This time last year…

everything was so different

I felt like an expert in my field.

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This time last year I WAS THE TEACHER’S TEACHER.

It seems so surreal when I look back on my life last year.  I have a post on my blog dated Feb.6, 2014. about Synergyse.  My blog focus was on my work as a Techie in a private school. In my work most everyone trusted I was doing my job. The evaluative conversations were always two way chats where my views were respected and sought. This time last year I was in the “cat-bird seat” (a term used by my husband to express who is in charge of the situation).  I was in charge of my focus, my schedule, and my workload.  I loved what I did because I was useful and helpful and excited about the future of technology in education.  I worked alongside some of the brightest people that loved to have conversations about student learning and how to improve performance through the use of technology. My career was headed in a direction that was fun and exciting, and work was not a nasty four lettered word. I loved going to work.

This year I AM THE STUDENT.

Currently, I am learning new curriculum and new ways to prepare students for the test. In my new role I have skills and understanding of my subject area, but I am still learning the best way to successfully prepare middle schoolers for a standardized test that has never been seen.  I love to learn new things and I am trying to learn all of the concepts that will be tested and produce meaningful lesson plans to convey the skills. This involves collecting data and then creating meaningful lessons to shore up weaknesses.  I am doing this while I go through the evaluative process as a new teacher in this district which involves: writing lengthy lesson plans that ask deep probing and contemplative questions about what I am teaching and then orally discuss/defend my lessons 4 times this year.

Sometimes we think life looks better in the rearview mirror, when in reality we are being preparing for this time next year when we look back and see the benefits of the road we traveled.

THIS TIME NEXT YEAR, I PLAN ON FEELING LIKE AN EXPERT IN MY FIELD, AGAIN.fbbed20380077d568448ce89dcd41a98

My goals were the same, ugh!

This time last year it was New Year’s Eve of 2014.  A time when so many hopes are planted. Every year losing weight is among the items on my list of goals.  I think I wrote about that just a few months ago. Click here if you want to read about loving who you are. Last year I had a goal to lose weight before Brooke and Matt got married in March. I lost some, but not all I hoped to lose.  I kept it off until we found out we were moving,

the day after they married.  Wedding-272

Then, stress eating kicked in and I am right back to where I started last year.

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Well, a lot has changed since last year.

  • I’m a year older.
  • My second daughter got married.
  • My blog focus has changed (technology to self).
  • My address changed and with that so many things are different.
  • My job is different (I was a Technology Integration Specialist at an independent school and now I am a middle school English teacher at a public school).
  • My church, which is the best change of the year (no, I’m not just saying that).
  • I’m further away from two of my daughters, but closer to one of them (bitter/sweet).
  • The square footage in which I live (2,300 to 1,044).
  • The view from my front yard.
  • And many, many more . . .

One thing has not changed, I have renewed hope in the fact that I can go a whole year living a disciplined life style. My goals for 2015 will require me to get a little uncomfortable. I am not the most disciplined person and I believe that, in itself, is my biggest problem. In an effort to live more disciplined I created a Passion Planner. In the binder I hope to document my schedule, my Bible reading, my eating, my mood and my exercise.  Lord, help me.  I can’t believe I just wrote that down.  I hope revealing my plan on my blog motivates me.

My goal is to be a healthier version of who I am now: healthier in body, spirit, and mind. With God’s help, I surrender who I am today, in hopes that all my tomorrows will be who God sees in me.IMG_4962

Here is a picture of me, taken in October 2014.  I hope this time next year I will be a lot less puffy and a lot healthier.

 HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU!

My prayer for you is that 2015 will be the year of health and happiness!

Love you all, Karen

I thought I’d already be a grandmother

Another year has rolled around and we are still waiting in anticipation.  Our journey to praying our daughter to motherhood has been a roller coaster of hope and despair.  Parents of married children are not supposed to talk or write about this topic publicly.  We don’t want our children to feel rushed into parenting or worse, make us the topic at the Christmas party on how my parents embarrassed us again by asking, “When are you going to make us grandparents?”

For several years she and her husband have been hoping God would bless them with a bundle of joy.  This month she faces  what looks to be the greatest mountain she will have to climb.  She has been under the care and direction of the top infertility specialist in Birmingham. For years her doctor has tried all of the latest and least invasive procedures. Just after Christmas Mallory  begins the treatments that will lead up to IVF.

