Monday, September 24, 2012


I've started reading through Kay Arthur's Lord, I Want to Know You again as part of my Bible study each morning. Inscribed on the first page of my copy is the date of the last time I read through this book, August 2007. As I'm reading about God's character, and specifically His sovereignty, I can't help but smile at the thoughts and reflections I recorded 5 years ago. How I was struggling with college and my relationship with my parents, how I longed for a dating relationship with the person He had for me, how I struggled with body image.

Looking back, 5 years seems so short. Sure, 5 years from now seems like forever, although time feels like it's getting faster the older I get, but viewing them in hindsight, 5 years are a mere fleeting moment.

I'm overwhelmed this morning with all God has done in 5 years. I not only survived college, I thrived there, and enjoyed every minute of it. I started dating my now husband, got engaged, got married, and have already celebrated a 2 year anniversary! I got a job doing what I love, going on my third year now. We bought a house, we got a cat, I went from 0 cars to 2, I have a great relationship with my family and new extended family, I'm healthier than I've ever been, we have a great church family, friends...and the list can go on and on and on.

Oh praise HIM for His perfect plan and timing, His sovereignty, and His many blessings! And may this strengthen my faith to trust Him for the next 5 years so that when I come again to this book, I can look back and rejoice even more at all He has done.

Praise Him!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Childlike Faith

Yesterday afternoon during six year old G's lesson, we heard the siren of an emergency vehicle pass by on the road outside. We paused for a moment and before we started back into learning a new song, G looked up at me and asked, "Can we pray? I always pray when I hear a siren." Touched by his heartfelt compassion, I invited him to lead us in prayer. He bowed his little blonde head and prayed, "Dear God, if that was an ambulance, please help the person inside who is sick. If that was a fire engine, please help the firemen who are rushing to help the people in need. And thank you for the policemen who catch the robbers. Amen."

In this brief moment of an everyday lesson, I was challenged and encouraged by the clear picture of G's childlike faith in his Father God. It reminded me that I always need to come to my Father no matter what the situation, no matter where I am, trusting that He hears and will answer.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


First, a sobering article about America's projected future health and wellness.

Second, an inspiring video about a man who didn't let physical ailments or doctor's predictions stop him from getting healthy and gaining his life back.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Healthy Habit Highlight for Friday

Let's face it. You don't always have time to cook healthy meals at home. Sometimes you just have to eat out and even if you're trying to lose weight, you can be successful eating out while losing weight at the same time! So today, I'm going to highlight some of my favorite places where I've been able to eat out successfully.

Fast Food
One of my favorite places to grab a quick meal, Chick-fil-a has several healthy options. Some of my favorites include the Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich (290 calories, only 4 grams of fat, and 7 Weight Watchers points), the 8-count Chicken Nuggets (260 calories and 7 WW points), the Chargrilled Chicken Garden Salad (only 160 calories, 4 grams of fiber, and only 5 WW points...pair it with 2 tbsp of their Light Italian dressing for 0 WW points), and the Large Chicken Soup (220 calories and 6 WW points). Now what would Chick-fil-a be without Waffle Fries? A small Waffle Fries is 300 calories, 16 grams of fat, and 7 WW points, but as long as you budget for them, go for it! But all in moderation. *smile*

What would the world be without the myriad of Subways that line our streets? I love Subway! There are so many healthy options and ways to get in your fruits and veggies. My go to subs are the 6-inch Black Forest Ham on 9-grain Wheat (221 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, and 7 WW points), the 6-inch Turkey Breast on 9-grain Wheat (221 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, and 7 WW points), and the 6-inch Turkey Breast and Black Forest Ham on 9-grain Wheat (221 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 7 WW points). Add cheese to any of these for only 1 WW point, and LOAD UP ON THE VEGGIES. Stay away from the mayo, vinegar and oil, ranch, etc., and opt for spicy brown mustard instead.

Cafe Style
Panera is full of delicious breads and pastries, yes, but they also have several healthy salad and soup options. Also, you can get an apple as a side instead of chips or bread. There are so many options to choose from, that I'll only highlight one. Try a You Pick Two combo with All Natural Low Fat Chicken Noodle Soup and a Greek Salad with dressing for a total of 380 calories and 11 WW points.

