Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Having Faith vs Being Faithful

Okay, so I've been a bit lackadaisical in my reading plan for the year. Here I am - weeks later - still reading The Resolution for Women. And, it's still really good.

I took a break from grading while my students were doing their "silent" reading to read for myself. I only read a few pages before I had to stop again. Another hard hitting chapter called Faith vs. Faithfulness. At first glance one may think, "But aren't they one in the same?" This, however, is not the case. Faith is usually much easier. As Priscilla so delicately puts it, "It isn't merely the comfortable, untested summary of someone's beliefs - her faith - but rather a physical outworking of her actions" (emphasis mine). So our faith is quite simply what we believe in while faithfulness is putting that faith into action. I've toooo-tally got the faith part down. It's the being faithFUL that I have a hard time conquering some days.

Make no mistake - people know I'm a Christian at work. They know what my FAITH is...but sometimes, I wonder if I really am faithful enough. Do I put that faith into action? Do I show people who Jesus is just by being me? I think, unfortunately, I know the answer to that. And I don't like the answer. Of course, we all have those days. The problem is when those days turn into those weeks and those weeks turn into those months and then those months turn into that year. My faith has been tested a lot this year and I am sad to say that through that testing, I haven't always been faithful. I could be wrong but faithfulness probably looks different to everyone. Similar...but with a few different strands tucked away.

My faithfulness includes digging into God's word (that's been hit or miss lately), thanking Him daily for everything, including the trials (I just might be getting there), keeping the whining, griping, and complaining at a minimum (oh, epic fail), and overall, being the kind of wife, mother, daughter, friend, teacher, and person that I am called to be (hey, I'm a work in progress). Along with my huge heap of goals to accomplish this summer, one of them is to really work on me as a person - not just on the outside but on the inside. Ultimately, when people look at me, I don't really want them to see me. I want them to see my Savior. I want them to want what I have based on how I think, speak, act, treat others, etc.

All in all, my goal is for me to decrease and Christ to increase. That is all.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Yearning & A Plan

My mother is the ultra organizer (well, she'll probably tell you not so much right now, but she is). Her daughter (that's me) is so NOT the organizer. Oh, yes, I have grand ideas for things but she is the one with the organization to put those ideas into an actual event. I have the desires and the lovely images in my head of an organized home where everything has its place. She is the one who can actually pull it off. Now, no doubt about it, I can create a clean and tidy and organized space. It just takes me...FOREVER.

My mother is also the crafty one. I'm the writer, yes. But she is the crafter/scrapbooker/creator. I remember when I was little the closet full of puffy paint, fabrics, and glue guns. I didn't learn until fairly recently that she used to make t-shirts or sweatshirts to give as gifts or even sell during Christmas and other times to help make ends meet or have money to buy me gifts. I can remember the Christmas scenes she would create on shirts. I also remember the first scrapbook I ever did and how it would have NEVER gotten done without her help. My wedding was absolutely beautiful - mostly because of her. I had wonderful ideas - she just brought them to reality.

I say all that to say this: I may not have inherited that gene - but I am determined to practice it. One of my goals this summer is to work on really organizing our home and keeping it clean and orderly. Even as I write this, there is a voice inside laughing its ugly head off. Yes, little voice, I know I have a crazy son who wreaks his havoc all over the house and our office desk is loaded down with papers and there are clothes all over our bedroom but it WILL happen.

I have a plan. Oh, yes...that's right. Beware THE PLAN! When I really am truly determined to do something - I do it. Usually. Most of the time. Almost.

Okay, so even when I make a plan, it doesn't always work out. But I REALLY am going to try this time - just not until summer. I know myself. If I start before my break, I will quit and then be depressed that I couldn't keep up with it. The same goes for my 5K training, exercise, eating right plan. It sounds ridiculous to say I'm going to wait on that until my break starts but I figured if I wait until I have more time and stick with it during the summer, then I'll be so addicted to it (whatever IT is - exercising, running, cooking healthy, keeping a clean house, etc.) that I will make a way to do said IT during the school year. At least, that's the thought process behind it. And part of these plans and goals take money - money we won't quite have until Jason starts his new job.

