Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This Is My Declaration Of Dependence

So I started writing this September 29th. In case you didn't know, it's not October 9th. I have had absolutely no time to blog lately, but now it is fall break and I am probably about to go on a blogging frenzy. Even though it's not entirely accurate since I didn't finish when I started, I'm just gonna leave what I already had of this here post.

Here's what's up: I really shouldn't be typing this. I have a big math test tomorrow. But I also have a full heart that needs an outlet. So I turn to you, my faithful bloggy friends. And allow you to see what the past few weeks have been like for me, here in Dahlonega.

The education program may be the death of me. I am seriously reconsidering this whole taking 22 hours thing. I mean I seriously though I could handle this? It's insane. I haven't slept more than 5 hours on a week night in 2 weeks. I don't have time. There is so much to do and I spend so much of my time sitting in class getting more work assigned.

Lately I have been second guessing education completely. Do I really need this degree? I know that I want to do ministry. Don't get me wrong, I love teaching with all of my heart, but I don't want to teach math and phonics and base it all on the Georgia Performance Standards. I want to teach about love and forgiveness and grace and mercy and faith. I want to teach them about Adam, Eve, Noah, Moses, David, Paul, Esther, Mary, and Ruth. I want to teach them about how Jesus died for them and how much he loves them. I want to show them the joy and the freedom that He brings! I want to go to seminary now and learn about Greek and Hebrew and theology. Instead I am sitting here making a reading/phonics take home bag for my teaching of reading class. I started to wonder if North Ga is really where I need to be or if I should just drop this education program and head to Southeastern.

God quickly showed me that this is not His plan for me right now, no matter how much I wish it were. I really love Dahlonega a lot and I don't want to leave, but I also don't want to be here forever. Or for more than 4 years. Which is why I took 22 hours. What I have now learned is that there really is no use in trying to kill myself. I feel so dumb because my parents have said this over and over, and I have heard them loud and clear, but I didn't care. Because I am stubborn. Unfortunately, I have to learn things on my own, the hard way, by experience. And I always end up overwhelmed and/or hurt, but at least I learn.

So all of this can be summed up in saying that school is hard and life is absolutely insane, but God is SO good, friends! Every single day He shows me something that reminds me that He is here and He is in control. It comes in the smallest things: the beautiful sunrise on the way to school every morning, my precious Bible study girls, or lots of laughs with a friend. Through it all He is making me more and more dependent on Him. I have really gotten to the point where I sometimes feel like I can't make it through the day without Him, and I love that.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Best Is Yet To Come

Let's revisit Casey's engagement for a moment.

For a couple weeks before she got engaged, she had absolutely no idea that anything was going on. She was clueless. And it was perfect. But so hard to keep it in. I wasn't around for the hours leading up to the actual engagement, but I do know that Case was not exactly the happiest camper. She was mad because no one could decide on a place to eat (because if they had fast food then it wouldn't take long enough!). She was mad because she still had on real clothes and it was 10:00 at night. Basically she was just kind of in a funk. But when she walked up to that chapel and realized that Ryan was waiting inside. And when she walked down that aisle to him and he proposed, none of that mattered anymore. This whole day had a bigger purpose.

Isn't that exactly how we are with God sometimes? I look at my own life and think how many times I have gotten frustrated and even down right angry with God for whatever He was doing in my life at that time. Even how many times a day I wonder, "what are You doing with me right now?" out of frustration. He has captured every tear I have ever cried, held me through the toughest times of my life, and never left my side, all the while knowing what lies ahead when I can't see it. Just like how we all knew the amazing way that Case's night would end, God knows what lies ahead. Just like we were beside ourselves with excitement, God is anxiously awaiting the perfect moment to make everything make sense. I love imagining God that way: huge smile across His face, practically jumping with joy about what He knows the end holds. And I can't wait to see what He has planned, because I know it is going to be incredible and far beyond my wildest dreams.

I'm Bringing Back Dirt Via My Chacos, Should I Declare That?

It's possible that I have been avoiding blogging about the last day. I hadn't thought about that fact until this moment when I sat down to write this, but I'm pretty sure that may be the case.

Anyway, leaving was really sad. And that could actually be almost the understatement of the year. I have never left a place feeling so much like I left a piece of my heart behind. I am perfectly content with knowing that I need to be here in Dahlonega and I really love it here, but a big piece of my heart is still in Mexico.

