Monday, October 18, 2010

Why I Love Liturgy

A lot of people are unfamiliar with, or have negative views of liturgy.  Liturgy is, according to, "a form of public worship; ritual."  I think that second part is what gets a lot of people.  Ritual... we don't always like ritual with our spirituality.  Sometimes it feels stiff, forced, unauthentic.  But what I'm finding the more I employ liturgy in my personal time with God, and in our corporate time with God at Redemption Hill, is that it is drawing me deeper in my relationship and knowledge of God.  Let me explain.

Often I find that my faith is weak.  Something is lacking, something is disconnected.  I can't always put my finger on it, but often it is the crack in the foundation that leads to later problems.  Slowly I drift, slowly I fall away.  But liturgy helps keep my grounded.  Confessing publicly and corporately every Sunday forces me to consider my faults.  It forces me to accept Christ's pardon, and to view Him as my Savior and Redeemer.  Praying prayers that have been prayed for centuries reminds me of the tradition, and value, of our faith.  This isn't a new trend; it is solid in years of followers.  I am just one of millions who have traveled this path.  I am not alone.  And that is comforting, and sobering.  I realize how God is the main character in this story of life, and I am simply a random extra.  Not that my life doesn't matter, and I should just waste it.  But liturgy reminds me of my fragile state.

I love this quote by Lauren F. Winner in her book Girl Meets God (which I highly recommend):
         "Sometimes, often, prayer feels that way to me, impersonal and unfeeling and not something I've chosen to do.  I wish it felt inspired and on fire and like a real love-conversation all the time, or even just more of the time.  But what I am learning the more I sit with liturgy is that what I feel happening bears little relation to what is actually happening.  It is a great gift when God gives me a stirring, a feeling, a something-at-all in prayer.  But work is being done whether I feel it or not.  Sediment is being laid.  Words of praise to God are becoming the most basic words in my head.  They are becoming the fall back words, drowning out advertising jingles and professors' lectures and sometimes even my own interior monologue.
        Maybe St. Paul was talking about liturgy when he encouraged us to pray without ceasing."

So check out liturgy.  You just might find you like it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Loving God More

"The critical question for our generation- and for every generation- is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?"- John Piper in God is the Gospel

If you're like me, you read that and thought, uh oh... This is one of those questions that makes my skin crawl because I know the right answer, but then I know what my answer is, too much of the time.

We've been talking in church about Acts, and this past Sunday our pastor hit on some good points.  He was asking us why we aren't seeing the effects in our generation that the early church saw, when we have more resources and more blessings then they had in a lifetime.  He mentioned teamwork as being a key difference, and I agree.

But I also think there's more to it.  I think the problem is much more personal to all Christians.  The problem is that we don't love God more than anything else in this world.  We don't love God so much that He is our life, not just a part of our life.  I know this is true for me.  I love my stuff, the good things in life, more than God on a regular basis.

The solution isn't to try harder.  It isn't to resolve to do better, because let's just be honest, it won't happen.  We can't do it.  We have to surrender to God.  We have to let God in, and let Him do the work. We do that by surrounding ourselves with Him.  Turning off the TV and picking up our Bibles.  Spending time with Him every day, every hour, every minute.  Having an active community of believers that we do life with.  Serving others, and actively trying to obliterate poverty.  I believe that if we do, if we start to pursue God above anything else, He will satisfy us, more than we've ever imagined.

God doesn't care about our stuff.  He doesn't care about our careers, or our success.  He cares about His glory.  He cares about His kingdom.  That's what we need to care about, more than anything else.

I want to desire God above all else.  I want Heaven to be simply HIM, not the pleasures of life.  God, I do believe, help my unbelief.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Caring for the Poor

I'm watching the nightly news on NBC as I write this.  The opening story tonight was about poverty in America.  It was heartbreaking.  About 43 million people in America are living in poverty.  20% of children live in poverty.  It's a problem that is sweeping our nation, and taking victims right and left.  Therefore it's a hot topic on how much involvement (if any) government should have in solving this problem.  I'm not going to write about that tonight, although, as many of you know, I sure could.  I, of course, have an opinion on government roles, but that's not where I'm going tonight.

I'm ready for the day when the nightly news reports that poverty is at an all-time low, due to the evangelical church's involvement.  I'm ready for the day when the report shows how unity amongst evangelicals has led to less arguing, and more problem solving and action.  I'm ready for the day when that report turns people to Jesus inadvertently because no one can see these statistics and not turn to Him.

So, how can that happen?  Am I just an idealist who needs a reality check?  I don't think so.  I think the church has to get back to the foundation of faith.  We need to care more about Jesus's gospel agenda then the Tea Party's anti-government agenda.  We need to care more about the gospel agenda then the Democratic Party's more government agenda.  Because, in the end, both fail.  Neither one can give lasting, eternal hope.  Sure, both boast that they can solve the problem in the here and now, but that's not the end of it.  But the Church, through Jesus, can offer the eternal answer.

Proverbs 31:8-9 says, "Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy."  I don't see conditions in there.  Like, only support the poor if they are actively trying to find a job.  Or, only support those who have graduated from high school.  Or only help those that are legal.  Or, only support those who haven't made poor life choices.  I see a pretty broad, and pointed, command to Christians to defend those in need.  Now, I'm not advocating hand-outs, but I am advocating active, life-long support to those who are in need.  Without condition.  Because the grace of God has no conditions.  We are poor and needy, and without our Savior, we have nothing.  We can't make judgements that keep people out- we have to fight for everyone.

One of my favorite quotes is from Tim Keller, when he said, "When a Christian sees prostitutes, alcoholics, prisoners, drug addicts, unwed mothers, the homeless, the refugees, he knows that he is looking in the mirror.  He thinks, 'spiritually I was just like these people, even though physically and socially I was never where they are now.  They are outcasts.  I was an outcast."

