About Impact

Friday, February 29, 2008

To Girlz Only Ladies...

Let's hear it for the Girlz Only clan!!!!

You girls are so awesome. I can't even begin to explain how much fun I had tonight hanging out with you guys. I'll try to post the pictures tomorrow. Heather is going to put together another awesome video for us. Isn't she awesome?!

I encourage you to pick one of the disciplines we talked about tonight (journaling/prayer, memorizing/studying, worshipping and serving) and set a goal or two to help take your next step towards Christ. I'm going to try and start posting some more tips and thoughts to help you with this new idea of growing some of these disciplines. Remember this isn't a matter of checking something of your to do list. This is about building your relationship with Christ.

God has huge things in store for each of you and I'm pumped about our next event. Bring your friends and creative minds. You'll need them!

Follow hard ladies!

Week's End - Weekend Goals

- Returned from a great weekend with my parents to jump into a band rehearsal for Lifeline
- 3 1/2 days off work that was spent in bed with a few tears and one REALLY painful earache
- Great time at Oasis speaking to our students about making wise choices
- Fun times at Hacienda with some hilarious friends
- One of my favorite parts of the week was back this week: Friday Chats with Kristin
- AMAZING Girlz Only night! God showed up and our girls responded.

- Attend Core Class 401
- Contact our Chicag08 team
- Nail down big picture ideas for next month's Oasis messages
- Grade papers and adjust lesson plans

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Leaving Middle School With Regret

Oasis was a blast last night. I missed meeting with my girls but I heard they had a great conversation with Nea. I always enjoy playing with the band. Our students were singing out strong last night. I love it when you can hear their voices over your in-ears. Last night there were some new Oasis adventures for me.

I had the opportunity to speak to our students about choices and regret. This series called How to...Ruin Your Life. I shared a little bit about my middle school years and some traps I found myself dealing when it came to making choices. Here is a little closer look.

Message: How to Leave Middle School with Regret
Series: How to...ruin your life.

Every choice we make has consequences that stay with us. These choices create a chain reaction.

Rob Wegner's domino video explains this better than anything else (and our students love it.)

There are some middle school traps where our choices could get us in trouble. These traps could ruin our lives:
+ Don't accept responsibility for your choices.
- Decide in advance the right thing to do.
- When you make the wrong choice, decide in advance to live through the consequences and learn.

+ Let people pull you into their traps.
- You have to live with the consequences of other people's poor choices.
- Our choices affect those around us.
- Mouse Trap game - you may lose the game because someone else chose to put you in the trap
- Who are you surrounding yourself with? Are they people who may pull you into some rough traps?

+ Look out for the wrong #1.
- We face an outward vs inward struggle in ourselves and in our relationships.
- Who is in your #1 spot? A guy? A girl? Yourself? God?

Making the right choice gets easier when we set place God as our #1. We decide in advance to point our feet in his direction and walk his path. (Proverbs 4:25-27)

No sleep...again

This is crazy! I can't sleep again. My ear started hurting really bad again about an hour ago. I hope the specialist will be able to see me soon so I can start doing things. I'm going crazy!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Random Rush

You would think that since I've been home with this horrible earache for three days I would have blogged. Well you thought wrong. I don't have much time before I need to head to the church but I wanted to update those of you who follow my ear drama on this blog.

Last night my ear took a turn for the worse, which means I didn't sleep much at all. I felt like someone was shoving a knife in my ear. I stayed home today because I was just getting to the point I could sleep when it was time to get up and go to school. I've been sleeping most of the day and feel much better. There is still pain but it is tolerable. Praise God! My specialist just called with the names of some ENTs locally that should be able to give me some better answers.

Now I'm off to the church to hang out with some awesome middle school students. It should be a busy night.
- I'll be rocking it out with the band. Praise God for in-ears that make things nice and quiet.
- I'll be sharing tonight about how to leave middle school with regret. Praise God for using our weaknesses to show his strength.
- I'll be checking in with my Eagle's Nest girls to see how their week is going. Praise God for awesome middle school girls who are trying to find out what the next step is so they can take it.
I love middle school ministry!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hangin in the 'Burg, Part II

Here are some pictures from the trip home this weekend.