Let's get this straight: I HATE cleaning. Loathe it. Can't stand it. But, it has to be done unless I want to live in filth right? So I figured...why not have a plan to do some aspect of cleaning each day of the week instead of trying to do it ALL over the weekend when I'd rather be having fun. Of course each evening I'll pick up Gabe's toys and straighten up the kitchen. That's a given. But then one day each week I'll choose something else.

Here's an example (not necessarily the order I will do things but just so you get the idea):
Mondays: Vacuum carpets
Tuesdays: Sweep & steam tile floors
Wednesdys: Dust ALL furniture in house
Thursdays: Do ALL laundry
Fridays: Clean bathrooms
Saturdays: Anything else that needs cleaning/straightening/organizing
Sundays: Enjoy a day off:)

I think if I really make a plan, tack it up somewhere, and stick with it - it will eventually become a habit and no longer will I be running around like a maniac trying to tidy up hours before company is to show up. It won't be easy because this type of thing, for some strange and annoying reason, does not come naturally to me. But when Jason starts working and he comes home - I want him to come home to a clean, welcoming, and cozy home....not one full of dust, dirt, and chaotic disorganization.

So, with this yearning deep inside, and my amazing plan of action, I might just become....SUPERMOM!

Friday, May 25, 2012


I confess.

This month has been one of the hardest months emotionally and financially that I have ever had.
Which, in retrospect, isn't all that bad. But it has been tough.

Here's the bottom line: I wouldn't trade the year that Jason has had home with Gabe for anything in this entire world; but it's been a struggle for me. Financially we were doing okay when his brother and sis-in-law moved in last June. But when they moved out in November so did the extra income that kept us afloat. We resorted to credit cards - something we never thought we'd have to do - to pay for groceries or gas. We were able to pay off a lot of debt with our income tax but then we were right back where we started again. We realized that Jason HAD to get a job because we couldn't wait around for something to come available with CSX forever.

The amazing thing - and the thing I am constantly reminded of these days - is that God's timing is ever so perfect and He absolutely LOVES to come through at the 11th hour. Why? So that there is no other possible reasoning behind things working out the way they do. It's just God.

It seemed that as soon as we resolved to get Jason a job, one popped up on CSX. He applied several other places and then was scheduled for an interview with CSX. This was in the middle of the hardest month. Most of the bills were paid but we were running out of money in our account for groceries - and the 3 credit cards we have were pretty much at their max so they weren't an option either. We pretty much spent what was left on food for Gabriel since he is our number one priority. I was sort of wondering where our food would come from for the next week before payday.

This morning, when I went to my box at school, someone had left a card in there for me...and inside were TWO Publix gift cards. I burst into tears immediately. Why do I worry? Why do I constantly do what Matthew 6 tells me not to do? He feeds the birds of the air. He clothes the lilies of the field. Of course He's going to take care of me. I don't know who this person is that left such a wonderful blessing in my box and I may never know - - - but you can guarantee that when Jason starts bringing home a paycheck and we are in the position to bless others - that is exactly what I am going to do.

Humbled & Grateful!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Summer Countdown...

T-W-E-L-V-E Days left of this school year!!


I cannot wait until the last day. I cannot wait to start my summer routine. I cannot wait to get into a schedule with my weight loss and 5K training. I cannot wait to be home with my boy and to have time to make healthy things.

I have been thinking about my daily routine during the summer and not that anyone on here cares what I do during my summer, I feel like I just need to write it down...and part of me feels it should be shared so I can be held accountable by someone.

I found a smoothie recipe online that has to be made ahead of time and refrigerated so I plan to make one each night to have ready in the mornings. I plan (key word - plan) to get up at 6am each morning and do about 15-20 minutes of Just Dance on the XBOX Kinect. Then I want to drink my healthy and filling smoothie while doing my bible study for 20-30 minutes. By 7, Gabe will surely be up and it will be time to feed him some breakfast. Three days a week, I want to take him to Lake Hollingsworth and walk around the lake in the morning before it gets ridiculously hot. Then the rest of the day will be filled with keeping him busy (and myself, since hubs will be working). This will most likely entail pool time at the sis-in-law's, perhaps time with a mom and tot group, playground time, and anything else we can find to do during the day. Another 3 days a week, my wonderful sis-in-law will be doing our 5K training in the evenings. My lunch will consist of healthy wraps or salads and my dinners will consist of crock pot meals a few times a week and other healthy things that I can make and that can be easily heated up for hubby when he gets home.