This post is a request for all of my praying friends to lift Mallory and Brian in prayer.  They need lots of positive moments over the next month in hopes to keep her body and mind in the best place possible for conception.  You can follow and support Mallory through commenting on her blog, Infertile Hope where she is writing about the process, or on her Facebook wall.  AND, add them to your prayer list.

It is hard to know what to say to someone who is going through infertility.  Mallory wrote a post on that topic to help us. If you don’t know what to say to them, then pray for them and let them know you are out there praying.

Hopefully this time next year I will be posting about how God answered our prayers.

I was thankful. But today I am exceedingly grateful.

Just one second! 00:01 was all it took to change my mood and mark my memory forever. Last year at this time I was unknowingly about to experience the biggest party I’ve ever been to, the most talked about event in Auburn football history, and one of the top 10 most exuberant moments of my life! For those of you non SEC football fans I’ll insert the video of that moment here, and just so you know, it still give me goose bumps and makes my eyes get misty.  Those of you that are Auburn fans, enjoy the memory…again. War Eagle!

Auburn vs Alabama Iron Bowl 2013

This time last year, I was thankful for many things, but I probably have not celebrated every second of every day like I did that day in Jordan-Hare stadium.  Each year brings new surprises, adventures, challenges and dreams fulfilled.  I wonder how my life would be if I valued every second, or just 00:01 a day.  In theory I value every second, right? I mean, I want to think I do, but I probably don’t.  I allow my mood, daily inconveniences and my challenges to steal my joy. Sometimes those seconds turn into hours and days of focusing on all of the wrong things.

So, I am going to borrow a chapter from my dear husband’s playbook and prepare a Thankful List. He has often shared his list and sometimes, I assume,  he has kept it to himself.  I always anticipate my place on the list: First? Second after God? or Sometimes lumped in with all the other relatives? LOL.

I am going to start my list with the people I am most thankful for. I hope you find yourself on my list either by name or lumped together with a group.  I am eternally grateful for so many things and so many people but these are the ones that come to mind this second, or during these many seconds of writing.

Can I get 00:01 to say I am exceedingly grateful for YOU and:

  1. My God who is so kind to me even when I am not worthy.
  2. My husband, Philip, who has offered divine leadership in our family.  His influence has helped me be a better person just by watching his example. He, like God, loves me in spite of myself; so biblical; so blessed. 143
  3. My first daughter, Mallory, who has grown in wisdom and grace through her devotion to God. She is a  godly woman, a loving wife, and blessed daughter, and who will one be a mother.  She covets your prayers and shares her story through her beautiful blog http://infertilehope.blogspot.com/.
  4. My middle daughter, Brooke, who has grown in her faith while in college and continues to seek God’s will in her life & marriage. She finds God among all of the changes she has experienced as a recent college graduate, being newlywed and employed in a high stress classroom.
  5. My baby daughter, Haley, who has grown more in love with her Lord though her leadership, her own quiet time and through having a teachable heart.  She will soon join her sisters as an Auburn graduate. I am so proud of all three of their perseverance in finishing college.
  6. My sons-in-love, Brian and Matt who love their wives, seek to be a Godly husband, and who have become a part of our family as if they were hand picked by God. ; )
  7. My older and only sibling, Jill, who has loved me my whole life and has been the catalyst to making our children not just cousins, but friends.
  8. All the saints that have gone before me: My mother, whom I barely knew; My father, who raised me and my sister; My grandmother, Ree, who was my mother, after my mother’s death; My Grandaddy.
  9. Mike, Greg and Lisa – who followed Jill to the many trips to spend “time with the cousins.” So glad we are family and enjoy each other’s company.
  10. My McVay family, who offer a steady presence, no drama, and constant love that attracted me to Philip in the beginning.
  11. My Barker family, especially Susan and Aunt Betty. They have been there in every life changing moment and then some.  Their love and shared educational wisdom has helped me grow through and understand my genetic predispositions.
  12. My Krag Family, in particular my momma’s baby brother Uncle Benny and Aunt Bunny and their kids. They have been the example of family love that my mother would have wanted to share with us if she was offered that opportunity.
  13. All other family: aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, grandparents, and nephews.
  14. Friends: too many to name, but in particular these individuals have offered a special blessing to me: Listed in no particular order so as not to cause competition: Julie, Jamie, Jen, Whitt, Katherine, Leah, Denise, Kelly, Donna, Charlotte, MC, Keri, Loni, Liz, Becky, and lots of FB friends.
  15. Youth groups from Cokesbury and Shalimar.
  16. Co-workers from all of my schools that helped shape me into the teacher that I am: Shalimar, Episcopal Day, McArthur, Loveless, T.S.Morris, East Hill Christian, Bellview, Bailey, Brewbaker, Trinity, & Meigs.
  17. The churches: members and staff that have helped raise me: Christ UMC Memphis, St. Matthew’s UMC New Orleans, Shalimar UMC, St. Luke UMC Pensacola, Whitfield UMC Montgomery, Cokesbury UMC Pensacola, First UMC Montgomery.
  18. Pastoral friends and spouses of the Alabama West Florida Conference.
  19. Neighbors in Kenwood, Port Dixie, Hollowbrook, Chisholm Trail, Gay Meadows, Young Farm, LaValle, Bay Cliff, Sturbridge, Lochshire & Shalimar.
  20. Yearbook staff members and many students that keep me learning every day.

