The Table: April Recap

The end of the school year brings along so much craziness.  Finals, standardized testing, graduations, with every grade comes along different stresses and a seemingly endless list of reasons to be anxious.  It was no surprise that stress and anxiety were the focus of our April conversation at The Table.

In the book of Matthew, Jesus says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  As a teacher, there is never a time more fitting for this verse than in the middle of STAAR testing.

Unfortunately, being a believer doesn’t mean that we are somehow immune to stress.  We do, however, have a way of coping that is unknown to those who are not in Christ.  We have a hope, an endgame, a truth that tells us, in the end, it will all be okay.  In the end, you are not in control.  You cannot fix these children, you cannot solve all of their problems.  All you can do is love them with the love given to you in Jesus, and trust that in the end, their lives are in the hands of someone much more capable than ourselves.

So at the end of the school year, that is the truth that I cling to.  STAAR tests are over, lessons have been taught, some TEKS have been covered and some were never mentioned, and what’s done is done.  As my first group of students finish their last days in my classroom, and as they move onto middle school, I have faith in something and someone so much greater than myself and anything I am capable of doing or teaching.

So, teachers, let this be your hope, let this be your vision, your endgame.  You have loved your students, you have worked yourself to the ground all year long, and your students are better off because of you.  Regardless of what academia they have learned this year, they have encountered someone who knows Jesus, and they have seen Him reflected in you.  The stress and anxiety of their futures is not on your shoulders.  It is in the hands of the One who created you, who created your students, and who gave himself for us.  We can rest.

 


 

The Table has wrapped up monthly happy hours for the school year, and I have been so blessed by the beginning of this group.  There is talk of a summer book club, for anyone who is interested in participating, check out the Facebook group for more discussion around that.  We will start back up with happy hours again in August or September, and I am very much looking forward to the goodness and margaritas that lie ahead.

 

 


Santa Barbara

My dad retired recently (I use the word retire loosely, because I am still keeping the dream alive that he will go work at REI where he belongs), and he took me and my brother to Santa Barbara, taking advantage of the time off and burning some frequent flyer miles and hotel points. He spent much of his high school and college aged years in the area, so it is a special place to him. (Notice I say college-aged, and not college, because this was when he decided being a surf bum trumped going to school. Can’t say I disagree on the strategy.)

Here are some of my favorite stops during our trip. If you are ever in the Santa Barbara area, put these on the top of your list.

 

Jalama Beach

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This is one of those secret beaches that only locals know about.  If you are willing to take the long and windy drive back to it, it’s worth it.  This was one of my dad’s favorite surf spots, and it’s easy to see why.

 

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After spending the day at the beach, make sure you stop at the Jalama Store for the Wold Famous Jalama Burger.

 

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Life is full of compromises, and traveling with my dad and brother is no different.  I could spend all day walking through vineyards and tasting rooms, but the rest of my trio felt differently.  So I picked one vineyard, and Babcock Winery didn’t disappoint.

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Babcock Winery is run by a husband wife duo.  Bryan Babcock is the adventurous winemaker, and his wife, Lisa, also the vice president of merchandising for Forever 21, travels to flea markets and estate sales, picking up pieces to design the beautiful and eclectic tasting room.

The Babcock tasting room is a gallery full of Lisa’s finds.  I loved being able to have a glass of wine while sorting through all of the treasures that have surfaced around this beautiful winery.

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Lisa uses quite a few quotes to decorate, which makes my little teacher heart oh so happy.  Maybe she will come decorate my classroom for me.

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Drinking alone while the boys wait for beer ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

We only went to one vineyard, but Babcock is right next door to Melville Winery, and surrounded by many others.  You could easily make a day out of visiting vineyards.

 

The Lark

After spending the day exploring State Street in downtown Santa Barbara, (where I quickly located Handlebar Coffee, H&M, Free People, and Paper Source), we ended at the pier and wrapped up a beautiful day with dinner at The Lark.  I did my homework beforehand, and I knew that this was one stop we couldn’t pass up.  If I have one regret in life, it’s that I didn’t take pictures of every single thing I ate and drank at The Lark.  Holy moly, I have never had a better meal.

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The Lark Mojito, photo from The Lark instagram feed

We easily dropped $200 between the three of us, but even on this tiny teacher salary, I would do it all over again.  The Lark serves all of their dishes family style, so we shared about 5 different plates.

