Monday, May 7, 2012

Something Sweet about Jesus

God is just so good. I think that sometimes I take this for granted. I started writing this blog a little over a year ago when I discovered I would be moving to Memphis to be a part of Urban Education Reform through Memphis Teacher Residency. A year ago I was getting ready to graduate from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor's degree. Now, I am living in Memphis and about to graduate with a Master's degree in Urban Education. This alone was the work of God. The events over this past year are just more evidence of the Lord working in my life.

I know without any doubts that moving to Memphis was me walking into my calling. I have learned a lot this year. One thing that has kept me pushing through and been encouragement to me is that the Lord is glorified more through painful and sacrificial times. This urges me to find joy in the hardships of being an urban educator. God does not call us to be live comfortable lives. I have definitely been pushed this year out side of my comforts and I still am being pushed daily. The only way that I can walk into urban education daily is through the strength of the Lord.

The glorious part of being in a situation where you are constantly feeling uncomfortable and like you are fighting against an undefeatable battle is that I have Jesus. Even on days when I am angry, sad, distraught, or defeated I know that my joy is found in the Lord. Calling His sweet name really changes everything. I know that I am not the savior for my students or any other person in urban education. However, I can try my hardest daily to surrender to the Lord and let His character be evidence that He is the one true God. Then on days when I do fail I know that I am covered by His grace. That is something sweet. The one true Savior laid down His life so I can live. He laid down His life so that my scholars can live. All I can do is trust in Him and follow Him.

This year has been one where I really had to rely on God. All I can ask for are more years to come that push me closer to Him. God really is just so good. I have never found greater happiness, joy, and fulfillment in anything as I do in Jesus.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone.
What doesn't kill you makes a fighter
Footsteps even lighter
Doesn't mean i'm over cos you're gone

These are the lyrics to the chorus Stronger by Kelly Clarkson. I hadn't heard this song until Thursday. I was so blessed to get the oppurtunity to come home to Oklahoma for the weekend and while driving I hear this song. The song is actually about being stronger after I break up I think but when I heard what doesn't kill you makes you stronger I just started crying.

The journey my family has been on the past eight months has been a long tiring journey. My little brother is loved and adored so much by everyone in the family. He is such a joy to be around. So, when he first got sick it was like a meteor hitting my family. My family has become closer and definitely stronger over the past eight months. My brother had surgery on Monday and after surgery he lost his eyesight. The doctors did an immediate surgery for his eye. They don't know what caused this to happen but he lost blood flow to the retina and now all the nerves are swollen as well. This is causing him to continue to have a loss of vision. He is PRAISE THE LORD getting a little bit more vision back everyday. We don't know how much he will recover. Currently he has to have help getting around by holding onto someones arm. He can see within two feet of himself but mostly objects that he already knows and can identify from his knowledge of the object. He lost all eyesight when he was a lot younger due to glaucoma in that eye. I am believing in devine healing from the Lord. I also know though that none of this is a worry to the Lord so it should be of no worries to my family. I pray everyday that all of this will be worked out all for God's glory and that Connor's testimony one day will bring people to Jesus because of His works in Connor. I struggled when Connor first got sick but Connor is the Lord's child before he is anything to us here on Earth. So, I know that He has a wonderful plan for Connor that is designed to glorify Jesus.

That being said What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. I am holding up so well all because of Jesus. He is my strength and He has held me up through all of this. Daily I think about the things that I have and how I don't deserve any of it. I am so blessed to have the gift of eternal life how could I ever expect anything else. However, God continues to bless me and for that I will lay down my life to Him and serve Him. When I lay down my life He blesses me more and one of the ways has been through strength. How could I ever not believe in my God? I hope and pray that you will see the God that I see and get to love everyday.

In the lyrics it also says what doesn't kill you makes you a fighter. I see this as fighting Satan. He can't get me down. He hasn't killed me, so, I'm going to fight for God's glory, God's word, and His people.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Worshipping Our Father

I was in church this morning and the sermon was so good. I thought I might share some of what was said and how it has impacted me today and how I hope to make changes in my life. The sermon was about worship. I have heard before that we need to worship in all that we do and everything we do should be for the Lord. Today for some reason the words I heard were just so different. The scripture was Genesis 22:1-12 which is the story about Abraham and how he was going to sacrifice his son for God. This willingness to obey the Lord is a representation of worshipping the God that I serve and the God that has created me at a level that is so incredible.