When we said goodbye to Saul and Mama Tori, Saul started crying. So sweet. I just love them a whole lot. So off to the airport we went, for more goodbyes to Mauricio. Also so sweet. He just has a wonderful heart and I feel so blessed to have been able to be a part of what he is doing in Cancun, even if for a short time.

What you need to know about flying with Henry is this: he's a big deal. And by that I mean he gets to get in front of everyone and we get to go with him since we're his companions and all. And it's great. That's what happens when you've been to 122 countries I suppose.

Linds fell asleep a little while into the flight and I was reading my book and listening to my ipod and just feeling weird. Not sad, not gonna cry, but just weird. Then this song came on my ipod that goes a little something like this: "the plane had barely touched down, she was taking photos for her friends back home. this was always where she felt her heart belonged. she was finally here. the sky was bright and clear" and then the tears came. Glad I was by the window because that could have been embarrassing. Hearing the words of a song I hear all the time all of a sudden touched my heart in a new way. Those words were the exact words of my heart. Mexico is always where I felt my heart belonged. And all week I just kept thinking "this feels like home. I could totally live here." All of a sudden, everything within me wanted to turn that plane around and run back to the mission house and region 235. It's so hard to walk away from a place that holds so much of your heart. But life must go on. And I am very much aware of that. So I sucked it up and continued with my book. Which also made me cry and gave me an excuse to continue crying. Kidding, kinda :)

We encountered some thunderstorms coming into Houston and we ended up barely having enough time to make it to our next flight. Homeboy in customs was chattin it up with the man in front of me, rudely being inconsiderate to those of us behind him who had a flight to catch! If Henry didn't have the hook ups, we would have missed it for sure. So we almost literally ran through the Houston airport to get to our next gate. Dodged the ridiculous carts that are all over Houston. Broke up some hand holders. Took down some small children. Were sweating more than a person really should. Heard the last call for our flight as we came around the corner. Were the last ones to get on the plane. Couldn't find a place for our luggage and almost had to check it until the nice man (who we are sure loves Jesus because people who don't love Jesus don't shine like he does) moved some stuff around and found a place for ours. Then we got delayed 30 minutes. Seriously? That just happened.

The flight from Houston to Atlanta was the only flight that Linds and I didn't have a seat (for Jesus) in between us. There was a lady from Cambodia sitting by the window. She had a massive tumor on her neck and was coming to Atlanta for surgery. Her family was behind her and none of them spoke a word of English. The lady was fascinated with everything about flying. She kept lifting up the shade on the window and peeking out and then closing it, only to repeat a few minutes later. One time when she opened it, we were in the middle of a cloud and she tapped my shoulder and pointed out the window. She was amazed and I loved sharing that moment with her. A little bit later, we encountered some more turbulence (of course we did). In case you have forgotten, I hate flying. So when that plane started bouncing around, I grabbed Lindsey's hand... and the little old lady next to me grabbed mine and held on tight until the flight smoothed out. I know it's not a big deal, but for a moment, we connected. It didn't matter that we didn't speak the same language or that I accidentally spoke Spanish to her earlier. It didn't matter that we had never met before that day. What mattered is that we had done everything we could to show her love, and she saw it. Love knows no language barriers; a common theme for the week, so of course it carried over to the flight.

The first few days back were tough. I wanted to be in Mexico. I would wake up in the morning and think I was still there and then realize I wasn't. It was sad. On top of that, I was overwhelmed with school and hated being back in the real world. The real world stinks. And Mexico is awesome. It took a few days and many tears, but I finally got adjusted back to life here and all is well. It's been stressful and I kinda hate it. I still think about Mexico every single day. I still wish I were there. I still feel like my heart is incomplete. But I love life. I love Dahlonega. I love being here. I am so content. And I love that feeling more than I love Mexico.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ryan Liked It So He Put A Ring On It!

