Monday, August 4

A Down Day & Habbakuk

Today I am having a down day.
For me, days like these are once in a blue moon, but what they lack in frequency I suspect they make up for in intensity, because despite the abundance of blessings in this girl’s poured-out, good-to-the-last-drop life, I can’t see anything but lack on these days.
Lack of love.
Lack of laughter.
Lack of meaning.
Lack of purpose.
Lack of applesauce in the applesauce container, because it somehow ended up in the cottage cheese container…..
Lack.
And the thing is, no amount of cat posters or inspirational mumbo-jumbo can change my heart on these days. Sure, tried truisms can shift my mental status, but they can’t squelch my sorrow.  My mind may buy into the “It’s not so bad” mentality, but my heart will have none of it. So, instead of wooing my woes away with a cute cat meme, I will acknowledge my bottomed-out-blues and add my name to Habbakuk’s, because in all my lack, He is still my Lord, and if I can be glad in nothing else, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
“Though the fig tree does not bud
   and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
   and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
   and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
   I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
   he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
   he enables me to tread on the heights.”

- Habbakuk 3:17-19

Friday, July 11

James 1:9- Embracing Change

This morning I'm reading James 1:9-10 and it's making me uncomfortable. It says:

"Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation...."

So, why you wonder, does this passage make me uncomfortable????

Believe it or not, it has nothing to do with riches.

It makes me uncomfortable because I am a staunch hater of change. Even while I was a kid, I rejoiced in routine. Wearing the same grungy 25¢ garage-sale sweatshirt day in and day out, eating the same bowl of Fruity Pebbles morning after morning, my routines brought comfort and joy to my change-resistant heart. It didn't matter if what I had wasn't particularly wonderful. All that mattered was that it never changed.

But what does change have to do with James 1:9-10?

On first glance, absolutely nothing. This passage seems to be about riches. But if you read closely, the  passage tells us that both the man made low and the man exalted should "glory" in their circumstance. But what is their only common circumstance?

Change.

So the challenge of this passage, I realized this morning, is to embrace change, whether it's change that improves your circumstances or steals the very life right out of your hands. And for a change-hater like me, that's not fun. Embrace poverty? Sure, I could get used to Ramen noodles. Embrace riches? Why not???? I can just as easily ride in a Rolls Royce as my old Toyota. But do both? In the same lifetime???

No thanks.

You see, I'm the kind of person that loves to pray Proverbs 30:7-9. It says,

"One thing I ask of You, LORD,
Do not refuse me before I die...
Give me neither poverty nor riches,
But give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise I may have too much and disown You
And say, 'Who is the LORD?'
Or I may become poor and steal
And so dishonor the name of my God."

Basically, the heart of this prayer is: "Don't ever change my circumstances, God. Give me hum-drum, same-old, day-to-day living that never changes, because that's all I want to handle. Not the temptations of poverty or riches, just give me the satisfaction of temptation-free living without change."

But reviewing this favorite prayer of mine this morning I realized, I have been literally praying myself out of a blessing! What blessing, you wonder???? Well frankly, the blessing of being tempted by changing circumstances and change itself.

You see, the man who prays to have unchanged circumstances will never be tempted, so he will never reap the fruit of temptation that comes from changing circumstances- in the case of this prayer, the fruit of learning to be rich without disowning God, or learning to be poor without dishonoring God.

So how will this change my life?

As of this morning I will no longer pray, "LORD, give me neither poverty nor riches."  Instead, I will pray, "LORD, give me both poverty and riches, so that in whatever state I am in, constant or changing, I will learn to honor the name of the LORD my God, and count Jesus as my only portion and prize no matter what my circumstances."

And though this prayer scares me, I will pray it without fear, fully confident in the One who enables me, the One who equips me to say "I can do all things" (and bear all changes!) because of "Christ who gives me strength" (Phil 4:13).

Thank you, Jesus, for giving me the courage to embrace change. Help me not to shirk away from it, but to lean into it with the full assurance of Your guiding hand that uses it to make me grow and experience greater dependence on You and greater joy in You. Love, Alex

Tuesday, June 3

Tonight the dog ate my dinner.

