Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Holidays?

I love this time of year. Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on the blessings that we have. Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior. These holidays represent time with family, giving, and joy. But as I'm watching TV and seeing all of these Target Black Friday advertisements, I'm reminding of something: What I DON'T love about this time of year is what our society is turning this time of year into.

First off, Christmas decorations and advertisements are showing up earlier and earlier into November each year. Pretty soon, we're going to start seeing Christmas stuff in October! Have we forgotten about the holiday where we are supposed to thankful for what we have? What a horrible thing to forget!

Not only are we forgetting about Thanksgiving, but these advertisements are even skipping the MEANING of the time of year. We are bombarded with messages that we don't have enough stuff and we need to go shopping to get more. We are told that we need to spend money to make people think we care about them at Christmas time. Why can't we remember the purpose of Thanksgiving? Why can't we be thankful for what we have?

Last, the commercialism of Christmas is taking away the meaning of the holiday. Jesus was born, and we are supposed to be celebrating his birth! Just look at His life. What about His life says, "This is how Christmas should be celebrated"? The Target commercials that are running now are driving me crazy. Yes, I think it's great that we give to one another at Christmas. But, these commercials are promoting going literally crazy over the amount of stuff we can buy for our Christmas gifts.

Now, I know that I'm not the most frugal person in the world. I do enjoy shopping, but it's something I'm trying to work on in order to be a better steward of the resources I have. I just think that the commercialism of Christmas (and commercials like the current Target ones) are making us forget what Christmas is really all about.

I have set two goals for myself during this holiday season (and I hope that some of you will take on these challenges, as well!):
1. Focus on giving gifts that mean something. I'm planning on making a lot of my gifts this season, and if I buy something, it's going to have something sentimental to it.
2. Give of myself to others. I want to volunteer before Christmas in some capacity. I also want to sponsor a needy family via Angel Tree (or something like it) to bring them joy and help them feel loved this Christmas.

An interesting movement going on now is called Advent Conspiracy. It talks about trying to bring back the true meaning of Christmas. I love their slogan: "Worship More. Spend Less. Give More. Love All." They bring up some good points, and their website is worth a read. If you want more information, visit their website here:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Patience is MORE than a virtue!

I really love this Bible study I'm doing this semester! It's a study from Beth Moore (an amazing woman of God!) called "Living Beyond Yourself". It addresses the fruit of the Spirit, and each day, I learn something new about what I need to do in order to bear the fruit of the Spirit. This week talked about patience. I was really looking forward to this week because I NEED patience. I have struggled with patience all my life, and I NEEDED this week to learn about patience.

There are two big things I came away with this week involves patience with people. Patience with people is inspired by mercy, which requires forgiveness. The opposite of this patience is judgement. You cannot have patience with a person if you are judgmental of them. Not only does it bring more judgment upon yourself from God, but you cannot have mercy on them if you are judging them. I never saw patience and judgment as opposites, but now I know that this is a stumbling block for me having patience.

The other thing I learned was that frustrating people are placed in our lives to help God change us in some way (as well as that person!). Whether He wants to kill something in us or bring something to life in us, these frustrating people bring out the worst in us for a reason! I am praying that God will reveal to me what he wants me to get rid of/take on in light of the frustrating people in my life. I also learned that change has occurred when you respond differently to the same situation. While God's timing is perfect, I'm praying that He will change me soon so that I can practice patience with these frustrating people in my life!

I just wanted to share this because it helped me. Some of you may need to hear this, too, so I wanted to pass it on! It comforted me and made me know that there really is a time and purpose for everything in our lives!

Monday, October 10, 2011

What happens in 6th grade...

I started working with the afterschool Pathways to Success Program at school today, and I'm going to be working with 6th graders. While this may be challenging having to teach different material after 5 classes on the same thing, I really think these 6th graders will be a breath of fresh air to me. They were eager to listen, took out paper and took notes without complaining, and were ASKING for more problems to work and to complete the problems on the board. It was so refreshing after dealing with my 8th graders who complain on the regular. But then it got me to thinking...

What happens between 6th and 8th grade?

What happens to make these eager, interested, enthralled students turn into kids that don't seem to care about school? Why do they lose their interest in school and their ability to care about learning? What makes them do these?

