Total Pageviews

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Despair at Mile 9

"but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40:31

This past weekend, my husband and I participated in the 5th year of the Hollywood 1/2 Marathon as Legacy Runners.  I always look forward to this run, primarily because 1) it was the first time I realized, I COULD be an athlete, 2) it gave my husband and I a common hobby and goal, 3) the Race Directors and other Legacy runners are so stinkin' nice.  

However, this particular year has posed to be quite the hurdle. I started to go to school full-time to get my teaching credential and my Master's degree.  I have also been teaching in a full-time capacity since October.  My kids love to dance and are at the studio 5 days a week and then there are the obligatory domestic duties that must be accomplished.  All of these activities certainly limited my time to train for a half-marathon. Yes, my life is a completely crazy and chaotic mess right now, BUT I wouldn't change it for the world.  I am following a call that God has given me, and for now this is a season.  

All of this to say, I ran the CRAPPIEST 1/2 marathon time in EVER for me.  I made a series of rookie mistakes beside the lack of training, and to be honest was just lucky to finish vertically.  I purchased a new pair of running shoes, and although I thought I had worn them enough to break them in, it was quite evident that was not the case.  I, being a teacher, could not just take a 1/2 day and leave early to pick up my race day packet in time before the expo closes, so I sent my husband and kiddos up before, and I explored the world of public transportation.  I took Uber from my house to the Trolley station, to Amtrak, to the Metro and walked up a hill with my school books in tow, to the hotel, making my destination shortly after 10pm.  I hadn't eaten a real dinner. I mean I did down a couple of Rubio's fish tacos after work thinking that would be good enough but... and then there is race day fuel... I packed a multi-grain almond butter sandwich for myself and a banana, which has always been standard race day fare... EXCEPT, I smashed my banana in my book bag on my excursion.  Yuck!  

Race day was to have the possibility of rain, and it looked like it was going to hold off and the temperatures were nice and chill.  I kept praying Isaiah 40:31 trying to have God hear that I wanted Him to hold me up through this race, and I felt as if He acknowledged me, by showing me a group with this verse on their shirt.  I know it is a common one, but nevertheless...  However at mile 9, I was done, Done, DONE!!! I was beyond tired, hungry and sore.  I was starting my pitty party.  Throughout the race there are these wonderful individuals who sacrifice their own race times to cheer and motivate other runners, like me who are struggling.  I spotted this man Michael a couple of miles in, and for some reason he, in particular, motivated me.  I saw him several times even in not so good times, motivating me to keep taking those steps forward.  They were so awesome.  I happened to look at my phone to see that a friend had started a 1 day challenge with me just to root me on during the race... That was super encouraging and Valerie, you will never know what that meant to me!!! Then despair once again sat in, funny how negativity or Satan always can wiggle in...  Again, the pangs of hunger, the ache of my ankles and toes, and this time... the pouring RAIN reared it's ugly head... Yes, pouring rain!  Yes, I may have said some not so nice words, and yes, I may have added to the water table by crying a bit.  I then decided to take a hold of the negativity... remembering something that Oprah said as I recently attended a conference, "the energy you put out is the energy you get back."  Then a song came on Spotify account, "Break Free" by Ariana Grande.  There is a line, "This is the part where I don't wanna, I am stronger than I've been before"  I needed this song... I started to cry good tears, it was then my thoughts changed to: Who am I to complain about being hungry?  I have passed way too many people whose homes are on the curbs, sleeping in doorways and bus stops... THEY know hunger... Who am I to complain about my hurting feet?  I have feet that are moving me ever forward...  

The largest thing that helped me, and no words can express my thankfulness enough was that my husband, who had already finished, walked with me for the last 2 miles.  That is love!  He talked talked to me and distracted me, cheered me on, pretty much like in the movies... I just LOVE that man!!!

Perspectives can change, and yes, I am not too happy about my time, 3 hours and 15 minutes, but I am pretty happy and the change in my attitude, and the God moments that I found in the midst of despair.  See you next year Hollywood 1/2

Friday, June 12, 2015

Forever Young- The last day of High School

Most already know that about 2 years ago, I took a leap to become a substitute teacher for the school that my children attend.  My 2nd assignment was a the High School campus, and I wish I could say it was a wonderful experience.  Funny how all your High School insecurities can come flooding back as soon as you step foot back on a High School campus.  I had students refusing to speak English, it WAS an English class, take out their notebooks, played soccer, rode skateboards, took enormous amounts of tissues and had major attitudes... bottom line I let them see me sweat... I know would never tolerate that action but I digress... and I have had many more successful assignments there since. :-)

About a month and a half ago, I was approached with the possibility of taking a long term position for an advanced math teacher, meaning I would have  Calculus, Pre-Calculus and Trig classes as well as 2 Algebra and a music class... ummm, yeah, right... I told them I really wasn't qualified to take those classes, I mean I HAD taken the classes, but only to pass, meaning I don't remember a thing... besides it was 15+ years ago.  They wanted me badly, and told me that the teacher would teach lessons via video for the advanced classes, and that Calculus was done for the most part so that wasn't a worry.

