Fill My Cup, Lord

A believer cannot continually pour out into other people without others pouring into them. It’s essential, and it’s the way God planned community. We are here to lift each other and encourage each other. When I try to do everything in my own power, and pretend I don’t need someone to hold me up, I’m going to fall.

But even before we have others pouring into us, we must go to the source: the Fountain of Life.

This morning, I made a list of verses I’d memorized (thanks AWANA), and searched for the full verses when I couldn’t recall exact words or references. I hope these will be an encouragement to others as they have been to me this morning.

Isaiah 43:2

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

1 Peter 5:7

casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Isaiah 41:10

fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.


Isaiah 40:31

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk andnot faint.


Psalm 59:16

But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.


What is Love?


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I’m using the Children’s Storybook Bible for morning devotions with my 5th grade class. It’s meant for kids, but boy is it ever giving me some great perspective on God, his plan, and how the whole Bible points to Jesus!

This week, we read the story of Jacob and Rachel, and how Jacob wanted to marry her, but was tricked into marrying Leah first. The book reminds us how God chose to use Jacob in spite of his foolish choices (lying to his father, stealing from his brother). The book pointed out how God loved Leah, and it didn’t matter what she looked like.

So then I talked to the kids about love. How God loves us unconditionally. How he chases after us. But as I was speaking, I got that feeling you get when you’ve said a word so many times, that it has lost its meaning. “Sometimes, I don’t think we understand what LOVE means.” We think love is this feeling when you like something. And then…

“Me gusta.”

“Te gusta.”

In English, we use the word love with something such as baseball. Well, I do, anyway. I LOVE BASEBALL. But do I love baseball? Would I sacrifice for baseball? Would I put myself and my wants second … for baseball? No. I don’t love baseball. Baseball pleases me. In Spanish, the way to say you like something is the phrase, “me gusta,” which literally translates to “Pleases me.”

Too often we confuse the word love with the idea of something pleasing us. We don’t please God daily. But he loves us. Jacob wasn’t pleasing God in his sin, but God loved him. His love is an all-consuming passion for us, regardless of what we do. Now, our obedience DOES please him! But that’s what we do. We give our love and submission in obedience, and we please God. But pleasing God and having his love… they’re not the same.

It makes me wish, “That pleases me,” was as common in English as it is in Spanish.

I talked to my students, and to myself, about love. Love is saying you’re sorry. Love is patient. Love is kind. Too often in life, I am looking for what pleases me. I’m responding in a way that pleases me. I’m going for a feeling. I’m going for what I like. I’m not really loving. Love isn’t about me. It’s about others. It’s about God.

As I challenged my students, God challenged my heart. Do we love God in how we act? Do we love God in how we treat our neighbor? In how we get frustrated with them? In how we talk down to them and are quick to anger?

Lord, help me to love, and not to focus on what pleases me.

Baseball: Dominican Winter League is About to Begin!


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There’s not a whole lot to do in the evenings here in San Pedro, which is one of the reasons I really look forward to baseball season. There’s also the fact that I really really love baseball.

Last year, our team, the Estrellas, went to the finals, but were not able to win the championship. In fact, they haven’t won since the 1950’s. And there are only 6 teams in the league, so, yeah, they call the Estrellas the “Cubs” of the Dominican. That’s also amusing because the GM works for the Cubs.

They play a few exhibition games before the season begins, and I went to yesterday’s game. But yesterday’s game was special for another reason: My friend, Ordomar, was drafted by the opposing team, and I got to see him play in his first game! In the states, he plays for the Cleveland Organization in A ball.


It was fun to see all my friends at the stadium and say hi to the players. I’d made a photo album, so I am hunting down the players to sign their pictures. 12092631_10153108011351606_454523550_n

The atmosphere here is so different than at MLB parks. It’s so much more casual. I brought blowpops for a couple players. When the players finished pitching or playing (they swapped a lot since it was exhibition), many of them came and sat in the stands. That’s how I got to talk to Marlon and Mario, who both wanted to know why they weren’t in the photo album. So, of course, I said they could be in the book next year.


And so, another year of baseball, friends, and photos begins!

My Teacher Life: Punctuation Sound Effects


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As mentioned before, my English class is formatted like a grammar class in the United States. This week, my students are learning to apply comma rules to sentences. They are still trying to perfect capitalization and punctuation for 4 types of sentences, so adding another set of rules can be quite a challenge.

A few years ago, I came up with an activity that helped with punctuation. I’ve since tweaked it and applied it to several grammar/mechanics activities.


During oral reading, students who aren’t reading have a hard time following along. To improve this, we put sounds to all the punctuation. As one student is reading, the others make the sound effects for the punctuation. One student, several, or all, can be chosen for the sound effects.

  • End punctuation: BOOM!
  • Comma: WHOOSH!
  • Quotation mark: PING!

