for one of favorite people. It is really such a fun story how I came to know Dianne. A few years ago in one of my first few classes at HSU I met a lovely Canadian woman who had recently moved to Brownwood from my part of the world (the San Antonio area). She and her husband had spent a handful of years in Pleasanton, just south of SA. When I found this out, we began "the name game" to see if we knew any of the same people (because I have multiple relatives, as well as friends, in good ol' Pleasanton, TX). One of my mom's sisters, Aunt Janet (and Uncle John), had spent many years raising children, grandchildren and an engineering business in this quaint south Texas town. I soon found out that Dianne, in fact, knew my family quite well. Her husband, a pastor, had conducted the funeral service for my beloved aunt 5-6 years prior, and also performed the wedding for my uncle a few years later when he remarried. Dianne and her husband had become great friends with my family... we had an immediate connection.

Since Dianne lives in Brownwood, she commuted to Hardin-Simmons for her weekly graduate classes, but one semester she had a class both Monday and Tuesday evenings. It was that semester that Dianne stayed with us once a week. We enjoyed dinners, great conversations, and a deep friendship. Then this past summer, Dianne and I were asked to co-teach a kindergarten and first grade class for gifted learners on architecture. Needless to say, our bond continued to deepen through the struggles of writing curriculum, creating, and teaching together. So it is with great pleasure that I plan this celebration to honor an amazing woman and unbelievable teacher, my friend, my colleague, and my mentor, as she graduates with her Masters in Gifted Education.

Here is the menu for tomorrow's great celebration:

Spinach, Strawberry, and Hearts of Palm Salad

Honey Baked Ham
Roasted Red Potatoes with garlic and rosemary
Traditional Holiday Stuffing
Baby Pea Salad
Cream biscuits

Italian Creme Cake

Does it sound fabulous? I hope so! I can't wait for the celebration to begin! I will post pictures later...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Elf Yourself

Every year around this time a funny video circulates where you can "elf yourself." So I thought it would be funny to "elf" the third grade teachers (including me) and send it out as our Christmas greeting to the rest of the faculty. So I went to elfyourself and created our video... the only problem... when I emailed it to my team I accidently sent it to a parent (of one of my students as well)! Are you picturing it? The parent opens their email only to find their child's teacher dancing around in an elf costume! I'm a little mortified, but praying she thinks it is funny. What can I do about it now but laugh?! So I thought I would embarrass myself a little more and share it with you too, but I changed the faces to protect the innocent and added DJ and I instead...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Honoring the 12th Man, trusting the Lord

Ten years ago I was a sophomore at Texas A&M, the place that God used to change my life for His glory, the place so full of believers on fire for the Lord (more my age than I had ever known in my life growing up in the Church), the place I met my very best friends in the whole wide world, the place full of traditions and a spirit can ne'er be told...the Holy Spirit, truly.

As I sit here in my hotel room in College Station ten years later, preparing to attend the football game tomorrow and again next week, I read a friend's blog recapping a life changing moment our sophomore year. Here words describe exactly what I remember...a time when our campus came together even more than usual to rely on the Lord...

"From the outside looking in you can't understand it, from the inside looking out you can't explain it."

I really can't put words around that tragedy to full remember and honor that day, but I did want to share with you a friend who poignantly recalled what we as the Aggie family experienced during that time when Bonfire fell.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Slightly Stressful Moment of the Day

I had a slightly stressful moment at the grocery store this afternoon when I walked out to the parking lot to get into my car. I put my key in the car door, unlocked the car, and opened the door. As soon as I did this, the car panic alarm began to honk loudly. I didn't know why my car was doing this until I reached in the backseat to begin unloading my groceries and I noticed that this WAS NOT MY CAR!!! How embarrassing! I quickly shut the car of which I was trespassing and used my key to lock the door back! The elderly people walking by could only stare at me as I sheepishly explained that it wasn't my car but my key worked on the door! With my head low, I quickly walked to the next aisle where my car was parked in the exact same space (just one row over), hoping that the owner of the other car had not seen me. I can't help but wonder if my key would have worked in the ignition.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Creativity... I want some more of that

I have suddenly become obsessed (maybe that's too strong of a word) with blogs, mostly other people's - especially creative people. I tell myself that if I had more time I would make time for all of these great things I read about. I think I secretly want to be Martha Stewart, not really her so much but just the idea of being a domestic goddess (I don't really like that term, but you know what I mean). I just love baking and cooking and decorating and entertaining and sewing. I want my house to be spotlessly clean, but lately I don't feel like I have had the time to keep up with all the dusting and crazy amounts of laundry. Anyway, my whole point was I ran across Caroline's blog not too long ago and I LOVE it! She is an amazing photographer and ridiculously creative. I actually teach with her mom and go to church with her family as well, but I have never met her. That is going to change soon because we are definitely planning to have her take some pictures of us sometime in the future...maybe in the spring. Anyway, I just wanted to share her creativity with you because she is amazing.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Random Phone Call

