Sunday, December 29, 2013

Merry Christmas from Target (and other post-Christmas funsies)

So. Maybe you heard about the Target debacle. If not, let me recap this sad story: 

Multi-billion dollar retail store, loved and adored by many, skimps on security, allowing the identities of millions of loyal patrons to be compromised, subsequently ensuring that said patrons are in serious debt over the course of the biggest American holiday of the year. 

This is a true story, ladies and gentlemen. Worse? Your girl got the short end of the stick….all because I’m in love with the bullseye! 

A few weeks ago I was dawdling on my lunch break at work and decided to check the state of my finances. Upon investigation I noticed that I had roughly $1000 worth of fraudulent charges on my credit card for….wait for it….. Tanning bed visits, used auto parts, and AA&T Trac Phone minutes. Serially?

So, I called my credit card company who issued me a new card, reimbursed the charges, and all was happily ever after (you rock, Capital One!) Until December 16, when, upon awakening from my slumber I discovered that my checking looked like this: 

This was my face: 

It’s now exactly 11 days later and after seven calls to the fraud services department and a two hour visit to my local branch, BB&T has finally decided to get their act together and reverse the charges that were made for Trac Phone minutes, and a Dish satellite bill among other things… but only after they tried to tell me I was responsible for the overdraft fees incurred as a result of the fraudulent charges.  Wrong.

Listen, identity theft is no laughing matter. To say this has been a nightmare would be a major understatement. Thankfully it’s all straightened out and I’m now in the positive again; however….the moral of this story is that BB&T has the worst customer service, and I need to start using cash. As for Target, their CEO, Mr. G. Steinhafel, is offering customers a 10% discount on purchases this weekend as a result of their trouble. Gag me, Gregg. 

In other news, post-Christmas days brought the wonderfully precious wedding of my sweet highschool/lifeguard friend, Arielle. Both the ceremony and the reception were held in a local coffee shop in Fayetteville, NC that she and her new husband decorated themselves. So. Sweet. They are absolutely precious together! Congrats Cody and Arielle! 

First dance

My handsome date

VCA ladies with the bride

What has the post holiday season not brought? Paper grading and other miscellaneous school “stuff”. I really had a plan for organization over break...but, obviously, a plan was as far as it went. Luckily, teachers in my county have an entire day devoted to planning on Thursday before students come back on Friday. It’ll all get done then, right?

It also hasn’t brought a playoff spot for the Steelers. Maybe next year.


Hope your post-holiday days are spectacular. Savor the last few minutes of 2013 -- do fun things. Laugh :)


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Thankfulness

Imagine this: you’re standing in front of The Top Thrill Dragster (a very huge roller coaster, FYI). You’re terrified, because, well, frankly, many things could go wrong (not the least of which are losing a limb or getting stuck mid-loop, but I digress…). You want desperately to ride because you’ve driven five hours to do so and all your friends are hounding you. Reluctantly, you proceed to stand in line for hours so that you can experience a 20 second, 100 MPH rocket ride at a 90 degree angle.

You wait in line (for six years, more or less) and out of nowhere, you’re in the front. It’s your turn. Then, you’re strapped in, panicking, not sure what to do with yourself. Mouth watering, eyes watering (hey man, I’m NOT crying….), lump in your throat, delirious from the horror about to ensure. And then, 3,2,1, takeoff! 

In a frenzy, you blink (half because you’re scared and need an excuse to close your eyes, and half because it’s a bodily requirement or something) and before you know it, you’re stepping off the ride. 

That moment when you’re walking back through the rat maze after the ride, scolding yourself for keeping your eyes closed the whole time, still walking a bit crooked because inertia is funny that way, already debating whether or not you want to risk life and limb again because it was exhilarating and the most thrilling and exciting thing you’ve ever done, but at the same time mentally and physically draining….that’s exactly what it feels like for a first year teacher to make it all the way to Christmas break. 

(This, friends, is the best metaphor you’ll ever read….revel in it….)

