About Impact

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Quick Vacation Update

I'll blog in more detail tomorrow but we had a great day today. with my brother and homie ryan. We went to church at the church where Anna and Ryan attend. We had lunch at Anna's, watched movies and played games. We did more swimming and ate more food. Early morning tomorrow to head home. I love my family.

NOTE: The italicized section is Ryan's doing.

Message from Logan

Today's Guest Blogger...LOGAN KOUTZ


I'm on vacation with Aunt Sarah, Aunt Lois and Aunt Anna and I'm having a great time. I went swimming everyday!!! I love Sarah.

From Logan

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Who does that?

We ordered pizza tonight for dinner. Fortunately there was a Burger King right next to Pizza Hut. I ordered my burger without a bun like normal, but the woman working couldn't figure out how to put that into the program. She walked to the back to let them know not to put the burger on a bun. I heard her tell the guy in the back and his reaction was hilarious. Over the next ten minutes he yelled over and over again, "No bun! Who does that? What am I suppose to do? No bun! She ordered it with no bun" and so on and so on. I had to teach him how to serve the patty. After he made it, he brought it to me and asked, "Does this look like something you would eat?" Then he couldn't close the box. Dad told him to just put it in the bag and then put the fries on top to keep it closed. He forgot all about the fries. It was hilarious. Horrible costumer service but really funny.


Matthew wanted me to include this quote from our trip to Wal-Mart. He was searching through his wallet while waiting for his change.
Dad: I can't find what I did with my AARP card. I just had it the other day but I don't know where I put it.
Sarah: Call and ask for a new one because you can't find yours. They are probably use to that.

Day in Hannibal

This morning my aunt and uncle stopped in the hotel on their way to St. Louis. It was so good to see them, even if it was just for a few hours. We had fun cheering on Anna as she played in the alumni volleyball game at HLG. My favorite place to eat in Hannibal is SONIC!!!!! We had lunch there and went downtown to do a little sight-seeing.

Our adventures downtown didn't last long because it was hot and the kids were getting tired. We walked along the Mississippi River, visited the train store, and walked by the historical houses. Then it was back to the hotel for some swim time. Mom took this pictures with her camera. Hopefully tonight I'll have a chance to post some of the pictures from my new camera!!!!

Two Mocha Days...

In college my friend, Jason, and I would measure our busy days by the number of mochas we had consumed in order to have the energy to get everything done. The last two days have been two mocha days.

Thursday I ended up working late and then grabbing dinner with Brooke. That is guaranteed fun! Afterward I did laundry, packed and started cleaning my apartment before I met Eric and Mary for coffee. I love hanging out with them. They are so encouraging.

Today was an insane day at school. We had a surprise fire drill in the middle of lunch. That is probably one of the worst times to have one. I was proud of my students though. They handled it very well. After school, my parents met me at my apartment and we started our road trip to Missouri. It was one of the best drives out here, except for the entire time we were near Chicago! I did the smart thing and let Dad drive that stretch. We listened to tons of good music, mostly Rich Mullins this time around, and had great conversation.

We have a full schedule planned for today. We are meeting my Aunt Poppy and Uncle Tarry (Dad’s twin) this morning. Anna has an alumni volleyball at Hannibal-LaGrange around noon. We’ll grab lunch after that and then hit up the pool at the hotel and some parks around Hannibal. Our family likes parks, especially me! I’ll be testing out the new camera today.


Random Quotes

Miss Koutz: I know. Miss Koutz is a mean teacher. You’ll have to deal with it.
Student: Your not mean, Miss Koutz.
Miss Koutz: Awe, well thanks John.
Student: You’re just misunderstood.

I drove most of the trip. Dad sits in the passenger seat throwing in his two cents every now and then. Mom navigates from the back, telling us when every car in front of us breaks, reminding us we are getting too close to the lane’s edge and other similar things that nervous riders say.
Sarah: Mom, it is okay. We’ve got some great tunes. You’re good. Dad’s good. I’m good. We’re all good.
Dad: (to Sarah) May be she could ride back with Matthew.
Sarah: No, who is going to tell us where to go.
Mom: Oh, I’ll tell you where to go!!!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Past my blogging time

Good day today but it is too late to blog. I'll share the stories tomorrow...or Saturday.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Good Start

It is 8:15 AM and I'm camped out on the couch in the music department office. I've got my laptop, coffee, to do list and Bible.

Today is the day, my friends. Today is the day!

Jesus said, "You're tied down to the mundane; I'm in touch with what is beyond your horizons. You live in terms of what you see and touch. I'm living on other terms. I told you that you were missing God in all of this. You're at a dead end. If you won't believe I am who I say I am, you're at the dead end of sins. You're missing God in your lives." John 8:23-24

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Highs and Lows

- waking up earlier than I needed to - how did that happen
+ instrument contract processing is up to date - until more come tomorrow
- saw the results of a horrible accident on main street
+ text message from a friend just wanting to know if I was doing alright - favorite kind of text
+ telephone conversation with a friend catching up on life and chatting about goals - accountability and encouragement is good
+ dinner with a friend at Hacienda - the difference between teaching in a law school and middle school is very different
+ phone conversation with my sister that lasted over an hour
- not getting quizzes graded
+ hearing my sister use the word poppycock in a sentence...more than once
- losing another game of semantics with my sister - dang it!
-/+ Two more days until family road trip and I get my new camera - I'm impatient



Quote of the Day:
Anna: Thanks for listening to me rant and rave and be arrogant
Sarah: Not a problem. I'm use to it. I grew up with you!
Anna: Hey at least I admit I'm arrogant.
Sarah: You're right you never would have admitted it when you were younger.



