Saturday, September 5, 2015

Depression, Letting Go, and the Power of Positive Self-Talk

I have wondered for weeks how to begin a post like this. I have had weeks where I've been itching to create this post, and weeks where I've told myself that if I write this post, I'll be cut off permanently from society, which is a lie straight from the pits of hell.

In June, Andrew and I, along with the assistant principal from my school, took 20 students to Peru. It. Was. Awesome. Even the Amazon, which I don't really ever want to do again. I can at least say that I've been there and slept (or rather, didn't sleep) 4 feet from a giant porcupine that I was sure was about to jump on me and kill me at any second. 

When we came back, however, I got really sick. And I mean really sick. Like pale, sweating, freezing, 10-feet-from-the-bathroom, can't-move-without-feeling-like-knives-are-stabbing-my-temples sick. The first night, I thought it was the flu. But Andrew never caught it, and two days later I was still sick. After blood-testing for malaria and Hepatitis A, determining I had neither, and chalking it up to possible salmonella poisoning and something else I'd rather not share publicly, I began to get better. 


But for some reason, mentally I began to feel like someone had picked me up with a crane and dropped me into a pit darker than anywhere I'd been before. 

So I started to withdraw from society. I didn't want to hang out. I didn't want to see anyone. I wanted to sleep (I slept a lot), cuddle my cats, lay on the couch with my husband, and I had a desire like I'd never had before to dive deeper into Scripture.

I had no clue at the time why God let me sit in this pit where I couldn't see anything, but I could feel him slowly begin prying my fingers from things I had held onto for so long. And for once, I let Him. Control is my biggest idol. Controlling people. Controlling my running. Controlling my job and my classroom. Controlling my body and how I look. 

Depression has taken many good things from me this summer. It's taken friendships. My heart has wanted to crack open from friends who didn't understand me or were upset with me. It's taken running. If you've ever run before, you know that the one thing it takes even more than physical endurance is mental endurance, which I had almost none of. It's taken my body. I've gained weight (not much, but enough to where I notice it), and I've lost all the muscle I worked so long to gain. It's taken my desire to eat right. My summer months were filled with large Cokes, donuts, and greasy hamburgers. At times I felt like it took my sanity on the days when I would sit at home and wonder if I'd ever feel like me again.

But there's one thing it never took. My desire to live and to follow Jesus. If anything there were times when I literally could feel him there, taking things from my hands and replacing them with his Word and his love. 

And my husband. My wonderful, awesome, loving husband, who has always sought to understand me. I know, and I feel it within the depths of my soul, that one day when we're both gone, he will stand at the gates of heaven and God will reward him for loving me and leading me as one of his daughters so well. I have seem him grow so much this summer. 

One day, I was talking to my mom on the phone and she found a Christian therapist online that she suggested I see. (I am so thankful for this, mom, you don't even know!) So I called her, and I love her. If anything, she's helped me understand what I am going through and helped me let go of the things God, through this depression, was gently taking from me.

After I was instructed to give up my second job and, in my therapist's words, anything that I strove to be a perfectionist at or worship as an idol, my therapist began to teach me about positive self-talk. 

One of the most difficult things to do is stop negative self-talk. And I began to realize that I was living in this cycle of sin my whole life where I continuously had told myself, "You suck at this. You have to do better. You have to do this, this, and this. You're not pretty enough, strong enough, thin enough." 

So I was instructed to actually say kind things to myself in my head (or aloud) every day. Not self-worshiping, but just reassuring myself using things that God has said about me in Scripture. You are beautiful. You are loved. You're enough. 

And I'm slowly getting better. I'm learning how to run and work out healthily (isn't it strange that there's a healthy and an unhealthy way to work out??). I no longer take my GPS watch with me. I no longer time myself or check my distance. I do it for fun and down time. I breathe deeper when I'm at work. I'm way less stressed (most of the time). I let my husband lead me. I cry when I feel like I need to cry, because this whole process is painful, man! I've dropped to my knees and asked God to bring someone who understood and have literally had 3 or 4 friends seek me out to either study Scripture or just hang out and talk. (Jesus is so good to us). 

Talking about depression is so looked down upon for some reason. But I can bet you if you walked into a room with just 10 people in it, at least one other person has struggled with it at some point in his/her life. Our country has one of the highest depression rates in the world, and it's because we try so hard to control EVERYTHING (don't get me wrong, it's an actual chemical imbalance), but I wonder if it would be better if we just were allowed to stop and breathe. If we'd be better if we were allowed to talk about it without being ostracized. In 2010 alone, over 38,000 people chose to end their lives because the pain just became too much. What if we talked about this? What if more stories were shared and more people asked the question, and truly wanted to know, "How are you doing?" What are we so afraid of?

