Sunday, November 23, 2014

Being Your Teacher Makes My Heart Bigger

Dear Students,

Thank you for being off-task.  Thank you for blurting out inappropriate comments.  Thank you for cheating on your assignments.  Thank you for complaining about having to play a game.  Thank you for breaking the rules even though you definitely know them by now.  Thank you for pretending you don't like me.  Thank you for throwing the school supplies that I spent my own personal money on.  Thank you for fighting with me about doing your work. Thank you for wandering around the classroom.  Thank you for leaving papers on floor.  Thank you for damaging the books.  Thank you for all of the very childish things that you do, because the truth is that you are increasing my capacity to love.  I made a commitment to love and serve you guys.  Some days, you don't make that easy.  Some Many days my reaction is anger and attempts to control.  You see, my heart is broken.  It doesn't work the way it was supposed to work.  I have to re-learn how to extend grace.  How to control my emotions.  How to love unconditionally.  You might not realize it, but you are helping me to do that.  Thank you for all the opportunities you give me to not love you.  It is choosing to love you in those moments that is changing my heart.  Your manifestation of the broken human condition reminds me that the ugly show you sometimes put on display lives in me, too.  The song and dance of sin and immaturity that you do on the daily  reminds me that we are one in the same. We are both messed up inside.  The good news? God loves us.  He loves every bit of us.  He loves us at our worst and our best.  There is nothing we can do to make him love us more.  There is nothing we can do to make him love us less.  God is teaching me how to love you that way, too.  Being your teacher makes my heart bigger.  For that, I am grateful.


Your (growing) Teacher

Thursday, November 6, 2014


"Here Miss.  I couldn't find an apple."

There are lots of tough moments in teaching.  Moments where kids disrespect you.  Moments where you feel like you've messed up big time.  Moments when no matter how hard you've tried a student just doesn't get the concept you were teaching.  But then there are the sweet moments.  Moments when a student expresses to you that your activity really helped them to learn something.  Moments when you hear brilliant, thoughtful answers in a discussion.  Moments where you get to just enjoy their unique, still-forming personalities.  One such moment happened on my birthday (about a month ago).  A student--not an easy student--came up to me with a bruised, misshapen orange.  "Here Miss," (what they tend to call me), "I couldn't find an apple."   From anyone else this gift might have left me puzzled at best, but from this student this was huge.  He is a special education student.  He struggles in school.  He is very disorganized, and constantly forgets things.  From this student the gift of an orange in lieu of an apple on my birthday was an extremely thoughtful gesture.  I knew that moments later I'd be trying to coerce him into doing his assignment, and filling out his planner, and trying to help him to remember that there are other responses to bullying besides revenge.  But that one sweet moment let me know that I had built a connection with him.  I can only hope that I am making these little connections with my students.  That they feel my love and care.  That in my classroom they will have bonded with one stable adult.  I have to hold onto these moments through the painful ones and hold onto the belief that somehow amidst the chaotic mess of teaching and learning that I am making a difference.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

Did you notice that it took Walmart and other businesses one day to switch from Halloween to Christmas?  We still have three weeks until Thanksgiving, people!  My family calls me a Scrooge because I insist that we wait until after Thanksgiving to start the Christmas festivities.  I just don't want to neglect Thanksgiving and fall, and plus I think the holiday season is more special if we keep it within some clear boundaries.  So, I'm trying to save my holly jolly and savor the last bit of the fall season.

One of the most fun things I did this autumn was hosting a pumpkin party!  I love to have people in our home.  I thought it would be fun to have people over to eat fall-y treats and decorate pumpkins.  However I'm super awkward.  It's like the middle school girl who fears rejection rears her acne-ridden head. I'm always afraid to invite people to things, thinking they'll think it's lame, or think I'm lame.  I told my sister Jordan about my idea.  Jordan is the socially adept one of the family. She posted a Facebook event and we got that party started. We decided to make it a sister party and Jordan, my sister Rachel and I all invited friends.  Without my sisters pushing me, I probably would have never been brave enough to host the party.  Now, I'm so glad I did.  Jordan baked a bunch of goodies and I decorated and bought craft supplies for sprucing up our pumpkins.