I received a random phone call today from the people who bought my mom's house. (We had her house on the market for 2 years and it finally sold in July.) So it scared me a little when I had a message from the new owner. I was thinking, "Oh no! What went wrong, and what does she think I can do about it?" Well, it turns out that she received her taxes on the house and found out that we only sold her half of the property! She was frantic! She asked, "Did you intend to sell us the whole property and the house?" "Yes, of course!!!" Well, there has been some mistake and they actually only own .2 of an acre while we also own .2 of an acre. I wonder who actually owns the house!? I told her not to worry, that we would sign whatever we needed to make the whole property officially theirs. I called our realtor, who is actually on vacation, but thankfully was able to get ahold of her. She said that she would call the title company tomorrow and hopefully the process won't be too difficult to take care of...
Wow! What drama... its the story of my life. :)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

2 Peas in a Pod

Yesterday, my husband turned 35, and I simply adore him. I couldn't imagine anyone more perfect for me. He is so patient with me even when I try his patience. He truly cares for me so well and sacrifices himself for me.
Our first date was in March of 2005. It was a blind date in Fredricksburg. Prior to that day, we had spent countless hours on the phone after being set up. After the first night of talking to him until four in the morning, I went to work that day and told another teacher that he was the one. (I think she thought I was crazy. :) However, on our first date I was not too impressed with Mr. Personality. He loved to tell people it was because of his tapered jeans and purple Hardin-Simmons rain jacket... this is NOT the reason I was unimpressed. On the phone, he was himself, very charming and fun, but on our first date he was nervous and very shy. I thought he was a dud and I didn't think it was going to go much farther than this.
He did call again though, and our conversations went back to the fun talks we had had before our first meeting. We had our second date in Junction, Texas in a gas station and it went great! :) The gas station had a great little barbeque restaurant and we had great conversations again. After that we spent weekend after weekend together in either San Antonio, Abilene or Dallas.
In April he decided that I was not the one and he broke it off. Then in May he realized that he had made a mistake, but at this point I was done with him. (There is funny story here but I am already getting too long winded.) In June, he came to Dallas and hung out with my friends and I. When he left, I went with two of my best friends to get ice cream and told them I didn't think I was interested in him. They told me that they thought he was great...perfect for me and I needed to wait until July...if I still felt this way then I could break it off for good. I agreed and by July I knew that we would be married. He proposed under the Century Tree at Texas A&M (also a good story that I will save for later) and we married in June of 2007.
During all of our wedding plans, my mom was an integral part of helping me get everything in order. When I was a freshman in college she had been in intensive care in critical condition with kidney failure, but the Lord had miraculously healed her and she was doing much better. She began dialysis a few years before I met DJ and had to go to treatments for 4 hours, 3 times a week... definitely not fun, but the reason she was still alive. My mom and I were very close and I spent almost everyday with her during that time before DJ and I were married. On our wedding day, she looked the best she had looked in years. Little did we know, in less than a year she would be gone. As I look back I can see the Lord's plan through it all. He gave me DJ before he brought her home to be with him. His plans are truly perfect.

By May of 2007, we had only been married about a year and my mom began the downward spiral in health. We spent our entire summer driving back and forth from Abilene to San Antonio. I truly believe that we spent more time in San Antonio than Abilene during those months from May - November. We struggled with many major decisions that most people don't have to deal with until they are much older. That May, my mom suffered a stroke. At 27 years old I was responsible for finding her a nursing home and then dealing with all the paperwork, as well as getting her moved in. I worked really hard to decorate her room so that it felt homey. They other people at the nursing home called it the "fancy room." When her mental illness (she had battled bi-polar disorder for years) became an issue and the nursing home could no longer keep her and we had to find another place for her. In addition, she began refusing to go to her dialysis treatments, which was keeping her alive. Since she was not receiving this treatment it exacerbated her mental illness greatly. Knowing that we were unable to safely care for her in our home (since we both spent our days at work) we struggled to find a place that would take her. This story has many more details than I won't elaborate on here, but the gist of it is that nursing homes would not take her because of the mental illness and mental health facilities would not take her because she was medically unstable. We finally convinced her to go with us to University Hospital because this is a hospital that cannot refuse patients. Praying that the hospital would keep her long enough to stabilize her, we sat in the emergency room for hours. Finally, it became clear to the hospital that she was not mentally competent and she received a room. What a horrible night that I will save you the details of hearing. The hospital kept her for all of July because they too could not find a facility that could care for her. She was deemed mentally incapable of making the decision to quit dialysis; however, the hospital could not force her to receive her dialysis treatments. We sat in meeting after meeting with doctors and hospital administration coming to the realization that no one was capable of helping us and that it would be just a matter of time before she died of kidney failure. In August, she was released from the hospital to a place called the Haven House for mental health patients. By October she had deteriorated greatly and needed to go into hospice care. I cannot say enough good things about hospice. She spent a few weeks of hospice in my grandmother's house and then it became neccesary to move her to a hospice facility. What an amazing place during such a difficult time. We spent the short amount of time before she passed by her bedside during the days. At this point she had become non-responsive. On November 5th, we went home for the night to get some rest and received the phone call that she had passed at 4am on November 6th (DJ's 33rd birthday). DJ and I along with my sister and her husband immediately went to her hospice room and spent about an hour by her bedside before the funeral home came to remove her body. This was a sweet time of closure for us. Later that day we had to identify the body and begin preparation for the memorial service. How difficult this was... I planned a good part of the memorial on my own. I had no idea how to do this and after the fact many people had opinions about what should have been done. I wanted to say that I would have appreciated their help then! Through it all DJ was amazing. It is so obvious to me that the Lord put him in my life at just the right time. Without my sweet husband, I have no idea how I could have made it through all of that. I am so extremely thankful for the amazing blessing of DJ in my life. Even though his 33rd birthday was a rough one to say the least, I can see what a blessing it was for her to pass on this significant day. Each year as this day passes, I can joyfully reflect on an amazing woman but also spend the day celebrating the life of the man God created me to spend my life with.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What I want to be when I grow up...

