35 by 35

I woke up this morning and realized it was the 11th. Every time I realize it’s the 11th of any month I automatically calculate how many months until my birthday, which is on the 11th of the greatest month ever.

3 months.

I will turn 35 in 3 months.

Excitement that my birthday was only a quarter away, joined with the utter disgust for how enormous I look, and the sheer terror that my actual age will be close to 40 all drew me to one conclusion.

I need to lose 35 pounds by the time I turn 35. Really-that’s all I came to.

Again…3 months.

I can do this.

Perhaps I should add onto that:

  • read 35 books of the Bible
  • go to bed on-time 35 times
  • NOT have Starbucks 35 times
  • run 35 times (which would help with the original goal)
  • write 35 thank you notes
  • take 35 midday walks during work
  • oooooo….write 35 blog posts

Aaaaaaand GO!

The Night Before School Starts

So many thoughts run through my head on a day like today.  It's Labor Day, the last day of the summer without kids.  The day before I am, again, responsible for making sure that 50 4th graders are literate citizens…so that the prison system can be just a little bit smaller 10 years from now.

I woke up this morning with some tasks to complete for the greatest youth ministry in the Metro DC area.  Check.

Got to soak for some time and listen to some teaching by Bill Johnson and be encouraged.  Check.

Then I moved onto some personal errands, including what was probably the largest charge I've ever had to pay at CVS Pharmacy (nothing major, just the vanity of my skin:).  Check.

Thought about doing some school work, but didn't get much farther than checking my email.  Check. Checkmark

Got inspired to plan to go see a band of a couple guys who teach at my school for my birthday.  If you're around on September 17 and would like to come, please let me know!  All friends are welcome.  You can find a sampling here:  The Running Record.  Planned my birthday event.  Check.

I LOOKED AT a workout video online, but for some reason didn't actually do it.  Thought about exercising.  Check.

Found some new friends on Twitter, and am looking forward to following them…they're quite amazing people, so I expect to be inspired often.  Acquired more reasons to sneak on Twitter during my lunch break.  Check.

Looked on Craigslist (again) for a home for my friends who are waiting so desperately on Jesus to see what their next step is.  Loved me some friends.  Check.

Thought about some random facts:

-In 6 days I will be the exact age my mother was when she gave birth to me.  (my mother was married, and had her 3rd child the day she turned 32)  Felt behind.  Check.

-My nephew is the same age that I was when he was born.  Felt old.  Check.

Listened to this song on repeat-My Romance, with Rick Pino.  Romanced by Jesus.  Check.

I am currently on Sweep Me Away, with Charlie Hall.  Being swept off my feet.  Check.


Please allow me to share my monologue that I am processing with Jesus right now ….

Jesus, YOU are the center of my life.  You are the engine that runs my day and the oil that keeps that engine healthy.  I choose to walk in your Spirit, and to embrace who YOU are to me.  More than that, even, I choose to see myself how you see me.  I choose to be the woman of God that you've created me to be.  Whether I am finding new friends on Twitter, picking up a prescription, or soaking in your powerful presence, I want to be actively aware of what you are doing and how you are moving.  I want my sense of you to overwhelm the senseless voice that whispers in my ear…the crap that reminds me just how unvaluable I am to others, and that places other people's opinions higher than your opinion of me.  I want to know my value, even on my most worthless of days.  I want to want to spend more time with you than I want to spend it with people…and then to actually do that.  I repent of my choices to allow other people to determine my worth, and I present my heart to you…broken and ready to be whole.  I was made for more than this.  I want the overflow of how much you love me to overwhelm the people that I encounter everyday.  Meet me where I am.  I need your grace.  I need your love to move through me.  The enemy is very nervous about the ways that you're going to change the students in my classroom this year.  He is try to shake me…unnerve me…annoy the crap out of me with other people.   In my moments of forgetting that my struggle is against him and not the people around me, he has had measly thoughts of victory.  He has been wrong.  In my weakness, Lord, you are made strong.  As my muscles get broken down when I put strain on them in weight training, and then built up again when I eat healthy doses of protein, so does my spiritual muscle when it is strained…and you feed my spirit with YOU and your words.

