Friday, December 17, 2010

Want to Cry?


Because this right here is the meaning of Christmas.  Such a sweet story.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Big Kids Job

I have an interview tomorrow for a long term substitute teaching position at a high school in my district...Should I be nervous?  Because I'm not.

I can't believe I'm old enough to be getting a big kids job...seriously.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I get by with a little help from my friends...

Okay blogging world, I don't normally do this, but today I am needing your suggestions

I have been reading the Hunger Games series...I.am.addicted.

I need some books to tide me over for a 9 hour plane ride home on Saturday.

What do you suggest?  What are some great books that will keep me interested??  HELP!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

I'm not crying, my eyes are just leaking...

A few weeks ago, my dad asked us all to write a letter to my little brother.  I guess for their Christmas Zone Conference, they wanted letters from their families talking about the meaning of Christmas.  I wrote this letter, and I wanted to share it because it helped me see a lot of feelings I hadn't really come to terms with.  Hope that you understand it, and hope that it warms your heart...but really, my eyes are just leaking.


4 December 2010
Elder McCarrey,
Well, I got this email from dad telling me that we were supposed to write you a letter about Christmas, but somehow not make you want to be home...haha, I’m not really sure how I’m supposed to do that, but I am going to try my best.  Right now I am gearing up for the family fast for mom, and I have a lot on my mind, but I want to tell you about my favorite Christmas in the mission.
I’ll tell you right now, my first Christmas was not my favorite, but I will spare you the details.  
My last Christmas in the mission was also in my last area.  I had been there a little over a month and it was really hard to be there.  The sister that had been there before me had been there six months and everyone loved her.  When she left they were so sad and were not too excited to see me.  Not that they were awful, it was just a hard change.   The ward was struggling, there hadn’t been a baptism in quite a while, and everybody was pointing fingers at each other as to why the ward wasn’t really running right.  It was a mess to say the least.
The day before Christmas was a sunday, so my companion and I attended ward counsel.  The bishop mentioned he wanted to go visit the less actives and asked for help from the auxiliary committees...and nobody said anything.  After a long pause, I said that we would come and suggested we carol to them.  The bishop thought it was a good idea and told us he would bring his family. (THEY WERE AMAZING SINGERS!!!)  So we met at the church and all piled in the back of the bishop’s pickup truck (and by back I mean we were all sitting in the bed of his truck.  It was hilarious)  We practiced a few songs on the way over there, and they even taught me a little about the bass clef.  This was actually the night that I started to teach myself how to read the bass clef.
The first house we went to was a family that my companion and I had been working with for a while.  They had just lost their grandfather and had been away.  We got out, knocked on their door and just started singing.  The whole family came out to listen and I just remember seeing the tears stream down their faces.  Oh come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, the words seemed to have so much more meaning for this family, who had lost so much. Come and adore him,born the king of angels.  I had never realized what a powerful call this song had.  Come and worship the king of kings, come and show him you love him, respect him, and honor his sacrifice.  Come and show him you are grateful for what He has done. We sang three hymns or so, I don’t really remember.  All I remember is their faces, smiling, grateful for the love and support, and grateful at that time,for the knowledge they had of the gospel. Come and adore him Christ the Lord.
We visited every house that night, every house of every single member of the ward.   With every house it was the same.  Tears of gratitude, tears of love, and tears in knowing that though they had nothing, they had the gospel and that was enough.  I will never forget it.  I will never forget their faces, and how I felt.
I remember walking in the house that night, so late, but so grateful for the experience.  The next morning, I had no presents to open (mom and dad were never very good with timing packages for me :) and I had no special food to eat, but I was so happy.  My companion and I had each decided to try and recreate a Christmas tradition, so I failed at making Aunt Barbara’s sugar cookies, and she failed to make this cake.  We laughed, and just enjoyed the day.  I long for that feeling sometimes, just to be content with where I am at that moment.
To me, Christmas is more than waking up at the crack of dawn to open presents, it is more than the movie Christmas night and it is more than the eve of Christmas Eve party.  It is knowing that my Lord and Savior has come, that he fulfilled his promise here on the earth, and that because of His blessed gift, I can be worthy to receive the ultimate gift- eternal life.  It is knowing that despite my faults, my bad decisions, and my struggles to be who the Lord wants me to be, Christmas is knowing that because of a tiny babe in Bethlehem, someday I will put off the mortal and become immortal.  Christmas is love, for it was the pure love of Christ that sent him to earth to bare my every hardship, feel my every pain, take upon him the cancer of my mother and the heart ache of being yet alone.  It is because of the gift of his life, that I can now give to others.
Little brother, I hope this letter finds you well, but more importantly I hope it finds you filled with the joy that this season brings.  I want you to know how much my decision to serve a mission has changed my life.  There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of the people and the experiences and thank my God in Heaven for what he has given me through my missionary service.  I am not the same.  I am, as always, so proud of you.  I can feel the changes in you and it brings joy to my heart to know that this sacred calling has touched you in a way that only YOU will truly understand.  Know that I pray for you daily and that I miss you, but not too much.  You are where you need to be, and that is the greatest blessing our family could have right now.  It is through your service that mom continues to do so well, and that the rest of us are surviving.  I love you, I miss you, and I look forward to the phone call Christmas day.
Love love love you,
Jody

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Yuck...