I wrote this post last Friday, but had internet problems in my hotel... so I am just now getting around to posting this:

Since August I have been driving to Bedford about once a month for my Children’s and Young Adult Literature class. At first this class completely overwhelmed me (at times it still does) because I somehow became appointed the graduate assistant for the class. What that means in a nutshell is I do twice the work for the same amount of credit. Do I sound like an underachiever? Well… I am… I don’t mean to be, but I am. The hardest part of this class has been trying to decipher the expectations that have been placed on me. I have been told, “You may do this (and this and this…) for extra credit, but I don’t want extra credit! I just want to get an A by doing well on the requirements for the class. I don’t have time to do a ton of extra credit and also do my real job well.

However, in spite of my semester spent trying to find the balance between doing “what is expected” and not seeming like I am doing the bare minimum, I have found inspiration through this class. My peers (whom I must grade, I might add) consistently inspire me. This is so awkward because I want to grade fairly, but I am grading many type-A personalities who, I fear, will want to squander over every lost point. I am a people pleaser, so I don’t want to make anyone upset, but I also must please the instructor by the way that I grade the assignments. I spent 10 full hours grading their first discussion board, which means that I haven’t done any “extra” credit because I also must grade my own real students. Oh… the dilemma!

Back to my inspiration, and the purpose I began writing tonight…this class is stretching me and challenging me in so many ways, but in the end I believe I will be a better teacher because of it. As I sit through class each time we meet, I get excited to change the world. I receive so many great ideas and recommendations for children’s and young adult literature that I must read. Oh how I want to read each of these books, but at this moment I wonder when would I have the time? Please know that I am not trying to complain. Instead, I am attempting to verbalize feelings of inadequacy, as well as desires to become an even better teacher. So…what do I want to be when I grow up? I want to conquer the impossible goal of becoming an amazing teacher. I care about my students and I work hard to make a difference in their lives, but so often teaching feels like the impossible career… especially on days when parents are critical and then I read another book about all the things I could be doing to be even better at this ridiculously difficult career and calling.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

20 questions

I saw these questions on my friend Amanda's blog and decided it might be fun since I haven't made time to blog lately.
1. What is your favorite thing to snack on while your blogging?
I am not a big snacker, but lately I have had trouble resisting the mini snickers in the bowl on my kitchen table for the munchkins who ring my doorbell on Saturday evening!
2. What is one thing you wouldn't want to live without?
The obvious answers... my Bible ... my husband
Day-to-day hair straightener
3. Beach, Mountains, or Farm? Where would you live if you had a choice?
not the beach... probably a farm...
4. What's your least favorite chore/household duty?
dusting the blinds!
5. Who do people say you remind them of?
I used to hear Punky Brewster when I was little...recently though when I see pictures of myself I see my mom
6. Prefer parties and socializing or staying home with the fam?
7. What's your all time favorite movie?
probably A Walk in the Clouds or You've Got Mail
8. Do you sleep in your make-up or remove it like a good little girl every night?
I hate to admit it... but I sleep in my make-up most of the time... always have... I know it is terrible... please don't judge me :)
9. Do you have a hidden talent or a deep desire to learn something that you've never had a chance to learn? What is it?
I used to sew with my mom, but I would like to take this up again... maybe take some sewing classes to refresh my memory...
10. What's one strange thing you're really good at?
gaging...people love to make me do this... I hate it!
11. What first attracted you to your spouse?
We talked on the phone before we ever met on a blind date... we got a long really well and he made me laugh... now we just say we're two peas in a pod
12. What is something you love to smell?
Hugo Red Perfume (but I am all out... Hint hint Darrell Jon! :)
13. Tell something about you that you know irritates people.
I have been called "too nice" a time or two, but I say there is no such thing! :)
14. When you have extra money, what's the first thing you think to do with it?
eat out
15. Are you a silent laugher or a loud laugher? What makes you laugh the hardest?
Lately I have developed a snort... have no idea why
16. Where is your favorite place to shop?
Before I moved to Abilene it was Banana Republic and Ann Taylor Loft, but in Abilene since there aren't many clothing places, my favorite places to shop are the cute little antique shops around town
17. What's one thing you'd do more often if you had more time?
continue fixing up our house... next on the to-do list:
finish trim on kitchen counters, texture entry way and paint,put down wood floors, replace living room/dining room baseboards, paint exterior, landscaping,organize garage, etc...
18. Are you a big spender or frugal?
uh... neither... but lately we are struggling to eat out less
19. Who is your favorite character of all time?
Movie - Meg Ryan in "You've Got Mail"
Book - Amanda (main character in Redeeming Love)
Cartoon - Papa Smurf
Animated Movie - Ariel in The Little Mermaid
20. Would you want to be famous?
no thanks
What are some or all of your answers?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Faith like a Child

I love it when a student encourages me to love Jesus more. There is a precious child (I'll call him Cam) who comes to my classroom most mornings because he wants to sharpen pencils. It is amazing that he actually wants to do this, because I hate sharpening pencils (but I am so thankful that somebody else wants to!). This sweet child loves the Lord and it is so neat to watch Cam shine Christ to the other kids.