Decorating supplies included:
chalkboard paint and chalk
gold glitter (the herpes of craft supplies)
modpodge and book paper
gold paint
white paint

Food consumed:
Chex Mix (we made it ourselves we swear)
caramel apples
pumpkin cheesecake cupcakes
chocolate chip cookies
apple cider
pumpkin pie hot chocolate

It was so fun enjoying some fall action with friends!  How are you celebrating the season?  Are you like me and holding the ho-ho-ho, for now?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Something About Cleaning

 Every time I clean I can't help but feeling there's something innately spiritual about it.  Don't get me wrong, cleaning is one of my least favorite things.  It's right up there with paperwork, and brussel sprouts.  My natural cleaning-bent is to spread out clutter, not pick up after myself as I go, and then go on a giant cleaning spree out of necessity usually brought on by impending visitors.  Or when I will clean, I will clean just enough to keep people from judging me.  Sometimes I even go to extreme lengths to make my house appear cleaner than it actually is.  I have to think that there is some correlation between the way I clean the house and the way I keep my heart clean.

My heart needs constant upkeep.  I walk around in a broken world with a broken mending heart.  I think this is what Jesus was talking about while he was washing his disciples feet.

John 13:6-10:  "He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”

My heart has had a bath.  I have been made clean from the moment I accepted Jesus as my King.  The Holy Spirit takes up residence in me ensuring that there's a point of uncleanliness I'll never reach again.  It's just that each day I think thoughts, say words, and take actions that are, well, dirty.  And I consume.  I consume media that tells me it's all about me, all I need is more stuff, I should do whatever I feel like doing.  I hear lies from an enemy that wants to kill and destroy me like, "You are not beautiful.  You are not loved.  You are not valuable."  I watch the people around me do things that seem fun and harmless, but that ultimately lead to destruction and heartache.  My heart needs daily cleansing.  My feet need to be washed.

Basically, Philip and I hadn't been keeping up with the daily cleansing of our home.  So, we made a plan for keeping it clean.  We discussed how often each chore will be done, and who is responsible for what.
It seems that along with our little triplex rental, my heart has been getting a little funky lately.  I have been spending time in the word and prayer approximately three days a week.  Sometimes I keep myself just "clean" enough so that people won't judge me, or I put on a show to fool people into thinking I'm clean.  Kind of like using (if you will) *spiritual* dry-shampoo and perfume on days you don't have time to shower.

This sort of cleansing isn't going to cut it anymore.  In college I spent time with God each day and one day a week I spent an extra long amount of time with him.  However, I had so much more free time in college.  As I've transitioned into life after top ramen and all-nighters, it's been tough scheduling in a quiet time.  My only really free time is in the morning, and after 4 PM (5:30 during soccer season, just call me Coach).  I've got planning, and grading, and a husband that likes to be fed and have my attention once in awhile.    My goal is to get to five Quiet Times a week.  I know this won't happen overnight, but I am going to work towards it.  I believe that it is a worthwhile investment.  I've observed that on days when I unplug and get alone to connect with God everything in my life--my marriage, my attitude, even my lessons--tend to go better.  If you think of it, pray for me because I know that forming this habit won't be easy.  Let's just say, discipline isn't my spiritual gift ;).  Here's to the pursuit of a clean heart and home.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Resting with Intentionality

I believe in doing everything in life with intentionality.  Even things that seem trivial like rest.  After surviving my first year of teaching (I'm not really ready to talk about it yet) I finally have a good chunk of time to rest.  Now what do I do with myself?

In the past, I have used all my down time to peruse Facebook, and Pinterest, or space out watching TV.  Now, those things are enjoyable and restful in moderation.  However, I think I squeeze the most out of my rest times when I use them in different ways.  As an introvert, to truly rest I also need some think time.  Television and mindless internet surfing are brain-numbing activities--which sometimes, I need!  But if I stick with my default rest mechanisms I think that I will look back on this summer with a tinge of regret.  So I am making a plan for using my rest well.

Here's how I want to rest this summer:

Read!  The irony of being an English teacher is you don't really have time to read for fun during the school year.  You're busy keeping up with the kiddos' reading.  This summer, I vow to read books because I want to read them.  On my list are  Great Gatsby, The Divergent Series, The Fault in Our Stars, I am Malala, and Blue Like Jazz.  Here's hoping I get through at least a couple of these.

Write!  For me, writing is reflective and that is one of the things that I find the most restful.  It helps me to look at my life and see value.  I also am optimistic enough to believe that I have important things to say, and that my writing could potentially benefit someone else.

Create things!  I enjoy making things.  It helps me to feel at peace.  Being creative is a huge part of my personality, so I think I feel like I am in my element when I am creating something.  Plus, this is another thing I had a hard time making time for during the school year.

Be with Jesus!  This is probably the most restful activity, though it might require the most effort.  When I spend time in the word and in prayer I rest on a soul-level.  I am currently going through the devotional "Thirsty," for the second time and it's still so good!  One of my favorite things to do during the summer is to hit a park with some iced chai and spend time with God in the sunshine.

