Choices Choices Choices

Thursday morning Tim and I leave bright and early to go to Saint Louis. We are going to the National Youth Workers Convention. This will be my 3rd one and I am so excited! I have been looking at the schedule to see what seminars I want to go to, and I have a feeling it's not going to be real easy to make a decision of which to go to. There are around 15 options for each Seminar Series, and I've narrowed it down to about 2 or 3 for each one. We can only choose one for each Seminar. Tim and I will probably go to a few together then split up for others. I haven't asked which ones he is interested in yet. Here's what I'm thinking so far:

Friday Seminar Series #1:
*Passing the Torch: Developing and Training Student Leaders with Dave Ambrose
*How to Effectively Minister to Middle School Girls with Heather Flies (She was the speaker for MUUUCE this year with our Jr. Highers.)

Saturday Seminar Series #2:
Players, Prudes, and Purity Rings: The Truth about Teenage Sexuality with Krystal Kirgiss
Parent Pains? How to Turn the Parents of Your Students into Your Biggest Fans with Marv Penner (I haven't had parent pains in ministry yet, but I would like to learn how to make our relations better.)

Saturday Super Seminar Series #3 : (2.5 hrs.)
Middle School Ministry: Everything We Can Cram Into 2.5 Hours with Scott Rubin and April Diaz
* Youth Culture 101 with Walt Mueller
Helping Parents when Their Kids are in Crisis with Rich Van Pelt

Sunday Seminar Series #4:
Why Talking Helps: What Neuroscience is Telling Us About Relationships, Personal Narrative and Spiritual Formation with Mark Matlock
Lessons on Leadership with Tic Long
Marriage, Ministry, and Family: Q & A with Doug and Cathy Fields

Sunday Seminar Series #5:
Building Bridges: Helping Parents and Their Teenagers Have a Better Relationship with Andy Braner
Positive Discipline: Working With Rude, Obnoxious and Apathetic Kids with Les Christie
Before the Hurts Are Too Deep: Ministering to Today's Middle Schoolers with Chap Clark
Help! I Married a Youth Worker! with Cathy Fields
A New Vision for Middle School Ministry with Mark Oestreicher
Reach Out, Don't Freak Out!: Equipping Your Teens to Share Their Faith with Greg Stier

Monday Seminar Series #6:
The Cleavers, The Brady Bunch, and The Osbornes: Family Ministry in the 21st Century by Kevin McGlamery

No More Credit Card Debt!

Tim and I just put our last payment on our credit card, so now we are credit card debt free! We have gone the last 2 months without using our credit card and just paid off the rest of what was on it. Man that feels good! We haven't made our budget for next month, we'll probably do that tomorrow, but it feels great to have that debt out of the way! We will have to make our budget for next month work with the money we have. I have a feeling we'll be cutting it a little close with Thanksgiving and Tim's family coming in and presents to buy, but I really feel like God is smiling at us taking this debt seriously and getting out of it. There will probably be no eating out next month for us, but that's alright, we only ate out one time this month, so I think we can go a whole month without eating out. I enjoy cooking, and it's nice when I cook a larger meal and we have left overs...which is very nice when we just want something quick for dinner.

So now we just have my car to pay off then Tim's student loans. If we keep putting on the amount we've done each month so far then we should be out of debt in a year! I am so totally excited!

A Social Day

Tim went down to the cities today for a youth pastor's meeting. I planned on not working today and going down with him, but Maggie and Adrienne were busy, so that didn't work out. But I still took today off 'cause I was able to meet with Marcia, my co-teacher with confirmation and go bowling with one of my small group girls.

I had a great time with Marcia. She came to our house and we worked on confirmation stuff and I cooked us lunch. She is such a sweet and neat woman. I am so glad that I get to co-teach with her. Allison is also helping us out with confirmation. She is a senior in high school, and did an incredible job with the girls last night. We split our small group into 2 groups again yesterday, and I went with Allison, she did great! I was very impressed with how she lead. And it seemed so natural! I am very proud of her.

Marcia and I were finished just in time for me to go to the bowling alley and play one game with the homeschooling community. One of the girls in my confirmation group is home schooled and they were doing a bowling day, so I got to hang out with her and meet some of her friends. I had a really good time.

Then the rest of my day I spent going to Wal-Mart to pick up a few groceries then cooking Tim and nice dinner for when he got home. I made meatloaf and potatoes and carrots. Pretty good.

I had about 30 minutes with Tim from when he got home, eating dinner and me heading out the door to hang out with Laughing Ladies group in our church. I really enjoyed hanging out with those ladies. They are fun to be around and I really look up to them.