Thank you, flood, for making nothing go as planned.
It took Ryan 7 hours to get to Dahlonega. It should take 2.
Case wasn't supposed to beat him here, but she did. By about 4 hours. Maybe more.
Beth, Em, and Linds were great and stalled a lot and kept her occupied.
She had no idea.
I'm so incredibly happy for the two of them!

this makes me smile

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's Impossible To Have A Bad Hair Day When You're Wearing A Do Rag

Thursday was our last day in Mexico and was our "play day". We slept in late and had an early lunch before heading out to spend the day on Isla de Mujeres. (translation: island of the women. real funny.) It is about a 30 minute drive and 30 minute ferry ride from Cancun (another side note in which you can laugh at my expense: I accidentally typed "fairy" instead of "ferry". I'm real tired, obviously.) Mauricio is working on another mission house over there so I was real excited to be able to see it too! We rented a golf cart to take around the island, and off the mission house we went!

We had plans to bring Mauricio's truck back to Cancun via the ferry when we came back so that he could sell it so buy a BIG something special for his precious girlfriend. When we pulled up the mission house, Mauricio's first words were "guys, where's my truck?" That's never a good sign. The poor guy seriously could not catch a break this week. So long story short, his truck was moved by some careless road pavers when they needed to pave the road and they did a little bit of damage, which sent us to the police station to file a complaint. Seems monotonous and not so leisurely, but I really loved driving all over that beautiful island, smushed in that tiny golf cart.

We spent about 2 hours (maybe?) at the beach and had so much fun just hanging out. I really love this place. It's so beautiful. I can hardly believe it. I am really praying about what to do next as far as Mexico goes. I really feel like God has given me a huge heart for these people and this country and I really feel like He is not done with me there. I don't know what that means yet, but I'm ok about it. I am praying about seeing what I can figure out for going back this upcoming summer, but I will definitely be back in September again!

Needless to say, I was not ready to say goodbye so soon.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I'm Glad We're Going To Heaven And Not Hell Because If It's This Hot Here...

Wednesday was actual Independence Day. This was awesome because that meant no one would be working and the kids would be out of school. We went back to region 235 to meet more people and give out candy and invite them to our block party that night. This place is huge! And HOT! I seriously never sweat so much in my entire life. It's ridiculous. We hung up our clothes to dry when we got back.

The block party that night was awesome! I only wish that the mosquitoes did not come to the party. I seriously have 21 bug bites, 15 of which are on my feet. I wish I was exaggerating. We planned to have a movie for the kids, Pastor Marcial and/or Henry speaks, and then pinatas for the kids. We weren't sure how many people to expect, but we kept having to get more chairs! At the last count we had about 175 but more came in after, we just didn't have time to count them all. It was awesome! While Pastor Marcial was talking to the parents, Mama Tori took the kids and did an activity with them. 30 kids made decisions that night. I started to get sad when we were cleaning up because it was our last night with them. We had a meeting with the family whose house the new church will be at and it was a really sweet time. Just seeing how far this church has come in the week that we have been here is incredible. Of course, I got real teary eyed when we left. For the first time, it wasn't just the kids that we got attached to but the adults too. Almost more than the kids. We really connected with them on a different level and got to know and share their hearts for this church.

It was a great way to end the week and I am so thankful for and in total awe of what God did for this church, these people, and us!

We Shall Henceforth Call This The Night Of Brotherly Love Con Las Hermanitas Companeras

Tuesday morning Henry did some marriage counseling with Manuel and Elaina. We all definitely supported and agreed that it was a good idea, but it didn't leave us much to do since we kinda needed to make ourselves scarce. So we spent the morning by the pool. I actually kinda feel bad for the tan that I've gotten here, but in my defense, it doesn't take a whole lot of sun since it's still so close to summer.

We spent most of the late afternoon walking around region 235 talking with the families and playing with the kids. The whole goal was to build relationships, and if you are nice to a person's kids then they will love you. It's scientifically proven. We got to talk to a ton of people and gave out lots of candy and balloons. These kids loved balloons! And they were hilarious about the candy. They would run to another street and meet us when we got there, as if we wouldn't recognize them. And they always needed one for their little brother, little sister, or cousin. So cute.