Be outside!  I love the outdoors.  However, there are two pesky barriers that often keep me from venturing outside.  1.  I am always cold.  I hate being cold!  So when it's cold outside (and we're talking Chelsea-Standard of what cold is) all I want to do is hide under a blanket with a warm beverage.  2.  I have a deep fear of bugs.  Seriously.  I don't think they will harm me, I just don't want them to touch me.  They creep me out.  It's so beautiful during the summer, that I am willing to risk the second barrier to enjoy scenery and warm rays.

Be with my husband!  I am an introvert, so I enjoy resting alone, but I also feel so at rest when I am with my husband.  I love to cuddle up on the couch surrounded by snacks and watch a movie with my beloved.  I also enjoy quiet-coffee shop conversation, and slow strolls through the park.  Ahhhh.

Don't worry, I also have some things to get done this summer like chores, finishing a giant research paper, and working at summer school (just three days a week for three weeks), but in the meantime this girl is getting her rest on.

How are you resting this summer?  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring Break Wear

Spring is a time for florals and bright colors.  Breezy skirts and long dresses.  Fun prints and whimsical accessories.  This week we were on Spring Break (one of the best teacher perks) and went on a little Vacay to the lake.  I couldn't wait to slip into my springy duds.

Floral Headband:  Forever 21.  Foxy Sweater:  Old Navy.  Fun printed pants:  Gap (anniversary gift from hubs).  Oxfords:  Maurices.

P.S.  I may or may not have spent most of the vacation here.

 If you're going on a boat, you should probably wear nautical stripes, a floppy hat, and some Sperry's.

Floppy Hat & Cardigan:  H&M.  Maxi Dress:  Nordstrom Rack.  Statement Necklace:  a cute shop in Leavenworth last Spring Break.    

We mostly shopped around this day, so I didn't get too many pics, but I had to take one in front of "Whaley's."  My best friend in high school used to call me Whaley.

Shirt, skirt, and scarf:  H&M.  Flats:  Penney's.

Peplum Tank:  Forever21.  Necklace:  online somewhere, I can't remember.  Jeans:  Papaya.  Cardy:  hand-me-down from sister.  Shoes:  Maurices.

At the museum, I considered adding this hat to my ensemble.

Or this one.

I had an amazing week, and am stoked that warmer weather is finally upon us!

What are you wearing this Spring?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Treasure Hidden in a Field

"I see you standing before a field.  You are looking out at it and you see rocks and broken glass and wonder, 'Is there anything good in here?'"  my pastor said.

A couple of weeks ago I did something that I'd never done before:  I became a member of a church.  I've been involved in churches most of my life, but my spiritual foundation is largely rooted in organizations outside of the church such as Ross Point Camp, and Campus Crusade for Christ.  When we settled in Moses Lake, we decided to take a step of faith and get plugged in to a local church.

On new member Sunday they brought Philip and I up, in front of God and everyone, to pray and speak over us.   The pastor described this picture of us standing before a field.  Even though this field didn't look impressive to us, he explained, it was the field to which God had intentionally brought us.  Most importantly, we would find treasure in this field.

It reminded me of another field that Jesus spoke of.  He said "The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field."  (Matthew 13:44)

If you were to ask me to sell everything I own in order to buy Moses Lake, I would look at you like you were a crazy person. Because the truth is, this field looks less than impressive.  For one, it is filled with sage brush and cow manure.   It looks nothing like the field I imagine when I think about finding treasure.  I was kind of hoping my field would have more diversity, more excitement, and hopefully Target, Ikea, and Panera Bread, too.

The truth is that the "field" really doesn't matter.  According to Jesus' parable, it is all about the treasure.  Could this field be hiding something?  Something that would fill me with so much joy that I'd run off and give away my books and clothes just to get it?  If my pastor is right and Jesus wants to use my husband and myself to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth than it doesn't really matter where I live.  Jesus alone is what makes life worth living.  His glory is treasure.  I will seek that treasure, no matter where it happens to be hiding.

Which field are you standing in?  Are you willing to give everything to seek God's treasure?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Easiest "DIY" Ever Done

I used to cringe when I heard the words, "arts and crafts."  That phrase alone was enough to make me avoid women's ministry like the plague.  When I thought of crafts I thought of cheesy, ugly knick-knacks that middle-aged women made usually involving their cats.  Those types of projects seemed pointless to me.