I would be very interested in tracking these students' attitudes and interest in school throughout the rest of the year, as well as their 7th grade year. I want to see where it changes (or IF it could just be the dynamic of the different groups of students).

It was such a breath of fresh air to work with kids that were excited to learn, asking questions, and asking for more help when they needed it. What can I do to inspire this type of behavior in my students? I want to work with students like this every day, so I have got to do something to get my kids back to this point. I've got to figure out how to make learning cool again!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Wendy's Boycott

Throughout football season, I've been making trips up to my favorite college town to see my favorite team play. Despite the loss yesterday, I've enjoyed the trips, seeing good friends, and watching football in the land of Orange and Maroon. Unfortunately, these trips have made me realize I may need to boycott Wendy's for a little while.

Since I leave right after school, I usually stop for dinner on the way. There is a little town in South Carolina also named Blacksburg, so in the past, I saw it fitting to stop there. There is a gas station/Wendy's combination place, and I thought, what better place to stop than I place I can get gas as well as my favorite fast food?

Well, when I stopped there Labor Day weekend, I waited for about 10 minutes to get 5 chicken nuggets and fries. Some of the workers were just standing there for the majority of the time I waited, so I was a little frustrated. It doesn't take more than a minute to grab the nuggets and fries from their little sections under the heat lamp! (The more I think about that sentence, the more it makes me want to give up fast food all together.)

Two weeks later as I made my way for the second home game, I decided to go through the drive-through this time and get gas afterward. The drive-through line only took about 7 minutes this time, but the lady could not remember that I had ordered a Coke to drink. Every time she opened the window, she would ask me what drink I ordered. I get my food and then headed over to the gas pumps. Every single pump was filled, so I picked the closest pump and waited. Unfortunately, I picked the largest truck that took forever to fill up. Lanes would open, I would try to maneuver to them, but someone would beat me there. After about 5-8 minutes of waiting on a gas pump, I finally found an open pump and got my gas. Thank goodness I found another pump, because the original lane I was waiting on freed up as I was driving away.

After these two straight trips of sub-par experiences, I decided I'd try to stop at a different Wendy's this time. I stopped just north of Charlotte at a Wendy's and walked in. I had a very quick experience at this Wendy's and left happily with my food. I got back on the interstate before realizing that there were only 4 nuggets in my 5-piece! I decided this was Wendy's third strike, and they are out! I've decided to boycott Wendy's for a little while to cool off and hopefully have an enjoyable dining experience.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Patience is a virtue (that I'm not quite blessed with)

Well, my 2nd year of teaching is underway! We are actually on our third week of school, and so far, so good! This group of 8th graders seems to be a little smarter and a little better behaved than my last group. I'm very optimistic about this year, and I hope that my students will continue to live up to these high expectations!

I think the challenge that has been set before me this year is patience. There are already two situations forming this year in which my patience (what little of it there is) has already be tested. One involves a student, and one involves a co-worker. I pray every morning on the way to school that I will show God's love to everyone I come in contact with, but that is so hard to do with the little patience that I have, especially with these two! The student is one that continually asks questions after every statement I make, and the co-worker and I haven't fully fleshed out our co-teaching relationship together.

At church on Sunday, we read Romans 12 as a handbook for healthy relationships. There were 5 things that this Scripture says about forming healthy relationships:
1. Bring God into your relationships (Romans 12:1-2)
2. Let go of yourself (Romans 12:3-5)
3. Accept the worth of others (Romans 12:6-8)
4. Show REAL love (Romans 12:9-16)
5. Don't seek revenge (Romans 12:17-21)
In order to on my patience with these 2 patience-tryers, I think that I need to work on each of these steps in my teacher-student, co-worker-co-worker relationships. I especially need to focus on accepting the worth of these two people. We are each given gifts, and being inquisitive and being able to work with certain students' personalities are both things that have value to society. I just need to realize that value and how these gifts can enhance my classroom.

I hope all of y'all are having a good start to the school year/continuing to succeed in your jobs. Keep these 5 steps in mind when forming relationships with others as I try to do the same, especially in these already patience-trying relationships I'm building!

Monday, August 8, 2011


A lot of people claim they aren't cat people or that they hate cats because they aren't social. My cat, Tigger, was the exact opposite. Sure, she didn't like strangers, but she would warm up to you eventually. And once she did, she was the most affectionate, obedient, loving, and loyal cat I've ever met.

