Sunday, December 14, 2008

Have yourself a Merry little Christmas...

Welcome to a little holiday tour of my home! I love opening my house up for visitors during any season of the year, but especially at Christmas time. There is just something about the sights, sounds, smells and memories of Christmas. As my good friends Katrina and Sarai have already said, I wish you were here with a steaming cup of hot chocolate, but this little virtual tour will have to do for now.
The Christmas tree is in my living room in front of the large windows that face the street. I love to sit on the couch by the light of the tree and just relax. Last year I discovered that my Christmas decorating taste had definitely changed and revamped my tree to a red and gold theme. Tucked in the tree are some super sparkly snowflakes which might be my favorite! On the mantle you will find my needlepoint stocking that I have had for a long time and the mantle is decorated with some fun garland and ornaments.

So here are a few other random shots from around the house...Enjoy!

One of my favorite traditions as a child was getting a new Christmas book each year. Even though I do not have kids of my own, I continue this tradition to share with the kids in my classroom. I bought Great Joy last year after Christmas and am so excited about sharing it with my class. My mom bought me One Snowy Night because the pup on the front reminded her of Barkley!

My mom gave me a special gift last year that I love to display at Christmas. It is a picture of her and her sister on Santa's sleigh when they were little girls. I love having this family memory in my home and it serves as a wonderful reminder of my special Aunt Donna and the love she had for this time of year and our family. I am not sure you can really see it in this picture, but it is so special!

This year may you BELIEVE in the magic of this season and the love that was born that Christmas night so long ago. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dear Blog Readers...

Dear Blog Readers...

Could someone tell me what I am supposed to do with the rest of my life? That is all...Thanks!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

All I want for Christmas...

Some people want two front teeth, or lots of presents under their tree, but my Christmas wish was quite simple this year. And it all started with a little adventure in Raleigh with my favorite gals and a little Christmas goodness...

I have to say that if you know me at all you know my deep deep love for all things Shane and Shane. I will forever be grateful to my friend Sarai for introducing us a few years ago. I have seen them in concert countless times, follow them online and love their music. The lyrics are amazing, the guitar is out of this world and their hearts for the Lord are huge. So we knew that we had to make it to the Christmas tour this year. Our goal, to have our picture made with the Shanes. Sounds simple enough...right! You know how most people would be if they were in the presence of Brad Pitt or Matthew Mcconaughey, well that is how I found myself, when we spotted Shane B. at the sound board before the concert. The logical thing would have been to go and ask for a picture, but we were speechless, like 13 year old girls. Now Beth, was the brave one and stole a shot before the show.

Well, the show started and we have missed our chance...but all of that was lost once the music started. Not only were the Shanes there but Bethany Dillon and the ever fabulous Phil Wickham (love him!). Here is a little mid show picture...

When the show was over, we were determined to meet Shane and Shane. So we waited for a while and chatted and plotted. We were confident and ready. We glanced back at the merchandise table and a man with blinking antlers caught our eyes! There he was...Shane B! So, being the brave women that we were, we went and waited patiently in line and the Christmas wish came true...

We also met Bethany Dillon and got a quick picture of Phil...

Even though there might be 14 days til Christmas, my Christmas wish has already come true! It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tag...I'm it...

I was tagged by my dear friend Christal to share 7 random or weird facts about myself. So enjoy!

1. I have a famous name...most of you probably already know this but my name is Jessica Brooke Simpson. So you can impress all your friends by letting them know you are friends with good ole' Jessica Simpson. By the way, I do know what Chicken of the Sea is!

2. I have a long list of words that make me cringe when they are said. I would tell you what they are but I would have to kill you! Don't worry though, if you say them I you will know it!

3. I have a secret desire to visit Cleveland, Georgia and Babyland General Hospital...I am obsessed with the names of Cabbage Patch Kids (thanks Lori, Beth and Sarai!). We even found one named Sarai...that's right spelled with an I!

4. I have had to file 2 worker's comp claims while working at my school. One for trying to cut my finder off while making clocks with my kids and one for falling in a hole and spraining my ankle! Me, way!

