Friday, November 4, 2011

The Bestest Brother in the World!

Look at this little guy... Isn't he cute?

It's hard to believe today, Friday November 4th, 2011 this little guy is a quarter of a century old! The big two-five!!!! And while he may have outgrown the Mickey ears and red MC Hammer pants, he does still work a bow-tie from time to time.

So who is this cutie-pa-tootie?

 Well he's my little brother William Barret Anspach. Or Bear-Bear, as we (the family) like to call him.
And seriously guys, I couldn't have asked for a sweeter, kinder, smarter or more wonderful brother in the whole wide world! I am SO proud of him!
I mean whose little brother at around 7 or 8 goes up to his mom and says "Mom, can you buy me a book so I can teach myself Chinese?" Mine did! Our dad brought him some sort of transformer toys from Hong Kong, but he couldn't read the instructions so he thought he'd just teach himself Chinese... you know... easy peasy lemon squeezy, right? Ha! Mind you he was already in a Spanish Immersion program at school, and in his spare time created this entire imaginary world complete with it's own language too.
But his creativity didn't just stop there... Yeah, no. He also composes music. And by "composes music" I mean he went to The Juilliard School in NYC receiving his Masters of Music in Composition composes music (it's not some tune he recorded on his Cassio keyboard...). And he did all that schooling (B.A. & M.M.) in 5 years!!! Sick. As a performing artist (not a creative one) it baffles me how he just creates these beautiful pieces of music. I mean they come out of his own head!!! It's crazy!!! How does he do it? I could never do that!!!

And did I mention that he can not only rock out a sock monkey hat and a beard but a sweet 'stache too?!!! Pretty impressive eh?

Like I said, I'm so proud of my little brother... He'd be the last person in the world to flaunt all of his accomplishments... in fact I'm sure this blog post will make him blush to a bright red. But that's what big sisters are here for... to brag about their amazing little brothers! Especially on their birthday!

So yeah, I'm blessed. Blessed by my little brother, who's not so little anymore. I'm so thankful that he is one of my best friends. He balances out my serious side with his goofiness. And I'm so grateful that it doesn't matter what we do... As long as we're together we're guaranteed a great time.

Happy Birthday Bear-Bear!!!! May the Lord bless your socks off this year! And thanks for being the bestest brother a girl could ask for... Thanks for being my brother (not that you actually have a choice in it... haha!!!)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Enduring Duos

Love Stories... Those great enduring duos: Princess Aurora and her Prince (I know he has a name, but does anyone know it?). Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. Romeo and Juliet. Peanut Butter and Jelly... I know. PB & J are inanimate objects, incapable of offering or experiencing love, but you can't tell me that their union isn't a magnificent one that's stood the test of time!
But I've forgotten one that's worth mentioning... and in my opinion it's way better than PB & J!

Balanchine and Stravinsky
A perfect marriage between dance and music. A romance that has been immortalized through 39 ballets, 22 of which, in 1972 were performed as a part of the New York City Ballet Stravinsky Festival (In all there were actually 31 ballets performed in this 8-day festival but the other 9 by other choreographers...)The mere thought of dancing 22 Balanchine-Stravinsky ballets makes my heart sing and my head hurt... I can't imagine the kind of counting that must have gone on... I mean it's bad enough having to manage one Stravinsky piece but 22?!!!
Confusion. Chaos. Migraine.
Well I've been blessed to dance in a few of these 31- namely Symphony in 3 Movements, Rubies and Agon. Other than the common denominators of composer, choreographer and pink tights and pointe shoes, these ballets couldn't be more different. Symphony in 3 Movements is an homage to WWII with its formations and patterns resembling armies advancing or planes circling. Rubies is a sexy, light-hearted little number set to Stravinsky's jazzy Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra. And Agon... In my opinion the cherry on top of this Balanchine-Stravinsky sundae is really best described by Balanchine himself: "See the music, hear the dance." And literally with minimal costumes (black leos and pink tights) and sets (a blue backdrop) that's all you see... You see the music danced.

Well, I'm happy to say that this Friday night I get to add a fourth Balanchine-Stravinksy jewel to my collection: the Divertimento from "Le Baiser de la Feé." And once again this sweet ballet hardly resembles the previous three already "in my bag", so to speak.
Dressed in a sweet little tutu with a golden bodice and and off-the-shoulder puffy sleeve, you'd think I'd be dancing to Mozart or Haydn not to the music of the man who composed The (riot-inducing) Rite of Spring! And yet the score for Baiser is strangely melodic. Don't get me wrong. It's still Stravinsky with its wonderful rhythms and crazy counts (a 6, an 11, three (two?) 10's and a 7... yikes!). But that's the fun of it... You exercise both your body and your mind. And you get to have fun with it too! There's a playfulness to Balanchine's musicality that in one sense is reminiscent to Rubies... just watch the principle woman execute her solo. It seems like her feet are flirting with the floor as she piques about... The same goes for the demis and corps as we punctuate the music with speedy and precise footwork in the first movement... And boy is it ever pufffy!
But what I love most about dancing Baiser, more than the musicality, more than the mental and physical challenge it presents, is that it feels like home. We had our first onstage rehearsal for this Rep Tuesday night and my soul felt like it was singing as I danced the first movement. And I was reminded once again that this is why I do what I do. This is why I dance!

So needless to say I'm quite excited. Not just because I get to add another Balanchine-Stravinsky jewel to my resumé... but because for the first time I get to premiere this new piece to PNB's repertoire in a demi-soloist role. It's a first for PNB and a first for me too!
I'm excited. I'm humbled. And I'm so grateful!

And this is just one love story - okay I guess two: between Balanchine and Stravinsky, and Jessika and ballet. There's a whole evening full of them! So if you haven't bought your tickets yet, what are you waiting for? DO IT! You can get them here. But you'd better hurry... "And they lived happily ever after" is just right around the corner.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sneak peak

So I promise... I've been working on something.
It's been on my heart for weeks to share with you all...
It's been on the tip of my tongue.
But. Well. The words...
I can't find them.
But tomorrow.
I promise.

But in the meantime here is an absolutely stunning bit of video magic created by the masterful Lindsey Thomas. We are so blessed to have her at PNB!!! What a gem!

Here are some factoids about the film she included to us insiders (okay just the PNB dancers and staff):
"5 Seattle-locations, 8 dancers, 3 hours of filming and 30 hours of editing..."
What a beautiful video. What a beautiful ballet. Would love to dance it one day.

Cylindrical Shadows - choreography by Annabella Ochoa, performed by PNB dancers, filmed in beautiful (sunny!!!!) Seattle.