Being sick is no fun.  I am just glad that my body waited until AFTER I finished my Teacher Work Sample to shut down.  I am grateful right now for two things:

Instant Streaming on Netflix
Sprite

Feel free to come take care of me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Puppies and Candy Canes

I have been trying to write this blog post for a few days now.  Its funny how sometimes I just want to write, but don’t really know how to resolve the post until a few days later.  I think I have become a bit more dedicated to this blogging scheme than I realized.  I am ninety-nine percent positive that your lives would go on just fine without me, but every now and again, I just really fall in love with the ability I have to share my experiences.
So if you are my friend at all (Facebook or in real life) you know that my car got broken into last week. According to sources (read:everyone I know here in Houston) that is kind of like your initiation into being a Houstonian.  If your car hasn’t been broken into, you really can’t claim Houston as home.  I’m not gonna lie, this is one tradition I could have really done without.
The short version of the story is that I forgot to take my GPS mount off of my windshield.  I also didn’t have to be at work early that day, so those two factors combined made for a really crappy situation.  I headed to my car at around noon, thinking I would get an errand or two in before dropping by a school to observe.  Well the second I approached my car I could see that my window was broken.  It wasn’t until about three minutes later that I realized that I had left my wallet in the car as well as the GPS and my ipod.  So not only did they steal my GPS and ipod, but they had free reign for a few hours on my bank account.  Needless to say, it has been a hassle getting all my cards back and switching my accounts and all that.
Now, this week has been pretty stressful/overwhelming for several other reasons and I was really upset about the whole experience.  Sometimes I think that Heavenly Father just loads it all on me at once, which is really hard to deal with sometimes.  But on Friday, I forgot completely about the whole situation…
I had shown a movie the week before about my Uncle Brian, who has mental disabilities because of a drug overdose in high school.  It was really important for me to show my students this movie that my amazing little sister had put together.  The kids had responded really well and I had a few of them come up to me after class to thank me for sharing my experience with them.  Well Friday was my last day as a student teacher, and my students were making Thanksgiving cards to give to their favorite teachers.  I got quite a few more cards than I really expected to get.  As I was reading them after school, one stood out to me.  
J.B. is a really nice kid and I have enjoyed teaching him.  I have deduced from some comments he has made in class that he used to do drugs.  Well he wrote me a thanksgiving card and in it he explained to me that he had been a drug addict until about a year ago.  J.B. said he had been drug free for over a year, but that last friday, he had been so stressed that he had agreed to get together with some friends and smoke marijuana.  He then told me that showing the video reminded him why he decided to quit doing drugs in the first place, and thanked me for not just teaching him about spanish, but teaching him how to be a better person.  He finished by thanking me for giving him the strength to continue to make right decisions.  When I put the card down, I started crying.
2 Nephi 4:17-19

"Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my south grieveth because of mine iniquities.  I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.  And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted."

My hometeachers reminded me on Sunday of this scripture.  We have so many trials in life, and it is so hard sometimes to understand why all these things are happening to us.  The beauty of the Gospel however, is understanding that everything has a purpose.  I can’t expect to understand every little experience I have, why I am where I am and why things aren’t always puppies and candy canes.  But what I CAN take comfort in is knowing that I have a loving Father in Heaven who puts me in positions to learn and grow.  And while He doesn’t lay out His plan step by step for me, I know that He has one.  And sometimes that’s all you really need.
But I would really love to have my wallet back.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Step on a crack...

Lymphoma- cancer in the lymphatic of the immune system; presents as a solid tumor of lymphoid cells, treatable with chemotherapy and in some cases radiotherapy and/or bone marrow transplantation, can be curable depending on the histology, type, and stage of the disease.
You never really think that cancer is going to affect your family.  It is one of those things that other people talk about, that you sympathize with, that you cry about in movies, but it never touches you.  At least that is what I thought.
I was driving to a meeting about a month ago.  I had a million things on my mind; what was I going to teach the next day, what I was going to do for my teacher work sample, etc.  A passing thought rolled through my head, ‘Call your mom.’  Now, this isn’t all that rare.  I call my mom 3-5 times a week, so I thought, ‘I will after the meeting.’  A few moments later it came stronger, ‘Call your mom.’  Not wanting to be disobedient, I called.
She sounded shaken up.  We chit chatted for a second and I said, ‘Mom, what’s wrong?’  Her voice got really serious and she explained that she had found a lump on her hip and that what she had thought was a cyst was actually a solid mass, a tumor, cancer.  I started crying, but she told me not to worry, like any good mom would.  They were going to run some tests and get back to us. 
Two weeks later I called her classroom.  A substitute answered.  I thought, ‘That’s odd, Mom  only does that when she is sick or has a lot to do’.  I called the house, and she answered.  ‘Mom, what are you doing home?’  Her reply: ‘Its cancer.’  The official type of cancer she has been diagnosed with is Large B Cell Lymphoma.  
I have thought a lot over the last couple weeks about what this means for me.  I guess more than anything it means that I realize just how short life really can be.  For now, we are going to fight it, but it makes me that much more grateful for the plan of salvation.  My mom is not just my mom here on this earth, but she is my mom forever.  She will be with me even if she isn’t with me.  It has always been that way and it always will.  I am scared, but I know that it is going to be alright because I know that in the end we will be together forever.  
This week, Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic are doing a special.  If you shop from November 11-14, you can get 30% off ANY purchase, and 5% of what you spend will be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  If you have time, for my mom, and all the other moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, sons, daughters, and cousins who are fighting for their lives, go buy yourself something nice.  You never know when it is going to hit closer to home than you think.

Here is my cute mama with my cute dad and little brother.

Here is the promotional code for the discount.Gap Give And Get Is Here!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Its a small world after all!

From the first day of school, I knew Juan was going to be tough to handle.  He hated doing work in class, he was always sleeping, he wouldn’t bring writing utensils, paper or homework to class, it was a mess!  My mentor teacher didn’t do very well in handling him either.  She would automatically resort to sending him out of class instead of trying to deal with him before resorting to outside authority.  I decided when I took over the class that I was going to kill Juan with kindness-something my grandmother taught me that I have always felt went a long way.
In the last couple of weeks, Juan and I have bonded.  Admittedly I have been a bit more lenient on him than I probably should have, but I knew that being ridiculously stern with him would just make him push me and what I was trying to do away.  So I have done everything I could to give him chances and it really has seemed to work.  He was missing quite a bit of work, so his mother was called and she was actually quite pleasant on the phone.  The next day he was doing better at answering questions and paying attention in class.  He brought all his work in too and is now passing my class.
Today as my kids were writing I put on some music.  I looked up a particular song on my computer and it happened to pull up with it Truman G. Madsen’s lectures on faith.  Juan walked passed my computer, paused for a minute and then walked up to me.  ‘Miss what church do you go to?’ he asked.  I got a little nervous since I am not really sure how much of my religion I can talk about at school.  ‘Why?’  I asked.  ‘Are you Mormon, Miss?’ he pried.  ‘Yeah I am.’ I said.  ‘Me too.’he responded with a smile.  My jaw about hit the floor.  
I got the kids started on what they were doing and I went back to talk to him.  I said (I was smiling the whole time and so was he just so you know, this was a friendly exchange), ‘I don’t believe you!’ He laughed and said, ‘I am!  I am Miss I swear!’.  Figuring I could catch him in a lie I said, ‘What class are you in in Young Mens?’  ‘I’m a priest.’  I just started laughing.  He shared with me that he was the first member in his family, that he had been baptized in Mexico and was followed into the waters months later by the rest of his family except his father who is still not a fan of the church.  
When he left today, he looked back at me, smiled and said, ‘I got you Miss.’  which is high school student for I respect you.
I am so glad I killed him with kindness.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Lord will provide a way

I love when things just work out.

