Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Time for Everything

Last day of school celebrations at Downtown Academy

Whoop, there it is. I blinked and somehow six years of teaching are behind me. How in the world did it go by so fast? God has given me some truly unique opportunities in my teaching career. I began with teaching in Chihuahua, Mexico at Colegio Binimea. That journey was a dream that had been placed in my heart at the age of fifteen- to live in Mexico, become fluent in Spanish, and be a missionary among a people who were very dear to my heart. The time spent there was so precious to me, and I was able to learn so much about myself and God's faithfulness in that season. It was also a time of sweet simplicity, and I truly loved my life there. God provided some amazing friends, some of which I am still in contact with today. At Colegio Binimea, I was able to teach the same kids for two consecutive years, with ten students in my fourth and fifth grade class, and twelve students in my fifth and sixth grade class. Those kids were so amazing- talented, kind, smart, and so knowledgeable about God's word.

Memories from Chihuahua, Mexico

When I came back to Athens, I taught at Timothy Road Elementary School, where I had student taught two years prior. My time at Timothy Road was a challenging season, as I was in the midst of reverse culture shock while adjusting back to life in the United States. I taught third grade both years at Timothy Road, and I had a wonderful team that I loved working with. My heart was still stirring though, and I missed my small class size from Chihuahua and the privilege of being able to talk about the Lord with my students.

Fun times with Timothy Road Elementary School

Fast forward to the fall of 2014, when I was given the honor of joining the staff at Downtown Academy. Talk about a God-thing. This school was literally my dreams come to fruition; I just had no idea that it actually existed until God literally dropped it in my lap. There is no other place like Downtown Academy. It is a place where kids come to love and be loved. Their siblings and parents are automatically adopted into the Downtown Academy family, too. The staff works their hind parts off to meet the varying needs of each child. Every child is given grace upon grace. God has His hand on that place, and it is amazing to watch how He is using ordinary people as a part of His extraordinary plan.

Last year, I taught second grade. I had a class of characters, with nine boys and one girl. It was a roller coaster of a year, and God taught me that I am not the Savior. He is. I began the job with a little whole lotta pride, and it didn't take long for me to realize that the job that had been placed before me was monumental and virtually impossible without Him. I cannot change a child's heart and make them want to learn. I cannot fix any hard stuff that's going on at home. I cannot make them want to read or write or memorize their math facts. But God showed me that I could love them, and I could love them well. And it was crazy and tiring and difficult, but a whole bunch of fun, too. So I asked if I could teach the same kids again. I just knew we weren't done with each other yet.

This year, I was able to teach the same kids in third grade. One of my sweet babies moved to Atlanta, and we also had two new kids come to our school. Everyone was excited out of their minds  rejoicing when another girl came to third grade. :) Teaching the same kids for more than one year has its positives and not-so-positives. It is great to get to know the kids you've already spent a year with on a deeper level and watch them grow over the span of two years, which for them is a huge chunk of their lives thus far. However, they know you well and also get tired of each other easily, so sometimes classroom management can be quite taxing.

Sweet Downtown Academy kiddies

Little did I know that when I asked my head of school if I could teach my second graders for third grade that they would be my one and only crew at Downtown Academy. Little did I know that when I began preparing for the first few days of school in August 2015 that I would not return to do the same in August 2016. God's plans were definitely different than my own.

As far as Downtown Ministries goes, Rory and I will be involved there as long as we live in Athens, which I hope is a very long time. There are many things that the Lord has laid on my heart that I hope I can be a part of now that I will not be on staff. I will greatly miss being a part of my kids' everyday lives, and I am grateful that I will still be able to be in contact with them and their families. So while I grieve the "end of an era," I look forward with hope to a new beginning and to continued friendships with those whom I dearly love.