Let's stop pitting us against them.  Let's stop crippling the love of Christ.  Let's stop following a Mormon, and follow Jesus Christ, whose lasting, eternal hope can literally change the world.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

God is Sovereign

Do you really believe that God is sovereign?  I do, but sometimes I think I only partially do.  I find most people are like that too.  We believe that God is always in control, and that He knows everything, but often we battle with the idea that God is fully in control- meaning we have no control.  That's where I think it gets tricky.  We take up arms about the idea that God would purpose certain events to happen, and that God would choose and plan one's life.

But when we look at the Bible, we're confronted with our disbelief.  In the Old Testament we see a vast amount of examples of God choosing particular people, and causing events to happen.  The biggest example of this is the nation of Israel.  God clearly chooses them as His people.  Even calling them His chosen people.  And I don't know many Christians that take issue with this idea.  God chose Israel.  Got it, no problem.  But have you ever considered the flip side?  It means He didn't choose the Philistines, or the Assyrians, or the Babylonians.  We don't get it, and we never will.  However, it's clear that this is the way of God in the Old Testament.

We see it again in the New Testament.  The disciples are specifically chosen and called by Jesus.  Again, the flip side of this is that other men were not chosen.  He chose Saul to change into Paul, and he became one of the greatest missionaries of our faith.  Again, this means God did not choose other persecutors of The Way, as Acts calls it.

So why do we fight the idea that God is sovereign, even in salvation?  God chooses us, we don't choose Him.  We see it in the Bible over and over again.  So why the argument?  Why the bickering?  Why do we hate this idea?

I think it's two-fold.  One- pride.  That's a big obstacle for me.  Pride keeps me from thinking that God could choose someone or some event over another.  Two- control.  I want to control, and I want to think that I'm in control.  Salvation coming from God and God alone, and that He chooses who and when to give it takes away control from me.  I can't manipulate situations, I can't convince, I can't control.  Even typing that is difficult.  But the reality is, it's true.

"And those He foreknew, He also predestined..."

Thoughts?  Anyone else out there struggle with this idea?  Disagree? Agree?  Let's hear it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Story My Life is Writing

Those of you that follow my blog know that I've been blogging about my new endeavors in running. I haven't been running as much lately because of vacation, but I'll continue that soon.

I wanted to blog today about the story I want to write with my life. Some of you know that back in January I read the book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. After reading that I started to follow his blog, and recently he posted about a contest he's having. Basically you have to write a blog explaining the story you want to write with your life. So, I'm doing just that. If I win, I'll get to attend his seminar on writing a better story with my life ( in Portland later this year. And they foot the bill. Which is great, considering that my husband is a student and I'm a teacher. We have no money. So, if I win, I can go! So, here's hoping right?

This year has been challenging. Moving wasn't as easy as I thought, and I really started to question what I'm doing with my life. I know, sounds serious, and I guess it was, but it wasn't like this debilitating conundrum where I just sat in the dark for hours on end pondering my purpose. It was more this small feeling of discontent that just never left. I enjoy teaching fourth grade, but I know that it's not what I want to do forever. And I know that if I don't start to make moves now to change my life's path, then I might get stuck. So, after much thought, prayer, and conversation with those close to me, I've come up with a life story I want to write.

It starts with more education. I want to get a master's degree in Educational Psychology here at IU. I wasn't sure at first what I wanted to pursue, but I think this is the right choice. I want to be able to identify disabilities in children, and then know how to help them to deal with it. This might require getting a Ph.D. as well, which I'm totally open to. I love learning. I think I'd be a professional student if possible. However, this is not where my life story ends.

Next, I want to adopt and foster children. Lots of them. Now, I don't want to be like the Duggars, because that's just a little out of control in my opinion, but I do want a large family. Think like 4-5 adopted kids and at least one foster kid at any given time. I also want some of these children to have social and/or learning disabilities. I'm not talking about anything severe and profound necessarily, but autism, ED, ODD, etc. Basically, if it has an acronym I'm willing to have a child dealing with it in my house. I also want to have a fair amount of land in order to have animals like horses, goats, chickens, etc. I think that animals are a great form of therapy for people, and especially kids. It helps teach responsibility, and it helps boost self-esteem. Kids that can't seem to connect to people often find they can connect to animals. And let's just be honest, I love animals. I mean, I don't even know how many strays I've taken in. So, I guess that part might be selfish. Oh well. But this is not the end of the story either.

The main part of my story is this idea for an organization that I want to start. I want to start an organization that has four main priorities. Since I'm a list person, I'll give these to you in a bullet point form (I know, you can thank me later):
  • Priority One: Raise awareness of social and learning disabilities. I think a lot of people have misconceptions about children with disabilities. I want to work to correct these misconceptions, as well as inform parents and schools of symptoms and things to watch for if you are concerned about your kid. I particularly want to help raise awareness in lower SES areas. A lot of these people work so much that they don't know where to look for resources or have the time to do so. I want to be so present in these communities that it's easy, efficient, and obvious where to look for help.
  • Priority Two: Lobby/Work to create political change in our public school systems. I don't know about you, but I believe that our public school system is in dire need of some help. I also believe that the main problem holding back our schools from providing great education is educational policy. Special education policy is in need of revamping, and I'd like to do something to help change it. The only possible problem with this is that it might keep us out of 501 c 3 status. I'm not super familiar with all of that, but I'm pretty sure you can't be political if you are 501 c 3. But that might be wrong. I don't know.
  • Priority Three: Work with private schools to help provide special education. Many parents choose private school (mine did), and a lot of people with special needs children would like to. The problem right now is that a lot of private schools don't have the resources to really service these kids. I'd like to help them by showing them low cost resources that they can implement easily.
  • Priority Four: Community. I want to help create community among parents who have kids with special needs such as autism, ADD, ADHD, ED, ODD, etc. There are a lot of resources out there for parents who are dealing with kids that have severe and profound disabilities, but not as much for parents with kids who have social disabilities. However, these disabilities can be just as frustrating and difficult as more severe ones. The most important part of this priority is that I want all resources to be free. This goes back to priority one. I don't want money to keep someone out of this important community. Furthermore, I want to be able to have people over at our house to see what we are doing, to have a break from their kids, and to be able to share and have conversations about life. Isolation is the biggest problem for parents dealing with these children with social issues, and I'd love to be able to help bring about community in their lives. This can also be done through the various social medias out there. That's the great thing about the Internet. I can be thousands of miles away from someone, yet still connect with them to help them to live their lives and write their stories with their kids.
So that's the story I want to write. I have two big obstacles to accomplishing this goal. First is obvious- money! The second is knowing how to start such an organization. I'm good with ideas, but I don't know all of the red tape to becoming official and all of that. This is where I feel like attending the seminar could really help. I know that Donald Miller has started The Mentoring Project, and it would be great to hear from him and others in his organization about how it got started, how much money it takes, how many people need to be on staff, etc. etc. etc. There's a lot to discover.