So another thing that Elder Costa talked about was giving references to the missionaries.  He actually did it in a really funny slightly rebuking manner.  He asked everyone who had served a mission to raise their hand.  And then he asked us to think about what we had always wished for from the members when we were missionaries.  We of course said references.  Then he said, Well guess what, you ARE the members now! haha I laughed.  I set a goal to give the missionaries one reference a month.

Last week I was asked to give a talk on Elder Eyring's talk from general conference.  He spoke on listening to the words of conference and then immediately going and doing.  When preparing the talk I thought back to Elder Costa's invitation for us to give references to the missionaries.  I have been talking with a co-worker about the church and he even agreed to come with me the week after next, so I figured that could be my reference for the month.

Well today my roommate and I were waiting for the maintenance man to show up.  When he did I realized that I had talked to him a few weeks ago.  I had been walking to my front door and he and another man were hosing off the roof.  I asked in Spanish if they would kindly not get me wet.  They laughed and then were impressed that I spoke Spanish. A week after that he saw me and said hello in Spanish so we chatted for a while that day too.  Anyways, he walked in and helped us fix some lights.  As he got down from the ladder I said, in Spanish, 'And God said, let there be light, and there was light and it was good.'

Carlos laughed and started talking to me about the bible, which sparked a 30 minute conversation about the priesthood and authority and why churches teach correct principles but were lacking the most important things.  It was awesome.  I was amazed at how Heavenly Father had prepared me that week.  I had been reading in my Spanish scriptures, so they were sitting right there on the table.  I just loved it.  I could see though that it was going to take more than just me to speak to him, so I found the courage to just say, 'I have two missionary friends who would love to talk to you about this.  I'll even come with them.  Carlos, what is your phone number so that we can call you?'  I braced myself for the worst, and surprisingly, he gave me his phone number.

As I was leaving my apartment that night, he was working outside another apartment and he asked me when we were going to come.  I told him that the missionaries would be calling him.  It was just awesome.

So in case you were wondering, if you make it a goal to give at least one reference a month to the missionaries, you should be prepared for them to walk right into your house, fix your lights and then practically beg you to teach them.

Just so you know.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

That's my plan and I'm stickin to it.

Yesterday, I got to see Elder Costa speak in person.  He.was.awesome.

I have never seen someone glide so effortlessly between making me laugh histerically and bringing the spirit around like a powerhouse.  It was perfect for me.  He talked about quite a few things, but one thing in particular just hit me right to the core.

Elder Costa shared several stories about how he had delt with change and opposition in his life.  He talked first about being called to be the YSA Regional Stake Representative two weeks after becoming a member and accepting the calling without even knowing what a stake was. (His exact story was that after he accepted the call he mentioned he had two questions, one was 'What's a stake?' and the other was 'What's YSA?' HA!)  He talked about being two weeks away from marriage when he lost his job, but told us that he went ahead and got married anyways because he knew the Lord would provide.  Elder Costa shared stories from his years as a mission president, how he got called to be in the Second Quorum of the 70, the plans he and his wife made for after his release from that calling and other's reactions to his plan making.  At one point he told one of the other General Authorities that his plan was to retire and spend the rest of his life with his wife living on the beach.  This GA asked him, 'Well what if you get called to something else?' to which Elder Costa replied, 'I make my plans, the Lord have my number.  He want to change my plans, He call me!'  The man was just adorable.

I know that at least that particular part of his talk was directed at me.

Planning is not my forte.  In fact I would say that over the last couple of years I have mastered the art of drifting.  It is easier to be a victim of circumstance than it is to accept responsibility for poor planning, and I have done that a lot over the last few years.  Especially in the last few months when I have had to really think about where I want to be in the next couple of years.  I actually have to PLAN what I want for my life.  It is no longer acceptable to say, 'Well it depends on...'  NO! If the Lord has something in store for me, He will guide me to it.  I need to make decisions and weigh the options and show Him that I trust Him enough to let Him guide me to places and people and experiences that I need to grow.

So I am starting to formulate a plan.  Trust me it is not easier with my new found understanding.  In fact I would say it is down right SCARY to make plans for a life, just hoping that Heavenly Father will guide me to the things I want...but if there is one thing I know, it is that He has a plan.  I just have to be faithful and things will work out in the way they are supposed to.

Besides, the Lord has my number.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

And on the 8th day, God created the turn signal...

One thing that has been a little hard to get used to here in the great state of Texas is the awful driving skills that some people have.  I honestly hate driving here (which is sad cuz I love driving) because it is absolutely insane ESPECIALLY during rush hour.  Commuters hardly ever use their turn signals, weave in and out of traffic, and are particularly fond of what I call the 'Texas Dive'. The Texas Dive is when you are in the fast lane and suddenly realize your exit is a quarter of a mile away...or closer.  It is at that point that you glide across three lanes of traffic without so much as looking behind you to get off the freeway.  Daily occurance where I'm from.

I had a meeting until 5 pm last Wednesday, which meant I was driving home in the middle of the crappiest time to be on the road.  Houston has about 4 million people who all tend to get on the road at the exact same time, which means that the roads run to a stand still in 6 seconds flat.  There is undoubtably going to be at least three accidents on any particular highway at any particular time.  As I was making my way home the other day, the traffic slowed down to a stop and then creeped around the corner.  Sure enough, there were four cars pulled over to the side and a tow truck loading one of them up.