I was living in his grace. Today I am learning again to Live in His image of me

What I have learned over the course of my life is that I am a person that lacks discipline.  My favorite day would involve staying in my jammies until I have had breakfast, read several things on my computer, petted the dog, and shuffled around the house to pick up yesterdays misplaced items.  Then, I would return to my computer and write.  Sprinkled among other things I love to do, I would talk to each of my daughters, share a group text with my two favorites, eat some chocolate, and maybe go for dip (not a swim) in the pool. Swimming would imply exercise.  I sink into this life of luxury over the summer when I am not teaching and it is one of the favorite parts of my life!

So, in the advent of a recent move which involved a new home, new job, new church…I thought I’d visit the idea of setting new goals.  It’s like NEW YEAR’S EVE  in the summer.  I thought I’d gain inspiration from the  journals that contained the goals I had 28 years ago. It appears, I’VE HAD THE SAME GOALS MY WHOLE LIFE. When I wrote those goals, I fully expected to master all of the goals that year. Isn’t that why they are goals? We work hard and find satisfaction in conquering that which is not innately a part of who we are. Goals help us become the person we long to be. Well, it looks like I am still trying to be the same person I longed to be 28 years ago.

It’s time for a reality check!

BIBLE STUDY

28 years ago I longed to know more about the Bible and to have a daily routine of reading and praying.I have achieved some success. At times in my life I have been diligent and even led studies. At other times, I have been…well, let’s just suffice to say that I am looking forward to getting back in the local church where I can engage in weekly relationships that will hold me accountable. You’d think 5 years of free time would have given me plenty of time to study. My temperament leans in the direction of laziness (see paragraph 1)So, this goal experienced success over the years, however, it could use some resuscitation.

WEIGHT LOSS

Another goal, lose weight. UGH! I guess I have had a love hate relationship with food and exercise my whole life. I love to eat and loathe exercise (again, see 1st paragraph). The funniest part of what I read, was my goal weight. My current goal weight is now 10 lbs. more than what it was 28 years ago. Haha, I’ve lowered my standards and still can’t achieve either goal. The bigger joke is that I have been within 25 lbs. of my goal MY WHOLE LIFE. And, I have probably lost 100 lbs. over the course of the past 28 years. I just keep gaining it back. Anybody with me on this?

My reality check? ….I am fine just the way I am.  Being the person I long to be needs to be transformed into, being the person God created and making the most of what he gave me.  I can long to be the Godly woman who reads the Bible  at first light of day and then sets afoot on a 3 mile run before heading off to work at 6:30 am.  But, I believe my devotional from my bed via my iPhone is just as meaningful.  When I finally get up, I do enjoy my paper copies of the Bible and devotional books, but not every day.  Sometimes I exercise when I get home from work. Mostly, I walk Trooper, my 4-legged son, down to the neighborhood pier and take in the breeze, look for dolphins, and bask in the glory of God’s majesty at sunset.

MY NEW GOALS:

Live in His image of me.

Love who He made in me.

P.S.  This post was published at 9:00 am after breakfast, after I wiped the kitchen counters and loaded the dishwasher, after I let Trooper out and petted his head all while wearing my jammies!!  I hope the rest of the day involves Bible study, talking to my daughters, eating chocolate, texting my two favorites, and going for a dip in the Gulf of Mexico.  If I get to it, for exercise, I’ll walk on the beach.  Ahhhhh……..