That night is when celebrations for Independence Day start. (contrary to popular belief, Independence Day is not Cinco de Mayo) Mauricio took Sam, Linds, and I to hang out with some of his friends. His friend Oscar is a pastor and also has a rehab center. He is an ex drug addict and alcoholic and has a heart for helping those people. Right now he has about 35 in the rehab center and is running about 250 at his church each week. God is really doing great things through him! Point of that is 1. to brag on God and 2. that we went to a party at his church where we had ice cream in a bag and it was the greatest ice cream I have ever had. After the party we met up with some other guys and played pool. They were so much fun and seriously some of the sweetest guys I have ever met. Great night with great people.

At First I Thought You Were White Invaders

On Monday we started the day with our first visit to region 235. The easiest way to explain it is that the different regions are basically smaller cities near the big cities. Region 235 is the place where the new church will be. This area is such a sharp contrast to the hotel district: unpaved roads, houses made out of cardboard boxes, five or more people in a one room house, no air conditioning. It's like a whole different world. It's not as if I had never seen anything like it before or that I didn't expect it, but seeing it always has the same effect on me. It's just sad that so many people could vacation in Cancun and never have any idea what it's like outside of the resorts.

We spent most of the morning walking through the area praying and meeting people who go to Pastor Marcial's church. The people from region 235 walk 8-10 miles to go to church. They were so kind to invite us into their tiny houses and spend some time with us. The majority of our time there was spent praying together. A lot of people would probably look at that and say that we could have just as easily done that at home, but I disagree completely. I know that my prayers never fall on deaf ears and I will definitely continue to pray for Cancun and region 235, but there's something really special to be experienced by praying on the land with the people who live there. Sometimes I understood what they were saying and other times I had no idea, and I know none of them understood when we prayed, but it didn't even matter. I am so thankful that we serve a God who transcends any and all language barriers!

When we were done with our prayer walk, Henry had a sweet surprise: he was taking Manuel (Pastor Marcial's son), Elaina (Manuel's fiance), and Pastor Marcial to get Elaina a wedding dress. Linds and I got to see the dresses she tried on. She looked absolutely beautiful and was just beaming with happiness. Before we left, Manuel thanked Henry, told him how much they had been praying that his would work out, and invited him to come back for the wedding in December. It was such a sweet moment. I am so thankful that it worked out the way it did and that we were able to be a part of it.

Every day we had lunch around 1:00 (have I mentioned that Mama Tori makes amazing food? because she does) and then things are kinda dead. It's so insanely hot that no one really does anything until about 5:00. A little siesta, if you will. After being in that hot sun all morning, we were always exhausted. Perfect time for a nap or some time on the roof at the pool. I became a huge fan of this time of the day and am really going to miss it. 4:30 am and I are going to hate each other even more as of Tuesday. We had a prayer meeting back at the church site that night. Another time where I wasn't really sure what was going on sometimes, but still really good. I just really love being with these people. Plus there were chickens. Running all over the place. At our prayer meeting. I don't care who you are, that's funny.

Mama Tori Makes A Mean Ham And Cheese Sandwich

Sunday morning we went to the church we will be working with and met Pastor Marcial. Church was... interesting. The music was the sharpest contrast possible to anything that we ever sing at church. All out of a hymnal, sometimes straight from the Bible itself-which always made us laugh for some unknown reason. Most of the time I had no idea what anyone was saying. I could catch page numbers for the hymnal and different words here and there, but not a whole lot. Most members, including Pastor Marcial, are Mayan and also mumble. These two things make it very difficult to understand. I was assured that it was their accent and not my lack of Spanish knowledge, but I still feel slightly discouraged. Hopefully it will get better throughout the week.

The afternoon was spent mostly playing with Gabriel and Sophie. It was a quiet afternoon, but I really loved it. I love spending time with them and getting to know them and their hearts. Linds taught Sophie how to braid. Sophie also loves High School Musical, so we talked about that a lot. I knew God would use my uncanny love for HSM one day.

Late that afternoon, Pastor Marcial came over to talk with all of us. We started talking about things that are going on in his family, and he just looked so burdened. His son is getting married in December, and the whole situation has been very stressful in every way possible. It's a long story and I also don't feel it's my place whatsoever to be sharing it with the bloggy world (not that I don't trust you, my faithful bloggy friends, but this isn't a private blog), but please keep his family and the marriage situation in your prayers. We really felt like we needed to deal with part of this situation before we could move forward with the new church. It's so sad to see a grown man so broken and defeated. At the same time, seeing Henry and Mauricio reach out to him and minister to him was the perfect picture of fellowship in its truest form, as God intended it to be.