Then I found Pinterest.  I realized that I could make legit decorations.  I could use crafting as an inexpensive way to make my home cute, trendy, and personalized.   Since then I've made several crafty things--still I prefer to call them "projects" or "DIYs."

If a DIY is too complicated, though, count me out.  I tend to like projects that are mindless--the kind I can do while watching TV.  I craft to relax.  I can't handle things that require too much precision or skill.

So when my husband unleashed me in Craft Warehouse, I kept these things in mind while looking for a project.  I thought about buying burlap, or a mason jar, or chalkboard paint, or a picture frame but then I saw them:  artificial succulents.

I LOVE the way succulents look.  But, I have not had much luck with planting the real deal.  I had heard they were easy to grow--aren't they native to the desert or something?  So I thought I'd give it a try.  Well, my poor succulent didn't make it longer than a week. Apparently I am less nurturing than a desert.  So why not have a fake one?  Succulents almost look plastic anyways?

This was so easy that I don't even know if you can technically call it a "DIY," but hey, I could have just bought something similar at IKEA so I'm counting it dang it!  My project required only three materials, and less than three steps.

Step one:  Place succulent standing up inside the pot.  Step two:  fill with rocks.  Step three:  admire.

Here it is on a desk in our room.  Oh, hey, that's another craft I've made.  A giant letter "A" with covered in old hymns and modge podge.  Easy-peasy.  

How do you feel about craftiness?  If I can do it, you can do it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Post Valentine's Day Pukefest

*Warning:  It's about to get real up in here.  Those with a weak stomach need not read on.*

I'm awoken by a sound that everyone wants to hear first thing in the morning.  Is it chirping birds?  My husband saying he loves me?  The gentle pitter-patter of rain?  Nope that's my husband blowing chunks into a Walmart sack next to me.  I glance over at my phone.  It's five AM.  Good morning world!

Now, typical Chelsea at five AM would have growled, grumbled, and rolled back over and fallen asleep.  In this case, my mama bear nurturing instincts took over.  I leapt out of bed, ran and got him a bowl and a fresh garbage bag.  Next thing I knew I was tying up Philip's puke-sack and throwing it away.  I proceeded to get a rag and some disinfectant and attacked the area of the incident.  Finally, I sprayed everywhere within a mile of the throw-up with enough Febreeze to suffocate the both of us.

Everyone in my house had taken turns getting sick.  And I mean real sick.  Like can't-stray-too-far-from-the-bathroom sick.  Philip and I thought we had both bypassed the virus.  But alas, it finally got him.  He got the worst of it and I had to take my poor husband to the doctor.  My time was spent holding his hand while he got shots, whispering comforting words in his ear, helping him to mosy around the Dr.'s office.  In fact, my entire day revolved around him.  I waited on him hand-and-foot.  As totally illogical as this is, I felt closer to my husband during these shenanigans than I had on our romantic adventures the day before.

Picture this:  My husband was puking, and moaning in pain, and basically pooping his pants and all I could think about was how much I loved him.  How do you explain that?  I can't, except that perhaps love looks much more like this than the pink and red swirl of chocolates and flowers and fancy dinners of the day before.

I think that love is less about the mushy-gushy googly-eyed stuff, and more about moments like this.  Moments where you get to choose to die to yourself, and put the needs of the one you love first.  Maybe this is true love.  When the other person is at their worst.  When they have nothing to offer you, and in fact they need something from you.  Maybe true love gives.  I couldn't have asked for a better way to celebrate Valentine's Day, than an opportunity to remind myself how much I truly love my husband.  For better or for worse.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Valentine's Day Outfit: Things that make me feel pretty.

This Valentine's Day I decided to wear an outfit that made me feel pretty.  I know I am supposed to wear something that my hubby loves on me, but the truth is he thinks I look good in everything.  While that's sweet, it is less than helpful.  I think, ultimately, he wants me to feel good about the way I look more than anything.  It is also freezing here in the Pacific North West so I wasn't about to slip into a sleek dress for our date.  Instead my outfit of choice included tights, wool socks, boots, and a scarf.  I put together a combination of a few of the things that make me feel pretty:

Dress:  JCPenney's.  Flannel:  Target.  Boots:  Macy's.  Headband:  Maurice's.  Scarf:  Pursuit of Craftyness.  

