Wednesday, November 30, 2011

First Snow

Last night here in Midland we had our first snow storm of the season. This morning I gave myself extra time to drive to school, so that I could stop for a few pictures along the way. . .

As soon as I got home from school this afternoon, I changed clothes for a photo-shoot around the neighborhood. By mid-day, the temperature had risen well above freezing. The golden rays of the late afternoon sun illuminating the dripping, melting snow was spectacular. . . .

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Breakfast Blessings

As I look at this picture, I'm awed to think how privileged I am. This is our kitchen table at home, which Mom recently decorated for the Christmas season. How many people can say they wake up every morning to a table set with a fresh-cooked egg omelet and fruit-cup breakfast? How about enjoying the hearty meal by candlelight, melodious music, and family fellowship? Would you believe this is my morning routine! Talk about breakfast blessings! God's goodness to me is daily, abundantly expressed through my mom's numerous tangible acts of love. How incredibly rich I am.

Present Tense

"Today we are going to be talking about present-tense verbs," Mrs. D-- introduced the new English lesson to our third graders. "There are three tenses of verbs," she explained. "Past, present, and future. The past tense tells what the subject already did, the present tense tells what is the subject is doing, and the future tense tells what the subject will do. Past and future tenses are topics for other lessons; for now, we're going to focus on present tense."

What a great reminder for me! In my own personal journey I need to focus on the present tense. I live before the "I AM" God. As His name attests, He exists in the present. (He's got my past and my future covered too--but those are topics for other posts.) Today I find much encouragement from this list of present-tense verbs.

God . . .

  • lives (see 2 Sam. 22:47; Psa. 18:46; Gal. 2:20; Heb. 7:25; Rev. 1:18).
  • hears (see Psa. 69:33; Prov. 15:29; John 9:31; I John 5:14).
  • knows (see Psa. 103:14; Mat. 6:8; 2 Tim. 2:19; 2 Pet. 2:9; I John 3:20).
  • cares (see I Pet. 5:7).
  • loves (see Deut. 33:3; John 16:27).
  • heals (see Psa. 103:3; Psa. 147:3).
  • comforts (see I Cor. 1:3-4).
  • strengthens (see Phil. 4:13).
  • protects (see Prov. 2:8).
  • gives (see Psa. 68:5; Psa. 119:130; Psa. 136:25; Psa. 146:7; Prov. 2:6; Isa. 40:29; John 6:33; I Tim. 6:17; James 1:5; 1 Pet. 5:5).
  • provides (see Psa. 111:5).
  • sustains (see Psa. 3:5; Psa. 18:35; Psa. 54:4).

* This list was compiled using dictionary and word searches on the Blue Letter Bible website.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Reading Corner: Aesop's Fables

Earlier this evening sitting around the dinner table, my family and I had fun reading aloud several Aesop's Fables. Here are two excellent collections:

Strength of My Heart

Taken on a gray, chilly fall day, this picture of Black-Eyed Susans illustrates to me the message of Psalm 73:26. The warm, sunny days of summer are over; most of the blooms have frozen in the first frost. Although the shriveled stalks in the foreground appear dead, the flowers still blooming in the background prove that the plants have not died. Through the cold days of winter ahead they will wait, patient and still. Come next summer they'll be vibrant as ever. As we can observe in nature, God does make everything beautiful in its time. Even when we can't see the evidence, He is at work, according to season. During those "winter seasons" in my own life, it is all too easy to lose heart. I need the reminder that "God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pondered Paths

These photo collages come from a hike I took back in September 2009, with a girlfriend of mine while we were on a girls' camping trip at Warren Dunes State Park. Climbing those sand-dunes along Lake Michigan deepened my appreciation for these promises from Scripture. I'm grateful to be reminded that God knows my path.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Design Seeds

"For all who love color"—check out this cool blog called Design Seeds. Jessica, the creator of Design Seeds, shares her passion for color and great sense of design by creating these amazing color palettes. What a fantastic resource for interior design, outfit planning, accessorizing, quilting, scrapbooking, or anything else that involves combining colors! Below I've copied three of her most recently posted "Design Seeds."