Yesterday's highs and lows.
+ random telephone call from my brother
+ my brother and his family are going west with us
- not finding the book I wanted at B & N
-/+ rescheduled coffee with friends from out of town - now we'll have more time to hang out

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fun School Moments

This conversation happened in the office around 4:15 on a Friday afternoon. Karla is our principal.
Sarah: Karla, when I came down to talk to you this morning. I had another question to ask you but you were busy.
Karla: Well what is it?
Sarah: I just wondered if you ever felt the urge to do somersaults down the back hallway by your office?
Karla: Ha! No. Do you?
Sarah: Yea...I almost did it this morning.

In the office early this morning. Jana is our secretary.
Sarah: Do you guys ever just want to plop down on the middle of this floor and take a nap?
Jana: What?!
Sarah: Do you ever just want to take a nap in the middle of the floor?
Jana: SARAH KOUTZ! Why...What...I...What...You...
Sarah: Oh come on! Weren't you here when I asked Karla about the somersaults.
Jana: Yes I was and you would do it. If anyone would, it would be you! Someday when there aren't any students in this building, I'm going to call you up on that.
Sarah: I'll do it! I'll take that nap too...

Right before class started this morning.
Student #1: Miss Koutz, you know what helps me remember my locker combination each morning?
Miss Koutz: No. What? Please tell me.
Student #1: I know if I don't remember it you'll yell at me.

After joking around with a group of 8th graders who thought I dismissed them early from class and tried to leave
Miss Koutz: Kids these days! What are you suppose to do with them.
Student #2: I don't no, Miss Koutz. That's why I'm not having any. I don't know how you do it.

An after school conversation with some of my 8th grade trumpet players who want me to stay after school with them everyday so they can practice and not have to take their instruments home.
Miss Koutz: I can't stay after school every night. I have meetings. I give private lessons.
Student #3: Oh sweet. Can I get some private lessons.
Miss Koutz: Sure you could hire me and I would teach you.
Student #3: How much?
Miss Koutz: I usually charge $18 for a 30 minute lesson.
Student #3: (Completely serious) Awe no way man. I was thinking like $5 for an hour.
Another Teacher: HA! I wouldn't teach anything for that price.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fairly Productive Day...

Today was a fairly productive day.
  • School - I pushed my older student today and they did well. High energy is the key. I was able to square some things away with our local music store to get some equipment we needed. I made a billion phone calls and am almost caught up with all the parent's questions. Overall...good day.
  • Accountability - The last few years I've been blessed to have this amazing women of God helping me keep myself on track. Today I had the chance to meet with her and we were able to schedule a regular time to meet each month. She not only helps hold me accountable but has taught me so much about looking at situations from different angles.
  • Personal goals - One huge goal for the next six months is to take care of myself and stay healthy. I never work out. I have no good excuse, I just don't do it. So my friend, Brooke, is going to help me make it a priority. We will be working out together once a week. I'm nervous already.
  • Camera - I may have done something very stupid and emptied my saving account to buy a new digital camera to replace my wonderful film camera that died. I'm wishing now I hadn't but I did.
  • Friends - I made some tentative plans to hang out with my good friends Eric and Mary tomorrow night. I love it when they come to town to see Eric's family because it means I might get to see them. I love them!!!!
  • Special Friends - I had to run errands at the church while our special friends leaders were meeting. I had no clue that was scheduled but I was able to share some information with them that they needed for that meeting. It was a God thing.
  • Family - My sister Lois called me today after her doctor's appointment. She's having a girl!!!!!!! Hopefully, she'll be having the baby over Christmas break, while I'm there visiting.
I like fairly productive days. However, if I would have had the chance to make scones tonight and actually done more paperwork, I would have called this a highly productive day.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Just Because...

Just because I think Becky and Jeffrey are amazing I decided to post these pictures. It has been several months since the three of us have been able to hang out, but you would never know it. We can laugh and joke just as easily. They push me towards Christ and encourage me along the way. I am so thankful for these incredible friends.

2004

2008

Cheer up

This weekend was surprisingly a rough one for various reasons. Depressing posts are fun to write, nor are they fun to read. So to keep that from happening I decided to post some great quotes from the last few weeks.


Last Friday night I went to dinner with J, Angie, Bonnie and Kevin. Afterwards we went over to the Mann Mansion to hang out.
J: Do you know how to get there Sarah?
Sarah: Yea I'm good.
J: Good cause I would hate for you to get lost with all that wheat out there in the world.

Later while watching the Olympics together J randomly pinched Angie.
Sarah: (hitting J) Don't hurt my friend.
J: (hitting me) Don't hit me.
Angie: (hitting J) Don't hit her. She can't eat wheat. She is already missing out on so many good things in life.


