About Impact

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas at the Koutz House, Part 2

Today was our family Christmas at my brother’s house. We took lots of pictures since all 18 members of our family were there. We ate lots of food because we all love to eat. We had a massive snow fight and opened gifts.

Every did an excellent job buying gifts. The kids loved their gifts. Logan would open his gifts and then immediately go take care of them. Between his birthday gifts and Christmas presents, that boy hit the jackpot today.

I’ll take my film in to be developed when I get back to Mishawaka and have a car. I’m excited to see the ones from our snow war. I think my face got shoved in the snow at least four times.

QUOTES FROM THE WEEKEND
It has become a tradition every time we get together to see who can get the most quotes posted on my blog. This year Ryan won!

Sarah: How about you Ryan? Would you like a hot beverage?
Ryan: No, my body is too hot already. It’s 98.6 degrees or something like that.

Ryan: Do you guys have a playstation here?
Sarah: A play station?!
Anna: We don’t play video games here.
Ryan: (interrupting Anna) No cause you’re too smart. I’ve already heard this.

Lois: (to her husband) I don’t like your face.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Candy Making Adventures

It started snowing around 1:00 this afternoon and still hasn't stopped!!!! BUT...we got to see a Cooper's hawk hang out in our backyard. Dad and I successfully finished hanging the Christmas lights today. I picked up the last present this morning. Now I'm learning how to make hard candy from Lois.

I had no idea it was such an intense process. Evidently it is important to do everything very exact. As you can tell I'm paying very careful attention. I just wait until she yells NOW SARAH to add the color and flavoring. She and Adam seem to have the rest under control.

Christmas at the Koutz house is always an adventure.

Quote of the Afternoon:
skoutz: Could you taste this and tell me if it taste like wheat?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas at the Koutz House, Part 1

The Christmas season has officially begun at the Koutz house.

Mom, Dad and I arrived in Vestaburg late last night after visiting my Grandpa in Indy. Lois and Adam arrived about an hour after us from Missouri. Anna and Ryan are coming tomorrow from Illinois. Elizabeth, Anthony and the girls are coming Friday or Saturday. We will all join Matthew's family on Saturday to celebrate Christmas. This is the first year EVERYONE will be hear since...well...I don't know when. I'm excited and I know my parents really are as well.

Today we helped Mom finish cleaning the house and making room for everyone to sleep. We wrapped presents and decorated the little tree we have. Lois sang Christmas songs as I played the piano. We played a quick game and watched the first Christmas movie. Tomorrow Dad and I are hanging up my favorite set of lights in the living room. So tomorrow the house will be completely decorated. All the presents will be wrapped. We'll begin preparing food for the gang and Christmas will be in full swing.

Everyone else is thinking of putting decorations away and our fun is just beginning. When we were younger we never did much about Christmas until after we celebrated my birthday. When Anna, Lois and I were at college things waited until we were all home on break. Now that all the siblings are married we celebrate Christmas on the New Year's Day, but this year it is a little earlier. Our house will stay decorated until late January when Mom finally decides to take things down and the rest of the world if far bast the Christmas season.

We know we are an odd bunch and we like it that way.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

Guess who didn't have to go to school today. ME!!!!!

I slept in and then finished making cookies for some friends. I cleaned a little bit and packed for my trip to Indy.

I spent the first Christmas Eve service hanging out with my special friend, Dominic. We watched Veggie Tales, danced, played the drums, played the computer, watched the fish and other exciting things. Then I attended the second service with Brooke and her family. It was incredible!!!! The creative arts department did and excellent job arranging the music and all the artist did a phenomenal job.

Then I jumped in my car and started my journey to Indy. The roads and traffic were great. I met my parents at the hotel and we will go over to my Grandpa's tomorrow morning. I'm ready to call it a night.

Have a great Christmas celebrating Jesus!

Anna's Graduation

Here are the picture's from Anna's graduation. Unfortunately, they are horrible. Sorry Anna.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Blahs and Ughs

This week has been full of the blahs and ughs.

Look out your window. BLAH!

I missed hanging out with my buddy Dominic this week because I was on the road. UGH!

I'm tired of dealing with drama at school. I'm not just talking about typical middle school drama; I'm also talking about serious, dangerous drama! I thought most of the latter was fading away until I was pulled aside today to deal with some things. BLAH!

The last few weeks have been so busy with concerts that I've done a horrible job of keeping in touch with friends. I beginning to think some of them aren't so happy about it. UGH!

I am completely exhausted! I feel like I've been going strong for months with no time to come up and breathe. However, I can't sleep at night partly because I keep thinking of other things I have to get done. BLAH!

If I have to call another parent and hear another disconnected message again...If I have another parent request a phone call but refuse to return them...UGH!


Corey asked this question on his blog several weeks ago, "Can I handle a season with no fruit?" I had to think about that one quite a bit. I wasn't satisfied with my answer but basically concluded I would find a way to handle it, despite the emotional and mental beatings I might take. After a frustrating day yesterday and today I asked the question again. Although I thought I could handle it, now that I've discovered I'm dealing with possible emotional, mental and physical beatings I'm not so sure.

Lord give me extra strength and courage to keep doing the right thing, despite the consequences. Teach me to keep loving, to love my way through anger. God erase me from the picture and make yourself evident, because I know you are the only hope in these lives.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Another year down...

Thanks to everyone who said happy birthday today. I was shocked at the number of messages I received. I got awesome card from Michael and Jeannette, which was the highlight of my day. Lois's and Elizabeth's kids called to sing to me, another highlight of the day.

We had our Lifeline Leader's Christmas party tonight. It was a great time. I'm so glad Angie was there to cheer me up from yet another drama filled day at school. However I survived another day, without any scars or bruises. This seems to have become more difficult to do. Nothing to exciting today but to celebrate my birthday, I'm going to bed EARLY!!!! Hooray!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The end of a long week...

After one of the worst weeks of my life, I had a great weekend with my family. My sister Anna graduated from Hannibal LaGrange College. My brother and I headed out on Friday morning and we got back this evening. It was so nice to be able to be with my family far away from work and all the junk from this week.

Christmas break could not come soon enough!!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Give me a minute...

If you wouldn't mind, give me a minute to complain. This week is nothing but school and concerts.

How much long do I have to do this? Both yesterday and today I left for school around 6:45 and haven't come home until after 9:00 at night. The same will be true the rest of the week. I'll miss Oasis and New Community.

My students did very well tonight and pushed through some rough stuff like pros. My students tonight aren't even close to being ready, not even to sing Rudolph or We Wish You A Merry Christmas. Most of the classes have been plotting to do nothing but mess around on stage because they don't think I'll do anything. WRONG!

I am constantly amazed at the number of students that just don't care. Even more startling is just how deep those "I don't care" attitudes run. I had to write up a student earlier this week who was one step away from JJC. That student gave me no choice but to write them up and now will spend some time in the JJC. I asked the student if they understood what that meant. They proceeded to describe exactly what it meant. When asked if that bothered them they replied, "Why would it? I don't care. I'll get out and keep doing whatever I want to do because I don't have to do nothing. Nobody tells me what I'm going to do." I struggle to understand that perspective of life.

I guess I just feel like I've wasted an entire semester and seen no change in these students. It is incredibly exhausting and extremely frustrated. tomorrow I'll get up and do it all again, praying somehow my students see a little bit of Jesus and grasp a little bit more of the fact that they matter.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Tonight at Lifeline...

Another great night at Lifeline. I had a three new girls in our small group...very exciting. I hope to see more of them in the future. Corey was very honest tonight and shared a great message. I loved it!

WHO ARE YOU? Corey Mann
Series: SHIVERNAKEDVOMITJAILSTARVE


Do your innards match your outards? Are you a pretender?

Negative Example of Generosity – Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5)
-They chose image over God.
-What is the price of generosity? ALL
-God removed the cancer in the early church.
-You will pull yourself down when you pretend. Are you bringing others down with you, with your pretending?

How do I get to the point I can truly handle SHIVERNAKEDVOMITJAILSTARVE?
1. Be grateful for what I have.
2. Put others first. Other people matter!
3. Don’t let greed get a hold of you.
4. Get in the habit of giving.

Positive Example of Generosity – Boaz (Ruth 2-4)
-Boaz noticed Ruth’s kindness and generosity.
-He was generous with his compassion, courtesy, crops, and compliments.
- Why do I think what I have is going to run out?