I look forward to playing the stay at home wife and mother over the summer. I feel such a weight lifted off of my shoulders knowing that very soon, worrying about money will go away. I can buy healthy groceries and actually make good wholesome menus and stick to them. I'm also excited to plan for next year - - - to get a head start on what I'm going to be doing with my 5th graders next year.

At the end of this year, I plan to bring in scrapbook paper and markers so my students can sign them and write on them. I want to take pictures of them and put them on the papers to make a scrapbook of sorts with this year's students. Even though it's been another tough year and I will not miss many of my students, there are some that I will miss and I won't be here next year. I want to remember this group. They, in all honesty, have been my favorite group.

All in all, I am just looking forward to what's to come. Brighter days are ahead...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Silly and the Serious

Many times in life we become so consumed with all the "big" stuff going on in our lives and maybe we forget to let loose and have fun.

This is me...to a 'T.' I do tend to take life too seriously. But sometimes, that inner kid in me just jumps out and shows up. And that can be a good thing.

Thursday morning, hubby had an interview with CSX - the railroad company - you know the one. They always show up at the railroad crossing going 2.7 mph when you've either gotta pee really bad or you're 10 minutes late to some important meeting. Yea, them. And we were praying - hard. The interview went well but they pretty much laid it all out there for him about work schedule and time off (or lack thereof) and the more we thought about it - the more we starting thinking that maybe it wasn't the right fit for us - that maybe he should turn it down if they offered it to him. Could we really spend so much time apart?

So we went into Friday not knowing what to do. So many questions, concerns, and emotions and I felt like I was on a roller coaster - only this one was not so fun.

But Friday afternoon we had Field Day with our kids. I was not excited about it. Spending 2 hours in the hot sun while kids run around and play random games is not my idea of a good time - or rather 7th graders. I wouldn't mind doing that with my own kid.

But I decided to let loose. My excitement got them excited and they actually wanted to participate. I pretended to be competitive (which I only am in certain situations - and it was basically just swimming in high school). That got them pumped. We beat 3 teams in Tug of War before being brought down by the giants in our math teacher's class. We won the water relay race and the balloon pop relay. And I genuinely had fun. I screamed and carried on and rubbed it in the other teachers' faces when we beat them:)

It was a nice reprieve from all the serious stuff in my life. It was fun to be silly...

When we got back to the room, I checked my email and lo and behold, there lay the offer for employment with CSX.

I had been praying all day that if this was not the job for hubby, then God would make that decision easy for us - meaning he wouldn't be offered the job. But he was. And everyone kept telling us that the work schedule they warned about would not and could not happen because the Union wouldn't allow it - so it was probably a scare tactic. Scare tactic or not though, my wonderful hubby said that he would make that sacrifice. The money and benefits are too good to pass up, especially in the situation we are in. The timing is perfect. He won't start until after I get out of school for the summer. And there is a daycare on the site of the school I'll be teaching at next year (can we say God knows what He's doing?!).

So back to the serious - we know how hard it will be to be away from each other a lot. But we also see the bright future that is ahead. The things we'll actually be able to do are endless - pay off all debt including student loans in probably less than a year, save up for new cars (and I do mean save b/c we will never pay car payments again), pay the house off early, start a food and needs pantry for our church and keep it stocked for people in need, fix up the things in our house that need fixin', save up for Gabe's college, and overall - be financially FREE and be able to GIVE, GIVE, GIVE!

And in a few years, when Gabe is ready to start school, I can actually have the ability to stay home and homeschool him - along with others that are of similar age.

Continue to be in prayer for us though - as excited as we are about what this means for us - it will be a major adjustment. His body will have to adjust to long hours and less sleep than he's used to and Gabe and I will have to adjust to not seeing him as much. It won't be easy - but we know he's doing this for us.