1.  Tulle.  Tulle is the stuff of princesses.  This is a dress with tulle at the bottom, but I really want one of those ballerina-esque tulle skirts.
2.  Glitter. Especially this sparkly headband that makes my eyes light up.  One of my colleagues told me that I look like a 20's movie star when I wear this.
3.  Tall leather boots.  They are sleek and sassy and sophisticated all at once. I feel like they complete just about every outfit.
4.  Red lipstick.  I like to say that, "Red lipstick covers a multitude of sins."  Meaning that you can have a lot going wrong with your appearance and add red lipstick and all but salvage the look.

And in case that was too much girliness for one outfit, I paired it with a flannel shirt and black details like a scarf and tights.  We went on a little outing to celebrate the holiday.  First we went shopping.  I bought a dress.  Philip bought a book. Then we went out to PFChangs for some din. I can't say enough about how delicious that restaurant is!  We got the two-for-$40 deal which included  soup, appetizers, entrees and a dessert to share.  That plus two mojitos made for the perfect meal.  I loved everything from the ambiance, to the service, to each yummy course. By far the highlight of the night was the chicken lettuce wraps.  Who knew meat, sauce, and lettuce could taste so good?

What makes you feel pretty?  Did you do any St. Valentine's celebrating?

The Vows

I display our vows in our home.  Mr. and I take that promise we made in front of God and most of our family and friends seriously.  I like to re-read what I said to remind myself that I vowed not only to stay with Philip but to enjoy him, to respect him, to follow him, to encourage him, and (probably the hardest) to extend grace to him.  We got these picture frames as a wedding gift.  My first thought was to put a picture of him in the blue one, and a picture of me in the pink one--original, I know.  But then I decided they would make the perfect home for our vows.  So I "aged" the paper (to make it look like an important historical document) using tea, then I broke out my hot glue gun.  The kind of crafts I enjoy tend to be easy and mindless so the hot glue gun is my best friend.  Using my trusty glue gun, I added some scrabble letters reading "Mr." and "Mrs." to the top of the frames.  (If you don't want to mutilate your board game, you can buy yours on Etsy from tons of different shops).  We keep them bedside.  So there they are every night reminding me to reflect on the way I'm treating my beloved, and to be thankful that he's mine forever and always.

They aren't in a fancy font or anything, because these are the actual copies we were clutching in our quivering hands while we tied the knot.  I think that makes them more special.

 One of his favorite photos of us (which may or may not have to do with the fact that I'm wearing a bikini?).

One of my favorite photos of us.

How do you remind yourself to keep the commitments you've made?

Friday, January 31, 2014

If I Don't Love

1 Corinthians 13

The Message (MSG)

"If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love."

I love this verse.  I love the simplicity of relationship with Jesus.  It's really all about love.  Knowing and loving God more, and knowing and loving people more.  I've been reflecting on what this passage means for me as a teacher.  You see, there are many tasks in my job that take my time and attention.  I often spend hours preparing lessons, grading, and etc.  I have to take so many factors into consideration.  Does research prove that this is good teaching?  Will my students be engaged during this lesson?  Will my kiddos hate this?  Is my class managed well--will this keep my students on task?  Am I reaching multiple students at a range of levels and learning styles?  Will my students meet the standards mandated by the state?     

Sometimes just simply loving my students can fall at the wayside.  But even if I have the most amazing instruction and I don't show my students love, have I really accomplished anything in light of eternity?  So here is the Chelsea Standard Version of this text (or perhaps the Teacher's Standard Version):

"If I explain my lessons with perfect clarity but my students don't know that I care, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.  If I give a lesson that incorporates best practice, reaches visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners but my students don't feel loved, it means nothing.  If my students are on the edge of their seats and wildly entertained during my class but I don't love them, I've gotten nowhere.  So no matter what I teach, how I teach it, or how well my students perform on standardized tests, my classroom is bankrupt without love."

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Leavenworth in Winter and Spring

We love to go on little get-aways, and last Spring Break we made our way to Leavenworth Washington.  It was amazing.  I like to stay in hotels the way that some people enjoy camping.  The great thing about going in the off-season is that it isn't crowded and you can score some great deals.  Plus it's warm outside which just makes me a happier person.  We played mini golf, ate lots of yummy food, went to a tea house, and shopped 'til we dropped.  This winter I decided to take Philip there for his birthday because he is obsessed with Christmas and around that time of year the whole town becomes Christmas themed.  We went on a sleigh ride, toured the Nutcracker Museum, shopped at Kris Kringle's and enjoyed some German cuisine.  Be warned, though, during the Christmas season it is packed!  There were lines for everything--even to go inside the shops.  Plus it was so cold that it took me most of the ride home to thaw after our adventure.  Overall, we love the town and it's great that you can have a completely different experience depending on what time of year you go.  Check it out sometime!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...