We ordered the crispy brussel sprouts, oysters, scallops, redfish, and a half rack of lamb ribs.  I would have loved to try everything on the menu, but like I said, life is full of compromise.  While everything we ate was delicious, I could spend every day at The Lark drinking beet juice mojitos and eating brussel sprouts.  I’m not kidding.  I have had dreams about these.  My dying wish is that I will be able to taste heaven again at The Lark.

 

 

Other noteworthy places to visit include Ventura, where I had several beautiful runs along the pier, ending with tacos and bloody marys at Beach House Tacos, and Kay’s Coffee Shop, the local Ventura coffee shop I fell in love with.  I stopped in for coffee each morning, and got to chat with some of the nicest ladies I’ve ever met.  They made me feel like a local.  The coffee is great, and their nobake cookies, locally named Trucker Twinkies, are delicious.  The chia seeds and granola even trick you into thinking they’re healthy.

 

Thanks, Dad, for showing us your old stomping grounds!  It’s easy to see why you fell in love with Southern California.

 

 

 


Books to Get Your Sh*t Together

ADULTHOOD.  Ugh.  I simultaneously love and hate it.  This year has been a crazy transition and has had extreme ups and downs.  From bursting into tears the second students leave my classroom to leaping with joy at all of the exciting new things adulthood brings (a salary, a dog, more wine, etc.), this year has been one to remember.  In the midst of this transition, I feel like the theme of the whole year has been getting my sh*t together, in so many different arenas.  You really don’t realize how much of your sh*t you need to get together until you are the only one responsible for all of it.  Like, for example, health insurance.

I have never in my life spent more than 30 seconds thinking about health insurance, because my parents paid for my health insurance and just handed me a little card to put in my wallet.  But this year no one handed me a card to put into my wallet, so now I don’t have one.  This is an area of sh*t that I have yet to pull together.  I’m pretty sure I pay for health insurance and I just need to email someone, honestly.  But I haven’t sent that email, and have instead employed the tactic of hoping I don’t get sick or injured.  So far it has worked out for me.  I’ll get this sh*t together later.

This year I have read quite a few books about getting different arenas of sh*t together.  So instead of continuing to write about all of the sh*t that I don’t have together, I figured I could share these books with you.  I’m also thinking about unlinking this blog to my classroom blog, because I am saying sh*t too much.  Hm.  Here are the books.

 

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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo

I am a things person, I always have been.  From earrings to stationary to dog toys, I have always loved things.  I’m a sucker for subscription services (that’s another blog post waiting to happen), and I buy every book that catches my eye.  I just love pretty things.

My love for things makes moving a nightmare.  In the past five years, I have moved all of my things seven times.  SEVEN TIMES.  This stage of life is miserable in terms of moving.  It drives me crazy.  Each year gets worse with the more things I accumulate. This year, moving into my own one-bedroom apartment, where there is room for all of the things I have been hoarding at my parents’  house, was the most eye opening of all.

I read this book while I was babysitting a few weeks ago, and I realized how many things I actually have and how ridiculous it is that I have all of these things.  So I followed (almost) all of Marie’s advice, and got rid of so much.  I’m talking, four trips to Goodwill, 4 bags of clothes shipped off to Schoola, a big trip to Half Price Books, and countless trash bags full of junk.

The whole premise of the book is this that the reason we are constantly cleaning and tidying up is because we are holding on to far too many things.  The two primary reasons we hold on to a ridiculous amount of things are, 1) a fear of the future, and 2) an inability to let go of the past.  i.e., “what if I want to wear that [ridiculous bridesmaid] dress again?” or, “I really loved that wedding, and I have such great memories in that dress!”  Both reasons are poor reasons to keep the dress.  We should only hold on to things that bring us joy, and by holding on to things that don’t, we are actually causing more stress in our lives.  Marie says it much more beautifully than I do:

“…when we delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future. … It’s important to understand your ownership pattern because it is an expression of the values that guide your life.  The question of what you own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.  Attachment to the past and fears concerning the future not only govern the way you select the things you own but also represent the criteria by which you make choices in every aspect of your life, including your relationships with people and your job.”

She then goes through her process of sorting through everything you own and choosing what to get rid of.  It really was incredible for me to read and to realize how much I hold on to because of fear.  After getting rid of so many things, I feel more free to invest time and energy into worthwhile endeavors.  I think this book has changed the way I live and hold onto things forever.

