Friday, December 31, 2010

Going There: Hovering & Germ-a-phobes

I've decided to start a new little mini-series on my blog, called "Going There". I have a lot of opinions in my little brain and some of them aren't necessarily the most lady-like or tactful, but you know... sometimes you just have to get in the trenches, speak your mind and throw the social graces out of the window.

Today's post - on hovering and germ-a-phobes - comes after spending a fair amount of time in public restrooms (particularly the bathroom at the TUSCALOOSA TARGET - SO stinking gross!) through the holidays and as Blake and I traveled back and forth to Muscle Shoals, Alabama. For many many many years, I have been around women who "hover." For you gents, "hovering" is a term used when a woman oh-so-carefully "squats" over the toilet. (See, I just went THERE.) Many women do this because they are afraid to put their booty on the toilet seat in fear of contracting some sort of toilet disease. This is also where the germ-a-phobe rant comes in, but I'll give my logical explanation for why I am NOT afraid of germs in just a moment.

The MAIN problem I have with "hovering" is that some women don't do it properly and leave a bigger mess than they started with! (Yes, I just went THERE, too!) If you can't hover properly, then you shouldn't hover at all OR you should learn to look behind you and WIPE THE SEAT! The reason bathrooms get so nasty is because OTHER WOMEN who HOVER and do it improperly! If we would all just put our tooshies on the seat and go to the restroom like a normal person, the bathrooms would be CLEAN! Drives me wild.

So, on to the germ-a-phobes... I have lots of friends who are finicky about germs and I love you all dearly and mean no harm by this post. Except to say that germ-a-phobic tendencies may be the reason I don't spend much time with you... :) Kidding. But on a serious note, I am no enemy to germs, within reason. My theory is this: Germs are everywhere. You cannot escape them. Ever. There are germs in your eyelashes... and in your nostrils... not all germs are good ones, but some germs can help build up your immune system.

I like to pride myself in being a relatively healthy person and I attribute my good health to the fact that I don't sanitize every single little thing. There are some things I am cautious about - food-borne bacteria and dust, for instance. I AM very cautious about food contamination (food poisoning is no joke!) and I just generally hate dust. And, if someone in my house is ACTUALLY sick, I do what I can to avoid their germs and I am not afraid to bust out the Lysol. But do I get the paper towel in the restroom ready before I wash my hands so that I can use it a barrier between me and the faucet and the bathroom door post-washing? No. Do I use hand sanitizer after I touch a restaurant menu? No. Do I use hand sanitizer after I wipe a kid's boogers? Yes. Definitely yes to that. Do I hover when I go to a public restroom? Absolutely not. Never have... and as much as I have traveled and use public restrooms, I surely should have gotten SOME sort of booty disease by now.... :)

So, to all you hover-ers and germ-a-phobes out there, I love you and your extreme need to be free of germs... but I hate to break it to you, you have germs in your eyelashes and in your bed just like everybody else. You will never escape them. :)

Oh, and Happy New Year. I guess I should've written a New Year's post instead..... oops! :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

With love, the Financial Aid Department

Upon arriving home from a week in Muscle Shoals with Blake's family, I saw a stack of mail waiting for me on the kitchen counter. Expecting Christmas cards, magazines, and junk mail, I was surprised to see a letter from the University of Alabama sitting in the pile. I was immediately nervous... but also felt a hint of excitement, as I wondered if maybe - just maybe - the College of Education sent an early notice of my upcoming internship placement.


The letter was from the Financial Aid department. I have a love/hate relationship with Financial Aid, for many reasons. The government has been good to me as an "adult" student, providing me with loans, grants, and scholarships to help pay my way through school. That's the "love" part. The "hate" part is the way I found out about changes way too late. And this most recent change is no good. No good at all.

Apparently, to keep my financial aid (or portions of it, the letter does not make it clear), I must graduate within 180 attempted hours. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem... unless you are me and spent the first 2 1/2 years of college meandering through random classes in hopes of finding "the one" - you know... the right major. Then I took a year and a half off, went back to Montevallo.... long story short, I have taken a lot of classes not necessary for my degree.

To be exact, I have attempted 179 hours of college courses as of December 2010. This semester, I have to register for twelve more hours.

I am absolutely terrified of contacting the Financial Aid office when they reopen next week. My aid package pays not only for my tuition, but for my car payment and other living expenses. Normally, I'd just go get a job... I worked all the way through college until this past semester. But, this semester holds a full-time teaching internship and I am not sure I could hold down a job on top of having an internship. Finishing my internship and passing a final education course would mean I would graduate May 7, 2011. I really, really want to graduate May 7, 2011.

God has always provided and has never left me desolate, and I do not feel that He has brought me THIS CLOSE to graduation just to leave me with no way to finish paying! I am praying for my own faith and to see God's resolution to this financial problem. And, if you're reading this, I hope you will pray, too.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

High School Drop Out Part II

A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about my experience with the stress of high school and overwhelming nature of teenager-dom. I said I'd post the second portion the following day, but.... you know how life is. :)

My inability as a teenager to cope with life led to a decision to leave behind the halls of Tuscaloosa County High School. I'll pick up where we left off.

Sitting in the psychologist's chair that afternoon, I was angry and frustrated, but also relieved that the worst part was over. I'd had enough with school and was tired of crying all day and leaving school offered the chance for me to finally breathe a sigh of relief. What I did not know, however, was that my time to breathe was about to be cut very, very short.

After talking with me for a while, the psychologist turned her attention to my parents. She suggested that I needed to go back to school. I remember feeling instantly betrayed and this feeling would last for months. She was supposed to be helping me, but she wanted to send me back to the source of all of my stress and frustration! But, she didn't want to send me back alone. Her idea was for me to return to high school and continue therapy with her and for me to see a psychiatrist to get medication that would go with me everywhere... medication that was to make my life "more bearable."

My parents did not immediately take her advice. But just six days after I withdrew from school, my parents forced me to go back to get reinstated. I was 100% absolutely positively not on board with this plan whatsoever. I was so angry with my parents and remember saying some wretchedly horrid things to them that I will not repeat here. What I know now is that my parents' hearts were broken for me and the words I said hurt them deeply. But, no matter how many ugly things I said or how hard I cried, my parents fully believed that going back to school would be best for me. So, they pressed on and put me back in school.

Now, at 25 years old, I can say that I am incredibly thankful that they did this. I have, of course, apologized a thousand times for the harsh words I used and they, of course, have forgiven me. I was terrified of going back to school and, in my fright, I tried everything I could to get them to change their minds. When I have children of my own, I hope God brings this reminder to me when my children begin to defy my authority: Parents must stand their ground when they know they are doing what is best for their child... and any anger, animosity, or hurt will be extinguished by the grace of God over time.

My first day back at school was difficult, needless to say. But, I was also surprised with the reaction I received upon my return. As I was in the counselor's office, my tenth grade psychology teacher walked by and stopped in, saying how happy he was to see me back at school. Going back into my first period class was nerve-wracking. I thought I was going to be bombarded with stares and questions, but instead, I was greeted by an unexpected group of students who I ended up sitting with for the rest of the semester (and became good friends with!). To answer everyone's anticipated "why?", I decided just to say that I had been "very, very sick" but that I was now well enough to return to school. Very few of them actually knew that I had withdrawn from school. Most of them just thought I had been absent.

The following weeks were interesting... school was finally getting better, as my friends slowly began to better understand what I was facing. I was taking Celexa, an anti-depressant, and rapidly lost weight. My moods were becoming more stable, but it seemed like I was constantly in a very mellow, nonchalant mood. I was having lots of fun and acting like a teenager should (bubbly and happy), but I remember feeling exhausted after being around people for too long. It took energy for me to act "normal". But, things were really getting better at school. Friends (who knew the full extent of the situation) came out of the woodworks to support me and to spend time with me. It mean the world to me to know that my friends really did care about me and were taking the extra step to show how much they cared.

Around mid-March of that year, I remember that I was feeling much better. I was doing well in my classes, except for one... and that teacher practically passed me as long as I attempted the work. It was morally wrong, but it was what I needed at the time (it was Algebra II... and guess what, now I am a math whiz, so all things work out in time!). I started feeling confident again - something I hadn't felt in a very long time.

My friends dared me to ask out a guy I'd had a crush on since the first day of 10th grade... and we ended up dating and going to prom! It was AWESOME. I thought I was living in a dream! Towards the end of the semester, my new friends in English class convinced me to run for Senior Class Treasurer and told all their friends to vote for me... it was hysterical! I decided at the LAST minute to run and actually did win. Winning wasn't the best part. The best part was those five kids in English who I'd never really been friends with who kept me laughing all semester and showed me that I wasn't as alone as I thought.

While school was getting better, therapy was getting worse. I stopped taking the Celexa without "permission" from the doctor because of how awful it made me feel. And my therapy sessions were going nowhere. The psychologist was trying everything she could to find out what made me "snap" that day, but we never really got to the bottom of anything. It was nice to have someone to open up to and tell everything to, but I think she - well, everyone - missed the bigger point.

