About Impact

Friday, December 26, 2008

O Christmas Tree

I just finished decorating our little Christmas tree. If you look closely you'll notice almost every ornament is a brass or percussion instrument. Somehow an angel with a flute snuck in there. Tricks! I blame my mom.

Each year we get a potted tree and plant it out back in the spring. We started that tradition the year after Grandma past away. Almost all of the trees have survived. I love this tradition!
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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Koutz Traditions

Most people think about family traditions at Christmas time. The last few weeks I've been thinking about some of the traditions our family has that I love. Here are my top five.

Birthday Phone Calls - On your birthday all of your brothers and sisters call you. No matter what our schedules are we make an effort to make the call.

Christmas Decorations - Being born the week before Christmas, I was sent home from the hospital in a giant stocking. Every year we hang it in the front window and outline it with Christmas lights. We have a few other decorations that are put up every year around the house, including some awesome horns and the tiny stockings hanging in our kitchen.

Twas the Night Before Christmas - I don't remember how this one started but every Christmas Eve my brother reads the poem to my little sisters and me. If we aren't in the same place he'll call and read it over the phone.

Vacation Bible School - I'm sure this is one people will never understand but our family loves doing VBS together. Whoever can make it back to Vestaburg finds a place to serve. It can be a very stressful week at the Koutz house but it is always worth it.

Scumbucket - This is a card game we love playing...with our own Koutz rules. Our favorite rule: If the phone rings and you are in the scumbucket chair you must answer the phone, "Koutz's I'm the Scumbucket." Or something similiar.

I know far more information than you wanted to know about our family but deal with it. What are your favorite family traditions?

Merry Christmas Friends!

Marathon Christmas Celebration

This year Christmas will be different than any other. Unfortunately our entire family won't be able to get together, not even a majority of us. So we are having multiple celebrations. It is lots of traveling but I'm super excited about it.
  • Christmas Eve in Indy with Grandpa and Catherine's family
  • Christmas Day with all of Mom's family.
  • Saturday's Christmas with Elizabeth's and Matthew's family
  • Sunday stop and see my Grandma
  • New Year's day Christmas with Anna's and Lois's family
  • Somewhere in there hopefully celebrating the birth of Cora Mae!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Another Productive Day...

Once break got here I was too tired to do anything. I took a few days to recover from the concert season and did absolutely nothing. However, there are things that have to get done and today proved to be pretty productive.
  • Slept in - yes very productive
  • Scrounged up some percussion equipment for our Christmas Eve service
  • Picked up a gift my parents couldn't find in Vestaburg (big surprise)
  • Coffee with Allison. Love her!
  • Picked up a few things I needed here at the apartment
  • Assisted Jeff and Robbie with a video that will make you laugh hysterically!
  • Cleaned! Cleaned! Cleaned! Concert season = very messy apartment
  • Almost finished the quilt square for Lois's quilt.
Highlight of the Week: I talked to Lois yesterday and the doctor expects the baby to come early. This is fantastic news considering I'll be there next week. We are all praying that will be the case. I'm so excited!!!!

Random moment of the day: My roommate, Erin, opened a Christmas card and had no clue who the people were that sent it. Hilarious!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Scriptures on my Mind

I've had a few passages of Scripture racing through my mind for the last few months so I thought I would blog about them. No deep or profound thoughts though. I just love them.

- "Lord, through all generations you have been our home! Before the mountains were created, before you made the earth and the world, you are God, without beginning or end...Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom." Psalm 90:1-2 & 12
That has been my prayer this year. Teach me to make the most of my time. I don't want to miss any opportunities to do the next right thing.

- "I have heard all about you, Lord, and I am filled with awe by the amazing things you have done. In this time of our deep need, begin again to help us, as you did in years gone by. Show us your power to save us. And in your anger, remember your mercy." Habakkuk 3:2

Actually the whole book of Habakkuk has been on my mind the last few months. This verse just more so than others. We took a short look at chapter one in our GSM journey class and rumor has it we'll take another look at part of the book in our upcoming GSM series. I love this book! Love it!

- "Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that they Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ." Colossians 3:23-24

This has been a key verse for me in my teaching adventures. Colossians is another one of those books that I love.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Birthday fun

DC, Brooke, John, Ang and I went to Hacienda for dinner to celebrate my birthday. Then we grabbed some ice cream and have been chillin at the Curry house. DC thought we needed a picture to capture the moment.
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Seth Bible Live

Seth just wrapped up his set. He has some amazing talent and is an awesome friend. Three cheers for Seth!
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Caffe Gelato

I'm hanging out with some awesome GSM ladies tonight. We are enjoying some awesome music from Seth and eating some incredible gelato. Some of my favorites!!!
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Birthday Break-in

A little background information. Last year at this time, being home alone was a bit of a scary thing. Without going into all sorts of details, I had been threatened at work and was pretty jumpy for a couple months. Now we can fast forward...

Last night, I was talking on the phone with my sister, Lois, when I walked in my bedroom and noticed something moving. I stopped dead in my tracks unsure of what to do. Something was not right and I knew it. Someone had been in my apartment...in my room. I slowly turned the light on as I told my sister something was wrong. As the light illuminated the room, I let out a huge sigh as I found gifts and a birthday balloon on my bed.

Still a little freaked out as to how it got there, I knew it wasn't my roommate, I did a quick glance around the room. Nothing else seemed out of place. Another sigh of relief. I walked over to look at the gifts. It was from Brooke who still happens to have a key to our apartment. I laughed at how freaked out by the whole thing.

As you can see, Brooke knows me well. The balloon had the word princess on it, which is only cool because it is what my name means. I was sitting in Journey class and got upset because my journal is almost full. Now I have one that happens to be my favorite color. And a Peanuts book, awesome.
Thanks Brooke for breaking into my apartment!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Great Birthday!

If you are a regular reader of my blog you have heard me say before how special birthdays are in our family, especially growing up. In the Koutz house a birthday is a holiday. Trust me. It is a BIG DEAL!!!! Birthdays have been the hardest part of growing up for me. Now that I'm older and don't live near any of my family, birthdays just aren't the same. No hugs from my parents, big brother or my sisters. We aren't all together to celebrate. I miss my family on my birthday more than any other day of the year.

This year was no different. I missed my family today. It was a rough morning and tough day at work. I was booked solid with meetings and projects until late tonight. But thanks to my amazing family and friends, it ended up being a fantastic day. Here are some highlights.
  • My 3rd period class sang Happy Birthday to me. We were all reminded why we are instrumentalists and not vocalists and laughed in the process.
  • Lots of birthday wishes from my 6th graders.
  • I can't believe the number of facebook messages, texts, e-mails, phone calls and twitters (or are they tweets) I received today. I'm overwhelmed.
  • I received phones calls from everyone in my family. This is one of my favorite Koutz traditions. It hope it never dies.
  • An almost video blog post from Allison.
  • Brooke breaking into my apartment to leave gifts in my room. (More on that embarrassing story later. Sorry Brooke you have to wait until tomorrow.)
  • Jeffrey giving up nap time to save me from my ignorance of video stuff.
  • Being surrounded by friends with massive hugs in the middle of the atrium.
  • Having a group of students yell happy birthday across the church and everyone turning to watch.
  • Jeff Bell's amazing teaching at Journey Class.
  • Dinner with Jeannette who is moving back to Dayton tomorrow. It was suppose to be a going away dinner and she turned it into a birthday dinner.
Thanks for an amazing birthday everyone! I love you all!!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The last GSM of 2008

Sunday night we had the last GSM of the year. It was a night full of excitement. We did another band audition and only have a couple more to go before round 2 starts. (At least I think so. I just do what Seth and Jeffrey tell me to do!) In between middle school and high school Seth and Jeff put together an amazing concert for all of our students. Riley and Maddie even did a few numbers for the crowd. It was so nice to have all of our students together to do nothing but hang out and enjoy some great music. Here are some pictures from the night.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sabbath

Today was a great Sabbath. I didn't do much of anything but relax and spend the day with Jesus. I wanted to rest up so I was prepared for this week of concert and end of the semester craziness. I've had a lot on my mind the last few weeks and I loved having a whole day set aside to talk with God about it. I don't do that enough.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Adopt-a-Family X

This weekend had been named GSM Weekend and I'm excited about it. As you can clearly see we had a blast tonight at Adopt-a-Family. Each year we adapt a few families and give them every thing they need for a great Christmas. This year we were also able to adopt an apartment complex that is run by the housing authority. It is really awesome how God worked out the whole thing.