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Waltz and Multiply by Three" Song

My third graders are learning multiplication facts, and I just found this cute multiplication song from, called "Waltz and Multiply by Three." I've copied the lyrics below; to hear a sample, click on this link. The tune is a waltz, and the lyrics cover the 3s facts of the times table. I love this song--it's easy and catchy. What's more, a waltz often has 3 beats to a measure. I think it would be fun to insert a little music theory and social studies along with those math facts. =)

Waltz with me; multiply by 3;
Multiply by 3; waltz with me.
3 x 1
3x 2
3 x 3
This is waltz time
3 x 4
3 x 5...
Tap your toe.
Do some more!
3 x 9...
Come and dip with me!
3 x 11...
This is not the end.
Please bow and do it again.
(Song repeats)
Our waltz has reached the end.
Now bow to your friend!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving!

One of our family Thanksgiving traditions, is the reading of "Five Kernels of Corn" (you can read the poem here), and taking turns sharing five things from the past year for which we are thankful. Recalling God's goodness in our lives throughout the past twelve months is a special ritual. How easy it is to forget all that God has done—yet how important to remember. In keeping with my family annual tradition—as well as my weekly Thankful Thursday posts—here's a brief recap of my past twelve months. I am thankful . . .

(1) for the many wonderful friends, memories, skills, and life lessons I gained during my seven years at Verity Institute. I would not be the person I am today without the input of the Godly peers and mentors with whom I was privileged to live, study, and work beside.

(2) that I moved home in January. This time last year I was at a tough cross-roads, deliberating whether I should stay at Verity or move on. I had several options, each with their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. Moving home wasn't my first choice, but I'm so glad I did. God has showed faithfulness and provision to me very clearly in these past months that I've been home.

(3) for supportive, loving, generous parents. I never intended to be a "boomerang kid," but this season that I'm back at home is such a blessing. We're all enjoying living together under the same roof once again. It's only because of all that my parents do for me that I'm able to keep persevering in my graduate studies. 

(4) that my brother Peter moved home this summer. Peter is definitely my better half. I'm so glad we're together again. He keeps me laughing, and he keeps me in line too. ;-)

(5) for my job as assistant teacher in 3rd grade at CBA. It's a wonderful learning experience for me, while I finish my graduate studies in elementary education. Being around kiddos again makes me happy.

The list could go on. . . "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits" (Psalm 68:19).

Happy Thanksliving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rounding Numbers Song

I've been inspired lately, as I've been finding great teacher's websites through links shared on Pinterest. Wow, there are so many wonderful teachers, who are creative and dedicated in their teaching! I'm glad we have the technology to share and spread our ideas.

I just came across this Rounding Numbers math song, posted on 3rd grade teacher Jessica Winston's website. I love this! I would even add gestures. The kids would have fun crouching down (while holding up four or fewer fingers) and jumping up (while holding up five or more fingers), along with the lyrics.
Rounding Numbers Song (tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”)
If you’re rounding to the [tens] place, look at the [ones].
If you’re rounding to the [tens] place, look at the [ones].
If you’re rounding to the [tens] place, then always look at the
[ones] place.
If you’re rounding to the [tens] place, look at the [ones].
If that digit’s four or lower, you round down.
If that digit’s four or lower, you round down.
If that digit’s four or lower, then the number will be smaller.
If that digit’s four or lower, you round down.
If that digit’s five or higher, you round up.
If that digit’s five or higher, you round up.
If that digit’s five or higher, then the number will be bigger.
If that digit’s five or higher, you round up.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dragons in My Lunchbox

