Friday, January 31, 2014

be a noticer of the good

"In every situation, in every interaction, in every day, be a noticer of the good.  That's what God-seekers do--they notice the good.  Even when the good has nothing to do with the circumstances and everything to do with ho God will teach us through them--find the good.  And in that good, our soul will exhale, "Sabbath."'

I helped lead a ladies' day twice in the past few months that centered around this book, and it changed my heart.  I highly recommend the read, but only with an open heart.

...breathing in His grace, and breathing out his praise...

noticing the good and offering grace, one day and one person at a time

love, angie

Thursday, January 30, 2014

the teacher in me

A year and a half ago (Fall 2012), I was given the opportunity to teach remediation at the High School in the district I had taught in before Bella was born.  It would only be one day a week, small group pullouts with some intense focus on their weaknesses on the test--namely, expository writing.

I loved it.  It was so great to catch up with all of my students--at that time, my first group to teach were seniors and my last group to teach were sophomores, the grade I was working with.  I was able to dive back into the world of education for a limited time on a limited schedule.  The teacher in me was able to breathe again, but the mama in me only had to make minimal sacrifice.  It was grand.

Well last week, that opportunity reopened itself.  I was elated to be asked to come back.  As a teacher, I don't think you ever really feel like you've got it.  You don't ever really feel like you're great because you're always thinking of everything you could be doing better and more of.  To be requested made my heart flutter.

I was nervous that I wasn't going to be able to go back.  Just two weeks before that call, I had begun keeping another little girl (only 3 months old and absolutely adorable--totes magoats :P).  I was loving getting to keep her and have two little sweeties to love on every day.  But when I got the message about the remediation opportunity at the high school again, I was a little sad that I might not be able to take it.

However, all the details worked out that I only go to the school on Wednesdays (the only day I don't keep the baby).  I then had to decide if it was worth giving up my one day off with Arabella; if it was worth finding someone to keep her and then leave her; if it was worth adding another really big responsibility to my already full plate...  Hunter and I talked about it quite a bit, and we really both felt led for me to take it.  I still get a lot of time in with Bella--and my heart yearned to be back in a classroom (more than I had realized).

Yesterday was my first day.

Again, I loved getting to catch up with so many of my students!  I didn't actually see any kids because I was busy getting paperwork and files and planning done.  However, the faces all my dears made when they passed by and saw me there were priceless.  The hugs and the smiles and the "I miss you!"'s are something I cherish dearly...

Another perk of the day was getting to see the test scores from the last group I had taught in remediation.  Most, but not all, passed; but they all improved.  And let me tell you...the ones who passed, kicked some major test toosh!  I was SO excited to see how well they had done!  Sometimes it just takes a little boost in confidence and some clearing of the cobwebs.

I try my hardest not to write any kid off--they start with me with a clean slate and endless opportunity.  I cannot wait to get started next week teaching, mentoring, and counseling these kids.

So last month, I was a stay at home mama with no other jobs and that was ay-okay with me.  Within a few weeks' time, I became a stay at home mama with three other jobs (I also begin tutoring today)--and that is still ay-okay with me.  Because each of these jobs opportunities allows me to live my passion and help kids.  From 3 months to 17 years...I love them all.

My heart was made to be a mama.  But not all of my babies get to come home and live with me...  "My kids" will always be my kids; precious, precious people whom I love dearly!

I am so excited to teach them, but I'm also so excited to see what I learn from them.

Make a difference.  Somewhere.  For somebody.  Be the good in their day.

love, angie

Sunday, January 12, 2014

who's your best friend?

I asked my sweet toddler a question tonight as she trampled amongst the pillows and my husband on our bed.  She was giggling in her innocence, unscathed by the ugliness of the world.

...let them remind you of the wonder...
Amid the giggles and prancing, I asked, "Arabella, who's your best friend?"