5. Broadway shows are really exciting to me and I would go to them all if I could. My person favorite of course is Wicked but I have seen Mama Mia, The Lion King, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, The 25th Annual Putnam County SPelling Bee, Rent, A Chorus Line, Legally Blonde and hopefully many more. I have actually seen some of these twice and maybe three or four times.

6. I attended the World Odyssey of the Mind competition when I was in 8th grade in Boulder, CO. Odyssey of the Mind was a creative problem solving competition and our team made it to the world finals. It was an amazing trip...such a great experience.

7. My very first job was working at K-Mart and I had to wear one of those super cool red vests. I even got to announce a Blue Light Special once!

The other part of this tag is to tag seven friends...So I tag...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

If you read this...

Dear 4 people who might read this blog...

Sorry I have been a blog slacker and have not updated in a while. It is not that I have not had things to say to you...just I guess not sure what to say! So...I promise to update with a much better post soon. But for now here are the top five things that have happened since I last blogged...

1. Went to see Wicked with some super cool friends
2. Thanksgiving with the family
3. Christmas decorations are in process at the Simpson home...woohoo!
4. Saw my super precious Goddaughter sing some very cute songs at her Thanksgiving play
5. Got to spend some good friend time with friend who moved far away to Mississippi

I am sure there are a million and one other things I could tell you about and I will update more later.

Until next time...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Second time was a blast!

Oh friends, I can honestly say that last Thursday evening was one of the best nights of my life. When I heard the news, that one of my all time favorite boy bands had decided to reunite and go on tour, I was so excited. I honestly never knew that I would get to go see them though. But thanks to Kristi and a little place called Ticketmaster, the dream came true and I was once again in the stands screaming my head off for New Kids on the Block!

20 years ago, (yikes that is hard to say), I remember getting tickets for their tour for Christmas. I wept when I opened the tickets and sobbed when I witnessed the concert. I had never experienced anything like it until last week. Friends, the show was amazing! The opening acts, well they left a little to be desired, but once Danny, Donnie, Joe, Jon and Jordan (oh Jordan), stepped out onto that stage, I was immediately transported back to that place 20 years ago. We were screaming, dancing, getting funky with the New Kids dance. Yes friends, the first time was a great time, but oh the second time was a blast!

Here are a few pictures from the sure to read the captions and the awesome ticket surprise we got!

Kristi and I pre-concert...we were so excited! I am not sure if you can see our shirts or not, but the front says...First time was a great time and the back says...Second time was a blast! They shirts were super cute! We were rockin'!

Beth and I were suddenly dramatic about the tickets in our hands...section 231 or so we thought!

And here we are with our upgraded know section 102! We were so pumped..honestly they were the greatest seats. Well except for Julie's...she was on the floor! But hey, we were so thankful for the blessing!

Tonight...Tonight...such a blast!

Beth and I right in the excitement of it all!

So much fun...a night full of great friends and amazing music! I think a trip to see them again is in bad that would require going somewhere like Paris!
Keep Hanging Tough and rockin' out to the beat that NKOTB gives you!

Monday, November 3, 2008

We're gonna put you in a trance with a funky song...

So here is just a little glimpse at how I spent my evening last Thursday! More to come!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Am...

Today started out as one more crazy day. I knew I needed to get up extra early because I had a parent conference scheduled for 7:15. Yes, I said 7:15...that would not be a typo. Mom called for my usual 5:30 wake up call and I totally told her I was up and going. Well I think I lied, because the next time I looked a the clock, it was 7:20 and I was in panic mode. I ran around trying to get ready, calling people at school to ask them to cover my was crazy! I did end up getting to school a little after 8:00..don't ask me how!
But this just started my day off in a not good way...I felt like I was always 50 steps behind where I needed to be as I rushed around school to get things ready for the day and make sure the day went smoothly. When I got home from school, after 5 parent conferences, I was really looking forward to our small group meeting. This is such an encouragement to my week and I knew it would help put things into perspective. Well, we were supposed to be watching a DVD tonight, and wouldn't you know that my DVD player would not work. So, we did not get to discuss what we had intended although, i was really happy for the fellowship time with this amazing group of ladies! All this to say...I really fell like Satan has a radar and can tell when you are a little bit vulnerable. And he immediately swoops in and pushes every button he can just to get you down. I could really talk about this forever, but tonight I am just feeling that a lot. But I am clinging to the fact that GOD IS ENOUGH. He is constant, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He takes the ordinary parts of my life and calls me me daily to make them extraordinary. He loves me ugly parts and all...grumpy and tired...He is near and wants me to live a life that is full and abundant.
Last week at small group, Amanda shared a great song, that I actually had been thinking about, and it turned out she had brought to share with small group. Here are the true...let this be your prayer even now...