(Okay, that’s enough reveling)

Making it to Christmas break is a huge milestone. I left the building Friday feeling a bit euphoric: I’m at the halfway point! Just when I thought I might like to throw in the towel because one too many people forgot their homework,  surprise, Jesus was born so I get a break and stuff. Yay, Jesus! 

Seriously though, I'm so grateful for a break. The last week of school I literally felt like I was physically dragging myself to work (the hilarity of that image gets me every time...) In the past couple of months I have felt so stretched thin with responsibilities and requirements, and still trying to be an awesome teacher that I haven’t really let myself attend to thankfulness. I’ve been caught up in "busy stuff"... I feel like there’s always something that demands my time and attention (we all know how bad I am at grading essays…), and the everyday wonderment and excitement about the little things seems to have taken a back seat.  I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t even have time to participate in the November thankfulness series that made appearances across news feeds nation wide (although I do try to find something to be thankful for every day), and even more shamefully, I admit that I might have even fallen into the trap of becoming a bit grouchy with responsibility (don’t act like you’ve never done it!) 

Christmas break though has helped me to refocus my thankfulness — to take the time to remember all of my blessings and to truly delight in them. Even in spite of all the complaining I feel like I do because of the daily grind, I am overcome with thankfulness for each and every day and the struggles presented therein. Somedays the struggles are  minuscule (I’m still having copy machine issues, in case you’re wondering….), and some days they’re a bit bigger, but I am breathing and working and living and loving. For these blessings, I am thankful. 

Currently, I’m sitting in my mom’s kitchen, listening to the sound of her metal spoon stir our Christmas Eve dinner, my brother engrossed in a Duck Dynasty iPad app, my dad wrapping last minute gifts, and my sweet doggies resting as peaceful as the baby Jesus in the manger. Tonight I am thankful. For these people and their constant support — their constant words of encouragement on all of those days when I thought I might be a failure. For the past five months and the lessons they’ve born. For sweet, smiling, seventh graders and their enthusiasm about, well….everything. For my health. For passionate teachers that give the rest of us baby ducklings a ray of hope. For sweet new opportunities and possibilities. I am thankful. 

And to think, all of this was made possible by a King in a straw bed. Revel in his love….that’s the REAL blessing this Christmas. 

Wherever you are this Holiday season, take a minute to be thankful. Forget the paperwork sitting on your desk, the goals you have to meet, the meetings you’ll attend after the new year….and focus on this exact moment and the blessings that have made it possible.

With love,


But the angel said to them: "Do not be afraid for I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, The Lord.” — Luke 2:10-11

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Recap: Yes, I'm still alive...

Guuuuyyyyyys! I feel like it has been forever since I’ve updated you all on the wonderful world of 7th grade. The past few weeks have been so busy, but also so fun! Here’s a recap: 

The last week of October was spirit week at school. I had ENTIRELY too much fun participating in character day. I made my own costume (courtesy of Pinterest) and paraded myself around as Wonder Woman. Ignore the fact that I’m the same height at my students….

Also, we had “‘Merica” day. You can see it too well, but I was highly pleased with my Etsy shirt that says “Hakuna some freedom: it means ‘Merica”…. It doesn’t take much, doesn’t take much. 

And, Pink-Out day for breast cancer awareness. Special to me because my sweet aunt was diagnosed a few weeks ago. I fully believe in the power of prayer -- it moves mountains. Pray with me?

Sprit week festivities also brought the death of my iPhone, which prompted this survey as Friday’s bellringer. Good thing my principal didn’t visit. I did in fact purchase the Galaxy S4 because I promised my students that I would buy whatever they chose. I also promptly returned in 24 hours later. I’m an Apple girl...don’t judge me. 

I rearranged my desks. As I type this I’m realizing that I probably post too much about my seating situation. (Mental note that readers probably don’t care…)

I got a second job. Still not entirely sure how I feel about this. I’ll let you know after Black Friday (during which I’m working ten hours straight).

I got new glasses. Kind of. I got them last month. Go with it. 

I also had a bulletin board mishap. I diligently worked to arrange the letters to say “public service announcements”. I came in the next morning to this unfortunate occurrence: 

Curse you, gravity. 