My nephew was so excited to shoot marshmallow guns that I could hear him screaming the entire way up the stairs as he came to wake me up Saturday morning. They had already made a huge target to hang on the back door in the kitchen. We had a big tournament and I got destroyed. I need to practice before go back again.

Pain in my ear...

For the last two weeks my right ear has been hurting horribly. This weekend it got much worse. Usually I would go at the first signs of pain because of all my previous problems. However, I got sick of the doctor telling me it looked fine and having nothing to fix the problem.

Today I finally decided to give in and go see my family doctor. I'm glad I did. It appears there may be a problem with the tube in my right ear. The doctor wasn't able to get a good look because of the tube's angle. Therefore she couldn't be certain whether there was an infection or not. She hooked me up with some ear drops that are safe for my tube and may take care of the problem. If I don't notice a change this week I'll have to go back to the specialist who has the proper tools to get a better look.

We'll see what happens this week.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hangin in the 'Burg

I am back in Vestaburg visiting my parents this weekend. I haven't even been here for a whole day and it is already proving to be an interesting trip. I got started 45 minutes later than normal because I got horrible direction to a library I needed to go too. On the drive home my nephew called to see if I was there yet. He wanted to see if I brought my marshmallow gun because he was coming to spend the night and was bringing his.

I met my Dad in Edmore for a Burger King date. It was fun to vent about school and laugh with him all at the same time. We stopped at the grocery stop to pick up what we needed to make wheat-free pizza tomorrow. This is a tradition when I come home! The first thing I did after I changed out of my "teacher clothes" was vacuum. My parents laughed at me but I felt better afterwards.

Shortly after that we got a call from my brother saying that Logan and taken a nose dive of the front porch and they were taking him to the hospital. Matthew dropped Logan and Nicole off at the hospital and met dad half way to get the girls. Fortunately, the doctor said Logan was fine and didn't show any major signs of a concussion. I know he will be fine because he spent the rest of the night copying everything I said and did. And as always...

Kids Say the Darndest Things:
Logan: I have three sisters.
Sarah: Yes you do.
Logan: I want another boy.
Sarah: I know you do.
Logan: You need to buy me one! Go to the store.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Shout Out...

Here is a shout out to one of our awesome Oasis students who took second place in the SBCSC Spelling Bee today.


(Another hidden talent of Aly is making Chris look silly!)

Monday, February 18, 2008

President's Day

It is interesting how the way we celebrate holidays changes over the years. Especially holidays like President's Day or Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

When I was in elementary school: On our walk to school we didn't stop by the post office to get the mail. At school we spent the day learning about these famous individuals and making silly crafts with their silhouettes. I probably color hundreds of pictures of dead presidents in grade school.

When I was in junior high and high school: We took a break from whatever we were doing in our social studies and history classes to talk about the significance of these men and the impact they made on our society. But in my dad's math class it was still grade yesterday's assignment, possible quiz, lecture and a new assignment.

When I was in college: Oh it's President's Day today? That explains why there is no mail.

Now that I'm teaching: Hooray for President's Day! I am sleeping in. We should celebrate this every Monday.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mouse Trap

I've spent most of today working on some upcoming Oasis and Girlz Only events, which means my mind has been going full speed all day. (This is explains the multiple posts in one day!) While thinking about cause and effect, I thought about a game my siblings and I loved to play growing up...MOUSETRAP!

I was always so scared the trap would fall on me before I made it to the cheese. While I was looking for a picture of the game online I discovered different groups of people have created a life-sized mousetrap board. Does that scare anyone else as much as it scares me?

Learning from Teaching...

I think every teacher would agree you learn just as much as you teach...if not more. This year I've learned a lot about myself and leading a team. I didn't realize this until a few weeks ago when I started to list the things I've learned. Like always, it has taken me a little while to articulate it. But here is a start.