In just about a week, I will begin a new job for a new season. I am honored and overjoyed to say that I will be the new Administrative Assistant at my home church, Watkinsville First Baptist. I will be managing the office and assisting our pastor and director of operations. It seems crazy and not real in so many ways, but I am very excited about this new position. Leaving teaching is not what I thought would be the next step in my journey, but I am grateful for this wonderful opportunity that the Lord has given me. I have been a part of WFBC for about eight years now. In college, I began attending at the end of my sophomore year and been able to be a part of various ministries within the church. Many of my friends and I attended WFBC in college together, and it is there that I have been loved, discipled, and mentored. The first time I walked into a service, it felt like home, so being on staff is a dream I didn't even know my heart held. My pastor, Carlos Sibley, is the kindest and most humble pastor I know, and I am excited to serve him and our congregation. What can I say except that God is good and His ways and timing are perfect?

Ok friends. That is all for now. As always, thanks for reading, and thank you for your friendship.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Happy 30th Birthday, Rory!

I am so very excited to celebrate my husband today. He is the best and most respected man I know. He's full of grace and good jokes. Today, he is thirty years old. I am honored to walk through this life with a man like Rory Mathisen. Here's thirty things I love about him!

  1. He loves Jesus.
  2. He loves me. Really well.
  3. He is selfless.
  4. He is kind. 
  5. His jokes are funny. Most of the time. 
  6. Sometimes he makes dinner for me when I'm too tired. 
  7. In that same vein, he will eat frozen pizza when we are both too tired, and he loves it. 
  8. He loves his family. 
  9. He cares about others. 
  10. He gives generously. 
  11. His heart is one of gratitude. Always. 
  12. He takes the Word of God seriously. 
  13. His demeanor is peaceful and steady. 
  14. He has an awesome work ethic. 
  15. He never tries to be like anyone else; he has a quiet confidence. 
  16. His risotto is delicious. 
  17. He came with a really, really cute puppy. (All the praise hands.)
  18. He takes care of me. 
  19. He doesn't really have any enemies. 
  20. He watches Gilmore Girls marathons with me. 
  21. He's got some pretty amazing blue eyes. 
  22. He loves kids. 
  23. He is contented. 
  24. He has a servant's heart. 
  25. He gives grace upon grace upon grace. 
  26. His heart is humble. 
  27. He believes in me. 
  28. He challenges me. 
  29. He's super thoughtful.
  30. He makes me feel special every day. 
So incredibly blessed by you, Rory Mathisen. Here's to the next thirty years by your side. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

May Goals

So it has been a while since I have been posting frequently on the blogosphere, but it has been a crazy past few weeks. We bought our first house, went on vacation, and celebrated my birthday. There are still so many fun things to come in this jam-packed month, and I'm just trying to make it to the end of the school year! I filled in my Powersheets a couple weeks ago, but I am just now getting to writing them up for your eyes. It's ok, I know you've been waiting with baited breath. :)

Here are my goals from April:

finish reading Hands Free Life
finish reading Steadfast Love
finish reading Wild and Free
make a blog plan
budget meeting with Ror
finish Financial Peace University

walk at least once
run once!
1 gym class a week (already know I'm not gonna make the above goal or this one this week, just keeping it real)
declutter/clean up one room in the apartment
meal plan


same as March

The Nitty Gritty

In April (or was it at the beginning of May? I can't remember...) I was able to finish reading Wild and Free, which was an incredible book and one I would recommend for literally every woman 18 and older. I didn't finish Steadfast Love, but I've made some headway in Hands Free Life and am really enjoying it. I didn't quite make a blog plan officially, but I have a lot of things turning around in this old head of mine. :) Y'all. I don't know why working out has been so hard for me as of late, but the struggle is quite real, and bathing suit season is upon us. I'm just saying. So I'm still super excited if I do something active like, twice a week. I was able to go to a couple at the gym, though, which felt great. Now that we've moved further out of Athens, I'm going to start doing Barre 3 online classes, and I'm pumped about that! We finished Financial Peace University at Athens Church and are not only so grateful for all that we learned, but also for the fact that we now have our Sunday afternoons back!

What I Was Grateful for in April 

April was filled with many good things. I was able to spend a weekend in Rome, GA with my best friends. I got to attend the regional Influence Conference in Charlotte, NC and spend time with my sister and her boyfriend. I was also able to celebrate my friend Katie, who's due to have her first baby in June, along with my closest college friends! God is good!

