Thursday, November 25, 2010
Today I am thankful for so much. I have a nice, cozy house, a new car, a decent job, a great marriage, wonderful friends and family, and a God who loves me unconditionally and knows me better than I know myself.
I'm most thankful this year for three things:
1. God's faithfulness. I won't lie that I'm not struggling today with feeling sad over not getting something that I desperately want right now, but I have a faith in God that is stronger than my circumstances and I know that He has the plans for my life laid out already, and that I need to trust His timing in all things. It's a daily, if not constant, battle for me at this time, but I know that His timing is perfect because He has proven that to me time and time again. So while life may not be going according to my plans, it is going exactly according to His plan, and that's all that truly matters, because He has promised, "To never leave me, nor forsake me."
2. My marriage. It's hard to explain to anyone that hasn't found true love, how it's possible to be more in love today than I was on my wedding day or the day we got engaged or even the first time we said, "I love you." But the truth is, I love my husband more today than I ever thought possible. He is my best friend, who holds my hand through life's struggles, who makes me laugh when all I have are tears, and who is patient beyond words with me. I couldn't ask for a better friend and companion to go through life with. We may not always see eye to eye, and I'm not going to pretend that I don't get annoyed with him at times, but at the end of the day, I love my husband and best friend more than life itself, and I can't imagine life without him!
3. Friendship. Now this might seem silly to some, but to me it is everything. I have been so blessed in the past two years to have found some of the truest, dearest, and most genuine friends. Until now, I didn't know what a true friend was, because I always felt that I had to live up to their expectations, to earn their friendship, to prove myself worthy. But the friends God has given me now, don't care what I wear or what I own or where I am in life, they just love me for me. And what's more, I can be real with these women. We rejoice for each other in triumphs, we're genuinely happy for one another when things are going well. And when things aren't going well, we cry for another in sorrows, and we pray for another. I'm not afraid to share my struggles with these women, because they don't judge me for it. No, they just share their struggles too. Authenticity is the key, and true compassion is the foundation. It may have taken me 25 years to find it, but I am so blessed by my newfound friendships!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! May you each be as blessed as I have been this holiday season!!
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
I'll miss the Jeep, but I gotta say that I love my new Kia!! :)
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
We also spent our evenings walking along the beach searching for shells, which seemed to be in abundance this year!
We also found these on our walks along the shore...
Sea turtle nests! We were hoping to see them hatch, but the babies weren't quite ready to make their appearance while we were on our visit. We did learn later that they typically only nest for about a week, so if we'd only stayed a few more days we might've gotten our wish!
Even though we didn't get to see the sea turtles hatch, we did get to see plenty of dolphins! And one night, we were fortunate enough to be able to capture some videos of them swimming along the shore only a few yards from us...
We had such a great time! No matter how often we go, I just can't get enough of Naples, FL. There's always something new to see or do, and the time we get to spend together is so special because it's a chance to escape from our busy lives and just have fun together! I can't wait until next year's trip!! :)
Monday, August 2, 2010
To be honest, I used to love Wal-Mart, until I moved back to Roanoke. I love getting those bargains, but the Wal-Mart I live near is not the safest place, and the people there are rude and sometimes strange. So I typically only shop at Wal-Mart two times a year. Once around prom time to get cheap decorations and the second time at back-to-school time because no one can compete with the deals I find at Wal-Mart. When I was in college, I learned that I could purchase 1 subject spiral notebooks from Wal-Mart for 15 cents a piece and 2 pocket, 3 prong folders for 5 cents a piece (due to inflation they are now 15 cents a piece FYI)! What a bargain!! Well, when I began teaching I decided that to help my students be fully prepared for the year, I would buy each student 1 spiral notebook and 1 folder. So each year I go to Wal-Mart around the end of July to begin my back-to-school shopping. I typically buy between 100-125 of these notebooks and folders that I carefully count out based on the number of students I estimate I will have for the year. I usually hand the cashier one folder of each color and tell them how many of each color I have and then I hand them one spiral notebook and give them a number so that the customers behind me don't get annoyed with me having each item scanned separately. But this year it didn't quite work out as I had planned...
