Thursday, May 3, 2012

Inspiration

Day 123/366 and Day 124/366 (5/2/2012 and 5/3/2012)

How I am really enjoying teaching my art students!  This week we switched gears away from Georgia O'Keeffe, a classic art master, to Mia Pearlman, a contemporary artist based primarily out of New York.  Her work in paper sculpture truly took my breath away when I saw it presented in a paper craft book.  DO check out her pieces at http://www.miapearlman.com.  As a class we are working to present a collaborative exhibit in the style of her work.  I'll keep posting pictures as the process continues to unfold.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee(K) from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens,(L) you are there;
    if I make my bed(M) in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,(N)
    your right hand(O) will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark(P) to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;(Q)
    you knit me together(R) in my mother’s womb.(S)
14 I praise you(T) because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,(U)
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made(V) in the secret place,
    when I was woven together(W) in the depths of the earth.(X)
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained(Y) for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a](Z) God!(AA)
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,(AB)
    they would outnumber the grains of sand(AC)
    when I awake,(AD) I am still with you."


Psalm 139:7-18

God, we are made in Your image, and you are the Great Creator.  Thank you for endowing us with even a breath of your creative spirit.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Georgia O'Keeffe

Day 122/366 (5/1/2012)

Well, I am so grateful that the Lord is in control...because I obviously am not.  I was all over this photo project for a month and a half, then it was all over for the next two and a half months.  But it's May Day, and I'm back!

With my middle school art students, we have been studying Georgia O'Keeffe.  What an interesting women who suffered some very painful things in her life.  Nature was her muse.
"When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else."

"It [the desert] is vast and empty and untouchable--and knows no kindness with all its beauty."
– Georgia O'Keeffe
She captured the art of looking at something from a different (and usually very up-close) perspective.  Think of all the worlds she saw and lived in.  These worlds can be viewed by all of us; we just have to be willing to crouch, to bend, to crane our necks upwards...  Our God is the Master Artist.
"Consider how the wildflowers grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you, not even Solomon and all his splendor was dressed like one of these."

-- Luke 12:27

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Deep Roots

Day 50/366 (2/19/2012)

Oh, God is GOOD!  I got to be a part of the team leading worship with the choir in the Chapel service this morning, then we had an amazing experience in the main auditorium for the 9:45 service (joined by the Nightingale trio--we missed you, Tommy!--roommate extraordinaire, Danielle, and the lovely Patti) learning all about being lavish in our loving and giving.  Everyone, look out!  My prayer is to be able to lavishly bless you all!  Then we ran to Panera for food and picnicked in style at Lemonia Grove.

It is humbling being in the presence of great giants whose roots run deep.  I refer not only to the hundred-year-old trees but the company present.  Regardless of age or generation, I was surrounded completely by wisdom, insight, creativity, and a passion for Christ and serving and ministry that holds them each deeply rooted in Him.  Praise the Lord!
"For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit."

                                                                                        Jeremiah 17:8
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
                                                                                        Hebrews 12:1
Do your roots go deep?  What are you rooted in?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Beef...It's What For Dinner

~Day 49/366 (2/18/2012)

Relaxed, worked on the computer, scrubbed two toilets, wiped down counters, graded photo projects...and then Mike busted out the first barbeque of the season! 

"...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

                                                                             Philippians 4:11-13

Snuggle

Day 48/366 (2/17/2012)

What a beautiful time of fellowship today!  As a Friday, I got to spend lunch with my exquisite girlies.  Then I spent a couple of continued hours at Amy's, frolicking with her corgi Gizmo, home for a bit, then over to Heather's for laughs, munchies, and great conversation.  The perfect finish was coming home to my family for the warm puppy snuggle (as I type, I currently have the same puppy snuggling under my elbow, wrapped around my hip).

Isn't it incredible how comforting a period of warmth and rest and close contact is.  My whole day felt like a safe snuggle.  How much more can we get from a "snuggle" with our heavenly Father?
"The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
   the righteous run to it and are safe."
                                               Proverbs 18:10

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Citrus & Snow

Day 47/366 (2/16/2012)

I am in awe of the Lord and how He reveals Himself in the seasons, the very weather itself.  It's finally been acting like winter for the past few days (just in time for spring).  As the clouds lifted today, we got to see what had been happening under the veil.  SNOW!  Only in California can we have orange groves flourishing in the shadow of a snow-crusted hill.
"The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands."


                                                 Psalm 19:1

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Winter Bloom

Day 46/366 (2/15/2012)

It has been up to 80 degrees most days this entire winter.  As such, nature is understandably confused.  The leaves on trees are beginning to grow back, flowers are budding...