Dine In
Ruby Tuesday:
On top of their fantastic, fresh Garden Bar (just avoid fatty dressings and pasta salads, etc) that comes with most of their meals, Ruby Tuesday has several meals 500 calories or less! Called their "Fit and Trim Choices", their are vegetarian, seafood, chicken, and steak options. I had the Spaghetti Squash Marinara, which was delicious and filling. I was only able to eat half of my dish, along with a salad from the Garden Bar, so I had healthy leftovers for lunch the next day! And the whole dish was only 6 WW points! Win, win!

It is entirely possible to eat well when you eat out. By making smart choices, checking nutritional information on a restaurant's website beforehand (if possible), and having a game plan/strategy before you step foot in the restaurant, you can enjoy a meal out without blowing your diet!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Think You Can't Eat Chocolate? Think Again!

Chocolate. What would our lives be without it?

One of the things I love about Weight Watchers is the freedom to really eat what you want even though you're on a "diet". Weight Watchers is all about budgeting your points to eat the things you love and still lose weight. It gives you the freedom to eat chocolate and desserts, even if those things are higher in point value. To balance my sweet tooth and need to spend my points wisely, I've found some delicious desserts that are lower in point value while still packing that beloved chocolatey taste.

Skinny Cow Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Sandwich
Only 4 WW points per sandwich AND a good source of calcium and fiber!

 Jell-O Sugar Free Pudding Snacks
Only 2 WW points per cup! This is a great way to get that chocolatey taste without all the calories and sugar. Try dipping fresh strawberries in the pudding for a fondue-inspired dessert! Or, if you're a caramel fan like me, try the Dulce de Leche flavor!

Breyers Fat Free Smooth and Dreamy French Chocolate Ice Cream
Only 2 WW points per half cup serving! I was skeptical at first of the taste and texture of this ice cream, but you would never know it was fat free! Try pairing it with their Fat Free Strawberry flavor for a delicious combination.

 Newton's Fruit Thins Chocolate Raspberry Cookies
4 WW points for 3 cookies! These are crunchy, delicious, and make you feel like you can eat a lot for a little. Try their other delicious flavors like Cranberry Citrus Oat and Blueberry Brown Sugar.

It is doable, people, to eat what you love and still lose weight! It's doable to choose smarter options and get more bang for your buck!

Enjoy your weekend, and happy chocolate consuming!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Biblical Motivation for Weight Loss

Happy Friday all!

To those of you who are watching your waistlines, like I am, I want to share some verses from Romans my mom shared with me when I began my weight loss journey. I have read these verses several times before, but never in the light of working out and eating right.

"So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh - for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, 'Abba! Father!'" 
Romans 8:12-15

As a Christian, this is really the motivation behind why I want to lose weight. It's not so that I'll look skinnier, fit into smaller sized clothes, or be able to run a marathon. It's ultimately about putting to death the deeds of the flesh - essentially saying "no" to giving in to the wants of my flesh and saying "yes" to the self-control of the Holy Spirit. Another passage comes to mind.

"All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body...Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." 
1 Corinthians 6:12-13, 19-20

As believers saved by the power of Christ, we should never become controlled by our appetites, and this includes our appetites for food. God has richly blessed us with all things that we need for life and godliness, including food, but we should never let food become an idol in our lives. Our flesh desperately wants to gain control over us in any way possible. Have you ever considered that overeating and laziness could be considered disobedience to God? I'm not saying that you can never eat chocolate again or that you can't sit on the couch and watch TV (which is actually what I'm doing as I write this), but I'm encouraging you to think about eating right and exercising as obedience to God.

Be careful to avoid extremes. Just as we can go overboard with how much we eat, we can go overboard with how little we eat. Don't take this as me saying you should never eat again and exercise yourself to exhaustion. That's called an eating disorder and you need to get help if you find yourself in that boat. 

All I'm saying is that, as I've gone through almost 2 months now of a healthy diet and regular exercise, I've begun to look at it with more spiritual eyes. I'm learning to gain self-control over my body and mind. I'm learning to eat with balance and moderation, instead of eating according to feelings. I'm learning to make myself exercise even when I don't feel like it. And what I'm learning in this area of my life, transfers to other areas of my life as well. I'm learning to be more disciplined with my sleep schedule, with my housework, with things like blogging and journaling, etc. 

