Today we take a few moments


the life of a courageous little girl

whose brief touch on this earth has impacted more people

than a 2 1/2 year old typically has the chance to


the faith that it launched in people

the depth that it dug in people

the inner healing that will continue to abound in people


the GOODNESS of God

…because even in the midst of the pain that is felt…






for our LOSS


will continue to CELEBRATE

her GAIN 

Luse family-044

Ruby Joy (Rubes)

you were a delight to know

you were a champion

you gave me reasons to never give up hope

…to never lose heart

Through your life

mine was revived

Thank you for being a part of my life

It was a JOY to know you here

Can't wait to run with you someday

and laugh

and giggle

and dance

…let's dance together

Your legacy extends farther than any of us can see

and will last for eternity

You are a hero to me, Rubes

Love you.


In memory of Ruby Joy Luse

July 10, 2009-March 14, 2012

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Isaiah 35.10

Day 2. Made about 10 kids cry.

Okay, it's not as bad as it sounds, but today I decided that I either made a great choice, or a horrible choice…Here's what happened.  (and this is our 2nd day in)

For Social Studies in 5th grade, I'm teaching about early America.  Wanting to read some great historical fiction, I chose this book called Fever 1793.  It's about a time when yellow fever hit Philadelphia and wiped out about 5,000 people in 3 months!  The story opens with a girl suddenly losing her good friend to the fever.  So the literacy teacher that I am, I decide to allow my students to build a connection with this main character, who has lost someone close to her!  (Sounds innocent enough, right?)

In their journals they were to respond in one of two ways:  a)tell about a time that someone you know passed away, and how you felt, or b) tell what you think it would be like to experience something like that…what if you found out that your best friend passed away in the night…how would that effect you?

Okay, I admit it's a little deep for 5th graders…but in my class, we go deep.  What I didn't foresee is the number of kids that I would have sobbing and wailing over the thoughts of losing people that were dear to them…an uncle, a brother, a dad committing suicide, a grandfather…I'm so not kidding, the list went on.  Thankfully (and I say that loosely), some kids were just writing about a pet, or they didn't actually have any experiences to write about, but wow…the ones that did!  Good night, I'm sure that it was good for them in one sense, but I simply didn't have the man-power to counsel all of the kids that were needing it right then!  I've never, ever seen so many kids passionately crying in one room before. 

I stepped out of my room for a moment to tell my friend that I felt like a horrible teacher!  …I mean, 10 kids…I made 10 kids cry today!  Aye!

Contributing in the Name Of

In August of 2004, some "genius" decided that I would be a good candidate to teach 2nd grade in Detroit.  He had no idea what he was getting himself into by hiring me…and neither did I.  This guy held a couple of leadership roles at that first school when I was there, but basically, he was my boss.  Our school shut down and we all parted ways…but this school year, my former boss, Paddock (we go by last names at our school) came on as our Vice Principal.  This has been a very cool thing for so many reasons, none of which I will delve into right now.  But this is where I’m headed at the moment…Paddock’s father passed away the other night after battling with lung cancer.  I can see that it’s been a tough thing for him and his family to journey through.  For whom wouldn’t it be?  We were informed today that if we wanted to, we could make contributions to the American Cancer Society, in his name.  It struck a thought with me…

So Mr. Paddock passed away due to lung cancer, and they’d like contributions to something that could potentially help someone like him in the future.

If I passed into eternity, where would I like contributions to be made?  I haven’t come to my conclusion quite yet, but here are a few ponderings.

I love giving to missions (aka people who serve Jesus by serving others…well, that should be all followers of Jesus…but more specifically, those who are depending on others to support them financially and prayerfully).  That’s a definite possibility.

You can’t deny the fact that I love kids and teaching, so it would also make perfect sense if I wanted donations made to the school I work with, or for there to be a one time scholarship made to a current student of mine at the time (or even former student of mine). 

Also in light of my love for teaching and literacy, wouldn’t it be cool for people to donate books in my name to kids in poverty?  It would have to be tagged with my life testimony or something though…

Cancer has reared its ugly face in my family (most recently with my mom’s sister who was just told that she had cervical cancer and only a few months to live), so I could very well like to also give to the American Cancer Society.

What am I most passionate about that needs money?  I’m not ready to answer that question just yet, although to be honest, the book thing made my heart beat a little bit faster.  I don’t know though.  It’s an interesting thing to think about though, huh?

