Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas 2012

 This Christmas definitely had it's fair share of highs and lows. But overall, I got to spend it with those I love, and I can't complain about that.

Christmas Eve Eve I spent baking with my sister and her girls. Then my brother-in-law and nephew joined us for Christmas gifts. I always have so much fun with them all and it's crazy to see how much they've all grown. My nephew is almost as tall as me. My oldest niece is getting there, and my youngest niece is now in third grade!!! She told her mom she wanted to quit homeschooling to be in my class. Too cute.

 And of course besides Gia making her third costume change of the day (a record low) which consisted of a princess crown and dress......we had Scratchy join us for some family time too.

 Later that night Steven and I enjoyed trading presents and catching up with a friend of ours who we rarely get to see these days.

Christmas Eve was spent  mostly in the hospital, ER to be exact. Not what any of us had in mind, but poor Steven and I rushed off early in the afternoon and waited for him to get a room. His sweet, sweet family raced up that day and spent the next couple days with him. Later that night, I went to my parents' place for dinner. Even though it was a little tough to be away from Steven, it was so nice to be with my parents and Aubre (and of course to eat that amazing Christmas meal).

The next morning after unwrapping gifts and texts and calls to loved ones, we joined Steven and his family at the hospital and exchanged more gifts. Luckily, Christmas was the last night we spent in the hospital and later the next day he was finally released to go home!!!
 One of the best gifts was a Joel Osteen book my mom got from my stepdad- that was signed by Joel himself. Sometimes my stepdad really does just amaze me. And his love for my mom is overwhelming- it truly reminds me of what real love looks like sometimes.

It may not have been the perfect Christmas, but it really made me count my blessings. And I am so extremely and eternally grateful that we have a Savior who came to this world and died for us. I know that with all the holiday chaos, presents and distractions is easy to forget the reason we celebrate this day, but He really is the most amazing cause for celebration and the most amazing gift one could ever get. That is reason enough to be happy.

I hope yall had a wonderful Christmas (or other holiday) as well.
Much love,

Friday, December 21, 2012

my ministry for Him

I recently read this amazing book, Kisses From Katie. I was truly and deeply inspired and touched by it. And then I wandered upon a new blog (thanks to instagram). Afterwords, I began thinking about my life, my ministry for God.

I admire these women (some who are even younger than me) who have literally given it all up for the Lord. With the calling in their hearts, they left all that they knew, everything that was comfortable and left for an unknown land where God had so much in store for them. They were to be a vessel for Him to show His love to all they encountered. To make a difference for and through Him.
What an amazing thing, to be doing something so great for the good of the Lord. To know that you are doing exactly what He wants and where He wants.

My best friend has been doing this as well, as well as a few other friends I've had. They gave up their normal and stable lives here in Florida, here in the US, and left to fulfill the Lord's plans for their lives. Most made their way back to the US eventually (or even to Florida), but their faith and love of Christ was strengthened through this walk of theirs.
I always envied this kind of life. To give it all up for the Lord. To not know what I would be doing in this foreign land, but only knowing that it was what God was asking me.
But can I truly have this life when I seem to be struggling with knowing what God is saying to me now. In my everyday life? Like every other Christian, I struggle with knowing how to follow Christ all the time. I struggle with calling onto Him for every need I have. I think that I can do it on my own, and so I forget to ask Him. To praise Him. To thank Him. To love Him.

But then I wonder about my life. About what I am doing to help establish and further the kingdom of God, if anything at all because honestly most days I feel like I am doing nothing for Him and it truly makes my heart ache. He is the only reason I am here. The only reason that I didn't give up hope long ago. The only reason I get out of bed some mornings. And then I realized that even the Bible tells us that not all of us are meant to travel to a foreign land to fulfill His purpose and share His love. Some of us are meant to simply share His love, His peace, and His will with those in our own community. 

I've wanted to be a teacher since I was five years old. People always ask me why. What led me to that decision. Was there a teacher that sparked this choice? I've never known how to answer, because I've never even realized what they answer was. But suddenly this past weekend it hit me. Teaching was never my intent for myself really, it was all God's. I never had to make the hard choice of what degree I wanted, what career I wanted, or even what school I wanted, because all along He was making those choices for me. He wanted me here. Now. Doing this work. Now that I look back, it makes sense as to why I didn't feel quite like I was where I should be, or doing what I should be. I was preparing for this journey, for this career, for this life. A life where I could share Christ's love to all the students in my life by loving them as Christ loved me first. How could I not see that before?
Some of my students come from loving homes with two parents. But a lot of my students don't. They haven't been loved in the way that Christ loves us. But they can't understand Him or love Him without first seeing what it is to love (a line I read in Kisses From Katie).
With all of this now swirling in my mind, all I want is to be full of Christ's love. To be so consumed by Him and His love for all that my heart explodes with love for everyone I encounter, for every child I teach or hug. Even the trouble makers that make my job more difficult, I want to love them so much that even they see what it is to love like Him.
And while I already missed my sweet and precious students, I can't wait to go back. I can't wait to shower them with love and teach them not only what they need to know, but also what Christ wants them to know.

Thank you Lord, for reminding me of Your purpose for me all along. Thank you for giving me the love I have for these students and for children. Thank you for showing me that I can learn from them as well. They have the most generous hearts at times and they remind me of how amazing You are. Please Lord Jesus, help me in the coming year to give that love back to them even more than I have before. Help me to not run out, but continue to love as You have loved, never ceasing.
All these things in Your Holy Name I pray,

a lovely list of sites

Not sure what to do with all those turkey leftovers? We weren't either until I stumbled upon this site. We're trying this one tomorrow night (fingers crossed).

31 diy projects I wish I had thought of, but could sure use for Christmas gifts this year!!!