I had never asked her this question.  We talk about her friends often--the other kids in Bible class, the neighbors, the children she met at my sister's daycare.  But I'd never asked who her best friend was.

To be honest, I was expecting the typical "mama" or "daddy", or maybe a grandparent or cousin.  I never expected her answer.

Without skipping a beat, she looked me right in the eye and replied, "baby Jesus".

Mine and Hunter's hearts went crazy!  How perfect and priceless and precious of an answer.


My two year old just reopened my heart and its eyes.  I want to be just like her!

Oh, to live my life in the utmost understanding that Jesus--no longer a baby, but the King of Kings and my risen-from-the-dead Savior--that Jesus is my best friend.

Recognize that even the smallest minds and hearts are absorbing every single thing.  They understand and process more than we expect or think them able to.  So challenge them, teach them, explore and learn with them.  But don't you dare be afraid to learn from them.  Because with each new day, I'm understanding more and more that those are some of the most profound lessons you will ever experience.

love, angie

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

let me tell you about my friend...

We moved to this area a little over five years ago.  It is definitely not "home", as Louisiana, particularly Lake Charles, will always hold that treasured title.  However, we fell immediately in love with our little church and the family there.  And now five years later, we just wouldn't be the same people without them.

This post is going to give a little glimpse into a friendship I found there...possibly in someone a little unexpected...but then again possibly not.

My Dajuanna.  

She is such a beauty!  Her smile and laugh light up a room (I know how cheesy that sounds, but it really is true); she has the literal voice of an angel and can hit notes and harmonies without even breaking a sweat; she always matches and accessorizes with the best of them; she's just beautiful.

But even more so than that, her spirit is beautiful.  She is one of the kindest most tenderhearted people on this little planet.  She bends over backwards to help other people, is always at the center of everything going on, and has a true heart for our Jesus.

Over these past five years, we found ourselves smooshed together time and again with all of our youth group events, ladies' classes, craft clubs, and on and on.  It didn't take long for us to really click and form a full on friendship.  This past year (2013) however, has been the year for us to get to a whole new level of closeness.

This year, we have grown inseparable.  To the point that multiple people have told each of us that we're together all the time.  And when we went a week without seeing each other, they commented on how odd that was for us.  We hadn't even realized that yet!  We craft together and plan events together and love to be silly together.  But this year connected us spiritually, even more than all of our church events past.

On top of monthly crafting gatherings, more youth activities than I can count, coaching our LTC chorus, cheering on our kids at their events, and every bit of "girl talk" we can squeeze in...this year, three big things happened:

Our fabulous LTC Chorus kiddos.  They make us proud.  Pretty much all the time.
--We chaperoned our youth group's trip to Encounter, and in depth and intense youth camp at Lubbock Christian University.  There were 10 of us who went and that week changed all 10 of us forever.  We have experiences and memories no one else will understand.  We poured our hearts out to each other and spent a lot of time in the throne room together, feeling the movement of the Holy Spirit amongst us.  That experience connected us forever, on a whole new level.  We were mentors and towers of strength for five vulnerable and open-hearted teens, and we embraced just how much we love them and each other.

--We planned a youth rally together.  Every detail was prepared together, prayed over, and thoughtfully planned out.  That experience--we still can't believe we actually did it!--connected us forever, on a whole new level.  We were an amazing team, and we embraced just how well we work together.