I AM by Jill Phillips
Oh gently lay your head
Upon my chest
And I will comfort you
Like a mother while you rest
The tide can change so fast,
But I will stay
The same through the past,
The same in future, same today

I am constant; I am near
I am peace that shatters all your secret fears
I am holy; I am wise
I'm the only one who knows your heart's desires
Your heart's desires

Oh weary, tired and worn,
Let out your sighs
And drop that heavy load you hold
Cause Mine is light

I know you through and through;
There's no need to hide
I want to show you love
That is deep and high and wide


Oh gently lay your head
Upon my chest
And I will comfort you
Like a mother while you rest

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Have you ever been in the place where you are not sure if God is moving in your life? You don't know if you hear Him, you can't see him moving around you, you feel stuck? Well, I have been in this place, I swear for like the past 3 years. That is not to say that God has not being doing things all around me or to imply that I have not felt close to God at moments over these past few years, but that true feeling that God is right in the midst of what is going on in my life has definitely been missing. One thing I have been craving is good fellowship with a group of people who will ch allege and support me in my faith, a small group if you will. For years I have been telling my friend Kristi, I really felt like I should start a small group but of course I never acted on it and continued to feel empty and hungry for true fellowship. So this year, I was determined...even if it just turned out to be me and my bible, I would start this small group. So I sent out an email to a few friends inviting them to my house for a little fellowship and fun. This could turn out to be a really long story and truth of the matter is most of you who read this were probably there. So I will give you the short version...

Our group had watched the Nooma, Breathe (if you have not seen it...oh you have to watch it! AMAZING). And we had decided to stay with it for a few weeks and really spend some time in the word understanding the scripture that went along with it. So this past Tuesday, Amanda did an amazing job of taking the scripture in Exodus where Moses sees the burning bush and helping us really pick it apart and look deep in this passage. We were talking about what we have been hiding from people, and I shared with the group that I am hiding that I live in fear but I am really asking God to help me live in the freedom that He provides. And then we started talking about the burning bushes that are in our lives. I will not go into all that happened during that time, but just trust that it was a great discussion, so nice to be able to share with people what was on my heart and feel loved, supported and prayed for. Such a blessing..

Now fast forward to Wednesday, my friend Kristi came into my room and told me she wanted to go get a tattoo on her foot of a star. And then she went on to explain that was what she wanted to be, a light in a dark world. She knew she had been called to be light and she really wanted others to see that light in her. In a very quick, not thought out reply, I told her I would go with her. Not really sure that I would get a tattoo at all, because I am not going to lie, I knew it would hurt, I thought about it a little more. And I was really drawn to this idea. That we are called, yes called to SHINE a bright light in the world, a world that is hopeless, faithless and hurting. Sometime I need a visual reminder of that I told her I would get one too! And then I got to thinking a little more about what I know God has called me to be His hands and His feet. I tend to think I am pretty good at the hands part of that command. I like to serve, be helpful to others, play it safe. But the feet part is another story, that required action, that is the GO behind the command. This is the part of what God has called me to do that I have not been faithful with. So to get a tattoo on my foot would remind me that I am to GO! Go where God is asking me to go, no matter what that is and then once I go to be that light in the dark world! So all that to say....

I did it...I have a tattoo that reminds me to GO and be a light to a dark and ugly world. The second star is also in memory of my dad who I lost 6 years ago. I know that the stars are one way for me to know that he is watching over me and this helps me to know he is with me all the time!

I know something very not like me, but I am really happy with it. And more than that I am happy with what it means to if I can just be all that God is calling me to be...It is time to SHINE!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Do Not Fear...