The point was that high school was (and still is) stressful! I was overwhelmed and confused and stressed and didn't know how to handle it all. I think I eventually found ways to deal with the stress, mainly by flaking out on classes and not working as hard as I could. :) Oops. Kinda went in the wrong direction there! But, the rest of my junior year and my senior year were incredible! I had so much fun and am so glad that my parents took me back to school, despite my desperate attempts to keep them from doing so. They were right and they are the reason that I made it through that scary time.

Over the years, I have taken away lots of different bits of wisdom from this experience... I could probably write another blog post on what I learned. But, I'll just end with this: There is nothing too big or small for our God. Every time I think about what happened to me in high school, I see how God put together all the pieces so that He would be glorified in the end. From little conversations with friends to having incredible parents... even to silly things like going to prom with my crush. He designed everything to bring me full circle so that I would see just how amazing He is and so that I could tell my story and show how He provided EVERY thing!

John 15:5, "I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

A Wedding in the Making

Now that Christmas break is finally here, it's time to start working on the wedding again. After school started in August, it was hard to get anything wedding-related done since we were so busy with everything else. But, now that we have a month off, the wedding to-do's seem endless. The more we do, the more excited I get... I know it's going to be a beautiful day and a great start to what I know will be an incredible marriage!

When we first got engaged, we knew we wanted our wedding to be beautiful, memorable, and affordable. I like to be thrifty anyway, and a wedding seemed like the ultimate challenge. Doing things ourselves was going to be the best way to save money, so I started making a list of the things we could actually do ourselves (preparing brunch for 300 people wasn't on that list... and thankfully, God led us to an amazingly affordable caterer!). From cupcake toppers to wreaths to centerpieces to center aisle ceremony decor... our list has grown to be pretty long. But, now that we are getting started, I'm beginning to see that not only can we do this, but we can do this really well (well... in my opinion, at least!)

So... I bring you a sneak peak of some of the things we are working on for the wedding...

Above & below: My dear friend (and bridesmaid), Beth Lambert, gave us a Martha Stewart Wedding magazine as an engagement gift. Little did she know that one of the projects in the magazine would become the inspiration for our entire wedding! The simple project was to stretch different colored and textured fabrics across various sizes of embroidery hoops.

Simple and darling... I was nervous about whether or not they would look the way Martha said they would, but after I got started on them yesterday, I have to say - they're adorable!! The picture below really doesn't do them justice - but you get the idea. Our wedding colors are white with shades of purple, peach, and pink (much more "girly" than I ever imagined!). The fabrics range from shimmery satin to light organza and matched the colors of our wedding perfectly.

The use of embroidery hoops may seem a little quirky to you, but they are also an homage to my grandmother and great-grandmother, who were fabulous with all-things sewing. And these simple circles are going to be the theme that we carry throughout our entire wedding to tie everything together.

Above: Centerpieces were a bit of a concern to me. I am allergic to flowers, so I really don't care to have floral centerpieces at the reception. So, I'd like to thank my flower allergy for helping keep our budget down!! :) In lieu of flowers, we are going to have these neat little lanterns on several of the tables in the reception hall. We'll probably just put 'em in the middle and scatter some rose petals around... simple AND we got them on sale for just $12 a piece... and they will double as a thank-you gift... and a few of them can eventually decorate our patio. :)

Blake & I are not big cake-eaters, so we are not having a cake at our wedding (plus the reception is at 11am.... who REALLY wants cake at 11am??).... instead, we are having cupcakes!! I am SO stinking excited about the cupcakes because they are DRASTICALLY cheaper than a cake and they're a modern spin on the traditional cake. Plus, we are going to use the above papers (as well as many others not in the picture!) to make our very own cupcake toppers.

Okay, this really has nothing to do with our wedding, but you gotta admit.... it's pretty cute! Elaine has made the Christmas tree her home... we can't put any gifts in front of the tree because she moves them out of the way so she can lay in this particular spot!! Blake was trying to annoy her to get her to move, but she was determined to stay!

I hope I haven't given too much away... I have just been so excited that these projects are working out so beautifully. As I have posted before, we know that weddings can turn into some serious madness including some seriously large bills. Blake and I certainly don't want to start out our marriage in debt because of any big spending, but we still want our wedding to be beautiful and lovely. Thanks to our encouraging (and crafty!) friends and family, I believe that our "dream" wedding is really coming together... one homemade project at a time. :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

An Non-Intrusive Christmas

On yesterday's news, a pastor described his church's popular Christmas "attraction" (my words, not his) as being a "non-intrusive presentation of the Gospel." He said his church's program would be a great place to bring non-believers.

I'm sorry, but that just seems wrong.

I am probably being overly critical of this pastor's words and I don't think that he quite realized what he was saying, so my prayer for him is that he just made an innocent mistake in his choice of words. However, these days there is so much emphasis in churches to be "seeker-friendly," which to some degree is a great way to be. But, when we start watering down the Gospel so that people will accept it, we are doing them and the Kingdom a major disservice!! I don't know if you have ever read some of the Bible, but its words are often radical and harsh!

To my readers, please know that I am not in the habit of attacking pastors. I am sure this pastor was well-intentioned, though maybe slightly misguided. However, I am in the habit of pointing out "false advertising" and bringing the Truth to light. The words he chose were totally false... there is no "non-intrusive" way to present the Gospel. The Gospel - from the prophets of God who proclaimed a coming King to the dying Lamb of Heaven who bled and died on the cross and rose again - is the most intrusive story ever told.

God's workmanship is so intricately designed that He knows and sees everything. In one of the most famous Psalms, we read that God's knowledge of us is intimately invasive. "For you created my inmost being... When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body." (Psalm 129:13, 15) I don't know about you, but I don't think anyone has ever seen my "inmost being." In fact, I'm not even sure I know what that is! But, God knows... because not only has He seen it, but He also created it.

God's love is powerful and compelling. To describe His greatest act of love - sacrificing His son to pay for the weight of the world's sin - as "non-intrusive" is like a slap in the face. The miracle of Jesus' birth is nothing to scoff at, either - what an incredible plan! And Jesus' birth wasn't just an afterthought... like God said, "Hmph. These people have been suffering since the creation of earth. Oh! Hey, I know... I'll send town a teeny tiny little baby to be the Savior of the world. That'll work." NO! God's plan was practically an ancient one by the time Jesus was born!! For hundreds of years, prophets were foretelling the birth and life of Jesus with specific, God-breathed details.

The Gospel, at its core, is personal and uncomfortable. To think that the God of the universe had such an audacious plan for His creation and to know that part of that plan included me and you - that's mesmerizing. Not that we should be screaming the Gospel in people's faces from the street-corners, but we also shouldn't seek to hide the harsh reality of the Gospel and only present the flowery details. The Gospel is full of grace and compassion, but it is also full of Truth - and as we all know, sometimes... the Truth hurts.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

James and the Giant Christmas

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work in you so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." - James 1:2-3

James is one of those books of the Bible that, at times, I wish didn't exist. It almost hurts to read the book of James, especially when I know I am wrong, I know I am unholy, and I know I am sinful. But I turn back to this book more than any other, because its words are True and its message is compelling.

Our pastor, as a part of a Christmas series, read the above verses from James today. What a weird passage for a Christmas message, right? I laughed when he started to read the verses, closed my eyes and whispered the words in Blake's ear. It's a passage I've memorized, for the most part, because it is such a hard thing to comprehend. "Consider it pure joy..." to suffer. What a conundrum.

It is a joy to be tested, a joy to be taught, a joy to face trials, a joy to learn, a joy to be refined, a joy to be stretched.

Philippians 3:10 says, "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him, even in His death."

To know Christ is to suffer. To know Christ is to be tested. To know Christ is to be like Him, battling the works of Satan and pouring compassion on the lost.

This Christmas, I want to know Christ.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Days Go By

Today is the penultimate day of my internship for this semester. (Penultimate means 'next to last'... it is my favorite word in the English language and I rarely get to use it!) Tomorrow, I will say farewell to the nineteen fourth-graders I have been working with for the past twelve weeks. My experience this semester has not at all been what I expected... some good, some bad... but, in the end, I totally afraid that I will cry tomorrow when I leave!!

About four weeks ago, you probably could have caught me saying that I didn't feel connected to these students. I wasn't sure if it was their age or just that I wasn't their normal teacher, but I didn't bond with them immediately the way I bonded with my last class. I think part of it just has to do with their community and their families. It's hard to explain without stereotyping, so... just trust me. I know what I am talking about! The past couple weeks have shown a drastic change... I am seeing that I bonded with these students early into my time with them, but it showed itself in a different way.

