Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More Rice

I'm home alone. Eating rice, veggies, and soy sauce for dinner (all mixed together, mind you). Relaxing after a long day at work (two hour meetings from 3-5 should not be allowed). Contemplating life (okay - not really, but the verb fit in nicely).

I think it is time for random thoughts from Jana. I have been:
  • Developing friendships at work - I love our new HR executive, Pam - she's becoming a second mom to me.
  • Celebrating Thanksgiving with my family (minus Jess) - lots of good food and relaxing.
  • Enjoying a game night with a group of friends - just like old times - I like laughing with them.
  • Celebrating Thanksgiving with Bryce's family - got to hold a six-week old baby a few times - loved spending three whole days with Bryce.
  • Can I just say that I love giving my brother Jordan a hard time? We have too much fun in the evenings - when I'm not too tired, that is.
  • Going to our work Christmas party - I helped to plan and host the event - it was a lot of fun but totally exhausted me and consumed many, many hours of work.
  • Recouping from a bad cold after crashing from exhaustion after working too much.
  • Playing with the youth group band for the last time this year - Bryce was here and played with us - I'm glad I got that over with. :)
  • Continuing to meet with Lydia - we had a great discussion about "goodness" today.

Joy to the world! This Saturday, for the first time since the end of July, all six of us will be home. My entire family will be in one state, in one house. Can you say, "amazing"? I'm so looking forward to the two weeks when all of us will be home.

Not sure what to write from here. Sometimes my thoughts are all jumbled in my head - nothing very profound or solid. I'm thankful that Jesus walks with me, even during these times, at all times. He's too good to me.

That's all.
I'm going to go get some more rice.
Jana Alexis

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, to the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Hebrews 12:22-24

This is what I am thankful for today:
Jesus (my Savior)
Jesus' blood (that washes me clean)
My name is written in heaven (yes!)
The church (God's kingdom coming)
God the Judge (not me!)
Being made perfect in Jesus (none of my effort)
A new covenant (no longer under law)

I'm so thankful.

Amen and amen.
Jans

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

#90

Yes. This is post #90. I should have a party or something. Maybe I'll go eat some of that pumpkin crunch in the fridge. (Don't forget the whipped cream.)

Tuesday night. This is my usual night to practice the bass for Wednesday night youth group. I pull out my bass from underneath my bed and pluck away for about an hour. Ryan usually gives us the chord sheets and a CD on the Wednesday before. I certainly can't play the songs like they're meant to be played, but I'm enjoying the challenge of trying and I love worshipping along with the students.

Tuesday is also my usual night to prepare to meet with Lydia. We've been meeting for almost two months now, I think. Our study book about walking with Jesus by showing the fruits of the spirit is sure challenging me. I love discussing the chapters with her and hearing her perspective. Love you, Lydia! And I love how you're striving to follow Jesus!

This past weekend I went with the Unleashed Youth Group to Camp Crosley for the annual senior high retreat. (I haven't been there for a retreat since 2003! So many memories!) We used a study that I created my sophomore year of college - my Mom and I revamped it to work for 4 sessions. The theme was abandoned - let go. Abandoned became an acronym for the following phrases: adventure - be strong - allow - now - dream - "out of the wreck" - never - exhausted - discipleship. I taught one of the girls' sessions.

Bryce joined us for the weekend - he led worship and also one of the guys' sessions. It was great to serve together. And it was wonderful to be outside (even though it was freezing and raining at times). I loved the camp food, watching a crazy football game with some girls, playing redball, having my quiet time in the morning with tea, playing euchre (and winning), and listening to guys worship. At one point, I was just overwhelmed with a desire for these students to know Jesus - to really know Him. I pray the weekend served to spur them on into knowing Him.




In His grace.
Because only in His grace do I have true freedom.
And I can truly glorify Him.
Jana Alexis

Monday, November 10, 2008

Shadowfeet

when the world has fallen out
from under me
I'll be found in You,
still standing
when the sky rolls up
and mountains fall on their knees
when time and space are through
I'll be found in You
brooke fraser

All that matters is Jesus. Jesus is all that matters. The One Who Matters. The more I know Him, the more I want to know Him more. I want my life to count for His glory. That's all. That's all that matters to me.

- - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

So, what does a weekend look like in the life of Jana? Well, this past one was particularly busy, and yet relaxing at the same time. I spent Friday evening with my brothers. I sure felt proud sitting at Huntington University between Jordan and Jason. Lots of laughing. We watched HU's production of The Music Man and then went to Applebees afterwards with Justin. And Jordan and I talked the whole way home.

On Saturday morning I tried to get ready fast. But, it's just so hard to make myself do it on a day when I don't have to rush in the morning. (I usually only give myself about 20 minutes to get ready for work during the week.) I headed down to Indy (home #2) around 9am and met Liz for coffee + much-needed chat time.

The rest of the weekend was spent with Bryce and also his family. We visited his grandparents Saturday night and then spent Sunday at his parent's home. Chris Schenke even joined us for lunch and relaxing around the table after church. It was so nice not to have anything planned.

Back to church Sunday morning. Pastor Eric challenged me to consider what is on the inside, instead of the outside - like the story of David and his brothers in 1 Samuel. Especially for leaders, it's important to have a strong, sure foundation and a solid scaffolding of truth on the inside. Even strong leaders will fail - like David. Yet, these leaders will come back to Jesus because their hope is sure and they've allowed God to build within them and are not simply concerned about the appearance of the outside. I'm not conveying that very well, but it sure was good for me to hear.

Then I jumped into a Monday at work. And not a very fun Monday. Just a little overwhelming and frustrating. I almost burst into tears at one point this morning. Instead, I pushed my desk chair back a bit from the computer, calmly put my hands in my lap, and started praying. "Help!" It was one of those drowning feelings. Thank God - I made it through the day. Tomorrow is a new day and His mercies are new and I'll keep doing one thing at a time as He enables me.

Here's a "hello" to all of my blog readers. I'm not sure who you are, but I pray you are encouraged to keep following Jesus, if nothing else from my ramblings.
In Him.
Jans

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Dedicated to Two People

I would like to dedicate this post to two people.

First, my wonderful sister, Jessica. It was her birthday on November 1st. Her 20th birthday. I'm so excited to see how God is working in her life - stretching her, growing her, bringing Dwight into her life, taking her on this adventure in Canada . . .

Jess--I'm praying for you. I'm so thankful for your friendship. I'm so happy to have a sister who is also a very good friend. I love you, Jessica Alaine.





The second person is Jesus. Yesterday I spent about three hours journaling/praying/processing at Starbucks. Jesus met me there. I realize He's always with me . . . but I'm not always with Him . . . and it was sure nice just to have some time to "chat." Thank you, Jesus.

From an out-of-print book, The Life and Letters of Janet Erskine Stuart. Says one who was her assistant for some years, "She delighted in seeing her plan upset by unexpected events, saying that it gave her great comfort, and that she looked on such things as an assurance that God was watching over her stewardship, was securing the accomplishment of His will, and working out His own designs. . . . she was joyfully and graciously ready to recognize the indication of God's ruling hand, and to allow herself to be guided by it." (found in an Elizabeth Elliot devotional)

Striving to follow Jesus . . . with all of me.
Jans

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cold Days

"Cold days" - as in, I have a cold, a sinus infection of some sort. (Not, the "brrrr" kind of cold.) This is day #5 for the cold and I was pretty miserable at work today. In fact, I was so out of it that I spaced out in a meeting, missed about a paragraph of conversation, and looked up to see the two guys just staring at me. (This is very unlike the usual Jana-in-meetings: let's-get-things-done-now.) Ooops.

I started another stack of pop-up Post-It notes on Monday. It's teal this time. (Almost our color, Alex, but not quite.)

Did you know that even Jana Alexis needs forgiveness and grace? Jesus is so good to me. And my friends are too wonderful. I so want to keep walking with Jesus . . . He just picks me up and we keep right on walking.

Even though it's only 6:30 on a blustery Tuesday evening, I'm going to be completely unproductive and lazy and watch a movie or do something relaxing. My head is throbbing and I need to stop looking at a computer screen.

In His grace.
Jans

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Busy

You know you’re busy at work when . . .
  • your blueberry tea gets cold before you can drink it.
  • you don’t have time to eat a single something between 7am and 12pm.
  • you forget to open up Pandora (turn on music) until 2:30pm.
  • you can’t respond to e-mails within a half hour like you usually do.

Why in the world do I wait so long to post? Now I have a million things to write about.

Road trip to NC and VA with Bryce. Good times, for sure. Three whole days with my wonderful boyfriend. We are crazy -- about 1700 miles in 3 days -- and it was completely worth it. We left Friday morning, visited Brandon in NC, my grandparents in VA, Bryce's family friends in VA, and arrived home very early Monday morning. (And I worked that morning.) I loved the drive-time conversations, time with my relatives, gazing at the amazing colors in the mountains while driving, Starbucks on the way home, and the opportunity to meet Bryce's friends.