And I'm going to continue to pray that God would allow me those moments to be silly even in the midst of the serious...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Set Apart

I'm slowly falling behind in my quest to read one book a month. I mean, I'm still on track, but I'm slowing. I'm on book #5 right now - The Resolution for Women. It wasn't on my original list (which is really just a pinterest board - seriously, people, who makes lists anymore?) but my sister in law gave it to me to read and I figured, hey, if she read a book that she's recommending, then it must be good:)

It's beyond good. I'm only in Chapter 3 or on resolution 3 (there are 13) and it has been totally speaking into every area of my life. Tonight I finished Resolution 2 which talks about being Purposefully Feminine and filling the role that God created for you and then I started on Resolution 3 which is all about "Authentically Me" and realizing that you were chosen by God, appointed by Him, and SET APART.

Um. Wow. It speaks to that part of every woman that compares herself to other women - whether physically, emotionally, professionally, personally, or what have you. I think Christian women are the worst at this. I constantly compare myself to other Christian women and think, "Well, if I just had her faith," or "If I had her kind hearted personality," or "If I could speak to people like her." God doesn't desire that of us. He has CHOSEN us, knowing exactly who we are, to be champions of the role that He has placed us in. You are the only one that He chose to fill that special place.

I constantly wonder if my blog is worth writing. I wonder if it really ever effects anyone or grabs anyone's attention - which is stupid because people tell me all the time how much they appreciate it. Yet, I still second guess myself. I read other blogs and think, "Well, maybe if I could write like them." Well, my girl Priscilla Shirer who authors the book I'm reading, smacked me right in the face tonight. She was telling the story of someone who wrote to her basically expressing the same thing I feel all the time about my writing and then she proceeded to tell her this: "some readers will only hear, understand, and accept certain things when they read it in your words, from your perspective, written in your voice." Wow. But then she went on. "We were each created by God to do our part. And if we fail to do it because we don't think it's valuable enough, great loss will be suffered. Someone, somewhere, needs you - in all of your uniqueness - to step up to the plate of your calling. So come take your place."

Okay, Priscilla. Message received. Do you get that? No matter what you've done, where you've been, or how screwed up you think you are - someone, somewhere needs YOU. You were created for a purpose - a purpose that God chose YOU to fill. That's pretty incredible if you ask me. I want to fulfill my purpose. I know of two of them: to be a testimony to young tween and teen girls and show them God's love...and to write. Maybe the two intertwine in a way that I haven't yet figured out.

But I will continue to blog. Perhaps something I say one day will plant a seed and I might just be priveleged enough to see the fruit that grows.

So be encouraged, friends. You were set apart. You have a purpose. And God chose you - to be where you are for His special work.

I leave you with something else from this inspring book:
"Like a coach who methodically considers which runner to put on the track at particular stages of a relay race, God's choice of you for this leg of the marathon was by design.
That's why you're here. In this position.
Facing that project.
Married to that man.
Involved in that friendship.
Dealing with that issue.
Living in that neighborhood.
Spearheading that committee.
Participating in that activity.
Mothering those children.
Living this life.
Not because it has accidentally happened like this but because you have been known and chosen by the one Coach who sees you as uniquely suited, equipped, and capable of carrying out such amazing plans with such intricate precision.
You are the one, my friend.
You. Are. The. One."

The Great Weight Debate

Like my rhyme?

Yup - I came up with that - or maybe I unknowingly stole it from something else since it sounds familiar but I can't seem to place it. Well, whoever came up with it (me or someone else), is quite clever.

I have struggled with weight my entire life. I have never felt "thin." I look back at pictures now and think, "Wow, I looked pretty good then." But at the time I didn't feel that way. I'm an emotional eater and have been such as far back as I can remember. Fight with a friend? Broke up with my boyfriend? Stressed out with school or work? Received a rotten grade? Life has me down and out? Then by all means, let's order a pizza, or go for a milkshake, or indulge in some Ben and Jerry's or maybe, if it's really bad - all 3 and then some.

I have tried and succeeded many times with losing weight....for a short amount of time. And then I always slip up and it takes months or a year or more for me to get back on track and try again. I have gained extraordinary will power to withstand the tempation of pizza while everyone around me is giving in and I have also failed and eaten half a box.

I'll be honest - it used to be my goal to look like Jessica Alba or some other celebrity who looks great in a bikini. But, I find myself not wanting to look like anyone else. I want to look like me - just a thinner, less fat, healthy me. And may I just tell you? It is hard!