I've been encouraged and challenged lately by Psalm 37:23, which says, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way."
The steps of a good man [strong man, warrior--emphasizing the ability to fight]  I was fascinated to discover that "good man" has the connotation of a strong warrior, able to fight. Life is often hard. I need discipline, courage, and strength to live faithfully engaged in my spiritual battles. 
are ordered [to be set up, established, fixed, stable, secure, enduring, prepared, furnished, directed] Knowing that the LORD orders, establishes, prepares, secures, directs my steps  infuses me with confidence and hope.
by the LORD, and He delights [takes pleasure in, pleased with] in his way [path, journey]. If the LORD is taking pleasure in this way that He has ordered for me, then I'm convicted that I should enjoy it more, too. Rather than bemoaning my current step, regretting my past steps, or fretting about my future steps, I need to delight more in today's step--in the grateful acknowledgment that He has designed my steps for me and is Himself delighting in my way.
One of today's little delights was finding dragons in my lunchbox. It always warms my heart when any of my third graders make me a drawing. Today one of the boys folded up a dragon picture he had drawn for me and hid it in my lunchbox as a surprise. Awww!  Later this afternoon, another boy presented me a colored-pencil shark attack.  It never ceases to amuse me that the artwork I receive from girls almost always has hearts and flowers, whereas the pictures from boys are of snakes, dragons, monsters, sharks, and other deadly things. ;-) Those dragons and shark have been making me smile all evening. What a gift God has given me this year to be a teacher's assistant in third grade. =)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Psalm 37

Today I've been meditating on one of my favorite passages of Scripture, Psalm 37. I need to be reminded of these truths. These realities give me the perspective I need to keep trusting, dwelling, feeding, delighting, committing, resting, waiting...

Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart (v. 4).

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret—it only causes harm (v. 7-8).

. . . A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous (v. 12-17).

The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the righteous shows mercy and gives. For those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth, but those cursed by Him shall be cut off (v. 21-22).

A family picture taken in 2007, with Grandpa aged 97!

I have been young and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lends; and his descendants are blessed (v. 25-26).

Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell forever more. For the LORD loves justice, and does not forsake His saints; they are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off (v. 27-28).

The wicked watches the righteous, and seeks to slay him. The LORD will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged (v. 32-33).

Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; for the future of that man is peace. But the transgressors shall be destroyed together; the future of the wicked shall be cut off (v. 37-38). 

But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the LORD shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him (v. 39-40).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today is Thankful Thursday #4! As William Wordsworth puts it: "All that we behold is full of blessings." This week I am especially thanking God for . . .

(1) the Midland Community Center. Since I'm a graduate student and not earning a lot of money this year, I recently applied for and received a scholarship for an annual membership to the MCC! PTL! I joined the MCC, primarily so that I can go lap swimming regularly during the winter months.  I love swimming, but it's been years since I've been in the routine. While swimming my first lap the other day, I couldn't contain an underwater grin--it felt so good to be back in the lap lane again.

(2) Teacher's Editions. As a teacher's aide, I grade stacks and stacks of papers. One of the many advantages of Teacher's Editions is those handy answer keys that are included. What a time saver!

(3) Adobe Photoshop. What an amazing tool for photographers and graphic artists! Lately, it's been one of my main tools for my creative artistic outlets. I would be lost without it.

(4) egg omelet breakfasts. My mom is so kind to faithfully make me an egg omelet and fruit cup for breakfast every morning. Starting the day with a large, protein-rich meal is exactly what I need, to handle the demands of working in an active elementary classroom. =)

(5) brother-sister dates. Peter and I have been having a lot of fun together in our weekly Thursday evening tennis classes. Our first session of classes ended tonight, and the two of us agreed to treat each other to the next series of brother-sister dates at the tennis center. Woohoo!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Steadfast Mind

When things in life don't make sense, I'm learning that I don't have to give in to the frustration and confusion. I can choose a steadfast mind. Here are some thoughts from God's Word that I'm reminding myself . . .