Today, as I loaded up the conveyor belt with all of my items, I carefully pulled aside one spiral notebook and one of each color folder to tell the cashier how many I had of each. Well, the folders were no big deal, but this year the cashier informs me that she needs to know how many of each color notebook I have. I have no idea since I just took down 4 cases of 25 notebooks each and did not count them out by color. So now I have to remove each notebook from the case, divide them by color on the conveyor belt, and then count each stack to see how many of each color I have. I looked at the woman behind me and with the most apologetic look I said, "I am so sorry." Luckily, she just smiled and said it was no big deal. After we finally got it all scanned and rung up, I piled everything back in my cart and headed for the door, totally embarrassed for holding up the whole line. But if that wasn't enough, the woman at the door decided that she was going to need to check my reciept against the contents of my cart to make sure I was not stealing anything. By this time I was fuming. It wasn't like I was buying huge ticket items, in fact after everything I bought, my total only came to $60, but they decided to carefully check each item to make sure I had paid for them all.
When I got to the parking lot, I was so frustrated and I began unloading the contents of my buggy into the back of my car when this young girl backs out and nearly runs me over with her car. It was a great ending to my shopping trip to Wal-Mart, and I can honestly say that I am glad I won't be going back until sometime in April or May for prom even if they do have great deals! My sanity is just not worth it!!
Friday, July 23, 2010
For example, today he went to the grocery store of his own accord to pick up some high protein items that will be helpful to him as he begins to work out. He came home showing off his purchases and excitedly talking about this new routine called P90X that several of his co-workers have done that he's getting ready to start. I, on the other hand, went to the grocery store to buy our weekly list, but with several healthy changes. Things were going really well as I started picking out things like plums, bananas, carrots, and even some baby spinach. I was even ok with the brown rice versus the white rice and salmon instead of steak. But when I reached the cereal aisle, well things got a little harder. I got low-fat granola instead of the Fruit Loops or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but it was ok. Then I passed the cookies and chips aisles and things got really tough. Those Doritos and Oreos were looking really good, but I knew I needed some healthier substitutes. So what did I get instead, you might ask? Well, I picked up a fruit and nut trail mix, which I was good with and then I went for the yogurt and cheese sticks, and I realized I was grimacing as if I was physically in pain. I felt like a five year old being forced to eat their vegetables or else there would be no dessert, except that I wasn't grimacing over vegetables, I was grimacing over what would soon be my dessert. And to make things worse, on the other side of the aisle was the freezer case filled with ice cream that was on sale for buy one get one free!! UGH!!
Well, I can honestly say that I left the store with only healthy foods except for some Italian ice that happens to be made of real fruit juice, so I figure it can't be too bad for you and a box of the new extremely cheesy macaroni and cheese. I know, I'm pathetic, but I'm going to try. So, here's to healthy eating and maybe a little bit of exercise too!! I'll let you know how it's going in about a week. Any suggestions of healthy recipes or ideas are always welcome, and if you've made the healthy switch I would love to hear that it's worth it!! :)
Thursday, July 22, 2010
There's so much that I love about the summer. I love that I don't have to work and that I can get a break from the mental stress of teaching. I know that some people might think it wasteful for me to not take a summer job and make a little extra money while I'm off, but to them I say, "I make a full time salary in 10 months that you make in 12, so maybe you're just jealous." Aside from not having to work, I also love being able to sleep in in the mornings, then watch the Today show or Regis and Kelley while eating a bowl of cereal. I also love having all day to get my chores done rather than waiting until Saturday to get it all done and then having little to no time to rest or enjoy being off.
I also love the amount of time that I have to spend with my husband, especially since we're on very different schedules during the school year. Because I get to sleep in, I'm able to stay up later and hang out with my hubbie, who's a night owl, rather than dragging myself to bed around 10 from sheer exhaustion. Also, we have time to take a trip or two together that gives us some quality time away from the rest of the world. We actually have time to talk to one another, which sounds terrible, but sometimes we just run out of time together to get to discuss everything on our minds (well maybe just on mine since I always have the need to talk). :)
I also love getting to read whatever I want! Each year I make my own summer reading list of all the books I came across during the school year that I wanted to read but didn't have the time to. I will admit that this year's summer reading has not been as prosperous as others in the past, but it's still been nice to pick up a book that I actually chose to read rather than reading what I've assigned my students to keep myself refreshed on the subject matter (not that I assign boring books, it's just that I've now read most of these books 5 or more times, and would like something new).