I wonder. 

So that's my story. It's long and winding and confusing, but that's what's currently in my head. And if sharing it helps one person, then it's worth it. You're worth it. 

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." - Eph. 3:20-21

Thursday, July 30, 2015

New Blog

Come on over to my NEW blog where I will be blogging for Kansas State University's College of Ed at

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Tips for Running Your First Half Marathon

So, not gonna lie, I totally stole this idea from another blogger who shared some of her tips on running. I am not by any means an expert runner, but I just have grown really passionate about it over the last year. It is a great way to stay in shape and it burns calories quickly! I wanted to share some of my own tips so that maybe some of my friends can benefit from my mistakes and so that some of my full-marathoner friends might share tips with me as well! So, here are my tips on running your first (or second, or third) half marathon.

Prepare your immune system. I highly recommend (although I'm obviously not a doctor, so ask first!) Emergen-C. It's a powder that mixes right into your water, doesn't taste too horrible, and contains like 1000% vitamin C. I was sick once this winter for about a week. For working with over 150 high school students, that's pretty good!

  1. Train with a friend. Out of the five half marathons I have run, the one I did alone was by far the worst and the hardest. No running friends? Join a running group. I am trying this one this year. I will let you know how it goes! Don't forget to appoint cheerleaders! You will need them to get you through this race! There is nothing like seeing someone you know along the sidelines cheering you on.
  2. Remember to replenish your protein and energy supply within 30 minutes of finishing a run. My favorite recipe can be found here (chocolate peanut butter banana protein shake). Smoothies and protein shakes are easy on your tummy if you don't feel like eating after. Protein is really important to keep your muscles strong and help them rebuild.
  3. If your tummy IS hurting a lot during a run, you may be eating too much fat. I have cut back significantly on eating fast food (except the occasional Egg McMuffin) and have seen a huge change in how my stomach feels when I run. Fat is difficult to digest and can make for some emergency bathroom stops! I also see stomach problems when I carb load. Lots of runners like to carb load, but I don't. See my next point. :) 
  4. Your meal the night before a long run will really impact your performance the next day. Many runners seem to like carbs before their long runs, but I prefer to lean more on the protein side as my protein levels are usually low (your doctor can check these levels for you). My favorite night-before meal is a steak bowl from Chipotle with rice, black beans, and veggies. Skip the sour cream as dairy can make your stomach uneasy before a run.
  5. Speaking of food, you're going to be hungry. A lot. It is recommended that women eat between 1800-2400 calories a day to maintain weight. This is for non-exercisers. For someone my height, weight, and age, I burn about 1500 calories a day at rest, but during the peak of half-marathon training I will also be burning over 1000 calories on long runs in a couple hours. I will consume closer to 2800-3000 calories a day to maintain weight and replenish my fuel. I didn't do this for my first half and I lost weight drastically and was exhausted. You can figure out your caloric intake and BMR (calories burnt at rest) here. Make sure to eat healthy calories, although a treat after a long run is definitely called for! My favorite is a white cherry slush from QuikTrip or a peanut butter chocolate cupcake from J. Rae's. Knowing I have a cupcake waiting for me at the finish line definitely helps me push through the last few miles! 
  6. Don't feel bad if you miss one long run. If you're sick, it's better to skip the long run and spend time recovering. One week off won't kill your training.
  7. Ice is super important at the end of a long run. During long runs, your leg muscles "tear down" in a way, especially if you're pushing yourself harder than normal. Take an ice bath or (my favorite) fill Dixie cups with water, freeze them, and then just peel the sides of the cup down. You now have a "holder" and can run the ice along your legs. This works especially well for shin splints.
  8. For ice baths, don't start out too cold. Water around 60 degrees seemed to work great for me at the beginning. Then work your way down. Don't stay in too long as cold water can be dangerous. I've heard you can buy "toe caps" for your toes during an ice bath, although I haven't tried this.
  9. DO YOUR STRENGTH TRAINING! I skipped this while I was training for the Prairie Fire 2013 spring race. I hate weight-lifting and anything besides running. I started to have severe pain in my right knee. Turns out I was running so much that my quads were unevenly built, therefore pulling my kneecaps out of alignment. Fun stuff! I spent a few months in physical therapy for this, obviously missed my race, and lost all my endurance. Yoga is a great way to strength train if you're like me and you hate lifting weights.
  10. Pick great shoes. Do not go to Target and buy their running shoes. Do not even go to Finish Line. Don't get me wrong; I love these stores. But a good pair of running shoes should last you through 400 miles. Go to a running store and have them watch you run. They will help you pick a great shoe. Yes, they're expensive, but they're worth it.
  11. Buy new running clothes. Nothing gets me motivated like a new outfit to run in!
  12. Elevate your legs immediately after running. This will help the lactic acid drain and your muscles to recover more quickly.
  13. Stay hydrated. I drink water on long runs about every 3 miles. Most races will have them every two. You can either plan your route to go past gas stations (usually they'll give you a glass of water for free), hide water bottles along your route beforehand, or purchase a running water bottle that straps to your hand. Personally, I wouldn't mess with the $50 water belts. They bump around and are a pain in the butt to have clanging around your waist.
  14. Nobody is perfect. I have read blogs of other runners and thought, "Man, they're amazing!" The last half marathon I ran, I walked a lot of the last four miles as the temperature reached 90 degrees. Never in my life have I had to walk, but I had to this time and that's okay! Know your limits and know the difference between really needing to stop and your mind just scaring you into not finishing. 
  15. You can finish this race! Don't worry about your pace. Many factors can affect your race time, whether it's a small injury, cramping up, rain, snow, heat, cold. My times are all over the board because of weather especially. I've run a race in 7 degrees and I've run a race in 90 degrees, both of which affected my pace greatly. Just finish and have a blast! What would you add to my list?

