About Impact

Friday, December 18, 2009

Birthday Reflections

I know I've said it before but birthdays are a big deal in our family. We have a tradition of making sure we always call each other on our birthdays. It is the one day out of the year I know I'll get to talk to everyone in my family. However, this year my phone is broke. For the first time, I didn't get to talk to anyone in my family. It was weird and a bit sad but despite that it was a great day.

I spent my day working on gifts for our core students. I LOVE GIVING GIFTS! I really couldn't care less about receiving them. In fact I'm not a huge fan but I get so excited to watch people get them.

I was able to have coffee with my amazing friend, Honey. Our conversation was full of stories of what God is teaching us. It was an incredibly encouraging time. I'm so thankful to have a friend like her. According to her, I'll be writing a few more posts because of that conversation. We'll see how that goes.

This evening we had a little Christmas party for our core group. It was a blast. We laughed so hard we cried. We ate tons of food, including an ice cream cake they bought me for my birthday. We took a ton of pictures. It has become our favorite past time as a group. You can see all of them on Facebook.

This year has been a great one. God continues to blow me away. I find myself loving Him more and more each day. This next year is going to be another incredible one!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Another "Only Sarah" Story

I was told a couple weeks ago by a friend that they couldn't wait to hang out again because I have the greatest stories. I'm not sure how true that is but tonight will be added into my rotation of stories.

As I drove home tonight, it didn't take me long to realized the car behind me was following me. I didn't think to much of it because I was pretty sure I knew who it was. After getting to a road with better light I realized it wasn't who I thought it was. I pulled into my apartment complex and realized I didn't recognize the car. I pulled up to my building and noticed the car parking a few spots away from my car. I quickly ran into my apartment and locked the doors. I had never seen that car by our building before. They stayed parked outside my apartment for about ten minutes and then finally left.

Then I got a call from some creepy guy who knew WAY more information than any stranger should know. Information that wouldn't be found on facebook or my blog. If that was weird enough he proceeded to ask me questions about a friend of mine and wanted all sorts of information about this friend. He wouldn't tell me anything about himself or why he wanted all of this information. He got nothing from me and was rather frustrated by it. Did he really think I was that stupid?! CREEPY!

I honestly have no clue why random things like this happen to me all the time. I guess they do make pretty entertaining stories. I just keep laughing about it. What else are you going to do?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Consumed by my Abba

Towards the end of October I started praying that God would consume every part of me. I needed to find a way to remind myself to be constantly connected to him through out my day no matter what the circumstances.

I decided to start being more intentional about looking for how God was moving around me and listening closer to the Spirit's voice. To mark those connections I decided I would stop in the moment and jot down a quick prayer in my journal. When I didn't have my journal I would text myself or twitter the prayer.

Tonight I went back through the last 24 days and read some of the prayers. I am amazed!
  • Abba teach me to be more patient and to love like you love.
  • Abba your love and faithfulness overwhelms me. You are my source of joy.
  • Abba teach me to love more, to takes steps of faith to shine you.
  • Abba just one. One love. One focus. One more worker for the harvest.
  • Abba I am overwhelmed by your passionate pursuit of me and consuming love.
  • Abba break me of the things that are not of you. I long to look more like you.
  • Abba, you are the source of my joy. Thanks for an incredible day.
  • Abba I’m trusting you. Help me when I doubt.
  • Abba my life is yours. All for you and for your glory.
  • Abba help me in my unbelief. Forgive me when I fail to trust you fully.
  • My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness 2 Cor 12:9 -- Abba you are all I need. Consume me.
  • Abba consume every part of me.
God is doing so much in my life and I feel like I can't keep up. I'm falling more and more in love with my Abba as I see more and more how much he is pursuing me. I find myself consumed by his love and goodness at what appear to be the most random times. His love is far beyond my comprehension. I can't wait to see what he has in store next!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Anticipation, Homesickness and Advent

Some vampire movie came out this week called New Moon or Old Sun or something like that. Evidently people are really excited about this. They are even counting down the days in the facebook updates and tweets. I have to confess all of the anticipation seems a bit overdone. Perhaps it is because I find myself convicted. After all I've been guilty of doing the same thing with summer vacation. It's the expectation and a longing for something that just can't seem to get here fast enough. But should those things really be the focus of my anticipation?

I've found myself feeling homesick lately, not for Vestaburg or my family, but to be done with this broken world and be in the presence of my Abba. I even asked Jesus the other day if we could hurry up and get some more people saved so he could come back. Don't get me wrong I am loving life these days. I start thinking about what God has promised and I get impatient. (Big surprise. I know.) It seems like this is ought to be something I have great anticipation for instead of temporary things.

Advent is just around the corner. It is my favorite time of year. Advent is about anticipation and expecting that God will deliver on his promises. I don't really now what I love this season so much. It just always seems right. I always seem to discover a deeper peace during this time of year accompanied by a bit of unrest. So many people don't know that sense of longing that tugs on their core is Jesus just waiting for them to respond.

I guess the arrival of the vampires and the advent season have challenged me to stop and ask some tough questions. What if we had the same anticipation and longing for Christ's return as we do for things that really have no lasting value? Would my life look differently? Would I be more willing to share with others? Am I waiting with great anticipation?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

More Roadtrip Highlights

For someone who really doesn't enjoy driving, I sure do take a lot of road trips. This month will be full of traveling too! Here are some highlights from this week's adventures.

- Doing tons of baking with my mommy
- Consuming wheat - NOT a good highlight!
- Beginning to dream about Camp 2010 with an incredible leadership team
- A beautiful fall evening remembering how my brother would beg me to be his hunting dog
- Staying up too late with Kari and the 1A girls
- Coffee and lunch with my brother
- Great conversations in Wally's office
- Praying with my boss, Dean
- Watching God answer more prayers than I think I even prayed!
- Sharing stories with Brooke from our journeys

Next road trip is this weekend. I'm heading to Kentucky to see Joe and Bev and enjoy some personal retreat time. I can't begin to explain how excited I am for this!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Roadtrip Highlights

Surprising Jeff and Mitch at Speedway
Being challenged once again by Matt, a faculty member from high school camp
La Senorita's with my parents
Logan, running to greet me and whispering over and over in my ear "I love you Aunt Sarah"
Hearing how God is working in the lives of former campers and friends
Wheat-free dinner with Derek, one of the most encouraging friends I know
Watching Kari and Caiti play some great volleyball on senior night and seeing a couple of my middle school teachers while I was there
Phenomenal conversations with Jesus during the long car rides

I love these little mini road trips. God always does amazing things on them!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Life is Good!

There is really no point to this post other than to blog and share a great picture DC took at GSM yesterday. And since this is my blog, I can ramble all I want...in list form of course.

- God is doing some amazing things on South Bend campuses. We've started our Core Group Bible study. We have an incredible group of students who are passionate about following Christ and anxious to share with their fellow students.

- GSM is in full swing and the school year is off to an incredible start. John taught during middle school on evil this week. Check out this awesome picture DC took during his message. Hilarious!!!
- I'm trying to find a way to take a mini-personal retreat in Kentucky. I've been waiting so long to go and visit my friends there and learn more from them. It actually looks like it could happen now. This is very exciting to me.

- I am in Michigan connecting with some students I've coached and mentored, as well as catch up with some friends and family. I made a surprise stop at the St. John's Speedway to visit my camp buddies, Jeff and Mitch. I love making quick surprise stops like that.

