About Impact

Friday, December 26, 2008

O Christmas Tree

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

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

Koutz Traditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas Friends!

Marathon Christmas Celebration

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

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Another Productive Day...

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

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

Monday, December 22, 2008

Scriptures on my Mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Birthday fun

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

Seth Bible Live

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

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

Birthday Break-in

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Great Birthday!

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

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The last GSM of 2008

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

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sabbath

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

Friday, December 12, 2008

Adopt-a-Family X

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

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

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

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

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

Adopt-a-family IX

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

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Adopt-a-family VIII

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scatterbrained

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

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Over committed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 08, 2008

Monday Blahs

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

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

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

My Little Brother

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

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

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Not Myself

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

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

Friday, December 05, 2008

Sister in Brazil!

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Give in already!

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

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

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

Monday, December 01, 2008

Picture Time

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