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!

Friday, August 31, 2012


Transitions have always been hard for me...and this year has been full of amazing, great, difficult, and challenging ones.

Yesterday I was standing in the hall during passing period and the teacher next door said, "So you decided to get married AND start teaching all within the same month?" Me: "I guess so!"

Andrew and I have been married for a little over a month now and it has been a great ride so far! We spent our honeymoon at Big Cedar Lodge on Table Rock Lake in Missouri. It was beautiful!

We had planned to do lots of fun things like horseback riding and jet-skiing, but it was either way too hot or we weren't old enough to rent something. So honestly we spent every day at the lazy river and we watched a ton of the Olympics.

Less than a week after we got back, I started my job teaching Spanish....I love it. I have about 160 kids that I see every day. We have hourly scheduling instead of block, which I also like a lot. God has been tugging on my heart for these kids and I am realizing every day how blessed I am to get to have a whole year of impact on 160 of His's insane to me. I am trying like crazy to plan good lessons, impact these kids, and spend time with my husband and with God.

It's already been a month and I am finally just about done decorating my room. A lot of my friends are elementary teachers and their rooms are all so cutesy and stuff...but for high school that's not the case so I tried to do as much as possible without being overbearing.

Here is my bulletin board. I am so glad I teach Spanish because it gives me an excuse to talk about my favorite thing ever...Casas. The school I work in is brand new and opened just last year. My classroom is pretty big as I have 31 students in a couple classes. I also have two white boards and a SmartBoard, a computer desk and a writing/grading desk. So I am pretty spoiled. One of my favorite things to do is celebrate birthdays so I have another board dedicated to that. We sing, they get a pencil, and they get to wear the "Hoy es mi cumpleaños" star (today is my birthday). You'd be surprised at how many kids like to wear it all day!
Anyways, I know this is super brief but I am running out to my next thing! I love working here and I can't wait to see what God has in store for my life!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

23 Things College Taught Me

I think when we leave for college we usually only expect to learn the stuff that we write down in notebooks and read in our $150 textbooks. But I have to say, I learned a TON about life, and since so many of you are gearing up to start college, I thought I'd share some of my insights on what could be the best 4 to 5 (to 6?) years of your life. 

1.     Get out of your dorm room. Whether you live with one roommate or seven like I did, you HAVE to get out at some point, no matter how much you love them! The first thing I did freshman year was move in with my best friend, shut the door, and didn’t talk to anyone (yeah, anti-social). Some of my favorite things to do? Go shopping, visit another friend’s dorm room, drive around, play sand volleyball, swim, go for a run...which brings me to my next point.

2.     Even if you hate working out, you should work out. Most college campuses give you free access to the gym AND pool (I did not know that we had a pool at K-State until like, junior year). Join some classes or pick a night to work out with a friend. Eating dorm food all the time can make you feel really sick or gain weight or both, so hit that gym! Believe me, after all the dorm food, when Christmas break rolls around, you will be appreciating mom’s home-cooked meals more than you ever have before.

3.     Write your name on everything. Anytime you live with other people, stuff is bound to turn up missing at the end of the year. Not usually because someone stole it, but because someone borrowed it and lost it or didn’t return it!

4.     Learn to cook. Eating out can cost you a fortune, even if it’s from the dollar menu. Easy yet semi-healthy things to make: spaghetti, nachos with ground turkey (thanks Liz!), Italian chicken (cut some chicken up, put it in a skillet, when it’s almost done cooking smother it with Italian dressing), rice, macaroni and cheese.

5.     Dish towels do NOT work as oven mitts. I tried this once and ended up holding a flaming dish towel in my hand while everyone was screaming at me and I had no idea what to do, so I dropped it on the kitchen floor and left a big ol’ burn mark. Invest in oven mitts.

6.     Learn to do laundry. Ask a parent or friend to help you if you don’t know how to do laundry. I know, it sounds lame, but there are people out there who have never done a load of laundry (which if that's you, it's okay! there is hope for you!) Fabric softener is not the same thing as detergent. It WILL make your clothes smell delicious, but it doesn't contain soap. 