This activity helps students in many ways:

  1. Involves all students in oral reading.
  2. Keeps students focused on the text, so the next reader knows where they are.
  3. Keeps the reader paced, so he/she isn’t reading THROUGH the punctuation.
  4. Puts the focus on punctuation in a sentence—saying “boom ping!” enough will teach them the correct order for end punctuation and quotation marks.
  5. Creates questions: “Why are there 2 sets of quotation marks here?”


As students are learning the comma rules, I want to keep them focused on the skills we’ve already covered. As we practiced our first comma rule today, I had several students read the sentences, calling for boys to do the sound effects. Then girls. This allows for more oral reading practice, but also focuses attention on the commas (WHOOSH!).

I noticed students were still forgetting capital letters, so I added a new sound effect: The trumpet call, much like that of Jerry Stiller’s character in Zoolander. As the students were instructed to work independently, I told them there was no talking, but that I wanted to hear their sound effects as they wrote.

So my classroom sounded like this: “Ba ba ba baaaaa” … “WHOOSH! WHOOSH!  BOOM!”

No one forgot their end punctuation! And they remembered to capitalize.

Students wanted to add their own sounds, so I allowed “KABOOM!” for exclamation points, and reading BOOM? like a question for interrogative sentences.


Some students wanted to make the noises to be funny, but were not working. I reminded them that I only wanted to hear the sounds if their pencils were working.

A couple kids got a little out of control with the sounds, and I had to reel them back in, but overall, the activity was definitely more successful than not.

How can you use this in your classroom? What would you add?

My Teacher Life: English


I teach in a bilingual Christian school. The students have 3 classes with me: English, science, and math. These classes are all taught in English. All 3 textbook sources are from the United States. The math and science are on level, while the English book is one year behind to compensate the EFL factor.

By the time they reach my 5th grade class, I’m really teaching English the way we would teach grammar in the states. They have a language foundation at this point, and my job is to build on that with vocabulary, mechanics, and grammar.

In English right now, we are identifying sentences, creating sentences, and classifying sentences as declarative, interrogative, imperative, or exclamatory. They’ve also been introduced to changing run-together sentences into compound or complex sentences.

For many of them, the challenges are the same. Two common challenges for them are pronunciation and the mechanics of questions. We have a lot of sounds that don’t exist in Spanish, making it difficult for them to correctly pronounce words. Seriously, pronounce “e,” and “i” by their sounds. Now consider that the “e” sound doesn’t exist in Spanish the way we say it. Now, try to differentiate those sounds. Good luck!

Students have to retrain their brains to read the vowels with English sounds rather than Spanish. On a recent test, they had to use “leaving the car” in a sentence. One student wrote, “I am leaving in the car with my dog.” The student knew the difference between “living” and “leaving,” but when she read it, her brain heard herself SAYING “living,” and therefore she used it as such in the sentence.

With questions, the kids have a difficult time reversing subject verb: “I can go to the bathroom?” I reply, “That’s declarative. Can you make it interrogative?” This becomes even more challenging when you realize we often have to add do,does,did to our questions. This doesn’t exist in Spanish questions!

It’s really exciting to see the kids making progress in their English. It’s also quite a challenge!

God is living outside my box


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We put God in a box! I put God in a box! I have this idea of what He will do, what He won’t do, what He can do, and what He’d NEVER do. But, guess what? This box I have for Him—He’s not a fan. God isn’t limited by my thoughts.

And so, this year, this school year, I’m praying—I’m praying for God to do great things, big things, things I tell myself God can’t/won’t do. And I’m doing this because I believe that despite my limited faith, God really is all knowing and all powerful.

And I’m seeing God do things, things I never thought He would do.

Here’s one of those times…

The other day, I was grading papers at McDonalds (aka, my office), when 4 unkempt little boys walked in, probably about 9 years old, maybe 10. They went to the counter, and one picked through his pocket, gathering enough coins for a child size Coke. The other three stood looking at the Happy Meal toys, talking about the ones they wished they could have.

So, I decided in that moment, I’d see if they wanted to eat. And they did. So I bought them Happy Meals, asked each of their names, told them to behave, and went home.

I always pay my credit card right away, so I did, as usual. But then, yesterday, the pending charge was gone. just gone. no charge. In fact, the credit is there from where I paid the amount.

I went back today to ask, because I wanted to make sure there was no mistake at the register. I talked to the lady, and she said everything was fine on their end. I had nothing, except to say, “It was God.”

And then I watched her tell her coworkers. Testify!

God is working outside the box I have for Him. He’s whispering, “Go, give, serve. And  then watch. Watch ME. Watch me go beyond what you even expect.”

On Being Single (Letting down my guard here… be kind)


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You graduate high school. You go to college. You meet that guy. You get married. You have kids.

That was how life went. That’s what I thought. But then it didn’t happen.

New plan. You wait. You wait for love. You wait for marriage. You wait for sex.

That was how life would go. But I kept waiting, and nothing happened.

