Saturday, August 28, 2010

Blueberry picking by Mt. Si


Sunday, August 15, 2010

The upside down kingdom: power made perfect in weakness

"'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" 2 Cor. 12:9

Amen. That is my favorite verse. The verse that has been a powerful catalyst to my faith and service. I see myself in that verse and I see the individuals with disabilities that I serve in it as well.

My brother has been experiencing spiritual warfare. One of the lies being told in the dark hours of the night is that he is worthless.

lie [lahy] noun, verb

1. a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive, an intentional untruth; a falsehood.

Worthless? Worthless?!! Ha!

"Then Jesus asked, 'What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.'" Luke 13:18-19
This mustard seed is a prayer warrior; he prayed for my 15-month job search, a few days later I got a call from the highest paying district in the state of WA. This mustard seed has changed the course of my life and the fabric of my immediate and extended family. This mustard seed is gifted in the rare ability to soften hearts and draw people out. This mustard seed has challenged and encouraged the faith of many. This mustard seed speaks prayers and songs that demonstrate the power and creativity of his maker.

It is not in spite of our weakness that he is made strong, but in our very weaknesses that the glory of God shines through.

A mustard seed is small and may be seen worthless, but once it is planted, prepare to see this small, worthless thing grow into something beautiful and strong.
The deceiver and people of this world may see this mustard seed as worthless. But beware of assumptions. What is seen as small and of little or no value will confound the wise as it demonstrates the profundity of the grace and power of the kingdom of God.

Many of us have heard lies like this one in moments of vulnerability or after a failure. Do not believe it. Underneath the lie is fear, great fear. Every lie is motivated by fear, they are told in an attempt to establish control--or to gain a foothold as some might say.

In our imperfections, weaknesses, and utter failings, God's power can be demonstrated if we release those things to him.

Remember who you are, remember whose you are.

"...For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made... All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be..." Psalm 139: 13, 14a, 16b


Friday, August 13, 2010

Prison is a state of mind.

I love our home. It's comfortably furnished with soothing color accents. While I sit at the dining table, I see the wind moving the vertical blinds by the window. It's a truly beautiful summer day. Outside, I hear the kids calling to each other as they ride their bikes in loops around the block. In approximately, 20 minutes my wonderful husband will pull into the garage, bound up the stairs, and pull me into a kiss. The thought of him makes me assess my appearance after the workday. I'm wearing a persimmon Banana Republic shirt and a dark denim pencil skirt. My hair is tied up with a flower of lace.

This image is pristine, beautiful. It would be perfect if it weren't for this gnawing, sickening feeling in my stomach.

This summer I've been teaching language arts in a juvenile rehabilitation center. I gave my students a project. They were instructed to write a book review, a poem, or a short story of their choosing. I told them we would compile their writings into a creative writing journal, our own class version of Teen Ink Magazine.

In class we read examples of other teens' submissions to Teen Ink and discussed writing strategies. As my students began writing, I noticed similar themes in the pieces. Themes of pain, loneliness, hell, war, violence, and brokenness.

One student wrote a story about a boy whose dad abused his mom and him. The boy in the story tried to get them out, but in the end he shot and killed his dad. (This story won't appear in the class journal.)

Another student wrote the following poem:

What It’s Like to Be Protective

Protective, the word means a lot,

to stand up and fall, to get back up and try again.

To be troublingly independent, violent and to be also content.

Protective and fast in the head, heart, and soul.

To keep friends, family, and loved ones safe from the unknown or forgotten.

Built of brick, reinforced with steal but softer than a pillow.

There when you need them and there even if not to be needed.

Observant but determined,

Overworked but prideful,

Flexible and caring but forgotten

‘til remembered when the time is stressful.

Faithful as a dog and daring as a soldier.

I am till I die because that’s how I was raised and that’s how I will stay.

I started crying when I read it. This poem is about him. He was abused as a child and years later came to be in the system when he abused another child.

Prison is not just an institution of the state, it is a state of mind.

The garage just opened. I heard his car door slam. I'm sure we'll do something fun tonight to celebrate the weekend. But I can't forget the words and stories of my students, no matter how much my surroundings want to convince me that those things don't happen. To convince me that suffering and abuse aren't real, but they make millions in record sales: "Just gonna stand there and watch me burn, well that's alright because I like the way it hurts."

It is by God's grace that I have the life I have--was born into a loving family, married a good man. I don't take that grace lightly. The reality of my students doesn't depress me. It gives me motivation to reach them and their hearts covered in barbed wire. It makes me love my husband more passionately. It helps me appreciate my loving parents with deeper gratitude. It allows me to see and fight against the forces that want to imprison me.

I’ve been waiting for you for years.

Because I have this small hope,

you’ll come up one day,

and finish the story.

-anonymous student

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I just returned home to finish (read: start) homework for my ethics class at 1:10pm. And this entry helps me further put off that activity...

Anyway, I had an interview this morning. I know, I already was hired for a position... But I haven't signed my contract and got a call for an intriguing position. The position I interviewed for today is a transition focused position at a high school. I am interested because it would be a great learning opportunity and would help me stretch and gain experience in an otherwise daunting part of special education. The downsides are that this is a one year position and would require a lot of work, possibly late nights, etc. Ultimately I'm still fairly "green" according to my teaching resume and the guy who had the next interview was at least 20 years older than me... :)

The whole thing is truly in God's hands. I should hear back before the weekend. I know he has the ideal place for me next year, perhaps it's the job I already have or maybe it's this new one. Either way, he has answered our prayers in my job search trials before and he is doing it now. I just need to be faithful and seek his best rather than what is comfortable or merely acceptable.

So many job hopes, prayers, and decisions are turning around in the house of pb&j....

"I know the plans I have for you... plans to give you a hope and a future..." Jeremiah 29:11

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

DIY: Personalized Stationary

This post contains affiliate links.

Generic stationary always frustrates me. Sending a note that is personal is so important and I want the design of the card to reflect that. Here's a fun diy I did to make a large set of stationary.

I bought some generic Crane stationary for (about $16) to make my own customized set.

After speckling
, stamping, and edge trimming (I used a rounded corner punch
), here's the finished product:

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Friday, August 6, 2010

How to create the perfect date:

Steps for creating the perfect date....
  • Step 1: Choose a date and time when your significant other is available... Remember that available refers to more than what's on the calendar. For instance, planning a fun night out on a Friday after a long and stressful work week is not an ingredient for a successful night.
  • Step 2: Select a "mood." This is important!!! The mood determines everything else. Consider your significant other's personality in general and what they have been like lately (i.e., if they've been stressed and want a relaxing night). "Mood" examples: creative, romantic, adventurous, relaxing, etc.
  • Step 3: Determine your budget for the night. You can still do something special on a budget.
  • Step 4: With your budget in mind, decide what the date's schedule will be... when and where. The best dates usually have a part 1 and a part 2--the fun thing is, they don't have to be congruent. (e.g. dressing up for a play then grabbing burgers at an eclectic diner afterward.)
  • Step 5: Invite him/her in a creative way. Maybe a thoughtful note, asking in person, or surprising them with a clue that leads them to you...
  • Step 6: Think of something you could do to set the date apart from others... Be careful of avoiding cheesiness. Ideas: a letter listing all the reasons you love him/her, a letter recalling where they were a year+ ago, choosing a nostalgic location, a thoughtful gift, a cd mix to listen to in the car...
  • Step 7: Enjoy!
I love checking ideas and articles on The Nest for themed or economical date nights.
Cloud 9 offers resources for more generous budget experiences.

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