Thursday, November 28, 2013


It's been a while since I've written anything...probably because I wanted to have something worthwhile to post. And I've been insanely busy!

It's Thanksgiving and I wanted to write about something that I'm thankful for, but first I just have to voice some frustrations...weird on Thanksgiving, right? But I promise they won't be selfish frustrations. I hope. Call me out if I'm wrong.

Now, I have a TON to be thankful for. A ton. But here is what's been on my mind for the last week or so:

Lately, all of these posts have been circling about how amazing teachers are for doing what they do. You scroll down to read the comments and all these people are arguing about how teachers have it easy and then someone comes back with name-calling and some clever insults and the reasons why teachers are the best.

Here's my frustration: I'm kinda tired of seeing all the articles about how teachers work harder than everyone else. I chose this job. Yes, I work upwards of 60 hours a week. Yes, I work without pay at night and on weekends. Yes, I deal with attitude and kids writing on my back wall and kids covering their desk in Elmer's glue (whole 'nother story). And I won't complain about my salary because I believe my district works hard to pay me well, but yes, many teachers make next to nothing. But I chose this job. I could have chosen something that was easier. I didn't go into teaching thinking I'd come out a millionaire. I didn't go in thinking all my students would love me all the time. I didn't go in thinking I'd never have to work at night or on the weekends.

Now, don't get me wrong. Teaching is an amazing profession, and yes, it's hard. The burnout rate is high for a reason. But can we please stop bragging and angering people even more towards us as teachers? The last thing that we need is less support because people think that teachers believe they're better than others.

Today as I woke up on Thanksgiving (in my bed, next to my husband, with the sun already up, buried under my warm blankets), I thought of all the people who will work today, some because they are forced to, some because they need to in order to make ends meet. I believe that some teachers are heroes, definitely. But our jobs are no better or harder than the doctor who has to tell a mom that her child didn't make it; we're no better than those serving in Afghanistan and dying for our country; we're no better than the people who work in a restaurant and are constantly griped at by customers; we're no better than the policemen who face danger every time they go in to work. Each of us was made for something different. I chose this. I know it's hard, but others work hard too. Are there jobs out there that are stinkin' easy? Yes. But what right do I have to say that my job is better when I could have chosen something easy? (Does this make any sense?)

So today, I'm thankful not only for my job (difficult as it may be sometimes), but for the people whose jobs are infinitely harder than mine will ever be. Thank you to everyone who serves our country and protects us. Thank you to those who work so we can have these days off. You are appreciated more than you know.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

my fitness journey.

So, most of the time (actually all of the time) I don't really write about fitness on my blog. But I am SO pumped about my "fitness journey" over the past few months, that I have to share. For those of you who have knee injuries, hip injuries, or are just plain out of shape like me, there is hope!

This past year was my first year of teaching and my first year of marriage, so I can tell you that fitness took a back burner to my new husband and my new job. I never worked out. I used to be able to run a mile in about 7 minutes, and now I doubt I could run a mile at all. Here's the mistake I made when I started working out after 6 months of no activity: I went from not running at all to trying to run 6 and 7 miles at a time back in March when my schedule opened up a little. NOT GOOD.