Often people think of worship as the music portion of church. I often think that too. I have had a hard time finding a church in Memphis. I am constantly comparing churches to Journey and Antioch back in Norman. This ones worship isn't good enough, this one isn't as community based, and so on and so on. I have recently realized that church is a gathering of people that come together to hear the word or be taught and a place where we can serve to reach the unreached. To me that is what church really should be. I want to be a church that has good sound biblical teaching and where I can serve.

Anyway back to the sermon. So worship often thought of the music part of church. The pastor today said worship has to start with a picture of the God that created us. He is so amazing, so big, so mind-blowing and if I can start with some image of Him then I can start to worship. Worship is not about the music it is about serving that God! He is not a file to be put in a file cabinet but he is the file cabinet. He is our hearts. This all was like brand new words being spoke that I have never heard. The pastor then went on to say what is your Isaac? Our Isaac could be money, a job, relationships or anything that has become an idol or close to an idol in our lives. We have to remember God gave us that Isaac just like He gave Isaac to Abraham a man at 100 years of age a son. We have to be willing to sacrifice our Isaac and worship the Lord. We need to lay it down and then our Isaac and ourselves choose to worship the Lord together.

Since moving to Memphis I have let the busy and idea of not having a church home affect my relationship with the Lord. I now am going to make a concious effort daily to get closer to the Lord. I want to worship Him in everything that I do. I want everything that I do to be a complete reflection of Him because He deserves all glory from me and my life because I am nothing. If it weren't for His love and His mercy I would not have anything nor the future that He has for me.

What are you holding onto that is an idol or close to becoming one that the Lord has blessed you with? Lay it down and allow that thing and yourself to worship the Lord. He is worthy!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Servant Minded Work

... It has been a really long time since I have posted about life in Memphis. I will try to shed light on all that has happened since August without gettting too detailed to keep this from being excessivly long.

1 I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. 6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ.
Colossians 2:1-8

Life over the past 8 months has been like a rolling, twisting, and never-ending roller coaster. I am so thankful and blessed that my constant and safety bar is Jesus. There is no way that I would have made it this far through the work here in Memphis without the Lord. I will update today about my family, teaching, and myself.

Family is one thing in life that we are blessed with no matter how crazy, dysfunctional, amazing, supportive, or uninvolved they are. Family is always there no matter how crazy, dysfunctional, amazing, supportive, or uninvolved we are. I love my family a lot and that also includes my adopted family of my best friend. Connor, my little brother, has been through a lot these past 8 months beginning with my families return home from moving me to Memphis. I am so ecstatic to say that he is finally doing great. Doctors released him to go back to school in January. He will have to have some more surgeries eventually, but my mom is waiting for the time being. He had two surgeries within 2 weeks of each other in December. I was home for Christmas during one of the surgeries. Praise the Lord for His faithfulness and helping Connor get healthier after the two surgeries. My mom returned to work as Connor went back to school as well. I will get to go home for Spring Break and see them then and I cannot say how excited I am to see them.

Teaching is possibly one of the hardest professions in the job force. Teaching in an urban setting is almost impossible if you do not know the Lord. Honestly I do not know how people could ever do this work without the Lord. Everyday that I walk into my classroom I have 26 little people sitting in front of me waiting for my guidance. I wish it was as easy and pleasant as that sounds too. They depend on their teachers to get the information they need for their future lives. The students in urban classes do not get the knowledge and stimulation that students in suburban setting receive. I really never thought the educaiton I received growing up was that great, but in comparison I was so blessed to attend the schools that I did growing up. Students in the urban setting don't usually recognize the importance of an education unless you really inspire them to know they can go to college. We really have to create cultures in our classrooms that are so different than classrooms they have been in before and different from the cultures on the street or in their homes. Teaching is an exhausting career. The students in my class need so much more than just a teacher. I am so blessed to be in that classroom really, but I honestly do not always feel so blessed. The great thing is that the Lord can give me the strength to be there for my students. A huge growing point for me  this year was that I cannot be my students savior Jesus has to be their savior. I am in that classroom fighting for a just education for my students. ... I will try to write more often and give more updates about teaching.

I definitely have had a quite a trip over the past 8 months. One of the biggest transitions has been adapting to this new season of life. I have a great community and family here in Memphis, but it is not the family and community that I came to know and love in Norman. I still do not have a home church. That is a mountain that I am climbing but I know that my relationship with the Lord is most important. I have attended many great churches here but none of them are home. That may seem silly but that is truly how I feel. I have had to overcome comparing churches here to Journey and Antioch in Norman because there will never one like another. Church families are kind of like people they all are unique and different from others. I also love to be involved in church and love serving but so far I just cannot make that commitment to any of the churches here. I want to make sure that when I commitment to a church that I am definitely committing for the next few years and season of my life.
During the rollercoaster time I have clung to the Lord and I know that He has a great plan. I know that I am here serving Him in Memphis. I do not always see it that way though. I have rough days and all I want to do is go home, but ultimately I know that I am where I am supposed to be. Memphis is a great city, the people are great, and I believe that public education here can be changed all for the glory of the Lord.

