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They all give advice, think they have the best plan, set standards and expectations, raise the bar, and make it all look super easy.  They tell you fairy tales are real, and you are not enough if your life isn't one.  Who knows, maybe there are real people out there living their real fairy tales where everyone is perfect and their issues are shallow and easily resolved, where the happy ending is too easy to predict.  Maybe that happens, somewhere, for some people.  You know what though, I sure don't live in one of those, but for some reason, I find myself measuring my success as a wife, friend, daughter, sister, teacher, etc. according to everyone else's happily ever after.  I see people living these perfect lived that look so flawless, so effortless, so painless, so...heartless.  And I so easily let myself ignore the reality that most people don't broadcast their B-Roll to the rest of us. 

They don't air their flaws and imperfections, hang out their dirty laundry.  We can't compare ourselves; I can't compare myself to other peoples' final product, and ignore the rest of their writing process.  I ignorantly and naively presume that because I haven't read the rough draft then one must not exist!  I presume in selfish blindness that I must be the only who is still on the editing step, and whose draft is covered with red marks and corrections.  Covered with things to work on, words to change; covered with stains and smudges, scribbles and scuffs.  I don't realize that in the proofing, that is where the real growth begins to be evident.  That is where one begins to realize that they might just be on to something.  That even though they have made a mistake, spelled something wrong, mis-worded a phrase or two, or done something out of order, that in addressing those errors and correcting or changing them, growth occurs. 

It is in the realization and identification and then correction that true beauty and potential are demonstrated!  It is not in the final draft, but in crumpled coffee-stained copy after copy.  Anyone of us can print off a fresh, "final" draft, deceivingly clean of stains and errors, but it takes true courage, vulnerability, and trust to share the mess with other people.  If you are willing to be honest, we are all a mess of mistakes do-overs, only some people are open to to living with their mess visible to others.  I really think if we all shared a little more of our rough draft and a little less of the 12-point, Times New Roman seemingly "perfect" version, I think we might do a little less comparing and envying and a lot more loving, encouraging, and walking together with each other in step through life.  I think if I quit trying to live a fairy tale, and embraced my own story, I would find it a lot easier to be content and joyful. 



We began the last week of our first six week period today.  It is crazy how fast the time flies when things are in full swing!  It is also insane how different this second year of school is compared to last year.  I feel so much more confident as the leader in the classroom, as well as more comfortable letting the students have some of the control.  I am definitely beginning to get it, although I still have so so much room to grow and improve.  I love the new class I am teaching, and feel like I am getting to be myself so much more in the classroom, as I have far fewer discipline problems, and can get to know the students on a more personal level since there are fewer of them.  I don't know if this position is forever, but it is most definitely the right one for this present time.  I have so much more peace and am a lot happier.  All that being said, I do really miss many of my students from last year!  I was so ready for a break in May that I didn't really expect to miss them, but I sure do!  There are a few little stinkers I don't particularly miss, but after a year school year together, most of them earned a place in my heart. 

I am truly in constant awe of the abundant blessings God is heaping on Nick and me in this season of our lives.  We are lucky to have Nick's brother Nathan and a friend of ours, Taren, living with us, as well as our two precious and poorly behaved pooches.  We are able to spend a lot of time with friends as well as see our families often.  God is truly providing for our every need and his blessings are overflowing.  I can only hope when things are harder and more complicated, when times are messier and God's hand and perfect plan are harder to see, that we have dug my wells deep and surrounded ourselves with people who will lift us up and remind us that God truly grows our faith in times that are not easy. 

I am confident, now more than ever, that God is alive and real and has a perfect plan He is completing in and through me.  I am struggling through mistake after mistake as I try to become the perfect version of me, when God sees that without my efforts.  I often feel defeated as I fail again, but take comfort in the truth that had I not tried at all, only then would I truly have failed.  I am blessed beyond measure with a husband who forgives me endlessly and challenges me to become more than just average.  He pushes me to be better than worldy, and to work on the parts of myself that don't reflect Christ.  He is a constant picture of Jesus to me, as he seems to have endless grace and unconditional love, and loves me enough to say hard things and see the things in me I don't always see. 

We are praying this week, and hopefully always, that God would empower us and make our faith alive, that we would be boldly seeking and asking for opportunities to be used.  We are praying that our daily interactions with others would paint a picture of the love and grace that God has freely gifted to us, that we would look past imperfections and shortcomings, past what is at eye level, to what is on the inside, people who need God as much as we do. 