I ended up with something called chondromalacia, which basically means the cartilage in my knee is starting to wear off from overuse and weak hips & quads. I became super discouraged, started gaining weight, and making terrible eating/nutrition choices. My knee was so stiff I could barely walk.

Finally, I got my sorry self to the doctor who recommended physical therapy. I am going to share with you the exercises that are kicking my butt back into gear. Within a few weeks, I went from barely walking to using the elliptical without any pain. Most of these are hip-strengthening exercises because, I don't know if you knew this, but bad knees usually stem from weak hips.

If you decide to do these, please stop if you have bad pain. I am not a doctor and do not want to hurt you. :) These are just exercises that I have been very happy with. And yes, there is good pain and bad pain. Good pain = "Wow, I'm going to feel that in the morning." Bad pain = "Wow, I'm going to need a new knee/hip after this."

Before and after you work out, you should stretch really well to keep from getting injured.

Exercises recommended by my PT: (you will need a resistance band for some of these.)
**disclaimer: The people in the pictures are not me. :) I don't take pictures of myself working out.

Side steps:
1) Place the band around your ankles.
2) Step out to the side. Then bring your feet back together. You can do this standing in one place or you can side step all the way across the room and come back.
Go down to one end of the room and back twice (or once if that's all you can do...that's ok!)

Monster steps:
1) Place the band around your ankles.
2) Squat down to a little more than 90 degree angle.
3) Step forward and out (diagonally) with your right foot.
4) Bring your left foot up next to your right.
5) Step forward and out with your left foot.
6) Bring your right foot up next to your left.

(This girl is getting pretty low...I can't do that, but if you can, then good for you!)

Leg lifts (no resistance band):
The typical leg lift...
1) Lay on one side with your head in your hand. Use your other hand on the floor in front of your abs to support yourself.
2) Lift your leg as high as it will go and bring it back down. Do 15 on both sides, 3 times if you can.

Wall Push:
This one is kinda hard to explain, so I hope the picture helps.

I'm totally kidding. I don't think I will ever be able to do that in my life. No, but it is hard to explain:

1)Stand with your right side to the wall.
2)Bend your right knee up to a 90 degree angle in front of you.
3) Using your hands to support you, push your leg into the wall and hold for 10 seconds, then relax. Do as many as you can on each side.

Kinda like this guy, but I like to use my hands on the wall to support myself.

Hip Hikes:
You can do this one on the stairs. Pretty easy:

1) Step up sideways with your hands on your hips.
2) Hike your hip up twice, then step back down.

I know for a lot of these I didn't put how many reps you should do. Really most of these are fairly low intensity exercises, so I just do as many as I can without overdoing it.

I hope these help you as much as they do me. Another thing that has helped me is looking up Pilates videos on YouTube. They are awesome and work on strength, which is neglected by so many runners. I am learning that just because I can run half marathons does NOT mean I have strong legs. So ready to change. If you try these, let me know what you think. If you haven't worked out before, start setting some goals for yourself. Rewards are important too! I by a bag of candy that I can only have if I work out that day. (Some candy really isn't too terrible for you, like M&Ms or Tootsie Rolls.)

Good luck!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

my crazy life lately.

So it's been a LONG time (kinda) since I've written anything, and another friend's blog that I've been reading made me want to write again.

Life has been amazing, frustrating, nerve-racking, and glorious over the past few months. The frustrating: I've been packing on a few pounds as a result of not being able to run since before spring break. Back in March, I noticed a sharp pain in my right knee, so of course, I kept running because I'm smart like that. After a few different diagnoses and remedies that did nothing, I finally opted to see a knee specialist at the orthopedic center. His diagnosis: chondromalacia, a really long word that means, "the back of your kneecap is jacked up." Basically the doctor figured out that my ligaments and tendons are so stretchy (funny since I'm not the most flexible person in the world, but I am "double-jointed," if that even exists), that they're not doing the proper job of holding my kneecap in place when I run. So, as I've run miles and miles over the last 5-6 years, I've been losing cartilage under my kneecap. And if I continue to do so, it will be bone-on-bone. Yay! Physical therapy starts this week and I'm ready for it. My knee has felt horrible lately and it's been two months. Sometimes if I fall asleep curled up I wake up almost in tears because my knee has locked up. Yep, ready for it to be gone. But until then I get to wear a super sexy brace that runs from my thigh to my shin and holds my kneecap where it should be!

