Friday, December 28, 2012

Revisiting yesterday: WHY?

I was contemplating more in depth my post from yesterday; WHY is prayer the biggest way to show my care for someone?....

* It is selfless. The kindest act I could do for someone, and yet I receive the least notice for it (at least this side of heaven). They may never even know I prayed for them, but they don't need to. Then God gets the glory instead. 

* What is my human striving really going to be worth in their life without GOD at work in their heart and in their circumstances? He is the one - the only one - who actually has the power to bring about change. Wouldn't it be better for me to appeal to Him first and foremost? 

* Prayer is literally a way to summon divine power on their behalf (how amazing is that!?) and if I with-hold that plea, how can I say I truly care about their well-being?

* There is no limit to how much prayer can be done. Some acts of kindness can only go so far without being misunderstood or misinterpreted. Once the line is crossed, it can be even more of a hindrance than a help. 
But prayer is LIMITLESS. The biggest thing that I can imagine they need, I can beg God for in prayer. The most time I can afford to spend, I can devote to prayer. 

* Lastly, prayer takes the seeds of love that have sprung up in my heart and grows them to {epic :-)} proportions beyond what I could possibly achieve on my own. If I want to see my love for people in this world increase, then it will go hand in hand with the increase in my prayer life. 

"I pray for __________ because I love them" 
is soon flip-flopped into 
"I love ____________ because I pray for them." 

See? That little prayer for someone you thought didn't make any difference? It is powerful after all. In fact, it is the most powerful thing you could possibly do to help them. I can't wait to get to heaven and find out how God used each (seemingly insignificant) prayer that we offered Him.... :-) 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sometimes (No, at ANY time)

The most loving thing you can possibly do for a person

Is pray for them.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

I Claim this Song - This One is for ME Tonight :-)

I am tired.

Life is tiring. 

I want my life to be purposeful.

Make my heart be still before your majesty, God. 

The one place I can truly find rest
from all this chaos and discouragement 
is before your throne. 

David had it right, as he praised you with his songs in the still places. 

Mary had it right, as she listened at your feet,
enjoying the gift of your presence more than anything else. 

Feed my soul with your words, Bread of Life.

My heart cries out for meaning, 
and then runs from the very thing that can fulfill it. 

My quiet time with you. 

Help me not be afraid by the fear in me. 
Help me not be owned by the things that I own. 
Help me not fight my flesh with more flesh. 
(There is definitely a war within.)

But at your throne

My flesh fades and the devil flees. 
My enemies cannot coexist in your presence. (Glory be!)

So find me here, Jesus. Over and over again. 

At your feet. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Missing South Africa

This just makes me smile. 
The accent.
The energy. 
The message. 

I want to go back....

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Can't Live Without It

"Prayer is the easiest and hardest of all things.

The only thing which does any good - makes all else we do efficient. 

A holy life does not live in the closet, but it cannot live without the closet."

- E. M. Bounds

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Are You the Good Type of Holy or the Bad Type?

Yes, I am serious! There are two kinds, from what I can see in Scripture and in my own life.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with desiring MORE holiness. The purer the better - the more innocent toward sin, the closer to the heart of God. (Have I sparked your curiosity yet?)

1. "Holier than thou" means the praise goes back to me and my good works that measure up "above" someone else's. The reason for this type of holiness reflects the same reason the Pharisees desired to be holy.... so they could look down on the rest of those who were not choosing the same.

2. "Holier than I am right now" means all praise goes back to God for helping me come gradually closer to measuring up with HIS holiness. The whole reason for this kind of holiness is so that people will see the light of Christ and the truth of His Gospel.

"If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light." 

Matthew 11:36

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Spidey Tape


I've got a friend in our family (whose name I drew for Christmas) and she loves Spiderman. But she is virtually MY age, so I was thinking an action figure doesn't exactly cut it. 

But look what I found today!

I'm pretty excited. I'm thinking a wallet and a lanyard, and then give her the rest of the roll too. Any other ideas? 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Grace Trails

Well hello, little blog. I realize I haven't touched you in a while.... Life has definitely had it's shares of joys and pains lately. Remember how I told you about God at work in me? Well, I'll have to save that story for another time very soon.

I just jumped on here because I wanted so much to share this thought with you:

Have you ever been taken down a "Bible Rabbit - Trail"? (I love these because usually when they happen, things I heard all my life suddenly make all the more sense as a reality in my life!)
Have you ever heard this jewel of a verse that's nestled in John 14?
"Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he is is that loveth me."

Rabbit - Trail #1 What are these commandments to which He is referring? That seems rather stiff and daunting. The disciples listening knew enough about the Old Testament commands that had been passed down through Moses. There seemed to be a gazillion of them, and no human could get them all right!
But remember, Jesus gave them the new command in just the chapter before, "love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." The first and greatest commandment He classifies as "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength."
So, THESE are the commands that are specifically directed to us, as followers of Jesus. And according to John 14:21, if we hold them close and DO them, it proves our love for Him.

Are you with me? I know it could be easy to zone out during all this word-y-ness, but I want so badly for you to get it. Because this is awesome stuff! The next part of John 14:21 tells us,
"And he who loves me will be loved of my Father"

Rabbit - Trail # 2  Can you believe it!? This same Father who would not tolerate a speck of sin in His sight. The same Father who sees the wandering hearts of us on earth and calls us an adulterous generation, wicked and perverse - He will love anyone in the world who chooses Jesus, the only name under heaven whereby we must be saved. And by the way, love for Jesus is not - no not ever! - something to be ashamed about.