Quote of the Night
I should probably take those earrings out; I’m going to be 40 soon.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Food Drop 2008

One of my favorite things our church does is the Food Drop because volunteers run the entire event. This morning over 2,000 volunteers from our church gathered together to feed thousands of families in the Michiana area. Around 200,000 pounds were distributed to local neighborhoods and food pantries. A truckload of toys was taken to Toys for Tots. It was an incredible morning. I had a blast serving along our students.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Why I love GCC

Recently a minister friend of mine wrote a post about how our church looks too much like the world and isn’t doing church right. I have already decided I’m not going to waste my time arguing about this topic. People can say what they want but I LOVE MY CHURCH! Let me tell you some of the reasons why.

1. I love that people can sit through a service and walk out in tears because they have heard how much they matter and that the one who created them loves them. For some it is the first time they have ever heard it.
2. I love that thousands of people will meet in our building tomorrow to feed thousands of families in the Michiana area.
3. I love that I get to spend every Sunday and Wednesday night with hundreds of students.
4. I love that I can walk around and see leaders LISTENING to students and helping them walk through life.
5. I love that I had the opportunity to speak to over 100 jr. high girls and tell them about the things I've had to learn about relationships the hard way.
6. I love that every service our message is centered around Scripture and what God has to say about the things we face in life.
7. I love that I am able to worship with people who understand they don't have it all together and don't want to pretend they do.
8. I love that we are intentional about helping people find their SHAPE and give them the training they need to reach out and serve.
9. I love that every WEEKEND I walk away from service challenged…even during parenting series!
10. I love that above our door you see what we are all about taking next steps towards Christ...together.
11. I love that my church reminded me what the church was suppose to look like when I was ready to throw in the towel and walk away.
12. I love that my church helped me get back up when I was broken and angry.
13. I love that they did that without once pointing fingers or looking down at me.
14. I love that this last week during our Eagle’s Nest I watched as about 7 girls realized the way they were treating one of their classmates was wrong and came up with ways they can befriend this girl and invite her to join our Eagle’s Nest.
15. I love that people’s lives are being changed because God is doing something great in and through his people at GCC.

I’ll stop before I take all of your time. I could go on and on and on. It is okay that others don’t agree with our “methodology.” But I figure if God thought GCC was good enough to help me through the lowest part of my life, then I want to be a part of that church.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

1 Down 3 To Go...

I survived my first of four concerts this month. My students did well performing tonight. Their behavior was less than acceptable but i guess there is only so much I can do. My favorite part of the evening was seeing Chris, one of our Oasis, students in the front row tonight. It was an awesome little surprise.

I had an interesting conversation in one of my classes this morning. I laughed...a lot. Check this out.
Student 1: Miss Koutz, was baby Jesus really born on Christmas Day?
Miss Koutz: (I explain quickly that we have set aside that day to celebrate his birth)
Student 2: Is it true that we get gifts because people brought baby Jesus gifts?
Miss Koutz: Well, yea partly.
Student 3: What? Wait! Is Santa Claus real?
Miss Koutz: Oh no! I'm about to break the news to a fifth grader about Santa Clause. Okay, let me explain about how the idea of Santa Clause started. (So I continue blah blah blah.)
Student 2: Wait so we get gifts because baby Jesus got gifts, right?
Miss Koutz: Yes.
Student 3: Sweet!
Student 4: GO BABY JESUS!!!

On the home front: I just got off the phone with my parents. My Dad is having knee surgery again tomorrow. I guess the doctor decided it can't wait the few weeks until break. If you have a minute tomorrow we would appreciate your prayers. The doctor will be trying to take care of a complication from the last surgery. On a brighter note, my sister graduates next weekend and I am so excited to go see her and most of my family.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Church Steps Up

What happens when you need 6 semi trucks full of food and only one night to make it happen?

GOD SHOWS UP!!!! The church steps up and shows its servant hearts and smiling faces. I absolutely love GCC. I've never seen so many people on one place that understand what it means to be the body of Christ. Food Drop 2007 is going to be awesome.

Check out these out for a closer look!
Pictures by Jeffrey
Video by Corey

Sunday, December 02, 2007

So close yet so far...

This weekend I’ve had several frustrating moments. It seems that no matter how close my dreams may seem they slip further and further away. Friday night I spoke at Girlz Only night and today I received this e-mail.

“I need your help... I'm trying to start up a girls' small group (young teen) or maybe even high school girls, but not both (I don't think). I dunno, that's why I need your help, because you seem to be one to talk to about that stuff. Do you think you could help me out?“

I read that and was a little surprised she would ask me. I miss this! I miss being able to spend my whole day preparing to share with students, building relationships with them and looking forward to our next service project.

Now I dread getting out of bed every morning. I spend hours and hours everyday on things I don’t really enjoy. I say no to different opportunities because teaching takes so much time. I’m learning many things from my students and teaching school but it seems to take more out of me than anything. How much longer will I have to do this?


“My heart is in anguish.
The terror of death overpowers me.
Fear and trembling overwhelm me.
I can’t stop shaking.
Oh, how I wish I had wings like a dove;
then I would fly away and rest!
I would fly far away
to the quiet of the wilderness.”
Psalm 55:4-7

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Girlz Only pics

Girlz Only...rocked!

We kicked off our Girlz Only events tonight and had an awesome time. I thought everything went really well. Of course there were some things I wish I would have done differently in the message but really it went well.

We are created for relationship.
1. Adam and Eve – Genesis 2:18
2. The Church – Romans 12:5
3. God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit – Genesis 1:27

We are created in the image of God. You have value. Those around you have value. Our relationships need to reflect the image of God.

Three Characteristics of These Relationships
1. No Masks Allowed!
-- Masks hide the real you and cause others to build a relationship with a mask, not a person.
-- I Samuel 20 - Saul wore a mask in his relationship with Jonathon. David and Jonathon didn’t.
2. Lift UP Don’t Pull DOWN
-- It is easier to pull down so we must be intentional about lifting up.
-- Our words have influence. Will we damage each other or encourage each other?
-- I Samuel 18:1-3 – Jonathan encourages the call on David’s life.
3. Fill Up Without Emptying Out
-- Relationships go both ways. There is a time to give and a time to take.
-- I Samuel 24 – David spares Saul’s life
-- II Samuel 9 – David invites Mephibosheth to life in his palace.

We need to practice these in our relationships and surround ourselves with people who practice them as well.

Are these a part of my relationships? Are there relationships that I need to end or some that need to be adjusted?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

John Piper Video

John Piper is never afraid to get speak what he is passionate about.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Girlz Only Sneak Peak

Oasis girls don’t forget this Friday is our first Girlz Only event!

What could be more exciting on a Friday night than:
High School Musical
Cool Crafts
Dancing with the amazing Brooke Curry
Digging into the Word?

NOTHING!!! So go sign up at here. Now!

SNEAK PEAK at this month's message...
We’ll be taking a look at David and Jonathon and three ways we can reflect the image of God in our relationships. If you get a minute I would appreciate your prayers and I finish up the message over the next few days.



***Does anyone know where I could buy sand and the toy pails and shovels you take to the beach before Friday night?

Boxes and Coffee

I was just flipping through the channels and my nose started itching. So I stopped flipping and Joyce Meyer was speaking. I really haven’t heard much of her speaking or read her books but I loved what she said tonight.

She was talking about how sometimes people put us into boxes. We live our lives in these boxes feeling unfulfilled, unhappy and keep doing it because we don’t have the guts to speak up about it. She continued by saying we need to get over that, speak up, start seeking what God has in store for us and stop letting others put us in the box.

Amen. Amen. Amen. Yes that’s me! Look out world! I’m speaking up. I’m done living out the dreams other people have for me. I’m going to follow my passions and do what God created me to do...whatever that may be!

IN OTHER NEWS…
I spent the evening hanging out with my friend, Allison. Love her!!! She is hilarious. We laughed a lot, which was greatly needed. Coffee and friends…doesn’t get much better than that!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving Break 2007

I have thoroughly enjoyed the last four days of not going to school, spending time with family and eating lots of food. Unfortunately tomorrow it is back to the grind. BOO!!! But first let’s look at some pictures from the fun I had with my nieces and nephew.



You can also find some new Oasis and Special Friends pictures here.
November 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ode to Matthew

Okay so technically this isn’t and ode. It is really a list but oh well. Here are some reasons why my brother, Matthew, is one of my heroes.

-- He drove over two hours out of his way to take me home for Thanksgiving.
-- He got in trouble in order to get help when I was bleeding profusely from my head after falling down the stairs.
-- He let me play second base for his good co-ed softball team when nobody wanted me on the school softball team.
-- He kept his cool (sort of) and didn’t punch the incredibly HUGE man that knocked me down and literally ran over me in a softball game.
-- He let me hang out with him and his friends when I a little kid even when I was a pain.
-- He has taken in two foster children who someday may legally be his daughters.