Now to the amazing: WE BOUGHT A HOUSE! It's beautiful and so cute and perfect for us for right now.

The basement isn't finished, so that will be a big project for us, but we're excited for everything that this house will bring. Fun nights with friends and family, nights sitting out on the deck watching the stars (we're semi in the country), babies someday, and much more! 

Our offer was just accepted today, so we have to get through all the other stuff until it's officially ours, but I've been asking God to let it happen if he wants. We looked at this house on Thursday night, and so the past couple days God has been working on my heart about this. I remember my days when I said I would never buy a house as nice as this, that I wanted to live in a tiny house in Mexico and build homes with Casas. And that would still be amazing, but I ask God, "Why? Why do you choose us to live here?" Because let me tell you, we told God, "If You don't want us here, make it very clear to us. Don't let us get this house if You want us elsewhere." 

When I came back from living in Mexico, I judged people for living in nice homes. I truly did (and I was way wrong...this is the danger of long-term missions). I promised I would be back and that's where I would do my ministry. My heart was (and still is) for the poor and for the forgotten about. But God has revealed something to me in my last year of teaching in one of Sedgwick County's more affluent schools (not like Maize, but I mean it's close). All year I've asked God, "God, I've been so willing to go teach in places other teachers don't want to go, and you've given me a coveted spot in an amazing school, why?"And this is the conclusion I've come to: I hated the rich. So God dropped me right in the middle of them in my school. He has shown me that although someone is rich, they may be spiritually impoverished. What if when God talks about the poor of the Bible and helping them, he's not only talking about the financially poor? What if he's talking about the spiritually poor? 

I hope this post hasn't sounded...I don't know the word. Haughty? Rude? I-get-to-work-in-Valley-and-you-don't? Because that's not what I mean at all. I just wonder why God blesses me with a new home and there are people who serve him wayyy more than I do, and they live in a shack in Juarez. I have done absolutely nothing to deserve anything He gives me. But I can bet that when we move into this neighborhood, and as I continue to serve at the school I have fallen in love with, I will continue to fall in love with the people who surround me. 

I have been diving deeper into the Bible lately with Beth Moore. We've been studying Daniel, prophecy, history, and the end times. Because friends, it's coming. And it doesn't matter what kind of house you lived in or what school you attended or what car you drove, we all will have the Almighty to answer to. As I've learned from Zechariah 3, we will stand before God and Satan, with Satan accusing us of everything we are truly guilty of. It will be the first time he's told the truth. And my Jesus will step in and say, "Enough. She's with me. I paid the price for her." And I hope this is true for you too. 

I don't want to be the person standing on the corner with a bullhorn shouting, "REPENT OR GO TO HELL!" I honestly can't stand it when I see that. Really reaching a lot of people, huh? People don't want to be yelled at and argued with. They want to be loved. This is the best way to share Christ. And stop freaking people out with all your Christian weirdness and lingo. We have to be culturally relevant in this modern-day Babylon we live in, but cling to Christ at the same time praying not to be changed by it. We can't run around acting like freaks all the time, telling people they're wrong and dragging Christ's name through the mud. 

Just love people! 

I hope that Andrew and I can use our new little (temporary) home to reach out to people and to love on people and to share Christ with them. I pray that God keeps my heart humble and exalts himself in this new place. I love this city and the school I work in. These students have burrowed so deep in my heart that when they hurt, I hurt. I'm not exaggerating. It is my prayer that I can have the patience and grace to love the rich, the poor, the sometimes bratty, the ones that hate me. (Want to be hated? Become a teacher. A good teacher.) 

God has done the exact opposite of what my selfish heart wanted. He dropped me right in the middle of the people I judged. And I am learning so much from it. Don't get me wrong, serving the financially poor and the suffering is an amazing, God-ordained thing. But if that's what I had continued to do, I believe my head would have gotten so big there would have no longer been room for God himself. 

He always knows best.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

things teaching has taught me.

When I was handed my diploma on the stage at K-State's Bramlage Coliseum last May, I thought I was set. I was going to start my job and be the best teacher ever. I had all these awesome lesson ideas swimming around in my head and I was going to see to it that they happened. However, although the year has been great, I've learned a lot that they never taught me in college. Not even the most amazing program can prepare you fully for the first year of teaching. So if you're starting your teaching journey next year, here's my two cents. Enjoy!

1. Lessons are not set in stone. I can't tell you how many lessons I've done where I've gone back into my computer and typed in all caps, "NEVER AGAIN." Remember to make notes on your lesson plans about how each thing went. You think you'll remember next year. You won't.