Sometimes another student (I'll call him Cade) comes to help sharpen as well. One day Cade asked me what church I go to. He also said that his family does not go to church but that he wants to go. I knew that Cam's family is active in a church and that Cam would love to take Cade to church with him. So I mentioned to Cade that he might want to ask Cam if he could go to church with him sometime.
I am not kidding, the very next morning Cade and Cam were both in my classroom and I overhear Cade asking Cam about his church. Sweet little Cam went on and on about the things that he loves about his church and Cade was genuinely interested. What a precious moment for me to know that God was at work in my classroom (of course he always is, but today it was so obvious!). I have been praying for opportunities to shine Christ to my kids and what a neat way that the Lord allowed me direct a student to another student who could openly share with him.

I hope I haven't confused you with all the C's... I know I have confused myself since these aren't really their names! :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Camera Crew, Balloons, and a Three-Foot Check!

I was eating lunch in another teacher's classroom today when my principal walked in and asked, "Andrea, how long are you going to be here?" I said, "In my life?" thinking he meant how many more years...Stupid response I know, that was just my first thought. I almost started explaining all the different possibilities until he laughed and said, "No, I mean today. How much longer are you going to be in this room right now?" "OH!!! About 10 minutes!" "Ok, don't go anywhere!"
So then all the other teachers started speculating about what I was waiting for...
One teacher said, "Is the news here?" and he said, "I don't know...maybe."

So that's how the surprise was spoiled a smidge. I don't think I was quite as excited had I been if I had been caught totally off guard, but it was still so much fun when the camera crew walked in along with about 8-10 people carrying a 3 foot check and a dozen balloons or so.
They told me that I had received a STAR Teacher Grant!
Yea, I am getting a CPS Chalkboard! The woman holds up the microphone and asks what I am going to get with my grant. I say something really stupid about how I am getting a CPS Chalkboard, which is an interactive technology that allows my students to see the internet and powerpoint from anywhere in the room. What a dork! I made it sound like the silliest purchase ever! I promise that this technology is amazing and completely transformed my classroom last year when I was blessed to use it for half of the year. Hopefully, my "interview" does not show up on the evening news anytime soon!
Oh, well! I am so thankful to the Abilene Education Foundation for the opportunity to use technology to transform my classroom! Thank you so much!

Friday, September 11, 2009

What is Children's Literature?

Since I made the decision to finish a second masters degree I have had a few moments where I want to turn back. I am still planning to finish but I have definitely bitten off more than a mouthful. Originally when I met with my advisor, I found out that I was only lacking a few classes for the second degree, so it seemed obvious that I should finish. Since I needed a few electives I started looking through the classes being offered this semester and found a children's lit. class. I had actually already taken this class from a different prof but the class is a requirement for both of my degrees and I thought it might be interesting to take it again with a different prof since the topic is so relevant to what I do daily. My advisor loved this idea but said that she would title the class Practicum in Gifted Children's Literature and talk to the professor about having my requirements be a little different so that it would fit perfectly into my degree in gifted education. Somehow this "great" idea has morphed into something much bigger... I am now the graduate assistant for the class, which includes teaching a little, as well as monitoring and grading all of the discussion board posts. In addition, I have many other additional requirements like writing a few articles intended for future publication in an education journal. Of course all of these things are wonderful opportunities, but I am a smidge overwhelmed with all of the things on my plate right now. I must go so that I can grade the mound of papers I brought home for the weekend and create my presentation on Children's and Young Adult Literature for our first night of class next weekend.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Rollie, now and then...and a little Duke

Just for fun, here is a pic of the Bush's Baked Beans dog, Duke...everyone says that Rollie looks like him...

Here are some pictures of Rollie...
Our puppy is growing up.
Here he is when we brought him home in April at about 8 weeks old...
Here he is today at 7 months old...

And here is one more of him at about 8 weeks...
I can't believe how fast he has grown!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Opportunity to pray for my students...

I began this post a few weeks ago, but am just now getting around to posting it today.

This morning was say the least, but let me back up and start from the beginning.
Rewind to Thursday morning...
One of my precious students came in very excited with a note asking me to attend her baptism this weekend. Of course I was excited too and told her I would love to try and come. The note said to call her mom for directions if I could make it. So I talked to her mom later that day, told her that I would love to come, and asked what church they went to.
Her response was, "Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." And then she paused and waited for my response, like she knew I wouldn't want to come after all.
I have to admit I definitely panicked a little. My first thought was, "Oh, no! What do I do!?"

So I got home that night and had some serious discussions with DJ about it for the next 2 days. We sought wise council and came to the conclusion that I should go since I had told her that I would.