In case you couldn't figure it out from the past 9 posts, here is what we do. Our middle school and high school students meet at the church and divide into groups. Each group is given a family member and a list of things they want for Christmas. We all pile on a bus and head to Wal-Mart to buy the things they asked for and then some. After that we head back to the church and wrap all the gifts.

Now this is the best part. The gifts are placed in black trash bags and delivered without the children in the family knowing. We don't tell them who the gifts are from. Nothing has the churches name on it. On Christmas morning the children wake up to see a living room full of gifts with their names on it!

Our students did an incredible job tonight. I'm so proud of all of them. I wasn't planning on blogging all night. I wanted to post one picture of the group and then dig in to our project. They girls loved that I was putting it on my blog so I thought I would do another one later in the night. Somehow, very quickly, it became my only job for the night. It was fun!

Tomorrow morning we get up and head to Feed the Children to pack boxes for the Food Drop. And that is only the halfway point of the great weekend.

Adopt-a-family IX

Things that happen in the atrium after a GSM events:
-Duck duck goose
-Random dancing and singing
-Things being thrown from the GSM office windows
-Leap frog

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Adopt-a-family VIII

Team Steph had an awesome idea to make a blanket for a high school girl in their family. Here is the finished product!
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Adopt-a-family VII

This is Karen. She is one of the sweetest people you'll ever meet. We get to wrap all the gifts now. Exciting!
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Adopt-a-Family VI

Nicole and Heather led in a time of worship on the bus ride to the church. Take take take it all!
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Adopt-a-Family V

Here is our fearless leader, Johnny Keim. He runs point on this entire project. He checked our budget and informed us we were really $16.40 over. We got it covered. Johnny is proud. So am I!
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Adopt-A-Family IV

We are $15.21 over. The girls don't want to put anything back so they are pitching in to make up the difference. I've never met students with bigger hearts!
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Adopt-a-Family III

We are doing awesome! Our girls are getting good deals and trying to get the most with our budget. I'm proud of them!
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Adopt-A-Family II

Another student has arrived. The girls named us Team Skoutz! Here we are all.
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adopt-a-family I

These girls we're in my small group last year. We are getting ready to go shopping for the family we adopted. I love these girls hearts!
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Scatterbrained

My mind has been all over the place tonight.
  • I hate cold weather. I can't feel my toes.
  • Early morning tomorrow.
  • I'm craving a banana. I like bananas.
  • Excellent journey class tonight thanks to Jeff Bell.
  • What is the source of my discontentment?
  • I ate a doughnut for dinner. Is that bad?
  • What do M&Ms and fortune cookies have in common?
  • I really need to finish that quilt square for little Cora's baby quilt.
  • 2 school days until final winter concert...6 school days until students are done...7 school days until I'm done. I'm ready for break!
  • I enjoyed the rain yesterday.
  • I wish our apartment complex did a better job of taking care of steps/sidewalks.
  • My poinsettias are still alive. Amazing!
  • I'm actually quite hungry right now.
  • I need to vacuum again.
  • I didn't get to light my advent wreath tonight. Sadness.
  • I'm taking some leaps of faith this week. Excited to see where God takes things.
  • How many different CSI shows are there now?
  • Still freezing. I expect that to be the case from now until May. April if I'm lucky.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Over committed?

Am I over committed? I wish I could count the number of times I've answered that question yes. However, I can't because I've found myself over committed too many times to count. Sad but true. This year I made the decision to take some steps to prevent that from happening. And for the sake of having nothing else to blog about, I thought I would share a few things I've done to keep myself from falling into the same trap again.

1. Narrow your focus. I made a decision there were two areas I really wanted to focus my attention, my students at work and church. That can mean a number of different things so I had to be very specific about what that meant. In the classroom, it meant using set-up and pack-up time to ask students about life outside of the room. It also means taking that occasional trip down to the gym or out to the field for a game. At church, that meant diving into my role on the worship team and teaching team.

2. Remember "no" is not a curse word. I am horrible at saying no and people know it. I've learned it is a lot easier to say no if you have first narrowed your focus. God had made it very clear to me what my focus was to be in our student ministry. As much as I wanted to be a small group leader, it didn't fall within the areas I was focusing my attention. Leading a small group would have been incredible, but it would have meant another night booked and less time to study and prepare messages.

3. Schedule space. This has been a bit more challenging for me but I've taken some huge steps. I've done two things to schedule space. One, keep the Sabbath. Whenever possible I keep Saturday open completely open except for worshiping at GCC in the evening. The only thing I schedule is hanging out with friends that are going to encourage and challenge me. The second thing is to keep one night a week completely open. It is night to be at home. Hard but helpful.

4. Find accountability. One of the most helpful things this year has been having one or two key people who know what my goals are and are intentional about asking me every know and then if I'm doing it. These friends understand the importance of keeping healthy commitment levels AND understand that I love being involved. They help me understand the balance of the two.

Tonight I was sitting here thinking about how things have been going the last few months. I don't have it all figured out yet but I do know that there are huge steps being taken.

What do you think? What do you do to keep yourself from getting over committed.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Monday Blahs

It has been a frustrating Monday. Nothing has gone as planned despite the hours of planning and thinking ahead. I hate that.

However, tonight it have me some extra time to chat with God. I've had some thoughts, plans and ideas rattling around in the back or my mind for quite some time.

Tonight I got some of those thoughts on paper. This week will contain some huge steps of faith. We'll see where it takes me.
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Sunday, December 07, 2008

My Little Brother

This is the second week of our Advent series at GSM. It was an exciting week for many, many reasons. I had some incredible conversations with students. Each service went really well. But one of my favorite things about tonight was listening to one of my best friends, Jeffrey Myers, teach for the first time. I've been praying for this day for a long time. I've always known Jeff was a good teacher and tonight he did an incredible job.

This week we took a look at those times in our walk when God is silent. Jeff shared some great thoughts and stories to help us understand that silence isn't always a bad thing. There is something bigger going on in those moments. This has been a lesson I'm still learning. Here are a few highlights from the night.
  • Sometimes you get to the point you're just not feeling it. It isn't always a bad thing. Don't beat yourself up.
  • Is God not speaking because we aren't asking? Carve out time with him!
  • Wait expectantly!
  • We know you are coming to deliver us. We'll wait for you even through the silence.
  • When God is silent, he is trying to get your attention. He is trying to get you in tune before he moves you to the next thing.
  • You know his truth is going to be revealed in your life. Keep doing your part and it will come in His time.
Jeff is like a little brother I never had. I'm so proud of him. He has taken some risks and tried things he never thought about doing before. He has stayed faithful through the tough periods of silence in his life. He is doing great things for the kingdom. I'm a very proud big sister...even when he doesn't like it!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Not Myself

I've done several things that are uncharacteristic of me today. It is all rather weird. I'm not really sure what to make of it all. It isn't really a bad thing, just not my normal self. If you know me even a little bit, this list will surprise you.
  • I woke up around 10:30 and then stayed in bed for another hour staring at my ceiling.
  • The very first thing I did was cook an entire brunch...for just myself.
  • Went outside in the snow when I could have stayed inside.
  • Went Christmas shopping before December 24th.
  • Actually enjoyed the snow and driving in it. I even got a little upset when there was a brief pause in the snowing.
  • I enjoyed shopping and wished I had more time to do it.
As crazy and abnormal as all of that may be I'm thankful to finally start getting some energy back. The second set of blood test came back last week and last Friday I found out that I have incredibly low iron. Simple solution to that and already I'm starting to feel the difference.