- I had the privilege to catch up with a good friend, Matt Schantz. I've posted before about how much I've learned from him. He has been doing campus ministry at Central Michigan for many years. He had some great advice and was incredibly encouraging. I'm very thankful we were able to connect today.

- I had a date with my Daddy tonight. He took me to my favorite restaurant back home, La Senorita's. And to make it even better was the fact that Mom got to join us since she didn't have to go in for jury duty!!! It was so much fun to just sit and hang out.

- I'm looking forward to connecting with some former students tomorrow and some other Lansing friends. These Road trips are always so refreshing.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Living Examples of Jesus - Part 11

Showing our cheesiest smiles while watching baseball with the Chicag09 team
Photo by Sam Peterson

I ran into my friend, Seth, this afternoon and he brought some encouragement with him. As I thanked God for the encounter, I decided my next blog post would be about what he has taught me through Seth.

Seth Bible

Seth is one of most intriguing people I've ever met. One minute he makes you laugh so hard your crying and the next you are scratching your head trying to figure out what in the world he is talking about. He's an phenomenal musician whose heart desires nothing more than to fully worship God. Seth has an amazing talent of arranging notes and words to create powerful works of music and art. We are nothing alike but I love serving with him. Whenever I do I'm reminded of God's creativity.

I've learned over this past year Seth is also incredibly patient. I have to process things out loud and Seth became one of my sounding boards this summer. Sometimes this meant sitting and listening to me ramble for while stuck in Chicago traffic. He never complained or checked out and even offered his perspective along the way. I'm confident Christ was the same way, listening as his followers shared what was on their minds.

Seth also has this great skill of recognizing the little things in people and encouraging them with it. At what seems like the most random time, Seth stops the conversation to point out something great he sees in someone else. I've seen him do it with students, leaders, and friends. They are simple, yet powerful words. It reminds me of how Jesus saw things in the people he met and called it out of them when they needed it most.

I'm so grateful for my friendship with Seth and his faithful obedience to Christ. Thank you Seth for allowing God to use you to teach me and many others. Thanks for showing us Jesus.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A New Ministry

I took a huge leap of faith by turning in my letter of resignation without having another position lined up. It was evident that God was working and I knew he would reveal the next step in his time. That is exactly what he did!

Today I met with the director of Impact Ministries International and accepted a position doing campus ministry right here in South Bend. I will have the privilege sharing Jesus with college students across the area and helping them build an intimate relationship with Him. How exciting is that?!

And if that isn’t exciting enough, I’ll be working alongside my good friend Lowell Kosak. I’ve spent a ton of time talking with him about campus ministry, asking questions and learning a ton about loving Jesus and loving others, and praying about Impact’s ministry.

“So when do you start?” may be your next question. Well, I’m already volunteering in the ministry and will continue to do that as I raise the financial support needed for the position. I am so excited to see how God will use his people to provide that support. He has already proven his faithfulness in amazing ways the last few months.

I don’t have any words to express how incredible grateful I am to be a part of what God is doing here on our local campuses. Thanks to all of you for your prayers and encouragement during the last several weeks. Buckle your seat belts. The fun has just begun.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Taking a Leap

The beginning of August has become the time when I look back over the summer and start processing what I've learned and how to apply it to the school year. This year was no different until I realized I was standing at the edge of the cliff and God was asking me to jump.

All summer I watched as God confirmed my call to student ministry. I was amazed by how much I learned about the Spirit and his presence in my life. As I started to pray about what this meant for my classroom I started to feel very uneasy about going back to school. I didn't think much about it but then I started to wonder if maybe what God had been preparing me for all summer was going back into full time ministry.

I began spending every free moment with God praying, reading, studying and listening. During the summer I had started talking with different churches and ministries about possible staff positions and now I didn't feel at peace about returning to Edison. I felt a pull to resign from my position at the school so I would be free to move wherever God led. Of course that didn't seem logical so I ignored it. Then the tug got stronger and stronger. I knew God was asking me to jump and leaving the classroom was what my jump.

After seeking some advice from people much wiser than I am and talking some more with God, I turned in my letter of resignation. Since it was so close to school, I agreed to stay for three weeks to help with the transition and give the district more time to find a replacement. Tomorrow is the end of those three weeks. I don't know for sure what God has in store next but I know he already has it figured out. There are a few possibilities on the table that I'm pursuing and God will make my next step clear in his time.

When I told a friend about my decision she said, "That's not a step of faith. That's a leap!" It certainly is but I'm not worried about what comes next for me. I can't tell you how incredibly excited I am about what God is doing. Taking the leap wasn't the easiest thing I've done but it is by far one of the most freeing.

If you are ever at a point where God asks you to jump, do it!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Summer Flashback, Part 2

I've been sharing some thoughts from my summer that were never blogged about when they happened. Today we take a look back at the events of July. Now July was suppose to be a rather relaxed, unscheduled month. Yea that didn't happen and I'm glad.

High School Week 2009 - Rock Lake Christian Assembly
While I was home for the Fourth of July I found out only one high school student from my home church was signed up for camp. Well that didn't settle well with me so I started recruiting. There was one student in particular, Kyle, that I felt strongly I needed to get to come. I was having no luck. So I went home several days before camp started to try to change his mind. I'll be honest the encouraging words became begging very quickly. The good news is after recruiting his friend, Lexie, to come a few hours before camp started Kyle decided to come too.

It was an incredible week to watch the transformation happen in both Kyle and Lexie's lives. I got a front row seat to watch faculty members pray for these two and watch God grab hold of them and show them his love in a new way. On Friday Kyle's dad baptized Kyle and I had the privilege of baptizing Lexie. It was humbling and incredible to have God so very clearly include me in His plan for the week. It reminded me once again how present his Holy Spirit is in my life and how active the Spirit is.

Prayer Journey - South Bend, IN
A couple weeks after camp, I met up with some friends from Impact Ministries International to pray over the college campuses in South Bend. I'll admit at first I really didn't want to be there but after about ten minutes of praying for ND and the students there everything changed. God spent the 2 days I was on the journey throwing new insights and reminders at me from every angle. God completely shattered what I thought student ministry would look like for my future. My journaling during these is one massive list of bullet point ideas that just kept coming my way. I couldn't do anything else because I was so overwhelmed my the information I was being throw at me.

I left that prayer journey with my head spinning and absolutely no clue what was going on in my life. Nothing made sense. Nothing seemed right. Something was missing and I was just waiting for God to make sense of it all. That chaos in my head was only the beginning of the whirlwind that would take place over the next few weeks. More on that tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Summer Flashback, Part 1

Since I never really blogged much about my summer, I decided I'm going to spend the next few days sharing some highlights. These posts will lead up to the big news I've been anxiously waiting to share.

Road Trip #1 - Quincy, IL and St. Louis, MO
I spent the first week after school ended with my younger sisters. While on that trip I asked God to use this summer to prepare me for the next school year. I didn't know what that meant exactly I just wanted to give him the next two months to do whatever he needed to do in me. He should have made the buckle your seat belt sign a little bigger!

VBS 2009 - Vestaburg, MI
It has become a bit of a tradition to travel home and help my home church with their VBS each summer. This year it was held at Rock Lake Christian Assembly, where I grew up going to church camp. During this week I had the opportunity to reconnect with several of the students from our church. Some of those students were in the Sunday School class I taught in high school. Others were students I use to baby sit for. Little did I know some connections and conversations that week would come into play later in the summer. (Sorry have to wait until part 2 for the rest of that story!)

