Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Overhead Projectors and Answered Prayers

Most people who know my family know that education is in our blood. With both of my parents in the education field, some would have guessed years ago that I, too, would travel the road to teaching. As a young child, one could often find me in my bedroom/“classroom” teaching my students of dolls, using an “overhead projector” made from a window, a flashlight, a piece of wax paper, and dry erase markers.

However, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I decided to make teaching my own path, my career choice. Growing up, I witnessed Mom grading papers all night, staying late in her classroom, and often traveling all over to see her students participate in extracurricular activities. I saw my Dad teach, coach, and ultimately earn his spot as an administrator—but it wasn’t easy. My family lived in schools. So, when it came time to decide my future, teaching didn’t seem all that appealing anymore. I wanted to do something different, to travel down a different road—one that my parents did not.  After almost four years serving in a residential treatment home for struggling teenagers, my childhood dream of teaching more than dolls suddenly seemed to have more meaning. During this rewarding season of my life, I experienced teenagers struggle through some of the most difficult times in their lives while trying to hold their heads above water in school. Perhaps this was the beginning of my path taking a new direction. Many people had given up on those students, while a select few of us began to actually invest in and care about their lives. Eventually they began passing classes, while others accomplished a goal they never thought they would—they graduated from high school.  In fact a few weeks ago, Jeff and I received a high school graduation invitation from one of our former students - we couldn't be prouder!  Working with Jeff these last few years in youth ministry has only amplified this desire to serve students again...

After years of praying and seeking the Lord's timing - starting in August 2013, I will finally have my own classroom, with real students (not dolls) and hopefully get that overhead projector I always wanted.  I'll be starting this new career at Brownsboro ISD as their new high school speech and debate teacher.  What a journey I have ahead of me?!

I am a product today of answered prayers, God's faithfulness AND His perfect timing.  Not to mention, an even better product of two educators that have gone before me and have paved the way.  I am so thankful and blessed to now follow in their footsteps into the world of teaching!  So, please, please read this with encouragement knowing that God is always faithful, always on time and hears our prayers.  The plan you think is great - God has a way of turning it around and making it even greater - way past anything you could ever imagine or hope for.  Be patient for that.  It's well worth the wait!

Ephesians 3:20 NIV "Now to HIM who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us."


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Keep Plowing

I remember a time in my life when my Mother gave me some very short, but awfully powerful words of encouragement.  "Keep your hands to the plow..."  It was a time when a few relationships were breaking and I was somewhere between fighting to keep them or moving on without them.  This is not exactly a place anyone ever wants to be, especially someone that is so relationship-oriented as myself.  You can imagine how this decision was more than my fragile heart could take.  My emotional, physical and spiritual health began to decline and my range of focus was gone.


Mom and Dad have always been fighters for me - fighters for our family and without question have always supported us.  They also have zero problems challenging us when we're in the wrong.  They have taught us to take responsibility when needed.  And, in cases like this, taught us to move forward, with my hands to the plow and keep doing God's work - even if that meant going without some relationships.  It's a really hard lesson, but one that has stuck with me. 

In keeping with this analogy - I can't help but think, what happens when a farmer doesn't keep his hands to the plow?  His rows are uneven, his horse (the one he's leading, ironically) gets off track and the harvest suffers.  But, what happens when you DO stay the course?  Callused hands.  My husband likes to brag from time to time about his callused feet and hands because they are markings of work - tattoos of labor.  (Also another reason why he says he'll never get a pedicure - he's proud of those calluses).  Ha!

So, from one set of callused hands to another - let me share a little from this Southern girl's heart:
  • Keep your hands to the plow, especially on days that you are tired, weary and heavy-laden.  Sometimes (maybe all the time?) God does His best work when we stop depending on ourselves. 
  • Don't look behind you.  It's a dangerous journey when you start to look behind and not at what's ahead.  You could even miss out on some really great stuff. 
  • Invest in tools that help CULTIVATE your harvest. I'm not a farmer, but I would guess that they invest in the best tools to help produce the best crop.  In the same way, invest in people that help cultivate the "fruit" in your life.  Are they watering and giving you sun to your soul?
  • Callused hands can lead to a bountiful harvest.  I doubt any farmer would look at a row of trees or fruit and say - "WOW, that was so easy!  It took absolutely no labor of love."
  • Your obedience and faithfulness in doing Kingdom Work, will always pay off.  The God I serve honors those that love Him and follow Him.  Hang in there. 
So, friends - keep those hands to the plow and remember that you may be surprised what those callused hands will produce...