I spent two whole planning periods building this bad boy. Merry early Christmas :)

And also, my mom enabled my Pinterest addiction by sending me an Elf on the Shelf. She's basically the best and I love her for it.  This was my Instagram post to my kids: 

And, I went to a fantastic concert. That’s Toby Mac. 

So anyways, that's the run down. I hope that you all have a fabulous Thanksgiving. Find something to be thankful for... not just tomorrow, but everyday. The fact that you and I are both breathing right this second is proof not only that we have something to be thankful for, but also that a loving God cares for us immeasurably. Soak it in.

Peace & Love,


Monday, November 4, 2013

Tuna for Breakfast

Well, the honeymoon is over. Don’t act like you don’t know what I mean. 
In early August I was setting my alarm for 5AM, and stopping at Starbucks for breakfast every morning. I felt kind of sad on Friday’s because it meant I had to go two whole days away from my students. And, I had the most awesome stash of school supplies. Ever. You’d have been jealous….just saying. 


I stopped taking showers in the morning so I could sleep until 5:45, I eat left over tuna for breakfast, and yesterday when we ran out of tissues in the classroom, I handed a student a two week old napkin from my purse for his nose blowing needs...And I’m working on my campaign for four-day weekends. 

Now, maybe you’re thinking these aren’t good things to admit (and you might be right…so don’t judge me). But, the thing is, I’m just being honest. Don’t get me wrong, I still love love love my job with all my heart. Seriously. Here’s the thing though: when the honeymoon is over and reality sets in, life gets a bit more difficult.  You start to realize that it’s not all happy, mushy, ooey-gooey goodness all the time — the sparkles are gone and the newness has worn off and you’re left with hard work.  And when the warm fuzzies have packed up and gone home, hard work can make a person feel like a real failure. 

Last week I had a rough few days. I didn’t show up for a meeting because I forgot about it, I jammed the copy machine three one day. I snapped at a student because he asked for paper. I was late everyday but Tuesday. And the list goes on. By Thursday I found myself with my head in my hands feeling defeated. That little voice of doubt crept in and began to feed me the same old lines: “You’re not good enough. You don’t deserve to be here. You aren’t qualified for this position. You’re a terrible teacher. This is too hard for you...” blah, blah, blah... I’m ashamed to admit though, that I bought in rather quickly. 

The enemy’s tactics are covert like that. He’s sneaky. He shows up in my doubt until my thoughts about myself and others become contaminated, he twists kind words into suspicion and uncertainty, and he distorts my perception. He doesn’t shout big lies, he whispers little ones. It can be a hard road until you learn not to believe everything he says. 

I’m still learning, but I hope that by reading this you might understand what I’ve recently started to grasp myself: that relying on my own ability is a recipe for disaster. On my own I’m not good enough. I’ll never measure up.  But, thankfully, Jesus so sweetly reminded me this week that my value doesn’t come from measuring up to the teacher across the hall. It doesn’t come from being able to navigate the overly complicated copy machine control panel. It doesn’t even come from having a “perfect” day in which I don’t lose my temper or become frustrated by well meaning people around me. It doesn’t come from anything I can accomplish on my own. My worth comes from the God who loves me even in my hot mess...the God who cleans up my hot mess. In his eyes, I am already worthy. Even on my particularly crummy days. My worth isn’t anchored to any of the tangible things that the world says I need or have to accomplish; it comes from the knowledge that I belong to a Father who loves me where I am, and yet refuses to leave me where he found me.

So, even if you jam the copy machine. Even if it takes you a month to grade 70 essays. Even if you eat fish for breakfast, trade your morning shower for thirty extra minutes of sleep, and occasionally show up late (well, you should really probably try not to do that last one, but you get my point…). Even in all of these shortcomings, in Christ, you are good enough. You are not a failure. You have worth. 

Believe it.  

“As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one…” Romans 3:10

“...but despite all this, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us.” Romans 8:37

Saturday, October 12, 2013

October Currently!