I know how bad the food is that I fill my belly with on a daily basis. I have that desire to eat healthy and organic. But it also costs more and as much as I try to coupon, it just does not work for our finances right now. So I resort to the cheaper, less healthy, gain a pound just by glancing at it type foods.

On my mental bucket list is the accomplishment of running a 5K (and then upwards from there). That's right folks. R-U-N-N-I-N-G. And if you know me at all - you know that I do not run...unless it's an emergency - like I have to pee. But my sister in law wants me to do the Cookies for Cancer 5K in September and I am totally game. But that means I have to train. Yes, technically you can walk the whole thing (it's only 3 miles - I can walk 3 miles) but I don't want to WALK it. I want to RUN it. So...I've started a pinterest board all about my 5K training tips, ideas, etc. I'm going to start the Couch to 5K training routine after I get out of school and I'm going to create a strict menu for myself that I can actually follow. I HAVE to do this - - - and not for anyone else. You see, that's when I fail. I fail when I start to do it for others and not for myself. This has to be for ME this time - for my self image and my health. It won't be easy. It's never been easy for me. But I WANT to do this and I think if I have a tangible goal to work for (like running a 5K in September) rather than losing this or that amount of weight by such and such a time, I will be more successful. I'm not going to watch the numbers on the scale anymore. All they do is taunt me anyway.

So, I'm closing my inner debate within myself and vowing to do it this time - no matter how many times I may fall and have to get back up. The point is that I get back up and keep going. I want to get to the point where I actually enjoy exercise (I was that way in high school) and where my taste buds actually crave healthy things.

I know I can do this...

I WILL do this...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"The Golden Post"

Well, folks, this is my official 50th post on my blog. Fifty is a special number. At 50 years of marriage, you have your "Golden Anniversary." The 1950's was considered the "Golden Age." And if I recall correctly, after you turn 50, you celebrate the "Golden Years." So, I shall name this post the "Golden Post." Now, I feel as a blogger, that on this special 50th post, that I should write about something earth shattering, ground breaking, or as most people would call it - important. However, the things I want to write about have not happened yet and when they do - you will hear about it.

This post, I decided, will be my own personal love story (which, I might add, was pretty important in my life). My hubby and I shared our story of how we met in a meeting with our pastor last night and after talking about it I told Jason I should blog about it - because it really is a magnificent story - the timing, the events - it all molds together to create a story that I do love to tell.

I give you one disclaimer before I begin: I am notorious for details. This story may wind up being longer than you or I anticipate and if you feel the need to stop, go do something meaningful with your life, and come back and read it later, please feel free. I give no apologies. This is my our story and we are quite proud of it. So, ladies and gentlemen (are there any gentlemen who read this?), without further adieu, I give you: The Love Story of Jason & Kayla.

Enter the broke, social college student in need of a church to be involved in and a reason to get away from the ex-boyfriend that won't go away. Yes, that would be yours truly. It was January of 2006, my freshman year of college - and I was loving it. I was lacking one thing: a church. Being a Christ-follower and student of a Christian college, being involved in a church was a no-brainer; it was something that I required of myself and I was missing it. A couple that were members of my church back at home in Ocala had moved back to Plant City a couple years before and invited me to their church. My first visit was on January 29th and I immediately plugged in with the college and career class. I was invited to a college and career "Polar Bear Party" where I could get to meet a lot of the other people my age and get connected. The point of the party (besides fellowship and eating) was to jump into freezing cold water to collect rocks that represented different amounts of money. College student? No job? Broke? Yes, please. I will jump into 50 degree water to grab rocks that will get me some gas money.

We were told that anyone who didn't know how to get to the person's house could meet at the church. I figured I would be the only one since I was the only one who didn't know how to get there. But shortly after I pulled up, another car pulled in. We sat on opposite sides of the parking lot waiting for our leaders to show up. Finally they did, and when I got out of the car, I swear to you my breath caught in my chest. I'd always heard stories of people who say they knew the moment they saw their spouse, that they were the one. I never believed it would actually happen to me. I looked at this handsome guy talking with our leaders and felt without a doubt that he was it. I can't even explain it. Unless that actually happens to you, it's not something you can understand. But my mother and friends can vouch for me...I went home (back to school) that night (after winning $12 from the freezing water) and called my mom to tell her that I met the man I was going to marry. I honestly thought I was crazy. I didn't say two words to this guy. All I knew about him was his name and yet, I just knew.