The past few days, however, have actually been acting "winter-y."  We've had rain, cold weather, and even some snow.  I was walking past one of the 6th grade classrooms and saw an entire bed of flowers flourishing in the rain...
"28And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?"
                                                                                Matthew 6:28-30

My Valentine

Day 45/366 (2/14/2012

Ah, Valentine's Day!  The day set aside for people to completely celebrate love.  Mike and I had a perfect evening.  Praise the Lord!  However, no matter how much we love each other, God loves us all so much more.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."   John 3:16

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rest

Day 44/366 (2/13/2012)

Call it a holiday, call it a day off, call it decadence, call it the day before Valentine's Day...call it whatever you will.  I call it a day of rest.

I slept until 1:30 today.  Yes.  1:30.  All right, I was awake and read for about 40 minutes at some point this morning, but I woke up at 1:30 with a book on my face.  I showered forever, tootled on the computer a bit, and rested.  Then Mike and I ate what for me was the first food of the day...sushi.  Home for a fire and a movie.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh...  Thank you, Jesus.
"28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

                                                                               Matthew 11:28

Sunday, February 12, 2012

14th Annual Palm Springs 1/2-Marathon!!!

Day 43/366 (2/12/2012)

Today's photo credit goes to my hubby!

Well, today was one for the books, at every turn.  Today I ran my first ever running event, a half-marathon.  Oh, how it was different than I was expecting.  But it was what the Lord had for me, and for that I must be deeply grateful.  Jitters ran rampant at the start.  When it was time to start, I took off like a shot.  I wanted to see if I could keep ahead of our school pack (not Angie and Ashley...I've never been able to run as fast as they); I'd been able to outstrip even the fastest of the next group at different times in the past month.  I also kept praying that that would not become my focus.  "Just focus on your race, Jenn.  Don't worry about anyone else.  Just pray for them."

I got to the second mile marker and looked at my time.  "Holy stink...I just did those two miles in 16 minutes.  16 minutes...I'm screwed."  Never in any of my training had I run that fast.  Two 8-minute miles?  At my best, I had done an average of 8:30, but that was only for 3.5 miles.  I knew there was NO way I'd be able to keep that up...and I had just blown a WAD of energy.

Sure enough, I was completely exhausted by mile 5.  It was going to be a looong race.  At mile 5, Melissa came up behind me and passed me.  I honestly thanked the Lord.  I was glad I didn't have to wonder about her any more.  And I was tired...

Then at mile 7, Mayra tapped me on my shoulder.  I paced with her for a couple of blocks and then pulled back.  She was running a much smarter race than I; she had started conservatively and was still feeling great.  I was...yes, tired.

Now my goal was just to finish.  And I didn't want to walk.  Oh, I wasn't going to walk.  But was I even going to finish?  I got to mile 10 and saw Mike.  Yeah, I wanted to stop.  Kept going, though.  At mile 11, Dave, my running partner Sherri's husband, came up beside me and said, "Come on, let's stride it out!"  Guffaw.  I told him I was just trying not to fall over.  And I couldn't bring myself to check my time.  It had long since stopped being about that.  I just didn't want to walk...

Rounded the final corner into the finish line chute.  I'll say this: The Lord gave me long legs.  I had enough in me for one sprint to the end.  I did feel good about how I finished.  Final time was somewhere in the 2:17-range (I don't know the seconds).  Way longer than I had originally wanted, but I didn't walk!  And I finished!!!  (Pictures of the event)

The team was incredible.  Christy and her hubby Mike came in at 2:30-something (GREAT job!!!!).  Sherri, my running partner through most of training, had injured her calf during last weekend's 6-mile run.  Even though she came to school on crutches this past Monday, she still ran today...the whole thing!!!  She came in at 2:55-something.  When I saw her round the final turn, I had to run with her.  Yeah, I'm crying even now thinking about it.  She finished, had her time chip collected, got her medal, and we held each other and cried.  God is good.