** You can see this performed on stage in March 2012 during our New Works Rep, so mark your calendars and buy your tickets now!!! Click here to reserve your seat.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Anchor Points

Well hello there little blogity blog! Long time, no write.
I could write a long laundry list of excuses & lame-o reasons why I haven't written - some legit, but most of them, well they're all excuses, so what does it matter?! If I want to be a writer then I'd better write, right?
Well I've had this post stuck in the "draft" folder for far too long. It happens when I get on this inspiration-kick, but I tell myself, "Jessika you can't publish two blog post is less than 24 hours especially when it's been a month since you last wrote anything at all!" And then I forget about the "draft" folder all together.
As I recall when I wrote the majority of this post (basically the title and the verses below) it was the middle of August and we (we meaning the PNB dancers) had moved on from learning our January Rep of Don Quixote to our All Contemporary Rep that we'll be premiering in March. There will be 3 ballet's on that bill: David Dawson's A Million Kisses to My Skin, Annabella Ochoa's Cylindrical Shadows, and a world premiere by Victor Quijada.
Having worked in the studio with Victor in past years, I've had the privilege to learn his very unique style of movement, which comes from his background in classical and street-dancing, even incorporating aspects of yoga, martial arts and a lot of improv. In reality when you're dancing his choreography you feel a little bit like you're either a) under water, b) in the Matrix, or c) both.
A major concept that is central to his style is that of the "anchor point." Whether it be your heel, your elbow, your palm or forehead, it's the place from which the movement not only originates and/or rotates around, but where it's anchored. So when you're teetering off balance your anchor point is what pulls you back to your center - back to balance.
August was a really challenging month for me in more than one way. I used to read articles on my Yahoo homepage about people in their mid to late twenties having what they termed as the "quarter life crisis" and I'd laugh. No scoff. No both.
Well now who's laughing?
Not me.
Not so long ago a friend of mine said he felt like a rudderless boat. I sympathized and tried to encourage him, reminding him that the Lord has great plans for his life and He'll reveal it in His perfect timing. (On a side note, why is it always so much easier to see the adventure, potential and be eagerly expectant for other people's lives, but not your own?) But it wasn't till this past August that I truly understood... So this is what it feels like to be a rudderless boat! 
I know this is all sounding really vague. It is. On purpose. Because truthfully I don't really feel like hanging all my sick nasty laundry out there for everyone to read. No one wants to read that. Not even (especially!) me.
But even a rudderless boat has an anchor. And even though I won't be in the new Quijada piece, I have anchor points.

On the first day of our season, oddly enough I had little if any rehearsal (bare with me... it was in early July!). So I spent the day in prayer and journaling to the Lord, consecrating this season to Him. And He specifically gave me these anchor points - anchor verses - that He not only knew I would need, but that He wants me cling to throughout this season. And cling I have! I hope they're an encouragement to you too. So Anchor Points: Anchor's away!
"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when evil men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes." ~ Psalm 37:3-7
"... let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching." ~ Hebrews 10:22-25
"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, 'He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back I will not be pleased with him.' But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved." ~ Hebrews 10:35-39
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." ~ Hebrews 11:1
"And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." ~ Romans 5:2b-5
"But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." ~ Romans 8:24b-25
"In the morning, O Lord you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and I wait in expectation." ~ Psalm 5:3 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Second cycle

I just need to stop apologizing and do something. And by "something" I mean write.

For a number of reasons, I decided to drop the philosophy (Critical Reasoning) course I'd registered for this summer quarter at Bellevue College. It was a hard decision... I hate the idea, even the thought of quitting. I'm not a quitter. Taking responsibility for my choices, staying the course, sticking it out - these concepts (mottos?) are deeply woven into the fiber of my being. It's called commitment - a word I fear many in my generation are unfamiliar with... And while this is just a community college course, I feel this strange sense of urgency, of intentionality... that every course I take will not only serve to fulfill my General Ed requirements, but will somehow be used in my life in the present and the future. But this is all beside the point. Not to mention a little dramatic? Um. Yes.
So what is the point, you ask? The point is, I eased my conscience by promising myself I'd use this quarter "off" to write, write, WRITE! Well so much for that... 
But I still have some time before fall quarter begins. Summer's not over yet! Shoot... here in the Northwest it feels like summer just started! 
What has started is my 8th season as a professional ballet dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet. 
Has it really been that long? Am I really that old? Haha!!! I don't think that I'm that old. 
It seems like just yesterday that I received my first contract. That I was assigned shoe cubby number 27 with a little sliver plaque reading "Jessika Anspach" under it. That I claimed my locker between Lindsi Dec and Carrie Imler, which inevitably overflowed to the spaces above and across... Yes, I was kind of a mess. I still am.
And then poof! Seven years just flew by. Okay, they didn't fly by. Flying, in my mind, implies ease, or at the very least a lack of difficulty. Hmmm... But I've never "flown" before. I wonder if flying actually is difficult?
Wow. Rabbit trail. Sorry about that.
At any rate the past seven years haven't been "a piece of cake," a "walk in the park" or, my personal favorite, "easy peasy lemon squeezy." Then again I don't think anything having to do with ballet could ever be considered easy. It's like saying sandpaper's as smooth as a baby's butt, or walking on a bed of hot coals is fun.
But the struggles, the obstacles I've faced in arriving at where I am today were massive. Mountainous. Like Himalayas mountainous. Just ask our physical therapist Boyd Bender. He'd be the first to tell you that my body wasn't meant for dancing. Or ask any of my former PNBS teachers if they ever thought this dyslexic and daydreaming girl would ever have made it to the professional ranks. They'd probably laugh... I'm just remembering Abbie Siegel sweetly saying to me at barre: "No. Jessika. Left... your other left."
But the Everest of these obstacles, greater than dyslexia or any physical funkiness I have to deal with on a daily basis, was an unseen mountain buried deep within myself.
Call it Fear, Self-Loathing, or the Idol of Ballet and Self. They all apply. What it comes down to is that I put my identity, my confidence, my value and self-worth in how I looked and how I danced. Essentially I put my trust in ME, not in the Almighty and Sovereign Lord. So it's no surprise that over the past seven years these pillars built on sand have come toppling down. And pillars toppling hurts. A lot.
But praise God for His mercy, His grace and His sovereignty! He could have removed me completely from ballet - the thing I worshiped above Him - but His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. He had/has a plan for my life and ballet's a part of it, whether I want it or not (oddly enough there have been times when I haven't wanted it. At. All.) Miraculously He's kept me at PNB while building my pillars on Firm Foundation - on Him!
Through lots of prayer He's moved mountains for me. He's paved the way and has led me along His path. And after six years of struggle it felt like I'd finally exited the hard pruning season and finally began to see some buds blossoming.
As I said before last season was by far the best season I've ever had. The Lord blessed me with so many wonderful roles and opportunities to dance. I felt like I was challenged, pushed and therefore grew in a way I'd always hoped for but had yet to experience. And more than that I found my trust growing in Him, and my confidence rooted in Him. I am so humbled, so grateful and so in awe of the gifts He gives that are immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. He is so good and so faithful!

