Sunday, June 11, 2017

Colorado has my heart

Colorado has my heart. We took a mini anniversary vacation over Memorial Day weekend and I fell in love. Estes Park has made the newly-created list of potential retirement spots. Keep your sandy beaches, I'll choose mountains every time.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

To those Mind Shaping Ninja Warrior Queens (and Kings)

In honor of national teacher appreciation day/week (whatevs), here are some of the reasons I decided to become a teacher.
  1. I always loved going to school and learning new things - now I get to go to school every day!
  2. I had some wonderful teachers from elementary all the way through college who challenged and encouraged me. They helped to shape who I am, and I'm so grateful to them. 
  3. I truly relish being the smartest person in the room. So, my clever idea - put myself in a classroom of kindergartners and BAM! There you go.  
  4. Two of my very best friends are elementary teachers and they make learning so much fun. From science experiments to dance parties to time travel, they are some of my greatest inspiration. Guys, I want to grow up to be a teacher just like you. 
  5. Children are my favorite. They do and say the craziest things. 
  6. In that same line of thought, I love a job that keeps me busy and is never dull. And life with kids of any age is never boring. Here's to keeping me on my toes. All. The. Time. 
  7. I am a naive, thrill-seeking, masochist. Meaning I willfully choose to do incredibly difficult and/or painful things thinking they will be fun. Recent examples include: riding my bike with both of my dogs on leashes attached to said bike, taking both of my dogs on a walk by myself (really anything involving two pups, leashes, and me alone - it is never fun and I will never learn), training for a marathon or any such running event, going back to college, and yes, teaching. 
  8. I've been teaching since I could read. It's part of who I am...and my dad says it's what I'm made to do. 
  9. I prayed and prayed and prayed some more. 
  10. For the sake of having an even top ten list, because how else do I get to have summers off!? I'm kidding. Not really.  
To all those educational wizards out there from a studying wanna-be, thank you for all you do. You are world changers. Keep on keeping on!

An added side note: In all seriousness, not all of these are written in all seriousness 😋

Photo from Pexels
Title inspired by this Etsy product, not an original thought of mwah. And if you wanted to buy me said Etsy product, I will send you a thank you card.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Long weekends are the

Hallelujah for long weekends, am I right!? 
Four days off in a row. For both of us. Right before he leaves for the field? Bliss. 
And having to do absolutely nothing? Wow. 
Oh yeah, and getting to celebrate Jesus' resurrection with our church family AND spending time with new friends? Fan-freaking-tastic! 
And now, chilling in this beautiful spring-time sunshine? Yes. 

Happy Monday, folks! 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Conversations from the Classroom

Welcome to Conversations from the Classroom where I share some of the hilarious tidbits from my students. Today's conversation comes from an 8th grade boy who is intent on "figuring me out."

After watching me flip some popsicle sticks to go "the right way" in their jar. [Each popsicle stick holds a name and I use these to call on students at random - they need to be face down so that I can't see the name on the stick.]

Student: "Mrs. Ridgeway, are you a little OCD?"
Me: "No, I don't think so."
Student: "Are you sure? You seem a little OCD."
Me: "I just believe everything has a place and I like to put things where they belong."
Student: "Obsessively?"
Me: "No, just consciously."
Student: "Okay." Said with eyebrows raised and a doubtful expression. 

Now I'm pretty sure he's moving random things in my classroom just slightly to see if it will bother me or if I'll fix it. Haven't caught him at it yet, but I will.

These kids. Man, I love them.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Void {A Life Story Part 1}

As we're approaching the one year mark of turning our lives upside down, I've been thinking a lot about the last year. It's also due to the fact that we've made some new friends and have shared our story a few times too - every time I have to verbalize our journey here, I'm struck by another tidbit that I'd forgotten. Funny how that works.

Anyway, like I said, I've been thinking about all the bits and pieces that factored into making the decisions we did, our desires and dreams, the whole purpose of shifting our lives so drastically. And that purpose has really been tugging on my heart because I believe that I misplaced it somewhere along the way to today. Amidst all the stress of packing up our lives in SD, sending Adam off to the Army, figuring out how to live without him, dealing with the headache that is selling a house, readjusting to living with my parents, moving again, and starting a new career (it's a lot, right!?), not to mention the mere minutia of every day living, I forgot why we chose to do all that, the very simple reason for a very complex life adjustment. We wanted to influence lives for Jesus.