We even matched (unplanned) on our last day of decorating/prep.  One in the same, I tell ya!
--We planned, prepared for, and taught a ladies' day using Lysa Terkeurst's book, Unglued.  This experience changed our lives.  We had heard Lysa speak at Women of Faith and Dajuanna bought the book.  She came to me a few weeks later and asked if I would help her do a small ladies' day that actually was meant to be a craft day (she had also just signed up as a Stampin' Up! demonstrator)...we had no idea what it would turn in to.  For three solid weeks, we delved into this book.  We could basically quote it and flip to certain material without thought.  The pages of that book are packed with scripturally inspired application for learning to control your emotions.  What woman doesn't crave that desperately?!  Every day, we talked and planned and prayed;  we giggled and cried when we noticed the Lord's blatant hand in our planning.  We crafted and created beautiful gifts that turned into gifts of grace and memoirs of gratitude.  We decorated and cooked and gifted these ladies with precious treasures.  Then we finally mustered up the courage to actually present this material to them which had captivated our hearts.  And because we allowed the Almighty to lead us and enter that place, all of them were also captivated.  We were even asked to come present it to another congregation (which we have since done and it also was a beautiful day)!  That experience connected us forever, on a whole new level.  We basically became the same person, tenderly understanding God's desires for His girls and willingly accepting the call to spread that to others.  We were leaders, teachers, and vessels of the Spirit, and we embraced our steps of imperfect progress in our friendship and in our Christ-walk.

Plus, do you SEE those pants?!  Anyone who will not only wear those with me, but buy them for me for Christmas--we're meant to be :)
She really is my God-sent soul-sister who has given me a bountiful gift in her friendship.  I am so incredibly grateful for every memory we get to share, for every lesson we get to learn, and for every giggle we get to embody.

So this fella Trey told a story at our youth rally about finding a best friend in 80 year old Garth... While our ladies aren't quite 80 (!), we Browning girls have each found our own "Garth".
What a blessing they are to us!
I hope you like me, Garth...because you're stuck with me :P  You are so, so precious to me, sweet friend, and I thank our God every day for choosing us for each other.

xoxo, angie

"Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God."  --Philippians 1:3

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

How has this year already come to an end?  2013 was a bit of a blur for me.  If I sat down with a calendar and counted out how much we were away from home, my brain would probably hurt.  We were SO busy this year, but it was doing the best of things!

Top 13 of 2013

13.  An excellent roadtrip to the middle of nowhere Kentucky for some dear friends of ours' wedding.  That whole weekend was just phenomenal.

12.  My brother-in-law and his fiancé graduating from LA Tech (and the fact that he indeed now has a fiancé)!  We're so excited to have some more Bulldogs in the family :)

11.  Taking a group of our youth kids to Encounter at Lubbock Christian University.  That week changed us and it was a memory we will forever hold close.

10.  Hunter's dad's side of the family got to be together for the first time ever this Christmas (as in ever, not just for Christmas).  The five boys and all their girls and all of our kids--all 16 of us together in the same house for the first time.

9.  Finally getting to go back to the Tulsa Workshop and getting to bring my boy for the first time.  It was such a blessing, but the two highlighted speakers for us were Patrick Mead and Francis Chan.  Plus we got to catch up with some old friends and make new ones.

8.  We got a new car!  We gave in in July and traded in Hunter's truck for my first mama-mobile--and we both love it (although we do miss the truck at times).

7.  The birth and miracle story of sweet Maddox, our best friends' little boy.

6.  Getting to see my oldest sister SO many times!  Bella and I took 3 trips up her way and she came down here as well.

5.  Hunter has his 10 year high school reunion...and we're accepting realizing that we're getting old...

4.  My first group of students to teach graduated!  It was such a special moment for me to be able to cheer them on and hear of all of their accomplishments and aspirations.  Just special :)

3.   Being backed and supported by our church family as they helped mine and my sister's dream become a reality.  We were able to host a full-fledged youth rally that is now an annual event!  To God be the Glory!

2.  Going to our second Saints game and this time on our actual anniversary!  Hunter's brother and his fiancé came too and we had a great day--plus we beat the Texans so, yeah.  WhoDat!  (Hunter and I also celebrated 6 years of marriage and 10 years of togetherness this year...fabulous).

1.  Every single second spent with these precious gifts...

We are excited for 2014 and all of the possibilities each new year offers!   Our prayer and goal is to continue to grow in focus, courage, and faith in our walk with our Jesus.  Best wishes and blessings to you and yours!

happy new year,