“For I know the plans I have for you…saith the Lord”

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” –Isaiah 55:9

Has anything ever happened to you that you would have never thought? That only God could make happen?

I did not ever expect to be a step-mom. I’m sure I had thought about step-moms before, but probably not in a positive light. My view of step-mothers came from Disney, where they were all evil and mean. Of course I knew that they all weren’t like Cinderella’s evil stepmother, but I always had this view of a step-mom being a lady who had no type of connecting ability with the children, and who took this nice caring dad away from his kids and turned him into a stressed man trying to please his new wife. I definitely stereotyped the stepmom role.

My view is a little different now.  I’ll tell you a little bit of a backstory with Abe—I met him in our singles class, having known about him and his family for a while but never actually interacting with him. So when I saw Abe carrying a cute little girl to the nursery on Sundays I assumed it was his niece and never gave it a second thought. When we started going to singles activities and hanging out with everyone together, I kept being very attracted to him. I liked everything I saw about him—his cute blonde hair, awesome smile, and big muscles (to me, he seemed like the strongest guy I had ever seen.) J  Some of the things I first noticed and liked about him were the ways he treated and loved our singles’ director’s kids, the way he was liked by all the guys, the way he didn’t flirt with any of the girls (most single guys did), and the way he didn’t have to be the center of attention. We played hide and go seek in the dark at our church until 2 AM one night, and when my phone died he volunteered to let me have his for a light and he would hide without a light. I thought that was so gentlemanly…I didn’t find out until later that he had liked me from afar the whole time and that’s why he volunteered his phone. 😉 We had a pool party with our class and while most the guys were busy pushing the girls in the pool, Abe was doing flips and stunts with our director’s sons, and they were having the time of their lives. (Abe did come around later though and push me in the pool…and then helped me out with his strong muscles! J) Then when we played Capture the Flag, he split up the teams and made sure we were on the same team. Again, I thought that was coincidence and felt like I was just lucky, only to find out later it was Abe’s plan all along! So slowly over the summer of 2013 I felt my heart and emotions leaning towards and falling for Abe Phillips. I began to search for him at church, and my brothers could always tell if I had seen or talked to him or not, based on my countenance when we were driving home. THEN, my sister dropped a bombshell on me. I finally had the courage to admit what my family all knew, that I really liked this guy in the singles class. So I told Tricia about it, and she made the little comment that made a big difference in my life. “Oh, he’s the one with the little girl? She’s so cute!” Umm, what?? I had no idea about Kali until after I knew I liked Abe. He never hid her from me, I was just oblivious…I remembered some of the girls talking to him about how cute Kali was, but I honestly thought it was his niece. Every time she was mentioned, it went straight over my head. But now I knew. And my sister willingly filled me in on a lot of other stuff that I had missed about him too. Apparently he had had a crazy life while I was away at college! 😉  Now, Abe and I weren’t even talking at this point…I was just majorly crushing on him and was excited even just to catch sight of him up in the balcony while I was playing the piano. We had never texted, had a full length conversation, or admitted we liked each other. It was very early on, so there would be no reason for him to tell me about his background at this point. I was pretty surprised, to put it mildly, but we weren’t in a relationship so all I could do was wait and see what happened. It honestly didn’t diminish how much I liked him… I knew he was getting his life back together, and I knew that every Sunday morning and night and Wednesday I saw him in the balcony from the piano.  And that my interest in him was still there, even after knowing everything. So I decided to just wait and see what God did. If he liked me back, then I could see where it leads. If not, then I knew God had different plans. And all the while he already liked me…he actually liked me before I ever liked him so much! We FINALLY started texting (on a group message with all our singles friends…sorry guys!) and I remember the exact Monday night after texting on a group message all weekend, when he texted me on my own phone from his phone for the first time. I remember teaching my Monday night piano lessons and thinking, was he just being nice and carrying on the conversation on Friday and Saturday, or will he text me again tonight? If he texts me again I KNOW he must like me! And in the middle of the lesson my phone buzzed…and after the lesson I excitedly checked and my heart overflowed to see his name and a “How was your day” text. So….the rest is history…..and now, I find myself, of all things, a step-mom to the love of my life’s other love, his daughter Kali.

So two weeks into the step-mom life, how’s it going? It’s going…good. It really is good. I wake up earlier than I ever used to…including Saturdays. I’ve changed a lot of diapers…I used to literally be incapable of doing that (ask Bob and Mal!) I’m still getting used to being called ‘Mommy,’ but Kali is still getting used to calling me that so we’re working on it together. I bought a book called “My Mom and Me” that you can personalize with pictures and spaces to write stuff in, and asked Abe if that was overdoing the whole “mom” thing and he said it wasn’t. Kali loved it! I love living with Kali. And Abe of course. J We have some fun moments and cute moments and tough moments. She’s had a lot of changes and a lot of hard things in her three little years and I hope to make it the best for her that I possibly can. I love being Kali’s stepmom.

