Wednesday, August 31, 2011

from the heart

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." - Psalm 37:4

Like most people, I grew up believing that God would give me the things I wanted if:

- I prayed hard enough
- went to church every Sunday
- read my Bible every day
- those things were in line with Scripture
- I stopped sinning
- I wanted it badly enough

I had this idea that God was standing at the ready, anxious for me to make all the right moves so He could bless me. I believed He had a bag full of goodies just for me.... I only needed to ask.

What I know now is that what I believed was a lie. God is not going to give me everything I want. He isn't always going to come through right when I think I need Him to. He isn't going to open every door for me just because He loves me. That just isn't how He works.

What I know now is that God is going to give me the desires of my heart. Not that he will give me what my heart desires, but He is going to tell my heart what to desire.

Today, another door closed on a dream I thought really would come true for me. I really believed this was it - this was the job I had been holding out for. And one little phone call changed it all.

My heart wants to give up. My heart is tired of trying and finding itself in the land of disappointment and confusion. I am tired. But the Lord has given me a desire, and I am going to trust Him to make a way in His time. This year has been the most difficult year of my life, aside from the year I lost my daddy. From taking the risk of getting married (which is the greatest part about 2011, I have to say!) to the drama of the tornado aftermath to the heartbreak of not finding a K-6 teaching job. This is not the year I expected - not at all.

So for now, I am taking comfort in the encouragement of sweet friends. And in the Word of the God who I trust, even though I don't understand His ways at all.

"Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret - it only leads to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.....Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace. But all sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future for the wicked. The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps and delivers them from the wicked and save them, because they take refuge in him." - Psalm 37:1-9, 37-40

"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and they are saved." - Proverbs 18:10
In times like these, when God's answers are not what we want to hear, we have to take refuge in Him. Take refuge in His promises, believing fully that He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. I love Him, and I am called according to His purpose. He is going to get all the glory on the day I finally land a K-6 teaching job. And He's getting all the glory even now, for making a way for me even though I don't have what I thought I would.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

don't fear!

I have not abandoned the blog. Blake & I don't have Internet at the hizzle yet, so blogging is on hold... except for right this moment, because I'm hanging at my mom's. :)

Some quick updates:

- Found a potential black widow spider this morning on the outdoor garbage can. It looked like this:
This is a baby black widow... I am not sure if the one we saw (and killed) looked exactly like this. If you know any spiders that look like this, but are not black widows... your comments would make me sleep better. :)

- Blake starts "doctor school" (PhD classes) tomorrow. He's gonna be a smartie pants. Dr. Smartie Pants, to you.

- I am reading Brave New World in an attempt to break my brain from the hours I spend with four-year-olds.

- I am now 26, and in the middle of a quarter-life crisis.

The end.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

own it

Yesterday was my first day to teach Pre-K all by myself. I have a class of eleven kids, and they're mine... all mine. Well, at least until 12pm. At first, I really didn't know what to think about being a "preschool teacher". I had various stereotypes in my head of what a "preschool teacher" looks like, and wasn't exactly sure how to feel about becoming one of the brave.

Let me just say, I think I was born to teach Pre-K. Well, really, I was just born to teach. I tend to fall in love with whatever grade I am placed in (I loved EVERY grade I interned in!), but this is FOR REAL. These are my kiddos for the next nine months.

It's exciting! It isn't at all what I had in mind when I set out on this crazy journey of earning my teaching certificate, but I am loving it. Since the kids are little and there isn't a mandated curriculum, I have a lot of creative freedom. I follow a loose schedule of focus skills (letters, writing our names, counting, etc.) and then put my creative spin on how to teach them and how to practice them. We sing songs and do dances and repeat "I listen with my eyes and my ears" about a dozen times a day. :)

It's official. I'm a preschool teacher. Gotta own it.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

busy, busy!!

This is the weekend we've all been waiting for: MOVING WEEKEND!!!

