Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An extra day

I'm so behind! By Monday of next week I need to have 12 blog posts written for 2012. So far I have 9... This is the tenth. 
And it's already Wednesday.

And it's the end of February. February 29th. An extra day. The Lord knows I need it. 
I just had a conversation with a friend about time. How there's never enough... at least it feels like that. Too many things on the check list. Too many things that don't get checked off. It can feel frustrating. Really frustrating. I hate feeling like I'm always catching up with time. Why can't time catch up to me for once, huh? Ha! Now that would be amazing!

Well in the end I guess it comes down to priorities and grace. Putting first those things that are most important, having grace for myself when some of the others melt into tomorrow, and trusting God's grace is sufficient for me. He will make a way for me to accomplish all that He has on my to do list for Today. I just need to seek Him first. 
And lately that's been first thing in the morning, with my cup of coffee and my BSF lesson. But there's something you should know about me... I'm not a morning person. I repeat: I am not a morning person. 
Saying this has been a struggle is a severe understatement. But it's something the Lord's been working on me for a long time. Finally I just gave up. I gave in. And I got going. And believe me there are some days when I think there's no way I'm going to finish my Bible study questions for the day and still make it to my 10:15am company class on time. Like no way. 
But I put the Lord first. After all He is my Lord. He deserves my first, my best. And He is the Author of time... of all things. And I trust Him. I trust that He will honor this decision. Of course I have to use the common sense He gave me too. I can't wake up at 10 and think, "Well the Lord's just gonna push the "pause" button on time so that I can do my BSF, eat breakfast, shower, brush my teeth and drive to work, still getting there in time." Yeah, no. 
But I will say I have seen His miraculous hand at work, stretching time if you will. I mean there's really no other way to explain it. I'll look at the clock in my car and think there's no way I'm making it, and then low and behold I pull up to the Phelps Center with minutes to spare. Like a couple minutes, but still... it doesn't make it any less miraculous. 

I know I need to be better about getting up earlier. Getting to work earlier. But baby steps people! 
I'm just thankful that the Lord allows me to see His tangible miraculous hand of grace at work in my life, even in my most mundane needs. And that He truly does honor those who honor Him. 
He can stretch time. He gives us extra minutes. He gives us an extra day.

Thanks Lord for Leap Day!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wacky weather

Well it's been quite a week. It's been quite a weekend.

Right now I'm sitting in Starbucks and the sun is streaming in through the window warming my face and blinding my eyes. I mean typing is a bit of a challenge.
But oddly enough earlier this morning I had to call my dad to come and rescue me. Literally I was "hailed" in. Within a matter of minutes we had a solid inch of ice-pellets covering our driveway and lane. I mean seriously?! I pulled my car out of the garage went 2 yards and then backed in back in because I wasn't going anywhere.
"Well looks like I'm walking to church today, or just calling it quits."
Calling my dad instead to see how the rest of the greater Eastside fared, he sounded really confused...
"What hail? What are you talking about Jessika? I'm on my way home. I've gotta pick up the truck... I'll be there in a couple minutes."
I asked him if he could pick me up and drive me to church and he said that would be fine.
Well sure enough he figured it out.

It was the craziest thing. Hopping in the truck he turned the windshield wipers on which created a giant pile of that white stuff as a buffer between the blades and the wiper-well. Wheels spinning we just barely make it up the bunny slope that is our lane.
Dad's laughing.
I still don't get it.

Turning on to the main street we literally go one block. One. Block.
Not a single ice pellet or white fleck to be found. It was as if the heavens opened up and released all it's fury right over my home. Just like a comic - You know... the raincloud (hail storm in our case) following a single person. I kid you not. It was weird.

But I made it to church. A little late, but I made it nonetheless. And it was great. The message was one that the Lord has been hitting home these days

So what was this crazy-amazing message that someone didn't want me to hear?

Without love I am nothing. It doesn't matter what I do, or what I say, if love isn't before, behind, above, below, inside and all around it then it's meaningless. Utterly.
But more importantly, if I'm not receiving love, true love, Jesus's love, then I'm absolutely incapable of doing any of this.

So in this Lenten season, I'm giving up. Thats it. Giving up and letting the Lord in. Letting Him really love me. Sounds crazy I know. Why wouldn't I? Why haven't I?
The truth is I have. But there's always room to grow.
Room to bloom.
After all, Spring is on it's way... Hail can't change that.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Me & My Imagination

So I kind of have this problem. Well it's actually not really a problem per se. But like most things it can be a blessing or get me in to tons of trouble.

My Imagination.