Farley's currently linky is my fav and I told myself I wouldn't miss it this month (...I told myself a lot of other things that never came to fruition either, but that's another story). So, here it is. Better late than never.

Listening: Right now I'm seriously jamming to Audrey Assad. Her lyrics are so beautifully written and convey a real sense of human-ness. I love that her songs meet me where I am and still encourage me to be better. I've had this part stuck in my head today: 

You are a shelter for every misfit soul
we are the four walls, oh but You're the cornerstone. 
You're the solid rock that we are built upon. 
All this time like a vagabond, a homeless stranger, I've been wandering
All my life You've been calling me to a home that I've been needing
I'm a broken stone
lay me in the house You're building. 

Loving: My sweet parents called me on Friday morning to tell me they were coming to visit for the weekend. It was perfect timing because all week I have been missing them and considering taking a personal day to see them -- sometimes a girl just needs her mom and dad! We just had a fabulous late breakfast/early lunch and now my mom and I are heading to the mall a bit later. Such a perfect Fall Saturday :)

Thinking: A very sweet student of mine lost her father earlier this week. I have been heartbroken for her ever since I heard and can't quite get her out of my mind. I can't imagine losing someone so precious to me...especially at twelve years old. I want so badly to fix this awful situation for her...but I can't. If you remember, say a prayer for this sweet girl -- that this situation wouldn't make her bitter but that God would wrap her up in his arms of love and shower her with peace as she faces this storm. 

Wanting: So, I have an empty space on my wall above my cabinet in the back of the room. It's not that big of a deal, but every time I look at it I wish I had something colorful to fill it with. I've always wanted to make some Crayon art and I'm thinking that it would look so cute perched there. Here's the space: 

Notice my cute little paper lanterns! I literally sat on top of the cabinet to hang them ... it was very scary. But, I love them and I need something else in this corner! 

Needing: Alright, confession -- I have had more than seventy personal narratives on my desk since Monday (...of last week). Every time I sit down to grade them I get occupied with a million other little things. But, the last day of the first nine weeks ended yesterday and grades are due Monday at 3PM. Soooo, I'm going to have to make myself. This feels like homework. What's wrong with this picture?

Trick or Treat: I love Halloween -- I think it's so fun -- but, I'm not sure what I'm doing this year. I live in the country so I don't have anyone to pass candy to.  Can I take my dog trick or treating?! 

Hope you're all having a spectacular, relaxing weekend. If you don't hear from me by next week then know I've probably been eaten alive by my mountain of work that is yet to be graded...


Monday, September 30, 2013

Can I go to the Bathroom? (and other annoying questions...)

It never ceases to amaze me that as soon as I really get into a lesson someone has to go to the bathroom. I always fall for it too: I think the frantic waving hand in the back of the room is a signal for “hey, I have a really great question!”, so I get a bit excited….but alas, not so. He just wants to know if he can go to the bathroom. It’s so frustrating! At the beginning of the year I implemented a bathroom sign out sheet — I have the roster for each class taped to the corresponding class cabinet along with 4 slots for the date. Each time a student needs to go to the bathroom during instruction time, they have to write the date. When all four slots are used they can’t go until the following nine weeks. 

I took to highlighting “used” passes at the end of the day when I noticed that some students were being a bit sneaky by erasing the date and re-writing a new one rather than using a new pass. 

This method seems to work pretty well because I told my students on day one that I wouldn’t extend passes, meaning “when you’re done, you’re done!” How do you handle bathroom issues? Do you let students go at will or do you have a system? Do you think that 4 per nine weeks is too many or too few? I’d love to hear from you!

And now a list of other seriously irritating questions (and answers): 

What time is this class finished? 

Seriously? The schedule is posted on the wall. But, because I know you’re lazy: it’s over at the same time it was yesterday and the day before and everyday for the last eight weeks. So sorry I’m boring you….

Can I go to my locker?

No. You may not roam the halls under the guise of needing a pencil from your locker. Borrow mine. Don’t chew on it. 

We had homework?

Fingernails on a chalkboard. Irresponsibility bothers me. So much. 