Mary woke up yesterday with a horrible head cold.  She couldn't breathe, had no voice, and felt miserable...but she finished.  We all did.  God is so good!  For some, it was their best race yet (YAY for Ashley, Angela, Melissa, and Mayra!!).  Our guys' relay team of Jeremiah, Casey, and Josh came in at 1:42:38 (Holy COW!).  For me, I landed at a 10:20/mile for the 13.3 mile race (yeah, I mapped the whole thing on MapMyRun.com, and with my wide turns and the starting and finishing chute, it was 0.2 miles longer than I thought).  I looked back at my past long runs: 11:53 minute/mile for my first 12, 11:20 minute/mile for the second 12, then 10:16 for the 10-mile run 3 weeks ago.  SO...10:20 minute/mile for 13.3?  I'm not going to be depressed.  And God humbled me...and sustained me.  Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Continuing on, bout #1 of diarrhea happened at the park before we left.  It took us 4 HOURS to drive the usually 45-minute drive home.  A wrong-way driver on the freeway caused an "unplanned freeway closure."  (I don't know any details; I pray there were no injuries.)  The state of CA then, in its infinite wisdom, chose the middle of the day for a construction project that shut down 3 of 4 lanes.  We got off the freeway at Casino Morongo to deal with bout #2, and it took us an hour and 55 minutes to get back on the freeway!!  After 4 hours, HOME!!!  I've now gone through bouts 3 and 4 and continue to be queasy.  Holy cow, what a dooze.  But my legs feel great!  Praise the Lord!!

SO... the moral of the story is this:
"28 Do you not know?
   Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
   the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
   and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
   and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
   and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
   will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
   they will run and not grow weary,
   they will walk and not be faint.
"

Isaiah 40:28-31
 I love you, Lord.  This has been very cool.  ILCS Team Teach 2012, I am proud and honored to know you.  You are ALL an inspiration to me!  Thank you, Jesus!

Carb Load!

Day 42/366 (2/11/2012)

Today was the day to prep for the race tomorrow.  Man, oh, man, I am a bit of a wreck.  We drove out to Palm Springs this afternoon to pick up my bib and my timing chip, then drove the last part of the course.  Met up with a bunch of people from the running team at the California Pizza Kitchen for a carb load dinner, then Mike dropped me off at the hotel to stay with the ladies while he drove home.

I've never run before.  I've never wanted to run before.  This has been a singular experience...and I'm nervous as all get-out.  The past month I developed a speed I didn't know I had.  I'm wondering what I'll be able to do tomorrow, what expectations I'll be able to meet and exceed.   I'm afraid, too, that pride will "goeth before the fall."  Will I be able to do a 2:05 (average rate of 9:30/mile)?  Is it possible to actually do a sub-2 (shorter than 2 hours)?  Will adrenaline really kick in that much?  Will it sustain me?  Will I forget to pray for the others during the course?  Is it really becoming all about me?  "Oh, Lord, please don't let that happen.  Please help me to focus on all the other people in the race.  I want to glorify You only."

Philippians 4:4-8

New International Version (NIV)
Final Exhortations
 "4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

Friday, February 10, 2012

Gold Rush

Day 41/366 (2/10/2012)

I'm really struggling with nerves for the half-marathon.  I keep thinking I'll oversleep, not be able to find parking, get lost on the course...  Ridiculous, really.
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."    2 Timothy 1:7

Trying to put it behind me with a fresh hot episode of "Gold Rush."

Perfection

Day 40/366 (2/9/2012)

The race, the half-marathon for which we've been training for four months, is this weekend, Sunday.  It's strange, the whole time I haven't been running during the mid-week as I should have been, just doing the long runs on the Saturday mornings.  Now, in this week leading up to the actual event, we're not allowed to do any running...and all I can think of is how much I want to get out there and stretch my legs.

After school, I trucked out to Corona for church choir practice.  But first, I got to have dinner with my wonderhubby.  Fuji Apple Chicken Salad, baguette, Mountain Dew, Cranberry Orange Smoothie, and a shortbread cookie...and time with my love!  We sat outside and took our time.  The sun set around us.  We strolled through Old Navy and bought a pair of shoes to replace a horribly uncomfortable pair I was wearing.  And we talked.  And spent time.  Then I got to sing hymns and praises to our Lord in choir.  Perfection.
"You shall go out with joy
and be led forth in peace.
The mountains and the hills will break forth before You!
There'll be shouts of joy
and all the trees of the field will clap, will clap their hands."

Static

Day 39/366 (2/8/2012)

This post is late, and again I apologize.  I am of course posting after the fact, so words are a bit beyond me.  It was a Wednesday.  I had a meeting after school, got to talk to both of my bosses about school stuff, made tilapia pitas for dinner (thanks, allrecipes.com!), then went to choir (smelling of fried fish), singing Bluegrass for Jesus!

And...static.  Yeah, anyone have any good verses or songs that can be applied to static, attraction, etc.?  Mike suggested Galatians 3:24:
"So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith."
Others?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Angel of Light

Day 38/366 (2/7/2012)

Today a federal appellate court repealed California's Prop 8, otherwise known as the ban on same-sex marriage.  "The panel ruled 2-1 that California voters violated the U.S. Constitution by singling out gays and lesbians when they wrote a ban on same-sex marriage into the constitution (Michael A. Lindenberger, TIME Magazine)."  There was an explosion of joy via Twitter and other social networking sites.