 

618-NKA0yTL._SX401_BO1,204,203,200_ The Stash Plan, Laura Prepon & Elizabeth Troy

I bought this book because I’m really into meal prep right now (which, by the way, is going great.  I am saving money and feeling better about my body).  What I didn’t know, was this book is about far more than meal prep.  I ended up reading about how scary GMOs are and how many crazy things we put into our bodies.  We are constantly eating foods that our body can’t even recognize, much less get nutrients from.

So I read all about GMOs and have since then started removing harmful chemicals from my kitchen and my diet.  So far, I am loving it.  It’s more expensive, but at some point in adulthood, we need to ask ourselves how much our health is worth (especially if we haven’t figured out the whole health insurance game 😁)

Apart from all of the info about GMOs and such, there are some great recipes that I am in the midst of trying out.  There’s also a lot of theory in this book that I’m not completely sold on, and I probably won’t be following the book 100%, as I can’t afford to go to the extremes that celebrities do.

 

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Rich Bitch, Nicole Lapin

Still a favorite.  I wrote about this book earlier this year, and still follow Lapin’s advice and reference it constantly.  This is one of those books that will always stay in my collection, even after the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  Everyone should read this book, especially all my fellow single, independent, badass ladies.

 

 

So there you go.  My top three get your sh*t together books.  The beauty in all of it, though, is even though I will never actually have all of my sh*t together, at the foot of Jesus, none of it matters.  The Gospel, the only glue that will ever truly hold our lives together, says that we will never have it all together and that’s okay.

So, in the end, whether I feel like I have it all together or I don’t, there is always peace, rest, and hope in knowing that it’s already been taken care of.  Thank you, Jesus, that my rest and my worth is found in you and nothing else.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11: 28-30

Looking for Lovely book review

I was so honored to be asked to be a part of Annie Downs’ launch team for her latest book, Looking for Lovely.  I loved Let’s All Be Brave, and was so excited to open up her newest book before its release date. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy Looking for Lovely nearly as much as I loved Let’s All Be Brave.  I got about 100 pages in before putting it back on my shelf without finishing the chapter.

Annie does a lot of things really well in her writing.  Her voice is strong and carries through with each of her carefully chosen words.  Her books, this one even more than Let’s All Be Brave, reads like a journal entry or a blog, much like you’re just talking to a friend.  There were times when I really loved this style of writing, but other times I was just unimpressed by it.

It might also be that I am just so different from Annie that I couldn’t relate to a lot of her writing.  She calls a lot of different friends by name, without introducing them she will just say things like, “I was at the farmer’s market with so-and-so,” again reinforcing that talking to a friend feeling, but she threw so many different names into the book that I just couldn’t keep up.  I also just can’t relate to being so extroverted as to have intimate relationships and experiences with so many different people.  I just kept thinking, how can you possibly spend time one on one with so many different people?  How does this not exhaust you?  To her credit, I think for Annie, this way of life and writing is 100% genuine.  She really is that extroverted.

The whole premise of this book is about her “broken crazy,” when things were going wrong in her life and she started seeing a counselor.  Although she kept using the phrase “broken crazy,” I don’t think I ever actually learned what that meant.  The assortment of essays felt loosely thrown together, with this vague thread of this undefined “broken crazy” holding them together.  Maybe if I was in the middle of a “broken crazy” season I would understand?  From the comments in the launch team, it was clear that so many women could relate, but I was not one of them.

All in all, I think that the things that pushed me away about this book might be the very same things that would make someone else love it.  Annie is honest and so genuine in her writing.  She makes you feel like you are sitting across from her at a table in a coffee shop, which is a beautiful thing to be able to convey through writing.  Looking for Lovely was not my favorite, but I know that there are many other ladies out there who will hear grace and freedom in Annie’s fun and conversational style writing.

Looking for Lovely will be released on April 5th, and is available for pre-order on Amazon.


The Beginning of The Table

This week was our first happy hour with The Table.  I’m going to be honest, I was nervous.  I knew I would feel this way.  Jesus planted a dream in my heart and I jumped head first into planning it, just like I usually do.  I began planning and organizing, confident in the goodness of what Jesus had in store.  I knew the confidence wouldn’t last, and lies would sneak in.

The weeks and days leading up, I was nervous.  I questioned whether this was worth it, whether I had the time to organize anything, whether people would even show up.  But as anyone who knows Jesus could tell you, questioning His goodness and His plan is never a worthwhile activity.  He is good, always.  He shows up, always.  And so he did on Thursday.