It’s Monday so we can only go up from here, right?! :)


Friday, September 6, 2013

Welcome to the Circus!

Middle school is exactly like a circus. There is no difference. There are funky outfits (think neon spandex and blue hair), daring acrobatics (a.k.a leaping over desks and cartwheeling in the hallway between classes), and clowns (class clowns, that is…) And, if all of that isn’t enough, there are real live animals! This little guy sneaked into my room via lunch box for a visit recently:

Shadow the turtle. 

Seriously though, my seventh graders are crazy nuts! I love them and their nuttiness, but am oh so thankful that it’s Friday because this ringmaster needs a break! 

I stayed after school for a while today in order to rearrange my classroom for next weeks introduction to writer’s workshop. My students have been working on crafting a personal narrative — they have just finished up rough drafts and will be starting peer editing and revising on Wednesday of next week. 

It was a tough call but I went ahead and moved my desks from rows that faced each other to clusters of 4 and 5. I was hesitant because did I mention that my classes are crazy? They love love love to talk and I have one class in particular that is extra nutty — they’re a hot mess, actually. I have about 5 students that all want to be the class clown so they vie for the imaginary Emmy award every day. Redirection usually works but I’m not sure
that putting students in closer proximity to each other is a good thing right now because we are still working on appropriate classroom behavior during instruction time.  It has to be done in order for the workshop to be successful, but I’m afraid that, especially for my crazy class, the new seating arrangement is going to be too much for them to handle. I guess we’ll see how it goes…

Old seating arrangement -- rows 
Old seating arrangement -- rows
New seating arrangement -- clusters

How do you handle group work? What should I do to make sure that this is a good experience for all involved? Any specific rules I should lay out in advance? 

In other news, I’m pretty excited about a few new cutesy things I found at School Tools while visiting my parents over Labor Day weekend: 

Charlie Brown stickers for my
Peanuts obsession


Hope you all have a fabulous weekend away from your own circus!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

September Currently

Two days in a row -- I'm on a blogging roll! I love Farley's "Currently" linky, so I try not to miss it -- hope you'll link up and share!  Here is mine for the month of September: 

1. Listening: 

I got a new car last month and it has Pandora radio... thanks to that I have found a ton of great new bands/musicians that I am loving. I'm a little behind since it's been out for a while, but I have been jamming to The Cab's latest album, Symphony Soldier all week. Good stuff. 

2. Loving: 

I'm a coffee fein. If such a thing existed (and I didn't hate needles), I'd be first in line for a coffee IV. I haven't had a chance to grab a Starbuck's PSL yet, but I have been loving my Gingerbread and Pumpkin K-Cups (that I may or may not have stolen from my mom's cupboard when I was visiting....) because they're delicious and they mean that Fall is just around the corner -- it's my favorite season :)

3. Thinking: 

I just finished up day two of TIP training -- my county's induction program for new teachers. Today I got a lot of great information on differentiated instruction and implementing it in my classroom. Ever since I left this afternoon I've been trying to figure out how to differentiate my vocabulary lessons for the rest of the week. And, I've been thinking about handball. After lunch every day our seventh grade students participate in intramural sports -- they are grouped by their 8th period class and even the teacher participates. We are currently playing "handball" (basically baseball with no bats), and so far my team is still in the bracket! Wish us luck tomorrow ;-)

4. Wanting:

I have really been missing swimming lately. I swam competitively in high school but since have had two shoulder surgeries. I love being in the water but I'm always a bit hesitant about re-injuring myself, so I don't swim as often as I'd like to. I'm wanting to make time to stop by the rec center this weekend for some laps.

5. Needing: 

A kiss from my Lucy -- she's my mom's dog and her kisses are the sweetest. 

6. Happiness: 

This month it would make me quite happy to get back in the water, to finally finish the John Green book I've been trying to read for the last month (Paper Towns -- what I've read is pretty good so far!), and to make time to enjoy the changing weather in the park. In college one of my favorite things to do was escape for a park walk between classes -- I'm already missing the freedom to do that during the day, but hoping to make time for it in the evenings as it gets cooler. 