Now before Matthew’s head gets too big let me give you some reason why I will still wrestle my brother to the ground.

-- He won’t admit when I’m right and he is wrong.
-- He makes excessive comments about me needing to find a husband.
-- He is so stuck on this idea he invites guys to Thanksgiving dinner that he wants me to hook up with.
-- He still puts softball over hanging out with his little sister when she is home visiting and won’t let her play softball.

Now hopefully that will bring my brother back to some sort of reality. All in all he is a pretty good guy and I love him…a lot!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I'm Going HOME!!!!


Let me tell you about how amazing God and my brother are!

After I called home to tell my parents I wasn't going to be able to come home, my mom called my brother and explained what happened. He told her he thought he knew what the problem was and would fix it. AND since it would be so late he would just drive me home instead of me having to drive. What?!

My brother called me after he finished work and said he was on his way. So within the next hour he should be here and I'll be on my way home. Yes my brother is awesome! More stories about why he is one of my heros will be in the future.

Stuck in Mishawaka

After school I got things around to head home for Thanksgiving but now I'm stuck here by myself. I was less than half an hour down the road when my car started giving me problems. I prayed my way to the next exit and tried to get some help. Turns out I have to take it to a dealer to get fixed. Great I'm in the middle of nowhere and the dealerships are closed for the holiday. I decided I could make it back to my apartment so I turned around. Half the statuses on facebook talk about being with family for the weekend. I'm pretty depressed right now but such is life.

I guess my brother is going to try and come down, which would be awesome. I'm just waiting to hear from him.

Monday, November 19, 2007

a little help, please

Next week I will be speaking at our first Girlz Only event for Oasis. I’ll be honest, I’m a little nervous. Over the last year most of the speaking I’ve done has been to high school students, not jr. high girls. And from the talk I’ve heard it should be a good crowd.

I was asked to tackle the subject of relationships in 20 minutes. WHAT? I did a month long series last time I spoke on relationships. I looked ahead at our upcoming events and topics and was able to narrow it down a bit. I have some major points I want to focus on but am a little unsure how to bring it all together in a way that is accessible to a group of girls that has just sang and danced their hearts out.

Here is where you come into the picture.
What is the greatest lesson(s) you have learned about relationships?

That's My State...

The FBI recently released a list of the most dangerous cities in the United States and Michigan is home to two of the top five. Those five are...

1. Detroit, MI
2. St. Louis, MO
3. Flint, MI
4. Oakland, CA
5. Camden, NJ

Late Night



This is what you feel like after staying up all night preparing for school only to have some of your classes not show up and the others act like animals. I'm glad tomorrow is a new day!

“God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
His merciful love couldn't have dried up.

They're created new every morning. 

How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). 

He's all I've got left.”
Lamentations 3:22-24 (MSG)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My weekend...

My weekend consisted mostly of grading papers. Saturday morning I woke up early and finished cleaning my apartment. That afternoon I watched two depressing football games while grading papers. That night after church...more papers. This afternoon after hanging out with Dominic, Kelli joined the paper grading party. I was very thankful for her help. We worked on them until it was time for Lifeline. And I'll I've done since I got back from Lifeline was grade papers. This is what happen when you have over 200 students taking the same class and ending a unit all at the same time. Of course the end of that unit happen to fall right before progress reports are due. There are days I really hate being a teacher.

Now it is time to figure out what to do tomorrow for class.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wheat Jokes

Most of you know that I am allergic to wheat. This means there are MANY things I can't eat. I think I have heard every possible wheat joke there is.

While we were in college and I was having a bad week, Jeffrey made a list of the top ten reasons he was friends with me, number 6 - wheat jokes. Today I got a voicemail from our friend Roger, which started with a wheat joke. Corey must have cracked twenty tonight. My brother, Matthew, never lets them die.

All of that to say, you guys need to get more creative with the wheat jokes. Seriously, if you are going to make fun of my pain, get some new stuff please. Right now I really HATE wheat because it is causing my stomach to hurt so much I haven't been able to sleep since Friday night. So some funny jokes would be appreciated.

Bad Boyz

Here is what I’ve walked at with from Bad Boyz series at Lifeline and Oasis.

WEEK 1: Shadrach Meshach and Abednego (DC and Daniel 1-3)
- You can changed based on what you want in life or by what is changing you.
- We wait for the big defining moment when really we are being defined by something different.
- We are defined not by the big moment but the little moments that lead up to the big ones.
- Make the decision ahead of time to be committed.
- The little things add up to a big difference.

WEEK 2: Moses (Corey and Exodus 3)
- Are you so busy you don’t even notice the burning bush? Are things so loud you can’t hear the phone ringing with opportunity?
- You will have emotional investment in whatever God calls you to do. You’ll be attached.
- God affirms your calling through others. Who is affirming you and what are they affirming?
- God gives you mentors and brings others alongside you to help with your shortcomings.
- I bear the image of God!!!
- What excuse am I using?
- Slow down. Sit down. Shut up. Open your eyes. Listen.

SMALL GROUP HIGHLIGHTS (all from students):
- Dear God, Thank you for this group. I can already tell it is going to be a great group.
- Can't we just all come back here on another night so we have more deep conversations like this?
- You mean you'll really let us e-mail you and ask questions?
- I was just wondering if I could pray for our group tonight.
- You actually pray for us?

ADDED BONUS: Stake 'n Shake with student ministry leaders!!!! You guys are awesome!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

End of the Weekend Thoughts

Monday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day at work. Tuesday I had an unexpected observation. Wednesday I got THE greatest compliment every teacher wants to hear from his/her principal. I pooped my pants.

Thursday Shauna Niequist spoke at New Community. I mentioned in a previous post I was reading her book Cold Tangerines and I know have a headache from God banging me on the head with the same lesson over and over again. When will I ever learn?!

ND lost! Surprise. Surprise.
Michigan lost and I’m still crying.
Ohio State lost and I’m laughing but not near Jeffrey.

Last night was the first in our parenting series that I struggled to pull something from. It was a good message but harder to apply to where I am right now. Afterwards I went to Outback with a very fun group of friends.

The “Shat the Wildlife Magnet Theory” has been proven true twice this fall. Once last week as a massive Great Horned Owl swooped down alongside my car on my drive to Vestaburg last week. And again today as a large flock of Canadian Geese flew over the parking lot and pooped only on my car.

This morning I also had a friend apologize for something I wasn’t even upset about. I wasn’t expecting an apology but the fact that it happens says a lot about that person and how they feel about our friendship. It is good knowing someone cares enough to say I’m sorry. This morning I also had an awesome time with Dominic. It was so much fun!

Tonight was an awesome night at Lifeline. I love my small group and am very excited to see what God has in store as we get to know each other more. I’ll share some thoughts on this weeks topic after the Round 2 on Wednesday.

Tomorrow is Monday…BOO! Tomorrow is an A day…BOO! Tomorrow I have a “new teacher” meeting…BOOOOO! Tomorrow I’m going to Hacienda…YIPPEE!!!

Evidently there are five people that read this blog, not two. So to you five…this is longer than I thought it would be. Sorry I don’t care enough to change it!

No Mercy

I witnessed a pretty heated discussion in opposition to a recent decision that was made. Although I think it was a poor decision and should have been handled differently, it was the right decision. I know; how can a poor decision be the right decision?

It was the RIGHT decision because it upheld with the organization's mission statement and purpose.

It was a POOR decision because it ignored the needs of those being served by the organization and devalued the work of the members in the organization. Or at least if felt that way.

I found myself getting a little irritated with some of the others in the conversation because they failed to look at why it was the RIGHT decision. If I were the person that had to make the decision I would have made the same one. I would have hated making it, but I still would have come to that conclusion.

All of that aside, the whole point of the post was to say I’m learning more and more why “Mercy” is always at the bottom of my spiritual gifts inventory results.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Plethora of Photos

QUESTION
Where would you find 28 Oasis students, 3 Oasis leaders, 25 Lifeline students, 3 Lifeline leaders and me with my camera on a brisk Saturday morning in early November?