So, I'd love the opportunity to go. Here's a video about the seminar. Watch it, check it out, but you better not try to win the contest or else I will cut you.

Okay, so that's just a joke about the cutting you thing- but please let me be the friend you bring!

Those of you that follow my blog- I want to hear from you! What do you think? Ideas? What kind of story are you writing with your life?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Running: Day: Twenty-Four and Twenty-Five

2 miles.






I definitely have a love/hate relationship with summer.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Running: Day Twenty-Two and Twenty-Three

So, in case you hadn't noticed, I haven't blogged in awhile. I accidentally didn't run for a week! It was a total accident I tell ya. It was the last full week of school, it rained every day, and we had lots of crazy stuff going on. This was a total drag, because not running for a week is not good. However, I didn't give up, and I began running again this week. I ran on Monday for about 20 minutes just to get my legs moving again. I didn't really focus on time or distance, just simply not passing out. I didn't, and then on Tuesday I was able to run 25 minutes with Annie and Julie with little problem. I went running again yesterday (Thursday) and I decided that rather than running for 28 minutes, I wanted to run 2.25 miles. I've noticed that I haven't been going as far as I want to because my timer would always go off. I'm a very slow runner/jogger. Definitely a jogger, but runner sounds cooler.

I was able to jog 2.25 miles, and it went pretty well. It was difficult, but I saw a family from my church on the trail. This mom has 5 boys, all of whom she homeschools. And she is in shape! She was running while 2 of her boys rode their bikes. I kept thinking, if she can run like that after popping out 5 boys, I can do 2.25 miles. That proved to be good encouragement! I was able to do it, and I felt great that I finished it. My new running plan is to focus on my distance rather than my time. The rest of this week and next week I want to run 2.25 miles every time. Then I want to do 2.5 miles for a week. Then I'll up it to 2.75 miles for a week. Then 3 miles! (Like how I spelled that all out for you? I didn't want you to get confused.)

Running is great! And when I think about where I was 2 months ago... I still can't believe I'm doing this.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Running: Day Twenty and Twenty-One

Yesterday I ran with Katie for 25 minutes. It was terrible. Katie was fine, but I felt sick. I felt so badly that I had to stop and walk for a couple of minutes. I did continue to run, even after I walked, but I just felt horrible the whole time.

Needless to say, I was rather discouraged. Even though I didn't quit, and I kept on going, I still felt defeated.

So, today, I went running pretty early in my day. It's Saturday, so I have the option to go whenever I want, which I very much so like. I got up, ate breakfast, got dressed, and went on out. I was very nervous, because I was running by myself and I had such an awful day yesterday.

However, my worst fears were not realized.

I think I had the best running day today that I've ever had. I ran 2 miles!! I felt great too. I made a conscious effort to focus on my breathing, rather than my legs. That way I could pace myself better, and listen to my body for cues as to my abilities.

And I really focused on my music. I listen to Pandora while I run on my iPhone, and today I listened to the Black-Eyed Peas station. I loved it. What I'm about to confess will probably make many of you question my sanity and/or our friendship, but I have to tell you anyway. Honesty is the best policy. I tried to think of the songs as defining my relationship with running. For instance, this song came on that basically was saying "shut up, I'm crazy for loving you, why can't I quit you?" (Okay, maybe not quite that last part, but that was the essence of this song.) I totally thought of that as my relationship with running! I mean, I must be seriously crazy to run. And then the song came on that says, "I know you want me, you know I want you." Again, I thought of myself and running. It's true, I do want running. And running wants me. So we made it work today.

Then the last song that come on, which pushed me on to my 2 miles, was that song "I love to move it move it." I mean, seriously. How perfect for running!

Overall, today was fantastic. It was so encouraging to be able to do exactly what I wanted to do.
Hopefully, these days will become the norm.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Running: Day Eighteen and Nineteen

Day Eighteen- we ran 20 minutes straight.

Day Nineteen- we ran 25 minutes straight.

It's really hard.

And I'm very slow. I don't go nearly as far as I want to/need to in that time. I know that I just need to and want to go a lot faster than I do. I'm not sure if it's all mental, or if I just really can't go much faster yet.

I'm not sure. Any ideas or tips to go faster?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Running: Day Sixteen and Seventeen

On Monday we did another day of jog 10 minutes, then walk 4 minutes, then jog another 10 minutes. The first ten minutes wasn't too bad, but after stopping and walking, the second ten minutes was awful. My legs hurt, and I really didn't know if I could do it. I did, but it was really difficult.

So today, we jogged 20 minutes straight. We were supposed to run 12 minutes, walk 4 minutes, run 12 minutes. But instead, we decided to just try our luck at jogging 20 minutes straight. I didn't wear my watch, but rather set my phone alarm. That was brilliant. I only checked it twice, and I felt a lot better tonight than previously. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I wasn't looking at my watch every 30 seconds.