2. Speaking of remembering, teaching does this thing to your brain where you can't remember many things anymore. You should have a calendar that's linked to your school email...use it or else! I put everything on there and if it wasn't there, it wouldn't get done. Believe me, I missed my first day of bus duty because it wasn't on there :(.

3. Students are flexible, especially if you teach older kids. When I student taught I'd freak out if my lesson didn't go well. I am learning that sometimes it's okay for both you and your students to have a laugh about something you screwed up. I think it shows them that you're human. For example, yesterday I passed out a 3x4 Bingo card. WHO DOES THAT?! Who makes a 3x4 Bingo card? Where was my brain? We all had a good laugh!

4. Classroom management doesn't have to be absolutely horribly difficult. Yes, it depends on your students, but here's the thing: If they know that you're usually laid back and nice and things usually run smoothly, all it takes is maybe raising your voice a little and putting on your "I-mean-business" face. If they're not used to it, they'll know you're serious.

5. Of course, I've had more extenuating circumstances, but I do not send students to the office unless I cannot handle what they're doing or they're completely throwing off the whole class. Principals truly appreciate it when you don't send kids to the office for every little thing. If it's something I can handle by calling parents or talking with the student one-on-one, then I just do it myself.

6. Have a very good plan in place for consequences. This is something I will be working on next year, because I haven't had a great plan this year. Honestly my kids are really great kids so I haven't really had to have a plan. The stuff that has happened was enough to call parents, but how are you planning to deal with the in-between stuff? One plan I like and may try is a three-strikes plan. Three strikes and your parents get called tonight.

7. On calling parents, call them when their kids do something great too! I could do a lot better at this, but I at least email them when something good happened in class.

8. Make charts for students who need accommodations and keep track of each thing you do for them. Did it help? Did it not? What can you try next time that will help them? If you're going to teach a foreign language, this is really important because most of the time for foreign language you don't get a para to help you. It will take some time, but you'll figure out how to work with a student one-on-one while keeping the class going.

9. In your spare time, look up games that can be "fillers". Sometimes if we finish a lesson early I let kids do other homework if there's like 5 minutes left in class, but I also really like filler games!

10. Use brain breaks. These are all over Pinterest and kids need them. Remember in college when you would start to daydream after like 15 minutes of class? I don't like to do a lot of lecture, but sometimes it's necessary to learn a new verb tense or something. Kids need a break for their brains!

11. Some days will suck. Maybe lots of days. Have a treat for yourself waiting when you leave. For me it's a stop at Sonic or a snack I can only have on my "bad days."

12. Don't forget to pray for your kids. Pray over your classroom. I could definitely get better at this. Sometimes I wonder why I have days on end that just plain suck and are really difficult...and it's like God pops in and says, "How about asking me for help?" Now, of course, sometimes even with prayer things aren't going to go my way, but it's so important to pray for these kids!

I think that's it for now...I have a ton more, but I'll have to add them later! Let me know if you have any other advice you'd like to add!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Mexico 2012

Before I start this post, I want to be really clear that even though this week was crazy, I had an amazing time with my dad, my brother, my husband, and old/new friends from church and previous builds, and I am in no way complaining. I sit here cracking up at most of this stuff. Some of the things (most of them) were out of anyone's control, and the ministry was doing their job! Sometimes things just get a little crazy. We were so blessed with a team who had great attitudes. I just thought I'd share how many things went down this week! I don't have really any pictures because I forgot my memory card for my camera at home. Lame, I know.

Driving down to Del Rio (Acuna's sister city on the US side), I honestly thought we'd never get there because it had snowed the night before and the roads were terrible. I was driving the 15-passenger van and I was super nervous. Plus my windshield wipers were frozen, so that helps when giant trucks fly past you and splatter you with brown, slushy slush, right? We stopped twice to clean my windshield within an hour.

The first day of the build went well, except for I could tell the concrete was going to be pretty bad. It was cold, rainy, and the concrete was almost all rock. We worked pretty quickly on the slab and it turned out square and level, thanks to my Dad!

Days two through four: Here's where the fun begins.

