Daily Bread

"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' " Acts 20:35 (NIV)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

June 4th: A Little Lemonade

June 4th: When I came home from the market today, there were three little boys outside who had set up a lemonade stand across the street. They were doing their very best to get my attention and seeking my business by repeatedly shouting, "Lemonade, twenty-five cents!" over and over and over again as I carried my purchases in from the car. (My husband and I have a rule that we always buy lemonade from kid vendors. Drinking it, now that's debatable.) So, I gathered up some quarters and walked across the street to order up a nice refreshing, ice-cold cup of pink lemonade. I gave each kid a quarter even though I only purchased one cup. They seemed very excited. A nice high-five to each for making such good lemonade, and I was on my way again.

That two minute interaction with those three little boys didn't cost me much time or money, but it was just a tiny step in further establishing good relationships and rewarding hard work.

Another challenge idea: I think I just might have to make them cookies one afternoon.

June 3rd: Call a Friend

June 3rd: Call a friend just to say, "Hello."

We live in a busy world. I am also a task-oriented person. These two things together makes it so I have to be even more intentional about friendships. Today I took the opportunity to call up some friends and try to reconnect. I have a lot of friends who live in different states, so the phone is a blessing! I think that there is such power in reconnecting with people and investing in each other's lives. For me, friendships can be reenergizing, invigorating, therapeutic, fun, and relaxing, among other things! Thank the Lord for good friends!

(BTW: Countdown to my friend Jen's baby is at about 14 days! I can't wait to meet the little one! I am sharing this because it will probably come up again in some of my posts.)

June 2: Won't You Be My Neighbor?

June 2nd: Get to know the neighbors to build relationships and a sense of community

My dad always taught me to build relationships with people so that I can show the love of Jesus. He would say, "When you have to, use words to tell about Jesus." My mom always says, "Actions speak louder than words." How am I to share Jesus with people I don't know in a community I live in but am not rooted in yet? These are the thoughts behind today's challenge.

Trent and I have been hard at work in our backyard. We are first-time homeowners and the excitement of having a garden is almost too much for me. Every weekend we are out in the yard trying to make it the best we can be. On Sunday, our task was removing a giant bush from the back corner of our lot. We were outside working for hours! Naturally, this allowed us a chance to get to know some of our neighbors.

We live in a suburban community with fairly small lots, so we are very close in proximity to our neighbors. Our lot touches five others! We have gotten to know our next door neighbors pretty well, but haven't really seen or chatted with the neighbors who live behind us and on the corners. However, it was such a beautiful day that everyone was outside working.

We finally met our backdoor neighbors. They are a very nice Chinese family and they are growing a ton of bok choy in their backyard, among other things. The grandma of the family doesn't speak any English, but her daughter does. It was so nice to get to know them a bit more. The grandma even picked fresh bok choy and gave me an entire bagful!

The neighbors to the north of us are a nice mom and grown daughter. The daughter is quite the gardener so I have been seeking a lot of advice from her as I develop my green thumb. She was so nice, she even gave me some clippings of plants to transfer to my yard. (Truth be told, I planted them right away, but I think they are already dead!)

My challenge for June 2nd was to reach out and finally get to know my neighbors. I am working on making little treats for each family so I can personally deliver them and hopefully strike up more conversation.

June 1: Blessing Bags

First, a thought: Admittedly, with the end of school crashing upon me like a tsunami, I felt a bit shell-shocked to jump right into summer. The transition from the end of school the beginning of summer was anything but graceful. So, when I woke up on June 1st, I honestly hadn't even realized it was no longer May. Gasp! My challenge of Chieko's Change had begun without me!

June 1: On Saturday, my husband and I were driving around town when we saw a homeless man on the side of the road with a cardboard sign. Luckily, we had a Blessing Bag in the car to give him. 

Here's the story behind the Blessing Bags...

My husband and I are so blessed to be a part of a community group through our church. This group is comprised of amazing men and women. A few weeks ago, we decided that we wanted to do something together as a group to serve and honor Jesus. My husband and I have a passion for outreach and suggested the idea of building Blessing Bags together. 

We made a list of items that can survive the heat of a car and decided which family would be responsible for which item. Our list included peanut butter crackers, granola bars, bottles of water, Chapstick, gum, hand sanitizer, a card telling about our church, etc. We met together a couple of weeks later for a grill-out and to assemble the blessing bags. We made fifty and each family had something they contributed and now every car in the family is stocked with Blessing Bags. We plan on making new bags at the beginning of each season and to make sure this outreach opportunity doesn't pass us by. 

It was so nice to have the time for fellowship and it was really great to see the kids take part too. In fact, one little girl saw a homeless person on the way to the grill-out and told her mom how excited she was to have the Blessing Bags to give out. I love the fact that we are serving as a group and modeling outreach for our children. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Try, Try Again!