Instead of all the hugs and "I love you's" and sweet notes and pictures I received from my students last semester, my fourth-graders have bonded with me by letting me into their little lives. I don't know how to explain it, but it just hit me yesterday - I am so attached to these students and most of them are attached to me. Not that I've done anything special... they would probably be attached to any student teacher. But, this year, I am their student teacher and they are mine for two more days. :) I feel like these students trust me not because they have to, but because they have seen over the course of the semester that I care about them and want the best for them. Second-graders will most likely love you no matter what... fourth-graders are a little harder to impress.

Last year, I felt 100% confident that I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my career. I wanted tot each upper-grades... possibly only as a math teacher. Now, I am not so sure. Teaching fourth-grade has really been an eye-opening experience, as this was my first semester to see what it is really like to prep students for the spring semester's standardized tests. I won't complain here, but I know we are headed for change after 2014 when the government realizes that the majority of schools won't and never will have 100% of students reading on grade level or considered proficient in math. But that's another story for another day. :)

So, at the end of this semester, I am unsure. Unsure of what's ahead... unsure if I will actually get a job in May (I better stop griping about education so I can get a job!! I really DO love teaching, don't get me wrong!)... unsure what I will be doing long-term. But, one thing I do know for now is that I am really going to miss my fourth-graders at Buhl... more than I thought I would.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


It's day five of my ten-day Thanksgiving holiday "break" and I can't really say that I have accomplished much at all. Well, if you consider 10+ hours of sleep a day, scoring some sweet decorations for the wedding, and seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Pt. 1 to be "something," then I have done plenty. But, I haven't really made any good progress on any schoolwork, which is starting to make me a little nervous.

I have about five (maybe six... I've lost count) major assignments due Dec. 7 as well as a full week of teaching the week after Thanksgiving. I have started on most of them, but haven't really made any significant progress.

And... I don't really care! I think I am going to officially procrastinate because I feel like the less time I have to work on things, the less time I'll work on them! Right now, every time I sit down to work, I get really, REALLY distracted... and I end up spending twice as much time "working" than I should.

So... adios, schoolwork! See ya on Saturday.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hidden Treasure

Somewhere between teaching three days a week, eating Chick-fil-A regularly, and planning a wedding, I've left behind about fifteen pounds. Normally, this would be a great thing. Well, it is a great thing. I feel better and feel healthier, despite the Chick-fil-A. The problem, though, is that I am about to have an internship where I am required to dress up on a daily basis and none - and I do mean none - of my dress clothes fit anymore.

I've been wearing two pairs of pants that are literally two sizes to big and a pair of cute khaki pants that are a size too big. They're all too loose in the waist, which means now they're way too long. None of my dresses really fit anymore and the ones that do are far too dressy for school. I suppose if I had to, I could start wearing cocktail dresses to fourth grade, but I'm not sure the principal would like that!

Because I have changed sizes so much over the past few years, I keep a box of clothes that don't fit in my closet. I dug around in that box a few weeks ago and was excited to find several pairs of jeans once labeled "too small"! That was exciting - except that I can't teach in jeans! I really wanted/needed some new dress pants and skirts so that I could dress appropriately for my internship... and hopefully for my first job, as well!

So, am I writing this just to brag? No. I just needed to set the stage for what happened this weekend.

After debating for a few weeks, I decided to go to the consignment store on Friday to look for some new pants. I got a pair of nice Gap dress pants (that fit!) and two school-appropriate dresses (that fit!) at Deja Vu for about $50. I felt like that was a success! I went a few other places, but those were the only items I found. I was a little disappointed that I didn't find more, but I felt like it was a good start.

Then, yesterday, Blake and I went out to the storage shed to get the Christmas stuff out... and what did I see? A random box of clothes that I apparently set aside to donate to the Salvation Army. At first glance, it looked like clothes that I really didn't like... and then I started seeing some dress pants... khakis, corduroys, black pants... items I had forgotten about. So, I carried the box inside (while Blake carried all the Christmas boxes!) and quickly began trying on these new-found pants.

Well, whaddya know... EIGHT pairs of pants and a skirt were hiding in my storage shed!! They all fit perfectly (except for one pair, but they'll work for now). How incredible is that? I was immediately reminded of God's sovereign provisions... even something silly like dress pants are all part of God's perfect design. And for free... whew! That's the best part! Eight new pairs of pants and a skirt for ZERO dollars (well... I mean, I paid for them once before, but you get the point!)!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Affordable Health Care

I do not claim to know much about politics (nor do I want to know much about politics), but I thought "Affordable Health Care" meant that I was going to be able to get more affordable health care....

Maybe I am wrong, but increasing my premium rates by $30/month beginning in January doesn't seem very "affordable" to me.

Now, someone please explain this to me. How is it that I - a student who is living off of federal loans, grants, and scholarships - is about to get charged more per month for health care?

I am not very happy right now and I hate to admit it but I am starting to believe that the Republicans have been right this whole time (pun intended).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

High School Drop-out

Last night, I was reminded of a secret that very few of my friends know about me.

I dropped out of high school in eleventh grade.

Blake and I (as well as my 16 elementary education classmates) attended the screening of a documentary last night about the stress of school in America. Race to Nowhere presented the cases of students (elementary, middle, and high school), their parents, teachers, administrators, and psychologists. Over and over again, the audience was reminded of this push for "success" we have in our culture and that our schools and teachers are being used as producers rather than as educators.

Between testing, hours of homework, grades, college applications, college scholarships, and growing up, our children are being pushed to... what? Finish a math packet that has no real relevance to anything they're doing? To have a high school transcript and resume longer than that of many business owners? To read books they have no interest in and would never read on their own? To cram for tests and then dump the information from their brains the next day so they can prepare for the next test? What exactly is it that we are trying to teach our kids?

So, all this got me thinking about my time in school and the difficulties I faced. All through elementary school, I was an A/B student, even in math (although I hated and struggled through math). When it came time to sign up for middle school classes, my sixth grade teacher refused to put me in advanced math or science. I was stunned. How could I have made such amazing grades and not been able to go to the advanced courses like many of my friends?

The trouble started there. All of a sudden, I realized that I was not good at math... or science. In seventh and eighth grade, I took a mixture of regular placement and advanced placement courses at my middle school and did so-so. I usually made A's in any arts-based courses and I think I had B's or C's in math, science, and... social studies. Yes, I was stinking at social studies, too!! Somehow, though, all of my eighth grade teachers agreed to put me in advanced classes for ninth grade because they saw that I didn't quite "fit in" to the regular classes.

In ninth grade, the school's daily schedule changed. We went from seven fifty-minute periods to four ninety-minute blocks and you only attended four classes a semester. That means... algebra... in one semester. Lovely. I made a C in Biology. I scraped by with a C in algebra. I probably didn't do well in English, either because I remember having to read Shakespeare (though I love Shakespeare now!).

For some reason, my teachers continued to put me in advanced classes. This sent so many mixed signals to me. I felt so stupid, yet I was continually placed in the classes with all the smart kids. Why didn't a teacher just tell me the truth and say I needed to take regular classes? To be very honest, I don't remember really caring about my grades - I just cared about the label they carried. My friends were all breezing through ninth grade and I was struggling. I felt so dumb. And the worst part was, I didn't know how to make my grades better. I just thought I was dumb and I was just going to make bad grades.

In tenth grade, things got a little bit better. I took geometry - and made a B! My first B in math since who-knows-when. I remember being so proud of myself! But, tenth grade ended more quickly than I wanted. Eleventh grade was swiftly approaching, which meant Chemistry and Algebra II were close at hand.

The first semester of eleventh grade, I was scheduled to take chemistry and history. English and algebra II were for the spring. The first semester was rough, but I made it through because I got my driver's license that semester. Nothing really mattered - other than driving, of course - for a few months! Chemistry was difficult because of the math. History was also hard because I didn't know that I didn't know how to study. I don't remember really caring that I wasn't doing well in school - I had already accepted that I was dumb. I remember having a very nonchalant attitude about school and made it seem as though I didn't really care. After all, no one was pushing me to make better grades. My parents always told me that they would always be proud of me if I did my best. I thought C's were my best.

Over Christmas break, I started to feel very... blue. I was sleeping a lot, laying around a lot, and generally just ill. My parents probably just thought I was being a typical teenager, but I just didn't feel right. I spent Christmas 2000 crying. The entire day. It was awful! And before I knew it, it was time for school to start.

The first week of school that January was pure torture. If a teacher called on me, I cried. I couldn't pay attention in class at all and generally had little knowledge of what we were supposed to be doing or understanding. In Algebra II, I could barely even understand the words coming out of my teacher's mouth and when I asked questions, these three girls in my class laughed at me. They continued to pick on me all semester, making me feel even worse about being dumb.

MLK Jr. weekend came around and I went on a weekend youth trip to Gatlinburg. While there, I cried a lot. A whole lot. My friends thought I needed help... they told me that they didn't feel or act the way I these feelings weren't normal. So, on the Tuesday we returned to school, I got help.