  • Realize we have no door and no windows and no way of calling someone who can bring them to us. 
  • After realizing we also did not have chicken wire or insulation, I sent some people to the warehouse to get some. My fault for not counting the materials. 
  • While they're gone, I realize I have the keys to the warehouse and they don't. 
  • Finally we get the insulation and chicken wire, but we got double because I was impatient and chicken wire and insulation showed up while the people were at the warehouse getting some as well. 
  • Windows and door arrive. I break one window by putting my knee through it. Awesome. David brings me another window.
  • While blackboard is going up, I go check on the team putting together the roof. By the time the roof was done, it had to be redone twice because of various mistakes. I had troopers on my roofing team! 
  • Here's the awesome thing: We had a chicken wire dream team. And it looked pretty dang good. 
  • Roof goes on fairly easily with almost everyone lifting. We had to put the roof on from the short side of the house (usually we put it on the long side) because it wouldn't fit. Each section is twelve feet long and weighs who knows how much. 
  • Decking the roof for some reason we had gaps in the decking, because if one piece goes on crooked, so do the rest. My dad helped the roofing crew fix this by cutting smaller pieces of OSB and nailing it into cribs/cheaters he attached to the studs. 
  • While the roofing is going on, I am figuring out the windows. Because guess what, they're too big. First thing I learned as an intern: "Always measure your windows because they may not be normal size." One of the only times I didn't measure them, they're half an inch too big on all sides. Tear out part of the wall (which already has blackboard and chicken wire on it), make space bigger for window. Install window a couple hours later. 
  • My dad is an electrical king, so that went really well AND worked on the first try.
  • Realize we have no more insulation and need more. So, back to the warehouse I went. 
  • Begin drywall, realize we have no rasps. Warehouse. 
  • Put the door in. Door fits (yay!), but outdoor light has been placed too close to the door. Cut the trim down so the light doesn't hit it. The only thing wrong with electrical!
  • Begin stuccoing. Stucco goes well, but slow because we're so cold. My friend David shows up and knocks out an entire wall in like 10 minutes. Had to laugh our heads off; he came because his wife told him we were having "muchos problemas" with our house. She had stopped by earlier that day and it was seriously SO awesome to see her. She is such a blessing in my life, though I've only spent a total of maybe several weeks around her. We seriously had a great team with amazing attitudes. We laughed at just about everything. 
  • Stucco, because it's rainy and cold, is still too wet by late afternoon to sponge it. 
  • Wait till the next morning to sponge. Pretty much pouring freezing rain while we are finishing it. We go hide in the van because we can't take it anymore. Joke about how we can't remember what clothes we have on because we were always cold and there was no way we were changing clothes.
  • At the dedication, nail the plaque up and stucco falls off the front of the house.
And that, my friends, is what happened during our week. Add to that laughing about non-working toilets, enjoying the blessing of a semi-heated church, hot water, and hot food, and you have yourself one pretty amazing week with family and friends. 

The point is this: the house got built. It's warm, it's safe, and it's sturdy (yes, even though we messed up the roof!) The family loved it. The dedication went great. And I miss it once again.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 14, 2012

Yesterday was an emotional day for me. I had planned a couple parties for my students and realized that I absolutely hate parties because there is no structure in them. I spent my planning hour wiping queso off desks and vacuuming the floor with my fingers.

I had heard about the shooting because my homepage is set to MSN news...but the news was really confusing and badly written, so I had no idea what happened. The only info the article offered was that there was one injury: a teacher had been shot in the foot.

Then I checked back at lunch: 27 dead. Twenty innocent babies and 7 adults. And my heart broke. I know many of us are feeling this way, and I couldn't put my finger on why it hit me so hard. Then I realized something: if we as Christians truly possess the spirit of God, we must feel it when his heart breaks.

Guys, we have been breaking God's heart for centuries. One of the Bible verses that almost puts me in tears is Genesis 6:6. "And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart." (ESV) The New Living Translation says: "It broke his heart."

I think yesterday many of us felt God's grieving heart. Grieving of course for the adults lost, but also grieving the murder of 20 precious babies. They are his little masterpieces, my friends, and He created them with a purpose. And because of sin and evil, they are gone.

I can't tell you what I would think if a gunman burst into my classroom and opened fire, but I would probably be like a Mama Bear with my students. I know I wouldn't be much good, me against a gun, but I would hope that I'd stand up for them, and not because I want to be a hero. I don't have my own kids yet, and even though my students drive me nuts somedays, they are mine and I love them. Something has to be done. A friend of mine posted on Facebook that if it comes down to it, schools need to hire their own gunmen to stand at the front and protect our children. This requires money we don't have, but at some point the talking has to stop and something has to be done.

But the thing is, people keep asking when the violence will stop, and the sad part is, no matter how many laws we make or how hard we try, I don't think it will.