Let me encourage you, if I can do and learn all this, so can you. But more importantly, if you are a child of God and have the Holy Spirit inside of you, then by His mighty power, you can succeed in disciplining your mind and body, in caring for His temple, in glorifying God with your body, in mortifying the deeds of the flesh. 

Don't let food be your master. Don't return to a spirit of slavery. You have been bought with a price, and with that purchase you have received ALL the power you need to succeed. Therefore, glorify God with your body!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Have Some Compassion

Remember this-a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving-the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.
2 Corinthians 9:6-14

During the fall of our first year of marriage, David and I felt compelled to establish a pattern of faithfulness to God with our money and to trust that He would always provide all we needed to act in obedience to His Word. My husband is one of the most numbers-oriented people I know. He's extremely careful with our money and expenses. But he's also one of the most generous people I know, desiring to give back to the Lord, others, and to me. 

So with all this in mind, and at the urging of some close friends, we decided to sponsor two children through the child sponsorship ministry of Compassion International. It was so difficult to choose from the many deserving and needy children on Compassion's website. But through much prayer and contemplation, God led us to two children from Ghana, Priscilla and Emmanuel, both around 10 years of age. 

It is amazing how much of a relationship we've been able to build with them in just over a year. I don't think we realize how well-off we are and how much just a little money each month can literally change and save lives. How a letter from overseas can encourage their hearts and let them know they are special and worth it in an environment of poverty and hopelessness. How a sheet of stickers that probably cost less than a dime can brighten their day. How they are being grown in the knowledge and Word of God through our support and Compassion's faithful ministry.

Praise be to God! He has so faithfully provided for us to continue our sponsorship even though our culture would look at David and I and say, "You can't afford that! You have a mortgage and bills. You're middle class at best. You need to leave some for yourself, what about the future, etc." But we believe the passage from 2 Corinthians above, that God will provide abundantly for us so that we can provide abundantly for others, even if we aren't what our culture would classify as "rich". 

I'd like to share with you some excerpts from letters from Priscilla...
"I pray that God will help you and your family to have a peaceful life."
"I also lead morning devotion at school."
"At the project, I lead in worship and praises, and read the Word of God."
"At church, I read the Bible, sing, and lead in worship."
"I thank you for what you have done for me and for taking me as your own child." 

Sadly, I am no longer able to support Priscilla. For financial reasons, her parents sent her to live with an aunt in a region of Ghana where Compassion has not yet established centers. As disappointing as this is, the effects of the child sponsorship program can be profoundly felt in her departing letter to me, written by the coordinator of her center:
"She wants to thank you so much for all the gifts and your words of encouragement. She has benefited (from Compassion) from the healthcare, and lessons from the Curriculum, and most especially letting her know about God. She prays that God bless you and protect you from the works of the evil one. She also prays that whatever you have given or spent on her, God should replenish in hundred folds by His grace."

I am now supporting Safyatou, a 7 year old girl from Burkina Faso. In her first letter to me, she wrote:
"Hi! I write you to thank you very much for all. Pray for me I'll be the best in my classroom. I am learning songs at the center and praising Jesus. Do you like singing?"

I cannot encourage you enough to check out Compassion. Not only can you make a huge difference in the life of a child, but I know that I have been grown and changed by both Priscilla and Safyatou. Receiving a letter from one of them brings the biggest smile to my face and joy to my heart. God is using me, only by His grace and through His provision, to change their lives and He is using them to change mine. 

Don't think you can afford it? Don't have time to write letters? Don't underestimate what God can do!

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. 
Ephesians 2:8-10

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Fuzzy Valentine

Happy Valentines Day all! Whether you are single, dating, engaged, or married, remember this MOST important thing, "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God and such we are" (1 John 3:1). Praise God for His love and the gift of His Son!

And, whether you are single or not on this Valentines Day, it always helps to have a fuzzy friend to make your day warmer and brighter. So Happy Valentines Day to my "fuzzy" Valentine!

"My fuzzy Valentine, sweet comic Valentine, You make me smile with my heart...But don't change a hair for me, Not if you care for me, Stay little Valentine stay, Each day is Valentines Day."

Happy Valentines Day! Check out my post on The Marriage Files.

"No more pictures, please."