ANSWER


And as I mentioned earlier here are some pictures from my trip home last weekend. I love my family.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Another Monday: A Short Story

It is another Monday. It starts as you crawl out of bed at 6 to get ready for work. When 8:00 rolls around the school day is well underway and you are already sick of screeching recorders. It is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

After school you head off to another school on the other side of town for a meeting that is a complete waste of time. Afterwards, you realize you forgot your horn so you rush home to grab it and head off to start the evenings private lessons. Then you push your way through a quick 30-minute practice session. You find yourself disappointed as you discover how out of shape your chops are. It is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

On the drive home you realize you are almost out of gas so you head to the gas station and spend half your paycheck filling the tank. Then it is off to the ATM to deposit your check from lessons so you can go buy groceries, because when you went to pack your lunch today you found out there was no food in the apartment. It is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

By now it is 7PM and you head home to an apartment that is completely trashed and must be cleaned. And because you are slightly OCD you won’t do anything until that is fixed. You start a load of dishes and remember you need to eat because you haven’t all day. You warm up a left over hamburger from the weekend and stare at it because you have no energy to actually eat it. It is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

By now it is almost 8 and all you want to do is crawl up in your bed and sleep until June, but the reality of that happening is nonexistent. So you reach into your backpack to pull out the stack of paperwork that is due tomorrow. You start to brainstorm how to redo all of your lesson plans because you use your iPod in all of your classes and it died this weekend. It is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Before you dig into that, you write a ridiculous story for the two people that read your blog because you have to let the frustration out somehow. And all this time you keep thinking about Cold Tangerines, one of the books you are currently reading. Shauna Niequist reminded you of one of the areas you have been trying to focus on as she talked about living in the present instead of the future, living now instead of waiting for that big moment. And all you want to know is how you find the energy to do that when it is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

NOTE: The author couldn't care less about the verb tense, spelling or sentence structure of this story, so don't comment about it!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fun with the Fam...

Like always, I had a great time hanging out with my family this weekend. Friday night my Grandpa took us out to a really nice restaurant and I had an amazing steak. Saturday my brother and his family came over for lunch and the football game. Grandpa and I grilled hamburgers, which were amazing. I play a little football with my brother and his kids. Of course we watched the game and was excited Michigan won! There will be pictures soon! Until then enjoy some great quotes from the weekend.

Taylor: Logan I know! I’ve seen winter 8 times!

Logan’s prayer for lunch: Dear God, Thank you for this food and thank you we get to see Aunt Sarah. Amen.
(My nephew is so awesome!)

Logan: We got to blow that place down.
Sarah: Where?
Logan: Texas! That place is bad.

Logan: Then you are going to move.
Sarah: How do you know? Maybe I’ll stay there for a long time.
Logan: No, you always move.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Wolverine Pride

Football and the Wolverines has been the talk of my family ever since I arrived home.

You thing I'm talking just about Michigan but last night the Vestaburg Wolverines played in the football district finals. Last weekend we hosted the school’s first play off game and demolished a team that is usually pretty good. However, last night we couldn’t pull off another victory. The lose was to the Beal City Aggies who we seem to always see in post season play and have only beat once. We may have lost but we have a lot of pride in this small town.

Go Red and White!

But of course the Michigan Wolverines got their fair of conversation time. I forget how intense the MSU vs U/M weekend is around here. In Mishawaka no one really cares about MSU and rightfully so. But this is the weekend where family actually doesn’t matter. Brothers turn against brothers for a few hours this afternoon, you fend for yourself. Fortunately, I come from a very wise family that recognizes the greatness of the University of Michigan. So this afternoon you will find my family gathered in our tiny living room watching the Wolverines devour the Spartans!

Go Blue and Maize!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Uhh...wow God!

Since 5:00 tonight so many things have happened. It would take forever to write about it all. I will never understand how God works. The last few weeks we've been studying the Holy Spirit at New Community and I feel like in the last six hours the Spirit has come rushing into my life like never before. I don't even know how to explain it or how to begin to make sense of it all. GOD IS GOOD is about all I know. My brain is a bit overwhelmed right now. I'm going to bed.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Back To The Future

This is a little long but here are some things I took away from this month’s Lifeline and Oasis series.

WEEK 1: DC & DR. BOB (I Kings 3:5-13)
- We all have our own kingdom of people we influence.
- Pick one thing and be good at it. (This I seem to be unable to do.)
- Don’t be afraid to fail. (Still working on that.)
- The eraser comes out. I’ll just erase that. I won’t walk through that valley. (Done that SEVERAL times)
- I am who my mistakes make me.
- Ask for the wise thing to do than look to God to show you.
- What have I stopped because I failed?
*Personal Reflection: I don’t feel like I have ONE thing that I’m really good at but several things I’m kind of good at. I feel like I have lots of clubs. I know what they do but I don’t know how to use them.

WEEK 2: DC (I Kings 3:16-28)
- Ask. Receive. Use.
- Don’t focus on the ground afraid to fail. Pick your eyes up, focus on Jesus and pursue him.
- What am I going to do with what I asked for?
- Am I asleep to the influence God has given me?
- Prepare yourself now for what to do when God gives you what you ask for.
- My heart encourages others. Am I allowing that to happen?
*Personal Reflection: What do I need to do to get my eyes off the ground? Am I prepared for a ministry position?

WEEK 3: Corey & MARK (Excerpts from Proverbs 2-3)
- You won’t have your family like you do now. (True statement)
- Speech affects mood and relationships
- Figure out what is going on before you try to make changes.
- Think before you act. Is that who you want to be known as?
- Sin doesn’t hurt just the sinner
- In the long run how is this going to change how I live my life. (From Brandon, a student at my table)
- The future is yours. Go with Jesus and make a good movie.
*Personal Reflection: Circumstances and relationships in life change so quickly. Take advantage of the time you have with friends and family NOW. I’m scheduling some coffee and Wendy’s dates this week and going home this weekend!

Confession

I have a confession to make. Every time a church does a parenting series, I get a bad attitude about it. So when GCC announced "The Thing From Another Planet!" series I groaned and complained about how it seems like we just did one of these. I don’t really like the way the series is packaged and I am content being single. I put off going to this weekend until the very last service. While I was the God decided it would snap that bad attitude out of me.

Today Rob talked about “The Creature that Played 10,000 Sports,” also known as “Time Management 101.” Well that title in and over itself is convicting. Take that subject and thrown in a simple music concept and God’s got my full attention. Check out some highlights from Rob’s message or listen to it for yourself.

- Am I becoming relationally poor to become experience rich?
- We run, run, run, run, run but never look towards each other.
- “Velocity and intimacy are enemies” Mark Beeson
- There are sacred patterns we need to put into our lives.
1. Weekly Rhythm (Genesis 1:31 – 2:3)
-- We don’t find anything wrong with breaking the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11)
-- If we don’t find the space to “be” we start to violate relationships.
-- Withdrawal Weekly
2. Daily Rhythm (Genesis 1)
--Sleep Sarah!
--Divert Daily
3. Annual Rhythm (Leviticus 23)
-- vs 30 – He won’t have to destroy us because we will destroy ourselves.
-- Abandon Annually

Rob didn’t talk about this (if he did I missed it) but there is another level of this rhythm in the Hebrew calendar. It is called the year of Jubilee, a year of not planting any crops and traveling to be with family Read about it in Leviticus 25:8-23. Imagine what our society would be like if we put this into practice!!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Yea, I live here

Many of you know that I work at a pretty tought school, but I bet you didn't know my apartment complex is as well. There has been a little bit of excitment around here today. I'm not really sure how comfortable I am knowing this happened just down the road.

Visit from the Parents

My parents just left my apartment a few weeks ago. We had a productive day of Christmas and birthday shopping. I even convinced Dad to by some new dress shirts! (Anna and Lois that was for you!) My dad spent more time in Barnes and Noble than he wanted. Mom and I loved it. I also took them to the teacher store. Mom loved it and the toys amused Dad more than anything else. I spent more than I was planning but purchased some great gives for my nieces and nephew.

We also worked on some plans for our trip to Anna’s in December for her college graduation. That means more fun pictures with my little sisters. My desk is in my room and already covered with things. Dad was nice enough to hang the amazing jazz quintet above my desk. I have such amazing parents.

It looks like I’ll be heading home next weekend because my Grandpa will be visiting my parents. Then may be mom and I can finish that baby quilt for Cael, who was born a month ago! My not-so-prompt gift giving was inherited from her. I love my family!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Looong week

I am completely exhausted. I spent way to much time at school and didn’t get enough sleep. Praise God for coffee.

My parents are coming tomorrow to bring a few things I still have at their house, most importantly my desk!!! Mom and I are going to go shopping for a few Christmas gifts they can’t get back home. I’m not sure Dad will come. He hates shopping even more than I do, and this will be the first big trip he has taken since his surgery.


Here are some completely random quotes from the last few weeks.

One of our teachers talking to a group of students who have severe behavior issues…
Ms. B: I wish I could say something to you in Polish right now that you wouldn’t understand.