I love it when she looks at me and says, “I was polite today mom!” after we’ve had several talks about asking nicely for things.

I love it when she wakes up and comes in our room in the morning and comes over to my side and just wants to cuddle with me.

I love it when she wants to be with me, doing whatever I’m doing, 24/7. Even when I’m trying to sweep the floor or do the dishes…

I love it when she copies me. She hates cereal with milk in it…and then she looked at my bowl and wanted her own, and ate it all.

I love it when she wants me to do her hair like Elsa’s. Or better yet, when she asks me to do her hair so it looks like mine.

I love it when she begs me to match with her. She knows her colors, and she knows if we’re really matching or not!

I love it when she says I love you mommy, when she calls me Flossie and then giggles and says I mean mommy, or when she calls me “Flossie-mommy” all one word.

I just love it all!

The first month that Abe and I were dating, even though I didn’t know if we would get married or not, I bought a pretty notebook and wrote a letter to Kali. I knew she wouldn’t have many special things from her mom and I wanted her to have something special if I ever did become her mom. I wrote to her every month that Abe and I have been together so far. I told her about how she got used to me, the first time she spent the night with me, the way she grew to love my family, how she reacted when daddy and I got engaged. I told her how brave she is walking with her braces and casts and how she doesn’t let her physical limitations limit her spirit—she still does everything all the other kids do, and works twice as hard at it! I told her how her courage gives me courage to face life’s hardships with faith and determination. I wrote to her how she at three years old has changed my life, and that no matter how many other kids I have she will always be my oldest, the first child who called me mom and taught me what it meant to love with a mother’s love.

I know that Kali and I might never share the bond that biological moms and daughters have, but I love her with all of my heart and hope to always be there for her when she needs me.

Being a step-mom is going good.

~Flossie

“So How’s Marriage Going?”

December 19th was my D-Day…my own infamous day that I was counting down to, preparing for, dreaming about, and going crazy over. My desk calendar was full of scribbles of appointments and to-do lists, as well as descending little numbers written in next to the ascending month dates…December 1, 18 days…December 2, 17 days.  Now that I’m eight days into the New Year, and 20 days past my wedding day, I am still adjusting to not mentally counting down whenever I look at the calendar date! It’s hard to believe I am now on “this” side of marriage.

Before the wedding, Abe and I were constantly bombarded with “Are you ready?” or “Things coming together?” and countless other questions. Now that we’re married, it has turned into “How’s it going?” and “So, do you like being married?” For the thousands of times I’ve been asked that, I’ll try to answer a little bit now.

I like marriage. I like having someone to intertwine my life with completely. It’s fun figuring out how to get a good night’s sleep in the same bed…without me waking up in the middle of the night with a knee in my side or listening to loud snore-like breathing (that’s what I call it), or Abe waking up to me carrying on a full conversation with myself in my sleep and gradually twisting the covers to wrap completely around me while he’s lucky to still have an edge of the sheets. I like when he kisses me goodbye in the morning and reminds me to start my car before leaving. I like hearing the front door close and knowing he’s on his way to work and I still have fifteen minutes to sleep before I need to get up. 😉 I like going through the day and knowing I’ll see him at home later tonight. I like not having to watch the time when we’re watching a movie, because I don’t have to drive an hour back home…it’s nice just walking up the stairs together. I like packing our lunches together at night, and making food on Saturdays that will last us through the whole week.

Of course, there are tough things. (Says the girl who’s been married all of three weeks…I know!) Like when my tire gets a flat, and we have to use a spare in the snow and ice. But I like how when you’re married, problems like that are opportunities to show love—like the way Abe drove my car to work every morning and let me use his car, the safer one. And then there was the time that I realized I don’t have a clue how to cook hamburgers….yeah, we ate hockey pucks with ketchup on them. And I ruined one of his favorite shirts in the washer. (I PROMISE I know how to do laundry…it’s just a machine that I’m not used to…I think)

I’ve learned that we both like to sleep with noise in the background. Works out good right? Well we figured out early on that actually, I like to sleep with a specific noise in the background. Like a fan, or heater humming, or wind blowing…anything that is low and indistinguishable. Abe, on the other hand, likes to sleep to voices talking or the TV on, or basically any loud commotion will put him to sleep. So maybe that doesn’t work out as good as we thought!

