This Year {2014}

“Each day it feels like nothing has changed, but when we look back everything is different.” –Unknown

Its funny how as the year passes, at times quickly and others slowly, it seems like nothing in our life is different. But if you really take the time and think about where you were one year ago, nothing is the same. I often forget all that has gone on in the last year–the adventures, the lessons, the laughs, tears, and memories; I am so thankful I take a lot of random pictures! And keep a gratitude journal. I don’t read what I’ve written until the end of the year   and it is really amazing to re-live the days and reflect on what brought me joy. 2014 was quite a year!

Babies were born that fill my life with snuggles;

Health became more of a priority (and I like it!);

Adventures were had across the country (Kentucky, Hawaii, Silver Lake, Pismo);

Nieces and nephews grew before my very eyes into amazing little people;

Beauty was seen in things big and small (the colors of the sky, the smell of summer rain and hot coffee);

Relationships flourished;

Books were read that made me smile, relax, think and get motivated;

Challenges were faced (remember Challenge-tember?);

Disappointments served as lessons learned;

Hope grew;

And Jesus poured out grace upon grace, love upon love, and mercy upon mercy until my cup overflowed.


My days, my life, and especially my heart are very different than they were 365 days ago and for that I am so very thankful.

This year 2





Christmas Reflections

{Sigh} Christmas is over. The decorations are still up and the smells are still lingering, but the excitement of it all is gone. Before I put it all away and make plans for the new year, I thought it would be good to reflect on the season and why it fills me up.

  • Everything glitters and sparkles and is just plain fun! Something I needed after many busy months. I even broke my own rule and decorated {2 days} before Thanksgiving!
  • Gifting giving is probably one of my love languages. I love picking out the right gift for each loved one, wrapping it, and seeing a smile as they open it. And the sweet kisses from my nieces and nephews as they say thank you…nothing better!
  • Merry & Bright Gift Swap! This year I did something extra fun and participated in a gift swap through Brave Love Blog. Bailey Jean had to sift through 150 emails and pair people up from all over the world who wanted to participate. It was fun and a little nerve-racking to pick out a gift for a person I knew only through a questionnaire and Instagram! But in the end, it was really about connecting with other women and finding a way to celebrate the season together even though my partner and I were on opposite sides of the country! Sandra blessed me with some super cozy socks, yummy hot chocolate, coffee, and candies, plus a gift card to Target! Plus its always fun to get presents in the mail, right? Thank you Sandra for your thoughtfulness!

    Goodies from Sandra

    Goodies from Sandra

  • Family time. Its amazing how family can live just a few miles away and yet I don’t get to spend time with them like I wish I could. And oh man, the laughter that ensues we were are together. I am blessed to have so many people to call my own.
  • Rest. As a teacher I get three weeks off and I always try to make sure I sleep a little longer and make at least one day a pajama day {that was yesterday}. Of course there are projects I brought home that I need to work on in the next two weeks, but getting to relax and go at a slower pace is rejuvenating.
  • Quiet time with Jesus takes on a whole other meaning. The season is all about celebrating HIM. God, very God, came to Earth so that He could know His loved ones. Know their joys and heartaches. Know their triumphs and failures. Except in His perfectness, He never sinned, but showed us all how to love and live a life that brings glory to the King. In the midst of the craziness, it is heart-filling to spend time with the One who its all about.

Quiet time

I read through the Advent Devotional by NapTime Diaries. It was amazing!

And to think I still have 2 more weeks of vacation! Yay!! Off to spend more time with family!

Highs & lows

The end of September and all of these crazy challenges is just two days away. Yay!! It really has been a super busy, productive, stretching month but more on that when the month actually ends.

Highs & lows is one of my favorite games because it really can get people to open up while remembering that though things seem bad there is always, ALWAYS something to be grateful for. Thankfully this month was filled with a lot more highs then lows.