This is actually from a facebook discussion getting the band ready for our GSM fall kickoff. Jeff had sent us a message asking if we were able to play that week. Riley is our amazing drummer.
Riley: Cool with me. Jeff are you playing bass? Or drums? (not even two seconds later) That was a dumb question...


Friday night my camera broke, which really upsets me. To make it even worse, I'm suppose to be taking pictures for my sisters this weekend. I absolutely love that camera. It takes some incredible pictures. I called my mom almost in tears (laugh if you want) to tell her what happened.
Sarah: Mom, my camera broke last night and I don't think I can fix it.
Mom: Oh dear, Sarah lost her right hand.

Jeff's reaction to the camera breaking.
Jeff: This is God's way of telling you to switch to digital already.

DC's reaction to the camera breaking. I'm telling you, I really upset about this.
Sarah: DC, I'm so sad. My camera broke this weekend.
DC: Oh no.
Sarah: Jeff said it was God's way of telling me to switch to digital.
DC: I was thinking it but I didn't want to say anything.
Sarah: Whatever happened to the mourn with those who mourn bit.


Random Quotes:
Brooke: I saw him and did the mature thing. I turned and looked the other way.

Jeff: You got tuba-d!

Dominic: (to me) Ernie! Ernie! There's an elephant in my sock drawer

Dance Party!!!

I love serving in the special friends room. Dominic has grown in so many ways over the last year. He makes up all sorts of games and things to play when we hang out on Sunday mornings.
  • Today we played one of his favorites, slap-go. It is a Dominic original. I give him a five and he takes a step until we've reached the other end of the room. He loves it.
  • We danced a lot today. Sometimes it was to the music on the CD player and sometimes it was to whatever song he started singing. Today's shocking musical selection was Stars and Stripes. We branched out in our dance styles today to include interruptive dancing.
  • We played Sesame Street. He was Bert and I was Ernie. We found an elephant in the sock drawer, a monkey in the bed and an alligator under the bed.
  • We made our own marching band. Of course Dominic was the drummer. He has some serious talent.
  • And of course no Sunday would be complete with out the tickles game. Of course Brad won this game again.
I wish everyone I know could meet Dominic. The kid is just that cool!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Peculiar Day

Peculiar is the only way I can think of to describe today and it started early this morning. I woke up three times last night; each time with someone different on my heart. I learned a long time ago the best thing do to when that happens is pray until I get that sense of peace that you know only comes from God. But today I can't seem to get them off my mind, so I just keep praying for them.

When I finally woke up for good I knew God was up to something. There was this uneasy feeling in my spirit. I set aside the day to spend with God and wrestled to put words and thoughts with this tug I keep feeling. Still not having anyway to articulate this strange thing, I headed out to church.

Rob did an incredible job tonight and I will probably do a post about it tomorrow. It was an incredible time of worship. I love my church! I entered service praying God would help me wrap my mind around whatever it is he is doing in my heart. The end of service came and I just felt God saying, "Sarah, it isn't time for you to know yet. Be patient. Keep following me."

I don't always like the wait answer. It is just like God to start stirring in my heart until the time is right. He knows me so well. He knows I need lots of time to prepare for big things. He knows I don't like surprises very well. I think he might have forgotten that I don't like uncertainty and how anxious it makes me. Whatever God is about to do is great. It always is!

Father, teach me to rest in your love and peace, to lean in and trust your leading. Teach me to be patient and wait for you. Your timing is perfect. Your ways are perfect.

How Committed Am I?

My friend Corey blogged about a commitment he made and gave the challenge to his readers to do the same. I loved the idea and decided I would give it a shot. I didn't read a single thing but the Bible this summer. My reading list has remained untouched for months. I don't have any good excuses. Enough is enough. I'm not making excuses any more. Here is the commitment I'm making.
I, Sarah Koutz, will read one chapter of a book (other than the Bible or a commentary) every day beginning September 1, 2008 for 30 days. Every day I keep my commitment I will blog my reactions to what I read. Every day I break my commitment I will blog about about why I didn't and how that is a lame excuse. At the end of 30 days, I will reward myself by buying a new book to add to the reading list. My consequences for not keeping this commitment are to downsize my book collection.
Sarah Koutz - August 23, 2008

Feel free to join the challenge.
I ____________ will ___________________________ beginning _______ (date) for 30 days. Every day I keep my commitment ____________________________________________. Every day I break my commitment I will ___________________________________________. At the end of 30 days, I will reward myself with ________________ for _____________________. My consequences for not keeping this commitment are ______________.
________________________________ Name
__________Date

Friday, August 22, 2008

Starbucks and Macri's

I was at school forever today and then I had to go to our downtown office and take care of some things. I was so excited when I finally made it back to my apartment. I had a little bit of time to eat and read before hanging out with friends for the evening.

Seth and Jeffrey played at Starbucks tonight. I love being able to hang out with friends while listening to other friends make some fantastic music. The great thing about tonight was seeing old friends and new friends at the same time. I'll have pictures soon. Thank you Allison for coming to the rescue!