We had a small group, which is almost always a gift.  A gift wrapped up with temptations of doubt and insecurity, yes, but at it’s core its a gift of intimacy, a gift of being known and heard.

It was a beautiful and diverse group, truly representing education across our city.  We had teachers spanning all the way through school system: teachers from pre school, elementary, middle school, high school, and college.  Sit in the power of that for a moment.  At every stage of development, a student in Austin has the opportunity to encounter Christ.  A teacher spending her days with three year olds sat across the table from a college professor, and they asked the same questions.  How can we give our students a glimpse of Jesus?  How can we love our students with a love that reaches beyond ourselves?  A three year old student is encountering the same gift as an overwhelmed college senior: a teacher who is praying for them, a teacher who is actively seeking Christ within this crazy school system.

Over queso and margaritas, we shared introductions and stories, struggles and dreams of what this group could be.  We talked about the struggles of balancing our own spiritual health, (something I’ve really struggled with this year), sharing grace with our students, and the power of prayer.

One of the most powerful take-aways I had from this week was the idea that while we can’t explicitly share the Gospel in our classrooms, we love differently, and our students recognize it.  Even the littlest of our students see something different and something good in us, something that can only come from Christ.  Whether they know what that love is yet or not, we can let go of our control and trust the One who called us in the first place.  Ultimately, Jesus doesn’t even need us, He just allows us to join Him in this gloriously messy mission field that is the public school system.

 

So, what’s next for The Table?  This week I will be beginning an email list of teachers interested in the group, via this survey, trying to figure out the best ways for this group to meet and to serve each other.  We have big dreams of continuing this group, and even talked about the possibilities of bringing in guests to share multiple perspectives and wisdom with us.  Our next happy hour will be Thursday, April 28th.  Mark your calendars!  I will send out details on time, place, and topics of discussion once I have some feedback from the group.

 

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take a minute to fill out the survey if you’re interested in The Table!

 

A special thanks to those who made it to the first happy hour.  I feel so blessed by this group already.

 


Adulting Part II

I know what you’re thinking…adulting part II?  But where is adulting part I?!  Erin, teach me how to be an adult!  Well, awhile ago I told you about budgeting, and while I did’t title it “Adulting Part I,” it definitely was.  Balancing my budget has been one of the most adult-ish things I’ve done in my life.  The second, as you’re about to read, is cooking and meal prep.

A couple of months ago, I decided that if I wanted to be a real grown up, I needed to start eating like one.  My struggling budget was admittedly also part of the motivation.  😓  So for the past couple of months, I’ve been spending a good portion of my Sundays prepping food for the whole week.  It might be the OCD in me talking, but there is something so beautiful about a fridge loaded up with a week’s worth of healthy, packed meals.  Okay, definitely the OCD in me.  😳

One of the biggest reasons I have stayed away from cooking for so long is because of the time commitment.  Really, who has time to come home and cook every day?!  That is something that will take me many years to comprehend.  Meal prep, however, has been the exact opposite: an incredibly time efficient, money efficient, and, like I said, satisfying new endeavor.  I cook, (well, most of the time, crockpot) on Sundays, and my meals are done for the whole week.  What a beautiful thing.

There have been a few recipes that I have become obsessed with, so I thought I would share the good news with my mom and whoever else still reads this blog.

All pictures I am about to share are not my own.  They are the beautiful creations of those who have come before me/have more talent and photographic drive than me.

slow cooker chicken enchilada quinoaa 2Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Quinoa, by Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen

This is my absolute favorite.  It’s easy, healthy, and delicious.  I’ve been buying double of all of the ingredients when I go shopping, because I know I’m going to want to make it again.  It’s been taking me about an hour to prep the chicken and vegetables and to put it all into the crockpot, and then it’s done and ready to go in three hours.  Seriously, if you only take one recipe from this post, this is the one.  The only edits I’ve made to this recipe is that I just cook it with the green onions and cilantro in it, since I’m prepping for the whole week and not just one meal.

 

Healthy Tuna Stuffed Avocado 1Tuna Stuffed Avocado, by The Stay at Home Chef

This isn’t a crockpot recipe, but it’s easy and delicious.  I ate in for lunch every day for a week and never got sick of it.  It also didn’t smell super tuna-y, which was very nice for everyone sitting near me.  One day I cut up the avocado, added it to the salad, and ate it as a wrap.  Yum.

