Monday, December 20, 2010

Be careful, little fingers, what you type!

This is a Facebook exchange that popped up on a friend's news feed today. The conversation surrounds a "save the date" card.

"I just wanted to let you know I was so excited to get my very first piece of mail at the new house this weekend and have it not be a bill or junk mail but your beautiful STD! You made my day! I'm sorry you're still waiting to get cleared for work, but "consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds..." and look at it as an opportunity to strengthen your patience and your trust in Him. I'll be praying for you, and I hope you have a good day despite the frustrations."

"Thanks, I appreciate the encouragement, and I am glad you got the STD!"

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thankful, Part 5

The Qba Edition.

I took my first trip to Qba in March 2009, but I did not know then just how this trip would change my life. I have been on several of these kinds of trips in the past, and each one has been a really good experience, but I have never had one of these trips stay with me the way that my trip to Qba did.

I had never seen faith in action the way that I did that week that I was there. Their ministry faces tremendous opposition from the government, but they know what God has called them to do, so they persevere, and when they meet a setback, instead of despairing, they have faith that God has something even bigger and better for them. And God has blessed their faithfulness--they are literally changing their country for Christ.

When I came back from that first trip, I knew that I wanted faith like theirs. I even prayed that if God had to bring opposition into my life in order for me to have that faith, that He would bring it. Be careful what you pray for. :P I didn't know at the time that the next year and a half of my life would be a constant test of my faith. There were so many times that I cried out to God during this time wondering where He was and why He had abandoned me. I was completely overwhelmed by my fears and my insecurities; there were times that I even doubted God's love for me, and I certainly didn't think that He could use a mess like me.

I have been back to Qba two times since that first trip, and on my most recent trip, in the summer, God brought tremendous healing to my heart. I went back to my brothers and sisters completely broken. I felt that my faith had been tested and that I had failed. I had let God down. What I love about the Qbans is that they are so relational. There was a point on the trip that I was able to share with some of them what had been going on in my life over the last year, and it was so sweet to be able to receive their love and encouragement and to hear what God had been teaching them as well. Then, in a later conversation, one of my sweet brothers spoke some very kind words to me. He told me the gifts He could see that God had given me, and He told me that God could use and that He wanted to use those things in me. He challenged me to not waste the gifts and abilities that God had placed in my life. The words that he spoke to me were not things my friends hadn't been saying to me for months and months, but this was the first time I really believed them. For one, the words came from a man, and for women, there's just something different about encouragement that comes from a man. I think it was also good that the words came from someone who is not involved in my everyday life, someone who, aside from a couple of e-mails here and there, hadn't had contact with me for a year. And yet, he could still see these things in me.

For the rest of the time I was there, several people made comments about how much I smiled and would ask me why I was smiling so much. It was because for the first time in a long time, I was genuinely happy.

When I came back from my second trip to Qba (Summer 2009), I was frustrated with God. I couldn't understand why I was here when I only wanted to be there with them. But this time was different. I understood that, while I missed my precious brothers and sisters terribly, God has me here, and since then, I have been trying to translate the things He taught me in Qba to my life here.

It hasn't always been easy, and there are times that I still doubt, but I feel like I can finally have hope again. I am not entirely sure just what it is that God wants to do with me, but I can finally believe that He DOES love me and that He DOES want to do something with me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankful, Part 4

I am thankful for a family who loves me very much.

Since I moved away from home, my life has mostly revolved around my friends and "family" that I have established in Houston, and I tend to take my actual family for granted. However, sometimes it just takes a trip home to remind me how blessed I really am.

These are some of the many things I love about my family:
1. Grandparents who have a heart for missions and who have always encouraged me and supported me in any mission trip I have gone on
2. Parents who are unfailingly generous
3. A mom who is always willing to listen--I don't always want to talk to her about what is going on, but I know she will be there when I need her
4. A dad whose overprotective tendencies drive me crazy but that I know I would miss if they weren't there
5. A brother who shares and understands my sense of humor even when others in the family don't
6. A sister-in-law who makes efforts to make me feel like I am a part of her family
7. I love that my dad is still willing to play games with me when I come home even though I neither win nor lose graciously most of the time.
8. I love that they encourage me, both through words and example, to continually seek the Lord and remain steady in my faith even when things are difficult.
9. Examples of strong, Godly women (mom, grandma, aunts, cousins...)
10. Thanksgiving especially reminds me how thankful I am that I come from a long line of excellent cooks and bakers who have passed on at least some of that skill to me.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful, Part 3

I'm thankful for my new job.