Afterwards a group of us went to Villa Macri's. It took me a little while to figure out that it was indeed the same Macri's that was behind Applebee's just a different atmosphere. There was lots of laughing over dinner. I made the mistake of sitting in between Seth and Jeff. Those two are hilarious and occasionally out of control.

In other news...
  • I think my camera is dying. I wanted to cry tonight when it wouldn't work. We were getting ready to take a picture of Jeffrey, Becky and me. The three of us did tons of things together in college and are very rarely at the same place at the same time. Jeff said it is happening so I'll finally go digital. Hmm...still sad.
  • I accidentally published the last post before it was done. I had planned on adding numbers 4 and 5 after I got home tonight. So those of you who read it earlier in the evening, I've edited it and added the last two.
  • Tomorrow is Saturday and I'm sleeping in!!!!! You have no idea how excited I am about that one. I don't think I'm suppose to be anywhere. If I am I didn't write it down and you'll have to call me and wake me up!

Reflections from the Classroom

I can't believe we are already done with week two of the school year. This first part of this week was really slow but the second half flew by. Today was a very productive day. I submitted the band budget, most of the 6th - 8th grade contracts, made the first instrument rental deposit and restrung on three horns. Here's a look a closer look at the rest of the week.

1. Too much paper work. - A big part of being a band director is administration, as you can see from the list of what I did today. This weekend I'll be playing catch up on handbook forms, locker assignments and instrument placement forms.

2. Say you care. - I had to have several one-on-one conversations with students today. In one of the conversations the entire tone of the student changed when I said, "I'm telling you this because I care about you." I always try to make it clear that the reason I hold them after class to talk is because I think they have value and can do great things. Some of these students don't hear it any where else.

3. I still hate mornings. - There is one think I'm positive I will never get use to in teaching...mornings. I don't like getting up early. If I was running the schools, classes would never start before 10 am. And some days that is pushing it!

4. What is the best thing? - I posted about this yesterday. No matter what happens in my classroom or outside the school walls, while I'm teaching I have to do what the best thing is for my students. That might mean taking plan time to pray and refocus. It might mean throwing out my lesson plans and listening to my students. Whatever the best thing for my students is at that moment is what I need to do.

5. You never know. - I have had teachers that forget there is life outside of their classroom. Students spend a lot of time in the classroom but most of their week isn't. They go home to situations you or I may never understand. I have to remember that I'm simply intersecting their life for the time they are in my room. It may be the safest place they have or it might be just another place to go. I don't know their stories on day one. I have to lean in and listen as they slowly open up. I have to be prepared because what I think it might be like, may not even be close.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

End of a long day

After a rough start this morning, today ended up being a descent day. Mostly because of what I like to call "good friend time." Yes that means spending a couple hours hanging out with Allison. She brought up some excellent advice and always asks great questions. Her perspective of situations is so different than mine and I love it! Her insight is always helpful. I'm so thankful for her and her friendship. God is doing great things in her life and through her as she serves. I can't wait to see where He takes her from here.

Rough Start

Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again an again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst--not ever. The water I give will be an artraisn spring within, gushing fountains of endless life." John 4:13-14


Today got off to a rough start. I knew the best think I could do for my students is go refocus and spend some time with Jesus. I grabbed my coffee, Bible and journal and sat on the couch in my big office. (Yes I have two!) I read that verse and thougt that is what I want. But not just for me, for my students...especially my next class.

God help me show them the life that comes in you and the freedom that comes with your love.


Whether you are a teacher, a youth minister or a follower of Christ, what is the best thing you can do RIGHT NOW for your students, the ones who are looking to you to point them to Jesus?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Small Enough

I'm not real big on posting the lyrics to songs on blogs. I don't have a problem when others do. I just don't usually do it. But this song has been stirring in my head all evening. So I've asked myself why? I don't have any great answers but here are my thoughts.

I often forget how HUGE God is. I usually find myself putting him in a box. The last few weeks it has been the opposite. I've experienced the bigness of God and I've had him show me more of his greatness. My view of him is growing and I love it. But after a tough class, the bigness of God makes him seem out of my reach. I have this great, huge, magnificent God but when I second guess a call I made in class, I wonder if he has the right person for the job. If I mess up, will he have the time to deal with little me?

Don't get me wrong, really today was a good day. I have nothing to complain about. There are just times when I see a glimpse of how mighty God is and it is overwhelming to know he has chosen me. His greatness doesn't fit in my small world and I'm not sure how to handle that sometimes. Today this song helps portray this struggle of grasping all of His greatness in our finite world.

Small Enough - Nichole Nordeman
Oh great God be small enough to hear me now
There were times when I was crying
From the dark of Daniel's den
I had asked you once or twice

If you would part the sea again

Tonight I do not need a fiery pillar in the sky

Just want to know you're gonna hold me if I start to cry

Oh great God be small enough to hear me now


Oh great God be close enough to feel you now

There have been moments when I could not face

Goliath on my own

And how could I forget we’ve marched

Around our share of Jerichos

But I will not be setting out a fleece for you tonight

Just wanna know that everything will be alright

Oh great god be close enough to feel me now


All praise and all the honor be

To the god of ancient mysteries

Whose every sign and wonder

Turn the pages of our history

But tonight my heart is heavy

And I cannot keep from whispering this prayer

Are you there?