 

 

34Pineapple Chicken Salad Wraps, by Skinny Mom

These are also a new favorite.  I have made batches of this chicken salad twice now, and have not regretted a bite of it.  To make it a little more healthy (not that it’s unhealthy the way it is), you can increase the ratio of Greek yogurt to light mayo.  You could probably even ditch the mayo all together and just use yogurt, but I haven’t been so bold yet.  This salad is also great on its own, but the wrap just makes it even better.  I added avocado half of the time, which I seem to do to every recipe.  I’ve also started saving the chicken broth after cooking the chicken, and reusing that broth to make chicken tortilla soup.  Am I brilliant or what?

 

8af064f4-817e-43ee-a046-ba0a7591b9ad.1024x768_q85_cropTurkey and Quinoa Meatball Lettuce Wraps, by Gathered Table

I’ve only made these once, but they are sure to become a staple, as last week I was more then happy to eat these wraps for dinner 4 out of 5 nights.  They are delicious and very healthy, meeting my basic two requirements.  The only improvement I would add to the recipe is to use more salt.  I also smothered them in ketchup inside my lettuce wraps. 😋  Gathered Table is also a really great resource in general.  If you’re willing to pay the small subscription fee, you can create a whole calendar of meals and menus and it will create organized grocery lists for you.  I don’t need any of these features right now, seeing as I only cook 1 or 2 recipes a week, but it could be super helpful for anyone who cooks more often.

 

minisMini Frittata Breakfast Sandwiches, adapted recipe

I pulled a little bit from a couple of different recipes to start out, and now I just throw whatever veggies and cheese I have on hand into these delicious breakfast sandwiches.  The most recent recipe includes:

  • egg whites
  • kale
  • cherry tomatoes
  • provolone cheese
  • salt, pepper, & good ol’ Tony C’s

I throw all my ingredients into a muffin tin, bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, let cool, stick each one into the middle of an English muffin, and freeze in foil and ziplocks.  It takes about 2 minutes to heat them up in the morning.  Delicious.  I’ve also used avocado (of course), turkey bacon, and feta cheese.  So far, everything has worked well, although my recent recipe has been my favorite.  The two recipes I pulled from were Oh Sweet Day (also their picture being used), and Food Addict and Fitness Fanatic.

 

There are a handful of other recipes I have made as well, but these have been the favorites and the ones I will most definitely turn to again and again!  Anyone else out there a huge fan of meal prep?

 

 


Aslan & Watercolors

Sophomore year of college, my roommate and I trained ourselves to get up at 6am every morning to spend time with Jesus (I’ve talked about this one a couple of times).  When I started student teaching, I rolled that time back to 5am.  These early mornings were so precious and foundational to me.  But about a year ago, I stopped wanting to spend time in the Scriptures.  Suddenly my magical routine wasn’t working anymore.  With no warning, God went silent.

I think we all experience times like these, times when Jesus just isn’t speaking loudly.  Maybe He’s whispering and we just can’t hear it, but the shock of feeling wrapped up in His embrace each morning to no longer hearing his voice is a hard punch to bear.  I feel like Lucy in the Chronicles of Narnia; Aslan is here right beside me, and then I turn around and He’s gone again with no promise of when He will return.  He’s there, but He isn’t.  He’s with us, but we’re alone.

But Aslan is always on the move, and Jesus is always good.  He is alive and active, working in our lives and walking beside us each step of the way.  His presence in our lives looks different in each season, but in each season, He is there.

In the past year, I’ve come to learn one thing.  Jesus is the same, today and forever, and yet in each season He is revealing to us new facets of His grace.  In each season, I encounter a new side of Him.  In each season, He calls me to something new, to something a little higher and a little harder.  He challenges my routine and calls me to follow where He is leading.

All of this to say, my college routine wasn’t working anymore, and Jesus wanted me to meet Him somewhere else.  In this new season of life, He has led me into the most beautiful dance with Him.  I’m back to my 5am mornings, but they are no longer stale and barren; they have been transformed into a rich and colorful time of drawing near to my Jesus once again.  Who would have thought a little bit of paint could change so much?

I put away the devotionals and invested in a journaling Bible and watercolor pens.  Setting aside the commentary and focusing on the Word alone, rhythmically reflecting on sometimes just one verse, has changed everything.  Aslan is back.