Satan is not as successful as he is at deceiving people by presenting himself as scary and evil and overly...satanic.  No.  He gets people by appealing to their desires.  He is attractive and very alluring.
"...For even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light."  2 Corinthians 11:14
He tells people what they want to hear.  Through an elaborate smoke and mirrors diversion, he focuses our attention on what we want to see and believe, all the while masking from us his reality:
"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."  1 Peter 5:8
 Consider the metaphor of the duck decoy.  The decoy is a real, tangible item designed to make actual ducks feel comfortable and safe.  Though it is real, however, it is not telling the truth.  The Truth is that there is a hunter hidden just behind the reeds, waiting to blow the ducks away.

Look closely at the picture I posted.  This is not a photograph of the sun bursting through the gloom of a stormy day illuminating the fragile, upturned maple leaves.  No.  The sun had already set behind the clouds.  Rather, the leaves are reflecting the light of a Stater Bros parking lot lamp.  A street light.  Not quite as glorious, eh?

Do you see what you want to see?  Hear what you want to hear?

Or are you interested in Truth?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Value

Day 37/366 (2/6/2012)

As all the crows of Yucaipa descended on the trees outside my classroom, I was struck by the beautiful concept of worth, of value.
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"
                                                                                  Matthew 6:26
 You are much more valuable than they.  Do you know the love of your Creator, the supplier of all your needs?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Be still my beating heart...

Day 36/366 (2/5/2012)

Today was one of those days when heaven opens and pours down its angel choirs and heavenly blessing.  I don't mean to be trite and all "Christian-y."  Truly, I feel like I got to be in the presence of the Lord today.  Mike, our wonderful Lauren, and I all got to lead worship for the disabilities ministry at our church.  Pure praise and worship flowed freely from people who have plenty of reason to feel that they got the short end of the stick.  And yet they literally shouted their love of God to all who would listen.  It was impossible to be in the room and not be blessed.

I had to choose one of the pictures I had taken during rehearsal to post today.  But the true photo of the day for me was taken by our Karen, who captured a glimpse into the spirit of the morning.


"Everlasting God"


Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord

Our God, You reign forever
Our Hope, our Strong Deliverer
You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary

Our God, You reign forever
Our Hope, our Strong Deliverer
You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary

You're the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles

A Time to Dance

Day 35/366 (2/4/2012)

"Let them praise his name in the dance..."  Psalm 149:3

"And David danced before the Lord with all his might..."  2 Samuel 6:14
As I was looking for scripture to include about the glorious experience of dance, I came across a Christian salsa dancer's blog.  Edie brought up many considerations in ballroom I had never considered.  Though the website is a little rough around the edges, I really appreciated her insight into partner dancing (specifically salsa).  It's worth a read.

All this is inspired by tonight's outing with my lovely Karen and her exquisite mother, Cathy, and friend, Verda.  We were gifted with tickets to the "Best of Ballroom" event at the California Theatre of the Performing Arts in San Bernardino.  It was...indescribable.  Cathy summed it up by saying, "We paid the right price."  I loved it; it wasn't immensely fantastic quality, but it was most certainly a night out of the ordinary, and we laughed and cheered and guffawed in all the right places.  A blessed evening!

Ecclesiastes 3

A Time for Everything
 "1 There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under the heavens:
 2 a time to be born and a time to die,
   a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
   a time to tear down and a time to build,
 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
   a time to mourn and a time to dance..."

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Empty cups...or full?

*Day 34/366 (2/3/2012)

Are you a cup half-empty person or a cup half-full?  Before you you might see 3 empty cups.  I see 3 beautifully full tributes to an exquisitely brimming afternoon.  I had lunch with my bosses and cohorts as we discussed planning of our upcoming fundraising gala event, then I got to spend hours with Heather and Amy at Starbucks catching up.  Home to Thai food with hubby.

4Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

                              Psalm 100:4-5

Lockdowns to MUTEMATH (and everything in between!)

Day 33/366 (2/2/2012) Groundhog Day
Yes, the day was littered with excitement.  First we had an actual precautionary lockdown on campus after school, then I got to convert Crystal and Angela into 100-year-old ladies (actually, tomorrow is the 100th day of school [a big deal in primary grades] and they are all dressing as 100-year-old people [GREAT idea!!!!!]; I was merely teaching them how to do old lady make-up...they look PHENOMENAL!!!).  After scuzzying them up, Mike and I hopped in the car and headed to LA to fulfill a Christmas gift: Mutemath Odd Soul Tour Concert Tickets at Club Nokia in Los Angeles.