My wonderful job. I praise God for a job. I praise God that the investing company where I work is still doing well despite the market upheavals. I praise God that they're able to keep me incredibly busy . . . and they seemed to be pleased with the work that I am doing for them.

My sometimes overwhelming job. Okay--so the job can be a tad overwhelming at times. I wear quite a few different hats for about five or six executives . . . so I have many tasks and requests coming at me constantly from different sources. This makes it hard to prioritize and I do get slightly frustrated at times. But, I continue to breathe, take one day at a time, and just get done what is humanly possible for one Jana in 9-10 hours a day.

Family dinner at Triangle Park. (Minus a certain Jessica Alaine Eberly - sigh - sad.) I sure enjoyed the time with the boys and my parents. We went while Jason was home on fall break. Laughing and talking and bothering each other and listening to Jason talk really fast and leaning on my dad and completely enjoying my salmon and shrimp - my favorites.

I'll finish for now with a quote from Psalm 105. Lately, I am blown away by the greatness of my God and yet His concern with the smallest details of my life. Jesus loves me . . . and I am in awe.

Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.
Remember the wonders he has done . . .

Monday, October 6, 2008

Cake Icing

I've begun to mark the passing of time at work by how many Post-It note packets I go through. I think I'm on #6. It's purple this time.

The weekend was lovely. Much needed time with the girls: Christina, Alexis, and I. (The three-headed monster reunites!) Alex and I drove down on Friday night to join Chris, Bryce, Keith, Cammi, and Dustin for a time of worship and prayer. So refreshing. Saturday morning Alex and I relaxed in bed for an hour, just because we could. We laughed and reminisced. After breakfast with Bryce and Liz, we headed to UofIndy to see Chris' apartment, eat lunch with the girls, and then capture Chris for an afternoon downtown. We shopped at H&M and climbed to the top of the monument and bought fruit smoothies and talked about what Jesus is doing in our lives.

Alex and I finished our roadtrip with a viewing of the Davis Hall Follies at HU. Jason and the Treblemakers performed a medley from Newsies - and they did an amazing job with the blocks of choreography that I taught them. Bryce joined us there for the performance and then came back up to Fort Wayne for the evening. Sunday consisted of church (great sermon: Jesus is enough) and napping at the Millers while they watched the Colts.

Now, the following blip is specifically for Holly and Jessica. The rest of you will have to bear with me. :) In memory of many sessions of clothes-finding-fun and outfit-concoctions, here are two fun work outfits from a few weeks ago. I'm sure enjoying all of my new work clothes. Oh, the little things God does that aren't necessary at all - He's amazing. Icing on the cake. Over the top.





Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Autumn Sunrise

It's just Jordan and I at home. He called to me from the other room: "What's that weird noise in there?" I walked to the doorway and said: "What? Me singing?" And then I made a sad face and let my shoulders sag. :) He just grinned at me. I sure love my brother Jordan.

Mom, Grandma, and I sat at a cold soccer game tonight - there was no sun and the wind was blowing across the fields. I wore layers for the first time. Yes! I love fall. I love "October." I love the changing leaves (mostly because I love reds). I love the autumn smell. I love pulling out the winter clothes. I love fall foods (soup, pumpkin pie, grits) and fall drinks (hot cider, hot tea, hot chai).

There is stirring hope even in the midst of death. Yes, dying must come before renewed life. "You offer hope when our hearts have hopelessly lost our way."

I had a lovely weekend in Indianapolis. The 2-hour drive down only took a few years; I finally made it. Bryce's brother was married on Saturday: rehearsal Friday night, wedding Saturday at 11am, reception, and then time with his extended family until 7:30pm. Lots of family was in town - so many names and faces to remember. I just tried to mentally put people with the right family.

There were also times of just relaxing and talking. Eating ice cream cake. Watching "Dear Frankie" with Greg and Liz. Eating hot grape nuts (amazing, Greg!). Talking with Liz Sunday morning (and only giving ourselves about 15 minutes to get ready for church). Watching football and napping. Sure didn't want to get in that car to head back home.

Work: pretty busy right now. As of last Tuesday, I now am the CEO's direct assistant - so every single assignment or request that he has comes through me. Yikes! It's a little overwhelming. (The first day I sat in an hour and a half meeting for Daryle to give me tasks: 64 of them. And, yes, we numbered them all.) Yet, I am trying to rise to the challenge - serving my supervisors and pleasing them with my work. Above all, I want to please Jesus.

Consider Jesus. Know Jesus. See Jesus. Remember Jesus. Find Jesus. Serve Jesus. Live Jesus. Trust Jesus. Share Jesus. Pursue Jesus. Love Jesus.

"His splendor was like the sunrise." Hab. 3
Like an autumn sunrise.
Jana Alexis

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

AFE Stories

AFE = Ambassador Family Enterprises

The place I call "home" about 45 hours of the week.

What does a typical day look like in the life of Jana? That's a good question. It's never the same.

Today: pick up the PO Box mail, arrive @ ten till 8am, Learning Time class for 2 hours, sort mail, respond to 15 e-mails, call the payroll contact, lunch with Alex (yay!), create a credit card manual in Word, 401(k) meeting, create a Contact Card and Feedback form for a meeting on Thursday, respond to a few more e-mails, and finally head for home @ 6:20pm.

Last week I gave myself two paper cuts on my hangnail on my pointer finger. Do you know how hard it is to do things with a Bandaid on your pointer finger? Especially typing.

I had the most amazing plum at work the other day. Nanci - our Cafe lady - has been buying different fruit lately. Now I'm craving a kiwi. I'll have to see if she can find those . . . although I'm sure they won't be half as good as the ones in Australia.

Elizabeth (my direct supervisor), Arlan (my direct Vice-President supervisor), and I all wore green last Thursday. Zach (a support colleague and cubicle partner) missed the memo and wore blue. We dubbed it "green day" and then all decided to make Friday "black day."

I'm on a tea kick now. They have honey-vanilla-chamomile tea in the Cafe, which is amazing. Definitely my new favorite. Drinking tea brings back lovely memories of last year in Egle 101, making me slightly homesick for those girls, that room, and those conversations.

So, there you have it. Random stories and snippets from my AFE life.

Striving to "consider Jesus" above all.
Jana

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

daily tasks

"The kingdom of God does not operate spectacularly, with a sudden rush of irresistible force, but rather like a seed and yeast. These are small and wholly unimpressive and go to work only when buried . . . ready to begin the slow and marvelous process of transformation." E. Elliot

Daily tasks.
Drinking water. Delivering mail. Transcribing phone messages.
Apparent monotony.
Jesus is there.

Small crisises.
Tempation to be stressed and worried.
Yet, rememberance of many things to be thankful for.
Jesus is there.

Life continues for Jana Alexis. For my friends away I would like to update with something . . . but I'm not even sure what to write about. Let's see . . . my weekend consisted of moving rooms, biking with Bryce, hanging with the Millers, MIMETime at Grabill Fair, drive to Indy, church at Eagle, Subway lunch, helping setup for an event, naps, Country Night, and drive back to Fort Wayne. Crazy. I know.

Yet, during the week seems slow at times for me. I'm working, practicing the bass and playing for youth group, trying to exercise, attending a soccer game here and there, talking on the phone to a certain someone, and meeting with Jesus. My hours at work haven't been too crazy, which is lovely. I'm trying to keep some boundaries and leave on time, or close to on time.

It's in the daily, seemingly-visionless times that the true challenge of following Jesus arises. It's in the times of transition and instability. Will I trust Him? Will I continue to serve and to praise Him? May it be so.

In Him.
Jana Alexis

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sorry

I know. I know. It's summer and I don't do a very good job of keeping up my blog. So, in an effort to bring you up-to-date . . . here are 9 random happenings from the last month.
  1. Work at Ambassador is c-r-a-z-y but I'm loving it. They sold our steel company for $175 million and the official closing is on Friday . . . which means the executives are all a little stressed.
  2. I'm okay with not returning to Bethel College in a week (like I have for the last 4 years). However, I will miss not starting new classes. Believe it or not, I will miss that season of focused learning.
  3. Weekends are for relaxing . . . sort of. Mine seem to stay pretty full lately. Plus, I'm having trouble adjusting to a 50-hr work week. Which leaves me exhausted quite a bit.
  4. Why am I so busy (besides work), you may ask? Well, I am blessed with this amazing boyfriend who happens to live in Indianapolis. But, even with the distance, we manage to see each other and talk quite a bit.
  5. We had an Egle 101 reunion last week. I have such great memories with Holly, Megan, and Charity. I so enjoyed our time sharing and praying.
  6. More information about this boyfriend of mine? Well, his name is Bryce Langebartels; he's a fire-fighter/paramedic; and he loves to worship Jesus. My friends in Indy--Greg and Liz--introduced us in April.
  7. My family went to Warren Dunes today for our one-day family vacation. Listening to music. Reading Ephesians. Eating M&Ms. Climbing the dunes. Hanging out in the water. Walking along the beach. I love it there. And I love my family.
  8. I'm having a little trouble deciding what I should be involved in this fall. So many opportunities but I want to be wise about what I do. Praying for wisdom . . .
  9. Jason leaves for Huntington University tomorrow and Jessica leaves in exactly a week. The Eberly family is scattering . . . and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Praise Jesus!
I glorify the One Who matters.
Most.
I worship the name of the One Who knows me.
Best.
I bow before the One Who forgives.
Over and over.
I adore the Person Who gives me hope.
Forever.
I praise the One Who loves me.
Perfectly.
I magnify the name of Him Who is faithful.
Always.
I honor the One Who gives grace.
Again and again.
Amen.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Idiot in the Mud

Sometimes I can be an idiot.