RSA videos…I’m doing this next year

RSA videos are easy to create if you have a means to record video and then edit it. I hope to get a teaching job next year and I think this would be a fun and easy way to collect Formative Assessment.

I was moving a lot less stuff

IMG_4406Moving children is simple. They don’t have much stuff and honestly, packing up someone else is easier than packing up yourself. Upon graduation from Auburn and becoming engaged my daughter moved to be closer to her fiancè, look for a teaching job and begin her life as an independent person. This year I am packing up my house and headed to a new place, to be with my husband, as we begin a new chapter in his ministry. As was my daughter, I am looking for a teaching job. The biggest differences between her move and mine is my age and the amount of stuff I have.

As I gather my boxes, it has become increasingly obvious that I am a hoarder of family heirlooms. The value of my heirlooms is in the eyes of the beholder. in other words, I have a lot of junk that was really important to my grandmother, my mother and myself, all independent of each others treasures. After my mother died in 1967 every piece of paper that was important to her as a high schooler, every wedding card, baby gift card, every brochure of every trip she took, and every correspondence to and from her hospital bed was put into three matching suitcases that bear her initials. When I got married, I took the suitcases along with a large blue metal footlocker that contained art projects from elementary school, high school memories, and college souvenirs. When my grandmother died I became the self appointed keeper of her wedding cards, birth certificates, travel memorabilia and I appropriately placed these items in the suitcase she packed when she visited our house. Finally, up on my father’s death I discovered yet another suitcase containing more of my mother’s memorabilia from their marriage and the birth of my older sister.

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In addition, I have 3 very cool photo albums from my father’s family dating back to the 1800’s.

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This old fella is my great-great-great-great-grandfather on my father’s side.

Below are more relatives from yesteryear.IMG_4409

Are you counting? That is 5 suitcases and one footlocker of memories.Sometimes it is fun to rummage through items that were treasured memories. Most of the time they were untouched. The fact remains, they are someone else’s memories. For years I have been keeping watch over these suitcases in hopes of keeping the memories alive. When a child becomes motherless every scrap of that women’s life that can be felt or seen is a priceless heirloom. The pain of missing these important women who should be sharing the stories that go with these heirlooms, made opening the suitcases too hard.  However, it needed to be done.

Yesterday, I sat in my garage with all 5 suitcases and my big blue footlocker. Legs stretched out encircled by the luggage and two garage bags,  I am proud to say, that I have whittled down the paper to the three matching suitcases bearing my mother’s initials.  The contents is mostly pictures, which I plan to
scan and place in viewable books.  I saved some of the paper items that could be scanned and used as embellishments in a photo book to help mark the period of time.  I shed a few tears, but mostly they were tears of missing my mother and grandmother.  Today, I am not sad about throwing away the papers.  I feel a bit lighter.  Those suitcases have been a burden of guilt. I could not be the one to throw away the last little bits of my mother’s heirlooms.  The epiphany came when I was going through my foot locker and realized I was leaving my daughters with the same burden.  As a motherless daughter, I keep everything, so my daughters would know who I am…just in case.  I think I’ve defied the odds (you can read about that in this blog post) and they can see who I am and remember me using their own pile of papers and memories.

One thing the women on my side of the family have in common is the collection of memorabilia.  My grandmother, my mother, myself and now my daughters have all saved piles of stuff.  In my move this month, I am taking some of my youngest daughters stuff with us.  I have learned that keeping your stuff is for you to enjoy.  When the joy turns to a burden it is time to trim it down, let it go, and make new memories…to fill new suitcases with more stuff. But not these three cases, they are going to the dump!IMG_4403

Everything was so different…

At any point in my life the statement, “This time last year everything was so different.” would speak truth.  There is very little that is stagnant about my life.  The constant is my faith.  Everything else is subject to change. In a few weeks I am packing up and moving: changing address, towns, states, schools, churches, friends and a multitude of other things I am too tired to think about.  So, in an all out effort to avoid packing, I updated my blog and gave her a fresh new summery Florida make-over and a fresh new name.  

Here’s to new wine in new wineskins.  I’ll keep the old posts so all is preserved.

Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17

Three Ribbons of Love on Mother’s Day

Reflections on living long enough to raise my children.