And so I've begun Season 8. I'm now entering into what my dad terms as the "second cycle." The 2nd seven year stretch. I still have shoe cubby 27. I still dance at PNB. My left leg is still 1/4" longer than my right, and I still struggle with knowing my left from my "other left." But I have a new locker, and it's a new year. I am a new creation. I cannot go back to who I was before.
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?Isaiah 45:18-19
 It is going to be a good year. It is not going to look like last year, and so far it couldn't be more different. And it's hard. Hard to expect without expectations. Hard to not dwell on the past, even when the past was glittering and bright. But I can remember His faithfulness. I can remember the miracles and the work of His awesome hands. And I can have faith. I have hope.

Praise Him!
He is doing a new thing!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A missing piece

What a whirlwind this summer's been!
It's amazing how quickly 5 weeks flies by... And man have I ever packed them in. Like canned sardines, packed. Mmm... Sardines. Ha! Sardines...
Once in 5th grade my Mom packed a tin of sardines and crackers in my lunchbox. I thought it was a great lunch but apparently Natalie Alotis didn't agree... she went running to the trashcan to upchuck hers. And yet reminiscing about my elementary school days is not what this post's supposed to be about...
So what is this supposed to be about?
That's a good question...

I mean really, I don't even know where to begin! I could blog about the craziness that was June 12th: our last show of Giselle, my last show dancing with six amazing coworkers, two company parties, and oh yes... my Dad's birthday too. I could blog about the week-long road trip vacation I took to Billings, MT with my mom. I could blog about the new place that's become my default home: DERUmarket - the new little artisan take-away market my dear friends opened in Kirkland. I could blog about baby showers, bridal showers... The list could go on and on and on...
Sadly none of these make the cut tonight. Hopefully (if I can get my act together), they'll make it on the blog roll before September sneaks up on us.

So tonight I'm blogging about a missing piece.

Monday- yesterday, marked the first day of what will be my 8th season dancing for Pacific Northwest Ballet. That sentence in an of itself could and should be yet another post! But there was something off about yesterday... a piece that was missing. You see, yesterday also marked something else. It was the first day, the first season since I began dancing professionally for PNB that I was not greeted by my green-eyed, curly-haired, phlegm-hacking friend. His name is Barry Kerollis and I miss him desperately.

There's so much that I could say about Barry. So much... From his mullet-stylin' younger years when he taught himself how to play every instrument under the sun to the time he was "working on his double axels" in rollerskates (yes, you heard me those giant clunky four-wheeled rollerskates), Barry could and can always make me laugh. His life has been far from ordinary, and someday I'd love to write his story so the whole world can know what an incredible individual he is. But for now, this blog will have to do. So below is the speech I wrote for him and delivered June 12th, 2011. It was the best I could do to encapsulate in a matter of moments who this very unique, very special and very dear friend is, and what he's meant to not only me but all of us at PNB.

 Well I’ve been stressing over this speech for the past week. Surprise surprise... And one night over Facebook chat Barry, trying to help de-stressify, told me that if all I said was “I love you” he’d be happy.  Anything after that would be like the cherry on top of the sundae.
So Barry, I love you.
Now begin the multiple toppings to this sundae of a speech.
I don’t remember the first time I met Barry or my first impression of him. I wish I could tell you all some great story but I can’t. We were both hired the same year, but it wasn’t until the end of that year that I think we really became friends. Having both survived the “great transition,” I think we just naturally gravitated toward one another. For the first couple years it seemed we were in an unspoken competition for who could use up more sick days. He says he won, but I’m not so convinced, although I will say he always had the most extreme reasons for using a sick day. He’s always had a flair for the dramatic. His advice for me in giving this speech was to pretend I was giving his eulogy. Ha! Well instead I’m gonna be cheesy and do an acrostic.

B. “B” is for Bunhead. The thing about you Barry is I think I know you and then you tell me another story that blows my mind. For example I just learned that he used to call ballet companies saying he was interested in becoming a season subscriber in the hopes that they’d send him brochures with dance photos that he could look at and cut out. And then there are those days that I’d find you on your lunch break in the production office watching/studying archive videos. But in all seriousness there are few people I’ve come across who actually love dance, ALL forms of dance as much as you do. You’re constantly on the look out for new things to inspire you be it from a local performance or a youtube video. And this passion for dance is reflected not only in the way you perform, but in the daily grind of class and rehearsals as well. From your chilling performance of Mercutio, to your tumbling skills in Ordinary Festivals, you literally throw yourself into every role. Not only that but you’re one of the most versatile dancers I’ve met displaying your clean technique in the 2nd Theme from The Four Temperaments, your contemporary prowess in One Flat Thing Reproduced and Serious Pleasures, and even your knack for musical theater in your amazing performace of Cool from West Side Story Suite. But best of all I think is your ability to work in cumbersome costumes… On Barry’s performance of Red Riding Hood from Sleeping Beauty:
“Leanne Duge and Kerolis have some great turns in this. Between this role and Bottom I wonder if he’s found a specialty “Will dance wearing a big head.”  Sorry… I just had to.

A is for Advocate. Not only did you step up to be the point person/dancer liason for Backstage Pass, always giving us those great announcements every second Friday of the Rep, but you’ve been our fearless AGMA rep. I know Abby’s already mentioned this, but Barry, you really have been an invaluable and fearless leader in our company. Thank you for standing up for us.  Thank you for never taking that job lightly – ha! If only people could see that notebook of yours! Thank you for asking the difficult questions, for saying the things everyone was feeling but not willing to say themselves…  And this brings me to R.

Resonant… as in loud. As in gregarious and outspoken. Be it written on a T-Shirt, a Facebook post or just simply on your face, you’ve never been one to hide your thoughts, feelings or emotions. Always on the cutting edge, you were into blogging  long before blogging was even big. “Over 400 posts, 25,000 views, and a whole lot’a drama. I’m not one to be quiet.” Well you said it Barry, I didn’t. But I remember a conversation we had a while ago about this “voyeuristic journaling” as I liked to call it, and you told me that people were genuinely interested in you, and your daily life. They found it fascinating… and I can’t say I disagree. In fact, I truly admire your openness with people and how readily you share yourself and your life with others. There truly is no greater gift than giving of yourself and Barry you give this gift often, to me and to everyone you meet. Which brings me to R #2.

