Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rats in the Cellar

Before my title today freaks you out, I just want to say that I don't have a cellar and I have never seen a rat in Mexico. That being said, I will probably see one today!

Today I don't have many of my own words for you, but I wanted to share something from C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity. This passage really hit home for me because I have seen it happen time and time again in my own life. This quote addresses what can often happen when we begin to grow in the Christian life... we begin to see the rats in the cellar...

"We begin to notice, besides our particular sinful acts, our sinfulness; begin to be alarmed not only about what we do, but about what we are. This may sound rather difficult, so I will try to make it clear from my own case. When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected: I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate or premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in the cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light. Apparently the rats of resentment and vindictiveness are always there in the cellar of my soul.

Now that cellar is out of reach of my conscious will. I can to some extent control my acts. I have no direct control over my temperament. And if (as I said before) what we are matters even more than what we do-- if, indeed, what we do matters chiefly as evidence of what we are-- then it follows that the change which I most need to undergo is a change that my own direct, involuntary efforts cannot bring about. And this applies to my good actions too. how many of them were done for the right motives? How many for fear of public opinion, or a desire to show off? How many from a sort of obstinacy or sense of superiority which, in different circumstances, might equally had led to some very bad act? but I cannot, by direct moral effort, give myself new motives. After the first few steps in the Christian life we realize that everything which really needs to be done in our souls can be done ONLY by God."

I have many rats in my cellar. The more I grow, the more I recognize them. They are ugly and I have allowed them to feed and grow for years. I cannot kill them on my own.

Something that someone said to me once that really stuck with me was this, "In this life we will never be without sin, but the goal is to recognize your sin faster and turn from it faster." It is by the help of the Holy Spirit that we can do this.

So those are some thoughts (Clive's thoughts) for the day.

Hope you're having a super-duper Wednesday!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Life in the Blood

In science we are learning about the Circulatory System...

"There's a great new craze that sweepin' the nation! Come on, do the Circulation!
It starts with the heart what a great sensation! Come on, do the Circulation!
Out through your arteries, in through your veins, the heart pumps the blood, then it does it again..."

WOA! School House Rock Live flashbacks!

Bring it back in...

Anyway, the Circulatory System. It's what we are studying. We made a model of blood in class last week. It was complete with plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Check it out and see if you can identify the parts of the blood.

Plasma = Corn Syrup
Red Blood Cells = Red Hots
White Blood Cell = White Jelly Bean (there is only one to show that the ratio of white blood cells to red blood cells)
Platelets = Sprinkles or Bone Candies

Happy Learning!

So, while I am on the topic of blood, I want to take a moment to share how this theme seems to be popping up all over the place, not just anatomy class.

In our blood there is life. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement." (Leviticus 17:11)

In the blood of Jesus there is eternal life. "God was also pleased to bring everything on earth and in heaven back to himself through Christ. He did this by making peace through Christ's blood sacrificed on the cross." (Colossians 1:20)

In my Bible study we were recently studying the blessings that are found in the blood of Christ...

Redemption (Romans 3:24)
New Life (Romans 6:11)
Eternal Life (Romans 6:23)
No Condemnation (Romans 8:1)
FREEDOM (Galatians 2:4)
Love of God (Romans 8:39)
New Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Sanctified (1 Corinthians 1:2)
Abrahamic Promise (Galatians 3:14)
Every Spiritual Blessing (Ephesians 1:3)
Glorious Riches (Philippians 4:19)
Righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30)
Heavenly Reward (Philippians 3:14)
Eternal Glory (2 Timothy 2:10)
Riches of His Grace (Ephesians 2:7)
Reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19)
Justification (Galatians 2:17)
Holiness (1 Corinthians 1:30)
Resurrection (Ephesians 2:6)
One Body (Romans 12:5)
Forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32)
Salvation (2 Timothy 2:10)
Grace (1 Corinthians 1:4)
Sonship (Galatians 3:28)

These are the blessings and promises that you have if you are in Christ!