Without going into too much detail, last year was probably the hardest of all my years of teaching. I was not at my best, and I was either in tears or close to it every day on my way to work. God knew that I didn't need to be at that school any longer, but He also knew that I'm stubborn. He had to completely pull the rug out from underneath me in order to give me the courage to change.

Toward the end of the year, I asked to be transferred to a different school in the district and ended up teaching 7th-Grade ELA at a middle school this year. Teaching middle school has not been without its challenges, but I'm making more of an effort to meet those challenges head on rather than hiding from them or pretending they don't exist as had become my habit at my old school. Seventh-graders are squirrely and silly and have almost no filters, but there is something about them that makes me smile every day.

I'm excited (and, honestly, a little scared as well) to see just how God is going to continue to grow me this year.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thankful, Part 2

I was going to include these girls in my previous post but then decided to give them a post of their own. I am unbelievably thankful for the small group Bible studies I have been able to be a part of over the last year.

My old small group. I started meeting with these girls in the Spring of 2009 and stayed with them for a year-and-a-half. I had been in several small groups before this one but never experienced the depth that I did with these ladies. Every week, they challenged me to go deeper in my walk with the Lord. They also taught me about accountability (even when I was a stubborn student). I had prayed for accountability for a long time, and all I can say is, "Be careful what you pray for." These girls would not allow me to settle for being anything less than what God has called me to be.

My new small group. As I said in my previous post, the last year was really difficult, and as a result, I pulled away from all but a very small group of friends. Over the last few months, God has brought considerable healing to my heart, and He showed me that He has given me the ability to love and to encourage others and that squandering that ability would be disobedient. I realized that God was calling me to leave my old small group in order to begin a new one and start investing in other girls in the class. What a blessing He gave me with the girls He placed in my small group! I have so enjoyed getting to know these girls better over the last few months. I know that God brought us all together at the right time, and it has been such a privilege to be a part of their lives. I am excited to see what God will continue to do in each of our hearts.

Thankful, Part 1

(I meant to start this yesterday and have posts every day this week, so I'll just play catch up today.)

When I start making a list of all the things I am thankful for, one of the first places my mind always goes is to my amazing girlfriends. Throughout my life, God has been so faithful to provide incredible women that I have been able to share my life with, and I want to take a little time to spotlight some of them.

My Sidus Sisterhood. This is just a random sampling of my college girls. These were the first girls that really made me feel like I was part of a group. What I love so much about them is that even after eight years, we can still get together today, and it's like no time has passed. I laugh longer, louder, and harder with these girls than I do with anyone else.

My GGs. This was my first real group of girlfriends in Houston. It was hard coming from the close friends I had in college to a place where I didn't really know anyone, and for a while I kind of jumped from one group of friends to another. These girls were the first to give me the sense that I truly had a place where I belonged. They were the first ones to love even the unlovable parts of me while still encouraging and challenging me to grow in my walk with the Lord.

My Crew. The last year or so has been one of the most difficult times of my life, and these girls have walked every step of it with me. They have shown me unconditional love even when I felt I was completely unlovable; they have encouraged me when I needed to be lifted up; they have spoken difficult Truth when I needed a good butt-kicking; and they have laughed, rejoiced, and cried with me. I know that when I am with them, I can be completely real, without pretense.

My Paradigm girls. These ladies have been such an encouragement to me. It has been such a blessing to sit back and watch the way that God has moved in each one of their lives. I have been challenged in my faith by watching the way each one of them pursues her walk with the Lord.

It is amazing to me how God brings just the right people into my life at the exact time that I need them. I am so blessed to have each one of these girls in my life.