I also love the time I get to spend with my family. Sometimes I feel like I don't see them for weeks on end and only get to talk to them a handful of times in the course of a month because we're all so busy. I now people think that because I only live 10 minutes from their house I must spend tons of time with them, but the truth is I have gone almost a month at times without seeing my family because of how busy things can get. So the summer is a great time to get caught up, and this summer has probably given me that opportunity more than any other summer so far and I think it's the best part of my summer so far!
Well, despite the fact that summer is fading fast, I'm going to try and enjoy these last 3 weeks and not think about how little time I have left, but rather remember all the wonderful blessings that have come from this summer. Because if truth be told, I've been feeling the summer-time blues the past few days, and I really just need to snap out of it and enjoy myself, because otherwise this summer will be gone, and yet another long grueling year will be ahead of me, and I'll have worried and fretted away my last few days rather than truly enjoy them!
Friday, July 16, 2010
Lunch was a disaster with me in tears and barely able to say anything. I took Tyler back to work and drove home with tears running down my face. I felt terrible because this was supposed to be a special outing for Tyler, and I had ruined it, and not only that but I still needed to get him a card and wrap his present. What kind of wife doesn't even have a birthday card yet for her husband? I was overwhelmed, so I went home and after doing a brief whirlwind of cleaning to vent my frustrations, I finally sat down and let myself cry and then I began to pray and ask God what on earth was wrong with me. Well, there were no audible answers, but I did realize that I have been spreading myself a little thin the past couple of weeks trying to take care of mom and keep up with chores around the house and running Caitlyn back and forth from volleyball camp and doctor and dentist appointments, basically trying to do it all on my own. I guess somewhere in there, with so much that has been weighing heavily on my mind I had just allowed things to build up. I also realized that I'm not "Miss Perfect" as I so desperately want to appear to everyone. No, I'm just human, and I make mistakes and I get lost trying to find my way around downtown, and I forget to pick up wrapping paper and birthday cards, and I even get a little worried over things that don't really matter. I guess I just felt guilty for not being able to do everything for everyone else, and I've been afraid of letting someone down. But once I calmed down and was able to breathe, I realized that I don't have to have all the answers, and I don't have to be "Miss Perfect," I just need to do the best that I can and when I can't do something I need to say so or ask for help. It's easier said than done, but after today's breakdown, I think it's time I start trying.
Here's to a much better night tonight as we celebrate Tyler's birthday!! He really is the best and was kind enough to inform me that had he known how overwhelmed I was, he would've stepped in and helped. Too bad I didn't know how close to the breaking point I was or else I might've told him sooner than when I was sobbing on 3rd street.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
My heart is so full lately with all the amazing things that God has been doing, and I have found myself awestruck by his goodness, so I thought it might be time to share what's been going on in our lives...
The first thing that I have been awed by is His perfect timing. Tyler and I have been praying about God's plans for our future and I felt like God had given us a time table of sorts for some things that we want to accomplish in our lives, but over the past two years I've felt like maybe God wanted me to put a pause on those things. In some ways I have been frustrated, feeling like it wasn't fair that God was keeping something from me, but at the same time I realized that God always knows better than I do and that if He is keeping me from something then it is for a specific purpose. Well, despite trying to remind myself of these things, it has been a struggle, but last month something amazing happened. Tyler had been looking at possibly changing jobs for a few months now, not because he was unhappy but rather because he wanted to move up from what he was currently doing and take on some new challenges. Well, after months of looking at jobs, he got a call that led to a phone interview that then led to an in-person interview that led to yet another interview that led to a pretty nice job offer and pay increase. We had been praying all along, and amazingly it seemed to fit into that time-table thing I had in my mind, so we felt that this was from God. However, when Tyler went to his boss to share the news something even more incredible happened! His company was not willing to let Tyler go, so after several higher ups including the president of the company were made aware of his plan to leave, a new plan was devised to offer Tyler a promotion and a salary increase to match the other job offer. Again, we were awe struck. It wasn't that the other job wasn't from God, but rather God used that to open the door at Tyler's current company for him to be promoted, and it may not have happened had the other offer not come along or had it come earlier. So after vacationing in Florida for 11 days, Tyler returned to work with a new promotion! Isn't God wonderful?!?