This brought on a little nervousness on my part because I knew DJ had to work and I would be going alone. I had heard of people visiting Mormon temples for tours after the temple was built and then heard how the church would destroy all carpet, repaint and replace everything after the tours and then the temple would be closed to the public forever. DJ also had an event in high school held at a Mormon church and he had to enter through a certain door. They were only allowed in a certain part of the building. Knowing all this, I wanted to be respectful in spite of my differences in beliefs. I researched on the internet to learn a little more of what to expect and what would be a appropriate to wear. I talked to a dear friend who has had experience with ministry to Mormons and felt comforted.

So this morning I arrived at their church in my Sunday best, knowing that the ladies traditionally wear skirts to church. At first only 3 cars were parked in the back of the church because I was very early... so I drove around the neighborhood a little while returned to a few more cars in the lot. I waited a moment for someone else to arrive so that I could go in through the appropriate door. My sweet student was so happy that I was there and everyone was so nice, of course. The ceremony was deceivingly very similar to what I am used to. I listened very carefully because I knew that they claim to be Christians, but I also knew that they don't believe what I know to be truth. I can understand how people get sucked into the believing that this is truth because they make it seem so similar to Christianity but when you look closely it is so very different. One interesting part was a video that they played about Joseph Smith. The video very clearly explained why "other religions are wrong" and how Joseph Smith, as a boy began to question the Christian faith and the differences in denominations. From what I understood, he believed that God told him that he should not take part in any of the denominations and thus the birth of Mormonism took place.

Overall this was definitely a great learning experience and I am now so burdened for this sweet little girl. I know that she has been placed in my room for a purpose and I will just continue to pray daily that I shine Christ to each of my students.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Busy, busy day!

I'm doing the best I can, but man I feel like a chicken with my head cut off sometimes. Today I worked on a grant that I had been writing for school. Last year I had a student in my classroom who is visually impaired. Since he was unable to see the overhead projector or board I had to find a different way to meet his needs and everyone else in the class. I found something called a CPS Chalkboard. It is an interactive board that allows me to stand anywhere in the room and write on a small wireless board that I carry. My visually impaired student had his own personal computer at his desk. The monitor was placed close enough so that he could see everything on the screen. The rest of the class could see everything projected on the large screen. This technology traveled on with this student to his next classroom, so now I am writing a grant so that I can have a CPS Chalkboard in my classroom all the time.
While finishing up my grant, I also talked to my grad school adviser a few times today because I figured out that I am pretty close to having enough classes for a second masters degree. I have been working on my masters as a reading specialist. Each semester I have to take 6 hours but many times they have only been offering one class that applies towards my I have also taken quite a few extra classes in the gifted education program. I talked to my advisor today and found out that it is totally worth it for me to finish a second masters in gifted education. Am I crazy!? :)
Meanwhile, I have been training the 4th grade teachers to use the CPS Chalkboard and troubleshooting technology problems for them. Then I ran to the district office to submit my grant proposal, ran to Hardin-Simmons to take care of grad-school registration, and then headed back to my classroom to actually finish preparing for the first day of school on Monday! Since I didn't get much done in my classroom today, I will be headed back up there early Saturday morning and maybe even Sunday afternoon...we shall see...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What a weekend!

What a weekend! On Friday night I found out that my friend, Libby, is being moved to teach 4th grade instead of 3rd, so she officially has one week to move her entire classroom.

On Saturday Libby, Crissy and I spent the day taking a family from our school to visit their child (one of our students) in a foster home about 2 hours from here. The child we visited is doing really well and our visit went really well. We took them to Walmart and let her pick out a new outfit and some shoes, then we went to lunch and a movie. The ride home was interesting, to say the least, I wish I could share more details. I'll just say that this is definitely a family to pray for. We did have an opportunity for good conversation with the mama on the way home. I had a small opportunity to share hope about my mom's mental illness and give here a glimpse into some of the same struggles in my life, but the Hope that pulled me through. She desires so much to be "normal," I hope she got a glimpse of God's faithfulness in my life in spite of mental illness in my mother.

On Sunday we all went and helped Libby get her classroom moved. Her room is coming together but it was so bitter sweet for me today. I am SOOO disappointed to loose her on my team and I know the changes have been hard for her as well. She will do an amazing job, and I know that God has a purpose for where He has placed her... we are just trying to trust that.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fun Times

I always knew that my best friends are great, but I was reminded of how fabulous they are this weekend. We took a quick trip to Dallas because it is our last weekend before DJ begins working 7 days a week for football season. On Friday night we had a fun dinner at Joe's Crab Shack with DJ's best friend, Rusty. DJ had his first experience with crab and we had a lot of fun catching up. Then DJ and I stayed in a nice hotel and caught up on our Food Network addiction. We slept in on Saturday, ate lunch at a fun eatery featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives (Twisted Root), and got in some shopping in stores that we don't get to visit that often living in Abilene. IKEA was crazy! I felt like we were going to Disney World on the busiest day of the year... I guess we should have thought about all the college students who are trying to get ready to head back to school! Then last night we had a fun dinner with two of my college roommates and their families. Even though I had spent time with them a few weeks ago, I quickly remembered how nice it is to be with people who truly know us. It is just so easy... what a great feeling... no formalities, or small talk...we just go right back to where we left off, like we still live together and see each daily. What a blessing! Thank the Lord for good friends who know me well and love me anyway! ;)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Architecture Around the World