Four weeks ago, I started.  I can't say it was an easy assignment since there were many frustrating days when I really wanted to help students understand, but couldn't.  GRIT is the code word this year for the LFCS family, and that is what it took for me and the student's to get through the remainder of the year.

Today was the last day of school at Liberty High School.  I was fine with this, it was an end to a very gritty assignment, but not without making me a stronger teacher and person.  I have now decided that my Master's degree will be in teaching Mathematics... who knew?  My last class I had to say good bye to an amazing foreign exchange student who just lit the world with his smile.  My voice cracked, he will be missed.  I walked around telling my amazing Math team teacher friends thank you for helping me make the most of a precarious situation... again my voice cracked.  As I walked off the campus for the last time this school year, I waved and smiled to many awesome students, students that I am confident will go far in their lives.  In my car, I see a bright shining student leader walk by, she is a senior, this is the last time she will walk to her car on that campus... I drive past another student, who smiles and waves at me, he was one of the rude boys who gave me heck my first assignment.  He has become an amazing respectful young man who, even though he is from another country, also will go far in life.  Just as I start thinking about how far he as come, "Forever Young" comes on my XM system... a sort of theme from my Sr. year of high school.  It hit me for whatever reason, all the emotion and excitement of ending one chapter of life and starting another.  Crazy God's timing.

To all the High School graduates, Congratulations, Good Luck and Always remember to follow your dreams!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Leap of Faith

Tomorrow starts a series at Journey Community Church that is becoming a tradition at Journey Community Church... Leap of Faith.  Last year I was actually a leader of a Life Group as we took on this study before Easter last year.  To be honest, I was less than enthused, almost jaded... This year, I am looking forward to seeing what God has in store for me, mainly because I know God has a lot planned for me.

My first leap occurred tonight.  I joined a Life Group. Yes I was the leader of a Life Group last year, but as the attendance was dwindling, we chose to merge with another group that met on the same night... needless to say, it was not a great fit for us, at this life stage. Let's not forget to mention, my daughter's dance schedule changed and it conflicted with our Life Group schedule... dance won out.  For years now I have felt a sense of disconnect... yes I could walk across the campus of Journey and say "hi" to people and know their names, but I knew that there was more, more I was not experiencing, deep friendships, people with whom to share life with.  For several years, I cringed at the idea of going to the Beach Baptism... why?  There was a real sense of feeling lonely in the crowd... yes, there were hundreds of people there, and yet I was lonely... why?   Even though I knew people there, I felt it wrong to just ask people if I could just join them... so I sat... alone... staring at my phone for lack of conversation... lonely... and yet Journey was my home for more than 18 years...  Why?  because I was not connected in a small group... Tonight, I took a leap and tried a new group which looks very promising... first sign was when my 12 year old daughter walked in and found a close church friend there... she is the one I would be concerned about being "bored" during the group... not only did she find her friend, the kids that were there were in the 9-13 age frame... perfect for them.  I walked into the room and realized that I had acquaintance with several people already in the group.  I was comfortable already... we will see where this journey will take us... Next week, Chip will be able to join me, and I cannot wait ;-)

I said before I am sensing God is wanting to do something for/in me.  I believe it is career related.  This all started back in 2000 as I was in my final month of my last semester of college.  I was doing a Bible study in the library when I felt God tugging at me to become a teacher... That was great, but my major was Business Management... So I finished my original major, then started a graduate program to get my credential... I started it, and then got pregnant with Katie... I wanted to be a full time mom so I stopped the program and for years was blessed to be a Stay-at-Home mom... After attending a Global Leadership Summit, I felt God tugging at me again, this time to be a Substitute Teacher at my kid's school.  I told myself that if I saw it in the school bulletin I would know it was a confirmation sign.  I saw it, so I put in my packet.  October 2013, I took my first class, a 2nd grade class to be exact, and I was scared, but at the end of the day, I was excited and energized.  I loved it!  I subbed for about a year and built a reputation when I was asked to take a long term job... 6 weeks to be exact.  I was so sad when it was coming to a end.  Never once at this gig did I feel like I was going to work, and I loved every minute of being there.  I believe this was once again God's prompting to take the leap to get my full credential... So I submitted my application to San Diego Christian College, got my letters of recommendation, and transcripts together.  Now I wait... still waiting for my transcripts to get there.... My leap of faith will be a smooth education path, that doors would open fully and creative financing may become available.

