Monday, October 6, 2014

Student Spotlight: L Goon

Recommendation letters are my fave! This is preproofread because I just wanted to post it!
Love me some Elle Gunn!  

To whom it may concern: 
“As a man thinketh, so is he.” As a bright-eyed first year teacher, I had that up on my wall and 
believed it with all of my heart. People told me that students would jade me but I plowed through 
confident in that belief. Elizabeth Lee Gunn (Elle) is the reason I am not jaded. Elle struggled 
with math before her sophomore year of high school. She walked into my class at Crossroads Christian Academy and owned that truth. I will never forget confirming the 99 she earned in 
Geometry 2nd quarter. Elle inspires me to keep on believing.  
The enchantment doesn’t stop there. Elle left Panama and spent a year Stateside for 11th grade. She was at a public high school in ennessee. The school has a magnet program for the Arts and Elle was able to thrive in her academics and pursue her passion for music. Watch the 
school’s final choral concert and find a bright-haired soprano blending the music’s melody perfectly on pitch.  
In this 12th grade year Elle has returned home and is finishing her senior year strong. In her spare time she sings for our chapel band, plays shooting guard for the Lady Eagles basketball team, and as a personal favorite, she leads Bible study on Wednesdays for a group of younger girls in the community. When asking Elle why she decided to initiate this last activity her answer was a story about an older girl (Carla) who invested in her life. Elle realizes the impact that 
Carla had on her life and decided to pay it forward. 
There is much more to be said about Elle, the bragging could go on for days. I will park the Elle fan bus at the Gunn household. When students posses great character and strong belief in their 
savior, usually the common denominator is a solid home. Mr. and Mrs. Gunn (both Wheaton Alumni) are pillars for their 5 children. Elle longs to hang out with them more than her friends. Wheaton College would be lucky to have this legacy. Elle has dreamed about this her whole life 
and in my humble, biased, opinion I believe she deserves it! 
Esther Brunat 

Monday, September 22, 2014

At the end of the day

Even as a teacher who realizes that I have some of the most impfactful influence, I still don't realize how much influence I have...
I did something wrong last week. I was human. I very rarely allow myself that privilege so let's just be clear that I was blindsided.
I was approached about what I did with the utmost grace. More grace than I would have given. More grace than I was expecting. More grace than I deserve. (Which is the whole thing about grace anyway.)
I was given the opportunity to express that last week was rough. Just not my fave. I took it out on someone I shouldn't have. I didn't know that it would effect them. Gosh. Silly me.
I'm thankful for people that approach me in love. People who remind me that my imperfections point to a perfect God. Thankful for people who pray for me after I've wronged them.

Here's to a better week!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I live in a place where...

-people get on the roof and cover up the windows of the skylight in the sanctuary because I want to use glow sticks during chapel.
-students remix This Little Light of Mine.
-wise women sit with me on couches or have coffee dates with me and listen to my heart.
-I want to stay but I want to go.
-so many  of my heart's desires are fulfilled but get clouded by linear equations, quadratic formulas, leading coefficient tests and proofs!
-my roommate and I play throwbacks at night and have heart to hearts on the living room floor.
-when parents meet with me they are always on my side.
-my students keep spare clothes at my house in case they want to sleep over.
-I have missed all my planned "special time" because this week has been crazy busy.
-refs from the other team stand on the court and we don't get a technical.
-my Pinterest TTM club decorates mirrors.
-we have a Rock Star chapel creativity team that is student driven and dreams big!
-I babysit for my neighbors and I look forward to it.
-I question lots of things but know God is in control.
-I get love notes on the regular.

And that was just this week!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Dreamer

My favorite book in the Bible is Genesis probably because it consists of my favorite story. The story of Joseph and his life have so many similarities to me. He (at first) was the youngest child. He was his dad's favorite ;-). He said things prematurely... (-_-). In every station of his life the favor of The Lord was with him and that granted him success. Also Joseph was a dreamer.

(If you look at my shirt it says DREAMER on it. Trin picked out my name and it was so appropriate.)