To see a video about what we are doing here in Memphis check out this video....

Thursday, August 11, 2011

God uses the Impossible to Show His Strength

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[f] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
 Hebrews 4:14-16

God is so faithful to us when we are so undeserving of His mercy and grace. These are things that I have to cling to during life right now. I love my God so much but sometimes it is hard to see how the little brush strokes go into the big picture when I do not get to see the big picture.
I am blessed to be a daughter of Christ. I am so thankful to know that after this life I have an eternal life waiting. I struggle with being excited for other people's eternity. When I say that I mean that I do not want to lose the people in my life. I want them to have eternal life with Jesus too yes! I do not want to let go of people though and I do not want to have to think about living this life without certain people. Then again it says to let dead bury the dead and to follow Jesus. Do you realize exactly what that means? Jesus really pushed people not to follow him. He tried to tell them what they would be required to do and a lot of people could not handle it that is why he had twelve disciples and really only three that were truly close to Him.

So, my little brother is going through a hard time right now in his healh. I am deeply hurt over his situation and the fact that doctors cannot cure him. Oh, goodness but Jesus is the ultimate healer. He is the only one that can take this impossible situation and claim victory. I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me and I am claiming victory over Connor and his brain. This illness is to glorify God. I will proclaim to everyone until my dying day the moment Connor is healed because doctors have already claimed nothing can happen to cure the situation. Haha they do not have the Doctor that I have. This is life changing and monumental to be a living child of His.

Connor's situation may seem impossible now but so does public education in Memphis. This week I spent my first whole week in the school. I am so excited to be teaching with my mentor and my fifth grade students. They are some of the most precious kids I have ever met. They are stuck in a broken system though and that is detrimental to their education. They have had teachers scream and yell at them for years. They have administration coming into teachers classes telling them what is wrong in the class and yet they are not helping or supporting these teachers in educating these students. If everyone is not on the same page and accord to help educate these students then nothing will be uniform in building these students to be critical thinkers and successful students.

My heart is breaking right now for the world that we live in today. This world is broken. People are dying, starving, living in luxury, not educated, too educated, and living dead lives all because they do not know Jesus. What are we doing in life if it is not giving glory to God and showing His light to other people? This life should be lived to the fullest! We should serve, help, give, and glorify God. If I am being seen more than He what purpose am I serving, a selfish one. I know I cannot change the whole world but I can change the world around me and I want to change the brokeness that surrounds me. What do you want to do with the life you have been given?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Normanite to Memphian

It has been so long since I have posted. I am sorry about taking so long!!! Things in Memphis are always go go go. I am officially claiming Memphis as my home now. I was able to visit Norman over the fourth of July. The visit was genuinely precious time with my family. I think moving away has helped me to realize a lot in life and one is just how important my family is to me. I loved spending time with my little brother.

My little brother really is a gem in my life. He is just so sweet and always full of life. This week we found out what we thought was a tumor on his gums is a small portion of the problem. He also has a lesion on his brain so there must be more tests done to find out what the doctors will be doing and what exactly they are fighting. Luckily I have a God that is the Creator. This means he can command anything and it must listen because he was the one that created all things. I will not fear this illness but will look at as an opportunity to shout praise to the Lord. Please when you think of me be praying for my brother and my mom though as they need the faith to see the Lord will turn things out for His glory and good.

So, Memphis... I love it here. My best friend was able to visit me the week leading up to the 4th of July. She will attest that Memphis is just the city I belong in to live. The city is big but it feels like a small town. I have finished two graduate classes. I am currently attending clinicals at KIPP Memphis. This is great seeing a lot of procedures and routines emblamented.

Class of Excellence is what my MTR group is calling ourselves. There is a total of 37 people in the program and whew they really are my family. I can share things with them and know that they will comment and love on me as family. This is just a blessing to be walking through this time of my life with all of them. I have found a church finally. I went today and oh it just warmed my heart while I was there. This was such a blessing because I have attended several but not felt just like any were the one for me. I am so excited to see a family sprout out of this church as well.