Our tickets said 8.  We got there at 7:15.  Read a very small sign on a window.  The doors opened at 8; the concert didn't start until 10:00!!  You know you're getting old when that announcement alone almost makes you want to cry.  The good news: It was a great concert, I took tons of photos (surprise, surprise), we had VIP 2nd row seats, and directly in front of me sat Tina Majorino who played Deb in Napolean Dynamite (no, she was not wearing her hair in a side ponytail...or peddling lanyards).  She's a huge Mutemath fan; it was really fun watching her watch the concert.  Be sure to check out the photo album of the concert.

God is in the details.  He is in the mundane.  He is in the exciting.  The students are all safe.  We got home safely.  A good time was had in LA.  Christian musicians performed to a secular crowd.  "Let everything that has breath praise the LORD; praise the LORD!" Psalm 150:6

Friday, February 3, 2012

TinkerBling!

Day 32/366 (2/1/2012)

Holy cow, I'm posting this late.  For that I apologize.  Wednesday (pictured above) I went running after school with Christie, Mayra, and the TinkerBell ROCK STAR, Sherri!  This past weekend we were without Sherri as she ran the TinkerBell half-marathon, beginning in Disneyland, out into the streets of Anaheim, and ending in Disneyland California Adventure.  Most runners wore wings, bands played, and characters were out in full force along the route to give high fives.  HOW FUN!!

While we ran, I shared with my ladies an epiphany I had.  In the book Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo, attention is brought to how often God listens to, is blessed by, and responds to the prayers of the friends of the afflicted and needy.  Mike and I have had so many people pray fervently for us over the years, for any number of things.  With faith, I trust that the Lord has been and will continue to be blessed by the prayers of our faithful friends.  And I got to thinking...I want to be a faithful praying friend.  I want my prayers on others' behalf to be rich and effective and full of blessing. 
"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer."
                                                                                  Psalm 19:14
SO...

How can I be praying for you?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"To Infinity And Beyond..."

Day 31/366 (1/31/2012)

Seriously?!!  Naked eye viewing of the moon at 2:40 this afternoon.  Lord, you take my breath away.

How I miss the rest of my school staff.  We are split up between two campuses and only come together once a month as a whole staff.  Today we had our once-a-month staff potluck.  Have you ever noticed how often great teaching occurred in Scripture over a meal?  Fellowship over food?  How I love eating and laughing and brainstorming with my compadres! 

Let's please not allow our meals to become about nutrition intake.  Rather, let's make the time with our fellows and family...out of this world!
"Bind us together, Lord, with cords that can not be broken."

Monday, January 30, 2012

Gilead*

Day 30/366 (1/30/2012)

As I ran today (P.S. Holy cow, I actually ran today...fairly monumental for a weekday), I contemplated which photo I could take to illustrate the greatness of our Creator.  I wished it was possible to take my camera with me as I ran.  Near our home are rolling hills and orange groves all nestled into the foothills of the lower Sierra Nevadas.  On the return trek, the view of the valley was wholly breathtaking.  Irrigation water ran off down the sides of the street, the air was crisp and tinged with citrus, properties lined with palm trees sat like sentinels in the twilight.  Perfect.  Our own So Cal Gilead.

Instead...you get salad.  Shrink yourself down and pretend with me that you're in the midst of the groves, the palms, the cool runoff.  Or just appreciate a really beautiful Asian sesame salad.

There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin sick soul.
Sometimes I feel discouraged,
And think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my soul again.
Refrain
If you can’t preach like Peter,
If you can’t pray like Paul,
Just tell the love of Jesus,
And say He died for all.
Refrain

                             
African American Spiritual
 *In the Bible, "Gilead" means hill of testimony or mound of witness, (Genesis 31:21), a mountainous region east of the Jordan River.  (Wikipedia.com)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ambassadors

Day 29/366 (1/29/2012)

Spent the night at the Andersons', worship at Crossroads, lunch from Rubio's eaten as a picnic on the Lemonia Grove lawn basking in the glory of the Lord's day in the company of the dearest of friends, Stations of the Cross meeting, then home for udon soup and an early bed.

Phenomenal message delivered by Bill Heydorn this morning.  I am inspired by the reminder that I am to live life in such a way that all would see and know the love of the Lord, how much He cares about us, and how desperately He desires fellowship with us.  No matter what happens in life (and the horrible does and has happened), He promises to take our dark and transform it into light.
"17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."                                                                 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Tasty Treats

Day 28/366 (1/28/2012)

Life is rich, sweet from start to finish.  I began the day with my running team of teachers ("Team Teach") doing a 10-mile run from our house (see the photo I posted on Facebook).  Then I reveled in the beauty of marriage watching Kelli at her bridal shower, followed up by appreciating all the Lord has done in the life of Andy P. at his Senior Recital at Hope International University.  We reflected on the whole day back in the Anderson living room with good friends. 