I'm writing this post because on Thursday night, my family had to put Tigger down. The vet discovered that she had a heart condition where she formed clots that would impede function of her legs. The condition could be treated, but the vet said it was very hard on the cats. He had treated one cat with this condition and said that he probably wouldn't do it again because of the pain the cat goes through. My dad, mom, and brother were all there with her and they said she died quickly.

I loved Tigger so much, and some people may think it's ridiculous that I'm so upset over her passing. I felt like she was my cat, though, and I wish I had been there to say goodbye to her.

We got Tigger when I was in 2nd grade. A classmate of mine had a broken arm, and I wrote things down for him during that time. He asked me one day if I wanted a kitten (his cat had just had 5 kittens) as a way to say thanks for how I'd helped him. I asked my mom, she said yes, and we went over the next day to pick Tigger out. When we sat down to name her, we were focusing on her stripes. After the suggestion of "Rainbow" by my then-4 yr old brother, we decided on "Tiger." Apparently, my parents both kept calling her "Tigger", so we changed the name.

I will miss the way Tigger would come sit on you when you were lying on the couch. She would always let you pet her and purr so loudly. She bit a little bit as a kitten, but as she grew up she wouldn't really get aggressive unless you provoked her. She was a great cat, and I enjoyed every moment of her 16 years with us. Rest in Peace, Tigger!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Yummy dinner turned delicious lunch!

It's time to toot my own domestic horn about the dinner I made last night! While I've always been very innovative with baking, I tend to only cook the same things over and over. Last night, I used one of my usual recipes, added to it, and made a very delicious dinner! On the menu: Italian baked chicken, rice, and green beans

I've regularly baked a boneless, skinless chicken breast in Italian dressing using a glass casserole dish. It makes a very tender, tasty piece of chicken. I decided last night to add basil to the Italian dressing before I baked the chicken. I lined the bottom of the dish with Italian dressing, sprinkled basil, placed the chicken breasts in the pan, then covered it with more Italian dressing and more sprinkled basil. Then, I baked it at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes (two chicken breasts) and flipped the chicken every 12-15 minutes. When I put the chicken on the plate, I sprinkled shredded parmesan cheese on top and spooned some of the extra Italian dressing over that. So good!

I made basic white rice, so that wasn't anything special, but the green beans were so good! I used fresh organic green beans, which tasted very fresh to begin with. While cooking the beans in water, I added 2 tbsps of butter and about a second-long pour of extra virgin olive oil. I left them in that mixture for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, and they wound up tasting delicious! I will without a doubt make these again.

To make this meal even better, I had leftover chicken, which I cut up to put in a salad for lunch today. I put the chicken in the fridge over night, then added romaine lettuce, tomato, onion, carrots, cucumber, and turkey bacon and mixed everything together. SUCH a good lunch! The chilled Italian chicken was soft, sweet, and very tasty. Perfect addition to a salad!

Just wanted to share this with anyone who reads this. Baking the chicken took quite a while, but it was definitely worth the wait!

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Ok, time for a lighter post :)

Since moving to Athens, I've really enjoyed traveling into Atlanta (only about an hour or so away from Athens) and doing the tourist thing! To end off my summer, Joe and I went to Atlanta for a touristy day on Thursday.

To start off the day, we went to the World of Coca-Cola! SO MUCH FUN! We learned all about the history of Coke, watched commericals from all over the world, saw a 4-D movie (3-D video plus wind, water, and seat effects!) and even taste different coke products from a bunch of different countries. My favorite was a Melon Fanta from Africa, and my least favorite was definitely one called Beverly from Italy! Yuck! They had a machine where you could customize a Coke drink, and I mixed Vanilla Coke with Grape tasted pretty good! Joe mix Cherry Vanilla Coke with Orange Coke and it tasted like a fruity-smelling marker, which was actually very accurate!

Variety of Coke products from around the world

After the World of Coca-Cola, we got dinner at The Varsity. It's an Atlanta landmark and the world's largest drive-in. If you ever visit Atlanta, you MUST eat there! The food is your typical cookout food, but the history and set-up of the place makes it all worth it. It's very reasonably priced, too!

