Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A New Thing

I've been an educator my entire life.  I grew up 'teaching' the neighborhood kids on a giant chalkboard at our babysitter's house.  As an adult, I've only had 1 job NOT at an educational institution. Even then, I was in training so I was still educating.

A few years ago, I experienced a career set back and it was devastating at the time.  Looking back though, I can see God's provision and blessings.  I would not have sought after God the way I have in the past 4 years.  I would not have been begging God to speak to me and direct me.  And I would not have been in a position to listen and obey.  I had to come to the end of me to receive what God had for me.

One of the major thing that I obeyed God on was starting a special needs ministry at our church. That was an easy yes. There was a need and everything feel into place. Valuable has been such a blessing to me! I've met, served, and served with some wonderful people.  I've gotten to be a part of the KidsMin staff and I absolutely treasure that!

Another thing I obeyed God about was staying in my full time job at Sunnyvale Middle School. This one was always as easy as starting Valuable.  God and I struggled over this one.  I questioned Him - a lot! But He provided me the strength to stay faithful.

I love my job at SMS, that wasn't the problem.  I just questioned if I was supposed to stay in education or move into full time ministry.  I guess that's where the struggle was, I didn't know what I was going to do next.  I had to trust that God had a plan and that His timing would be perfect.

And He didn't disappoint!

In April I was at the Orange Conference with the cLife KidsMin team.  During one of the large group sessions, I felt God stirring in my heart.  I, of course, answered with a question: "God, are you really calling me to stay in education full time, special needs ministry and writing all at once? Surely not!" I began praying and God continued to move.

Monday I signed a new contract at Sunnyvale ISD to become the Learning & Innovation Specialist.  It's a brand new role.  I'm going to be over the Middle School library.  I've been a certified librarian for 5 years and I'm so excited to use those skills to get kids into the library and reading more.  I'll also be helping both the Middle School and High School teachers with innovative teaching strategies.  This will mean a wide variety of things but will include integrating technology into the classroom and our form of problem based learning we called ELUs (engaged learning units).

I am over the moon excited about this new opportunity!  I feel like I'm going to get to use all my talents and serve more teachers and students.  I'm so thankful that our Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent are creative thinkers willing to try something new.  I'm also pretty thankful they are letting me be the one to do it!

I'm also a bit nervous.  I'm giving up some job duties I've had for the 8 years I've been at Sunnyvale.  I'm nervous about working on two campuses.  I still get to teach an elective course at the end of the day.  I'm happy and nervous about that.  I want to do an outstanding job at all the things! When I expressed my nervousness to my Superintendent, Mr. Williams, he gave me some awesome words of wisdom: "You're doing something new, you're supposed to be nervous."

So, I guess I'm right on track!



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Ruth

I'm a fan of Proverbs 31 Ministries.  Their devotionals almost always connect with me.  A while back, they launched an app called First Five.  The idea of the app is to help you spend your first five minutes of the day with God.  When the app launched I was not great at getting up for my devotionals.  First Five really helped me get into a groove. From there I began reading and studying God's Word on my own.  I got into a routine of getting up early, studying, writing then heading back to bed for a little cat nap.

In the spring I got so tired.  I could not sleep enough.  I would get up, write then go back to bed.  This went on for a few months.

In the past few weeks, I've been getting up, getting breakfast and listening to the NPR news podcast Up First.  God really began to convict me that I was not spending time in His Word.  I certainly wasn't giving Him my first five minutes.

I decided to get back into the First Five app.  They had a new study starting on June 26th so I ordered the experience guide.  I didn't even check to see what the study was about.

I started the study yesterday and I was not disappointed.  The study is called Covenant.  It's a study of Ruth, Esther and Song of Solomon.


We had these verses from Ruth read at our wedding.  But this morning I learned that Ruth was a Moabite.  Her husband should not have married her.  They did not believe in the same God.  So when Ruth tells Naomi "your God will be my God." it was a big deal!  Ruth was choosing not only to stay with Naomi but to follow the one true God of Israel.

As I child I decided to follow the one true God.  Since that time, my salvation has never been in question.  However, my relationship with God is not always as close as it could and should be.  I'm so thankful that God loves me enough to convict me when I stray away.  I love how the Bible is timeless, there's something to learn at every turn.





