Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Weight of the World

U is for Un-Overwhelmable

It's heavy, isn't it? The weight of the world? Especially when it's resting right there on your shoulders. When it's sitting on someone else's shoulder it doesn't seem so big. We may even think that the weight has been a bit, I don't know, exaggerated maybe? But when it's ours to deal with, there is no hyperbole too big and no scale has numbers large enough to measure the weight. We walk slower, think harder, and speak less when we are supporting this mass. And we just pray that no one notices. It's funny how these are the moments when it becomes so clear how small I am and how big God is. Of course, it's not an instant realization. It often takes a while for the weight to take full effect. Days, weeks and even months may go by before we realize just how heavy this load has become, sitting right there on our shoulders. When this moment of realization arrives, we find ourselves...overwhelmed. I remember, a few years ago now, sitting on my parent's bed, crying more tears than I knew I had, using words like "I just can't do it anymore". I was overwhelmed. The weight finally got to be too much for my human shoulders.

"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. " (Matthew 11:28) In the moments when we just can't shoulder the load anymore, we have a God who is able and willing to take the weight and carry it for us. He created the universe so why does it really surprise us that He is capable of supporting the weight of it? No sin, no situation we find ourselves in, no wrong decision surprises Him, overwhelms Him. He is un-overwhelmable. He knows that we are unable to shoulder this weight ourselves and doesn't think less of us for that. Instead, He loves us unconditionally and perfectly in those moments. And removes the weight. And gives us the grace to walk freely with Him.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Best Little Preschool Year Ever

There's a movie I watched once, called the "The Best Little Christmas Pageant Ever". It's a cute movie about this church that always puts on a children's Christmas pageant. The women who are in charge of the play make sure that everything is perfect and just right. Except for this one year. This year a family of children that don't attend church come and want to be a part of the program. They are not the most well behaved of children and ruin just about every rehearsal. It is not looking good for opening night. The women are dreading the pageant and are just so upset about the pageant not being perfect. However, on opening night, while things are not perfect, the pageant is...well....the best little Christmas pageant ever. The women, as well as the rest of the church, discover that these children, the ones that they really didn't want in the pageant to begin with, have come to understand what Christmas is all about. And that this is the most important thing. Not the costumes, not the props or the music. But showing Jesus to those who don't know him. Loving those who are the least loveable and accepting them as they come. It really is a cute movie.

This last preschool year reminded me of "The Best Little Christmas Paegant Ever". However, instead of being a hour and half long movie, this was a nine month long epic mini series. Kind of like "Gettysburg". Lots of fighting, large amounts of blood, and an occasional surrender. My class consisted of 12 very different children, coming from very different home lives and situations. It was, by far, the most challenging class I have had so far. I remember sitting at Five Guys on the night of the second day of school. My friend, Jack, asked me how the day went and about my class. I remember my response was something about how there were some kids in my class that I kind of wished weren't. His response was something I couldn't get out of my mind all year. He said that maybe those were the kids who were supposed to be in my class. That thought kept coming back to me at the worst possible moments. Right after I got told "I hate you, you're stupid" for the 10th time in 10 minutes. Or right after I was kicked, hit, and/or bit. Or when I felt like I was just talking to myself during circle time. Maybe these were the kids who were supposed to be in my class.

Last Wednesday was the last day of school and I was looking forward to it. Of course, like every other week, to get to Wednesday, I had to get through Tuesday. Tuesday was our class Preschool Celebration. We had invited parents to come and watch our class perform some songs and poems. It was not something I was really looking forward to. When we would practice, it would usually end in some tears, some fighting, and and a lot of "I hate you's". Not really something I wanted parents to witness. But wouldn't you know, that day, with all of their parents watching, those 12 children sang every song and said every poem like you wouldn't believe it. It was by no means perfect and I shook the entire time but in that moment, I wouldn't have traded one of those kids. And I wouldn't have traded my class for any other class in the preschool. Because, as challenging as they were and as tired as I was at the end of each day, I loved them. Each one. And now, a week later, my hope and prayer is that they know that. I hope that they left preschool knowing that they are loved and are important. Not only by their parents or to their teachers, but more importantly, by God. If I taught them anything, I hope I taught them that. It was not a perfect school year. And I am glad that it's over but it just might have been, the best little preschool year ever.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lessons from the Big House