1. I use the phrase "I don't mess around" too much.
2. Mercy is still towards the bottom of my spiritual gifts list.
3. I don't handle disrespect or bad choices very well.
4. I can only function in environments where I feel like my gifts are being used in effective ways. I shut off in other environments.
5. I am better at seeing a vision than I once thought, but my strength is still developing the steps to get to that vision.
6. I hate talking about change. I would rather make the change happen.

Coming late...

A few months ago I was complaining to my mom, a school librarian, about students being late for my class. The day before our conversation she had just posted this quote in her library. What do you think?

"Coming late, as always, I try to remember what I almost heard."
The Poem, William Stanley Merwin

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Top Ten, #6

Jason hit another homerun tonight. Commandment number 6: Do not murder! Three simple words…a ton of depth. Here is the short version of what I walked away with tonight.

- Am I too busy or too distracted?
- Do I have an underlying hum of anger? Is the anger and issue of selfishness?
- The Way of The Heart is going to be added to my Henry Nouwen collection
- The way I deal with my anger will define me.
- God created the ability to be angry. Satan can only take it, manipulate it and pervert it. Hiding behind every sin is something pure that has been perverted.
- We need to move from the wrong kind of anger (selfish) to the right kind of anger (Godly).
- Mark 3:5 – RESTORED – God can restore the pure thing that has been perverted. We can be agents of that restoration.
- We grow and get a greater picture of life before sin. We rub against a world of sin and get riled up.
- Let your godly anger cause you to serve, to love, to restore hope, to cause God to form you.

Creating the right atmosphere

This has been a tough school year for me. I work in two very different schools. They are different from each other and different than any school I’ve worked at before. One of the biggest struggles I’ve had since I became a teacher is dealing with the atmosphere of the schools, private and public. So for the last few weeks I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what influences the mood and tone of a school.

Tuesday I was thinking about this as I was driving home from work. Then I started asking the same questions for ministries I’ve been a part of both paid and volunteer positions. I guess my passion for youth ministry was in high gear that day because some how I ended up on this question, “How do you a create a positive and effective environment for volunteers?” So I’ve been wrestling with this question and came up with a few thoughts. Take them for what they are worth I am far from an expert in this area. Feel free to share you thoughts.

1. Approachable leadership – If a volunteer has questions or needs something, they need to know that they can come to you AND feel comfortable doing it.
Encourage volunteers – I’m a huge feedback person. If I don’t get it, I assume I’m failing miserably. Volunteers need to know they are appreciated and doing well.
2. Redirect with love – Volunteers aren’t perfect just like paid staff members aren’t perfect. When you need to step in an redirect or correct something, do it in love and stay encouraging.
3. Allow volunteers to try new things – Obviously you want them to be trying ideas that are within that person’s SHAPE and are going the same direction as your ministry. Sometimes you just might discover something amazing! If they are successful, acknowledge it. If it doesn’t work out, help them learn from the process and keep encouraging them.
4. Equip your volunteers regularly – Give them a clear vision of the ministry and a clear understanding of how they fit into that vision. They need to share the same dream a vision to go the same direction as you. Give them the materials, resources and training that is needed to be effective.
5. Build a relationship – Serving in ministry is more than just the Sunday or Wednesday youth group time. You are working with human beings. Get to know the people you are walking the journey with.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Photo Memories

I mentioned in a previous post that when the winter seems like it will never end I like to look through old photos. I thought I would share a few of the ones that made me smile extra big this weekend. There are a ton but I narrowed it down for you.

Christmas 2007 - Actually it was a picture from Lois's wedding that took me to this picture. Aggie and Gwen weren't a part of our family when she got married so I decided to pull out the picture with all of us. I love my BIG family!

This picture is actually from my sister, Elizabeth, but I love it. Look at Emily's eye through that bubble.

This is the first of about four Lifespan Development classes Jeffrey, Roger and I actually attended. I don't remember what activity we were suppose to be doing but I know all we did was mess around. My friend Ted no teaches the class at Bethel. If he would have taught it then I would have actually had to go.