It was the same when I was a little girl. It helped me out when I was in time-out. Mom would sit me in a chair facing the corner and inevitably I'd stay sitting there longer than my allotted time - the just punishment for my crime. But the real question is was sitting in a corner, taking a "time out" really punishment?
I'd sit there watching the shadows the afternoon light cast as it gleamed through the windows and see images or people in them... much like you would with big cumulous clouds in the sky. I'd make up stories about these shadow people, or I'd make up stories about myself. That I was princess stuck on a high pedestal, placed there by an evil queen and I was waiting for my prince to come and rescue me. Looking back I pity the "evil queen." Trying to discipline me must have been a frustrating task to be sure!
And while my imagination kept me company, I think that, in and of itself was (and is) a bit of a problem.

Still to this day I amuse myself with creating scenarios in my head involving people in my life. Imagining situations and playing them out like a movie reel in my mind. Over-dramatizing. Living in a dream world. I think the technical term is "daydreaming"? No wonder I got the nickname "Spacey." Ha! I don't think I've grown out of it...
I remember the first time I watched the movie Amelie. My jaw was dropped the entire time because I felt like I was watching a movie about myself. It was me. Well, other than the fact that I'm not an only child, I'm not French, I don't have brown eyes or a cute dark brown bob, and I don't work in a sweet cafe serving cafe au laits. But other than that... Haha!
Well crazy imaginations are cute in movies, but in real life... um, yeah.
I think maybe this is why the Lord gave me the gift of writing... to channel all this misguided creativity.

But I still do catch myself every once in a while... I'll hear a song that will make me see a scene of my life as if it were a movie... You know you've done it before!  Created a soundtrack to your life...

Well recently I came across this song and I kind of fell in love with it. It definitely stirred my imagination, but not necessarily in a bad way...
So, if my life were ever made into a movie, I, Jessika Christine Anspach have decided that this song would be the music playing during its preview. Not my theme song, but perfect for the preview.

So what's the title of your life movie? What's your preview song? Got a soundtrack for your life? Let your imagination run wild with it... just be sure you can reign it in.

And if you think I'm crazy and have no clue what I'm talking about watch this little clip from Amelie and you'll get the idea...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Soup for Supper

So last night I made dinner.
I know... kind of a miracle.

For those of you who don't quite understand the latter statement I rarely cook. Seriously. If you asked me what I ate on a regular basis I'd probably furrow my brow, scratch my head and look up to the sky. It's kind of appalling. Especially considering that:
a) I'm a professional athlete who needs to take the utmost care of my body and
b) that I do love food, love to cook and am kind of a "foodie" if you will.
So I'll admit it is a bit strange that I have a hard time answering the question, "What do you usually eat?"
If protein bars and coffee were food groups I'd be doing really well.
Wow. That's kind of sick... Don't get me wrong I don't just eat those things, but they seem to be my go-to/common denominator foods. That is if you can call them "food."
But I will say it is hard as a busy single person to find the time, more importantly the desire, to cook for myself. By the time I figure out what I want to eat, go to the grocery store, buy the food, get home, prep it, and then finally cook it... Shoot! It's like 9pm and I'm not even hungry anymore. And I have a mountain of leftovers that just sits in my fridge and molds. I haven't done a cost-analysis but part of me wonders if it really is that much more economical to eat at home or just buy the PCC pre-made chicken ceasar salad.

But... I know it's better to eat real food versus preservative-laden bars. And someday I may actually have to cook for a family. Fancy that?! So I'd better at least get a little practice in. That might be good.

And I am a pretty good cook if I don't say so myself.

So this weekend Mom and Dad had been working really hard to get a rental unit of ours ready... I mean it was like Extreme Home Makeover, but Anspach family style. We're a little crazy. At any rate, they'd been busting their butts and were really tired. Dad usually cooks us a nice family Sunday dinner, but I took it upon myself to take charge in this kitchen this weekend. We'd planned on having a nice yummy pot roast, but by the time I got home it was too late to get that going. So I just scoured our fridge and pantry for ingredients to throw into my Le Crueset Dutch oven for a yummy soup. It was a challenge.
No chicken broth. No meat or sausage that wasn't frozen except a package of bacon. No canned tomatoes. Just 5 strips of bacon, one can of white beans, one potato, an onion, some carrots and garlic, white wine and rosemary. But that's all I needed.
In the end I created a version of a soup that strangely reminded me of a childhood favorite: Campbell's Bean with Bacon Soup.
My mom used to make that for us all the time. It was a staple, much like fish sticks, canned peas and Oreida Oven fries, or toasted PB & J. Breakfast for dinner was always a hit too. And we did like toasted English Muffins with tunafish and sliced apples. Mom was quite the gourmet! Haha!