And then, my phone alarm went off. We had done it. I'm telling you, the Rocky theme song came wafting through the air. It was incredible.

Okay, so maybe it was just me singing it, but it was still incredible! I was really pleased with our progress and our accomplishment. If you had asked me 6 weeks ago if I could run 20 minutes straight without stopping I would have laughed in your face. But tonight, I actually did it.

And now I really feel confident that I can run 30 minutes without stopping! And that I can run 3 miles without any trouble!

Well... maybe.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Running: Day Fifteen

Today we ran ten minutes, jogged 4 minutes, and then ran another 10 minutes. Not going to lie, my calves are aching right now. But we did it, even though there were many times I didn't think I could keep going. It's so nice to have friends run with me, because they keep going, and therefore I keep going.

Which is very much so like life. "Running" life alone, without community, is basically futile. You can't make it. Stuff happens, to keep my blog G-rated, and you want to give up. But when you have community and others who are running just like you, you have no choice but to keep going. When you say, "I can't go another step", they are there to say yes you can. And we can. And we will do this.

I love how life is such a beautiful picture of what God intended.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Running: Day Thirteen and Fourteen

Well, after feeling so great on Tuesday, the past two running days have been difficulty. However, we have accomplished our goals so far, and that feels great!

I finally got new running shoes today! Wahoo! They are Brooks, and the guy who helped me was fabulous. I really enjoyed the process, and I'm really excited to try them out!!

I'm so ready to be running the three miles!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Running: Day Twelve

We stepped it up again this week! However, this week is rather intense the way it is on the plan, so we are going to tweak it. Part of me still thinks that maybe we should just try it because, after all, it is the plan!! But then I was reminded that even the writer of the plan says to stretch it out and slow it down if you need to. This week we are supposed to step it up each day and on the third day we're supposed to run 20 minutes straight. We feel like that's too big of a jump. So instead we are going to run the same amount tomorrow (5 minute jog, 3 minute walk, 5 min. jog, 3 min. walk, 5 min. jog). Then on day 3 of this week we'll run 8 minutes, walk 5 minutes, then run 8 minutes. Next week on day 1 we are going to run 10 minutes, walk 3 minutes, run 10 minutes. Then on day 2 we are going to run 12 minutes, walk 4 minutes, run 12 minutes. And finally on day 3 of next week we are going to try to run 20 minutes straight.

The scariest part is running that long without any walking breaking it up. That's why we decided to try to build it up a little better, rather than just go crazy. We'll see how it goes.

I will say that yesterday was probably the best I've felt, which is encouraging! I'm ready to be able to run 3 miles with no problem. It will come.

Patience Grasshopper.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Running: Day Ten and Eleven

I. Am. Dead.

Well, I guess not totally, but I think I'm pretty close. Holy cow- this week has ben a difficult one with our running plan. Here's what our schedule is:

- Brisk 5 minute walk
- Jog 3 minutes
- Walk 90 seconds
- Jog 5 minutes!!!
- Walk 2 1/2 minutes
- Jog 3 minutes
- Walk 90 seconds
- Jog 5 minutes

I mean seriously. Ridiculous. But I have done it twice now! And today was easier than the first day because I had Julie to run with.

I'm sticking with it, and while I still don't love the actual running part, I do love how I feel during and after running because of the sense of accomplishment.

Overall, I guess I'm starting to love it!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Running: Day Nine

If you think I woke up early on a Saturday morning to go run, you would be correct.

I am a rockstar.

Okay, not really, but I did meet three of my friends which made it a lot easier. And the weather was absolutely beautiful- cool, crisp, and sunny. Great start to the day.

We step it up again on Tuesday!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Running: Day Seven and Eight

Boy did we step it up!! Last week we jogged 90 seconds, walked 2 minutes for a total of 20 minutes. This week we are doing the following:
- Jog 90 Seconds
- Walk 90 seconds
- Jog 3 minutes (!!!!)
- Walk 3 minutes
- Jog 90 seconds
- Walk 90 seconds
- Jog 3 minutes (at this point my calves are ON FIRE!)
- Walk 3 minutes
- Get in car and die

Okay so I might have added that last part. But that's about how I felt today. Yesterday it wasn't quite so bad because I had Julie, Annie, Lindsay, and Debbie to talk to and console me in my misery. But today, all I had was John. As in John Mayer. As in on my iPhone. It was not as easy. And it was so stinkin' humid. I was sweating like a pig by the end. Which I'm sure you wanted to know. But I did it, and that's what counts.

So I'm feeling proud and good about my running so far. It's really starting to become a habit, and I'm choosing to go run rather than sit on the couch.

BUT, I'm so ready to start seeing results!! I want/need to lose weight. The hard part now is eating right. I'm trying, but it's hard when I don't like to cook, and things that are bad for me are just so easy to get.

The next step then is to make a decided effort to make healthy eating choices so that this can become a habit like running.

Any ideas to help me eat healthier?

And I still need new shoes.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Running: Day Six

Today I chose to go run rather than sit on my couch and watch TV. For me, that was huge. I still do not love running, and today was a really hard day for some reason, but I still chose to go! I really had to work on focusing and controlling my mind to keep going. But I did it! And I am very proud of myself.

I bought two Under Armour "heat gear" shirts, and so far I love them. It makes a huge difference when it is warm and humid outside. For whatever reason I find myself frequently running in the heat of the day, and I am naturally a sweater, so these shirts are great for me.

I still need to invest in some good shoes- hopefully that can happen in the near future because my legs are hurting with my current shoes.

Tuesday starts week three, and the running plan goes up a level!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Running: Day Four and Five

We stepped it up on Day Four. Our running plan works in 3 day groupings. The first 3 weeks we ran 60 seconds and walked 90 seconds. For the next 3 days we run 90 seconds and walk 2 minutes. The plan continues this way until, eventually, you are running 3 miles straight. I'm really looking forward to that day.