You see, the world may not end December 21st, but it will end some day. And as I saw Mark Driscoll post on Twitter yesterday, we will not have peace until the Prince of Peace himself returns to destroy evil and sets things right. I can't wait for that day. I say that not because I don't enjoy life here. I love my husband and my family and friends and my job. But we were made for heaven.

When I was two, my sister Ashley died at 3 months of SIDS, and we all wish she was still here to enjoy life with us. Amanda would be happy that I had two people to steal clothes from instead of just her, because I get the feeling that Ashley would be stylish like Amanda. :) Anyways, on her headstone it says, "The crown without the conflict." I totally believe that Jesus welcomed my sister into His kingdom 22 years ago and that I will see her again someday. Seeing her again will be such a gift, and I can't wait. This is the joy in our Savior! We will spend all eternity together worshipping him.

Through the tragedy and the tears, 20 babies received their crowns in God's kingdom yesterday, crowns without the conflict of life. Even though it tears our hearts out, we know they are being held and comforted by the Father himself.

My heart breaks for these families to go through this Christmas and the rest of life without their babies home in their arms. Our hope is this: Jesus is coming again to save us from evil. And I could cry just thinking about it. I am ready, and until then, I will live my life intentionally.

"He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming soon.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" - Rev. 22:20

Friday, November 16, 2012

For the last few weeks I've really been struggling with what to do with my Christmas break. It has become a much more difficult decision since I have about a week and a half instead of a month. For the last two years, I've spent the week after Christmas working in Juarez. And even though I've been asked by several people if I'm going back this year, I just don't think I can.

It is very strange for me to think that God would call me to stay home...because I've been in Mexico at least once a year since 2007...and it hasn't happened yet this year. I've noticed this trend with most of my friends, especially interns, who have some sort of transition in life and they hardly ever get to go back and build.

You see, I thought my purpose was to move back to Mexico and teach English and build when I could. But God has obviously had different plans and he has blessed those so much. Since the last time I was in Juarez (last December), I have gotten back together with an amazing guy, got engaged, got married, spent time with my new, awesome best friend/husband, and started my first year of teaching. And it has been amazing, but exhausting.

I am realizing that it is more than likely that my life has more than just one purpose (not sure why I never thought this before...), the main one being to glorify God in anything that I do.

1. God
2. Loving my husband and learning to serve him (Not to be sappy, but he is pretty AMAZING!)
3. Teaching (and loving) my students

A large piece of my heart has always belonged to Mexico, and I believe it always will...but my heart is being captured more and more by my students every day. They make me crazy. I have students from both ends of the spectrum, the disrespectful, I-don't-like-Spanish-class (and I've been told that to my face...gracias!) to the hard-working, respectful students... and I love all of them. God has taught me an immense amount through them over the last three months (has it only been that long?).

I love my job, even though I stress out over it way too much! But God has shown me something....I knew before I came in to teaching that I would encounter kids in need of Christ, in need of love. The hardest thing about teaching that I'm learning is that I can strive to show them Christ, to love them when they are making me insane...but many of them just don't care. Some of them hate me some days, or at least act like it. (Most high school teachers know what it feels like to walk into a room and have at least one person giving you the death glare.) And I think through this God is saying, "You do this to me all the time. You hate me, you turn your back on me, you disrespect me. And I still love you and pursue you."

Props, God. Props. Because I can't do it all the time. I can't. And sometimes I don't know why he doesn't just squash me, but I'm so thankful that he is gracious and doesn't. Obviously I realize I'm not God, and I can't unconditionally and perfectly love all my students...but I try. I really, really do. And it has become one of my purposes for this stage in my life. It's so hard for me to accept because I'm thinking, "Okay, God...I could be with my husband, teaching English somewhere where students love to come to school and are excited when I walk in the door. And here I am working my tail off for kids who hate me some days!"

But I love it. And I complain, and whine, and say that I'm going insane (which is true)....but God is building me up.

I hope all this rambling makes sense. I hope it shows no disrespect to my students, because I mean none. If anything, they are teaching me more than I'm teaching them (and I teach a lot...the groans coming from my classroom of, "Awww man, we're working today?" could tell you that much.)

Anyways, I am quite literally heartbroken that I can't go work with Casas this Christmas. However I am SO pumped to hang out with my husband and grow our relationship, because we hardly see each other. I am excited to rejuvenate and get ready for spring semester.

I know that Casas is in need of help this winter, so if you're interested, please let me know. You don't need a team, just a willing heart! And a passport! :) Thanks for reading and have an awesome Thanksgiving!