Wednesday, October 23, 2013

my little house of dreams

I moved two months ago, to a cute little place nearer to school. I fell in love with this house and neighborhood at first sight and knew I wanted to live there before I even saw inside.

(My house is the one with the wreath on the door.) I had butterflies in my stomach for the next few weeks until I found out I really would get to live here. This area is much more neighbor-friendly than where I previously lived, at a busy intersection. And the neighbors here have been so welcoming to me. I love the fact that the street is pretty much lined with kids and that they play in the school lot across from my house. 

During the month of September a fabulous girl named Sharon lived with me. How should I describe that month? We had many delightful adventures (living rather recklessly since she was only here for a month) and also had splendid times within in the four walls of our little abode. To quote Sharon, "Who knew a 15-foot slice of Baltimore could hold so much happiness?" :) Here's a picture of the two of us.

We had a lot of fun setting up the house together.  I'll give you a quick tour of the house, so far. :) It's a work in progress. My new housemate, Samantha, and I are hoping to do some painting in the near future.

Welcome! :)

One side of the living room....

My sister made beautiful pillows for the couch.

The green balls were a fun yard sale find.

My love for this house was solidified the first time I stood in the little bedroom that I now occupy and saw this when I looked out the window. I love living in the middle of the city.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

These Days

I've been enjoying a lovely break this summer. Although I'm still working five days a week, I haven't been nearly as busy as during the school year. We have a fairly low number of students, so most days Darla and I can both take multiple breaks...unheard of during the school year! I also only have to do lesson plans during the week. On my breaks I have had the chance to think about next year in a relaxed manner...such a blessing. I've enjoyed pittering around in my new classroom, putting things in order and adding a few special touches. I still have a ways to go though, and before I know it, there will be no more time to pitter around and lots of deadlines to meet! 

We have a lovely bunch of kiddos for Discovery Club, our summer program. They are ethnically diverse and each one amazing. Of course they have their moments, but lots of the time they interact with each other in the sweetest ways. I am excited that several of them will be my students in the fall!

It's been a year (minus a few weeks) since I moved to Baltimore. I can truly say that I love it here. In many ways God has given me more than I ever dreamed or asked for. It is not that everything here is completely what I dreamed of, but in some ways it is more, and in the ways I find myself longing for more, I am reminded that we were created for heaven. 

This afternoon was simply lovely. We three teachers enjoyed a walk along the harbor at Fells Point with Nathan and Faith Zook and their family. Nathan and Faith live in D.C. but attend our church regularly. Nathan used to live in Baltimore and is a wonderful tour guide! I had never been to Fells Point before and enjoyed it thoroughly. The air was breezy and perfect, the sky a brilliant blue and the water so refreshing. Here are a few pictures from our walk.

Aah...I love the smell of water.

Here is the Domino Sugar plant across the water. You can see a ship beside the plant, probably bringing in sugarcane.

Katrina and I opted to return home by public transportation, so we walked to the metro station near the Inner Harbor. On the way we decided to check out the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse.

We were able to go inside and look around!

We walked past this amazing mural...

We transferred to Light Rail from Metro, and just because I don't think I have any, I snapped a few photos of the trains going by.

I know, I looked like a tourist from Lancaster County, but I'm not. I love spending days like today exploring my city! I do it too rarely. I hope to go back to Fells Point soon and explore some of the fun shops.

Maybe I will post again soon. A big maybe, but I hope so. I want to share pictures of my classroom after it's all ready for school. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

sugar and spice...and roses

Several weeks ago Darla, Katrina, and I hosted a Valentine's teaparty...

 The girls had fun drawing, cutting, playing with stickers and tape...

...making Valentines for some of their favorite people (How fun is it to have your beloved aunt as your teacher??!)

...eating cupcakes!!

....playing games

....and decorating their own cookies to take home.

I love these girls so much! I am sure they teach me more than I teach them. I love their energy, their delight in simple things, their helpfulness and their sweet friendships with each other.

Today one of my sweet preschoolers brought me roses!!

I am so blessed.

Monday, January 14, 2013

the lifeline of thanks

"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)

I've lived through days that I wished weren't true and I know this is true.