The Varsity

Our final stop on our Atlanta adventure was Turner Field for the Braves vs. Pittsburgh baseball game. That night, they were giving away Chipper Jones bobbleheads, so we made sure to get into the stadium early! We caught batting practice, and as usual when Joe and I go to a Braves game, there was a rain delay. Luckily, our seats were under a pavilion, so we waited it out and watched the rest of the game. Sadly, the Braves lost but we did get to see Chipper Jones bat on his bobblehead night.

Chipper up to bat

After our trip on Thursday, the last major Atlanta hotspot I need to hit is the Georgia Aquarium (Other places I've been to: Stone Mountain, the state capitol, and Six Flags Over Georgia)! I'll hopefully be making many more fun trips to Atlanta in the future, so if anyone is ever visiting the area, let me know and I'll try to be a tour guide for you :)

PUSH: pray until something happens

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, aka my second year of teaching! While it is just pre-planning week this week, I can't decide if I'm excited or ready or what, but it's here! It's making me nervous all over again, just like last year when I started my first year. I even woke up this morning having a bad dream about my first class going wrong!

I know that God works through everything and every one, but this morning I saw that happen once again. We sang the hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" (definitely a classic), and one set of the lyrics stood out:

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

I'm not sure a truer statement could have been said to me at the this time. Why am I sitting here worrying about how the school year is going to go when I can just give it to God? God answers prayers, and lifting up this school year is the best way to save myself from forfeiting peace and causing "needless pain."

When I was in middle school, the PUSH rings/necklaces/etc. were "in." PUSH stood for Pray Until Something Happens. Maybe I need to pull my old PUSH ring out and wear it as an everyday reminder.

I pray that I will show God's love to my new group of student everyday and that I will teach all of them at least one thing throughout the year. I also pray that I will show God's love to my coworkers and work with them as a team. I pray that I will follow His will for the year and do what He is calling me to do through my teaching and other activities in my life.

If you get a second, I'd appreciate a prayer or two :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

1 is the loneliest number

Last week, I went to Emerald Isle, NC with my family for a week of sun, reading, games, and relaxation. I always love going to the beach for multiple reasons, but one of them is just watching the waves roll in while I think about many different topics. On the last day, I got to thinking about being alone.

It all started in the morning when we saw a man (probably in his 60s) sitting on the beach by himself. When I saw him I thought, "Aww, he's on the beach all alone." He had a book, but he really just seemed to enjoy sitting there looking out at the ocean. In the afternoon, I saw another younger guy sitting on the beach by himself. He didn't seem to have anything with him to do, since I just saw him sitting there looking out at the water. Again, I was thinking about why he was there all alone and wondering if he had anyone in town to go to the beach with. It made em think of Sex and the City episode where Samantha is supposed to meet the salsa club owner out at a restaurant and he stands her up. Carrie has some quote in the voiceover about Samantha not having any of her "dining alone armor" with her.

I got to thinking, though...WHY did I feel bad for these two guys sitting on the beach by themselves? Why do I feel bad for people that are at a restaurant by themselves? Or talking a walk by themselves? What is my problem with people doing things by themselves?

It could stem from my fear of ending up alone, but then I started to think, are we really ever truly alone? God is always with us, so even when another human being isn't there, I don't think we are ever alone. In fact, spending time alone on the beach would be the PERFECT way to spend time with God. It's hard to spend time with God truly alone with all the distracts at home (friends, TV, things to do at home, etc.), so maybe these "lonely" guys are on to something!

I've decided I'm going to challenge myself to do something by myself at least twice a month with no other distractions. Whether it be dining alone without a book or going to park and sitting on a bench for a while, I want to spend time by myself to help me better focus on God. I'm also not going to feel bad for people that are alone out and about. I'll never know their reasons for being alone, but it could be something that is beneficial to them.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Time to Vent..

Let's be honest...I love reading posts on the TSM section of It's a website for sorority girls to post "total sorority moves" that basically just prove the stereotypes. I read for entertainment and usually get a good laugh out of it, until today when I decided to post a response to one of the posts I saw. Here is the post:

Being a child development major not because of any MRS degree, but because I love children and want to change the world. TSM.

I was so happy to see this post because this is EXACTLY the type of people that we need in the teaching field! So, I decided to post a reply to this post:

Love this! I teach middle school math, and while I could have gotten a job in any other math-related field, I chose teaching because I wanted to make a difference in the next generation. Snaps to you!