Deeper Life 2009 - Michiana Christian Service Camp, Niles, MI
I can't hardly make sense out of anything I wrote during this week. It is so scattered and random! And truth be told, I'm still processing this idea of covenant. But there are a few things that caught my attention. There is a continuous theme of belonging to Christ and letting him completely reign in my life. It all started with two simple phrases God spoke very clearly to me on Day 1.
Sarah, I will fulfill my purpose for you.
Sarah, I am worthy of your trust.
When I first wrestled with them it became clear that it wouldn't play a huge rule in the week but that God needed to keep them in my heart and mind all summer. Much like the notes in my journal I left this week a little confused. I felt God confirming my call to minister to students but more uncertain of what that looks like than I ever have before.

Chicag09 - Chicago, IL
If you really want to know what happened on this trip and more of my thoughts, go check out the team blog. There are stories, pictures, and reactions galore there. I learned much more about myself than I would have ever expected. I discovered new things about how I process, lead and communicate with others. I learned more about how present the Holy Spirit really is in my life. At one point in the trip I journaled at length about this weird tension that seemed to be rising up in me. I was beginning to feel pulled in a couple different direction and I didn't know what to do with it. I couldn't articulate any of it. I simply wrote, "Abba you are doing some thing deep inside me that I just don't understand. The awkward, uncomfortable feeling of being stuck between an impostor and the beloved."

So that was the month of June and July got even better. Come back tomorrow for that part of the story! Until then I've got to get some sleep. I'm not even proof-reading this. Don't judge me!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Funny Morning

I hate the first few hours of the school day. Mostly because I'm not a morning person. However, this year is different. I've never laughed this much this early in the morning.

I have 8th graders first hour. They walked in to see a long rehearsal order and new reed prices (a significant increase) posted on the board. Then I heard this from a GSM student,

Student: (quite loudly) Oh my Lord!
Miss Koutz: Uh, would you like to try that again?
Student: (same volume) Oh my Holy Spirit!

I couldn't hold back the laughter. I tried but it just didn't work. The entire class was full of funny comments. There is no way I could write them all down. Most of them include inside jokes for our class and if you aren't familiar with middle school students you wouldn't laugh anyway.

After class, I told two girls they needed to pick up the pace or they would be late. One of them thought I told her to pick up her pants. Her response:

Student: (Tries to pull up pants) I know I was already pulled over for them being too long.
Miss Koutz: Not pants, pace. You need to hurry up or you'll be late.
Student: Oh! I thought you were talking about my pants because I was pulled over this.....
Miss Koutz: What!? You really did just say pulled over!? Were you driving your car down the hallway?
Student: Yea I got a ticket too.

She really did explain her dress code violation as if a cop had pulled her over on the road. Then I met with my principal about some upcoming transitions and I'm pretty sure she cracked jokes about every Old Testament story there is including calling herself Abednego. We walked out of her office so hard people turned and walked the opposite direction rolling their eyes.

Okay so only about two of you really understand how funny those conversations are and why it is so funny to me I would dedicate an entire post to it. The rest of you will have to just deal with it because it is my blog. I sure hope the rest of the day goes this well. I'm teaching double duty this afternoon.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Living Examples of Jesus, Part 10

I love camp!!!! Over the last year or so I've had the chance to reconnect (Thank you facebook!) with some of the faculty members that allowed God to use them to impact my life when I was a camper. Their obedience to God literally shaped the rest of my journey. And yes I stole all of these pictures from facebook. Stop judging me!

Camp Faculty Members

Don Stowell
(you should add a picture to facebook so I can steal it)
When I was in middle school I insisted on attending the 8th & 9th grade camp lead by Don. At first it was because it was closer to being high school week than the 7th & 8th week but after that it was because the week was so incredibly amazing! Every time you walked by Don at camp there was a high five or a hug followed by incredible words of encouragement. I imagine Jesus was much like that, encouraging the people he came in contact with. I remember one summer I was frustrated and didn't think there was really anything I could do well. I don't know if he had caught wind of this or not but one night he pulled me aside and listed the things I had done that week that had impacted someone else. He even gave me a nickname the reflected that. Reminds me of when Jesus gave Peter his name.

Tracy and Wendy Tooley
At one of those weeks of middle school camp, Tracy and Wendy Tooley were my family leaders. WOW!!! Talk about one incredible family group. I never thought I would meet people who were so passionate about Jesus and knew how to have a ton of fun. I remember family discussions about God's forgiveness and unfailing love. Every time we had verses ready to recite to them, Tracy will drill us with questions about the meaning of the passage. Tracy and Wendy understood the value of taking family time and pouring into a group of students. They shared so much wisdom with us and I tried to soak in as much as I could. I'm sure the conversations and silly things we did were much like the times Jesus sat around with his 12 disciples.

DJ Weiss
When I was a high school camper, DJ lead the high school week. I also considered him my adopted youth minister. We did a ton of things at our church when I was in high school but we didn't have an official youth minister. DJ followed up with how things were going through out the school year. He would invite me to come along on trips or join Bible studies with his youth group. More than anything he always challenged me to spend more time in the word. He would ask how things were going and then immediately ask how my time with God had been. It was that accountability that helped me develop the discipline to spend time studying and praying daily. He never judged me when I got lazy. He just always pointed me back to the Father, just like Jesus.

Matt Schantz
I first remember meeting Matt when my brother, Matthew started attending CMU where Matt is the campus minister. I remember tagging along with Matthew to hang out with friends from His House or sit in on a Bible study. Then I went to high school week and Matt was there. Matt is another one of those incredibly encouraging people. I'll never forget the summer I was the only girl who decided to play ultimate frisbee. After the game Matt pulled me aside and said, "You're a pretty good frisbee player. Don't let anyone else ever tell you you can't do something because you are a girl. You have special gifts. Use them." Over the next few summers at camp and the times I saw him during the school year he helped me discover some leadership skills I didn't know I had and taught me how to start embracing them as a gift from God. Kind of reminds me how Jesus pulled out the gifts in some crazy fishermen.

There are many more stories and many more people. Check out some of the previous posts in this series or stay tuned. There will me more to come!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Living Examples of Jesus, Part 9

I know I have been talking about adding to this list for months now but I'm actually going to do it this time. Thanks to a little encouragement from a friend to pick up the pace of my blogging. Look out ya'll!

Tom and Jill Neyhart
(I stole this picture from Lowell Kosak, who should start a blog.)

There is no other way to put it. These two are simply amazing! I first met them at camp several years ago and I have been challenged by them every summer since then. How many people would drive several hours to come prayer over the college campuses in your town?!

Tom has encouraged me over and over again to keep pursuing the gifts God has given me. At times when I feel like I don't have what it takes he is quick to offer a word of encouragement and a swift kick in the rear end to get me moving again. Plus he is a Reds fan, which makes him even more amazing.

Jill is full of so much wisdom and faith. I've learned so much from watching her lead in her own unique way. She has taught me the value of knowing when it is time to be hands-on and when it is time to be hands-off. I'm always amazed at how well she does that too. She has taught me about the value of pouring yourself into others even if you don't understand the whole situation.