2 Corinthians 12.9

So, I’ve really begun to realize that I’m even more of a failure than I often realize.  Not to beat that into the ground, but I was just going back to look through some blog posts from the past and it makes me really sad, on so many levels.  I won’t even divulge you with details, neither big or small.  But probably the most comforting thing right now is this…

2 Corinthians 12:9 (The Message)

7-10Because of
the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big
head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch
with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he
in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around
high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged
God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

   My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
   My strength comes into its own in your weakness
I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the
handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s
strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride,
and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse,
accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so
the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

I continue to be challenged to pursue things that I’ve failed at in the past.  Jesus is cheering me on-I sense His presence doing that.  A friend of mine has recently been talking to me about my heart health….simply speaking life into my heart.  Oh how I’ve missed her these past couple weeks!  But Jesus took some great opportunities to do that through His word, moments of worship, and a book that I’m reading.  Perhaps now I can finally work on those goals that everyone’s been wanting me to work through.  We’ll see. 

I am still wanting to climb out of this thing that I’m in…I’m sure it’ll be obvious when that happens.  Until then, I’ll just take His grace every moment that I need it, and see what I can through the deep struggles and tears.


I just had a conversation with Maeve.  She’s one of my all-time favorites students.  I could write several posts about her, but for now, just one. 🙂

She said something that was hurtful to another student-her friend.  When I heard that she’d said it, I almost didn’t believe it…but unfortunately it was true.  When confronted, Maeve’s eyes started welling up.  9.9 times out of 10, my students don’t feel too that bad about hurting someone’s feelings.  I usually have to help them see how wrong they were.  Not so with this one! 

I know what you’re thinking.  She just started crying because she was caught.  She didn’t actually feel bad!  You couldn’t be more wrong.  Maeve walks with such an extreme amount of conviction in her life that it’s almost shameful to most Christians I know.  She asked for forgiveness but the girl wouldn’t say anything.  The girl was really hurt and despite Maeve’s pleading, she simply wouldn’t say anything to her.  Can’t force someone to forgive though…But thankfully she’s a Christian who attends church, and I plan on talking with her about forgiveness more later on.  For now I’ll just pray for her broken heart, because this has clearly happened more than once.

Maeve really gets me though!  As I’m sure I’ll write about later on, she’s a studnet that I see myself knowing years from now.  We’ll always stay in touch, I can tell.  I want God to use me to seriously impact her life, and I’m praying about how to do that in a public school setting.  He’s got His hand on her life and the fact that I get to be her teacher confirms that all the more.  I pray that the Holy Spirit would rain down His conviction in her heart, that she would turn to Him completely.

I may not be the best teacher, and I may hate grading papers, but man, I really love what I get to do in this moment of life.  🙂

Grab a cup of coffee…

…this turned out to a be long post for me.  It started yesterday and got finished tonight.

I’ve been making a list, and checking it twice…but trust me, this has nothing to do with Christmas presents.

What I’m thinking about, though, is my list for the new year.  A couple of my blogging friends have already posted their resolutions for the new year…all while I watched my last round of 24.Season 5.  (Are you surprised?)  This doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been on my mind or that all I think about is 24-really, it isn’t.

The other I told a friend that I wasn’t sure of too many goals for this year.  After thinking more about this, perhaps I have overlooked the significance of some things God’s been working on in me and the part that they’ll play in my life this year. 

368 days ago God used a sermon to begin a revolution in my life.  Throughout the course of one year I have experienced a defined character upheaval.  My year ended on Sunday with a reminder of something huge that I learned this past year…God’s more concerned with my character than my comfort.  As painful as that may be at times, the journey has been worth it.  It’s not over though, as I feel like my race has only begun. 

Really, last year I didn’t make resolutions-I simply asked God to change me.  Since that worked better, I think I’ll repeat that one act.  God, please change me.  One of the things that I ask Him to change in me is my motivation to act upon goals though:)  Somehow this is turning topsy turvy on me…

As a continuation of change in 2006, I want to continue in upping the health-factor of my body.  If my heart has to take up rent while here on earth, as the landlord of this flesh, I should make it worth it’s while to stay here!  Tonight Phil said that Jesus transforms us on the inside and it shows on the outside.  Preach it, little brother!  I’m going to be adamant about my workout and running routine each week-you know, stick with it.  After all, I am training to run 2 5K’s and a 10K this year.  (Praise God!)  Today I even got my principal, the PE teacher and another teacher in on a physical fitness thing we’re going to do at school, ending with a 5K to raise money for something, in May.  I’m pumped.  I’m definitely in way over my head-so thankful God’s bigger than that.