I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings. Who knows what kind of crazy stuff I'll be doing then?!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Sister in Brazil!

When I was in middle school we were asked to host a foreign exchange student. I was a little apprehensive about they whole thing but ended up loving adding a sister to the family. Raquel is from Brazil and still very much a part of our family. We got an e-mail from her mom this week and it made me miss her. Raquel is so much fun.

One of our favorite things to do together was play soccer in the house...when our parents weren't home. My younger sisters and I had strict rules already developed before Raquel moved in. A few weeks after she moved in my little sisters and I were playing and she was in her room studying. (She is very smart!) She came downstairs and asked what what we doing. We told her we were playing soccer and she immediately turned and ran up the stairs. A few minutes later she came down with her pants rolled up (that was a rule) and wearing Brazil soccer jersey.

After that night we knew we would all get along. Raquel started coming to church with us and joined our youth group. We took trips all over the state showing her as much as we could. She taught us how to make Brazilian food and even a little Portuguese. And of course we spent lots of time in the snow, which she loved. I'll never forget her face when she stepped off the plane and it was snowing.

She is now married and is a cook. She has a very cute little boy, Lucas. I miss Raquel!!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Give in already!

I'm very stubborn at times. I know that isn't news to most of you. I haven't been to an allergist in over six years. After a run-in with a bad batch of serum, I quit going and have done remarkably well just taking prescription medication. Unfortunately, I think it is time to give in and go back.

I've had so many allergy attacks in the last few months, I quit counting. Students walk in my classroom and ask me if I've been crying. Other staff members run away in fear I have some sort of deadly disease. My roommate has come home twice now and asked if I'm okay. Currently...
- One eye is almost swollen shut
- My eyes have turned into small waterfalls
- I can't breathe from my nose
- My nose is running like a leaky faucet
- I'm on Kleenex box number two today
- I can't go more than two minutes without sneezing

None of this has stopped me from working or doing anything. I figure I can make it another six years before I have to go back. What do you think?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Picture Time

The craziness of concert season is in full swing. There is plenty to do and not nearly enough time to get it all done. Tonight I took a short break to edit some photos from this weekend. Enjoy!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Fun

There is nothing like starting your day by sleeping in as late as possible! This is the first time in weeks I've actually been able to sleep in past 7. My parents and I watched a little of the parade and did some last minute food preperations before we went to my brothers.
Dad was a little disappointed we missed kick-off but I figure who cares the Lions will faithfully lose for us. I played several games with the kids. We had a hugefeast during half-time...completely wheat-free I might add. Then of course nap time during the second half.
After the game, I went out with the kids and had a snowball fight and built a snowman named, Billy Bob. There will be pictures coming next week. We warmed up with hot chocolate, did puzzles and played dominoes. Good times with the family. We got phone calls from all of my sisters who aren't able to come home for Thanksgiving.
Today I look forward to eating leftovers and doing a lot of nothing with my parents.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Seesaw Day

I had a love hate relationship with the seesaw growing up. I loved riding with people who understood how the seesaw worked because you could get a rhythm going. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down. Nice and even. I hated it when some of the boys wanted to join the ride. They loved to push off as hard as they could. Sometimes they would push off with so much strength and speed the seesaw with slam into the ground. But the worst was when you sat on the seesaw alone because no one wanted to play with you. I really hated the seesaw then.

Most of the time that is how my day at work is like a good seesaw ride. A good teaching moment here and there with a few unfocused students mixed in there. Ups and downs that tend to balance each other out at the end of the day. Today wasn't like that at all. It got off to a great start but went downhill in the afternoon. I left feeling like I was sitting on the seesaw alone.

The seesaw is no fun by yourself. It can't do what it is intended to do when only one person is riding. This isn't about feeling lonely, it is about feeling trapped in and unable to do what you were intended to do. Those are the most discouraging days in teaching. You see the purpose and potential but can't make those things happen with just yourself.

How do I motivate my students? How do I encourage them to join in the game? How do I show them their own potential?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gifts! - Part II

A huge thanks to Jon for not making me feel alone in this horrible mess. Although I normally just give the gift early, it seems my hiding gifts and forgetting about them is become a bigger problem than I realized. Unfortunately in my cleaning frenzy today I found another birthday present hidden away. I felt like the worst friend ever!!! And now that Allison has the gift I can share the story.

Allison's birthday is in June and I found her gift carefully hidden in the books on my bookshelf. I had made a picture frame but wanted to get a picture of us to put in it before I gave it to her. On her birthday I told her she had to wait because the gift wasn't finished. Well there were mission trips, camps, vacations, blah, blah, blah. The next thing I know it is August and I don't have a picture. I demanded we take a picture the next time we were together and of course it didn't turn out well! (That was also the night my camera died and I cried.) So it stayed hidden until today. Oops!

Sorry my friend. We'll get a picture for that frame sooner or later. I'll bring my camera tomorrow night!!!

Gifts!

I love giving people gifts. I don't care how big or small the gift is, I love it. I don't even have to have a reason for giving one. I'm horrible at holding on to gifts until birthdays or Christmas. If I buy a gift early I have to hide it or before I know it the recipient is unwrapping it. If I hide it, I don't think about it. This is why I wait until the last minute to go Christmas shopping. I just can't wait to give it away. It really is a curse at times.

You see, if I hide something I tend to forget I have it. I do it all the time. For example, we had a girls night out several weeks ago and we did some crafty things. I made my brother a silly little birthday pumpkin for his birthday. I hid it in my filing cabinet. (Don't laugh at that!) Well I just found it while I was doing some cleaning. My brother's birthday was November 1st!!!! Oops.Don't worry Matthew. I'll give it to you at Thanksgiving as we are eating chili with our turkey.

And to the two of you, you know who you are, who immediately thought, I bet that is one of Sarah's love language you are wrong. I'm not as big a fan of receiving gifts, only giving them.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Quick Clarification

Evidently my twittering has caused some confusion so I thought I would clear it up for everyone. A little over a month ago I went to the doctor for a simple sinus infection. After the conversation with her, my mom and a few other friends I started putting some pieces together that indicate something in my body is out of whack. I decided I would let it go in hopes it would all go away.

After putting it off, I finally went back to the doctor this week. She is pretty sure I have some thyroid problems, we are just waiting for the test results to come back. Really, that isn't too difficult of a problem to manage. Once the right dose of medicine is found, I'll notice a huge change. I'll have energy...and hopefully won't be so cold!

So no, I'm not on on my death bed. I'm not seriously ill. I'm still battling the sinus infection and the test results should come back this week. All will be well. No more worrying my friends. I do want to say thanks to those of you who have e-mailed, text or called to see how I've been doing this week. It had made me smile. I love my friends!!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

About Me

I've learned a lot about myself in the last month or so. Today I started making a list in my journal. Some of them have been great discoveries. Some I knew but discovered in new ways. Others, insightful revelations that are a bit disappointing. I thought I would share a few of them.
  • I hate silence, except in my classroom, but loudness drive me insane.
  • I don't have as much patience as I like to think I have.
  • I absolutely love teaching students about Jesus!!!! In the past most of the teaching I've done has been in small groups. Lately I've done more large group teaching and I love it just as much. Didn't use to.
  • Although I need to see the bigger picture I think in details.
  • Part of me has started to give up on my biggest dream.
  • I'm not as extroverted as I use to be but still a solid ESTJ.
  • One's physical condition greatly influences one's mental condition and ability to do normal activities. What do you know? That applies to me too. I'm a slow learner at times.
  • I get really anxious when I have to talk about myself.