A friend is coming over today around 9am to haul our possessions down the street into the big old beautiful house. Part of me is STOKED, another part a little nervous. There are still many projects to be done, and many rooms are still considered "in progress". For instance, the kitchen cabinets are not quite finished yet (still need a 2nd coat of paint), so I can't exactly put all my kitchen stuff up yet. But, we'll be able to sleep, eat, and watch TV at our new house - no problem. :)

Though we still have a great deal of work to do, we wanted to go ahead and move in since Blake starts school in less than two weeks. I think it will be a lot easier to motivate ourselves to work if we actually live in the house. You'd think we'd be motivated anyway, but it's hard to have to make a trip out to the house and take all our stuff and bring it all back.... yada, yada, yada. Point is - we're moving in and hoping to have the house "guest-ready" by Thanksgiving-time. I mean, people can come over before then, but it's gonna be a mess. ;)

And there is an exciting twist to the weekend - I have to prepare to teach next week! There isn't much to planning Pre-K lessons, but it's good to have lots of options and ideas so that the kids don't get out of control while I'm trying to get stuff together. There's nothing worse than four-year-olds with nothing to do. :) I also need to rearrange my classroom and hang stuff on the wall, but I'll work on that in the afternoons while the kids are napping. I think this whole Pre-K thing is going to be good for me - I still get to teach (thought it's VERY different than teaching 5th graders!!), and I have loads of freedom. I don't have to give tests every week and I get to be SUPER-creative. Monday we are practicing writing our letters using Ziploc bags filled with paint. :) The kids are going to love it!

Happy weekend to us. Will post pictures.... one day.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

the throwing away of things... and random rambling.

So far, 100 in August is off to a great start. We're eleven days into the month and I have thrown away 36 items. We'll call it 36 because after the Great Bathroom Clean-Out over the weekend, I threw away AT LEAST 30 random items. I lost count after a while, and figured thirty was a safe bet. I threw away over a dozen little hotel shampoo & conditioner bottles. I don't know why I always want to keep those... call me sentimental.

We are moving into our house on Saturday (yay!), yet we have done NO work at the house this week. Monday and Tuesday were emotionally draining, and then yesterday I got a job!! I am only working half-days, but I have been doing some planning in the afternoon since the kids are all mine on Monday morning! I know I can "wing it" a little until I get everything settled there, but I need to hit the ground running on Monday with rules, procedures, etc. Today I hit the Dollar Tree jackpot and made a really cool matching game and a sight word game with some stuff I found. Oh, I guess I should write that I was hired to teach Pre-K at a private preschool in Northport. :)

So.... moving. Yeah, slow-going at this point. We STILL need to finish painting the cabinets but I have no motivation!!! I have been SO tired this week. They won't take long, so I am hoping to either work on them tomorrow afternoon or next Monday evening. I haven't packed many boxes - I figure I can do that Saturday while the dudes are hauling away heavy items. Most everything is already boxed, though, since the majority of our possessions are unopened wedding gifts!

I am glad to be HERE finally - gainfully employed and moving into an almost-finished house. It has been a long journey and we still aren't totally out the woods, but we are so far from where we were when we got married!

This was the most random post I have written in a while and.... well.... that's what ya get! I am SO tired!! Trying to convince myself to do a load of laundry, bathe the dog, go for a walk, and call it a day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sing the 46th

In the midst of our house/job/life/stress chaos, Blake and I had lunch with our pastor. We basically just needed to unload on someone with more wisdom than us and JQ was happy to listen. It's hard to admit disappointment with life, hard to admit to anger at our circumstances, and even harder to try not to cry in the middle of Panera.

Out of that conversation, I was reminded of two things:

1) God's goodness is not dependent upon my circumstances. God isn't only good when I get the job and He isn't bad when I don't. God is forever the same. My circumstances may change, but God never does. He is always faithful. He never promises us the American dream (or our dreams, for that matter). He promises us to give us the desires of our hearts. Not that He gives us what we want, but He gives us what to want, and then provides a means to acquire it. He plants within us His vision for us, and if we listen closely enough we can hear it, and He can lead us to it.

2) JQ told us a story about Martin Luther (his man-crush). Luther was a reformer, a Bible translator, preacher, and theologian. He was also a musician. His most famous hymn is "Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott" - otherwise known to us as "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God". The song was based on Psalm 46, the same Psalm I started praying at the beginning of this summer. In times of difficulty and hardship, Luther was known to say to his associate, "Come Philipp, let us sing the 46th." And they would sing. About the Lord's providence, of His might, of His strength.

That line has stuck with me since lunch yesterday, "Sing the 46th". When life is hard, sing the 46th. When life is easy, sing the 46th. When life is a disaster, sing the 46th. When life is a dream, sing the 46th. No matter what we may be experiencing - tragedy, loss, excitement, dissension, peacefulness, victory, defeat, disappointment, contentment.... God is who He is. He never changes. The Truth in the Scriptures never changes.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress." (Psalm 46:1-7).

