Monday, July 6, 2015

Something New

It is hard to believe that a little over 6 weeks ago I was monitoring end of the school year testing. Each day I circled the classroom, almost endlessly, monitoring my students as they took assessments designed to show what they had learned this year. Each evening I would come home and collapse on the couch, resting my feet, my body, and my brain.

It was during one such rest that I discovered something new that I just HAD to try..... Bible art journaling.

What is it?- I could explain it, but I do not think I could do it justice. Instead I will refer you to some of the many websites I discovered via Pinterest and Google.

The first of these is written by Danica: Anatomy of a Bible Art Journal. She sounds a lot like me.

The second website is written by Kristin: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Bible Journaling. I found her blog entry to be a good introduction to the process that she uses when she journals, as well as to her supplies.

There are some beautiful examples of art journal creations online. Just go to Pinterest and do a search for Bible Art Journaling. You will find literally hundreds of BEAUTIFUL blessings! While I cannot see myself coming anywhere close to the techniques and art that these wonderful women have created, I do think that I can use the journaling to help me get closer to the Lord.

I know that some people might feel hesitant about doing some of the artwork in the BIBLE.... I am still struggling a bit myself. As an English teacher, I love communicating with the book that I am reading by underlining or making notes in the margin. Over the past year I have given myself permission to do that in my Bible as well. There aren't many notes yet, but the ones that are written down help document my relationship with God, his promises, and his desire for my life. This quote says it better than I can.....

Think about it..... of all the books that I read, the Bible will be the one that holds the most importance for me and for my life. There is no other author that I would rather have a conversation with than God himself. These art journals can help with that.

I also think that my Bible and all of its entries will be a wonderful legacy to leave behind for my children and whatever grandchildren I may one day have. Through its words and drawings they will surely be able to catch a glimpse into my devotion to God and the role that he played in my life.

Mission number one for me is to find the ideal Journal Bible to begin my journey..... More on that to come soon. Keep watching!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Half Marathon Update

I wanted to take a minute to update you on my daughter's half marathon.

We traveled to Williamson, Kentucky where the Hatfield-McCoy Marathons would begin. The night before our daughter's race we took the opportunity to drive the course. It was then that we got our first glimpse of "Blackberry Mountain", the nemesis of the first half of the course.  (Take a look at the elevation map below. That BIG spike about mile 6 and 7 is Blackberry Mountain.)

A quick run to the grocery store to pick up some bagels for the next morning's breakfast and then we were off to slumber for the night.

We dropped Kari off at the race start just before 7 AM Saturday morning and she still had a bit of a smile on her face, though she was nervous.

Glenn and I drove the 30 minute ride around curvy country roads to park in Matewan, West Virginia where the half marathon would end. We sat a while, looked at some of the historical sites, and then scoped out a spot close to the bridge entering town. Runner after runner came down the hill and turned the curve toward the bridge. Glenn and I waited.... and waited... looking at our watch and trying to gauge when Kari might come into view. Finally, about 2 hours and 30 minutes into the run we glimpsed her bright orange outfit coming toward us.

Kari had made some running pals as she ran; she later would tell us that they had discussed it being her first marathon and how she was feeling. No doubt, their encouragement helped her keep walking and running toward her goal.

Meanwhile at the finish line, Glenn had created a make shift sign using papers and crayons he had found in the back of the car. We had also told several others who were watching the race about Kari and her determination to finish this, her first half marathon. By the time she crossed the bridge there were several people yelling her name and encouraging her as she continued the brief run through downtown toward the finish line.

Kari crossed the line and learned that, not only had she finished the half marathon, but she had also placed 2nd in her age category!

Kari does not really consider this half marathon to be much of an achievement. "I am a runner, Mom. They expect us to do things like this." As for me, I consider it a GREAT achievement. I feel so blessed to have a daughter like her: one who sets goals, works toward them, and makes it her purpose to achieve them. She may be younger than the other runners on her college team; she may be younger than the classmates in her college classes, but she does not let that prevent her from achieving what any other college sophomore might achieve. 

I also feel blessed to have a daughter who is so God centered. As I listen to her sing solos in church my heart swells with pride and I often find tears welling up in my eyes. Proverbs 22:6 says "Train up a child in the way he should go; when he is old, he will not depart from it." Glenn and I have attempted to do that, and I am so blessed to see that Kari has accepted God and his guiding hand into her heart and her life. 

Friday, May 29, 2015


I should have learned by now that God always knows when I need a little push or lesson. A couple of days ago God chose to send me just such a nudge.