For example, when I walk around the office for an entire morning with a price tag still on my shirt. (Why didn't someone say something?)

And when I ice my leg too much and give myself frostbite. (Honestly . . . and it's painful.)

Just proves this visual that Chris and I developed while on a road trip. Imagine you're in a mud puddle. Mud equals sin, humanness, self. Believe it or not, you will never actually get completely out of the puddle or mud-free. That is, until Heaven. Instead, strive to climb out as far as you can by the grace of God, never wallow, and let the rain of Jesus wash you clean.

Two extremes are wrong. For one, letting yourself get up-to-the-neck in mud and not care. And two, expecting yourself to be completely clean - striving for perfection and being surprised when you fail. No matter what you do, you can never make it in your own strength or by your own merit. Instead, when you see yet another splotch of mud, it's time to ruefully look up at Jesus and say, "It's me again, Lord!"

At times I am overwhelmed when I consider my very-flawed self and the knowledge that Jesus loves me. I am overwhelmed as I grasp more and more the extent of God's grace. I'm an idiot, covered with mud.

Yes, covered with mud.
But clinging to Grace.
Jana Alexis

Monday, July 14, 2008

Million $ Jackpot

Time to fill the blog world in on the life of Jana. Since last updating:
  • I've been working (obviously).
  • I danced in my friend, Stephanie's wedding. Such an honor!
  • I visited Indy twice.
  • I spent 3 hours at a coffee shop, just for fun.
  • I hurt my calf dancing and haven't been able to run in a week.
  • I was mom last week, because my Mom was in Virginia (that means cooking, cleaning, and laundry for whomever happened to be home).
  • Jess and I cooked Pad Thai for dinner one night and went to Concordia to talk.
  • I got my hair cut for the first time in 5 months.
  • I went shopping for work clothes--and, thanks to Liz, it was quite successful.
  • I've been enjoying Ephesians and 1 Peter chapter 1.

Working for a family with millions is an interesting experience. I'm not sure I'd want that kind of money (although I would probably figure out how to handle it). I read this today:

  • Chance of winning the mega millions lottery jackpot: 1 in 175,711,536
  • Chance of winning a million-dollar game-show price (after you beat the odds of actually getting on the set): 1 in 414,414
  • Chance of inheriting $1 million (even if you attend all the family functions): slim to none

So, there are your encouraging odds. :)

Do you want to know where you have better odds? Get this . . . when you pray for forgiveness and seek the grace of Jesus Christ, it's right there. Every time. He is faithful to forgive and to answer everyone who surrenders. His sacrifice paid the whole price of my rebellion. Completely. There's no guesswork, no hoping, no wishing. It's done. He did/does/will do it.

And that's a million times better than a trillion dollars.

Truly, He is my Hope.
Jana Alexis

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Right Now

"The God who orchestrates the universe has a good many things to consider that have not occurred to me, and it is well that I leave them to Him. But one thing I do understand: He offers me holiness at the price of relinquishing my own will." (Elizabeth Elliot)

I don't know what Jesus is doing.
I'm trying to trust Him with the process when I don't know the end result.
I'm learning to listen.
There is grace for mistakes.
Did You know that His plan is most likely beyond the scope of your immediate vision?
I trust this faithful God -- the One Who delights in making me more like Jesus.
And, if I ask Him, He'll make me more like Jesus, no matter what it takes.
Even if it involves pain or difficulty.
He is not concerned with keeping me "safe" or "happy."

I want Jesus to know that "I fully intend to obey Him." (Elizabeth Elliot)
No matter what.
Right now.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Full Life

My life is full. And I don't even try to plan anything.

Friday night to Saturday morning:
I taught at a State of Grace dance workshop--"Once Upon a Workshop"--in Goshen. Rene and Jeanie were so enjoyable to work alongside. We enjoyed our sushi dinner on Friday night (I had raw sushi and it was delicious!). Rene and I decided to create a new eclectic, high-end shopping experience: Urban Forest. And I danced like crazy. (Sorry to those girls who had to put up with my moaning the rest of the weekend.)

Saturday night to Sunday afternoon:
Since I was already up that way, I decided to visit my Bethel friends. Holly spoiled me royally--dinner, talking, laughing, coffee, brownies, and more chatting. I love how we don't have any trouble coming up with things to talk about--my mouth just starts running. And then lunch with Nora and Megs on Sunday. So thankful that I was able to see all of you!

Monday:
Back to work. Guess what!? I really like my job. I'm on my own now--the girl whose spot I'm taking has officially left. I'm planning itineraries, ordering online, researching graphic design companies, delivering mail, running errands to Pak Mail--the variety is seemingly endless.

Tuesday:
When I took the mail to the mailbox, I discovered an earwig sitting there. Not many things give me the creeps . . . but earwigs are one of them. In elementary school, I spent the night with a friend in a tent . . . and we woke up surrounded by thousands of earwigs. (At least that's how I remember it.) Ever since then, I can't stand them.

Just in case you don't know . . . I just wanted to remind you that I like to dance. I'm sure loving all of these opportunities right now. Pictures from the weekend:




Saturday, June 14, 2008

Shoes vs. Barefeet

One Eberly-ism: We walk around while we're brush our teeth. Might as well get things done while being only partially occupied. Why waste time?

In the summer, I would much rather go barefoot than wear shoes. After a day in the office, I don't want to even see another shoe. However, I like shoes (although I do not have 200 like my fellow business colleague). I bought two new pair the other day when Jess and I went shopping. Work shoes. But they're still fun.

I admire women who work in an office and go home to care for a family at the end of day. After 8-10 hours at the office, I am wiped out. I certainly do not feel like being productive. My hat is off to those ladies.

The following information on one of my favorite cookies ever--Tim Tams--is from Wikipedia. I can vouch for the accuracy of the "Tim Tam Slam" description.

Tim Tams are a chocolate biscuit (cookie) made by Arnott's Biscuits, Australia. A Tim Tam is composed of two layers of chocolate malted biscuit, separated by a light chocolate cream filling, and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate. According to Arnott's, around 35 million packs are sold each year – nearly 400 million biscuits, an average of approximately 1.7 packs per Australian. Tim Tams were first put onto the market in 1964.
The Tim Tam Slam is the practice of biting off the opposing corners of a Tim Tam, and using the modified biscuit as a 'straw' to suck up a hot beverage (usually tea, coffee, hot chocolate, Milo, or liquor such as Irish Cream). Ideally, the inside of the biscuit should collapse but the outside should remain intact. Just before the biscuit falls apart, it is placed in the mouth.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Die

Devotional by Elisabeth Elliot
A CHANCE TO DIE


To be transformed into the image of Christ I must learn His charater, love His obedience to the will of the Father, and begin, step by step, to walk the same pathway. For Christ the pathway of obedience began with emptying Himself. I must begin at the same place.

He "made himself nothing." Philippians 2:7

"You must arm yourselves with a temper of mind like His." 1 Peter 4:1 NEB

"If anyone wishes to be a follower of Mine, he must leave self behind." Matthew 16:24

What does this mean? Is it mere words? How can one leave self behind, make himself nothing? The answer will not come in a vacuum. If a man or woman honestly wishes to be a follower, the opportunity will present itself. Christ will say, "Here is your chance. Now, in this situation, you must make your choice. Will it be self? Or will you choose Me?"

An older missionary said something to Amy Carmichael when she was a young missionary that stayed with her for life. She had spoken of something which was not to her liking. His reply was, "See in it a chance to die."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

"In the Arena"

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

CITIZENSHIP IN A REPUBLIC
"The Man In The Arena"
President Theodore Roosevelt
Speech at the Sorbonne Paris, France
April 23, 1910

Monday, June 2, 2008

p-e-a-n-u-t

P . . . You would not believe how many papers/notes/tests/study guides one can accumulate during four years of undergrad. Okay. Maybe if you know me you can. About two weeks ago, I spent a few hours sorting through and condensing into one box. The following picture (sorry for the blurriness) shows the final product: trash pile and save box.




E . . . I'm trying to fit exercising back into my schedule. It's not hard because I really want to be outside when I get home from a day at the office. Mom and I are going to the park a few times a week. Running, biking, walking, rollerblading . . . I just want to be moving and soaking in that sunshine.

A . . . Work at Ambassadors is going well. I told one friend last week: 4 days down and only hundreds left to go. Just kidding! I know working is part of life and I think I'm going to enjoy this job. I feel comfortable there already--joking around with my coworkers and joining in the office talk by the scanner.

N . . . I am excited about this new phase of life. I'm excited about what Jesus is doing in me. I'm excited to see the new opportunities He's going to bring my way. It's like starting with a brand-new slate here in Fort Wayne. Slowly, slowly, He's renewing and refreshing my vision. "Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart . . ."

U . . . We attended umpteen graduation open houses this weekend. Actually, it was only four. And the food/fellowship more than made up for the busyness. It was good to reconnect with friends: Tallie, Beth, Chris, Alex, Breannah, Erin, Brad, Brenda, and others. You guys are the best.

T . . . Have I ever said how thankful I am for my Bethel friends? Charity (my thinking twin, who's currently studying in Spain), Nora (my favorite massager, who's serving God by serving youth at her church), Megan (my wonderful most recent roommate, who's learning to trust Jesus this summer), and Holly (my growth & grace companion, who's dreaming big dreams).



And yes. This does spell "peanut." For no other reason than that I like eating peanuts a lot.
Jordan wants me to finish this by writing "Jordan is amazing." So, I will.
Janalexis

Monday, May 26, 2008

Real Life Begins

No more need to wear a sign. Praise God: I have a job! I start work tomorrow at Ambassador Family Enterprises as the Executive Assistant. They are a holding company (overseeing a steel company, a boat company, and a foundation) and a think-tank of sorts. My duties will include secretarial jobs and also project/research work. I'm so grateful for God's provision.

I'm excited about the job but that means my 3-week vacation is over. I've sure enjoyed this time to just relax and organize and be with my family and get sun. My friends in Indy adopted me for the weekend again. This time we went boating after church on Sunday. Perfect weather and great friends--can't get any better than that.

Real life begins. Am I ready for this? I'm ready for a steady income (what a concept!), a schedule, and a purpose for my day (beyond relaxing).

I feel like I'm coming into my own again--fortifying the foundation of me. Transitioning back to life in Fort Wayne has been rough at times but I'm trying not to rush myself. There is time. Through it all, God is so good and faithful to me. His assurance and friendship is sweet.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. . . . He restores my soul. He guides me . . ."
Psalm 23

Hanging in there,
Jana Alexis

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Help My Unbelief

I need to wear a sign: "No. I do not have a job yet. Still interviewing. Thanks for asking."

I sure love watching my brother Jordan play baseball.

I have been sitting on the couch for the last 3 hours. Just relaxing.

I talked to one of my favorite mentor/friends yesterday: Marissa.

I am very happy and excited for my engaged sister.

I rode bikes with a group of old friends yesterday. Praise Jesus for laughter.

I will post pictures of my new room soon.

I love Jesus. All that matters is Jesus. He is my true life.

I believe--help my unbelief.
I trust--help my distrust.
I have faith--help my doubt.
I am complete--help my perfectionism.
I am courageous--help my fear.

Just a clay jar who knows Jesus.
Jana Alexis

Monday, May 12, 2008

Turkey Run

Now begin the wonderful summer updates. Aren't you excited.

This past weekend I went camping with my friends, Greg and Liz, and three of their friends: Bryce, Grant, and Keith. We arrived at Turkey Run on Friday evening. It rained but we set up camp anyway and it cleared up later on. It was beautiful on Saturday. We hiked and relaxed and ate cookies and hiked some more and played frisbee golf (which I enjoyed despite my feeble attempt at throwing a frisbee).

Saturday night it started raining when we went to bed . . . and rained some more . . . and kept on raining. The picture below is of Liz and I wringing out my sleeping bag. I slept on top and, thank goodness, the water didn't soak all the way through until the morning. We were literally sleeping on a puddle. Exciting times, for sure.
I thoroughly enjoyed all of the laughter during the whole weekend. (And it's completely fine that I couldn't join in with all those "Dumb & Dumber" quotes.) And I just soaked in all of the scenery and relaxation.

The weekend was like a deep breath . . .

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Finals Phase II

As promised, here is the completion of my "finals" week run-down. I spent a lot of time organizing, cleaning, and packing. God has blessed me with so much . . . it's definitely time to clean out my collection of stuff.

I also spent a good amount of time checking girls out of their rooms. This involved hanging around my room until they were ready and then using a check-out sheet to make sure there was no new damage to the room. Probably the least-popular aspect of the RA job.

Wednesday night was a come-and-go RA fondue dinner. I enjoyed the shrimp and also the bread dipped in cheese. Then on Thursday night the female RAs from Founders went to dinner with our RD. Noma in downtown South Bend is an eclectic Asian spot with a dress code. It was snazzy. I enjoyed my pad thai with crab meat and shrimp. Delicious! It was a great night to finish up the year.

My girls--Holly, Nora, Charity, Megan--and I tried to do some special things during the last week. This included:
  • Pizza at Holly's house on Tuesday night. Mrs. Birkey made her amazing pizza and we celebrated Nora's 23rd birthday.
  • Roommate breakfast at Sufficient Grounds on Thursday morning. Holly, Megan, Charity, and I laughed entirely too much.
  • Brunch Saturday morning at Holly's grandma's house with Holly's mom, sister, grandma, aunt, and Nora. Holly's grandma is a wonderful entertainer and it was a wonderful girls' morning.
  • Rollerblading with Holly at Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon. It sure is beautiful in the spring!
  • Reminiscing and worshipping Jesus with Holly. We enjoyed remembering all that God has done over the last four years and all of the wonderful memories.
  • Tim Tam slamming party and watching "The Majestic" on Saturday evening. I ironed our gowns and Holly painted her toenails while we watched.

Friday evening was the Graduation Dinner. Mom, Dad, Jason, and Grandma came. Holly and her parents were able to sit with us. It was a wonderful evening of music, food, speeches, and celebration.

I think that brings you up-to-speed.
What a week.
J.Alexis

Monday, May 5, 2008

Graduation!

Yesterday, Sunday, May 4, was the culmination of four years of study, hard work, tears, tests, and good times. I graduated from Bethel College with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, Summa Cum Laude. My family--Dad, Mom, Jessica, Jordan, and Grandma--and friends--Greg, Liz, Chris, and Alex--came to celebrate with me.

No worries. I will complete the overview of "finals" week . . . but this post is dedicated to yesterday. It began at 6:15am because I woke up and couldn't fall back to sleep. Holly and I attended the early service and Sunday school at Grace Church. Then we sipped an Italian ice while we journaled at Bella Vita--our favorite coffee shop. Lunch at Fazoli's completed our time together before we headed back to the room to finish getting ready.

The day just seemed so relaxed and joyful. We lined up in the ER auditorium at 1:30. I was in this surreal mode--couldn't believe it was actually happening. At 20 after 2pm all 400+ graduates walked through campus on our way to Weikamp gym. It was packed! I couldn't believe how many people were there. The whole ceremony went smoothly. The speaker did an excellent job: I'll remember Luke 7:11 and "touch the coffin." I'm sure it seemed long to the spectators but I enjoyed watching all of these people I know get their diploma.

My favorite moments of the ceremony:
1) Receiving my diploma and grinning the whole way across the stage.
2) Seeing Jordan when he came down to take pictures right at the end.
3) Singing "To God be the Glory" and just worshipping.
4) Seeing my family and friends in the bleachers as we processed back to the ponds.


Next was hugging and picture time! My face hurt from smiling but I didn't mind. I took pictures with everyone, even laughing and tree-hugging shots with Holly. (It's tradition.) Afterwards, we headed to Applebees for dinner. Charity and Nora joined us. Greg entertained the whole table. I enjoyed chatting with everyone. Lots of laughter and talking. Then we packed up the rest of my stuff and headed home.


Relief. Joy. Exhaustion. Satisfaction. Gratitude. Peace.
Those are just a few of the feelings that rushed through me yesterday . . . and continue to overwhelm me. I just wanted to soak in every minute of it.
Big sigh.
I made it.
Praise the Lord!
Jana Alexis

Friday, May 2, 2008

Finals Phase I

I know. I know. I didn't have to take any finals. And classes have been done since last Friday. Yet, at times this feels like a true "finals" week because I'm trying to wrap up e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g from four years. So many emotions and highs and lows and anticipations and goodbyes. Holly and I decided we don't particularly like this stage of fluctuation. But, I'm trying to ride it and enjoy this time as much as I can.

There's so much to share about this past week. Here's random thoughts in no particular order. And there's so many they may need to spill over into another post . . .

I made a quick trip home from Sunday evening to Tuesday morning. Five and a half hours of interviews on Monday was exhausting. No conclusive job information yet. I'm just trusting! (trusting Him, of course)

I did have one test this week---an SAT-like test for the business department to help them see how well they taught the seniors. Wednesday morning at 9am. No studying required. Not a big deal. And I remembered quite a lot, I thought.

Sleeping has been a struggle this week. Too much on my mind.

The weekend with the roommates--Charity, Megan, Holly--and Nora was amazing. Friday night we went to the South Bend Chocolate Cafe after getting dressed up. I enjoyed a delicious raspberry cheesecake and real hot chocolate with Charity. We finished up the night at Midnight Breakfast.




Saturday morning we all got up at 8am to eat a chocolate chip/almond pancake breakfast prepared by our wonderful Holly. Then we headed to Goodwill for a 50% off sale. I love thrift shopping and I especially love helping other people shop. There is a method to my madness. Meg, Charity, Holly, and I all hit a clothes jackpot and Nora found a sweet Polaroid camera. $20 was my limit and I only spent $19.26. :)

That accomplished, we quickly grabbed our beach stuff, picked up lunch and coffee drinks at Sufficient, and headed to Warren Dunes. It was freezing and the wind was blowing (which means the sand was blowing like crazy) and we still had an amazing time. Naps on the beach wrapped in blankets was the first order-of-business. Until Charity decided it was time to wake us all up and do something. So, we climbed to the top of the big dune.

We came back exhausted. I was covered with sand---still found some in my eyes the next morning. And that dune climbing wiped me out. But it was certainly worth it for tradition and new memories sake. I had a marvelous time with my Bethel friends.

This verse was running through my mind as I fell asleep last night: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious . . ."
I'm clinging to that.
Jana Alexis

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Jonah

We were driving home from church today and a song about Jonah came on the radio.

It hit me.

If God cares enough to go after Jonah when Jonah was disobeying God's will on purpose, then how much more will God show me which way to go when I'm actively desiring His will? Why am I afraid that I'll miss it somehow?

I just keep walking. And He is faithful to guide me. I trust this to be true. I trust Him to be trustworthy.

Guess what? I'm really not afraid or nervous or worried. I'm just excited to see where He's going to lead and what He's going to do. Whatever it is. It'll be good.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Complete

My Bethel College career is almost complete. Classes are done! No more tests, papers, projects, presentations, quizzes, extra credit opportunities, finals, or late nights studying. I know I will eventually miss the chance to learn in a classroom environment . . . but right now I'm content to bask in the knowledge of something finished.

This morning was our last Chapel. Holly reminded me of that while I was getting ready. Certainly a bittersweet realization. I was drawn into worship with my fellow Bethel-ians as I remembered the reality of Jesus' sacrifice for me. "Stand in awe and worship. Raise your voice and worship. Come adore the King of kings and Lord of lords."

There's this nagging voice in the back of my head that says--Jana, why aren't you being productive? I keep reminding it that I don't have to be productive right now. It's okay to take some time to relax and enjoy this time.

Just so you know--I now have a blister on the opposite foot, same toe. It's from running. I think my roommates are tired of hearing me whine about it. Pain in the feet is not fun. That's what I get for dancing and exercising. :)

More important than my soon-to-be-completed Bethel career is this overwhelming knowledge of my completeness in Jesus. There's nothing I can do or be . . . and that's okay. He did it all for me.

He was delivered to death for my sins and was raised to life for my justification. Therefore, since I have been justified through faith, I have peace with God through my Lord Jesus Christ, through whom I have gained access by faith into this grace in which I now stand. And I rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 4:25-5:2

Signed by a very happy me.
Jana Alexis

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ants and Toenails

The roommates and I went running Monday at 6am. We ran over a "high rise" of ant hills. And proceeded to make up a story about a young ant heading off to Bethel College, his mom crying and saying goodbye, and the ant leaving to make his long trek to school (while in reality they were only on the sidewalk right by the entrance).

The weather is so beautiful. I am definitely in a camping mood. The other night Charity and I were walking back to our room and decided it was perfect bonfire weather. Then we swapped rain-in-the-tent stories.

I hurt another toenail while dancing. I think that's the third time this year. It's slightly painful--why do I do this to myself. Let's hope it's the grow-out kind and not the fall-off kind. I'm sure you wanted to hear all of that.

My accounting class is over. Ballet is finished. Insiders Bible study is finished. I am almost done! The end is in sight. I've almost made it! The culmination has almost arrived.

Holly moved back in today. I'm looking forward to some good memories in the time we have left together. Good times. We had a spring-roommate photo shoot on Sunday afternoon. Thanks for being an excellent photographer, Nora!




It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

I choose to trust Jesus.
Jana Alexis

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Little Busy

Where did the week go? Time is flying.
Here are the top eight happenings of the past six days, in no particular order.

  1. My dear friend Holly is home! Because one of her flights was delayed, I was unexpectedly able to go to the airport on Thursday night. It was so good to see her face and just to know that she's home. We have a lot of catching up to do but I'm waiting patiently. Coffee date next week, Holly?
  2. Business Policy is the current bane of my college existence. ("Bane": a source of harm or ruin; curse.) My team met Wednesday and Thursday night to practice our presentation. That went okay but the 75-page-paper is annoying me. Some of the guys have trouble with plagiarism and I even had to make a phone call about it. I do not enjoy confrontation. And I do not particularly enjoy editing 130 footnotes.
  3. Friday was crazy. My Business Policy group presented at 8:30am. Shekinah Glory danced in Chapel at 10am. Mom and Jess came to watch and we left immediately following. We drove to Fort Wayne, stopped at home for 15 minutes, picked up Dad, and then picked up Jason on the way down to Indy. We hung out there (more info in #4) and then drove back to Fort Wayne, arriving at 2am. This morning Mom and I left the house at 8am to drive back to Bethel.
  4. All the above craziness was completely worth it. I so enjoyed dinner with the family at PF Changs and walking around downtown Indy. Shrimp is delicious and I love cities! Next, we went to a coffeehouse concert—invited by our wonderful friends, Greg and Liz. Another friend, Chris, was able to come. Conversation and music and iced lattes and friendship—it was a good night.
  5. Things are wrapping up. Ballet is finished. During my last speech on Tuesday, I tried to convince freshmen and sophomores to start saving for retirement soon after graduation. Shekinah Glory is done and what a wonderful four years of dancing it has been. Financial Peace class is done. Brook and I organized one last dorm event: games and ice cream in the hallway.
  6. Tonight I watched John Michael (Cauffman) Swartz play wheelchair basketball. It was such a blessing—he is good! I said hi to my friend Rose and talked to her niece/my friend Melissa for awhile.
  7. I cheered for my roommates this week. Charity presented for the final stage of her psychology Research Methods class. What a culmination of an entire year of work! You did it, Charity! And I also listened to Megan play the trumpet for Performance Class. I most certainly have a new appreciation for the instrument and it was so much fun to hear her play.
  8. Is it apparent yet that I was a little busy this week? By Thursday night I was feeling pretty stressed and exhausted. The straw that almost broke the camel’s back: I accidentally left my cell phone in a school van and I had to call Campus Safety to get the key. And I’m not sleeping very well because there is so much on my mind. Hopefully this next week will be better. It shouldn’t be quite as crazy.

Goodness.
That's enough info on the
soon-to-be-complete
college undergrad life of Jana Alexis.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Giants

I just trekked to the Computer Lab to print some fliers wearing an outfit that doesn't match in the least: comfy gray pants, brown/blue fleece jacket, brown slip-ons. Last year I definitely would have refused to leave my room in such a hideous ensemble. I'm growing up.

My Sunday afternoon consisted of devotions, briefly finishing an accounting study guide, talking to Jessica for a bit, and reading for three hours. I got stuck in a book . . . and finished it. Not exactly the most productive thing to do but terribly relaxing.

The sermon at church this morning was so good. Pastor Rick continued the series on David and Goliath. I was challenged to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus: "Giant killers are consumed with the reality/magnificence of God!" Notes from the service:
  • "David sees the giant, mind you; he just sees God more so." Max Lucado
  • Tackle your giant with eternal motive!
  • It's not about your "Goliath"; it's about your God.
  • If people around us watch us be defeated by our giants, what does it say about our God?
  • Tackle your giant with absolute confidence!
  • You are fighting an already defeated enemy.
  • What is your mind full of? Is it full of how big your God is?
  • It's time to move into action. Refuse anything short of decapitation.
  • "You face giants by facing God first." Max Lucado

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?" Isaiah 40

Have I ever said how much I love my roommates? I sure enjoyed our laughs and talks this evening. I don't have pictures with both of them (we'll have to remedy that), but here's one picture that makes me smile.



Signing off.
Jans

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Jana is . . .

Jana is estatic. Do you remember when she wrote about her China-friend Shasha? Well, on Tuesday Jana suddenly remembered that she hadn't checked one of her five e-mail addresses in awhile. Low-and-behold, she received an e-mail from Sasha . . . and then grinned for fifteen minutes afterwards.

Jana isn't too happy with this weather. "Rain, rain, go away." Although, it does make the grass greener and that makes it seem more like spring. Spring. She's ready for it. She wants to study by the pond.

Jana is relieved that she does not have to take a Speech final, only Accounting and Human Resource Management. Two papers down. Two presentations to go. Ten more days of classes!

Jana sure enjoyed her birthday weekend. She and her mom did things they've wanted to do since freshman year: walking downtown Mishawaka and in the cemetary, going to Grace Church, sitting at Sufficient Grounds, shopping, and eating at Coldstone. Jana never really thought about being this age . . . it feels different.


Hope. "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope . . . The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him . . . Let him bury his face in the dust--there may yet be hope." Lam. 3:21-29

He is Hope Itself.
Jans

Friday, April 4, 2008

Wicked

I'm at Sufficient Grounds with Megan. We ate dinner and now she's studying Biology while I have my quiet time. I thought I'd type an update while I wait for my chai tea.

It's been a good week. I can't believe everything I can cram into 5 days. And all while feeling sick. I contracted this lovely cold on Tuesday . . . and it's been plaguing me ever since. I've been in a fog all day. Not fun. DayQuil and NyQuil are amazing.

Last night was my birthday present to me. ("I'm so happy!") Charity and I joined 98 others from Bethel College on a bus trip to see "Wicked" in Chicago. INCREDIBLE! It was the best night ever: coffee shop for dinner, latte-to-go, Millenium Park with the ladies, photo shoot, Borders, the show!, talking with Charity on the way home. I love the city. I love my friends. I love the stage. I am so blessed.

Classes are coming quickly to a close. Only 15 more days in the classroom at Bethel. Ever. That's an extremely bittersweet thought. However, I must say that I probably won't miss my Business Policy class. We turned in the 3rd draft of our paper today. It was 75 pages. We have yet to prepare for the half-hour presentation . . . "growl."

Counting down the days until graduation (28!) makes me think of another countdown--this one completely lovely: my wonderful, much-missed, ex-roommate Holly Nicole is returning in only 14 days. I can't wait.

Hmm. I hope this post isn't too scattered. I'm really out of it (you can ask my roommates for proof). A cold + getting to bed at 2am + a long week of writing papers will do that do you.

That's enough. I'm out.
J. Alexis

Monday, March 31, 2008

Shadow Songs

Music Theory is finished.
I had my last Business Policy test this morning (for which I typed 40 pages of study notes).
I'm wearing a skirt and tennis-shoes today.
Holly comes back in 17 days.
Last night, the roommates and I enjoyed leftover pizza, fruit salad, and popcorn for dinner.
Currently, my favorite movie is "August Rush."
I plan to spend the afternoon writing an HR paper on recruitment, selection, and appraisal.
Charity knocked over my flowers again. :)
Amy and I caught up on life last night.
Still waiting on job information.

--------------------------------------------------

I have seen You in Your sanctuary and gazed upon Your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise You! I will praise You as long as I live, lifting up my hands to You in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise You with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of You, meditating on You through the night. Because You are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of Your wings. I cling to You; Your strong right hand holds me securely. (Psalm 63, NLT)

--------------------------------------------------

Life is unrelenting. Doubts are real.
Yet, my Jesus is perfectly faithful. And perfect love banishes fear.
So I sing songs of joy in the shadow of His wings.
Shadow songs. My heart's cry.
For more of Jesus.
For more of His love in my life.
For more glory to be given to the Father.
Shadow songs. In spite of life. In awe of Jesus.
Because He is perfectly worthy.
Amen--let it be so.

Jana

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Sloshing" Thoughts

I've been composing an entry in my head for a few days. But, this morning my thoughts are all random:

My favorite "holiday" of the year already came and went: Good Friday and Easter weekend. Every year I am filled with sorrowful joy . . . celebrating His death and His resurrection. Every year I intentionally take time to meditate and remember and worship. This year, I was reminded anew of His incredibly gracious sacrifice.

No classes for me today. That is certainly a blessing.

My weekend at home was not relaxing but fun nonetheless. Highlights: Talking to Jessica while drinking coffee. Spending time with Mom in a coffee shop while we both did homework. Going to a Good Friday service. Eating breakfast with Dad. Laughing a lot at Alex's party (and spending time with Jason, Chris, and Alex). Going to church on Sunday morning! Time with the family and the Miller family on Sunday afternoon.

I survived a full day of interviews on Monday. It was exhausting but I made it. I was extremely nervous and worried about it on Friday. Then I decided that I needed to snap out of it. God has my job situation all under control . . . as usual.

At times my heart is overwhelmed with fear--so many thoughts sloshing around. God is good all the time . . . but I so easily give in to hopelessness. This morning I was encouraged as I meditated on His freeing sacrifice and the truth of His presence. "The Lord is near. Do not be anxious . . ."

I admit it: I am an introvert. Therefore, time alone to "recharge" is necessary. Yesterday I took a two hour nap, got stuck in a novel for 1 1/2 hours, and watching "American Idol" while I wrote letters. (Yes--I got stuck in a book. It happens to me. I start reading and then . . . bam . . . I look up and 2 hours have passed. It's a very dangerous habit.)

Enough rambling.
The main thing is to keep the main thing as the main thing.
And the main thing is Jesus.
Jana Alexis

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Beautiful Truth

Class happenings. Well. Not much to report. Just plugging along. Trying to learn and not simply to get the desired grade. I have much to reshape in this area of performance and approval. Please pray I would truly grasp His teaching and be able to change. I want to change.

RA happenings. I meet with my RD for our 1-on-1 every week and we meet as an RA team once a week. It is more comfortable with the girls now. I rode to church with Rachel this morning; I sure enjoy the time I spend with her. We lead the Insiders study together--which is going well, by the way. We only have two chapters left.

Friend happenings. I sure enjoyed my time with Charity this week. Let's see. Monday we ate lunch together and laughed during Financial Peace class. Tuesday we watched "American Idol." Thursday we made drop biscuits after Shekinah Glory because we were craving them--warm biscuits with butter and honey. Friday we went to the Jazz Coffeehouse concert and enjoyed our free hot chocolate. Yesterday we studied in the library from 2-7:30pm. Today we watched "Enchanted" at the Dollar Theater. What a blessing she is to me!

Job happenings. It's kind of slowed down right now. Please pray for wisdom and strength to continue the process.

Don't you just love it when a portion of Scripture jumps off the page at you? Begging to be considered and enjoyed and digested? Hebrews 9-12 did that to me on Friday morning. I asked God to open my heart . . . and He answered my prayer 10 minutes later. It was amazing!

". . . by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." Heb. 10:14
After reading this verse, I realized: Jesus made me perfect through His sacrifice; there is nothing I can even attempt to do for my own salvation. And now He is in the process ("being made") of making me holy, more like Himself.

Ah. Beautiful truth.
Jana Alexis

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Praise Jesus

Praise Jesus: I had such a wonderful Spring Break. You wouldn't believe all that I can cram into one week: Visit from Amy. Drive to visit Jason. Visit Millers. Ice skating and Starbucks with the girls. Homework. Skype with Holly. Two interviews. Paint my room with Dad. Hair appointment (don't worry--just a trim). Dinners with the family. Visit with Cindi DeSomer and her children (good friend who I haven't seen in 8 years!). Visit with my Great Grandma Mann (who is 98).

Praise Jesus: I had a dentist appointment last week. For the first time in exactly one year, I did not need to have my mouth piece adjusted. Perhaps my jaw is finally stabilizing!!! I was so happy. My dentist gave me a high-five.

Praise Jesus: I came back to school refreshed and ready to finish the last six weeks strong. I decided that I'm not going to simply survive; I'm going to live.

Praise Jesus: I got a bad grade on two speeches . . . but I'm okay with it. I did not beat myself up. I'll learn from this and move on. Grades are not my life.

Praise Jesus: My Semester Abroad Office boss returns from China on Friday. Next week will be my last to work in the office. I'm ready to be free of that responsibility.

Praise Jesus!
Jana Alexis

PS: Do you have a tune that always plays in your head? I often find myself humming one from "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." It annoyed one of my teammates in Australia--she couldn't stand it. I feel semi-bad for the rest of you who have to be around me a lot. :)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I said; She said.

I turned down the bed heater from 10 to 2.
Sister turned it up to 4.
She said, "Why do you turn it down so far every night?"
I said, "The heat makes me feel sick."
She said, "I'm cold."
I said, "Put on a long-sleeve and some socks."
She said, "Take off your socks."
She said, "I can't sleep with socks on."
I was too tired to answer.
And then we fell asleep.

------------------------------

Dad and I are currently painting my new bedroom a lovely taupe. And we're listening to oldies: Anointed, Sonic Flood, Raze. Good stuff. I love decorating and painting and colors and interior design. I've decided that's going to be my midlife-crisis career switch.

------------------------------

Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring,
For His grace and power are such
None can ever ask too much.

(John Newton)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Being Lazy

I love being lazy. It's 11:15am and I still haven't showered and done my hair.

I love being at home.

I love the talks that Amy and I are having. I love this time with her.

I do have homework to do this week but I love not feeling the same kind of pressure.

I love spending time with my girl friends: Jessica, Charity, Alex, Nichole, Sarah, and Erin . . . You girls are so fun. I love to laugh with you.

And did I mention yet that I like times when I can be lazy?

Thank you, Jesus.
That's all.
Jans

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Life is Full

Sometimes I don't know where to even start writing. Life is so full. I am learning and growing in so many areas. It is not always easy but good nonetheless.

Monday night we went to bed with greenish-brownish grass and woke up with 4-5 inches of snow. Winter again. It is beautiful but I agree with Charity: I would like it much better if I could stay in our apartment with a hot drink and a good book. We always joke about a snow day, knowing it will never happen.

I'm trying to stay on top of my schoolwork and get ahead for Spring Break. Why is the last semester of my senior year one of my hardest? It's slightly frustrating.
  • Music Theory: Plugging away. Only two more chapters to complete.
  • Accounting: The test yesterday morning was really hard and I ran out of time. I have no idea how I did.
  • HR: I have a presentation on Thursday and a big project to work on over break.
  • Policy: Our second test is on Friday and I typed up a 20 page study guide. I have a lot of work to do for this class over break.
  • Speech: Our group demonstration speech went terribly yesterday. Bad for my grade; good for my pride.

I gave myself a papercut under my finger-nail. Do you have any idea how painful that is?

I went to a Lady Pilot's basketball game last night and sat with some of the other RAs. Have you ever been in a crowd of people and still felt lonely? It's not exactly a fun feeling.

I planned a jewelry party for the girls in Founders Village on Sunday night. About 21 girls showed up--a good turnout for an event. I made a gold/silver/black necklace. Quite classy.

I crocheted some more over the weekend and last night. My scarf is almost finished.

I had a wonderful quiet time between Chapel and my 1-on-1 with Julie this morning. I so enjoyed reading, praying, journaling, learning, studying, growing, soaking it all in.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.
Acts 20:24

Praising Him no matter what.
Jans

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Joyful End

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Blessings and praises. Both HR classes were cancelled this week. I took two ballet classes. I received an e-mail from Holly. Jessica and Dwight visited me. I slept for 7 hours two nights in a row (and tonight will make that three). The Shekinah Glory dance for Chapel went amazingly. I attended a seminar on grief last night. I escaped campus for the afternoon. I ate bananas with peanut butter and peanut butter cookies dipped in chocolate. I found out that a good friend is coming to visit me. Jesus and I had lots of conversations.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Challenges

This is post number 51. I've been composing it for awhile in my head, but there was no time to sit down and write. Now I'll probably forget all that I thought to write about.

I could tell you about my on-duty weekend. I could tell you about playing scooter-hockey in the gym on Sunday night. I could tell you about meeting with four girls for lunch today. I could tell you about my 15-hour stint on one project on Saturday (during which I cried twice and called my parents three times). I could tell you about spending time with my dear friend Kate on Friday and shopping(!). I could tell you about a speech test that only took 15 minutes. I could tell you about a wonderful phone call with my grandma in Virginia.

But that would take entirely too much time.

I have a new technique to refrain from screaming out in frustration in my Business Policy class. I set my open Bible on my lap and half-listen while I'm reading and memorizing. Creative multitasking is what I call it.

Four resumes/cover letters go in the mail tomorrow. I'm not panicking, just trusting. How comforting to know God has it all under control.

I was thoroughly challenged during our Insiders study tonight. Five girls and I dove in to learn about prayer and conversing our faith. I've been challenged a lot lately--to know Jesus, to study Scripture, to be vulnerable, to serve, to "get my hands dirty." I have a long way to go . . . but that's okay because Jesus is walking with me. I thought a lot about heaven today. It occurred to me that I will never be "ready" . . . but that's okay. His death paid it all. I can't wait to see HIS face.

Trying to breathe and
survive on six hours a night and
to live in the present despite the general craziness.
Jana Alexis

Monday, February 11, 2008

My Easy Load

Class news:
  • Business Policy: Definitely not my favorite class, although the first test wasn't too bad today. It's the huge group project I'm dreading--7 people, 30 page paper, 30 minute presentation, 38% of our grade, no feedback from the professor. I'm just a little frustrated but trying to do my best.
  • Music Theory: I found out today that I won't have any tests for this private tutorial. I show up for our one-on-one; I understand the material; I finish the homework assignments; and then I get an "A." I think I can handle that.
  • Human Resource Management: I'm actually kind of enjoying this class. Our test last week wasn't that bad. I enjoy studying concepts and not memorizing.
  • Speech: Speaking of memorizing (no pun intended), I need to be doing a lot for this class. Our first test is on Thursday and it's just lists of information. Oh--and my first two speeches went well. For the second special occasion speech, I did a eulogy as if I was at John the Baptist's funeral.
  • Accounting: Still enjoying this subject; yet, it's harder for me. We're studying bonds and stocks right now and it's all new information. I hope my professor can help me with the homework before class tomorrow because I definitely don't understand it.

The classes this semester aren't my favorite. Maybe I'm just ready to be done. Despite this, I'm pressing forward. The end is in sight. I can't let up now.

Praise God for a relaxing weekend at home. My job interviews were so encouraging. I went to my brother's soccer game. I spent time at the coffee shop with God and my homework. I went to church. I went shopping by myself. I watched movies with the family and ate Pineapple Upside-down Cake.

I sat in RediMed for two hours (for an eye allergic reaction) which actually turned out to be a blessing. God met me in that waiting room while I read "My Heart's Cry: Longing for More of Jesus" by Anne Graham Lotz. I just love it how Jesus does that--meets me in a very real way in the oddest places. I block out distractions for a little bit and spend some time at His feet.

Lord, all that I can't carry and cannot leave behind,
It often overwhelms me.
But when I think of all who've gone before and lived the faithful life,
Their courage compels me .
And when I'm weary and overwrought with so many battles left unfought:

I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard.
I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars.
I see the shepherd Moses in Pharaoh's court.
I hear his call for freedom for the people of the Lord.
And when the Saints go marching in,
I want to be one of them.

I see the man of sorrows and His long troubled road.
I see the world on His shoulders and my easy load.
lyrics by Sara Groves

Longing for more of the King
And for His Kingdom.
J. Alexis

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Not my week . . . but

This has not been my week.
  • I couldn't understand accounting and missed quite a few problems on my homework.
  • I opened a door on myself and bruised my knee.
  • I was completely frustrated with my theory homework, taking 1 hour to do 9 short problems.
  • I ruined two nails.
  • I thought I disappointed a friend.
  • I spent an entire day with my weaknesses hanging over my head.
  • I missed a perfectly good opportunity to talk to some girls on my floor.
  • I doubted myself.
  • I burnt chocolate chips while making Puppy Chow. (Don't ask how I did this unless you want a good laugh.)
  • I bruised my calf muscle pretty badly.
  • I almost lost my glasses.

And then I read this: "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us." (2 Cor. 4:7) and this "Jesus said, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'" (Matt. 9:12-13)

That's me.
I'm sick. I'm the sinner.
Yet, He graciously provides mercy. "...through God's mercey..." (2 Cor. 4:1)
I didn't realize that verse in Matthew applies to me.

And so, despite all of the hard things this week, Jesus is good to me.

  • I prayed with two girls at two different lunch dates.
  • A good friend let me call at all hours.
  • My fellow RAs were such an encouragment. One dropped by with hot chocolate and a wonderful note.
  • I so enjoyed choreographing for Shekinah Glory and leading our rehearsal.
  • I went off-campus with Nora this afternoon.
  • I was able to talk to my brother at college.
  • Nora, Megan, and I "skyped" with Holly for an hour.
  • I watched "Wuthering Heights" (...watching a movie in the middle of the week...amazing!).
  • Dwight Robinson, our World Christian Action Conference speaker, challenged me.
  • Jesus is coming alive to me as I study the Gospel of John.

Praise God.
He is merciful and loving me still.
Jana Alexis

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

#5: Food in China

My China recounting would not be complete without a glimpse of the food we ate. (You know me . . . I love to talk about food.)

"R-qui"s: One of my favorites. We bought them on the street corner in Kunming. What an amazing breakfast: tortilla, sweet peanut sauce, donut . . . all wrapped together. I miss them.


Favorites: In the village, we ate all of our lunches and dinners at the headmaster's home. They so graciously provided for us. The food was amazing and always plentiful. A few of my favorites: eggs and tomatoes, some sort of fried potatoes, greens, bacon-like meat, peas, ground beef with spices, fried peanuts . . . I got quite good with those chopsticks.


"Joud-za": We were invited by the teachers to join them in making a Chinese tradition. I'm not sure how to spell it but phonetically it's pronounced: "joud-za." (I think . . . Brad may want to correct me on this one.) We rolled the dough into thin circles, folded cabbage and beef inside, and then boiled them. I ate entirely too many for dinner (dipped in sauce). Delicious!


