Monday, July 18, 2011

I'm saying goodbye.

Well...after much deliberation, talking and praying...
This is the LAST POST for Longhorn in Houston and for my blogging in general.
My decision came down to a few things:
  • Is blogging time well spent?
  • Can you blog without idolizing it?
  • What do I REALLY care to write about?  THINGS?  People?  Materialism?  No.
The truth is...
I'm about to starting teaching a new grade level and it kinda probably really scares me.  I want to be a good steward of my time this fall and put forth my absolute best when planning, teaching and growing as an educator.  I also know that much of our extended family uses my blog to keep up with our lives...  Shame on me for allowing a website to update my family on my life.  I need to be more diligent in keeping in touch with those I love via more personal means.  I don't want my blog to be an idol...something that nags on me when I think "crap, I haven't written in a while...what can I write about?!"  Or thinking about making my blog bigger or better...?  It doesn't matter.  None of it matters.  

Will I want a blog when I have kids?  PROBABLY.  What an amazing way to keep track of their lives and milestones.  Will I realize that I want to have oneSINGULARfocus for my blog one day (i.e. teaching) and ONLY blog about that?  MAYBE.  If that time comes, it'll be a very fresh start.  

Until then...thank you for reading, caring, loving and following.  You might see me again...but not as Longhorn in Houston.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Blog Stalk

So I found a blog that I dearly love and plan on stalking like a creep.  I love it because Little Miss Momma gives tutorials on just about everything in her life.  I copied two of them this week.  And then I ordered something off Etsy from a vendor she recommended.  

First tutorial: Pom Pom Bib Necklace
(Click to see LMM''s mine)
(LMM's hair is longer than mine but that doesn't mean I can't participate)
(Stick-straight natural hair)

(It lasted two days!)

So head over to LMM's blog and click follow to indulge in her daily amazingness.  I think her little blog world is pretty dang fantastic.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Club: Heaven Is For Real

Another edition of my very own virtual book club that no one probably reads...

Yesterday I asked around for opinions on a Barnes and Noble Nook vs. an Amazon Kindle for an e-reader.  I would say the opinions were split about 50/50...those that loved the Kindle said it was great because it wasn't back-lit, didn't glare and didn't strain your eyes while reading (the Nook Color has a glare and IS backlit.)  Those that loved the Nook liked all of the features and that it had a color screen.  Anywho...I went to Barnes and Noble and checked out the Nook only to find that they make one that is black and white, not back-lit, has the same size screen as a Kindle, weighs less and has a touch screen (Kindle's have a button key pad.)  I wasn't looking for a tablet computer type so the Nook Color was out...I simply wanted an e-reader that I can read outside by the pool with no glare and without straining my eyes (cause you all know the torture my eyes have been through lately).  So the All-New Nook won!
 And I snagged this pretty green protective cover for it!
So bringing it back to the book first Nook purchase was Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo.  I had seen it on the Bestsellers List for a few weeks and toyed with buying it but it was $16.99...a bit pricey for a paperback in my opinion.  My co-teacher in Sunday School told me more about it last week and after her review, I had to have it.  I got it for $7.00 on my Nook and read it "cover to cover" in about 2 hours.  
Without giving away too much, the tag-line of the book reads: "A young boy emerges from life saving surgery with remarkable stories about his visit to heaven".  As a believer, I loved this book because it confirmed many, MANY Biblical truths about Heaven.  I'd previously read 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper and it calmed so many fears I have had about Heaven, who is there, what it will be like and if I'll be able to reunite with family members who have passed on.  Both reaffirmed for me that Heaven is much more than a great place to yearn for but it is our reward for living a Christ-centered life on earth.  It was a touching, quick read told from the perspective of a father who simply loves his children, family and God by serving them all daily.

(Are you a follower yet?  Click "follow" on the left hand margin of my blog to add it to your reader.  Simple.)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Teach On

I am unsure as to why God has looked on me so favorably this past week but once again, He came through and blessed my life and family because I got a teaching position in Austin!  I know I had previously mentioned that leaving my job in Houston was a HUGE risk but I had complete faith that if God wanted me in front of a classroom and working with children, He would make it happen.  I constantly prayed "God, I hope you think I'm a good teacher!  Lord, please open a door for me to have a classroom in Austin."