We went back to church that night and I still didn't really understand. In fact, I have no idea what even went on. And that's all I have to about that.

Except that we had ham and cheese sandwiches for dinner and they were the best I have ever had. The end.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Prepare For Take Off!

I'm going to update this ole blog here using my journal from each day. So here's day one... numero uno, if you will.

I could barely sleep the night before we left. I was so excited and so nervous at the same time. We had to be at the church at 4:30 that morning, which is yuck!, but I was so ready to go! We were very entertained by the people at the airport, especially the lady with a full head of curlers. When we got on the plane, I had to use Google to find out how to turn my phone off. Clearly I am still very iPhone illiterate. We also had some friends in front of us suddenly realize that they are Facebook friends. From the sound of the conversation, it seems as though they are not legitimately friends or barely acquaintances, and the man was very awkward while the woman was rather enthusiastic about the situation. There was an empty seat between Linds and I, which made for a great place for all of our People magazines (thanks for that Tam!), which I insisted had to be read in chronological order. We also decided that Jesus was sitting in that very seat with us. He makes for a most delightful flying companion. Unfortunately, not too long after take off, Lindsey started to feel sick and was able to experience the joys of through up in an airplane bathroom. She doesn't recommend it. Thankfully, she was feeling better by flight #2 (Jesus joined us here, too), which was good because I really needed her to hold my hand during the most intense turbulence I have ever experienced. I probably shouldn't have chosen to start watching Lost so soon before getting on a plane. I. HATE. FLYING. We were going through some thunderstorms and hit ice in a cloud (who knew that was even possible?). Henry said we dropped about 500 feet. Not cool. Toward the end of the flight we had to start filling out our customs forms, which always give me trouble and stress me out. The flight attendant kept reminding us to fill out our "large visitor's form". Linds took this as "large" describing the visitors, not the form, and we got a good laugh out of that for a long while. So funny!

I think I fell in love with Mexico the moment I saw it out the window of the plane. I have to admit that I even got a little teary eyed. I just couldn't believe I was finally there. God is so faithful and His timing is so perfect!

Mauricio, the guy we're working with, got his dates mixed up and thought we were coming on Sunday, so we had to wait for a little while for him to come pick us up. As soon as you meet Mauricio, you can't help but love him. He is so much fun and I love his heart for the Lord. We enjoyed a great lunch and time getting to know each other.

We are staying at the mission house in Cancun that he built, which is awesome! There's even a pool on the roof. Welcome to Mexico, kids. The house"parents", if you will, are Mama Tori and Saul. They are some of the sweetest people I have ever met. Mama Tori loves to serve and barely lets you do anything for yourself and Saul loves to tell stories. He's a talker! They have been married over 40 years and are so obviously in love with each other and the Lord. It's so precious. Also, Mama Tori is the greatest cook ever! Seriously.

Mauricio also has 2 kids: Sophie is 7 and Gabriel is 3. We immediately fell in love with them, too. Sophie is spiritually wise way beyond her years. When we were at Costco, she asked Lindsey why we grow and plants and animals grow but other things don't, like the buggy. Linds asked her what we have that the buggy doesn't. She started naming things like lungs, brain, etc. and when she said "heart"she said, "We have a heart so we can love Jesus and love each other." So precious, and so true. Sophie speaks great English, but Gabriel doesn't really speak any at all. But that did not stop Gabriel and I from falling in love. I probably only understand about half of anything he says to me, partly because he is 3 years old and partly because he speaks much better Spanish than I do. He insists that my name is "muchacha" and I love it. On our way to Costco he was playing with my hair and asked me why I cut it. I didn't really know what to say because it's not like he knew me when I had long hair or anything. Before I could say anything, he said, "it's short like my dad's". Awesome. Thanks, buddy. Too funny.