On the way to school, I was crying and dreading the walk into the building. At some point, a light bulb came on - I thought, I'll just withdraw from school and home-school for the rest of the semester... maybe even through next year. I called my mom and told her what I wanted to do... I don't think she knew what to do, herself, so she told me it was going to be okay and to talk to my counselor.

In the counselor's office, I was determined. Nothing she could say would convince me to stay in school. I wanted to go home and do all my remaining coursework at home. Period. She told me that as long as I promised to graduate with a high school degree, she would be okay with that. She just didn't want me to drop out and never get my diploma or GED. She got my mom on the phone and talked to my mom about the benefits of home-schooling and that there were kids who got their GEDs and went to Harvard. It was going to be okay. By mid-morning, I was officially withdrawn from Tuscaloosa County High School.

I remember having to turn in my textbooks. I think I gave most of my books to the counselor, but she let me take my English books to my teacher, Mrs. Thurmond. I loved her class, even though I couldn't stop crying during it. I told her that I was leaving school because I was sick. She hugged me and took my books.

I didn't get to say goodbye to my friends.

That afternoon, I was in a psychologist's chair.

Tune in tomorrow for Part II.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


This semester, I am required to take a Writing Methods course for my degree. Honestly, I was not looking forward to this class at all. I thought it would be difficult and boring, but I have been found completely wrong week after week. The professor I have is so insightful and is such an excellent writer and teacher that I actually am beginning to think that writing may be my favorite subject to teach! There are so many interesting ways to teach writing that never entered my mind before taking this class.

We have focused on three major modes of writing - narrative, expository, and now we are studying poetry. And, of course, poetry is my favorite.

I am not a poet nor do I aspire to be a poet... nor do I claim to really "get" poetry, but I do love it! Ever since my 11th grade English class where we studied poetry in depth and created our own poetry books, I have adored all types of poetry. My first year at the University of Montevallo, I took a class that revolved entirely - and I do mean ENTIRELY - around Edgar Allen Poe!!! It was miserable! :) And now I am learning incredible ways to teach poetry to my own students.

Most people snub their noses at poetry and if you are one of them, please do not write anything on my post!! I love poetry and I don't care if you don't love it! Anyway, without further adieu... some of my favorite poems.

And... if you read long enough, you will see - for the very first time - poems of my own. :)

"Red Wheelbarrow" - William Carlos Williams

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

"Jabberwocky" - Lewis Carroll

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Nothing Gold Can Stay" - Robert Frost

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

And... a few of my own:

"A Dash for the Timber" - Katie Lewis; an ekphrastic poem in response to Frederic Remington's painting of the same name (written November 2).

Cowboys fighting greedily,
Horses fleeing swiftly.
Natives chasing courageously,
Weapons shooting. Blood red.
Wild West dying, deserted.

"Ten Years from Now" - Katie Lewis; Written in 2001 :)

Ten years from now, where will we be?
Married? Single? A family of three?
What will we become? What will we do?
Will we become what we always wanted to?

Ten years from now, where will we be?
In school? At work? Enjoying being "free"?
Will we laugh at the good days and reminisce fun times?
Or regret our days in high school and erase it from our minds?

Ten years from now, where will we be?
Will we have new friends and a new family?
Will we have moved on from our old familiar ways?
Will we remember all our memories like they were just yesterday?

Ten years from now, where will we be?
Will I remember you? Will you remember me?
Will we all still be friends and be as close as family?
Will we all stick together to be the best that we can be?

All these answers we don't know,
But I guess one day we'll see.
Teen years from now I'll meet you here;
I hope you remember me.

"Dreamers" - Katie Lewis; Written in 2001

Hopeful, Imaginative
Thinking, Wondering, Wandering
Making Plans / Activating Plans
Working, Acting, Creating
Successful, Dedicated

"Emily" - Katie Lewis; Written in 2001

Life is a death trap
We live routinely and methodically
We wander around trying to please everyone
Only to end in the end of earthly life

Congratulations to you if you made it through all of that. :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sick Days

I am staying home from school for the second day in a row thanks to a little thing I like to call TORTURE. Other people call it a sinus infection. Sinus infections usually aren't a very big deal - you feel crappy for a day or two, but you can manage. But, since I have recurring bronchitis, I treat sinus infections like they're the plague. If that drainage starts moving to my chest, I'm a goner.

I've had bronchitis once if not twice each year for about three years. It always lasts for 3 or more weeks and it really stinks! I even had bronchitis during my vacation with mom in 2009. That really stunk... I was coughing all over the United States! :) Right now, I just have a sinus infection, but I can feel it moving to my chest. I stayed home yesterday to rest and see the doctor. I was only out and about for three hours yesterday and came home totally exhausted. Going to school today would have been fine, but my class is going on a FIELD TRIP - to American Village in Montevallo. They are leaving the school in about 5 minutes (yes, at 6:45 a.m.) and returning around 3. I just didn't see an 8 1/2 hr road trip with 80+ kids as being a good way to rest and stay healthy. So, I'm missing school and missing an awesome field trip.

Anyway!! Now that you feel sorry for me, let me tell you what I did yesterday!

- I got everything straightened out with Blue Cross/Blue Shield and my bank. Creating a transfer between your savings account and checking isn't the same as creating an automatic bill payment.. just sayin'.

- Read 10 kids books:
- TIME for Kids: Theodore Roosevelt, Discover George Washington, Discover Thomas Jefferson, George Washington: Our First President, The Patchwork Path, Penguins!, We Eat Dinner in the Bathtub, Letter Fun: ABC Book, The Magic School Bus Rides the Wind, and Angelina and the Butterfly.
- I own all of those books, plus several more. Over the past several months, I've hunted book sales, library stores, and yard sales to help grow my classroom collection. I don't know exactly how many books I have so far, but I am proud of what I have! I really want to try to read all the books I have in my classroom library, so I better start now!
- I also found out that I can look up the Accelerated Reader information (book level, points, and quiz #) online from my house, so I'll probably finish doing that with the books I own today. I also put my soon-to-be new name on many of my books and will probably finish doing so today. :)

- That's actually it! Other than getting up and going to the doctor and pharmacist, I really didn't do much yesterday! But, I was really, really excited about reading all those books and getting them organized. I guess that's probably what I'll do today because, even though I'm supposed to be resting, being alone for 8+ hours is REALLY BORING!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
There's just something about that name;
Master, Savior, Jesus,
Like the fragrance after the rain
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Let all Heaven and earth proclaim
Kings and kingdoms will all pass away
But there's something about that name

Bill Gaither - "There's Just Something About that Name"

I grew up listening to and adoring Southern Gospel music, thanks to my mom. Particularly, we enjoyed the lyrics and melodies of a little man named Bill Gaither, his quartet (the Gaither Vocal Band) and the Gaither Homecoming series (where a whole slew of Southern Gospel singers would get together for a night of music and singing). As a child, my favorite songs were "Criminal on the Cross," "He's Still Working on Me," and "Death Ain't No Big Deal." Oh, and don't let me forget, "Your First Day in Heaven!" I don't know what it was about the songs, but I loved them. I mean LOVED them. I loved "Criminal on the Cross" so much that I learned every quickly muttered word and begged my mom to play it over and over again!

Though those were some of the more cheesy songs, Bill Gaither and his crew have also put out a number of incredibly powerful hymns. The one typed above, for example, is one of my all-time favorite hymns. What an incredible Truth! There is something about that name. :)

I just can't help but love these old hymns and songs. Go ahead, hate on me if you want. One day you'll change your mind. :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Those Kids

Today was one of those days where all of the hardship, frustration, and stress of teaching was really worth it. To be very honest, the past few weeks in my placement have been rather difficult. There is a lot going on in my 4th grade classroom of 18 students. They each have issues, they each have needs, and they each need individual attention.

Without going into too much detail, I'll just say that my mind has changed towards at-risk/high-risk/difficult students. No longer will I think they just "can't" until I've exhausted every effort possible to prove that they can. Today one of our identified special needs students made his AR goals and got to come to the rewards party! Then, one of our ELL students made yet another 100 on an AR test and had was only .6 points away from being at the "reward" level! And THEN, our student who has severe behavior issues was AWESOME ALL DAY LONG! My cooperating teacher, the principal, and counselor worked on a daily "report card" for him and it totally worked. He just needed some extrinsic motivation and an attainable goal and he was good to go!

I have learned so much about behavior management and classroom management this semester and how to help my most difficult students. I am going to take a teacher vow and promise that I will always do my best to be a reinforcement of positivity, not a mouthpiece for negativity. The Bible says "the tongue has the power of life and death" (Proverbs 18:21). This week, I found out just how true that verse really is.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Feelings of Inadequacy

Yesterday evening, THE Blake Ball and I went to the Alabama/Florida game to cheer on our defending National Champions. Let me just say... I love some Alabama football these days! But, this post is - sadly - not about Alabama football.