I enjoyed having a social day, it was nice to be busy and hang out with different people. I have been wanting to do that for a while. I did start to miss Brianne like crazy by the end of the day though. I miss having my best friend around, or at least being in the same state so I could drive to see her and it being a lot cheaper than getting a plane ticket. When I got home tonight I got online and looked at airfares right now to Texas. I'm getting another homesick spell after today. I'm looking forward to after Christmas when my parents and Katelin come to visit. That will help.


God is so amazing! Almost a month ago I went and got an application from Hallmark. My very first job in high school was at a Hallmark and I absolutely loved it! Tim and I are trying to get out of debt right now, and I am substitute teaching, but I have been feeling like I need to do something more to speed up the process. So, this holiday season I will be working at Hallmark! And God totally set everything up. After having the application for almost a month, I finally decided that today is the day to turn it in. The only person working happened to be the manager and she was working on the schedule for the next month. I went and handed her my application and was about to walk out when I stopped and asked if they were going to be hiring any time soon, and she said, "Well actually, I need more help for the holiday season." So I told her I guess that would work, I could do that. (I'm hoping it'll end up longer than that.) As I replied she looked at my application and saw that I have worked at a Hallmark before, and we talked a little more then set up my first day to go in and train! So God willing my first day in there will be right before Thanksgiving, and I'll be working evenings the last week of November and through December.

It's only minimum wage, and Tim made it clear that I can do a lot better than that (and I know I could), but I really think I will enjoy it, and I'm pretty sure Dave Ramsey would be proud of me. By the way the manager was talking when I told her there were days that I would be out of town, is sounded like the schedule will be pretty flexible.

Youth Group

Youth Group has been great lately. We had 2 weeks off from our small group, so it was wonderful to be back with my girls. And my teaching partner missed the week, so I asked one of our girls who is a senior if she would step in and help lead. She was such a help! With us not meeting for a couple of weeks the girls were extra chatty so we split the group in half and it went well. Then Thursday night one of my small group girls had everyone over for a game night. That was fun too, I had been wanting a time to get to know the girls in a different atmosphere, and I didn't even have to plan it! :)
I think Allison (my senior high girl) is going to help out again this week with confirmation, and hopefully stay in there with us. I think the girls will listen to her really well, and I think she will learn a lot from it also.

Senior High Youth Group was fun tonight. Most of the youth are athletic so we usually do something pretty athletic. I am so worn out tonight! We played several different versions of dodge ball, Tim lead a lesson and then we played volleyball. I am feeling really worn out and am afraid I wont be getting better if I wear myself out. Now I feel like I've got some kind of sinus junk and my head feels huge. What started off as a sore throat turned into a scratchy throat and what I thought were allergies, and now I'm guessing sinus'. I have no clue what is going on! :)

Fun Date Night!

Tim and I put $25 in our budget for eating out for the month, and decided to spend all in one night going on a nice date. We went into Saint Cloud for the evening and the people that put those stores up are so smart. Tim went to both Best Buy and Circuit City, and right next to each of those was either a JoAnn Fabrics or Michaels. So we both went our separate ways for that part of the date. :)

Then we walked around the mall for a little while. Between our mall and the Mall of America it has been a while since I've been in a regular mall, so I just felt like walking around and window shopping. We didn't stay too long 'cause I'm not much of a shopper, I just wanted the experience. :)

Then we went for dinner at Outback Steakhouse. We left a little earlier before we got too hungry figuring we would have to wait a while, and we were right. Our 30 minutes they told us the wait was ended up being 55, but we did get to try their mushroom appetizer and their rack of lamb for free as we waited. We also watched Seinfeld (which was nice since we don't have TV at home) and chatted with 2 other couples that were waiting around. We split a nice 11oz steak dinner with a sweet potato and some incredible green beans for our sides. I also ordered the Blooming Onion for an appetizer. I think that is my all time favorite appetizer from every restaurant.

And for dessert we went to Wendy's and got 2 jr. frosties for free. (Thank you Pastor John!)
It was so much fun to go out for a night and hang out. I absolutely loved it!

And good news for today! Tim and I get free season passes on the ski slopes near town for Tim being a pastor, so we went and got our season passes today. And they were selling all of the lost and found that people never picked up, so I got a nice pair of snow bib pants for only $4! Amazing deal, nothing wrong with them! We didn't have any money in our budget for clothing this month, so it came out of my blow money, but I think it's totally worth it instead of paying $20 plus later for some.

Subbed in 6th

Two Fridays ago I subbed in a 6th grade classroom. I was nervous because they are older than I have taught before, and it was a Friday so I knew they would be rowdy, and then I checked online to see what the school has going on, and it was a pep-rally day. So the class was really hard to handle, but we did accomplish everything on the schedule. I was stretched thin with them and got pretty frustrated. They were always loud and took forever to get control of the class.