Thursday, June 22, 2017

Tale of 2 Celebrations

Through a strange series of events, B ended up with 2 birthday celebrations with friends.  And by strange I mean, my poor planning.  Anywhooo...

I felt very strange about the whole thing.  2 celebrations felt over the top. But, as things often do, everything turned out for the best.  

B had one Pokemon themed celebration with 3 of his friends from school at our house.  They hunted for Pokeballs in the front yard ala Easter Egg hunt. They hunted, ate cake, opened presents then just played.  It was low stress for everyone.  

His second celebration was at Sweet Frogs with some other friends who had been out of town.  This too was perfect for B as well.  He and his friends got to create their frozen yogurt concoctions, laughed and ate.  And cracked me up! 

Now that it's over, I'm so glad we did it this way.  B was able to handle both celebrations with no meltdowns.  He was able to pay attention to his friends at each celebration.  No one got lost in a crowd.  He wasn't overwhelmed in either instance.  

I am so thankful for the friends that B has and that they were able to celebrate with him.  As a parent, you're worried that your kids wouldn't have friends.  When you're kid has autism that makes socializing difficult, that concern grows. B's friends are so sweet to him and understanding when he gets overwhelmed.  That's a gift to all of us.  

Sometimes what seems strange at first works out better than you could have imagined. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Visoneering

In May I shared my TBR (to be read) pile with you.  The first book in my pile was The Myth of Balance.  Next up is Visoneering by Andy Stanley.

Andy Stanley is a pastor in Atlanta, Georgia.  He founded North Pointe Ministries in 1995 and it has grown to 6 churchs in the Atlanta area and 30 networked churches around the globe.  At least that's what the back of the book says ;).  I first encountered Andy Stanley at the Orange Conference last year.  He's a very relatable speaker.  At this year's Orange Confernce, the book store had a revised and updated edition of Visioneering and I grabbed it.

In Visioneering, Andy goes through 20 building blocks for Visoneering.  Every building block is discussed against the backdrop of the story of Nehemiah from the Old Testament.  God gave Nehemiah a vision for rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem.

Visioneering is a wonderful book.  It is full of so much Biblical wisdom.  I like to highlight my books and this one is full of pink highlights!  As I read I could relate and apply things to visions God has given me in my own life.

I wouldn't go through the entire book, although I could.  I could write a super in depth review but this is such a deeply personal book that you need to read it for yourself  My applications and insights wouldn't be the same as yours. God has not given us the same vision.

My favorite chapter is near the end of the book.  It's called The Inexplicable Life.

As we slosh through the brick and mortar phase of pursuing our vision, we are to live lives that reflect the character of Christ.  We are to conduct ourselves in such a way that causes people to take notice.  And upon further examination, to draw the conculusion that there is someting devine about our lives.  In short, we are to live inexplicable lives.  (pg. 223)

Above and beyond the achievements associated with your vision, he wants to draw people to himself.  (pg 223)  

The truth is, our secular pursuits have more kingdom potential than our religious ones.  For it is in the realm of our secular pursuits that secular people are watching.  (pg. 224) 

Stanley goes on to talk about 3 things that make us stand out.  The first is peace.  So many people are not at peace with themselves or others.  When we maintain our joy and peace, we differeniate ourselves.  The next is healthy relationships.  Don't let your goals get in the way of people.  Take care of your spouse, your children and those closest to you.  The final thing that will make us stand out is our character.  We can not sacrifice our characters for our vision or goals.  When we compromise our character we take God out of our vision.

I can not tell you how this chapter spoke to me! I get so caught up in the kingdom applicaitons of what I'm doing at church.  I forget that my work at school and at home also have kingdom applications. I want to stand out.  I want my life to point people to God. Everything we do, every success we have is so that God can shine through us.

These are things I need to remember as I go about my day.  I am called to live an inexplicable life.  And so are you!!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Promises

B man turned 9 this past weekend.  My boys' birthdays always make me think about how far we've come and where we're headed.  But B's birthday makes me especially introspective.  He's gone from being sickly and failure to thrive to a healthy boy.  He's gone from 3 words (the doctor wouldn't let me count daddy and dada as 2 words) to more complex vocabulary than many college graduates.  He's able to tell us when he needs help at least 75% of the time now instead of a complete meltdown.  I could go on and on.

So, I want to share with y'all some promises I've made to B-man for his 9th year.