When I get dressed for a football game (or really for anything), I try to think practically. What's the weather going to be like? What will I be doing while at this event? Will I need comfortable shoes? You get the idea... so, naturally, yesterday's dressing-myself-process was somewhat routine. It's going to get chilly and I will be standing the majority of the 5 hours we will be in the stadium. So, my inclination is to wear a light, long-sleeved shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes. Oh, and a cute houndstooth baseball hat someone gave me in Honduras. I asked Blake about six times if I looked okay... because I knew that I was going to be facing swarms of 18-22 year-old girls sporting slinky dresses and high heels. Stuff like that still hurts my ego. I do care about my appearance, but I am just not interested in flaunting 'what my mama gave me' (whatever that means....).

More and more, I am seeing that being 25 means that I'm not 18 anymore. I don't have time to follow the trends and I certainly don't have the money or the energy to spend on trying to be in style or hip or anything like that. And I don't have time to go out and party it up and all that jazz. I have a real life and a real impending career and real bills and a real wedding that costs real money. I guess 25 is technically still young, but being in the education field doesn't exactly require being super trendy nor does it lend itself to all that other "fun" stuff that comes along with being young. (And let's just make a note that I have NEVER exactly been 'trendy' or hip!!)

Normally, I have a whole heck of a lot of confidence and I really genuinely don't care that I'm not the trendiest, hippest person. Having the coolest 'stuff' is the just about the last thing I want to be known for after I'm dead & gone. But, I'm still a girl and I still want to impress my soon-to-be husband and I still want to feel beautiful. The problem is that my definition of beautiful and the world's definition are polar opposites.

Proverbs 31 is one of the most famous passages in the Bible and is often made to be a bit of a joke. Ever heard a guy joke about needing a Proverbs 31 woman? Ever heard a woman say "Well, I'm certainly no Proverbs 31 kind of woman!"? Jokes aside, when I read Proverbs 31, it brings tears to my eyes. This is a wife of noble character... a woman to be not only desired by her husband, but admired by her husband and community. She is hardworking, caring, intelligent, a loving mother, and upholds the respect her husband has earned. Verse 22 says "she is clothed in fine linen and purple" and verse 25 says "she is clothed with strength and dignity."

"Clothed with strength and dignity..." that is my prayer today. There is nothing inherently wrong with having cool "stuff" - including clothes. I have lots of cool stuff that I'm proud and grateful to own. But, I don't want to be known for all that stuff... because, in the end, it is just stuff. I want to daily walk in the ways of the wife of noble character and be clothed with strength and dignity.

I have to remind myself frequently that it's not me versus the sorority girls of the University of Alabama. I'm not competing with anyone. That's hard for girls to come to grips with, trust me! But instead, I am following God's lead and "clothing" myself in His righteousness and grace. And may each day be a testament to the way God has created me and all women: beautiful and precious in His sight and wholly loved by our husbands... and husbands-to-be. :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fantastic Friday

Today was a very exciting day. First off, it's FRIDAY! Woo-hoo! I have lots of to-do's on my list for the weekend, but I do get to "sleep in" tomorrow & I get to wear my pajamas all day tomorrow! Secondly, I went to my fourth grade placement and basically got to teach all day long! It was AWESOME!

I started by teaching math this morning, which went really well. We did some math review by playing math jeopardy during whole group and I worked on double-digit multiplication during small group. I used the Whole Brain Teaching strategies I've been learning about and they went over quite well.

This afternoon, I had the opportunity to teach reading - whole group and small group. It was a little more difficult since it was FRIDAY AFTERNOON (everyone was excited!), but I still feel like we got a lot accomplished.

This may not mean much to anyone reading this, but... today was a great day. I can not wait to be a teacher and have a classroom of my own! :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

People in My Life: #1

People In My Life: #1

I am getting pretty tired of writing about myself, so I thought - Why not write about the people I love most!? I was looking at my current facebook profile picture and saw my beautiful cousin, Holly. Then I looked through more pictures and saw just how many times this blue-eyed blond -who looks NOTHING like me (except our arms... we have the same arms!) - has appeared in photos and who is a part of many of my most favorite memories.

Holly's mom and my mom are sisters. So, I guess you would say we are first cousins. But, really... "first cousin" doesn't quite describe it! Holly is three and a half years younger than me and grew up just "down the road" from my house. We both have older siblings, but they are 15+ years older than us, so we both had very strange "places" in our families. We were both the babies of our families, but we also had nieces and nephews at early ages. In some ways, we were babies... in other ways, we were the oldest... and in most ways, we were the middle children... left to fend for ourselves. :)

Growing up, Holly and I were hysterical. She annoyed me, I bullied her. She smacked her food, I nagged at her for not brushing her hair. She wanted to play school, I only wanted to be the teacher. But, no matter how much we fought or argued or complained about one another, we were really close! One of us would invite the other over to play, and we'd end up begging our parents to let us spend the night with one another. We grew apart some during middle and high school, mainly because of our age difference. But, once we were both in college, we got right back to our old ways... well, minus the food-smacking and spend-the-night parties!

Though Holly and I are bonded through blood, we also share a deep connection through an experience we both have had. Both of us lost our dads at early ages. Holly's father died while she was in middle school, and mine died just four years ago. We both have had to deal with intense grief at early ages and each lost a very important person in our lives. So, when Holly says she understands how I feel, she really does understand how I feel.

So, what else about Holly? She's super smart! She's a nursing student at UA and does scary things like give shots and bathe people and deal with coding patients. I'll complain about how stressful teaching is and then she trumps my story by telling me about how she handled a life-and-death situation (even if it was with a fancy dummy!). And she acts like it's no big deal! Holly also has an awesome boyfriend, Micah. But this post isn't about Micah, but he is pretty funny!

My absolute favorite thing about Holly is that she's honest. She tells it like it is. Yes, that dress looks terrible on you. No, I don't think you need to get the pink flowers. Yes I think it's fine to tell her that. No, I don't think you should let him get away with that! If you ask for Holly's opinion, you'll get Holly's opinion! But, Holly is also super encouraging. She has helped me with wedding plans, lesson plans, and God only knows what else!

I'm really having to edit what I write because this really could go on forever! I have so many funny memories with Holly... school day afternoons, daydreaming about our million dollar mansions, the great snow of 1993, playing favorites with our granddaddy, driving to Orlando... the list could go on!

But, that's Holly in six paragraphs! She's a pretty stellar person and I'm glad that she is in my life.... FOREVER! I'm so thankful that my family members are also my friends!!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Drawing Closer

Each year, the change from summer to fall brings excitement, beauty, and relief from the hot Alabama heat. Enthrallment sets in as those first few nippy, crisp mornings slowly turn into cool afternoons and evenings. And, of course, fall brings Alabama football. But, for me and my family, fall also brings memories of my dad and those last weeks and days he was alive.

Each August, I start to reminisce. The last time I saw my dad as a healthy, happy person was my 21st birthday. I had spent a few days with my parents at home before heading back to Montevallo for my birthday party (which they so happily attended!). Looking back, I'm so thankful I spent that time with them.

What I didn't know then was that just a few weeks after my 21st birthday, my whole world would change. I got a phone call on the morning of Tuesday the 19th that Dad was being taken to the E.R. by ambulance. And just past midnight on Thursday the 21st, my dad was gone forever. Though the "anniversary" is still a few weeks away, my heart can't help but begin to remember those last days.

To say I miss my dad is really an understatement. Each time I make a good grade or have a funny story to share, I think about what my dad would say. And when I'm stressed or upset, I can hear my dad calmly telling me that it's all going to be okay. The year ahead is one full of change, and I wonder how my dad would react if he were here. I know he would be so, so, so very proud to see me wearing a cap and gown and receiving my degree, despite the fact that he told me never to go into teaching (because the pay sucks!!). And I can only imagine how delighted he would have been to walk me down the aisle and give me away to a man who, in so many ways, really is just like my dad. :)

Despite the sadness and harsh reality of my dad's death, I have to be sure to say over and over again that God truly has worked all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28). What, at first, seemed like a tragedy has really become God's greatest work in my life. I remember promising myself to the Lord the night my dad died and, though I've taken some twists and turns, God has been faithful to uphold His end of the promise. I trusted myself to the Lord and followed His lead through the loss, mourning, grief, and into a new life. What was meant for evil has truly been used for good (Gen. 50:20). And the biggest lesson of all that I have learned is that time does not heal. Only God heals. And I am so glad that I serve a God who is always, always faithful.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Currently Reading

I am a book nerd. I love to read. Love, love, love to read! Over the past few years, I've really discovered what genres I like to read and I tend to buy any and every good book I can get my hands on. I am known for reading nonfiction, memoirs, and youth fiction. Yes, youth fiction. I missed out on a lot of good books in my middle school/high school years, so I've recently fallen completely in love with books like Tuck Everlasting, Nightjohn, and The Giver.