In less than 24 hours, I'm already in love. This feels like it could be home.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I'm Leavin' On A Jet Plane

T minus 4.5 hours until we pull out of the driveway! While my excitement has been increasing every day, I don't think it really hit me until today. I had some time alone in the car today on the way to WLA (another story for another day) and just started crying because I can't believe this is really happening. I can't explain the love I feel for this country and I haven't even been there yet. I will be updating this and facebook and twitter from time to time so be sure to check on it this week!

things to be praying for:
-the church we will be planting.
-the people we will come into contact with.
-health for everyone, but especially Linds because she has been sick all week.
-the hearts of the people we will encounter.
-our hearts, that we would be totally focused on God and why we are there.
-that we would be free from distraction from school or stresses back home.
-that we would be free from discouragement. personally, Satan has been really trying to get to me this week already.
-the language barrier. that I will be able to speak with confidence in what I know that I know and not be so timid and that God will give us all the words to say so that it is truly Him speaking and not us. all of that so that there will be seemingly no language barrier at all.

thank you for all of your support and prayers. know that we are taking each of you with us on this journey. love you all!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Live Love

Last weekend Linds wore my "Live Love" t-shirt from disciple now. It's one of my favorite shirts and I've worn it plenty of times, but I haven't really thought about it since that d-now weekend in March.

What does it mean to live love? John 13:35 says that all men will know we are God's disciples by the way we love one another. What does it mean to love someone? Love is an action. Love is a choice. Love is not always easy. We are called to a lifestyle of love. When it comes to my friends and family, this is not difficult for me. Savannah and I often joke about how frequently we tell people we love them. It almost feels awkward to leave someone or hang up the phone without telling that person I love them. I am a very loving person. I love wholeheartedly. It's all or nothing. I'm either all in or not at all. To some, that could be a bad thing. I know how to guard my heart when it is needed, but I still know how to love at the same time.

I used to really struggle with loving people who I wasn't so much friends with. Someone once told me to pray for a girl who I was having differences with, and I thought she was crazy at first. But one day something in my heart changed, and I have been doing it ever since. I feel like this is one of the many ways that God has called me to love: to love the people who hurt me the most. To pray for them until there isn't a single sliver of bitterness about the situation left in my heart. To be able to be so committed to God's will that I can say that I don't harbor negative thoughts because I choose to love my brothers and sisters in Christ in the way that I have been commanded; in a way that causes people to wonder how it's even possible; in a way that always only points to God, because I could never do it on my own. It's hard, but I, we, are not called to live an easy life. We are called to a higher standard. To try hard things. I want to be a part of something that could bring God that much glory, even if it means a little bit of difficulty for me. I want people to see something different in me.

Linds is reading Blue Like Jazz, and reminded me of this quote: "Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way." I want people to see the way that I love the Lord and be shown the way. Now, I don't think highly enough of myself to think that I am just going to lead the multitudes to Christ, but I want people to see Jesus in me, not me at all. I want them to see the joy and the happiness that He has to offer. I want them to see what He has done in my life and want to experience it too. I want to be used to love like He loves. I want them to watch me love God so passionately and desperately that they automatically fall in love with Him too, and then give Him all the glory.

Who Are We That You Would Be Mindful Of Us?

Linds and I have been working on memorizing Psalm 139. I first came up with this idea because I feel like, as a girl, there are times where we really need to be reminded of who we are in Christ and reminded of the way that God sees us. I have spent the past few months delving into different scriptures that are about who I am in Christ and just making sure that I am completely defining myself in Him and nothing else. It has been really good for my heart and has brought me to a new level of confidence and joy in knowing who I am in Him. How could I not walk around with a smile knowing that my Creator is madly in love with me and wants to have a relationship, a friendship, with me?!

But let us not be quick to forget who we really are apart from Christ. I am a sinner. I am unworthy. I am inadequate. No matter how hard I try, I can never be worthy of love, forgiveness, grace, or mercy, much less salvation. Every single day I wake up and commit to living for Christ and trying to make my life a living example of what He can do with a life. But my best intentions don't matter. I am sinful. No matter how hard I try, I turn my back on Him and go against Him every single day, whether it be in thought or action or the condition of my heart toward a given situation. I want so badly to please Him and my human nature causes me to do the exact opposite all the time. I don't want anything I do to be displeasing in His eyes, and the next thing I know I am in a compromising situation. Without Him, I am a failure. The wages of my sin are death. I am nothing.