I have been a little discontented with my waistline. Since turning 45 several years ago it has become increasingly difficult for me to maintain a size that I like. Weight loss commercials blame it on hormones; I sometimes blame it on my tendency to stress eat and rushing lunches at school. Whatever the reason, let's just say that I do NOT like what I see in the mirror most days.

As we neared the end of the school year I made a promise to myself that I would get back in a walking routine, in an effort to burn more calories and get a bit more physically fit. I have been adding steps into my daily schedule and my children even purchased me one of those step counters to wear on my wrist as part of my Mother's Day present. Yet, somehow things have been getting in the way- first weather and then my shins.

Every time I start walking for an extended period of time my shins begin burning and hurting. My daughter (the runner in the family) informed me that I must have a problem with shin splints. That didn't help solve the problem though.

On Wednesday I decided that I would get up early, get dressed, and be ready to walk while my daughter did her morning run. We drove to the designated parking area and got out. She took off running and I set out walking. Sure enough, two tenths of a mile into my walk, the burning began, but I kept walking.

I set my eyes on the horizon where I could see an orange shape growing smaller and smaller as my daughter ran into the distance. I kept thinking to myself, "If she can attempt to train for a half marathon, surely I can walk a mile." I pushed the button on my watch and found that I still had not reached the half mile marker. I kept walking, glancing up once more to see that my daughter was no longer there. She had run out of my line of vision, determined to run her designated length and speed.

God wants that same determination for us, in our daily lives. In Hebrews 12, verses 1 and 2 we find the following:

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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

God wants us to keep running the race of Christian faith, never giving up, never ceasing to trust him and the fact that he will be there- our greatest cheerleader! He has set a path for us and he wants us to stay on that path, ridding our lives of things and people who prevent us from achieving the goal he has set for us. We simply need to keep our eyes focused on that finish line- with Jesus standing there, arms outstretched ready to congratulate us for a race well run and to nourish us with the refreshing cool water of life that only he can give.

I may not shed the inches around my middle that bug me so much- but...... I plan to keep walking, exercising, and making the best me that I can. I also plan to keep delving into God's word and sharing what I have learned with others. I WILL keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. I WILL run this Christian race with perseverance!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Back on Track

Wow! Has it really been months sit I sat down and actually shared my thoughts on this blog? I feel a bit guilty about it actually. I had good intentions, but sometimes life just got in the way and I felt too tired, too busy, or too stressed.

The wonderful thing is ..... it is never too late.

I can get back on track........

I think back to the parable of the Prodigal son. He had wandered away from home, being gone so long that some people might have even forgotten about him. Then he returned home- to find himself welcomed back with open arms, a feast, and a father's heart filled with love.

I can return to a routine, trying to post at least once a week, sharing my heart, my thoughts, and God's message with all of you. I know that God will gladly welcome that- hopefully you will too.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Are You TOO Comfortable?

If you are anything like me, comfort means a lot.

My two kids hate to go shopping for clothes with me. They complain that I dress for comfort too much and constantly try to convince me that it is possible to be BOTH comfortable and stylish. Well, they may be right, but I just haven't found the right mix yet. I will take a good soft pair of well-worn jogging pants and a pullover shirt over a "stylish" outfit any day!

Shoes are another really big hangup of mine. Being a teacher, I am on my feet most of the day. My shoes have to fit me JUST RIGHT.....and they have to have enough support and cushion to help me making it through what is sometimes a 10 hour day. Even then, the first thing I do after walking in the door at home, setting my bag down, and taking my coat off is to kick off whatever shoes I wore that day. When I do find a "good" pair of shoes I will wear them every day until I practically wear them out.

What can I say? Comfort is big for me.....


Can we as Christians get TOO comfortable?

Sometimes we allow ourselves to get into a routine: Sunday morning, dress for church, sit through the sermon, sing the same songs, put the same amount of tithe in the offering each week, read our Bible (when we allow it to fit our routine), and tell a friend, "I'll keep you in my prayers."

It is comfortable; it feels good. We become used to it and we like it because it is what we are used to.

Then comes the Sunday when the sermon touches a bit too close to home, we feel that little tug in our heart telling us that we need to speak with someone about God, or someone asks us to do something for the church that we just aren't sure we are ready to try. These things make us uncomfortable. We sometimes try to ignore those feelings or whatever we are being called to do and just slip back into that comfortable, cushy Christian life that we have been used to.

When we do that, we are not only ignoring the voice of God, but we are also turning our backs on an opportunity for growth. Think about it.... When you were a teenager you may have had those occasional aches or pains in your legs like I did. My mom always called them "growing pains". My muscles were growing, lengthening, and stretching and it caused a little bit of pain. I learned to live with it. It was just a part of growth.