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions." This is one of the sayings and phrases taught in the Core Knowledge curriculum for 6th grade. It's a funny thing that I teach this phrase to my students, yet the full weight of the words hadn't hit me until recently. 

Chieko's Change has been either a burden or a forgotten element in my life. A burden in the sense that I feel convicted for not having finished and accomplished a goal I set, and a source of...shame...maybe it's shame...that reminds me of how human I am. I think the concept is great and my intentions are pure, but then life hits and so do the excuses. Then, I suppress the thoughts and feelings so much that I can forget about it altogether...that is, until something or someone reminds me.

I have continued to learn more about myself over the last year and feel as though this "burden" of Chieko's Change is really a conviction to start again. I truly do have the desire to serve others and honor Jesus with my whole life. So, if that is the case, then why am I so terrible about follow through? 

My lack of self-discipline has been something I have been facing for far too long and it is time for a change. Chieko's Change. It's time to start anew, but with baby steps this time. I mean, everyone eats an elephant the same way, right? One bite at a time. This is going to be a journey and a time for some major spiritual growth and personal development. This is going to be hard, grueling, tiring, but I can only imagine how incredible it will be to accomplish this goal. 

The goal: Complete Chieko's Change from June 1, 2013 to August 15, 2013. 

In addition, I will be throwing in my own personal growth plan for physical strength and to deepen the self-discipline lesson by training for a 5K with the intention (there's that word again) of someday, maybe, running a half marathon...or maybe even a full marathon! 

I will be signing up to run a 5K so that I have an end date to this challenge I am setting for myself. I am currently looking into running one in September. See, that is the other thing I have been learning about myself. I am great at starting, but don't really keep going because I don't know how to have a positive, planned stop. Therefore, a planned end date of August 15 and a "celebration" run in September will bring me to the end of my current goal. Eventually, I would like to complete a whole year of Chieko's Change challenges and finally obtain the original goal I set so long ago. 

So much has changed over the last two years since I had the original idea for Chieko's Change. It will be interesting to see how I fare this time. I will be sure to work on making smart goals and rallying a team of people to help support me. 

I invite you to join me in this journey. Share with me your ideas, email me what you are doing to serve and share love with others, email me messages to hold me accountable and help me persevere...please join me in whatever way you can because this is sure to be awesome! 

(Oh, and if you are that kind woman who emailed me about the scrapbook post, thank you! You have no idea how much your email meant to me and how you inspired me to start this all over again. I'd love to hear from you again!)

So, please allow me to prepare, plan, and set forth...again.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fresh Start: Happy Birthday Daddy!

It has been almost a year to the day since my last post. I am logging in and writing this post with a lot of emotion. The human nature aspect tells me to feel shame that I quit before my goal was achieved. I feel like I need to apologize for not having continued on and persevered through in accomplishing a year's worth of giving. But then there is the other side of me. The side that knows how hard I worked over this past year and how much I gave. While my giving was not written and shared, I think I could sum it all up in one sentence. I became a teacher.

Last March was a very busy time for me in that I was searching for a teaching job and preparing to graduate from the teacher license program I was in. I knew my husband and I would be moving across town and that I had a lot of changes coming. I was frantically creating my resume and attending job fairs and interviews and finishing up student teaching. Things were great but overwhelmingly busy. As much as I hate to admit it, the busyness took over and Chieko's Change was reluctantly let go. At first I still continued to work on achieving the goal of doing something every day but just not having a chance to blog about it. Then, over time, things dwindled.

I was incredibly blessed to find a job at the perfect school for me in the exact position I wanted. This past year has been breathtakingly wonderful and incredibly challenging. I love my job but the transition took more of my time than I ever thought it would. From August to December I was frequently working until nine o'clock or later. Usually I was at work until eleven at least one night a week. I spent most of my weekends grading and preparing lessons. My time was completely out of balance. I did not spend the time I needed with my family and my health started to deteriorate slightly from not eating well, not exercising, and not having nearly enough sleep. Unfortunately, my quiet times also took a backseat. Life was so far shifted out of balance that I knew it would be hard to get it back to a healthy state but I knew I had to make the changes.

Slowly, I was able to start learning how to balance my time and energy once again.

The lessons I learned in the classroom stretched far beyond the walls of the school. I have truly grown and changed as a much stronger and wiser person. God taught me so many lessons and I am excited to share them with the world as a testament to His goodness.

Now it is March and I am entering the home stretch of school. I have survived my first year teaching and have a renewed passion for not only teaching but also living as a Christian and working toward accomplishing the goals I set a little over a year ago.

So here I am...once again...trying to start this radical change in my life through Chieko's Change. I hope you are ready to join me on the journey.