How about you? Have you learned anything new about yourself lately?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekend Recap

Friday - Girlz Only!!!! I had an awesome time with our middle school girls at our game night. Tammy did a phenominal job organizing the night. We played one of my all-time favorites, Human Fooseball! We had a little dance party as well.

Saturday - I got up early to catch the first South Shore train to Chicago to spend the day with Anna and Ryan. We went to the aquarium, shopping and just walking around the city. It was a ton of fun. I even made it back in time for Saturday night dessert at Hacienda with Michael and Jeannette.

Sunday - I spent the morning finishing grades and getting ready for this week. Then it was off to GSM rehearsal. I love playing with our band. We have so much fun worshiping together. DC wrapped up the Square Peg Round Hole series. From the conversations I had with students, it sounds like our students are starting to understand they are created in a unique way and have the something to offer that no one else does. THAT excites me.

I added some pictures from the weekend to my November album. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Feeling Defeated

This has been a rough week at work. Today was especially frustrating. I sat at my desk at the end of the day trying to figure out how to get through to my students. I felt defeated and useless. On days like this I spend so much time wrestling with self-doubt. Why am I here? Why do I even bother? Do I really think I can make a difference? Who am I to think that I can make a difference in the lives of these students?

Let's face it. Every now and then we all have days like this. Satan would love it if we spend all of our time questioning ourselves and our influence. The choice we have is whether we are going to buy into these lies or refocus our attention back on God's truth.

I had a great discussion about this with a couple of our students last night. Sometimes it is hard not to fall into the trap of Satan's lies. It can be easy to let those lies cloud our view. It is in those moments we have to REMEMBER.
  • Remember God's promises in Scripture.
  • Remember God's faithfulness.
  • Remember who is in control.
I'll be honest I'm still disappointed in some of the choices my students are making. I'm still feeling discouraged about our progress this week. But I know the last thing I want to do is take my focus off what God has called me to do. So no matter how horribly I thought the day went or how hard the challenges were I faced, I'll keep pushing forward. God is up to something and I want to be a part of it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

P for Personality

We are in the middle of our Square Peg Round Hole series at GSM. We are focusing on discovering our SHAPE and how we can use it to reach out to those around us. In case you aren't familiar with this acronym here it is.

S - Spiritual Gifts
H - Heart
A - Ability
P - Personality
E - Experience

Several of us have been taking a closer look at Myers-Briggs personality test. Not that any probably care but in case you did wonder, here is a little bit about my results. I'm not going to lie, this is a pretty accurate description of me!

ESTJ
E
xtroverted Sensing Thinking Judging

Strengths:
- Generally enthusiastic, upbeat and friendly
- Stable and dependable
- Put forth a lot of effort to fulfill their duties and obligations
- Not personally threatened by conflict or criticism
- Interested in resolving conflict, rather than ignoring it
- Take their commitments very seriously
- Able to administer discipline when necessary

Weaknesses:
- Tendency to believe that they are always right
- Tendency to need to always be in charge
- Impatient with inefficiency and sloppiness
- Not naturally in tune with what others are feeling
- Not naturally good at expressing their feelings and emotions
- May inadvertently hurt others with insensitive language
- Generally uncomfortable with change, and moving into new territories

ESTJs are very enthusiastic people who are driven to fulfill their obligations and duties, especially those towards their families. Their priorities generally put God first, family second, and friends third.

All In One

Here is the updated album of pictures from this month. They come from three different events.
  • My brother's birthday and his family pictures. Already blogged about that here.
  • Chick Nite's Fall Fashion & Film Fest - Talk about a great night. Our girls are so much fun. We had a bonfire, which the team let me build. It started without a starter log or lighter fluid. Jeffrey, you can't call it girl scout juice anymore. Take that! We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, watched movies and did girly things that I don't understand. This is why I take pictures!
  • Second Saturday - The GSM students and several others headed to Feed the Children in Elkhart to pack boxes for our annual food drop. Our students dominated their roles and the whole team packed a record number of boxes.
I did lots of experimenting with my camera. I'm still trying to figure everything out so some pictures aren't the best. Hopefully you enjoy them anyway.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Good things

There are so many great things I need to blog about. Chick Nite...my crazy day...paths crossing...SHAPE...so good...I would post about them all but there is just no time. It is late and past my speaking (writing) time.

I will share this though. The middle school guy's getaway is this weekend, which means dinner with the girls. Tonight we changed it up and went some place new. More on that later. Our conversation tonight ranks in my top two dinner with the girls chats. We talked about how we are shaped, ministry, relationships and balancing all of those things in a healthy way. It was a VERY challenging conversation. We shared the hard truths that aren't always easy to hear. It was awesome!!!

I need people like Brooke, Ang and Allison in my life. I need their wisdom. I learn from their experiences. The challenge me and push me to follow Christ harder. I love doing life with them and serving Jesus along-side them at GSM. Seriously! They are phenominal!!!!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Big Failure

Evidently the four people that read my blog don't find my rainy day game as exciting as all of my students do. Where is your sense of adventure people?

My students beg me to play when there is only one drop of rain falling from the sky. At first it is because they want to ask their teacher "personal" questions but I've had several groups that end up just learning new things about each other.

Thank you James for at least answering the questions. Since there were no questions asked of me, just for kicks I'll answer my own questions.

- If you could do anything knowing you wouldn't fail, what would you do?
Become a teaching pastor for a student ministry

- If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?
This is a tough one. Ireland or Scotland


Off to worship Jesus with friends.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Miss Koutz's Rainy Day Game

I think I might be going crazy but let's try the old Miss Koutz's Rainy Day Game here on the blog. After all several friends have done similar things on their blogs. Ask me any two questions you and I'll answer them, but first you have to answer these two questions. (Teachers always have a catch!)
- If you could do anything knowing you wouldn't fail, what would you do?
- If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?

Let the games begin!

Short Road Trip Photos

I have nothing wise or intelligent to share. Nothing new or exciting going on around here. So I leave you with some pictures from my trip home last weekend. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Bits and Pieces

SCHOOL:
I have a student who finally had their materials for class today. He picked up his instrument for the first time and played wonderfully. In about ten minutes, without any instruction, he had master more than most of his classmates. However, I got a call from his parents telling me he is not allowed to play that instrument and demanding he has to play another instrument he hates. What?! I don't get that.

My principal found out from another teacher that I'm on the teaching team at GCC. It started a very interesting conversation during my pre-observation conference. I got to share a little bit of my story and the journey God is leading me on these days. I am now looking forward to my post observation conference.

POLITICS:
The 8th grade honors classes put together a mock election for the entire 8th grade class. It started some heated discussion in some of my classes. Many students wanted to know who I voted for. They found it very interesting I wouldn't tell them. I made the decision a long time ago not to tell people how I vote. No good reason. Just my choice.

A handful of my students told me they weren't going to vote because their vote didn't matter. It wasn't a real election. That made annoyed me. I tried to take advantage of the teaching moment but they didn't care. Of course they were the same students who won't do anything that requires something other than breathing or talking.

In case you are wondering Obama won the election with 88% of the votes and McCain received 12%. Nader didn't even make in on the ballot at Edison but he did win the election at this school.