Relational. Of all the things that makes you you Barry it’s your deep love for people… for the people in your life. You are unfailingly generous and hospitable, always opening up your home for get –togethers… be it a cocktail party, game night or my personal favorite karaoke. But these little shin-digs are about more than having a good time and a good drink… You really invest yourself, and pour youself out for the people you love. You write handwritten personal notes. You give the most amazing Christmas gifts ever. And you’re always there. To chat with at 2am when venting is oh so necessary, to hug when the tears won’t stop flowing, to drive to the ER and be a 24hr nurse when the poo hits the fan. It’s hard to think of what you wouldn’t do. You are in my mind the definition of a good friend. Of the best friend. Of the kind of friend I wish I were and hope to be.

And now finally to Y – Why do you have to go? Why must things change? But I’m reminded that change is a necessary, an imperative ingredient to growth. For as much as I hate change I hate stagnancy more. And BK I want you to grow! I want you to be the best you can be. And I know you will because unlike me you don’t hate change, but rather you embrace it. You’re constantly looking ahead, evaluating your dreams, goals and desires and following the path that will enable you to achieve them. You’re not afraid. You see life as an adventure and “can’t” is a word that doesn’t exist in your vocabulary.  But I just can’t wait to see all the amazing and wonderful things you will do, because you will do them.

So I guess I shouldn’t be asking why but what… what are we going to do without you? What am I going to do without you? Who’ll be waiting in the stage left wing to catch my enormous airbite and cheer me on in my 20-something snow? Who’ll be up in the therapy room to argue with me about Siberian weather conditions, entertain me with crazy stories of Belltown bus rides, or to talk about our mutual obsession with coffee. And who’ll be there when barre is over to greet me with a smile, a nod and an “eh-oh” every morning?
Oh Barry “I love you” seems too small a phrase to convey how much you mean to me, and what a blessing your friendship has been. And words cannot even begin to express how much I’m going to miss you. But I am so proud of you for following your heart and so excited for this next chapter in your very extraordinary life. Ballet X is so blessed to have you in their company, and we have been privileged to have you in ours. And praise Jesus we’re both Facebook addicts. Seriously. So here’s to you Barry! L’chaim!!!"

So tomorrow... Well if you've read this far down, tomorrow marks Barry's first performance at his new home with BalletX in the city of brotherly love. So BK this is my "merdé" gift to you!!! Dance your heart out friend. I wish I could be there in the audience to cheer you on, but know we are all so proud of you back here in Seattle. Cheers!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Beautiful Ballerinas

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that..."

Ha! I'm wondering how many of you can actually finish this quote... I'm wondering how many of you even know what novel this is from. (Calling all Austen-addicts...)
And while I'm sure I could have a relatively intelligent (animated? amusing?) discussion/blog post on whether or not "a man in possession of a good fortune must really be in want of a wife," that's not the truth I'm referring to here... Move over Jane Austen. Hello Walt Disney! 

It's a small world after all...

This story began one fateful day in November. The exact day I don't remember. And, well, I don't believe in Fate so I guess "fateful" is the wrong word too, but you all get the picture. Maybe "Providential" would be more appropriate. 
At any rate, I was in the back of Studio C watching a run-through of Snow (from PNB's Nutcracker) and behold! In front of me was this beautiful blonde-haired, bright-eyed professional division student who absolutely blew me away with her saut de chat. But it wasn't just that. I don't know... there was just something about her (of course this something would become more than obvious later...) So, using her pointe shoes as an in/excuse, I sort of forced her "under my wing." She graciously complied... 
And her name is Carlie Mills... a.k.a. Briar Rose (because she literally looks like that Sleeping Beauty Disney Princess). 
Fast forward to April, 2011. One day while walking around backstage during a rehearsal for A Midsummer Night's Dream this little Miss Briar Rose came up to me. And with those big ol' Bambi eyes  timidly tapped me on the shoulder and nervously blurted out, "Hey! Jessika! Sooooo... I have a question for you. Umm.... I was wondering if you could help me out with something."
Half-laughing to myself because she seemed almost skittish in approaching me (I don't think I'm that intimidating), I gave her my warmest smile and, trying to put her at ease, said "Absolutely. What's up?"
Fully expecting her to ask me some question about, well, I don't know... how to deal with ingrown toenails or corns, which false eyelashes I use (105 and 111's if you're wondering...), or maybe a question about the choreography, I was totally blown away by what followed.
You see Carlie and I have something else in common (other than both loving ballet and having a flair for the dramatic - you should have seen this girl as Shoe Lady #3 in Cinderella!). We both love Jesus. That's the something I mentioned earlier... the same something, the same Light, which I hope shines from me too!
And this love, this Light shone even more brightly through Carlie when she shared with me a story from the pulpit that had inspired her. The previous Sunday the pastor at her church had spoke of a little girl he'd met in eastern Washington.
Her name is Ella Mae. She's a vibrant, energetic 6-year-old little girl who loves Jesus and ballet too. Ella Mae has big beautiful eyes, the sweetest smile and Spina Bifida... a condition that among other serious medical complications has her in a little walker as she's paralyzed from the waist down. But that doesn't stop Ella Mae! She wants to be a ballerina just like Carlie and me- be it by God's gracious, omnipotent and healing hand or when she's finally at Home with Jesus in Heaven. In a conversation to her little brother Levi (overheard by her Dad) she said,
“Levi, do you know what will make heaven so wonderful?” “What?” he said. “Heaven will be wonderful because there won’t be any walkers, braces, wheelchairs, or Spina Bifida, which means I’ll finally get to run and play with you like I’ve always wanted to do,” —said in her excited voice, as only she can— “and I’ll be able to dance for Jesus too. He’ll love it. He’s amazing you know, and he really likes ballerinas. I can’t dance now because my legs don’t work, but he’ll fix them in heaven, and then I’m gonna dance my heart out. He can’t wait to see me dance.”
 "So I was wondering if you'd be able to help me get Ella Mae tickets to the ballet and maybe a backstage tour?" said Carlie after relating to me this story.
Forget "if." "When"?!!!! 
This was the only question on my mind... Tonight? Tomorrow? Shoot... "Today" wouldn't be soon enough. But the Lord knew...