The fast lane was trying to merge with the lane next to the fast lane, my lane.  I let my mandatory one car in front of me in, as is standard oporating procedure.  But all of the sudden the car behind the car I let in decided they were entitled to not wait any longer.  They started to pull out in front of me.  Not wanting to be hit, I slowed down.  The passanger in the car rolled the window down and proceeded to very animatedly tell me to slow down so that they could get in.  I was pretty annoyed at this point. Then...the unthinkable happened.  As they sped away in front of me, the passenger flipped me the bird.  ME!  Like it was my fault.  I was so mad I cussed (sorry dad).  And then, I was so mad at myself for cussing, that I started crying.  Yup, pretty standard for a drive home, don't ya think?

So there I was, in rush hour, crying, and why?  Because things just didn't seem to be going my way.  

Today it was something similar.  It had been a long day, I was tired, things hadn't gone spectacularly.  Traffic was awful and despite a great chat with my padre on the way home I was still feeling a little down.  I got home and took a nap because nothing cures a bad day like a nap.  I was awoke by the sound of a text message from my roommate reminding me that we were going to go Visiting Teaching (yeah I know its the last day of the month, don't judge)  We got there and met beautiful Stephanie.  She is a recent convert and it was so fun to talk to her about her very first General Conference and things she could do to prepare.  She was so excited about life and everything that the future held for her and I just though, 'I am so glad I am here right now!'  I am so excited to get to know her better.

After that, I wanted to go running but knew that I had a million other things I needed to do.  My roommate asked if I wanted to go walking with her.  I didn't really have the time, but I decided to go anyways.  On that walk she poured her little heart out to me, and I was subtlely reminded by the spirit that I was where I needed to be.  Life is tough!  But we all have reasons to be grateful.  

I love my job.

I have an amazing family.

I have a strong testimony of the gospel

And right now I'm just grateful that no one flipped me off on the way home.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The best little home teacher this side of the equator

When I was a freshman in college, two cousins were assigned to be my visiting teachers.  They were dear girls, and they would set appointments well in advance so that I knew when they were coming.  They would bring me treats, leave me notes, all the things every good visiting teacher would do.  And I would avoid them.  Like the plague.  I was known in those days to fake sleeping just so I wouldn’t have to talk to them.  Little did I know three years later one of them would serve in the same zone as myself in Chile and we became close friends. 
I have a confession to make.  I don’t like being home/visit taught.   (GASP!) I know.  Its not that I don’t like my Home/Visiting teachers, its not that I don’t want the spiritual thought.  I think really the thing that drives me bonkers is all of that attention, awkwardly placed on me, for an undetermined amount of time.  This might be a shock to you.  Do I love attention? Of course.  But that much undivided attention from two of my male/female friends for somewhere between 15 minutes and an hour and a half is always so uncomfortable for me.
On Sunday, my home teachers had set up an appointment to come by that evening and teach myself and my roommate.  I didn’t remember this until I was on my way out the door to a mixer and I knew I wasn’t going to be back until late that evening.  OOPS!  I left a message with my roommate to tell them I was sorry and that they could count me as visited because it was my fault I wasn’t there.  Imagine my surprise last night when at FHE they asked if they could come over right afterwards to teach me.  I had so much to do, but I said yes.
So in walk Jake and Gavin, my wonderful, amazing home teachers.  They sit down on the couch, and instead of heading right into the lesson, they ask me how I have been.  I say good. Short.  Quick.  Jake pries, asking what has been going on at school.  We start to chat about my kids, student teaching, education, you name it.  Each time I try to be as brief as possible and yet they seem so interested and before I know it I am talking to them about how my mentor teacher drives me crazy and how the internet hasn’t worked at our school for three days.  They give me ideas for things I could try, commend me for things they think I’m doing right and this whole time, not once did they look at their watches.
Then comes the lesson, short, sweet, read the Book of Mormon.  Then they each take turns bearing me their testimonies.  I am challenged to read it more often.  And then a funny thing happens.  Jake opens his mouth and starts telling me things that I really needed to hear about decisions I am making in my life, what I’m trying to do and accomplish.  He promises me that Heavenly Father will bless me as I strive to put him first in my life.  He asks me if I have enough food to eat, how my cupboards are looking. I say fine.  He asks if I am having any fun, if I am balancing school and social. I laugh and say I’m doing my best.  And then with a prayer they are gone.
I can’t even describe how really touching that whole event was for me.  I am grateful for home teachers who care enough to make more than the minimum effort.
Moral of the story: Don’t fake naps. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Little Stroll Down Memory Lane

Five years ago this week, I walked into the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.  Anxious, excited, a little sad, I was ready to take on the challenges and trials that the Lord put before me.  First and foremost, I was ready to take on the Spanish language.  I was ready to learn it, inside and out, understand it, eat it, sleep it, BREATHE the very essence of spanish.  It wasn't easy.  In fact I would say there were times in the following few months that I really struggled.  It was so difficult to feel like I couldn't express all the feelings in my heart.  It was so trying to have the words on the tip of my tongue but not have them come out.  There were times when I felt so alone, but I learned so much from that experience.

Flash forward two years.  I'm back at BYU and I am trying to decide what on earth to do with my life.  Do I try to go back to Music Education?  Do I pursue other career paths?  Something urged me to not turn my back on what I had spent the year and half doing.  So I entertained the thought of Spanish Education.  I said to myself, 'I'll apply. If I get in, then that's what Heavenly Father wants me to do.'  Much to my surprise, I was accepted on my first application...something that had NOT happened with Music Ed at all.

Skip forward to a classroom in Houston, Texas.  I am speaking, in fluent Spanish to a bunch of kids who probably don't have the SLIGHTEST clue what I'm talking about.  I'm modeling what I'm asking of them as I speak, I'm using the most simple words possible and a student finally cannot handle it anymore.  She exclaims in frustration, 'THIS IS NOT HOW I LEARN!' To which I reply, 'YEs, it is.'

So many times in life, we have experiences, and we don't really know why we have them. Years later we are brought to the realization of how important those experiences were to us.  This week, I realized just how important that simple decision to go on a mission has been for me.