And then—oh joy! For he was there: the huge Lion, shining white in the moonlight, with his huge black shadow underneath him. … “Aslan, Aslan. Dear Aslan,” sobbed Lucy. “At last.”
…  “Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.” -CS Lewis, Prince Caspian

I have found this method of Bible journaling and coloring so effective, so I want to share the practicalities of it with you.  Here’s what it has looked like for me while going through Ephesians this week:

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Sometimes I really do focus on just a few words.  Ephesians 1-3 are all about unity and grace, and then you get to Ephesians 4-6, where there are subtitles like, “instructions for Christian living.”  For a girl who has hated following rules since the day she could say, “no,” this is a tough section for me to get excited about.  But within these chapters, Paul says, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children.”  (Ephesians 5:1), and this verse spoke so much to me that I ended up focusing on the idea of what it means to live and respond to instruction as a dearly loved child.  Those four words were so powerful.

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The single column and wide margins of this journaling Bible make it so perfect for writing and reflecting.  As much as I love the marked up, falling apart Bible I have had for years, it has been surprisingly powerful to have a new Bible with fresh pages.  It has really allowed me to read the same passages with new eyes and an open heart.  Here’s another example from John of how great these margins are:

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As always, everything I buy is straight from Amazon.  Here’s the shopping list for all of the tools I’ve been using and loving:

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  NIV Bible Journal Edition, $30

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Water Color Brush Pens, $10 for a 5 pack

Zebra Highlighter Milliner, $7

Zebra Highlighter Milliner, $7

 

 

Paper Mate Flair Pens, $13

Paper Mate Flair Pens, $13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve never used the Amazon mobile app before, download the app and use the code ERIN12599N at check out to save $5!  And while I’m sending you Amazon links, I might as well throw The Chronicles of Narnia onto this list for those of you who are still waiting to step through the wardrobe.

 

Think you might try Bible journaling?   I would love to hear about it!  Leave a comment or send me an email.  There are some pretty cool online communities of women practicing Bible journaling as well, check out IllustratedFaith.com if you’re interested in seeing more.

 

 


Prayers, Dreams, & The Merging of Passions

This year has been an adventure.  A rollercoaster, really.  Trying to figure out who I am as an adult has not been as easy thing.  A handful of passions pulling me in different directions has left me trying to figure out: how in the world do all of these things fit together?

There are three big things that I have been trying to balance and pursue:

  • teaching (something all of my energy has been going towards)
  • my relationship with Christ
  • writing and blogging (this blog, as you can see, has been nearly abandoned)

So how do all of these things fit together?  This has been a prayer of mine for awhile now, and I am so excited to share it with the world.  Welcome to The Table.  Come to the Table: A Gathering of Teachers, is the result of Jesus calling me to pursue Him through every avenue available to me, and to pull others alongside me in this pursuit.

The Table is a gathering of Christian teachers.  It’s a meeting place to further dialogue about loving our kids through Christ and pursuing grace and life through an exhausting and rewarding career.  Teaching is a calling, and following Christ is a calling, and it’s time to talk about what that means for teachers working in public schools.

The Table will meet every fourth Thursday at restaurants and happy hours in Austin to gather, dialogue, support and pray for one another.  Are you interested in joining in on my big project?  You can read more here, at the newest section of this blog.

Join our Facebook group, and RSVP to our first happy hour on March 24th.  Both the event and the group will remain “secret” for the sake of your privacy.

Will you join me in prayer as this newest project comes to fruition?  I am so excited to see what Jesus has in store for us.

 

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”  Matthew 18:20

 

 


Ballin’ on a Budget: The Life & Times of a First Year Teacher

My dad would be shocked to read that I’m writing about money (really, that I’m even willing to talk about money).  Not exactly this compulsive I-need-that-Anthropoligie-top-right-now-spender’s favorite topic.  But @dad, look who’s growing up 😉

I knew that I wouldn’t be making a ton of cold hard cash as a teacher, but I had no idea what it would actually look like.  I wanted to be responsible about it, and I wanted to make wise decisions, but there was a serious lack of financial teacher-to-teacher advice on the internet.  Turns out teachers don’t like talking about finances as much as we like talking about boogers and lesson plans.  Who would’ve thought?
In a series of grown up decisions, I adopted a dog last weekend.  He is beautiful and perfect and cuddly and I now have a man to spoon so I regret nothing.  This investment did, however, make my financial struggle bucket just a little bit heavier.  Worth it, like I said, but still a thing to be addressed.  So I figured the next best thing to spend more money, so I bought a book called Rich Bitch.  I bought it because it had the word bitch in the title and I need help with money.  It sounded like the right book for me.rich

I buy a lot of nonfiction books that I don’t end up reading, but this one has been awesome.  (I never would have thought I would use the word “awesome” in reference to anything with the subtitle “A simple 12-step plan for getting your financial life together…finally” But…here I am.)