Last week, I had three interviews: one in Lake Travis on Monday and one at a private catholic school and one in Hays CISD in Kyle (south of Austin) on Tuesday.  I thought that the Hays interview went best and they informed me that if I made it to the second round of interviews (a "Teach Off" model lesson) they would notify me by Tuesday afternoon.  Tuesday CAME AND did Wednesday morning.  I.was.bummed.  I spent last Wednesday afternoon at Mozart's preparing for my Kidstuff lesson at church and it was on prayer.  I used that as a time to pray hard for my "situation" and continued to ask God those questions.  No less than 30 minutes later, I received a call from Hays asking me to come in the next morning for the "Teach Off".  GOD LISTENS, people.  (However, I then enter panic mode because I have only a few hours to compile a whole lesson on teaching main idea and topic in expository texts...ay yi yi.)

The "Teach Off" went well and I knew I was up against two others that I had seen coming from their lessons.  The principal told me I would be notified by Tuesday morning, July 5th.  

(Note: "Morning hours" expire after 11:00-12:00, right? Then it becomes mid-day, afternoon...timing is VERY important here.)

Tuesday morning was GRUELING!  I was on edge...10:00, 11:00, 12:00...NO CALL.  (Morning hours are GONE.)  12:45 - I got the call!  The principal told me she had very good news and I got the position!  

I am now a SECOND GRADE teacher in Hays CISD at one of their newest elementary schools.  I could not be more thrilled as I loved the school, principal and the students I taught.  While moving from kindergarten to second grade will be a transition, I'm pretty excited about the change.  

Each day that I go to school, I will serve my children to the best of my abilities because I know what an amazing opportunity I've been given here.  There will not be a day that I take being a teacher for granted because I know how difficult it is in Texas right now.  If you ever hear a complaint from my mouth or typing fingers, you have the right to give me a swift kick in the head.  I am thankful for God's continuing grace and provision in my life.  

(So I guess that means the blog will continue...thankfully I have another year of teaching to blog about...  Now: WHAT TO DO WITH MY BLOG NAME?!)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Beware: Another Major Time Sucking Black Hole

I shared with you about click here for dwellinggawker, here for foodgawker and here for weddinggawker.

Thank goodness I have another month of summer left to waste on these sites.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

God's good grace and provision.

(This post might be lengthy...don't know how long because I clearly haven't written it yet...ha.  I've been challenged with telling a story about how God has shown great grace and provision in my life lately.  At church this morning, our pastor told us that if God has shown you grace, you aren't to keep it to yourself, you're to shout it to the world.  Yes, blog and world are not synonymous but it is a way to clearly state what a journey God's had me on for the past 4 months.  So read on, if you wish...let me tell you about what He's done for me.  This is something I've only shared with family and few friends but I believe God wants each and every one of His stories to be known.)

It all started with a yellow highlighter.

One day in early March, I was at a faculty meeting that went on and on and on and this weary teacher's eyes were tired.  As I was rubbing my right eye, I noticed that my yellow highlighter changed opaque white.  Sure enough, yellow sticky notes changed to white...then greens turned blue...then purples turned grey...and all colors lost saturation.  This all happened with my right eye closed.  I had lost color vision in my left eye.  Cue immediate freak out.  Freak out because my brother has had eye issues including a cornea transplant.  Freak out because your eye is connected to your brain.  Freak out because...heck, I kinda like seeing things in color.  (Note: With both eyes open, I retained all color as my right eye is dominant.)

Fast forward past my immediate optometrist appointment..."I need to refer you for further testing because I can't find anything wrong with your eye. Go see this neuro-opthalmologist ASAP."  Cue second freak out: neuro=brain.  

Enter neuro-opthalmologist office at the highly regarded University of Houston Eye Institute and MS Eye Care.  After 6+ hours of testing (and by testing, I mean eye prodding, dilating, electrode pulsing, wires through eyes, bright lights, painful drops, etc) my doctors let me know they want me to proceed immediately to an MRI of my brain and optic nerve because all of my eye tests are COMPLETELY NORMAL.  

A few days later and after a $2500 deductible, I'm just as radiated and x-rayed as they can get.  

A few days after that, doctor informs me that my MRI was NOT normal.  "You've got lesions and white spots in your brain as well as a few black holes.  It's all very small but this is indicative of multiple sclerosis OR can be caused by your migraines.  We are thinking it's your migraines but need further testing.  Don't leave here today thinking you have MS."  (Doctor then proceeds to slip a disc into my hand entitled "NEXT STEPS: What to do when you've been newly diagnosed with MS."  Um...YOU JUST SAID DON'T LEAVE HERE THINKING YOU HAVE MS.  Are you a doctor or a con-artist?)  "Also, don't do any research online.  But if you do, only visit this website: NMSS.  We'll be in contact after scheduling more tests for you."