….completing a ton of new activities  for my students

…..successful parent conferences

….fixing my fence by myself {its just a band-aid that is already falling off but I did it!}

….running more than I thought I could

….increased time in prayer and in the Word

….spending a lot of time with friends and family

….more #happymail than I’d like to admit

….some super yummy sushi

….more laughs than I can count

….fall attempting to make an appearance

….camping in San Diego

….my first sleepover with my niece

….good books


….work  to catch up on

….still having a broken fence

….not getting to write daily like I wanted to

….a few too many vet visits for my sweet pup

Tell me one of your month highs! {Lets focus on being grateful!}


Fall bucket list

I’m told that fall has officially started but with highs still in the 90s its a little hard to tell. Thankfully the slight chill in the air lets me know its coming…eventually, if only for a day or two.

While its here I have a small bucket list of my favorite fall things to do…

….visit the pumpkin patch with my nieces and nephews


{Fall 2012}

….bake all things pumpkin


….create some fall banners, wreathes and decorations

{So many ideas, so little time! Here’s some of my faves on Pinterest!}

….purchase a new warm and comfy blanket to snuggle in

….breathe in the crisp air

….run more miles

….enjoy the early sunsets


….host a framily Thanksgiving

….finish Christmas shopping {yes I started this month}

….take my nephew to the fire station

….cheer on the Chargers at a game


….savor hot coffee

…read good books

….celebrate birthdays of loved ones

….go ride dirtbikes {its been waaaay too long!}

Okay maybe I do love Fall more than I really want to admit. It is a beautiful time of year, isn’t it?

What’s on your fall bucket list?


Today’s post brought to you by Brave Love

Love the little children

I haven’t travelled the world like I someday want to but I have gone on some trips of a lifetime. Three amazing, life-changing trips were actually short-term missions with groups from my church. Two were to the South to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. These were my favorite and I hope to some day go do more of this type of work. {More on those another day} My trip to the Philippines is the one I can’t seem to shake…

Four years ago the college pastor was putting together a trip and as one of the leaders in the ministry, he asked if I would like to go. The notes we passed during a class went something like this….

Pastor: You should come to the Philippines.

Me: When?

Pastor: January 18-28.

Me: Can I go for half? I’m already back at work.

Pastor: You only love half of Jesus.

Me: I’ll ask my boss, but count me in.

Fast forward five months and our group landed in Manila. Three or four of the days we spent running a preschool program for local missionaries so that they could attend Bible classes taught by pastors on our team. Oh the joy on those kids dirty faces as they came to see us each morning. We taught them songs, preformed plays, and colored with them. We just wanted them to know that God loved them and so did we. After class we would walk them home. But “home” was really broken down buildings without electricity or running water held together with salvaged materials. Kids were bathed in the streets as people hung around, gambled, or sold homemade goods. God gave us these days to prepare our hearts for what was to come.

Next up: IT Tender Ministry– a feeding ministry for street children. Children that have been abandoned by their parents, who live under bridges and scrounge for trash they might be able to sell. Children that often use the money they’ve earned to buy glue to huff because it takes away the hunger and pain. We went one afternoon to share a Bible story and help feed a group of kids that would come for what would be the only hot meal they would receive that week. They were dirtier than I thought possible but they had smiles that lit up the room. They were overwhelmed with gratitude that we had come to play and hang out. The room was small and stuffy but filled with excitement. As I sat and spoke with one of the founders of the ministry, Gela, a little boy crawled onto my lap. I wrapped my arms around him and continued my conversation. I learned his name was John Michael, he was 6 years old and was part of a “family” of 6-7 kids. The oldest a teenager, the youngest a toddler. Together they took care of one another. When the ministry had visitors, this was his typical behavior. The food was eventually served but he refused to get up. I knew he was hungry, starving probably, but what he was really hungry for was love and physical affection from someone, anyone, a stranger even. He needed to be loved on if only for a moment. Numerous times I told him to go eat but still he refused. I stood and carried him to the table with his arms wrapped tightly around my neck. We sat and he ate, every once in a while looking up at me to make sure I was still there. I’d smile and he would return to his food and his friends.

