Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Story of Christmas

A few weeks ago I attended Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God concert.  I have heard the story of the birth of Christ many times, but he ended the concert with a powerful scripture that seemed to really bring together the whole picture.
Colossians 1:15-20
 “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
      He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
 for through him God created everything
      in the heavenly realms and on earth.
   He made the things we can see
      and the things we can’t see—
   such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
      Everything was created through him and for him.
 He existed before anything else,
      and he holds all creation together.
 Christ is also the head of the church,
      which is his body.
   He is the beginning,
      supreme over all who rise from the dead
      So he is first in everything.
 For God in all his fullness

      was pleased to live in Christ,
 and through him God reconciled
      everything to himself.
   He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
      by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.”
So there you have it.  God wrapped himself up in flesh and came down to earth.  To bring peace & joy and to die to save us all.  And that, my friends, is why we celebrate Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Year of Adventure

 1. My new job – My only request when I knew that I would be moved to a new school was that they try to find me a position at the same grade level.  I’m pretty sure I said that I would go to any school in order to stay in first grade.  While I love first graders, I was actually thinking that my graduate school workload would be increasing and I’d like to know what I was doing in one area of my life!  Even though I’ve got a full class of little ones, this year is going so much more smoothly than last year.  Anyone who knew about my class last year knows that it was a bit trying.  It’s always hard to adjust to a new environment, new administration, and new teammates, but I feel that the transition is going well. 

2. Research – I’ve been thinking about my thesis topic since the day I started graduate school.  (Mostly because they told us to start thinking of one on the first night of class.)  When my research class finally rolled around, I had narrowed down the field that I wanted to study.  A few dozen articles later, I tossed out a few topics and really tried to hone in on my subject.  Here’s the best part: I actually enjoy it!  Let me clarify…reading, re-reading, trying to figure out how to cite something, and deciding how to organize thoughts so they flow nicely are not that much fun.  However, it is great to feel like I’m a mini-expert in a particular area that interests me.  Or at least I’m familiar with the names of the experts in that field!

3. The AMAZON – Last year on my second trip to Peru, the leaders started tossing around ideas about other potential end-of-trip vacation spots.  We love our little side trip to Cuzco/Machu Picchu, but there are many other places to see.  I was psyched that the first one on the list was the Amazon Rainforest.  Now those who know me best can tell you that my idea of camping is staying at a Motel 6.  But I was eager to overcome the fear of the unknown (including a yellow fever shot & malaria pills) in order to see one of the most fascinating places in the world. 
It did not disappoint!  I rode in all varieties of water craft, walked on gang planks, hiked through muddy jungle trails, wore multiple layers of bug spray & sun screen, whistled at pink dolphins, trudged carefully through the jungle in the pitch black, talked to Pedro the macaw, fished for piranha, and came home with only two bug bites.  And that’s only part of the story.  While there are many other places I would rather visit first, I’m not opposed to going to the jungle again.  I know exactly what to pack now! ;)

Stay tuned for part 3!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Year in Review

My last blog post was in July.  Not for lack of things to say, or even from lack of time, but because I’ve chosen to do other things.  The good news is I’ve got lots of free time for the next few days and plenty to talk about! 
Since end of the year is rapidly approaching, I’ve been reflecting on some of the changes in my life.  Here’s part 1:

A Year of Loss
1. My job – This was a rough year for educators.  As our district considered the best way to reduce expenses, my name was put on the bottom of the “might be moved to a new campus” list.  I felt very confident that I would stay in the district and pretty certain that I was one of the last on the list to go from our school.  Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.  I won’t go into the sordid details, but I was told that I would be moving to a new campus.  I would miss seeing my kiddos from previous years, but even more I would deeply miss my grade level team.  Our cohesiveness was very rare in the education world.  There’s more to this story, so stay tuned.

2. My financial safety net – On the same day that I found out that I would be moving to a new school, I went to a last minute dentist appointment to see what was going on with a continual toothache.  Guess what – root canals and crowns are expensive!! This just happened to be in the midst of conflict with my apartment complex over an obscene rent hike.  I juggled some money around, tightened up the budget, and got ready for a year of more rice & beans and less eating out with friends.

3. My free time – Who knew that writing a thesis would take so much time and effort???  I’ve pulled some late nights and cram writing sessions this semester that are reminiscent of undergrad days.  I probably SHOULD be analyzing data right now, but I’m giving myself a little vacation!

4. My church community – I jumped full swing into the young professional group at my church as soon as I moved to Austin 6 years ago.  It’s been a rocky ride.  I’ve seen people come and go, numbers swing drastically for the better or worse, and experienced some amazing friendships.  Over the last year or so, a lot has changed with the group.  It’s not bad change, but things are different.  And I’m finding that I just don’t seem to fit anymore.  A lot of it has to do with grad school eating up my Wednesday nights and weekend free time, but it’s more than that.  It was unexpected in the midst of a chaotic year.  I’m sure a lot of it had to do with loss #5.

5. My friends – I’ve had many wonderful friendships in my time here in Austin, but nothing really compares to my friendships with Rachel, Allison, & Laura.  I’m not really sure why, but we just seemed to mesh well.  We met at church and we bonded through favorite restaurants, movies, Rock Band, road trips, and lots of laughter.  This year, God had big plans for them.  Amazing opportunities opened up and they each moved on to new jobs and new adventures.  But seriously, did they all need to move out of the STATE?!?! 

I know this list is super depressing, but I feel that it is essential to what is shaping me right now.  I was telling a friend the other day that God seems to have opened up a lot of space in my life.  I’m looking forward to seeing what He has in store for me next year. 

But wait, there’s more! Stick around and I’ll share some of the great things that have happened in my life this year.