Saturday, May 22, 2010


Preschool teachers have to go through a certain amount of training each year to keep their job. We spend some of our Saturdays going to seminars and workshops to learn more about the children and how to best educate them. A lot of these training sessions deal with "transitions". This is one of the hardest things for preschool teachers and students to master. A transition period is any time you are moving from one task to another. We are heavily encouraged to sing songs with our kids to help them understand what we are doing next. For instance, when I have the kids line up at the door to go outside we sing,
"Put your hands on your hips, on your hips. Boom Boom
Put your hands on your hips, on your hips. Boom Boom
Put your hands on your hips and a smile on your lips.
Put your hands on your hips, on your hips. BOOM BOOM!
(That's to the tune of "If you're happy and you know it" and on the Boom Boom part they sway their hips... just in case you wanted to sing it sometime!)
Anyway, constantly thinking of how to make my kid's transitions easier made me start thinking about transitions we go through as adults. It would be great if we could just sing a song that would trigger an understanding of what to do next, but life doesn't work that way. Going to college, getting married, moving to another city or state- these are all huge transitions. Singing a silly song can't change our apprehension about facing this change.
I was absolutely apprehensive about moving to a big city, in a big state where I knew no one.
Since I have moved to Dallas I have felt completely overwhelmed by everyone's acceptance, love and support. Derek and I feel like we have quickly become an important and integral part of our church. They have accepted us with open arms, allowing us to not just serve, but plan for the future of the student ministries. People use the term "God opens doors" and I have certainly experienced that, but this is something different. It feels like we stepped foot through the doors of Fellowship Dallas, and the floor opened up. God has absolutely floored me with how easy he has made this transition for us.
Isn't this how a church should operate? I have now regularly attended 5 different churches in my life. Each one has talked about accepting new members, making visitors feel welcome, etc. I have always kind of wondered how you do that. I mean, the pastor usually asks you to stand and greet your neighbors, but I have always dreaded the awkward handshakes and "how are you's"? That doesn't make me feel welcome, just uncomfortable. That leaves me with the question, "what can a church do to make newcomers feel welcome and loved?" In a large church a newcomer has a couple of things they can do. They can go talk to a person that works at the church and they can fill out that flap on the inside of the program.
I remember the first day Derek and I visited this church, we filled out that little tab and stuck it in the offering plate. After church, the man next to me asked me if this was our first time here and then started telling me about his life.
Only a couple weeks after Derek and I got married, I met some of the people on staff. They all knew Derek's name and soon knew mine.
We have been invited to two different community groups, and met 4 couples our age who have invited us to different things.
How have you felt at your church? Have people reached out to you? Have they helped make your transition easier? Has it been hard to find your place in the church? If so, what is your church doing wrong and how can it change? How do we go from a place where we spend a couple hours a week to a community that is learning and moving together?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ms. Furniture

I know, I know it's been forever since I have blogged. My life had been so boring that I didn't really have much to say. Then my life got so busy I didn't have time to say anything! I have some time, so I thought I would go ahead and just update you on my life.
First of all, I got a job! I am working at a preschool called Christ Lutheran Child Development Center. I work with older two's and younger three's, but all of them are potty-trained. Hallelujah! So far, everything has been great. It is an answer to prayer. This preschool is kind of different because they do a lot of letter recognition instead of themed weeks. Only half of them can count backwards from 10, but all of them can recognize the letter "G" and tell you a word that starts with that letter. I just can't help but wonder what will happen when they go to kindergarten and know all of the letters that are being taught, but none of the shapes or counting skills they need. Anyway, I could go on about that for awhile, but most of you don't care.
I thought I would post some funny things that have happened at the preschool in the last two weeks I have been working there.
-When I walked in on my first day the first thing we did was "Jesus Time". After we talk about what we are learning about Jesus, the kids have share time. Well, I thought this would be great for them to get the opportunity to talk about their favorite toy or movie, but apparently they had something else in mind. As we went around the circle, it turned out everyone wanted to share "hot dog", until one girl said "cupcakes." Everyone burst out laughing. Weird kids.
-All the kids had a really hard time learning my name. Usually kids this age call me "Jifer", but I was really surprised that all of these kids were able to say my name. However, there is one precious girl named Bellamy that came up to me saying, "Teacher, Teacher". I said, "My name is not teacher. What is it?" She thought for awhile and then said, "Ms. Furniture?" HAHAHA cracked me up!
- We have two Chinese children in our class who don't speak English, which let me tell you is so frustrating! The little boy can kind of communicate, but the girl can't at all. When she gets upset she talks non-stop in Chinese, and let's just say she's very persistent. Anyway, they both come to school in long pants, t-shirts with a turtleneck over it and a jacket. The low in Dallas these days is usually in the 70's and the high in the 90's. Apparently Chinese people are afraid of their children getting cold. Both the boy and girl wake up from naptime drenched in sweat, but refuse to take any layers off. Not to mention, the girl's grandmother lives with her and apparently teaches her she should never sit on the floor. Well, half of our day at school is sitting on the floor. So, Amanda pretty much has a huge fit (in Chinese) about sitting on the floor. I heard that language barriers can be tough, but this is crazy!
Moving on, Derek and I are getting involved with our church, Fellowship Bible Church of Dallas. Derek is working both services with the 4th and 5th grades. He is a small group leader, and now he is starting to lead the big group sometimes. He is also helping plan the curriculum for both large and small group, so that's great experience for the future. I am working with three year olds during the morning service, so we went to Metro for the first time last Sunday. It's a service that meets Sunday nights and is more focused on people our age. Derek and I feel like God is really working with getting us involved in this church, and we are so excited! We've met several couples who we are starting to be friends with through the church. One couple invited us to join their small group, which we were thrilled about.
Anyway, for those of you in Little Rock Derek and I will be home the 28th through the 31st and we would love to see you!
That's my life. I will try to post again soon! :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dallas Days

