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Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said." --Matthew 28:1-6
Favorite visual artistKaizokuShojoFavorite moviesPirates of the CaribbeanFavorite TV showsStar TrekFavorite bands / musical artistsHillsong; Bethel; Chris Tomlin; Kari Jobe; Jesus Culture; All Sons & DaughtersFavorite booksThe Bible; Redeeming Love by Francine RiversFavorite writersRobin Jones GunnFavorite gamesSonic the Hedgehog; King's Quest, etc.; SSBMFavorite gaming platformSega; PC; Gamecube (I live in the distant, happier past.)Tools of the TradeLead pencilOther InterestsServing God
Hello, deviantART. Looooooong time, no see. (And it's going to be awhile still.)
But to you, the people with whom I used to converse and those who I befriended here, I wanted to give another hello. I do truly care about you, think about you, and wonder where life has taken you.
First, let me tell you where life has taken me. I am in my sixth year of my chosen career as an elementary school music teacher. This career looks different depending on where you live. Where I live I work seven hours a day for five days a week just like any other elementary school teacher, with all the extra outside-hours time as well. The difference is that I don't teach one class of students. I teach all of the students. And I work at two schools (thankfully; last year I worked at three!). So I have approximately 900 students between the ages of 5 and 11 to whom I teach music. This includes vocal music, recorders, and band. The choir I teach before school one day a week is an extracurricular, and I get paid...a little bit for that. I am paid on salary and have good benefits. The school district I work in has strict professional development requirements, and so I have no less than four meetings a month after school due to those, in addition to monthly Parent-Teacher Association meetings.
Outside of work I volunteer heavily at my church. I am head of the sound engineering team, I occasionally play an instrument on Sunday mornings for the worship team (whatever instrument they need that day), and until two months ago I was director of the youth worship team and a regular youth volunteer. I have done all of these things for approximately ten years with little to no variation. Outside of work I also play with a semi-professional wind ensemble. I say "semi-professional" because while we are comprised of professional-quality musicians and have been overseas on concert tour, we don't get paid. This group rehearses once a week.
Additionally, I volunteer with an educational non-profit group that holds classes in three countries currently. It is called Education Through Music and is sponsored by the Richards Institute of Education and Research. I am heavily involved in that group and take their classes annually, as well as help coordinate some of the classes.
Needless to say, my days are full. I am busy. Any spare hours I do get in a week are spent collapsing in bed and trying to sleep. But usually, the stress of every day life keeps me up at night. Things like... 'Why does that parent complain about me all the time? Their student is excelling!' or sometimes, 'What can I do to help that kid who won't stop hitting everyone? Discipline means nothing to him,' and the ever-so-common, 'How can I be a better teacher?'
All this sounds like complaining and excuses I'm sure, but actually, I am thankful for everything in my life. As it happens, I have my dream job! I have wonderful co-workers, wonderful bosses, and not only do I now work at the very school I dreamed of working at, my second school is less than a mile away. That isn't to say my five-and-a-half years of teaching have been perfect--far from it, in fact! But what amazes me and what I am grateful for is that God has taken me out of each bad circumstance and made my life better than it was before. I could talk for hours about why I shouldn't have my job and how God has not only come through for me in my career, but has made it better and me a better person.
I have so many trains of thought I could follow, but I'll go on with the one now that I think matters most.
I never received a divine appointment or advice that I should be a music teacher. I just sort of...picked it. I'm not naturally gifted with kids (30 years old and still haven't baby-sat for a single day of my life), I'm not naturally gifted with people, and I'm about as blunt and black-and-white in my conversation and viewpoints as it gets. I'm not nurturing, I have no maternal instinct. Nothing about me says "teacher of children." And yet...it's going great! Not only am I actually doing my job well, but the position I have is "too good to be true." No teacher ever gets the school they want. And music and art teachers are usually at the bottom of the ladder in status. And besides being a music teacher, no new teacher gets any kind of status or sway. ...But I have some! And I am an equal among my peers! I could go on... But the point of all this is...God showed up. I picked a career that no one thought would work, and God made it happen. And again, I could go on and on and on with reasons why it shouldn't work. Maybe I'll write a journal about that one day... But it's not only working, it's almost inconceivably great!
God shows up wherever we are. Even when we don't deserve it.
I could go on and on for hours too about why I deserve nothing from God. To this day, I can't fathom the love of God. I don't have any of those miracle stories about myself that you sometimes hear. All I can say about myself is that I was a sinner as a child, as a teen, as a young adult, and I am still a sinner today. Some sins are "little" and some are "big" as most humans rank good and bad. But God has no ranking system. Sin is sin. And as the Bible says in Romans 3:23: "For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"
Note the comma. It goes on. It doesn't stop with the bad news. Romans 3:24-26: "being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."
Let me break that down. Everyone has sinned and falls short. No one makes the grade. If the hard and fast rule is God's law, heaven will be empty. BUT--He sent Jesus. God knew no one could measure up, and sent Jesus to die for us and take our punishment, and give us the get out of jail free card. Isaiah 53:5: "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed."
By the 39 stripes caused by the cat-o-nine-tails on His back, we are set free.
Back in Romans it goes on to say that God has basically forgotten all of our sins because of Jesus, thus demonstrating that He is just. And all we have to do is believe in Jesus to have eternal life. I'm going read a scripture now first just as it's written, and then I'm going to add my own emphasis. It's the emphasis I believe God intends us to hear, but people seem to miss it because the verse is so often quoted.
John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
Now, with my emphasis: "For God SOLOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
The depth of God's love is incomprehensible. All we have to do is believe. I'll let a song say it better:
I didn't set out with this journal to write a sermon. I just wanted to explain where I've been, and a few other things.
That cheetah group? I took it on because I was in a stressful period of life and severely needed distraction. But such a big thing is too much for one person. Sorry, to all those I disappointed with that group. And to anyone else I disappointed in anything else. I guess that goes back to the 'sermon.' We can never be enough, do enough, or earn enough to make it to heaven. It is only through Jesus. And distraction is only temporary.
I meant what I said back at the beginning of the journal. I think about you and care about you. Clutch45, you always made me feel so cared-for. Thanks. Treni217 (or whatever name you go by now), I'm sorry I didn't answer that email you sent me awhile ago. I meant to. Kai, you know I love you.
I had intended to go on with this...about my continued health problems (they're worse) and all my other personal life-issues, but...that's not what matters.
I used to fear being forgotten. I used to fear that I'd die and no one would care or remember. I suppose that's common enough... But back then I didn't have anything of value to be remembered by. Or, I had placed value on the wrong things.
If you're reading this journal, then the only thing I want to leave behind is a request.
Ask me about Jesus. Or open up the Bible. Or find someone else and ask them about Jesus.
He loves you. Did you hear that? He loves you. He died so that you could live. You matter to Him, and what matters to you matters to Him. My job success, among so many other things, is testimony to that.