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!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
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?
- 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
- 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.
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
- "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
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
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.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
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.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
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.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
- 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
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
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.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
Sunday, December 07, 2008
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.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
- 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.
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
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
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
Friday, November 28, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
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
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!!!
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
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
- 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
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
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.
Monday, November 10, 2008
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!
Extroverted Sensing Thinking Judging
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
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
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
- 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!
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
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.
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
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
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!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
- came home
- changed clothes
- cleaned up the apartment
- made a real dinner
- sorted through e-mails and facebook messages
- read blogs
- made some phone calls
- read or watched TV/movie
- go to bed
- warmed up leftovers
- read a few blogs and facebook messages
- watched tv (three cheers for The Office!)
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
- I can't eat wheat, which includes donuts and communion bread.
- Before I take communion I always pray that the wheat won't cause me a ton of pain for then next 2-3 weeks.
- 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.
- 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)
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
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
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.
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
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
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
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...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!!!!
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.
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
I couldn't handle the thought of a free weekend so I made plans. Top secret plans...to take over the world!!!!
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
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?
Seriously a great series. God did awesome things!
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
- 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.
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
- 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
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!
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!!!!
Saturday, October 11, 2008
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
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
- 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!!!!!
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
- 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
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!
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
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
Saturday, October 04, 2008
- 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.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
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
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?
Saturday, September 27, 2008
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!