I spend a great deal of time daydreaming. Mostly about conversations I want to have with people or have had with people. When I'm not doing that I'm conjuring up some adventure. When an idea gets into my head and I can't stop day dreaming about it I take that as an indicator that I should act on it.
Volcan was a dream. Started as a huge dream and God gave it to me in its perfect package. At the end of the trip the kids (aka Tina) got me this necklace. 

It's a dream catcher. I shed a tear. God in that moment was letting me know that he approved of my dreaming.
I bought this key years ago at a little mountain side boutique in North Carolina. In my journal when I'm talking to The Lord or thinking things through I refer to endeavors and tasks as DREAMS. There's no way Trin knew that when she picked my name. That's what makes this so cool.

What Teams are Made of

It's been two weeks since we got back from Volcan. It seems like a month! It's been a rough two weeks for me. I'm just emotionally and socially spent. Spring Break came just in time! Today we had our post trip debrief and I was just reminded of the beautiful thing that God gave us.
Our team was perfect and lacking nothing. It was great to see everyone in their shining moment. I am excited to see how God moves us forward from this point. I have lots of pictures for this post and I'm excited to show off what God did through my perspective, so here goes!

This is where we started. At Daniela's house we passed around teammates and each wrote a characteristic. Then the person chose which one they liked best. Our shirts had the word on the back. I chose dreamer which is a total God story that I will write its own post about. :-) 

First up! Avery Hale:
Love me some Aves! On this trip my Avery moment happened a few hours into the trip when the girls were sharing their hearts. Avery went last and never before have I heard her be so passionate about things for The Lord. It reminded me of myself because sometimes when I get to talking about passions I get kinda emotional and I don't tend to be emotional. I loved seeing that side of her! I loved that she wasn't just letting her Christianity be passive but she was being active in going after God.


Paulina is everything I'm not. She's meek and soft spoken and her shirt said tender hearted. I am none of those things. I watched as Paulina always pointed us to Jesus. She served quietly and humbly (she washed a lot of dishes). She never sought attention but had a key role. It was beautiful. Seriously. Each student wrote a letter to themselves and on the last day it was given back to them. I read Paulina's and one of her statements said that she really wanted to be a spiritual leader during this trip. The night before at debrief it was mentioned that they were the spiritual leaders of our school. You can't make that up.


This last picture was my favorite Pepper moment. The kids had to do youth group and each of them had a part of the Armor of God they had to speak about. Pepper has been in Panama for almost three years and if you would've asked anyone who spoke the least Spanish out of the seven of them they would've said Pepper. I was a little nervous for him because I was watching the other gringos that have been in Panama for 7+ years get nervous about speaking in Spanish. Pepper delivered an effortless speech. He barely stuttered and wasn't nervous at all. He even told jokes! I was impressed. Come to find out that he wishes he had more opportunities to speak in public. Awesomeness!

Look at the second picture closely and you can see me in the background. Or should I say you can see my smile... Haha!!!
I mention Michael a lot but never talk about him so here goes... This kid is like my little brother (I know you don't like to be called little because you're practically a grown man now but to me you are.) I met Michael when he had braces, rocked a bad haircut and took life a little too seriously. In almost two years I've watched him change into this handsome young man of God and I couldn't be any more proud! I did not have a Michael moment on this trip but I get to watch Michael be Michael a lot and he is a rare breed of person that I truly believe The Lord has set apart for great things. He was our only senior on this trip and led positionally, vocally and best of all humbly. I'm gonna miss the booger when he leaves my life at the end of this school year.

Ahhhh! If you could see the inside of my heart when I think of how God is rocking Jonathan's world it would be like a carnival of happiness! This was my favorite Jonathan moment. We were at a boys home/school. It was here that I got to watch my favorite qualities of Jonathan come out. First when he was leading worship with Trinity, then praying with his small group and lastly in this picture. He went off with one of the boys and just sat and talked to him about life and how the boy got there. It was moving to hear Jony talk about this kid's story. Jonathan just wanted him to know someone cared and prayed for him and encouraged him. No one told him to do that. In fact everyone else was playing hot potato out on the grass.
I can tell God has really been moving in his heart and challenging him to be greater. I'm excited to see how that comes to past.