I feel a little bit like crying because I have finally finished a very busy summer. It is July 24th and my summer officially begins today! The past two weeks have been very tiring and difficult, but also full of growth. I have been teaching architecture to kindergarten and first graders in a program for gifted learners at Hardin-Simmons. I co-taught with a good friend who is an amazing teacher. We began creating our curriculum in April and continued to tweak it throughout the two weeks. We took a tour of architecture around the world this week. DJ created AMAZING "passports" for my "architectural explorers." I don't think I can really do them justice by describing them here, but let me just say that graphic design is definitely his specialty. On our tour we explored The White House, castles, bridges, towers, and future architecture of the world. I have so many funny stories, but I can't share too much here because of privacy issues. What a bummer! This journey has been so exhausting and difficult, but also very rewarding. Today I was offered to continue this job next the beginning of the two weeks, after all the hours and hours of work, I told DJ not to let me do this again, but now that it is all over I am so torn because it really is an great opportunity. I would love to just relax next summer without any major plans, but I also hate to turn down this opportunity... decisions...decisions!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Good-bye Lake House

Well it looks like we may have finally sold the lake house.  We have been trying to sell it for the past two years and every offer has fallen through.  This one looks like it may work... they have had the inspection, come back with their counter offer, and we officially accepted today!  We are supposed to close on Friday, so we will have to go down on Thursday and finish cleaning out a few closets and the shed.  My mom was an accountant, so we have at least 20 or 30 boxes full of other people's financial documents that we have to figure out how to dispose of.  We have thought about burning it or finding one of those companies that we can pay to come shred it...if anyone has any helpful suggestions, bring it on!  

I am really glad to be rid of the financial burden of an extra house payment, but it will also be sad to see it go.  My mom LOVED it out there and I have a lot of great memories of time spent with her out there.  We loved to BBQ and then sit out on the deck over looking the lake.  We also made tons of s'mores in the fire pit with my niece and nephews and their Grandy.  When I would come home from college, Mom and I would rent movie after movie at the teeny little video rental place and I can't forget the Labamba and When Harry Met Sally tapes that we watched over and over.  It feels a little bit like my last tangible piece of my mom will be gone when we sell it, but I know I will get to see her again one day.  

Thank you Lord for the amazing blessing that my mom was and is to me... thank you for her constant example of selflessness.  Thank you for providing a buyer for the house in your timing.  We love and we trust you. In Jesus name, Amen  

Sunday, May 17, 2009

DJ left for Outdoor Education Camp today and I am pretty sad that he'll be gone for two weeks. So after church I decided that it was a pretty day so I took Rollie to the park for a walk. I got about half way around the park and noticed that I no longer had my key to my car. I practically had to drag Rollie around the park searching for the key because he was worn out. Never found the key... so about an hour after DJ arrived in Brownwood he turned around and rescued us from the park. What a great man... I sat in the park and cried because I felt so bad that he had to come back to save me, but my fabulous husband was so sweet about it... didn't even seem to mind. So I spent about 15 minutes with him and then he had to turn around and head back to Lake Brownwood. :(

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What a mess!

We officially have new floors in the kitchen, laundry room and hall way... and they look great, but now I want to change the color of the cabinets!  So I spent the day testing out colors and now my kitchen is an even bigger mess!!!  The man comes tomorrow to install our new cooktop ... the trim will be finished tomorrow... and hopefully we will get our kitchen sink back.  Tonight we grilled chicken outside but I wouldn't let DJ wash the chicken in the bathroom sink so we used the hose!  Wow, I'm not sure which is worse!  And then we rinsed the dishes in the backyard and stuck them in the dishwasher... which still is not connected.  Our living room is full of all our dishes, kitchen table and pots and pans.  I can't wait to get my house back!  I never thought I would say that I am sick of eating out, but I am also not too fond of doing the dishes in the back yard!  Hopefully a home cooked meal will be coming soon!

Friday, February 20, 2009

I received two emails of note today. One email sent this video:
"This is a speech that a 12 year old girl gave about abortion. She is wise beyond her years."

Another good friend, who works for a Christian Pregnancy Clinic, had this response and it was so insightful I thought I should share it:

oh boy! I just have to respond b/c I'm engulfed with this issue day in and day out. A newer conviction I've come to realize is that speeches like this are ineffective, or fruitless. This is a flaw in the pro-life movement. To say that abortion is wrong and it takes away the rights of the unborn is stating the obvious (although of course 100% true.) I don't feel like our role as Christians needs to be the one who continues to state this to people; instead, I strongly feel like the role of Christians is to start providing solutions for women facing unplanned pregnancies. Majority of women who choose abortion feel as though she has no other choice. What if we started telling her that she did have another choice? This girl's argument to simply make abortion illegal isn't a solution to this problem. Research shows (from Planned Parenthood) that the top 2 reason women choose abortion are lack of practical resources and lack of emotional support. Until we (Christians specifically) can start providing those 2 specific needs for women facing unplanned pregnancies, abortion will always be a viable option for women. From our research at Caris, in addition to not having practical resources and emotional support, when a women finds out she is unexpectedly pregnant, it is equivalent to telling her she has been diagnosed with a terminal cancer. Trying to convince her that her baby has rights and should therefore live is like speaking another language to her that she cannot understand in the deep state of shock that she is in. However, through in-depth counseling and on-going care, she can come to see that with the support of others who are willing to stand by her, she canindeed choose parenting or adoption. How empowering for her! The other thing that really bugs me about speeches like this is that her argument makes the women, the mother, the enemy in the situation. Like I said, most women don't want to have an abortion, but they feel as though they have no other choice. The women convinces herself that ending the life of her baby is a better option than trying to parent or adopt. She's not thinking logically b/c of the state of shock she is in. She, above everyone else, wants to protect the innocent baby. All this to say, if we want to see the tide of abortion change in our country, there are very practical things we should be doing. My suggestion of the top three are:1) support your local pregnancy clinic! However, ensure that the organization is providing professional, Christian counseling and that women are being treated with dignity and respect at all times (no scare tactics, manipulation, etc.)2) support legislation that enforces counseling before an abortion can be performed. A woman can go to PP right now and not get any counseling before making a life-changing, irreversible decision. That is absurd. Also, I think it would be extremely effective if there was a mandatory waiting time after she finds out she's pregnant and before she makes her decision. 3) Educate Christians to start providing solutions (like 1 & 2). The abortion issue is solvable. Churches should be working with local pregnancies clinics, mentoring these young moms, and building bridges between the pregnant women and the church. And Christians need to be encouraged to start being pro-active rather than just speaking out, protesting, etc... If you're still reading, thanks :) I just can't watch something like that and not share with you what I know about this issue. I swim in these waters ever day! God has not only stirred up a passion in me to help women facing unplanned pregnancies, it's more like a roaring tidal wave! I have talked to countless women who have been in this situation, and trust me, she is not the enemy. She just needs to be empowered and deeply cared for. I seriously could go on, but I won't :) Don't feel like you have to respond! Just my thoughts here...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What an evaluation!

I had my evaluation today and it went really well... but there is a funny story...

We were learning about money and making change etc. Everything was going great, we were using dollar bill and coin manipulatives, I was using cool technology, the kids were completely engaged and then... I FORGOT HOW TO SUBTRACT!

Seriously! We were going over $5.00 minus something like $3.58 and I completely messed up with the regrouping! I could see it all over their sweet little faces... they almost looked terrified, like, "OH no! Mrs. Gililland don't mess up in front of the principal!" Their eyes were pleading with me, "That's not right!" I quickly fixed it and we all laughed and laughed about it later.

The best part was that my principal made a really big deal about what a great lesson it was and how he would have done much better in math if he had been able to have a teacher explain it and make it fun like that! YEA! I guess he could relate to my trouble with subtraction. :)

But don't loose too much faith in education... I promise they all know how to subtract and make change!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Welcome to the world Layla!

One of my closest friends in the world, Lisa, and her husband, Andrew, just welcomed the newest edition to their family this week. Everyone is healthy and happy! I can't wait to meet Layla this weekend!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sweet Chloe and her adoration of DJ

The funniest thing happened today... I laughed so hard that I was snorting in Sam's. Although, I may not be able to do it justice with words. In order to give you the full picture, I have to back up a little... This summer DJ and I MCed Vaction Bible School. I should actually say that DJ was the MC because I was more like a sidekick as it turned out. He's a huge ham and loves performing for a crowd and ALL the little girls love him! I am not kidding! Anytime we see the under 8 crowd of little girls at church, they all swoon! There is a precious little girl at church named Chloe and she is apparently a member of the adoring DJ club. We saw her the other day and she got SO excited to see him. Well this morning, I helped out in the 2 year olds "Sunday School" class, which Chloe is a part of. I said something to her about "Mr. Gililland" but she apparently did not realize that it was DJ I was talking about. So after church today we ran by Sam's and ran into Chloe and her family. I am not kidding, we must have been 100 feet away and she got completely excited to see us (or DJ I should say). "Daddy, Daddy, LOOK!" We stood and talked to her family for a while and she was completely beside herself. She said, "You are with him?" I explained that he was my husband and she just couldn't get over it. I wish that I could show you a video because I was right, words do not do it justice! Just imagine DJ and I laughing so hard that I was crying.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tour of Texas

Wow, what a week! Last week I went on a tour of Texas, literally! I went to San Antonio on Sunday, then back to Abilene late Monday night, then Dallas on Thursday, College Station on Friday, and Houston on Friday and back to A-town on Sunday. Are you tired just reading about it? :)
Well here is a synopsis of some fun times:
My grandmother turned 80 on Monday, so I went to San Antonio for the birthday party. I stayed with my Dad and step-mom while in SA, so as we drove to the party, 2 funny things happened:1. I had put lotion on my hands before we left the house, so as I drove to the party, I looked down and I was missing my diamond ring! I had my wedding band, but not the engagement ring. Of course, I panicked a little. When we stopped, I got out to look on the floor board of the car, just in case it had fallen off my lotion-y hands. As I bent, I put my right hand on the console and I hear from the back seat, "Is that your ring?" I look down at my right hand to find that my ring was on my right hand, on the same finger as my Aggie ring! OH! How embarrassing! My dad spent the rest of the evening laughing hysterically about how I was getting senile.