* Special thanks to my brother Peter for taking these pictures for me. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Enlighten My Darkness

Lately I've been meditating on the promise from Psalm 18:28, "The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness." What an encouragement, as lately I've felt all but overcome with confusion, discouragement, and weariness. Isaiah 50:10 is assuring too. I'm glad to know it's not abnormal to be trying to obey God's voice and yet still feel in the dark. I just need to keep trusting in His name and relying upon Him. Psalm 139:11-12 reminds me that even when I feel consumed by darkness, nothing is hidden from God. Even the night is as visible to Him as the bright day. As 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 reminds me, God is Light and He commands His light to shine in my heart to bring me to Him. "For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us."  Wow.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Psalm 103

Ongoing situations in my life have made this a very frustrating season for me. It just seems the longer things stretch out, the harder they get. I'm weary. I'm confused. Sometimes I feel like I'm losing my bearing. How long, O Lord, how long? This morning as I was journaling some of my confusions, He prompted me to read Psalm 103.

Bless the LORD, O my soul; 
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul, 
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities, 
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction, 
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. . . .

As a father pities his children,
So the LORD pities those who fear Him.

In the midst of life's strugggles, it's assuring to realize that the LORD remembers His children with compassion. His mercy and righteousness endure forever toward those who fear Him. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Style Secret: Brown Paper Packages

I found this floral-printed brown wrapping paper at the Dollar Tree the other day. It's a lot more fun than plain brown paper for mailing packages. =)

Friday, November 11, 2011

I love this craft idea, featured on Making pasta skeletons would be a great manipulative activity in a science or health class.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today is Thankful Thursday #3! This week I am especially thanking God for . . .

1. Public libraries. What a fantastic community resource! I'm partial to the local public library here in Midland, the Grace A. Dow library. Of all the libraries I've visited in different parts of the country, the Grace A. Dow library is my personal favorite. As an incoming elementary teacher, I especially love to frequent the children's section to get better acquainted with the books I would like to incorporate in my future teaching.

2. Pinterest. Pinterest has become my newest favorite study break/stress reliever. What an awesome way to find, share, and organize ideas!

3. Substitute teachers. This week the third grade teacher who I assist has been ill. Although our class has certainly missed our teacher, we have had several excellent substitute teachers help us throughout the week. I feel privileged this week to be learning from these other experienced teachers, as they bring their expertise, personalities, and ideas into the classroom.

4. Scented candles. Lately I've been enjoying the aroma of Slatkin &Co (from Bath and Body Works) Autumn as I study in my room.

5. Microsoft Word. Writing papers for graduate school is hard work enough with the convenience of Microsoft Word. I'm so glad I don't have to put up with typewriters. How did people do it before typewriters?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Reading Corner: Silver Seeds

Silver Seeds by Paul Paolilli and Dan Brewer.

Silver seeds
Tossed in the air
And planted in the sky,
Reaching out of the darkness,
Sprouting wonder.

"Is the night sky really filled with stars, or are they silver seeds?" (from the inside jacket) This book of nature poems could be an excellent example to use when teaching about acrostic poetry. Each spread is a beautifully illustrated acrostic about everyday things in nature.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Reading Corner: Paddle-To-The-Sea

 Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling Clancy Holling is one of the classics I grew up on.

A young Indian boy dreams of traveling to the ocean. but doesn’t have that opportunity. So he carves little wooden figure which he names “Paddle-to-the-Sea” to travel for him. The story, in pictures and text, follows Paddle’s journey through the Great Lakes all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

This book enriches studies in geography, natural history, and social studies. This book could also be used in the classroom to highlight the character qualities of creativity or patience.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Reading Corner: Sheep in a Jeep

"Beep! Beep!
Sheep in a jeep
on a hill that's steep. . . ."

Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw is a rollicking rhyming book featuring the adventures of bumbling woolly friends. The short, simple rhymes, accompanied by lively colored-pencil illustrations make this book a fun enrichment for phonics and/or spelling lessons. This week in spelling my third graders are studying the -ee word family, so I read this story aloud to them today during lunchtime. They loved it!

This book could inspire students to write their own short stories or poems using their weekly-assigned, word-family spelling lists.