Happy Wednesday, everybody -- now go enjoy some pumpkin coffee! :)


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Just Call the System: My First Substitute Experience

Oh my wow. It is so hard to believe that it’s been nearly a month since the first day of school!! Today was the 18th time I walked to my very own classroom and flipped on the lights, wrote my learning target on my very own whiteboard, and greeted bus students during my morning duty. It was the 18th time I took morning attendance, walked my students to the cafeteria, and sipped gulped my coffee during morning announcements. 

It’s also the 18th time I’ve walked out of the building feeling like a complete and total failure. Seriously. At least twice a day I remind myself to smile just a little bigger in order to compensate for the fact that I have absolutely no.idea.what.I’m.doing. True story.

It's okay though because day by day I’m starting to feel more settled and confident in my surroundings. My most recent victory was figuring out how to schedule my own substitute. Now, I know this sounds like chump change to you "seasoned" teachers, but no so for us newbies. 

My county requires that new teachers attend 8 days of training their first year teaching, the first of which was scheduled for today. I was told about the training about two weeks ago, so I had plenty of time to schedule a substitute and figured it couldn’t be that hard, but needed a bit of guidance. So I started asking around. It went something like this: 

Day 1.

Me: Hey, how should I go about scheduling my substitute for TIP training…?
Teacher A: Just call the system. 
Me: Oh….um...ok. [Not wanting to look completely ridiculous, I pretended that I knew precisely what she was talking about and figured I’d save my question for the secretary who might be able to answer it in more detail…]

Day 2.

Me: Hey, I was just wondering what I need to do to ensure that I have a sub for next week.
Secretary: Oh you just need to call the system. 
Me: Oh. Well, how do I do that?
Secretary: You know, just call and enter you ID number and it should be simple from there. 
Me: Right. Ok. [Still completely in the dark about ‘the system’, I figured I’d spread my ignorance around … third time is the charm, right?!]

Day 3.

Me: I need help scheduling a substitute (I reasoned that if I worded it differently I might sound more pathetic and therefore more worthy of sub-scheduling assistance...)
Teacher B: No big deal, just call the system. 
Me: Ok, well not to sound completely stupid, but what exactly IS the system.
Teacher 2: The substitute system. You know. The system. Just call it. 

At that point I felt a bit like Buckwheat from The Little Rascals when he asks Spanky if he knows the number for 911.

I cried. Then I laughed. Then I cornered my principal until he gave me some inside scoop about the secret system. Then I felt like Nicolas Cage guarding the Declaration of Independence when he gave me a sticky note with the all important sub-system-number written on it. The angels sang. And then I scheduled my sub. 

Because my training didn't start until 8:30 this morning (and school starts at 7:30), I stopped by for homeroom. I met the substitute, and spent 20 minutes blabbering about the rules, lesson plans, and helpful students. I felt like a nervous mom using a 15 year old babysitter for the first time. I couldn't quite make myself leave my babies! Finally she cut me off and said "Honey, I've been teaching for 30 years...I think I can handle it. Bye." ...And she kicked me out. I'm glad she did or I might have stayed all day. I restrained myself from calling to check on them at lunch (no need to embarrass myself more I reasoned...), and made myself drive straight home after PD. 

Thankfully I have the same fabulous substitute for my second day of development tomorrow, but I really can't wait to be back with my little people on Thursday. How do you feel when you have to leave your class with a substitute? Anything you do to ensure a smooth day for students and sub alike? I want to know!

Hope you all had a fun filled Labor Day weekend and a spectacular Tuesday. 


Saturday, August 24, 2013


Hello Blogosphere! I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve had a chance to post. Okay, that’s not entirely true...I’ve had plenty of chances...I just always choose to sleep instead. Can I just say that teaching is tiring! Whew. I am not ashamed to say that I found myself in bed at 7:45 PM on a Friday night and even 14 hours later I barely felt capable of functioning in civilized society.