If you don't know anything of our history, this time last year Adam and I were working living as youth pastors in South Dakota. We loved our kids, we loved our church, we loved our town and the friends we had there. We wanted to be there long term. But God had different plans for us. Fast forward one year and Adam is in the Army, we live in Kansas, and I am working to become a teacher. As two people who were individually called to ministry, this looks like a dramatic shift in thinking. But hopefully I can explain. Now, from here on out, I'm going to share only my side of the story. Not being in Adam's head, I don't want to speak for him in this place. But I can share specifically what God was doing in my heart.

It started for me when I took a second job. As I only worked part time at the church, we decided I'd get another job to help us try to get ahead a little bit. So, I found a part time gig at a restaurant in town as a hostess. Nothing glamorous at all there, but I quickly found that I really loved it. I enjoyed all the people I got to interact with, coworkers and customers alike. I also quickly realized that I was working with and amidst broken humanity, people in desperate need of the love and grace of Jesus. Having come straight from Bible college and being completely immersed in the church world as I was, I had almost lost sight of that need. Now, I'm not saying that people already in church don't still need God's love and grace in their lives. That's not true. We all need Jesus. (Can I get an "Amen?!") But the desperation, the urgency of those in need of the life and eternity changing Gospel, that is what I had lost sight of. And so, without even realizing it, I was thrust back into "reality", a world where people I knew and cared about, who I interacted with daily, were unloved, uncared for, lost and wandering, dying without knowing Jesus - and that broke my heart. It created in me a sense of desperation and urgency. All of a sudden, I was surrounded by wonderful people who had never heard that God loves them.

A few weeks ago our pastor said something to the effect of "a great vision starts with a great void." He was talking about Nehemiah and how God began the reconstruction of the wall around Jerusalem. Nehemiah's first step in bringing wholeness to his people was seeing the brokenness, recognizing the need. Crazy enough, God used my job as a hostess to show me the need of my community, to let me see the void that so desperately needed to be filled - that there were still people in Watertown, SD, a town with plenty of churches and so many believers, who were hurting and in need of the Gospel AND that I had access to them through the channel of a restaurant hostess. And with that He began to grow in me a new vision for what His ministry might look like in my life.

This was where this upside down, crazy journey into the unknown started for me. Now, of course, there is a good bit more that goes into this story. But who wants to read more than four-five paragraphs at a time? I think I'll wrap it up here for today. We'll make this a series, shall we?

Saturday, March 4, 2017


One of my favorite podcasts does a segment every month called "Read, Watch, Listen, Follow" where they share what they have been reading, watching, listening to, and who/what they have been following. As I get some great ideas from them, I thought I'd share some of mine through my own outlet - this blog. 

Read: Gone With The Wind. My grandmother has been telling me for years that I need to read this one. I picked it up back in high school, but it just didn't catch me. However, now, I am totally loving it! I find myself strongly disliking Scarlett one moment only to root for her the next. Her incredible selfishness kills me, but I think it's because I see my own selfishness mirrored in her character. So often I find myself thinking, "yeah, I would've done the same thing." And the force with which she fights for herself, her family, and her home, man, they make me want to be just as strong. Really, it's excellent. What's even more fun is the fact that this was one of the first books my grandmother read after she came to America (and I think in English). I find myself constantly wondering what she was thinking as she read these same pages. I can't wait to give her a call and hear her thoughts once I'm done.

Watch: I just started watching Call The Midwife on Netflix and I am totally hooked. The show follows new midwife Jenny Lee through her cases in London's East End throughout the 1950s. The characters are all so quirky; Chummy, being one of my favorites. Each episode reminds me how fortunate I am to live without the constant threat of poverty and in an era with such advanced medicine. It's a bit of a reality check, but with enough lightheartedness so as not to be too heavy. 

Listen: Around the Table Podcast. I already said this is one of my favorites. It's actually the first podcast I started listening to regularly and I'd say the one that got me into listening to podcasts in the first place. Their tag line is "the perfect balance of intention and indulgence," and I'd say that rings true. Jacey and Maggie have great thought provoking content with enough fluff to keep it fun every week. They are the reason I look forward to my Monday runs. (I always listen to podcasts or audiobooks when I run - way more fun than music.) 