Today is a special day for me. It is my daddy's birthday; but today I will not be eating birthday cake and blowing up balloons for him. No, today I am praying to God and thanking him for the time I had with my dad. My daddy died in 1994 and even though it has been over a decade since his funeral, I still miss the heck out of him. I still remember the lessons he taught me about loving Jesus with all of my heart. My husband and I were going to drive to the beautiful Rocky Mountains and spend the day in nature worshiping and remembering my dad. (I am so blessed to have a wonderful husband who is okay just to listen or hold me while I cry. He understands that sometimes I don't know how I feel so I can't tell him, but by being with me he helps me feel comforted and loved.) Then, while we were in church I had a thought..."what would my dad do?" Honestly, my dad would have packed up the car with things and driven downtown to give all the stuff to people who needed it. He would have opened our home to someone needing a hot shower, home cooked meal, and a warm bed. He would have retreated to the mountains and spent the day in prayer like Jesus did. My dad would have worshiped and glorified God though his actions. Then it hit me! Why am I not doing that any way? Sure, I give every day in my class and I pour out my heart and love on my students and those I love, but I am not taking it to the next step and I believe Jesus has been telling me to. I have allowed the "busy" to take over the important.

I once had someone tell me that, "satan already knows he can't have your heart because it belongs to Jesus, so he will try desperately to do everything he can to keep you from the Jesus that you love. satan will keep you busy, or tired, or sick, or whatever it is that will distract you from your Creator."

(Note: I hate satan so much that I can't even bring myself to capitalize his name when I write. Yes, I know that the beginning of a sentence or a name should be capitalized and I do appreciate good grammar, but quite frankly he doesn't deserve it. This is just one of my things.)

Today is a new day. Today is my daddy's birthday. Today is a day that God made! Today is a fresh start.  So, today I will be restarting Chieko's Change.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 6th-20th: Marching On

I am constantly amazed at how fast life can fill up. We have so much that constantly bombards us. Everything from billboards and ads on TV or the radio. Troubling news of countries that are struck with tragedy of natural disasters or human hand. So much. Every day. Wow.

But then, there are those times that I can relax in a bubble bath with a good book and forget about my skin getting pruny because I am feeling so rejuvenated by the inspirational words or messages. I did just that on Thursday night. After I started my blog, my sister told me she had a book that was perfect for what I was trying to do. She mailed it to me and encouraged me to read it. I am so glad that I did! I read "Life of a Daymaker" by David Wagner. He is the founder of Juut Salon Spa in Minneapolis. I highly recommend reading this book and taking to heart his message. Basically, his goal is to make someone's day...every day. Sound familiar? I thought so too. He had a great backstory to his mission and encouraging ideas and points to ponder. The book is also filled with great quotes to remember, write down, and read often.

March 6th to today has been a busy time for me. I have been job hunting, house shopping, lesson planning, house cleaning (okay, maybe not), and trying to keep up with everything that is being thrown my way. Luckily, I have spring break coming up. A time to rest and catch up on all of the things I have on my ever-increasing to-do list.

In the past couple of weeks I have honestly not been very good about keeping up with my challenge. I have done some things, like donating blood, donating money to support a friend who is walking in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, sponsored my nieces in their schools' Read-athon fundraiser, signed up for the Pound for Pound Challenge to get food for food banks, sent encouraging letters for friends who were down and out,  read for Mr. Ray, taught children's church, emailed a company about their choice to use chocolate that is not fair trade and other such things.

While I am falling behind on meeting my goal, I have to make tomorrow a fresh start. I need encouragement and support. So, if you are reading this...please hold me accountable. I need to do one thing each day and record it. I know what I have to do. Plan. If I plan what I am going to do, and I schedule things like volunteering at a soup kitchen or something, I am more likely to follow through. So, that is the goal.

Looking ahead to the week:

I am finally cutting my hair on Friday. I am going full-force and chopping off 10+ inches to donate for Locks for Love. I am excited for the change and to know that I am helping someone in a very personal way. I am looking through my list of 365 things to do to see what else I should pre-plan so this week can be successful. I'm open to ideas if you have any!!!!

Lately, I have felt like I should not blog about what I am doing, but rather what others have done for me or what I have seen others do. I have been so blessed these last couple of weeks by the generosity and kindness of others. A sales person at a store at the mall made my day by allowing me to return a defective product without a receipt. This saved me $50! Wahoo! I have seen a 7 year old boy and his mom use the horrible situation they are in to touch the lives of others. He is battling cancer and trying to collect a pillow pet for every kid in America who is ill as a way of showing God' love and providing comfort. Stories of people coming together to help with the efforts in Japan. I am seeing so much good in the world. It's been quite an amazing journey so far to see my heart changing and to view the world through a different lens. There is a song that talks about viewing the world through the eyes of God. I have been praying that prayer and trying so hard to look at things with an eternal perspective, rather than an earthly one.

So, that's it for now. I pray that this week will be successful and that I will give the glory to God in all I do.

Lots of Love!