"You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience?  This detour doesn't come from the One who called you into the race in the first place.  And please don't toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread.  Deep down, the Master has given me confidence that you will not defect. But the one who is upsetting you, whoever he is, will bear the divine judgment."  Galatians 5.7-10b (MSG)

My final thoughts before I hit the pillow for some more soaking time (I need to absorb Jesus' presence to the fullest extent before I hit that classroom tomorrow)…Jesus has more for my life than I can see in the natural realm of my sight.  God is bigger than what I can see or feel.  He knows every detail of every situation I could face and feel anxiety from.  He's know every insecurity that would tear me down when friends reject me.  He wants my heart, my devotion, my time, my thoughts…and He won't relent until He has every part of me.

Blessed beyond what I deserve.

Prelude to the Book Talk by Don Miller

This afternoon I beat the traffic and headed up to Baltimore to hear one of my all-time favorite authors speak about his new book and some other great things to be apart of, like The Mentoring Project.  It was well worth the $7 round-trip (says my GPS) to get there:)  I enjoy reading and devouring Don Miller's work, so excited doesn't truly describe how I felt earlier today.

He writes well and I was confident he would also speak well, so I arrived with my journal…and here's my prelude…

I'm sitting in a Presbyterian church.  It's pretty and uncomfortable.  My back's been aching too much today…after 8 days of being pain-free.  I thought this was gone, but I guess not completely.  Anyway, the pews in this church are hard.  Sure, there's pew-length-long foam cushions, but they don't offer much-plus they move.  I'm not complaining.  I'm just saying.  Leave me here long enough and I will surely find 300 things to critique…which is why I'll just amuse myself with my own writing instead…and I'll start reading Don's book for the 2nd time this month.  It's worth reading once a month, but twice during the first one for sure.

…This older gentleman in a suit keeps walking people down the aisle to one of the doors to the side of the stage.  I think he's taking them to the bathroom, since it's obviously the way to the rest of the building (the entrance was just the entrance).  I'm not feeling super well and want to know where the bathroom is, but I'm afraid that I already know.  So, what if I have to go while Don is speaking?

*I just realized that Colbie Callait is playing in the speakers.  I love that.  Do I need to explain why?  I mean, they could be playing Rebecca St. James, which would be fine, but expected.  I didn't expect Colbie. 🙂

Yea, so I'm nervous that I'll have to go while my favorite hero author guy is speaking.  Could I let him know ahead of time-or slip him a note as I walk past him to exit to the john?

Sorry, Don.  I really want to hear the whole thing, but the greasy pizza from Mamma Cucina's is not completely agreeing with my insides right now.  Believe me, it would be a ton worse if I didn't go right now.  You might just want to trust me on this one.

        Your Biggest Fan,

        The Cute Redhead in the 5th Row

One of the things that makes this church a little uncomfortable for me is that there's only one entrance/exit to each pew.  I can see that they were trying to conserve aisle space, but it's just so awkward.  I'm sitting on the end (due to said problem earlier), in the 5th row, and I know that people would love to take up more of this pew, but they feel weird asking if they can hop over me to sit on the other side of me.  I certainly cannot offer to move in through, not now.  

…And now my biggest fear is confirmed…"Sir, excuse me.  Can you point me in the direction of the restrooms?"  "Do you wanna go now?"  "No."  "Okay, you go through those doors, to the left, down the stairs.  Go down the right hallway, take the next left, do 16 jumping jacks and 40 pushups, and it'll be on the right."…or was that "up the stairs?"  Great, so not only will I have to disrupt my favorite author, just to go potty, but I'll also miss half the talk because I won't be able to find the bathroom!  Maybe I should ask for a map.  Or perhaps I should update my FB status right now to ask all of my Christian friends to pray that I don't have to go to the bathroom for the next 3 1/2 hours.

Finally-2 cool people just sat next to me.  The guy made a joke about the doors on the pews.  Did I mention that?  The pews have doors on them.  Do they not want people to leave?  Do you have to hand in your tithe before they'll let you out?  "No, ma'am.  I'm sorry…that was only 9%.  The pew door is staying closed until you cough up the rest."  Why do I feel like trying to be a comedian tonight?  And why do I sound so cynical?  I'm not really, I'm just super intrigued by this church…But I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that Donald Miller inspires me to write-good, bad, ugly-the guy inspires me to be real with my thoughts-even the ones that don't have a chance of coming through as super-holy.  Hmm.

