My story

I’m surrounded by stories.

Brian and I, as part of the Story Team, spent much of the Verge conference this past weekend at the Story Team van as we collected the stories of what God is doing all over the world. The best part was sitting in the van, just listening. Story after story, God was faithful and got all the glory.

Then on Sunday, we met up with a lady who would like to be on Story Team. We told her all about the team, how everything works, and what our experiences have been like. More stories.

And for the past month, my kiddos have been writing stories and making books for a contest. The big reveal is at an event in a half hour (thank the Lord!). It’s been all about stories in class for weeks. We brainstormed, we planned, we drafted. Then we revised and edited and published. We illustrated and them bound these books– and in all this I say “we” because I have literally been involved the entire way with all 43 student books. Last night, I stayed up until LATE to get them all graded. So. Many. Stories.

And then there’s this blog– our daily recounting of the story of year one for me and Brian. It’s so close to the end of this part of the blog, but of course, nowhere near the end of our story.

I’m surrounded by stories, I talk about stories, I teach stories, I help with stories, I tell stories… and I’m living a story.

One of my favorite authors says this about story:

“And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.”
Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life
 
I am blessed to help my students create stories, and to live even better ones. I am blessed to hear and write and edit stories of God’s grace and faithfulness. I am blessed to be living a good story. I am blessed to share my story here.
 
It’s not normal– this life of mine. But, according to Miller, it just means I found some meaning in life. And I have.
 
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.
–from “Blessed Assurance”
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Lots-o-change

So, I told you yesterday that Brian was bragging on me. Gosh– still makes me blush. Anyways… the bragging was centered in large part around the changes going on at my job.

Next year, I will leave the elementary school and go back to being a middle school teacher. We are restructuring parts of our school, so I will still have my beloved 6th grade, but I will also have 7th and 8th grade. I will teach English Language Arts to all three grades, and then teach Bible to 8th grade. It’s another BIG change in a series of BIG changes.

In the last two years I met the love of my life, got engaged, got married, got involved in a new church and a new missional community, moved from south to north Austin, moved in with a MAN and a dog, started at a new job, switched to elementary school, wrote all new curriculum for that position, began turning the bachelor pad into a home for two, got a hematologist and a blood disorder, started a major development program through church, got a new missional community, and now, got a new job.

THERE’S BEEN A LOT OF CHANGE IN MY LIFE.

You’d think I’d be used to it by now. I am much more so than I used to be– that’s for sure. It just feels like I never get comfortable in anything, or else I do and that’s when the change comes. And what complicates this further is that I’m a natural planner– so I plan for all of these futures that never occur.

Our reading last week for Women’s Development was the book of Malachi. In chapter 3, God tells us that he does not change. I smiled when I read it because I learned that verse last semester when I learned about the character of God, specifically God’s immutability, or unchangeableness. God is unchanging in his being, perfections, purposes, and promises (yet God does act and feel emotions, and he acts and feels differently in response to different situations).

This is such a comfort! With all of these changes in position and location and role, my God stays the same. He stays holy and true and perfect– even when I am none of those things and shaking my fist at him that he changed things on me again!

The other part of my life that is unchanging is that I have Brian. I know that some people don’t see marriage as a forever- relationship, but Brian and I take marriage very seriously. We entered into a covenant relationship with God, and that relationship is for life– which I pray will be for many many more years. Our relationship changes, and we as individuals change, but Brian is always there.

After those last two paragraphs, I am reminded that I cannot complain about all of this change. It is my reality– it’s what God has decided for my life. I see the joy in almost all of the changes I listed above, and I can already see joy in this job change to come. No matter what the new school year brings, I have my God and (God willing) my Brian by my side.

Not afraid

I mentioned last week that there are some changes going on at work. Tomorrow morning, we have another meeting.

Tonight, I’m fretting about it. I have no idea what’s going to happen, but that doesn’t stop me from speculating and reacting to my speculations. So, Brian stepped in.

Brian walked through some situations and asked me some hard questions. He made sure I wasn’t letting my pride interfere and that I was thinking about this from several points of view. He also pressed me to figure out where all of my feelings were coming from.

Honestly, it was annoying. I wanted to stew and pout. But Brian did the right thing and asked me hard questions, pulling me out of my funk.

I’m still not excited about tomorrow. But my mind is clearer and my heart less heavy. I’m grateful for a husband who is not afraid of the tough stuff.

It blew up

So, I’m sitting there on Sunday at church, just zoning out. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with the sermon on the Gospel & Work, it’s just that, well– I didn’t really feel like I needed to hear it.

I work at this unique little Christian school with loving women who are called to teach. It’s so different than public school. Every woman I work with is doing what we do because they have the gift of teaching and they truly love God and children. And then there are my students– oh, my students! What a precious group of personalities! They make it a pleasure to go work every day. They are so dear to me.

So… I wasn’t really listening. I have a sweet situation at work. The sermon wasn’t really for me.

And then on Monday, work blew up.

It was misunderstanding after misunderstanding. The parents I’m supposed to be “partnering with” to educate their children were coming at me. Every time I tried to reach out to one of them, I got my hand slapped. It was nuts! And then we had a meeting where I realized my sweet situation would not look anything like this next year. It blew up.

Now– nothing catastrophic occurred, so I should clarify. I’m not leaving my school or anything– my job will just look different than it does now. And most situations with parents ended up working out in the end (after some drama). But my serene scene was definitely disrupted and this was a stressful, hectic, exhausting week of work.

Know what I’m doing tomorrow? I’m listening to that sermon again. Only this time, I’m going to actually listen.