On another note, Tyler and I got to take an eleven day vacation to Florida this summer, which was so relaxing! We are so blessed to be able to stay at his grandfather's condo on the beach, so all we have to do is pay to make our way down there. In case you're wondering, no there was no oil on the beach. In fact, it was beautiful! There were shells everywhere and in some areas you could scoop them up by the handfuls!! We saw several sea turtle nests scattered along the shore and marked by caution tape to keep people out. We also were entertained by the birds, such as the pelicans pouncing on sting ray shadows in the water, falcons dining on fish in pal trees, and a crow that couldn't seem to learn his lesson and was chased away daily by a family of mockingbirds. But the best wildlife were the dolphins that we saw each day swimming near the shore. Some days they were so close that I was sure I could have my own "swimming with the dolphins" experience for free! It was so much fun and it made me think how sad it is that while that part of the Gulf coast is pristine and beautiful, so much of the rest of the Gulf coast is being destroyed. It breaks my heart to think that so many of those same animals that we were mesmerized by are being destroyed only a few hundred miles away. But I am so thankful that there are still miles of coastline that are safe!!
In other news, when we returned from Florida, mom had surgery. She has been dealing with a lot of pain and issues for the past few years, but this year she took a turn for the worse and her doctor recommended that she have a hyterectomy to alleviate the pain. She wasn't keen on the idea, but the pain had become unbearable, so she bit the bullet and scheduled the procedure. To give you an idea of how much pain she was in, the doctor said he removed one golfball sized cyst from one ovary, a second newly formed cyst from her other ovary, and a fist-sized blood clot from her utuerus. He also found that she had endometriosis throughout both ovaries and in her pelvis and that she had inflammation from a recent infection. I'm not really sure how she even stood up straight with all that she was suffering from, but now that all of that is gone I have a feeling she's going to feel like a brand new person once the incision heals. Today, we also learned that there was no sign of cancer in any of the material the doctor removed, so we were grateful and relieved. Mom's recovery has been incredible, while she is limited in what she can do, she seems to have little to no pain (I guess this is probably nothing compared to what she had before) and her incision is healing nicely. We have been so blessed by the prayers of so many and we know that it was only through God's strength that she has done as well as she has.
Finally, I should update you on my work status since it has been so long. Well, it's official (although I've known this since the first of March), but I will be back at Glenvar full time in the fall. I am so blessed to not be traveling between schools next year and very grateful. I will have a lot of responsibilities next year with Junior Class sponsor, teaching 11 AP and 11 general, but I know that with God all things are possible, and I have a feeling I will be clinging to that verse a lot in the days to come! Also, by getting a contract to teach for the coming school year, I have also attained tenure. Granted, I have to actually show up the first day of school for it to take effect, but I'm pretty certain that won't be a problem! :) I've been thinking a lot lately about why God had me travelling last year, and I've finally decided that if for no other reason it has taught me to be appreciative of where I teach now. While it might not be perfect, Glenvar is still a unique school that offers teachers and students opportunities that other larger schools can't and I truly have been blessed to work there over the past 3 and a half years.
Well this was quite a long post and I apologize, but hopefully I won't wait 500 hundred years (as Tyler said) until my next post... But if I do... again I am sorry!!
Saturday, April 3, 2010
So this year, I am celebrating the fact that we who are saved, truly are Easter people. We who were once dead in our sins have been made alive again! And all creation is reminding us of this precious fact as Spring brings new birth all throughout the land. And if nature can testify of this new life, then so can I!
I am alive in Christ, all things are passed away and behold all things are made new! We are Easter people! :)
Friday, March 26, 2010
I thought about the fact that I never explained the verse at the top of my blog, so today my post will be about why Jeremiah 29:11 has meant so much for Tyler and I in our marriage. You see, over and over again in our lives the Lord has shown us that even though our plans don't always work out, His plans are so much better.
I guess I should start at the beginning of our story. Tyler and I met at Liberty University where we were attending college, but if God hadn't intervened in both of our lives our senior years of high school, we may never have met. Tyler was planning to attend a school back home in Massachusetts, but his plans fell through and he had to choose another school. He chose Liberty at the last minute because two of his childhood friends were going. I had planned to attend a local college here in Roanoke for as long as I can remember, and I had even been accepted and received an offer for a full scholarship to the school during my senior year, but I didn't feel a peace about going even though it had been my life-long dream. My mom suggested I consider Liberty, but I had no intentions of going until I visited the campus. I went to visit a friend, but came home convinced that that was where God wanted me. If we had followed our own plans, our paths would have never crossed, but God had better plans.