Before we left I asked Gela about adoption. My heart ached for this little boy. Gela said that because he was abandoned he had no official paperwork making it nearly impossible. Also, the corrupt  government would add to the difficulty by constantly raising the price of adoption. I hugged him good bye and wrote his name down in my Bible. I pray for him often and wonder where he is, who he is, if he is experiencing the love of a parent or if he feels the ultimate love of Jesus. Hopefully when I get to Heaven I’ll find out.

The day after the feeding ministry we went to the Children’s Ward at the local hospital. The government calls it a hospital but what it really is, is a large hot, muggy room, filled with beds and dying children. We heard their stories and saw their wounds as we walked around and prayed. Here, people only get medical care if they can pay for it. While they may be laying in a bed with the most rudimentary IV I have ever seen, they are not getting medicine or visits from a health care professional. Not until some pays upfront. And once they do, its up to the parent to administer the medicine or re-dress the injury. Honestly, I don’t have the words to fully explain what our group experienced that day. Hopelessness, frustration, anger, utter loss, confusion….

We all walked out of the hospital, loaded into the truck and sat. In silence. Even our most boisterous college girls had nothing to say. After about 15 minutes our college pastor broke the silence with passages from Revelation. Bottom line, he reminded us all, Jesus wins. God wins. This world is filled with darkness because of our sinful nature, but in the end Jesus will triumph. Amen, Pastor, amen.

The trip went quickly–more visitations, time getting to know the missionaries, lots of food, beautiful rain storms, de-briefings with the team, all intermixed with quiet times with Jesus. And finally, the long trip home to my comfortable bed in my big house with running water, to my car and refrigerator filled with too much fresh food, to my big church that meets in a big building with bright lights, to my family and friends that support me in my walk with Jesus. Back to my simple, abundant life.

It was hard to come home but I was so thankful to be back. My heart was changed there. And a piece of it stayed wrapped around John Michael. Jesus showed me more of His heart. His heart for the poor and oppressed, for the sick and needy, for the orphan. I still pray, almost four years later, that God will use this trip for His glory and that my heart will never go back to what it once was.

Today’s post is part of the Blog-tember series!

Most people don’t know

There are about us, big or small, that we only share with our best friends and would never share with others. Or maybe these things we would never share with anyone. Or maybe you do share with everyone! Regardless, they make up who we are. When God created us He purposefully knit each of us together differently– different colors, different likes and dislikes, different quirks. When He wrote our stories He purposefully planned out every detail. And all of it was done with one thing in mind-mold us to be more like Him.

So what are some of those little secrets, details, differences that make me, me?

Most people don’t know that….

….I have social anxiety. Big crowds make me nervous. I am constantly scanning the room for someone I know and can spend time with. I often don’t go to events unless I know my friends are already there. And if my close friends aren’t going, chances are I’m not either.

….but I want to be more social. I want my circle of friends to expand and find more women to do life with. I like getting out of the house {if the gathering is small}.

….I like being creative but my perfectionism holds me back.

….I love books. Love them. Children’s books especially. Someday I want to write a series. But I’m often to cheap to buy them from an actual store unless they’re on sale or I have a coupon!

….Most days when I come home I won’t turn on anything that can make a sound. No TV. No music. Even my iPad sound is turned off. I enjoy the silence. And after 6 hours with my students, I need silence.

….Pumpkin anything is my favorite, but I’m really not a fan of pumpkin spice lattes.

….big change or chaos is my worst enemy. I’m learning to relax.

….I enjoy my OCD tendencies. My desk is organized and clean. There are a few different to-do lists on my phone. And printed out post-its! My fave!

….my favorite color, verse, season, food, quote, outfit, song all change constantly depending on the season or season of life. So maybe I do like change! 🙂

….not having my nails painted makes me feel naked.