An amazing Christmas medley- 40 Christmas songs in 16 minutes. A must watch!!

So many wonderful diy projects with sharpies!!!

Amazing recipe for pumpkin cupcakes (that I tried out for the first time for my school's garage sale!!).
And some amazing pumpkin spice latte cupcakes that I think will only feed my Starbucks pumpkin spice addiction!

Draw a stick man, and keep drawing to create a story...interesting concept .

An amazing shop with some of the cutest rings!

A new (to me) blog that I absolutely love!

Mixtapes by categories.... pretty sweet idea!

Ok this post is pretty do you know you're a teacher? (so true!!!)

A holiday playlist by one of my favorite bloggers.

And two blogs that I have fallen in love with because they ladies that write them are truly amazing and full of Christ's love. Kisses from Katie and Wandering with Mary

Thursday, December 20, 2012

DC with Leigh

This past week I went to DC to visit my bestie, Leigh. It was just what I needed.... lots of bff time and a break from my everyday life. School had me stressing out some, so it was nice to leave the first day of my winter break and get to act silly and carefree. It makes me miss Leigh so much though. She and I have been such good friends for so long and sometimes I feel like she's one of the few people that actually gets me (and loves me for my weirdness).
It was only 5 short days, but we accomplished so much!!!!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

a very pinterest christmas

Last weekend the girls and I decided to have another pinterest party, this time making gifts and such for the holidays. I mean seriously, what's more fun than a night with your girlfriends, good food, wine, and crafts??

The crafts:
 This one was my idea. I actually first saw on pinterest the idea to make a sort of collage from maps of states, but then after seeing some etsy finds, I decided I wanted to also make an ornament of the state I've always lived in. 
The girls each made ornaments from where they were from and also a collage that included the state they were born in, their spouse, where they fell in love, and where their baby (if they had one) was born. They all turned out super cute.
The above photo is my friend Jen's version of the ornament. 
PS the link to where to find the printable state maps is here.

The above craft our friend Chelsea actually made up on her own, not from pinterest. It was honestly one of the coolest things I've ever made and while mine was very Christmasy, it doesn't have to be (and in fact the other girls really weren't). 
The instructions were really simple too. 
She got each of us a piece of wood (a perfect square and about 12 x 12), ribbon and a decorative piece of leaves or flowers, and hot glue. 
We cut the ribbon to make the background and hot glued it down. While I simply layered one kind, other girls did different kinds of ribbon and even different styles and colors. 
Then you hot glue the flower or garland on top. 
To hang it, some of the girls hot glued ribbon in the back to hang from a nail, but I simply propped mine up on the mantle. 
Easy peasy and totally cute!

Another craft, was Jen's. While she first got the idea from Elsie's mug (or something like it) she instead found cute bowls to decorate instead. And since I am in major want of a puppy, I decided to make mine a puppy bowl. And yes I have already named the guy.... Max for Maximus. 

Two other crafts (that I couldn't get good pictures of...darn!!!) that we made were:
a twine and bell garland to hang up Christmas cards
a rope bowl (perfect for holding all those pens, make-up brushes, or whatever else).

The garland we decorated with jingle bells throughout and then used glitter covered pins to hang up the cards. Something kind of like it (but not exactly, can be found here- I couldn't find the original link though sadly).
(How to make the pins can be found here).

The rope basket was tons of fun (even though I screamed each time I burned myself with the hot glue gun....which was a lot!!) But you can find great pictures and the tutorial here.

And then the food and drinks..... we tried a new pink wine (which was pretty awesome!!) and then we all brought food.

There was an anchovy dip (wish I could find the recipe because it was amazing.
mozz ball with basil and cherry tomatoes (app recipe found here)
the entree (which I made), spaghetti squash
green beans (seriously need that recipe too!!!)
and an amazing desert filled with cookie dough, brownie, and everything else amazing

Give me your pinteresting ideas too!!! Or find me on pinterest!!
Happy pinteresting!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

saving memories or hoarding?

I'm a pretty big fan of the show Hoarders. Perhaps its because its one of those "guilty pleasure shows" or maybe it's slightly out of fear that it may be a glimpse of my future.

Just kidding.


It was always hard to throw things away or donate them even. I'm not sure if it was something I was taught or just something I picked up on my own, but I always felt a tiny bit guilty for not keeping something. What if I needed it later? What if I could actually make it into something awesome? What if I needed it when I finally became a teacher? All these questions nagging me in the back of my mind eventually kept me from giving things (or too many things) away. In the end, I had a giant closet full of things that I barely touched, let alone looked at.
Then Steven came into my life. And I realized that all I was doing was holding onto things that I would never use or need again. Some things had meaning and I wanted to hold onto for longer, but others I no longer needed.
Of course, while watching Hoarders (even though I know I could never be that bad) I also realized that all those silly nagging questions only made things worse. If I was ever going to make it into something else, I would have. If I really needed it that badly later, I could just buy a cheaper one then (unless it was something rare). And now that I am a teacher, if I haven't found a possible need for it yet, I won't.

Then a couple of weekends ago my school had a garage sale (see above picture).
My mom and amazing girl friends helped contribute and also helped bake so that we could make some more money for the kiddos.
And then a hoarders worst nightmare (hahaha).... my mom pointed out a lot of the stories behind my "for sale" items. Of course, knowing who I got something from or even who made it (or even worse, realizing that it was once my mom's) made it almost impossible to get rid of. I didn't need it anymore, and there are really only so many stuffed animals you can keep in your 20's  (with no kids) and not seem like a crazy person). But I felt that slight feeling of guilt again. All of these things were attached to memories and I felt like if I let them go, the memories my even fade.

So it got my thinking..... when we give into that feeling are we saving memories or are we merely hoarding??