Often I have such a narrow view of what Jesus did for me when he died on the cross. Its easy to think that he died just so that my sins could be forgiven. This is true, but it is so much bigger than this. What Jesus did on the cross is big enough to cover all of my sins, failures, and accomplishments (so that I do not take the credit for them). His death says:

I am making the world right, I will defend you, I will help you, I am the LORD, I am faithful, I love you, your sins are forgiven, I died for you, you are my delight and joy, you are righteous, you are mine, everything I have is yours, I will never leave you.

In his blood is LIFE, LIGHT and POWER.

Amen and Adios!

Friday, March 25, 2011

La Bandera

March field trip today. We took the kiddos to Obispado, which has the massive Mexico flag and a Bishop's house, turned fort, turned hospital, turned fort again, turned museum (we toured it). I like this spot. I hadn't been there in years, but it gives some great views of the city.

The flag is gigantic. It is a pretty amazing site to see.

I'm sleepy and there is not much else that I can think to say about it at the moment. I'll give you some pictures to enjoy...

Below you can see how little the people are and how big the flag is! It is enormous! It towers over the city...

It was nice that it was so windy today because the flag opened up nicely quite a few times.

Some of the kids sitting on a cannon, enjoying a snack before our tour of the fort.

Group shot on the steps of the fort.

Perfect day for a field trip! Too bad is was so foggy, so I didn't get any great photos of the mountains or the city. Oh well, perhaps tomorrow since I am going hiking!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pine Lake

I have said for days now that I would be posting about my time in Charlotte. Well, it is now time for that post. I have been waiting because I wanted to be able to write that...


Wahoo! It was actually offered to me last Thursday, but today I officially accepted! Next year I will be teaching 6th Grade Social Studies at Pine Lake Preparatory! I am so excited!! I feel so overwhelming blessed by the way that all of the details have fallen into place. This job is a true blessing from the Lord!

Here are a few drive-by snaps that I took of the school, MY school! :) Sorry that they are not the best quality. While I was actually spending time in the school I didn't have my camera on me, so I literally took these from my car one day as I was passing through.

Welcome to PLP! The front entrance...

The Middle School is shown on the left and the Upper School (High School) is on the right...

The Middle School...
It still feels so unreal to me that I will be teaching here next year!
I am so excited!! I know that I have probably said that many times already, but it is so true. The way that God opened each door makes me so confident that this is where I am supposed to be next year. I am thrilled to see all that is in store! Also, a huge thanks to everyone who has been praying for me throughout this whole process. Your prayers are a blessing and a gift in my life.

My heart is so full of joy!

PS- HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! You bring such joy, encouragement and blessing to all who know you. I admire your servant's heart, selfless love and contagious joy. I pray that you felt immensely loved today! I wish I was there to celebrate with you! I love you!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Poetry Slam

Yesterday we wrapped up our poetry unit by having a poetry slam with the parents! Yep, Miss Jezyka made her debut (her first and possibly final performance)! :)

We kicked off the event with a little poetry battle. My students shared the poems that they had written throughout the unit. I was so proud of them!

After they shared their poems, we had some audience participation with a poetry slam! I had everyone write three random words on slips of paper and put them into a basket. I then drew out 5 words that they had 2 minutes to use those words in a poem.

Everyone had a blast, parents and students alike! It was hilarious to hear what everyone came up with! I loved seeing Ruby's kiddos get excited to share as well!

Yesterday was fun! Things like this get me excited about planning more events and engaging my students in learning in new ways. I feel like my time in Charlotte also gave me the burst of energy and excitement that I needed to finish the year strong. While I was there I spent a lot of time in the school that I was interviewing in, and it sort of acted as some informal professional development. It was so much fun to be back in a community of educators and hearing all of the innovative things that they are doing in their classrooms. This whole week I have felt inspired to try some new things and it has made each day different and exciting!

That's it for now!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I love these women! I has been such a blessing to live, grow and share with them over the past 2 years. From Sunday to Monday we snuck off campus to a hotel on the other side of town for a much needed retreat. To be honest, I was exhausted from my trip to Charlotte (more on that to come later this week), and I was wishing that I could sleep the day away on Sunday. However, God had other plans, and as always, his plan was far better than mine and things are never what I expect. For instance, when we pulled up to the hotel, it seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, and the property was hidden my a large gate. It looked relatively like a scene from "Hollywood Tower of Terror". Once we pulled inside the gate I realized that I could not have been more wrong. The hotel was beautiful, with serene gardens, bubbling fountains, and spacious, luxurious rooms. Take a look...

Such beauty! Once we got settled in, we meet in the garden for a time of sharing what God has been doing in our lives. We did this by tossing a ball of yarn to each person as they shared. At the end we had a web of yarn in the center of the circle. Beth shared that if one person was to let go of their yarn, then all of the other strands will still hold up their string. This is the beautiful thing about community and the body of Christ. When one person is struggling, the rest of the body is there to support them and lift them up. All day Sunday I felt the strength of these women encouraging me, challenging me, and lifting me up.

Here are a few pictures of this activity. (Thanks to Rosa for grabbing my camera, I always forget to take pictures!)

After the string thing we had a time of encouragement where each person was put in the "hot seat" and the rest of us shouted out the things that we admire about them and the things that we see God developing their life. As we were doing this, I couldn't help but love that I am a woman, because let's be honest, I can't picture men sitting around a living room pouring verbal affirmation into one another.

The rest of the afternoon was filled with small groups, worship, prayer, breakout sessions and journaling. The day flew by!

What a great way to start the week! My heart feels so full of joy and encouragement! I am so incredibly thankful for this group of women! Praise the Lord!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Roller Coaster Rides

I love roller coasters. I love the thrill of the speed and the twists and the turns. I love being surprised by a loop and not knowing what is going to come next. Yet being on a roller coaster is still a controlled environment. I know when and where the ride will end up. I know where I am headed, even if there are some surprises along the way.

Life feels a bit like a roller coaster right now. There are surprises, twists and turns, and I have no idea what is coming around the next corner. There are many directions that the ride could take right now. I find comfort in the knowledge that the ride has already begun, the tracks are set, and the Lord is going ahead of me, preparing a place for me.

The analogy might need a bit of work, but you get the idea. I'm sure that you have felt the same why at one point or another. Right now I can easily feel overwhelmed by the big decisions that lie ahead of me. I was just flipping through the pages of my prayer journal, and I ran across a verse that spoke right to my heart and calmed my spirit.

"Do not be afraid, I've redeemed you. I've called you by name. You're Mine. When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you. When you're in rough waters, you will not go down. When you're between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end-- because I am God, your personal God, the Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you...! That's how much you mean to Me! That's how much I love you!" ~Isaiah 43:1-4 (The Message)

I don't read The Message version of the Bible very often, but I liked this passage. In my journal it was followed by Romans 8:31- "If God is for us, who can be against us?" AMEN!

Within the next couple of days I will be sharing about my time in Charlotte. It was wonderful! I love the city, the school, and the people. I am not in rough waters, and I know that this path I have taken is not a dead end (referencing the verse above), but it feels sort of like a roller coaster right now. Picking up and moving to Charlotte still seems like a big step for me. I am excited about all that is in store, but so many details up in the air makes my planner personality a bit anxious (thus the roller coaster analogy and the constant need to turn to the Lord and find peace in his Word).

Well, I hope this made sense. It seems a tad rambley, but I blame that on the 5 hours that I have spent so far in the Atlanta airport! I am now off to catch my flight back to Monterrey.

Tomorrow we have a staff women's retreat, so I will not be back until Monday evening, but then I will have lots of great news about Charlotte, as well as the retreat! Yippee!

Adios Amigos!

Friday, March 11, 2011

I'm Goin' to Carolina In My Mind

It is officially Spring Break, and unlike James Taylor, I'm not just going to Carolina in mind... I'm actually going there! I cashed in my frequent flyer miles, and tomorrow I am headed out to Charlotte, North Carolina!

I announced earlier this year that I will not be returning to SMCA in the Fall. For a while now, I have been praying about what God has for me next. I still do not know what the future holds, but doors continue to open in Charlotte, so I am moving forward in that direction. I am excited to see what will come of this week! I am praying for confirmation and clarity about whether or not this is the location that God has in store for me next.

I have a full week ahead of me- job interview, apartment hunting, exploring the city, and eating as much Panera as possible! Yay! I'm excited (and now hungry because I am thinking of Panera)! :)

Please pray for safe travels and my time in Los Estados Unidos!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Making Masks

Can I just say how creative my students are? They amaze me! I love giving them open ended assignments and seeing where they go with it. They always seem to come up with things that I never would have thought of! An example of this would be the art integration project that we did last week in Social Studies. We were studying the African kingdoms of Ghana, Mali and Songhay in the medieval world and I told my kiddos to make African masks. I pulled out the art bin of random supplies and they set work. I was so impressed with the work they did, and they had so much fun doing it!
(The masks may be more "Where the Wild Things Are" than African, but they are still great!)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Conviction & Cockroaches

Two things. One thoughtful, the other typical (but never ceases to take me by surprise).

Let's begin with the thoughtful-

Last night I was doing a bit of devotions when I stumbled upon a verse that leapt off the page. It was 1 Corinthians 4:7-

"For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?"

BAM! I read that and it was instant conviction. What do I have that I did not receive? Literally and spiritually. Literally, all that I have right now is because of the faith and generosity of my supporters and the provision of the Lord. Spiritually, I am nothing without the grace of God and the blood of Christ. Anything that I have in life is a direct gift from God. All of the things that I have been blessed with are an outpouring of the abundant love of the Father. Who do I think I am when I think that I deserve them or that I can earn them? Everything that I have is something that I have received from God. Life is a beautiful, wonderful gift. Oh how easily I forget that. How often I feel entitled to things. But all I have is from faith- not of works- so that I cannot boast in anything expect for the overwhelming grace and love of Christ!

So last night I was reading that verse and being reminded once again of the truth and beauty of the Gospel. My mind was being blown by the amazing grace of God. And then it happened...

Transition to thing #2- the typical....



They are all over the place. I am pretty used to them, but usually when we have them in our apartment they are babies and they are already dead (phew!). So you can imagine my surprise when I was sitting on my bed last night, totally wrapped up in my reading and journaling, when all of a sudden a gigantic cockroach strutted across my page!! WOA! Not expecting that! It scared the heebie jeebies right out of me (In retrospect, that's probably a good thing, because what are heebie jeebies anyway and do I really want them in me?)! Anyway, I screamed, flung the cockroach (complete with devotional book) across the room and promptly squished him with a shoe. It is springtime in Mexico and the creepy crawlies are out in full force. I just wish that they would stay out of my room!

So those were my two things.

That's life for you... sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes awe-inspiring, but always taking you by surprise!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Introducing: Courtney

Courtney is my new roomie! I am so excited to get to live with her, she is a such wonderful friend! I am blessed to have her in my life! :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mr. & Mrs. Arguello

What a wonderful weekend! The rain held off, all the details came together and Becca and Rodolfo are officially and happily married! Yippee!

I snapped a quick photo with the beautiful bride right before the ceremony... our final picture as official roomies!

She is stunning! The bridesmaids prayed over her before she walked down the aisle to meet her groom.

This is the lasso, which is the traditional Mexican symbol of unity and being bound together in Christ. I loved how Becca and Rodo incorporated both of their cultures into the wedding. It was a beautiful picture of how their different lives and cultures have meshed together to become one.

"I now pronounce you husband and wife!" I love Rodo's fist pump here! He is so excited!

"You may kiss the bride..." Now that is what I call a kiss!

Mr. & Mrs. Arguello!! They're married!!

The reception- everything came together to perfectly! I have never seen the campus look so beautiful!

Their first dance as husband and wife. It was so picturesque with the palm trees in the background.

These girls have become some of my dearest friends over the past 2 years. I love them so much and cherish our last few months together. Here's to you, single ladies (and our newly married Becca)!

All of the B2B staff women! My, there are a lot of us! What an amazing group of women!

And let the fun begin! The reception was a blast! The band was amazing and we salsa danced the night away! At one point the band started throwing out balloons, noise makers, necklaces, glasses, hats, costumes... it was hilarious!
What a grand, joyous celebration! I was so thankful to be a part of it all. It truly filled my heart with joy to see Becca absolutely glowing all day. At the reception she said to me, "I have never seen such a beautiful reception, I can't believe that it is mine! I am so blessed!" Well Becca, we are so blessed to have you in our lives! :)

And they lived happily ever after...