And I remember that God has certainly not forgotten about me. Not at all. Nor has he forgotten about those who are worse-off than me. I am not alone in this world, and even though I may not have exactly what I want, I have exceedingly more than I need. So, instead of singing my woes, I need to "Sing the 46th." Over and over and over again.

"A Mighty Fortress is Our God"
Translated by Frederick H. Hedge:

        A mighty fortress is our God,

a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevaling.
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
thru him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill;
God's truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

brave face

I have been walking around the past few weeks with my "brave face" on. Even blogging with my brave face dictating my words. Yesterday, the mask came off and what was underneath was exposed.

Though lately I have tried not to post about the depressing journey of finding a job, it's an every day battle to not just throw my hands up in the air and quit. And, I am blogging for several reasons - 1) it's cathartic and 2) I haven't been doing a pen-and-paper journal for the past few months, and know that this blog is going to get printed & bound at the end of the year to take place of my "traditional" journal. I want to remember the heartache.

What was lying underneath was my heart - which I have been too afraid to share because I so badly want to look like I have it altogether. I want to look like I mean it when I say, "we're going to be okay". I want to look like I am okay, but I really am not. I am going to be okay - maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but I am going to be okay and I am going to somehow be "better" for this experience.

Up until May of this year, I had never been "rejected" after an interview. I am an interview pro, and I have always been hired. I have officially been interviewed and rejected three times this summer. And then there's the countless resumes and applications I've submitted without even receiving so much as a phone call.

At this point, I feel like this is a big game of elementary school dodge-ball and I'm last to be picked. Literally ALL of my friends have jobs - and if they don't have a permanent job, they have long-term sub jobs lined up already. I have nothing - nothing!!! Even my Plan F that seemed to be a sure bet fell through this week! It seems like every opportunity is being closed and I don't even stand a chance. And I'll put my faithlessness out there - I have, at times, felt like God has completely forgotten about me. Like I'm jumping up and down, waving my arms yelling "Hey!! Don't forget about me over here!!" and He is completely oblivious. He's not oblivious, but sometimes it sure feels like it (thank God He isn't who I feel He is at times!!).

After a good forty minutes of ugly-face crying :) last night, I told Blake this: I feel like an actress - full of potential and dying to use my craft. I keep going for casting calls and get rejected and overlooked.... but, one day, someone is going to hire me and I am going to be AWESOME at my job and put in so much work and passion... and all the other people who never gave me a chance are going to say, "Why didn't we hire her!?" I am going to be a superstar teacher and principals are going to be jealous that I'm not theirs.

The longer I go without a job, the better I will be once I get a job. I am so passionate, so eager, and so determined that I am not going to just give up. Even if I don't get a teaching job for this year, I am not going to give up. I am just going to keep doing what I know to do, volunteer my services if I have to, and someone is going to give me a chance someday. And they're going to be glad they did.

I'm hoping that my story will be this - I will have gone all summer hunting and searching for a job... to the point of complete desperation. And then, BAM! A school is going to open up a position and I'm going to be the last one standing, and they'll pick me. I pray that's what happens... because, really, it's the last chance I have for a teaching job this school year. Maybe that's what God has in store, maybe not.

Whatever happens, I imagine that I will look back on this post in a year and say "if only you knew, Katie." God does have something up His sleeve, and I'm guessing it's so good that He won't tell me what it is because I wouldn't even believe it. ;)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

gifts in the making

In addition to parting with 100 items in August, I am also placing a ban on buying gifts for people. Now, before you get your panties in a wad - hear me out.

If you haven't already picked up on this, we're going to have a pretty tight budget for the next year. We are going to be okay, we will be able to pay our bills, but it's gonna be tight. I l-o-v-e giving gifts... to a fault. Giving gifts can get expensive. The word "expensive" is not in our vocabulary right now.

And, at the same time, I don't want to buy something cheap. Like, "hey, here is a picture frame I bought you at the dollar store!" So, I am installing a DIY-only gift rule for one year. Pinterest has provided for some REALLY great gift ideas, and I thought this would be a surefire way to help our budget while still being able to give really awesome gifts...

...until a wedding shower invite came in the mail. I hadn't really considered what to do for wedding showers and baby showers. In my own experience, I didn't get many gifts that made me go "eww," but I did get some that made me wish people would shop off of the registry. :) A girl can dream, right? Anyway, you spend a lot of time working on your registry and so it's stuff you want... stuff you have hand-selected... and people should buy those things for you.