Our Christian life is like that. We have to experience a bit of discomfort if we are to grow as Christians. We have to hear messages that make us think, that cause us to reflect on our own life and where we are in our Christian journey. We have to be willing to accept new leadership roles within the church or step out on faith and share our talents without worrying about our possible feelings of discomfort.

Our true life as a Christian cannot begin until we accept the fact that we NEED to feel a bit of discomfort- it lets us know that we are in new territory, that we are learning something or experiencing something that will help us to continue our own personal growth. God cannot really use us if we allow ourselves to sit there in that same comfy old Christian recliner that we have been in for years. We must push ourselves to the edge of our comfort zone and be prepared to step out of that zone in order to grow and to truly experience the life that God wants us to have!

Friday, January 16, 2015

A Throw of Many Colors.....

Joseph had his coat of many colors.....

Genesis 37: 1-3 
1And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan.
These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.
Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.

Dolly Parton had her coat of many colors.....

And now.................
My daughter has her "Throw of many colors."

A little over a year ago, my sweet hubby brought home a HUGE yarn stash that he had purchased. There were literally bags and bags of yarn in every color and thickness. I have been trying to work my way through the stash, but I was not having a lot of luck.

Recently, on one of my Pinterest searches I found a pattern for this "scrap afghan". I knew I had found my answer. Over Christmas break I began working on it. The throw or afghan is worked with 3 different pieces of yarn at the same time and a very large hook. As one color of yarn ran out, I would join a new one and just keep crocheting. This causes the colors to blend rather than end abruptly.

Here's a close-up:

The only color that I used throughout the entire thing was the white or cream color. (I had plenty of that.)  My daughter had a great time selecting which color would go into the mix next. When she left home about a week ago to return to college, I had her pick out the next several colors so that I could finish it. Tonight I put in the final stitch and ended. I really should have kept track of just how many skeins or bundles of yarn went into the blanket. I know that it was a lot. With all of that yarn, the throw weighs a total of 6 pounds! 

I sent my daughter a picture of the finished throw, but it really did not do it justice. I can hardly wait to see her reaction when she sees the finished product in person. Hopefully she will know that, just as with Joseph's coat, this was made with love in every stitch. When she is laying under its warm layer, I hope that she can sense the hug that I have stitched within it as I crocheted each and every little loop. 

Oh..... by the way..... That yarn stash? Well, there is still lots left, so I will likely make other things for other people that I know and love.  

Friday, January 2, 2015

A New Year

Isaiah 43: 18-19

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! 
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Here it is- a new year and new beginning. Rather than looking back on the old and what HAS been..... I choose to look forward on the new year.

I sit here with a smile on my face, ready and waiting for whatever the Lord allows to spring up. In Isaiah 43, God tells us, "I am doing a new thing". I trust that he will continue to do new things, here in 2015, thousands of years after he first made that promise.

I often find myself wondering about what choice I should make, what direction I should go, or what I should try to achieve- so I suppose you could say that I, too, find myself wandering in the wilderness. I trust that God will guide me, if I ask him and listen to him. He will make a way for me......

I know that God also told us not to dwell on the past, but I feel that he will understand that I must glance back in order to see from whence I came.....

The last year was often filled with stress, trouble, and turmoil. There were health issues for my family, as well as myself. I have often found myself overwhelmed with work, debt, and pressures of life. I have not had nearly as much time to create and relax as I would have hoped or liked.

Over the past month or so, I have felt that God might be telling me..... "Stella, you need to slow down. Rediscover the joys in life. Take more time for you, for your family, and for me."

Perhaps that is the "new thing"-  Perhaps I am meant to return to some of the joys that I have enjoyed in the past. I am open to that.

Won't you join me in my efforts to learn what God can make possible in this new year? If you, too, want to discover the "new things" that God has planned, would you pray with me?

Dear God,
I thank you for your continued love and guidance in my life. As I stand here, at the beginning of a new year, I am ready and willing for whatever you would have me to do. I know that I can be stubborn, and sometimes I try to make my own way. At those times I would ask you to gently remind me that YOU are there and you know what is best for me. I also know that I sometimes allow life and its pressures to blind me and to overtake my life. At those times I would ask you to do what you need in order to turn my vision back to you and your will. 

I do not know what the new year will bring- but I do know that it will certainly be filled with new experiences, enriched by your love and your presence. You WILL make a way for me in the wilderness of daily life and you WILL provide refreshing streams when I need them most.

Thank you Lord, for your love, your guidance, and your tender touch as I continue throughout this new year!