….I love taking pictures. I’m not even close to good but I love being able to look at a picture and instantly remember that little moment and smile.


Today’s post is brought to you by BraveLoveBlog

My {calm, chaotic} day

I woke up this morning with the day’s events running through my mind. I knew each thing I had to get done and what time to do them.

6:30 Wake up

6:45 Work out {Yay PIYO!}

7:15 Finish workout and make protein shake

7:30-8:15 Get ready for work

8:15 Devotion and coffee

8:40 Leave for observation #1

8:55 Arrive for observation #1

9:00–12:00 Observation

12:00 Pick up lunch, eat in the car

12:30 Drop off paperwork at DO and pick up book

1:20 Arrive at school for observation #2

3:00 Drive to parent’s work to pick up small refrigerator

3:30 Hang out with G for a few hours {on his only day off} and relax for the rest of the evening.

But what really happened….

5:30 Wake up and feed dogs

6:35 Wake up for workout

6:45 Workout {whoa! that was a good one!}

7:15 Finish workout and make protein shake {so good so far}

7:30-8:20 Get ready

8:20 Begin devotion and read Colossians 3:1-2

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

WOW! Conviction! Heavy heart! Prayers for my loved ones! Call to action!

So I pray and thank our Heavenly Father that not only has Christ been raised from the dead, but I have too.  I thank Jesus that He is seated at the right hand of our Father–His work is done! My salvation is complete! And I lift up the week ahead, praying for each day, laying it all at the foot of the cross and ask for strength and endurance and that above all I will be act like Jesus. Then I pray for many of my friends, that they too will have a week set on things above. And I send a few text messages. Then I think that all my friends need to hear this and know that I am praying for them so I create an Instagram picture {see picture to the right}.

Yikes! I need to brush my teeth and hit the road!

8:40 Brush teeth and gather stuff

8:45 Head out to observation #1….maps app decides it does not want to give me directions…drive quickly to destination. Thank  you for so many green lights Jesus! {I HATE being late and late is being there on time. Arriving 5 minutes before the scheduled time is being on time.}

8:58 Arrive at observation #1. Observation goes great, but it runs over.

12:35 Leave school. Contemplate canceling second observation and going home to start report. Decide to skip trip to the DO and just get food and go to observation #2. Hit every red light.

1:00 Miss turn off for preferred restaurant so go to second choice. Eat quickly in the car.

1:15 Arrive at observation #2. Observation is interesting and I am full of ideas but contemplating how to best advise the teacher so as to not overwhelm her.

2:45 Receive text from my sister calling me out on not writing daily like the blog-tember challenge says I must. Oops! But thanks for the encouragement sissy!

3:00 Leave observation.

3:15 Arrive at DO. Drop off paperwork. Walk to second office to pick up book. No one can find the book. Talk with Program Specialist for a bit about new student {who started today while I was out}.

3:40 Head to pick up fridge. Thank you helpful employee for loading it into my car! Love those guys!

4:10 Arrive at G’s. He has no AC {its 105 degrees outside so the power company turns off air to save power and save people money}

4:30 Go to G’s parents to pick up dishwasher. I’m literally melting as we stand outside.

5:00 Drop off dishwasher at G’s. Decided on dinner. AC is back on! He heads to the store, I head home to get dogs fed and AC turned down.

5:15 G arrives with dinner.

5:45 We begin watching documentary “The Hornet’s Nest”. This is a must see! Its the story of a father and son journalist team covering the fighting in Afghanistan.

7:30 Mom calls. Informs me that I need to call my cousin sometime this week who lost her Grandpa on Saturday. My heart aches for her. And I don’t know if she really knows Jesus. But I do and I have healed {somewhat} from losing my Dad thanks to the mercies and grace and comfort offered by God alone. My mom is confident that I can speak truth to her. I pray I can. Please pray too.

7:45 Cry at the end of the documentary.