An update on life.
Well, I have been married for a month now. I've been living in Dallas for about three weeks and I now know about a 1/4 mile circumference around my apartment. I'm proud of myself for that! We are living in a huge apartment complex that has so many twists and turns that I get lost within the complex at least once a week. Not even kidding! We live pretty close to downtown, so all of the streets surrounding us are pretty busy. We were really blessed and fell in love with a church only 7 or 8 minutes from our apartment. The problem is I still can't find my way around- GPS and all! Derek and I go to church first service, then he works with 5th graders the second service. I haven't had the chance to get involved yet, so I have to drive home after first service and then come back and pick him up after second service. I pushed the "go home" button on my GPS and tried to follow it, but how do you keep right when there are several rights? And how is it possible to have an East Northwest Highway?
Anyway, I miss the comfort of Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas, but I think being married is the greatest thing. This past month has been the happiest few weeks of my life. I wouldn't change them for the world! That's the basic update! I will write more later. I have to go make some chocolate chip waffles. :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Personality Types

I am a huge fan of personality tests. I love knowing all about my personality (scientifically speaking) and all about others personalities.
I remember when I was in 8th grade I was finally allowed to get on Instant Messenger. AIM was just about the coolest thing in the world because it allowed you to talk to your friends, but more importantly flirt with boys. The internet opened up this whole new world where you could say the things that you would never have the guts to say in person, but not only that- you actually had time to plan what you wanted to say. I'm pretty sure that without Instant Messenger I would have never had a good majority of the boyfriends I did... On second thought that might have been a good thing!
Anyway, I am getting off the point. My world had expanded with Instant Messenger, but I soon found a new obsession via the internet. Free online personality tests. I would spend hours analyzing the person I was according to how I read, interpreted and answered a series of questions. If I didn't like the outcome, I would go back and try again. I don't know exactly what is so appealing to me about learning more about myself, but it's an obsession I have fought for the past 11 years or so.
At church we took a class all about your personality, which plays into your spiritual gifts, which of course leads to how you can serve God and others. When the teacher did an overview of the different personalities he asked if anyone knew a Harmonizer- at least 5 of my friends made a big scene pointing to me. I played it off and pretended I wasn't pleased, all the while beaming inside. You see, a harmonizer is a people-person, an extrovert, someone who creates harmony out of chaos. They are the ones who everyone gets along with and confides in. In my eyes, a harmonizer was a perfect person. Why wouldn't you want to be the nice, likable, bubbly person? That is who I am and I wanted everyone to know it, but without having to flaunt it myself.
We took the actual personality test and sure enough I was a harmonizer. However, the test showed I had a good deal of persister in me too. A persister is someone who lives by their morals no matter what. They are also known to be very stubborn. (My dad is a full fledged persister). Now, being a persister was a little bit of a shock to me, but I knew it was true. The more I thought about it the more I agreed with and liked the idea of being a Persister. I mean a really nice, bubbly, fun, and moral person is a wonderful thing to be! Right?
Of course, we learned with the positives always come negatives. Harmonizers tend to be irresponsible (unless it has to do with people), hence my perpetual lack of homework that was due. They keep their anger and hurt pent up until they explode on the people closest to them in a fit of emotion. Persisters are stubborn and have a tendency to take other's failure to do the right thing very personally. For example, when a couple of my friends drank alcohol before they were 21 I felt like my world was falling apart. Dramatic, I know, but I couldn't understand how they could change everything they stood for and do something so unethical. Every time a friend made a mistake it was like someone drop-kicked me. After finding out that one of my friends made a mistake, she told me I didn't feel like I could tell you because you would be mad. She didn't understand I wasn't mad... I was crushed. I felt like she had failed me and changed who she was. Then, not only did that hurt, but her comment sent the harmonizer in me into overdrive. She didn't feel like she could talk to me? That's the worst thing in the world to a harmonizer.
The more I learned about the positives and negatives of different personalities, the more I realized how important all of them are. If all of us were harmonizers we would get nothing accomplished. My highschool boyfriend was an Achiever. I have no achiever in me. As time went on our personality differences became horribly evident in our relationship. He placed so much of his worth in his work and what he had achieved that I couldn't understand him. I was convinced he had it all wrong. It's not what you can accomplish in life, but the people you influence that matter. I felt like every time he chose studying over me, it was a personal jab that he valued those things more than me. It just didn't make sense. Recently, one of my best friends said "I don't understand how you can be okay with not getting your degree. I want to get published and make the world a better place through research." I told her, " I don't see it that way. I think I can make the biggest difference in the people I meet, the relationships I have, and the children I teach. Getting published means nothing to me- the people I influence mean everything."
I can't change who I am or what I feel are the true accomplishments in this life. I can't change the fact that I am going to bend over backwards to make people happy and I don't want to change that. I'm not a doormat; I'm passionate about the people I love- and I love easily and fiercely. I can't change that when someone walks away from me it hurts for years. I can't change the fact that it hurts me when other people make a mistake. What I can change is how I perceive other people's personalities. I've learned, and struggled with, what other people put their worth in. It's not wrong to desire a higher degree, higher paycheck, and recognition for your accomplishments, and it's not wrong to desire to be there for other people above all else. The biggest mistake we make is judging people for what they aren't. No one is better because they have a higher paycheck or more friends; the best people are the ones who can recognize that we all have different aspirations and desires and accept people for who they are- flaws and all.