Naturally, I went back to see if anyone had posted on my reply, since it was my first post and all. Much to my dismay, here are the two replies on my post:

1) No you couldn’t…if you could have a job in any math-related field, you should have picked something that will actually make a difference. You could have worked in an engineering firm to develop more fuel efficient engines, or used theoretical concepts to validate hypotheses about the universe. Teachers are a dime a dozen, progression is forever.
2) Nobody “chooses” teaching. It’s a place where career aspirations go to die.

Now, I took the usernames off of these posts, but they were both posted by guys (their names had stuff to do with their fraternities). Since my post was on the TSM wall, my first thought was, "Why are these guys even LOOKING on the TSM wall, much less posting?" Then, I thought more about their responses and realized they are probably more of fraternity boys than fraternity men.

Two reasons these comments frustrate me:

-I was going to respond to the first post about my stellar school record, and then I realized that this person is just a cyber bully! Who in the world needs to get on the internet and just insult people they don't even know? The internet is one of the easiest places to follow the "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all" rule. So, to go on the internet and constantly try to bring other people down just really says a lot about that person's character. They need to grow up and get a life.

-I hope these two guys never even consider going in to teaching because these comments are the complete OPPOSITE of what a teacher should think. First off, I will agree with the first poster that "teachers are a dime a dozen," but I will add that GOOD teachers are not. I personally believe that there are many teachers in the field that should not be teachers based on their credentials, attitude, etc. about the field. Anyone can go in to teaching, but not everyone in the field is actually good at their job. Good teachers are hard to find, and that's one reason I decided to be a teacher: I know my stuff, I'm passionate about learning, and I think that my personality is one that can help students achieve things in my class. The second poster just really has no idea what they're talking about. No one "chooses" teaching? I am one example that that is false--I have wanted to be a teacher all my life and did choose to teach. Being a teacher WAS my career aspiration, so this person just does not know what they are talking about. And yes, maybe some people go in to teaching because nothing else worked out, but honestly, those are people that shouldn't be teaching. Teachers should WANT to be there, as well as be knowledgeable about what they're teaching. That's one of the problems with our education system today, and until we weed out all the teachers that don't really care about what they're doing, we are going to continue to have struggling students and lag behind the rest of the world in academics.

Ok, I feel better now after typing out all my frustrations over those comments. If you read all of this, kudos to you! And needless to say, I just may refrain from posting on the TSM wall now if all I'm going to get out of it is negativity. Thanks :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Wedding Bliss

This weekend, I had the honor of being a bridesmaid in my friend Krista's wedding. Let me tell you, this wedding was a lot of fun! From the bridesmaid bonding all weekend, to getting ready and the wedding itself, to the pictures on the beach, the reception, and the party bus afterward...we really celebrated!

Any time I go to a wedding, it always makes me think about my wedding. Not that that's any time soon, but I always think about what I want to do for it. It also makes me think about what makes a marriage successful. With our society being so accepting of divorce, I think it's easier to give up on a marriage when things get tough than it used to be. But, I think there are plenty of ways to prepare for that BEFORE getting married, and here are some of those thoughts:

-Base your relationship around similar values and beliefs: To me, a healthy and successful marriage can begin by building that relationship with someone who has similar values and beliefs as you do. That should be one of the first things that is established in a new relationship rather than waiting until later on and discovering huge differences. Also, particularly where religion is concerned, sharing similar beliefs will help each of you grow in your faith while growing in your relationship. It's a way to continue to build each other up, which is one reason I think it's so important!

-Communication: So cliche, I know, but if you can't talk with your significant other about issues you may be having, how in the world are you going to have a healthy and successful marriage? You should feel comfortable talking about anything and everything with someone you want to marry. I've heard it said when people are getting married that they are "marrying their best friend," which I think is a great way to feel. You really should be in a relationship with someone who is your best friend, meaning someone you are yourself around and can talk about anything with. Communication is key to a good marriage.

-Have joint-yet-separate lives: That sounds weird, but I think any healthy relationship/marriage needs this! What I mean is that you have your life together, but that you also have things that you do individually. This provides you with an "escape" per se when things aren't going perfectly. Sometimes, you need that individual space/activity/time to cool off, collect yourself, and realize that things can be worked/talked out. It's also good to have friends that are just your friends so that if you need some advice or just someone to talk to that doesn't know your significant other, you can do so and know that they are really talking just for you.

