Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Week of Thankfulness

This was maybe my favorite Thanksgiving Break ever!  It was the perfect mix of restfulness and productivity.  I got to catch up with a lot of family and friends while also getting to relax and just spend some good time curled up on the couch. 

The long weekend kicked off with an early dismissal at school on Wednesday.  Our freshmen participated in a service project to raise money for World Vision to be dispersed throughout needy areas in the world in the form of medicine, clean water, and food.  It's a way for us to help students learn that there is a world outside of their little bubble that they tend to get so wrapped up in.  A hurting, impoverished, and needy world.  To motivate for the money raising, we decided to up the stakes a little offer teacher stunts at certain levels of money raised.  I took a pie in the face from each student who raised at least $100.

Thursday morning, instead of sleeping like I normally do, my college friends who were in town and I ran in the Drumstick Dash with 11,500 other runners!  And...drumroll please...I ran the entire 3.1 miles!  I was so proud of myself, and it felt so good!  It has really motivated me to keep up with the running.

Then we headed over to my mom and dad's house for Thanksgiving #1 (aka the only Thanksgiving that I took pictures at, because I'm lame and forgot to even get the camera out at the Herndons.)

My Grandad George turned 90 last week!

 Being silly trying to make my Grandad Robert smile.  It is hard work!

 Self-proclaimed "BFFs" = Scary.

We celebrated my grandad and my brother's birthday along with Thanksgiving.

And we took a semi-decent picture on the first try!

Patrick's parents joined us at my parents' house on Thursday since we weren't eating at their house until Friday.  It was nice to have everyone all together!

We spent all day Friday lounging around and doing a lot of nothing, which is of course my favorite.  I did go on a walk with a friend and make a green bean casserole to take to the Herndons.  We had dinner with them and Patrick's brothers' family and his aunt and uncle around 6:00.  We took the camera and everything and I forgot to even get it out!  But it was an awesome meal and a good relaxing time.

Saturday, my mom and I set out early to do some Christmas shopping.  Surprisingly it wasn't crowded.  We enjoyed just hanging out, shopping, and having lunch at Panera Bread.  Then she dropped me off at the Herndons where they were all gathered to watch the Tennessee game.  I played with my niece and nephews and ate another helping of pumpkin pie!

Sunday, we enjoyed the first service of Advent at church.  Then stopped by Lowe's and ended up seeing one of our friends who works there and his wife who had stopped by to visit him.  We had just seen her at church but hadn't really had a chance to talk and catch up, so that was nice!  We got lunch at Sonic and came home to start the Christmas decorating!
 Scary attic.

 I look fat, but my front pockets are actually full of zip-ties with which to attach the lights to the roof, just to clarify.
 And, yes, I am actually married to Clark Griswald.

 Patrick had actually devised a system of rolling up the lights for the roof in a huge tarp the last time we had them out (two Christmases ago!), so we just hoisted them onto the roof, attached them, and rolled them back out.  We couldn't believe it actually worked!  There were only two spots where lights had gone out and no longer worked so he will have to get up there and replace those strands, but overall, it was much easier than we anticipated!

I'm starting to feel the Christmas spirit around here.

Which may explain why I am NOT READY to go back to school tomorrow.

Oh, Thanksgiving Break, if only you could last forever.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fall Weekend

We had a great weekend in Rockbridge for Young Life Fall Weekend! God is doing awesome stuff at the high school where I teach. I used to lead Young Life for Jamestown High School while I was at William and Mary. It's a great ministry that focuses on building relationships with high school kids in order to share the gospel. Young Life has these camps built all over the United States. The idea is to create a haven for kids to get away with their leaders, have the time of their life to see that Christ does hold life to the full, and have deep conversations about God.

This is me on the climbing wall.

The awesome thing about Young Life is that they seek to do everything with excellence to the glory of God. Therefore, everything is of the highest quality. The cabins are clean and nice. The fields are beautiful and well-kept. The food is delicious. The staff are hilarious and provide high quality program. All of this translate to kids feeling really loved.

These two girls are leaders for our area. God is doing such awesome things through them.

I love them! They have servants' hearts for the Lord.

Overall, it was a great weekend! I have missed getting to be a part of Young Life ministry and am so thankful that God has led me back to this place to get to be a part of it again.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunflowers and Christmas Lights

I left my wonderful husband all alone this weekend to do schoolwork while I went to Rockbridge for Young Life Fall Weekend, which was AMAZING! I had a blast hanging out with highschool girls and talking about what it means to have a relationship with Christ. We ran hard, stayed up too late, ate way too much candy, and took A LOT of pictures. Which I will post tomorrow.
But for now, I wanted you to see what I came home to:

Gorgeous flowers on the dining room table.
Don't I have the best husband, ever?
Wait. Let's zoom out a little.

What's that beside those pretty flowers?
Next to the BEAUTIFUL Hermes bag he brought me from China?
Oh, yes. It's Christmas lights.
This is what he did while I was gone:

I cannot tell you how joyful the lights and garland above the cabinets make me at Christmas time. It makes for a soft, lovely glow and really gets me in the holiday spirit. Since we have such an open floorplan upstairs, it makes the whole area so Christmas-sy and bright!
And here's the best part... I didn't have to help! See, where I get frustrated and sweaty and mean trying to hang up these lights (which involves a lot of reaching and twisting and chair climbing), Patrick is joyful and truly loves to do it! So to come home with it done and nothing left to do but simply enjoy is a seriously great present.

