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I Have This Hope

I was doing really good today and thought I was starting to turn a corner in the grieving process.

Then, I got in the car and headed out to run a couple of errands, turning on the radio as I left.

That’s when I heard this song . . .

And just like that, the floodgates opened up, with my tears keeping pace with the rain that started to come down outside.  (Coincidence or not?)

As I listened to the lyrics, I felt as though my heart was talking to God . . . the words echoing the thoughts and feelings I’ve had since last week.

As I walk this great unknown
Questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain?
Did I cry these tears in vain?

I’ve been a Christian since I was a teenager, and I’ve been through some hard times, so I know, with certainty, that there is a purpose for everything, and that my tears are never in vain.

I don’t want to live in fear
I want to trust that You are near
Trust Your grace can be seen
In both triumph and tragedy

I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go.

Isn’t it hard not to live in fear when you experience one setback after another?  The Mr. and I have talked about this . . . how we dread losing another pet because of the pain we’ve been through with Aubie and, most recently, Molly’s passings.

Then, I heard the next verse . . .

But sometimes my faith feels thin
Like the night will never end
Will You catch every tear
Or will You just leave me here?

As I heard the words, “Will you catch every tear,” I had a picture in my mind of a scene in the final Harry Potter movie.  In that scene, Snape has been dealt a fatal blow by Voldemort, and as he lay dying, Harry approaches him.  Snape and Harry had been at odds for years, and Snape had killed Dumbledore, so he was very much hated.  Yet, he tells Harry to get something to catch one of his tears.

Harry obeys, and he rushes to Dumbledore’s office, drops the tear into the Pensieve (a basin used for this purpose), and discovers a side of Snape that he didn’t know about before.

That scene takes a toll on my heartstrings on a regular day.  This afternoon, well, yeah.  It was brutal.  There is just so much wrapped into these four-plus minutes.

Think about the number of memories attached to each one of our tears.  Our tears tell the story of our lives.  If this story was painted, I envision it being done in watercolor.

Sometimes, there are happy tears, and we rejoice; other times we are sad, so we grieve.

Ultimately, when we examine the reasons for our tears, and if we are open to it, we can see purpose in the events that led to the tears.

Of course, if events have recently transpired, then we won’t necessarily understand the purpose.  That’s where faith comes in.

When Harry Potter sees Snape’s memories, he realizes that everything that Snape went through was because of his love for Harry’s mother and, ultimately, his love for Harry himself.

So it is that I imagine that the Lord is catching all of my tears and guarding them closely, aware that it is through them that my deepest joys and sorrows are expressed . . . especially when words fail me.

My tears are not in vain, and there is a purpose for my pain.  I don’t fully understand the reason, but I praise God that He knows, and that He will not let anything go to waste in my life.

This week, #findingjoyinthejourney has been tough, but I press on, thankful that God is my strength.

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Another “Mile”stone

Look who just earned another medal…

You might recall that I finished my latest Beachbody program on Saturday, and since then, I’ve been working really hard to catch up on the virtual races that I’ve had medals and t-shirts sitting around for the last few months.

The Half-Blood Prince Half Marathon was sponsored by the Hogwarts Running Club.  I’ll admit that I was very intimidated by the distance and knew, right away, that I wouldn’t be able to knock it out in one day.

I ran the first leg in June, but then life happened…as in summer life…high temperatures and high humidity, and I just couldn’t seem to get out and run.

Until this week.

I was going to run the final leg yesterday, but my legs were really sore from running Sunday through Wednesday, so I decided to give myself the day off.

Today was the day, though.

I knew I needed to run 4.2 miles to complete the distance, so I set out, a route in mind.

Remember the last race I did…on Tuesday with my friend, Rebecca?  I’d run 3.1 miles straight and considered that a small victory.

Guess how much I ran today?

Out of the 4.5 miles, I ran 4 of them!!!!  I only walked the first half mile to warm up!!!

Y’all, can you tell that I’m a little excited????

I’ve been setting goals for myself, and by the grace of God, a lot of hard work, and a can-do attitude, I’m reaching them!