Conversation in choir this week.
Student 1: I can’t read music.
Me: I know. This is why we are taking the time to learn it.
Student 1: I’m not going to be able to read it. I can’t.
Me: Well, with an attitude like that you will never learn.
Student 2: Man, what does reading music have to do with choir anyway?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A few numbers

6...the number of hours I got last night
7...number of hours I spend in my office for conferences
13...the number of classes I teach
225...total number of students enrolled in my classes
8...number of parents who came to my office
2...the number of parents I stopped in the hall just because I wanted someone to talk to
1...the number of guesses I'll give you to figure out how happy I am right now

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Not today...

I should post on my blog...not today.

I've had lots of thoughts that might have made entertaining posts. I've had lots of stories to share. I just haven't posted anything. Sure I've been pretty busy with end of the marking period responsibilities but not so busy I couldn't post. I just haven't felt like it. Sorry to disappoint the handful that read. I'll get to it. Right now I'm going to get myself pumped up to spend over 12 hours in a row at school. The excitement is overwhelming!

Monday, October 15, 2007

More friends...


I had dinner with two of my favorite people tonight, Becky and Jeffrey. (This is a really old picture but it is the only one I have of just the three of us!) I haven't had the chance to actually sit down and hang out with either one of them for several weeks. These two are some of the greatest friends anyone could ask for.

At one point tonight Jeff jokingly made a comment about true friends lying to each other to protect their feelings. I immediately thought about how the two people sitting across from me are two of people I would go to if I wanted honest input. Over and over again they have told me exactly how it is and always out of love.

I could go on and on about how awesome these two are and all of the funny stories and memories we have together. But I won’t do that…for your sake. I love these guys!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Special Friends

The special friends ministry had a party this afternoon at Crooked Creek Ranch in Wakarusa. It was a fantastic time only it seemed really short. I can't wait until our next party.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Second Saturday Fun

There is more to come about this last week but here is a look at what I did today.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Time to refocus...

Many things have happened in the last three months. Several of those things have been overwhelming and a bit stressful. After a lot of thought I’ve decided it is time to take a step back and refocus. DC’s 301 recap tonight was some solid confirmation.

301 RECAP
Week 1: Everyone is invited
- What is my story?
- Where do I want to be?
- Ephesians 1:11

Week 2: What are you bringing to the party?
- What is the unique things God placed in me? What is my pencil?
- Jeremiah 1:5
- Find your pencil and sharpen it.
- 1 Corinthians 12:7-8

Week 3: What is the wise thing to do?
- God has given me all I need to play my role in HIS story.
- Ephesians 5

DC asked some of these questions and again I realized I have no idea how to answer some of them. After ignoring some serious prodding from the Holy Spirit over the last several weeks, I’ve decided this week is all about refocusing…about stepping back, shutting up and listening. See you at the end of the week!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Today I am...

Today I am…
Tired. I feel like I could sleep for days.

Stressed. I’ve done a ton of paper work today and I still have so much more to do.

Inadequate. My lesson plans for this next unit aren’t coming together very well at all and evaluations start this week.

Unsatisfied. I love my student but I hate how much time my job requires. I can’t spend this whole year working from 7:30 am to midnight everyday.

But I am also…
Blessed. My friend Erik called me this afternoon to tell me he was in town with his fiancĂ© and see if I wanted to join him and some other friends for dinner at Hacienda. I didn’t have to stop and think about that one at all. I had a great time hanging out with the old gang.

Thankful. At this time last year I didn’t have money to buy groceries and would frequently just not eat. Now I have food in my cupboards and a little extra money to buy bread. Bread is a delicacy for those of us who pay over $6 a loaf!


God is good!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sports Thoughts

The Not So Good News
- It was another rough season for the Reds. Better luck next year.
- Unfortunately, my sister’s volleyball team at Hannibal-LaGrange College isn’t having a very good season. Anna is tired of losing and probably ready for the season to be over.


The Good News
- The Red Wings kick off the season with a 3-2 win over the Ducks! Oh yeah!
- Michigan pulled of a huge win this last weekend and will dominate Eastern on Saturday.
- The Colts are going strong. I have a feeling this is going to be another great year.

Yes. Yes. It will be an exciting season of football and hockey. I love it!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

STOMP Unit

This last week we finished up a STOMP unit at school. Each class learned about rhythm and timbre by writing their own 8 measure compositions using quarter, eighth and half notes. To wrap up the unit each class choreographed their own piece using body percussion, buckets or rhythm sticks. I think they enjoyed it. I learned how incredibly out of shape I am and how much I need to start working out. Try jumping, stomping and clapping everyday for a week.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Bad Teacher Day


Days like today I like to call “Bad Teacher Days.” And after you have several Bad Teacher Days in a row, it is good to pop in the classic inspirational teacher movie. Today’s movie was The Freedom Writers. I love the movie. It makes me livid but I love it. These types of movies always raise so many questions for me. They are never easy questions. But since I love a challenge, they tend to give me the jump-start I need to head back to school the next day.

Tonight I don’t really feel recharged though. My heart just aches for my students. No ten-year-old kid should have to go through what some of these students have. Helping them understand that they matter and they are worth more than what the world says about them doesn’t happen overnight. If my students learn nothing else in my class this year, I want them to understand that they matter.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the movie.

Scott: It doesn’t matter if I want it. It doesn’t mean it is going to happen.
Erin: Why not?

Miep Gies: No no, no, young man, no. I am not a hero. I did what I had to do because it was the right thing to do. That is all. You know, we are all ordinary people. But even an ordinary secretary or a housewife or a teenager can, within their own small ways, turn on a small light in a dark room…You are the heroes. You are heroes everyday.

Erin: I finally realized what I’m supposed to do and I love it.


Update--
So I just had this thought. Everyday I watch students buy into the lies they are fed everyday and play down what amazing individuals they are. I know how frustrated I get and how much it breaks my heart. Imagine how God feels when I do the same thing. I am only the students' teacher; He is my creator!!!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

FOOLPROOF

I don’t want to give away too much of Corey’s message since he will be sharing it again on Wednesday but there are some things that are so good you have to mention them. And since DC did it, I think I may be safe.

-- It was our immature hearts that deceived us.
-- He gave us everything we need to play the supporting role he gave us. (I don’t remember the exact wording but it was good.)
-- WRONG QUESTIONS – How close can I get to the edge? How far is too far?
-- The new filter peels back layers of deception we have lived with for too long.
-- Careless vs. Careful – Ephesians 5:1-17
-- RIGHT QUESTION/NEW FILTER – What is the wise thing to do?
-- Three levels of application: What is the wise thing to do in light of…
1. my past experience
2. my current reality and surroundings
3. my future hopes and dreams
-- Don’t rob yourself by fooling yourself!
-- When you answer this question you learn something about yourself. You uncover something you don’t want to cover again. More importantly, you discover something about God.
-- When you reap the consequences everyone around you feels it too.
-- Your heavenly father will walk you through it with wisdom and council.
-- Romans 3:22-26 this is what we do with what we’ve done

DC Quote of the Night:
It is good to dig up the stuff we have let settle.

I’m glad I’ll be hearing this message again on Wednesday. I’m going to hear it over and over again.

The Hero Within...

Rob kicked off our new Heroes series this evening with an amazing message. I think this series has come at the perfect time. For the last couple months I’ve been trying to answer lots of questions. What am I here to do? What are my golf clubs? What am I passionate about? Am I where I need to be? Okay really I’ve been trying to answer those questions for the last three years. But I’ve reached a point were I’m sick of trying to figure it out. I want answers. I’m tired of floating around. I want to be doing the thing I was created to do. One of many reasons why I loved what Rob had to say.

-- Have I heard my new name?
-- What name do I carry with me right now?
-- Romans 11:29 – I really like the way The New Living and The Message read
-- I was shaped for a purpose. I am unique. I am wonderfully complex.
-- Strengths are a part of the wonderful complexity.
-- Signs of Strength
Success
Instincts
Growth
Needs
-- Don’t believe the lie “I don’t have any strengths”


Rob talked about Marcus Buckingham’s book, Now Discover Your Strengths, or something like that. I’ve heard the book referenced several times over the last month in messages and conversations. I think it will be next on my list.

Why we call it New Community…

I loved New Community this week. When I was taking a class with Dr. Bob I would find myself frustrated at times because his thought process was like a ball in a pinball machine. The days that he was especially passionate about the topic were the worse. I’ve noticed his teachings at church are the same way. The great thing about those messages is that so much wisdom pours out of his mouth, my hand can hardly keep up. And I have to write it down because there is no way I can process it all as fast as he is sharing it. Here is a look at this week’s New Community.

-- Ephesians 3 – I love this book more and more every time I read it.

-- It all starts with you accepting His love. – Umm...eeek!