Needless to say, this year I am motivated to take on Leap of Faith this year... Ok God.... let's do this!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bullies vs. Budget

Columbine High School, Santana High School, Granite Hills High School, Sandy Hook Elementary and Taft High School among many, many other schools where school violence have made the news.  Gun control and mental health are highly debated topic as of recent; being a parent I can’t help but be vested in the safety of our school systems.  As I listen to this debate I have noticed one common thread… the perpetrators all feel like some sort of outcast, rejected.  Just last week in Taft, CA a young man opened fire on classmates while at school because he was being bullied. Bullying is NOT a new problem, it has plagued our society since the beginning of time, and yet somehow it is pushing innocent children off the edge of sanity.  What is the problem?  Yes out mental health system need help, and yes, somehow we must better screen the purchasers of guns.  I am not a NRA member, nor do I own guns, but I do support the Constitution of the United States of America and the 2nd Amendment.  

The underlying thread to these young men and women is that they don’t feel like they have a place in our society.  What has happened then?  Our nation has become one of reaction instead of being proactive.  We support social care programs leading to a sense of entitlements, making our government to support a great chunk of the population, to the detriment of the school systems.  Our schools have been stripped to the bones of faculty members, extracurricular activities and the like. Studies like those done by the University of Nevada- Reno points that extracurricular activities help to prevent problem behaviors such as truancy, drop-out rates, violence and substance abuse.  These activities allow students a place to “belong”, for outcasts to find their place doing activities they enjoy,  such as, music, drama, arts, chess, languages, debate, sports, trade skills…  and the list goes on.  These activities allow for additional adult positive influence the students outlook on how he/she perceives things, and their youth values.   Studies also show that students who do participate in extracurricular activities also are more likely to attend college.  If we were to invest a little more heavily into the school system, taking a little more proactive action, we would reduce drastically the reactive social dole system that is necessary as we speak. 

Due to recent budget cuts, the teacher/student ratio has increased to 35% (20.9/1) above the national average (15.5/1) according to the California School Boards Association.  In reality we are faced with upwards of 35/1 teacher ratios.  In addition, teachers are asked to use their preparation periods to monitor the playground.  Full time school nurses and school counselors are also a thing of the past. School counselors as we know them today stand at a ratio of 1000/1.  Is it any wonder that young men and women are falling through the cracks and are not being recognized for their mental illnesses? Schools are so desperately overwhelmed trying to keep up with academic standards with such a little budget that they are ill equipped to handle and deal with mental issues and drug abuse in the school system.  For the parents, this IS an issue, they need resources to get their precious children the help they need, and schools just ignore the bullies hoping they will go away.

It is time for our Government to take some responsibility for the recent violent and horrific actions that has occurred in many schools.  STOP the continuous budget cuts and reinstate teachers and faculty members that can identify and assist the healing of such hurting individuals.  In return, we will be producing a healthier, more productive, less dependent, taxpaying group of citizens.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

There's 104 Days of Summer Vacation...

Well actually in our case more like 67... we only get like 6 weeks of vacation to promote student retention... blah... blah... blah...

I really enjoyed this year... I somehow became room mom to 2 classes, both Katie and Kassie's... This was purely by accident. I learned that when the teacher asks you how you want to help in the class... not to put down an assortment of things for her to select from... she will give it ALL to you. I seriously had to have a chat with one of the teachers at the beginning of the year about wanting to help a lot in the classroom, but NOT every day for some days 2-3 hours...LOL

I have learned the importance of being involved in my kids class... Yes, I was room mom for Kassie's class but for the first time, I was not also doing classroom time. I underestimated how important this actually is. As my drama queen would come home with even more woes regarding many of the kids, I realized that I really did not know all of the kids in her class and that made it difficult to discern real threats and such from just a exaggerated drama. As if by magic, as soon as I started to volunteer in the classroom, the drama simmered down quite a lot.

I have often felt the tug to become a teacher, and honestly I feel it is such a noble profession, but there is so much hard work that goes into being a teacher, more than I really want to be responsible for... so for now, while I am given a great opportunity to stay-at-home and be a professional mom, I will greatly assist with my girl's teachers, helping to relieve some of their less pressing burdens, and create unbelievable memories for my girls. That being said I tend to become rather attached to these teachers. I learn so much about them, and they learn so much about my girls... what makes them click, learn, motivated etc. The end of the school year is always so hard to say good-bye to them. I am such an emotional wimp sometimes...

Then there is my 3rd grader who is moving a whole and complete campus away now... our school goes from K-3 grade, and now Katie will be going to the 4-8th campus... MIDDLE SCHOOL! I am NOT ok in the least with her growing up... she is already showing signs of her independence... Can't we just freeze them? Ah, come on... why not? Today being the last day at that school for her was very emotional... I have been teary eyed for the past 3 days and today was no different. I was under control... that is until I saw a chalk drawing one 3rd grader drew... "Good bye 3rd grade, Hello 4th!" Ouch!

I have learned, however, just how much Katie and I are alike... here I am dealing with my emotions of her growing up... and she has the same... she saw me coming for her today and burst out into tears... she was just as scared and sad and anxious as I was... we had a great hug and cry fest on the front lawn before we left that school. I know with every ounce of my being, that she will do awesome next year... but I know I will walk with her as long as she will allow me to... that is my full time job as a professional mom ;-)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Lessons from a Port-A-Potty

Last Thanksgiving, somehow I received a notice that I could get in on the Inaugural Hollywood 1/2 Marathon, 10k and 5k for half off... I jumped at the chance. While accomplishing a 5 k would have been a challenge at the time, I knew that I knew I could do it... sooooo... I signed myself and my husband up for the 10k... something to really challenge me and to work toward.

My husband has always worked hard at being a runner and had even run the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll Marathon… I looked up to that greatly. I would think of how cool it would be for us to go for a jog together, and thought that someday I would run the Rock ‘n Roll ½ Marathon with him. It was just something on my bucket list. This 10k helped me move this though into a reality. We would soon find ourselves a hotel and planning our first ever night out of town without the kids. Whoo-Hoo!

Ok, so now both of us had some set-backs… for me I suffered from Plantar Faciatis, an incredibly stabbing pain in my foot, and for my husband, an injured hip flexor muscle. The kids and I had rotated a cold around between us that made getting any training time impossible for about a month before the big race… but with intensity I tried my hardest to get distance in my training…

I was nervous. I wanted to finish the entire 10k in less than 90 minutes. One day on the treadmill I did the 6.2 miles in 79 minutes… well, at least I knew it was possible, but that was the only time I had come close to doing the complete length… BUT, knowing that in the excitement of cheering crowds and other runners, I was likely to do a better time, I thought it would be really cool to complete the 10k in less than 80 minutes…

On the morning of the race day, I was nervous… almost feeling like an imposter of a runner… I am not the skinny runner type… but…. Runners come in all sizes and shapes right? I dragged my poor husband down to McDonalds for a quick breakfast of marginal-tasting oatmeal and a 20 oz coffee (for energy right?) We went back up to the room to eat and watch the ½ Marathoners pass by our window… I was starting to get pumped now… I carefully placed my bib number (8061) on my chest, went to the bathroom, “one last time” and made the trek back downstairs toward the starting line… I started to stretch and get warmed up. I chanted to myself “I think I can, I think I can” and “Slow and steady wins the race!” I found it amazing how one can apply such elementary stories into everyday challenges … with only 15 minutes to the start of the race, wouldn’t you know… I had to use the bathroom ( I guess that is why people only use energy shots instead of drinking 20 oz of coffee). Only, there were not potties close by, and all the restaurants like Starbucks and Jamba Juice had lines 20 deep. I thought it was only 6 miles, I could hold it… Right???

I started the race strong, but around 2 miles started feeling a bit fatigued… I wanted to walk, just a minute… I did, but found that with everyone else running around me, I found my wind after just a minute… there came a time that I thought I couldn’t possibly stop running until I found a Port-A-Potty… which I did around mile 3… I stopped and found that in a race, people don’t care where their aim is… it was super gross! How was I going to do this? I held on with all my might to a couple of handles on the door, and as I pulled myself back into a standing position, I noticed a mirror, but did not recognize the person looking back at me. That person was full of focus and determination, a real athlete… This was a pivotal moment for me… I became the Runner, not an imposter!

From that moment on, I was able to hit a stride that was perfect for me and allowed me to run the rest of the race at an incredibly comfortable pace. With the sun at my back, I began chasing myself… I loved my shadow at that moment, the physic… curvy, and slender, very athletic… I was beginning to see myself in a new light, really the body I am chasing, eventually I will reach it, but it became my motivation to keep moving.

I could see the finish line on the horizon and I looked up to see my dear husband on the sidelines. I will never forget his reaction when he saw me coming up… “WOW! You are doing really good!” He was completely surprised at my progress… That pleased my soul very much.

As I came up to the finish line, and I could see the official time clock, I could not help but to grin… but the closer I got, the bigger my smile got, and it took everything in me to hold back tears… I did it! I finished my first 10k in 69.35minutes and was 764 out of 1350 runners… right in the middle of the pack…

I am proud of my accomplishment! But I am more proud at the transformation of my mind that occurred in no other place than a Port-A-Potty…

Saturday, December 31, 2011


As I sit here on New Year's Eve... surrounded by my family who is barely hanging on for the mid-night hour, I am contemplating the past year and reflecting on the lessons learned and the blessings had.

I started the year learning how important it is to live outside of oneself... I am not the center of the universe... and a little Toyota Prius taught that to me one day as I was completely annoyed with the population around me... I learned the Jesus Creed: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your mind... and love your neighbor as yourself." That was a hard thing to learn in this society. I am not perfect by any means, but I am a far cry from where I was then... for sure.

I learned how exciting and riveting the Bible can be through a study of Romans I was doing with a wonderful group of ladies I had been studying with for almost 4 years. As the studies were getting ready to pick up once again in the beginning of the school year, I made a difficult decision to move on to BSF, a very intense study of Acts and the Epistles, which coincidentally enough was the same message that was in the Leadership Summit and also in our Sunday services... all echoing the Jesus Creed... I definitely was feeling that the Lord was preparing me for some sort of ministry with a particular group of people that live in my city... I have developed relationships with a new group of women in my BSF small group, learning that God really puts you where you really need to be.

I learned this spring that my daughter has distinctive tastes, to say the least... We started Occupational Therapy trying to expand her food and taste horizons. It was slightly effective. We got Kassie to eat noodles, and eggs and pudding... and to start brushing her teeth with toothpaste, training toothpaste, but toothpaste none the less... it is the small victories.

The girls both started school in the 1st and 3rd grade, full time school... I was a little uneasy at first about my baby growing up, but I guess that is life... just have to cherish all moments little and big with them. Time is fleeting.

Last January, I started another journey, that of Weight Watchers... I lost 30 pounds so far....

Chip's travel has settled a bit more this year than that of last year, although he was gone for a while, just not as much time consecutively. BUT, we did have our first overnight date together... EVER! So much fun! So nice to reconnect with my husband:-)

And of course our big change... WE BOUGHT OUR FIRST HOUSE. It is really crazy knowing that no one can tell us we need to move... it is ours. In fact, a sad but crazy moment was when our beloved cat Peaches passed away at home, and I asked Chip what do we do with her remains? He just simply said I will go get the shovel... how simple an answer, but it is something we can do now... we now have her in her own special spot to one day be in the shade of a peach tree.

In the shadows of buying a house, this December, we needed to get a new transmission in our van. This was a crazy emotional roller coaster. We just didn't have that much left in our emergency savings account. Chip was on travel during this time. I thought I was putting all this in God's hands, but you know... I wasn't completely giving it over to Him... I was still planning... I emptied all savings and had a plan to put the remainder of the balance on a credit card... this card was evil, I tell you... after an incredibly humiliating moment, I took a leap of faith and just paid the remainder out of our checking account, thinking my family just would not be able to eat for the next few weeks. You know, I think it was God... He wanted me to completely put my faith in Him. After a couple of days in a complete daze, I have never been put in this position before, I was able to sit down and figure out our finances and pull together more cash that I had around the house... I found that we were going to be ok... tight but ok... then the miracles happened... We received a blank envelope with only our address typed on it... when I opened this envelope, there was 1 sheet of paper with Merry Christmas typed on it and out fell 2 $100 bills... I was in tears, and Chip was in disbelief... speechless was what we were... what a lesson for our kids as well... I realized, for myself (I have heard and believed but didn't live like it) that our money is not ours... it is Gods... and God is incredibly good...

As for this year, I am not making resolutions, but want to take what I have learned and build on them... I am committing to live my life learning more about our incredible God, learning to fully lean on God for everything, be prayerful in all things... I am committing to get even more healthy and loose more weight, eat healthy and be active. (I am training for a 10k run through the Hollywood Walk of Fame) I am committing to get down to the nitty-gritty and get our family our of debt... we are making cuts, and I am looking at working part-time on a temporary basis until we are debt free... the only way to live... I am committing to cherishing more of husband and my baby girls who will not be babies for much longer...

Happy 2012!