FRIENDS & FAMILY:
The tradition of three hour conversations over coffee continues. This tradition actually started as a misunderstanding but I love it. Allison and I took the curve ball thrown at us tonight and changed it up with smoothies and gelato. She has helped me think out loud through some things and is going to help us redo our fine arts logo at school. I love her!

I called everyone in my family today to make sure they voted. Usually Anna beats me to this or we divide and conquer. I didn't get to talk to her long but I also get to to her husband, Ryan. He is crazy!!!! We had our final baseball season is over conversation and had a moment of sadness together. I love my family!

This post is long. I was going to post some more old quotes I came across but I'll wait. It is probably best that way.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Where I Teach...

Perhaps you've been watching the news and read about the recent violence in South Bend. In just the last few weeks there have been a handful of shootings and even a stabbing resulting in the death of four people. Late last week one of those shootings hit close to home.

I discovered late last week a student was closely related to one of the victims. It isn't a pretty situation. This poor kid has had his entire ripped apart...again. This student is fighting against the odds. All the statistics state that he should drop out or be in JJC before he turns 16. The truth is he has tons of potential. He is quick to pick up new things and absolutely hilarious. My heart hurts for him.

Unfortunately this story fairly common for several of my students. I can't imagine growing up with that being my whole world. It is so far from the small town, USA childhood I had in Vestaburg. But it is reality. It is happening right in our back yard.

What am I doing to help bring up there down here for my students? What are you doing?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Short Road Trip

I took another short road trip home this weekend. I got to see my brother's kids dressed up in their Halloween costumes. They had their own little zoo. Taylor was a tiger. Logan was a duck. Aggie was a ladybug. Gwen was a bee. They were very cute. I'll post some pictures later this week.

Birthdays are a very big deal in our family. Today was Matthew's 35th birthday. He didn't have any plans to celebrate so Mom and I baked his favorite cake from scratch this morning, German Chocolate. It was wheat-free too!!! He decided it isn't as good as Grandma's but he loved our frosting. I'll take that as a win!

After celebrating his birthday, I took their family pictures for Christmas cards. Unfortunately the kids were tired and grumpy so the pictures aren't that good. I felt bad. I guess we can try again at Thanksgiving if need be.

The drive back to Mishawaka was wonderful. The sunset was full of beautiful shades of reds, oranges, yellows, purples and pinks. The strips of clouds added another level of beauty to the masterpiece. The small sliver of the moon was bright and its light shined through the thin layers of clouds. The drive to Vestaburg and back reminded me of all the things I love about fall. You don't see nearly as much color down here in Mishawaka. I love creation. Way to go God!

Beautiful, Week 2

Beautiful: A Series for Women and the Men Who Pursue Them
Week 2 - A Wife Worth Finding

Watch the message on NewSpring's website.
Read Allison's thoughts on her blog.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A lot of nothing...

There are a million things I could, and possibly should have, done tonight. But I didn't. Normally when I blog and say I sat around and did nothing it means...
  • came home
  • changed clothes
  • cleaned up the apartment
  • laundry
  • made a real dinner
  • sorted through e-mails and facebook messages
  • read blogs
  • made some phone calls
  • read or watched TV/movie
  • blogged
  • go to bed
Yes I know that really isn't nothing but for me it is. However, tonight I did much less.
  • warmed up leftovers
  • read a few blogs and facebook messages
  • watched tv (three cheers for The Office!)
  • blogged
That will probably be the closest I'll ever get to nothing. It was wonderful but there is no way I can do it often. I feel like I wasted so much work time. I guess I'm starting to get this idea of down time. May be by the time I'm 80 I'll have it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just for laughs...

Only about two of you will even get the humor of this but I don't care. I was reading David Joe's blog tonight and he mentioned Sweetwater's Donut Mill in Kalamazoo. I've only been there once with the camp staff. The following conversation took place during that visit. But first a little background info.
  1. I can't eat wheat, which includes donuts and communion bread.
  2. Before I take communion I always pray that the wheat won't cause me a ton of pain for then next 2-3 weeks.
  3. I had just finished doing a huge study on transubstantiation in one of my seminary classes.

Sarah: I don’t think any of these are good for you and not just because I can’t eat it.
Heidi: When we want your opinion we’ll ask for it.
Kelly: Yeah we aren’t allergic to wheat.
Sarah: Well I’m giving it anyway.
Heidi: And you can eat it but you are choosing not to.
Sarah: I could eat it but I don’t want to die.
Kelly: I don’t feel like spending the night at the hospital either. May be you should pray, like you do for communion.
Heidi: That is a good idea.
Kelly: Oh hey! Transubstantiation! Look I’m eating flesh not wheat.

--------------------------------------------------

Another funny quote from that same week.

Sarah: It isn't clergy appreciation month is it? (after reading newspaper) Hmm…well I guess it is.
Kelly: Thanks for being a clergy.
Sarah: Umm…I don’t think you can say that.
Kelly: Sure I can. If not thanks for being a member of the clerg.

Colossians Journey Class

I just finished my first adult journey class, taught by my good friend, Jason Miller. I'm proud of him. He did an incredible job teaching and leading us this month. Here are some highlights.
  • You might be running interference so others are safer for the moment. (1:24-25)
  • If you want to grow in Christ you have to connect in different ways.
  • Everything is measured by Christ.
  • We are tempted to think Christ isn't enough. (2:16-23)
  • To be "in Christ" is to be YOU. You don't lose your personality. Your character might need to change.
  • We know we are in Christ and we know who Christ is...so what?! (Chapter 3)
  • We tend to keep things just below the surface. Still does no good.
  • The line between good and evil never runs through us and them but always through the center of ourselves. (Some Russian dude whose name I don't remember.)
  • We should love each other in a way that calls out the the best in each other. (3:18-4:1)
  • Need to go from our knees to our feet. Prayer to Action (4:2-5)

Another Opinion

Yes, this is yet another post about the Beautiful series from NewSpring. I thought some of you might want a second opinion. So go check out Allison's blog and her thoughts on week 1 of the series. But really I think you should just check it out for yourself.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Great Messages, Charlie Brown and Football

I listened to week two of NewSpring's Beautiful series tonight. There is a small group of us who are going to listen to the entire series. I'm sure it will prompt some great conversations. So far I've been challenged in several ways.

I watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown tonight. I love Charlie Brown. There are a couple clips that may be useful in a message or two at some point. I might even blog about one of those clips later this week if there is time.

I used a football analogy with my 8th graders today in class. The first class laughed at me as I tried to act out the idea without a football. So over my plan time I went and got a football. I asked one of the football players in the second class to help me demonstrate. They loved it and were shocked at my knowledge of football. They laughed...a lot!!! This is probably one of my better ideas in teaching. However, the flutes did not like me comparing their part to the role of the cheerleaders.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Little Rant...

Okay God. What is this? A funny joke? Because I'm not laughing. Snow in October? A forecast of 60 degree temperature in a few days? Is that just to tease us? I'm not ready for this. I need time to prepare. I need warmer clothes, more blankets and more tea. I'm not ready I tell you!

Don't you remember that year I prayed you wouldn't let it snow until after my birthday? You have to remember that one because around 7 PM on the night of my birthday you sent the first snowfall of the season. It was the greatest birthday present ever. Why can't you do that every year? What a great tradition you could start! I would be completely okay with it.

I'm not prepared and I can't change what is falling from the sky, so I'll add a few more layers, curl up in my bed and thank you for the changing seasons. I'll thank you for the reminder that once I was without life, cold, afraid and alone and you were quick to rescued me. But I'll be honest and still tell you I'm not thrilled with the snow. Please bring summer quickly!!!!


Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.
Hosea 6:1-3

A Series to Follow

I've heard several messages about women. Most of them include all kinds of thoughts about being submissive or being a great wife or mother. Very few of them touch on the fact that God is where we find out identity and our worth is greater than we even start to imagine. I've been trying to think of message I heard growing up that included anything close to that and I can't.

This evening I was listening to first message in NewSpring's Beautiful series, which is all about how God views women. It was great message for anyone, not just women. As I listened, I kept coming back to our GSM students. I pray our girls understand how much they are loved.

You can check out the message here or on NewSpring's podcast.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Too tired to blog...

I can't explain how tired I am right now. Evidently living outside your shape may be stretching but is also incredibly exhausting. Spending an entire weekend without any definite plans in one of the most nerve wracking things I've lately. It was a great weekend though. My family is fun. You can read my twitter to find out more about the weekend. I'm too tired to blog about it and I forgot my camera so there isn't as much motivation.

Speaking of SHAPE...we kicked off our new series at GSM tonight. Square Peg Round Hole...Find Your Fit. Seth and DC kicked of tonight teaching about how God created us with a unique SHAPE. And of course Jeff gave everyone The Box Challenge. It is going to be a super fun series. Come join us!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Secret Plans...Part 2

Two reasons for keeping this weekend's plans a secret.
1. I'm surprising the person/people I'm going to see and they may just read this blog.
2. I don't really know what we're doing. This is a weekend of playing everything by ear. Eeek!

I enjoyed having the afternoon off and took a nap. The nap was much longer than planned so I'm behind schedule and didn't get as much done around the apartment as I wanted. Like any road trip, the iPod is charged and the bag is packed. A few quick errands and I'm off...to take over the world.

...or to Sonic...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Isn't that just like God?!

Afternoon conferences are the worst! I sit in my room alone bored out of my mind. No one ever comes to see the band director. This afternoon was no different. But then this happened.


Miss Koutz: (in my head) Man I wish that group of students were here to just hang out. Imagine if they started living for Jesus. I guess I'll pray for them. God, student #1 and student #2 need you...

Student #1 & #2:
MISS KOUTZ!!! We came to hang out with you.

Miss Koutz: That is awesome!!!! Seriously, I was just thinking about you guys. I'm so excited you guys are here.
Isn't that just like God?! You guys know I'm not good enough to make that one up. They stuck around for about an hour and helped me with some things in the room. We continued an earlier conversation about GSM. I love how God opens doors. I have such awesome students!!!!

Off the top of my head...

Jon I'm so glad you got my vague Pinky and the Brain reference. Love that show!

Unlike some of you assumed, my secret plans have nothing to do with boy. Good effort kids. My secret plans to take over the world will start at Sonic with a strawberry limeade...during happy hour!!!!

I'm completely exhausted. Why am I still up? I had more parents come to conferences today than I have in my entire teaching career 0r at least close to it! And, praise Jesus, they all went well.

I started a new healthier diet this week that includes actually eating breakfast. I actually did that for the first time today. Not off to a good start.

I finally broke down and turned the heat on today. Growing up we waited as long as possible to turn it on, all in an effort to save money. We don't pay for our heat but it is still ingrained in my mind.

If you have enjoyed the random comments from my students check out this blog. Students Say the Darndest Things is a collection of quotes from different student ministries. I love it!

I spent 12 hours at work today. That is too much! Praise God for a half day tomorrow. I can clean my apartment!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Secret Plans...

I received the official word today that the high school retreat this weekend was canceled. Disappointing. I was really looking forward to meeting up with some campers and former students but that will have to happen through other means.

I couldn't handle the thought of a free weekend so I made plans. Top secret plans...to take over the world!!!!

2nd Quarter Goals

For most of you this will be a boring post. Those of you who teach will only find it slightly more interesting.

We just finished our first quarter last week. Grades were entered into the computer and parent/teacher conferences are this week. This is a perfect time to step back, evaluate, adjust and push forward. I spent some time doing that today. Here are three goals I have specifically for this quarter.

1. Quick Pacing, Adequate Content - There isn't much down time in my class. I don't like wasting time so my pacing is pretty quick. That is a good thing for middle school student...unless you push the content too fast. After grading some end of the quarter quizzes and a few playing tests I think may be going over content a little to quickly, especially in the younger grades. Or I need to adjust the way I teach the content. Time to tweak!

2. Stay on Top of Paperwork - I use to be just like my dad. Collect an assignment, grade it, record it and return it the next day. That hasn't happened once this year. I don't like that at all. The administrative paper work has piled up quicker than it should as well. No nonsense this quarter my friends!

3. Consistent Documentation Plan - One thing I often hear from colleagues is that they appreciate how well I document things. What they don't know is that all of that documentation is in the form of post-it notes, scrap paper, computer files and all sorts of random places. I'm always coming up with a new way to organize it. I try it for a week and think of something better. This quarter I have one strategy and I'll use it the entire time. Then re-evaluate and revamp. This should be fun!

Goals for the Year:
(rated on a scale of 1 -10 with 1 being complete failure and 10 being pure success)
-> Implement new approach and document once a week. - Implementing = 7 Documenting = 2
-> Make relationships a priority = 8
-> Leave work at work = 6

Monday, October 20, 2008

Chaos Theory Reflections



This series is one of the greatest student ministry series ever! We all find ourselves in that place where our plans don't meet up with God's plans. It's pure chaos and nothing makes sense. I'll be the first to admit I've been there. What do you do when your in that place? I don't have all the answers but I do this series has tons of great starting points. The progression of the series just happens to be the same progression of lessons I had to learn on my journey. Isn't that just like God?! Here's a brief look at each week.
  • Week 1: Check Your Posture - Are you caught up so much in what is going on in your world that you are missing the ways God is working around you? Shift your perspective back to Him.
  • Week 2: Live Out Your Responsibility - There are things that God has already called you to do despite the chaos in your life. It is easy to forget about being obedient in those areas when it feels like your world is crashing in around you. What is God calling you to be responsible with right now?
  • Week 3: Wait On God - We can be so quick to just want everything fixed and back to "normal." We don't care out just so the end results get here NOW. But what about the process of getting to that end result. Perhaps that process is far more important than the actual ending point. Are you waiting patiently and learning through the process or are you complaining in hopes the end result comes quicker?
  • Week 4: Trust in the Lord - God has our best interest in mind. He isn't out to make our lives miserable. Beneath all the chaos is a heart issue...trust. Do you believe that God's plan for your life is far greater than anything you can ever imagine? Are you still hanging on to your plan or are you trust God and his plan?
I wish someone would have sat down and shared all this with me when I was in middle school or high school. The prayer of the teaching team has been that our students have taken these four weeks to find where they are in their story and listen to what it is God is trying to say to them. Twice in the series we gave our students the space to ask God questions and to listen to him speak. How much time am I taking to listen to God?

Seriously a great series. God did awesome things!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Quick Question

Answer this question for me. What is one thing you wish you would have known or been taught about prayer when you were in high school?

Recent Discovery

I recently discovered the greatest popsicles EVER!!!! I think I could probably eat the whole box in one sitting. My favorite flavor...blueberry-lemom. Delicious!

You should try them!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Looking Forward...

A few things I'm looking forward to in the next couple weeks:
  • Teacher Record Day - No classes tomorrow. Just a day to work on finishing grades and preparing for conferences. I'm cleaning my office!
  • GSM! - We wrap up the Chaos Theory series talking about trust. This is going to be an incredible week.
  • RLCA's High School Retreat - Next weekend I get to spend the weekend with some of my incredible people including some awesome campers!
  • Parent/Teacher Conferences - Only because we have half-days. No one ever comes to see the band director during conferences so they tend to be rather boring.
  • Journey Classes - We are looking at chapter 3 of Colossians next week. Have I told you how much I love that book.