Monday, February 13, 2012

Recipe Reviews

Since starting on Weight Watchers, I've been trying my hand at several new recipes. Filling, yet healthy and low calorie recipes. Cooking Light has been a fantastic resource for me. I'd like to share with you some of my favorites from the past few weeks.

Spinach, Pasta, and Pea Soup
Only 7 WW points for 1 and 3/4 cups of soup! The chickpeas and spinach make this dish super filling, even though it's vegetarian. Delicious, warm soup for these cold winter days!

Chicken and Herb White Pizza
1/6 of this filling, delicious pizza is only 9 WW points. Plus you'll have lots of leftovers for future meals and, if you use a rotisserie chicken, you can use half of the meat for the pizza and use the rest for another meal.

Pork Chops with Caribbean Rub and Mango Salsa
This is one of my favorite recipes of the new ones I've tried. A whole 6-oz chop and 1/4 cup of salsa is only 5 WW points! Plus, it's super flavorful, delicious, and your kitchen will smell wonderful. Pair this with some fresh green beans or a spinach salad for a filling, low point/calorie meal.

Linguine with Easy Meat Sauce
If you're looking for a quick dinner or to use up that last little bit of ground beef you found in the back of your freezer, then look no further for a delicious, flavorful, and filling meal. At only 8 WW points a serving, this recipe literally took me 15 minutes to make. Heat up some frozen or canned veggies in the microwave and you have yourself a fast and easy meal. I didn't have linguine, so I used sea shell pasta instead, but any kind of pasta will work for this recipe.

Classic Meat Loaf
If you're looking for a lightened-up meatloaf recipe, this one does pretty well. At only 7 WW points for TWO slices of meatloaf, you get a lot of bang for your buck. Not the moistest meatloaf I've ever had, but this meatloaf was still able to pack a flavorful punch and, paired with some 0 point veggies, I was able to eat a lot for a little. I used regular breadcrumbs instead of panko.

Cheesy Potato Soup
Another delicious, warm soup for winter nights. 6 WW points for 1 cup. Easy to make with ingredients you probably already have on hand. Serve with homemade whole wheat bread for a satisfying supper.

Maple-Mustard Glazed Chicken
This recipe is so delicious and easy to make ahead of time. 6 WW points for a 6-oz chicken breast. Really flavorful and easy to pair with some fresh or frozen veggies for a relatively quick and easy meal.

Chicken Enchiladas
This recipe is much more hands on, but the end result is incredibly worth it. These enchiladas were so flavorful from the poached chicken to the cream cheese to all the fresh veggies. 7 WW points for 2 enchiladas. If you're feeling up to a challenge, then make this recipe. Everyone will thank you for it!

*If you have leftover liquid after you've poached the chicken and made the sauce, hang onto it and try my Mexican Vegetable Tortilla Soup. This recipe was basically born from ingredients in my fridge I needed to use up!
Start with the reserved cooking liquid/remaining sauce or:
4 c water
2 c fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 c salsa verde
1 jalapeno pepper, halved
1/4 c regular whipping cream
Combine water, chicken broth, salsa verde, and jalapeno in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over med-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 min. Reduce heat to low; stir in cream. Remove jalapeno and discard.
Then add your veggies. You can follow what I did or create your own combination.
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 med onion, chopped
1/2 bunch of broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 zucchini, chopped
2 each mini red, yellow, and orange sweet bell peppers, chopped
1 can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 T olive oil
In a large skillet, heat oil. Add onion and garlic, saute till soft. Add broccoli, zucchini, and peppers; cook 5 min. Add tomatoes and broth.
Next, add in your spices. Play around with this to get the flavor/spicy level you like best.
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 t ground cumin, or to taste
1/8 t chili powder, or to taste
Add to veggies and broth; cover and simmer 10 min.
While the soup is heating thoroughly, make the topping.
8-12 corn tortillas, cut into strips and baked at 350 degrees for about 10 min
1/2 c lowfat Mexican blend shredded cheese
Divide soup evenly between 4 bowls. Sprinkle each bowl with a fourth of the toasted tortilla strips and 2 T of cheese. Garnish with cilantro if desired.
Serves: 4 (1 1/2 c and 1/4 topping)
WW points: 7

Bon appetit!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly...or The Funny, The Unexpected, and The Unruly

Having taught piano at Dawson Music Academy for almost 2 years now, I feel like I've seen it all. Hilarious comments, surprising reasons kids couldn't make their lessons, and kids (or parents!) who I just wanted to send to the principle's office (if only we had one!). My friend Laura, who also teaches piano, always tells me that I have a story for everything, so allow me to recount some of my favorites.