-- Keep answering the door!!!!!

-- Why we do new Community?
+ We need a family – Psalm 68:4-6
+ We need to bring others in
+ We need to remind each other to keep answering the door.

-- The Father, Son and Holy Spirit
+ always together
+ always loving each other
+ always in deep pursuit of my heart

-- What we all need is a real home and that is going to take hard work.

-- One of Satan’s most sinister methods is to get you alone. We are the most vulnerable when we are along.

-- Our common call is to follow Jesus out into a hurting world.

-- KOINOS – beautiful word picture!

-- The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. –Martin Luther

It's late!

This is the latest I’ve been up in several weeks. I’m not feeling very well and I can’t sleep. The pile of work is overwhelming and there seems to be so much to process right now. Life is changing; it seems more bad than good. I don’t like it. It seems the older you get the more disappointed you get. When I was younger I always thought it would be easier to have joy and find the good. The reality is, it seems harder then I ever thought it would be. But things change, people change and life goes on.

God, I sure do wish I was a stronger person these days.

Friday, September 28, 2007

ND vs. MSU

It took me a little while to get the pictures posted but here are a few pictures from the game last weekend. Lindsay's camera has all the pictures of us. Yes I know there are more pictures of the bands than the game. Deal with it!

What do you do on Wednesday Nights?

I love Wednesday nights. Why? OASIS!!!!! I was sad we didn't meet this week but since I've been sick it was a good thing. Check out pictures from the last couple weeks.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Doctor's Visit

You know I'm sick when I break down and go to the doctor. For a week I haven't felt well and have had a fever for several days. The doctor hooked me up with some medicine that should take care of the sinus infection. Tomorrow I will have blood work done to see if she can determine what is causing the fatigue and dizziness. Nothing huge, really, just annoying.

My uncle took another turn for the worse this morning. He is working with a new doctor who seems to have a good plan of attack. Basically, it sounds like his body is taking longer than it should to recover. He had another tube put in today and is still in a lot of pain. Keep him in your prayers if you would.

Now it is off to do more school work before getting up early to go have blood work done. Yippee!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Where I've been...

There have been so many things I’ve wanted to write about in the week but I just haven’t felt well enough to write or I haven’t had the time. Here is a brief look at the last week.

Thursday – I had the privilege of serving communion with my buddy Kyle. I’ve never heard Mark Beeson laugh while serving communion until that night.

Friday – I was able to attend the filming of the guys’ music video at the State Theater. Then I ate some amazing Hacienda food with a couple Lifeline students.

Saturday – I worked my butt of all morning grading papers and figuring grades. Then I went to the ND game and dinner with my incredible friend, Lindsay. I love how she can always make me laugh.

Sunday – Like every Sunday morning I spent some time with Dominic, who decided we were going to have a dance party. After lunch with the Lifeline gang it was back to the grades. Lifeline was a blast and Corey had some excellent thoughts once again.

Monday – I missed a meeting with my principal at Edison because it was scheduled for ten minutes after my last class at Dickinson ends. It takes 25 minutes to get from one school to the other. I also found out they want to add a 45-minute duty to my already jam-packed schedule. Problem!

Tuesday – The band directors at Edison are both encouraging and cruel, all at the same time. I have discovered candy is all it takes to get them to do what I want! We are creating a plan to take over the music programs at certain schools that will not be named at this time.

Prayer Request

Please pray for my Uncle Tarry, my dad’s twin brother. He went into the hospital this week because of a bowel blockage. The doctor said the surgery went well and thought things would be okay. However, last night he took a turn for the worse and is having some serious complications. When your colon is touched it falls asleep and his hasn’t woken up yet, which is causing some vomiting. They put a tube down his throat to prevent that.

He is in a lot of pain and probably looking at a five-week recovery. He and my aunt are two of the three music profs at the school and I know that is probably the only thing they are thinking about. So if you could pray for them and our family, I would appreciate it.

Updates:
Dad went to the doctor today and was given a different prescription that should help with the pain. He is very excited he can drive again. His school year is off to a good start and he hasn't had any problems making it through the day.

My little buddy Logan loves that he can eat whatever he wants. They have introduced almost everything into his diet and the kid loves chocolate. He is healthy and strong. You would never know he has been through all that he has been through. Thanks for your prayers friends!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Past the point...

I'm past the point of stressed out. I've hit a huge wall at school and have no idea what to do from here.

I'm past the point of tired. I'm so exhausted, I can hardly stay awake, but I still have grades to finish and figure out something to do in class tomorrow.

I'm past the point of not feeling well. I've felt horrible all day long. My head and stomach both ache.

I'm past the point of trying. There are some people in my life that I just can't seem to please. It doesn't matter how hard I try, you just can't please some people. And the sad thing is some of those are people that I consider an important part of my life. Why?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

OASIS!!!!

I am so glad that Oasis is back and we are running hard. Last week we had our huge kick-off with tons of fun. There will be pictures soon! We started out the 301 series with a fantastic message from DC about the WHOLE story of the Gospel. Corey kept the momentum going talking about the gifts God has given each of us.

Last week I remembered my Bible but not enough paper to jot down some of DC’s wisdom. Here are a few of the things I did manage to get down.
--There is hope in a guy named Jesus.
--You said you would always have a place for me.
--Each step you take towards God shortens the gap.

I’m glad I came prepared with paper tonight because Corey knocked it out of the park.
--We compare ourselves to others because we are afraid of who we really are.
--Our job is to figure out what our clubs are and how to use them.
--We fall short of our calling because we lack courage.
--Talents and gifts lead you to your purpose.
--Are my circumstances defining me or is who I am leading the decisions I make.
--God did note make you or I generic. We need the first YOU.
--Our talents are the gifts God has given us. What we do with those gifts is our gift back to God.
I loved the golf analogy and Corey’s challenge to ask others what they see in us to help us discover our gifts.

Another great week hanging out with some of my favorite middle school students and amazing friends. The next question...How do we help our students discover their gifts?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Icky Day

All day I have felt icky. I woke up exhausted and as the day went on, I kept feeling worse. You know the sore throat, headache, earache bit.

After school I had a meeting at Studebacker, which means scary teacher guy who freaks me out and makes me very uncomfortable. So of course around 7th period I start getting a little anxious. Fortunatly, Mr. Kurtis came to my rescue and sat at my table so we could complain about the meeting and scary guy would stay away.

Then it was off to another meeting and home to get things ready for school tomorrow. I was given two big booklet I have to be familiar with before I give the ISTEPs tomorrow. Needless to say I haven't made it that far yet and all I want to do is sleep.

I think I'll go curl up in my bed and cry. I hate being sick...and deaf.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lifeline!

I am really excited to be able to serve at Lifeline. I still don’t know a ton of students but I can tell it is going to be a great year. Tonight DC shared the gospel…only the whole story. It is probably one of the best teachings on it I’ve ever heard. One thing I love about scripture is how alive it is. You can here the same thing several times and each time you see it in a different way and find yourself challenged. I love that I’m serving with a leadership team that gets that and is passionate about sharing it with students. I am truly blessed to be part of an amazing ministry at an amazing church.

Great Quotes From The Weekend

skoutz: Do I look like a bug? Call me McFly!

Sarah B: Will I go to hell because I parked in a handicap spot?
Lindsay: Are you kidding me? We forgive everything around here BUT that. You are going to be marked for life.
skoutz: It is the mark of the beast.

Jason: Sarah, your life is going to be a movie.

and because it was so good the first time…
Jason: What do you call that one?

100th Post

I feel like I should be writing something profound since this is the 100th post but I’m not. All you get is a quick overview of the weekend.

Friday night and Saturday morning I attended our church’s women’s retreat. The content was great and included some excellent points. However, the overall package was a bit disappointing.

After the retreat ended and there was some fun dancing in the parking lot, I was talking with some friend when someone walked up behind me. It was my friend Kris, from Lansing. I was shocked to seem him here with his whole family. He and Emily were passing through with their kids and stopped to grab lunch with Jason. It was so great to see him, a very exciting surprise.

The afternoon was spent grading papers and sorting through things from school. I have to make some major adjustments to my lesson plans that I wasn’t expecting. ISTEP isn’t helping the situation any.

This morning Dominic beat me to church. His mom told me today it was time to go to church and see Sarah and he told her, “No Sarah today. Stay here.” He laughed when I asked him about it. Silly kid.

This afternoon I made fajitas, watched some baseball and took a nap. Now it is off to Lifeline!!!! Wahoo!!!!

More good quotes from the weekend to come.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Exhausted Beyond Words

I am completely exhausted right now. Words can’t even explain how tired I am. I’ll post some thoughts on this weekend’s events soon. But for now I’ll leave you one of my favorite quotes from the day.