But this soup I made last night was anything but Campbell's. It was quite tasty if I don't say so myself. And I didn't spend a dime! Maybe I'll have to try this challenge more often... Hmm... I guess we'll see.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A day for love

Well Valentines Day was yesterday... And to be honest I'd almost completely forgotten about it. To me it was pretty much just a Tuesday.
Actually I was pretty proud of myself because usually I'm a total hater on this Hallmark holiday. But this year instead of ranting and scoffing at the silliness/bordering on ridiculousness of the red and pink sights that accosted my eyes, I chose to smile. To be happy for all those people who were updating their Facebook statuses with date night plans. Good for them! Hope they had fun.

Instead this year I tried to be aware of those around me who don't have anyone. As I ran my various errands yesterday I became increasingly aware of all the lonely faces. The downcast ones. The burdened was. The ones with sad expressions. And each one pierced my heart.
I've been there. I know what that feels like. It sucks. A lot.

There always seems to be this feeling of the Haves and the Have-Nots on Valentines Day and you're either on one team or the other. I've always hated this. Why can't everyone be on the same team? Why the division? Why the exclusion?

Well it doesn't have to be that way. Valentines Day is a day that's all about love, right? Well I've said this before... I think it's silly that we need a day to celebrate the love we have for one another. If you love someone, be it a husband, a wife, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a family member, a friend... whoever, you should let them know every day that you love them.
But the other thing I think I've not only come to understand, but really truly experience is this:
There is Someone who always loves me. No matter what. Whether I'm wearing nasty sweats or look like a million bucks He thinks I'm beautiful. There is Someone who pursues me passionately... better than the best looking guy in any romantic movie. He's my knight in shining armor who comes and saves me. Shoot! He's even got a white horse!

Who is this Someone? His name is Jesus. He's really wonderful. And I'm so thankful He loves me, and that I can be in a relationship with Him. He's my Valentine. Sounds cheesy, but I am cheesy. And besides... it's the truth.
"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also to love one another." ~ 1 John 4:9-11

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Springtime Inspired

So much for blogging more! Wow. I'm really failing at this. Things have been crazy busy. It's not that I haven't been writing... I have! They're just papers and e-mails. I mean I suppose I could just copy and paste snippets from these essay's I've been writing, but somehow that feels like cheating.

Anyway, Don Quixote went off splendidly! Lots of energy, lots of clapping. Lots of costume changes and wigs. Yes... I did say wigs. If you haven't bought your tickets for this incredible production do it! They're selling out fast, but I hear the matinee shows still have some decent seats available.

But dancing, and Don Q are not what this blog post was going to be about. In fact, it wasn't really going to be about anything much other than springtime inspiration. I had the past Monday and Tuesday off after our first weekend of shows. My weekend was really the week-beginning. And what a beautiful beginning it was! 66˚F and I'm ready for spring! Bring it on!! Too bad we're still in the middle of winter. But a girl can still dream.

So here's what springtime inspired in me... Hope they inspire you to sunnier days, at the very least some sunshine on the inside.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Why I want to be a Parent - Part I

So last weekend I went to this birthday party... The last birthday party I went to was for myself. I threw it. It's kind of become a tradition... An elaborate tradition that's happened every other year. Granted I've only done it twice... once for my big two-five, and then again this year for my 27th birthday. Does that qualify as a "tradition"?

Well it's a themed 4-course dinner party, complete with handmade invitations, menus and an immaculately set table. The truth is it's an excuse to use the fine china and stemware I bought for myself, and to cook some really delicious food. Food that I want to cook. Goodness! I sound really selfish... but it is my party... I can cook what I want to.

At any rate, these days adult birthday parties are few and far between... unless it's a milestone number. The birthday parties I go to now are for all the babies my friends are having.
Can I actually be entering this stage of my life? My friends are all having kids. And they're kids are having birthday parties. This is crazy.

So this past Saturday it was little Miss Josie Juliana Cappelletti that was celebrating her first birthday. It was her party and she could have cried if she wanted to, but miraculously I don't think she did (at least while I was there). And the McEliece home was filled with little ones. Lots of little ones.

A part of me felt utterly overwhelmed with the constant level of semi-chaos that ensued all evening and the amount of energy that all these bundles of joy contain. And another part of me thought, "Jessika, you'd better get on it!" Haha!
Btw little Miss Josie's Mama is an amazing photgrapher.
Click here to view her amazing work

It is a tremendous honor to be a parent. It's one of the hardest jobs out there... I've seen it stretch my friends, growing them in patience and love like nothing else in this world. It's a huge responsibility, and can be challenging, frightening and sometimes heartbreaking. But it also is a privilege and a joy beyond anything I can understand right now. Truly I can't comprehend it. But I'm excited for it. One day.