Things are going well still. I am more sore this week than I was last week, but I'm sure that's to be expected as we continue to work up to our 3 mile goal.

I'm so glad I got started doing this. If you want to run, but haven't tried it, use the plan and GO FOR IT!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Running: Day Three

Yesterday I ran for the third day! I am really glad that we have stayed committed to this goal of a 5K and are making time for running.

The only problem I'm really facing so far (aside from the fact that I am severely out of shape) is that I have a huge blister on the bottom of my right foot under my big toe. I think this means I need to get new shoes! But my frugal husband thinks it means I just need to get some sort of shoe inserts. So all of you runners out there- what do you think?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Running: Day Two

Today was harder than day one. I don't know why, but it was quite a bit warmer than day one. Also, I'm starting to get a blister on my right foot, and that was bugging me some. However, I had more motivation today to go run. The weather was BEAUTIFUL, and I enjoyed day one so much that I was ready to go tonight.

More than anything, I enjoy the company. The girls I am running with are great, and it's just so nice to finally have friends.

I am enjoying how I feel after running too- endorphins are great! I am really hoping that the combination of all of these things will lead me to actually continue running and not give up, like every other time.

Tomorrow we run again!

Question for all of you runners: what are some good running clothes/shoes? I have Nike Shocks, and I like them. But if I'm going to really start running seriously I might need new shoes eventually.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Book Club

If you haven't checked out my online book club yet, do it RIGHT NOW!

If you want to be a contributing author, let me know your email address by emailing it to me at Even if I don't know you, come join our online club!

Our book for April is Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott. I haven't read this book yet, but I have always wanted to and I'm very excited to read it this month!

So come join the reading fest over at!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Running: Day One

Today I started my running plan! I am using the Couch potato to 5K runner plan. It came highly recommended, and I must say that today went very well! The first couple of running times were difficult- my ankles and calves hurt- but after a bit they loosened up and I started to feel better.

The main reason that running went so well today were my running partners. I was so happy to have three wonderful, sweet ladies run with me. It's so nice to actually have friends here in Bloomington now that I can hang out with.

We're running again on Thursday. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I'm not sure where this post is going to go, but I'll try to keep it short and simple. Although my thoughts are convoluted, and therefore this post may be as well. Hopefully I'll speak to what some of you feel about life, and perhaps we can work this out together. (We're all in this together right? HSM anyone?)

First of all, if you haven't read Donald Miller's book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years you absolutely must drop whatever you are currently reading and pick it up. It is fabulous, and possibly life-changing. I know that sounds extreme, but I'm not kidding. It is incredibly provocative, and will challenge you beyond belief. I need to read it again, that's how great of a book it is.

On that note, the book is about your life story. He speaks of a story from an author's viewpoint, and then relates it to life. Since reading it, I haven't been able to stop asking myself, "What is my story? What do I want my story to be?"

This brings me to my difficult thoughts. I have a great life, don't get me wrong. I am enjoying our new church and growth group, and I'm really excited to get more involved. (I, of course, have some new ideas for our church.) However, I am terrified that I am going to wake up one day, and think, "Where did my life go? How in the world did I end up here?" Now, I want to be clear: I have absolutely NOTHING against a suburban, American life. I think it's a great choice for some people, and absolutely what God wants for various folks.

I just don't think I'm one of those folks. I don't want to be 30, married with a kid or two, living in a nice, suburban area, waiting to buy the next big item in our lives. Of course I want to still be married (DUH!), and I would love to have a kid or two, but I don't want to be settled. I want a story. I want people to say at my funeral, "Wow, did she live." I want my kids to think that life is one big adventure, not a series of events that (hopefully) move you up the social ladder.

I just don't know what that big adventure is. I want to be a part of something amazing- something that brings hope to our hurting, broken world. Something that furthers the kingdom in a mighty way.

BUT I want to still be financially responsible, and I want my kids to feel stable and safe. And I have no idea what God wants us to do. The great thing is that Justin is fantastic, and an adventurer too. I know that he is with me in these desires and feelings.

Again, my fear is that I'll wake up one day and be living this life I never intended or wanted to live. I want to fight selfish desires for the American dream, and fight for the dream of a story that is beyond this world.

How do you fight for your dreams?

Sorry if this makes no sense.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


In June, Justin and I are moving into a house! We are so excited. Apartment living just really isn't for us. I'm looking forward to having a yard, and no one above us! We are going to get to paint, which is perhaps the most exciting aspect of moving for me.

Here's where I need some help. What colors do I paint?!?! In our old house my living room and our bedroom was a really nice green color that had quite a bit of yellow in it, but was still relaxing and not overwhelming. I'm considering using green again for our living room. However, we have 3 bedrooms and a kitchen to consider colors for, so what do you think? I'm pretty much open to anything except red. These rooms are not large, so I want to be sure I don't shrink the room too dark of a color. However, I'm not opposed to rich, dark colors (except red).

I'll post pictures soon of various stuff I have to put in these rooms, and that might help spark some ideas.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I Can't Believe I'm About to Write This

I realize that most of the human population makes their New Year's Resolutions at, well, the start of the New Year. But I am a maverick, and so I am making my New Year's resolution in the middle of March. And two of these four resolutions I can't even believe I'm about to make. But I am, and by putting it on here I feel accountable to these decisions. My readers (or maybe more accurately reader), will expect updates about these resolutions, and therefore I must keep them.

Resolution #1: Cook every night except one. And by cook, I mean that it has to require more than just putting it in the oven. I will still allow myself the occasional oven/microwave meal, but on a whole I want to actually cook the meals Justin and I eat. Thank God for The Pioneer Woman because I am going to use some of her recipes. If she can cook for a family of 6 and do all of the things she does, I can cook for Justin and I on a regular basis.

Resolution #2: Run. Yep, that's right, I'm going to start running. Thankfully I have two other sweet friends who are going to run with me, so I won't be alone in my misery. Misery loves company. At least, I think that's what I've heard. We're starting next week! YIKES!