2. The other thing that happened as we drove was that I asked my family if they thought we had dressed up enough for the birthday party. (I could tell from the invitation that it was going to be a dressy event.) My Dad's response is, "I think it's only going to be immediate family." My response to that was, "Dad, if it is immediate family, then you would not be invited." (This party is for my mom's mom, and my parents have been divorced since I was about 10.)
So we drive up to my grandmother's house and literally blocks before we get there are cars lining the street! We walk into my grandmother's house to find that this was definitely a black tie affair and there are OVER 200 people mingling inside! What a surprise! There were men with trays of food walking around... there was someone at the door to take our coats... etc. The party had a Dairy Queen theme. This may sound strange, but it was actually really neat. My grandparents had been in the Dairy Queen business for many years, so my aunt went with this theme. There were vintage Dairy Queen Posters hanging around the house... the cake was literally a 2 feet long (at least) banana split. 2 ginormous bananas lined either side of the cake, with three huge scoops of "ice cream" in the center, and on the side was the DQ logo. It was really neat. There was even a vintage ice cream machine that made teeny tiny soft serve ice cream cones. The cones were about 2 inches tall. It was really cute.
However, the best part of the whole party was hearing everyone's kind words about my grandmother. She is literally the matriarch of our family and everyone had really nice things to say to me about her. It inspired me to desire to impact peoples' lives in the same way that my grandmother has impacted lives.

So after the party, I headed back to Abilene because I had to work the next day. My sweet husband talked me through most of the drive and was waiting anxiously for my safe return home.

Thursday brought another trip... DJ had a conference he needed to attend in Houston, so we took the scenic route through Dallas. It is not that our geography skills are bad; we wanted to see a new baby. Rusty is DJ's best friend from growing up, so we had to make a quick stop in Dallas (actually Little Elm) to see them and watch the National Championship game. Then we stayed with some other good friends, Lisa and Andrew (who are also expecting a child in the next few weeks.)

Friday morning we headed towards Houston, with a stop in one of our favorite places, College Station! The best part of Friday was going with DJ to get his TEXAS A&M STUDENT ID!!! This has been a dream of his since he was a kid and he is finally getting to realize this dream. He begins his doctorate in curriculum and instruction next week! (It is all online, so we are not moving.)

Later that day, we headed to Houston. Saturday morning DJ headed to his recruiting conference at Cinco Ranch High School in Katy and I headed to Richmond, just outside Sugarland. My best friend from first grade through high school is Meredyth and her parents moved to Houston after we graduated from high school. Around that same time, her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, which she has battled for the past 10+ years. I spent Saturday morning with her mom, Kristi and we had a great 2 hour conversation. Meredyth had told me that they were not sure if she would make it to Christmas, so when she did and I found out we would be in the area, I had to stop and see her. She is down to about 80 pounds and spends most of her day in a wheel chair, but she was still the same great Kristi. We had such wonderful conversations and I was so blessed to see her one last time. I was able to share with her how special it was to me that she and her family had traveled from Houston for my mom's memorial service last year. She said, "of course, we would be there!" but it meant the world to me considering her health and how that makes traveling much more difficult for her.

On Saturday night, we went with some friends to see a play by the A.D. Players. This is a Christian Theatrical company in Houston. The play was called The Apostle, and was really amazing. One man did a monologue of Romans 1-10. It really brought the book to life and provided a nice synopsis of these chapters. It was amazing to see this man recite all of this from memory.

Finally, Sunday was also a FABULOUS day that left me smiling from ear to ear as we drove home. While I was in school at A&M, I was deeply involved with a ministry called Breakaway. Breakaway is a college Bible Study that meets in the Basketball arena on the A&M campus. It has now grown to about 5,000 students each Tuesday evening. While I was there, I served as a volunteer and team leader. I was the leader of the Compass Team which purpose was to help students get plugged in. Breakaway made a huge point of letting students know that it was NOT a church and that students needed to be involved in the local church. My team provided lots of information to students to help them get plugged in at church. In addition, we also helped students connect with missions opportunities, as well as Christian organizations on campus. Breakaway was a HUGE part of how the Lord drew me back into relationship with him. I had never been surrounded by so many believers that were my age and on fire for the Lord. For me, my time in College Station was a sweet, sweet time.

...ok, so I told you that because on Sunday I was able to go to church and see some people from my college years and it was so good to see them.

Gregg Matte was one of the founders of Breakaway. In fact, Breakaway began years before when he was a college student in his apartment. It started out with about 10 students and just continued to grow and grow so that now they have to meet in the Basketball arena so that everyone fits! In the past few years, God called Gregg to pastor a church in Houston, Houston's First Baptist. This is also the church where Beth Moore teaches women's Sunday school and weekly Bible studies.

It was a lot of fun getting to see Gregg and introduce him to my DJ as my husband, for the first time. I also got to see my sweet friend Jalen, Deanna, and Jenn. Jalen and I served at Breakaway together and Deanna and Jenn were office managers for Breakaway for a time. Jenn discipled me while was I in college and then when she moved to Houston, Deanna took over as office manager. It was like a big reunion to see them all again.

What a fun day, weekend, and week as we took a tour of Texas!