-Always have a date night/"just the two of you" time: This is really for later on in a marriage (i.e. when the babies start to arrive), but I think it's really important to set aside time each week to just have couple time. Enjoy each other's company, do an activity you both like to do, share a good meal and conversation, simply just be together! It seems like it'd be easy to forget about what you mean to each other when there's a child that needs your full attention most of the time, but I think it's really important to keep the love in-tact by spending some time together fairly often.

I started thinking half-way through this, "why in the world am I giving marriage advice? I'm not getting married!" But I think these are good things to remind myself of as I think about the future, as well as share my thoughts with everyone else. Who knows, maybe I got the urge to write these things down for some reason unknown to me!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Chicago, part 2

Another highlight of the trip to Chicago was our "anchor" site. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday morning, we had the privilege of working with By the Hand--Engelwood. By The Hand is a club for kids to come after school/during the summer to work on academics and build their relationship with Christ.

The organization is based on the Bible verse John 10:10--"I came so that they may have life and have it to the full (abundantly in some translations)." Boy, do the people working there really live this out! They take the lowest students from 5 different neighborhood schools and just build them up in every way possible. There are high expectations for the kids, and they know exactly what they should and shouldn't be doing at By the Hand. While we were there, we played games with the kids for a little bit, worked with them on their reading for 30 minutes, played some more, and ate lunch.

I can't even begin to explain the impact working with this organization had on me. Each and every staff member there was so on fire for God and so in love with each kid that came to the club. You could tell they would do just about anything for each one of them. In return, the kids really enjoyed coming to By the Hand and felt safe and secure in doing so. Mr. Al, the director of the Engelwood site, kept thanking us for "pouring in to our kids' lives," but he really poured in to our lives with his uplifting devotions, willingness to help us, and his genuine love for what he does.

If you want to look up this organization and learn more about them, here is their website: If you're looking for a worthy cause to donate money to, this is it! It costs $5700 for each student to participate in this club, and BTH had 700 students participating in their 4 locations around Chicago! Thanks to donations, each student's "tuition" was completely paid for them. What a blessing!

I was so touched by what By the Hand does that I feel led to try to start a summer program like that in Athens. It may be a challenge, but I really feel that God sent me to BTH to place this upon my heart. It's amazing how God works, and I'm excited for what may be in store for me and the city of Athens in the upcoming year!

Monday, July 4, 2011

There aren't many songs with "Chicago" in the lyrics...

I just got back in town yesterday after helping lead a group of 10 high school youth on a mission trip to Chicago. We worked with Center for Student Missions, and the trip was incredible! I learned so much about myself, the city of Chicago, the youth, and serving God. I wanted to share some experiences on here, but if I wrote about everything in post, it may turn in to a short story! So, throughout today/the next few days, I'll be posting about my experiences on this trip.

First, I'll tell you a little bit about Center for Student Missions (CSM). This is an inner-city mission organization with 10 locations around the country. I've worked with CSM in DC, Philadelphia, and Chicago as a youth at Trinity UMC. It is such an amazing organization that provides groups an opportunity to serve God and others in the city, as well as learn about the problems of the city and see it from a lot of different perspectives.

On our first day of service, we went to a shelter for homeless men. Our only job was to talk to the men and get to know them. The man who ran the shelter, Vince, told us at the beginning of our time there and our job was to learn and the homelessness could happen to any one of us. At the end of our time there, he got us together and had us ask any questions we had. While we were talking, he asked us why we were there, and one of the youth said it was part of his faith journey. I think this struck a chord with Vince (who is not a Christian), because after that he asked the youth if he thought he had made an impact. The youth didn't know how to answer, and after a little bit Vince said "No, you didn't."

This didn't sit well with any of us there, and we talked about it on the way home. We were a little taken aback because as Christians, we are called to serve others because that's what Jesus did. Yeah, a conversation on one night of someone's life doesn't necessarily mean they are going to change their life the next day, but maybe the person I talked to just needed to listen to someone that night. We discussed the definition of "impact" and how our presence at the shelter that night wasn't a waste of time because of the short-term effects we may have had on the men we met.