Oh, Lord, you are a tasty treat.  Life is particularly sweet right now.  No matter how the season changes or swings, my heart will ever sing your praises
"Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him."
                                                                                      Psalm 34:8

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tortillas and salsa and puppies...Oh, my!!

Day 27/366 (1/27/2012)


Today is one of those days that shoots sunshine into the soul.  How can I not rejoice in all the Lord has done and blessed me with?  I had a lovely Friday with my students, an absolutely delightful lunch with my girlies (with loads of laughter, challenging conversation, and SALT- both edible and spiritual), and topped the afternoon off with a puppy romp.  Really?

 "4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
"8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
                                                                                                    Philippians 4:4-9

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Running in place...

Day 26/366 (1/26/2012)

"Running in place will never get you the same results as running from a lion."
                                                            The Most Interesting Man in the World

Think about it.

Extended day, time with Amy at her sister's hair salon, home for a seafood marinara pasta from Jesus...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Windows to my Soul

Day 25/366 (1/25/2012)

One of those basic days.   YHS counselors visited campus to talk with our 8th graders, drama (did choreography on my vampires vs. werewolves rendition of "What Is This Feeling (Loathing)?"...oh, yeah, I said it), then choir tonight...

If a day is mundane, does that mean that I missed opportunities to be extraordinary, to further the Lord's kingdom?  Did I accomplish what He had prepared for me today?  I'm uncomfortable because I think I've missed the boat.  Days can't be meant to just be merely lived.  I feel I'm supposed to be His hands and feet and leave His handprints daily.

Lord, please forgive me my complacency.  Please open my eyes to all you have prepared for me each day.  I want to be wholly effective for you.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Ladies and gentlemen...the Lord."

~Day 24/366 (1/24/2012)

The Lord takes my breath away.  I am profoundly grateful I own a camera to capture even an iota of His greatness.

I just listened to President Barack Obama deliver the State of the Union Address.  Would that the idealism and the passion presented come to fruition.  Lord, we need you!
" We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000. A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance. Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives. Most teachers work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies - just to make a difference.

"Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let’s offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn."

Monday, January 23, 2012

Reflections

Day 23/366 (1/23/2012)

Lenny Kravitz has a song that pretty much says it all for me: "I Love the Rain."  It rained off and on all day today.  We had Marie Callender's potpies and crab legs for dinner, blackberries for dessert.  Watched a little "Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off," cleaned the kitchen...

Why do I write all the minutia and seeming tedium?  I know that some days things will be hectic and panicked, and I'll love being able to reflect back to these times of peace and coziness.
"As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man."
                                               Proverbs 27:19
 What do you see?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Worship Sunrise

Day 22/366 (1/22/2012)

Yet another early morning, but this time for a day filled with worship.  For the first time in over a year, I got to be on the worship team in the main worship center.  It was a glorious day singing the Lord's praises over and over again.  (Worship Set: Salvation is Here, You Are My Passion, Tear Down the Walls, and Everlasting God [Fellowship Church], then I Can't Wait sung by Amy)
"I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart
I will enter His courts with praise
I will say this is the day that the Lord has made
I will rejoice for He has made me glad!"

Saturday, January 21, 2012

One For the Books...

Day 21/366 (1/21/2012)

So today I'm a wee bit proud of myself.  (Thank you, Jesus, for health and an able body!)  I not only ran my second 12 miles (Woot Woot!), but I did it in the pouring rain...6 minutes faster than the last time I ran it!!  (AND today involved a change of clothes at 7.5 miles and two additional water stops we didn't have two weeks ago...Happy dance!)

The first 5.25 miles I was on my own (it was raining so hard I was blowing water drops off my face and out of my mouth).  Then I was joined by my running buddy extraordinaire, Sherri (her Tinkerbell Half-Marathon through Disneyland is next weekend, so she had cut-back miles today), at the first water stop.  Michele, our God-gifted and inspirational running coach, drove home to get me a change of tops, caught up with us at my mile 7.5, and we did an impromptu outfit change on the side of the road.  Even though I had been wearing her "waterproof" outer jacket, we discovered I was soaked through all layers to the bone.  Oh, how refreshing a dry shirt and jacket are!  By the end of 12, we were both completely soggy again.  Truly the only dry spot on me was a strangely asymmetrical "W" on my back side.  Wonder Butt?

Waterlogged calluses, 3 shirts, two jackets, a towel, a blister, tons of cheering ILCS students and families, fruit and Gatorade, and a hot, long shower later...I'm rather in awe of all God does in the body...and in the Body!
 "We are the Family of God, yes,
We are the Family of God.
And He's brought us together to be One in Him
That we might bring Light to the world!"