Happy Sabbath.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Why I Teach

I have a student in my ESL class, C.  He is from a central american country and has only been in the U.S. since April.  He speaks very little english and I can tell that most of his behavior issues stem from that.  A few days ago we were talking before class with a few of the students and he mentioned that he didn't like english and didn't need it because he would never make it to college anyways.  As a teacher, that is one of those comments you just CRINGE at.  I asked him if he wouldn't mind chatting with me after class.  I ended up having to talk to my mentor teacher right after that so I didn't get a chance to talk to him.

To my surprise a few hours later he came by my other classroom during passing period to talk with me.  I explained to him, as a bilingual myself, that speaking BOTH languages fluently would help him gain a substantial amount more money than if he never learned to speak english.  C told me he didn't really care because his parents had kicked him out, he was living on the street, and he was most likely going to be deported come February anyways.  Besides, he told me, all the english he needed to learn, h e learned in the street.  My heart sank.  I reassured him that no matter WHERE he was living, learning english would help.  He said he would think about it.

This morning, before first period I was getting some things ready in the classroom.  C approached me and in pure english said,
    'Remember the conversation we had.'
    'Of course!' I replied.
    'I am going to try.'
    'GOOD, C!' I almost hugged him, 'That makes me very happy.'
    'I want to learn.'

Today during class he was on the ball, so attentive and really working hard, and it was amazing how HIS attitude affected the rest of the class.  They put out some real quality work today.

C walks by my classroom at least twice a day.  He always stops, shakes my hand and says hello.

This is why I teach.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Are you WHITE?

Teaching people of other diversities is always something a little bit unusual.    You never know how they are going to react to you, and if you are me, you will worry that everything coming out of your mouth will offend them.  Part of my reasoning behind coming down to Houston, besides to be adventurous, was to be in contact with a really different racial diversity than the one I have experienced in my observations in Utah.  Not that they aren't varied there, but I wanted the hard places.  I wanted the students that everyone said were the bad ones, I wanted to teach in the tough places.  I am already starting to see that being here could not be farther from the truth.  Granted this is the first week of school and I haven't officially taken over the classes yet, but it has already been so much fun to interact with the students and have those little meaningful experiences.

My classload is a lot different than I thought it would be. I have one period of ESL (English as a Second Language) with a WIDE variety of English proficiency in each student.  I have two periods of Spanish 3, two periods of Spanish 3/4 which is for native speakers and one period of Spanish 5 which is a literature course for native speakers.  I love each class for different reasons, but my Spanish 3 classes seem to be the funniest.  In particular I have an african-american student who just cracks me up.  I'll call him T.  T came into our class on Monday and mine, the other student teacher, and our co-operating teacher's names were on the board.  My last name is very white, but the other two have spanish last names since both of them married latins.  I noticed that T kept looking at the board and then at each of us.  Finally he raised his hand. We called on him and this is what he said: 'I ain't tryin ta be racist u nothin, but are ya'll white?'  We laughed and said yes, to which he replied, 'Why you be teachin spanish den?'

I also had another student L ask me if she had mistakenly been put in the native-speaker class since we were speaking so much spanish in the classroom.  I replied that it was in fact the class for non-native speakers.  She replied, 'Then why ya'll be speakin spanish all the time?'  I laughed and explained that it was the only way they were going to learn.

Its funny how you can meet a group of people for the first time and already love them so much.  I guess that is what charity is all about.  I think for the first time in my life I TRULY understand the meaning of 'the pure love of Christ'.  I look at my students every day, and I realize that I don't know them very well. I have only had them for a few days but I already love and care about each and every one of them.  There is this wonderful balanced relationship between students and teachers.  They are so smart and observant that I am CONSTANTLY in awe of them.  Today I was helping some students with an assignment and one of them turned to me and said, 'Miss, you are ALWAYS singin'.' I started laughing, because anyone that knows me pretty well knows this is true.  I apologized and then girl sitting next to him said, 'No that's a good thing Miss, it means you always happy.'  They just make me smile.  I see them in the hallway and they go out of there way to say hello to me and are trying hard to remember my name. (I've shortened it to Miss Mac just cuz it is easier and I kind of love it.)  

I am happy here.
This is during the rain storm in the middle of the Jack Johnson Concert.  
We were still stoked to be there!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fit me in a perfect little box

Well, I've done it.  I've up and moved to Houston, Texas. (And by moved I mean I'm here until at least the end of November, unless by some strange miracle, I develop a southern drawl, start wearing cowboy boots and decided to change my name to Betty Sue.  At which point I will live here indefinitely.)  Its been quite the adjustment.  I'm still sleeping on a floor mat in a sleeping bag and I still groan every time I leave the house....car...building...etc, when that wave of humidity hits me, but I'm told it will get better come September.  I'll believe that when I see it.

I became obsessed with windmills (or whatever these things are called) on my drive down to Texas.

The last few days I have been going to my very first 'big kid job' going to 'big kid trainings' and talking about 'big kid things'.  Its been interesting to be doing it outside of Utah.  Granted I am a student-teacher which automatically makes me a second class citizen no matter what, but I feel like the conversations are a lot different because I am not surrounded by those of my same faith.  In some ways its been refreshing , in others its been a bit awkward. (Trying to explain why I don't drink at twenty-six and am declining an invitation to Happy Hour was a highlight.)  All in all, I am excited to be here.  I can't wait to meet my students, go to high school football games, and help chaperone homecoming...yeah, I'm that teacher.

Last Thursday was my first day on my high school campus.  It was a vigorous day of meetings (read:boring), but it was awesome to meet my co-operating teachers who are both awesome and meet my fellow teachers.  Throughout the day they had us do all of these 'personality tests' that were 'scientifically proven' to tell what type of people we  were.  They basically listed off things and we were instructed to pick one t hing from the group and that told what type of person we were.  The first one was animals.  I looked at the list of animals (a beaver, a bee, an owl, a chameleon and a dolphin) and this was my thought process: 'Well, I lived in Utah so I guess a bee works...But dolphoins are legit.  Then again owls are pretty cool and wise and all, but I guess I have never seen one, but if we go off of that I could really only be two of those animals on the list.' (you get the point)  I ended up sticking with the bee even though I DO NOT love bees at all.  The scientific answer for the type of person I was was totally inaccurate.

So I determined that no matter what you do, you cannot fit me in a box, and that makes me happy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Be happy! Its what Jesus would do.