Which brings us to the last portion of the verse. "And I will love him and manifest myself to him." 

Rabbit - Trail # 3  Whenever I see the word "manifest" I automatically exchange for the phrase, "make bigger." As a result of our choosing to love Christ, He will no longer be a mystery. Instead, He will purposely be "made bigger" in our line of vision. He will reward those who diligently seek Him with... Himself. In order to get more of Christ, you have to WANT more of Him. If you knock on that door He promises it will be opened. If you ask, you receive.
You might be familiar with the verse that explains, in the end we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
That brought it all together for me.... Not just for my future, but for my "now"! As I love Him more, making conscience choices day by day that draw me closer to Him rather than farther away, then He will start to show me more of who He is. I'll start to see what He really looks like, instead of what I just always imagined or desired Him to be. And as Jesus shows me more of Himself, than I can't help but be like Him!

In all His splendor, His glory and righteousness, wisdom, gentleness and ultimate love, how could I catch a glimpse of Him and not begin to incorporate it into my own life?

Sometimes, especially lately, this walk feels like an uphill battle. But sometimes I make life too complicated. Living for Him is really just a beautiful cycle of

loving Christ  --------   seeing Him

seeing Christ ---------   emulating Him 

emulating Christ ------ loving Him. 

So friends, I've got news for you. We are not under the Law and the Commandments anymore! Christ has come and brought the new perspective with Him. We live in the Age of Grace now, not to take advantage of it for our own gain but to take full advantage of it to HIS glory and gain.

It's crazy, even though I've known all these pieces of the truth for a while, it's taken these rabbit-trails of thought to penetrate the reality of the grace concept deeper into my heart. I suppose then, you could call them "Grace - Trails."(But you don't have to if you think that's a little corny. :-)

Well, I should go to bed. I've written much more than I had anticipated tonight and I'm going to be tired working both jobs tomorrow. Thanks for listening to my ramblings, little blog.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What Kind of World Would it Be?

What if every person in the world was the same type of friend as I am? 

And try this one out....

What if each one of my friends was the same kind of friend to me as I am toward them?

       "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." Wow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pizza Day!

Using these instructions.... (from my genius little brother)

I set out to make a pizza.

I put all of said ingredients together (plus a few more)

And the end result was pretty yummy.

Thanks Wesley! :-) 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Weird Day

Can't quite find the words to describe what God is doing in my heart right now. But I love Him for it. 

I love that just when I think I know what's coming next, I realize: I don't! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Sweetest Thing

Last week at church a little friend of mine came up to me and offered this paper cup of money that she had been saving. "This is for the missionary. For your trip to Africa," she said.

It was totally surreal to know that she had been thinking of me. And it meant just as much to me as it would've if it were $1,000! Sometimes it's all in the heart behind the gift :-)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Red Letter Living


Yes I am. :-)

* "When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" *


Yes I am. :-) 

* " If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." *


Yes I am. :-) 

* "Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me." *

Yes, of course it is. :-) 

* "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God,which is your reasonable service." * 

The road is narrow, but it is beautiful. The price to pay for following Christ is SO costly, but SO worth it. And I'm not perfect.... But a little meditation on the words of Jesus puts things so much clearer into focus! 

Struggling to Live Unashamed

Monday, October 15, 2012

Close to Home

"How are you reaching out and ministering to the neighbors God has placed around you? It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But it's absolutely vital to grasp that He didn't call you there so you could settle in and live out your life in comfort and superficial peace. His purposes are not random or arbitrary. 

* If you are still alive on this planet it's because He has something for you to do. *

He placed us on this earth for purposes that He orchestrated long before we were born (Eph. 2:8-10). Do you believe you exist not for your own pleasure but to help people know the love of Jesus and to fully alive in Him? If so, then that will shape how you live your life in the place where you are." 

-Francis Chan
Forgotten God

Day by day, moment by moment, I have a place where I FIT into His will. Where I am is where He wants me to serve. How would I be missed if I left this place? What difference is my presence making for Christ? 

These are probing questions for me. Especially because I am actually planning to leave soon. But up til that point, I am called to live to the fullest HERE. And it's not about "buckling down" and "trying harder" but refocusing my heart to listen as His Spirit probes me. 
My to-do list for the day can and should be guided by His grace and whisperings. I am not the leader here. The Spirit is my guide. And He guides me in the steps of the good that I have been ordained to do!! 

I sure love this sweet partnership :-) 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

* F A D E *

I wrote this several weeks ago as God was first laying it on my heart. And it's still something I am learning.... It's not about me.