In just three short weeks, I’ve realized that you don’t really know what marriage is until you get married. And then it hits you…the whole, entire, life-long relationship staring you in the face and you realize there’s no hiding from it. And surprisingly, you like it. The other day we were walking through Walmart (waiting for our tire to get fixed) and I noticed Abe stop and stare for a while at a little plaque with a quote on it. I went over to see it, and it said “I never said it would be easy….I said it would be worth it. I didn’t say anything and we kept walking, but I think that is kind of how marriage is. It takes patience. We quoted that “love is patient” a million times when we memorized 1 Cor. 13, but now it just seems to weigh more. Because now I know, yes, love really is patient. It’s washing the dishes a million more times until Abe can get around to installing our new dishwasher. It’s accepting the fact that no matter how many times I clean our hard vinyl floor, it’s going to get dirty again. (I am still trying to accept that…why can’t it just stay clean??) It’s being kind when you’ve been inconvenienced. Love is when Abe eats what I cook! J

I remember when we were dating I tried to make coffee for Abe and my dad one night. I don’t like coffee and had never made it before, but I figured it can’t be that hard. I used our little coffee maker thing, but put in real coffee when I should have used instant. (I think that’s what I did…I still don’t understand completely how I messed it up!) When their mugs were ready, it was basically hot water clouded by milk, sugar clumped at the bottom, and real coffee leaves floating around the top. I knew that didn’t look right…so I kept stirring and stirring and still the leaves were just swirling around and it didn’t look like coffee at all. Abe came in and drank almost half of it, while looking confused and trying to tell me that it wasn’t too bad. Then my dad came in and took one sip and dumped his and Abe’s down the drain, saying he’ll make the coffee. At least I tried, right?? I’m so thankful to have married someone like Abe. He knows how to put up with a lot, and he knows how to take care of the important things.

We’ve had fun times already and crazy times.

I’ve learned to never try to help him put dry wall up on the ceiling.

I’ve learned that we don’t make a good team when it comes to catching mice.

I’ve learned that if we get phones that don’t have internet, we need to buy a GPS.

I’ve learned that God’s ways are not our ways, and real love and real forgiveness are not cheap.

I’ve learned that God’s love being the common bond between two opposite sinners makes it all worth it.

So that’s a little bit about how marriage is going. I like being married. I love Abe. I love our house and our friends and our jobs and our family. I love our daughter and I love being parents together. We’ve talked about how we can’t wait to be 60 years old and look back at our life and say Wow, those were some crazy days, but it was worth it. Look what God did for us. And I never want to forget the moments looking into each other’s eyes and vowing our lives together. I never want to forget our first kiss, or our first dates, or our first night being dropped off at that nice hotel, and walking through the lobby thinking, “That guy walking in front of me is my husband…am I dreaming??” J  Now three weeks into it we have a lot to figure out, but we knew from the beginning it wouldn’t be easy. It’ll just be worth it.

Oh and did I mention we have a killer cat that catches any mice in our house in the middle of the night and brings them up and plays with them under our bed and all around our room? That’s always exciting.

I’ll write the next post about how it’s going being a first time mom right away! Kali is showing me how incredible it is to be a mom, and I love it! J

~Mrs. Abraham Phillips ❤

First Year of Teaching…Check!

Well, my first year of teaching is over. I feel like I closed my eyes for a minute and I opened them to find the whole year has passed! It went so fast, and I loved it. It’s interesting finishing a year and planning/getting ready for “next year.” In school, “next year” always meant the next level—the next grade, the next class and schedule, one year closer to the end! But now it’s just plain next year. No new level to progress to, except maybe to be past the whole ‘first year’ stage! I’m still deciding how I feel about that sameness each year. I like it and I don’t like it. Any thoughts? 🙂

 

I started a list of things I’ve learned this year, so I thought I would just keep it in a list format. It’s already long enough without adding full sentences.  Not sure whether you will get anything out of it or not, but this is what I got out of my first year of “real life.”

 

-I learned that I LOVEEE my students and the little elementary classes! (How can you get so attached to such small people??)

-I learned that I can teach a class. And I even like it. 🙂

-I learned that it’s not enough to demand silence or respect in the classroom, they pay attention best when you convince them that what you’re saying is important. And you have to be convinced of that, first!

-I learned that all that glitters isn’t gold.

-I learned that I don’t teach piano; I teach people. (Francis Clark)  

-Drama: is everywhere. It doesn’t end in high school…or college!

-Criticism will come from everywhere. Just keep going.

-Wise advice can come from the most unlikely places.

-I learned that I hate keeping secrets. 😉

-I learned that sometimes it’s the youngest people you know who are the kindest and most likely to make your day.

-I learned that I get hungry every day at 10am. Thank goodness for prize-box candy.

-I learned that you really have no idea what someone else may be going through–so don’t jump to conclusions.

-I learned that sometimes you have to explain things a million times, and then another million, and then on the thirty millionth time they get it! 🙂

-But most of the time, you have to figure out how they learn and explain it a bunch of different ways until it clicks. It’s a lot of fun—especially when they finally understand and know that they got it.

-Even big kids like stickers.