The Funny:
1.) Elizabeth first came to me in the Spring of 2011. This spunky 6 year old always keeps me laughing, from the way she tells me stories, always interrupting herself with "You know what?", to her reaction when she makes a mistake, stopping and saying, "I mean" before fixing every note. My absolute favorite moment with Elizabeth was shortly after she had started lessons. We were reviewing the dynamic symbols (loud and soft), and when I pointed to the symbol for the loud dynamic, f, I asked her what it was called. "Farte," she replied. Trying not to burst out laughing, I replied, "That's right! But we pronounce it 'Forte'." "I know," she said, "but I like to call it 'Farte'."
2.) Logan, a wriggly, enthusiastic 5 year old, started taking lessons with me last fall. For all of my students, I photocopy practice sheets or charts so they can keep track of how much they practice each week. I had been copying them on different colored papers, and I asked Logan one day which color he would like to see next. "Pink," he replied. "Really, pink?" I asked. "Are you going through a pink phase?" I added jokingly. He looked at me very seriously and said, "Yes, I am."
3.) Aidan is one of the students I've connected with the best and we usually joke around and laugh a lot in his lessons. At his lesson after Halloween last fall, I asked Aidan, who is 9, if he had had a good Halloween. "I got 18 pounds of candy!" he replied. Shocked, I asked him, "Where did you go?" "Well, I first went to Hoover, and then Vestavia...and then I changed costumes and went back again! I have pillowcases full of candy!" 
4.) Sweet little Madeline, age 5, just started taking lessons with me. I enjoyed teaching her at her first lesson and knew that we were a good fit for each other. As she was walking out with her mom, I heard her say, "That was fun, Mom!" That just made my day!

The Unexpected:
1.) Do you remember that feeling when you were a kid of getting lost in the supermarket and not being able to find your parents? Now imagine that feeling multiplied because your parents are divorced and you're brought to and taken from your piano lessons by a variety of different people including your parents and grandparents. Mandy is one of my new students who I inherited from a different teacher. Of all the students I've taught, she is the hardest one to figure out. She's very quiet, but not shy quiet. She hunches at the piano, doesn't practice nearly enough, and acts like she just doesn't care. She's the most sarcastic and occasionally disrespectful 10 year old I think I've ever met. I have a hard time being patient with her and loving the unlovely in her. So after a frustrating lesson this week, I was glad to see her go. Not ten minutes later, as I was waiting on my next student, Mandy came back into my room sobbing.  I had never seen her so visibly upset or obviously emotional. "What's wrong?" I asked in alarm. "I think she left me," she replied, speaking of her grandmother who had brought her that day. By the grace of God, I had been standing by the window while I was waiting, and happened to see the grandmother pull out of the parking lot without Mandy and then pull back in. I brought Mandy over to the window and asked if that was her grandmother's car. Just then, her grandmother found us, rather flustered herself. It seems as if they had a miscommunication as to which door they were meeting at after her lesson. Honestly, it broke my heart. Most of the students I interact with are from solid, Christian, or at least moral, homes. So my contact with children whose home lives are dysfunctional is rare at best. God gave me a fresh perspective into her life and really burdened me to pray for her. I may not look forward to our lessons or jump for joy when she walks in the door, but I understand her better and my heart aches to see one so young, so terrified of abandonment. I'm praying that I can be the love of Christ to her, even if I only see her for 30 minutes each week.
2.) I hear the usual reasons for cancelling lessons all the time...she's sick, he has a track meet, we're going out of town. But yesterday was the first time I'd ever heard, "Your student was in a car accident." I had just started a lesson with Kristen yesterday, when someone knocked feverishly at the door and said, "Do you have a student coming who has a sister, goes to such-and-such a school...?" "Elizabeth?" I asked. "Yes, well they were pulling into a parking space at the back of the building and accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake, so she probably won't be coming to her lesson today." Needless to say, the rest of the lesson with Kristen, I was a flustered mess. That's not something you expect to hear, ever. Now granted, it wasn't too, too major of an accident. The airbags did deploy, but I think they were mostly more scared and shaken up than anything. But it really got me to thinking. All of my students, my kids, are very precious to me. Even though sometimes I get frustrated for how little they practice or just want to tell them to be quiet and listen, I love them all so much. It would be absolutely horrifying if anything happened to any one of them. It amazes me that God has allowed me to love so many kids, most of whom I've only known for little over a year and see only once a week. But they are precious to me, they are why I teach, they are all major players in my little world. It motivates me to pray diligently, urgently, and faithfully for them and for me, that I will keep my eyes on the bigger picture of loving them and not get so caught up in the frustrating details. I'm so glad I was able to hug Elizabeth yesterday, and see that she was all right, and tell her I loved her. My students are gifts from God to me, changing my life and molding me as a person, and I'm so, SO thankful for them!

