Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thankful November: my church

Today I'm thankful for my church, Orchard Park Presbyterian.  I have been going to this church since I was in the fourth grade.  We've gone through some changes since then (almost doubled the size of our building, changed ministers, added a contemporary service) and we're currently going through more changes while we have an interim minister and search for a new head minister.  I absolutely love this church and have committed to seeing what happens during all of these changes.

In the same way,  I've been committed to the contemporary service.  It isn't perfect by any means, but it's been growing and changing over the past several years.  Today was a huge change for that service because we moved it from the pavilion (a large gym/recreation room at one end of the church) to the sanctuary.  I can't say that everything went perfectly, but overall the congregation seemed really receptive of the service and the work that so many had done to get it ready for its move to the sanctuary.  I'm glad to be a part of a church that's willing to change and grow and take risks, the same way the original members who founded the church did.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thankful November: sleep

Today I'm thankful for sleep and how it makes everything seem better!  I admit it.  I love to sleep.  If life seems to overwhelming or stressful or depressing or full of anxiety, I will go to sleep to get away from it all for a while.  It doesn't matter if it's sleep at night or napping in the middle of the day, sleep always seems to do the trick. 
Image from here

In case you need any more proof that sleep, or specifically naps, are good for you, you can check out this website.  Or just do what I usually do and think about Psalm 127:2 "...for he grants sleep to the ones that he loves."  If that's not encouragement to get more sleep, I don't know what is!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thankful November: teaching at Options

Today I'm thankful for my job.  This is my seventh year teaching English to at-risk high school students at Options Charter School.  It's definitely really challenging, but also really rewarding.  I have had students I've been working with get arrested or drop out of high school, but I've also had students I've worked with graduate and go on to great things!  

A few of my favorite teaching moments from my time teaching at Options:
  • Two years ago, I had a student speak at graduation and tell me I was the reason he graduated.  That made my entire year!!!
  • Last year, I had a student who I had been working with since his freshmen year graduate even though all of his friends dropped out along the way.  He's leaving next week to go through basic training for the army.  
  • Yesterday, I had a student tell another student that I'm like her second mom.
Not only do I have amazing stories because of the relationships I'm able to develop with students, I am also challenged every single day to teach these students as well as I can.  I've been pushed way out of my comfort zone by dealing with some of these students who are into things I had never even imagined when I was in high school, including drugs, alcohol, abuse of all kinds, probation, and arrests.  I've been challenged by taking charge of the yearbook and the student government.  I've had my patience, my classroom management skills, and my teaching skills challenged time and time again.  I am a much better teacher because of Options.

It's definitely difficult to face these challenges every day and try to remember that it is all worth it (because some days it definitely doesn't feel like it!), but I can't imagine working anywhere else.  I know that teaching at a traditional high school would be easier, but I would miss the relationships that I've formed with the students and staff.  I would miss the ability to be in complete control over my curriculum.  (I get to choose the books I teach, which is a huge blessing because I get to introduce my students to books I love.  A few of my favorites that I've taught in the past or am planning on teaching later this year are: The Catcher in the Rye, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Monster, Split, The Book Thief, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, The Kite Runner, Rooftops of Tehran, Brave New World, and Slaughterhouse Five.)  I have to say that I'm so, so thankful for my job.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thankful November

Today begins Thankful November! I invite you to join me in participating in the "Today I am thankful for..." blog posts. Each day this month, you post something for which you are thankful.

Today I'm thankful for our amazing vet!  Her name is Sheryl Johnson and she works at Companion Animal Medical Center.  We go to the same church and our families has been friends ever since I (and then later my little sister) nannied for her two girls during the summer.  She's an amazing woman who  made me feel so much better about my poor dog Schmoo today because I knew he was in such good hands!

When I woke up this morning, I came downstairs and let Schmoo out, gave him breakfast, and then let him out again. (He has his routine down!)  When I let him in from the backyard, I noticed that his tail looked strange.  When he came in, I looked at it more closely and realized something was definitely wrong!  

Schmoo normally has a really perky tail that he wags at almost everything and today his tail was hanging limply between his legs.  I was so worried about it that I went upstairs and woke Andrew up so he could look up at Schmoo's tail.  We thought it was broken and were both really worried.  

I called the vet's office and set up an appointment so that she could take a look at Schmoo's tail.  When the vet looked at Schmoo, she determined that he had limber tail.  She put Schmoo on antibiotics and hopefully his tail should be back to normal in a few days.  It definitely helped me to worry less to know that Sheryl was the one looking after Schmoo!