Tonight a new coworker and friend invited me to go with her and her husband to their church for an event. They had set up a large screen in the church parking lot and had a movie night under the stars. I was excited to hang out with this new sister in Christ and to get to know her and her husband a little better. The church was showing the movie, Facing the Giants. I had not seen it but had heard many great things about it. It really was a great movie. Such a good and solid message...With God All Things Are Possible. For those of you who have not seen the movie, it is the story of a high school football team that just can't seem to get a break. The coach really begins to seek the Lord and to have his team play for his glory and the team really turns around. They make it to the state playoffs to face the Giants...this is where I really heard the Lord speak to me. It was at this point in the movie that the young coach was in the locker room before the state championship game. His former coach comes in to encourage him before the game and the coach is just talking about how he is not sure his team is ready and how he is afraid that they will be trampled out on the field. The older coach then reminds the younger one that in the bible God tells us 365 times...Do not fear. The statement was made and I did not even make the connection until Shannon leaned over and said, "Isn't that time for everyday." not fear...once for everyday of the year.
I feel like I have been living most of my life in fear. When I think about what I think, how I choose to act, what I say or more importantly don't say are usually a direct result of being afraid of something. Being afraid of looking stupid, being afraid of what others might be thinking of me, being afraid of being rejected, the list goes on and on. God calls us to live a life that is not full of fear but yet full of faith that He is in control and with Him all things are possible. This is my prayer tonight, that I would begin to live knowing that God is with me, and that through Him I find my strength and should not fear...not today, tomorrow or any day.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The biggest leesson of all...

Never commit to writing a list of things at the beginning of the school year...because it will not get done! Wow...what a big time blog slacker I am! I apologize to all three of you who actually read this blog for not being able to commit to actually following through with this list of 30 things. To be really honest, I really think my previous post (#5) encompasses so much of what i have learned in my life. Yes, there have been more lessons, trials, joys, but what I experienced that year has molded me and changed me and made me who I am. It was a bit of healing posting about I am not usually one to talk too much about missing my dad. So thank you for letting me share, and for being patient as I try to get back on the blog saddle! I am back friends...probably not back enough to post the rest of this list, but let the new posting begin....

Monday, August 18, 2008


#5...You have no control over the amount of time you have with those you love...enjoy and take advantage of every precious moment...don't regret anything...cherish the time you have!

6 years ago today was one of the worst days of my life. It was 6 years ago today that I learned that my dad had passed away. I was a naive 22 year old getting ready to start her 2nd year of teaching. I never in a million years would have expected to hear the words I heard that Sunday morning. Even today, I am blown away by the sudden loss of my daddy. I wish I could say that I took advantage of every second with him...that I always told him how I felt...hugged him when we said good bye...but I didn't. I know there were times that I walked out his door and never even thought to tell him I loved him. How I wish I had that time back. These past 6 years have been full of so many accomplishments, firsts, and happy memories that I wish I could have shared with my dad. I often find myself wanting to pick up the phone and tell him about my crazy day at school or to get him to tell me what to do to fix my car. I look at my favorite picture of the two of us and my heart aches for a big bear know the kind that only a dad can give his daughter. If only time had stood still and I could have told him how much I loved him. If only I could have told him that I was so proud of him and that he had challenged me to be a better person. If only I could have told him how much I admired his strength and his determination to overcome a disease that had a strong hold on his life. But for now, I have to just share those thoughts in my heart and wait for the day when I will be able to crawl up into his lap and laugh and cry and talk the way we used to. There are so many things I wish my dad would be here for...when I watch my friends walk down the aisle at their wedding with their dad at their side I miss him. When I the dads of my students walk their kids into school, I miss him. When I see a Duke t-shirt I miss him. Not a day goes by that I do not wish he was still here with us. The only hope I have in this is that he is living it up in heaven and just waiting for me to get there one day! I love you dad...and I hope you are proud of the woman I am becoming...

Last year on So you think you can dance, Mia Michaels, one of the choreographers, created this dance about her dad that had passed away. As I watched the movements of these dancers on the stage, I just wept. I long for the day when my dad and I can dance like this again...Until then...