Tiring as it is, I am so in love with this job!!! Every morning I make the two story trek to my classroom I feel like pinching myself “Is this real life?! I’m a teacher. Wait...what?” It’s so weird knowing that I am completely in charge of 122 students for 50 minutes a day. Weird and terrifying. I feel a bit like an amateur pool player as I greet them at the door at 7:30 every day: I’m smiling as I chalk my pool stick, but I really have no idea what I’m doing. It’s true. That being said, I’m so thankful to be teaching right next door to my supervisor from student teaching. Although my constant barrage of question is no doubt inconvenient and probably just plain irritating, she’s always ready to point me in the right direction (mental note to buy her an extra great Christmas present…). Also, I just found out last Wednesday that I have been assigned a mentor teacher who will meet with me once a week to plan, grade, or even teach if I need it. Hello, lifesaver. 

I’m just getting to know my students but they are SO precious. Their smiles and their eagerness is such a blessing. I can’t imagine a better reason to feel exhausted and I can’t think of a more fulfilling job than teaching middle schoolers. I think I’m settled in now so I hope to be back to blogging regularly in the coming weeks. For now, check out my classroom... I've had entirely too much fun decorating it so far :)

Paint sample bulletin board -- thanks Pinterest!



Finally got my SmartBoard working -- had to give it a little pizazz.
Steeler know  ;-)

First Day!

Found this cute note on my way out the door on Friday.
I cried, duh. Still feeling incredibly humbled. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Get on the Bus

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. -- Proverbs 3:5-6 (italics mine)

I memorized this verse when I was a seven year old, snaggle tooth, VBS kid ... and to this day it is still one of my favorites. I love it because it promises guidance in return for trust. Sometimes the trust is simple, and other times it isn't, but trust is always something that is within my power to either give or withhold. Recently I faced a not so simple time of trusting in the Lord...waiting (rather impatiently, I confess) for him to open a door of oportunity for me to begin teaching. Although I have always considered myself to be someone who trusts in the Lord, being faced with a situation in which it is vital has forced me to re-evaluate the authenticity of my trust. God has been so patient with me in my doubt this Summer, continuing to speak words of peace and patience to my heart through all sorts of different people, and I can look back now and say that I am thankful for the opportunity to have grown in trust and increased in faith.

My relentless prayer from the time I began student teaching has been that God would open a door for me to begin my career without having to spend a year substituting, which admittedly, has been a source of great anxiety. Sporadically I prayed to be hired by a particular school in a particular school district, but ultimately my prayer has just been for a chance to work with students again, because it truly is my passion. I want nothing more than to spend my days knee deep in middle school messes: in paper grading, and courtyard cafeteria duty, and talent loud chatter, and running in the stolen, quiet morning moments at my desk, and precious notes from punctuation rules, and sentence structure, and after school homework help. In ministering. This is my heart's desire.

I thought I had my version of trust down pat. It involved a lot of anxiety and much crying. In reality it looked a lot more like distrust disguised as the real thing. Although I tried desperately, I never truly let my heart rest in believing that God would direct my paths...until about two weeks ago while I was traveling in Europe. It went something like this:

I was standing in the blazing 102 degree sun (yes, it was really that hot) waiting for a tour bus to drive my family and I from Sorrento, Italy to the Amalfi Coast. I was terrified for two reasons -- In case you're not terribly familiar with the Amalfi Coastline, it is essentially hundreds upon thousands of buildings built into the side of a cliff overlooking the ocean. Although gorgeous, the roads are extremely narrow, the turns are hair-pin, and there is only one very tiny guardrail separating the bus from the edge of said cliff. The bus was built for fifty passengers, but I assure you there were more than fifty people in line for the trip... this made me nervous. Second, I suffer from motion sickness when riding in vehicles that I am not operating. I knew that I couldn't handle an hour and a half of claustrophobia combined with teetering on the edge of doom. So, I sat on the curb crying as I waited with the other passengers to leave. It was so embarassing and yet I couldn't stop myself because I felt such terror at the idea of getting on the bus (which in my mind, was certainly destined to plummet into the ocean before it rounded the first corner...) Worse yet was knowing that there was no other way to get to the coast. Either you went via death bus, or you didn't go at all. I felt trapped and panicked ...and so I cried harder.