Nicole Lapin covers a lot of material in this book, from retirement plans to student loans to credit cards to buying houses.  Many of these were applicable to me, and a few not at all (yet…this is a book I will hold onto).  I could talk about any number of these topics, but I want to cover the information that I wanted most when I accepted my first job offer (woohoo!) in April.

Alright, so it’s time to get financially vulnerable.  I’m totally okay with putting my salary on the internet because a) money shouldn’t be such a BFD, and b) I’m pretty sure you can just Google my salary and find out what it is.  So here it goes.

As a first year teacher at a rockin’ public school, I make $45,000 a year.  That $45,000 is a ten month salary, and I receive it monthly over a twelve month period.  That means that untaxed, I get $3,750 a month.  Once taxes and whatever insurance and ish I pay for, I get $2,757 in my bank account each month. As a hot single lady with no kids and few responsibilities, this is plenty of money.  I am not in need, and I praise Jesus for the privilege of being able to say such a thing. 🙌

Lapin, in her charming and witty and makes-you-want-to-read-about-finances way, says that I should be spending my money the following way:

70% should be going towards the essentials (housing, food, transportation, bills, insurance)

That 70% of essentials should be broken up as follows:

35% housing, 10% transportation, 10% food, 15% bills/insurance

15% should be going towards savings (or as she calls it, the endgame)

15% should be going towards extras (obviously, anything not included in savings or essentials)

 

Lapin then breaks this down with her starting salary of $150,000.  HAHA.  Honestly.  That’s all I have to say about that.

Here’s how that break down looks per month with a first year teaching salary of $45,000.

Essentials (70%): $1,930

From that 70%: Housing (35%): $965, Food (10%): $275, Transportation (10%): $275, Bills (15%): $413

Endgame (15%): $413

Extras (15%): $413

 

A priority for me, apart from the essentials, endgame, and extras, is tithing.  I could have pulled that money out of essentials or out of extras, but what made the most sense to me was to just calculate that ten percent first and then eliminate it from the equation afterwards.  So, here’s how that looked for me:

Monthly salary of $2,757 minus 10% tithe (which, TBH isn’t going to a church right now but rather to friends on missions and working in local ministry): $2,757 – $276 = $2,481.  So then I just adjusted everything as if my base salary was $2,481.  This made the most sense to me.  So then I ended up with this:
Essentials (70%): $1,737

From that 70%: Housing (35%): $868, Food (10%): $248, Transportation (10%): $248, Bills (15%): $372

Endgame (15%): $372

Extras (15%): $372

 

Lapin makes it clear that she believes if you can cut out expenses in one realm, you’re free to add that extra money somewhere else.  So, if you live with 4 other roommates and can find rent for $500, that frees up $370 to put towards your extras or wherever you want it.  Or if you’re like me and your parents are still paying your car insurance and phone bill, PTL for their generosity and put that extra money towards savings or paying off student loans or your weekly happy hour🍸🍹or wherever needed.

Right now, this budgeting is in it’s very first stages, as in, it has yet to be implemented but is purely ideological.  It is, however, the information that I needed last year and couldn’t find, so it’s what I’m spilling across the internet for all to read.  It’s not much, but I think it’s needed.  It’s the first set of building blocks towards the financial stability I hope we will all be able to find, because though teaching doesn’t make us rich, it’s worth it, and we can still live with the confidence of a Rich Bitch attitude.

 

In closing, know this, first year teachers:  1) This book is helpful and I like it because Nicole Lapin says dogthings like, “rich bitches do hard shit” (Lapin- pg.228), 2) don’t panic but also don’t overspend: your salary will be plenty, but you won’t be rolling in bathtubs full of dolla dolla bills, and 3) you should definitely get a dog even though it will cost $600 (aka 2 months of teacher “extras”) just to legally get him into your apartment.  Worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A Year in the Books: My First Blogiversary

IMG_1837 A year ago today, I started this blog.  I prayed and sweated and celebrated and finally made my little project public to the world.  So much has happened since then. Thank you to everyone who has been along for the ride, whether it’s been all year or you’re jumping in today: thank you.

In November, I quoted CS Lewis from the Chronicles of Narnia, proclaiming that this blog was an adventure “further up and further in.” I said no to my fears of rejection and said yes to following the call Jesus placed on my heart, the call to write.