The next day, our city hosts Rachelle and Lauren read us some scripture and a poem that helped us deal with this.
by Mother Teresa

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Be good anyway.

Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People need help but will attack you if you help them.
Help them anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

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

God doesn't call us to serve others to receive appreciation or praise from those people. He doesn't call us to serve others at all, really. He is calling us to serve HIM. It's not about what other people think about our service to God, only what He thinks! This poem and scripture verse really made me see what I was doing in Chicago and my purpose there. I was to be serving God by serving others, not just serving the people of the city. This experience and the discussions that followed really helped me learn what it means to be a servant of God.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I'm no expert, but...

Lately, I've been on a big fitness kick. I joined a gym in Athens and got a personal trainer, and ever since then, I've been really conscience of my health and fitness level. When school was still going on, I got the gym about 3x a week. With all the free time I have now that it's summer break, I've been going pretty much every day. I'm starting to think I'm addicting to the gym! I can totally tell a difference in my mood and energy levels on the days I don't exercise. Hopefully this trend will continue once the school year gets started again!

I've learned some health and fitness tips since joining this gym, and I wanted to share some of the things I've found most interesting/helpful. I am by no means an expert on this topic (I mean, it's been 2 months that I've really been exercising regularly!), but maybe these might help you out!

-Train your body to expect some sort of food every three hours: As part of joining the gym, I met with the gym's nutritionist. She was asking me about my eating habits, and I told her I usually ate breakfast around 7am and didn't eat lunch until 1pm with nothing in between. She told me that if you wait that long between meals, your body will store the food as fat since it knows there won't be anything else coming in for a while. If you train your body to eat something every 3 hours, it will use the food as energy instead of storing it. She suggested a 100-200 calorie snack between meals (depending on the size of the meal). Some snacks I've discovered recently that I love: a handful of almonds, grapes, Nature Valley Peanut Butter Granola Squares, and Nature Valley Nut Clusters.

-Switch up your exercise routine: My trainer told me that if you do the same exercise routine over and over and over again, your muscles learn the moves and don't work as hard. She suggested changing it up every 2-3 months.

-Weight-lifting burns more calories than cardio: (sometimes) I didn't know this before, but you burn just ask many calories, if not more, using the weight machines for 20-30 mins as you do on a cardio machine. Don't just get on an elliptical or treadmill when you go to the gym!

-When you find a workout routine you enjoy, it's not much work at all!: This is just something I've noticed throughout my two months at the gym. The cardio machines all have individual TVs on them, so I'll get on one of those when a show I like is coming on. I don't even notice the time until the show goes off! I've also been going to a lot of group exercise classes (some of my favorites are Step, Fight Club, boxing training, and Groove, a dance fitness class) which make an hour of exercising feel like no time (and are a great workout, too!).

Just wanted to share some of my health and fitness tips I've gotten recently. I really hope to continue this healthy lifestyle because I feel better about myself than I have in a long time!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

are things really different?

I've decided to start a blog. Who knows what all I'll write in here, but hopefully someone will find some of it interesting...

Since the school year ended and I have lots of free time, I've picked up reading again. This may come as a surprise to my high school teachers since I only read two of the novels we were assigned all the way through (Night by Elie Wiesel and Count of Monte Cristo), but I really enjoy it now. I'm in the middle of reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, telling the story of life in 1964 Jackson, Mississippi from the perspective of two black maids ("the help") and one white woman. The white woman is trying to publish a collection of interviews of the maids in the town and their experiences in this pre-segregation town.

This book has gotten to me to the story, some of the white people recognize the injustices going on in their world (i.e. a black boy being blinded for accidently using the white bathroom) but don't speak out for fear of losing their social standing, money, etc. While some of the racial injustices have been dealt with, how often is it that we witness injustice today and just ignore it? Are things really different from the 1960s?

I also thought about this subject when packing for my mission trip to Chicago next week. The organization we are working with sent out materials telling us what to do in order to prepare, and they made sure to tell us not to bring any solid red or solid light blue shirts, hats, bandanas, etc. because of the gang activity in Chicago. Is gang activity different from the violence and discrimination during the 1960s? People associating with, excluding, shooting at, killing people over the color they wear? Have things really changed?

I guess this is a pretty heavy first blog post, but I've been thinking about this a lot today. If we cannot get past what's on the outside, we are never going to move forward.