A phone call telling you a loved one has passed away is never a way to start a day.  Especially when the passing was unexpected and an absolute tragedy.  Today has been an awful mix of emotions as the details have unfolded and I have slowly come to grips with the fact that Brittni is gone.  Through the day I have realized quite a few things about my own testimony, and I am so grateful for the knowledge of plan of salvation.  

I have always known that the Lord has a plan for each and every one of us individually.  I have always known that if we were willing to live in a manner befitting of a child of God that he would make this plan known to us.  As I have thought about the way that Brittni lived her life and loved others, there is no doubt in my mind that she was aware of the plan that Heavenly Father had put forth for her.  

Words cannot express my sorrow for the loss of the most Christ-like person I have ever met, but I can tell you this.  Without a doubt I know that God lives, the Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world and that His atonement made it possible for us to be saved from the permanent separation of God.  Just a few weeks ago Brittni lent me a book called 'The Continous Atonement' which talks about our ability to do all we can and that the difference will be made up by the Savior.  I know that this is true, that I can be redeemed again and again because of the sacrifice of the blood of Christ, once for all (see Hebrews 10).  But I especially know that they loved us so much that God and His son have provided a way for us to return to them, that there is a plan and that if we are faithful, we can enjoy all the blessings that have been prepared for us.

So as Brittni would say, don't be a sissy lala.  We all have struggles, but its about the climb.  Look for the JOY in life, not the sorrows.  Look for reasons to be grateful and not reasons to complain.  Be close to God in word AND deed and if God can't come to you, go to Him.  Walk in His valleys, climb His mountains, and then be still and KNOW that He is God.  He is in control and if we put our trust in Him, though bad things happen, we can be happy knowing that it is His way of reminding us that we are alive.  And being alive is something to be grateful for.  Life is too short to whine.



To my dear Brittni, know that I am eternally grateful to your example of love and kindness.  I will never forget you, and next year, I will run the full Mayor's Marathon.  And I'll be doing it with you, just like we planned.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Feelings of forever

Yeah, I know.  You thought I was dead.  I have been thinking about a few different posts that I want to write, but this one has been a top priority as of late and I cannot go to bed this Sunday evening without talking about this.

I have been realizing that the older I get, the more my sisters mean to me.

If you have been following this blog for even a little bit, you know that I have set a goal to eventually run a full marathon.  I haven't put a date on that goal (I should probably do that...I'm thinking June of next year) but I have begun to work towards it by running half marathons.  I have run two in the last three months and each of them were quite challenging in their own ways.  Salt Lake was hot.  Anchorage was hilly.

I was really nervous about the Salt Lake Half.  It was my first solo run and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do it as well as I wanted to.  I had been training, but I wasn't really following a training program and was up and down in my distances.  When I got to the starting line I felt a little overwhelmed.  I didn't even KNOW anyone that was running it that I could start out with.  I searched the crowd for a familiar face and found no one.  I haven't felt that alone in a while.  I started out the race well, I actually did the first three miles in about 27 minutes which is the FASTEST 5k I have ever run.  I was actually doing well till about mile 10 and that is where I just decided that I didn't want to be running anymore.  The best way I can describe it is a desperation to stop moving.  I started whimpering to myself.  Not straight up crying, but just... a really strong desire to give up.  About this time, I see off in front of me what appears to be my little sister Joree and her husband Kody.  They hadn't told me they were coming.  In fact I don't even think I asked them to come, but regardless, they were there, right where I needed them.  I got so excited that I ran to the side of the group and called out her name in an almost desperate cry.  She instantly started cheering me on and it gave me the push I needed to finish hard.  As I ran past her I started crying.  I was so grateful for her at that moment.

Fast forward to last weekend.  If I thought my training for the SL Half was spotty, I would say my training for the Mayor's Half was non-existant.  With work and trying to be an active YSA during the summer months made for a very little amount of time to train.  But foolishly I still signed up for the race. I guess I just didn't want to chicken out even though realistically it wasn't the smartest thing to do.  The night before my older sister Jamie decided to come be my cheerleader and bike the race along with me.  I think by cheerleader, she meant all out running/inspiration coach.  She was with me every step of the way telling me to push and then talked me through the tough parts.  I am pretty positive not many people around me appreciated her constant talk, but I was so thankful she was with me.

So I am glad that I am sealed to my sisters.  They support me in my goals (no matter how stupid) and they push me when I need it (which is quite often) .  If I ever make it onto an EFY CD, it will be because these two helped me make it possible.

This was the most recent picture of all of us girls together...it was taken over a year ago.  Sad.


We used to have a pillow at our house.  I don't know where it came from, and I don't know who gave it to us, but it said, 'Chance made us sisters, hearts made us friends.'  I'm glad that my heart is bound to theirs forever, because, though we may fight and argue and bicker amongst ourselves (I mean, come on, we are girls!), they are the only ones I want to be with in the eternities.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm ALIVE!!

The beauty of the gospel, in my opinion, is that each of us is allowed to learn lessons at different times.  For example; if I had had to learn the 'be mature' lesson before I was allowed to progress in any other area...I would still probably be stuck on the 'be mature' check-off point. Sure I would be working at it, striving to be better, but in the mean time, all of these other teaching opportunities would be wasted on me because I would only be looking and focusing on 'being mature.'

I realized this week that the Lord has been trying to teach me, for a VERY long time, how to make good choices the first time.  I won't go into too many details, but there was a point in my life where I would choose what I wanted over what I thought the Lord wanted. (See waiting to turn my mission papers in for 6 months, even though I had gotten some pretty serious revelation that I needed to go, because of a boy...stupid!)  The beauty of repentance is that it is always available to those who are willing to seek after it, but wouldn't it be better to just do things right the first time?! Of course it is.  But most of us don't learn that way.  That is why we have agency, and that is why the atonement was necessary.

I heard a quote when I was younger that has always stuck out to me.  It said something along the lines of 'Our lives are made of every day choices that will one day show what we truly believed.'  I always thought it was catchy.  I think I even wrote it on a piece of paper and put it on my wall so I would remember it.  But only now, in my mid twenties, am I seeing how that correlation between the small choices and my happiness really are.

