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.