Category Archives: Life Moments

Propelled by THIRTEEN POINT ONE gigawatts….uh, I mean miles

It’s been a little over a month since I ran the Santa Barbara Half Marathon.  I have shared many of my thoughts and pics through social media and conversations, so this post is mostly serving as a chronicle of reminders for myself as well as an update to those who may read that do not follow me or may live too far away to share a face to face conversation. I am going to work my way backwards over the next few posts, starting with what I just decided to follow through with TODAY.

I officially registered for 2 half marathons, on the way to hopefully completing the Beach Cities Challenge by next May.  This means I embark on training for a race in Long Beach on October 9th and then again for the Surf City Half in February.  I began my regular pattern this week and will begin to build up to do some long runs over the next 12 weeks.

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In the next few posts, I will share my Santa Barbara race day experience (which really propelled me and gave me this “itch” to keep running), training, challenges, motivation for running, and the pros and cons of the Santa Barbara half.  Again, this is mostly just records for myself so that I can review what worked and didn’t work.  But I hope you will choose to follow along on my adventure.

You can also always follow me on Instagram @historyjenn #jenngoesrunning or find me on Facebook





4 days till showtime…my Thoughts as I look to my first half-marathon


So, last November I ran my second 5k at the Dana Point Turkey Trot. I had an enjoyable time..this was the first big official race I had participated in. I have only been running for the past 2-3 years and haven’t really gotten faster. I was just starting to enjoy the 30-40 minute runs as a way to escape into a different mental world. I never have seen myself as a runner and never really intended to do any longer races. BUT in February I committed to join a friend in a half marathon. Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking, but I have a few friends that run and I just imagined sharing some of their same experiences

It’s now 4 days before the race and I have to admit that I am “anxiously eager.”  I have received much encouragement, read many blog posts about what to do and not do at this point in training. I have decided that I will take it all in, not try anything much different in these next few days, get rest (which I am unsuccessfully doing at this moment), eat well, get hydrated, and pack my bags. Heading to Santa Barbara.

While I have a time in mind that I would like to make, I realize from my long 9-12 mile runs the past 6 weeks that each run has its own challenges, physical and /or mental. I am hoping the adrenaline will kick in and being around other runners will keep me on track.  I will post again on the other side of things and share my thoughts.

Wish me me luck or share a prayer or just send me good vibes. 😊😃😂😩😎😖 (the many emotions I am sure to feel).

Blessed with some extra time

On my way to Louisville, Kentucky to grade AP essays for the next 7 days. (This deseserves a post all on its own).  Anyhow, I arrived very early not knowing if I would be competing with travelers leaving from the long weekend. Got through the check in process in less than 15 minutes. Fortunately, I have a great little computer at my fingertips. I missed my pastor’s message this weekend and will miss my group Bible study due to this trip, but thank God for podcasts and Bible apps that allow us to connect with God and fellowship. So, I sit down to listen to a message on the book of Philemon.  Easy to read in less than 15 minutes, Philemon may be an easy book to overlook. However, I am eager to hear the work of the Spirit as he speaks through my pastor. Always an amazing time in the word with careful exposition, historical context (which of course I appreciate as a history teacher), and fantastic application challenges. Thank you, Lord for the extra free quiet time in the airport.

Five Minute Friday: Decide

Connecting with the writers over at Five-Minute-Friday (or Thursday as may be the case).  Five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited thoughts…sometimes just a series of unconnected words.. on a selected word.  This week – DECIDE

Set a timer for five minutes, take a deep breath, and let’s …



Life is made of decisions.  Sometimes, it’s just what is for breakfast…but other times, there are more pressing issues at stake.  A game time decision, a last minute choice, a decision that takes pondering and lists of pros and cons

Some of the most important decisions… and even many of the unimportant ones…have been made through deep intense prayer and meditation with my Heavenly Father.  Those sleepless nights when you are wondering if you should leave a job, how you can best help a friend or family member, how to renew a broken relationship, or how to best have that tough discussion with a student or parent.

I look at it this way…I don’t want to decide something without relying on the infinite knowledge and wisdom of the ONE who knows best for me.  I don’t want to look back in a year from now, see where I am, and wonder if it’s where HE wants me to be.  I want to be there because I have been diligent in taking my cares and my burdens and placing them at HIS feet.  Let HIM decide….that outcome is always the one that will be the most glorifying for HIS work and most beneficial for my sanity, well-being, and moment-by-moment living.