Ah, we're so close to starting…

So there you have it.  My prelude.  These were my thoughts as I sat in the very pretty church, waiting for the man-writer of my dreams Donald Miller, to come out!

I have to do a plug for Susan Isaacs, too, though.  She had about 15 minutes on stage before Don came out, and she's just as gut-wrenchingly raw and honest as he is.  She's the female version of him.  I absolutely loved listening to her and truly look forward to buying her book, Angry Conversations with God, as well.  I am working on my honesty too-beyond, "Yes, I really do like your hair.  It looks great.":)  Susan will challenge me with this.  I encourage you to check out both of the books I've mentioned…and then read them twice.

How could I almost forget to mention this?  So I'm totally starstruck by this guy, for dumb reasons because I know he's just normal…but the whole time he's talking I'm all excited about the thought of getting my book signed by him, and I'm trying to come up with the best thing to say when I go up and meet him.  So what did I say?  I get to the table, 4 things in my head to choose from and…"Thanks!"  That was it.  My big moment to say whatever I wanted and I said, "Thanks!"  And I didn't even break out my camera.  :(

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?

A Moment to Ramble

How do you even jump back into blogging when you haven’t done it in so long?  Wow.  It has certainly been a stretch these past couple of months.  Just when I think I’m about to start to really de-stress, something else comes along.  Eh, that’s life. 

I really miss writing, although I have been writing some-just not here for everyone to see.  I kind of felt the need to not write for everyone to see for a little bit and gain some of my own perspective on some life stuff.  You know, the stuff that only God can really help me with anyway. 

So here I am, rambling on about how I haven’t written for awhile.  Give me some time, I don’t have anything profound to share at the moment…or even really funny.  But I will tell you about the last week or so….

I did get to spend my Thanksgiving break with my brother, Dave, and his family, in Chicago.  Stephanie’s parents were there too, and that certainly added to the enjoyment.  Anthony and Angie Sorbo…one was a church planter and Bible school builder in Indonesia for 50 years and the other was a church planter’s wife for about 30 years, I guess.  Angie was also the Pennsylvania/Delaware District Missionettes Coordinator, and when I was a little girl, she was one of my heroes.  That’s an entirely different story, but nonetheless, I got to hang out with some heroes.  Good times. 🙂

Ryder is getting bigger and funnier, Ross is getting better at soccer and Robert is actually getting smarter…who’s 12 going on 16.  What’s up with teenagers anyway?  Today’s newest update is that Ross has a new email address, so we’ve already emailed several times this evening, and I’ve even introduced him to chatting online (did I mention he’ll be 8 in February?).

Mom gave us a HUGE scare on Thursday when my dad had to call 911 to rush her to the hospital because she wasn’t conscious.  It’s a long story, but PRAISE GOD, she got out of the hospital yesterday and she seems to be doing much better.  Her heart rate is a bit abnormal, so please pray for her complete healing.  She’s been working hard to get healthy…

Funny story about her heartbeat though…So she was telling me that when the nurse put her in her new room (from ICU), she had noted that she could see Target from the window.  My mom’s heartbeat immediately sped up when she realized that and the nurse said, "Well, I can see where you’d rather be today!"  My mom’s response was, "Yeah, the worst part about me being in the hospital is that I’m missing all my good sales!"  Well, folks, that’s my mother for ya!  I’ll be praying that God gives her even better sales than she would’ve had before.  He would honor that kind of stewardship, right? :0)

In talking with her today, she inspired me in a healthy way.  I’ve not been doing so well with all of my health goals…well, with any of them.  I get so discouraged and that really stinks.  I can actually sit there and read The Word and reject encouragement about my issues.  Now, that really stinks!  So I’ve been praying through this…crying through this…and coming up and down over this.  Then I talk with my mother today, while I was in the grocery store, and I feel inspired!  So I dragged myself back to the produce section, which I originally sped through, and bought some great stuff to make vegetable soup.  Well, it’s a start…again.  I wish I was as patient with my own failure as God is with me…then again, I’ll never quite reach God’s potential.  Still, it’s something to shoot for.