Yesterday was a big day. It was a day long in coming, highly anticipated, and very much dreaded. Yesterday, I finished Prison Break. Yes, I know that this does not seem like it should warrant it's own blog post. However, if kidney stones can get a shout out on this thing, then Michael Scofield certainly can too. If you are unaware of the premise of the show, allow me to break it down for you. Scofield's in prison....and he breaks out. I know. Spoiler. Come on now, did you really think he didn't? So why am I blogging about a fictional character on a fictional show? Because, not only did the show solidify my belief that I am truly gangster, it also taught me some things that I feel necessary to share with all of you....

Lessons Learned From Michael Scofield and Everyone Else on the Show Prison Break

1. I'm pretty sure I would tattoo blueprints all over my body, commit a crime, be sent to prison, and break out if one of my siblings was wrongfully convicted. Yup. Pretty sure.

2. Oragami is not only pretty cool but can also be critical to any plan involving anything remotely against the law. I'm thinking of taking it up this summer. Just in case #1 actually happens.

3. Never trust anyone in a suit and dark glasses. It never ends well. For anybody.

4. Always, always have a back up plan for the back up plan. In fact, have no less than 6 back up plans. And one plan should always involve a gas mask. For coolness sake.

5. Real gangsters keep their phones on vibrate. No sweet ringtones for them. This is where gangsters and I differ slightly.

6. Breaking out of prison and being on the run is a dirty job. Literally. Be prepared and break out with at least a toothbrush.

7. Take a knife to a fist fi.....nah just take a glock to any fight.

8. It really helps to know people with access to boats, planes, and the ability to exonerate you. This will be on any friend questionaire I give out in the future.

9. If you say anything with an intense eye stare and whispery voice, people will take you seriously. Even seasoned assassins.

10. If I were to be on the other side and be a seasoned assassin, I would definitely wear 6 inch heels. And red lipstick. But I would keep my ringtone.

So now that it' s over, I guess I can move on with my life. I hear Sons of Anarchy is pretty good, though.....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

And the Beat Goes On....

Number 21

I love music. When I am just hanging out, I would rather have music on than watch a movie or television. Road trips? Forget conversation, just turn up the music. And there are some mornings when I wish my drive to work were longer just so I could get more songs in. As it is, though, on my five minute drive, I can usually get through at least three songs :) When I was a little girl, I had a cassette tape of Dolly Parton's album, White Limozeen (that's not a spelling mistake, that's just how awesome Dolly is). I loved that tape. It's a big reason why yellow roses are still my favorite flower and why "cowboy boots and painted on jeans" make me smile.

I love all kinds of music, too. Although, country music remains at the top of my preference list, my Itunes is full of some not so country music. Basically if it has a good beat, it goes on the list. Right now, as I am typing this, I am listening to Gladys Knight and the Pips "Midnight Train to Georgia". Oh man, the stories Chrissy could tell about this song :) Oh and now Bruno Mars' "Grenade" is on. I love my music selections.

Music is something that I am so thankful for in my life. There are songs that, to this day, can take me back to ninth grade and songs that bring back emotions from my junior year in college. Faces, names, and smells return with just the first couple of notes.

I love music.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Crazy People

T is for Truth

I'm going to confess something in this blog. Prepare your hearts for this now. Here it is: I am a fearful person. There I said, or wrote it actually. I know, I know. Whoa. Brand new information. But seriously, I am a fearful person. Give me a great situation, any situation, and I can probably come up with no less than ten things that could potentially go wrong. I don't purposefully seek out new situations because of this and have, in the past, missed out on some great experiences. Maybe this is why snowboarding was so exciting for me. Something new and extremely frightening and I did it. If you haven't read those blog posts yet, don't. Just know that I am an amazing snowboarder :)

I never truly recognized how much fear played a role in my life until after college. Before then, I simply considered myself a worrier and just carried on. It wasn't until a series of events after college that I became aware of how big fear is in my world.