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dance 'Til You Can't Dance No More

Day 20/366 (1/20/2012)

Began reading Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo.  An absolute must-read for everyone.  What a beautiful Friday!  Back to school with my kids, lunch with my girlies, then I got to chaperone the Middle School Winter Dance.  Totally pulled a muscle whipping my hair around (yeah, getting way too old for this...but having SO much fun!) and our fog machine actually set off the fire alarm.  Watching the kids dance, not dance, hide behind cell phones (the boys, mostly), giggle, run, and generally make fools of themselves...Ain't life grand!  I love my job!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Daddy

Day 19/365 (1/19/2012)

No matter how old I get, my father will always be Daddy (all right, sometimes he's Daddy-O, Papa, or Papa-san).  I got to spend some golden hours with my Daddy today, all topped off with lunch at Baker's.  I felt like a little kid on a date with her childhood knight in shining armor.

I have a rich heritage, an incredible father, and blood I am incredibly proud of on both sides.  Most importantly, I have been pointed all my life to the richest heritage of all: my heavenly Father.  Abba.  Daddy.
"26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"

Matthew 6:26

*For my own remembering, that is my grandfather's ring on my dad's finger.  More heritage!

"Mutton, honey..."

Day 18/365 (1/18/2012)

So today my photo is a bit of an embarrassment.  At almost 11:00 p.m., as you can see, I realized with horror I hadn't taken a photo yet.  I grabbed my camera and snapped what was in front of me: Seinfeld.  We had just been watching the episode where Jerry stuffs his chewed mutton into napkins (and his couch) to disguise how much he hates it. 
"What's the matter with you?"
"Mutton, honey."
Went over contracts with the kids, taught drama, pulled together sub plans (doctor's appointment tomorrow), bought chicken and cucumbers, went to choir and sang part of a Bluegrass Mass, came home and, well, watched Seinfeld.  Anything else?  "Mutton, honey."

Lord, thank you for life!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tear Down The Walls/Magic Happening

Day 17/365 (1/17/2012)   

Tear down the walls, see the world
Is there something we have missed?
Turn from ourselves
Look beyond
There is so much more than this

Look to the skies, hope arise
See His majesty revealed
More than this life, there is love
There is hope, and this is real

'Cause I don't need to see it to believe it
I don't need to see it to believe it
'Cause I can't shake this fire burning
Deep inside my heart

This life is Yours and hope is rising
As Your glory floods our hearts
Let love tear down these walls
That all creation would
Come back to You
It's all for You

Your Name is glorious
Glorious
Your love is changing us
Calling us
To worship in spirit and in truth
As all creation returns to You


~ Hillsong United ~
Day 17/365 (1/17/2012)

Today I couldn't choose.  I am struck (stricken?) by the imagery of tearing down walls, walls meant to separate, conceal, remove people from the full purpose of God.  This is a time of Jubilee, a time for freedom from despair, and a time for tearing down walls that keep us from the Lord's glory.  Hope is rising!

As for documenting my day,  I spent most of it in the computer lab at school with the kids, showing them different online photo editing sites and letting them explore.  Magic was pouring from their creative minds into their intensely focused fingertips.

Magic is indeed happening...

Monday, January 16, 2012

He had a dream...

Day 16/365 (1/16/2012)

Today is MLK, Jr. Day.  I am so proud of how much has changed in fulfillment of his "dream."  At the same time, I am not so naive as to not realize how much is left to be done.  I want to be a part of fighting injustice, all injustice in our world.  God, you have called us to be warriors for you.  Please show me the opportunities.  I'm ready to fight for you.

On a wildly different note, Mike surprised me with "The Artist" in theaters today.  What a TREAT!  I had absolutely no idea what it was about, who is in it...I was completely charmed.  An incredibly unique movie experience in today's theatrical age.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

O'dark-thirty

Day 15/365 (1/15/2012)

Yup, I took this photo when I got up.  Oh, what an exquisite day unfolded after my early morning shoot!  I got to lead on worship teams in both a Chapel service and in three additional services in the main worship center.  My girlies, Lo and Karen, came to church, then took me out to lunch.   Prayer, prayer, prayer!  Oh, family of God is exquisite.  Then not one hour but two I got to spend in heart to heart Jesus talk with the lovely Patti.

Home to my sick hubby, steak, shrimp and quinoa and Food Network "Chopped" and "Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off" with two puppies on my hips.  A common theme?  One word: HOME.