On a roll...#4

Don't be shocked...I promised I would catch up to my blogging slackerness...only one more today and I will be all caught up!

Alrighty here we go...
#4 There will be times in life where you feel like it is the first day of your freshman year of high school and you are standing in the cafeteria with your tray and don't have a clue what to do...and it is ok, take risks and move on with will survive!

Do you remember that awkward moment, everyone was looking at you, you had no clue what to do and your feet would not matter how much you told them to do it. It was not the school cafeteria for me, but the Commons Area. For all my fellow Rockets out there, the Commons Area I am sure brings back many great memories. But I will never forget the first day of freshman year, it just happened to be my birthday and I was terrified. When I walked in the front doors, after being dropped off by my mom, I was not even cool enough to know an upperclassman who could drive me... I saw the Commons Area looming down the hall. This was the place to be hang make your mark in high school. I had heard about it, but had not a clue what to do when I got there. The commons area was a large room with benches lining the walls. One side for each class...of course the freshman got the short bench and often the floor and the seniors were living it up with padded benches galore. I made my way into the crowds, looking for any familiar face. Of course I saw no one and I just found myself standing in the middle of the chaos with a definite deer in the headlights look. I kept telling myself to move, to go sit down or at least just get out of there, but I was stuck. I was so worried of doing something wrong, sitting on the wrong bench, falling...that I was frozen. I had no idea what to do. Luckily a good friend came to my rescue and led me in right direction. I survived the commons area but always felt bad on that first day of school when that freshman stood in the middle and just froze...oh I remember that feeling.
I think we all have times like this in our lives. We are afraid to mess up the order of things, to look silly, to talk to the wrong group, take some one's seat, etc. I am still this way. But thankfully I am learning that taking the risk to look like that dorky freshman is ok and not nearly as traumatic as I remember it. So I guess I have learned that the Commons Area times of life will happen, and I will make it through them.

#3 on the list of things I have learned in my 30 years...

So when I started this series of blogs, I thought it would be a lot easier than I am finding it to be...I know I have learned a lot, grown a lot, and changed a lot in the last 30 years. But when you stop and try to put all those life lessons into words, it is kinda tough. So I appreciate you all bearing with me as I trudge through this process. What I love to, is that I feel I can be honest through these blogs and get my thoughts and feelings out and don't have to worry about differences of opinions etc. Because these are just my opinions...feel free to disagree! I am convinced that this is a healing process for me and a time to be able to reflect and reason through this crazy journey we call life. It is so nice to have people along side you on the thanks my friends for being fellow travelers...what an adventure.

Lesson #3: Quality (in most cases) is so much better than Quantity

Remember when you were little and your mom or some other caring adult would be passing out some yummy snack or treat...and you would count to see how much the friend next to you got to make sure you had more or at the very least the same number. I think as young people we are programmed that more is better. I know I have felt that it many areas of my life. In high school, as sad as it sounds, I think I found my worth in the number of friends I had. It was not until later on in my high school years, did I realize that the number was great, but the depth and quality of those relationships was so much better. Even today I have to fight this temptation to find my worth in the number of things or people I have in my life. Just think many friends do you have?!? Thankfully, I am learning more and more each day that when it comes to many things in my life the value of the relationship or quality of the super cute sweater actually means more than the number of friends I have on facebook or the insane amount of clothes I have in my closet. I am not sure that I am completely there yet, but I am hoping that in the upcoming years, I can really be the type of person who seeks quality interactions, friendships, relationships, shopping trips, just time in general. I guess the only thing in my life where this still does not apply would be paper products...I mean can you ever really have too many of those:)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

As promised...

