Thursday, May 29, 2008

We Need Your Prayers

When it rains, it pours, right?

This past week, Eric and I discovered that we were going to have to make some adjustments to our well-laid plans. Our moving date changed from mid-July to as soon as possible, so Eric and I have been trying to coordinate a "send Nicole to Africa in 10 days" and "move our stuff and Eric to Denver in 11 days" plan. This has been a little bit crazy and funny. For example, Eric packed all the books, including one I was still using for Sierra Leone inservice projects. So, we unpacked til we found it (fourth time was the charm)!

Thanks to our dear friend Sarah who became our personal apartment shopper, we have found an apartment that is perfect to meet our price range and needs. However, Eric called this morning to find out that the perfect apartment does not have the perfect move-in date. There is one available however at the end of June. So we have spent the morning trying to figure out what to do with cats, our stuff, and my husband. Still figuring...

In addition, I am covered with hives from head to toe as of yesterday morning. Yep. After going 24 years of my life with out a major allergic reaction to anything, my body decided to throw itself a party. After a visit to the doctor yesterday and the worse shot of my life (yep.), we're pretty certain it is the medication I was taking for my infected spider bite (I won't even go into that.)

This is not the way I had planned to spend my last week before leaving for Africa. But God is Sovereign and God is good. And I will cling to that (as well as the Benadryl).

We would appreciate your prayers for:

* A quick recovery from my allergic reaction.
* Love and grace for Eric and I as we work to get these things accomplished.
*A place to put our stuff, the cats, and Eric.
*That my return flight can be adjusted from Atlanta to Denver.
*That in the midst of chaos, that we can be still and know that God is God.
*That this will not be a distraction that keeps me from preparing my heart to minister in SL.
* That Eric can obtain a job quickly in Denver.

Thank you for your prayers. Some of you will be receiving a SL prayer letter from me at the beginning of June. If you would like to receive one you may email me :)

Also, our blogging pace will probably slow down during June, but when I return, I am sure we will have lots to blog about!


School's Out for the Summer

This past Friday, I said "good-bye" to my 18 kiddos, and yesterday I said "good-bye" to my coworkers. This has been a challenging year in so many ways, but one bright and shining spot has always been the 10 lovely kindergarten co-workers whom I have worked with. They have been helpful, encouraging, and rejuvenating. They care deeply about the students and about each other.

On Friday afternoon, they threw me and another teacher who is moving schools a surprise lunch party! It was so great. They even snagged my kids to make me this Greenville memento:

I will miss them.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Our Newest News

Our newest news: we're moving to Denver this summer.

This was a decision we came to probably around a month ago, but it's taken a little while for us to formally announce since we've been trying to keep things under wraps until we could tell the youth and parents first. There have been some blessings and some struggles here in Alabama this past year, and though it's been a hard decision to make we are confident that this is the direction the Lord is leading us right now.

Nicole has been offered and accepted a job teaching 1st grade at a public school in the Denver area, and I'm still looking for a wide variety of jobs.

We're excited to be closer to friends, family, and the big city again!

Here are some things you could pray for if you'd like:

* For me to find a great job quickly in the Denver area
* For Nicole's (and the team's) safety, effectiveness, and Gospel winsomeness while in Sierra Leone this summer
* For our upcoming move and all of the details therein
* For peace, love, and charity as we say goodbye to our church here in Alabama
* That we might quickly find a welcoming body of believers in Denver to fellowship and worship with

Friday, May 16, 2008

Narnia: Prince Caspian

Nicole and I went to watch the new Prince Caspian movie tonight with our youth group. I went in with the expectation that I had to just enjoy it for what it was and not try and compare it to the book, otherwise I'd just frustrate myself. My beef with the first movie and this one as well is that they tried to take a story which is very whimsical and child-like and turn it into the next wanna-be LOTR epic. That aside, when Susan kissed Prince Caspian at the end of the movie I think I had the biggest "gross" movie reaction I've had in a long time. It was unbelievable not only for the Susan of C.S. Lewis' original books, but also for the Susan of the movie. I think Susan and Caspian had maybe two or three lines with each other throughout the whole thing, and they're kissing right before they'll never see each other again!? was awful in a sort of funny kind of way.

The Christian Discipline of Tipping

Somebody remind me. When I have children, I am going to teach them to be good tippers.

I'll be honest- this is kind of a pet peeve of mine. Imagine the following scenario-

You go out with your friends, family, church group, whoever to a restaurant. You're a decently-sized party. Your waiter waits holding your drink order as you bless the chips (for what who knows). You discuss Christian ideas throughout dinner. And then you get your bill. What do you do? Honestly. Do you tip well? Not a penny over 15%.? Or do find a reason to barely or not at all tip?

Hey, maybe the food wasn't the best ever. Maybe your waiter was a little grouchy (I've been known to have a bad day or two myself). Maybe your food arrived a few minutes later than everyone else's meal. But frankly, those seem like petty reasons to be a poor tipper.

I'm not saying that there is never a time to make a statement with your tip. In my experiences, however, I feel that those times are much rarer than we make them out to be. And frankly, I'd rather give a little bit more to (pardon me) put my money where my prayer is. Because probably the only lesson that a poor (Christian) tipper is going to impart is "Christians are stingy and so is there God."

I would encourage you to give your waiter the benefit of the doubt. If our Heavenly Father can give us good gifts we don't deserve, can't we do the same?

Monday, May 12, 2008

It's a Small World After All

Disclaimer: Eric says this is an overused, ridiculous title. Personally, anything classic Disney can never grow old.

So, Saturday Eric and I gave blood. Now before Eric and I appear to be "good people," let me tell you how it happened. I have been fearing two things about my Africa trip this summer, my vaccinations (I almost fainted) and donating blood (ditto). The reason that I decided to give blood for the first time was not that I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity before I couldn't do it for several years. It was simply because COTN needs my blood type in case something unfortunate happens. I asked my doctor about it and he said I could either pay $60 dollars for a test or donate blood for free.

So, there I was at the donation center Saturday morning. Eric came along for the ride (literally) as I didn't trust myself to drive the hour home from Montgomery. Eric was not going to give blood as the thought of needles didn't sit too well with him.

We arrived at the donation center, and I was answering a lot of "yes-es" and "no-es" to questions when a lady came up to Eric to look at his shirt. He was wearing a shirt from his A&M days- the one with a kiss on Lenin's head from the Commune Date Party (shout out boys)! As Eric explained the meaning of the shirt, as perhaps he could do in another blog post, the lady realized he had attended Texas A&M (spousal "whoop!"). She said that she knew someone who went to A&M and said "Do you know... " (At which point I was thinking, there is no way.) "... Brian ----." And yeah, we did. Brian and his wife Janelle live in College Station and actually work with the youth at our old church Westminster. The lady turned out to be Janelle's mom's best friend. Then they found out that Eric was a youth director.

Needless to say, Eric was now donating as well.

A little while later as I was psyching myself up for the whole ordeal, the lady came over and told me I had won a drawing. (She worked for the Christian radio station that was hosting.) Note: I believe my "luck" was influenced by the Franklin connection. On the way home I opened up my "prize" to find a James Dobson series on marriage. The crazy part was that on the front cover a couple that I knew from John Brown University was smiling back at me! (I also think it's worth noting that I'm pretty sure the couple was only engaged when the marriage series came out- you can't fool me Focus on the Family!)

Two college connections. One day. Our first/last time to donate blood. What a Saturday!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

What I Love

I feel energized.

This afternoon I made myself a latte, grabbed a couple of cookies, and settled down with the laptop for a several hour planning session.

For Sierra Leone this summer I will be co-leading the reading inservice that is focusing on the process of teaching reading so that true comprehension can take place. I am very excited about it. When Sarah first mentioned the trip to me I was interested, but when she talked about the need for reading training, I felt called to go.

And I can truly say I have loved sitting down and typing out detailed outlines for each of the days. Maybe it's because I'm not typing "fluff" but am trying to succinctly type out what I believe are the most important ideas to communicate. Or maybe it's because I am actually getting to use my brain to decide what I need to teach. That's one of the things that excited me to teach in college- I loved creating lesson plans. (Yes they were all going to take place in the world's perfect classroom, but hey, bureaucracy and NCLB had yet to drown that hope.)

I guess over the last two years I have found myself getting burned out. I have found myself being told what to say and when to say it. I have found that data (while good) trumps all teacher judgment. I have found creativity has little place in the classroom. And after a long day, I then go to the reputable news site or pick up a magazine and read about how awful teachers are.

That's why I always volunteer for writing social studies plans. For 2o minutes a day, I can try and squeeze in some experiences for my children that I can research and plan. Not that curriculum is bad. I guess I just thought creativity was a desirable quality in a teacher. Instead, I am trying to not just "rote"ly count down the days until summer.

But for Sierra Leone planning, I have felt alive. I have loved opening up reading texts and reading them in-depth, using research to pull the important things. I have loved dialogging with Sarah about her experiences and what she believes is needed. I have loved using my brain to try and squeeze in everything that is important. I have loved using my creativity to plan relevant training. I have loved seeking God for the grace to plan.

On days like today, I feel born to teach. And I'll hold onto the hope that at some schools, it can be different....