The crazy thing was that it was February 4th. That would have been 2 years for my ex-boyfriend and me (if we had still been together) and we were talking again. I didn't know how to really let him go at the time. I was trying to let him down but kept failing. And then I met Jason. It all became so easy after that, without even having a conversation with the man.

Things went very slow after that. I looked him up on myspace a week or so later and we became friends on there. We would acknowledge each other at church but it didn't really go any further than that. He will tell you I stalked him on myspace - I promise you that is not true. I mean, checking his myspace several times a day, jumping up and down when he added me to his top 12 friends list, watching with anticipation as I slowly moved up to the number one spot on his friends list - that's not stalking. :)

Finally he sent me a message with his cell phone number but I, being taught well by my mother, knew that it was not a good idea to call/text him first so I gave him my number. My first text came from him April 10th in the morning while I was on my way to work. I nearly swerved off the road. I remember dates because they were significant to me. That was the day we kidnapped my best friend for her birthday.

We started texting a lot after that. I first asked him to come hang out at the college and career softball game and since I didn't know how to get there, he said he'd meet me somewhere and I could follow him. Realizing our mutual appreciation for Starbucks, we met there first. I was excited, nervous, and running around like a mad woman before that initial "date" that wasn't actually a date. I knew how quiet he was so I wasn't sure if I would be carrying the conversation. I didn't. Our conversation was easy and light and he was smiling the whole time. Side note: I still have the receipt from that first Starbucks trip together.

I can't remember exactly when it really happened but one of the things I really desired was for "that guy" to wear a True Love Waits ring. I had made a committment long before to remain sexually pure until marriage and I desired the same in a man. I didn't want to marry a man who had already given that up to someone else. I wanted a True Love Waits ring exchange as part of our wedding ceremony so that it would be witness to others of our committment to wait for each other. I remember one Wednesday night at church we were sitting at a table and I happened to glance at his hand and notice the ring. I nearly fell out my chair! I think I called my mother halfway hyperventilating that night to tell her he wore the ring.

We went to Starbucks and softball games a few times and then he finally asked me to a movie. Our first official date (a date because he paid for the movie) was to see Benchwarmers. Then we went shortly after to see Take the Lead. We continued to meet at Starbucks on occassion and he would come by the school just to chat. I had gotten a job and would be moving in with the same couple from earlier in the story over the summer. The Monday after I moved in, he came over that night because he had an important note to give me. It detailed his feelings about me and I just smiled from ear to ear as I read it. We became "official" after that and it has been the best 6 years of my life. We both knew immediately that we would get married. We weren't going to waste time dating if we didn't see each other as a spouse and of course, I knew way before him that it was going to happen:)

1st picture together:)

For a few years prior to meeting him, I had written letters to my future husband and then after I met him, before we even got together, I began to address those letters to him. I gave them to him on our wedding night as his wedding gift. They sit in a treasure box in the middle of one of our plant shelves.

We were officially engaged on October 16, 2006. He proposed at Lake Mirror while the sun was setting and a flock of birds was flying overhead. I nearly tackled him to say yes!
One of our many incredible engagement shots

Our wedding was absolutely beautiful and was a dream come true. And we set aside a special part right before our wedding ring exchange to place our True Love Waits rings on a white ribbon which we placed on the bible when we went to light our unity candle.
The True Love Waits rings being placed on the Bible

Our marriage has been more than I could ever ask for and now we are blessed to be the parents of a sweet precious boy. If you had told me 7 years ago that by this time I would be married, have a child, and be teaching 7th grade to the type of students I teach, I would have probably laughed at you. But I would not trade this life of mine for anything. I have a husband who constantly lifts me up and tells me how wonderful I am, who makes me feel beautiful and desired, and who, despite our many differences, is literally my other half - my peanut butter to my jelly, my butter to my toast, my cinnamon to my bun (okay, corny moment over - sorry).
Getting ready for baby!

Our wonderful son!
Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed our wonderful love story. It's the best of the best if you ask me:)

Thanks for sticking with me through this special "golden post" of mine. Here's to 50 more, friends!

P.S. This post took me literally 3 days to write:) Just sayin'....