I just found out this week my friend Becky is moving closer! This makes me very excited. Jeffrey, Becky and I did a ton of things together while we were in college and occasionally will have dinner at Logan's. They are the greatest friends EVER!

This picture was taken after my ordination a few years ago. I really miss being in full-time vocational ministry. Ultimately my goal is go back into ministry, but for right now God has me teaching. So I will do it the best I can until he says otherwise.

Roger and I were some of the first Instrumental Music Ed majors at Bethel. We had most of our classes together. After doing some other work, he just got his first teaching job in New York. He and his wife just bought their first house. I miss them a lot.

Try to imagine this...

I know I teach some hard students and other students who have tough lives. It is evident every time I walk in my classroom. But every once in a while there are times it hits a little harder. I had an interesting conversation this morning with a student who has been getting into a lot of trouble the last few weeks. We decided the students lack of sleep was part of the problem. How would you feel if this is what you did all week?

-Get up early enough to catch the bus in from the projects
-School all day
-Go stay with your mom at her work
-Go home to do school work and help take care of your two week old cousin
-Head to bed
-Wake up at 11:30 at night to go with your dad to take mom to work
-Come home and try to go back to sleep while the baby is screaming
-Next morning get up and do it again

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Winter Blahs

I am not a fan of winter by any means. I can’t stand being cold. Obviously this is not my favorite time of year. After about two months of snow, the seasonal depression sets in and I’ve had all I can take of winter. It doesn’t take long for me to get tired and annoyed with little things. Here is a look at some of the things I’ve learned to do over the years to prevent the negative attitude from setting in for the rest of the winter.

FLOWERS: I buy flowers or a flowering plant to brighten up the apartment. Most people don’t know that I love flowers. Every spring I go see my parents so I can plant flowers. I will come during the summer just to work in the flower gardens. Right now you will a find a vase full of my favorite flowers, tulips!

PHOTOGRAPHS: Pictures always make me happy. I take the time to look through old photo albums or put new photos in albums. I haven’t done that since March of last year so this weekend I tackled several new albums.

NOTES OF ENCOURAGEMENT: I love to send notes of encouragement to people but it always seems to slip further down the list when concert season and the holidays come around. I make it a priority to pick up the cards and a pen and start writing. I always send them through the mail because no one gets real mail anymore.

ART: I have an art journal, crayons, markers, colored pencils, paint and all sorts of art supplies that I use to keep my hands busy. It is easy to plop in a chair curled up with a blanket and do nothing. Drawing or painting allows me to channel some of that penned up energy.

READ & PRAY: More important than anything else is stepping up the time I spend with Jesus. I tend to stop reading all books except for the Bible and books I’m using in small groups. There is nothing wrong with reading something else, I just know this is what I personally need to do.

What do you think? Are these things effective?
Are there other things you find more helpful?
Let me know.

That was a surprise!

I wasn’t kidding when I said God had some surprises in store. I received some news early this morning, which could result in some exciting adventures. Time will tell.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Surprises from God

God is always full of surprises. I have had a handful of conversations with friends over the past few days that have been unexpected. None of them have been bad by any means. It is one of those things where you know God has to be up to something.

I haven’t heard from a few of these individuals for quite a while. Conversations I’ve had with people I see quite a bit have turned directions I never expected. It is one of those situations where you just step back and say, “Okay God, I don’t know where all of this is coming from so you are going to have make sense of all of it!”

It makes me anxious, a good anxious. My hopes are rising but so are my fears. It makes me curious and a bit impatient. I feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve. Tomorrow morning all of the presents get to be opened but tomorrow morning seems like it will take years to get here. What will come next?

I’m praying some of these conversations will continue. I’m praying some next steps will become evident as they do continue. Until then I’ll keep leaning in and learn as much as I possibly can.

Have you never heard?

Have you never understood?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of all the earth.

He never grows weak or weary.

No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

He gives power to the weak

and strength to the powerless.