Lately I’ve had some tough walls to push through, and thankfully, I’ve pushed through many of them.  They have to do with several areas of my life, not just one or two, but somehow they all intertwine into ME.  I’ve seen sides of me that I don’t like and sides of me that I’m shocked by.  Moments of bravery and confidence have come out of nowhere and insecurities attack when least expected.  Let’s just call my life, Cedar Point, and hopefully that makes some sense.  Through every moment of sick desperation and ugly depression I want holy moments to arise.  I want missional moments to bring life to dead moments and I want to seize opportunities of hope.  There are few things more certain than hope, as it comes to life from the grave!  Deep hope and trust arise from deep places of gravity…but only if we allow them to.  This is key.  Staying in the deep places of gravity too long will lesson our senses to the true hope of the Cross.  We become numb to the Cross and it’s purpose in the world…in our lives.  It distorts our desire for community with others and fabricates something else…something that was never intended for us.

Jesus.  He is the focus.  Who He is…this is what draws us from the depth of our graves to the depth of the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Wait in His presence.  Wait.

Some Thoughts of Late

  1. I’m not really sure that this title makes sense
  2. I really love my class
  3. I still miss my old class
  4. They miss me-mostly because I made them pancakes:)
  5. My new class LOVES it when I read The BFG to them
  6. I have more ESL students than I ever thought I’d have
  7. I have a kid named Freddie who cracks me up to the core (I’m sure you’ll hear more about him)
  8. My friend’s dad passed away from cancer this morning…
  9. I’m really tired and trying to get over a cold
  10. Tonight I spilled coffee ALL OVER my shirt…sad
  11. It’s fun mentoring teachers!  This year I’m an official mentor for 2 teachers-one that I informally mentored her first year, and one that’s brand new!
  12. It’s fun being officially mentored!  I’ve had such a great experience watching Brian and Susan come into my classroom and show me how to do some of the things they’ve been talking about.  What a cool thing to see myself becoming better, just because of that!
  13. As I’m growing into a better teacher, not only year by year, but (now) week by week, I realize how much I’ve really changed from my first year teaching.  I’ve been making so many statements about things like curriculum and management and following them up with, "If First-Year-Teacher-Kim would’ve heard Fifth-Year-Teacher-Kim say that, she would’ve thought she was crazy…and maybe wanted to punch her in the face!"  It’s hilarious how much my perspective has changed.  I’m currently fighting to get the kid that barely speaks English and has zero parent support at home (who recently punched a girl in the face) into my class!  Honestly, what’s happened to me?  🙂
  14. Tomorrow I get to take a girl’s senior pictures!
  15. I wish that I had more time to write right now-perhaps I’ll continue later.

So Blessed

Some thoughts for today (although technically it’s Wednesday morning, it’s still Tuesday night to me):

  1. I’m really blessed.  My friend Joi came and worked in my room for HOURS today, doing stuff that needed to be done.  She didn’t quite get the appreciation of how much she’d helped until I said, you just saved me 5 hours of work…Amazing, huh?  Plus, our maintenance guy, Alan, put up all my stuff today!  He didn’t have to do that.  He’s got teachers giving him orders all over the place, but for some reason he made me a priority today.  That was incredible.
  2. I found some tables for my room-the right size too!  It’s been so stressful to think about doing all these centers for this new way of teaching without actually having centers to send the kids.  Now I have 2 of them (yay!), plus a stand for my overhead (double yay!).
  3. The staff is really connecting with the things that we’ve been learning, and that truly blesses me as a teacher here at Hanley.  If only a few of us change our practices with teaching, it will benefit kids, but it won’t impact them quite like having all the teachers on board.  I’m not sure if we’re at 100% necessarily, but the people that have shared were kind of like "miracle teachers"…if they realize their need to change and are willing to follow through with it, then many of the other staff members will join suite…very cool.
  4. God gives me peace.  I really believe that!  Isaiah 26.3-4    You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.  Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.