8:00 Eat cheesecake standing at the island with G. He’s so good to me and knew I needed some dessert!

8:05 G heads home and I sit down to write.

Do you know what ran through my head all day as the time line got screwed up, as I sat at red lights and thought about the next thing on my list? “Set my heart and mind on things above. Set my heart and mind on things above, not on earthly things.” The Lord used two sweet, yet convicting verses to remind me throughout the crazy day that He is in control and that my salvation is complete in Him. The Holy Spirit reminded me {like I prayed for it to do this morning} that God is my source of strength and He is forever with me, He will not forsake me. Thank you Lord for writing down these verses, for making them my devotion this morning, and for using them to keep me {pretty} calm when things didn’t go the way I planned! While my day seemed chaotic, it wasn’t. There was just a different order to the events and there were a few extra things to do. But that perspective comes only because God’s words were on on my mind and in my heart. While the day could have been crazy, it wasn’t because it was planned by the God Most High and He filled my thoughts with His truth. Can you imagine how I would have felt had I not had read those verses this morning?

Did you plan out your day as you fell asleep last night only to have it go completely differently?  How did that make you feel? What did you do in response? And what are you going to do tomorrow to make sure things go a little bit better?

My recommendations?

  • Have plan or a list and pray over it. Give each thing over to God. Ask for strength. Ask for wisdom on how to best approach the day. And thank God that He is with you and filling you with His peace and love.
  • Be flexible. The Lord is not a God of chaos. He likes order as do we, but it is His ways that prevail. And His ways are best.
  • Start each day with Him. That will look differently for each of us but whether it is time in prayer, the Word or worship, starting your day in the presence and stillness of the Holy One will ensure you walk out the door with a happy spirit.
  • Memorize scripture. The Psalmist says “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” {Ps. 119:11}. The Holy Spirit will bring Scripture to mind when you need it most.
  • Be grateful. “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” {Ps. 118:1}. Everything is a gift from above! Even that red light, long line at the coffee shop and extra errand. Be thankful for it!

I pray that your Monday was full of joy and that the week ahead, no matter how many things on your to-do list, is one that glorifies God.

I remember


September 11th is day that will forever be a day of infamy, a day of shock and heartache, a day we wish never happened. But it’s also a day that must be remembered and shared with future generations because it did happen and it forever changed the world as we know it.

I remember ….
…..watching the second plane crash into the tower.
….talking to G as he drove to his 24-hour shift as an EMT in LA and asking him to not be a hero if something happens. He humbly replied, “But it’s my job”.
….going to school and waiting for more news.
….my Economics teacher telling us how bad this would be for our economy.
….being irritated that the flags weren’t immediately lowered to half-mast.
….calling my Mom during third period Biology to find out if she had heard if my stepdad was okay (he was in Pennsylvania)
….being unable to take my eyes from all the news reports that night and the days following.
….asking God for protection.

It was all so scary. I knew our country would never be the same.

But I also remember…
…the rush of people going to donate blood, G included. (I was still too young)
….people rushing to help pull people from the buildings.
…wearing red, white, and blue proudly.
…candlelight prayer vigils lighting up the night.
…everyone singing God Bless America wholeheartedly.
…the unity of our school, community, and country in the months that followed.
…trusting God that he was in complete control.

So today we need to all take some time to remember because it’s a day to tell our children and grandchildren about. A day to remember the lives lost….the men and women that perished in the towers, on the planes, at the Pentagon. The men and women that rushed in when everyone else was rushing out. And we can’t forget to lift up prayers for the kids that were suddenly left with only one parent or maybe none at all. And offer thanks for the people that lined up to give anything they could to help. The heroes of that day and the days that followed.

And we can’t forget the lesson we learned: there is bad in this world, but there is also good. And good can win.

What do you remember?


Listen up!

Do you ever have days when it seems all you are doing is checking things off the list? Or you mentally think about the week ahead and all you can think is, “I need a nap”?