7.    If you decide to go mattress surfing, make sure the mattress is completely underneath you so you go down the stairs ON the mattress and not rolling down the stairs behind it.

8.     Invest in a bike. If you go to a large university like I did, parking is almost impossible, especially if you have classes later in the morning. Plus parking permits cost around $100 and you’re never guaranteed a spot and you’re doomed to become one of those vultures that follows people around the parking lots waiting for them to leave.

9.     Learn the basics of caring for an apartment/home. I was definitely thankful my dad had taught me how to turn off the water when I came home and the people above us had overflowed their toilet and water was gushing in through the vents.

10.  Speaking of neighbors, when you finally move out of the dorms, ask your apartment complex about their noise policy before you sign the lease. If you plan on being super noisy and having sub-woofers and blasting Miley Cyrus like our neighbors of 2009...then you should live in an apartment that allows loud stuff. You can find apartments that make you sign a “quiet policy” and they stick to it if you’re wanting peace and quiet!

11.  Whether you’re moving into the dorms or an apartment or a house, make sure you have the landlord/R.A. write down and sign anything that was already wrong with the place when you moved in. Like if someone left bananas in a desk chair and it rotted through the cushion the year before...yeah, you want them to know that wasn’t you.

12.  Fog machines will set off the fire alarm. So will popcorn if you leave it in there for seven minutes and then everyone stares at you as you throw the smoking microwave out the front door and your room smells like burnt popcorn for a week. (Love you, Britt!)

13.  Get to know your professors. They want to help you and sometimes if you are struggling with a class they may boost your grade if they see that you’re showing effort by coming to talk to them. They also will give you insight on how you can do better on their tests or help you with study skills or may even become a mentor for you.

14.  Your dorm room is bound to be a pit, no matter how clean you are. All that stuff and that small of a space is grounds for disaster. If you’re moving in from only a few hours away, you don’t need a year’s worth of clothes. Bring them up with you as the seasons change! Loft your bed and store all of your stuff under it. Those stacked plastic drawers are awesome for storing everything!

15.  Skip the wild parties. I have way too many friends who have woken up and had absolutely no clue what they did the night before, friends who failed a semester’s worth of class because they “went out last night,” and even a couple friends who have thousands of dollars in credit card debt because of weekends spent at the bars. I never went to a party (well, a crazy party) and still had a blast in college. 

16.  GO TO CLASS. I know you may have a class that totally sucks and you would so much rather stay in bed than get up and go sit for an hour while so-and-so professor babbles on about something you think doesn’t pertain to you...but go to class. Sometimes you get extra credit for attending on certain days AND it’s usually the classes that you skip that have the hardest tests (duh, because you skipped so you didn’t learn the stuff). Failing a class MAY not seem like such a big deal to you...but if you’re taking an in-state class that’s about $700 that you just may as well have flushed down the toilet. And odds are you’ll just have to suffer through it again, so pass it the first time. 

17. Invest in rain boots, snow boots, and other things you may need for extreme weather cases. Because when there are frostbite warnings on the news and your car is frozen to the curb (true story) your university probably will not cancel class and you will literally be walking however-many-miles uphill both ways in the snow (or deadly ice in most Kansas cases) and you'll be frozen by the time you get to class. 

18.  Research your own classes. Advisors get paid to help you pick classes, and I had an awesome one, but sometimes they make mistakes and may miss something. Make sure you know what you need to take to graduate on time, and don’t freak out if you’re not going to finish in 4 years. In fact, I took 5 years and would highly recommend it if you’re doing more than one degree. You can check to see what other people thought of a professor/class before you take it. 

19.  Get a job. Even if your parents are handing you money, you should find a job. I learned more at my college job than I learned in some of my classes. You will learn patience, how to get along with people, working with money, how to schedule your priorities, and you’ll make lots of friends.

20.  Branch out. This is one of the biggest mistakes that I made. If I could go back and redo college, I would have hung out more with friends. I worried so much about homework that for the first two years, I never really hung out with people. This is where time management comes in...learn it!