And I know you could leave writing

On the wall that's just for me

Or send wisdom while I'm sleeping

Like in Solomon's sweet dreams

But I don't need the strength of Sampson

Or a chariot in the end

Just wanna know that you still know how many hairs are on my head

Oh great God be small enough to hear me now

Scatterbrained

NEW IDEA...Scatterbrained posts will be completely random that follow no logical order to anyone else but myself. For you the reader, it is an frightening inside look at my train of thought. Basically it is a conversation with myself. Don't get too scared...please.
  • I had a bunch of paper work I planned on finishing today night. Instead I managed to successfully find a way to slack off the entire night and accomplish nothing for school. Tomorrow is going to be rough.
  • But, I've started Chicag08 follow up. Our students made some huge commitments this summer. I love it. How do I do this effectively?
  • Respect - I should do a post on that. Stink, I could do 45 posts on that.
  • I can't believe I just now realized that an important facebook message I wrote on August 5th was sent to myself instead of the person it was intended for. No wonder why nothing has happened.
  • Toronto has a museum of shoes...interesting.
  • Good times with Jeannette at Hacienda. It is great to have my friend back in town.
  • I still can't believe Brooke broke into my apartment last night...with a key.
  • It is going to be an awesome year for GSM (Granger Student Ministries). I'm so excited to be a part of it.
  • I want a job where I get paid to have fun.
  • I've gotten calls from three of my four siblings this week. I love them. My brother's position was eliminated and he is now out of work. That stinks big time.
  • Seriously, you sent the message to yourself instead of another person. How did you do that? What were you thinking?
  • You dropped the ball today in class. You've got to find a new way to organize 48 students in one class.
  • What books do I had to my reading list for this new challenge? Any suggestions?
Now some of you are thinking, "How did she go from facebook message to a shoe museum?" Welcome to my world!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Who throws a shoe? Honestly!

Memorial Day Weekend 2007 - She had it coming!

This evening I set my facebook status to read, "Sarah wishes she was hanging out with friends instead of doing paper work. Feel free to call and interrupt. :)" I'm sitting in my room grading papers and hear the door unlock. Assuming it was my roommate, I continued to work. Then, in the silence, I saw a shadow creeping closer to my bedroom door. Now I'm freaking out. I moved my secret weapon several months ago, once the threat level returned to green. (The prosecutor said it was okay.) Now someone was breaking into my house. I slowly lift my eyes from my papers to see...

BROOKE HULSE!!!!!!!

She has a spare key from last semester when she lived with us. I told her to randomly stop by and visit and she did!!!! Now we are going to share with you ten things that will most likely happen when we are together. She is the bomb...the bomb diggity. In case you missed that in an earlier post.

TEN THINGS THAT HAPPEN WHEN SARAH AND BROOKE HANG OUT
(in no particular order)
  1. Good chance we are eating Hacienda, or at least devouring chips and salsa.
  2. Someone is attempting to drive through a storm without laying flat in a ditch
  3. Facebook - enough said
  4. Lots of talking and definitely tons of laughing
  5. Movies in the cave
  6. Old Blind Sarah beats Brooke in Wii bowling (Brooke demands a disclaimer here: bowling only)
  7. Smoothies and ice cream are consumed
  8. Someone gets hit in the head with a shoe or anything nearby
  9. Sarah gets killed in some other random game...or we tie
  10. RANDOM! You just never know...

Hacienda meal = $6
Ice Cream w/strawberries and bananas = $4
Movie = $1 from Red Box!
Quality time = PRICELESS

Monday, August 18, 2008

Part of the job

I just finished copying more handbooks in the office. As I left I was greeted by one of my students sitting in the chair that usually means you are in trouble. I said good morning. He knew what was coming next. Before I could ask if he was in trouble he said, "I'm here to talk about my house burning down." I just stood speechless as I looked at the fear in his eyes.

He lives in the apartment building that burned down this weekend. I heard it on the news and immediately started praying for the students I knew lived there. I wasn't prepared to watch and listen to his story though. He was home alone, sleeping when the fire broke out. I'm so thankful he made it out okay.

I'm trying to imagine what that would be like and I can't. My heart breaks for this kid. He went through so much last year and this his how is new year starts. You get attached to your students. You laugh and cry with them. It is part of the job you can never be fully prepared for.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Two questions

DC asked all of the student ministry leaders to try to answer two questions. (Moment of honesty...I didn't catch the last part of the second question but it was along these lines.) I've been thinking about them all night. I've been trying to bring all my thoughts together into a specific answer and I think I'm getting there. I'll post my answers later this week when I have a little more time.
  1. If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?
  2. Is there anything in student ministries that you would like to try?
Please share your thoughts.

GSM!!!

Granger Student Ministries is ready for an exciting year. We just had our first leaders meeting of the year and it was amazing. I walked into our meeting pumped up and ready to go. After hearing DC cast the vision for the year, I can hardly contain my excitement. God is doing incredible things and I'm so thankful he is allowing me to be a part of it.

Week of thoughts...