-They remember what you said better than you do.

-A smile goes a long way.

-A second grader’s drawing given to you is more valuable than any expensive painting you could ever find.

-I learned that all the activities I used to look forward to in high school aren’t quite as fun without your best friends going through it with you.

-I learned that having brothers on two equally-close-to-my-heart opposing teams shows you a lot about yourself. Talk about finding out where your true loyalty lies!

-I learned that car rides are great bonding times. Nothing like a long drive and disagreeing music tastes to get you talking about life’s deep and confusing issues.

-I learned that younger brothers grown up are just as protective as older brothers!

-I learned that God always provides a way of escape.

-I learned that once you begin teaching, you develop a deep and desperate appreciation for all of your teachers growing up.

-I learned that if you can make it through a first grade piano lesson…God has given you the gift of patience.

-Singles retreats…can…be fun.

-I learned that you need those close friends to go on trips and outings with and to just share your struggles with.

-Having to say “hi”, give a hug, or high five every individual child as a long line of class goes out to recess makes all the work worth it.

-Hearing little voices singing makes it all worth it.

-Teacher Appreciation Week: WOW! Totally worth it 😉

-Seeing more kids add after hearing their friends play at the recital and talk about it as ‘fun’—worth it.

-I learned that when you let God lead your life, it’s totally worth it.

 

I know I’ll probably keep re-learning these things and add new ones to the list as life keeps going. I guess that’s kind of what I signed up for when I became a teacher—to never stop learning! But that’s a good thing. I want to keep learning, and see things I’ve never seen before and discover new things all the time. I’m so thankful for this year. I wouldn’t trade it—being home with my family, going to my home church, teaching at my brother’s school, watching my nephew grow!—for anything.

Well…another blog post down. Maybe I’ll do another one again next year. 🙂

The Things Kids Say…and Happy October :)

“I practiced 9 days this week!”

“Easy peasy, lemon squeezey!”

I had to laugh when a cute 1st grade girl said that last one in reference to playing her new “Old Clock” song. Where do they learn these things?? And the second grader that was confused about how many days are in a week made me look at my office partner and try not to laugh. I have had a MARVELOUS first month of being a music teacher at a Christian school. Happy October 1st, by the way!!

I have 21 students here, mostly between the ages of 6-11. Adds up to a lot of beginner lessons. Fun, fun! Our theme at school this year is “Build Up”, and I am definitely in the ‘building’ stage of my piano studio. I have such cute precious kids who are in love with the piano and music right now. I have challenged myself to do my best to help grow that love and motivation for music even as they get older! I’ve noticed in this last month of teaching that once the students hit about 7th grade, a huge percentage drop out of piano lessons. I have only 2 students above 7th grade! Oh how I miss Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Bach, Tchaikovsky . . . Oh well, for now I am stuck with Faber and Faber.  🙂 Except I’m not really stuck–there is soo much amazing music out there even for a first grade level. I love Martha Mier, for example, and am using some of Burgmuller’s pieces for the older ones. (I knew that project I did on him in college would come in handy some day!) So, even if it’s not as challenging or amazing sounding as the Classical composers, my students still enjoy and find it exciting to play some new music outside of the lesson book.

There’s so much I could write about what I’ve learned this month–through the lessons, teaching out of Faber’s Primer Level book (I have stopped going in order of the pages!), and my music classes. Playing Strauss and waltzing while playing musical chairs, listening to Bach and eating candy corn, and using rhythm instruments with the March of the Toy Soldiers from the Nutcracker are just a few of the fun things we’ve been doing in 1st Grade Music. 🙂 I definitely have a job that I love, and I’m so thankful for it! And I’m thankful it’s fall! I love the colors that I missed so much when I was in SC!! My day is done here at school, and I’m off to my brother’s soccer game. 🙂 

Happy October!!

 

 

 

Hello world!

I’ve graduated college (Hooray!) and just started teaching music at a Christian school, and since I’m starting a whole bunch of new things recently, I thought I’d start a blog too. We’ll see how it goes!

I guess this is my “Hello World” post. Hm, what should you know about me before I start writing about music classes and my awesome nephew and adventures with my brothers this year? I named my blog “He Made Something Beautiful” because I love the song “Something Beautiful” (someone already had that blog name! so I added “He made”) and I believe that God can change lives and make them beautiful if we let Him. I love music, so you might see a lot of that on here! My sister is my best friend and I miss her while she’s at college. I have a nephew who’s almost 10 months old–he convinced me that maybe I do like little kids. 🙂 Today was my first day ever of teaching a music class, and I loved it! I teach Kindergarten and 1st grade music, as well as piano lessons to varied ages. I never used to think I was a kid person–I hated babysitting! but I LOVE teaching them music.

Other than that, I’m just a young American ready to see what God has for my life. Hello World!