June. June 11th at 1:15pm to be exact. This was the day I met Ella Mae. Clad in a beautiful pink tutu complete with magenta ballet flats and a glittering tiara too, she arrived in the strong arms of her escort... her very tall and very proud papa, followed by her mama & little brother. And I, dressed in my mismatched ugly orange peasant costume, took them backstage where Carlie met up with us so that Ella Mae could not only meet ballerinas but get the chance to dance on stage too. And boy does this girl have some flair!! She showed me her moves, striking her sweet little poses...  And right before Carlie took them to find their seats for the show, I gave her a couple gifts - a pair of my pointe shoes and a Giselle poster signed by most of the company.
But these gifts were so minimal compared with the gifts I received through this experience.
What a gift it was to not only meet Ella Mae and her amazing family, but to share her story with all the other dancers in the company. Testimonies are powerful - lives lived for Christ - and hers is one that I know the Lord is using in an incredible way to draw people to Himself, even ballerinas. Because as Ella Mae's said, "He really likes ballerinas." And I can't agree more!

But also, what a blessing little Miss Carlie Mills has been to me. She's shown me that a deep love for Jesus and His Kingdom isn't something to just think, talk or blog about... it does! It's active. It doesn't just contemplate conviction, but it takes the tangible steps to serve others.
And what a gift it's been to serve the Body... the bigger Body. Because even though Carlie and I don't attend the same church, we are both a part of the Body of Christ. We both love Jesus and His Kingdom. And in the end that's what it's about. Loving the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself... building up the Body of Christ and furthering His Kingdom.

It's a small world. Had it not been for Carlie I would never have met Ella Mae. But I have been blessed beyond measure by these two beautiful ballerinas. And I thank the Lord for making the world small and bringing them into my life.

There's so much more to this story... I feel like I've only touched the tip of the iceberg with this post. I'd encourage you to listenwatch, or read the sermon that inspired this whole experience along with this follow-up blog post to the sermon written by Ella Mae's dad. And you can follow Ella Mae and her family's adventures here.

But I'll end this long blog post with some photos so you can see and hear that God is good! Enjoy!

PS... Corey Everett Smiley deserves a HUGE shout out... You are the best. Thank you for also being an integral part in orchestrating this Divine appointment!

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Is anyone there?
Am I there? all there?
Ha! Well I think so... I think I made it through this past month in one piece.
Let me tell you... it's been a month.
Can someone explain to me why, if I have less "going on" in my life than I've had in the past couple years, do I feel more overwhelmed than ever before? I mean when I think about all that I used to do... Volunteering in the High School Ministry at my church, leading a discipleship group, being a part of the college ministry leadership team, attending Bible Study Fellowship, taking a college class online, working full-time and somehow managing to have a social life... how in the WORLD did I do it all?!!!
I mean I've winnowed that list down to about half the activities/responsibilities and yet I feel like I'm drowning. I'm stuck playing this game: trying to pick up the pieces of my life that keep falling off the truck in front of me, but when I chuck them back into the truck they just roll right out again... Sometimes I have to run back to grab the few bits I missed- e-mails, phone calls, this blog. Shoot... I haven't even set up the voicemail on my "new" phone. I say "new" because I've had it for like two months. Then again I've never been good about checking my voicemail anyway...
Aren't you supposed to get better at accomplishing more the older you get? I mean at the very least what happened to the time-management skills I somehow, somewhere seemed to have acquired? They must have fallen off the truck first and rolled into a ditch. Haha...

So where do I even start?
Maybe where I left off... yeah. That's probably a good idea.

Well let me begin by saying that I didn't have strep throat. Once again I had some crazy-weird mystery illness. Arrggh. Can you feel my frustration? But nothing in my life is ever "normal" or predictable so I guess I shouldn't expect my biology to be any different.
Needless to say my first week back to work after having to take 3 weeks off was rough. Quite rough. And yes, I had to take the 3 weeks off. Completely off.
What you all didn't know is that in the middle of Midsummer I had to get an MRI done of my left foot. The diagnosis: a stress reaction. Okay so I guess sometimes I do (miraculously) get a definite answer.
But what's a stress reaction? Basically it's a pre-stress fracture... the bone's about to break. But because a break (vacation) was nearing on the horizon I was able to finish A Midsummer Night's Dream with the understanding that I'd rest my foot for the entire 3 weeks, allowing it to heal.

"Okay. No sweat. It's only 3 weeks. My body needs the rest and the Lord's gonna take care of me. I just need to trust Him... Trust that it's been Him who's taken me this far and He'll get me back here again."

I just kept saying this over and over again to myself, hoping that the more I said it the more I'd believe it. And I did believe it. At first. But Worry has a curious way of wriggling himself into my heart.
You see this year has been hands down my best season thus far at PNB. The Lord has opened doors. He's opened eyes. He's given me opportunities, and has helped me improve so much, not only in my technique, but in my confidence and trust too. It's been Him. All Him. I show up. I do what He asks me to, and I work hard at it. But that's so minor compared to the work of His Mighty Hands.
And yet, what do I do? I start worrying that all this hard work that I've done to get here ("filthy rags" as Isaiah terms it) will all be for naught. And yes, if I had done all this- if my worth and identity were founded on this hard work- then there would be cause to worry, and it would all be for naught. But praise the Lord He's Sovereign and Almighty! Praise Him that He's holding me. Praise Him that in all things He works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. And praise Him that He sees and knows my heart. He sees that seed of pride creeping in. He sees me slowly separating myself from Him, trying to do things on my own.  And He knows how to best draw me close to Him.
"I am with you, watching over you constantly. I am Emmanuel (God with you); My Presence enfolds you in radiant Love. Nothing, including the brightest blessings and the darkest trials, can separate you from Me. Some of My children find Me more readily during dark times, when difficulties force them to depend on Me. Others feel closer to Me when their lives are filled with good things. They respond with thanksgiving and praise, thus opening wide the door to My Presence.
I know precisely what you need to draw nearer to Me. Go through each day looking for what I have prepared for you. Accept every event as My hand-tailored provision for your needs. When you view your life this way, the most reasonable response is to be thankful. Do not reject any of My gifts; find Me in every situation." ~ from May 29th in "Jesus Calling"
 I wish I could say I were the latter child mentioned in the quote above, but alas I am not. I am the one who finds Him in times of trial. And what a trial that first week back to work was!
Not only was I sick, but because I took those 3 weeks completely off - no running, no jumping... nothing to keep the muscles in my left ankle strong and sensitive to impact-type motion - my left ankle was dangerously weak and jamming up to the point where I could hardly walk on it.
Frustration soon followed. And then it gave way to despair. But it was the humbling I needed to return to the Lord: to submit to Him, cleave to Him and cry out "I need You! I can't do this by myself. I'm drowning. Save me Lord!"
And He is faithful. He rescues us. He rescued me.
It's been a humbling month. It's been a challenging month... and this is only one part of it. I've longed for the summer sunshine (weather-wise and life-wise), but all I've had is grey clouds and raindrops... And yet sometimes God's "blessings come through raindrops." The darkness and the sunshine... they're both gifts from our Father. So I thank Him for the grey clouds, the raindrops and for nearly drowning. I cling to and claim the promises of His Word... that the good work He's begun in me, HE will bring to completion. And I keep my eyes open for all those rays of sunshine He brings me each day- both big and small.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Jessika Christine Anspach on the couch.