Over the last year or so God has really stretched Tom and Jill and their faithfulness through it all is a great testimony to God's faithfulness. I listen to their stories and am blown away. All God calls us to do is to be obedient and he'll take care of the rest. Tom and Jill are such incredible examples of that truth. I'm so grateful for them!

Thanks for showing me Jesus friends!!!

Part 1: Jeffrey Myers
Part 2: Michael and Jeannette Cox
Part 3: Nellie "Granny" Hubbard
Part 4: Eric and Mary Christian
Part 5: Jason Miller
Part 6: Wally Lowman & DJ Olson
Part 7: Lois Koutz-Carver
Part 8: The Inner Circle

Thursday, July 23, 2009

An "Only Sarah" Story

This evening I was sitting in my apartment rather bored. I thought I need to call Tia and hang out. So we make plans to head to her place and hang out. There were some other random people there and her dad build us a wonderful bonfire to sit and chat around.

We sat there for quite some time sharing stories about the different camps we had all been to and the things God did during those weeks. Around 11:30 or so Tia decides it is time for a good roof sitting party. I was a bit nervous when she told me I had to climb a TV antennae since I had just tripped on the gutter. I climbed up anyway. (Don't tell my ankle doctor!)

Three of us were on the house sitting when we noticed a call pull up. At first I thought they were going to ask for directions but the man gets out of the car. I realize pretty quickly it's a cop. Tia and her sister head over to talk with him and another friend informs the two of us on the roof we should get down.

I'm thinking, "Great, we are too loud and someone called the cops on us. Fantastic. Here I thought we were being pretty quiet. Well, except for when I tripped over the gutter." We get down only to hear the officer tell us we need to go inside and lock the doors. Evidently the video store behind the house was robbed at gun point and the man fled on foot by the house.

So we head inside and lock the door. But first Tia runs out the back door to find out what the screaming in the back ways. However, the cops shined her down with a flashlight and she took off running back in the house. Here we are chilling in the living room watching out the window when the cops come running by with dogs, which appeared to be following a scent they did not like.

We finally decided we should wake up Tia's parents in case the police wanted to ask questions or come inside. Good thing we did because not long after the police were at the door asking what we saw or heard. We weren't much help though. We watched them search the area some more. Tia got pretty angry when one of the dogs urinated on their mailbox. We probably should have found a safer place than by an uncovered window, but we were content.

Even after the police had cleared the area we said inside and let our imaginations run wild with what if's. What if we had gone to the roof about ten minutes earlier? Would we have seen the whole thing? What if our friend Sarah would have shown up ten minutes earlier to the house? Would he have run right by her? What if we would have gone to rent a movie like we talked about? What if the guy was under our cars? What if he would have stolen the cars? What if he would have demanded to hide in the house? Our imaginations soared and we laughed at the whole thing. All while being amazed at how timing is everything and God protected us.

These are the types of stories I love to tell when I go home because people can't believe it actually happens. These are the stories I tell and then are immediately asked if I ever get scared living and teaching in South Bend.

Truth be told I'm not scared. After all I am the one that ran out of my apartment to chase the two punks who were trying to break into my car. These things make for great stories and we'll share the memories for years to come. As my family would say, "Only you, Sarah. Only you."

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Chicag09 Pictures

Here are some pictures from our trip. Even though we only had one camera we took a ton of pictures.

You can see Jeff's from day 1 before our equipment was stolen here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chicag09 is Here!

We have arrived safely in Chicago and are getting cleaned up from our first day of serving. I'll be posting daily on our Chicag09 blog so stop by and check it out.

Leave a message for the team. They love them...even if they don't know who it is from. They've been asking me all day if anyone has left a comment and we haven't even been here 24 hours.

Thanks so much for those of you who are praying for us. God is going to do some great things this week.

Privilege and Blessing

I love watching students grow and take steps towards Christ. Some students run full speed ahead. Some students may fall down a few times before them move forward. Anyway you look at it, I love being a part of it.

And every now and then you have students who you get the privilege of serving along side after watching them grow in the walk. I've been blessed to be able to do that with several students over the last few years. I decided I would share two of those stories with you.

Tomorrow my good friend, Kari, leaves for the Dominican Republic. She will be spending her summer doing an internship there. I first met Kari at youth group shortly after I came on staff at her church. After I finished college, we continued to meet for coffee on a weekly basis. Then we worked on camp staff together one summer. It has been an awesome experience to watch her grow and learn from her as well. I love that I'm still able to go and visit her at school about once a semester. I don't know what I'll do when she graduates. I'm so proud of her for committing her summer to serving Christ!

This is a picture of our family group from camp last week. Standing behind me in the white and blue baseball shirt is Tyler Piercefield. I found out several weeks before camp that he and I would be leading a group together and I chuckled. I first met Tyler when I was in high school working at Rock Lake. He was probably only about 9 years old at the time. He was one of those campers who made you laughed. I moved away and didn't see him again until he was a high school camper. Since then he would randomly come to mind and I would pray for him. I had no idea I would have the privilege of serving along side him for a week. He also is spending his summer serving Christ as a part of GLCC's camp team. I'm proud of him too.

Two different students that I never would have imagined being able to work with again once they were out of high school. Two students that I now call friends. I can't wait to see where God takes them from here. It is such a privilege and blessing to be a part of what God is doing in the lives of students. I'm so thankful I get to be a part of it!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Deeper Life 2009

There is so much I could share about Deeper Life and I'm sure I will eventually. Right now all my focus is on our Chicag09 trip. So until then you can check out these pictures and follow our Chicag09 team HERE.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Chicag09 is coming soon!

Tuesday we'll load up a GCC shuttle and head to Chicago for a week. Here are some pictures of our last team meeting. I absolutely love this team and can't wait to see what God has in store for us.

A Week in Vestaburg

I was fortunate enough to spend the first week of this month in Vestaburg with my family. I helped with Vacation Bible School at the camp and watched a lot of ball. Here are some pictures of the crazy week.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Vacation Pictures

Here are some pictures. I'm hoping to do some more blogging next week. Until then enjoy the pictures.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Year Later...

Those of you who have read my blog for awhile may remember this post from a year ago about spraining my ankle right before our concert started. I was walking down the stage steps and the step cracked.

It is now a year later. It was the same concert and the same step. I fell...again. They never fixed the step they just turned it around. That created a small whole towards the back of that step. My left foot got caught in it. I went to step down and rolled my right ankle.

After school I headed to the OT clinic and the doctor remembered me from a year ago. After x-rays and some painful tests, he told me I have another horrible sprain and a tiny chip in the ankle bone. Fortunately the chip is really more of a "flake" and in a part of the bone that shouldn't case any problems...just pain.

He was quick to tell me I couldn't do anymore concerts and had to stay away from the stage. Not going to happen. We have another concert on Thursday. All I'm suppose to do is teach. Boo! I'm still going on our retreat and no one can stop me!!!!

Never a dull moment in my life!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Golden Apple Award

You may recall my previous post about how my dad was awarded the Golden Apple Award. Here is a link to the article and clip from the news. Look at how red is little face is. GO DADDY!!!!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

A Morning Peace

This morning as I was praying and getting ready for work some random things popped into my head. I ignored them and carried on. As I was driving to work I asked God why he placed those people and situations on my mind. As usual, I didn't expect his response...to give you peace.