Jason: (as he points to our friends’ five week old son) What do you call that one?

Friday nights

What should you do on a Friday night after a bad week?

Get together with a bunch of girls and challenge yourself to rethink how God views you and what he created you to be. Then hit up Hacienda, laugh a lot and eat too many chips. End the evening with late night talks about just about everything.

I LOVE THESE GIRLS!!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

How did I get here?

One thing I wish I understood in life is why we go back and forth so quickly between mountains and valleys. Over the last few days, it seems like every aspect of my world is starting to crash in on me, and today most of it plummeted. I was too insignificant on Monday. I wasn’t smart enough on Tuesday. And today I just wasn’t good enough. All day I’ve felt completely inadequate, even to the point I didn’t want to go to Oasis. I kept thinking, what do I have to offer our students? I seem to have failed yet again so why keep trying.

I know for a fact those are all lies from Satan. I know God has shaped me in a way he has shaped no one else and has placed me where I am for a reason. But what I know is VERY different than how I feel. I am tempted to crawl behind some huge walls and fake a perfect life. But that lie doesn’t help anyone. But how did I end up here again after working so hard to move out of the valley.

Why even bother mentioning all of this? It isn’t for pity or attention, it is for taking next steps. It is about me learning that I don’t have to be perfect and that I need others to help me along the journey. That is why he gave us each other. I share so I can ask you to pray because it is the only thing I know that will help get through the valleys.


God, I honestly don’t feel worth very much right now. It is hard for me to understand or accept that you would want to invest and love someone like me. Help me to believe that all you ask for is obedience; you will take care of the rest.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lions Hunting

I've seen several clips of lions hunting their prey but none that have gone quite like this. It is a little long but watch the whole thing anyway.

This week...

This has been and is going to be a crazy week.
-Sunday was a great day hanging out with Dominic, attending our baptism service at the cove, and then dinner with the Brooke and Erin. See pictures from Baptism 2007 in the previous post.

-Yesterday was full of school and meetings during the day. Last night Becky, Jeffrey and I were going to continue our little tradition of dinner at Logan’s but Jeffrey couldn’t make it. So Becky and I had an amazing time hanging out and catching up on the last few weeks. Let me tell you that girl is a blast. She is such an incredible person and it is evident how passionate she is about following Christ. It is always a privilege to spend time with her.

-Today is all about grading papers and getting schoolwork done.

-Tomorrow night is a big night of Oasis. It is going to be awesome and you won’t want to miss it.

-Thursday I have an appointment after school and then a fantastic time worshipping with friends at New Community. I love the series we are doing right now.

-Friday and Saturday I’ll be attending RETHINK, the women’s retreat at church. I’m excited to spend the weekend refocusing and being stretched with some good friends.

ISTEP testing starts next week and it looks like I will be administering it each morning. Boo!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Baptism 2007

What an incredible day! There is nothing better than sitting witnessing your friends taking huge steps towards Christ and committing their lives to following him. I am so proud of all the students and friends who took that step this weekend. I loved every minute of it. Talk about one huge party.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Good Songs

The last several weeks I have had the song “The Breaks” by Rich Mullins in my head. Then while I was cleaning this weekend his song “Creed” came up on my play list. I couldn’t help but notice a connection and I love it.

It is the sea that makes the sailor
And the land that shapes the sea
And I do not know yet what I am made of
Or all I may someday be
And it is the wood that makes a carpenter
It's the very tools of his trade
And it is love that makes a lover
And a cross that makes a saint
-- The Breaks

I believe what I believe is what makes me what I am
I did not make it, no it is making me
It is the very truth of God and not the invention of any man.
-- Creed

I love the line “and I do not know yet what I am made of or all I may someday be.” This weekend as I found myself singing the song I kept thinking I don’t have to have it all figured out right now. I don’t know all that God has in store for me and I don’t have to try and figure it out. He has me where I am now for a reason and that is what matters. And where I am now it what he will use to shape me for what comes next. What I need to do is live where I am now and let him do the rest.

Long Weekend

I was very thankful for the long weekend. After going nonstop for three weeks trying to sort out things at school, I was ready to sleep in and enjoy hanging out with some friends. Then after hearing Mark’s message on Sunday morning I knew I needed to take time to rest and relax.

Friday and Saturday I spend with my parents. Sunday I played putt-putt with Nate, Heather and Bridgett and then headed over to Baker’s to hang out with the gang. Monday I did a lot of cleaning around the apartment and then headed to Plymouth to hang out with Brooke and Nate. We played putt-putt again but it wasn’t so pretty this time. Then we grabbed some dinner and rented a movie.

Good times had by all. At least I hope so. Right Nate?!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Broken Heart...

I’m so overwhelmed with emotions right now there is nothing to do but cry myself to sleep. There is a ton of junk going on right now but school seems to be the one that stands out the most. This has been a horrible week as far as discipline goes. 



- I lost one of my favorite students today. They probably won’t be returning to school at all because of some very poor choices. The progress this student has made in these first three weeks has been astounding. One bad decision and all of that is gone. It breaks my heart. 

- I had to write up one of my best students yesterday. I found out this morning the student got in a huge fight this morning and is now suspended.
- I heard another student’s story today that broke my heart. This student is only a 5th grade and has been expelled from at least one district in the area. It doesn’t look like the student is off to a great start in this district either.

- The student taken away in handcuffs should be allowed to return to school next week, but may be not my class.


There are so many other stories I could tell. This week was just one after another. Broken students living life in survival mode and having no idea how much they matter.. How do I show them they matter? How can I show them the limits set are for their protection and to help them? How can I get them to understand the expectations I have for them are because I know they can reach them? 


Almost a year ago, my friend Jason and I were talking about teaching. He asked if I had ever thought about teaching in the inner city. I think may be he saw something in me, I didn't know existed. I hadn’t really given it a ton of thought at that point, but I knew I could never do it. Now I know why. You are emotionally open all day long with your students. You become attached and when this stuff happens it breaks your heart.


Let’s just say Dr. Bob’s message couldn’t have come at a better time.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bigger Than...My Hurt

I have a strong feeling this is going to be another huge year of growth. Thursday night Dr. Bob covered the topic of “My Hurt.” The hurt in life always seems worse during the hard weeks and this week has been hard. I walked into service broken and tired. I sat down and told God I found the strength to get there, now he was going to have to do something. And let me tell you, he did! It was a fantastic message. Dr. Bob didn’t share anything new but rather numerous reminders I needed to hear. But out of all the great things he shared, the thing that stuck with me the most was what he said to me after service.

As Dr. Bob walked by I smiled and said hello to him. He gave me a huge hug, looked at me straight in the eye I said, “Sarah I will never pass up a hello from you. This was for you. Remember, there was hope for Peter and Judas. Peter found it and Judas missed it. Don’t you miss it. There is always hope, Sarah. There is always hope.” And without another word he turned and walked away.

Little did I know how much I needed to hear that.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bigger Than...My Confusion

My good friend Jason spoke at NC tonight about what to do when you find yourself in the middle of the wilderness. How convenient that we talk about God being bigger than my confusion after yesterday. Jason shared three things to do while you are in the wilderness. Well I remember three.
1. Be real with God about your circumstances
2. Keep praising God despite the circumstances
3. Identify with Christ in his suffering and brokenness

For me the first one was a great reminder. In the last couple of days God has been showing me that once again I’ve painted my wilderness to look like paradise so I don’t have to deal with it. Do I act like things are okay or tell others how life really is? I hate being negative so I feel like I need to pretend like everything is going fine. But that is very thing that starts the process ignoring things and denying the reality. This is the constant battle I seem to find myself fighting.

Dan shared something I really appreciated while he was leading today. He mentioned that sometimes our healing is wrapped up in the healing of someone around us. That is why we have each other, to walk through the wilderness together. Who in my life needs to walk with me and needs me to walk with them?

A few good quotes from J’s message
- Don’t confuse faith in the end of the story with denying the circumstances.
-God is saying, “If you only knew how I’m going to use you, you would get real about the circumstances and praise me in spite of it.”
-God prunes branches that bear fruit so they can bear more.


God give me strength to face the wilderness head on and stay focused on walking with you through it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Failing

Today is the first day I’ve walked away from a class completely disappointed in myself. All teachers have off days, but this was far worse than an off day. It was horrible. I enjoy teaching, as long as it isn’t in the classroom. I love teaching at church or camp, but the classroom…not so much. So why does God keep placing me in the classroom?