That giving thanks is not only a commandment but a lifeline for a child of God. Sometimes thanksgiving is the only way I can find to connect to God. I've driven to work with tears streaming down my face and feeling so far from God and the only words I could say at all were "Thank You" for everything I could see.

Sometimes on the good days it is easier for me to forget to give thanks. Before I know what is happening, I've lost close communion with God because I am living like a greedy child, loving and hoarding the gifts but not giving thanks to the Giver.

Friends, if you haven't read One Thousand Gifts, please do. It's been on the New York Times bestseller list for weeks, but it's not overrated. I especially love the gift book, Selections from One Thousand Gifts. It's easy to find my favorite lines from One Thousand Gifts in this compact edition where they are paired with stunning photographs. During the darkest days of my life, I held onto my Bible, my journal and pen, and this beautiful little book.

This is one thing I hope to encourage and cultivate in my preschoolers....a heart of gratitude. Because I know that giving thanks is a lifeline and these kids in this world are going to need that if they're going to hang onto any faith at all....especially some of them. They must be convinced that the heart of God is good. They need to know that He is bigger than everything impossible and terrible and horribly twisted. And if they remember that every good thing comes from Him, they'll remember His goodness.

That's why I love so much to hear them pray prayers like this: "Dear Jesus, thank You for the popcorn and the grapes and the cantaloupe. Thank You for our friends, and thank You for our school. Thank You that we can have a happy day. In Jesus' Name. Amen."

or this...."Thank You for the lunch and thank You that You that You love us and thank You for this entire earth. Thank You for the milk and for the cities and the buses."

All praise to God!

My thanks list today....

~sweetest preschool girlfriends, one English-speaking and tall with gorgeous blonde curls, the other petite with dark hair and eyes and Chinese-speaking, both of them so perfect

~the most wonderful coworkers I could ask for

~city lights glistening on rain-washed city streets

~my warm winter coat 

~an encouraging sermon and beautiful worship music yesterday morning, giving me courage for another week

~my family and friends in PA, wonderful enough to miss so much

~all the little faces smiling on my walls, my fridge, in picture frames

~that I can trust His goodness "The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works." -Psalm 145:17 (ESV)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

just a few reasons why I love urban living

1. Cultural experiences....I enjoy being around and interacting with people of different ethnicities and cultures on a daily basis. God made people so beautifully diverse!

2. Exercising is an essential part of my daily routine. To get to work and back, I walk 1.2 miles per day, and many days I walk somewhere else as well. Another thing I love about walking is that I recognize more and more people in the neighborhood whom I cross paths with as I am walking.

3. It is possible to experience the freedom of not having a car! I love it. No insurance bills, no accelerated heartbeat when you check the sign at the gas station. No car appointments.

4. So many invitations to talk about Jesus! I get asked anything from "What religion are you?" to "Are you Pilgrims?", and comments range from, "God bless you, sisters!" to "I always love the Jewish people." :)

5. Public transit! I love that I can travel anywhere in this entire city that the metro, Light Rail, or city bus runs,  all day long, for only $3.50. I feel perhaps the most a part of my new neighborhood/city when I ride the Light Rail or bus. Figuring out the bus system is an excellent way to learn how the streets run and to meet interesting people.

Case in point: Last night Katrina and I went on adventure downtown. On the way home we caught the bus, which arrived 30 minutes late. Partway home the bus driver stopped the bus next to a shopping plaza and told us, "Sorry, I have to use the restroom, I'll be right back." After scolding a passenger (who appeared to be in some state of influence) for spilling his McDonald's milkshake over the floor, she exited the bus. Another passenger decided to take advantage of the opportunity and dashed to a restaurant in the plaza. The milkshake-spilling passenger exited the bus in an angry huff.

A few minutes later, bus driver and restaurant-going passenger returned to the bus. As she began to drive, she called back to us, "Does anyone know how this route runs? Can you tell me where to turn?" Two gentlemen sitting near Katrina and me graciously helped her out...I was even able to assist a bit! One of the gentlemen joked that he would tell her how to get to his house. :)

Katrina and I arrived back feeling entertained and a bit more native. :)

6. On rainy days like today, umbrellas are more romantic than windshield wipers. Just saying.