Resolution #3: Photography. I love taking pictures, and I used to be really great about grabbing my camera before leaving the house, and photographing various life events. However, I haven't been taking nearly as many pictures as I used to, and I miss it. Therefore, I am going to make an effort to take more photographs.

Resolution #4: Watch less TV- Read more. I have this awesome online book club that I'm a part of (I might be biased...), and I definitely want to start choosing reading over TV. Generally I choose TV over everything, but that's not very healthy, so TV's gotta go. At least some of it. Hopefully this resolution will also help with #1 and 2, which are the scariest on the list.

So here we go! Time to make some changes. I'll keep you posted. And if you have any suggestions to help me with any of these endeavors, please feel free to share.

Friday, March 12, 2010

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

1. My husband (duh)
2. My church
3. Books- and I must expound on this point. I love everything about books. I love the way they look, the way they smell, the way they stand or lay on a shelf, and of course, most importantly, what's inside of them.
4. Words and vocabulary
5. Multiple choice quizzes that don't count for a grade and are about the most random topics. (Check out The Pioneer Woman for some fun ones with prizes attached!)
6. Fresh flowers- tulips in particular.
7. The color green
8. My Honda Element
9. The Czech Republic
10. Teaching
11. Candles (OBSESSED)
12. Harry Potter
13. Movies- especially cheesy chick flicks
14. Decorating
15. Real Simple magazine
16. Music
17. Different views on issues
18. Debating (direct correlation with #17)
19. The sixth graders hot chocolate (I am drinking some as I write)
20. The Ocean's 11 series
21. Washington, DC
22. My dogs
23. College- particularly Texas Tech!
24. The Lubbock sky
25. Riding my bike
26. My bed
27. Grr, my teddy bear that my dad gave me the day I was born
28. Laura Kate Wiley (and her mom's cool too)
29. Photography- and I am making myself promise to start taking more pictures again!
30. My family
31. Red River, NM
32. Fishing (see #32)
33. Colorado
34. Fun jewelry
35. Gilmore Girls
36. Adventures
37. You've Got Mail- classic
38. The smell after it rains
39. Disney
40. Jim Shore
41. Vacation
42. Learning
43. Target
44. Ikea
45. Dance parties
46. Sugarbrown's Coffee- however, my favorites are the Chai Tea Latte and the Mango smoothie
47. Chaco's
48. My IU Snuggie
49. Growth Group
50. iPod

That's all for now. I'll do another similar post later.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hot Chocolate and Granola Bars

Those of you who know me know (very well) that I do not cook. I don't enjoy it, I don't find it necessary, and in general I avoid it at all costs. However, I have a new product find to tell you about and a recipe to share! I know- crazy.

First, I bought these granola bars the other day at Target because they looked good, they are one of my favorite brands, and every once in a while I feel the need to try and be more healthy. (Too bad that doesn't happen more often...) Anyway, these granola bars are by Kashi and they are called "TLC Fruit and Grain" and the flavor I got is Raspberry Chocolate. Holy cow- they are amazing. And no, Kashi is not paying me to endorse their product. These granola bars are legit. I mean- delicious. And pretty filling- a great snack.

Okay, on the the recipe. This is a recipe for the best hot chocolate you will ever taste. I am not kidding. The 6th graders at my school make this every year for their parents and for the teachers. You layer the following ingredients in a pint jar, and it is a fabulous gift. Here are the ingredients:

1/2 cup of powder coffee creamer
1/3 cup of sugar (mix this with green food coloring for an extra bit of holiday cheer)
1/4 crushed peppermint candy (Use a food processor)
1/3 cup of powdered sugar
1/2 cup of Nestle Quick
1/2 cup of dry milk

That's it. Trust me- make it and experience the best hot chocolate ever. I substitute Splenda for sugar, and I used the no-sugar added Nestle Quick, and it tastes just as good.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Life as I Know It

Lately, I'm feeling in a rut of sorts. I love my life, don't get me wrong. I have an amazing husband, two great dogs, a fabulous job, and a great church. But lately, I've just been feeling like there's more out there- more to do- that I want/need to be doing. My soul feels uneasy. Like I was meant to do more than this.

I really do love my job. Teaching is a great job- very rewarding, exciting, never dull. But I don't feel like teaching really utilizes my best skills. I am a leader- always have been, always will be. And while teaching puts my in a leadership role (obviously leading my students), it's not quite the way I feel like I was made to be a leader.

So, what do I do? I know that I'm not settled in my current role, but I don't really know what to do. I don't want to be a principal- my Dad was a principal, and needless to say, I don't want to be a principal. Honestly, I feel this desire to do something politically, but I have no idea how to do that.

I see our current educational system and how flawed and messed up it is. I know what I believe, and what other teachers believe, would be some good solutions to our current systems ailments, but how in the world do I get myself out there? I mean, the Secretary of Education is appointed by the President. So unless I come across and impress a future president, that job is out. Becoming a Senator or a Representative is EXPENSIVE, and in case you haven't checked, teachers don't make very much! Perhaps that's why teachers can't really get our voices heard, we don't have the money to do it.

Anyway, I don't know what the solution is, or where life is taking me. I'm thankful for my supportive husband who believes in me, and supports my endeavors, not matter how far-fetched they might be.

Anyone know any future presidents? Or want to give me a ton of money? Hook a sister up!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Taking the Earrings Out

Let me make two things clear:

1. I am about to rant because I'm really angry.

2. The title of my post is what a teacher friend used to say when kids talked back to her. She was much loved (seriously).

If you haven't already heard, the school board fired the entire staff of Central Falls High School in Rhode Island. You can find the story at the Providence Journal. As a teacher, I most certainly have an opinion of this drastic action taken by this school board.

I believe this is an outrage. It is absolutely absurd to fire an entire staff (93 people!) because of failure rates.