And I got so tired of waiting. It was discouraging and frustrating, and it made me angry. I was doing everything right, and I wasn’t getting what I wanted! So why keep waiting? Waiting is the worst!

So I stopped waiting. I went my own way, and did my own thing, and not in a good and holy way. But, I did not find what I thought I was looking for. Instead, I found conviction. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for speaking truth to me when I was in sin. While I was in this, “Forget waiting! It’s never coming to me the right way!” I came across a blog about “waiting.” I wish I could remember it, so I could link you to it, because it opened my eyes to what Jesus wanted. What Jesus wants.

It said something along these lines, or at least this is how it spoke to me: “Your purity is not about your future husband. It’s about obedience to your Holy Savior. You shouldn’t be waiting, you should be obeying. Your love for Jesus should motivate you to walk in holiness.” If you’re waiting, you’re expecting something. And sorry, but you’re not promised marriage, husband, sex. You’re not. I’m not. And waiting for those things… that’s when I became discontent, frustrated, angry. And anger led to sin. Like Moses, like Abraham, like so many of us humans (ok, all of us, at times), I decided my way was better. I was wrong.

So I stopped waiting—this time, in a good and holy way.

The answer begins with a deep love for Jesus, a love that pours out in obedience.

Contentment is the result.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Philippians 4:11

I find that when I am content, I’m not looking, I’m not waiting. And you know that “When you’re not looking for it, it will come?” Don’t say that. ever. Because if that’s the mindset, then you really ARE looking. You’re just pretending you’re not, thinking it will work some kind of magic. I know this because I did it. Don’t lie to yourself.

But when I’m truly content in each moment, the things that come my way are blessings, and the things that don’t come are never missed because I was already in a state of contentment. A life of waiting is a life wasted.

So, I’m approaching my 38th birthday, and I’m single. I’ve never been married, and I’ve never had a relationship for any longer than 3 months. And sure, I get lonely at times. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. But when I’m giving, loving, serving, when I’m content in this amazing life I have, I don’t feel lonely. I’m not waiting. I’m living.


As soon as I got out of the truck in front of my apartment, I yelled for Juliet, my little 3 year old neighbor. She wasn’t home, but her 9 year old sister came running out to give me a big hug.

After I unpacked a little, I took a ride to the grocery store. I felt so at home as I saw so many people just on that short little trip. On my way, I passed the old gentleman I always smile at on my way to and from baseball. I waved and he waved vigorously with a giant, welcoming smile. Shortly after, I passed Justin, a man from our church who helps with baseball, and is also a moto concho driver. More smiles and waves. Then, another smile and wave from a former neighbor who lives on the route to the grocery store.

It’s that small town feel. How does this silly gringa know so many people? I don’t even know the answer. I guess I just love people.

In the grocery store, I immediately ran into some other American missionaries and caught up with them. While walking through the store, I saw one of my 7 year old baseball players, so I chatted with him for a minute. Then I turned a corner, and there was Jose Valverde, former pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. Yep, I’m home.

Juliet arrived home shortly after I returned from the grocery store. “Ven aca!” Come here, I told her. “Tengo un regalo para ti.” I have a gift for you. I’d bought her a candy necklace/bracelet set from the dollar bin at Target. She looooved it. I also gave her sisters a box of sidewalk chalk to share, and they—along with the other neighbor kids—were soon playing hopscotch in the parking lot.

There are a lot of kids in my apartment complex. It's fun, most of the time.


I called Franci, my friend (and favorite moto driver), to come get a Spanish-English dictionary I’d brought for him. I delivered a few other gifts, unpacked some more, and enjoyed my quiet evening.

I look forward to another day of smiles and waves and hugs.

I’m a terrible blogger!

I’m just not good at it.

I do like taking pictures though!

So I’m gonna make a plan.

Oh, I’m not good at following through with plans either.

See, I think I have a bit of a commitment problem, but I don’t want to say for sure.

So, for now, gonna brainstorm some topics I might organize better later on…

1. My Teacher Life

2. My Jesus Thoughts

3. Dominican Living

4. Pictures!

5. My baseball — coaching and watching!

We’ll see what happens…

Summer Schedule!

1. See friends and family!

2. Visit my supporting churches!

3. Watch a lot of baseball!

4. Get my VISA!

5. Get my TEFL certification!

6. Maybe rest?

I feel like I have a really full schedule this summer, and not a whole lot of time or money. Isn’t that how everyone feels? Please pray that all goes smoothly for my visa process. It should be pretty simple, but I just get nervous about everything coming together at the right time.

Financially, I have plenty of monthly support for my Dominican living. Unfortunately, summer living in the states costs a lot more. On top of living/traveling expenses, I’ll have to pay for my visa costs as well as the TEFL course. I know God will provide, and I’m not really worried about that. It’s kinda nice how God has calmed my nerves about money. Now, I just need to lean on Him more for circumstances!


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