I promise to find the sweet spot between pushing you and overwhelming you.

I promise to encourage your interests, no matter how foreign they are to me.

I promise to do everything I can to set you up for success.

I promise to balance your needs with the needs of The Bigs.

I promise to take your concerns seriously.

I promise to help you face your fears.

I promise I will do everything I can to help people understand you.

I promise I will keep telling you that you are AU-some and that Autism makes you awesome.

I promise to do everything within my power to help you understand that you were created in God's own image and that He loves you just the way you are.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

RIOT!

This week has been RIOT week at church.  RIOT is our version of VBS - on steroids! Today is actually the last day!

B has tried RIOT in the past and had some trouble but I knew he was up for it this year.  We also had a couple other of our Valuable Special Needs ministry kiddos there so I was pumped! Each day consists of a high energy opening session, Bible study, Impact (missions), Rec/Snack sessions and a high energy closing session.

On Monday B put on his noise cancelling headphones and went into the opening session.  He was good for a bit but became overwhelmed.  He went to our Valuable room and hid in the tent. I convinced him to come out for the Impact session but that was short lived as well. I decided not to fight him.  He stayed in the tent while I checked on the other kids.

Tuesday morning as soon as he got up he said, "I don't think I'm ready for RIOT".  But I had a plan.  How about if we skip the opening and closing sessions and just do the Impact, Bible Study and Rec/Snack sessions.  He said he'd try.

He did awesome!! He participated in the Impact session and love it.  He wasn't so sure about Rec but went outside anyway and made it all the way through!  I was so proud of him!

Wednesday was super hero day at RIOT.  I tried to get B to wear a Flash shirt but he wasn't having it.  He was going as a super villain - Pumpkula (pumpkin + Dracula).  A villain he made up himself, he even created a mask! He dressed himself in orange and green (pumpkin style) and off we went.

As soon as we walked in the door, he was looking for Ms. Laci, our children's minister.  While he looked he talked to anyone who would listen about Pumpkula.

His super villain powers are shooting poisonous carrots.
His nemesis is Apple Man who shoots apples from a gun or cannon.
Pumpkula has super salad powers.

B even let some kids try on the mask.  Pumpkula was a big hit!

B wore his mask to Impact and participated with it on!  He needed a break afterwards so we took a 10 minute break before Bible Study.  He struggled with Rec when he couldn't catch a water balloon in a kitchen colander.

But on the whole, I'm super proud of B.  He faced some challenges this week and did well.  He was able to share his creation with others.  And he learned a thing or two about Jesus.  I'm a happy momma!





Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Summer of Yes!

At the end of May, I wrote about telling B-man "No" all the time and telling him yes when it costs very little.  At the end of that post, I mentioned that one of the reasons I like summer is that I tell B "Yes" more often.    Today I want to update you on the things I've said yes to so far this summer.


  • Sweet Frogs for dinner
  • Sleeping in a cabinet at a hotel
  • Building a house for the hermit crab 
  • Putting the hermit crab in the house
  • Taking over the TV by casting his YouTube videos from his iPad
  • A new lamp from IKEA for his stop motion videos
  • Movies at bedtime


And my favorite...

Asking a Lowe's employee about monsters!

A little explanation here...

B-man has rediscovered Scooby Doo.  He's super interested in the monsters they catch.  He wants to catch monsters himself.  So, he did what ya do.  He Googled "Where do monsters hang out?"  Turns out that monsters like to hang out at hardware stores.  Ryan, B and I went to Lowe's to look at paint samples.  Every time we passed an employee he'd say, "Excuse me" but Ryan and I would shut him down quickly.

On our way out the door, an employee smiled at B and said have a nice day.  Ryan could tell that B really wanted to talk to her.  So, we went back in.

"Excuse me. Have you noticed anything strange going on around here?  Like any monsters?"

The employee looked a little confused, "No, I don't think so" I tried to help her out "You know, like Scooby Doo kind of monsters.  This seemed to help.  Her face light up "No, nothing like that."

B: "OK, well, monsters like to hang out in hardware stores so keep you eyes out and check for unusual stuff on the security cameras"

A huge smile spread across her face and she promised B that she'd keep an eye out.  Satisfied, B was ready to go.

I was so happy that we'd said "Yes"! It made B happy and I'd like to think it made the Lowe's employee happy.  Can't we all use more happiness?