With Southern Love,

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Long Saturday

We've been studying John Ortberg's book, Who is this Man for the past several weeks at work.  Have you ever done a study with him?  He is really fantastic.  We've done a few of his video series and I have loved every single one.  Today's session, ironically the last one of the series, was a particularly inspirational message as it addressed the three days that changed the world - or as we like to call, Easter.

I look around and continue to see disappointment, tragedy and heartache among my family, my friends, acquaintances and even strangers.  Unexpected deaths, diagnoses of terminal diseases, job losses, divorce, the list goes on...  But, today I wanted to share a different perspective.

There are several examples of "three day stories" in the Bible.  You see how God brought a ram on the third day for Abraham, so he wouldn't have to sacrifice his son, Isaac.  Another example is with Jonah - rescued from the belly of the whale, on the third day.  And, the ultimate example is that of Christ's death. We all know the story.  In these three examples, we see a "trend" (although I've never seen it until today):  The first day is trouble - or death, the third day is deliverance and on the second day, there is silence. I believe most of us are in the middle of "Saturdays" - tragedy hit yesterday and today we wait.  We wait to hear from the doctors, we wait to see if a new job will roll around, we wait to finalize papers and we wait 'till we can meet our loved ones again on the other side.

We wait.

It's silent but also deafening.  It feels lonely.  It's dark.  It's emotional.  It's cold.  Most people feel forsaken on "Saturday", cause Friday was too shocking to think and Sunday feels like it'll never come.  But, I believe God is working, all the time - even on your (and mine) long Saturdays.  There is hope at the end of the week.  There is redemption for your soul, healing for your body, restoration for your relationships, there is forgiveness and grace. 

I don't know how many of you are spending your Monday - as a "Saturday" - but I hope this will offer some measure of hope for you.  GOD. IS. AT. WORK. 

Rest in the truth that, Sunday is coming....


Monday, April 1, 2013

DIY Burlap Curtains

Hey Y'all,
Guess what?  I have a tutorial for you - can you believe it?  I know, I know...I'm long overdue. 

Wouldn't you agree that every woman needs to know how to make a curtain, especially with the trend of Chevron fabric and cute burlap out there?!  If you're feeling domestic and in the mood for a change - here's an easy DIY tutorial for you.  Curtains were my first project as a seamstress, and it only gets easier with each one.  You might actually find yourself looking for places to hang a curtain because they're so easy to make and always gives a huge facelift to your windows. 

My window at work provides a great source of natural lighting - but it's really boring and drab.  So, I knew a cute cafe curtain would do the trick. 


The Shopping:
- 1-2 yds of burlap fabric,
for a "cafe" style curtain.  You will need more if you're doing a floor length. 
- Cafe rod: these are
inexpensive at places like Target, or Wal-Mart.
- Coordinating thread, I chose white.

- Iron and ironing board: always iron your fabric before you sew - makes life easier.  Even with burlap
- Pins:
I recommend using the ones with little colored balls at the end of them - this helps locate those little gems if they fall on the ground.
- Wide burlap chevron ribbon
- Sewing machine:  I highly recommend a Singer "Simple" Model #2263 - it's a great starter machine.

The Process:

Step 1:
Take your burlap and measure to your specifications.  My window measured 38" wide, so I cut to 40" to allow for more "scruntch" at the top of your tab. I measured about 20-22" for the length, although - looking back, I would have cut it a bit shorter, closer to 18". 

Step 2:
Make your top tab (where the rod will go) - I measured 3" for the top fold, pic 1a.  Then, pin this down all the way across, as seen in pic 1b.

Step 3:
Sew your seam.  I made the stitch to line up with the left side of my foot, pic 2.  The good thing about burlap is that it's really hard to tell what the "wrong" side is vs. the "right" side.  So, if you mess up - it's easy to cover.  

Step 4

Check to make sure your finished seam is what you want.  From experience, sometimes your thread gets caught and knoted.  So, make sure before you go any further that your seam is smooth and has no knots.  Your stitching should look something like this (pic 3) on the RIGHT side of your fabric (what will be facing you).


Step 5:
Sew your bottom tab - I did a 1" fold.  Typically your bottom tab is much thinner than your top tab.  Pin this down, but do NOT sew yet. 

Step 6:
Take your wide ribbon and place the ribbon on top of your fold (pic 5a.).  Then, pin this down (pic 5b.)


Step 7:
Then, take your curtain and flip over to the WRONG side, and sew your ribbon to the bottom tab.  Your ribbon should be touching the base of your machine.  In other words, if you're sewing and your ribbon is on top, you need to flip it over to the other side.  Reference pic 6 below.


Then, flip over back to the right side and you are finished - enjoy the new addition to your office space, or home...