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Three Ribbons of Love

Three ribbons of love woven around my heart make me a mother. When I was 4, almost 5, a brain tumor took my mother. Ironically, my grandmother was taken from my mother when my mother was only 8. Motherless daughters have one thing in common, as my mother and I did, we want to raise our children to adulthood, to defy the odds, break the chain, fulfill our own mother’s dreams in parenting and BE A MOTHER. I have spent nearly my whole life, in one way or another, dancing around the fact that I am motherless. There are the obvious moments when a daughter could use a mother like; school projects for mother’s day gifts, marriage and childbearing. Then there are the day-to-day moments when I realize my mother and I are the same, but different than women who grew up with a mother. We both missed the warmth of a lap, the resting of an ear on her shoulder and the comforting sound of her beating heart. We missed sage advice when navigating relationships, friendships, and life. We missed unconditional love, the kind only a mother has for her child. We missed long nights of caring when fear or sickness interrupted sleep. We missed shopping sprees, planting flowers, dressing up, baking cookies, homework help, hugs, kisses, shared dreams, and…arguments.  These moments with my own daughters were like the air in my lungs; something I could not take for granted. Relishing in all moments with my daughters was more than a blessing for me.  It was an act of necessity, like breathing. I wanted to love my daughters for my mother, and for my grandmother. I am pouring the love of three generations onto my three beautiful daughters. Each ribbon carries strands from my grandmother, from my mother, and from me. Each beautiful ribbon has made me a mother. God has defied my odds. God has broken the chain. Three generations of mother’s love has been poured into my daughters. My grandmother wanted to raise her only daughter and sons. My mother wanted to raise both of her daughters. I wanted to raise my three daughters… God gave ME  a gift. I have raised my daughters, my mother’s granddaughters, and my grandmother’s great-granddaughters. This blessing I never take for granted. The love of three generations pressed down onto my three beautiful ribbons of life. Three ribbons of love wrapped around my heart makes me a mother. A very blessed, thankful, and proud mother I am. My cup runneth over “Fill my cup, Lord; I lift it up Lord; Come and quench this thirsting of my soul. Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more. Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.”

Change is Hard

change-ahead-sign-300x225The following post has nothing to do with Computers or Paper.  You have just received your PSA (public service announcement) in case you are expecting a post on technology or scrapbooking.  If you just want to read my daily musings, then follow along..

Not to sound too “Methodist”, my childhood was sprinkled with church while others had their lives immersed in church. In other words, our family was classic C&E church attender: C hristmas and E aster. Upon college graduation, I longed to renew the spark that had faded during the previous four years.  After returning home, I chose to join Shalimar United Methodist church in the late fall of 1984. It was an effort to “clean up” and “grow up” and acknowledge  God’s nudging and accept that I did have an unattended spark that needed fanning.  After joining the church…shortly, and when I say shortly, I mean14 days later, I was engaged to the associate pastor.  At the risk of sounding cliche’  “it was love at first sight.”  We were married on May 4, 1985 at Shalimar UMC and this years makes 29 years of marriage.

As a United Methodist I learned about Prevenient Grace early in my journey as a christian.  John Wesley believed that  prevenient grace is with us from birth, preparing us for new life in Christ.  Prevenient means to come before.  Wesley believed that God places a little spark of divine grace within us that enables us to recognize and accept our conversion and new life in Christ.  Without that spark or desire for the hole in your soul to be filled with God, I would not have found the fulfilling life I am living.

Shalimar was where I learned more about my relationship with God and I was nurtured and was shown so much grace by the congregation.  I was rough around the edges and because they loved my husband and their Lord, they loved me.  My faith grew, bloomed, and bore fruit because of the cultivating that occurred that year.

As a United Methodist pastor’s wife I am married to my husband and his calling.  When he was ordained, among many things, he agreed to be itinerate and he is faithful to his calling and to the United Methodist Church’s itineracy.  We have been blessed to serve congregations in Shalimar, Pensacola, and Montgomery.

We recently learned that we will be moving.  Our new church home will be back where it all began.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought we would be back home.  What a blessing.  The popular song keeps running over and over in my head, “I’m coming home, I’m coming home.  Tell the world that I’m coming home..”

Today, I am thankful for God’s prevenient grace.  He always goes ahead of us knowing we have the choice to follow.  Philip has always answered the call to where he has been asked to go.  Never questioning.  Always believing that His plan was above anything we can orchestrate.  I am grateful I am married to such a Godly man and I am happy to follow him wherever he serves, especially when I’ll be following him HOME!

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