Well that made no sense to me since I really had no negative feelings or anxiety attached to these things, at least that I'm aware of right now. But God always knows what is best and he felt the need to give me a little more peace in that truth. If I were running my life, who knows how messed up it would be!

I was reminded how amazing it is to be able to serve a God who has my best interest at heart. I know when God leads me down a path it is always for my own good. I never have to doubt that. When I think I want something for my life and He says no or wait, that is the best thing for me.

I love it when I wake up and God blows my mind.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

MS Girls Retreat, Part 1

Here are some of the pictures from our middle school girls retreat last weekend. For some reason I took WAY too many pictures. None of these are edited and some how the settings got changed in the middle of the group pictures. So please don't judge me too harshly. More thoughts on the weekend coming soon. Enjoy!

Little Things

Little things make or break your day.

Getting messages from my dad's students about how much they appreciated having him as a teacher.
Laughing with my 8th graders.
Celebrating the passing of math finals with friends.
Worshiping with friends.
Thumbs up and high fives from friends as I make the lonely walk across the room to take wheat-free communion.
A quick hug and hello from a good friend a rarely get to talk to.
Laughing with friends after service about how to get the best sound out of a cymbal.

Yup! These things made my day.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Happy Teacher Day!

Today in National Teacher Appreciation Day, at least that is what the calendar in my classroom says. Typically that means absolutely nothing but not this year. Our family of educators has much to celebrate today.

After fighting the state of Michigan in court, the people of Vestaburg were given the chance to vote on a bond proposal today. This proposal will give the school the funds to improve the facilities for safety and energy efficiency reasons. Part of that proposal is to build a new media center, which is desperately needed. This means my mom will have the capacity to better server her students in a better facility. She has been waiting a long time for this opportunity.

Today was also the day a local TV station announced the winners of the Golden Apple Award my Daddy was nominated for last month. A couple reporters and camera men walked into Dad's classroom today to present him with his award!!!!! TV cameras in Vestaburg all because my Dad is an amazing teacher! There are only three awards given in the state and my Dad has one of them!!!! Mom said she has never seen my dad's so speechless before. He was completely surprised. He even made the evening news! He deserves this more than you can even imagine. I wish I could be just half the educator he is!

I never thought I would say this but Vestaburg was the place to be today. I can't explain to you how much excitement there has been in our family today. Praise God!!! Wish I could have been there to celebrate with my parents.

Congratulations Mom and Dad! Happy Teacher Day!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Walking through Proverbs

Earlier this semester another GSM leader (Allison) and I decided to start studying Scripture with one of our GSM students (Ditto). We walked through the book of Romans together and recently started the book of Proverbs. I don't know about anybody else but I tend to find Proverbs a difficult book to study. It often just seems way to ADD for me. However, I'm loving our study and tonight's discussion was awesome. We took a look at Proverbs 3 and 4.

We summed up our big take away from chapter 3 and everyone had completely different answer! Each of their perspectives brought more depth to mine. That lead to a great discussion about how where we bring our own experiences to Scripture.

We also spent a lot of time discussing verses 20-27 of chapter 4. There was a great conversation about the "randomness" of verse 24. Check it out.
20 My child, pay attention to what I say.
Listen carefully to my words.
21 Don’t lose sight of them.
Let them penetrate deep into your heart,
22 for they bring life to those who find them,
and healing to their whole body.
Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.
Avoid all perverse talk;
stay away from corrupt speech.
25 Look straight ahead,
and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
26 Mark out a straight path for your feet;
stay on the safe path.
27 Don’t get sidetracked;
keep your feet from following evil.
We had a great conversation about verse 24. At first glance it seems pretty random, even to the point some might look over it. But we all came to the conclusion that there is nothing random about it. What do you think?

Five Rough Days

The last five days have been very long ones. I did nothing but sleep and watch movies. I'm not really the type of person who likes to spend time alone. In fact if I have to go an entire with not talking to another person face-to-face, I feel like I'm going to explode. Imagine five days of that!

But that is what it takes to get over a horrible case of bronchitis. According to my doctor if I would have waited any longer to come in I probably would have had pneumonia. Fantastic! Of course when I went back to work today I got a million questions about whether I had the swine flu or not. I'm not sure it was the best decision to go back but there is a big deadline tomorrow morning and ISTEP started today. I'm so thankful to be feeling a little bit better.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What is this?

God is up to something. About 20 minutes ago I finished the last of the "Must get done Today" list. Needless to say I started that list around 6:30 this morning. I decided I would quickly check my e-mails, voice-mails and such to make sure there was nothing I was forgetting before I finally head to bed. Somewhere in the midst of that something strange started to happen.

My heart started beating a little faster. There is a uneasy stillness in my chest. For a stillness, it sure rattles a lot. It is a sense of urgency but I'm not sure what for. What is this restlessness I asked myself? Not having any idea I decided to retrace my steps, but my thought process had evidently disappeared. I don't remember what I was thinking. This feeling is stirring in my gut and rushing to my entire being.

What or who can cause such anxious feelings covered with a peace that is hard to understand? For me these feelings can't co-exist, a rattling stillness and an anxious peace. Such polar opposites cannot come together. But that is the very thing which leads me to believe it must be Jesus. Only God can fuse together such things. Past experience tells me when an urgency this great overtakes you, God is up to something great.

I have no words to place with these feelings. I have no meaning for them. Only a source far greater than I can conceive and some dreams to fill with endless possibilities. What could the ultimate Creator be designing next? What shape is he molding?

Only time will tell, as I treasure the beauty of the collision that is happening inside me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easily Annoyed

I am easily annoyed today. Here are a 10 easy ways to easily annoy me. Some of these may or may not have happened in the last 24 hours.
  1. Park directly over the yellow lines instead of between them. (Even worse when multiple cars have done this in a small parking lot.)
  2. Smack your lips at me or look at me like I've ruined your entire life after giving you a writing assignment and detention for not having your instrument multiples days in a row.
  3. Overflow the trash and never take it out.
  4. Blatantly ignore me. Not cool!
  5. Continuously ask me why I'm in my late 20s not married, still live in an apartment or chose an easy career like teaching. Seriously?!
  6. Walk away from me while I'm talking to you.
  7. WHINE!
  8. Leave dirty dishes laying around for several days. Worse yet, don't even rinse them. (Teacher's lounges can be gross!)
  9. Make excessively loud noises at night while others are sleeping.
  10. Be stupid and fail to use common sense on a regular basis.
Wow. I'm annoyed just typing that.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My Little Man

My sister-in-law, Nicole, took this picture for me today when we were at my grandma's for lunch. When Logan walked into the house he was still dressed up for church, complete with his new tie. He came running to give Cora and me a hug. I leaned over to hug him and whispered in his ear, "Hey there my little man. You are one handsome looking fellow. I love you!" He rolled his eyes and ran off.

I don't know if he was looking at these pictures with his mom tonight or what but this is what he told his mommy. I'm not going to lie; I teared up a little when I read it.
"I love aunt Sarah very much! I am glad your in my family!"

Spring Break 09 - Take 3

My plans to take over the world while I was on spring break started out very well. Unfortunately those plans hit several bumps later in the week. Guess I'll try again next break, which is SUMMER!!!

As you can tell from my previous posts I had a great time visiting my family. I even got to chat with Anna on the phone this weekend. You won't be surprised to find out I took lots of pictures just for you to enjoy.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

It will be in Heaven!!!