The Mr. kindly took a few photos of me to capture the moment.

That’s the race shirt, which I wouldn’t wear before finishing this race.  Here’s the back…

He even got a close-up.  He knows I like my pictures.

Here’s the medal up close.

I love that my running club pays attention to details.  Check out the back of the medal…

Even on the mailing labels that accompany each medal, much thought and care is given…

I just love, love, love the message.  Truly, anything is possible.  All you need is the courage to take the first step.

Mini-Vacation Time!

A couple of months ago, when we began getting to know Rooster’s girlfriend, who, by the way, is a pure delight, I learned that she and I have a few things in common.

Namely, we both love Harry Potter.

She’s from Alabama, so she hadn’t done all things Florida, including Universal Studios…aka Harry Potter World.

The Mr. decided that this was a situation that needed to be remedied, so he did his homework and secured park tickets and a lovely hotel suite.  The plan was for Chicky, who lives about thirty minutes outside Orlando, to join us.

We left last Friday.  The week had been hectic for me with first semester exams, grades to input, and new lesson plans to tweak, but I got everything done and packed Thursday night.

Yes, I am 45 years old and own my own interactive wand.  You know you’re jealous.

Friday morning, I got up early and did my TurboFire workout.  I didn’t want to get too far behind my schedule, and I figured that because I’d be stuck in the car for a number of hours, moving my body first thing in the morning would be good for me.

The drive down was easy; I napped a little bit.  Before I knew it, we were there.

Not wanting to waste time, we hurried on to the park shortly after checking into our hotel.

The Mr. had a grand plan that first evening, and we struggled to keep up as he made a beeline to the first ride he wanted to get on…the Jurassic Park water ride.

It was dark by the time we got on; the lighting was so pretty!

We were the only ones on it, so we sat in one of the back rows.  Our logic was that we wouldn’t get as wet if we weren’t sitting up front.

Let’s just say that we were wrong.  Very wrong.

The Mr. got the worst of it; his entire sweater was soaked when he got off.

I was a little luckier, but the top part of my shirt got pretty wet, as did my face and hair.  It was as if someone had thrown a bucket of water directly at our heads.

What fun though!

After we got done with the first ride, we headed over to Hogsmeade.

I wish you could have seen Rooster’s girlfriend’s face.

Her jaw dropped open when she saw the streets lit with lanterns and the snowy roofs of the various establishments.  I think I had as much fun watching her experience everything as I did the first time I visited Universal.

We did a few more things…rode the train over to Hogwarts and looked around before walking through the rest of the park.

Then, we grabbed dinner and headed back to the hotel for the night.

I used the down-time to register for the Molly Weasley Ugly Jumper Run, which the Hogwarts Running Club is hosting.  Isn’t the medal fabulous?  I paid my entry fee AND ordered a t-shirt.

Ahem.

The next morning, Chicky met us at the hotel, and we headed out.

The day was GORGEOUS and actually warm for mid-January.

I took this picture of Rooster and his girl…

Yes, they are very cute, are they not?  🙂

Boy, was I glad to see Chicky!  Even though we had recently gotten together during Christmas, any time spent away from her makes my heart hurt.  Reunions are sweet.

We did all things Harry Potter.  The kids got Butter Beer, which I can’t have because of the dairy.  I got the fizzy orange drink with cinnamon and brown sugar rimmed cup.  Delicious!

We did other stuff besides Harry Potter.  Rooster, Chicky, and I rode the Rock It roller coaster.  A random kid sat beside Chicky, and the video of his facial reactions was absolutely hysterical.

We also rode the Dueling Dragons roller coaster.  This is such a fun ride!

Shockingly, the Hulk had been dismantled for maintenance.  Its absence felt strange.

That night, we ate dinner at the Cowfish, a favorite of ours when we travel to Universal.  The food is divine; the portions quite large, as evidenced by Rooster’s burger, a peanut butter/banana concoction that he says tastes great (although he’s not a fan of bananas).

Chicky ordered a couple of things and took enough food home to treat her roommate.