Disclaimer: I apologize in advance if this post makes little sense... you'll soon understand why.

It's Friday May 6th. It's Friday... the last Friday of my three weeks off. It's Friday and what do twenty-something single people do on a Friday night? Well I think they go out... I think
But what am I doing? I'm laying on the couch, staring blankly at the computer whilst occasionally slipping off into Dreamland for a half-hour or two. Well that's just what happens when you have a slight fever and strep throat. On my last weekend of vacation. Great timing I know... 
I guess it's a good thing I don't like going out anyway. Even on a Friday night.

And as I lay here in a state of slight delirium I find myself stuck in my own head. Asking questions. All sorts of questions. Some silly, some serious; some with answers and some without. 
What time is it? How long did I sleep? Should I do homework? Do I want to do homework? Orange or green jello? What's for dinner? Ha! That's a question I ask every night. Rarely do I have the answer.
Who am I, where am I and how'd I get here?
Jessika Christine Anspach on the couch. 
This of course is the obvious answer. But as always I'm not asking the obvious question.
Who am I, where am I and how'd I get here?

Recently I cleared out an old storage unit and in a box found the amazing photo album/scrapbook my mom made me for my 16th birthday. After perusing photos of little Sika, I found myself searching the face my eyes met in the mirror. Where is that little girl? She must be hiding in there somewhere... 
There are those eyes... 

...and the enormous shades she liked to hide them under. 

Well some things never change...

But how'd she become me? And how'd I get here anyway? 
Life doesn't always turn out the way we picture it. Ha! Or at least it hasn't turned out the way I'd pictured it. 
Along with the photo album, I discovered other jewels in that previously hidden box of treasures: projects I did in my 8th grade and sophomore Health classes. Similar assignments asked me where I saw myself by my 10-year High School reunion. 
According to the very practical and conventional 8th grade Jessika I'd be a Seattle Pacific University grad, majoring in Interior Design and minoring in English (yes... I had already chosen my minor). I'd meet my future husband at college, get married at 25 (like my mom) and I'd have a family. I'd either be an interior designer (again like my mom) or a screenplay writer. Okay, well most of it was "very practical."
The funny thing is from this little Health class project you'd never know how hard I was working to achieve my dream. It was a very common little girl dream - to become a professional ballerina. And while I was full of desire and determination I think part of my heart put little stock in it. Someone once told me "Never get your hopes up; then you'll never be disappointed,"and by this motto I subconsciously protected my heart. And besides, dreams don't really come true... that's the stuff of Fairy Tales and Disney movies, right? 
By my sophomore year I'd allowed my dreams to seep in a little more, but I still had a back-up plan for the back-up plan if you know what I mean. These are the collages I created for the covers of this project:

On each was written: 
"By my ten-year reunion, a goal I have is to be a professional ballerina. I would love to be at Pacific Northwest Ballet or SanFrancisco Ballet, but any company would be just great! I have worked for so long to achieve this goal, but if it doesn't happen I won't be too disappointed, because it's a hard profession to achieve." 
"My goal by my ten-year reunion is to be in a relationship. I don't expect to be married, although it would be nice, but a good relationship or have had a relationship is a goal of mine." 
Like I said, life doesn't always turn out the way we imagine it will. I'm 26, I live at home and I still don't even have my A.A. let alone a degree in Interior Design from SPU. Shoot! I'm not even going for Bachelors of Arts anymore... And as for the whole "relationships" thing... well I still have two years. Ha ha!
If I measured my life according to my 8th grade expectations I would have utterly failed.
"But I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." For "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines His steps."
See I had expectations in mind, but the Lord had other ideas. He's in the business of making the impossible possible. He truly does give us the desires of our heart when we seek Him with all our heart. And He does this to bring glory to Himself, not by our might but by His!
So who am I and how'd I get here?
I'm Jessika Christine Anspach, a ballerina, daughter of the Most High God and I'm still on the couch.
"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen!" ~ Ephesians 3:20-21

Friday, April 29, 2011

Blog blah blah blah

A blog? What!? I have one of those things?
And wait... you mean I'm supposed to write entries for it? Frequently? I can't just abandon it and let it fend (okay, "write") for itself?

I think the better question is have I abandoned it?
"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"
Well if it looks like it, smells like it and taste like it, it probably is it... meaning if I even have to ask that question there's probably a problem.
And by the way I think I'm totally misusing that quote above about the trees... but a) I like trees, b) I think it makes me sounds smarter and c) if out of my disgusting negligence in the up-keep of this blog I've lost all readers I guess said quote would apply... If there aren't readers than is there anyone to witness this attempt at blog-ressusitation?

Well at any rate the near death of this blog was not due to a lack of inspiration. Believe me, I've had plenty of inspiration! So much has happened in the last 6 weeks... shoot in the last two months that I hardly know where to begin. My problem is not that there's nothing to say, rather there's too much. The Adventures of Jesus and Jessika continues... Ha ha!! But what's new? Honestly, I've come to regard the "drama" as, well, a friend (dare I say it...). Instead of cringing as I see drama approach I've learned to embrace it. I can't believe I'm saying this... But drama (I prefer to call it adventure) certainly makes life interesting. It can be a little dull when everything's just dandy.

But my inspiration doesn't just come from the drama (adventure) of my life. I do have other sources... Books, songs, new artists, new websites... my curious observations/running commentary on the many narratives in A Midsummer Night's Dream (the ballet we just finished performing). Of course there's always the endless lessons the Lord's been teaching me. And within each of these branches exist a dozen different rabbit trails I could go down.

So which trail am I going to blaze through tonight? Well the trail blazing is gonna have to wait till tomorrow... it's late (well early) and I have a wedding to watch.
Me thinks the post-mortem post (or post-resurrection?) will have something to do with white gowns and all-things wedding.
Aw... but I can't leave you with nothing (not that all this is nothing!). Here's a song by an artist I just discovered that I'm totally obsessed with. Here name is JJ Heller - her voice is heavenly and her songs are divine! In particular, the lyrics in this song "Small" say so much of what the Lord's been teaching me this year... To not keep Him in a box, but to truly live Luke 1:37:
"For nothing is impossible with God."

Saturday, April 2, 2011

An Internal Struggle

Dear Body,

Would you please stop screaming at me? There's absolutely no need to shout... I can hear you just fine.
And to be quite frank I'd appreciate it if you'd stop. This incessant whining isn't getting either of us anywhere. I mean we're both mature... I know, I know... you hate it when I call you "mature." Well I didn't say "old" did I? Though sometimes you look a bit decrepit and can act like a cantankerous old crow... Did I say that? Whoops... I meant to keep that one to myself. Guess it just slipped out. Sorry.
But my point is fighting in this childish manner isn't going to get us anywhere, and your constant nagging and complaining only exacerbates things. In other words: you're not helping.
Body, we need to work together. We're a team. Remember?! It's you and me.
I know I've been hard on you lately, with all the demands I've loaded on your plate... You were such a trooper, rising to the challenge of learning and performing Marco Goecke's Place a Chill with so little actual rehearsal time in the last Rep. And then to flip a switch like you have, transitioning from contemporary ballet to classical overnight, and putting together A Midsummer Night's Dream in 4 days?! I couldn't ask for more!
I mean who could blame you for looking a little tired and weather-beaten? And I'm not saying you look bad... but, well, you need some rest. Shoot! We both could use some rest.
So for both our sakes, could you give it a rest and let me go to sleep right now? Pretty please? I'll love you forever if you'll just grant me this one request. I promise I won't neglect you tomorrow. We'll spend some quality time together... just the two of us. How does that sound? Good?
Well goodnight Body. We'll talk tomorrow. Thanks for hanging in there and calming down a little. You're doing a great job. It's okay... everyone has a freak-out every once in a while. Don't worry about it. Now you rest up, 'cause you deserve it!


Your Better Half (a.k.a. the rest of Jessika)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rewind. Review. Redeem.

Goodness gracious me! Is March really almost over? Where'd the time go?What a crazy past couple weeks, months... Ha! For that matter, what a crazy year it's been!
It's hard to believe I've been writing this blog for over a year now. Wow... and to think how absolutely opposed I was to starting it in the first place...
As many of you know, I'm an avid and somewhat prolific journaler (and if you didn't know, well, now you do!).
I have a whole drawer full of notebooks - hundreds of pages that are covered in my cursive scribble. But my journals aren't really a "Dear diary" sort of thing - rather the "Dear Heavenly Father," kind. But I don't know if I'd specifically label them "prayer" journals... They are prayers. And yet they're more than prayers... These journals are full of letters to my Papa God (a.k.a. Abba Father).
But how many of you have gone back and re-read e-mails (since no one handwrites letters anymore) you've sent? I'm guessing not many. Well the same is true of me and my letters to my Father.
I probably should. I'm sure it would be beneficial. No. More than beneficial... I'd get to see written testimony of prayers answered and character refined. But that's the kicker. In order to have character refined, you have to go from something bad to something better.
Now don't get me wrong... this isn't a Sika Pity-Party. But I'm just stating the fact that re-reading my journal is, in a word, painful. Maybe painfully embarrassing would be a better description. Reading all the silliness - the trivial and frivolous cares, desires and internal dialogue that took place in my heart and mind - and seeing that so many times Jesus was talking to me when He asked the disciples, "Where is your faith?", well it makes me blush just thinking about it.
And yet, those things weren't "trivial" or "frivolous" when I wrote them.
Instead of being ashamed of where I've been I should rejoice in where I am, rejoicing in the transformation that's come from the Spirit and being refined in the furnace of these "trivial" and "frivolous" afflictions.
So praise Jesus for this blog! Ha ha... I can't believe I'm praising Jesus for a blog! And yet that's exactly what's happening. Why? Because it's basically an easy access journal. A lot like my letters to Papa God, this blog contains many of the struggles I've faced, the lessons I've learned and the victories I've experienced, but written much more thoughtfully (and legibly). And besides, it's a lot less embarrassing to re-read. I can just go to the side bar and click on the same month last year and see where I was at - what I was going through, what the Lord was teaching me etc. And I have to say it's encouraging...
An example: Last February we were performing The Sleeping Beauty... this February it was Cinderella. Both are story ballets. In both ballets I got to dance a solo. Then I struggled with fear, insecurity, and wrestled with the fact that I only got one show of the Fairy of Wit. This year I confidently asked to learn the Season Autumn, and trusted the Lord would provide, and boy did He ever! One show? Try two! Similar situations and yet the manner in which they were handled couldn't have been more different.
Rewind, review and redeem... that's what it feels like. I re-read my blog posts and see the character refined. I see prayers answered. I see myself being transformed. And I humbly rejoice.

Thank You Papa God for Your Spirit. Thank You Papa God for this blog.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Waiting Room Toys...

Searching the giant pockets of my toggle coat, miraculously, and I mean miraculously, I found seven dollars. I never carry cash, and if I do it's like a ten or a twenty. But I didn't have time to recognize let alone thank the Lord for this mini miracle. Nope. I was late...
Running down Madison in my Hunters, frustrated at the two street parking meters that wouldn't read my debit card, my eyes anxiously glanced upward. 
I was running late; who knows how late my dermatologist was running... But thankfully someone, or something else was running late too... the snow. The last I'd heard, forecasters predicted "white death"'s (thanks Mike Harvey) e.t.a. would be at 2pm. It was now 2:31 with not a flake to be found. 
Walking down the hallway I entered the office, checked in at the front desk and surprise, surprise, the receptionist asked me to take a seat... it appeared they were at least one patient behind schedule. 
And right next to my chair sat this... Maybe you've seen it before - I believe they're quite popular with preschools and pediatric offices the world (or at least the U.S.) over.