PS– I just have to say this– it’s 8:24pm on a Friday evening and Brian is already asleep. And snoring. That’s the week we’ve had. Long hours for both of us. But he listened to the sermon the first time. I dare say he was more prepared than I for the week we just had. I’m not far behind him. At least for tonight, there is rest for the weary 🙂

My wife, the teacher

I grew up in a family full of teachers. My mom has taught 2nd grade for over 35 years, and her two siblings have very long careers as well. As a result I always saw the toll a school year takes on teachers, and I had no illusions what life would be like when I decided to marry one. But I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.

Lindsey has had a very long semester. I’m not sure if she would call it a tough semester, because she loves her new school and her students so much. But the reality is we are coming up on a much needed Christmas break for my wife.

Tonight she graded papers until well after midnight, which if you know my wife is shocking. She has half a day with her students tomorrow and then final bookkeeping for the semester. She is tired, she is stressed and we still have a few things to cross off our to-do list. I am praying that she has the strength and energy to get her work done well tomorrow.

I admire teachers so much. Their job is one that is different from most of ours. The dedication to their students that a good teacher shows is amazing, the dedication that a great teacher shows is, well, incredible. I’m proud to say that by all accounts this year my wife is in that second category.

The break will be good for both of us, but I pray that it will be really beneficial for her. I’m looking forward to a restful break for Lindsey. I hope for some mental rest to recharge her batteries for the next semester. She certainly deserves it.

Grandparents’ Day

Today was Grandparents’ Day. It was my first one. I didn’t know this was a thing. Still learning all this elementary stuff, I guess. It was my first recital-type program, too. Risers and everything. I had no idea what to expect of today… other than exhaustion at the end. I was right about that.

Everything went well. My kids were nutty as heck, but other than that, it was good. After the program, grandparents came to the classrooms and looked around. Our PTF set out muffins and fruit, so my students who were without grandparents stuffed their faces and made messes while I met the grandparents who were able to make it today. The best part was that, somehow, I ended up meeting people from all over the world.

When I met the grandfather from England, I stood up very straight and tried to use my very best grammar. I think I told him I was “delighted” to meet him and even snuck in the fact that I studied abroad at Oxford. He was not impressed. Drat. Must’ve been a Cambridge man…

The grandmother from Puerto Rico told me that I had the most impressive classroom she’s ever seen. She’s right, of course… my classroom kinda rocks. But my favorite foreign encounter of the day was the French grandmother who informed me that I was far too young to be a teacher. I responded politely, and thinking that she couldn’t tell my age, I told her that I would be 29 in a couple of weeks. The look on her face told me that I had quite proved her point. How old are teachers in France?

I met plenty of American grandparents as well. Some were obviously very close to their grandchildren and others seemed like strangers to one another. This got me thinking.

I’m blessed to have six grandparents still living and to have relationships with all of them 🙂 (In fact, one set is in town and I’ll get to see them tonight– woohoo!) Brian also has two amazing grandmothers whom I love dearly. But, the grandparent I am closest to in all the world is my Gran.

My Gran is one of my dearest friends. She is one of the toughest ladies I know. I can talk to her about anything– and I better, because she’ll be upset if she has to hear it from someone else!

Some of my first memories are with my Gran on the weekends. I think about her every time I’m in a department store– I remember that she could shop all day with stopping and I would hide under the racks of clothing just to get a chance to sit down. Then, we would sit in the food court with a soda and watch the people. I love watching the people.

She taught me to iron on Poppy’s shirts while we watched a Dr Quinn: Medicine Woman marathon in her bedroom. I still love to iron. And we used to go to Luby’s to get the Luann platter, and Gran loves to go to the movies.

When I was a freshman in college, we ran up the phone bill so high we get to get on the same cell phone plan. I lay in at least three hospital beds with my Gran and sat by her side on several more occassions– she pulls through every time. She survived breast cancer and now lives with cancer she fights every day. When she got her pace-maker, I told her it was because her heart was working so hard loving all of us that it just needed some extra help.

In South Africa, we needed an espresso machine for the coffee house we started– Gran sent the money. Gran helped buy my car, supported me in missions, and sent me care packages in college. She has always done everything she could to take care of me and to love me well. She loves me really well.

She tells the best stories. I love to hear them, over and over. She gives the best hugs. She has the second best laugh (Poppy has the very best). And she never gets annoyed when we make fun of the way she says “wash.”

I met a lot of grandparents today. They were neat people, but none can compare to mine. So today, I celebrate my Gran– the “grandest” of grandparents.

Workin’ for the weekend

ACL 2011– making our own shade 🙂

This weekend is ACL– Austin City Limits Music Festival. Three cram-packed days of music, crowds, great food, and the best people watching you’ve ever seen. I’ve had my three-day wristband since October of last year. Seriously. I don’t miss this.

At this point in years past, I’ve had my lineup planned for each day. Bands were selected, routes to stages plotted… even potential bathroom breaks were noted. I’d have my day pack sitting out, mostly packed, and sun dresses and good walking shoes would be prepped. For sun, I’d have the sunscreen, umbrella, wet wipes, and water bottles. For rain, I’d have ponchos. I would plan and prepare– ACL is serious fun.

But here I sit two nights before the festival– up late, sleep deprived, and blogging. I’m in the middle of report card week at school, planning for parent teacher conferences, lesson plans, and mountains of grading. I’m behind on my own homework and bible study for the Women’s Development Program. We had a three hour class tonight.

There’s not a planned line-up this year. No day pack prepped, no dresses picked out. No plans. There hasn’t been any time. But I’m SO looking forward to this weekend– in fact, it’s the thing driving me forward right now. If I just power through and keep going, I’ll get there– to a weekend with my husband.

ACL is like a date-weekend. It’s just the two of us, holding hands and wandering through Zilker Park. We do what we want, when we want. It’s amazing.

I’m ready. It’s time to coffee-up, focus, and power through. ACL– here we come!