This girl! I told you about her snuggles last time and now you can see them in that picture. Isn't that picture the most precious thing you have ever seen? It makes my heart terribly happy! Trin's moment happened when she decided to lead devotional worship with a guitar. Trin is a singer. She is most talented and most comfortable in that role. When she decides to break out of her comfort zone she plays an instrument. Piano first then guitar. It's a struggle. But I think it's the most beautiful of struggles. Trin willingly decided to stretch her talents and humbled her self to the point that allowed her to fail openly in front of us. Knowing it was worth it because that is something God asked her to do. That pushed me toward God more than the most well sung note. I'm proud of her.

Lastly is the dear Daniela!
Dani is so cool! The day we went to the trash dump I got to see her best quality. Daniela is fearless! When she realized we had more sandwiches left after handing them out to the workers she wanted to make sure we went home empty handed. I watched as she walked into a pile of trash in the middle of workers by herself to hand out these sandwiches. Then I watched as she went to the top of the hill to go find more people to give sandwiches. Then I watched as she yelled to the people on the bottom of the hill to come get the rest of the sandwiches because she couldn't find a way to get to them. She was relentless!!! The kingdom needs more people like her.

Tina Louderback
Love this woman. Loved having her beside me to encourage me and help me in this process. Loved watching her work and be the perfect picture of grace. Thankful for her example in my life. Thankful for watching how she chooses to do life with people in the good, in the bad and in the ugly but still loving them while in the process. She's got four kids and a hubby and took the time out of her life to tag along. I really hope that I carry myself as gracefully as you do when God decides to give me all the beautiful things he has given you. :-)


I must use my words wisely so I don't get into trouble here. Haha. Me and Nathan's relationship is complicated... He's abusive and I am nothing but kind to him... That's not entirely true but let's pretend it is.
Okay but seriously, this first picture is of his hand while we(by we I mean they) were digging up rocks with pick axes and sledge hammers. The second is of him and the boys sanding down PVC pipe to make soccer goals. Nathan will do the work and will teach/coach the boys and mentor them with this example. Before the trip I specifically prayed that the boys and him would have great bonding time together and he would get to pour into their lives and it was awesome to see that happen!
Just got to babysit his FIVE kids and evil dog last night while he and Clare spent the night away. Love watching Godly families and having good examples of how to do things right!

To those of you who prayed: THANK YOU!
To those of you who supported: THANK YOU!

We got to see some awesome things happen and God did some awesome things in us.
This last picture is a thank you card. I tried to email it out to everyone but I know that wasn't everyone. If you can click it and zoom in we would like to share our thank yous with you!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Field Day Miracle

Today was Field DAY! I LOVE Field DAY! It is also Spirit week. Which is full of fun days and more competition.
Apparently I'm a little competitive.
While comparing my competitiveness to someone else's Flo said, "She is like Shirley Temple compared to your Stalin."
So I might need to change.
I yelled at these kids, I cheered them on. I held them to a high standrad and they made me proud. We won field day!
Also this is the CUTEST picture I have ever seen!!!!

This week is high stress for me. I like to win. That's normal. It might run around in my head like a lot. Spirit week is not my job but I like to be enthusiastic with the kids and I need to keep teaching with kids dressed in silly outfits who are NOT focused. ALSO our missions trip is next week and THIS MORNING we had 1600 out of 3500. I was gettin a little worried.

I was taking a nap after the madness that was Field Day. I woke up to a phone call from Allison Pilliod, she happens to be my favorite mermaid but that's besides the point. She said go look at your gofundme website ( I checked and immediately started freaking out.
All while I was taking a nap. In between then and now...

Everyone of these donations has a story. And that story continues next week when we leave for Volcan. I am thankful. The perfect day for God to remind me that he's got it all under control.

Friends were praying THIS MORNING about God showing off and providing. He did. People who donated have connections to the school, have not met any of the kids, are teachers at the school, are friends, and grandparents. Here is the beauty of community. God has called us to each other and to carry each others burdens it is the best to see that come to life. We have been going through the book of Nehemiah and talking about his burden for those people and how he couldn't build the wall himself. I have really felt like what God is going to do "will be among us."
I have no idea where that came from but I can see it happening all around me.