Teachers are not the problem; the system is. The town where Central Falls High School is located is stricken with poverty. These students could care less about doing well on standardized tests, because they are more concerned with where they will sleep that night, where their next meal will come from, if they will ever find a job. I don't blame them- if I were in their position I wouldn't care either. However, our current system requires students to care about standardized tests. Tests that have little to nothing to deal with real life, from these students view points. The test material isn't current; they try to put in "racially diverse" names so the students will identify better with the questions. I mean seriously? Give me a break. Perhaps it's time we started looking at these kids REAL LIVES and stopped trying to fit them into our upper-middle class mold.

I did all of my field placements and 7 weeks of my student teaching in Title I schools. I then taught in a Title I school for 2 years. As a teacher, you always feel pressed for time, you never feel like you have all the materials and information you need, you are drowning in paperwork, and you deal with more discipline and social issues in a day then most grown adults deal with in a year. We have no idea how much these kiddos deal with when they go home. As a teacher, I worked at minimum 60 hours a week (if you don't believe me, ask my husband). I spent hours looking for new ideas and creative ways to make the test more fun and relatable. But despite all of my hard work, I still had kids fail. And to be honest, there was NOTHING I could do to get these kids to pass a standardized test.

Let me explain how this test works, at least in Texas. I taught reading, and my test started at around 8:15 am, and I had students, yes plural, who did not finish until 5:00 pm. The only break they got was 30 minutes for lunch. In case you don't know anything about kids, their attention span is about 20 minutes at age 10. If that. But the state seems to think they can work all day on a single test and do fine, if I've done my job. Anyone else see the flaws in this logic? Because apparently the government doesn't.

And don't even get me started on how our system works against special education students. I had a student who read on about an early 2nd grade level on a good day (I taught 4th grade), and she was required to take the regular, on grade level reading TAKS test. She did not pass.

The answer is not to fire teachers. The answer is professional development, and creating a system that actually considers real kids, not fake kids who have no cares in the world except to pass the state test.

The question now is, how do we change our system? How do we make education a priority in America again?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Exorcism of Libby Mae Keene

Okay, before you freak out that I'm really about to write about an exorcism, let me clear the air. I'm not going to write about a real exorcism. Rather, I am going to write about how my little miniature schnauzer Libby puked her guts out last night. So, if you do not like a good puking story, stop reading now.

If you do, continue on.

Last night we went to Adam and Debbie Wiel's house for pizza. It was a ton of fun- Justin and I finally feel like we have some friends here in B-town. After an enjoyable evening, we got home, played with the dogs, and were relaxing watching the Olympics. Justin looks at Libby and asks me what she is doing. I had no idea. I never know what this dog is doing- she's crazy.

Let me pause for a minute. Libby is a crazy, wack-o dog. She jumps around, whines, yawns, grunts, etc. constantly. Therefore, you never really know if something is wrong or if she's just being herself. As I write this she is whining/grunting as she walks around. And trust me when I say nothing is wrong with her at the moment. She's just crazy! Here's the little culprit:

Okay, back to the puking. It seemed as though Libby was just licking her lips for whatever reason. We figured she found a bug or a piece of fuzz on the floor and was eating it. This is also a normal occurrence. Next thing you know, Libby's pulling a Linda Blair. She is throwing up like you wouldn't believe! It gets all over my leg, my couch, the floor, and the tile by the front door, as my wonderful husband grabs her and tries to get her outside. Needless to say it was disgusting.

We spent the next 30 minutes cleaning. We had to shampoo the carpets on the spots where her previously digested food was, and had to clean the couch. On a side note- I highly recommend microfiber couches! That's what we have, and it came totally clean using the soapy stuff it came with. I'm amazed honestly.

As we were cleaning we discovered she had also puked in her crate while we were gone, and we found the tag from the towel that went in her crate. Basically, Libby has been chewing and eating this towel, and last night she suffered the consequences. Really we all did. It was miserable.

After cleaning and stressing out, we went to bed, exhausted. But did I sleep well? No, because I was worried all night that Libby was dying. (This is how my mind works.) Obviously, she did not die.

And this shows me, yet another reason, why I'm not sure that children are in my future.

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Getting Fit

Earlier this month I posted about running. I've really been thinking about running, so I am going to try it for sure. A couple other girls have agreed to join me in this endeavor, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to sign up for the 5K Livestrong Challenge in Austin, TX at the end of October! My husband, Justin, is going to do one of the cycling races in the Livestrong Challenge, and I'm going to go with him anyway, so I figured, why not sign up?!? The only difficulty is that I'll have to raise $250, and that's a little intimidating. I know it doesn't seem like much, but I don't know who to even ask. But we'll see! Perhaps I can, and it's definitely worth it. I really like Livestrong, and the money they are giving to cancer research.

All in all, I really do want to get healthy. Teaching was really stressful and time-consuming the last two years, and exercising and eating right fell to the wayside. But now, my job isn't nearly as stressful (no state testing!), and I have the time and motivation to do this. Plus, I know that when we have kids some day it will be even harder to create new healthy habits, so now is the time.

I have two problems with eating healthy:
1. I never feel satisfied.
2. I hate cooking.

I need suggestions for cookbooks or recipes that are substantial and delicious, and easy and fast to cook. Also, I need suggestions for good running gear. I have some shoes that I like and think will work well, but what about clothes? I mean, this is a great excuse to do some shopping right? I want stuff that's comfortable and sweat absorbing, plus cute. I am a girl after all.

Hopefully your suggestions will be wonderful and before you know it I'll be like an Olympic athlete!

Well, maybe not, but one can only dream right?

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Reading Women Book Club

Alright, despite lack of comments on my actual blog, I believe many of you would like to do an online book club.

I've started a separate blog for it. It's

Check it out! And keep reading my personal blog too.

Enjoy and, happy reading!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Book Club

I've always wanted to be in a book club. I was in one, and we met once. I was the only one who had read the book. And we never met again.

Book clubs are tricky! You have to get people in it who are willing to read almost anything, and who will actually read the book. You also have to get people who will talk about what they've read without being stuck-up or over-bearing. It's a difficult thing, I tell ya.

So, I have this idea. What if we tried an online, blogging book club? Anyone who wants to be in it could, and we'd pick a book every month or we could each read a book of our own choice every month, or whatever. Then, when it comes time to "meet", we could discuss via the comments section of our blogs, create a blog together, or some other sort of social media. I figure in this digital age with all of this technology we could pull this off.

I don't know if it would work, or if it would be too impersonal. But, if you are interested, please comment, and tell your friends! Or if you have another idea, please let me know.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I have a confession: I absolutely love candles. I would even go so far as to say I'm obsessed. People always say that candles are a cliche gift to give, but I am thrilled when I receive new candles. There's something about them that make a room more cozy, more comfortable. When a room is looking drab, I go grab one of my candles and presto! the room is no longer drab.

So, here are a few of my favorites. And no, I'm not getting paid by anyone to endorse their products. I really truly love them.

1. Woodwick: These candles are fabulous and probably my favorite on the list. Not only do they look cute, they smell amazing! And it gets better! The wick is made of wood, so it makes a crackling sound, like a fireplace. They've started making these new "fusion" candles. They come in pretty jars, and they can really add a nice pop of color to any space. It's so hard to throw the jar away when the candle is all used up! My favorite scents are Currant, Fireside, and Applewood.

2. Tyler: Another great smelling candle! And the leopard print top is super cute. I also really like the size of these candles, because they can fit nicely on a shelf, or in a smaller space. Some of the candles have multiple wicks too, which creates a nice glow and last a really long time. Also, these are great to put on a candle warmer, which if you have kids (or dogs, like me) it's much safer. I like much of the same scents as I do in the Woodwick.

3. Yankee: An oldie but a goodie. Everyone loves Yankee Candles because the smell is to die for! The only thing I don't love is the label on the jar. I prefer the label to be on the lid, or to be minimal, because I like the jars. But the smell definitely makes you melt. They have a ton of options on scents too. Also great on a candle warmer.

4. Slatkin and Co. What a discovery these were! You can buy them at Bath and Body Works. Great scents, and they offer various products aside from candles, which are really nice. For instance, you can get a candle and a wallflower scent that match for a double whammy! I'm thinking these are great for teenage boys rooms. I don't have a teenage boy, but I don't need one to know how badly they can smell.

5. Nature's Wick: I might not have that product name correct. You can purchase these at Target, and they have a wood wick, just like the Woodwicks candles! There aren't as many options, and the scent isn't quite as strong, but they are a great deal. Nice for a budget.

I know there are so many more candles out there, so let me know what your favorites are. And remember, a good candle is not a cliche, cheesy gift.

However, if you receive a candle and you find it to be a cliche, cheesy gift, I can send you my address. I'll take it.

Monday, February 8, 2010


On Saturday night a few girls and I got together for a "girl's night". It was good for my soul. I need friends, and it was great to actually feel like I have someone here other than my husband that I can talk to and share with, and basically do life with.

While we were talking the topic of running came up. I feel like I have an absurd amount of people in my life who are runners, and good, fast runners at that! All of my cousins are into running, two of my dear friends in Lubbock (Joy and Laura!) are runners, and I just feel like running is cool. And if you know me at all, I'm all about being cool.

Okay, so maybe that last part wasn't so true, but I do think maybe there is something to this running thing. So, I'm thinking that, come spring, I'm going to try it. I know you have to push through the beginning, and train your lungs or whatever to actually maybe enjoy the pain you are putting yourself through, but eventually you love it.

Right? Well, we'll just have to wait and see.

I'm thinking I'm going to try this with those same girls, if they decide to actually risk it. And believe me, there is great risk involved here. I mean, what if this running bliss is simply an illusion created by runners, trying to fool themselves into not revolting and throwing themselves off a bridge as they are running. That would be bad...

Anyway, I digress. Running: We'll see about you.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Love is a Choice

Since it is February, and everyone is currently obsessed with love and relationships, I thought I would share some lessons learned. Having only been married for two and a half years, I certainly don't claim to be an expert on love and compromise. But I do know a few things from my own experience and the experiences of others.

1. Don't get married just because you are in love with the person. "Love" lasts for about... 6 months. Then it's gone. And the daily monotony and routine of life will tear your relationship apart before you know it. Initial love is usually infatuation, and if that's all there really is, the marriage isn't going to last long.

2. Stay positive. I was actually reading through some old blog posts of people I subscribe to on Google Reader (totally recommend by the way), and Don Miller had an interesting post about love. It came from some science magazine, and it said that the key to a successful marriage was staying positive. Now, clearly, you can't save a marriage by simply smiling and claiming everything is alright, but trying to maintain a positive perspective and outlook on life will benefit you, and your spouse.

3. Communication is Key! Just ask Carrie Wiley! :) Communication is vital to any healthy relationship, and especially in marriage. If you don't tell your spouse what you are thinking or feeling, they won't know! Talk it out! Make it work.

4. Keep dating. Don't stop dating your spouse. Just because you're married doesn't mean that you can spend every weekend watching TV and eating take-out. Do things together. Surprise each other.

5. Create a story together. Another lesson from Don Miller. When you are living a great story, you want to keep pursuing it. You want to keep living it. You don't want to leave.

So, bottom line: love is a choice. If you don't choose love, it won't work. And love is worth it. It's worth working at. It's worth choosing.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Here We Go!

Well, I guess blogging is the thing to do now, because here I am, jumping on the bandwagon. Blogging has quite a bit of appeal. An open forum to express ideas and opinions (which I have plenty of). An outlet for writing. A way to feel heard.

But who knows? We'll see how this goes.

So, for now, let me know what you want to hear about from me. I'll talk about anything, so let's have it. What do YOU want me to blog about?