Hot pot: One of the most interesting meals. You pick out random raw vegetables, meats, and noodles from the buffet. Then you put them in a pot of boiling broth at your table (spicy or mild) or fry them on the skillet. We wore aprons so as not to be splattered. Rob brought us random things to try: squid, octopus, duck intestines, quagulated blood, a chicken foot. I like being adventurous with food.




Jana's travel tip: When you go places, eat their food. Don't be afraid to try things. It's all part of the experience.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Two Weeks Done

Thoughts from the second week of the semester:

  • Shekinah Glory started again on Thursday night. We only have about 14 girls this semester. Our first piece is very modern and odd. I like choreographing it.
  • I went on a cleaning rampage yesterday. Even the trashcans are clean. I love the satisfaction and inviting-ness of a clean room.
  • Working on theory homework can make me very frustrated. Especially when I'm already up-tight. I finally finished it tonight, after much-needed help from Megan.
  • I read an entire book on Saturday, just for fun, after my homework was done. "Hattie Big Sky" by Kirby Larson. It's juvenile fiction about homesteading in Montana. I got thoroughly lost in it and enjoyed reading immensely.
  • Charity and I laughed a lot this week. She makes me laugh . . . and I'm so thankful for that. (Love you, Charity!)
  • Megan, Charity, and I watched "The Fellowship of the Ring" on Friday night. I haven't seen the movies in awhile and I forgot how intense they were. Jason--you would be proud of my running commentary and explanation.

Hopefully I'll survive this week--World Christian Action Conference and a very busy schedule. And hopefully I'll have time to do one or two more China updates to round out the trip.

All for His glory.
janalexis

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

MLK Jr. Day

I can't sleep. The caffeine from my after-dinner orange mocha is troubling me. So, therefore, I decided to get out of bed and get something done instead of just laying there, thinking.

Classes were cancelled on Monday from 1-6pm in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The 9 RAs and 2 RDs from Founders Village went to Hope Rescue Mission in South Bend. Three played with kids while the rest of us sorted and organized the donations. I called it before it happened: the girls plodded along steadily from 1:30-4:30 while the guys started goofing off and trying on random outfits after the first 45 minutes. Hilarious. That's exactly what happened in Montreal and Chicago.

I had a good weekend, despite the cold. It was so frigid that Charity and I ran back to the dorm after our hour workout on Saturday morning. Brrrrr. Needless to say, I stayed in my room for the rest of the afternoon. I bravely ventured out again for church on Sunday. It was good to get off-campus and see other people who are not my age.

Charity and I watched "Herbie: Reloaded" on Friday night. I so enjoyed just relaxing with her and laughing and remonstrating with the movie and making loud exclamations and all-around enjoying the film and her company.

Tonight I delivered toilet paper and Grandma's cookies. The chocolate-chip and oatmeal-raisin just about tied in popularity. Only two rooms out of twelve didn't open their doors. That's not a bad percentage.

My theory assignment took me 2 1/2 hours this evening. And I worked for over 2 hours on a case analysis for Business Policy, analyzing Whole Food Markets and making recommendations for the future. After procrastinating for awhile by playing on Facebook and getting interrupted with wonderful phone calls (Julie, Dad, and Alexis), I finally got it started and then it wasn't so bad after all. I guess I'm a business major for a good reason: I like it.

I discovered a new weakness of mine. Cookies. (Or maybe it's just that I'm finally admitting it.)

I hope you enjoyed this smattering of tidbits from the enormously exciting life of Jana Alexis.


Friday, January 18, 2008

#4: Team and Travel

Is it apparent yet that I love to travel? So many aspects of my China trip I loved, not the least of which was my team and the experience itself. I've never been on a mission trip with a team of only seven before. It was (see picture below) Beth, Brenda, Brad, me, Gary, Erin, and Tallie.


Brad bothered me (and I bothered him right back). I made sure Tallie paced herself when we ate. Beth and I chatted while warming-up in our sleeping bags and I finished her rice for her. Gary made all of us laugh. I enjoyed watching Erin with the students. Brenda gave me back massages (and was a wonderful "mother hen" to the team). What a great team!

My new best friend was our friend's 4-year-old son. We played together for three hours on the way to the village. I told him a story about Jared-the-dinosaur and Claude-the-turtle (just making it up as I went along). His chatter was so refreshing. We enjoyed playing together in the village and wrestled with a minature dolphin on the morning we left.


The following pictures show our hotel, a market, a senic shot of the village, and the van we traveled in.




I enjoyed the whole China experience: public transportation, squatties, Chinese McDonald's and Pizza Hut, markets, chopsticks, honking, mountain roads, 13 hour plane ride, bartering, walking, freezing one day and warm the next, layovers, rice, taking your own toilet paper wherever you go . . . . . there's nothing quite like it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Back at Bethel

One more semester left of my undergraduate career. I started off with a bang: getting sick the first night back. I'm feeling better now, though, and getting into it. It doesn't look too crazy so far: classes, Shekinah Glory, RA responsibilities, Insiders Bible study, and work in the Semester Abroad Office.

My classes should be interesting. I'm taking Intro to Human Resource Management, Speech, Business Policy, Intermediate Accounting II, and Music Theory. Only 15 credit hours this semester. I have one class on M-W-F, three classes on T-R, and one private tutorial.

Today I spent some time in the library, finding fun books to read. I have a few goals for this semester and one is to read more. I currently have a commentary on the Gospel of John by F.F. Bruce, two novels by Elizabeth George Speare, and "My Heart's Cry" by Anne Graham Lotz, among others. Other goals for this semester are to get back into my exercise routine, floss my teeth every night, and get closer to Jesus.

Charity and I have a new roommate: Megan Jordan. She was studying abroad in the Dominican Republic last semester. (Holly is studying abroad in New Zealand, Australia, and China for her last semester.) I think it's going to work out really well with Megan. She is a junior Liberal Studies major--business, accounting, ministry, and music.

I think that about wraps it up.
Here I go . . . for the last time.
Jans

PS: No worries. More China stories to come.

Monday, January 14, 2008

#3: Dancing in China

Line dancing will never be the same for me again. We taught the students on the basketball courts surrounded by beautiful mountains. Mr. J, our Chinese contact in the village, joined in with gusto but the students were more hesitant at first.

Monday we taught a few students informally on the courts. Then, Tuesday they brought in their local dance teacher to teach us a Tibetan dance in return for some line dancing lessons. The teacher was such a beautiful dancer. I loved watching how she moved her hands. Tallie, Beth, Erin, Brenda, Megan, and I got up on stage to learn the dance. It was slightly disconcerting: all eyes on us, a different language, and no mirror. We did it, though.


Next it was our turn. We taught them the electric slide, the electric slide with the stomp, and the "chicken" line dance. A few of us led on the stage while the rest danced among those learning. More teachers and students joined in. It was a long session, about 2 hours; they wanted to keep going.

On Wednesday we line danced for about 45 minutes in the later afternoon (after they were done playing basketball). Brad figured out a way to hook up his phone to their system and we danced to Chris Daughtry. I'm so thankful for the open door of dancing. It definitely served to lighten the mood and gave us something we could do with the Chinese even though we couldn't talk to them.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

#2: Teaching English

Teaching was certainly a stretching—and rewarding—experience. There are 760 students at the middle school and 61 teachers. I taught Miss “Trien"'s two, 2nd grade classes (ages 13-14) on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning. Each class was 45 minutes long. I began with knots in my stomach, feeling ill-prepared, and praying, “Here we go, Lord.” Yet each time I finished energized and excited. The students wanted to learn and were so honored to have native English speakers work with them. We were reminded many times: you speak English and therefore you are the expert.

I employed a variety of methods in the classroom, sometimes coming up with ideas on-the-spot. For example, we sang Christmas songs, played games such as "Pass the Tissues" and "Boys Against Girls", reviewed vocabulary and conversational questions, sang “Head and Shoulders” with body vocab, and taught the American greeting of shaking hands. I wrote on the board a lot and tried to use games to review the vocab whenever I could.

My students knew textbook English but could not carry on a conversation beyond three or four sentences. They did ask me lots of questions, sometimes with Miss Trien translating: Have you been to China before? Do you like our school? What is your dream? What does your father do? Can you speak Chinese? What sports to you play? What actor do you like?

It was certainly frustrating at times. My teacher could not speak English very well. Another Chinese teacher would often need to translate when she wanted to talk to me. Also, we were not informed ahead-of-time what the teachers needed. Therefore, we did not know the students have a test at the end of January they need to prepare for. Also, because of the lack of communication, the teachers could not tell us how we could help them or if what we did actually was of assistance.

Wednesday morning they volunteered me to teach the "model English lesson" for all of the Chinese English teachers. I was terribly nervous, not at all confident, and completely unsure of what they needed or wanted. But, I did it despite my inadequacies. Words from Jill Briscoe encouraged me: "For this we need Jesus. And for this we have Jesus!"

I am thankful for the ESL open door. We are unsure whether the door will open again but that is okay. Praise God for the opportunity we did have. I pray we were an encouragement to the teachers and a source of inspiration for the students to practice their English!