It was a rainy Monday afternoon in July. That morning, I had just allowed another opportunity to slip away because I was afraid. I was sitting in the living room, staring out the window at the rain when my mom came in and sat down with me. She never said a word and I just began to cry. I had no idea what was wrong with me, I just knew that I was afraid. Of what I didn't know. But the fear was BIG. She held my hand and told me that after discussing it, she and my dad felt that it was best if I went to see a counselor. Looking back on this now, I know that this had to have been a hard step for my parents. To acknowledge that one of their children was going through something that they couldn't fix could not have been easy. I was a little unsure of the prospect of going to counseling. I thought, then, that counseling was for crazy people and for people getting married (and I wasn't getting married, so.... :)) But, my mom made the phone call anyway, and that Friday I experienced my first counseling session.

My dad came with me and sat in the waiting room. I remember what I wore, what we talked about, and I remember walking out of the room feeling like a little bit of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. And we had just talked about the steps involved with counseling! Over the course of the next few months, I detailed certain events in my life and examined my thoughts. Fear was a constant thread in those thoughts and that fear led to a cycle of events that were easily identified in my life. I remember one particular session when Sara, my counselor, asked me a question that changed my life. I had just finished describing an event where I experienced almost debilitating fear. When I was finished, she asked "What's the truth?" I just sat there for a moment and then said I didn't understand the question. She then repeated herself "What's the truth?" She then explained that if I believe that God is in control, then He is in control in all situations. Even the ones that scare the life out of me. I had a choice to make. To live in the fear or accept that God has given me every place I step my foot. To believe in Truth.

There is a song that I have heard a lot recently, "Forever Reign". Some of the lines in it go,
You are peace, You are peace when my fear is crippling
You are true, You are true, even in my wandering
Singing these words the first time was one of the most peaceful moments of my life. Because, for the first time, in a long time, maybe even ever, I believe them. I believe that He is Truth and Peace. I believe this because I have experienced it. I might wake up some mornings afraid to face the day but I am quickly reminded that He is Truth, simply because I have woken up.

Fear is no longer at the forefront in my life. I have the snowboarding pictures to prove it :)

Do You See What I See?

I got my first pair of glasses in the fifth grade. Red, plastic-rimmed glasses from Lens Crafters. They were special :) Since then, I have come a long way in my glasses fashion sense. I now sport, when I am not wearing my all too expensive but all too needed contact lenses, a pair of half-rimless, black and white spectacles. Needless to say, I like these a bit better. But, regardless of the style, corrected vision has been part of my life since I was 10 years old. I'm not sure what it is like to wake up in the morning and not squint to see what time it is or how not to panic when someone moves my glasses after I've taken out my contacts (you know who you are). However much a frustration as this is, I have been blessed with my glasses and contacts because they have improved my sense of sight and have given me the ability to see, clearly, some incredible things. Things that I am so thankful for....

11. Welcome to Virginia Signs- I moved to Virginia when I was about seven years old. Virginia is home. When I was a student at WCU and missing my home, there was no better sight than the sign with the red cardinal on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. On those long drives back from Beaufort, that red cardinal is there again. Virginia is for Lovers :)

12. Sunrises- I don't see a lot these :) But, seeing one means that I am probably doing something fun. Whether it is on 95 driving south or those ridiculously early morning two-a-days, I have seen some incredible sunrises.

13. Mountain View Road in the Fall- Reds, oranges, yellows, and purples. Fall is my favorite season and this road hardly ever disappoints with the colors. It makes driving the speed limit worth it...

14. Palm Springs Aerial Tram- Not to brag or anything, but this IS the world's largest aerial rotating tram and I have been on it. I might have been glued to the pole in the middle of the rotating death capsule we were stuck on but still. It took me up 8500 feet to one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. We started in the desert and ended up in a snow filled forest. Incredible.