I know teaching is a gift God has given me, so I’m going to do the absolute best I can. Today that didn’t happen and I hate that! And what is bothering me the most right now is that I don’t know how else to teach a class of 17 special needs students or a class of 28 low level 6th graders who have no concept of respect and never stop talking. I know how to teach those types of students in smaller groups but that many changes everything.

It is days like me that make getting out of bed seem like the worst idea ever. It is these days that make me want to revert back to the old Sarah. But I’m not that person anymore so I have to push through and focus on the good. We had our first Oasis leaders meeting tonight. I had some a couple good conversations with friends. And I have health insurance.

So as bad as today was it wasn’t as bad as as an Alexander day.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pushing forward

At the beginning of the summer I had a discussion with God. I told him I really wanted to spend the summer investing in students but knew I needed money to pay the bills. I asked him to do something so big that the only way it was possible was because he did it. I knew I needed to allow God to stretch me more and I knew that probably meant me doing something COMPLETELY out of my comfort zone.

My summer consisted of camps, VBS, a mission trip and a few other random trips along the way. I felt God calling me to make the move to Mishawaka even though I didn’t have a job. “Craziness!” is what I said to that. But then I remember what I prayed and what God has been teaching me, so I went. I was beginning to get frustrated with the job search and wondering if I had made a huge mistake. Long story short – Hired Monday and school started Tuesday! I spend the summer doing nothing but hanging with students and looking for jobs!!!

I was so excited because it was so evident God has worked out every detail. Monday night I thought this was it. God had dome something huge like I asked. I was in panic mode going into my first day since I never interviewed, met the principals or even been to either school, but I knew that God had done what I asked and things would work out.

The first day was horrible. I was frustrated I was back in the classroom for another year and teaching choir of all things! Then I hadn't arrived at the end. God has only just begun this “huge thing” I had asked him to do. I’m pretty sure I’ll make it through but I think the year may be a little rougher than I first anticipated. Time to keep pushing forward. I’ll be honest. I’m scared out of my mind.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Tearing down walls and taking risks

SEX GOD - Rob Bell (Read it!)
Excerpts from Chapter 5 -

“Love is handing your heart to someone and taking the risk that they will hand it back because they don’t want it. That’s why it’s such a crushing ache on the inside. We gave away a part of ourselves and it wasn’t wanted.

Love is the giving away of power. When we love, we give the other person the power in the relationship. They can do what they choose. They can do what they like with our love. They can reject it, they can accept it, they can step toward us in gratitude and appreciation.

Love is a giving away. When we love, we put ourselves out there, we expose ourselves, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

Love is giving up control. It’s surrendering the desire to control the other person. The two – love and controlling power over the other person – are mutually exclusive. If we are serious about loving someone, we have to surrender all of the desires within us to manipulate the relationship.” (98)

“The danger is that you will decide it isn’t worth it. Why risk if it’s going to hurt like this? The tragedy would be for you to shut down, to allow a wall to be built around your heart, and for something within you to die.

A decision not to risk again is a decision not to love again. They go together.

Why is it those we love the most are the ones capable of hurting us the most…This is because the more we open ourselves up, the more vulnerable we are. The more exposed we are the more it hurts. The more we let someone in, the greater the risk.” (108)

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A good number of relationships in my life have been ones of rejection. I reacted in the same way described in this chapter. At a very early age I learned how to build a wall around me and how to shut of my emotions. It was a very hard lesson for me to learn that the thick wall actually kept the pain in and didn’t allow love to come in and heal the pain.

For the last few years I’ve been on the journey of tearing down that wall. Slowly, painfully, piece-by-piece it has started to come down. I’m learning what it is like to take different risks in my life. It is easier now to take the risks than it was 3 years ago, because the wall has started to come down. I’ve learned to trust God and I’ve experience his love and provisions in ways I never thought possible.

Today I’m examining my journey. Am I doing what I need to do to allow God to heal me or am I still holding on to bricks and trying to rebuild my wall?

The View From The Top...

As I mentioned in a previous post our camp theme this year was “The View from the Top.” It was a great theme and two fantastic weeks of being challenged and stretched. For me the best way to sum up the two weeks was this, “The view from the top is God’s view, not mine, and He will reveals each part to me in His time.” That was very fresh in my mind as I traveled to Chicago.

While we were on the 103rd floor of the Sears Tower, I was looking down at the city, specifically the streets where we walked and prayed, and thinking about all the people we had met that day. I found myself thinking about the view from the top and my heart broke for the people of Chicago who were missing out on the greatest gift there is in life. Then I understood a little more how much my selfishness breaks the heart of God. I understood a little more how great God’s desire is for his children to return to him. It was one of those great “aha” moments.

The view from the top is far larger and more beautiful than I will ever now. The view from the top is God’s, not mine, but he is showing me the pieces I need to be obedient where I am and to grow closer to him in that obedience.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

New Look

I think I like the new layout.
I don't think I like the colors.
Considering how long it took me to do this, it probably won't change anytime soon.

And just for the incredible Corey Mann, enjoy the simpsonized skoutz.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The last week...

This last week I was in Chicago on a mission trip with our jr. highers. I have lots of great stories to share but no time to write about it now. The following are links to pictures and our team blog. That will keep you busy until I have time to post some of my thoughts. I was glad I got to be a part of a good week.





  • Team Blog


  • On Saturday my good friend Jeffrey and I left for Dayton, OH to see some of our best friends. We saw The Simpsons Movie together and enjoyed visiting over the weekend. Jeff took some pictures while we were there but I was too lazy too. Perhaps I'll get some from him to post. It was an incredible trip. I have amazing friends!

    Sunday, July 15, 2007

    High School Week at RLCA

    This last week I was at Rock Lake Christian Assembly for their high school week of camp. Here are some pictures from the week. Also, for those of you who were at camp, here is the link for the Turk Video. I'll post some more thoughts later this week. Enjoy!

    RLCA High School Week

    Saturday, July 07, 2007

    Off to camp...

    I’m getting ready to load my car and head out to the lake for another week of camp. Here in Vestaburg, everyone knows that is Rock Lake Christian Assembly and no one around here is surprised to hear me say that. Growing up, camp was my second home. I was always there either as a camper, a volunteer, a faculty member or a staff member. Camp was a major influence in my spiritual life and a place where I knew I would be challenged to grow. I haven’t been at the camp for more than a short visit in six years. I am so excited to go back. In honor of my return RLCA I decided I would share some of my favorite camp memories.


    -- Playing beach ball baseball in the tabernacle
    -- Playing “Get Smart” late at night across the entire campground
    -- The massive bonfire Ted build on my last night as a camper (probably the biggest in RLCA history)
    -- Corby stealing a chair from tbe Hotel lobby and setting it in the middle of the Tabernacle as we watched “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” on the big screen
    -- Numerous friends accepting Christ and being baptized in the lake
    -- Raking more goose poop than I ever wanted to on the lakefront after the stupid geese woke me up at 5 every morning
    -- Cleaning up a HUGE pan of jello that a volunteer spilled in the walk-in cooler (think about what happens to jello in a cooler!_
    -- Making milkshakes, burgers and fries every Friday
    -- Meeting this random girl who later moved to V-town and became one of my best friends
    -- Being greeting by Hi Gates as you pull up to registration
    -- Morning devos with Mary Lou and her cookies
    -- Many long talks with Shelly Gates (She had no idea how much I learn from her)

    The list goes on and on. But for now, it is off to camp!!!

    Sunday, July 01, 2007

    Vacation Bible School

    VBS always seems to be a week of pure chaos until it is over and you look back at what has happened over the week. This year I was the co-director with my dad even though I’m not sure how I got that position. This meant I didn’t spend much time one-on-one with students but there are a few highlights worth sharing.

    Earlier this year, there were two (may be three) little kids who walking by and needed to use the restroom while our custodian was cleaning. While they were there they asked what the building was for and what happened there. After they heard all about church they asked if they could come even if Mom and Dad didn’t. The next Sunday they were there and sat in the front row. They have been there almost every week because they wake themselves up and walk to church together. How awesome is that? Why don’t more adults get that excited and passionate about worshipping together?

    When I was in high school I did a lot of baby-sitting for families in the church. One of the families I babysat for has a child, Chester, with Down syndrome. I also subbed for his aide at school a few times because his parents are very particular about who they leave him with. Chester has been one of my buddies every since then. He is 23 now, I think, and was there helping Grandma this week. That meant he pushed in all the chairs, turned lights on and off, emptied the trash and kept everyone else in line. Chet hasn’t had the greatest time the last few years even to the point of wondering if he would make it. He is doing great now and we had a blast singing together this week.

    Check out some of our fun students in these pictures.

    Vacation Bible School 07