It was a wonderful evening.  Saying goodbye to my girl was hard, and I actually shed a few tears when she drove away.  For some reason, this time got me…probably because we’d had such a great day.

We were whooped, and everyone hit the hay a little earlier than the night before.

The next morning was cold and misty.

See the sky behind me?  It was the perfect backdrop for Hogsmeade, but word, it kept the temperature chilly!  In fact, I’d left my jacket at the hotel thinking I’d be too warm with my thick sweater.  Wrong-O!

N, Rooster’s girlfriend, had worn a short-sleeve shirt, and she was also cold.  Our first order of business was to find something warmer to put on.

I scored with a zip-up hoodie.

N got a thin, long-sleeve shirt.

Oh, and do you see my wand?  I finally got up the nerve to practice my spells and jumped up in jubilation when my first one worked!  Rooster was not amused.  I was more excited than the little kids around me.

Ahem.

Fortunately, as the day progressed, the sun pushed out the clouds, and the temperature climbed a little.  The only thing that kept things cooler was the wind.

We ate lunch at a newly-opened restaurant, the Grill & Brew, and watched Cam Newton’s team beat Seattle.

N and I left during halftime to do more Harry Potter exploring.  This time together gave us a chance to chat.  She’s a very calm and quiet young lady…very mature…with a gentle spirit.  I adore her!

We had a lot of fun shopping, and we talked each other into getting rather expensive *ahem* Molly Weasley sweaters.

We took them to the bridge and photographed each other in front of the castle.

I will tell you that when I took N’s picture, someone rudely said, while walking by, “Oh look.  Let’s take a picture of a sweater.”

I’m afraid I showed my butt and responded, quite loudly, “That’s a very special sweater!”

The nerve of that other woman.

Sheesh.

They should have taken her ticket away…such lack of respect for a fine piece of fiber art.

Here I am sporting it at school today…

But wait…I’m getting ahead of myself.

The sweater is 100% wool and was made in Scotland.  It was also quite pricey.  Fortunately, the Mr. didn’t pitch a big fit when he saw how much I’d paid for it…two days later.  *Ahem*

We met up with the guys after their game ended…coincidentally as we were finishing our shopping…and headed back into the park to take one more stroll through the super hero island.

Then, we went back to the hotel to relax, eat a late dinner, and prepare for our departure the next day.

The next morning, I got up extra early and put in a little over four miles on the treadmill before the rest of my crew got up.

The ride home was uneventful; I slept much of the way.

I was more than ready to be home.  The dogs were extremely happy to see us, as evidenced by the picture below.  Gambit took advantage of the ten-minute stretch video I did after my forty-minute TurboFire workout (because I’m overachieving like that).  I was the perfect height for him to give me kisses.

My evening ended with a glass of wine and Downton Abbey, which I’d recorded the night before.  Whoever invented DVRs should win some sort of prize.

Props to the Mr. who generously treated us to this wonderful mini-vacation!

Always

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t allow my children to read the Harry Potter books when they were younger.  As a conservative Christian, I worried that the books about wizardry and spells would negatively affect the Bible’s teachings they were learning.

About three years ago, I read through the series out of curiosity…and the fact that my classroom library had the first couple of books (I borrowed the rest).

I was hooked from the second book on, and I read through them within a few months.

I joined the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup on Ravelry and spent two years knitting projects that were HP-themed.

Most recently, I joined the Hogwarts Running Club (HRC) on Facebook.  What a wonderful group of people this is…everyone is so encouraging as we all seek to improve our fitness levels while having sharing our love for all things Harry Potter.

Thus it was with great sadness that word of Alan Rickman’s death spread.  He was the actor who portrayed Snape in the movies.

Oh Snape…what a tortured soul he was.  I never liked him in the books.  I couldn’t figure out if he was good or bad.  In the end, he redeemed himself mightily.  I’m still impressed with his many layers.  J.K. Rowling did an excellent job with his character development.

Rickman was the perfect person to don Snape’s robes.  I know Rickman was in a lot of other movies as well; however, this character will always stand out for me.