To start off the new semester at school, I decided to start a BE wall. It’s a place where I post a new word each day and encourage students to BE something. I started with the word STRONG. Incorporating Scripture with each of the words, I addressed the message of Paul in Ephesians 6:10. “BE STRONG in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Another word from this week was HAPPY. (Of course, some students looked at me a little strange when I broke out singing “Don’t worry….Be Happy”, but those looks are a regular part of my day.  Let’s face it…I am little quirky in the classroom)  I want students to see a Biblical approach to happiness, however. So, we focused on contentment and doing things “without grumbling or complaining” (Philippians 4:11 and 2:14). Isn’t amazing how God uses parts of our weeks and days that we least expect. It turns out that the BE wall is for ME too, not just for my students.  This week I was challenged with both of these words as some circumstances arose at work. Immediately, I went to these verses, thinking, “If I want my students to respond in these ways, I need to as well.” (BTW…side note…I just love the letters of Paul.) Definitely was blessed to have these golden nuggets of Scripture memorized since the time I was a child.

I actually told the story about memorizing and learning Philippians 2:14 “Do all things without murmuring or disputing.” These are the King James words because all the verses I know from growing up are in the king’s English. Being transparent, I shared with my students that this has always been one of those sins that I just struggle with. I know this because my dad taught me this verse at an early age….I must have really been a complainer and arguer even when I was 3 because this verse came up often.

So….what things do you think deserve to go up on the BE wall? What practical piece of Scripture can you apply to help you accomplish that “BE” task today and in the week ahead?

Are you willing to save a date in 2016 for me?

Our church is going to be studying the book of Philippians in the coming weeks, so today, Joel and I looked at the first chapter and just spent time discussing observations and ways to apply the content.

We both stopped on chapter 1, verse 27

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear that you are standing firm, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel

Is my conduct worthy of the gospel?

  • honesty in dealing with others
  • genuine concern for students, co-workers, neighbors, family
  • my interactions with friends

How am I living out gospel truth, compassion, conviction, so that I can take opportunity to share what God has done to change and redeem my life?

I am recently full of questions about my faith more than any other time in my life.  These questions are driving me to desire to KNOW God more and more.  To EXPLORE Scripture, ASK questions, and APPROACH God with a humble mind, soul, and spirit.  To THINK about God.

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us – AW Tozer

I want my conversations of 2016 to revolve around the quest for KNOWING God.

Can we make a date to share our thoughts and questions…to study together….to grow closer to each other by growing closer to God?

Spoiler Alert – A look into my gift giving for this holiday season

I know….Christmas can’t be all about me, and I am working to make it something different, but I have a few things to really admit about my gift giving habits.


Note: There is NOT one single gift wrapped and under this tree yet…3 more days to catch up

  1.  I REALLY do NOT have a problem wearing a load of patience when I go out shopping for gifts.  It’s my mantra…I will drive slowly, give other people their space, will plan on parking a mile from the store, will smile at those as I pass by, and will say thank you (by name) to all the cashiers, old and new,  who don’t know all the ins and outs of the registers they are working.
  2. I know that others really enjoy the shopping and the giving and the looks on others’ faces when they see them open their gifts….they look forward with anticipation and pleasure
  3. I fully appreciate that my husband is generally a master shopper and giver…can take less than 2 days and just gets it done…and for the most part does a PERFECT job
  4. I enjoy the decorations I see and the music I hear when I am out looking for gifts BUT ……
  5. Giving gifts raises my anxiety levels….and I have a family history of heart problems, so this can’t be a good thing, right???
  6. Despite paying attention to people and spending quality time in conversation throughout the year, I really do not chose well….this has been a real embarrassment throughout the years…..just ask my husband and my father-in-law about robes and iced tea makers.  Great intentions gone VERY BAD
  7. I can walk around a store 5-6 times, have a cart or armload of products after 30-40 minutes and then spend 5 minutes to quickly put them all back, leaving the store with nothing to show (except for perhaps something I found for myself, I have to admit…please don’t shake your head in shame)

I honestly contemplated this today as I passed by a couple of stores and simple drove on, not even wanting to go in because of the crowds driving around the parking lot.  Why do I have such issues?  It makes my holiday maddening and almost unenjoyable.

I reflected on the giving of gifts and how they are ultimately a reminder of the gift God gave to us through His perfect Son.  How difficult it must have been to offer up His only Son, for us…people who are greatly undeserving. (and I think my job is hard)

I work to justify my lack of interest in the gift giving….my subconscious tells me my efforts will fail so why am I trying.  I see how so many people are either so overly generous, how can I compete; or they give a small token that ends up so sentimental and special and fits the received party perfectly. I don’t feel I have that talent.

