Sibling Assignment 2019.1 There's A Right Time For Everything

Christy gave us Sibling Assignment #204.  Here was our assignment:

Do a photo walk and take time to observe what" beauty is created in nature”. Post a series of pictures or do a slide show. Christy's post is here, and Bill's post here.
During the summer I spend a lot of time in my backyard, and I love taking photographs of my backyard. I don't do that as much in the winter. But this week I decided to do a walk around my backyard and, as the assignment said, observe what beauty is created in nature. We have had a rather mild winter so far here in Kellogg. I was amazed at how much green was still out in the yard. My rose bushes, under their covering of burlap, look hardly touched by Jack Frost. A bright green patch of moss stands among the brown and dead foilage that surrounds it. Kale is suspended in the same tire that it was planted in last spring. The kale has not given itself totally to the colder, winter temperatures. Some plants have buds already forming, at the end of January. Despite the starkness of most of the yard, I know there is a life teaming underneath the ground, and soon new life will be spring forth. Below are some of the images I captured yesterday while strolling around my backyard. The words of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 in The Message Bible were my inspiration for the order of the images in the slideshow. Each image is connected to one of the verses.

3 There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
2-8 A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

Gathering Graces 1/30/2019

*Through many things I have been reading lately, it seems a theme has been emerging.  This theme has to do with redemption, resurrection, and how often we have things in our lives that die, but that death brings about something even better than there was before.  That is what I love about the message of Jesus.  His message is all about redemption, and resurrection, and bringing back to life those things that are dead, and redeeming the lost, and  doing it all with an unconditional love that I cannot even comprehend.
*As I walked around my backyard today taking photographs, I thought about how that is exactly what happens each winter in my yard.  Things die off.  They get brown and whither.  The leaves fall off the trees.  But during this season, something miraculous happens.  Through the death the plants experience in the fall and winter, there is also new life that is happening underground that we cannot see.  The cold and snow cause a transformation that will eventually create beauty once again in my grasses, plants and trees.  It is a cycle that happens every year.  And often our lives become a part of that cycle.  Sometimes our lives become cold and hard and brittle.  But in the midst of this season, new life is forming.  A new seed is stirring and ready to burst forth, and it has the potential to be more lovely and more beautiful than it was before.  Especially if it soaks in the warmth and water and sunlight offered it.  Often when we find ourselves going through something hard, we want to hide.  We want to run away from the warmth, water and light of those around us who want to help.  When that happens, it hinders our new growth, and the potential for the new beauty that is about the burst forth.  Don’t stay buried under the ground, even if for now it seems a comfortable and safe place to be.  Allow yourself to experience and accept the light, the love, the warmth and the nourishment of those people in your lives to who are willing to surround you with these things.  Let God come in and nourish you as well, and bring you comfort.  It is through the accepting of the love you are being offered that you will bloom and grow like you have never bloomed before. 
*Being around fun and creative students is such a joy.  Today in the drama class we continued to create characters and do little skits, and have a fun time.  What fun to watch the confidence in these students grow and they continue to learn about how to perform and become someone else. 
*One of my favorite “Keto” meals is tacos.  Instead of taco shells, we use Romaine Lettuce leaves.  But I pile everything else on that I love to have on a taco....seasoned hamburger, cheese, tomatoes, guacamole and salsa.  Yum, yum, yum!!!  It is so delicious!!


Gathering Graces 1/29/2019

*This morning as Brighton and I were finishing class, we started talking about the food he will be eating for Chinese New Year.  His mom was next to him helping him answer questions.  Our discussion led to me talking about our Chinese dinner we had on Christmas Eve, and I brought up the photos of all the dishes we served, and showed them to  Brighton and his mom.  I also “met” his mom on camera yesterday, too.  It was such a fun exchange, and I loved sharing with them our love for their culture and their cuisine.
*What a beautiful crisp, clear day.  So crisp that I thought a fire was in order, so I made a fire, and it felt wonderful having a fire burning in the fireplace as I did some work.
*It was fun listening to Emily Proctor being interviews on The West Wing Weekly podcast about her debut on The West Wing, and how fortunate she felt to have been a part of that show.  It is always nice to hear some of what went on behind the scenes with actors while they were a part of the show.  Emily Proctor was the actress who portrayed the character Ainsley Hayes on the show.
*I love studying the epistles of Paul in the Bible.  Today I was focusing on Ephesians, specifically Ephesians 2:4-5.  I love how parts these verses is worded in The Kingdom New Testament“My prayer is this:  that he will lay out all the riches of his glory to give you strength and power through his spirit, in your inner being; that the King may make his home in your hearts, through faith, that love may be your root, your firm foundation, and that you may be strong enough (with all God’s holy ones), to grasp the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the King’s love--though actually it’s so deep that nobody can really know it!  So may God fill you with all his fullness.”  This is a prayer I have been praying over many people in the last few days who are struggling.  I pray they experience God’s strength and power and love.


Gathering Graces 1/28/2019

*Last week I had asked some of my regular VIPKID student’s parents to have their child prepared to answer questions about how they celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year and Spring Festival.  2019 is The Year of the Pig.  So I decorated my classroom with some pigs, a lantern.  My first student showed me a lantern shaped like a big blue pig head.  It was so cute.  My second student showed me a sign with some Chinese characters on it, and a red box with a pretty gold design.  (red and yellow are special colors for the new year).  And my third student had drawn two pictures and showed them to me.  One was of the special food they eat, including fish, rice, porridge and dumplings.  She also drew a picture of fireworks and firecrackers going off.  Later, this student’s mom emailed me a picture of the two drawings, and some pictures of the student at a snow park in Beijing where they live.  What a wonderful morning talking to the students about how they celebrate this very special holiday in their country and with their family.  I hope to have more conversations with other students throughout the rest of the week.
*Another highlight of my morning was talking with my friend April who lives in Italy.  We try and talk every week, but sometimes our schedules don’t cooperate.  So it had been a few weeks since we had spoken.  It was so nice to get caught up with each other.  April’s departure to Italy left a big hole in my life.  We often met together each week for coffee and a good talk.  I miss that.  So we try and have these online talks take the place of our weekly coffee dates.  These talks are wonderful, but it is never the same as sitting down with someone in person.
*Later in the afternoon I went down and got my classroom ready for the next morning.  As I was setting things up, all of a sudden I was incredibly tired.  So around 6 p.m. I turned to Paul and said, “I am heading to bed.”  I had roasted a chicken earlier in the day.  I asked him if he would cut it up, and put the bones in a bag to be used to make broth at a later date.  Then off to bed I went.  I tried to read a bit, but no such luck.  I was too sleepy.  I am really trying to stay on top of getting enough sleep.  I do not want to get sick. 


Gathering Graces 1/27/2019

*Our whole worship team was together this morning at church to lead our congregation in worship.  This hasn’t happened for quite some time, because of all of our comings and goings.  It was nice to all be together again.
*Our church’s annual meeting was after church, and I think it went well.  We are at an interesting place in our church, moving forward with some changes and I am excited to see where all these changes are going to take us as a congregation.  It has been a very hard year as a church body, but I think we are going to see beauty from ashes as God’s redemption in many things will be revealed this year.  What an exciting time!!
*It was fun getting out my coloring pencils today to color some decorations for my VIPKID classroom.  I am changing the backdrop in my classroom to reflect the Chinese New Year coming  up.  I can’t wait to talk to my students this week and have them share with me their traditions regarding their family’s celebration of Chinese New Year.  I communicated with the parents this past week that I would be asking their students questions about how their family celebrates.  I am looking forward to hearing some of the answers.
*Our rotation of family dinners this month had already occured at each other’s homes.  So we decided to take this opportunity for dinner out tonight.  I thought we could go “old school” and eat at the Broken Wheel.  Unfortunately, when Christy and Everett arrived at the Broken Wheel, it was closed.  Bill was walking down from his house, so when he arrived, he hopped in Christy’s car and they met Paul and I at Radio Brewing Company in uptown Kellogg.  It was a nice time enjoying delicious food and drink and some fun topics of conversation.  Some of this conversation was started by the music playing on the sound system.  The song Fool in the Rain got the conversation going Bill inquiring who was singing the song.  I looked on my Google Pixel phone which has a fun feature of telling you what song and artist you are listening to at any given moment.  This led to talking about Queen songs, and the fact that one of Bill’s early car purchases was a Gremlin.  When the song Sweet Home Alabama started playing, it prompted Bill and I to have a short discussion of our love for a couple of documentaries we both enjoyed watching.  One is called Muscle Shoals, (which is referenced in the lyrics of Sweet Home Alabama), and the other is Twenty Feet From Stardom, a documentary about the power of backup singers.  I saw both streaming on Netflix.  Muscle Shoals is no longer on Netflix, but can be rented through Amazon Prime Video.  Twenty Feet From Stardom is currently on Netflix.  This may not mean anything at all, but if you were to ask our opinion, Bill, Paul and I would highly recommend watching both of these documentaries.


Gathering Graces 1/26/2019

*Our fridge and pantry were a bit like Mother Hubbard’s cupboard....bare.  As the available food began to dwindle, Paul and I started making plans to make a trip to Coeur d’Alene to do some shopping to restock some much needed items at a variety of stores.
*After teaching this morning, I headed back to bed, and got a nice nap in for a couple of hours before we headed out.  It was such a beautiful day.  There was blue skies and sunshine in Coeur d’Alene. And I loved spending the day with Paul.
*We made it to Petco, Fred Meyer, and the Dollar Tree. Dollar Tree is one of my favorite stores. It has been the perfect place to buy items for my VIPKID classroom.
*Since Texas Roadhouse was right by Dollar Tree, we decided to eat lunch there. I can’t remember the last time I had a meal there. I had a really delicious New York Strip steak with a Caesar Salad and green beans.  Boy did it hit the spot!  Paul enjoyed some Fried Catfish.  After lunch we headed to Lowes so Paul could check on the prices of some items we will be purchasing in the future.  I stayed in the car and enjoyed the sun shine and the blue skies.
*Our final stop was Costco.  We stocked up on a lot of meat and vegetables.  We should have plenty of food to last us for a couple of months.  When we returned home, I had a couple of hours to relax before I headed downstairs to teach some classes this evening. When we were in Coeur d’Alene, Paul received a call about a church member in the hospital, so he went up to the hospital when we arrived home to see how he could bring comfort to the situation.
*After classes I was tired.  I got all my feedback written and submitted, then prepped for tomorrow’s classes, and headed to bed. 

Gathering Graces 1/25/2019

*This morning I got some things checked off my “to do” list.  That always feels good. 
*A trip to The Bean sounded like a good idea, so I sent a text to Bill and Christy telling them I would be there at 1:30 p.m. if they wanted to come and join me.  Bill said he was in CDA and would not be able to join me.  Christy said she would be there.  We had a fun visit about books, and traveling, and it was good to hear the news that Everett was feeling much better!!
*I really think all the pain I have been experiencing these past few weeks has to do with my tooth.  The more I thought about it, the more it makes sense.  I hope to have a conversation with my dentist on Monday, and see, if this is the case, what the next steps will be to fix this darn tooth!!!
*We got a call from Zoe, telling us her “apartment water issues” have come to an end.  Last week she discovered there was a broken pipe and water was running in her basement.  The city came and shut her water off.  She called her property management people and they had three plumbers come and take a look and give estimates.  She was thinking this was going to be a long, drawn out process to get it fixed.  But on Friday the plumber called and said it was fixed.  There was much rejoicing all around!!
*With the beautiful snow fall on Wednesday, it has been fun sharing photos from that day with my students in China.  They all have a similar reaction..it is beautiful!!  I tell them I agree!!  I love sharing with them about the snow, and Silver Mountain, and all the winter activities we do around here.  Not many of them get snow where they live, so it is fun to share these activities with them.  I see where China is hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics.  This will be fun to have a conversation about that with them in the future.