I've had tons of thoughts that I've wanted to blog about this week. The funny thing is when I would sit down to do it, somebody already had. It was a bit hilarious to me. Here are some examples.
  • I thought I would share some thoughts on John the Baptist and pointing to Christ. Kristin blogged about that here.
  • I've been talking to several students this summer about living a life that looks like Jesus. Seth shared an interesting perspective on his blogged. Apparently he has removed the post though.
  • I've faced several challenges at school this week and thought I would share some thoughts about the importance of pushing through and not giving up. David Joe beat me to that one here.
Here are a few interesting posts I read this week.
  • My friend, Jon, asked a question about how casting lots is viewed today.
  • Craig
Enjoy the words of people much wiser than myself.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Forgetful, Hungry and Tired

Forgetful...
After service tonight I decided to go to Meijer and do some grocery shopping. Very rarely do I do any sort of shopping without a list but tomorrow is a busy day and I wanted to get it done. I'm walking through the aisle and can't remember anything I need. Since I'm the kind of shopper that won't buy something unless I absolutely need it, this trip was becoming a waste very quickly.

Hungry...
I was taking care of the few items I purchased, most of which wasn't food, and discovered all the things I should have bought. That drives me nuts. I also realize how hungry I am and how little food in in my apartment. But I'm too lazy to go back.

Tired...
I decided I would do some reading and then blog about our last New Community and this weekend's service. I tried reading but couldn't focus. I sat down to start blogging and I've got nothing. All my great thoughts have disappeared. Sure they are in my journal but I'm so tired I don't think I could read what I wrote.

So I'm calling it a night and going to bed. Tomorrow I get to spend an hour in the Special Friends room with Dominic. It has been a few weeks since I've been able to be there. I'm excited to see him.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Reflections from the Classroom

This is a new series I plan on writing every Friday obviously about my week at school. I'll share some lessons I've learned and observations I've made. Most of you probably won't care about it, but there are a few educators who might appreciate some of the stories. Of course, it will be in the list format. Who doesn't love a numbered list or bullet points?!

FIRST WEEK REFLECTIONS

1. Too many names! - The first week is all about learning names and teaching rules and procedures. You really don't get much else done. I only have a little over 200 students this year but it still seems like a ton of names.

2. Process over Content - This is part of the new approach for this year. The thought is that even though the first weeks will show slower progress, once the process is understood the rate of improvement is much higher than just teaching content.

3. Teaching can get emotional - Today I had to have a serious talk with one of my bands. Many of the students last year and most of them are making very poor choices. They are heading down paths that are going to take them places they don't want to go. My heart breaks when I see them continue to make these choices. I tried to share with them how much they matter and how much value they hold. I tried to help them see the potential that each of them have. I keep praying they will start to understand it.

4. Encourage your colleagues - There are lots of staff changes this year. None of the changes are bad. It just takes a little time to make the adjustments. I've found myself spending a lot more time encouraging my colleagues than I ever have before. In the process I've started to build some awesome relationships with a few staff members I probably wouldn't have. I'm excited to see where God takes those relationships.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

School Year Goals

Yesterday I gave this assignment to my 7th & 8th grade students.
Create three goals for yourself this year.
First: Individual musical goal
Second: Group goal for the class
Third: Character goal for you personally
Today we shared all of our group goals and discussed them. As a class we narrowed it down to three that the class really needs to focus on this year. Students wrote our individual and class goals in our music folders so they can be reminded of them everyday. We'll hang the group goals in the classroom and evaluate our progress on a regular basis.

For the last several days I've set some goals for myself. I have no clue why I'm deciding to blog about these. That isn't usually something I do but I felt the need to do it. So here are a few of them.
  1. Implement the new approach to teaching and document successes and areas for improvement once a week. It is all new and not well defined yet. I'm learning as I go. Documenting will be the big challenge for me, especially when it come to actually articulating the philosophy behind the methods. Writing is not my strong point!
  2. Make relationships a priority. School gets busy and it is so easy to focus on work and not people. For me the people that tend to get the short end of the stick are those friends who are closest to me. Then tend to only get calls when I'm having a bad day. But this summer I've watch God place some amazing people in my life and strengthen some friendships I've been blessed with for many years. I care about those people and our friendships enough to stop being stupid and start making them a priority. That means taking the time to make more phone calls, send more e-mails, and grab more cups of coffee or meals.
  3. Leave work at work. Being at one school will help this process a lot. I only have 200 students this year, which will also help. Band classes have less written assignments. This means more of my paper work I should be able to do right after school or come in early and finish. Sure on occasion I might need to bring something home but I want that to be the exception.

Reading List

While I was hanging out with Brooke and DC the other night, DC asked me what I was reading right now. It was at that moment that I never even started my summer reading list and school was starting a few days later. Oops!

Reading a book for me takes a lot of time. I'm not one of those people who can sit and read a book in a couple days. I'm a slower reader and I spend a lot of time re-reading as I think and process the content. So here is a list of books I plan reading this semester. It isn't my favorite reading list I've ever had but it will do for now.