The Unruly:
1.) Bethany is one of my new students. I was happy to learn that she was 5 years old, because I started taking piano lessons when I was 5 and I think that age is so fun to teach and interact with. I've had several 5 year olds who have been great students and are still with me today. At her first lesson, Bethany's mom told me that she wouldn't normally be able to sit in on lessons, but she'd like to today. I told her that was fine, as I usually have parents sit in on first lessons, and we got started. At the beginning of the lesson, Bethany was very shy and quiet and wouldn't talk to me. I kept asking her questions and trying to get to know her, but she kept her head down and would just kind of grin up at me. We started working through her piano books and got to a page where she needed to draw some notes or circle an answer or something. I handed her a pencil, like I do with all my students, and as she was completing the page, I began to write down her practice assignment in her notebook. When I looked back over to see how she was doing, I discovered much to my horror that she had begun to color all over the piano keys. "Oh no!" I cried, "We don't do that to a piano." I went to take the pencil from her gently, when she yanked her arm back and almost scratched the full length of my arm with the pencil. Then, she threw the pencil, got off the bench, and wouldn't get back on. The shy, sweet little girl was gone and the trouble child had emerged. The rest of the lesson was much of the same, disobedient little student and frustrated piano teacher. When our (forever long) 30 minutes finally came to a close, her mom looked at me and said, "Oh my goodness." Like, "Oh my goodness, whose child is this?" or "Oh my goodness, I'm the mom, but I'm not going to act like it and deal with my daughter." I wanted to say, "Oh my goodness, get a life and find a new teacher!" But I didn't. I decided I would stick it out a couple more weeks with her and see if things improved at all. The next week, in she came to her lesson, head down, quiet, and shy. "She's my easy child," her mom said, "so I don't know what happened last week." Easy child? I wanted to tell her I didn't want to touch her other children with a ten foot pole. Bethany's second lesson was a little less eventful. I was able to be the authority figure more since her mom wasn't in the room (doing nothing). Things were going a little more smoothly when next thing I know, Bethany was off the bench, pulling at the back of her pants saying, "You can see my panties!" I'm here to tell you, I saw no panties, I saw a lovely half-moon. So, you never know what you're going to get with Bethany. She's like a box of chocolates...chocolates that make you want to run for the hills!
2.) My last story today is not one of an unruly student, but an unruly parent. A parent who you never thought would give you any problems. At the beginning of the school year last fall, I began to set up my schedule once again. I email my piano parents frequently with schedule updates and things they need to know for lessons. I had gotten my schedule all set up, let my boss know so she could assign me a room, and was ready for the semester to begin when I got an email from a parent, addressed to another parent, that said, "I'm copying Molly on this to let her know that starting Labor Day week, my daughter will be taking the such-and-such slot on such-and-such day and your child will be at the such-and-such time on such-and-such.  Appreciate your help!" I think I just sat there and looked at my computer for awhile. My initial thought was, "Who put you in charge?" I emailed her back and, in a very non-confrontational way, thanked her for letting me know but asked if in the future she would run all schedule changes/requests through me, "In the future, please run all schedule changes through me first before contacting another parent. It would be better to ask me about any schedule changes first and have me contact the other parent and student. This is just more professional and keeps everyone's best schedule interests in mind. Thanks for noting this for the future!" I thought it was so strange that she had gone behind my back and switched all this without asking me. I very obviously checked my email frequently as was evidenced by how many emails she generally received from me on a weekly basis. I even emailed the mom she had emailed to apologize and ask if I was crazy/did she also think it was weird. She replied that she did think it was strange, so I knew my reaction wasn't off. I then received this from the first mom, "Sorry... didn't realize swapping times would be such a big deal... my email to her was very polite and in no way pressured or obligated her to switch time slots.  Figured it would be quicker since I found out Tuesdays won't work for us... not sure how often you check email and wanted to try and resolve quickly!" Ummmm, can you say kid caught with hand in cookie jar? I responded that it wasn't a "big deal" but just restated what I had said early, about it being professional and just the decent, courteous thing to do to contact the teacher first (duh!). And I did add that I checked my email often (also duh!). Well, I never heard anything back from her and when her daughter came to her first lesson, she showed up 15 minutes late! I didn't know if they really had gotten caught somewhere or if her mom was still miffed at me, but I decided that this was all so high school and I wasn't going to have any part of it. So I emailed her mom and offered for the daughter to come early to her next lesson so they could get their full money's worth, blah, blah, blah. She responded very sweetly that yes, that would be great and they'd see me then. I thought that was the end of it, until I got another email from her that confused me. It was sent to me, but not worded to me. I then realized that it in fact wasn't written to me, but had been sent to me. It said, "Ok... this was nice of her, so we've made amends." Wow. I just sat there and laughed. And it still makes me laugh. I don't want you to get the impression that I haven't forgiven this woman, because I have, but it still amazes sometimes the amount of childishness I see not from children, but from their parents.

