Friday, May 30, 2014

Success: Passed!

Tuesday morning I took what I was hoping to be my last Certification test, completing the "Board Room to Classroom" transition of life over the last couple of years.  It was the Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities" test and is known to be a mind game with multiple correct options, but having to choose the "best" of the options.  I had a specific plan to start my day, breakfast at a favorite cafe close to my location, fueling up for my test.  I was texting with my Mom while I was eating and shared with her the verse of the day from Bible Gateway - an app I check every morning. 

That verse is my story ... I am completing the task of the first year of teaching, I have truly been shown grace throughout this year, and I definitely feel I am right where I need to be.... all testifying to good news of God's grace after a rough few years.  I felt confident going into the test, I was studied up,  prayed up and I had a handful of my besties praying for me too. 

It happened to be one of the most torrential rain weeks in recent Houston history, and the Internet was down at the testing site, delaying our start for over 1.5 hours.  I called in for a full day sub, waited (a constant theme in my life) and finally began a little after 9:30am.  I finished just after 11am, and walked out thinking I might be signing up to take that test again, I had no idea.  The test center administrator told me most people come out crying after 5 hours (max allowed time) and that it is one of the hardest tests.  I wasn't crying, only took 1.5 hours and agreed - it is a confusing test, and would wait to see what happened. 

FFWD to today ....

This morning the sunrise was beautiful!  I actually pulled over to take this picture.  I love the sunrise and have watched it so many times from my classroom window on the world, but knew it might not look like this when I got to school, and I wanted to capture it.  It is our last Friday with students, the only thing remaining after today is final exams and the bell will ring at 11:35 on Thursday to signal the official end to this school year.  I thought today would be the day for my test results. 

As my classes are working to wrap up projects and reviews I was looking at my planner and thinking back to August when I thought "what the heck will I teach" and how will I ever fill these days.  They have been filled with so many moments (another post for another time) that I will forever remember.  It is the end of the year and my planner is filled with lessons, projects, quizzes, tests, guests, school activities and to-do's. 

I needed to file for my Standard State of Texas Certificate by end of week, it's Friday and I figured it was time to do it.  I really wanted to have my PPR Test scores to file my application and for it to be complete when I filed!  But, I went ahead and filed the application without knowing my scores. 

I got to my desk to eat lunch and got the email ... Subject:  "Your ETS TExES Scores".

Heart stop.  

I did have a thought when filing application (less than 30 minutes prior) - I am filing this in confidence that I passed, this is what I'm to do to complete the task and testify to the grace of God. 

I opened the email, clicked the link, logged on (for the 3rd time today, because I've been checking) and this is what I saw ...

Status:  PASSED!!!!!   Not only passed, but a better score than I received on any review. 

Amen.  The task is complete.  I testify to the good news of God's grace. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Success: Disney

I'm late to the Frozen world, but I did just get "Let it Go" on my iPod a couple of weeks ago and finally have listened to the lyrics.  It has resonated with me for so many reasons, but mostly because maybe Disney can inspire a generation that it is ok to not be "ok" and to truly "let it go" when necessary.  And, maybe if the younger ones believe it the older ones of us will begin to believe it as well. 

I'm not sure where we got into the habit of answering the  "How are you?" question with "Ok", "tired", "busy" and "fine".  Sure, there are times when that is the only response we can give based on the audience.  But, somewhere our society has succumbed to the expectation to appear we have it all together and no one wants to admit some days, weeks, months, heck years aren't going like we hoped and we feel just like this ...
Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl (guys too) you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know

We become bound by meeting expectations of what we think others want  to hear and/or expect to hear and eventually begin to feel like living trapped in a bird cage.  I was just running this weekend and listening to my iPod when Lauren Chandler's "The Sparrow" came on and I was reminded.  His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me...I sing because I'm happy and I sing because I'm free.  There are no details God isn't into and He sets us free from having to be "perfect" and "ok". 
I am selective in who I am "not OK" in front of.  I have a tight group of besties who are my wise counsel - they range in age and stage of life, but I know I can always be 100% myself and it is ok, and they are the same to me.  Just within my circle of besties life is tough ...
challenges with children
dealing with Government & VISAs
major illness and life changing diagnosis
loss of loved ones
marriages that are hard
seasons of unemployment
infertility - adoption - miscarriage
jobs that are demanding and require time away
blended family challenges
and the list goes on....
I talk to this circle most every day and always at least weekly.  We keep tabs on real life.  What is going on and how to pray and support one another.  We are free to let it go when life is hard and we celebrate big when prayers are answered and life is good! 

Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl (guy) is gone
Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on
This group is my steady in my day to day, but they aren't my lifeline.  There are times I want to spread my wings and solve it myself, because doing something is better than doing nothing.  And, sometimes no matter how much we've covered a burden there comes a time to set it free and let it be.  I have been reminded through so many seasons of Exodus 14:14....
I know my friends will fight for me here, but the  greater comfort is that I know The Lord ultimately fights for me every day. I am free from the birdcage, but I need to sit on top.  And, I need only to be still. In prayer. In reading. In not doing. 
So, if you're not ok, it is ok.  Find a trusted circle, let it go and then be still.  One of my favorite reminders is Amy Grant's song "Better than a Hallelujah" ...
We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah
Trust Jesus. Perch outside the birdcage and let him sing over you, his eye is on you and he is fighting for you.  Be a role model to the tiny prince and princess who are watching. Teach them the value of trusted circle, but ultimately to trust Jesus when life is hard.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Space: Music

I've never been a big TV watcher, I don't turn it on immediately when I get home, I don't need TV for the "noise" and there are days in a row I never turn it on.  My apartment came with a TV installed in the bathroom, and anyone who knows me well and sees that TV questions why I, of all people, would have an extra TV.  Believe me, it's not that big of a space that  I couldn't hear or see another TV from the bathroom! 

The TV I love the most is from 7am - 10am, Good Morning America and Kelly & Michael show.  But, I can't see that on a daily basis, though will work it into the summer routine some.  However, I don't love it enough to DVR every day and watch at the end of the day either. 

Most often I fill my space with music.  While I'm doing anything around the house I will turn on my iPod.  The iHome player some friends gave me as a gift is one of my favorite gifts.  When I have a new playlist, sometimes I will even turn it on as I go to bed and let it play because it is all of my new/recent favorite songs.  I definitely wear out a new playlist while running and if I'm on a road trip, that's what is playing in my car!

I keep a running list of songs I want to get from iTunes on my phone and add them a couple of times a year.  They are usually a mix of Country, Pop and Christian music.  I do listen to TV radio every morning, so I hear new songs there, who ever thought I would like a Jamie Lynn Spears song?!  I also play Pandora in my classroom and pick up new songs I like from those stations.  Songs we sing at church usually make it onto my list as well.  This year The Voice has had a couple of songs that are in new renditions I love.  (That is one show I do try to watch weekly, but usually just the singing, not the judges comments, intros, etc. -- that's why I love DVR!) All in all, a new mix-tape a few times a year!   

My most recent playlist...
  • All of Me - John Legend
  • Blessings - Laura Story
  • Brave - Sara Bareilles
  • Callin' Me When I'm Lonely - Sheryl Crow
    (she should have gone country a long time ago)
  • Drunk Last Night - Eli Young Band
  • Everything I Shouldn't Be Thinking - Thompson Square
    (one of my favorite duos)
  • Hold On, We're Going Home - Christina Grimmie (The Voice)
    (Never liked the Drake version of this)
  • How Could I Want More - Jamie Lynn Spears
    (cast no judgment)
  • I Won't Give Up - Christina Grimmie (The Voice)
  • Kiss You Tonight - David Nail
  • Lay Me Down - Chris Tomlin
    (My daily prayer)
  • Let It Go - Idina Menzel
    (Everybody needs a little Disney in their life)
  • Love Is War - American Young
  • Love Knows No End - Hillsong Live
    (Thankful for this promise and truth)
  • Me and My Broken Heart - Rixton
    (Who the heck is Rixton?  Thank you Pandora)
  • Meanwhile Back at Mama's - Tim McGraw feat Faith Hill
    (I love Mama's house and I love Tim + Faith duos)
  • Light em Up - Fall Out Boy
  • Radioactive - Imagine Dragons
  • Rest Upon Us - Caedmon's Call
  • Riser - Dierks Bentley
  • Sober - Little Big Town
    (I loved LBT LONG before Pontoon)
  • Some Nights - Fun.
  • That Power -
  • This is Amazing Grace - Phil Wickham
    (Grace that Humbles me daily)
  • Timber - Pitbull
And, this just released this week, which I will be purchasing ASAP!  Passion:  Take it All

Try filling your space with music.  Sing along when your favorite is on!  Turn it up!  Heck, dance if you want to!  Music speaks volumes to me, and I get lots accomplished when I'm just listening vs. sitting down in front of the  TV. 

This week, I made a cake, cooked dinner and did some computer work...all while my new playlist was playing!