In a talk called Choices by President Faust, he similarly equated our happiness to our ability to choose.  He said:

In this life we have to make many choices.  Some are very important choices.  Some are not.  Many of our choices are between good and evil.  The choices we make, however, determine to a large extent our happiness or our unhappiness, because we have to live with the consequences of our choices.  Making perfect choices all of the time is not possible.  It just doesn't happen.  But it is possible to make good choices we can live with and grow from.  When God's children live worthy of divine guidance they can become 'free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon.'


That is one of my favorite scriptures.  So I am choosing to act for myself this week and not be acted upon.  I am choosing to run that extra mile even though I know nobody but me will know the difference.  I am choosing to not be 'reactional' but rather choose my mood and not let my mood choose me.

Because 60% of the time, it works EVERY time.



Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Oh that? That's just my survival shuffle.

My last companion in the mission field was a cross country runner for USU.  She helped me drop about 15lbs before heading home. (I could have used to drop about 15 more, but hey, at least it was an improvement).  I loved Hermana Johnson for more than just her ability to inspire me to run.  She was one of the most pure hearted people I have ever met.  She was stubborn as a mule but not afraid to admit when she was wrong.  She was awesome.

The thing that I found so amazing about her is that she LOVED to run.  For her birthday, we got up a half hour earlier than normal so that we could go on this mega long run and tackle this hill (that was most definitely out of our area...) and so that she could just get out there and stretch her legs.  We ran hard and fast and when we got to the huge hill, I was about to die.

This is us on our run.  Look how chubby I was...yuck!

This is when she taught me about the survival shuffle.

It is basically just moving your legs like you are running even though you are going slower than a running pace.  It allows you to rest, but to not let yourself give up and walk.  I love the survival shuffle.

I am a mere two days away from my first solo half marathon.  The only other time I ran a half marathon, I ran with my dad who helped me to finish without stopping.  This new race is going to be really different because I will be by myself.  I have a great ability of talking myself out of things I really want when I am tired or feel like it is too hard.  I am so very worried about this in the race on Saturday because I REALLY want to finish this half by myself and be able to say that I did just as well as when I ran with my dad.  I am more scared then I ever remember being about anything, but I am trying to look forward to the race regardless of my fear.

I was looking up things online about different running techniques during long races and I came across a phrase that has stuck with me this week.  The advice for the runner was simple: Think that you can.

President Faust gave a talk back in 2002 in priesthood session called I Believe I can, I knew I Could.  While most of it applies to the use of the priesthood, there were a few things that stood out to me.  First he said, 'At times all of us are called upon to stretch ourselves and do more than we think we can.'  This experience is not unique to me, nor to this time.  ALL of us at times are going to be asked to do something that is seemingly impossible, but will help us prove what we are made of. (I know I wasn't really called upon to run this race, but bare with me.)

President Faust went on to say the following:'The Lord entrusts all of His servants...with spiritual talents.  The Lord, who endows us with these talents, tells us: 'I believe you can. I believe you can.'

So if you happen to be in the crowd on Saturday, and you see me running by, don't be surprised if you see my lips moving and hear the words 'I think I can.'

And don't be scared if I look like death...thats just part of the survival shuffle.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Nintendo and the Easter Bunny




Yesterday was my good buddy Rob's birthday and for his birthday, we celebrated the day before with a surprise party including but not limited to a little Rockband.  Rockband may very well be the only video game that I can even semi play...and if you saw me play drums you might just beg to differ.

Over the years I have thought a lot about why it is that I stink so badly at video games, and I realized the other day that the person at fault is...The Easter Bunny.  

The Christmas I turned ten or eleven, my older brother got a Nintendo gaming system.  We were all really excited about it.  Strategically Santa had left my older sister a Game Genie or something like that.  It was a universal cheat...not that we really needed it since the only games we had were Duck Hunt, Super Mario Brothers, Mike Tyson Knock Out and some game that had to do with fighting Ninjas.  Regardless, we were in kid heaven.  Christmas break was spent playing the Nintendo.  I wasn't any good of course so level 1-2 of Mario Brothers was about as far as I got, but my older siblings plowed through like they had been playing for years. And in all actuality they probably were since they were old enough to have friends who also had Nintendos.  We were a bit behind on the video gamer trend. I would watch my older brother for hours as he got past level after level and got closer to eventually beating King Kupa.  My parents I am sure were just grateful to get us all to keep quiet for long periods of time.  Having five kids may not seem like that big of a deal if you come from a big family, but we were a very energetic group.  I'm sure at times it felt to my parents as if they had 15.

The one thing my parents probably did not expect was my little brother, who was three or four at the time, to also love playing Nintendo.  He of course couldn't play very well...at least I think he was, but he would often fall asleep playing the game.  A few times my parents even caught him, in the middle of the night, curled up in a ball on our play room floor with the remote control in his hand and the Super Mario Brothers theme playing on repeat.  This was a bit disconcerting to my parents who forsaw a life of couchpotatoe-ness and were afraid to raise a nerdy child.  So they did what any parent would do.  They came up with a deceiving plan that would make sure the Nintendo was gone without having to look like mean parents.

Easter is an exciting time of year for little kids.  Besides Christmas, it is the most exciting holiday as you wake up and go on killer scavenger hunts looking for baskets and hidden eggs. (Hopefully your parents will remember where all the eggs are hidden so that  you do not have to go through what we went through one year, finding an egg, very well hidden by my dad, a few WEEKS after Easter. :)  We woke that Easter morning anticipating the hunt for eggs, candy and our individual baskets.  Imagine my little brother's surprise, when his basket was hidden in plain sight, right where the Nintendo had been placed just the evening before.  Imagine his further astonishment when there was a note attached to his basket from the Easter Bunny.  I do not remember the specifics of the note, but in essence it said that the Easter Bunny had left Jaden's basket in exchange for the Nintendo.  I remember him saying distinctly, 'He stole it?!?' to which my parents just nodded their heads and said yes.

For months after that, if anything we liked went missing, we would simply state that the Easter Bunny had taken it.  It was as if he transformed from a happy little rabbit spreading cheer and candy to a dirty thief.  He was the most hated of all of the holiday representatives.  Years later as I was rummaging through old things as we packed up our house to move I found our old Nintendo.  I had long since realized that it was my parents, and not the Easter Bunny, who had taken it, but I had not known its true fate.  I learned that my older siblings were actually in on the deal and were allowed to know its whereabouts and when the younger siblings were asleep or gone, they were allowed to get it out and play.

