Thursday, May 22, 2008

With Hope...

I heard this morning about Steven Curtis Chapman's family experiencing deep tragedy yesterday evening. His youngest daughter, Maria, was struck down in their driveway by one of his sons as he was backing out. Maria was transported to the hospital, where she died of her injuries. My heart broke after hearing this. I have grown up listening to SCC's music, but have recently been inspired by him and his wife MaryBeth's heart for adoption and their ministry, Shaohannah's Hope, founded to help families fund international adoptions after they adopted their daughter Shaohannah from China. They had three China babies- Shaohannah, Stevey Joy, and Maria. I cannot imagine the pain and loss this family is experiencing. I only know that my prayer is that the same God who called Maria to her eternal home is holding each member of the Chapman family in his perfect, loving, gentle hands. As I read on a blog this morning, let us not forget to pray for her older brother, that (to borrow words from this other blog) he would not believe the lies the enemy will try to tell him surrounding this situation. God, in His ever perfect plan, knew Maria's every day before she even found her "forever family" in the Chapmans. May he give them his peace, hope, and grace as they walk through this time together. On SCC's album Speechless, he dedicated a song- "With Hope"- to the families of those killed in the 1997 Paducah, KY school shooting at his own alma mater. The words to this song have given ME hope at many times, and I can only pray them back over the Chapman family.

This is not at all how
We thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you've gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain; the pain of losing you, but ...
We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope (There's a place by God's grace)
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again
And never have I known
Anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more
The wisdom of God's plan
But through the cloud of tears
I see the Father smile and say well done
And I imagine you
Where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
'Cause now you're home
And now you're free, and ...
We have this hope as an anchor
'Cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true, so ...
So we can cry with hope
And say goodbye with hope
We wait with hope
And we ache with hope
We hold on with hope
We let go with hope

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Graduation- A New Beginning

Graduation for Zachary is Friday night. As a teacher, I am required to attend this joyous occasion. I would go anyway...  "my" kids are graduating.

Zachary High is one of the few places I know that requires faculty attendance- and gives them a specific "duty location" at the ceremony. Some people are "on duty" in the foyer of the church- deterring parents/boyfriends/grandparents from bringing balloons, flowers, and noisemakers into the sanctuary. ("We have the most dignified ceremony in the Baton Rouge area... including some of the universities."-- When our guidance counselor says this, it's true!) Some people are "on duty" at various locations throughout the sanctuary- keeping traffic at the entrance/exits flowing, preventing parents from getting in the aisle to take pictures (therefore blocking someone else's parent's view). I am lucky every year- my "duty" is to be in the back with the seniors before graduation, making sure everyone has their tassel on their cap, isn't chewing gum, doesn't have a non-school-approved facial piercing, etc. It's that one last chance to talk to these kids before they graduate high school and open a new chapter of their lives!

This year will be hard.  I've taught seniors all three years I've been at Zachary, but for some reason, this year has been the hardest year to "let go."  These kids are special!  They're amazingly talented, intelligent, wonderful young adults with SO many great things in their futures!  They have changed my life forever- taught me so much about myself. Every year I lose seniors, it's hard, but this year has been worse than ever! I think being a "mom" now, I just saw my students in a different light.  I saw them more for the potential they have and less as just "my students."  God blessed me with the calling to be a teacher.  I only hope that somehow, I have been able to truly "be Christ" in some small way.  

So Friday night, I will watch "my babies" graduate.  I will watch them as they experience the range of emotions that high school graduation brings (funny, looking back, it's amazing the way we change and grow between high school graduation and the 4 or 5 years following high school).  I'm not teaching seniors next year, and I am almost relieved about that, because I think teaching seniors carries so much responsibility!  I have loved every minute of this year (highs and lows and in-betweens), and I am thankful for the 21 members of the Class of 2008 who have forever impacted my life.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Defining moments...

I am...
a wife, mother, daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, aunt, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, cousin, friend, teacher at Zachary High, member of the Ring Community Church, daughter of the King (therefore making me a princess!), reader, singer, reality-t.v.-watcher, chocolate lover, dog owner, steak-and-potatoes or sushi (not raw!) eater, scrapbooker, blogger, quirky, random, quiet, loud, content, loved, moody.... and above all else, BLESSED!

Defining myself is not an easy thing! (Try it! I'm willing to bet it's not terribly easy for YOU, either!)  There are a few things that I think define me more than others.  It's funny, at different stages in your life- and even in different situations- some definitions "fit" better than others.  I think, right now, I could best be defined as "Parker's mom," simply since having a 9 and a half month old seems to take up lots of time.  I truly love being defined as "Trent's wife" because I am truly PROUD to be married to him.  I would not be who I am AT ALL were it not for the fact that I'm "Chuck and Jean's daughter"-- they truly raised me in a Godly home with a great example of what God's love looks like.  It also makes me INCREDIBLY proud to be known as "Carlee's sister," mostly because I am so proud of the beautiful young woman Carlee has become!  My grandparents are awesome, Trent's family is amazing, my aunts and uncles and cousins are some of the best you could ever ask for.  

I have unbelievably amazing friends, especially Rebecca (my best friend since the summer after 8th grade), Erica (my closest work friend and mentor),  and Tiff (boy am I glad our husbands were friends).  I am unbelievably blessed to teach at Zachary High School, and at this point in the year, being a teacher definitely defines me as well.  I have really grown to love and appreciate our "family" at the Ring, and I am so grateful for the prayer support and friends we have there.  

Hands down, my relationship with God (and having been adopted by Him through his amazing grace) would be the thing that has changed my life the most.  It is that "defining trait" that affects every other aspect of my life.  Oh, how I fail miserably in so many ways.  Fortunately, God's grace is never-ending, and he takes my weaknesses as opportunities to show off HIS strength in my life.

Name Game

I had been thinking for a while about starting a new blog, one to separate just my random thoughts from updates on Parker.  Sunday night, while the band was leading worship at our church, the Ring, they played the Leeland song "Yes You Have," and it really struck me (once again).  This song was the "springboard" for the title of my blog.  Here are the lyrics:

Every tree and every stone; Every rushing wind that moans
They sing your praise; My God, they sing your praise
Every star and open sky tell of your glory divine
They shout your praise; They shout your praise, yeah

You've stolen my heart;  Yes you have
You've stolen my heart;  Yes you have
Wiped away the stains; broke away the chains
Oh yes you have

With your love you set me free; three nails gave me liberty
So I'll sing your praise; My God, I'll sing your praise
Oh, with your love you forgave my sin;
Forgot my past and brought me back again
So I'll sing Your praise; I'll sing Your praise, yeah

If I ascend into the sky or hide behind the night
I cannot run, your love is chasing me
If I fall into the sea, Your hand will rescue me
No one will take Your place because

This is all for You
Yes, this is all for You
You're the King of the World...

As I read through these lyrics, I thought that this would be an appropriate title for my blog.  Not only has God stolen my heart, my husband, daughter, parents, sister, in-laws, students, friends, etc. have stolen my heart as well.  Some of the things close to my heart are more trivial than others (like books, t.v. shows, food, etc.), but this blog is a reflection of just that-- my heart.