We started making a list of a few things from the Farmer In The Dell we think will be in heaven.
  • Turtle Sundaes
  • Flurries
  • Lemon Shakes
  • Strawberry/Orange Dole Swirl
  • Ice cream cones (Lois insisted I add that)
  • Chocolate covered frozen bananas with nuts
  • Smoothies
We also agreed that Sonic's strawberry limeades will be in heaven as well. All are simply amazing!

Just for Jeff

After posting the picture of Cora and I playing the piano my friend, Jeff, demanded I start teaching her the drums. Well we’ve tried that a few times and it didn’t work out so well. She has cried every time. Even thrown a couple sticks and maraca. I was able to get a picture though.

However, it appears her favorite instrument, at least right now, is the organ, but only certain settings. She gets very upset if you change it. Look how intense she is when she plays.

Afternoon Nap

This is how we spent our Saturday afternoon.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, April 10, 2009

Just for Jon

When we were younger my brother loved going out back and hitting golf balls into the field. My job was to chase the balls after he ran out. One day while he was practicing his swing he promised to teach me how to golf when I was older. I'm still waiting.

Then someone came up with this great invention called the Wii. I've become a far better Wii bowler than I'll ever be in real life. I was hoping the same would be true in golf. The first time I played those dreams were shattered but I thought I would give it another shot this weekend. Here's what happened.
I'm so nervous about this game. My nephew just shot one over par on the first hole. (Actually my practice swings were so bad, Logan said I need to get a nerf club to help me.)

Please let me hit the ball right. Please let me hit the ball right.

FAIL! I wanted to break that Nerf club. It didn't help me at all. I was 5 over on the first hole. I quit not long after that.

Rumor has it that my friend Jon is going to start a side business of giving wii golf lessons. I also know he is really good. So good I might now be able to afford him. I'm hoping after reading this he'll feel so sorry for me, he'll donate part of his time.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Nap time

Cora and I are going to take a nap on the couch as we watch a movie. Last night we were looking at old pictures and discovered that Cora looks a lot like me as a baby. We are so cute!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Ice Cream!

The Farmer In The Dell has opened. I'll be going there at least once a day while I'm home. Today I had a Turtle. AMAZING!! Tomorrow who knows?!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Never Too Early

It is never to early to teach my girls to play the piano!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Warm Welcome

My family has called, sent text messages and used facebook to beg me to come home soon for break. When I finally got home Amanda came running out of the house and almost tackled me. Adam greeted me at the door with baby Cora. Emily came running with a hug. Lois was snapping a million pictures and Heather stood and laughed. Sometimes coming home makes me feel so loved.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Settling for Half the Picture

For the last few months I've been reading and re-reading the book of Hebrews. Every time I read I keep coming back to this idea. So I thought I would blog about it. But before I go on let me make it perfectly clear I am NOT a scholar. In fact I must have zoned out during the seminary lectures on Hebrews because I don't remember any of them!

As I've been reading I've tried to imagine myself both the shoes of the author and the audience. When I think about the recipients of this letter, I can't help but sense this battle of tension they are facing. They've grown up with this wonderful gift from God, the law. They have followed incredible leaders along their journey. It was their life, their every being. It was what they knew.

Now they've met Jesus. He took the law and showed its beauty in its entirety. They now had a bigger picture of God and his kingdom. What Christ did was so different from what they were expecting, some where a little unsure of what to do with Jesus. So they took Jesus and his teachings and tried to put it in the same nice box they had placed the law.

I find myself in that same boat as the audience. God reveals himself to me. I encounter him in new ways. I read his word and am amazed at his greatness. Sometimes it blows me away so much I don't know what to do with. I store it away in a corner of my mind and leave it there because it is so good I don't want to lose it. But instead of making it a part of me it stays in the corner and I settle for only part of the picture. I keep living as though that piece of God's goodness doesn't apply to me.

I read Hebrews and imagine the heart and feelings of the author. The passion this writer has for these people to understand the greatness of Christ and his love is very clear. He longs very deeply for these people to understand the bigger picture. He wants them to understand that Jesus is IT, the whole thing. He is the one who shows them the Father, the Creator, the one who gave them that law that they love.

He wants to them to understand the law is so much more than they imagined because in Christ the law has been fulfilled FOREVER! The box they had tried to live in has burst open and this life that Christ has brought them is more beautiful than anything they could imagine. Christ brought them the rest of the picture.

However, some of them just don't seem to grasp that, much like me. I think about the author of this book and I think about how God might feel when I respond in the same way. How does he feel when I settle for just a smaller part of the law? What am I saying to him when I live my life for the law and strive for nothing less than perfection? How does he feel when my actions say I'll earn my way to us instead of fully accepting the beautiful sacrifice of Christ?

I'm excited to continue to wrestle with this as I continue to dig into Hebrews. And as I move forward this is my prayer.
Beautiful Jesus, your life and sacrifice is the greatest gift I could ever be given. Forgive me for my desires to focus on the smaller picture of you and your kingdom. Help me take those truths I've stored in the corners of my mind and bring them into my everyday life. Help me take off the blinders that block me from seeing the bigger picture of you. You are far greater than I can conceive. I'm so thankful for your patience with me and you constant pursuit of me.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Spring Break 09 - Take 2

The T-Shrit Gang
Brooke, Allison, Ang, Stephanie, me, Katie & Rachel

Most of you know I have top secret plans to take over the world over spring break. You may have read and seen pictures from the first phase of this plan. Phase 2 is now complete despite a few set backs.

The T-Shirt Gang (I just came up with that name) decided to keep it simple tonight and enjoy an evening at Uptown Kitchen. We got there and they closed at 2 PM!!! Who does that? I mean seriously! So we had to come up with a back up plan and headed to Friday's.

Unfortunately not everyone could be there but it was still a great time. These girls are some of the most encouraging girls I know. They have helped me through some tough times so I decided to make it a very encouraging night for them. Hopefully they had as much fun as I did.

Phase 3 has two parts and it by far the most complicated of the phases. We'll see what happens.

Slow down

At the beginning of the school year I set a goal to create some space in my schedule for rest. That hasn't happened much this semester. In fact I had been running so fast and doing so much I couldn't hear myself think.

Last summer a friend of mine pulled me aside and asked how I was REALLY doing? I was so caught off guard I didn't know how to respond. This friend was patient enough to give me some space to answer but the truth was I had no clue. I had been running forward so hard for so long I had never taken the time to think about it. My friend knew this and quickly reminded me how important slowing down to rest is. They were painful words to hear at the time but words that hold truth and love.

A few weeks ago I talked with this friend again and was asked the same question. I stumbled over my words to come up with a quick answer and change the subject as quickly as possible. As I drove home after that conversation I realized how distracted I had become by life. The words of last summer's conversation replayed over and over in my head. Here I was again flying through life without taking time to breathe.

So I started this year's spring break with nothing on my schedule. Since Friday afternoon I haven't done much. I've met a few friends. Spent lots of time just chatting with Jesus and reading. It has been glorious. I'm so glad I started break this way.

I read this today, which is what inspired this post, and thought I would share it.
How kind the Lord is! How good he is!
So merciful, this God of ours!
The Lord protects those of childlike faith;
I was facing death, and he saved me.
Let my soul be at rest again,
for the Lord has been good to me.
He has saved me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.
And so I walk in the Lord’s presence
as I live here on earth!
Psalm 116:5-9

Monday, April 06, 2009

Family of Educators

I come from a family of genius educators, which most days makes me feel inadequate as an educator. My parents are teachers. I have aunts and uncles who teach at the college level. Several of my cousins have gone into education. They are all very good too.