    God is so faithful.  He just kept bringing Scripture to my heart this morning, as I was frustrated by several little things that kept happening to push me behind my schedule.  I had my worship music on, and I just couldn’t help but praise Him.  I believe I said something like, "God, You’re still God no matter what happens today!  You’re still sitting on Your throne, and You still hold this world in Your hands.  You may not choose to change my situation, and that’s okay.  But I need You to change my heart and my attitude right now.  Please help me."  And He did.  I can’t "will" myself to do that.  I can choose my attitude, but only God can truly change it…

Oh my, I’m sleepy.  Wednesday morning will come early…oh wait, it already is Wednesday morning…:)

I’m sure it’s just a feeling

Can I admit that I’m a little bit stressed?  Maybe a little bit more than a little bit…
The literacy project that I’m working with is messing with my mind.  There’s so much to be done and not enough time.  There are three schools doing this project and our school is the last in the progression.  Our time comes next Monday and Tuesday, when the other two schools have had 4 days each, these past two weeks.  It’s a bit frustrating because I feel like our school is getting jipped (don’t think I’ve ever written that word before!).  Like I said, the other two schools got 4 days with them and we only get two.  Our mentors couldn’t find another day to come meet with us, but they just took on a whole other school, at which isn’t really at-risk and they simply have so much more than we do, as a third year school.  They’re a fine arts school that has their own building, less loopholes and they appear to be the stars of our management company.  We want a chance to shine and I really just don’t feel like we’re getting it.  It’s not even just that, but I really want to do an awesome job, and we already know that we’re not getting all the training that we’re supposed to be getting this month.  We have no idea what we’re teaching in the fall, so we can’t plan…my head is spinning.

Do you ever feel like you’re being set up to fail?  That’s kind of the feel right now with the other teachers and I right now. 

It sounds like I’m so jealous and whiny, but I really don’t want to fail and I really do want our school to stand out…it just doesn’t look that’s going to happen.  That frustrates me.

On top of all that, I really wanted to hand some major commitments off to another teacher this year, but she just got offered a position at her husband’s school, so she’s not coming back.  At my building we have 4 brand new teachers and 2 other teachers who are only in their 2nd or 3rd year…there just isn’t anybody else to take over the commitments. 

I love my job and I love that I get to be a part of this project, and I’m totally pumped about this year, but honestly, I’m a little concerned…

So, God, please help me:)

Having to Write…some random thoughts

I’m finding that I have less time to write, now that I’m supposed to!  I really can’t say that it’s because I’ve been working so hard this past week, but it has more to do with, well, not having time because I’ve just been busy with other things that I’ve felt the need to enjoy and experience!  Writing can be very therapeutic, I agree, and I’ve been wanting to express some of the deepest and heartfelt emotions that I’ve experienced lately, but it just doesn’t always happen.  It shouldn’t always happen-not online anyway.  That’s what the composition book is for.  Nonetheless, my writing should improve.  You should hear my voice, when you read, and see less mistakes (as if I made mistakes, hah!:).  My word choice should make a difference…

But, oh, it is hard to think about improving when I read some other blogs with so much flair and personality.  I think I’m becoming a pessimist.  That’s scary.  I have these amazing friends who are spectacular writers and should be getting published as I speak write.  It’s not that I’m all that competitive, but I am awfully comparative.  When does that end?  How does it happen that I become more and more self-conscious, the older I get?  I hit a peak of confidence and it’s all been downhill from there…(oh dear). 

My friend, Phil Gocke, talked about the fear of God this morning.  It was timely.  He said that if we fear God, then other fears should be lessoned. Then he used this verse, which is some great advice from King David.  Isn’t self-consciousness a result of fearing man over fearing God?  Let’s just say that I feared God as He has wanted me to, would my heart feel a need to fear what man would think of me?  Would I have anything to compare to, but Jesus?  Would I care that Katie my friends writes more eloquently and deeply than I could ever dream to?

Back at North Central, there was this amazing man who came to head up our Residence Life Department the year I became an RA.  His name was Jake Smith, and he began to challenge our thinking as young adults, serving Jesus.  Probably the most influential thing that Jake brought to my life was his statement about being better.  He said, "I want to be better.  Better than what?  Yep."  It was never about competition with another individual or team, but it was about competition with himself and the last minute.  It’s not about being better than the person next to you, whether it’s your enemy or your friend, but it’s about being better than you were a minute ago…yesterday…last year…a decade ago. 

Isn’t that what Jesus wants us to do?  Pursue greatness.  Pursue excellence.  We’ll never be better than Jesus, but if our goal is to become more like Him, won’t we become better than ourselves yesterday?  And if I fear the Lord, more than I fear man, wouldn’t these concepts be a great couple?