This made my day

The picture is a little hard to see (stupid old camera flip phone!), but I wanted to share my little joy for the day. I really like the kind words ("Ms. Ruddell is the BOMB!," "I'm thankful for Ms. Ruddell," and "I <3 Ms. Ruddell"), but I think my favorite part is the commentary at the bottom on the turkey's ultimate demise.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

SMH (the one example of "text-speak" I can actually get behind)

From the middle school files this week:

I was asked by a student if it was racist to say "Chinese food."

My students are currently working on propaganda projects. The following is an exchange I had with a student on one of their work days:
Student: Ms. Ruddell, what's Nike's slogan?
Me: Just do it.
Student: No, I need to know what Nike's slogan is.
Me: Just do it.
Student: No, I need you to tell me what Nike's slogan is.
Me: Are you messing with me?
Student: No. What's Nike's slogan?

We got an e-mail from our librarian today saying that she has chocolate bars for sale to benefit a club at another middle school in the district. The club sponsoring the fundraiser? The Health Club, of course.

On my desk, I have a small replica of The Colosseum that one of my students brought me back from Rome several years ago. A student picked it up and looked at it and said, "Is this supposed to be a waffle cone?"

(I can hardly wait to see what Friday brings.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Backin' Up

Watch this one first:

And now the remix:

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I went to Dallas this weekend for my great aunt's funeral. It was a time of sadness, but even more, it was a time of celebration over a life well-lived for the Lord.

After the funeral, our family went back to my cousin's house to spend a little more time together before everyone left. We were sitting on the back porch lamenting the fact that the only time we ever seem to see each other is at weddings and funerals (and over the last few years, it's been mostly funerals).

I told my family that I would make the ultimate sacrifice--I would have a wedding so that they have another excuse to get together.

Now I just need to find the groom...

Any takers? You would be doing my family a great service.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Know your audience

Rejected Facebook retort of the day:

"When you are 24 years old, married, and incredibly pregnant, perhaps it is best not to imply to your 30-year-old, incredibly single friend that she doesn't know what it's like to experience what appears to be a very long, drawn out period of time."

*Disclaimer: This is spoken mostly tongue-in-cheek. Mostly.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A missed opportunity?

I felt the need for some prayer time this evening, and I was distracted at home, so I grabbed my journal, a bottle of water, and a blanket and headed to Hermann Park. I undertook this same endeavor last Saturday as well, but I was interrupted by the visit of a rather large rat. However, ever the optimist, I decided to give the park another chance.

I was feeling rather lonely today, so I was praying for someone who would sit with me, hold me, and talk with me (guess what my love languages are). About that time, through my sniffles, I heard a voice asking me if I wanted some company. I soon learned the voice belonged to a bearded man who told me he was "wandering through the park--I mean, I have a home and a job--but I was walking through the park..." After a brief conversation, I politely declined his offer, and he left. I packed up my stuff and left shortly thereafter.

I know God's ways are higher than mine, but surely He wouldn't choose to answer my prayer with a wandering stranger, in the dark, when there were no witnesses in close proximity.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Middle School--where everything's a big deal

I watched a student almost slip into a panic attack today because he thought the fact that I counted him tardy to my class was going to keep him out of Harvard.

Gotta love the 7th-grade drama...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I've heard sex sells, but really...???

Spotted along Highway 59:

A billboard that says merely "Still a Virgin?" and gives a number you can call "for help."

*UPDATE: Apparently the billboard is just a publicity stunt for a new Will Ferrell movie, but I don't think that makes it any less disturbing.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Silence of God

I heard this song for the first time a few years ago (and even bought the CD specifically for this song), but I had forgotten about it until a friend posted some lyrics from it on Facebook recently. I pulled it out and listened to it yesterday and could barely read the lyrics on the liner notes through my tears.

For the last several months, God has been taking me through a season of brokenness. He has been stripping away a lot of the things that I had built the foundation of my life on. I know that this has been a necessary process, but it has been very painful, and so many times I find myself crying out to the Lord and, according to my very limited view of God, receiving no answer in return. I love the last verse of the song that talks about how Jesus also had to experience God's silence, and I am reminded once again that I have a Savior that is well-acquainted with my grief. I also love the refrain at the end that reminds me even though there will be residual aching from the refining that God is doing in my life, the breaking will not last forever and there is hope on the other side.