Some days I serve with earnest passion
My soul stands firm in its conviction
I have no doubts
I trust in you
And proclaim it to the world

But in those times when I'm forgotten
All those little victories
That seems no one is watchin'
Bring to mind
That you are God
Without You there wouldn't be a me

I will gladly step out of the spotlight
And I will gladly.... F A D E

When I fade the most
Is when you shine the brightest
So what do I have to brag?
What do I have to boast
when I clamor with a million others
all fighting for the spotlight?
It's all vain
My flesh will fail me
Someone will always come along and do it better

You are the one who never fails
Instead I'll give you center stage
And I will gladly.... F A D E

What do I have to offer?
Lord, what can these hands bring?
Here, you take the center stage
And I will gladly.... F A D E

"He must increase, I must decrease."  - John the Baptist

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mushy Oatmeal Revelations

In the dark quiet of the morning, with my quick, oh-so-healthy ;-) oatmeal breakfast before work, I read these words from Charles Spurgeon

"We do not ask to be entranced or to see an angel in shining apparel, but we do ask that by faith we may see Jesus. May His presence be so evidently realized among us that we may rejoice as well as if our eyes beheld Him. May we love, trust, and worship Him as earnestly as we would if we could now put our fingers into the print of the nails." 

How will it alter the way I live today if I keep the thought of those beloved scars at the forefront of my mind? Just because I do not see His loving smile or gingerly finger those scars does not make them any less real. 

Christians of this century are so blessed with the opportunity to be among those who have not seen, yet have believed. 

Only because of His grace. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Not Something You Hear Every Day

At Bob Evans the other night a customer looks at me and exclaims:

"Wow, 'Janell' is the perfect waitress name! It's like, so old-school, ya know?" 

Now some people wouldn't have known quite how to take that, but let's just say that it totally made my name go up a couple notches in my liking. 

I just looked back at him with a grin. "Yeah. I guess I've found my calling." 

Oh, I do love waitressing :-)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pondering This Thought....

Pride is ugly on anyone, no matter how beautiful they are.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Two Essentials

The key to being a great parent is to nurture both the inner child and the inner man at the same time.

(I think that goes for teachers too!) 

P.S. I am so grateful for a mom who lived by this philosophy and let us "be kids" even while she was teaching us how to grow up. I am forever grateful to her. I hope I can do that with the little ones God brings into my life....

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Life in Capital Letters....

people around me HURT

and i hurt FOR them

i am SMALL and powerless to stop it

But i know an infinitely POWERFUL and LOVING God

and i am grateful that HE is the Healer

of BODIES and SOULS alike. 

"Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain thee. He will never suffer the righteous to be moved." 

(More posts in the days ahead. I know I haven't been on much, but I've missed writing, as well as reading what friends have written. For now, I really should be going to bed - or trying anyway!)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

So Long, Sugar

I must be going crazy.

Seriously, it's one thing for Jeremy to fill me in on his plan to cut all pop and desserts out of his life for the month of June. He was inspired to do it with a group of friends. As I listened to his ambition I was very proud of him to determine to do that. 

But then came the part where he asked ME to jump on the bandwagon. I scoffed at the idea and told him, "I think it's a great idea - for you!" (isn't it always easier that way?) 

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I don't want to just sit on the sidelines this time. It's true, I'M WEAK... I'm a sucker for sugar.... but when I expressed this to Jeremy, he said, "No, you could do it." And he meant it. 

So I'm goin' for it. My eating of this delicious Subway chocolate chip cookie leftover from lunch marks the beginning of the health kick that Jeremy and I will be on - all the while counting down the days til July 4!!  

(Or maybe by then it won't even matter anymore and I won't have any desire for junk food. Yeah sure, I'd like to think that. I'll admit, I'm getting a little excited for this. And not at all sure what I'm getting into....)

Friday, June 1, 2012

"Workaholic" in the Making

I really love the people I work with.

Really, I'm serious.

We all have our moments, but at the end of the day (especially after I've closed everything down) when I'm walking out to my car, I think back over the evening and realize how much fun it was. I don't have any particular huge story to share about the night.... Just all the little things I guess.

Courtney bringing me out to the parking lot and bursting with excitement to show me her new car.
The table full of girls that had a HUGE crush on Kurt and were not at all quiet about expressing it.
James taking the time to tell me thanks for working hard.
Talking with Miho while she helped me roll the silverware.
Trying to convince Stanley (once again) that it would be totally worth it for him to come see my chiropractor/dad about his back pain.

I can't quite put my finger on it, but I love the banter back and forth at my workplace. I love that we know pretty much what to expect from each other.
Or maybe that just when I think I know what to expect, someone throws in a curveball.

But life at Bob's is never dull. At least that's how I feel about it. :-) It really is a joy to work alongside these people.

And hey, as a sidenote and an amazing answer to my prayers, as of today, God provided me with a second job to pick up some hours.... And it is my very top choice! I get to have my old job that I worked in high school (with some of the same people and everything!!)
God is so good to me, I am astounded. I go in for orientation on Monday. I'm pretty pumped! (Except about working the 6:00 shift. I'm going to have to get used to getting up early again...)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tucking Wesley into Bed

Last night when we had finished praying, his eyes popped open and he exclaimed,

"Sisssy, we have like TEN THOUSAND things to thank God for!"

Man I love that kid. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Raw Praise

Dear God,

Thank you for being every quality that has ever been considered good.
Your heart is kind.
You are gentle Father,
faithful Friend.
You came in passion, full and abundant,
to seek and to save that which was lost. (ME!)
Anything and anyone in this world who is good or great has roots deep down in YOU.

I love you for who you are.
I love that you are justice, wrath, mercy, forgiveness
all in a perfect, righteous balance.

I want the world to see you, in your glory and majesty.
I want them to realize the peace you can give them.

There are many things I long to write tonight.
There are many moments in my life recently that have led to my posting this.
But now that I'm on here, this is really the most important thing I can possibly say.

My soul cries out, "Bless the Lord!" For you are good.
And your mercy and truth endure.

Thanks for that. Thanks for letting me be a part of your world.
And for choosing me to serve you with what little bit
that you have given me to offer.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Be Ye Doers of the Word....

I've been reading this book recently:

Now, when I first picked it up I was skeptical. I thought, she's barely 20 years old, I'm not sure if she is being wise to live somewhere like Uganda and adopt the family of little girls that she has....
But it's a huge lesson to me NOT to judge a book by its cover!

Every word spoken in this book is dripping with authenticity.
It's screaming out in behalf of the needs of this world. Saying, "Let's meet those needs!"
And the best part is that it's not JUST the need to see African children fed and clothed and living a comfortable life. Katie Douglas is all about doing what she does for Jesus Christ. She wants nothing more than to proclaim HIS Truth. (That is what the link is that is now on the side of my blog. The word Amazima means "truth" in the Ugandan language.)

A paragraph by her that I highlighted sums it up so well... "In Uganda, I strive to teach my children and all children in our program and in our villages "the truth" of Christ. I know I cannot walk into a village and tell a child that Jesus loves her. She cannot comprehend that because, chances are, she has never been loved. (wow!) I have to feed her, clothe her, care for her, and love  her unconditionally as I tell her that I love her. Once she can understand and see my love, I can begin to tell her about a Savior who loves her even more. (In many ways, this is how I can tell any person, in the States or Africa, about Jesus' love for them - first by loving them unconditionally with Christ's love.) That is the TRUTH for these children - that they are loved, that they are valuable, that they will not be left as orphans but that they have a plan and a hope for the future. What a beautiful truth." 

Katie is a Doer.

She reads the Word.
She sees the Need.
And she asks, "What can I do to help?"
She's never content to stop at one good deed. At the end of the day, she is grateful, joyous, and not content to stop there....

Things my heart has felt compelled to do, she has actually gone out and DONE. I love that! It's an amazing tribute to the fact that living out God's will is not hard. But it does require action. And no matter what corner of the world I find myself, I am always capable of DOING in order to please God and to make a difference for His kingdom.
I pray for the opportunity to do that even tonight at work.

You'll probably hear more about her in future blog posts. :-)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Senior Class Moment

Singing "Bind us together"... just because it seemed like the best thing to do before we walked across that stage! :-)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

It's official!

As of May 4, 2012 I'm a college graduate. I could not have asked for a more satisfying graduation day. God aligned all the pieces into place.

 - family drove up early for the awards ceremony and surprised me
 - got every picture I had wanted to get while I was in my graduation "attire"
 - goofy senior class started singing children's Sunday school songs while we were waiting in line to march (that was such a great moment!)
 - I didn't trip when I walked across the stage in my high heels (!!)
 - Pastor was in town around the time of graduation, so he stopped by to watch it
 - went out to eat afterwards with family and sweet friends (even though we got a little lost initially :-)
 - 3 hour talk with my brother in the car on the way back home. I have sure been missing him

Now to take the next step.... 
"Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. 
You guide me with your counsel, 
and afterward you will receive me to glory. 
Whom have I in heaven but you? 
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart 
and my portion forever." 
              Psalm 73:23-26

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Colors of a Summer Storm

Lush green pushes up on either side of the road. Leaves rustling as they tremble with the coming power. 
Gray clouds suspended low in the stormy sky. 
Blue is nowhere to be found.
Red taillights dancing on a rain-covered road. 
Green hue of the sky casts an eerie golden glow on everything I see. 
White lightning jetting across the sky like an instant, short-lived spider web. 

Blackness envelops. Wrapping my world in a thick blanket of moisture. It also brings the noise. Rain, hail, thunder. 
Beautiful blackness. 
And with a smile, I sleep. 

(I just have to point out first of all, how happy I have missed the Missouri storms so much! Also, in writing this poem, I realized that the verb tenses are all out of whack, jumping around from present tense, and back to perfect tense, then to past, and then back.

When I tried to change them all to align with each other, it didn't sound as fitting. This is because the sporadic tenses communicate the chaos of the storm and the varying elements that are all part of it. Finally, it settles back onto the present tense once more in order to convey the peace of the sleeper in a much more impacting way.

K, that one was for free. ;-)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Just Me, Janell :-)

Whoa, I actually DID post while I was in Africa! I wrote more than I thought I did. 

I know, it could have been more.... 

So, while I was gone, it appears blogger got a new look to it. Also, our family got a new refrigerator (because our old one was two decades old), a new tv (because a young member of our household who shall remain nameless accidentally let go of the wii remote while he was playing....), and a new house (because it it my dad's latest investment. The idea is to find a person with good credit who will rent it.) 
That's the scoop around our house. 

There are many things that I had anticipated writing about, yet now that I'm on here, I find myself very tired. It's been a full day, but in a good way. I got to do some of the things that I LOVE - things I don't always have time for. 

* emailed people, both on a business level, and also just to catch up and say hi

* kept Jeremy company while he worked on baking cookies

* made a library run (!!! Oh library how I missed thee so) 
      If I go to Africa for any extended length of time, I will be sure to purchase a Kindle before I leave. That way I'll have my own personal "library" while I am over there :-) 

* took Wesley to the playground - not to mention while we were there we went down to the pond and came across a black snake as long as the belt Wes was wearing! It was a little too huge for comfort. We opted to walk around it rather than right into it's territory.... I put on my brave face cause Wes was there, but boy, that gave me the willies.

* spent a good couple hours on the back porch with my guitar, and while I was there I realized, my computer can take videos!! That was my "duh" moment of the day (please excuse the parts where I'm talking and sounding like a dork ;-)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Journal of Today

Devotions today:

"Now may the God of peace (not chaos or turmoil)
who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great shepherd of the sheep,
by the blood of the eternal covenant,
equip you with everything good (yes, it really says that!!)
that you may do His will,
working in us that which is pleasing in His sight,
through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever. Amen."

And I am now done with Hebrews. What a blessing of a book it has been to read through. :-)

* Spending time filling in for the house-parents helping the kids with their homework and spending time hanging out with them. It was absolutely wonderful.
* Chatting further with the principal of the school. She is such a sweet lady and so very approachable!

* Always have in mind what COULD go wrong in the lesson and do everything possible to prevent the problems from even getting started. Being a teacher is all about having eyes to see into the future.... Kind of like the verse in Proverbs "The wise man foresees the evil and hideth himself, but the simple pass on and are punished." Hmm, I never applied that to teaching before this moment. lol
* As a teacher, I can make conversation with the kids while I am handing out the worksheet that we are going to look over. I could even ask, "What would you like to know about me? Are you interested in my family? My hobbies? My university (college)?" And before the kids even realize it, the worksheet will be passed out.

* Waking up dreading the unknowns of the day (I have to be honest, I was nervous for the way the day would go with my professor here to observe our teaching) and then being blessed to see the most gorgeous sunrise shining out over the African plain. Seriously, I can't even put it into words how beautiful it was. I think it was there as God's special affirmation to me :-)
* Papa John's sporadic invitation to take the four of us interns out to eat tonight (even though it was just Nando's, which is the equivalant of Culvers I suppose here in South Africa) Emily summed it up nicely when she spoke from the backseat, "It feels like Dad is taking us out to dinner!"

Two more days of the first term! Then we have a week long break to further explore Africa.... Oh boy I'm looking forward to that.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


In my journal, I've been (trying) to write each day just a short bit about what happened during that day in Africa. I've been finding it's easiest to break down the day into 3 meaningful categories, and just jot a couple things under each.
Like this: :-)

* Having my lessons all ready to go for tomorrow

* Mama Fran coming over and voluntarily making Kettle Corn for Emily and I while we watched Bolt (yay for hilarious kiddie movies!)

Lessons Learned
* Believe in the kids.... I want to be an inspiring teacher who sees each student for who God made him and how God could use him. Tomorrow, I'll be talking about a letter-writing competition that my students are entering. Their assignment is to write to a famous athlete explaining what is special about the Olympics. Rather than just assume that my kids probably won't win the nation-wide competition, I'd like to approach it with the idea that they have a unique perspective to offer. Like I said, if God will be gracious to help me in that, I want to inspire the kids to work hard to present what they have to offer to the world.

* To be honest, I've been battling the discouragement that I'm not doing enough and not making a big enough difference. I'm slow at writing lesson plans, and I don't have near the servant's heart that Emily has. It's true that no matter where you go in the world, you will still have the same sin problems tripping you up (and in the ministry, these sin hindrances will only be magnified times like fifty!)
But I realized tonight that's exactly Satan's desire. He knows that if I'm focused on my own impact, then it will be greatly downgraded. Don't let a seed of discouragement take root!! He will not have the upper hand. Just keep pressing on, not ceasing to do good and pour out love to people. God will strengthen me to do that and He will take care of the rest. He is so loving and good and faithful.
I even had three separate friends write to me over facebook today to say that they have been praying especially for me. For that I am grateful beyond words! I know their prayers make a marked difference on my outlook and daily life here.

* Sitting in the classroom for an hour after school talking with Heather about our students. It was so eye-opening to hear the background stories of the kids. It also gave me a better sense of how to approach them and how to better help them grow in godliness (or grow toward accepting God!)

* Mama Fran told me the story of how she made a scrapbook full of bird pictures for one of the third grade boys last week. She told him that it would be his job to label it and gave him an information book on birds. Then today she asked him how the scrapbook was coming. He said he had not started on it. At this she was very disappointed, and informed him that scrapbook took alot of time to make. She said she wanted it back so that it would not go to waste and unlabeled.
"Oh no, Mama Fran!" he said. "I just cannot find the book. If I knew where it was, I would work on it."
She took that time to use it as a teachable moment, saying, "You need to keep track of things. It's very important." And then she helped him to find the book.
And you know what? He sat down and labeled every single picture in the book right then.
I thought it was so cool of her to take an interest in him and take the opportunity to teach him to finish what he starts.

Anyway, that's usually the type of stuff I try to write every day (except not that detailed because I'm a much slower writer than typist :-) But you get the idea. It's a system that's working pretty well for me. And I'd say it makes it easier and more interesting to blog too!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Change of Scenery?

Maybe now that I'm in Africa I should change the snowman.

One of the 7th grade girls told me the other day that she's never seen snow.

Or maybe - haha- I will leave them up a while longer!....

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

South Africa So Far

Well, after a week and a half of being on a different continent and not blogging a single word, here I am!....

Mostly because mom facebooked me and said, "You need to write on your blog! That's how I know what's on your mind." And that made me smile. (Yes, I DO talk to my mom, but usually I'm so busy telling her all the stuff that's going on, I don't always take the time to write my contemplations.)

I can't believe I've already been in Africa for a week and a half. It's so different!
And since I can't find the rushing fountain of words tonight to tell you everything that I would truly love for you to know about my time here so far, I'll just make a list:

10 African joys

1. An orange/pink sunset beyond the Bethesda gate every single night
2. The spirited clapping and singing that filled the small, hot room used for the church services
3. Barefeet. Everyone. All the time. Or at least sandals :-)
4. Beads that the kids use to make necklaces so they can sell them to teams that come through.
5. The adventure it is to cook dinner every night with such minimal experience in the kitchen as Emily and I possess.
6. The birds. Every day I think I hear a new and foreign bird call. I'd like to know what some of the kinds are....
7. One of the boys in my class knocking on our door tonight with a shoelace draped across his hand like it was a snake. These kids.... :-)
8. Talking with the Mixons in the car on the way to and from church.
9. Watching Emily's reaction to seeing a zebra and an ostrich on way to church the first week.
10. Taking a walk around the property after school with any number of kids telling stories and begging to "Run, maam!"

And I haven't even gotten to the classroom part yet!
I will say this - since getting here, God has been answering specific prayer requests, and some in miraculously unexpected ways. It's nothing good that we do, but He is faithful as his servants at Bethesda keep looking to Him for wisdom. That's the cool thing - they really do seek HIS will in all things.
Right down to the teachers that we work with. Two of them live together, and they have been praying for wisdom to get a new car. Monday morning, we found out that God heard their prayer, and answered with a $20,000 gift from their church! This amazing story renewed my confidence in His faithfulness to provide. It's so fun to watch the teachers tell everyone. They are like little kids bragging on how strong their daddy is (pardon the illustration). :-)

Another awesome thing that happened is one of the kids in my class (grade 5) accepted Christ as his Savior last week! He has been here at the Children's Home for years and he has known what he needs to do to get saved, but so many people have been praying for him to actually make the choice to DO IT. Thank the Lord that Thursday he brought it up on his own, and wanted to pray with Miss Small right there in the class storeroom!

God is good, and He certainly is at work here in South Africa.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Awesome Conversation

.... between my mom and my little brother. I am so proud of who he is growing up to be! Heaven knows he's not perfect ;-) but he truly wants people to know about God. And he has such a funny, yet humbling way of expressing that sometimes.

Wesley: "What's in the box?"

Mom: "This is a box of toys and supplies that was put together to send to orphaned children."

Wesley: "I hope you put a Bible in the box."

Mom: "Well, this is for kids who don't speak English, so that would have a hard time understanding a Bible we send."

Wesley: "What language do they speak?"

Mom: "Spanish."

Wesley: (the gears of his little mind are turning....) "Well, I'm learning Spanish in school. I will write a Bible in Spanish so they can read it."

(Such dedication! Although somebody had better tell him they already translated Bibles into Spanish before he puts in all those hours. :-)

Me: "Do you know how to say 'Bible' in Spanish, Wes?"

Wesley: "No. But I know how to say 'fish'!"

And there you have it. My little brother may follow in the footsteps of the great Adoniram Judson or some other fellow Bible translator.
Seriously, I can't wait to see how God uses him as a light in this world. He's definitely a light in our little home!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

"Christianese" in Action

God, I want to get so much closer to you than I am.

Do you mean that?

Um, I think I do.

Thank you for your honesty frail child of dust.
You know three specific things I showed you this week that are standing between you and further growth toward me.
If you really mean this desire you speak of, then you will correct these things you are willingly choosing to struggle with. Don't worry; I will help you....

(You know how it's easy to say things that sound like the right thing to say when you're talking with God? Those phrases that Christians use because they've used them so many times before and they sound nice.

Well, they mean nothing without action behind them. Listen carefully for phrases like that in your Christian walk, and then consider what ways your life would change if you truly mean what you said.)

At least, this was God's rebuke to me today.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Post that Almost Made me Late for Work :-)

Hmm, so much I could tell you today, little blog.

Today it was nice being off school (especially on such a beautiful spring-ish day). I was able to spend the morning filling out applications and working on my resume. All that paperwork stuff is getting me excited to see what God has for me next year!

Megan and I had a fabulous lunch at Panera bread today. It was good to catch up with her and laugh with her. She is such a sweet girl, I'm really glad God brought her into my life. :-)

And now, I'm off to spend an evening waitressing. If you think of it, pray for me to get everything done that needs done before I land in Africa next week. There is alot of prep work still to be done!

And hey, check out this adorable new journal I got just in time for Africa.....

Some journals, just make me want to start writing. This one is so, me. The front has all these phrases like,
God is awesome, even when circumstances aren't * What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will give us later * better late than never * He will give you the strength to endure * that's so much better then 'hang in there' * we boldly say what we believe * we never give up * we are not afraid * we stand true to the Lord * God knows our hearts * when I am weak then I am strong * when the coffee is weak then I am cranky * consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds * all things work together for the good doesn't mean they all feel good * a kindhearted word is the just right thing*

And I echo the words on the journal, "So True."

(I just realized this goes along perfectly with my devotions this morning. If you haven't looked at Hebrews 10:32-39 in a while, check it out! Such an encouraging passage to keep on enduring! Someday we will receive the reward. And the greatest one of all is SEEING Christ).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mercy Triumphs

Isn't it interesting that in most all disney movies, the good guy is the one who shows mercy in the climax?

Take "The Lion King" for example. Simba and Scar battle it out in the epic second-to-last scene. Simba has a chance to kill Scar. He refuses, under the premise, "No Scar, I'm not like you."

I love that the movie writers do this, because it subtly speaks to their young viewers that the hero does not have to be the one who gets the upper hand and comes out ahead based on his brute force. Instead, the "good guy" is equated with the one who is willing to walk away from the fight because he possesses greater character.
It's so great for kids to see that!

And then, as if that wasn't good enough, the movie makers also see to it that justice is served to their villainous character. Rather than making the hero dish it out in cruelty, they arrange for the bad guy's last evil plan to be the one that does him in.

In Scar's case, he tries to jump Simba (right after Simba showed him mercy, I might add), and falls off the edge of Pride Rock, finally getting what's coming to him.

I bet you never would have guessed how many positive messages your child is intaking into his subconscious while watching such a carefree little cartoon. Funny how even the most childish-seeming movie can be an effective avenue to instilling a deeper message about God's design for men of valiant character.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Latest Status

Just bought a plane ticket.... Look out South Africa, here I come to do the second round of student teaching!!!

Praise God for the way He provides and works.
"The larger the obstacle, the more obvious it is that my great and loving God is the one paving the way."

I could not be more thrilled to be spending these next 2 months with those kids!!! I have a feeling that 2 months will not be enough.... :-)

And it all started tonight.
Or maybe it started last April when I first expressed an interest in student teaching over there?
Or did it start several years ago when I spent 3 amazing weeks in their beautiful country?
Or maybe it was even before that, when God first planted the seed of dream and desire to go there into my heart.
I can't wait to see what will happen next! And it will be HIS work.

Philippians 1:7 He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Flash of Perspective

I hate to complain, especially here on my blog for everyone to see.... ;-)
but I've got to write what's on my mind tonight, and I must say that vaccinations do NOT feel good!

I know you're thinking, "Thank you, captain obvious," but the kicker is that my arms are immensely more sore this evening than when the needle initially went in. (Now I know why babies cry continuously for the whole day after getting their shots).

On the upside, the nurse was running behind, so I had 25 extra minutes to read the book that I started last night. It is getting good!

One more thing, on my drive home from school today, suddenly the soft piano music of the song "I Can Only Imagine," came on over the radio. Do you ever have moments of life when, for a flash of an instant, things are in perspective and it really hits you deep down, "This life is not going to last forever"?
Here I am, at the beginning of my teaching career, passionate, and raring to go as ever.... But how am I going to feel 20 years down the road when I've been keeping on kids' cases all day about sitting in their seat and putting their paper in their folder and not gnawing on the end of their eraser?
Haha, it's going to be draining. Tiring.
Day in and day out, Lord-willing, being faithful to Him, in His grace. The days will be long, the years will be short, and then, in less time than it takes to blink, this life will be over.

As my heart sang along with that song, I was filled with hope and joy that I have more to look forward to than this life. I have the face of my Jesus waiting at the end of this long journey. So why would I let even the passion for a GOOD thing, take the place of my passion for Him?
This fresh excitement for teaching should never be permitted to take the place of my excitement for knowing Him better.
What I put into teaching is what I will get out of it....
Don't forget - the same goes with my relationship with my Saviour!

I love those little "perspective flashes." :-)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Library Run

I went to the library last night to find a read-aloud book to read with my class after lunch.

I found the book I wanted in about 5 minutes.

I spend about 35 MORE minutes wandering around the adult fiction section.

I didn't truly have the time for that ;-)

I came back with 5 fiction books that I technically DON'T have the time for.

I can't wait to start reading!!


Make time for the good stuff of life..... For me that's books. What can I say? If I want to teach first and second graders the joy of reading, I have to let myself experience it once in a while :-)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I Learned Tonight....

> that I miss living in the girls' dorm even more than I realized.

> that a fellowship at church is not the same flavor as fellowship at someone's house. (And you need BOTH!)

> that a healthy church is one where the people enjoy each other's company long after the service has ended.

> that my church in Iowa having the college group over for dinner at someone's house was more than just for sake of us having something to eat. Those were times to be treasured and not taken for granted.

> that the little baby at the house where we had dinner was pretty much the CUTEST little guy I've ever seen!

> that I need to catch up with some old friends I haven't talked to in a while.

> that it's always worth it to take the time to do that.

> that God uses time with other believers as a part of the process of sanctification. My faults and weaknesses are brought to the surface much faster when I spend time with other people (Who's up for the book: "Relationships: A Mess Worth Making"? lol) The cool thing is, it's great accountability when I'm in a room of people and am forced to ask myself, "Whoa, did I just say that out loud?" or "Was that really my first reaction?" I think God meant for it to be that way.... ;-)

> that there are so many personalities (and characters in our Sunday School class, and I have really been, up to this point, failing to reach out and get to know such cool people. I'm thinking that's got to start up.

All this from a hot dog grillout and 20 games of Catchphrase around a warm, cheery fireplace. We were laughing nearly the entire time!

If you're a Christian that hasn't hung out with other Christians for a while (just for the sake of good clean fun) Do it.

ASAP!!! :-)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ramblings of a Sleepy Teacher

This evening (while printing off some more of the never-ending lesson plans) I had to ask myself, "Am I really doing this??" I just have to pinch myself or something.

See, here's the thing.
Teaching is so close to my heart. It's something I've always thought I loved, but never really had the chance to experience it this up close and personal.
I'm happily finding that it is something God has wired me to like.
This is why I loved jobs like waitressing and guest service desk in the past.... Because I love to multi-task, and I do like a little high pressure that comes with the job.
This is why I labored over Sunday School presentations when I would teach the kids in younger grades, because I wanted everything to be just so....
This is why I am someone who naturally wants to see everyone included - it just tears me up to see someone left out....
All these ways and more, God has prepared me for it.
This is why I love teaching.

I have to say, it's all it's cracked up to be for me!
(I missed a day of it today, and I am so ready to get back into the classroom :-)

I still make alot of mistakes at it. And I'm still pretty much a greenhorn right out of the chute (pardon me for using two random expressions at once ;-) But I acknowledge I'm still just exploring the tip of the ice berg (ANOTHER random expression!) I feel it might be time for bed.
But as usual, I had teaching on the brain, and I just wanted to touch base with my little blog tonight. I hope I have a voice for it tomorrow. Although I probably still won't be able to sing. No way is that happening for a few more days! lol

Blessings to you, anyone who reads this.

For His Grace and Glory,

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Laryngitis Woes

Can you imagine being a teacher and conducting class for the whole day.....

Without a voice??

My cooperating teacher has done this.

Oh yes, folks. She is THAT amazing.

(At this rate, I'll have to do the same thing tomorrow. I can barely speak tonight. We'll see how it goes. :-)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mom and Dad

This picture is the background on my computer right now. I am sooo grateful for these two people - and glad I get to live under their roof for a whole seven weeks in a row! The days are flying by too fast :-)

Monday, January 23, 2012


You become like your heros.

Think about it. Who do you look up to? Whether in history, in media, or in real life.... Chances are, they have had a significant part in shaping who you are.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Means to the End

"Jesus, my passion in life
Is to know you
May all other goals
Bow down to
This journey of loving you more."

Teaching shouldn't be my foremost passion in life (although it gets me pretty pumped up!)
Anything I consider as a passion,
Is not an end,
but a MEANS to an end.
And that end is glorifying my Jesus.

How does the passion of teaching contribute to my life goal of knowing God better?

* This is a question for everyone, because I know everyone has a passion for something. And that passion is no accident. Don't let it get in the way of knowing Christ.... Instead, ask Him if there is a way for that passion to bring you closer to Him? That may be the very reason He has given it to you :-)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Teaching Lessons of the Day:

# 1. Love the kids. Not for what they do or what they don't do, but for who they are. In other words, love them because God made them, loves them, and entrusted them into your classroom.

# 2. Lesson planning does not - I repeat, NOT - have to be extravagant. It needs to be purposeful and planned ahead. (I think my teacher will tell me that every day til I leave her classroom! lol But God knew that I needed to be with someone who will remind me to "Keep It Simple, Smart-one" :-)

# 3. Be organized. Make a file that's chock full of ideas. Know where to find them, and use them all the time! You're life will be so much easier.

I promise, not everything I post will be on teaching all the time.... But you can't really blame me that it's foremost on my mind, especially THESE days :-)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Divin' In

I know this is possibly the weirdest time to want to keep up with blogging....

With just heading into my semester of student teaching, I have no idea what lies in store for me in the area of time-managing and crazy-busy-ness. You might say, "Of all times, this is crazy to purpose keeping up with your blog, Janell!"

But that's just it. BECAUSE it will be crazy, and new, and different, is the precise reason why I want to stick to blogging. This will do 3 things:

* It will keep you up to speed on the little happenings of the day, or at least the innerworkings of my mind as thoughts spark and arise.

* It will be a fun record for me to look back on and realize all that was going on, or at least what I was thinking about and realizing through the student teaching process

* It will be incentive for me to keep my mind going. :-) While I know student teaching will consume my life these next few weeks in the literal sense, I want to stay sharp and focused on the bigger picture of all of this. What are the blessings? What are the lessons learned? What are the fun things that run randomly through my head late at night when I should probably be sleeping or planning a lesson?.... Well, I'll try to keep that last one in check :-)

But yes, I want to be blogging, because over the years, I've realized it's good for me. It keeps me in tune to the "glory details" of my life. What God is doing, and how much I am enjoying this life He has given me!

P.S. If you think of it, pray for me in all of this. As rosy as I tend to make it sound, I'll admit there are things about teaching that I am very unsure of, and hard things that will stretch me and make me better (IF I respond to them right).

As my cooperating teacher told me today, "I can't expect anything less from you than your best."
And I say to that, "Lord, please use this experience to make 'my best' better." He knows I need it!

Monday, January 2, 2012

John 15:1

Jesus says, "I am the true vine...."

Why did He include the word "true"? Could He not have accomplished the same thing by saying "I am the vine"?

This implies that some vines are false. The branch draws it's strength from the vine.
Which vine in my life am I drawing my strength from?

Jesus is the TRUE vine.

Such a simple statement.
So important to my life today.