Its four weeks into the new school year and I’ll be honest, I’m exhausted. And its not my students that are exhausting me as they can sometimes do. Its the constant loooong list of things to do at work, at home, after work, on the weekends, in the next five minutes. My classroom has gotten into an amazing grove, students are progressing, and data is being collected {it needs some work}, but I still need to update the Excel goal spread sheet, create next month’s newsletter, write another IEP, then go to a BTSA meeting {remind me why I decided to be a Support Provider? Oh right, God told me to}, and review the CAPTAIN report rubric.

And please, lets not get started on the list of things to do at home! Fix the fence, build a fence around the air conditioner {oh I love my puppy!}, decorate for the holidays {this one is going to wait because I’m really not ready for Fall}, clean, do laundry, and workout. My mind is telling me I really need the workout so I’ll feel better and have the energy I need to keep checking things off the list.  But another part of my mind is telling me to just rest and be still and that putting off those things for one more day will be okay because being still for just a moment is really what I need.  Yesterday I chose to listen to my body that was screaming for rest and relaxation {after I came home from a meeting and finished the baby shower gift}. And I’m so glad I did. I cozied up in my new favorite sweatshirt, watched some Monday Night Football, and went to bed before the game was over because I needed it. It was great!

How often do we push aside the things our bodies and hearts are telling us we need because we need to get just one more thing done? And how often does that result in us feeling run-down or overwhelmed? Angry or irritated? Sick? More than we would like to admit. And how often does the first thing to get pushed aside is time with Jesus? Don’t worry you don’t need to raise your hand; no public shaming here. Because it happens. We think that things are going great and we’re busy, and well Jesus knows that so it will be okay if I don’t spend time with Him. Jesus will understand why I set aside my quiet time to get another load of laundry folded or an IEP written. But the thing is, it is in those moments when He is calling to us. Calling us to rest in His presence. Calling us to ask Him for help to get it all done. And when we do, when we listen, really listen, to what our souls need and heed to that calling, that we will feel refreshed, energized, and at peace about the never-ending to-do list.

Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”                      {Matthew 11:28-30}

Isn’t that a relief? We can go to Jesus and lay it all down! And then find rest! Now I’m not saying throw your to-do list out the window, neglect your responsibilities and be a couch potato, but take that list to Jesus. Ask Him to help you prioritize. Ask Him for help and energy to get it all done. Ask Him to help you say no if you need to. And above all, ask Him to give you a desire and the time to spend with Him. 10 minutes of prayer will do wonders for your soul. 20 minutes in the Word can alter your attitude. 30 minutes of worship will enliven your spirit.

So listen up! And obey the call to be still.



Current Events


listening to HGTV…seriously my favorite channel.

reading through Psalms & Colossians…I’m using Kristen’s devotional for Colossians & I love it! 

drinking hot coffee. Yes I know its the middle of the afternoon & 90 degrees outside.

feeling YUCKY! My sinuses are driving me crazy!

anticipating the Ventura race I’m running tomorrow. A 5k at the beach with friends? Yes please.

dreading the 4AM wake-up to get to said race.

procrastinating taking down my pool. I don’t want summer to end.

working on 2 IEPs, a baby shower gift, and a presentation.

excited about football season & my new Charger’s sweatshirt!

needing a nap, to do laundry, go to the store and get more writing done.

loving PiYO & Shakeology. Haven’t felt this good in such a long time!

praying about career steps & for friends.

preparing my heart for what comes next.

missing my Dad.

girl and dad

Photo: Google Images {On my Thoughts board}

What is going on with you today?

Challenge Update: Today is Day 6 of  Challenge-tember and so far the hardest challenge has been writing daily. It takes more time than I thought {mainly because I’m a perfectionist and new to this}  and because work and my evenings have been so busy. Not that I’m complaining. I’ve spent much needed time with my niece and nephews this week, been productive on work projects, logged a few miles, and been in the Word. And this is supposed to be a challenge, right?