DIY-ing can get very expensive unless you do it so often that you have on-hand most of the tools/supplies you need. For instance, I am making someone a birthday gift (can't tell who!) and spent $20 at Michael's yesterday on the tools - but I got like... 120 of three different things, so if I keep making this item, I won't need to spend much for each go 'round. To keep the DIY cost at a minimum, I'll have to either use things I have on hand or can buy inexpensively (frames, glassware, ornaments). But.... what about buying something off the registry and personalizing it?

So, I'm stumped. Do I buy one or two small things and make something to accompany those things? Or do I just take the risk and make something with the risk they won't like it?

Here are the ideas I'm considering:

This is my top pick - I already have the frame and I can just buy the vinyl for the Cricut. Some people just don't like monograms, so it's risky!

I am definitely making this for myself!! To make this for a gift, it would technically require the purchase of a Pyrex dish, but they really aren't expensive and they are a necessity for any cook.

I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE this... and it's so/sew easy. Buttons are relatively inexpensive, as is thread. I already have embroidery needles and could buy a small piece of fabric... and paint a frame from the thrift store. This idea is growing on me.

These are so simple, but so pretty! It's just twine and spray paint with a pretty ribbon at the top. But I'm not sure how I feel about giving candle holders as a gift... seems almost TOO impersonal.

Lastly... this is so lovely. Imagine with a fruit salad or trifle inside!!! Again, a home-made stencil via Cricut and some spraypaint and - voila! - personalized magic.

Notice a few of these projects involve require a Cricut... I think I am getting one for my birthday. I know, what about the rule?? The rule doesn't apply for my birthday this year because I want a Cricut so I can make gifts. A little investment that will go a looooooong way.... ;)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

100 in August

After spending an embarrassing amount of time perusing the pages of Young House Life (I never follow "big" blogs, but this girl is my personality doppleganger), I've found some inspiration for... well, lots of things.

Blake loves this author named Robert Caro. He's a Pulitzer Prize winner and notorious for being uber-dedicated to writing. We're talking he-takes-ten-YEARS-to-write-a-book dedication. His wife is his editor, and they have put together some incredible (non-fiction) books over the years, and have also sparked a bit of inspiration in our little life.

You see, Robert Caro didn't start out as a Pulitzer Prize winner. Duh. He started out as a guy with an idea, an undying will, and a wife who supported him fully. Long story short (although the long story is actually quite interesting), Caro and his wife lived month-to-month for years as he hacked away at his book. They struggled, they probably ate a decent amount of canned tuna, and guess what it got them in the end - success.

Blake and I are in a similar position, and it's honestly very scary. He is in school full-time pursuing a PhD and he works part-time as a teaching assistant and also as a research assistant. He has a stable income. I, however, do not - yet! The Robert Caro story reminded me of how you have to sacrifice to do something great. Blake is working on something great. I am working on something great. Good things don't come easy, and the struggle is well worth it in the end.

So what does that have to do with my intro about Young House Life? Well, wonder no more: The lady of the blog, Sherry, has plenty of posts about minimizing. I love minimizing. :) There is something refreshing about cleaning out closets and getting rid of "stuff" we don't use anymore. I haven't purged the house in quite a while, and I think there's no better time than now. We're about to move (hopefully in just a few weeks!), and it would be nice to start out feeling less cluttered.

Having less is freeing. Less mess, less clutter, less to clean, less to worry about, less to pay for, less to hold on to. Maybe having less money than anticipated will be freeing, as well. I'll be free to craft, free to be creative, free to write, free to play board games, free to cook the meals that I normally don't have time to cook. I am, in some weird way, actually looking forward to this. :)

So.... for the rest of the month, I am going to take a challenge from Young House Life. I am going to work towards getting rid of 100 things we don't use/need. Maybe I'll just chunk them in the trash (like I just did with some old makeup), maybe I'll donate, maybe I'll try to sell items on eBay/Amazon. Regardless, by the end of August, our house is going to be down 100 things... or maybe more. ;)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Photo Fun!

Okay, enough with the depressing posts!! Geez. Nearly 60 people have read my last blog and not a single person commented... that must mean it's time for some cheeriness.