“That’s what we’re doing here- trusting Jesus, climbing up, racing through the fields of further up and further in.  There’s more to see than what’s in front of us, there’s more to Jesus than what we know, there’s more to ourselves than we’re willing to believe.  I want to chase that, the land I have been looking for all my life.  Further up and further in.”

In December, I shared some stories about Wilderness, my roommates, and my best friends.  It was a month of celebrating friendships.

In January, I introduced Throwback Thursday, a short lived series featuring journal entries from my IMG_3905angsty preteen years (I was a no doubt a more talented writer at 12 than I am now).  I both wallowed in andcelebrated my singleness (okay so not that much has changed in a year…) I attempted to live in the present while entering my last semester of college, hoping to set aside my workaholic nature, I dreamed “to live in the present, in the fragile promise that lies between January and May.”  I published some more TBTs, swooning over the boyfriends of 2003 (they were so cute and sweet).  Lastly, of course, I talked about Wilderness some more, celebrating the newest class of backpacking guides.

 

In February, I published some more TBTs and started another shortly lived project called Chasing Dreams.  This was the time full of trial & error, figuring out what kind of writing I wanted to do.  A year in, I think I’m still trying to figure it out.  I was also in a powerful season of reconciliation that led me into approaching Lent in a new way.  I spent a lot of time talking about things that I’m bad at (like sharing and being nice.)

In March, I swallowed my pride for the first of many times, and told you how hard college was for me, and I gushed some more about how much I love the mountains, hoping to prepare campers for the best week of their lives.  And then, something significant happened.  I figured out that I actually wanted to be a teacher.  After months of hating my teaching internships, I finally had a new placement at a new school (s/o to UT Elementary), my heart for teaching developed.  I realized this was where I wanted to be.  This was the beginning of something big.

In April, people actually started to read this blog.  I Wish I Didn’t Want to be a Teacher went viral, and the Huffington Post reached out and asked if they could publish my piece as well.  I spent days and weeks just watching my stats rise to unimaginable numbers.  Previously, I had been pumped when 600 people read a post.  150,000 people started reading my writing.  All of the sudden, the pressure of having a blog that people read hit me.  It was hard to keep writing after writing something successful.  How could anything else reach those kind of views?  My next post had maybe 100 views and 0 comments.  What a rollercoaster of emotions.

teacher

In May, the plethora of negative comments (along with many encouraging comments) still rolling in from I Wish I Didn’t Want to be a Teacher led me to write Why I Write in the Classroom, which still rates as my second most read piece, only because it links directly from the first successful post.  I then told you about some books and my thoughts on graduation, and peaced out for summer.

In June, I was traveling through Europe and was outraged about the way my Christian friends were speaking about Caitlyn Jenner.  I got political and edgy and used the word shit online for the first time.  It was the only thing I wrote this summer, and it was a turning point in my writing.  I published it on the Huffington Post as well, taking advantage of the new and exciting platform I had available.

In July, I gave a quick summary of my summer and published an old piece on Wilderness, relishing in every moment spent on the mountain tops.

As I walk away from Wilderness and into “real life,” (although I am convinced that there will never be any life more real than what’s lived on a mountain), I walk away as a woman of confidence and courage, ready to live life to the fullest.  Because life is not lived on the peak, but rather, in the valleys.  And as I tearfully descend back into the lower regions, I am better because of it.  Because I know what is above, and my eyes will forever see through new lenses.  Because I know what it is like to be afraid, and to be brave, and to live in true community, and lessons learned here are not easily forgotten.

In August, I started a new job and moved into a new apartment and started a new and foreign way of life.  I wrote a grand total of 0 blog posts.  Whoops.

In September, I wrote about some of those struggles that I’m still facing.  Post-grad life is hard and confusing and overwhelming, no matter how much I love my new job and all of my students.  I’m in a new phase of life, and I’m still trying to figure out the balance of writing and teaching and finding a community and prioritizing my time with Jesus.  The number of blog posts has significantly decreased, but the rewards of being a teacher are immense.

In October, I agin wrote nothing on this blog.  I spent a big portion of my semester sharing all of my teaching adventures and ideas on my teaching blog.

Now, here we are, full circle, back to November.  This past year has been an adventure and a rollercoaster.  I cannot express how thankful I am for all of the support and encouragement I have received.  I am overwhelmed.  Thank you thank you thank you.