(Image courtesy of http://eteamz.com.)

So much has happened, yet so little has changed.  I am realizing that I am at a point in my life where I have basically reached my prime.  The formative years when I was a kid up until I graduated college were full of fun, excitement, freedom, and many, many lessons learned.  But now that I'm an adult (ha!) I am caught in the fast-paced world of work.  What a drag....

Perhaps one of the biggest setbacks is that the freedom of life has now been replaced with the baggage I like to call decision making.  And man, I am horrible at making decisions.

I have a hard enough time going through the drive-thru at McDonalds.  The lady starts barking at me asking me what I want the second I finally come to a stop.  I say, "Ugh, hold on please."  Even when I do finally order, I still haven't quite made up my mind fully, I just decided to choose something to appease the people behind me.

Or take haircuts for instance.  It took me forever to decide whether or not I could handle shaving my hair.  I finally did a few years ago.  But when I first did it, I was so nervous.  It actually took me a few years before to get enough fortitude to make the decision to shave my head with a quarter inch cover.  (Now I wish I would've kept my hair long; I think I inherited a receding hairline from my grandpa....)

But that's just the surface of my decision making troubles....  Now try taking that lack of decision making confidence to environments such as the dating world.

Yeah, it's not good.

Anyway, here's an update about the latest happenings of my life in Tennessee:

Way back at the beginning of the school year and a week before our first football game, the Booster Club put on their annual version of the "Running of the Bull."  This is a spectacle unlike I've ever been a part of.  Everyone and their mom comes to the football stadium to see the unveiling of the fall sports teams.  It's like a giant, community pep rally.  I got to introduce the freshman football team after the cheerleaders were announced.  Then the varsity team came out to be recognized.  That was all normal, but what happened next - a tradition - was odd to me.

The introduction of the varsity football team and coaching staff.
Before the evening's events, people from the community buy tickets, each one representing a section of the football field.  Then, a bull is let out on the field.  Wherever the bull decides to "do its duty" - "drop its load," "relieve itself" - determines the winner of the cash prize.  All in all, it is a tradition, and traditions don't always have to make sense.  (Right?)

The bull standing on the field.

A close up.  Some years, it has taken until after midnight for the bull to "do its business."
Shortly after that happened way back in August, the school year began.  I have two classes of senior English to teach in the mornings, each ninety minutes long.  Last year, the block schedule was tough to get used to, but now I find myself running out of time sometimes.  (Plus, ninety minutes give you enough time to almost finish a movie....)  First block has twenty-one students and the second block has eighteen.

After teaching two blocks of English, I go to the cafeteria to break up fights for all three lunches.  (No joke.)  Then I go to football practice for fourth block.  This was different to me, too, having sports practice during the school day.  But I like it.

My classroom.
Back in my classroom, though, one of my favorite days is Wednesday; that's the day I get to share with my class "Wednesday Wisdom."  We have talked about topics ranging from chivalry, to hard work, to doing what is right, to perseverance, to our society's perception of beauty.  Each week I share with them a video clip or a story that illustrates the topic I chose to talk about with them.  It's amazing to see them straighten up in their desks, their eyes lighting up in thought, as I share with them character traits that I believe everyone should possess.  Many of them have never been told anything like that before in their lives.  I know that because they tell me.

Last year after I talked with one of my classes, I got the following email from one of my students:
"I wanted to say thank you for your speech today. We are not use to many teachers that care over here and I am proud to know that we have another one. You are right a lot of us don't know our potential as a student and including me,I don't think about the future as much as I should. Writing and Technology has always been a passion of mine but around here dreams don't happen that often. I really appreciate your passion and how hard you want to push us.

Thanks again."
I'm thankful to play a part in the life of students.  And I certainly am thankful for God's grace which allows me to be able to do any good at all.

Lastly, our church in Whiteville had a joint service with another church in the area.  This doesn't happen very often.  And what made this even more special was that our church joined up with one of the area's "black" churches.  It was an awesome time of fellowship and unity.

My view from the back of the church.  This is one of the FEW times I used my phone in church!
During the service, which lasted from 10 AM to 1 PM, I was able to share from Ephesians 4 about unity.  I was actually only supposed to share our church's announcements, but I asked if I could share a word too, and everyone responded with an "Amen!"

Ephesians 4 stuck out in my mind as I sat in the pew waiting to be called up to give announcements.  On our family vacations when I was younger, my dad had our family memorize Ephesians 4 in the van.  I'm not gonna lie, I wasn't always pumped to memorize verses with my family stuck inside a van in Colorado, but I'm sure glad my dad took the lead and had us do it.

Me sharing Ephesians 4.  Someone asked me if I was going to prom....
Before I got up to speak, I was super nervous because there were probably about two hundred people there.  Once I finally began sharing, God took away all the nervousness, and I had a blast.  If I can say this, black churches are so much more free in their worship expressions.  Rarely was there a time of silence.  Amens and Hallelujahs were constantly being shouted.  It was a neat experience to be a part of a unified church, the kind of church Jesus desired.

The fact of the matter is that regardless of our external differences and our different opinions, the church includes all followers of Jesus.  Church is not just a building or a denomination.  Believers make up the church, and we are all united under our Savior, Jesus Christ.

What a Savior!  Oh, what a Father!  That He should love me and send His Son to die for me while I was still sinning (Romans 5:8) is a humbling thought.

I still have a long way to go in making decisions with confidence.  I still haven't won a Running of the Bull event yet.  I definitely have my fair share of bad days at school.  And I still have a long way to go in my relationship with Jesus.  But for an eternity, God is still good.

And that is enough for me.

"... for, 'Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved'" (Romans 10:13).