Books are expensive and, lately, my collection has been at a standstill. Like most book-lovers, I buy more than I can read - especially if I can get books at a great price. Ed McCay in Greensboro, NC is one of my favorite bookstores. I bought six or seven books there when I visited in March and only spent about $35-40. Garage sales are great places to find good books - I bought a whole collection of Shakespearean plays for 25 cents each. Now, I will probably never read all of those (though I do love to read "A Midsummer Night's Dream"!) but they do look good on my shelf!

Anyway, this summer, I was on a mission to read. I read a lot last semester because I was in a children's literature course. I did love the books I was reading, but found that I didn't have time for any outside reading. So, it seemed like a summer full of free time would be a perfect time to catch up on books I've bought but hadn't read yet.


I think I read two books in May and then.... NOTHING. Nothing in June OR July! Part of the problem was that I wanted to read a specific book, but couldn't get my hands on a copy. I'd try to start another book and then realize that, no, I wanted to read the other book. Being the cheapskate that I am, I refused to buy it full-price. But, the library didn't have a copy, either. I tried to borrow a copy from my pastor, but he didn't have the book. I was stumped.

And then, one day, as I was browsing a consignment store, there it was! Respectable Sins: The Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges... AND the discussion guide! I bought both books (which were in BRAND new condition) for less than $5, for a total savings of about $30. That made me super happy. I am already in love with the book... the topic is so heavy and something I have been needing to hear.

So, I just started reading it and THEN.... Then, I watched an episode of Oprah. One of her guests, a Rhodes Scholar named Wes Moore was telling his story of his fatherless childhood in Brooklyn and how he rose up from a crime- and drug-infested neighborhood to being a White House Fellow and studying at Oxford University. What's so interesting is that there is another Wes Moore from Baltimore who is around the same age and grew up in a similar family, similar neighborhood and is incarcerated for life for the murder of a police seargeant. How is it that these two men have the same exact name and incredibly similar childhoods but have drastically different lives? I'm going to find out because I bought Moore's book (The Rhodes Scholar) The Other Wes Moore for my birthday.

I've gone from reading zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. To reading two books. While I'm at the start of a busy semester. Welcome to my life.

I guess I should stop typing and go read!!

Friday, August 20, 2010


Most of you who will read this know that I recently turned 25. I have said this a thousand times before so I won't belabor the point, but I am not at all where I imagined I would be at 25! I had this perfect plan - graduate from college at 21 (ha! what a dream!), get married at 22, and start having babies around 24. Needless to say, those things haven't happened the way I planned and I'm quite grateful it didn't work out my way. If I'd married who I was dating at 21, well... we would've been in a world of trouble.

What I've noticed about getting older is that I am getting better about knowing what I value and then making those things my priority. Life feels more "real" and like I have more responsibility. Over the past several months, I've really learned about making personal boundaries which has changed my life dramatically. I am still in the hyper-boundary-setting stage (where I am setting up electric fences - don't mess with my boundary!!) but I will eventually find a balance that works for me. But, I'm finally learning that I can say "no" to people and not feel guilty about it. Want me to go out with you every night until 2am? No. Want me to volunteer for six different activities a week? No. Want me to let you borrow my homework? No. Want to let you plan my wedding? No. :) No, no, no! It feels SOOOOO good to say that word!!

But, I am also saying YES to a lot of things!!! During my summer internship, our pastor, Jon Quitt, emphasized and re-emphasized this invaluable quote: "Vision is knowing who you are, but also who you are not." You can have that one for free. :) Once I can establish who I am and what my "purpose" is, I can also establish who I am not and the things that I am not "led" to do. I have permission to start saying "no" to the things that will take away from the things I should be saying "yes" to.

When I focus on my "calling" (I hate those terms!), then I find myself happier, more peaceful, more challenged, and more in love with life. I LOVE teaching. I love teaching so much that I am going into debt with the federal government so that I can be a teacher. I am sacrificing well over $40,000 (I'm including all the money I'll have to spend of my personal money to run my classroom) to take a career that will get me $35-45K per year. I'm spending three days a week (24 hours - that's a part time job!) teaching in a classroom and then going to class (15 hours!) two days a week. Basically, school is my full-time job right now! Then, when you add my invovlement in the worship team, kids' program, commitment to Bible study and memorizing verses, outreach programs, helping Blake with youth, co-leading a small group, planning a wedding, and still trying to see our family & friends... I'm exhausted just thinking about it!

This semester, more than any semester before, I am going to have to say "no" to a lot of things. And I won't lie, saying "no" is hard! I feel like I'm missing out on things. But, what I know is that I am saying "yes" to my passions, to things that God has called me to. There is nothing better to say "yes" to than those things! Anything that hinders or impairs the things I mentioned above will just have to come last on my list of priorities. And even those things are prioritized!

My goal in life is not to be one of those people who boasts about being super busy so that I feel important. Not. at. all. In fact, I hate being super busy! But, this is a period of my life where there's just no way around the busy-ness, so... I'm just going to have to deal. At 25, I am much better at handling my priorities than I was at 20. I used to cry out of tiredness because I was taking 12-15 hours and then working 20-25 hours at the bookstore. Psh! I wish I could go back to that time - my schedule was so easy! But, I guess growing up will do that to you. I love growing up. I love learning. And, so far, I love being 25.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Saving Money, Senior Year, and.... Getting Married

Saving Money:

Today, Blake and I tried our hand at "extreme couponing." We scoured the sale papers, cut coupons (okay, by "we," I mean "I" - Blake just did the shopping!), and made lists of everything we could get and what coupons we had to get it. We went to three different stores... Target was a bust. I accidentally confused last week's sale paper with this week and thought we'd get a deal on something, but we didn't. I was bummed, ready to quit. Then, we went to CVS - I spent $15 and saved $14. That's a win! I got two $5 Oral-B toothbrushes for just $2.49! That alone is a savings of $7.50! Then, we hit up The Pub(lix). I spent $103, saved $40. Blake spent $86, saved $38. I'll take that! For our first go round at "real" coupon using, I think we did quite well. I can't wait to try again next week!

Senior Year:

It just hit me that Wednesday (which is also my 25th birthday) will be my first last day of classes for my undergrad. This semester, I will have classes two days a week and I will teach in an elementary classroom three full days a week (24hrs/wk). Needless to say, the semester will be busy! In January, I will start a full-time internship at an elementary school. In May, I will graduate! And, Lord willing, next summer I will be preparing for a classroom of my own! It's exciting to think about all the things that will happen in the next year - graduating, getting a job, and getting married! I almost convinced myself that Blake & I should start trying to have a baby sometime soon after we get married... it took me all of about 25 minutes to re-think that idea. :)

Getting Married:

Last Wednesday, Blake & I booked our caterer and decorator/florist. At the end of the day, I felt EXTREMELY productive! We have a location, pastors, a wedding party (though not entirely complete b/c we haven't picked a flower girl or ring bearer!), a photographer, a cake, my dress, a caterer, and now a decorator/florist, plus the 100000 friends who have said they want to help us! That's a lot!

Then I remembered how many more things have to get done before June 25! Bridesmaid's dresses and shoes, groomsmen's tuxes, videographer, games/entertainment, rehearsal dinner, invitations, thank you cards, registering, planning a honeymoon... the list goes on and on.

Though it's a lot, I know it will all get done and it's fun work. Even when it's stressful, it's fun because I know that at around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 25th, I will have not just A husband, but THE best husband that God could've sent to me!!

Those are all the updates for this week!

Monday, August 9, 2010


Every now and then, God sends me a little reminder of what He's up to. He does this for everyone, but I like to pretend I'm unique, okay? The past week has been full of reminders.

I planned on writing this long explanation of these reminders, but I'll just say this: All that really matters in this world is Jesus Christ.


Leading worship is such an honor... my favorite place to be on Sunday morning is on stage. Not because I like being on stage, but because it gives me the opportunity to see each and every face worshiping at the Vineyard. Yesterday, I saw some faces that brought tears to my eyes.

I won't go into detail, except to say this: All we have to do is do what God is telling us to do when He tells us to do it. When we tap in to what He's already doing and just partner with Him, things happen. Miracles happen. People find salvation. People find hope and community.

What a wonderful reminder.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The End...

This summer, I had the opportunity to serve as an intern at my church (Vineyard Community Church) here in Tuscaloosa. I debated for a few weeks about whether or not to submit my application, and I think I even submitted my application on the deadline. Not that I was wavering between wanting and not wanting to learn about ministry, but because I knew it would be difficult and that there would be much required of me. James 3:1 warns us, "Not many of you should presume to be teachers [leaders], my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly."

Thanks, James, for that encouragement... But, his words are true - and rightfully so. And that's what scared me. Big time.