So, here's something good for the day. For a while, I've debated on getting a new camera or just getting an editing program to enhance the camera we have (a frickin' sweet Nikon point & shoot). Since we have a slew of wedding/showers/honeymoon/house pictures that I want to beautify, I opted for the latter option. And thanks to stalking the blog of my friend Kathryn, I found out you can try Lightroom for free. If I like it, I'm asking for it for Christmas. iPhoto has served me well - it actually has some great editing tools, but it's time to put my big girl panties on and branch out! So today I got the free trial and started playing!



I actually semi-liked the first photo, except that it is sooooo over-saturated. For the edit, I can't even tell you what I did. To me, it seems a bit over-done.... because it is. I tried just about everything on it! But I kind-of like it. I really like the crispness of it. I don't like the way the leaves at the top are almost white, though - they look x-ray-ish. Oh well, it'll all come with time!

In the meantime, HONEYMOON PHOTOS!! I cannot reiterate how frustrating it is that Facebook won't allow me to upload photos! I swore I'd start a flickr album and share pictures that way, but I've not done that yet. So, here's a few I love (and these were edited with regular old iPhoto):

The Pier that goes waaaaaayyy far out into the Atlantic! I touched a baby shark on this pier!!
Enjoying a row boat ride through a black water swamp... where we saw alligators and egrets and mosquitos!

A spot we visited more than once... benches along the gorgeous Ashley River. This was taken post pistachio- and strawberry-flavored gelato.

The Sailboat Ride that Almost Wasn't. Thanks to a near-total fail on behalf of Groupon and after being rescheduled due to inclement weather, we almost didn't make it to our scheduled-months-in-advance sailboat ride around the Charleston Harbor. Thank goodness we made it because it turned into a 3 hour ride of bliss. Made us late to our dinner reservation, but we didn't care!

And here's a never-before-seen pre-wedding shot:

It was such a happy day. :) And Squidward was there to see me through it...

Now, if you looked at this blog post and have not yet commented, SHAME ON YOU!! Comment!! I hate seeing how many people read my blog but never write a single comment!! :)

from the heart/gut

This is not how you're supposed to start off a marriage.

Marriage is hard, or at least it has been so far. We left the stress-free honeymoon and came straight home to real life. Real, hard, unpredictable life.

People joke that they started out with "nothing," but I am here to tell you that we are quite literally starting out with nothing. The past few weeks have been brutal on my heart, hence the lack of posting. I want to be honest and tell the world how I feel, but I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea - God is at work, although it feels at times as though He's on vacation from working in our lives. Doors of opportunity are being slammed shut in my face, the list of to-do's for the house is ever-growing and the list of volunteers is ever-dwindling. He is doing something, but it is absolutely positively 100% not what I had in mind or what I wanted.

I've been dealing with a lot of anger and bitterness. I hate to admit that. I wish I could say that I'm singing "God's in control" and happy and smiling, but I am not. My friends, I am crying regularly and having come-to-Jesus meetings with my brain on a daily basis. I feel so needy and yet so self-sufficient all at the same time. I feel lost... abandoned... heartbroken. It's hard to go work on the house day in and day out while friends are at the pool or on vacation, while family is working and getting paid, or while other victims are receiving help. I've been angry with a lot of great people, angry at Blake, angry at myself... angry at the tornado and yes, angry with God's plan. I believe, but I have unbelief.

And yet, somehow, God is in the midst of it. He's in the midst of the hurt and in the midst of the bitterness and in the midst of the rejection. He's there. Despite knowing that Truth, I am not always comforted by it. My brain is in overdrive and Satan is feeding me such tempting lies. He comes up with some pretty good stuff. But what I know about God rings Truer than any twisted tale Satan could trick me with. At times, it's like we are jumping off the edge of the Grand Canyon with only the childlike faith that God will break our fall. I have no clue what we are doing or how we are going to get by or how I am going to get a steady paycheck or how we're going to stay fed... but I'm jumping. While everyone else is at the edge waving goodbye, I've got my eyes closed tight and my ears open only to the One who can catch me.

We didn't ask for this. We didn't ask to be in this position. Yet, here we are. I don't know why and honestly, I don't even really want to know why. I mean, I do... but I am afraid of the "why" right now. I only know that God is working for our good. He's working for the good of the people we will minister to. He's working for the good of His Kingdom. He's working for His Glory. I want so much to get out from under this mess we're in... but I know we need to stay under. We need to keep going, keep pressing forward. There's something exquisite at the end of this journey and I want to see it. God will provide the way, I just need to keep going.

And that's where my heart is today. Tomorrow could be a whole different story.