So, all this to say a brief warning to you out there who may receive something from me…or did not because I didn’t dare to try…I do think of you often.  I work to send smiles….I look for words to encourage you….I deliver a message with written symbols instead of a glossy bow that is tied up intricately…I will sit across from you at lunch or dinner or coffee and do my best to listen to all that is going on with your life…..I know it’s not the same, but it’s MY way of GIVING

Oh, and don’t even get me started with the wrapping……

What are your gift giving habits and tips? 

Just Journaling the Journey

After years of teaching, I know there are ebbs and flows.  There are weeks where there is smooth sailing and then there comes the torrential downpour, enormous waves, and behemoth stacks of unending tasks.

To this latter time, I give thought today

For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. – II Peter 2:19

Today I am enslaved to the waves.

They have overwhelmed me.

They have discouraged me.

They have brought me to doubt my abilities in Christ.

They have depressed me.

So, Lord I pray with a humble heart

1I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

3He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
6The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121

May I approach today with a flexible spirit.

May I lift my eyes to the one who knows the beginning from the end.

May I trust in His protection and not my view of the storm.


In what ways can you change your view of the storms you may be facing today?

Five minute Friday : Table


Right or wrong, our kitchen table isn’t always the place we come to eat. I generally come home and spread out my work at the table and use the dining room as an office. The great thing about my dining tables/office desks has been the memories of how I got them. Joel and I bought a new table together about a year ago. We had a good time together figuring out what table to get and have been pleased with the purchase  ( see the top left pic). This table replaced a table that we had for about 10 years. That table proved to be a blessing and a curse. Joel knew I wanted a table and so while I was away in Greece, he purchased the table (bottom right). He put the whole thing together by himself. I was so happy that we Had our first new table. It was functional and met the decor need I had at the time. But over the years , each of the chairs began falling apart. The screws would fall out onto the floor; then I would plead for joel to put them back together again, which he always graciously did.

that table reminds me of thoughtfulness, selflessness and care that has been a constant in my relationship with my husband. So blessed to have him in my life.

A Surprise Impact of Someone Else’s New Beginnings

So, if I am being completely honest (and showing a little transparency) I would have to admit something.  Ever since I can remember, I become extremely uncomfortable when my church service doesn’t follow the normal pattern.  This is especially true when my pastor is gone or when other people are speaking.  I know that whenever the Word of God is preached, truth is proclaimed and I should not care.  So, yes, I will admit that this isn’t a flattering piece of information to share; it is just my response.  I usually feel really uneasy…maybe it’s because I do not like new things.  Maybe I place too much emphasis on the speaker.  Whatever it may be…it just is.  So, today, my pastor was at church; but he introduced another pastor who would be sharing the sermon.  So, as usual, I became uneasy and, to be perfectly honest, sort a shut him out for a bit.

But because I realize this about myself, I have a created a coping mechanism….take notes and write thoughts down.  As a teacher, I am constantly encouraging students to find something for themselves in every class period even if they are not being entertained or if the lesson seems uninteresting or unimportant. So, I work to be a better example of my own advice.

As the pastor continued, I maintained my attentiveness and after about 15 minutes, I realized just why he was speaking today.  He shared testimony of the direction God was taking his life….he is leaving our church and starting a church plant.  He went on to share all the ways that God used a variety of unconnected circumstances, people, coffee shop visits, twitter messages, and brought them all together to make sense of the WILL HE had for this pastor.

I was so impressed and moved by his testimony.  He is a 51 year old man with grown older children, but he has realized that the comfortable life he has lived for over 20 years was being shaken up. There was a new beginning.  God has new plans to uproot him and plant him in a community that desperately needs a man sensitive to the needs of the homeless, the educated, and others that have obvious need for spiritual awakening and change.  I could see why God would choose this man.  Even though I really do not know this pastor, it is obvious through his words today that he has a genuine concern and a willingness to show compassion to needy people.  He has worked for years ministering to children, but his heart is also sensitive to different demographic of people, just as all of our hearts should be.

So, I am thankful for the change in today’s church service.  I need to hear testimony of amazing transformation in the mind of others.  Thank you, Pastor Paul Persi for sharing your heart and soul.

The power of the Holy Spirit 

Calls us away sometimes from the things we love

To the things that scare us most

To things that challenge us

To things that will amaze us

It will be hard

It is never too late to change course and start to TRUST

Acts 1:8  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses  in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth