Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Going, going...and still going

Almost seven months have passed since I've last blogged, and there is no excuse. For this I apologize. Let me first give you a timeline of what has happened in my life over the past seven months, and that will allow for some explanation. I know I still could have taken some time to blog, but time, yes-I haven't had a lot of that lately.

April 18-May 19: Finished up student-teaching, graduated, and began my first serious dating relationship

May 20-28: Spent a week in Hawaii with my family to celebrate two graduations and my parents' 30th wedding anniversary

May 31-July 22: Spent seven weeks in Glorieta, New Mexico, working for the second summer for a camp called Centrifuge

July 22: My man proposed at the Tulsa airport. It was wonderful.

July 23-August 8: Drove back and forth from Bolivar to Grove more times than I wanted

August 9-14: Prepared for my first year as a teacher

August 16: First day of school

August 17-Present: Busy with school, teaching Zumba, spending time with my fiance, roommate, friends, planning a wedding, grading papers, and being a real adult for the first time ever.

Life has a been a little busy. I'm only writing tonight because I'm not feeling the greatest. Probably because my body has not had a break since last Christmas. It really hasn't. Thankfully, I have four full days of school left before Thanksgiving Break, and then I get a five day break from school, the first break I've had from school since Labor Day.

I guess the biggest change in my life is that I'm engaged to the most wonderful man in the world. We started officially dating on April 18, 2012, and he proposed when I got off the plane in the Tulsa airport the day I got home from camp. It was wonderful. We are getting married next June.

Paul is also a teacher; that is how we met. He was teaching in the school I was student-teaching in, and toward the end of the semester, we just started talking, with a little bit of prompting from our principal. Before we really began talking and seeing each other, he had another offer for a teaching/coaching position in a little school about fifteen minutes from where he was. He ended up taking that, so we both live in Bolivar but drive short distances to work. It's a pretty good setup.

If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you know that one huge desire in my life was to meet someone and be married. I can say that I know God was preparing Paul and me for each other. He is such a wonderful man, and when people ask me to tell them about him, the first adjective that comes to mind and the best adjective to describe him is simply 'good.'  Paul is so good. His nature, his desires, his heart, his looks, it's all good. I could not be more blessed. God has allowed Paul and me to grow closer to each other and to him. When Paul and I first started talking about getting engaged, our original timetable was more along the lines of December, but I could not imagine going through what I have since I returned from camp without being engaged to him. Not that we wouldn't have been there to support each other in the way we have now, but I don't believe it would have been to this degree.

The Lord has definitely been teaching me more about trusting him, and I have to allow the Lord to make me slow down. I have just been constantly going for a long time now, and I have to take that time with the Lord and rest. It has been good. Last week was the busiest week I've had as a teacher so far. I was in charge of planning the Veterans Day Assembly at my school, and it ended up being great, but it was a stressful week trying to get everything done. Thankfully, the Lord is good, and he made sure everything got done and was great. He has been so faithful in the big and little things.

I don't really know what else to say. I found my wedding dress; details are coming along with the big day, but we are going to wait and do the rest of the planning after the new year. We know our colors, and we have the ceremony and reception venues, so that's good. Paul has been so good as far as planning goes too. He is very involved and wants to help as much as possible. It's great. I think a huge thing we have to remind ourselves about is that this day is ultimately not about us. It's a picture of what Christ has done for us, a picture of Christ and the church. When we look at it in that light, some of the other stress and worry disappear.

I will try to update better on my blog. Time is precious these days, and sometimes this is the last thing on my mind, obviously.

Until next time.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

An Adventure

Well, I am ashamed that it has been over two months since my last post. However, I have had a viable excuse for not writing. I have been teaching every day, all day and encountering many new life events.

Let me start from the beginning.

About a month and a half ago, I applied for the position I am student-teaching in now. My cooperating teacher was getting close to her due date, and I knew going in that come end of March I would be the long term sub. My teacher is not coming back in the fall, so her job was open. I applied, interviewed for the job, and signed the contract the same day I interviewed. It was a very nerve-wracking couple of days. It was such a huge deal signing a contract for a year. I know, though, that God has me where I'm at for a reason. I love the school, and I love the kids. Some days are tough, but it has been so worth it. I have been so blessed during this student-teaching experience. So, to make a long story short, I got the job.

My second blessing is that my roommate and I found a place to live for next year. It is in the town where we currently live, and because she will still be teaching here, we have decided to do life together for at least another year. The place we found is adorable. It's a small apartment that is perfect for the two of us. We got a great deal on it, and the Lord has blessed us with so many little things along the way. He's blessed us with very low rent, free furniture, and great company. I couldn't imagine rooming with anyone other than my roommate. She's fantastic, and we've been through so much together. She is amazing.

My third blessing is one I was not expecting. A couple of weeks ago, I began talking to a guy I know from school. We would talk when we had the chance, and at first, it wasn't anything serious. Slowly but surely, we started to talk more, emailing more, texting more, and then, he asked me if I'd like to hang out sometime. So we went to IHOP and Wal-Mart for our first date, and it was so fun. I didn't know what to think after our first date. I just knew this guy was nice, and I liked him a little. Well, he continued to text me, a lot, more than any other guy has, and he continually wanted to hang out. So we've been hanging out quite a bit the last week or so. He has treated me like no man has, and he is patient and kind. It's still kind of hard to believe right now. And we have decided to go very slowly with no time table, but it's still hard to believe. I've never had a boyfriend, and it's been a while since he's dated anyone, so we've both agreed slow is best. Anyway, I won't say too much more now, but let's just say I am one happy girl. Very very happy.

So yes, life has been good. God has blessed me in ways I can't imagine, and it only keeps getting better. I just keep praising him, knowing none of this would be happening without him. So, yes, I know it's not a huge, long update, but that's what's been going on in my life.

Until next time,
God Bless

P.S. I graduate in 31 days!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

To Know Him More

This has been one of those weeks that, even though I have been surrounded by a sea of people, I have been so alone. I am at school every day surrounded by middle and high school students. I attend class once a week on campus surrounded by other student teachers as we better prepare to lead students in learning. I come home every night to a house where everyone is busy doing his or her thing. I've been around a lot of people, but I don't feel like I really know any of them. Maybe this is my own fault for being too busy or not making enough time for people, but I feel like I have. I feel like I've put forth the effort to spend time with them.

It's been one of those weeks where the only thing I'm sure about is the Lord and his love for me. I guess that's the only thing that really matters. Even though I know this, and even though I know He sustains and He is enough, some nights I come home and I just want to talk to someone. I just want someone to ask me about my day and listen to what I have to say, to be truly interested. Maybe this is selfish or too self-centered; I don't know. I'm just so excited about student teaching and what's going on at the school that I want to share that excitement, and I want that excitement to be valued. Again, I wonder if this is selfish.

If the Lord has taught me anything this week, it's how much I enjoy human interaction and communication. That's one thing I loved about my family when I was growing up. When we got home from school or when Mom picked us up after school, the first thing she asked was, "How was your day?" She genuinely wanted to know what was happening in my life, and she cared. I have been able to talk to my family over the phone, but they're busy too.

Despite being alone and being frustrated about it, I have been drawn to the Word more. Being alone has forced me to spend more time with the Lord. Maybe that was his intent all along. I read in John chapter 10 this week about the Lord being the shepherd and how he knows his sheep and they know his voice. My prayer is that I will grow to know him more. I want to know more the one who loves me in spite of all my flaws and imperfections. I do not deserve to be loved by him, but he still chooses to love me. He still chose to die for me. Maybe this time alone serves as time for me to know him more, to hear his voice more clearly and loudly in my life. He has to be enough. I have to trust him in this time and know that I am not alone, regardless of how I feel.

Yes, it's been an interesting week. I'm ready not to be a student anymore and just a teacher. I'm ready to be on my own. I'm ready, or at least I think I'm ready, for a lot of things. I guess we'll see. Only the Lord knows.

Until next time,
God Bless

Monday, January 23, 2012

This Blessed Season

Student teaching continues to go well, and I'm learning more each day. Today as I was getting ready for school, my cooperating teacher texted me and said she was feeling poorly. She had called the principal of the high school, and they both agreed that I was perfectly able to handle the classes by myself today. So today was my first official day to sub all day long. It went pretty well. I had one student who, when he found out his work was not due until the next day, decided he didn't want to work on it in class. Well, we fixed that problem pretty quickly, and he ended up doing his work.

I found out later from one of the other teachers that some of the boys didn't like me. I told her that was fine. I'm not there to win a popularity contest. One thing I'm glad the education department instills in soon-to-be teachers is that we are not there to be the students' friends. I have friends who are my age. I don't need thirteen-year-old friends.

One thing I am enjoying about student teaching is that I am able to see how unique of a role teaching really is. The view I have now is not one I was able to see when I was a student. Even as a college student, one can't really see it. The school I'm in right now has a very low socioeconomic status, as I think I've mentioned in a previous post. Most of these students have to take on roles that parents should take on, but because of certain living arrangements and life circumstances, these students have no choice. A lot of these students have gone through things at sixteen years old that I will never experience in my life. It has really been an eye-opener.

One thing that I hope not to forget was something I was told before students ever came the first day of school. I was told that these students do not respond well to yelling. No one really does, but these students especially do not. They get so much of that at home, and when they hear it at school, they just shut off. So I am able to watch the students, watch how they interact, how they talk, how they learn to communicate and develop life skills. I watch the teacher I work with and notice how she uses calm logic to get her point across. I'm beginning to realize how unique this role of teacher is.

I get to take on a role that is different from any other adult role in these students' lives. I have the privilege to teach students about English and why it's so wonderful, but I also get to teach them about how to be good people and develop skills to do simple things like carry on a conversation or present their opinions in a proper way. I'm not these students' parent or a babysitter. I get to advise them, guide them, and help them with English but maybe about life in general as well.

I know I have so much to learn, but I hope that one day students will know that my classroom is a safe environment, that they can come to English and know that life is going to be okay. They may not be able to get away with whatever they want, but they will have structure, consistency, a firm hand, and love. Always love. That love may take different forms at times, but I hope I can begin to teach and think about how Jesus would teach, especially these students and in this type of school.

On a different note, my roommate and I have come to a conclusion, at least we hope we're getting close to this conclusion, that we want to begin looking pretty steadily for a place to live around the middle of March, maybe before, and that we would love to be moved out and beginning to get settled by the beginning of May. The family we live with is hoping to move by then as well, so we hope it will work out that we can move around then. Of course, us getting a place together is contingent upon where I get a job in the fall, but we know the Lord has a plan.

It seems crazy to think that in four months, I will no longer be a college student. I will be a graduate of Southwest Baptist University with a bachelor's degree in Secondary English Education. As a freshman in college, one thinks this time will never come. For a while, you just kind of think you'll be a college student forever. And then you begin student teaching and you realize the real world is just around the corner. But I'm excited for what the real world will bring. I'm excited to be able to start new and build new relationships and meet new people. And I'm excited to be making some money. However modest that income will be, it will be more than what I've made as a college student. And that's the goal right?

I cannot begin to describe the ways God has blessed me so far this semester, and it's only the fourth week back. On my first day of student teaching, I came home in tears because I was overwhelmed and stressed and thought I was going to fail. But now I know I'm going to make it. It's been an odd transition, but it's been good.

Well, I feel like I've written the start of a book, so I'm going to call it quits for tonight.

Until next time,
God Bless

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Student Teaching

The spring 2012 semester has started, and so far, it has been pretty good.

I've been in the classroom for two weeks now, and they have been two full weeks of learning and lesson-planning. My cooperating teacher is wonderful; I have learned so much from her. She is only about three years older than me, so it's very easy to relate to her. We have very similar personalities, so that makes working together nice as well.

The teacher I'm with teaches juniors, seniors, seventh grade, and eighth grade all in one day. She started me with the juniors this past Monday, and I have taught them all this week. They have participated and done very well in class so far, so I hope that continues through the semester. We do not have school on Monday due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but I will start teaching the seniors on Tuesday. Right now I'm teaching The Great Gatsby to the juniors, and I will start The Scarlet Letter with the seniors. My teacher has never taught The Great Gatsby, so I'm writing all the curriculum for the unit, including quizzes and the final test. Lesson-planning is going well. It's very different than just writing lesson plans for college classes. These are the real deal.

The school I'm student-teaching in is so different than where I went to high school. The socioeconomic level is so much lower, and most of the kids really have no support system at home. Before I went home for Christmas break, I went to the school to meet the teacher I'd be working with. I was able to see just a taste of what it would be like from that one visit. But never could I imagine the things I've seen and stories I've heard. It breaks my heart. My mom made mention over break that maybe this school is my mission field. I've prayed about going overseas and teaching for so long, but maybe what I've been waiting for has been right under my nose all along.

An added bonus is that the teacher I'm with is almost thirty weeks pregnant, so around March, I'll be taking over the classroom full time. That means I will get the pay of a long-term sub while student-teaching which is amazing because right now I do not have a job, even though student-teaching feels like a job.

It's so very different being a teacher. I like it though. I've met almost all the teachers in the high school, and because the school is so small, I know a lot of the students' names as well. And some of the students are learning my name, so that's a good sign.

Before I came back from break, I was dreading student-teaching. Now, I know God has me right where I am for a reason. He is good. As always, He knows what He's doing. Now, if I can only figure out all the details of grading, lesson-planning, loving and disciplining, and teaching, well, I'll have it made. But that may take a lifetime to figure out.

So yes, these first two weeks have been so good. I have enjoyed far more than I thought I would. I will try to keep you updated as the semester progresses. I'm sure I will have some fun stories to share.

Until next time,
God Bless