Pause...get on your knees.  Ask for help.  Multiple sclerosis?!  I'm 26 years old.  (Most are diagnosed in their late 20s-early 30s.)  How do I deal with this?  (Visit ONLY NMSS to research.)  What will happen for the rest of my life?  (Only 1/3 of patients end up in wheelchairs.)  How did I get it?  (There is no known cause and no cure.)  

Without diving into too much detail about the other happenings of life at that time, mainly how down-hill things were going at school, through much prayer, I was brought to a great place of thanksgiving to God for putting this distraction in my life exactly when He did.  The possibility of having multiple sclerosis BLESSED (yes, I said blessed) my life by opening my eyes to what was truly important to me and what God wanted me to focus on.  Remember this post?  It was written in the midst of all of my praying and considering what my life might be like.  God brought me to one conclusion: If this was the path that He had for my life, then may I carry my cross with dignity and may I suffer well.

Wait, don't think I'm done visiting doctors.  I was sent to a color vision specialist (who diagnosed a yellow-blue color blindness), a post doctoral fellow (who tested my rods and cones), and MANY doctors who stuck wired electrodes through my eyes to test how responsive my retina was.  Other than the color vision test, everything came back normal.  NORMAL ISN'T GOOD IN THIS SITUATION.  The fact that my eye was normal upped the chances that there was an issue with my optic nerve leading towards an MS diagnosis.  

"We need you to see a neurologist when you get to Austin.  They will be the ones that read your MRI again and can provide a diagnosis."

I had a bit of a breakdown.  I didn't WANT MS.  I didn't want to carry this cross.  I wanted to have a normal life.  I didn't want to be on meds forever.  God came through for me again.  He gave me strength through others in my life who prayed for me, encouraged me and even talked to me about what having MS would be like.  

Last Monday, June 27th (my half-birthday, none-the-less) I went to the neurologist in Austin with my mom and Dan.  It was the day I would know how the rest of my life would be.  The night before, I had sent an e-mail to my family of prayer warriors and asked them to specifically pray that the doctor would NOT find evidence of MS in my MRI and would not be able to diagnose me with it.  I was specific...God wants to know the inner-most desires of your heart.  After gladly spending an hour with us, explaining my scans, listening to my symptoms and doing a few tests of his own, my neurologist said it.  "I would bet you $100 that you don't have MS."  Cue TEARS OF JOY.  "There are a few areas of your scan that are a bit questionable but there is nothing to support a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis at this time.  Your diagnosis is optic neuritis.  Without pronounced lesions, you have an 18-22% chance of developing MS in your life."  

The night before, I was specific in my prayers and God chose to answer them the way I asked and the way He had it planned all along.  God used the past 4 months of my life to break me down and build me back up.  You better believe that He increased my obedience to Him and showed me that my life IS NOT MINE.  I am so thankful for the way God provided strength both for me and my family at this time.  I am so thankful He chose to answer my specific prayer with a YES.  I am so thankful for my friends and family that supported me through this.  God showed me an undeserved grace and provision and continues to do a good work in my life.  

(Where do I go from here?  I have to get another MRI in October to closely monitor those questionable spots in my brain and then each year thereafter for the next five or so years.  My neurologist assured me that if it does develop into MS, that I should have no worries.  MS is a highly researched disease and there are new treatments every year.  The color loss in my left eye is likely permanent and there is no way to reverse it.  There is no treatment for optic neuritis as well.  There is nothing that I can do medically to prevent the MS from developing...but there is something I can do...pray...and I will.)  

Friday, July 1, 2011

Beware: Major Time Sucking Black Hole

The other day my sister in law sent me this website.  Have you heard of Craftgawker?  Do NOT click on the link unless you have endless amounts of time to drool over the crafts and wish you had an ounce of the talent these crafters do.  (I, unfortunately, do not.)  With the amount of time I spend on Craftgawker and watching Weeds on Netflix, you would think I was a teacher on summer vacation or something...

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Houston, TX, United States
Wife, Second Grade Teacher, Doggie Mom, Child of God, Saved by Grace

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