[long year, good year]

I find myself with just five days left of my first year of teaching.  Five days to impart some wisdom.  Five days to teach them something.  Five days to somehow communicate to them they are loved, valuable, special, important.  Five days to convince them they can do it, they should try, and it is worth it.  Five days to make an impact.  Five days to share my love of Jesus and his amazing love for them.  Five. Days.

I was so excited to be done, to have a break, to relax.  (Don't get me wrong, I am still definitely anticipating the summer.)  I am just at a point where I am realizing that no matter how crazy they have driven me, how close to my limit I have come, how insanely hard it has been, that this year has been worth it.  I have grown so much as a person, learned so much about myself, and really see how far I still have to go to become who and how I want to be. 

I have been tried, tested, and pushed to my edge, but I have gained invaluable experience and perspective because of it.  There were times I definitely was without passion, lost my focus, and couldn't see past the enormous task ahead of me, yet here I am, five days to go. 

I am immensely grateful for the people who constantly encourage and challenge me, for the people who listen to me whine and complain, and for the people who push me to be so much better than I even think I can.  I am so thankful for friends experiencing similar frustrations, able to understand and empathize with my struggles.  I am grateful for those who have gone before and are willing to share their resources and advice.  I am so grateful for those students who get me, who understand me, and who will forever be a memory in my heart.

I am forever and always overwhelmed with gratitude for my awesome family and support system.  For a momma who gets it, a dad who's always got my back, a sister who listens, in-laws willing to help pick up the slack when I can't seem to get it all done...

Thank you, husband, for not letting me quit when I want to, challenging me to work harder than I think I can, being proud when I am not proud, and loving me in spite of the insanity I put you through. 

Thank you, most of all, amazing God for allowing me the opportunity to live this life, make mistakes, and forgiving me every single time.  Your love is truly bigger than all else, and I m so blessed to be able to be a part of your Kingdom.  I pray my passion for you flows through each and every interaction, and is evident to all I encounter. 

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me." Ps. 63:1-8


Just some things...

1. School is over in three weeks and counting.  I will officially have taught for a whole school year in fourteen weekdays.  I am overwhelmed with how much I have learned, grown, and figured out, while also completely overwhelmed with how completely lost and underqualified I still feel sometimes.  I love my students, and am a little sad to leave them, but I am so ready to relax, rest, and refresh for next year. 

2. Speaking of next year, I will be in a different position at the same school in the fall.  Instead of core Language Arts, I will be teaching a small Reading Strategies elective class.  I am thrilled for a new opportunity and a smaller group of students, as well as to really work on growing my skills.  I am excited to be at the same school, and glad I'll see some of my students from this year in the hallway! I love the people I work with, and am really glad to get to know them better this coming year. 

3. I miss the heck out of my sister and friends who are no longer in Manhattan with us.  I want everyone I love to live in the same place.  I don't know if it will ever be easy to be away from friends and family :/

4. We have a beautiful and almost perfect house and love living in it.  Nick even mowed the yard this month and I pulled some weeds!  Yardwork is not my favorite thing but I am going to try this summer to find a few things I can enjoy about it. 

5. I am tired, stressed, and in need of some time away.  Life is hard.  It can be really challenging to find joy when I feel unsuccessful in so many ways.  I am grateful for those who are consistently and unswervingly patient with my shortcomings and failures, and continue to love me in spite of myself.

6. I am still in love with my best husband Nick, still loving my God, and still adore my precious puppies.  I am praying God really opens my eyes to ways I can change and grow this summer, as well as gives me the courage to be the wife, friend, daughter, sister, and woman I can be. 


I am spending my Sunday late afternoon/evening watching One Tree Hill reruns in my sweats, eating popcorn, not grading papers or planning, and remembering.  I looked through the pictures from the night Nick and I got engaged and missed that time.  Season One of OTH takes me waaaayyy back, and I miss that time of life, those people.  I even look at our wedding pictures and am nostalgic and sad that all those friends are not still here.  Life was so much simpler, less responsibility, dare I say easier, when I wasn't twenty-five and married and owning a house and teaching kids and training puppies and staying in shape and folding my laundry and cooking healthy meals.  Don't get me wrong, I love my life so much, I love Nick so much.  I love teaching, my sweet pups, my friends, my gorgeous home.  I like not having to do homework or read boring books and write tons of papers.  I enjoy adulthood and marriage.  I just miss simplicity. 

God has so greatly blessed me in each season of my life, and I truly believe He is blessing me and teaching me and growing me in so many ways right now.  I know that I will look back in five years and miss this time as well.  I must live in today.  It is ok to miss yesterday, as long as I find things to enjoy about today too.  It is ok to miss people, as long as I don't turn a blind eye to the fact that I am so lucky to have found more friends, beautiful, awesome friends, each time I have someone move away.  I love my life so much, and I trust God is still using me and teaching me and molding me to be more like Him.


