About Impact

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Fun

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

Monday, November 24, 2008

Seesaw Day

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gifts! - Part II

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

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

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

Gifts!

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

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

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

Friday, November 21, 2008

Quick Clarification

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

About Me

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

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

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekend Recap

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Feeling Defeated

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

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

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

Monday, November 10, 2008

P for Personality

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

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

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

ESTJ
E
xtroverted Sensing Thinking Judging

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

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

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

All In One

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

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Good things

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

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

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

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Big Failure

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

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

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

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

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


Off to worship Jesus with friends.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Miss Koutz's Rainy Day Game

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

Let the games begin!

Short Road Trip Photos

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

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Bits and Pieces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 03, 2008

Where I Teach...

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Short Road Trip

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

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

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

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

Beautiful, Week 2

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

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