Reflections from the Classroom

I'm pretty frustrated with how this week went. I feel like we wasted a lot of time. My pace was slower this week and we didn't cover as much as we should have. In fact I feel like I just wasted an entire week worth of rehearsals. On a better note, my advance classes have started to focus a little more. That is, those students who have actually come prepared.

I have a handful of 8th grade students that are really starting to share my vision for the year. They are in the class I thought would be the least receptive. They are incredible musicians and I hope they will encourage their classmates to move forward.

After this next week the school schedule gets a little busier. More after school rehearsals and Jazz band begins. I have a lot of work to do before then. My students are anxious for it so it should be worth it.

Tomorrow is a teacher record day. That makes me happy. I need some time to catch up on paperwork and clean my office. My desk is a disaster! The best part is that I get to sleep in an extra 30 minutes!

Not the greatest post but it is where we are at this week.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On My Mind

Lots on my mind today...that means it is time for a nice bullet list. They are my favorite.
  • Good day at school despite not feeling well.
  • Presidential debates make me angry.
  • There are a couple friends that have been on my mind a lot lately. I miss them and hope they are doing well.
  • Jason stole one of my illustrations I planned on using this weekend. I'm still using it.
  • I'm proud of myself for setting a curfew and sticking to it tonight.
  • I love the rain. It makes me smile. I love the sound of water rushing into the drains in a parking lot.
  • My 8th grade students were awesome today. Both classes. My trumpet players make me laugh. My clarinet players tend to make me crazy.
  • I'm wondering what the best way to invest into a couple different relationships is.
  • I love my family. I get REALLY angry when people mistreat them.
  • Why can't school start at 10 AM?
  • I'm a little anxious about my message this weekend. I'm struggling with how to articulate one of my main points effectively?
  • These mosquito bites are driving me nuts. I love my thinking spot but the bug bites I could have done without.
  • I've never been so at piece with the chaos in my life. I find that interesting.
  • Politicians know absolutely nothing about education and I can't tell you how angry it makes me. Try teaching for a year and then tell me your plan to improve our education system. In my opinion, they would never make it!
  • I loved our journey class tonight. I love the book of Colossians and J is doing a great job teaching what it means to be in Christ.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Thoughtful Spot

Winnie the Pooh had a thoughtful spot. It is where he went to think about what he wanted to do for the day. I went to one of my favorite thoughtful spots yesterday and spent a few hours talking with God about my journey, trust and this weeks GSM-Middle school message. It was amazing.

I have lots of different places I go when I need to think. Each place has it's own distinct environment. Some places can get a little noisy. Some are so quiet it kind of scares me. Some are close to my apartment and some are hours away. The thoughtful place I choose to hang out is determined by the kind of thinking that needs to be done. Do I need to write? Grade papers? Write lesson plans? Listen to God? Pray for friends?

To some it seems a little insane but it works for me. Here are a few reasons why.
  • Eliminates Distractions - When I'm at home all I can think about it what needs to be done around the apartment. It overwhelms me and I get nothing done.
  • Different Environment - Sometimes just the different surroundings help the creative juices flow. When I'm staring at the same walls in my apartment or office it scenery never changes.
  • Simplicity - Several of my favorite thinking spots are out in the middle of no where. When I'm surrounded by God's creation in the middle of the woods or a field, life slows down. There is no cell phone reception or internet. The fast-paced culture disappears and everything just seems a little simpler.
  • It's a secret! - People can't come interrupt me if they don't know where to find me. There are two or three thoughtful spots that people know about, the rest are top secret. I intend on keeping it that way so don't ask!
I think everyone needs a good thoughtful spot or two. If you don't have one, you should find one.

Cross Country Sectionals

After I was finally able to leave school today, I rushed home to quickly change clothes and head to cross country sectionals. One of our amazing GSM students, Heather, was running in the race. She did an incredible job and ran a great race for Penn. I was so proud of her. She stayed focused and pushed herself hard until the very end. Seriously, I don't know how she does it. She makes it look so easy and almost graceful.
Grant is another awesome GSM student who was suppose to run today. He runs for Clay. Unfortunately he ran the same course last week in the all-city meet and hurt his leg. Instead of sitting at home and moping about how he didn't get to run, he came to the meet and cheered on his teammates. He kept track of their times and yelled out advice as they ran by. He demonstrated well what it means to be part of a team.
As far as I know both Heather's and Grant's team made it to regionals. That made the meet even more exciting. There is a chance Grant might even be able to run if his leg has healed in time. How awesome is that!!! We are so blessed to have so many great students at GSM. I love them!!!!
Congratulations Heather and Grant!!!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chaos Theory

I'll probably blog about this again tonight so here is a short preview. I'm going to be speaking to our middle school students next weekend to wrap up our current series Chaos Theory. It is about the will of God and what happens when our will doesn't line up with his. What do we do when that happens. I've been working on the message most of the afternoon and am blown away by how great our God is. He never fails. Why do I always try to put my plans above his when I know his are so much greater?

I've been praying for weeks about this series. If our students can begin to wrap their hearts and minds around this concept, look out. We have such incredible students and when they start to put God's will first, no one will be able to stop them. I am confident God has huge things in store for this year.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Movie and Milk Duds

I was a little disappointed I was spending another Friday night sitting in my apartment since my plans didn't work out for the evening. I decided I would check to see what was on TV and found The Princess Bride. I love that movie. I know some of you are shocked by that.

When I was in college, one of my roommates and I would watch movies and eat popcorn and milk duds on roommate nights. I was too lazy to pop popcorn but I randomly bought a box of Milk Duds the other day. This made the decision to watch the movie much easier.

When I was in high school, my friend Pam and I watched and recited this movie all the time. Pam had the whole thing memorized. I'm not sure why we loved it so much but I still do. I wish she were hear watching with me.

There are some great quotes and I've been trying to decide which my favorite is. What's yours?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Scatterbrained

Two nights in a row of randomness means one of two things: 1) too many thoughts to share OR 2) my brain is to tired to actually write a post that makes sense. You be the judge!
  • I enjoy The Office.
  • I'll never forget the road trip Becky and I took a few years ago when we got stuck in traffic.
  • I don't enjoy my office because my desk is a disaster.
  • Miss Koutz it is a giant bumblebee!! (Insert Flight of the Bumblebee on xylophone here)
  • Bouncy balls are dangerous.
  • Winter is closer than I like. Some days I wish I lived in California.
  • I want some pizza.
  • Tomorrow is pay day.
  • Sweetest Day = flowers on sale = fresh flowers to brighten the apartment.
  • Camp...oh how I miss thee.
  • Rock Lake's high school retreat is coming soon! I'm excited to do some teaching during the weekend.
  • Two excited weeks of teaching coming up at GSM. I did some studying for it today.
  • I heard an incredible bass and vibe solo on NPR tonight. However, the drummer was horrible. I had to change the station.
  • Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!
  • We found a dehydrated frog in the library this week.
  • I wish I was taking another road trip this weekend.
  • Grades are due very soon and I got nothing done tonight. Not good.
  • How much am I letting the Holy Spirit guide my conversations?
  • Are my priorities lined up in a way that pleases God?
  • If I could tell my students one thing about prayer, what would it be?
  • Surely my readers (all four of them) have some great thoughts on this. But will they comment?
  • People who don't return e-mails or messages drive me nuts. I'm guilty.
  • Ha remember that one time I sent myself a facebook message instead of the other person. I'm an idiot.
  • Who puts salt in a caramel hot chocolate?
  • I have "grading papers hair" right now.
  • Spent too much money on books this week!
  • TOMORROW IS FRIDAY!!!!!