Almost finished...
  1. The Worn Out Woman (Dr. Steve Stephens and Alice Gray) Not for everyone but was perfect for where I was when I started reading it last spring.
In process/Starting soon...
  1. Simply Christian (N. T. Wright) - I've read bits and pieces but am going to try and read it cover to cover. I'm a huge N. T. Wright fan!
  2. We Can't Teach What We Don't Know (Gary R. Howard) - All the new teachers were given this book last year. I didn't read it then but might now.
  3. John For Everyone (Tom Wright) - I'm reading this as I read through the book of John.
Re-reading...
  1. First Lessons for Instrumentalists (Various Artists) - This is actually a collection of articles about the very first lesson on each instrument. Since it has been awhile since I've taught beginning band, I'm going to make sure I remember everything clearing.

What are you reading?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Relaxing on the couch!

Now I know why everyone keeps encouraging me to slow down. For the first time I actally feel like I relaxed instead of feeling like I just wasted thee hours. I even feel more focused.
More than anything it gave me time to think about and process some things. That has been surprisingly freeing. My mind is trying to figure out how all that happens from simply laying on the couch!

I've finally had the chance to watch the Olympics. I love volleyball and miss playing. Hopefully next summer I'll have a chance.

I'm not sure there are many readers left out there but for the two of you that actually stopped by this afternoon, new posts coming soon! I'm excited about two on reading lists and school year goals.

First Day Celebration

Thanks for all your prayers. Today went really well. For the most part students were receptive to the new direction. Tomorrow I'll have the rest of my classes. Here is the traditional first day of school celebration.

- take off dress shoes ASAP before you want to cut your feet off from standing all day
- eat a big supper because you were at school late but always start with dessert (cream of mushroom chicken this year)
- lay on couch and do nothing for a few minutes before spending the rest of the night adjusting lesson plans

The good news is this year I don't have to redo lesson plans. This laying on the couch doing nothing isn't a bad gig!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Big day tomorrow...

Tomorrow is a big day, the first day of school. I spent over ten hours there today. An hour-and-a-half were for an open house where I was able to meet several new students. The twists and turns of this year continue to come. Everyone has always told me the first year is the hardest. I think my seem to get progressively more challenging. How does that work?


Please pray for me friends. Thanks!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Daddy-Daughter Day

What an incredible day!

After another great week worshiping with my home church, Dad and I took off for Lansing. We stopped on the way for Wendy's, one of our favorites. We get to the stadium to find out they have called a rain delay. We got a little wet and it was a bit chilly but the Lugnuts game from behind and won in the bottom of the ninth. It was pretty exciting.

It was Kids Day and Christian Family Night, which meant the zoo brought animals and their was a concert after the game. We watched them carry the animals into the park and I was positive they had a snake. I was excited so we finally headed over to see them and they were packing up for the day so I didn't get to see the snake. BOO! We did get to see a hedge hog type animal from Madagascar (forgot it's name) and a chinchilla. Jeremy Horn was the guest of honor tonight. I'm not real familiar with him but he had some nice songs. Unfortunately it started raining on the poor guy so he had to cut it short.

It isn't very often I get to spend an entire day with just my dad, so I was pumped most of the day. It was perfect!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Cleaning Day!!!!

I have been cleaning like crazy today. My bathroom is cleaner than it was when I moved in. I vacuumed my bedroom floor three times, so you won't find any dirt on it. I bought and assembled a new bookcase. I dusted my bookshelves, but didn't have time to re-alphabetize the new books. The laundry room is clean, except for mopping the floor. I even washed the doors in my half of the apartment. I love it!

Some of you are thinking, "Oh no. This isn't good. Sarah must be ready to rip someone's head off." I'll admit when I get really angry I clean but today that wasn't the case. Since school got out in May I've been in and out of town so much there hasn't been time to clean. So I finally was able to put away the piles from school, camp, VBS, Chicago, etc.

Tonight I'm heading to Vestaburg to my parent's. Dad got Lugnuts tickets for Matthew, Logan and me. I'm not sure why but our family loves the Lugnuts . Unfortunately, Matthew and Logan can't go now. So it is just my Daddy and me!!! It's a Daddy-Daughter Date.

The Curry House

I LOVE DC & BROOKE CURRY!!!

I was feeling a little discouraged tonight and wanted to be around friends. Yes I'm a big extrovert. So I called Brooke and after a few hours of school work it was time for some fun at the Curry residence.

When at the Curry Residence the following may or may not happen:
- lots of laughter
- occasional mockery
- food is consumed
- spontaneous Bible study (Matthew 3:1-6)
- ND and/or Michigan jokes
- good times

Seriously, I love my friends!

Friday, August 08, 2008

I tried...

So maybe I haven't relaxed as much as I had intended. It kind of happened. I edited photos this afternoon. Yes that is relaxing to me. I went to dinner with my roommate and did a little shopping. I may go hang out with some other friends tonight. I'm waiting for them to text me.

Now I'm at Bella Vita proofing the band and orchestra handbook. It shouldn't take me long to finish. Then it will be time to tackle the proposal for my principal. Pray for this. It is something completely different than anything I've done before or seen done. I have nothing more than these ideas rattling inside my mind. I'm praying her expertise will be able to take my dreaming and make it into a concrete plan.

Dad, be ready for an earful this weekend. I'll be looking to your educational expertise to help in this process.

Lots to do...