Continuing with my theme of the Top 30 things I have learned in my 30's...Here is the second...
Accepting help from others is an ok thing to do. I tend to the be the girl that would rather do things for others and have a very difficult time accepting help from other people. As I get older, I am learning more and more that one of the reasons I think that God put us in relationship with one another is to be able to be there for those we love. And yes, asking for help does put you in a very vulnerable and sometimes uncomfortable position but the blessing is so worth it. I have often heard people say that when you don't let them help you, you are actually keeping them from a blessing. So, when you need those around you to be the things that you can't be for yourself...take the chance. I am finding that it is so worth it, you find that those you love are so willing to step up. Because I don't like to have people upset at me, I tend to think that asking for help is an inconvenience for people and that they will somehow hold it against me. This is such a tainted view of what true friendship see when you are in those places where you don't think there is anyone who can help, listen, is in those places that you find who your true friends are. So in my next 30 years I am going to work hard to not only be the giver but also the receiver...
(not sure if this makes sense...I am starts back tomorrow...I am 30!...enough said!)
Here comes #3....

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Not being a blogging slacker...

And I promise that I am going to continue with the 30 things I have learned in my first 30 years, but I am going to have to update on Sunday! Friday was a super eventful much fun with my mom and then my ridiculous friends threw me a surprise party that night and I did not get a chance to update. Today I am headed to Sylva to hang out with the cool camp kids and won't have access to a computer, so I will update on Sunday when I return. So stay tuned friends for the second, third and fourth thing I have learned in my 30 years! Until Sunday...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Big 3-0

Well is official! I have joined the sacred 30 club! And so far it is not so bad! I just kinda can't believe it...30 seemed so old not too long ago, and now I can honestly say that I feel like it is going to be the beginning of an amazing journey! So to commemorate my turning 30 I have decided to blog for the next 30 days. I am going to share the Top 30 thing I learned in my first 30 years! Now if you know me well, you know that I might be doubling up on some days...but hopefully I can share some things I have learned during this crazy journey we call life! Some will be serious...some will be funny...some will probably just make sense to me! I think this is going to be a little therapeutic for me...a way to reflect on how much I have grown and changed over the last years! So here we go...

#1...Birthdays should be celebrated in a BIG WAY and should involved birthday cake and ice cream!!!! I love birthday cake. My friend Sarai and I often say we think it should be a food group all by itself! So even though this is not a major life lesson, it is a sweet one! Birthdays are more fun with cake! Ice cream cake, Sam's cake, homemade cake, birthday cake ice cream...all things birthday cake are good! Sometimes I will go to the store and by a birthday cake when it is not my special day and eat it! I mean I am sure it is some one's birthday that day! So if you have not had birthday cake in a while...enjoy some friends and invite me over...I love birthday cake!

PS...I did not have a picture of my birthday cake, so I am including a picture of Katrina' was a yummy ice cream cake! So good!!!!

Stay tuned...more to come!

July...Oh what a month!

As promised, here is my update on the crazy fun month of July. There is so much to share and I am sure that I will miss out on something but hopefully you will get a glimpse of how I spent my summer from this post. The month began in Hayesville, NC at the beautiful Truett Camp. I have been blessed to be a part of this ministry for several years now, thanks to some friends who thought I might make a good camp counselor. And I am hooked. I have not been there since I was in diapers like Sarai, Marty and Lori but in these few short summers I have gained some amazing friends, grown in my faith and had some amazing memories. I do love summer camp!

Here is our suddenly dramatic face...gotta love taking the directions in the choral music literally!

Hanging out with some of the crazy staff at the surprise staff party we put together! I miss these kids!

God has really blessed me with the chance to worship and spend the week at camp with some of my students from my school. Here is Rebecca...such a blessing!

Once camp ended, I hurried home to spend a few days in Hickory before I had to say goodbye to my dear friend Shannon. Shannon was engaged in May and her fiance, Jordan was transferred to that also meant Shannon was transferred to Mississippi. Shannon is such a kindred spirit and amazing friend! I miss her so much. But it was good to spend a little quality time together before she left. Here is the crew celebrating her!

After a teary goodbye breakfast with Shannon, it was time to get on the road again for me. This time, it was a Not New York Week with some of the bestest friends ever. A group of us had planned an amazingly cheap NYC trip for this summer. But plans fell through when our cheap airline, Skybus, went bankrupt, so what to do but plan another fun outing. Thanks to Lori and Beth, we had a blast. We headed to Hotlanta for a little girl time, cheesecake, and shopping! What fun! I even got to visit with my little cousin Billy Mac for a little while! One thing I think we are all learning as we get a little older is that one of the most precious gifts we have is the time we spend together! I know this trip really spoke that to me! And on our way, we found a Dwarf House...of course we had to stop and have our picture made!