21. Not to be a Debbie-downer...but you cannot trust everyone. Don't sign weird things. Don't make large purchases without talking to your parents. Don't sign tanning contracts (long story) and think about stuff before you do it. If people come to your door saying, "I'm in a competition so you should buy my magazine subscriptions"...just say no! 

22. Learn another language. I know, you're like, "Well you're a Spanish teacher so you have to say that." No. I am telling you that when you graduate and you have that extra language (especially Spanish or Chinese) on your resume, your odds of getting hired increase. I challenge you to think of a job where you would never ever use another language.

23.  Don’t procrastinate. You will be sitting in the library at 3 a.m. the morning before a paper is due wondering if there is a light at the end of this tunnel. (Which is another point...don’t freak out too much about stuff. It usually gets done in 99.9% of all-nighter cases).  You will reach a point in college when you are ready to drop out...don’t. You will make it! And remember that Pizza Shuttle is your best friend at 3 a.m. And friends ALWAYS make all-nighters better! 

Oh and one thing I forgot, which makes this 24 Things College Taught Me...if you can find the international version of a textbook (usually on E-Bay or Amazon), buy it. The only thing that's usually different is the cover and they are normally about half the price of a regular textbook.

Friday, June 15, 2012

don't waste your life.

I've been reading John Piper's Life As a Vapor to aid me in my Bible reading every day. There's a short meditation/chapter for each day, and I wanted to share part of this one with you.

"When I think of the atrocities in the world, like the genocides of the twentieth century, it makes me want to live my short life on earth with as few regrets as possible. Germans killing Jews during World War II (6 million); Turks killing Armenians, 1914-1915 (1.5 million); Stalin killing 60 million people in Russia during his Communist regime in the 1930's and 1940's; the Khmer Rouge killing Cambodians, 1975-1979 (2 million); Saddam Hussein's troops killing Iraqi Kurds, 1987-1988 (100,000); Serbs killing Bosnian Muslims, 1992-1995 (200,000); Hutus killing Tutsis, 1994 (800,000); Americans killing unborn children, 1973-present (40 million). There were others.

"Add to this the suffering owing to natural disasters like the tropical storm in November 1970 that killed about 400,000 people in Bangladesh, or the earthquake of Gujarat, India, in January 2001 that killed 15,000, or the AIDS epidemic in Africa that has taken the lives of 2.5 million people. Then add the sadness and pain and eventual death of your own family. When I think on these things, it makes me tremble at the prospect of living a trivial, self-serving, comfortable, middle-class, ordinary, untroubled American life. I can't keep eternity out of my mind. Life is short and eternity is long. Very long. It is a long time to regret a wasted life."
- John Piper

Don't waste your life, my friends. Our time here is so short, and eternity is so long. 

Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. - Isaiah 55:6

Thursday, June 14, 2012

stuff about life.

It's been a while since I've written anything...maybe because life has been crazy, and partly because I felt like I had nothing to really write about.

Life has been moving quickly...Andrew and I are getting married in a little over a month! I can't wait, but I'm also super nervous. I've never really liked having all eyes on me for any occasion (except teaching...which is weird, but students don't bother me).

Andrew and I are renting an apartment from the church he interns for. No one has lived there for a little while, so today I went over while Andrew was at work and started cleaning it. My future mother-in-law got us a Shark vacuum, so I tested that know you're a nerd when you get excited about trying out your new vacuum! I couldn't wait to put it together. We also got one of those super warm, fuzzy, king-size blankets from my mom, a vase from my second mom Connie, and lots of other cool stuff. I feel so blessed by my friends and family! I think Andrew's favorite gift from the shower was our knife set...he loves knives...creepy! :)

The apartment is fairly large and I'm really excited that we got it for a good price. While I was cleaning, God was hitting me with the realization (once again) of how spoiled rotten I am. I am 23 years old, going to be newly married, and moving into a large apartment with a loft, stove, oven, fridge, washer/dryer, lots of cabinet space, more than enough furniture (because my parents have been generous with their old furniture), two bathrooms, and paid utilities. Throughout the day my mind flashed to the families I've built for in Juarez and Acuña. It is rare that they even have a bathroom...or a fridge...or sometimes even a roof that keeps the rain out. 

I am terrified that I am going to lose sight some day of the things God has blessed us with. I find it difficult to understand where the line is between giving up so that others can have...and enjoying the things God has given us. I've listened to sermons from David Platt, who gave up even the kids' snacks in his church to send the money overseas, and I've listened to Mark Driscoll who enjoys the things God has given him, but still gives to the poor and serves his church and his family. I respect both men as pastors, but I still don't understand where the line is. 

Besides the apartment, I've been preparing for this fall and my new job. I am going to be teaching Spanish 1 and 2 at a suburb high school. There are about 800 students there, so it's a lot smaller than where I attended, but I'm excited about it! The building is nearly brand new (opened last August), and huge! And my classroom has really never been used AND it has a Smart Board. I have no clue what kind of activities I am going to do with it...but I'm sure I'll come up with something! Some people think I'm crazy for wanting to work in a high school, but I just love students at that age. I love that I can joke with them and they understand it, that they can come to my room during a break to hang out and talk, that I get to attend their activities and listen to their problems and plan stuff that may actually make them want to come to class. (I don't know if I have ever achieved that...but it's my goal.) 

That's about all that's been going on I guess. The last thing I want to share is something I've been struggling with, and that's wanting to spend time with God, reading the Bible, and praying. I believe that much of this has to do with the fact that in the 5 years I was in Manhattan I never really plugged in with a church. I never found a church that truly desired to pour into the lives of college students (maybe I'm wrong, but many of my friends share this opinion). And now that I am back in Wichita and attending The Seed, I am finally beginning to have this desire to seek God more. Something that's helped me is downloading Spanish worship music. It sounds crazy, but sometimes I just get bored with the worship music I've listened to over and over. Maybe I shouldn't be bored...but I am. So I got the albums "Con Todo"  and "En Mi Lugar" by Hillsong, and I love them. So I guess I'll end with a song from them. 

(I'm excited to start teaching so I'll most likely have more to write about...not that I'll probably have the time!) 

Friday, May 4, 2012

prayer and purpose.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about Jesus. Like, more than usual. I was on the phone with Andrew last night and I said, "Sometimes I wonder if I really know Him at all." The thing I've struggled with the most ever since coming back from my Casas internship is this: finding purpose in working for Christ here. Every day when I was in Juarez, I felt like I had a purpose. For the longest time (and still some days now) I missed the days when I'd come home filthy with new blisters and a sore back as proof that I was doing something that mattered. Just thinking about the months after I returned, sitting in class and not caring what was being taught because I knew that my friends just 12 hours south of me were hurting and makes my heart hurt.

It's been hard for me to understand that I am working for the Lord here too. I love this job and the kids I see every day. And for the first time in two years, thanks to my students and the teachers that surround me, I feel like I'm doing something that matters. My new problem is that I am lukewarm. I wake up, I go to school, I come home, watch a movie, plan a lesson or two, read a new book, and then go to bed, with some prayer and Bible reading sprinkled throughout. I truly long to have God consume each and every one of my days. I just don't know how to get there sometimes, when I'm so exhausted that all I want is to lay on the couch or sleep.

So this morning I got an email from Pioneer Bible Translators. They came to MCC a few years ago when I was still there, and I gave them my email because I was interested in the work they were doing. The thing that is amazing to me is that even though I have never gone to work with them, they continuously email me to see how I am doing and ask if they can pray for me. I was so convicted reading this email, because they've never even met me and they always email me personally (not like a mass email) to see how I'm doing. I forget to pray for even my closest friends and this ministry remembers me. In this email, they asked me, "Hey, aren't you graduating soon?" Me: Uhhhh, yes?! How do you remember this stuff? (I didn't say that, but I thought it.) "Oh, and we still pray for you, Aubrie."

I long for my life to have this purpose. To live every day with a mission. To pray for people I've never met, as well as continually praying for people I know. My life is lukewarm, and I'm tired of it. I think this month and this summer mark a new beginning for me (praise God for new beginnings.) I'm graduating in a week and I'm getting married in a little more than two months to a man who encourages me to pray every day.

I encourage you, my friends, to seek Christ daily. He is our only hope. And I believe he hears even the smallest of prayer requests. There is a lot of work to be done for the Kingdom, and I hope I'm ready for this new beginning in my life. I am praying that God uses me and the other graduates for His purposes.

Monday, March 5, 2012

my running playlist.

here are some tunes that get me pumped up for running. thought i'd share! leave a comment with some of your favorites so i can add them to my list!

A Message - Coldplay
Alejandro - Lady Gaga
American Woman - Lenny Kravitz
Awake My Soul - Mumford and Sons
Boom - P.O.D.
Boomin' - TobyMac
Break Your Heart - Taio Cruz
Breathe Into Me - Red
Bring Me to Life - Evanescence
Call My Name - Third Day
Can You Feel It? - David Crowder Band
Can't Be Tamed - Miley Cyrus (don't judge!)
Clocks - Coldplay
Crazy Train - Ozzy
Do Not - John Reuben
Elevation - U2
Forever Reign - Hillsong
Great I Am - New Life Worship
Hero - Jars of Clay
I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas
If I Had You - Adam Lambert
Ignition - TobyMac
Keep Your Eyes Open - Needtobreathe
Livin' la Vida Loca - Ricky Martin
Livin' on a Prayer - Bon Jovi
Mr. Brightside - The Killers
No One Like You - The Scorpions
Ojos Asi - Shakira
Overture - Phantom of the Opera
Pour Some Sugar On Me - Def Leppard
Rebirthing - Skillet
Restless - Switchfoot
Sandstorm - Darude
Set Fire to the Rain - Adele
Shackled - Vertical Horizon
Slumber - Needtobreathe
Stars - Switchfoot
Walk the World - Charlie Hall
The War Inside - Switchfoot
Where the Streets Have No Name - U2
24 - Jem

Friday, February 24, 2012

God and curveballs.

So, in case you thought I dropped off the face of the earth, I decided to post something. As if a ton of people read this! ha.

I am realizing lately how quickly God changes our plans. Two months ago, I was geared up and ready to head to El Paso right after graduation to start teaching English or do something crazy. I emailed a couple teachers, a couple orphanages, and none got back to me. I emailed some missionaries. Never got back to me. I started to get frustrated, but then I was like, "I'll just go and see what happens." Most of you who know me know that Mexico holds a large part of my heart. And I know that it will until my life ends and I get to walk into heaven and see all of my precious Mexican/El Paso-an friends, the people who became my family over the course of my short three months there.

But you see, God has captured my heart for something totally new, and that is my high school students. I was afraid of student teaching before I started. I have heard nightmarish stories from friends who student taught and hated it. But I am LOVING it. I love my teacher, I love the school, and I love those kids.

See, even though I thought my eyes were opened in Mexico (which in a sense, they were) I was totally blind to something else. I was blind to the fact that students in a high-income, "well-off" district need Jesus too. They need love. They need someone to talk to. And as they have started to open up to me, my heart is being filled to the brim. I can't even begin to explain the pain that goes on in a regular day for some of these kids. I believe this is my mission right now. I never thought my "dream" would change.

Honestly, part of me feels guilty. I see images in my mind of those beautiful children in Juarez in the slums, of Carmen and her husband asking me not to forget them, of the old man asking me when his house was coming, and I want to go back. I miss blisters and dirt and sweat. But for some reason, staying in Kansas (as much as I was against it before) feels right, at least for now. And I know I'll never forget. And I know I will forever be part of Casas teams, at least until I am physically unable to build. Right now I want so badly to instill in my high school kids a love for the broken and the unloved and the forgotten.

Another curveball that God has thrown in my life is that I went from being the person who said, "Single fo' life" to being back in a relationship with the best guy I know. We kinda started dating way back at the beginning of my senior year of high school, dated for like three years, and then went different ways for two years. I couldn't be more excited about us being back together. It's so right. We are best friends. We laugh about stupid things like the hatred of TempurPedic beds and how I about broke a hip the first time I took a running leap into my parents new TP bed.

I think I knew I was meant to be with him when we went to Lawrence together back in October for Heather and Shawn's engagement party. See, I was trying to make cake balls. And while the cake balls themselves turned out okay, the chocolate for dipping definitely did not. I wanted to cry because I spent a lot of time on the cake part. And then Andrew came in and started making me crack up about these stupid cake balls by plopping a glob of accidentally-caramelized white chocolate on top of each one. (They actually tasted pretty good!) I figure as long as he can make me laugh about my bad cooking, then we'll be okay. Ha.

When I look back on our two years apart, I am amazed at the things God has done in both of our lives. We've both grown, matured, and learned so much. I think even though it sucked, we needed this time apart. I am so proud of the man Andrew has become. I wouldn't want to serve God alongside anyone else. (He's going to read this - maybe? - and be like, "What the heck? Why are you writing about me?")

Anyways, life's crazy. God is good. Bottom line.

*I have interviews at four high schools in the Wichita area next week. Prayer would definitely be appreciated! I'd love to have a job right off the bat!*

And then with the cheesiness - this picture made me laugh.



Tuesday, January 17, 2012

la perfeccionista.

I'm a perfectionist. To the core. You probably wouldn't know this if you walked into my room, because 99% of the time it's a pit. But I'm talking about what I do. I'm FINALLY student teaching, and it's been great so far. God has graciously placed me in a good school with an amazing teacher who is great to talk to and learn from. I'm seriously really grateful - I have had some friends with student teaching experiences from Hades, friends who were so stressed they spent more time puking than planning. I am so glad to be where I am!

But you see the thing that gets me is that whole perfectionist thing. I want my lessons to go perfectly because I know I will probably be super hard on myself if I screw things up. It's only two weeks in and God is already working in my heart, teaching me new things. It amazes me how much one verse of his Word can speak to me. Tonight after I had worked on a couple things for school, I just started getting overwhelmed and I got stuck. And then I start thinking that I'm never going to be a teacher.

So I grabbed my Bible and went out and sat in my favorite chair in our living room. It's this green recliner thing that my parents didn't want anymore, and I loooovvveee it. I start flipping through just praying about how I didn't want to stress myself out this semester, but rather learn from my mistakes and move on. And I came to this verse that I've read oh so many times but never really READ, if you know what I'm saying:

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." - 1 Peter 5:6

It's like God's saying, "Hey, since when is this all about you?" I am reminded of the older woman I met in Mexico (which you can read about HERE) who told me that I had good feet for serving God...for serving our mighty God. I truly believe I have been called to teach, and after tonight I know that God is going to be faithful in strengthening me for that call. I think it's time for me to mess up, to learn, to work hard, to pray, cry, laugh, and seek God. Because if I am at the head of that classroom and I'm not constantly filling myself with God, I can't expect Him to be evident in my work.

And for some reason I forget that God cares about what I care about. He cares that I'm freaking out about wanting to be such a good teacher. He feels my heartbeat pick up and my mind race when I am unsure of what to do next. And just like always, he will see me through, teach me, and strengthen me.

So here's to a new tomorrow. I desire so much to be like Isaiah. Here I am God, send me.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

juarez 2011.

First off, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who donated to our trip this year, whether it was funds or prayer or coats.

This is the first time we've gone as a church group to Juarez since 2008, and I was so pumped about it. Builds have gone down so much that only three or four houses went up in Juarez last week. I am reminded that God is still working in that city no matter how many houses go up (although I'd prefer it were more).

The week went well with the interns building right next to us. We all stayed at the same place (the SHOC) in the Kilometers, a very poor area on the outskirts of Juarez. This is quite possibly my favorite place to build, if it's okay to have a favorite!