Our journey didn't stop there though. A few years later, Tyler and I got engaged. We thought for sure that it would only be a one year engagement and that we would be married at the end of our senior year, but once again God had other plans. I ended up needing an extra semester of school to finish my teaching license, so after much debate and a few tears, we agreed to my parent's request that we wait until I was done with school. We were engaged for two very long years, but we remained faithful to God's calling on our lives and His plans for us and when we did get married, we both had our degrees, Tyler had a steady job at the paper, I was one step closer to a full time teaching position, and we had bought a house. If we had married earlier like we planned, we would have started into a marriage struggling to get by.
When I thought that we had figured out my job situation and believed that it was God's plan for me to be a substitute teacher our first year of marriage, God again stepped in and provided me with the most incredible job opporunity at a school that I love. And then when I thought that I might lose that job due to budget cuts, God stepped in with His plans once again and split me between two schools. It didn't seem like a blessing at first, but when the other option was not having a job, it really wasn't so bad, and I've come to appreciate my home school and the people I work with so much more through this year. And now after a year of driving all over Roanoke, I have finally learned that next year I will be back at the school I love full time doing the thing I love! It has been a roller coaster ride, but God has remained faithful in it all, and His plans have proven over and over again to be the best plans for our lives.
Though there are still many uncertaintities for our future, there is one thing that I know for sure; God in His word has promised that His plans are meant for good not harm, and they are meant to give me hope for the future. If I have learned anything over the years, it is that my hope lies in the Lord alone and that is the surest anchor for my life.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
"Moses said to the people, 'Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin." ~ Exodous 20:20
The good news about test is that they occur over a finite period of time. Even the SAT is only three to four hours long! There is a set beginning and established end to the testing period. The buzzer goes off, and you get up and go. Why then do believers get frustrated with God, thinking that the test they're sweating through will never end? Even the Israelites were brought through the bondage as slaves in time.
God's test do three things for us. First, they prepare us. He knows what's around the bend and what strengths we will need to deal with what is ahead. Second, they perfect us. After a high-school student takes that final exam, the student is promoted to the next grade level. If you're in the midst of a God-sized test, get ready for your promotion, because it's coming! Finally, God's tests produce the fruit of the spirit in us: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are all given to us as a result of the tests we take.
Are you in a time of testing? The good news is, you can take it "open book" style. Just get out your Bible and read to know what God wants you to do.
~from Babes with Beatitude by Linda P. Kozar & Dannelle Woody
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Life has been busy over the past few years, between work and church, but we've created a lot of great memories that I don't want to forget! Tyler took me to dinner tonight at my favorite restaurant, The Homeplace, and we started talking about how long we've been together. I protested when Tyler said we'd been together for a quarter of our lives, but then he helped me with the math since I'm an English teacher and don't do math, and I was surprised to learn that he was right! (I know, it's a first in me admitting to him being right!) We talked about how amazing it is that we have been together so long. Back at Valentine's day I thought about the first Valentine's day gift I gave Tyler, a memory book with all the reasons why I loved him. I decided that after 6 years, it was time to update those reasons. It was a fun process, and I realized that our love has changed and deepened over the past few years, and I can't imagine how it will grow over the rest of our lifetime.
God has been so good to us, we were truly blessed from the start, but the past year and a half has tested our faith in many ways. Right now as I await news of whether or not I will have a job for next year, it's easy to become anxious and fearful, but I am learning to count our blessings and trust that God will still be God even if the news isn't good. I know that God gave me this job to begin with and I truly believe that He will provide another job if this one is taken away. In fact, I'm somewhat anxious to see what He has in store and where He is taking us on this journey we call "life." While I love what I do for a living, I know that living in God's will is the only way to find true joy and peace in life, and right now I'm resting in the promises of God's provision and purpose for my life. It's not fun waiting, but as one of my favorite songs puts it:
"While I'm waiting, I will serve You. While I'm waiting, I will worship. While I'm waiting, I will not fail, I'll keep running the race, even while I wait."
"But those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength, they will mount up on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint." Is. 40:31
For now, I am waiting...