Shopping and Cheesecake Factory are always a must when we find ourselves in Atlanta!

As July came to a close, Sarai and I loaded up once more and headed to Tennessee to visit with the Martins! Katrina gave birth to a beautiful little girl, Madison Elise, and we just had to go visit, love on and hang out with the Martins. Such a sweet time to be with this amazing family. I am so blown away by their strength and faith. So much had happened to them post-delivery and to most people they probably would have thrown in the towel after what they had experienced. But not my dear friends...they are such a testimony to the love, peace, strength and grace God gives us everyday! Words can't express how much this visit meant to me...
Meet the Martins ladies...Hope, Maddie and Katrina!

And here is Maddie with her mommy, Auntie Sarai and Auntie Brooke...what a joy!

Wow...just recapping the highlights of this month make me tired...but a good tired! I am so blessed to have all these amazing people in my life! Can't wait for next summer!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Summer '08...Oh what an adventure!

In my previous post, I tried to give you a quick overview of the craziness that has been this summer. I am officiallly home for more than 5 days so I am ready to fill you in on what has been an amazing and wonderful summer. There is much to share so this might have to be in multiple posts...come to think of it, you all might not want to know that much about my summer, but oh well here it goes!

School ending this year was a bittersweet time for me. Of course, I LOVE summer vacation...I think every educator needs that time to regroup, refocus and reflect before they can start up the new school year. But I was very sad to have this group of kids move on. I looped with this group of students and for those of you who are not familiar with this, it basically means that I was blessed to teach these students for 2 years. And yes I would consider myself blessed. I have never clicked with a group of students quite so well. They challenged me as an educator and as a person, they taught me countless things including how to do the Soulja Boy and blessed my heart beyond measure. Needless to say, the last day of school was full of all kinds of emotions. Here is a peek at this fabulous group of 5th graders!

Once school had ended and everything had been moved to my new classroom, I set off for 2 wonderfully relaxing weeks at the beach. The first week I spent some good time with the McSwains and Harwoods, two families who I happened to have taught their children over the past couple of years. We had a blast. It was so much fun interacting with the kids outside of the school environment. They are a great group of girls. And I absolutely loved getting to spend time with Heather, Kathy, Sharon and of course Grandma Brown. I love how God puts people in our lives that encourage us and uplift us. The trip was then followed by a great week at Surfside Beach with the McSwains and my mom and brother. Again, just a very low key and relaxing trip that provided so much rest and relaxation. I enjoyed long walks on the beach with mom and fun times at the pool and ocean with Zach and the girls. I highly reccomend two week trips to the beach...who is in for Summer '09?

Here are a few pics from our trip...

So there is a little taste of what June had to looking for a post on July which craziness, farewell party, not NY trip, Billy Mac and Tennessee visit! Get excited!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

For once...

I would like to have a summer when I am home for more than 2 days in a row. Well...actually I don't think I would like that at all! Sorry for the lack of blogging over the last couple of months, but the summer has just flown by and I think that collectively I have been in my house for about a week and a half total! Here is the very quick recap of the adventures that have taken place over the summer...I PROMISE to have a more detailed post soon!

June 14-21- I spent a super relaxing week in North Myrtle Beach with 2 amazing families...the McSwains and the Harwoods. I have taught half of this clan and loved spending time with them and having some fun in the sun! Sand sculptures...yummy food...crazy games were just some of the highlights from this week!

June 21-28- I spent the week in Surfside Beach with my family and the McSwains. It was a great week...lots of reading and time in the sun. I love being with my mom at the beach and just taking walks, talking and relaxing! Fun times.

I came home for about 5 days and spent the majority of the time with my precious Goddaughter Ivy! WOW...what a blessing. I will post more about this later, but we had a wonderful week.

Then I headed to summer camp for 2 weeks! I will post more about this later too, because I have to say that the two weeks at Truett were unbelievable! I have never laughed so much in my whole life! The kids were great, the food was...well camp food...the staff was amazing! I love these people and can't believe that we don't do a better job of keeping in touch! What fun!