But, I turned the application in and started working as an intern around eight weeks ago. I've been through the gamut of emotions regarding ministry. Excitement, enthrallment, disillusionment, challenge, heartache, frustration, comfort, confusion, awe, joy... you name it, I probably experienced it. I cleaned the church, planned & implemented outreach projects, worked on the website, meet with newcomers, put together communication stuff, led a small group, started another group, went to meetings... and I got engaged right in the middle of it all!!! I really got to jump in and get right in the middle of ministry and loved every moment (even the moments where I thought I'd never want to go to church again because I was so tired!).

The biggest challenge of the internship was something rather unexpected. About half-way through the internship, I started having real trouble keeping up with my memory verses and Bible study. WHAT!? I would go a few days without cracking open the good old B-I-B-L-E! It was such a struggle and the feeling of not wanting to spend time in the Word was the hardest part of the whole summer. I felt like I was really being tested and Satan was feeding me all sorts of lies and half-truths. I was feeling like such a hypocrite. Thankfully, though, I was surrounded by incredibly encouraging people who offered advice and encouragement and helped me get back in the groove.

Anyway, every single struggle or tear or bit of frustration was confirmed yesterday. I knew that all my work would be worth it before I even started the internship because ministry is always worth it and "results" aren't always immediately seen. But, yesterday was a huge blessing and confirmation that everything I went through this summer was for a purpose because it was for the work of God's kingdom.

Yesterday, Jon Handy & I had the honor of teaching the entire church. We talked about service & evangelism, something that we worked on a lot this summer. Right in the middle of my part of the talk, a HUGE group of people (two adults and 8 or 9 kids) that we had met through a recent outreach project showed up at church. I knew they were planning on coming, but after I didn't see them around 10:30, I assumed they weren't going to make it.

But, God had a surprise planned... and they were it. I wanted to drop the microphone, run and hug them, and cry. I was just so happy to see them, so happy to know that God was watching what we were doing, and that He sent THEM to ME to affirm what the Lord has been doing in and through me all summer.

In the end, all the hard work was worth it. God is moving in our church and in our city and it is such an honor to be a part of what He's doing. I can't wait to see what's next.

Friday, July 30, 2010

You say you want a revolution...

Yesterday was such a wonderful, beautiful day. On Wednesday, I was ready to cancel my whole wedding and elope!! Weddings are meant to be a celebration of God's love for us and for the gift of marriage, not a multi-million dollar business!! We all know that weddings have gotten increasingly extravagant over the past several years. You can turn on the TV at almost any time and catch a show like Bridezillas or, my personal favorite, Say Yes to the Dress and watch brides spend oodles of money on their "dream" wedding. On one SYTTD (yes, I just abbreviated) episode, I saw a bride choose a $25,000 dollar dress!!!! I was thinking, I am not even making that much PER YEAR!

But this is not a rant about other people's weddings. This is a rant about MY wedding.

I don't want to spend a ton of money on our wedding day. First of all, we don't have a ton of money! Blake is finishing grad school and I'm in my last year of the education program and I can't even have a job this coming year because of my internship!! So, we are having to be smart spenders and make the most of the money we have. Anyway, some things quickly fell into place - the site is free thanks to my lifelong membership (!), our photographer is incredible, and my AMAZING dress was a STEAL!! So, I was feeling goooooood about our budget.

Until I started calling caterers. Eleven dollars a person... FOR BRUNCH?! I should just buy everybody a breakfast combo from Chik-fil-A!!! That's just way more than I can spend right now. Maybe I should have prepared myself better for the estimates I was getting, but... geez Louise! It was overwhelming. I almost cried. I wanted to elope.

And then my cousin/maid of honor calls and says, "You should have a waffle bar!!" and started giving me all sorts of good ideas on how we REALLY can do-it-ourselves AND make it look & feel like a lavish wedding. I am not even going to TELL you all of the amazing ideas we have because I want all of our guests to be surprised at how savvy we are! My sweet fiance confirmed all of these ideas and got on board with helping me envision the best way to make our wedding truly a CELEBRATION and not a burden!!

So, all this to say... I am so thankful. I am thankful for my friends who have sent me emails and texts with ideas and encouragement. I'm thankful for friends who are lending their services pro bono and for friends and family members who are biting at the bit to lend a hand. THIS is what MY wedding is supposed to be like.

They say it takes a village to raise a child.... well, it also takes a village to help build up young couples. I don't want to have to pay thousands of dollars for strangers to help me impress my friends and families (I am not calling anyone out who has spent a lot on their wedding! This is just MY heart!). I want to include my friends and family in the details... not to overwork them or put a strain on them. I would never want to do that! But, my friends and family are incredible... they are willing to help and excited at the thought of helping make the start of my marriage a memorable one!

I'm excited about planning this wedding and even MORE excited about marrying Blake! He has been so kind and patient through the past four weeks. We are moving right along... planning as much as we can now so that we can relax a bit during the school semester. He is involved in every decision and has an input in everything... I love it! And... when I get stressed, we just go to Belk and look at George Foreman grills and towels... it makes me happy. :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Things I've Done

Sometimes I like to sit back and think about some of the amazing opportunities I've had throughout my life - places I've been, things I've done, people I've met. Just yesterday, I was having a conversation with a friend and I was thinking to myself, I am talking to someone who grew up in Hong Kong. WHAT!? I have a friend from Hong Kong. How crazy is that?

This morning, I was reminded of my trip to New York City in 2004 where I saw a live opera performed at the Metropolitan Opera House. On that same trip, I got to perform with a mass choir in Carnegie Hall. Carnegie Hall, people!!! Sure, I wasn't up there singing a solo, but it's not every day that you get to stand on the stage of Carnegie Hall, where some of the world's most talented musicians have played, and sing to an audience. I also got to see Beauty and the Beast live and got Christy Carlson Romano's (Belle) autograph afterward. What an experience!!

As a child, my parents took me on two incredible road trips. The first was a westward expedition - at just ten years old (or so), I got to see the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, TEXAS (that state takes forever!), the Rocky Mountains... and so much more that I can't even remember! The next year, we went north for two full weeks. We drove all the way to Maine (my granddaddy's home state) and back - what fun! I saw the Liberty Bell, Niagara Falls, my first glance of NYC, Historical Williamsburg, and explored the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I've ridden horses, traveled to Honduras (and ridden horses in Honduras), been to DisneyWorld for three Thanksgivings, traversed through New Orleans three times, been photographed & featured in a magazine, para-sailed, seen the Mets and Phillies play, seen Alison Krauss and Robert Plant in concert, met Chris Thile.... the list goes on and on.

I just love experiencing life. I love traveling and visiting famous places. There's still lots I haven't done that I want to do... and I'll get around to it, eventually. This is not a list of "look what I've done!" but rather just an outpouring of gratitude for opportunities and experiences. They pale in comparison to experiencing God, but to me, traveling and being a little adventurous helps connect me to God.

Because when I travel or do new things, I am reminded of just how small & insignificant I really am. Standing near the Grand Canyon as a child, I remember feeling the vastness of God's beautiful creation. And now, as an adult, I am reminded of how many people have seen that Canyon. How many people have stood in the same place and admired God's creation? And there I was, standing in a place that thousands - maybe even millions - of people have stood in before me. I feel connected.... connected to people, connected to the God who created them.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thank God it's Thursday!

We all have "those days" from time to time. You know, the days where Murphy's Law seems to be in full effect - everything that can go wrong, will... and does. Yesterday was definitely one of "those days."

It started fine - read a good bit of James and spent time with the Lord. I really think that's the only reason I held it together yesterday! But, after reading my Bible, the trouble started. First, I just generally didn't feel well. Then, it was a discussion with my mom that brought out hurt feelings (not with my mom, I was just telling her about a situation). And things just started to snowball from there.

It seemed like almost everything that came up yesterday was tainted. I even went to donate blood (I had scheduled it a couple of weeks ago) and that ended up being a mild disaster! It took me twice as long as "normal" people to fill up the bag... I guess my heart just pumps slower than most! And, if you know me, you probably know I hate needles anyway plus I have "rolling" veins so... it was just not the best of experiences! I have now learned that I am not a prime candidate for donating because this is not the first time this has happened.

The day was also long. I left the house around 9:20 a.m. to go to work and wasn't scheduled to come back home until about 9:30 (I babysit 7-9 p.m. on Wednesdays). It seemed like the day was never going to end.

The reason of this post is not to complain. Even though yesterday was really difficult, I just tried to roll with the punches and try to do my best to make it through the day. And I did, but not by my own strength!

At one point in the afternoon, one of the pastors from the church gave me some very encouraging words (and didn't even really know how rough my day had been). Then, my amazingly amazing best friend, Ashley, talked me through more tears and then enjoyed a manicure & pedicure with me! Babysitting was wonderful - 1-year-old Macey was cuddly and fell asleep in my arms while 21-mo.-old Jameson kept me laughing. And, to top it all off, Blake drove from Birmingham (where he's working for the summer) to help me babysit and then came to my house to take care of my still-sickly body.