I laugh at how creative my parents are and were back then.  I wonder how many other things like this were done to keep my parents sane and to help us kids be better...and less annoying.  

I wonder what happened to my old recorder?

I bet the Easter Bunny took it. :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

A little laugh

I have plenty to say about going to Houston, but I will save that for a serious blog post.

Knowing that there are people in my ward who read this blog, I am still going to share this hilarious situation.  If you know who I'm talking about...just be a pal and don't tell!

So at the beginning of February, I went on a date with a guy in my ward.  To say the least it was...pretty awkward (lets just say I got pushed up against a wall in an effort on his part to seduce me.)  Anyways, we never went out again, though a few weeks ago he sat next to me in church, and proceeded to put his arm around me and rub my arm.  It was as if we were dating.  But we weren't.  I believe that was the last time that I really spoke with him.

This morning in ward council he announced that he was engaged.  To a girl.  He has supposedly been dating for three months. I laughed

You do the math. :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Deep in the heart of....ah who'm I kidding I hate Texas

Sleeping in has been a horrible habit to get into during the week where everything is due.  Unfortunately my body has decided to be terrible lately.  I have no energy...I haven't even run this week! And of course this is the week that all teachers assign things because they think that they are being so clever in assigning things two weeks before the last week of the semester and nobody else is as clever as they are to assign things.  Yeah, thanks,  I have a billion papers now to write because you are 'so clever'.

So this has been the week of big little changes for me.  A few months back I talked about doing my student teaching in D.C.  I was all set up to go, all excited to go...I even had my first day of school outfit picked out.  (A little premature you say? Well...you're probably right but a girl has to get excited about something okay.)  A few days ago I get an email stating that I would not be able to do my TELL (Teaching English Language Learners) practicum (mini student teaching) in D.C. and was I aware of that and would I be doing it in Utah next winter.  Um. No.  That was not my plan.  So I start making phone calls and sending emails and come to find out that, basically, BYU hates me....

Okay they don't hate me but they do not want to budge on this one.  I was pretty upset.  I came home and went to a friend of mine's apartment to vent.  This is about how this went down.

(embrace for a long period of time because he gives good hugs)
ME:I can't go to D.C.
Alex: I'm sorry.  That sucks
ME: I am so mad right now
Roommate 1: Maybe this is God telling you you aren't supposed to go.
ME: You are not helping
Alex: Yeah I think he may be on to something.
Me: You are not helping
Roommate 2: Yeah, look at it this way, you made a decision and Heavenly Father is basically telling you its the wrong one!
ME: You guys suck.  Don't play the God card.  I want to be upset.
Alex: We are just sayin, you have options.

So I have been weighing out my options.  I can go to Houston, do my student teaching and my TELL practicum at the same time no problem.  But Houston just doesn't sound as exciting as D.C.  and it wasn't the plan.  I talked to the coordinators today and they said it wouldn't be a problem to switch to Houston, but I don't know that I really want to go there.  The upside to going there is that there are a lot of jobs for teachers there and they start you at $45,000 a year...which is pretty good for a teacher right out of college.  Student teaching there would be good because it would give me a sense of what Texas was all about without committing me to teaching there for life.

Or I could stay in Utah.  Which I discovered, much to my own shock, is what I consider a cowardly move today.  I said it out loud and realized that that is my big stigma with staying here.  Because me staying here is me having no faith.  Its the part of me that says, 'You can't leave Utah, you aren't married!'  Its the part of me that my parents agree with and the part of me that I hate the most.  Perfectly mormon people get married out of Utah all the time.  I don't need to stay here...do I?

I can't help but think, and shame on me for thinking this, that this would all be so much easier if I had a husband who's life could help scaffold mine.  I know I know, not this again.  But honestly, when you have a teaching degree and no husband going to school or working or whatever, when you graduate you can LITERALLY go almost anywhere.  And if you haven't noticed, the U.S. is kind of gynormous.  

So where do I go??  How do you choose when both options are good and neither are inherently 'wrong'?

"In life ALL must choose at times.  Sometimes, two possibilities are good; neither is evil.  Usually however, one is of greater import than the other.  When in doubt, each must choose that which concerns the good of others-the greater law- rather than that which chiefly benefits ourselves- the lesser law.  The greater must be chosen, whether it be law or thing..." - Elder John A. Widtsoe

I guess I'll make a pros and cons list.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What I learn in the war chapters

I have been trying to be extremely consistent in my scripture reading lately. (I know, didn't I learn that on the mission?  Well the answer is no, I got good at it on the mission, but unfortunately when you get off of a bike, no matter how good at riding it you are, you can't get anywhere on it.)  Ever since my little brother went into the MTC (he leaves today for Indiana...you'd think he'd call but he didn't) I have thought about things I want to be better about and scripture reading and sincere prayer are high on the list.

Last night I read Ether 11 which is just a seemingly unspiritual chapter amongst other geneological chapters that don't really teach you really rich deep doctrine that make you believe that the church is true and that your life is so much better having read.  I also read a little in Revelations (which I don't understand at all) and didn't really think to much about what I read because I was more excited to almost be done with the New Testament and excited to start the Old Testament.  I said my prayers after that, got into bed, and promptly fell asleep.

This morning as I was in the shower I randomly started thinking about what I had read last night. (that hardly ever happens, I am not that spiritual...and I rarely wake up early enough to shower before class) I realized that even though I don't participate in wars, I could relate my reading to what is going on in my life right now.  When it talks about 'making war' I could substitute 'gossiping' or 'being offended'.  When it says that 'prophets came' and 'prophesied of the destruction of the people except they should repent and turn unto the Lord and forsake their murders and wickedness' I can think, 'bishops and priesthood leaders came and gave talks about the deterioration of a good life except I should repent and turn to the Lord and forsake my cursing habit and my habit of judging others.'

So even though I have been told my whole life to liken the scriptures unto my own life, I just now figured out exactly what that meant.  Excuse my friend here, she is a little slow.