Yes, the dog ate the dinner that I sat down to eat at 11:37 p.m. after a long, hard day. That same dinner that took over an hour to prepare, and yet only minutes to destroy.

You see, in the moment that grace-upon-a-couch was extended to my fine furry friend, grace fell in the form of a tantalizing pile of mozzarella cheese atop a pizza with an all-too absent master.

The crime? Frustrating.
The offense? Forgivable.

For you see in the moment that I caught my red-handed pup with marinara sauce in his beard, grace washed over me anew as I realized (still while in the midst of screaming), that I too have had my face heads-down in many pizzas that also were not my own. How humbling it is to have the moral fortitude of one's dog...

So, thank you Jesus, I say, for grace which sweetly pardons us both.

And yet while Chester and I are both forgiven, one difference shall remain....: only one of us will ever be eating on the couch again.

This one's for you, Chester. For you, for me, and for anyone else who needs some grace.

Psalm 32
Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them


The culprit. So sweet. Soooooo naughty.
 

Friday, March 28

Chester, and the least expected of ways...

Everybody has heard of "that" dog.

Yes, you know the one I'm talking about: the dog who chews on everything, breaks well-known (and well-taught rules), and generally drives its owner bezerk.

Well, that dog???

That's my dog.


Chester
Don't get me wrong: Chester is not a bad dog. Sure, he chews with the tenacity of a Rottweiler and runs like Lassie on steroids in the sweet moments he escapes his leash, but he also has moments of greatness. Just last week my heart beamed proud as Chester stayed in a long-down with the most tempting of treats literally at the tip of his little black nose, and never once did he even lick it.

Brilliant? Yes. But Chester and I have worked long and hard to come to this point of most-of-the-time obedience. Yes, it's been a long road, but in the words of our vet "Chester has grown up into a nice young man," despite his wild-child beginnings.

But even "nice young men" have their days, don't they?????

Enter flashback: Yesterday, Chester and I were cuddling on the couch circa our normal routine. Wrapped in a blanket, eating lunch, Chester nuzzled into my side.

Picture? Dog owner bliss.

So, there I was, immensely enjoying this cozy companion of mine, until I look over at him, and what should my cozy companion be doing???

Peeing.  All over the couch.

Now this is the point when some people, some better-than-me-saints, would've reacted with holy harmony and patience, but not me. Nope. At the top of my lungs I screamed, "JESUS, HE'S PEEING ALL OVER THE COUCH!" And don't you know in my unholiest of moments, all of Heaven had to be dying of laugher?  Because, you see, only 48 hours before, God had encouraged me to take all of my Chester-woes to Him, and I prayed with all tenacity that He would help me do just that.

So, it may have been at the top of my lungs, and it may have even involved the word "pee" more than once, but God did answer my prayer for help, even if it was in the least expected of ways...

Father, thank you for loving me on even my craziest days with the craziest of dogs. I thank you for Chester, my good gift from You, and ask that You would help me love him in a way that honors You.

I love you, Jesus.

~Alex

Monday, April 18

End of the Year Testing Printables

Yowsers.

So y'all... Can I just take a moment to tell you how BUSY my life has been for the past two weeks??? AYE-YI-YI!!!! Seriously, there has been nary a moment to fix my mascara much less log into Blogger as of late.  But, I am very pleased to announce the end of the madness because... let's face it- life without internet-laden free time is

HOR.EN.DOUS.

And that is why I am back.
Backety-back-back-back and oh-so-excited!

Well, wanna know what I've been up to while I've been gone?

I have been testing the willies out of nineteen of my favorite First Grade friends.  DIBELs, sight words, math, you name it, they've done it. And if they haven't done it, they probably should have. 

Of course having all of this testing to do, I was naturally faced with the age-old teaching dilemma of what to do with the nineteen students I wasn't testing while still managing to maintain a silent classroom for the one student I was testing.

Answer?
I used Cut and Paste friends!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  These little buddies occupy AND assess. 

TOTAL. BONUS.

 I use them to assess my Firsties knowledge of various components of language (syllables, parts of speech, etc.) while I get my testing done. Keeps the kids occupied, gives evidence of learning, and gives me a product to send home for parents to enjoy and admire (refridgerator work, anyone?) 