Today I was able to sleep in, which was greatly needed, and felt so good! I was able to get a little cleaning done around the house and also just relax and read. Then around 10:30 I got a phone call asking if I would come in for the afternoon and sub for the same 6th grade class 'cause the teacher wasn't feeling well. (This is the same school where I subbed for 3rd grade.) So I agreed and immediately started praying up until the students came into the classroom. And today was great! I was shocked! Especially with my toughest girl being such an angel. I was really wondering what was going on. I was talking to someone about it today and they said, "They must have really liked you." I am still in awe with how well today went. Sure it was only half a day, but it was great. I laid down the law when I got in. They knew my throat wasn't feeling well so I wasn't going to put up with anything, and they believed me after the first 3 free time minutes I took away. Some students made it their mission to keep the class on track, and that helped a lot. I was worried about how my throat would do a second day in a row of teaching, and I was right to worry. The teacher has been reading a chapter book to them when they finish work, so I read almost a whole chapter when at the end of the second to last paper my throat gave out and it bothered me too much to talk. I asked for a volunteer to read and a few raised their hands then noticed one girl raise her hand and they all agreed for her to read. What a saver! :)

I really am impressed that the students were so good today and helped me out, and took into consideration that my throat wasn't great. Oh! And I am the only sub that they have had twice so far. After today I really wouldn't mind subbing in there again.

Subbed in 3rd Grade

Today was great! I found out online at 10:30 last night that a 3rd grade subbing position became available. I check online at least every hour, more like every 15 or 30 minutes to see if something becomes available. So Tim once again accepted the position for me. And then I realized that it was 10:30 and I had to be at the school by 7:40 of which I needed to allow myself almost 30 minutes to get to the school, so I needed to be out the door by 7 and up by 6. Now, I really need my 8 hours of sleep each night, but I was so excited I had a hard time falling asleep. After getting everything ready for in the morning and crawling in bed I finally fell asleep around 12am. Wow way too late for me! Well, it's 10:30 again tonight and I need to get some sleep. Oh yeah!

So the class was great today! I was nervous when the first boy walked in and volunteered to tell me who sits where, all I heard was a lot of boys names. There were only 3 girls and around 15 boys in the class. I was expecting a rowdy class, but the boys were actually very well behaved and my 2 biggest problems in class were girls! Totally not what I expected. Is that being sexist? Anyways, I had such a great day. My throat has now gone from sore to scratchy, so I really wore it out with teaching today, but it was worth it. The kids were well behaved and we were able to accomplish wanted needed to be done. This class is tough competition with being my favorite to sub with the 1st grade class I subbed for 2 days last semester.

Subbing at a Price

I had the opportunity to sub every day this week. They were all para-sub positions instead of substitute teaching. I made the mistake of taking the first position that showed up online (which is usually a para-position) and later found out that when I do that I cannot see when another position (such as teaching) becomes available at the same time to trade out. So I learned that lesson! Plus para-subbing pays a lot less than substitute teaching. But God did some good things through my misunderstanding. I was able to talk with a couple teachers at different schools that are struggling or confused in their faith, so that made the week completely worth it. I was also able to see how teachers run their classrooms instead of going into a classroom blindly for substitute teaching, now I have a better idea how the classrooms in the district go, especially since I was in 3 different schools this week.

I have been fighting a sore throat all day today. Yesterday while working in a Kindergarten classroom I was talking to a student when they coughed in my face while my mouth was open! Yuck! So now today I haven't been feeling that great. Tim claims it's because we turned the heater on for the first time last night. So I'm drinking my Throat Comfort by Yogi Tea. And tonight I will also turn our humidifier on. Tim and I also put flannel sheets on our bed! :) I am so excited to sleep in those! I did get my assignment for today until this morning. I got one call at 5:30 to start at 7:30, but I really wasn't feeling well then. So at 8:10 I got another call to go to a different school at 9:00. I was feeling a little better, so I went in for that one. By the end of the day I was feeling a lot worst though.

Oh! And good news. Thursday while subbing a teacher mentioned that the district had more Learning Resource Teacher positions open than people to apply for them and recommended me looking into it, so I called the district office yesterday and left a message about it, and received a call today from one of the elementary principals and set up an interview for Monday! How exciting! That would be nice to have a set group of kids that I see each day and get to watch their progress. I have a lot to do this weekend to prepare for that interview. Before that though I need to get some rest and feel better!

African Children's Choir

Wednesday night the African Children's Choir did a concert at our church. It was amazing! The kids were adorable and have amazing voices and are talented with all the energy they put into their dancing. Some of the pictures are blurry, but that's the effect with how much they moved!