Twins?

This is my niece Heather. Several have called her a miniature version of me. We get called by each other's names all the time. A few even call us twins. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Scatterbrained

A look into my randomness tonight.
  • Great journey class tonight. I still laugh at the fact Jason started college as a Music Ed major.
  • Tyler Perry makes me laugh!
  • I miss workout parties with Brooke.
  • I wish I lived closer to my camp friends.
  • Our students are asking some tough questions and I love it.
  • I love the Cincinnati Reds but man are we a bad team.
  • I don't understand everyone's love of the Cubs. I'll probably get shot for saying that.
  • College football is better than professional. I know at least one person that won't like that statement.
  • I wonder how many days of school. That tells me how many days before summer.
  • Summer = camp
  • Have I mentioned how much I miss camp?
  • I've been thinking a lot about my GSM message in a couple weeks. It is a great topic...TRUST!
  • God has been teaching me so many things in the past several months. It is a bit overwhelming.
  • There are some interesting possibilities on the horizon. I'm looking forward to see what God does with those.
  • I'm in the need of a good crunchy snack.
  • Where did today go? How did it get late so fast?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Curveball

This was week two of Chaos Theory. (More on that later) Sunday night Ted lead our high school students through part of his story and what it means to live out our responsibility when chaos breaks out. He challenged us to ask God what it is we need to be responsible with in our lives. Where is God asking us to live out out responsibility? Then he gave us some space without distraction to listen and talk to God.

I went into that time fully expecting to get a certain answer. As Ted shared, I was pretty sure I knew what God was getting at. So I found my space and prayed, "God I'm pretty sure I know what you are trying to tell me but I'm going to just sit and listen. What is the one area where you are specifically asking me to live out this responsibility?" Then I listened...

WOAH! Was I ever wrong? God threw me a curve ball that I was not expecting. I liked his answer far better than mine but it sure is a lot harder. All week I've been praying for wisdom and guidance because I'm not quite sure I know how to hit this curve ball. I'm laying in bed listening to the rain fall outside my window and I'm dreaming about where God may be going with this.

It is exciting. It is nerve-wracking. I'm humbled. I feel a little inadequate...okay a lot inadequate. I'm praying God will use me and speak through me. We'll see what happens!

Road Trip Recap!!!!

How do I fit all of the excitement from this trip into one post? It was a fantastic trip and I had an incredible time.

Friday I went to Great Lakes Christian College to spend some time with some of my favorite people friends. James, Jon and I sat in the cafeteria and talked and laughed for hours. They are hilarious. You are guaranteed to do some of your hardest laughing when they are around. How I managed to not get a picture of this fun, I don't know.

Then we watched Kari dominate the volleyball court. I had dinner with Wally, Steph, Hannah and a friend from their church before it was back to the school for more volleyball and catching up with Kari.


After the tournament on Saturday, I drove to Vestaburg for the Mother-Daughter Banquet at my home church. Why I didn't get a picture of the whole family together, again, I don't know.


We had a great time but the real fun started after we got back to the house. DANCE PARTY!!! The boys were still at the movies so my nieces and I had a big dance party and we loved every minute of it.


Monday, October 06, 2008

An Alexander Day

Today was one of those days. You know...an Alexander day...a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Even though I'm not real happy with the progress my classes are making (we are behind!), this year is leaps and bonds better than the last two years. Today, however, felt like many of the days I had in my first two years of teaching. I left school so discouraged and upset with myself. These days are very discouraging. I'm extremely grateful this is the first one I've had all year. I just don't know how to push my students past this rut.

Most of the time when I get down, I find friends to hang out with. Today, since I've not been feeling well I just wanted to go home to a quiet apartment and relax. My apartment has been far from quiet all evening. It is still loud. So I pulled out plan B, drive and pray.

I love to drive and pray. Tonight I drove through the neighborhoods my students live in and prayed for them. I know I'm not going to be the one that helps these students. Ultimately, they need Jesus. He is the greatest thing I can share with them. So that is what I prayed for.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

update from the phone

The internet is out at my parents so I wasn't able to post pictures and posting from my phone is annoying. So far this has been an exciting trip. I've been hanging out with my family this evening and loving it. Full update on Monday!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Amazing Kari

This weekend is off to a great start. I'll write more about all of that later. Tonight I want to share about my good friend, Kari. I wrote about this a little bit in a previous post but I wanted to add a few reasons why I'm proud of Kari.
  • She has a full load of classes, has a job and plays on the volleyball team. All of these things she does well and to the best of her ability.
  • She is a good friend. I sat and watched her interact with the girls in her dorm and smiled. She was quick to clarify misunderstandings, share a good story, make someone laugh or simply share a quick hug.
  • She is living out her relationship with Christ with boldness. She isn't ashamed of what she believes and continues to stay faithful even if other friends aren't.
I'm telling you Kari is AMAZING!!!! You should meet her if you haven't.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Day 30 of 30

Last day of the 30 day challenge and I accomplished a lot of reading. I met with my friend who recommended the book Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? this afternoon. She is a psychologist and gave me a brief refresher course of adolescent growth and development. She gave me so great advice to hopefully take care of some issues I'm having in a few of my classes. The book is about interpersonal relationships in general, not just in students. There is a lot of helpful information for everyone, so I'll probably blog about it once I'm through the whole thing.

I can't say this month's challenge went as well as I would have liked. My fear was that reading each day would be more of a task that relaxing. In some ways that happened. It became something else on the to do list. However, I did make it through The Shack, which I probably wouldn't have even started if it weren't for the challenge. It was a good challenge, but I'm not going to lie. I'm glad it is over.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Logan's Party

Tonight we got part of the old college gang back together for dinner at Logan's. It use to be one of the places we would hang out while we were in school. I can't tell you how much fun it was. We shared the latest news in our lives. We caught each other up on old friends. We retold a few old stories. We argued about politics. We laughed a ton! It was perfect. And of course we took a picture to add to our collections.

To Twitter Or Not To Twitter

I joined Twitter a while ago and decided it was the dumbest thing ever and closed my account. After talking with a couple friends earlier this month I started another account.

There was recently an article in New York Times Magazine about Twitter.
Rob shared his thoughts about Twitter.
Kem shared some thoughts as well.

I'm still not convinced I like it. It seems a bit redundant. Most of the people I'm close to and want to stay in contact with have Facebook. What do you think? Do you Twitter? Why? Why not?

Day 28 of 30

Didn't happen. I was going to take a quick nap that turned into a long one. I loved every minute and don't regret it. Still not doing so hot on this challenge thing though. Tonight...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Day 27 of 30

I should be reading right now but I'm not. Instead I'm catching up with the Simply Youth Ministry Podcast. I've fallen horribly behind. I'm really doing a great job tackling this 30 day challenge. Geesh!

The weekend is rolling...

This weekend is off to a great start. Here are a few pictures to help share the fun. I wish I would have taken pictures while we were at Hacienda because Debbie was being hilarious!!! After dinner we went back to the Mann house and chilled. It was so much fun!
Time to be crafty. We all made jokes about it but it really was fun.

A little Wii fun! Chloe is a fast pace tennis player!

Jen and Elizabeth knew all the words and most of the dance moves to this High School Musical sing-along game. It was hilarious!!!!

This morning I went to watch Chloe cheer for the Colts rocket football team. Last night she told Allison and I all about middle school and her friends. I'm proud of Chloe. She is doing her absolute best to start middle school out on the right foot. She is trying new things, trying to be a good friend and stay focused on God. We had a great discussion about joining a GSM group. She is so much fun!

I love this girl!!!