What wonderful people the Lord has placed in my life. While driving home last night, I couldn't help but be thankful. Sure, yesterday sucked... to be blunt. But, there were tons of lessons learned, tons of perseverance, and plenty of people in my path to pick me up when I needed it most.

Oh, and Nicole Richardson kept posting hysterical pictures on Facebook of our friends' faces on celebrity's bodies. My personal favorite is Jonathan Cook as Nick Saban..... just sayin'. :)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's Wednesday!

I thought Monday was Wednesday this week. Well, it's finally Wednesday! I am not sure why, but this week just seems to be dragging by. Tuesdays & Wednesdays are ridiculously long days for me, but usually they fly by. Yesterday did not fly by. I found myself looking at the clock and thinking, "It's only 1 o'clock!?" or "Wasn't it 4 o'clock three hours ago!?". Today is an equally busy day that ends with two hours of babysitting, so I am hoping that my 5:15 a.m. wake-up call (aka, Elaine the kitten) doesn't affect the rest of my day the way it did yesterday.

In other news, I've been reading James lately. Slowly but surely I'm making my way through. I've finally made it to the last chapter, but I'm in no hurry to wrap it up. James is probably one of my "favorite" books in the New Testament. Really, it's probably one of my "favorite" books in the whole Bible. James' words are so heavy and powerful.

Chew on these:

James 1:17, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows."

James 1:22, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."

James 2:10, "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it."

James 3:9 (this one hurts!): "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness."

James 4:8 (this one makes you feel better, but can be confusing), "Come near to God and he will come near to you."

It's good stuff, I know! Hard to take at times, but edifying.

So, that's Wednesday. Hoping it's an excellently wonderfully exuberant day.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why my mom is awesomer than yours.

I just need to preface this by saying that I don't know whether my mom will read this or not and it might be awkward if she does. Because... if you have ever met my mom and seen us interact, you know that we are not sweet and sappy people! More often than not, we are constantly giving each other a hard time and [lovingly] cracking jokes with each other.

Lately, I have been reminded of just what a gift I have in my mom. I have always loved her and known that she is truly an incredible mom, but sometimes I get reminded of just how incredible she is. The past month or two has been one of those times.

Mom and I have certainly been through many, many rough patches - some were so bad that I never thought we could reconcile. But, what Satan meant for evil, God meant for good! Those difficult times shaped us as individuals and shaped our relationship. I am so thankful to say that things are better than ever and I have recently been reminded on a daily basis just how fortunate I am to have been given Mary Kathryn Lewis as my mother.

One of the things I have always loved about my mom is that I have always wanted to tell her everything - even when I knew I would get in trouble! I have told on myself so many times - it's ridiculous! I have always appreciated how she will always listen, even when I ramble about nonsense at 7am. But, even better than that - I truly can tell my mom anything. When my feelings are hurt, I tell her. When I disagree, I tell her. All in love, of course, and within the boundaries I have as a daughter, but... I can still tell her. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't have to "fake it" in front of my mom in order to make her happy. I don't have to hide things from her or walk on eggshells around her. I don't have to do certain things or say certain things to please her. She is pleased with my honesty, and that is what I love the most.

See? My mom is awesomer than yours. Okay, maybe not, but she is definitely awesome. She has really taught me how to be true to myself - in a good selfish way, not bad selfish. She is a fantastic lady and her boyfriend isn't too bad, either. :)

So, Mom, if you're reading this - you rock! And, no, this is not an attempt for me to sweet talk my way to $100. :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Thoughts on the Oil Spill

As usual, I have lots of thoughts. Today, they're directed toward the Gulf Coast oil spill.

Thought #1: Blame. Why are we only pointing the finger at BP and the government? Have we not once been reminded that we are the reason the oil rig was there in the first place!? We are the ones who fuel the oil industry and BP is only trying to supply our demand. Let us not forget that BP, though potentially "corrupt" and certainly powered by money, is not alone in this. We are to blame, as well. We want gasoline, we want it cheap, and we want it in abundance.

Thought #2: Poor Tony Hayward. Even I am guilty of nitpicking at his language and rolling my eyes at his audacious statements. Currently, I believe he is more hated than Osama bin Laden. I've got to admit, I feel bad for him. That doesn't excuse the faults of his company, but all of this tongue-lashing is getting a bit ridiculous. I don't doubt that he is sorry. I don't doubt that he is feeling the weight of the world at this moment. Now let's get the ball rolling with this $20 billion dollars and get the hands & feet of the relief effort moving and take care of the needs of the Gulf Coast community.

Thought #3: To boycott or not boycott. I don't really have a gas station of preference these days. Mostly I visit Race-Way or Wal-Mart because they have the cheapest prices. But I don't for a second believe that BP is the only enemy here. I don't know how to research the safety of each and every oil rig in each and every Big Oil company so that I can be a more informed consumer. I don't know how to tell which company is "good" and which is not. I have no clue. If someone knows how to find out, please let me know. But, for now I won't be using BP and I'm sure millions of people across the country won't be using BP for a while. I heard someone say that we didn't need to boycott them because "the last thing we need is for BP to go bankrupt." Very, very true... but, Tony Hayward said that the taxpayers would not have to pay for any of the relief efforts, and gasoline is taxed therefore I believe they better start digging in their pockets, sell their multi-million dollar homes, and stop flying around the world to find the $20 billion they've pledged. They better not be using my money!

Thought #4: The Gulf Coast oil spill is certainly a tragedy that could have been avoided. It is certainly an awful, awful thing. I almost cried while looking at pictures of the damage the other day. But, THIS IS NOT THE ONLY OIL SPILL IN THE CURRENT WORLD!!! If you haven't read this article already, read it! We are so fortunate that we just happen to have a government with enough power and money (and interest) to fight for us. That is certainly a blessing. But, BP isn't the only company with problems. And we're not the only country fighting against oil spills.

Final thoughts: These are the days when I wish I rode a bike everywhere and ate only local produce and meat from local farms so that I could be free of the need for gasoline. But even then, it wouldn't be enough. I think the only thing we can do at this point is fight for higher standards and then take responsibility into our own hands - knowing that BP oil wouldn't exist if we didn't want so much gasoline.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Ain't Got Nothin to Say

So I spent a good 3 hours on a hysterically ridiculous blog post about my adventures in making dinner at 7am on Monday morning (see? It's already funny!), only for Blogger to completely FAIL me in the area of inserting pictures into my blog post.

It seemed like everything I did failed. So, you don't get to read my funny story. Boo for you.

Quick updates:

1- Blake has been gone for 2 1/2 days in Birmingham where he is working. He'll be back tomorrow... just in time for us to go to Memphis with the Martins & their SON!!! (Okay, so baby boy is still in utero, but... still! He's a he!!)

2- Elaine is growing and becoming more and more adventurous. She almost fell in the toilet the other day. Gross.

3- I am TIRED. But that's not really news, I suppose!

Okay, that is all!

Friday, June 11, 2010

New Kitten Makes Monumental Discovery

I don't have a kid (yet), but I do have three animals. That's got to count for something, right!? Well... since all I have is animals, I feel that it is only right for me to update my blog about new kitten's (that would be Elaine) progress!

She has gained at least 1 pound, maybe even 1 1/2 lbs. She is eating cat food like crazy!! She refuses to eat her kitten food, even though it is the SAME EXACT THING that Charlie (big cat) eats - only in smaller bites! So, no more purchasing kitten food, apparently. She and Arnold have become fast friends, too, which is a relief! He lets her play with his tail and is very patient with her. I honestly haven't seen as much of Arnold lately - I think he is actually learning that he can't always have all the attention! I feel bad for him, but he has been spoiled for the past four years. It's time to share the spotlight.

Elaine is in discovery mode, which is great and not great all at the same time. She has found all sorts of things to play with... things that I wish she wouldn't play with. :) But, that's part of being a kitten! She has yet to ruin anything - my main concerns being my curtains, shower curtain, and rugs - but she has been caught climbing and chewing on those things. I think I need to invest in a water bottle so I can squirt her when she's being mischievous!

But, the biggest discovery happened less than half an hour ago: she discovered that the mysterious flapping hole in the door to the garage leads somewhere.... into the garage!! She was following Charlie around and he tried to escape, but she followed him through the doggie door. I watched her investigate the garage and prayed she wouldn't find the second door that leads outside! I don't think she's big enough to wander outside by herself yet. We have a fence, but it is a chain-link fence, which she can easily fit through. For now, I'm going to have to close off the doggie doors until she gets a little bigger.

It's been 7 years since we've had a kitten in our house. I was really afraid that the beginning part would be a nightmare - getting clawed everyday, seeing all of my fabric get ruined, 5 a.m. wake ups (okay, that happens, but.... that's ok)... but it really has been fun! I kind of don't want her to grow up!