Thanks for reading! More stories to come in the future.

Opening Remarks

This first post will be mostly random, jumbled thoughts that all encapsulate a part of who I am. So welcome to a Friday afternoon journey through my brain!

First off, I think you should know that I'm a piano teacher. I have 20 students in total, mostly beginners, and they are all awesome. I love my job because it doesn't really feel like a job, I'm using my college degree (shockers!), and I always have a funny story to tell. Always. Watch for a post soon with several of my favorite stories.

Secondly, I'm on a journey this year to lose weight. Most people would probably not classify me as overweight, but ideally, I have around 60 pounds to lose. So I decided the week of Christmas to join Weight Watchers and quit putting it off. I'm tired of feeling tired and clothes not fitting. To date, I have lost 11 pounds! I know it may not seem like much, especially if you're a fan of The Biggest Loser, but I feel great! I'm well on my way and now I'm addicted to a healthy lifestyle.

Thirdly, I love to cook, especially now since I am trying to eat healthier. One of my favorite resources is Cooking Light. I made a recipe last night that took only 20 minutes or less! So eating right can be easy and quick and Cooking Light is a huge help. Watch for a post later on recipes I've tried lately.

Fourthly, I sponsor a child through Compassion International. Safyatou is my second child to sponsor. She is 7 years old and lives in Burkina Faso. My first child, Priscilla from Ghana, moved out of the reach of Compassion's centers earlier this year. My husband and I got involved with Compassion in the fall of 2010. I'd always heard about Compassion and the child sponsorship program, but was never really in a place where I could participate financially. However, in Fall 2010, we felt like God had blessed us richly and we needed to bless others. Sponsoring Priscilla and Safyatou through Compassion has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. The relational, personal aspect of the program is what I love the most. Handwritten letters always bring a huge smile to my face and the opportunity to be able to encourage and love on these kids is like no other ministry I've personally experienced. Not only are we showing them we care through our words, but we're backing that up with caring for their physical needs. I think it's the model of ministry that Christ set for us in the Gospels. If you've never been involved with Compassion, I urge you to start now. I wasn't sure at the beginning if we could manage the monthly financial commitment, but God keeps on providing, so we keep on giving. He will provide for you too. The impact you can make on a child's life is huge and you never know if you will be the one to change their lives forever. If you haven't watched this video before, get your tissues, watch, and then go sponsor a child. You won't regret it. 

Finally, for those who don't know me, to fill in the most important gaps about me, I'm married to my best friend and the most precious man in the entire universe, David, I am a redeemed follower of the King, Jesus Christ, I have a wonderful family, and I love my 6 month old kitten, Callie. This blog will be filled with stories and thoughts about all these things, and I hope you enjoy reading, because I certainly enjoy writing! Check out my links below, especially my other blog that I write with my husband, The Marriage Files.

Thanks for reading, and until next time, TGIF!!