There is so much to do today. I kept waking up all night long thinking of something else to work through or add to my to do list. My mind in racing and I'm struggling to prioritize things. It will all get done sometime. Normally I would work all day until I have nothing left. Not today. This is what we teachers like to call "our last Friday of freedom," so I'll be taking some time to relax before next week gets here.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Good interruptions


photos by DC Curry

Sometimes interruptions are a great thing. I just had one that made my day. Sam and Riley stopped by Bella Vita to pass some time before they grabbed something to eat. They saw me in my little corner and stopped to say hello. We talked for almost an hour.

These two are doing awesome things for the kingdom. I love their hearts and passion for Christ. They have stepped up at Lifeline and done amazing thing with their musical gifts. They both took time out of their summer to serve God and grow closer to him through different trips. I'm proud of them .

Time to dig in

I went into school this morning and met with my principal. It was very encouraging. We have an incredible principal. I love the leadership she brings. Thanks for the prayers and encouraging messages. I feel much better after the conversation with our principal and my parents, two fine educators. I'll post later about what I think God has in store for the year.

Now it is time to get down to business. I'm spending my afternoon at my favorite coffee shop working on this year's calendar, lesson plans and the vision for the school year. My guess is my attention will wonder and there may be several random posts during this process. In just the last few hours, God has been shaping this vision that I would have never even imagined. I don't even know what to think at this point.

I'm excited, nervous, anxious, hopeful and scared out of my mind.


God can do anything, you know--far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!
Ephesians 3:20 (Message)

How thankful I am to Christ Jesus our Lord for considering me trustworthy and appointing me to serve him.
1 Timothy 1:12 (NLT)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

rough afternoon

I went to work pumped up and ready to jump in. I sat in our morning in-service and listened to the presentation of a new approach to teaching that is basically like discipleship. I went to lunch with our orchestra director and talked through some things for next week. I went into the afternoon meeting actually a little excited about teaching. Then it all changed.


Now I find myself feeling discouraged, anxious and alone in the mission. What I thought would be a great year seems impossible.




Lord give me strength and courage. In my weakness you are strong.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Lots of thoughts...

I LOVE MY SISTER, ANNA!!!
Anna and I did not get along well at all when we were younger. Some of you know exactly what I'm talking about. I think that is why I appreciate our friendship so much now. I just got off the phone with her and we talked for over an hour. She and I have had to wrestle with some of the same struggles in life. She is the one in the family I go to when I feel like no one understands me. We still disagree about things, at times very passionately, but she has helped me with so many different things.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BROOKE!!!!
Tomorrow is my good friend Brooke's birthday. It has been a long summer not having her around. I could do a whole post about how awesome she is. It's coming soon!!!!!
JOHN 3
A few weeks ago I started working through the book of John. I hit chapter 3 about a week ago and haven't moved past it. I've read this chapter numerous times before but it has never come to life as much as it is now. I keep reading it over and over again in different translations. I don't know what it is about this chapter but it is so good. God has something for me to get and I'm going to keep eating it up until I figure it out.

SCHOOL IS HERE
Tomorrow I head back to Edison to get ready for our students to arrive next Tuesday. I have lots of mixed feelings about the school year being here. I'm praying God will open doors for me to share Christ's love with my students and colleagues. This is a pivotal year in my teaching career and that makes me a little nervous. We'll see what tomorrow's in-service has in store.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Fantastic Weekend

Another bullet point post! I love those. This weekend wasn't what I was expecting to be. It was much better.

Reasons Why This was a Fantastic Four Day Weekend
  • Birthday party for my incredibly fun niece, Amanda
  • Heather AKA Miniature Sarah got baptized
  • Saturday Secret - Daddy's Pancakes!!!
  • Ditto and other fun games with Logan, Taylor, Amanda and Emily
  • Hanging drywall with Dad
  • Worshiping at my home church (this might become a post of its own)
  • Trying to expose my parents to the culture of the school where I teach
  • Lunch with Wally, Steph and my little sister Hannah
  • Hanging out with James
  • Roommate bonding later tonight!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Party of the Year

Friday night we had the party of the year, at least so far. My niece Amanda turned 10 on Monday and we had both sides of the family together to celebrate. It was good to see Anthony's side of the family. His sister is expecting twins! The weather was great and the food was amazing. They even made wheat-free options for me! Amanda loved the gifts she got and has plans on how to use them all.

Before Amanda opened presents, my friend James Pahl arrived. He was coming for Heather's baptism later in the night. But he brought a nice surprise...Jason Sleight!!!! Jason was the youth minister at my brother's church and is getting ready to move to Missouri. Jason and James were Heather's small group leaders at camp this summer. She was very excited to have them both there. Amanda decided she thinks they are pretty funny guys and was glad they were at her party.

After the house was cleaned up, we went over to Heather's youth minister, Steve's house. He has a great house and a nice pool and volunteered to let us have the baptism there. I've been praying for a long time that Heather would make this decision. I've been one happy aunt this summer as she has told me about the commitments she made at camp and then being able to witness her baptism.

It was a blast hanging out with everyone and celebrating so many different things in one night. It was very exciting to have James and Jason join the party as well. God is good!

You should be able to see pictures HERE.