Back to School

I feel like I am in college again.  I had a full two weeks to grade this tiny stack of papers, plan in detail my week, and wash my clothes, and when have I chosen to do all three things???

Today.  I have got to stop procratinating so much... Maybe tomorrow!  ;)

My healthy eating plan began today [after the pancakes I ate for breakfast], and I did alright!  I have a bad habit of waiting until I am super-duper hungry and then eating way too much to compensate for my rumbling tummy.  So today, I ate all three meals at meal time(s), which is a pretty big deal for me!  I tend to rush in the mornings and fix my hair instead of pack a lunch or eat a good breakfast, thus leaving me one hungry hungry hippo upon my arrival at home.  Already tonight I have packed a lunch for tomorrow in my Vera Bradley lunchbox [courtesy of best friend Allison, thanks!!!] and distrubuted crackers and such into baggies for the rest of the week!  I also divided my Chipotle burrito bowl in half when I got it, and put it into a dish to take to school tomorrow!  Go me!!  ;)

I really should have worked out today, but I just couldn't make myself on my last day of break!  We were so stinkin busy the last few weeks moving and traveling and puppy-training that the last couple of days I have done nothing but hangout and enjoy life!  :)

I am optimistic, positive, and ready for a better semester than the last.  I will improve my teaching, be more organized, and most importantly be more patient with my kids and show them not only in my actions but especially my reactions that they are special, important, valuable, and loved, worth all the time and energy I give them.  I am excited to go back!  

PS. I know like, 96% of the people who read this are also my friend on Facebook and in real life, so you could have already looked at these, but here are a couple pictures from my break!!  :)

PPS.  We really love our dogs.  We know we are obsessed with our dogs.  We are "those people" and are totally ok with it!  :)



What a HUGE year we just said farewell to last night.  We had so many awesome mountain-top experiences in 2011, but also spent a lot of time in the valley, not sure which way we were supposed to go next.  I have had my eyes widely opened to just how great my God is to love me in spite of who I am, and been abundantly blessed and astonished at how Nick continues to pour out patience, grace, and unconditional love on this crazy, selfish, hard-headed girl.  I am constantly blown away at the life God has blessed us with, the family we are so lucky to have, the best friends on the planet, and continual evidance that HE is in control and will direct us down this path He has called us to walk. 

Because I love to jump on bandwagon trends and do what everyone else does [see:: wearing skinny jeans, coffee-drinking, and my attempts to enjoy hummus as proof], and because it will be fun to look back and read about my year and goals and so on, below you will find a list of experiences and so on from the year 2011 as well as goals and challenges for the year 2012!

In January I [im]patiently waited for my teaching license to arrive and spent the majority of my time questioning my career choice and wondering what my next steps should be.  I was sure I was no longer cut out to be a teacher. I did a lot of complaining about my joblessness, but throughly enjoyed being a stay-at-home-wife for the month.  I also had my very first sinus infection, and went on a ski-trip as the only female youth sponsor.  In an effort to finish yet a third bachelor's degree, I took a class at MCC, putting my two classes and an internship away from that BS in Family.  Nick and I also watched the TV series LOST in its entirety.  #bestshowever

In February I continued to question my status, a newly graduated adult without a job and already suffiiciently bored to tears being a stay-at-home wife.  With my teaching license in hand, willing to give the education world one last shot before calling it quits and becoming a professional muffin-maker, I embarked on a challenging, hillarious, rewarding semester as a substitute teacher [dun dun dunnnn]. 

In March I continued to seek purpose, significance, and fulfillment, and was met with discontent, unsatisfaction, and discomfort with who I was and where I found myself to be in life.  I was applying for teaching jobs and was met with constant rejection, a response with which I was very unfamiliar.  I did, however, begin to train for a half-marathon to be completed in May. 

In April I was given an opportunity to be a long-term substitute in Manhattan as the In-School-Suspension facilitator at the high school.  Let's just say I am not cut out for that position in any sort of long-term sense.  I literally sat in silence and played on the computer all day.  I was essentially back to my boredom, only now I received a paycheck to do nothing all day!  It was, however, great to have a routine for a couple months before school ended.  I continued to search and apply for job after job, but still heard nothing...until the very end of the month, when I received a call one evening asking if I would like to interview for a position... 