Lord, my heart is full...and YOU have filled it.
"Lord, You have my heart
And I will search for Yours
Jesus, take my life
And lead me on..."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Gold Coast

Day 14/365 (1/14/2012)

The day began at o'dark-thirty, loading into the truck, joining with Lindsay and Jim, and heading to La Jolla for a surf trip.  A couple of hours and three frigid surfers later, we trucked home, bellies full of pancakes and french toast.  Thus began my organizing frenzy.  Christmas has officially been put away up in the attic (cue 80's Amy Grant Christmas song "Heirlooms"), and all kinds of other organizing went on (so sad to think that there is SO much more to be done).  We settled in to watch "Contagion" (not really big fans...fairly slow and meandering) and get caught up on "Alaska Gold Rush."  A truly golden day, start to finish!

Thank you, Lord!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Heavenly Sunshine!

Day 13/365 (1/13/2012)

All right, there are certain days that lend themselves to being a musical!  Today, I woke up (DIDN'T have school), strapped myself into my running shoes, hit up Mama Mia! and Wicked as my running companions (I defy anyone to be glum listening to "Dancing Queen" and "One Short Day"), browsed Pier One and Michael's, photographed my tree in the blissful sunshine, spent 4 1/2 perfect hours with my parents, talked on the phone with Karen, chatted online with Julia, then settled into a beautiful evening with my hubby of all hubbies...who just put on Enchanted!  One Hungry Man pound of food later (a favorite meal of mine, seriously) and two puppies curled around my lap: Life at this moment is a musical celebration!!!!

"Heavenly sunshine, heavenly sunshine
Flooding my soul with Glory divine
Heavenly sunshine, heavenly sunshine
Hallelujah, Jesus is mine!"

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Heart Burns

Day 12/365 (1/12/2012)
It's a bit surreal that I'm already back on a vacation: a four-day weekend, that is!  Woot woot!  Oh, how I am praying to be productive.  For accountability's sake, here are some of the things I would hope to accomplish this weekend: run 8 miles tomorrow morning, clean my kitchen, get Christmas put away, vacuum, return items to my mother, sing in worship team in the Chapel on Sunday, sing in choir in the main worship center the other 3 services, read a book, grade papers, write a contract for my middle schoolers, bathe my puppies, shred junk mail, clean off the dining room table, begin clearing out the garage, and...relax!

I so love the reminder, "Be still and know that I am God."  I drove Mike out to Corona tonight so he could play for Radiant, the women's ministry, and I could go to choir practice.  He royally burned his esophagus earlier today, so I spent much of the evening tracking down food that wouldn't hurt going down (epic fail) and a coating antacid that would soothe either direction.  Third Place Cafe at church was the meeting place for our medicinal interaction.  (Only I would pause in such a time as that and say, "Ooh!  Beautiful picture spot!")  The worship rehearsal I got to be a part of later was a beautiful time for the heart to burn for the Lord.  My prayer for us all is that we would have hearts that burn with His passion and grace.  Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Skin As Dry As Bark"

Day 11/365 (1/11/2012)

Oh, how the 7th graders loved exploring with photography assignments today.  I think it's possible that several became life-long photographers in the span of 30 minutes.  Of course, I had to snap a few pics myself, too.  :)

Choir practice tonight.  Began singing through a Bluegrass Mass.  Despite my initial horror at the idea, it sounds pretty incredible. 

Dry, flaky skin.  Nothing new there.

Holy cow, I'm pooped.  To bed I go... goodnight all!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Oo, Ooh, Udon!!

*Day 10/365 (1/10/2012)

Aahhh!  One of many food-oriented photos, because (let's face it) I am deeply blessed by food.  More work on the 100-Photo Project with my kids today, upper grades PLC meeting, debrief with one of my bosses, then home...and Udon!  My hubby completely rocks.  Period.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Birch Capillaries

Day 9/365 (1/9/2012)

Today I introduced to my 8th graders a 100-Photograph Project.  The idea is to choose an item, large or small, to photograph over at least 10 sessions and in no less than 3 weeks.  Once all the photographs are compiled, the best 100 are chosen to build into a portfolio.  The challenge is to figure out ways to photograph the item in different and unique styles, settings, angles, vantage points, lighting, etc.  I called it an exercise in creativity and problem-solving.   (NOTE: I can in no way take credit for this idea; I read about it somewhere.  Supposedly it's a pretty popular assignment with art students.)  It was fascinating to watch the kids get excited and immediately begin futzing with which item to choose.

I, too, was excited!  Which to choose, which to choose...  The front yard tree is what I settled on.   Already fairly highly photographed, I'm curious to see what I'll be able to come up with over time.  God, in all things I look to you.  Ideas?

Anyone else want to take the challenge???