It's enough to drive a man crazy; it'll break a man's faith
It's enough to make him wonder if he's ever been sane
When he's bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the heaven's only answer is the silence of God

It'll shake a man's timbers when he loses his heart
When he has to remember what broke him apart
This yoke may be easy, but this burden is not
When the crying fields are frozen by the silence of God

And if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
Who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they've got
When they tell you all their troubles have been nailed up to that cross
Then what about the times when even followers get lost?
'Cause we all get lost sometimes...

There's a statue of Jesus on a monastery knoll
In the hills of Kentucky, all quiet and cold
And He's kneeling in the garden, as silent as a Stone
All His friends are sleeping and He's weeping all alone

And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Things I did NOT expect to hear at work today

From one co-worker whose birthday we were celebrating at lunch:
"My real birthday was in January, but I wanted to wait to celebrate until after I'd finished my colon cleanse."

From another co-worker who was grading essays:
"Oh my gosh!! I just drew a penis on this girl's paper!"

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Visions of...ummm....

Sights seen tonight while walking at Memorial:

1. A man walking a dog. And carrying a parrot.

2. A man in VERY short denim cutoffs, no shirt, sporting a tramp stamp.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One Word (totally ripped off from LJ's blog)

The challenge? Answer each question with just one word.

1. Where is your cell phone? purse
2. Your significant other? unknown
3. Your hair? pretty
4. Your mother? encouraging
5. Your father? doting
6. Your favorite? smiling
7. Your dream last night? forgotten
8. Your favorite drink? wine
9. Your dream/goal? family
10. What room you are in? classroom
11. Your hobby? baking
12. Your fear? alone
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? joyful
14. Where were you last night? home
15. Something that you are not? housekeeper
16. Muffins? pumpkin
17. Wish list item? fulfillment
18. Where you grew up? Denison
19. Last thing you did? eighteen
20. What are you wearing? heels
21. Your TV? off
22. Your pets? bark-y
23. Friends? lifeline
24. Your life? emotional
25. Your mood? frazzled
26. Missing someone? Who?
27. Car? improvement
28. Something you're not wearing? grill
29. Your favorite store? Target
30. Your favorite color? red
33. When is the last time you laughed? today
34. Last time you cried? Monday
35. One place that I go to over and over? work
36. One person who texts me regularly? LL
37. My favorite place to eat? Chuy's
38. My favorite food? avocado

Monday, April 12, 2010

Painting Pictures

"Painting Pictures of Egypt" by Sara Groves
I don’t want to leave here
I don’t want to stay
It feels like pinching to me
Either way
And the places I long for the most
Are the places where I’ve been
They are calling out to me
Like a long lost friend

It’s not about losing faith
It’s not about trust
It’s all about comfortable
When you move so much
And the place I was wasn’t perfect
But I had found a way to live
And it wasn’t milk or honey
But then neither is this

I've been painting pictures of Egypt,
Leaving out what it lacks
The future feels so hard,
And I wanna go back!
But the places that used to fit me,
Cannot hold the things I've learned
Those roads were closed off to me
While my back was turned!

The past is so tangible
I know it by heart
Familiar things are never easy
To discard
I was dying for some freedom
But now I hesitate to go
I am caught between the Promise
And the things I know

I've been painting pictures of Egypt,
Leaving out what it lacks
The future feels so hard,
And I wanna go back!
But the places that used to fit me,
Cannot hold the things I've learned
Those roads were closed off to me
While my back was turned!

If it comes too quick
I may not appreciate it
Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?
And if it comes too quick
I may not recognize it
Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

#512. Thinking you

A dear friend shared this with me the other day, and I keep reading it over and over. It's definitely encouragement I needed, and I hope it encourages you as well.

#512. Thinking you’re naked.

Posted using ShareThis

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Day's Observations (thus far...)

Girl Scout cookies taste that much sweeter when confiscated from (and perhaps consumed in front of) a "sneaky" student.

There is a lot of fake hair that makes its way in and out of my classroom.

I'm thinking that when the air conditioner cuts on and the whole hallway smells of burning plastic, something is amiss.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010