Now, it's your turn!  Any other projects you're working on that you want to share with me?!  I'm always up for a new idea. 

Southern Love,


Monday, February 25, 2013

Bragging Rights

Bragging on family never gets old.  I'm pretty blessed - to say the least - with wonderful parents, in-laws, a great sister, beautiful niece, a new soon-to-be brother-in-law (which I'm REALLY excited about) and my HUBS!  I often wonder what I ever did to deserve such terrific people in my life.

My husband is a true treasure - one I often forget is just around the corner in the other room or laying next to me to "open" and enjoy such a gift.  I waited for Jeff, for what seemed like eternity.  Single and dateless for many years - I ever wondered if I would find "him."  Most of you know our story, but one tale I like to tell is the every day blessings Jeff manages to pull off in the midst of a crazy, hectic schedule.

Right now, he volunteers at our local fire department.  He diligently leads a very successful youth ministry in our home church - averaging 80+ kids every week.  After buying a home a little over 2 years ago that needed MAJOR work, Jeff dedicates "off time" to work on this.  He also helps lead a college ministry in Tyler, at least twice a week.  Oh, and he goes to school.  But, the most important responsibility he has is being my husband.  I can be demanding, to say the least, overbearing and impatient - all of which Jeff insists on demonstrating patience, leadership and love in the midst of it all.

Thank you, Jeff for your love for those around you - your love for me and your love for our Savior.  What a true blessing you are in every sense of the word. 

So - if you have a glass, raise it.  My husband deserves it.  If you have a fabulous person in your life - I encourage you to let the world know.  In the midst of the delivery of sad, awful news on the web, TVs, and other outlets - the world could stand to hear some GOOD things going on.  So, today - I acknowledge something good around me, someone

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Jolt of Reality

Hey Y'all,
I travel quite a bit for work and am reminded how much I love my husband during these trips.  I miss him very much when I am away from him.  It's only amplified when flights are delayed and trips become unexpectedly longer.  Last night, after my reunion with Jeff, I was jolted with an unbearable truth that he won't be here forever.  The times I miss him are only a small percentage compared to those that have lost loved ones and will not get the privilege to lay with their husband recanting their last several days while they were apart...

I did not know Jason Albright personally, but through other friends (and Jeff actually spent some time with him on a few occasions).  In fact, he worked at Heartlight before me.  I now feel an unusual feeling of pride that I have walked in his footsteps, after learning that his life was tragically taken this past Friday, following an automobile accident.  My heart has been heavy for his family and those dear friends he left behind.  Specifically, his wife and 6-month old baby.... His life was taken when helping someone else to safety.  He died loving and caring for those around him.  My words will never be able to adequately celebrate and honor his life, as I did not know him personally.  But, I did feel his life was more than just important and deserved to be honored in every way possible.  His lovely wife has written a small post on her Facebook page to celebrate Jason (I imagine the "shares" will only multiply over the next several days)...

"Jason's sharing service was just so wonderful. I was upheld in prayer and love in a way that felt tangible. It was so wonderful to hear everyone's stories. Jason D Albright was consistent- consistently passionate, dedicated, loyal, intelligent, loving, servant-hearted, silly, uninhibited, and so much fun. I hope he was listening. I think The Lord gave Jason his intense drive in life because his time on earth would be short, and he had a lot to do.

Amanda, the lady who Jason was trying to help move out of the road when he was hit, came to the service. We invited her and I am so glad she came. I want her to know my Jason, and the love of our Lord, and that no one blames her. She shared with me that right before the car hit, she was looking at Jason, and there was a light shining from his face that was so bright, she had to turn her head away. In the next second, the car hit Jason and the other man, and then rolled over Amanda's arm, missing her head by inches. God was in that moment.

I am wearing Jason's wedding ring on a necklace. It has deep groves etched into one side where his hand hit the pavement. When I rub those grooves, it reminds me of the kind of man he is.

Just now, as I was typing, I heard Jason's cell phone alarm go off in the kitchen. It plays Bella's Lulliby. I held his phone and listened to the music and cried. It was like he was here....We were able to find Jason's phone on the side of the road the day after the accident. The screen is shattered and the battery was dead. Someone had plugged it in last night. At 5am his alarm for work went off, just like any other Monday. It's time to wake up Honey."

Give extra hugs and "I love you's" today.  Live a life like Jason did, with no reserves.  Live your life following Christ.   The reality is that Jason is not here anymore, but I believe the better reality is that Jason is now sitting at the throne of Jesus, banqueting at the King's table and dancing with angels....

With so many others, I celebrate his life and his first face-to-face meeting with his Savior today!