Uncle Ron is one of those. He is a professor of psychology at York University. He was recently featured in an online magazine for his use of technology in his courses. For those of you outside the education world, making use of technology in teaching is a HUGE deal. You can read the article here.

Recently my dad was nominated by his student council to receive a Golden Apple Award. My understanding is there are only three handed out in the state. Here is what one of his students wrote about him.
Larry Koutz - Math Teacher
Vestaburg High School
Mr. Koutz is a very hard worker. He knows how to get through to any student. He is a no-nonsense teacher and truly cares about the education of our youth. He has been a teacher at Vestaburg High School for 37 yrs. He is the student council adviser, quiz bowl coach, and he keeps score for every boys and girls basketball game, boys football game, and girls volleyball game including both middle school and high school games. He also teaches many college and dual enrollment mathematics courses and many times does so without the benefit of a prepatory period. In addition, he is a very active member of the community and participates in many community activities. He is truly an amazing teacher and person and is greatly respected by the entire community.
He was my favorite teacher of all time. He'll do whatever he can to help students understand the material. Even answering math questions over the phone late at night! Voting is currently taking place and the winners of this reward will be announced in May. You can read more about the award or vote for him here.

I'm proud of my daddy and Uncle Ron. I've learned a lot from both of them. Hopefully it helps me become a better teacher.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Spring Break 09 - Take 1

Spring break is here!!!! Glory! Hallelujah! Praise Jesus! I don't think I've ever been more ready for a break than I was this year. I kicked off break by spending Friday night at home watching movies. This was mostly because I was just too tired to do anything else. Saturday after church I went to dinner and hung out with some student ministry friends at the Curry Casa.

It has been a great to relax and not do much of anything but I've been waiting for tonight for several weeks. The GLCC Concert Choir had their home concert tonight and my friend Kari happens to be a part of the group. So a few weeks ago I put all the final details together and arranged a surprise visit to see Kari sing. It was a great concert and I'm so glad I made the trip to Lansing.

I'm so proud of Kari. She is doing amazing things for the Kingdom. I've loved watching God stretch her and show her His plan for her life. I love that she gives all of her gifts back to God, whether it's volleyball, singing or just being an amazing friend. God is using her in big ways and I'm glad I got to be a part of it tonight.

Enjoy the first set of photos from Spring Break 09!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I thought it was funny...

I got a Facebook message from a friend asking for my mailing address. I responded concluding the message with this:
Please don't send me any hate mail, exploding packages or wheat. Thank you.

I thought it was funny. Fortunately, so did my friend. She thought it was laugh out loud funny. Finally the one time I'm trying to be funny it worked. It will probably never happen again.

Yea there really was no point to this post.


- First Wednesday was incredible tonight. You can't sit and reflect on Christ and his life for over an hour and not be stirred.
- Random worlds colliding this week. Interested to see what God does with that.
- Some days I just look at my girls at school and tell them boys can be dumb. It is easier than having to deal with the drama. Does this make me a bad person?
- 2 days and 1 concert left until Spring Break. Guess I should make some plans.
- "Sarah they have special Jesus bread for you!"
- Really do you have to turn the tv up that loud. And why must the neighbors ALWAYS slam their door and stomp from room to room? You know you are loud when the deaf girl things you are!
- I think I'm going to be keeping my dart gun handy the rest of the week. My car is strategically parked right by my bedroom window.
- I get to see my baby Cora next week and meet my brother's foster boys.
- I'm having a spring break party.
- Chicag09 and camp is getting closer and closer! Yippee!!!!
- My apartment is trashed again. Having concerts two weeks in a row is not good for the housekeeping.
- This may be the most boring scatterbrained post I've done. Life is boring these days I guess.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Manic Monday Madness

Yesterday I had a bad cause of the Monday blues so I decided to go to bed at 9 PM. Who does that? I'll tell you who doesn't. People who like to break into cars! That's who doesn't go to bed at 9 PM.

About 15 seconds after I walk in my bedroom and turn the light on, my car alarm starts going off. I turn off the light look out the window and sure enough there are two guys out there and my trunk is open. One has already started to run away. The other still shocked that the alarm went off. (Even I didn't know that would happen!) So I grab my keys and cell phone, slip on my shoes and run outside. I was about to let them have it.

Of course they were long gone by the time I got out there. There was no damage to the car and nothing was missing. The most valuable thing in my car is my old softball mitt and I need a new one anyway. All was well so I locked it up and went back inside.

I called my parents to tell them the story and my mom was none to pleased with me. She gave me a good lecture about how dangerous it was to run outside. I told her next time I'll take my dart gun with me. She still wasn't impressed but I wasn't even scared. Shoot! Try to mess with my car when I bust out my teacher voice and dart gun. They will run away in tears if they come in contact with that combo!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wedding Bells

Tonight my friend Lindsay got married!!!! It was a beautiful wedding and a perfect reflection of both Lindsay and Aaron's personalities. Here are some picture from the festivities.

March Chick Nite

This month we decided to try something completely new for Chick Nite and do a murder mystery. It was an absolute blast and complete success! We found a great package that had plenty of characters and an appropriate plot. The best part is there were only five male parts that five of us agreed to cover.

Here are all the pictures I took tonight. None of them are edited or sorted. If you want you can head over to my facebook and see the edited pictures that help tell the story of the night. This was one of my favorite Chick Nites yet. Good times with amazing students and incredible leaders. I love it!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Simple Phone Call

There are a few things that just seem to be weighing me down this week and I've struggled to kick past it. I was thinking about these things as I left work today. I was about two blocks from the school when my phone rang. I was a little surprised when I saw the name of a good friend and the conversation I was about to have was not at all what I expected.

Simple phone call with the only purpose being to encourage. There were no strings attached. It wasn't a special occasion. Simply, Thank you. I appreciate you. You encourage me. I'm grateful for you. I see Jesus in you and here's how.

Umm...what?! Did my friend dial the wrong number? Those words keep running through my mind. I've been speechless since then. All evening I've struggled to process it all. Then it hit me. Stop doubting the truth of it. Stop trying to process it. Rest in the encouragement.

I don't deserve the opportunities God has given me. There is plenty I can be doing better. But for tonight I'm thankful for amazing friends that speak truth in my life even when it is hard to hear. I've honestly never felt so humbled, encouraged and blessed as I feel tonight.

Thank you, Abba, for your overwhelming grace. It is only because of you that a glimpse of beauty can be seen in this mess. The work you're doing in me is far beyond anything I could have imagined and your plans are much greater than I'll ever be able to conceive.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


- I think it is funny the announcement on the top of my screen says "Thursday (3/25)." I do that ALL the time.
- Band directors are possibly the oddest people you'll ever meet. Put them together and you'll either laugh hysterically or run and hide.
- Excuse me who is that?
- I'm so glad baseball/softball season is here. I still think I made the right decision by not coaching.
- Change can be such a good thing.
- I can't wait to get notes from tonight's Journey Class from my buddy Jeanna. She rocks!
- Why am I writing this blog? I should be sleeping or catching up on reading?
- I think I try to call my sister tomorrow to see how her broken toe is.
- Spring break is 9 days, 7 school days, and one concert away. I should make some plans.
- I'm still planning to take over the world. Plans have been adjusted slightly and final details are coming into place.
- This really isn't so random tonight. Mostly because my brain is dead right now.
- GCC-E moves into their new location this weekend. Yippee!!!
- I'm hungry for air-popped popcorn but it is too late.
- I'm VERY excited about an evening of nothing tomorrow!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

March Girls Only

Here are the pictures from Friday night's Girls Only fun. I also thought I would share a few funny moments from the evening.

skoutz: That's not true. I lied.
Tia: Nice. So you took a bite of the apple with Eve?
skoutz: Yup. I sure did. It was wheat-free.