Even youths will become weak and tired,

and young men will fall in exhaustion.

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.

They will soar high on wings like eagles.

They will run and not grow weary.

They will walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

Saturday, February 09, 2008


I was finally able to attend a Chick Night last night. It was a great time as we turned the Summer Place Clubhouse into a spa. We had a smaller group than last time but it worked out wonderfully. It created a very intimate atmosphere and gave all of us the chance to really invest and build some awesome friendships. Stephanie Rorie leads our Chick Night team and she did an incredible job leading last night. I look forward to more fun Chick Nights.

That's my sister!

My sister, Anna, graduated from college this last December and quickly landed a great position for a local newspaper. She is a sports journalist for Pike Press in Illinois but also writes other articles. This week one of her articles on the election became the top story. My sister is a genius!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Only in my class...

There are all sort of interesting things that happen in my classroom. Sometimes there are funny. Sometimes weird. Sometimes just plain crazy. Today there seemed to be lots of them but I can only remember a few.

Student: Miss Koutz isn’t today Good Friday.
Miss Koutz: No. Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, which is 40 days before then.
Student: Oh. Really? I thought today was Good Friday.
Miss Koutz: Nope. Sorry.
Student: Hmm. Okay because I was going to say Jesus died today but I guess not.

I asked one of my 6th grade students from last semester to help with me demonstrate during our recruiting assembly this afternoon. We started with a piece our class wrote for buckets. The plan was I would start and she would join me after a few bars. I introduce the piece and she starts clicking off. I join keeping the same beat but she discovered it was too fast. She stops, shakes her head and says, “No. No. You are playing way too fast. We gotta slow down. That is crazy.”

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Live From Uganda

(This picture was from a coffeehouse we had at one of the weeks of camp we did this summer. It was the only one I had on my computer.)

Tonight I had the privilege to hang out with my buddy Beret Ryggs who is about to head to Uganda to do some missions work. He will be there for six months preaching in churches, helping with church plants, and training local church leaders. It has been amazing to see how God has brought all the pieces together for him. Beret's heart for God and God's people is incredible. I don't think I've ever met anyone his age as passionate and focused on their calling as he is. I'm excited to see what God has in store for him over the next six months.

Feel free to stop by his blog to learn more about the work he is doing. He will be updating it as often as he can while in Uganda so be sure to check back in every now and then.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Top Ten with DC

Top Ten Things That Happen While Meeting With DC
(in no particular order)

1. Scary sounds from Jeff’s office
2. Inside look at DC’s blog writing technique
3. Free office decorating tips
4. Frequent visits from Jeffrey which include him falling to the ground crying
5. Barking and death stares from DC
6. Hearing the phrase “This is off track. See what you keep doing” numerous times
7. Brief photo shoots by both Jeffrey and DC
8. Attempts to redefine the term “professional”
9. Reminders we are too old for MERGE
10. Dead silence followed by “What were we talking about?”

Friday, February 01, 2008

Emotional Rollercoaster

This has been one long week of an emotional rollercoaster. My brain hurts from everything that has happened, good and bad.

Sunday: Earlier morning than normal but a great small group time at Lifeline and the opportunity to play with the band. I had no idea how much I missed playing until this week.
Monday: Looong after school meeting but I got my hair cut
Tuesday: Horrible school day but a free evening to catch up on paper work and chat with my friend Allison
Wednesday: SNOW DAY!!!! It was freezing all day but Oasis wasn’t canceled. I had my largest group of the year this week and was able to play with the band.
Thursday: Had to go to school and deal with disrespectful students but Thursday means Hacienda and New Community. We are on commandment #4 – Keep the Sabbath. One word to describe the service – Convicting! My life is out of control.
Friday: We were the only school in the entire Michiana area that was open! Driving was horrible but I’m home now and plan on spending the evening being a bum.

I thought I was beginning to understand why God has me in the South Bend schools but I’m not so sure that is the case. We'll see where the journey takes us from here. God knows what he is doing.

I’m so glad the weekend is here!