Sitting there in sheer terror, I did the only thing I knew to do -- I prayed for the peace that passes understanding to calm my fears and relieve my anxiety. As I did, I very clearly heard the spirit of God whisper: "There is a lesson in this....get on the bus. Trust Me." And so, weighed down with the knowledge that there was no other way, I got on the bus. In my mind I literally handed my life to the driver as I stepped aboard -- I felt absolutely powerless -- I had zero control of the outcome. I cried the whole way, still terrified, white-knuckling the armrest beside me, eyes tightly closed while my sweet mom held my hand and prayed peace over me the whole way. It will live in infamy as the most awful trip I've ever taken. But, after what felt like an eternity, I stepped out of the bus to witness one of the most impressive views I have ever seen:

As I looked out over the railing to the coastline I heard another whisper: "See? It's the same with your life... I have good plans, and a good view at the end of this thing. But you cannot be in control. Trust Me. Relinquish your doubt and surrender your whole heart. There is no other way."

For the rest of my life I will remember the peace that washed over me in that moment. Then and there, overlooking the inlaid coastline, I fully surrendered any plan I had for my life. Anything Emily wanted was out the window (or, over the railing in this case...) and I promised God that when he called I would answer, giving up what I wanted for what he wanted, trading my plans for his ... even if his plans meant not teaching at the school where I thought I so desperately wanted to teach...even if it meant working as a substitute for a year...or longer....even if it meant working at McDonald's. Afterall, we can be salt and light anywhere, right? So, I let go. I cannot explain the peace the comes with relinquishing control, I can only say that you should try it.

To make a long story short, later that day I received a call from the principal of the school where I completed my student teaching -- he wanted to hire me. How cool is God? Working all things together for my good, even a 7,000 mile disposition. Without talking to me face to face, and without a formal interview (which, let's be honest, we all know I probably would have bombed anyway...) and from a country away, he hired me. Just like that. And, I should mention that this is the school that I sporadically prayed to be hired at, but eventually gave up on when my faith got weak and my doubts grew, resorting instead to simply begging God for any position in any school. But, God's plans aren't an afterthought -- he didn't just give me any position at any school...he gave me the position I prayed for -- the position that still elicits strange looks from my new colleagues: "How in the world did you manage to get a job straight out of college?" they ask. I just smile. Seriously, how cool is God?

I'm not saying that I would'nt have been offered the position if the scenario had played out differently. What I am saying is that God rewards a heart that is fully surrendered to him. Before the bus, I hadn't truly surrendered. I was still clutching what I wanted with one hand while I raised the other in "surrender"...pawning it off as trust. But, it doesn't work that way. When we let go of trying to figure out our own footing...that is when He makes the path straight. Again, I am so thankful that God doesn't give up on me in my my anxiety, when I sit down on the proverbial curb and throw a tantrum because I want to be in control. His love for me is relentless. And for you. And, his plans are kind of amazing. If you can, dig down deep in your heart and really trust him. I'm not saying it's easy, I'm just saying that it's so worth it.

So, there you have it. I am now officially a 7th grade Language Arts teacher. I am so excited I haven't had a good night of sleep since I accepted the offer, my mind too busy with a million little details, and the thought of meeting my sweet 7th grade babies in less than 24 hours from now! Thanks to all of my readers for the sweet comments and messages of encouragement. Your next order of business will be to help me vote on a new blog name because I'm not "almost" anymore :-)

Happy Tuesday, friends.


As a side note, I'd like to say that when I began writing this blog I didn't know about the bus crash that killed almost 40 tourists close to Naples when I was in Italy. When I read the story my heart sank because I can imagine how awful it was and I couldn't get over how close the accident was in proximity to me! (I stayed less than an hour from Naples during my first few days in Italy.) My heart breaks for the families affected by this tragedy. They need our prayers.

P.S.: I am so sorry for not having the chance to share some photos of Italy with the blogosphere -- if you want to see some of my adventure, follow me on Instagram @NCBrowneyyes