15. A Baseball Field- I love baseball fields. I'm not sure why but I think part of it is because of the infield. Clean, crisp white baselines. The infield grass. Or maybe it's the outfield with the criss-cross mowing. Don't know, don't care. I love baseball fields.

16. The Natural Bridge- I have actually been there twice and both times have been blown away. It's a bridge in the side of a mountain! I mean, wow :)

17. Blue Skies- I like rainy days, but I like blue sky days too. Those days where it seems like you can see forever and wish you could.

18. The Mediterranean- On a Monday in July, I stood on a boat that was actually on the Mediterranean Sea. Unbelievable. It was so blue and beautiful. I took some pictures but I really just stood on the side of the boat and just stared out at it. I think I was too afraid to take a lot of pictures because I didn't want to distract from the actual experience. It was something I will never forget.

19. The Ocean- Let me start by saying that I don't actually get into the ocean. But I do like looking at it. I like being on the beach, with a good book, a cold drink, and a nice big umbrella :) There is something calming and constant about watching the waves crash on the shore. I like that.

20. Snow- Snow and I have love-hate relationship. I love looking at it but hate going out in it. I love the winter wonderland feel of snow and I love the silence of it. I'm thankful that it gives me random days off in the winter, too.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Here Goes....

So yesterday, my sister-in-law had a birthday and blogged thirty things she is thankful for, leading up to the 1,000 things she is thankful for in her life. I was, then, inspired to come up with my own list of 1,000 things. SO.....we will see how this goes. I figure if I write 10 things on each blog then it will only take 100 blogs to finish. And they say pretty girls can't do math :).

1. Grace- I have been saved by grace and that has changed my life. Jesus Christ is my Savior and that alone could make up the whole list of 1,000 things.

2. My Mom and Dad- No two people have ever shown me the true definition of unconditional love like them. I have messed up a great deal throughout the last 27 years and yet, have never had to question being loved.

3. Jenn, Katy, Chris, and Allison- These are the people I have hung out with for most of my life. These are the people who have seen me cry, be ugly, and fall flat on my face and they still keep me around anyway. Sitting around the dinner table until late into the evening, telling stories is something I look forward to when we are all old. Or at least older :)

4. Jake and Cole- My life changed on a Monday morning in January 2008 when Jake was born. I'm sure I had an idea of what awesome was before that day but that baby boy redefined it and still does. Oh, and then there is Cole Baby. A perfect little package of sweetness. Love those boys.

5. My Small Group- Our small group exploded last fall and it has been just great. We have had so much fun studying God's word and doing life together. From passing out lunch in D.C., gingerbread house night, and countless dinners in Jenn's apartment, friends and lovers indeed :)

6. My Job- Teaching preschool was not what I imagined I would be doing with my life. But the best thing is, I love it. I have had the privilege of knowing some very special small people over the last few years. I have been challenged, hugged, and blessed by them all and I wouldn't trade that for any job in the world.

7. My Car- It's not fancy, the gas gauge doesn't move, and it makes a strange clicking sound when the A/C or heat is on but that Chevy has gotten me everywhere I have needed to go. From Friday night drive nights around West Chester to trips to Beaufort, it gets me around. I love my car.

8. West Chester University- I love the fact that I despised WCU my first semester but was in love with it by graduation. Church Street in the fall might be one of the prettiest memories I have. I learned so much during those four years and only some of it happened in a classroom.

9. Rain- It might be because it's raining right now but I'm thankful for rainy days. Mainly because it's a chance to slow down and write blogs but also because of sweatpants and ponytails.

10. Green Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream- Ice Cream might be my favorite dessert. I could eat ice cream in the middle of the coldest winter. One of my favorite memories is of eating green mint chocolate chip ice cream at a Baskin Robbins with my dad when I was like five or six. Maybe that's why green mint chocolate chip makes me happy. Or maybe it's just because it's green.