According to a toddler toy website
"The Original Anatex wooden Rollercoaster bead maze was introduced in homes, doctor's offices, classrooms and daycare centers in 1982. Anatex bead mazes promote the development of fundamentals like hand eye coordination, color and shape recognition, sorting and counting."
Ha! Well I can't vouch for the "hand eye coordination" (at least on my part), but "1982" explains why this wooden wire rollercoaster's synonymous with my childhood doctor visits. 
According to my Momma I wasn't a sickly kid, but with my little brother being a) a boy and b) Mr. Accident Prone (seriously I think he's broken every finger at least once), he was in the doctor's office more often than my mom would like. And when Barret went so Jessika followed (and vise versa). 
I remember the giant fish tank that was in the middle of the room, and the mini fort-like jungle gym? I'm not even sure it was large enough to be called a "jungle gym," but I lack the vocabulary, and quite frankly the motivation to find a better word, so... I'm sure you know what I mean. But the not-a-jungle-gym isn't what this post is about... it's about the Anatex wooden Rollercoaster bead maze. 
Well I'd finished reading the testimonial posters on the wall, circa 1987, on hair loss repair and the pitfalls of suntanning (didn't know hair loss fell under the dermatology umbrella), and my attention turned back to the mess of wires on the floor that seemed so utterly out of place in a dermatologist office.
Looking down I remembered. And then I thought. 
I remembered playing with the beads on their perspective tracks. Most of the kids liked the orange or green track... you know the ones that swirled up high and dipped down low - generally the qualities that make any rollercoaster a good rollercoaster. And then I laughed to myself, because in typical Jessika fashion, even as a little girl I went against the grain. I defied the conventional orange-green favorites and opted for the milder red wire track. It wasn't the "lamest" by any means (that award goes to blue), but it was pretty even-keeled. Rising to a medium height it seemed to cruise between the different tracks, swerving to the right or the left but always on its same plane. I guess it kind of reminded me of the Monorail, riding smoothly and calmly through the city. Not a lot of highs, and not a lot of lows. 
And then I got to thinking... 
Life. There's a green track and an orange track. One minute you're riding high, looping and swirling above the rest only to slide down that wire all the way to the bottom. I think we've all been there. No explanation needed. 
But the thing I realized is that life isn't just a green track or an orange track. It's a green, and an orange, and a red track... shoot even that lame blue track's there. They're all those different components that make up our life: relationships, jobs, family and friends, health, faith. They're all different colored wires on the wooden frame that's you, that's me. 
Well my life, much like the weather we've been having has been quite unpredictable. One minute it's sunny blue skies and the next snow's about to wreak havoc on the icy roads. Okay that's a bit dramatic, but it's definitely been a rollercoaster. Particularly my "work" track. I can't decide if it's orange or green. 
But you know what? Praise the Lord I have a red track in my life. And what might that red track be? Well it's my faith track - my relationship my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And that wire isn't flimsy aluminum, but reinforced steel! It won't break. Sure it wavers to the left and right from time to time, but it's constant. It's steady. And when one track (or all tracks) are down low my faith, that's anchored in something stronger than myself, is there. Jesus is there. And life is good - come sunshine or snow. 
Life is great. 
And I am thankful. 

So what's you're red track? Is it strong enough to handle the ups and downs of all the others? You can trust Jesus, the Rock. He is steady and forever faithful. I hope you'll make Him you're red track too. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Well I think the title says it all, that is if you can decipher my made-up word.
I don't know if any of you have ever checked out the links on my sidebar titled "Friends and Favorites" (if you haven't you should). Well let's say, hypothetically, you went over and clicked on The inspiration (of course don't do this till after you've read the whole post)... You'd be instantly transported to a magical site- one where handmade and vintage goodness abound.
Basically an indie ebay, Etsy is a host site for individual "boutiques" if you will - people's personal stores that feature either handmade, homemade or vintage goods. And good they are!
You could spend hours (and by you I mean I) browsing "suggested shops" in search for the perfect cardigan, painting, headband... well, you name it. Etsy's sure to have it! And everything (for the most part) is quite reasonably priced. So in the click of a mouse you could have an outfit that might easily be mistaken for one that came from The addiction, but that cost considerably less coin.
And since recently I've been stuck at home, due in part to snow and injury (not my injury but my sweet Momma who broke her foot), without homework to do I've found myself browsing quite a bit. Here are the things I'm salivating over...

Well, a girl can dream right?

Thank you Etsy and all the amazing virtual "shop keepers" that find and create all these beautiful works of art... Okay the Pelican t-shirt is hardly a work of art, but the Tranquility Band... now that's true craftsmanship! To find these items and much much more click on the links below. And I hope Etsy inspires you too!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Flowers and Valentines Day

10, 11, 12, 13...
So what comes after 13? Well any kindergartner would tell you "14, stupid!" And so it is...
February 14th. Monday. First day of the week. First day of my week long break. I woke up, and other than the fact that I slept in a little, it seemed pretty ordinary. Nothing special, right?
I just needed to pick up some protein bars. That was it. But walking into Whole Foods I unknowingly entered an abyss of pink and red. Buckets and buckets of roses surrounded me. Boxes of chocolates, candies, plushy, heart-shaped everything abounded. Fortunately enough my gag-reflex was suppressed by, of all things, laughter. And why you ask? Because alongside this sea of roses was a sea of men
I'd recalled what Michael, my favorite Metropolitan Market barista, had said the day before regarding this day of days: 
"It makes women crazy, and the poor guys come in bewildered and just plop down their cash." 
And that's what I saw... men lined up to have their roses arranged, wearing an expression of part daze, part duty, and part delight. 

If you can't tell I'm really not a fan of Valentine's Day. 

I hate pink, I don't like hearts and if I'm going to be brutally honest P.D.A. makes me a little uncomfortable. It's really quite odd though because I'm pretty sure there's a hopeless romantic in there somewhere. If you could only see my DVD collection... But there've been times when I've seriously wondered if my heart were made of warm flesh or icy stone. And yet I know it must be, it is the former.
See my story is much like my little friend Much-Afraid, from Hinds Feet on High Places. Remember her? It's been a while... We're on this journey to the High Places - the Kingdom of Love where the Great Shepherd and his Father reign. However, in order to become a citizen of the Kingdom of Love the flower of Love must have blossomed in our heart. And it has to be the real deal! No carnation, no rose... but true Love. And yet imposter's abound. 
"I think what is growing there is a great longing to experience the joy of natural, human love and to learn to love supremely one person who will love me in return. But perhaps that desire, as natural as it seems, is not the Love of which you are speaking?" She paused and then added honestly and tremblingly, "I see the longing to be loved and admired growing in my heart, Shepherd, but I don't think I see the Love you are talking about, at least, nothing like the love which I see in you."
 True Love is not the kind you see in chick flicks, fairy tales or even (dare I say it) Valentines Day greeting cards. It requires risk - real risk where you're very vulnerable- vulnerable to hurt, heartache and pain. And pain is not so pleasant.
"But it is so happy to love," said the Shepherd quietly. "It is happy to love even if you are not loved in return. There is pain too, certainly, but Love does not think that very significant."
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay his life down for his friends." We have a Good Shepherd, and He has laid His life down for the sheep. His was the ultimate pain.
So did Much-Afraid and I risk the pain and heartache to have the seed of Love planted so the flower might blossom in our hearts? Well I'll share with you a little secret: He's promised to love me in return, with an everlasting love. And you know, "he who promised is faithful..."
So risk it we did! He has planted the seed of Love, true Love for Him, in my heart and it's scary and sometimes it hurts, but really "it is so happy to love."
And like the buckets of flowers that the sea of men were buying at Whole Foods today, the flower of Love is blossoming and blooming in my heart - even on Valentines Day.

But one question (of more importance than all else written above) remains: Is true Love planted in your heart? Are you blooming? Just ask the Good Shepherd. He'll plant it there.