Focus and breathe.

A white plastic chair.

A paddleboard.

A splash.

These were the things of my spiritual growth today. I’m writing now because, well, if I don’t, I won’t. My blogging track record this summer is abysmal, and the only way that will change is by posting asap. So here goes.

There are a few physical activities that I really, truly, enjoy. (I enjoy the endorphin rush from others, but the actual activity? Depends on the day.) Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is one of those for me. My parents and sister bought paddle boards before I returned to this home, and I’ve spent hours on the water in the last 6 weeks.

Today, I decided to try some stretches on the board. After a few simple poses, I decided to try one involving standing on one foot. Several attempts and perhaps a total of 5 seconds of success, I was suddenly plunging into the warmish water of the lake and reaching for the board- floating away- and my sunglasses- still on my face!

There’s more work to do. I tried several more times with increasing success, and I’m currently sitting by the lake and drying out while I type. There’s still a week of vacation for working on it!

Why is this spiritual development, though?

1. All of life, in my mind, is spiritual. So what I learn on a paddle board has application beyond the water.

2. “Focus” and “breathe” were the directions I needed to find success in my pose today. I needed to focus on something outside of myself to find my balance. The white plastic chair became that focus point for me. When I looked at the board, my paddle, or my feet, I lost my balance. When I tensed up and held my breath, my muscles started to shake the tiniest bit. The tiniest bit of a quiver doesn’t help you balance! When I breathed deeply and relaxed, everything got easier. Not easy, mind you- easier!

3. I need the same lesson on and off the water. Focusing on myself is natural and entirely unhelpful. Tensing up is my m.o. in life…it never bears good fruit.

Implementation of said lessons is forthcoming…and unknown. I’m so thankful for Holy Spirit, Who graciously shows me how to make space for His work and does the heavy lifting.

May the monoblock/white plastic chairs I see in the rest of life remind me of this truth!

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Be still

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even in the ocean, snorkeling,
to notice the details,
the creatures:
the movement of sunlight
on coral
the movement of plants
in current

if you keep swimming,
you’re sure to miss
some of the sweetness

even in life, moving,
to see the fingerprints
of God:
the change of attitude
in a heart
the change of perspective
in a mind

if I’m never still
I’m sure to miss
some of the delight

He is God.

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Little bits of happy

-the excitement of a few boys and me about seeing each other in a few months

-loving life so much in many different places- it seems a bit extravagant, but why not enjoy?

-helpful employees at the meat counter while grocery shopping (and enjoying the name but not purchasing the chicken “lollipops”

-fans, glorious fans

-the satisfaction of finishing a unit plan and being excited to teach it

-internet access at home

-chatting with my dad

-bedtime :)

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You’re in charge!

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And by you, I mean my students. :) This photo shows a “parent” and student practicing for conferences. My kids are accustomed to a few days off for conferences, but I think that they, as the learners, should be the ones to share!

We’ve spent the last week getting ready- writing reflections, choosing a just-right book, putting post-its in place to mark the spot. We even filmed speeches (with Kuya Jun’s help!) to share. Now, just (nervous) anticipation remains.

I’m so proud of my kids and their growth that I may have the most trouble sleeping tonight. Don’t get me wrong- there’s always a little anxiety of the negative kind before conferences for me. But there’s also excitement as I look forward to seeing proud smiles from kids and parents over the next few days.

Student photo is posted with parent permission.

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OC Response to Typhoon Yolanda

You can see more here on the One Challenge site about this, but these photos will give you a peek into the OC response to the recent super typhoon, called Yolanda in the Philippines.   

Meet the Manns, a family who moved to the Philippines about a year before I did to work with OC.  Two of their kids are at Faith, and Wyatt (dad) has been involved in getting help to areas affected by Yolanda.  

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The work of OC day-to-day is supporting pastors and churches as they reach their communities.  The goal is to have a church in every barangay (neighborhood/village) in the Philippines.  What does that mean when disaster strikes?  

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In this instance, it means chainsaws and boat motors go through relationships to pastors in areas of need.  Chainsaws provide jobs as downed coconut trees need to be cleared and materials for rebuilding as coco lumber is used.  Boat motors allow fishermen to get back into the water.

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While food and water are necessary (!), I appreciate that different aspects of relief and aid can come from around the world, through hands and feet on the ground, to enable people to rebuild.  There may not be easy answers, but there are often creative ones!

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Reading and Wrestling

I write to get things figured out.

The blog gets silent when things feel…unfigured…unsettled…generally, un-.  It gets silent when life gets crazy.  It gets silent when my home internet goes down, and stays silent when months pass and the internet still doesn’t work.

So may this serve as my apology for being generally absent.  After being convicted of my desire to keep things private until they are neat and tidy, I’m here to take a baby step into the vulnerable place of wrestling publicly.

Seven months into life in the Philippines, I feel no closer to conclusion on the matter of what to do with privilege than when I came.  I see my privilege more than I did living in the U.S., but I’m not sure how much more I actually possess.  During International Week, I read If the World Were a Village, a kid-sized view into the inequality in the world.  We discussed how unfair life is and how much we have- clean water, food, shelter, education, etc.

Around the same time, I was finishing Playing God by Andy Crouch.  It’s an excellent book for anyone in any sort of leadership- leading kids in a classroom or leading adults in a job or leading a family or the other forms of “leadership” we have.  I read slowly, reflecting a lot on the power I have, the temptations we all face, and the ways I am called to bear God’s image faithfully.  Crouch addresses injustice and privilege as they relate to our use of power.

Then today, I happened across this post On Being Rich by a missionary in Burundi.   While he is in a very different part of the world than I am, his words about our richness and the warning of Christ in the midst of wealth struck me.

Where does this leave me?  I’m not really sure.  I’m loving the much simpler life I live here.  I’m quite sure that I haven’t fully mapped my own footprint here and wonder if I ever will be able to do so.  And I long to follow Jesus in the little ways as well as the big, even when I’m not totally sure what that looks like.

(If this were my kids’ writing, I’m sure we would have a conversation about the organization of this post.  But…it’s not figured out, and I’m going to leave it for now.  Ok?)

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The Roomies

The Roomies

Kelsie, Nicole and I went to the Faith Community Festival last weekend. In support of the junior class, we visited the photo booth.

It’s no wonder I feel spoiled to live with them! :)

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