Follow: thegraygang on Instagram. I love following this awesome mama and her five adorable kiddos on Insta. She's always super honest and vulnerable about motherhood and I find her downright inspiring. I love that she shares the good and the bad; how being a mom is both incredibly difficult some days, but that it's so worth it. She has some awesome quotes from various sources and never hesitates to give a bit of her own wisdom and thoughts on raising little ones (without any judgement!). Plus her kids are totally rocking it and they have the best names. Props to her and her husband for raising strong, loving children. Makes me so look forward to that stage of my life...and maybe want a big family myself. 

What are you reading, watching, listening to, and following? 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A chilly dilemma

We've all been enjoying this not-so-wintry weather recently, right? 70+ degrees in February - I'll take it. But here's my dilemma with this whole springtime-weather-in-winter thing: I'm not prepared for it.

You see, I have two jackets: a knee length winter parka and a well used fleece. In the mornings I am faced with a critical decision. Do I skip the parka even though it is currently 25 and windy or do I wear my wonderfully warm puffer and look ridiculous this afternoon when it is somewhere around 60? Freeze now or look silly later? Now, you might be thinking, "Simple solution, just don't wear the parka in the afternoon." Sure. That's an option. But, it's still windy (alas, I'm still cold). And I always have my hands full coming home from school, so it just makes walking across the parking lot that much more difficult. I know, complain, complain.

I was just ignoring the problem. Who cares if I look ridiculous, I'm warm. However, yesterday I did feel rather foolish as I was walking across the Walmart parking lot, my parka swishing in the wind, next to a girl in a tank top. Picture that please. One gal in a big, puffy, fur-lined hooded parka and another in a tank top walking into Walmart side by side. I may have been laughing not so silently to myself. That chick probably thought I was crazy. Well, I am the one wearing the parka after all.

Why do I tell you this? Simply because I found a good bit of humor in it.

And now I am determined to find an acceptable springtime/in-betweener jacket to wear on days like today. Goals, I tell you. Goals.

Side Note: I'm still hoping to get one good dump of snow before winter is gone. Anyone with me?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Life Update

So, man, it's been awhile since I've been around here. Life has been a little chaotic what with moving, beginning new careers, and everything that goes along with establishing ourselves in new communities (home, work, and church). Things have gone as smoothly as can be expected, and we're adapting pretty well, I'd say. We're finally to the point where I feel like we've got a bit of a routine. Our weeks generally follow a similar rhythm and as that is totally my jam, that makes our lives feel more settled in my mind.

Since you haven't heard from me lately, I thought a quick update might be appropriate. We'll do this bullet style, how about it?

  • We found ourselves a cute, albeit tiny, apartment with a bit of a yard for our pups. My main move-in goal was met the first week we were here - to have no moving boxes in any lived-in areas. The contents of our garage and basement are currently shoved haphazardly in the "guest room" - said room needs some major help. I just close the door and ignore the mess.
  • Adam seems to enjoy his work as a medic. Honestly, I'm still not sure what he does all day, but he comes home with funny stories. 
  • I am working as a math tutor at a middle school. I'm kind of loving it. I never thought I'd enjoy math so much - it's so fun to teach! My kids are pretty cheeky so there's never a dull moment. They definitely keep me on my toes and laughing...hilarious little boogers. 
  • We found a church that we love - yay! Church shopping is the worst, but this was the second one we tried and it is AWESOME. If you ever find yourself near Manhattan, KS on a Sunday, stop by. I've recently started volunteering with the kid's ministry, it's a total blast! We're also getting connected with a small group. Yay for getting to know people! 
  • Speaking of that, we're slowly making some friends in the area. I'm way bad at this guys. Seriously, I really need to work on my people skills. "Hi, my name is Jess. What's your name?" Didn't I learn this stuff in preschool? 
  • We are frequent visitors of the dog park. Especially the last few weeks because it's been 70 degrees in February!!!
  • The pups and I survived our first field experience - meaning Adam was gone for an extended period of time (this one with no contact whatsoever). It wasn't quite as bad as I thought it would be. Still not looking forward to the next one though. 
  • And we're getting our first visitors this weekend! Adam's folks are coming to town and I'm so stoked for a touch of home. 
I think that's about it. Do you feel thoroughly updated on all things Ridgeway?