Besides, little kids are just awesome! I loved being a little kid. I always wished I could go to Never-Never Land, not to avoid responsibilities, but because I just loved playing imaginary games, having amazing made up adventures in my backyard with my brother and the neighbor kids, or putting on talent shows. I think it was my favorite time of life thus far. I'm excited to go through this again with my own kids one day...

A friend/co-worker of mine showed me this video on You Tube, and it made me even more excited to be a parent. I guess these dads, who are all friends/brothers, have their kids make up these stories and they video record them as they tell their "kid histories" ... think mad-libs style. And then they (the adult men) act out their kids' stories. It's ingenious. It's hilarious. I want to do this with my kids... One reason (of many) why I want to be a parent some day.
Hope you enjoy this little video. And if you're a parent, aunt, uncle, cousin, what have you... I hope you cherish those little bundles of joy in your life. They are such a blessing!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

good. Great. better. Best. And Rest.

Hello all! Boy it sure has been a busy month. Is it really February already? I mean really?! I was just getting used to writing 1/2012. Now I've gotta change it again? Well I have some good news, great news, better news and best news for you all.

So good news: I'm back taking the the third and final installment in the Creative Non-Fiction Writing course offered through Bellevue College, so you can expect a lot of blogging from me over the next couple months (since yes, I am graded on it...). Hopefully this just get's me in the swing of things and I can ride on the wave of this good habit: writing writing writing!

Great news: PNB's U.S. premiere of Don Quixote premieres in just a couple days!!! We have two full hair, makeup and costume dress rehearsals which means a long day for me, but an exciting one nonetheless. I promise you you'll be hearing about this soon! 

Better news: Since last July I've been privileged to be a part of the planning committee for my church's upcoming Women's Retreat. And with all that's happened the past couple months... wait. No. One month Jessika. It's only been one month. Anyway, with all that's happened between school starting, Don Q premiering, and Grandpa in the hospital I'm gonna need this getaway with God and my gal-pals to the lovely Leavenworth, WA. So the post below is something I wrote for the Retreat blog that I thought I'd share here, really because I liked it, and I hope it inspires anyone who reads this blog to sign up and come too. 

But the best news: God is GREAT! Grandpa Fred continues to get stronger. There are still bumps in the road... We found out yesterday that he has pneumonia and may need a pacemaker, but these aren't epic concerns. Of course my family and I would still appreciate and covet your prayers for him and us, but, well all I can say is praise Jesus, my Rock, my Redeemer, my Savior and my King! What a kind, compassionate, loving and faithful God we serve! His blessings overwhelm me. His Presence fills me with His enduring hope and perfect peace. 

Grandpa Fred with Uncle Kyle & Auntie Lindsay.
Two thumbs up Grandpa!!! You got this! No. God's got this!

So without further adieu, here is the little bit I wrote about why you women (sorry guys) should come for a weekend getaway... Read it and see if you don't agree with me. But more importantly sign up! Registration closes this weekend. That means SUNDAY. 4 days. You can click here to sign up. I promise you, you won't regret it!

Well 2012 is well underway. And so is our planning for Delight in you, Westminster Chapel's Women's retreat. It's been two years since we've had a women's retreat and I have to say I'm really looking forward to it. Really looking forward.
I don't know about you, but I'm feeling pretty spent these days. I guess the holidays will do that. And truthfully, 2012 hasn't been off to the glittering start that the New Years always seems to promise. In fact it's been a very hard 11 days. With a loved one in the hospital, winter quarter at Bellevue College beginning, and work amping up, I find that all I want - all I crave is rest.
Doesn't that sound good?
I can't be the only one out there who feels this way...
I think that's why I'm so excited for this retreat.
A retreat is by definition "an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous or disagreeable," and boy has this year ever been difficult thus far. But running away from your problems never solves anything, right? Inevitably you return home and there they are, waiting for you at your front door.
But there's another definition for retreat...
"a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study or instruction..." 
You see, I'm not running away from what's difficult, dangerous or disagreeable in my life... I'm running toward something. I'm running to the only One who can actually help me with the challenges I face in life. I'm running to the big, strong embrace of Christ. And in Him I can find rest. In Him I can find peace. In Him I can find power, strength and direction to deal with all that waits for me back at home.
And the great thing is I'm not the only one running. I'm not alone. I've got some great company. Hopefully that includes you! 

So please register for our retreat this year. It's going to be restful. It's going to be restorative. It's going to be transformative. And what a treat it will be to pray with you, meditate on how the Lord delights in each of us, and study how we can delight ourselves in Him. Together.
Hope you'll join us Friday March 9th.

And just a reminder registration closes soon! The last day is February 5th so sign up now!

In Him,

Jessika Anspach