The HRC wanted to honor Rickman.  Within only a few short hours, this non-profit group had organized a virtual run (all runs are virtual, by the way) in which proceeds from t-shirt sales will benefit Debate Mate, a charity that Rickman was heavily involved with.

As of this writing, nearly $10,000 has been raised from shirt sales…after only seven or eight hours!  Here’s the link if you want to read more about it.

There won’t be any medals for this race because there isn’t time for the medals to be made.  The date of the race is February 21, Rickman’s birthday.

I ordered my shirt already and will be walking/jogging my way through 3.94 miles.

You don’t have to be a member of the HRC to participate.  If you enjoy walking, jogging, running, skipping, or cartwheeling through a few miles, sign up!  There are going to be hundreds of us doing this; pictures will be posted on Facebook, and tears will be shed, I’m sure.

I’m not overly sentimental; however, for some reason this has touched my heart deeply.  I’m a sucker for a good story.  I’ve always rooted for the underdog.  I’ve also been humbled by the support I am getting on HRC’s Facebook page.  To think that a group of fictional characters could be the basis for creating strong bonds outside of the book world speaks of the power of words, the love for creativity, and the kindness of humanity.

RIP, Alan Rickman.  Thanks for bridging the connection between words penned on paper and what I saw in my mind as I read.

Hitchhiker Scarf

As you saw when I posted pictures of my Vernal Equinox Shawl, I’ve spent a good portion of my summer knitting.

About a week ago, I finished another large project…my Hitchhiker Scarf.  The pattern is available on Ravelry.

I knit it for the final round of Quidditch in my Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup group on Ravelry.  You might recall that I’m a Hufflepuff.  We complete projects that fit into prompts…all in the hopes of accruing lots of points to help our respective houses win the Cup (just like the books).

This final round of Quidditch was brutal.  In fact the entire term’s Quidditch matches were challenging.  You had to craft for certain teams and could not proceed to the next round unless you had crafted for the previous rounds.  Thus, the number of people making things went down each round.

Also adding to the challenges of each round were yardage requirements.  The final round’s rules stipulated that crafters use a minimum of 450 yards of fiber.

Oh word!

Hence, my Hitchhiker Scarf.

I dug deep into my stash for the yarn and selected Regia Silk.

I bought the yarn so long ago that it’s been discontinued.

Ahem.

What drew me to this pattern and the yarn was the casualness of it.

I love the color of the yarn.  I think that will make this scarf pair well with a pair of blue jeans and blouse or button down shirt.

I was only able to knit 37 pattern repeats and bound off on the 38th.  The pattern was super, super easy, and I had it memorized after only a few repeats.

As I played with the scarf, I tried out different ways of wearing it and discovered, to my delight, that it can be worn as if it is a shawl.  This pleases me.

If you’re looking for something to whip up as a gift, I highly recommend this pattern!

Showering in the Hodgpodge

Can you believe that it is the last day of April?????  I sure can’t!  In fact, as I am getting ready to tear this month off of the calendars in my room, I am absolutely amazed.  We have four and a half more weeks of school left.  I have no idea where the time went!  But alas, I do still have four more weeks, so I must hurry along so I can focus on my lessons.  Let me answer Joyce’s questions before returning to education-minded tasks.

1.  April showers bring May flowers or so the saying goes. Are you blooming where you’re planted as we begin the month of May?

Bloom where you are planted.

This was on a plaque my high school English teacher’s kept on her desk, and it’s always stuck with me.  I blogged about the motto, and her impact on my life, here.  I also blogged about this theme as I was getting my very first classroom ready nearly five years ago.

So, am I blooming where I’m planted?

I can answer with a confident YES!  In fact, it’s been the motto for my life.  In every job I’ve held, I have excelled.  That’s not because jobs have come easily for me, but because I’ve worked very hard to learn how to complete my responsibilities to my fullest ability.

My mom was never happy with shoddy work.  It didn’t matter if I was cleaning the house or fixing my hair.  Perfection was her goal and, thus, mine.