Blake: (reading a Laffy Taffy wrapper) What kind of shoes do mice wear?
skoutz: I don't know! Tiny ones?
Blake: Squeakers
Tia: Aaahhh!!! That is my life verse!

And Eden's life verse...
What do you call a nun sleepwalking?
A Roman Catholic

Yes we ate and read lots of Laffy Taffy wrapper. This has lead me to make an executive decision to open the second chapter of the Laffy Taffy Club. It is a great honor to welcome the new GCC chapter. In honor of this great moment I leave you with this question.

Where do you put noisy dogs?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Live. Learn. Share.

We've all made stupid choices in life, especially when we are in middle school and high school. I've fallen into this category, plenty of times. Some of those choices don't change much in my life. Their consequences dwindle fast. Other times those choices have a huge impact on every aspect of my life. Lots of times those stupid choices are surrounded with my absolute best intentions. I may even think I'm making the best possible choice later to find out I was wrong.

Thankfully as I've gotten older I've learned how to think before I act. I've learned to evaluate options and make wiser choices. I'm not perfect by any means but I'm grateful for some of those stupid choices I've made.

God has used them to shape me and show me more of himself. He even takes them and uses them for good. Over the last two days I've had several opportunities to share about the choices, good and bad, that I've made in my life. I've shared with my students at school, our GSM students and a few local college students.

I'm so thankful I serve a God who lovingly reaches down and turns my messes into the beautiful creation he intended.

"For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:10

Live from the Band Room

I may be exhausted today but work has been full of laughter. Some of that laughter was in my head during a conversation with one of my students. When I first started this position this girl couldn't stand me and now she comes to me for all sorts of random advice. Today's topic: BOYS! This conversation may top any conversation that happens in my classroom.

Student: How do you know if a boys likes you?
Miss Koutz: Excuse me, what?! (I was taken a little off guard by this question.)
Student: You know. How do you know if a boy likes you? Like...LIKES you likes you?
Miss Koutz: hmmm....excellent question. Let me know if you figure out the answer.
Student: Ha! No really Miss Koutz. I'm serious. How do you know?
Miss Koutz: Uhh, you did notice there is no ring on my finger right? I'm probably not the best person to ask about this.
Student: I don't care. What do you think?
Miss Koutz: Well I'm not going to pretend like I know. I honestly have no clue. If a boy were to like me he would have to flat out tell me. And then he would have to tell me again later because I would probably laugh at him the first time.
Student: MISS KOUTZ! You would laugh at a boy if he said he liked you?! That isn't nice.
Miss Koutz: Well I wouldn't laugh AT him. I would laugh because I would think he was joking around. I just wouldn't think he was serious.
Student: Miss Koutz that is dumb!
Miss Koutz: Haha...yea it is. Moment of confession...I've done that before.
Student: Miss Koutz! I can't believe you.
Miss Koutz: Well, I'm just keeping it real.

We laughed. I wrote her a pass and sent her off to class. I'm so glad my stupidity is helping others in life.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Good Firm Talking To...

There has been so much on my mind the last few weeks. Situations I'm unsure how to handle. Questions I don't have answers for. Uncertainty that haunts the corners of my mind. Although it seems like there is a lot of unrest, I feel like it is a healthy level that is stretching me. Do I like? No way! Who likes challenging things that force you to be completely honest with yourself. That's just plain hard stuff my friends!

A weekend away with friends reminded me there isn't enough space in my schedule for rest and solitude. I started the school year doing really well with this. Now that work has picked up I've started to lose focus of those goals I set for myself in August. It didn't take much to remind me either. A quick teacher glance. A quiet "hmm?" A stern "Sarah!" I knew what needed to be done.

Tonight I put everything away and just sat with God for awhile. Of course it isn't surprising that at the end of that time, all of those challenges I mentioned earlier seem less intimidating. Too often I try to carry all that junk myself instead of allowing God to move and sort things out in His time. I'm so stubborn! Sometimes I just have to give myself a good firm talking to!

"Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen." Romans 11:33-36

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Going Home

It was a great weekend with phenomenal friends. Now it is time to load up and head back south.

I'll be back in town in time for rehearsal. GSM is going to be amazing today. I like Sundays!

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Some Favorites

This weekend has been about hanging out with some of my favorite people that I don't get to see very often. I spent the morning with my Mom hanging out around the house. Unfortunately Dad had to hit the road early for a math competition up north.

You just can't go wrong with a good cup of Biggby coffee and a great friend. That is exactly how I spent my afternoon laughing and catching up with James. He was even kind enough to give me some dart gun advice so Anna and I can successfully defend ourselves against our brother, Matthew.

I made a stop by the Great Lakes' campus to say a quick hello to a couple of the girls from my ministry days at Harris Prairie. Unfortunately I was only able to see one of them. Then it was off on a small adventure since I wasn't really sure where I was going.

My amazing buddy Brooke moved to the Grand Rapids area to do an internship in college ministry. When some of the plans changed at the last minute I called to see if she was up for a visit. I miss her very much and am loving the chance to hang out with her tonight. When the two of us are together, you just never know what is going to happen!

Spending a weekend with some of my favorite people...it just can't get much better than this! I'm one lucky girl to have some incredible friends.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Homeland

This is what happened when I got to my brother's house. His kids love to tackle me. After a short game I headed to my parents.

I love coming home to the stars. They are beautiful in Vestaburg. Right now we are watching Numbers and discussing the fine world of education. I love my parents!

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


This is my little sister Hannah. I was lucky enough to have dinner with her and her parents tonight. Wally and Steph are amazing people. They have taught me so much. I value every opportunity I get to spend time them. I love them!

Hannah challenged me to a game of checkers. I'm pretty sure she won.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, March 09, 2009

Partying with the Family

This weekend my younger sisters celebrated their 25th birthday and my brother and sister-in-law had a party to celebrate the adoption of my nieces. Despite not feeling well, I made the trip home to hang out and it was a blast. Everyone was home except one brother-in-law. Here are some pictures. Aren't my nieces and nephew adorable?!

March First Wednesday

Last Wednesday was First Wednesday, which means an amazing time of worship at GCC. This month's focus was on spreading God's love around the globe. It was a little different that most First Wednesdays but it lands on the charts as one of my favorites!

I've never met anyone as passionate about missions as Rob Wegner. He shared about the heart of God and how fast it beats for His people. At the end of the service he shared about the number of unreached people group who still have yet to hear the name of Christ. Everyone was given the name of a people group and the country in which they live and was asked to keep that people group in your prayers. I was very excited to find my card had the Azerbaijani nation in the northern part of Moldova. My little sister, Lois, went to Moldova on a mission trip when she was in college.

If you want to learn more about unreached people groups visit the Joshua Project website.