Here's what's on the docket for May's goals:

finish reading Hands Free Life
goals blog post
begin working on a thirty before 30 bucket list
tie up loose ends for Ror's birthday
figure out summer Bible study/book group

walk twice a week
yoga/Pilates once a week
meal plan
talk to a family member on the phone
talk to a friend on the phone

same as April, which were the same as March :)

What are you working towards right now, friends?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Currently: May

In the most magical place in the world yesterday, Disney's Magic Kingdom!

It's May! It is my most favorite month of the year, and I am so so so happy to be able to say that it is finally here. I absolutely love May. It is my and Rory's birthday months, and my dad's, too! Not only that, but it is the end of the school year, the beginning of summer, Mother's Day...May is full to the brim. Here's what's going on around these parts:

Celebrating: Rory Alexander Mathisen turns 30 years old on the 20th! I am so excited about my husband's birthday. Y'all, I tell everyone about my birthday and have a countdown, but this year, I am so pumped about Ror's birthday and so ready to celebrate my favorite human. I've been doing a "30 Days of Rory" all through this month and have given him little gifts every day, and it has been so fun.
Reading: I just finished Wild and Free, and it rocked me. I'm thinking that a book club is in order this summer for Wild and Free. Or Looking for Lovely. Or both. Right now I am reading Spark Joy instead of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up because I want to organize the mess out of our home.
Pondering: We just bought a house! (Cue ALL the feelings.) So I am pondering paint colors and furniture and garden plants and all the cute Pinteresty things. :)
Sipping: Hmmm...well we are really loving Mike's Hard Lemonade these days as we welcome spring to stay and await summer.
Going: As I mentioned above, we are going to be celebrating lots of things in the coming weeks, so I am super excited.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

#weread2016: Wild and Free Book Review

Wild and Free: A Hope - Filled Anthem for the Woman Who Feels She is Both Too Much and Never Enough is a book that is for every woman. When I first heard of the book in September at the Influence Conference, I remember being moved simply by the subtitle. This book is for the woman who:

feels trapped under the weight of striving
has questioned her worth
has no idea whether or not God truly wants to use her
wants to break free from the comparison trap
longs to know God intimately and honor Him with her life

Y'all. This book is powerful. It is powerful because it is rooted in the truth of God's word. I honestly cannot say enough good things about it. Each chapter speaks truth in the most beautiful of ways. Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan, best friends and mama-preneurs, are women who not only invite you into their own lives, but ask that you allow the Lord to speak to you right where you are. The authors take turns writing chapters, and their personalities shine through each one as they enable you to move forward in the identity that God has personally given you.

Wild is a word that has been given a bad rap as of late; it usually has negative connotations that invoke actions that should be punished and discouraged. But in this book, Jess unpacks the word to give us hope and to help us understand that God, our Creator, is wild. Not only is He wild in His love for us, but He is wild in His plans for us- they are good and more than we could imagine. Jess writes:

"Our circumstances and our surroundings do not dictate how wild God can be. The wild and free nature of God does not bat an eyelash at the state we're in, because He is not bound by the conventional, the typical, or any rules. Our lives can look shattered and bland, broken and poor- and He can bring life and salvation and color, no matter what. Jesus did not die on the cross only for the people with the pretty houses, and the sweet wind of the Holy Spirit does not flow only through tidy lives." 

Free is also a word that has been misconstrued in our culture. Sometimes people will say or do what they want in the name of freedom, but it hurts themselves and others. I confess I've been a part of this wrong thinking. But God gives us freedom when He sets us free by the blood of His son, Jesus Christ. Hayley writes: "While we wait for freedom, we must remember that Jesus is the prize. Jesus is always the prize. Whatever we learn here on earth, however we grow or do good, it is all good to be more like Christ. When we wait, we have the particular gift of allowing the Holy Spirit to build in us the fruit of His Spirit. When you abide and wait, you are uniquely pliable because you are living in trust and fixing your eyes on what is unseen."

If you are a woman, get this book. And get it for every woman you know. It's that good, y'all. And if you are an Athens friend, let me know if you'd like to do a book group this summer! :)


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