Monday, August 22, 2011

First of the 1st

Today was the first day of 1st grade for me. It went well....I think? To be quite it honest it was really more of a blur. Is it Monday? I don't even know. I can tell you, however, that my feet hurt and my brain feels tired. My eyes aren't wanting to open all the way either. There are 3 grown adults in our classroom of 21 six year olds and it takes every bit of the 3 of us to reign them in. Its a very strange feeling to get into my car at the end of the school day and hear...nothing. The sound of silence. I don't do music on the way home because my senses are on overload by then. I need my 8 minutes of peace on the drive.

It sounds like I'm complaining, doesn't it? I'm really not. My job is so fulfilling & there is never a dull moment. I truly love little people & the surprises that come out of their mouths. I have a student who is highly intruiged with all types of flying machines, mainly air
planes. I know this because I taught him last year. My favorite conversation of the day went something like this:
ME: I have a surprise for you at the end of the day if stay on your best behavior.
HIM: "Does it have wings?"
ME: "Mayyyybe"
HIM: "Does it have retractable landing gear?"

The boy is obsessed with retractable landing gear, rear rotor blades, stabilizers, etc. He blows my mind with his knowledge of aviation.

First grade is just the best. Learning to read was one of the greatest times of my life & now I get to do it all over again with these little ones. I vividly remember coming home with my paper pamphlets and sounding out "Pat can run" to my mom and dad. Children's books are my absolute favorite. Even grown-ups need to read them. There is a moral to every story. Learning letters and the sounds they make and how they blend together to make words...ohhh... I'm getting carried away, sorry. I know other people don't get as into this stuff as I do, but what can I say, I'm passionate!

So, today after 3 sets of tears, 1 band-aid, 20 minutes of recess, 1 bad word, 2 calls to parents, 1 time-out, 21 popscicles, 1,000 legos, and a couple late busses later, we finally called it a day. Whew.

I came home to a summer storm, oatmeal raisin cookies, and trashy monday
night TV (Bachelor Pad). Ahh, yes. I haven't left the couch. This is how I am gearing up for another day. Wish us luck. We need it!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Women of Faith 2011

What a perfect way to end my summer. I spent this past weekend in Atlanta with my friend Kendall at the Women of Faith 2011 conference. Over the years I have realized what a true friend she has become and I am so glad to have her in my life. Let me back up before we begin.

Earlier this summer I visited Kendall in Hilton Head, SC at her family's beach house. We spent a few hours on the beach catching up on each others lives. One of our bonding ties has always been Bebo Norman. We were both long time fans when we first met & later went to one of his concerts in Dalonegah, GA. Ever since, we have been chasing the thrill. Every year it seems we try to find another one that we can both somehow manange to attend together- it hasn't happened yet. So along with Bebo comes the topic of faith and I mentioned to her that I felt like I needed some kind of get-away...a spiritual retreat of some sort...everybody needs a refresher every now and then. Well, pretty sure God was in on that conversation because she just so happened to know of one. She talked about this "Women of Faith" thing that her mom goes to year after year. Kendall was talked into going last year and thought it would be a bunch of old ladies, but was pleasantly surprised when she arrived to be in fellowship with women of ALL ages. Sharing, learning, singing, laughing, and being refreshed in spirit, together. Come to find out, her mom had an extra ticket this year. Guess who became the lucky ticket holder? :) The perfect solution to my soul-restoration dilemma.

Fast forward to this past weekend. After my anxiety-ridden drive through the big city, we started off the weekend with a dinner at the Cheesecake Factory in Atlanta. Holy HUGE desserts, batman. Got to meet all the girls in the group and found out that 2 of them are special education teachers just like me! Lots of teachers around, but sometimes hard to find ones who do specifically what I do. Nice to find new friends.

The next morning we all gathered in Philips Arena and thats where it all began. Two full days of learning and feeling uplifted. If you know me well, you know that I took notes the entire time. It's what I do. I'm a note-taker.
All the ladies who spoke had their own unique story and they were there to proclaim that life is hard. God never told us that it wouldn't be, but He did tell us that he will stay with us all the way through it. He works everything together for our good.

Here are a few tidbits that were my favorites from different speakers:

Sheila Walsh: (I've hyperlinked each of these women's names so that you can go straight to their blog or find out more about them.)
- "When the pain of remaining the same is greater than the pain of change, that is when we'll change."
- How do we know if something is "God's will?" We can ask ourselves 1) Is it contrary to the revealed word of God? 2) Have we taken counsel from Godly friends? 3) Ask for confirmation from the Holy Spirit.
- In our anger or excitement, if we feel compelled to make a quick decision, don't do it right away. Take time out and sit with God first. There is no wisdom in being rash.
- Satan is not omniscient. He has no idea what we are going to do with the lies he feeds us.
- Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.

Natalie Grant. Gotta love this girl. Her song, "Held" has been on repeat ever since I heard her sing it this weekend. "Your Great Name" is my other fave.