I have found teaching to be a difficult skill to master.  I’m not sure that I’ll ever quite master it, but I am most definitely blooming as my roots grow deeper into the soil of professional development, gentle nurturing by the mentors in my life, and a personal demand for excellence.

I can see the results on my students’ faces as they enter class each day…when we have discussions about their learning and my teaching…when they share their deepest concerns with complete trust in me.

Yes, I am blooming, and I give God all the glory for His sustenance and love that fertilize my soul every day.

2.  On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being no big deal, and 10 being full scale panic, rank your fear of spiders.

A picture paints a thousand words…

3.  May is National Salad Month (who knew???)…besides lettuce, what are two must-have ingredients in your favorite salad?

I really like almond slivers, for the texture, and tomatoes.  I just love salads, so pretty much whatever you put on one (vegan-friendly), I’m good to go!

4.  I mentioned on my blog last week that my Daughter1 will be moving to Washington State after she is married. Of the following sites in the Northwest, which would you most like to see in person-Crater Lake (Oregon), Seattle (Washington), Vancouver (British Columbia), San Juan Islands (Washington),  Mt. Rainer (Washington) Oregon Coast (Oregon), Mt. St. Helens (Washington), or Olympic National Park (Washington)

I’ve seen Mt. Ranier, from the air, and it is gorgeous!  I’ve also seen Vancouver and Seattle.  Lovely cities!!!  I think I’d enjoy seeing Mt. St. Helens…especially after wondering about it many years after the volcanic explosion during the 80’s.  I remember reading stories and seeing news reports about the mountain’s healing.

5.  This coming weekend marks the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby…when did you last race (literally or figuratively) to cross a finish line?

This past Sunday, I worked feverishly to finish a blanket for a coworker.  We had her baby shower on Monday.

The blanket, hats, and wash cloth were much appreciated.

6.  What is something little you love?

I love my little Ravetar…my robes, so to speak, for the new Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup term.  Remember that I am a knitting nerd.  This term (the next three months), I’ll be one of two moderators for the Eye Candy thread.  I was asked to do this after someone noticed that I’d been giving positive feedback to the finished projects people had been posted.  I guess that’s just my teacher self coming out…wanting to kudos whenever possible.

7.  Would you say you are more of a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner? Elaborate.

I am definitely a kinesthetic learner.  I learn best by doing, as evidenced by my many how-to posts.

8.  My Random Thought

Need further proof of my HP nerdiness?

Take a look at the picture I edited using pixlr.

I’ve also decided that I MUST have the following pair of shoes…

Sorry.  The new term officially starts on the 1st.  I’m overworked and desperate for some non-teacher fun!

Balancing Work With Play

As you know, I tend to be an overachiever and a workaholic.

This often leaves me feeling extremely burned out by May.

One thing that this past summer did, with all of my self-indulged pampering, was remind me that I need to carve out time for myself on a regular basis so I don’t have to play catchup later on.

With that in mind, I joined the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup (HPKCKC) on Ravelry.  This forum is a friendly competition where students are sorted into houses, complete “classwork” according to themed prompts, participate in Quidditch, and enjoy the company of other fiber fanatics.

Participating this summer did WONDERS for me.  I don’t have a local knitting group, so people kind of look glassy-eyed when I try to talk about my projects.  Getting to know fellow members has, once again, stretched my horizons globally, and I’ve grown to love these sweet people who are trying, like me, to find balance in their lives.

A few days ago, I got sorted into Hufflepuff, and I am thrilled!  I’ve been scheming…trying to figure out how to fit projects into prompts…submitting a proposal for an OWL…

That’s how I spent Saturday and Sunday.

Today is Monday…a holiday.

It’s back to reality and a long to-do list that did not get any smaller with my self-imposed “time off.”

It’s long.  I probably won’t get everything done.  I’ve listed the items in the order of importance…at least the top half.

Feeling rejuvenated from my days of play, I am ready to attack this list.

Maybe that’s the secret…getting energy from being rested.

Hmmm…an interesting thought.

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