God sees hope in the midst of hopeless me. He thinks I am worthy. He thought enough of me to give up His only son. I know that this is basic Sunday school stuff, but how could anyone possibly get over that fact? How could that ever cease to be anything but incredible? With Christ, I am a completely different person. I am redeemed. I am set free from all of the bonds that my sins hold me in. I am full of so much joy! Sometimes it makes me want to dance and other times it brings me to tears in total awe. I am loved more than I could even begin to comprehend. The Creator of the world passionately pursues me every single day. He wants me. He wants to love me and wants me to love Him. He wants to be my friend. He will never EVER leave me, no matter how many times I leave Him. I am His forever. Nothing or no one could change that as long as I live. I am not worthy of being called His daughter, of being saved, of being given eternal life, but He doesn't see it that way. I will never understand how He could love me so much, but I am so thankful that He does.

I Can't Seriously Be Old Enough For This

I remember having student teachers when I was in elementary school and I swear they were at least 30 years old. I felt like they were so much older that I was. They seemed so grown up and like it would be forever before I was anywhere near their age. And I couldn't have been any more wrong. Those student teachers were probably only 20 to 22 years old. And while they were much older that I was at the time, turns out 21 is creeping up on me very quickly.

I'm suddenly a lot more grown up that I realized. I don't live on campus anymore. I have to worry about paying bills. I'm teaching in a classroom, considering how I'm going to get my masters and what I'm going to do after graduation. My friends are getting married or will be getting married soon as we find ourselves planning their weddings in our spare time (or in the car since we no longer have spare time). It's all very strange, yet, most the time, enjoyable.

The most enjoyable part of this growing up business is most definitely the teaching part. I am in first grade at the World Language Academy. It's a charter school where students are taught in English and Spanish and learn Chinese. It's about 45 mins- 1 hour away from my school. It's a lot of driving every day, but totally worth it. I was fortunate to be placed with an incredible teacher. She's very young but has a lot of experience and I am continually amazed at what a great teacher she is. I feel like I have so much to learn from her and a very long way to go before I am even half of the teacher that she is, but I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn from her. I only wish I had more than 6 weeks in her classroom before I move to my next placement. Mondays I get to sleep until 6:30 because we have our Classroom Management class from 8:30-11:30, but Tuesday- Friday I get up between 4:30 and 4:45 every morning. There are 3 other girls also placed at WLA and we meet in the school parking lot at 6:30. We're there from 7:30-10:30 and by the time we get home we have just enough time to grab some lunch, sometimes change clothes, and get our stuff for class. Then we're in class until 4 or 4:30. Tuesday and Thursday I have my art class from 5:30-8:30, but right now we get out early most of the time, which is nice. So that's 22 hours of classes. Yeah, I'm crazy. On top of that, Mondays I have chapter council, Tuesdays is chapter, Wednesdays is Bible study, and Thursdays (soon) will be Grey's nights with some of my sweet sisters. And bed time is somewhere around 10:00 but I wouldn't mind one bit if I could somehow change that to about 9:30. I just aged 40 years.

So yes, it's really busy. Yes, normal people know not to take 22 hours of classes in 1 semester (at least I'm doing it with my best friend! what better support system could a girl have?). Yes, I'm exhausted and slightly stressed. But I love it. I seriously wouldn't change a thing. It's going to be an intense 2 years, but it will be worth it. These kids are worth it. And even when the real school part is kicking my butt, the students at-what we call little kid school-make it all worth it.

some highlights from week one:
-fire drill on the first day
-little boy puts paper towels in the toilet and flushes it 3 times. needless to say, it over flows.
-little girl: what year were you born in? (I think they're just starting to learn about years and stuff) me: 1989 little girl: you were born in the 1900's?!?!
-one girl told me that she has a real fairy godmother and that she was coming to stay this weekend. she was also bringing her boyfriend but she doesn't like her boyfriend because he tells jokes that aren't funny.
-another little boy using his pencils as chopsticks.
-their spelling. right now we are focusing more on sounding words out and knowing sight words rather than accuracy. most of the time you can figure out what they are trying to say, but sometimes I feel like it's in a different language.
-there is one little girl who is extremely quiet. I have been watching her and haven't really even seen her talk to many of her classmates. as I get more involved around the classroom, I have been trying to make a point to talk to her and check on her work and stuff and she is really starting to open up and smile more. Those are the kinda things that make it worth it.

I can't wait to see what the rest of the year has in store!