I was lucky enough to snag a front row seat for me and one of the girls in my small group, and boy did I feel guilty! The church was packed. There were seats set up outside of the sanctuary (luckily there are glass doors into it so we can do that), and there were people sitting in our prayer room watching through those windows, and people up in our balcony, which isn't much of a balcony (Tim was up there to take pictures and some of the youth decided to join him). Also the floor was lined with kids watching the concert. So that would be why I felt guilty taking the front row, but I got to sit next to 4 of our youth for the concert. Oh it was so much fun ! I don't think I stopped smiling the whole night.

Before the concert Tim and I served the kids dinner with a couple other people in the church. These children are so well mannered and sweet. I wish I could have a classroom of those kids to teach!

Tonight we had dinner at a friend's house who is hosting 3 of the boys in the choir. So we got to go over and eat with them, then go feed the horses and played basketball and volleyball. The boys are so cute and sweet! They all love to get hugs, so I got 3 big hugs before leaving tonight.

If you don't know anything about the African Children's Choir please visit their website and find out what they are all about. The gist of it is, the ministry holds additions in Africa for the kids, and if the kid is chosen they go through a 5 month camp practicing the songs and learning about Christ. Then they come to the states to tour and get a good education by their chaperons. Then after their tour is over they go back to Africa and attend a school that all the kids in the choir are funded to go to up through college.

The children we saw at our church have only been in the states for about a month so far. They are going further North than us tomorrow, and hopefully the snow is still there. They are all so excited to see snow! So far their biggest venue has been in Philadelphia performing at the Liberty Medal ceremony honoring Bono from U2. There are 2 other African Children's Choirs touring at the same time right now, one of which performed at the American Idol "Idol Gives Back & Season Finale."

More Fall Fun with Family

Dan, Maggie, Ruby and Titus came to visit us last weekend. We had such a great time! They came up Friday evening and stayed until Saturday evening. We enjoyed picking apples, cooking apples, going to the pumpkin patch, and going on a bike ride. We had some stormy weather a couple days before they came, but God gave us amazing weather while they were here.

Ruby and I went out in our pajamas to pick apples while Tim cooked pancakes for breakfast. There are a lot of branches so heavy they're almost to the ground, so Ruby filled my whole basket!

Sweet sweet Ruby.

Titus's first visit to a pumpkin patch.

Family picture.

All of us at the pumpkin patch. Look how big those pumpkins are!

What a Fall!

We had some nice warm weather both weekends Tim's brothers came to visit. And now it is so cold! So I figured I'd post some pictures of the warm Fall days we had.

This picture was taken from out tower of across the lake from our house. It was so gorgeous to look out every morning and see this with the calm water. More trees are still turning now. All the trees that were gorgeous at first lost their leaves really fast, but others are finally turning. I am amazed as I drive around how pretty it is. I feel so blessed by God to see such color every day!

This was my favorite tree during the Fall. It was actually much prettier, but I didn't get the camera out in it's full glory. Now it only has a leaves on the bottom branches.

Here is another morning shot from our tower. I thought the moon and the clouds with the close up Fall leaves was so pretty that morning.

When David, Adrienne and Noah came to visit we bought a pumpkin when we went to take Noah's first pumpkin pictures. We wanted the biggest pumpkin we could find, and Tim soon found that the three inch wall was too hard to cut, so the boys brought out the drill!

Out cute pumpkin! It didn't last long because of the storm we had that week, it now resides in our tree line.

American Princess

I am a sucker for most of the reality shows that come out. But Tim and I haven't had TV for a few months. We canceled it to open up more money for us to throw on our debt to get out of it. Every Tuesday we get together with young married couples for dessert, and the TV was on at our friends house. They were flipping through the channels when Tim said, "Hey that girl looks like Cassie from our old church." I took a closer look and was for sure it was Cassie. But we still waited until they put her name up on the screen. I had always thought it would be kind of funny to see someone I actually knew on one of those many reality shows I watch, and it finally happened! Cassie has an amazing voice and lead worship at our church in Texas for a while. It was so funny to see her on TV. I caught the second to last episode when there was only 3 girls left, then came home to look up info of the show and found out that she won the title of American Princess!

The show took 12 girls in and put them through a series of tests and teachings of how to have manners like a princess. At least that's what I understand of it so far. Hopefully we'll be able to find the episodes online to download so I can watch the whole season.

How funny!

Adoption from Haiti

I received an email update from a friend to check out their blog and find the progress on their adoption. They adopted a little boy in the states about a year ago, and now are adopting another boy from Haiti. Their family story is amazing reading the progress of how God is putting them together. Jamie and Aaron had their first son together then felt God calling them to adopt after that.

Here's the link to their adoption website:

And here are two blogs from the women that work at the Christian Recovery Center that Jamie and Aaron are adopting their little boy from. A warning, they put pictures up of some of the cases that come to them. Reading their experiences are amazing and they always talk about how God is working.