He also braved the attic and got out the rest of the Christmas decorations, so we are ready to go!
I was really dreading doing this job thanks to the thousands of stinkbugs that invaded the Roanoke Valley at the end of the summer. I had nightmares of pulling down the attic stairs and having hundreds of dead (or alive!) stinkbugs falling on me!! I'm so paranoid.
So in short, I have the best husband ever.
He also does the dishes.
And sometimes the laundry.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Halloween: I'm a little behind.

I don't know how, but I forgot to post about Halloween at our house. Well, wait. I do know how. I have been way too lazy to get the camera card out of the camera and upload the pictures. But today is the day! And seriously, I'm glad I didn't just not post about it because look how cute my nephew is?! That cuteness should not be denied to you all, our loyal fans. He is SO CUTE. And the best part is, HE LOVES HIS AUNT EMILY. Which could not thrill me any more.

My other niece and nephew are also irresistibly cute. Taylan was a ghost. Isabelle was a princess. Let's just say her mother was less than happy when a neighbor asked her if she was Lady Gaga and the remainder of the night Isabelle referred to herself as Lady Gaga, of course having no idea what she was saying as most 4 year-olds tend to do. Thanks a lot Neighbor Lady. She's a princess with vampire teeth, OK?

Sayge and his daddy in a scary mask.

We handed out candy and babysat Sayge while my brother-in-law and sister-in-law went trick-or-treating with Taylan and Isabelle around the neighborhood. Two of my highschoolers came by wearing Jason masks. They had a fake knife and walked slowly up our lawn in a seriously creepy and disturbing way. They were really proud of themselves for creeping me out. I gave them candy even though they were gentlemen and said they shouldn't take it because they were too old to be trick-or-treating. I have such good kids :) I know some people are all up in arms about Halloween and some people refuse to celebrate it, but I do really like the way that everyone in the neighborhood is out and about. I loved chatting with some neighbors that I never see and seeing all the kids in their costumes. It has a great community feel to it that I really enjoy. It also reminds me that it is officially Fall, my favorite season. Who doesn't like a good reason to celebrate and eat a little candy?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

9 Reasons Why I Love Test Days:

1. I can actually sip my coffee instead of chugging it.
2. I have time to catch up on emails that I let go for so long.
3. I get so much accomplished sitting at my desk.
4. It is the one time my class is not actually "organized chaos."
5. Even my rowdy students are quiet for a little bit.
6. I can read a couple entries on my Google Reader in between being productive.
7. Wearing heels does not make me want to cut off my feet at the end of the day.
8. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment to finish a unit with my students.
9. I usually have time to clean off my desk.

Only 9 because I couldn't think of 10. And odd numbers are currently my thing.

Coming soon:
-Long awaited pictures from Patrick's China Trip (we are a little behind, I know)
-Forgotten pictures of Halloween Cuteness and a Baby named Sayge :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What God is Teaching Me: Remember the Sabbath

I have noticed over the past couple of months some things that God is doing in my life. While God is always working and teaching us new things as we seek to grow in Him, it has come to my attention that things He is currently developing in me are simple truths that I have overlooked or made too complicated in my early adult life so far.

One of these things is the importance of having a Sabbath. I used to guilt my way through a Sabbath day. I used to almost be mad at God for asking me to take a break from things when "I clearly have all this to get done, God! How the heck am I supposed to accomplish all this AND take a nap?!!? You just don't understand!!"

Then somewhere along the way, I came across the verse in Mark (2:27) that said, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." I honestly don't remember what Bible Study I was a part of at the time, what we were studying, or the details of the situation, but that verse stood out to me like a sore thumb.


God did this for me?

He didn't do it to have one more rule for me to follow and/or continually break?

He was trying to make my life simpler not more complicated?

I had it all wrong. I thought observing the Sabbath was one more thing I had to get right to please God. Instead, God blessed us with a entire day to rest so that we could have the energy to accomplish the other things. He gave us the Sabbath as a gift, not a burden.

And then I came across this verse and it literally brought tears to my eyes:
"Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion..." - Isaiah 30:18

For so long I had thought of God is as a grumpy dictator that we continually fail in obediance and service. I pictured God as always upset with me, because I am always getting it wrong or messing things up.

But God longs to be gracious to us. He sent us his son to die for us. Because he loves us, he is LOOKING FOR WAYS to bless us and show us compassion. The Sabbath is just another one of those many ways.

So I have tried to be more intentional about setting aside one day on the weekend to rest. I've tried to get my schoolwork done on Saturday, so that I can have Sunday free to nap or read or have lunch with friends or enjoy my Bible Study. And it's been so nice! With all my work done on Saturday, Sunday is no longer an anxiety-ridden time when I scramble to make plans for the week. They are done. I can enjoy and relax. It REALLY IS a blessing.

Obviously I'm not perfect. It is a discipline that I'm learning and sometimes it doesn't work out. Sometimes I'm stubborn and still want to do it my way. But God is teaching me the beauty and importance of rest. I am a work in progress.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Small Victory

Life is slowing down....

Competition cheer is over. I have been home by 3:30 each day this week.

I have made dinner every night! We made rule that if we want to eat out during the week, we have to have a salad. Which naturally has been really good motivation to cook good food at home.

Here is a what I made:

Monday: Jerk Chicken (Patrick's favorite!), Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli

image from link above

Tuesday: Stuffed Shells (Weight Watchers recipe)

Wednesday: Butternut Squash and Bacon Risotto (so fancy...)

image from link above

I ate this and then promptly fell asleep. I was late to Bible Study.

Thursday: Crockpot Beef Stew

Probably not the healthiest of dinners, but a celebration of getting home earlier and actually having the time! And way better than a salad...