Instead of telling you about the house itself, I want to tell you about a family who is very close to my heart. Kevin and I built for them last summer. The odd thing about this build is that we never actually met the family we were building for, but we met the grandparents (Carmen and Mauro) who lived on the property. The mom (whom I believe to be single) was in Monterrey because her son had stomach cancer and he was being treated. Every day, Carmen made us breakfast and sometimes a snack around lunchtime. Every day, she gave the high school girls working on our team a "lesson" in cooking. I remember she told them that when they could shake their hips and cook rice at the same time, they were ready to get married. She was so in love with her husband who worked hard on their land and keeping their pigs fed and taken care of (many families have pigs as a source of income and maybe food...I'm not completely sure). I remember her saying that on her first date with her husband, he took her to dinner and she said she knew she had to have him for dessert. And coming from a 55 year old woman, this is hilarious (maybe coming from anyone that's hilarious).

The thing about Carmen is that she had diabetes pretty bad. Her feet were black in some parts and she had to sit down a lot because they hurt so bad. She had a bed on their makeshift porch where she laid down in the shade to stay cool. For some reason, this woman touched my heart and stands out among many of the families I've met. I came back to visit once a short time after that build and then promised I'd be back to visit later.

So last week, a year and a half later, I came back and I brought some blankets I wanted to give to her. I picked some out of our donations that I thought were special because my mom and I had made them. I had half of my team with me because we were on our way to the Soriana (Mexican version of Wal-Mart) to pick up some stuff for the dedication party. I got out and saw Mauro immediately. He greeted me and then quickly took me and my team inside to show us what he had done with the house since we built. It was all painted and his three grandkids were still sleeping. "Flojos!" he joked at them as we walked past. We moved slowly through the house as he uses a cane to get around. He started talking more quietly about his grandkids and the house. Then all of a sudden he said, "I lost my wife this year." And he started crying. "Disculpeme," he said. I didn't know what to say, and honestly I knew if I said something I would break down too. Even though I knew Carmen for only a few days, her love for God and her family had this lasting effect on me.

Mauro then took us outside where he showed us everything they had planted before Carmen passed away. He told me that he just wasn't able to keep up with all of the flowers and the cactus they had planted. He started talking about how he missed her so much, that he loved her and no one else. And then he started crying again. He said it had only been a few weeks since she died, and I couldn't take it anymore. It's hard to describe a 65 year old man sobbing, but it tears at your heart. So I went to the van to get the blankets I had and while I was there I cried pretty hard for this woman and her family. I cried because part of me feels like if she had a better home then she wouldn't have died (remember the house we built wasn't for her. She always said she wanted her kids to have a home because she would be okay without one), or maybe a way to get to a hospital that could take care of her.

God spoke to me this week, reminding me of life after death. Mauro knows that Carmen is at God's side, and I believe this too. It was a reminder of the calling God has placed on my life, to share about him and to help those in need.

I hope the blankets that I wanted to give to Carmen keep her grandchildren warm this winter. Mauro asked me to pray for the rest of his wife, and in a way I know that she is already resting better than she ever did on Earth. And I can't wait to see her again someday.

I wish I had taken a picture of them. I have one in my memory, but it's not super clear and I wish I had one to look at.

I hope you enjoy these pictures, most of which are from my friend Heather. Thanks again for donating, praying, and sharing what you have with those who don't have.

Preparing the foundation for concrete.

Putting in some anchor straps to hold the walls to the concrete.

Nailing together the beam that runs down the middle of the roof.

After standing the walls.

Putting up blackboard.


The dreaded chicken wire.

Handing out some toys.

Putting the roof on.

Carrying the next roof section over.


And more stucco.

Some of the other team built a slide for the kids.

Soccer in the street.

We had a dedication party, complete with balloons and over 200 hot dogs.

My brother talking about Matthew 7:24. I was so proud of him!

Roman nailing the plaque to his new home.

And of course I had to add the one of the precious baby girl that I got to hold!