A few things about Memphis... the roaches are BIG, people love their city, the lifeguard at the pool is attached to his girlfriend slightly awkward I'm not sure that anyone would be saved, and my apartment has been named the H and M (Hanna and Moriah) we like to cook dinner and Hanna is amazing at baking.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lord Rock My World

Memphian, from what I have gathered in two weeks of living in Memphis a Memphian is a person that claims Memphis as being their home. This could be a person that is from Memphis or a person currently living in Memphis and claims it as their home. I was a little nervous about leaving Norman, living my entire life there stressed me out a little to be moving 7 hours away. I can say now I feel as though Memphis is my true home. I will always claim Norman, the Sooners, and the Thunder but Memphis definitely has provided me with a comfort that I never felt in Norman. I honestly love this city so much! Many people were skeptical for me to be moving here as my mother found an article claiming Memphis to be 5th on the most dangerous cities in the United States. I have learned that Memphis reports every police report turned into the city no matter how petty it may seem thus making the crime ratings more extensive than other cities may claim. I also have learned that if you are somewhere you shouldn't be or doing something you shouldn't be this is when you will get into trouble. Luckily I am not doing things I shouldn't so I think it is safe to say that I am in a safe situation here in Memphis.

So much has happened in the past two weeks of living in this marvelous city! My mom, stepdad, and little brother helped move me out here. They help set-up a lot of my apartment. I was a little sad at first and really needed my apartment to feel like home before they left me here. I am so thankful for everything they did in those two days for me. When we arrived on Tuesday there were MTR graduates from this year and last year waiting to help move me into the apartment. This was just the beginning of a community and family that I cannot describe. My roommate Hanna and her parents arrived the afternoon my parents had left. I have to say she is a ball of fire. I could not ask for a better roommate to live with for the next year of Memphis Teacher Residency. She is so joyful, servant minded, hospitable, and a great encourager. We have had a lot of fun these past two weeks getting to know each other and having fun.

MTR started things off with a bang! We had a welcome dinner, Hoe Down, Orientation, and Lonaroo all within the first week of being in Memphis. Memphis things that MTR has taken the 2012 class of excellence to do: Civil Rights Museum, this was a phenomenal experience I learned so much about the rich history of Memphis and well words cannot describe the emotion felt during this experience. Stax Records Museum, this was a tour and video of the Stax Recording Museum we saw outfits from Tina and Ike Turner, the blue cadillac Issac Hayes drove, records and records from so many other Memphian artists during the 60's. This experience also was great for learning the culture of Memphis. So many talented people came out of Memphis. Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley. Even if a person is not a huge Elvis fan this was a fun outting. Elvis started Rock-n-Roll and that revolutionized music. I had fun during all of these experiences and the awesome thing is that these are just beginnings to many more iconic places in Memphis. This city has so much to offer that it is mind blowing!

Family and community is so important for the spirit. My actual family I miss. My family is walking through a tough time right now. My little brother Connor is ten years old. He is so precious and whew really a great child. When we came out here his right side of his face was a little swollen so we thought he might have something wrong with one of his teeth. My mom took him to the dentist the day after they returned home. We found out that he has a tumor that is on his jaw. This is more complicated because he has a port-wine stain on the same side of his face. The blood vessels from the port-wine stain are feeding the tumor causing it to grow really fast. He has an appointment this Friday with a professor at the OU Dentistry College. Hopefully we will found out some good news and this will be taken care of soon. I know that my God is the ultimate Healer and He will take care of Connor. My other brother Cheyenne is listed to deploy anyday for Iraq as well. Please say a prayer for my brothers and family just so they will rely on God and know that He has it all under control. So with all of this my family and community here in Memphis are vital to me right now. I am so grateful for every person that is going through this program. Each person is so unique and they all really are where they should be. I cannot imagine our family with anyone else in it or with anyone missing from it. I am already falling in love with these people as my family.

Grad school has officially kicked off as well. We are in two courses right now that are four weeks long. Tomorrow I will be a fourth of the way finished with two grad classes. That is kind of ridiculous for me to think about. These classes do take a lot of time. I have never read so much in my life nor have I had to use so many out side sources for papers. I have mutiple papers in one course and in the other I have several quizes and projects in both. Needless to say it is becoming my life. I really enjoy the material being covered though and know it is all worth it. I am where God has called me and He is doing some big things here in Memphis!

I will leave you with some images from the past two weeks....

outfit from Ike and Tina

The Jungle Room

2012 Class of Excellence

MTR residents, graduates, and staff

Um... well Hanna and I in a 3 legged race and I bit the dust

Hanna and I made cake pops for our first day of grad school!