In May, so many wonderful things happened.  I completed my very first half-marathon.  I was so proud and thoroughly enjoyed (almost) the entire experience!  The pain was totally worth it.  I also found out that I had a teaching job for the fall!!!  Not only did God bless me with a job, but a job at the school in the district I wanted to be most!  Praise the Lord for his provision and timing.  Also in May Nick and I celebrated one whole year of marriage!  Nick turned 25, and we went on a super fun cross-country road/air-trip with friends to Phoenix, LA, and Vegas!  Also in May, my parents celebrated their 26th(?) wedding anniversary and my sweet and best most favorite sister got married to her love!  This wonderful marriage did, however, take my baby sister and bestest friend all the way to Memphis, TN, home of FedEx, lots of Chik-Fil-A's, and a Vera Bradley store!

In June I experienced the best week of camp EVER, at which I was challenged beyond belief and blessed so deeply by God's church and ultimate frisbee.  I also read the Redemption Series in its entirety.  Karen Kingsbury, you have a gift.  I love to read.

In July I did so many things too!  Sheesh, what a busy year.  I had one of my very favorite couples get married and become the MacGill's!  What a beautiful wedding to attend and be a part of.  I love watching so many friends of ours get married!!  Ben and Allison are such a great picture of committment and friendship, and I love having them in our life and especially still here in Manhattan!  I also was blessed to attend a conference in Dallas with a group of teachers from my school.  I was so lucky to learn and get to know those awesome teachers before starting in the fall!  I was also beyong blessed to attend CIY in Michigan with THE best youth group ever to sponsor!  We were deeply moved and challenged to stand bold in our faith and love for Christ as well as to be in real, constant prayer for our brothers and sisters under persecution.  I finished the busy month with a road trip with one of my dearest and best friends [Alli!] to Memphis to visit Sarah and Mark!  In July Nick and I also welcomed Nathan, Nick's brother, into our home to live!

In August, I married off another best friend and one half of the best camp team known to man [Team P!] as Amanda and Kenny became the Park's!  Amanda was one of the most beautiful brides I have ever seen.  She shines such a bright light of character and beauty.  She is so kind and intentional with her relationships.  And of course Kenn is the best as well!  In August I also began my very first year of teaching!  I met some of the greatest and most encouraging teachers there are, and some of the craziest and best students ever! 

In September I accidentally cut my hair all off.  Oook, it wasn't actually an accident, but I did regret it almost immediately after leaving the salon.  I am looking forward to having it long again soon.  We attended a Huskers game and Nick did lots of traveling recruting for MCC.  I continued to get to know my students and the other teachers on the team, as well as slowly began to figure out how to teach seventh graders and Language Arts.  I experienced lots of frustrations as I had lots of failures and struggles as a new teacher, but was so blessed to be encouraged by teachers at school. 

In October we celebrated a year of having Petee and my 25th birthday!  [Can you say old?!  I am sure I was just turning 17 last week!]  I also discovered the best movie known to man, Tangled, and watched it over and over and over!!!  Nick and Nathan enjoyed it at first, but cringe at the mention of the movie now!  :) 

In November I was so lucky to travel with a group of teachers from my district to Kentucky for the National Middle School Association/Association for Middle Level Educators conference.  Such a great learning opportunity and another awesome chance to get to know teachers/prinicpals!  Also with November came Thanksgiving(s)!  Mucho turkey and mucho gravy but a great time with family and friends.  My favorite momma also had a birthday!! 

In December we took a huge leap into adulthood as we purchased our first home!  It is a beautiful, perfect, and by definition my dream house!  We are thrilled to have moved in and are almost unpacked...all we have left is some of the clothes and laundry!  [nothing new there]  :)  I also completed my first full semester of teaching!!  Wahoooo!!!  We also added a sweet new puppy to our little family, Zooey!  Also in December we received tons of gifts from family and friends; we are so blessed, thank you!!

Which brings me to now, January 1, 2012.  2012??!  Holy cow!  I have a few major goals, which should lead to a better and more organized and healthy life both physically and spiritually. 

1. Deepen and grow my spiritual life.  I want to yearn for God.  I want to need Him and I want my whole self and life to radiate His presence within me.  I want to grow with my husband. 
2. Like every other woman in America, I have some health and weight loss goals.  I definitely took the summer and fall off or healthy living and will be making some changes to my eating and activity which will become habits and not short-lived failures. 

3.  I will get more organized this year and STAY organized.

I once again commit to make this year, 2012, the best year of my life, as I try to each year.  Praying God will challenge me and grow me, and open my eyes to where I can best be used to bring praise to His Glory.