These buddies aren't much, but having TOTALLY saved my life in the past two weeks, I just knew I had to share them. (And don't mind my tacky Easter-themed syllable sort. What can I say? Giant chocolate-dispensing rabbits just gets me in the mood to decorate syllable sorts.)

Want your own cut and paste friends?
Click any picture preview to download.

Compound Word Sleuth 


Contraction mania!


Easter Syllable Sort


Homophone
Match-Up


Synonym
Match-Up



Verb and
Noun Town





Wishing you a marvelous Monday!

Monday, April 4

Easter Workshop!

Alright, y'all. Want to hear something that is sooooooooooooooooo not funny?!?!?!?!!

Here it is. And, you can't laugh:



There is a mouse LIVING in my classroom. 




TOTAL EEK, right?!?!?!

And, you'll never guess when charming said-mouse chose to make his first grand appearance. SMACK-DAB in  the middle of a parent-teacher conference.

I. could've. died. 

Life lesson learned? It's hard to appear professional when standing on a table in the middle of a parent teacher conference yelling, "Mouse, mouse" to everyone you see. Let's face it: these are just not the kinds of situations that professionalism conferences cover, people.

With that being said, there have been two mouse sightings since the aforementioned incident on Friday. Do you think it would be wrong to call a Code Red the next time I see my fuzzy little friend? Because I'm pretty sure he is an unwelcome intruder and I for one want to see him removed from the building.  IN HANDCUFFS.

But, seriously, that would be extremely unprofessional, which is why I am just going to call an exterminator. That, or a cardiologist. Because let me tell you, I will never stop having a heart attack at the sight of my newest little class pet until he is safely and soundly relocated... in Saudi Arabia.

Whew... Did I mention that it's Monday???

Well, with all of the nature moving into my classroom last week I just had to take a trip to the Dollar Tree to cheer myself up.  Normally shop therapy isn't my thing but rodents must bring it out in me....

Here's what I found:

Exhibit A: Darling Easter containers. These little buddies were PERFECT for sentence scrambles. I filled each little container I had with the words for a sentence. Then, my kiddos unscrambled the words to form a sentence which they wrote on their recording sheet (see download below). Super simple, cost $2, the kids love it, and the containers are precious. SOLD! 


April Sentence Scramble
Recording Sheet
(Click any picture preview below to download the entire file!)


Exhibit B: Read Around the Room Easter Egg Pointers! AHHHHHH!
LOVE them!!!!!

Any mouse extermination advice? Y'all gave me the *greatest* ideas for an end-of-the-year bash so I know you must be mad mouse exterminating geniuses, too.

Wishing you a mouse-free classroom full of learning and fun!!!!!


Saturday, April 2

Word Work Fun

Alright, y'all, so want to see one of my fav, fav, favorite children's books of all time?!?!?!?!!



I Ain't Gonna Paint No More, by Karen Beaumont. 

LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE IT!!!!!!
Seriously,  it's hard to say who gets more excited about reading this book: the Firsties or me... HA!

With that being said, it's a classroom favorite so I just had to incorporate it into our workshop. Here's how:

First, I had my kiddos read the book in pairs. Then they come picked up this little rhyming activity to complete with their partner. The low down?  This activity is just a variation of concentration that uses rhyming words from the book. To play, kiddos flip over two cards at a time, read the words on the cards, and decide if they rhyme. If they do, the kiddo keeps the pair of cards. If the words on the cards don't rhyme,the cards get turned back over and it's the next kiddo's turn. After all of the cards have been picked up, the friend with the most cards wins.  They ADORE this activity.  Want a copy of your own? Click on any picture preview to download the file.


I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More
A Rhyming Activity

(Click on any picture preview to download the entire file!)






And what workshop activity wouldn't be complete without a Show What You Know?  Hence this little buddy.   I use him to make sure all of my Firsties REALLY know how to read the concentration words and identify the rhymes.

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More
A Show What You Know Activity
(Click on the picture preview to download the file!)



Have a spectacular weekend, Y'all, and enjoy the BEAUTIFUL spring weather!!!!