Laura Story sang, "Mighty to Save," which is one I have been listening to for a couple years now. I always loved this song by Laura Story, but this weekend she became a real person to me and I got to hear HER story. She told of how she married her highschool (or was it college?) sweetheart and how its been 7 wonderful years, but 7 hard years. A year and 1/2 into thier marriage, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that has affected his memory to the point that he went through phases of not knowing exactly who she was. She has obviously been praying for his healing, and as far as he has come, he hasn't been healed. Makes me feel silly for worrying over minor relationship issues when her life has been turned upside down after getting married. Her faith in God despite the circumstances is very inspiring to me.

- People love coffee not because they are thirsty, but because of the way it brings us together. We don't usually go out to get coffee with a friend because we love coffee so much, but because we want to spend time with that particular friend. Jesus said he would give us life to the her words... a "Fresh Brewed Life," also the title of her book. Not a life where the days go by uneventfully and routinely, but a life so that we are always being surprised, used up, days filled with joy and new blessings.

Mary Mary dropped a beat & performed "Shackles"and "The God In Me." I broke it down a little and danced in front of my seat. I hear a beat and I must dance. Rap is my guilty pleasure.

And my VERY FAVORITE of the all the girls: Angie Smith. I could relate to her from the minute she walked onto the stage. Probably because she mentioned her fear of public speaking. I hear ya, sister. But- if you've read nothing else from this blog....please read her storyabout her daugher, Audrey Caroline. I'm addicted to her blog now. Hearing Angie speak in person had me laughing one minute and crying the next. One of those people who you know is real and genuine. She also spoke such comforting words when she talked about Jesus, "The Son of God, the One to whom I belong."

I forgot to metion that Kendall is 8 months pregnant with a little girl! So she was a trooper to go to such a busy event for 2 days straight. Thankfully we found some seats away from the crowd to take a breather for a few minutes.

So, I will be going back next year. Who wants to go with me?


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"Eat Pray Love"

Eat Pray Love was my main summer read. I'm a little behind the times, I know. I haven't seen the movie yet either, but this has been the perfect book for me to read for this season of my life. In a nutshell, its about a woman going on a search across 3 countries to find herself & her spirituality. As for the "finding myself" part, there's always plenty to learn. This summer has been a "me" summer. I've learned that I need to find fulfillment from within myself and God alone. No one else can do that for me. So, I'm working on it.

Anyway- this post was inspired by a paragraph from Eat Pray Love that talked about the author's definition of happiness. Since this blog just so happens to be entitled, "Happiness Is..," I had to include it.

And so she says, "I keep remembering one of my Guru's teachings about happiness. She says that people universally tend to think that Happiness Is... a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descent upon you like fine weather if you're fortunate enough. But that's not how happiness works. Happiness Is... the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don't, you will leak away your innate contentement. It's easy enough to pray when you're in distress but continuting to pray even when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul hold tight to its good attainments."

Thoughts? Anyone?

Sidenote: Way off subject, but I keep forgetting to update you on the baby birds. Well, they have flown far, far, away now. They've been gone for atleast a month & I kept forgetting to update. The fern had seen its better days and was getting brown and crispy in the hot sun so I threw it away along with the empty nest. We'll start over next summer :) Maybe my birdies will return and lay their eggs in the spot where they were raised.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Restored Faith in Mankind

Well today was an adventure by accident. My friend, Julie, and I decided to get together and go for a bike ride around The Landings. I know- it was scorching hot, but we're both sticking to our Rock N' Roll (half)-marathon training, so biking is better than running in this mad heat. Secondly, let me say that neither one of us live at The Landings & didn't know which way was up, so we were just planning to follow one straight trail & not deviate.

The plan went perfectly for the first half of our trek. After about 30 minutes we were getting hungry & tired so we turned it around. "Not so fast," says the old man on the golf cart, wagging his finger at us. He proceeded to tell us that we were not allowed on the cart path while biking because it is a "safety hazard." Such a rule follower he was. Julie and I heeded his warnings and kindly exited the path onto the traffic ridden street. Much less of a safety hazard, I'm sure. (Sarcasm). In retrospect, we should have let him ride on by and hopped back on the path.

Long story short, we got all turned around, tried to navigate our surroundings on bike for a good 30 more minutes, then ended up at a Marina within The Landings, clearly nowhere close to an exit. Fail.

There in the marina parking lot was just one lone man, grey-haired, standing outside of his car, smoking a cig, and looking off into the distance. Julie took matters into her own hands and approached him, asking if he could give us a tip on how to get ourselves back on track. Sadly, he informed us that we were a long way from our destination and it would be a pretty good haul on bike to get where we needed to be. He must've seen the defeat in our eyes because the next thing out of his mouth was: "Want me to just throw your bikes in the back of my car and drive you there?" What an angel. Not to mention that his "car" was a brand new Expedition and he was just in the parking lot trying to regulate the compass on it. It was that new. And he still offered to fold his seats down and squeeze our dirty bikes into the back.

The bikes barely fit and I'm sure they dinged up the inside of his car. We couldn't even shut the back window. Julie and I sat in the back of his Expedition on his folded down seats and hung on to the bikes while we did a slow ride all the way home. That's right, he drove us all the way back to where we started. We chit-chatted all the way...him saying that we were welcome back to The Landings anytime and he wished people weren't such sticklers about the cart path rules. So, one man ruined our bike ride only for another man to restore our faith in mankind and give us a lift all the way back.

There really are good people in this world :) Thanks Nash!