I started my Bible reading plan to read the Bible in chronological order in a year (thanks for the Bible, Dad:) and realized that I’ve never read the Bible in a year before!  This actually amazes me because it’s not even that much reading a day.  I’m already seeing that this may have to be upped for next year.  As I’ve been reading I’ve already been able to see that I am going to be challenged in my faith this year.  I can see that I’m going to wrestle with my faith over things I’ve never felt the need to touch.  Honestly, it scared me a little at first.  But then God reminded me of my desire to grow and be stretched.  Here we go for another ride! 

My prayer life will increase as I continue to address my need for more of Him.  I have a gut feeling that He will continue to strip away from me.  Perhaps it will be common knowledge about things I’ve always thought about but never truly believed…I don’t know.  This goes hand-in-hand with the whole "wrestling with my faith" thing.

I want to invest in people more.  Because I find that a natural thing for me to do, I tend to actually forget about it sometimes and discontinue being intentional about it.  That needs to go, for sure.

This post has turned into a real-life conversation with me, where I say a lot of things, mostly connected somehow, and neverending…sorry:)

Have a memorable year!  I can hardly see past tomorrow morning (which is quickly approaching), but it’s going to be a great one for me……….

Oh yeah, and one more thing…January 27 is my 10,000th day!  What should I do to celebrate?  A party with 10,000 guests?  Do 10,000 sit-ups?  Watch 10,000 hours of 24?…yeah, that doesn’t even make sense.  Help!  Whatever I do, it should be something that I can’t do on my own.  Life’s more fun with other people.

I Lied…

It’s confession time.  I lied today.  I’m not a liar and I hate that I did it but I couldn’t think quick enough, and to be honest, looking back now I don’t know what else I could’ve said.

We did the Secret Santa thing at work and at the end of last week we revealed ourselves.  I won’t dive into the fact that I didn’t get hardly anything on the days leading up to the "reveal" day, mostly because I had a blast giving things to the guy I was a SS to.

So on Friday my SS revealed herself to me by coming into my room and giving me my final "big" present.  She handed it toDsc02840 me and said that she hoped I liked it.  I said that I was pretty content with anything and that I’m sure I’d like it.  It was busy in my classroom, so I didn’t take the time to open the gift right then.  When I finally opened it, to my shock (and horror) I had received a bag full of Jean Nate products.  Included was a bottle of perfume, lotion, body spray and a thing of powder (w/ puff).  Powder?  Do women use that stuff?  I remember having some when I was little and I thought it was so grown up to use, but nowadays…yeah, I don’t think so.

And I won’t even mention that the perfume box had doodles all over it.  If you look closely to the upper right corner of the transparent box, you’ll see the $9.99 price tag.  Classy.

I certainly wasn’t going to wear the stuff, nor was I going to re-gift such a hideous thing.  So that night we gave it away as a white elephant gift at our Christmas party.  (Christy, I’ll be smelling you to see if you’re wearing it!)  Well, this morning the lady asked me if I liked the scent.  My reply?  Immediately I thought of a great reply…"Oh, thank you so much for the gift!"  Then I kind of turned to walk away, when she asked again, "Oh, well did you like it?"  I smiled and said, "Yeah!"  I am all for honesty, but in that moment I couldn’t think of the right words!  Perhaps I could’ve said, "It’s an interesting smell!"  But any bright person could see right through that remark.

In conclusion, if you’re looking to get me anything for Christmas, I love giftcards.  🙂

Let Go

Dewayne_woods Ladies and Gentlemen, I have recently stumbled upon an amazing gospel singer named DeWayne Woods.  You’ve gotta check this guy out!  I referenced him a couple weeks ago when I talked about a song that kept coming across my path, "Let Go."  After searching for awhile, I ended up finding him on myspace.  The song that led me to this guy was that one song though, "Let Go."  It goes something like this:

…as soon as I stop worryin’, worryin’ how the story ends, when I let go and I let God, let God have His way…that’s when things start happenin’…when I stop lookin’ at back when…when I let go and I let God have His way…

Awesome stuff.  I am constantly looking at my story and wondering how this next chapter is going to look.  After all, I’m the type of person who regularly enjoys reading the beginning of a story and then the end of a story, only to go back and read the middle later.  I’m well aware of my final end, once I reach eternity.  I’m as aware as the Bible helps me to be anyway.  But there are always going to be several subplots to the stories of our lives.  The current story…not so sure how it’s going to end and I wonder about it a lot.  This song speaks to my heart about letting go, very well.  I have played it often these last couple of weeks, and it has served as a reminder to pray  🙂

Be encouraged to do the same.  Let go and let God…it’s a common phrase, but fitting words for any life.