Thank you Jesus.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

And then there were 7

Yesterday I spent a large part of my afternoon with 7 of our students. We crashed the Richardson household and met for 2.5 hours about an upcoming missions trip to Volcan in the province of Chiriqui with Operation Mobilization.
Originally we imagined there would be at least 20 kids signed up for this trip. After the dust and excitement settled I realized that wasn't the case.  God has a way of giving us what we ask for in a different package than we dreamed up in our heads. His packages are always better.

I wanna tell you about the package.

Good looking package right? ;-)
From left to right:

Avery- She is our scheduler/ logistics manager. She is kind of OCD so this position is perfect for her. Avery likes order and is seeking adventure. A lot of her adventure opportunities these days are coming in the form of missions. I love watching our God line up our students lives and giving them the desires of their hearts.

Pepper (up)- Pepper is a well mannered kid with a servant's heart. It doesn't get much better than that. He will get in where he fits in just to glorify God.

Trinity (down, wayy down)-The term "strong personality" comes to mind. ;-) Trin is bold and loves music. She will be in charge of leading us in worship and pumpin the kids up with song (hand motions included). She was made to do this. When she's huggy she'll come snuggle up next to me and its my fave.

Paulina- I know Paulina the least out of this group which immediately makes me excited to get to know her through this opportunity. I've already seen her eagerness to serve. When the opportunity for skits was presented to the group she had no hesitation. I love that!

Michael- I think I've mentioned Michael in like 3 posts already so I will spare you the boring details about how I wish my future sons turn out just like him. He's our accountant and group games guy.

Daniela- I have an email from Daniela where you can sense her excitement about this trip oozing out of every letter. I wrote about her in an earlier post so its cool to be able to see her take another step in her faith to go on this trip. Her dad is Chiricano so it'll will be fun for her to be in her father's old stomping grounds. She's doing crafts and every project she has ever turned in to me has had glitter so I think she's the right girl for the job.

Jonathan- The other day I figured out one of his strengths and I was so impressed. Jonathan will be anyone's biggest fan. If you do something awesome he's on the side lines cheering you on. Its fantastic.  All that stuff in the Bible about 'encouraging one another' he's all over that. He also has the charisma of  1000 men so when he gets around a group of people to put on a show its like he was born to be there! He has booked our transportation arrangements. I'm super thankful for that.

Not included are the other two adults going:
Nathan Richardson- He and his wife let us use their house. So clutch because my house had no electricity yesterday. Nathan is all about empowering our students. This whole trip is on their shoulders. Without Nathan's belief in them I think they would be much less independent. He teaches them to be go-getters.

Tina Louderback- This is Trinity's mom. I love her willingness to come alongside us. She is giving up her time and resources to be apart of this trip. I'm thankful for a friend and for her wisdom and guidance. I also kind of envy her life (minus the dengue saga).

Pray for us. We are going out March 26-30. The kids are talking about the Armor of God. After Paul talks about the armor he says,
"Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."
They ask that you pray these verses over us.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Lessons Learned in the Cold

When I was considering working overseas the first school I looked at was in Vienna. God knew. I am not built for cold. Ideally I would be in shorts, sandals, short-sleeved shirts and shades everyday of my life.
Judge me if you must but I wore the same two pairs of leggings all day every day and didn't see my toes for 9 days. I was cold.

Things that would never happen in warm weather:
-Wake up at 6 in the morning to shovel a foot and a half of snow out of the driveway
-Steal my 11 yr old cousin's gloves because they were warmer than mine
-Rent a 4 wheel drive car to navigate snowy roads
-Have a flight attendant ask if anyone on the plane has Purell because it was so cold the reserve water on the plane was frozen over and the wipes were taking too long to get to the plane so we couldn't leave (she then stole four different ladies' hand sanitizer, by saying "give it up," so we could get moving)

I love warm weather.

Evil snow