I came home for a weekend to say goodbye to my bestest friend Shannon. She is moving to Mississippi with her fiance Jordan. It was very sad, she has been an amazing blessing in my life for the past 3 years. I know that God placed her in my life for so many reasons and I know that our friendship will last forever...just 9 hours away!

Today I am heading to Sarai's for a little "bachelorette" party with Carlee and Beth. Then Sarai and I will head to Lori's for our Girls' Week not New York trip which will include a fun night in Atlanta and shopping at IKEA and H&M. Fun times to be had I am sure!

Exciting news on the Baby front...Katrina and Joe had a beautiful baby Girl on Friday night around 9:00 pm. Madison Elise Martins made her grand entrance weighing in at 8 lbs 15 ounces and is 21 inches long! Her mommy was trooper and gave birth with NO PAIN MEDS! What an amazing woman of strength. I am excited to go and meet her in a couple of weeks.

I know this has been a very random post, but I wanted to fill all of you in on my life as of now. I will be home for a few days next week and I promise to write more details about the summer of '08!

Enjoy the last few days of July with a glass of cold lemonade and some fun in the sun!
Until next week...

Saturday, May 31, 2008

In the details...

I love the details...the extra things that make the experiences of life that much more enjoyable. I love knowing the details of my friends lives...the things that make them smile, cry, laugh. I truly believe that this is what enjoying the little things in life is all about. As much as I try to pay attention to this friends favorite candy, or this friends favorite flower, I do not even hold a candle to how much my God loves details. It seems that I always try to equate God to big projects...fixing the major things in my life, healing those that I love, feeding the millions of hungry children of the world, protecting people from natural disasters. And in all the big things, I lose sight of the fact that the God who loves me is SO into details. In fact, He is so into them that the body He created is a perfect reminder of how much he loves me and cares about the details of my life.

I am sure that a most of you have seen this video by now. I will never forget sitting in the Old Charlotte Coliseum earlier this year and being blown away when Louis Giglio shared this detail with the crowd. The coliseum had been full of loud music, praises being shouted and sung and in one instant it was completely silent. You see the cross of Christ literally holds us together...its Laminin.

I was not a biology major in college, but the simple definition of Laminin is this...the fibers that hold our cells together. So you see my friends, it is literally the love of God that is holding our very bodies together. Talk about the details...if you have not seen the video I really suggest you take a won't be disappointed!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day...

As I drove around town today, thankful for a day off of school after a very stressful week last week, I was reminded by the American flags and red, white and blue everywhere exactly what this day is all about. Earlier this year, I lost one of the most heroic men I have ever Pa Simpson. He served in World War II and was captured by enemy troops and was a prisoner of war for months on end. During this time, my grandmother waited faithfully for her husband to come home or to at least get some message that he was ok. She even gave birth to their first son, my uncle Bill while Pa was tortured in the Prisoner of War camps. He did make it home and continued to be as much of a hero in real life as he was in the war. He was a dedicated father and husband, and always was ready to give a helping hand when needed. So today, I remember my Pa Simpson as a man who deserves to be remembered as a dedicated hero in my life and in the lives of so many others!

I love you Pa and miss you everyday...Your memory lives on!

This weekend I was able to spend time with family as we celebrated the marriage of my cousin Josh to his wonderful new wife, Ginny. Welcome to the family Ginny!
Here is the happy couple at the reception...

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My Uncle Joe and Aunt Reba looked smashing in their wedding attire and I know they were super tired after a long day of celebrating! But they did stop long enough to have a picture with their favorite niece!

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Gran looked stunning in her dress and was so happy to share this day with Josh and family. She even told me she looked "sexy"! As I watched her walk down the aisle, without her cane or walker, tears welled up in my eyes, as I know she would have loved to have walked down that aisle with Pa by her side! What a pillar of strength she is!

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Even Mamaw and Mom were there to share in the fun! Can't deny they are related!

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Even though Papaw was not feeling up to the wedding, I did make him peel his eyes away from his Western Movies to pose for a picture with me!

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