This fourth week of November brings us all to a place where we are encouraged to think more about what we’re thankful for.  It’s one of those things that you either don’t know where to begin or you don’t know where to end.  This week I’d like to just keep posting what I’m thankful for…in no particular order:)  To be honest, this is more for me than for anybody else.  It’s just good to remember…

I’m thankful:

-that I grew up in church

for change in my life

-that God gives me grace beyond what I clearly deserve

-that I am working at a school where I am appreciated

-that this year has brought me the coolest group of students to work with

-that I am from a cool place like Philly

-for a family that loves me more today than they ever did

-for my mom who is the BEST customer service representative at Cardone Industries (buy Cardone car parts!), winning 3 out of 5 awards at this year’s banquet

-for my dad who always draws Robbie the cat stamps on every envelope he gives me-and my biggest fan

-for my brother Todd who has always made me laugh

-for my sister-in-law Tiffany who giggles w/ me about silly things

-for my brother Dave who (finally 🙂 occasionally calls me out the blue to say Hi and who has committed to watching all of 24.Season 3 with me this week

-for my sister-in-law Stephanie, who has become one of my best friends and one of my favorite people to talk with

-for my nephew Robert who, at the age of 11, still gets so excited to see his Mim!

-for my nephew Ross who gets super sentimental when I leave him and makes me laugh when I come

-for my nephew Ryder who I’ve only met once-who I can’t wait to hold in 24 hours!

-for Jessica who lives far away but still sends me pictures of her and her family in the mail

-for Jen (Gowell) who has been my best friend since I was 8; my former roommate; my oldest friend

-for my roommate, Jennifer, who stays up late with me all the time to just hang out and who vaccuums @ 10.30pm and can’t seem to figure out how to work my TV/VCR

-for pigs (hah!)

-for Carrie who keeps me accountable for my thoughts and who makes me laugh a whole lot

-for Eddie and JT who really care when they ask me how I’m doing

-for Nicki-my mentor and friend-who keeps me accountable and whose life of integrity causes me to be grossly real with her

-for Chris for sharing Nicki with me;)

-for Brad who not only challenges me every time he preaches, but who introduces me to the funniest and weirdest websites ever…and he introduced me to blogging

-for Katie who is real with me and whose book I will someday own:)

-for Phil who thinks just like me!

-for Emily who has been moving through this season of her life with grace

-for a Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks (or a Mint Condition from Caribou)

-for Jamie who I love to worship with

-for Tal and Gwen who are my favorite example of what a couple should be


-for King who lives in China but who still seems to impact my life on a regular basis

-for Richie and Michele who have shown me true friendship through their consistency

-for Church of the King-a body of people who want to see Metro Detroit filled with church plants

-for having the privilege of leading New Life Ministries-the best ministry ever!

-for my crockpot

for hoodie sweatshirts

-for the opportunity to go to North Central-some life-changing years

-for Jeremy Camp‘s music

-for life!  it’s so amazing!

****This list is far from finished…I just need to go to bed, for tomorrow I drive to Chicago!

I’m not crazy, I just don’t want to fail again!

That was one of the closing lines of Grey’s Anatomy tonight.  A girl, a patient, stuck her hand on the stove burner to hopefully burn herself enough so that she wouldn’t have to take the Bar exam later that week.  Throughout the show we figured that that was the case, but she lied to the doctors the whole time until one of them questioned her about it.  She told them that there was a lot of pressure on her to pass this test and she’d already failed it 5 times.  They ended up taking her up to the psych ward to receive some help for a little while.  She resisted, saying, "I’m not crazy, I just don’t want to fail again!" 

Nobody wants to fail.  Nobody strives to fail.  People try to keep from failing most of the time!  Yet all of us at one time, and then another, fail.  Because I tend to fail, over and over again, there are times that I feel like I’m going crazy (not in the literal sense, but you know that feeling).  There’s pressure, and it’s not even usually from others.  It usually comes as a result of the expectations that I perceive others have of me.  It mainly comes as a result of sin…

Sin is so frustrating and someday I’m going to be through with it.  That’s one thing I can’t wait for when I get to Heaven.  And at the same time, I don’t have to fear failure as I do sometimes.  This is something that I recently realized I need to maintain-getting rid of my fear of failure.  I fear failing God, my family, my friends, my ministry, my students, myself…It doesn’t consume me, but if not kept in check, this fear of failure could start to make me think I’m going crazy.

I thank God that He is helping me to remember that I need to dispel the fears that I experience and accept his overwhelming grace.