Monday, June 13, 2016

Working Heart-ily

Vocation: Special Ed Collaborative Aide, Ayala High School, Chino Hills, CA.

It's been awhile since I've written a blog post here. Don't worry, I've had many "considerable thoughts." I've posted on my other blog, shared shorter contemplations on social media and maybe just been a little too busy these last 6 months.

Summer break is now upon me. I've considered what to, it was never considered, it's more in the imperative! ---Rest, Refresh and WRITE!

Something to ponder...what are you doing this summer? 

Many photos within my phone take up needed space, as my device keeps telling me--it is feeling FULL. So, here's a photo-blog and hopefully, some inspiration for your own considerable thoughts.

The school library right at dawn. 

The school year started out with an unknown assignment as a one-on-one aide. I found myself placed with a student who never showed up until late October. By then, another position opened up in that same classroom. I applied and got the job. I now work with a teacher, several other support staff like myself, in a population of high schoolers with very special needs, one of which is communication. This environment has taught me a lot through observation, interaction and dialogue with the more experienced. I have fallen in love with the kids, esteem my co-workers and just truly look forward to going to work each day. Enjoying the culture of high school and all it entails--football games, rallies, plays, presentations, interactions and challenges, I am blessed to work at a great high school with wonderful people.

Have you considered the blessings your employment brings, other than paychecks?

Philippians 2: 1-3 If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 

Cheering for our National Award-Winning band and color guard. 

Mascots, cheerleaders, teams and fans.

Are you part of a team?  What does that look like for you?  

Ephesians 4: 16 "...from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love." 

Dancing at the Special Ed Prom

Student "K" with our Student Body VP, Prom Fashion Show 

One of our students  modeling with one of our gen. ed. sudents 

 He is 15 and a freshman this year. He has a thick head of dark wavy hair and a smile that lights up a room. He loves to watch things fall to the ground and cheers for himself as he goes on the lift of the bus. He has my heart.

Is there someone or something who just "has your heart?"

 A gathering spot for our Thursday outings, English Springs Park gets us outdoors and enjoying the lake and its many attractions. We went a few times this year. It's a great place to take pictures, move to the music you create, walk, build strength, enjoy nature and swing your feet to touch the clouds.

Be free today. Be creative.  Reach your hands and feet to the sky. 

Psalm 36:5 "Thy lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens, Thy faithfulness reaches to the skies." 

Have you enjoyed a picnic lunch with some friends lately? 

Be observant. You don't want to miss the goose on the bathroom roof, right?  I think he--or she,  is the observant one. 

There is something to be said about order, balance, linear design, color and grouping like items.

Aesthetics. What does this communicate to you? 

Proverbs 22:29 Do you not see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings...

Our ASL kids (American Sign Language) include our class in their annual Variety Show. During 2nd period, they joined our kids in teaching them sign and to dance to the song, "I Like to Move It, Move It" from the Pixar movie, Madagascar.  Here are a few practice shots.

What "moves" you? 

Even one of our security guards got involved. 

Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean onto your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."

Bowling, another popular activity of learning and playful competition became one of MY favorite outings. A strike never marked my scoreboard, but I can say I did achieve a couple of spares. The kids beat me--always by a long-shot!  But then again, I've never claimed to be the sporty-type, more the "stay-the-heck-away-from-a-ball" type.  There's always, always hope.

Have you tried anything new lately, challenged yourself or have something on your bucket list you're anxious to cross off---maybe sky diving?  

Christmas time. The beauty and message of love for all is so visual. Decorating the tree with snowflakes and giving our friend and school receptionist Mrs. Sue more reasons to smile; we delight in the Season of Sparkle and Light.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from D125
We're 6 months in. Consider your new year's resolution if you made one. Better yet, a new summertime goal. Whatever you choose to do, do it well and love one another in the process. 

God is good. Thanks for reading to the end!

Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do , do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men." 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Star Peace

Star Peace

In a Galaxy not so far far away
Inhabitants waited for a millennium of days
For a Savior, the Messiah, promised from Old
He would be King and save their souls
“Help us, they prayed, Oh be the One.
You’re the only hope, please come!”

“Someone has to save our skins,”
--The Israelites relentless din.
For a people, chosen race, soldiers stood guard
The sins of their past left a history marred.
The Roman Empire strikes back
And their hearts grew very slack.

Meanwhile in an uncharted, distant town
The Captain of Storm Troopers, Gabriel came down
To a Nazarene girl, pure and obedient,
The Holy Spirit, her special ingredient.
“Highly favored are you, so don’t be afraid.
Your Son will be the One to save.”

Her betrothed, Joseph, considered and prayed
What to do with his fiancĂ©’, in this way?
But God appeared in his dream, he understood
That the Force within her was Holy and Good.
“Take Mary as your wife, and she shall bear a Son.
Name Him Jesus, I AM His Father, My will be done.”

“The Return of the JEDI,” she marked the date.
Joseph Eli David Isaac, a census to take.
Large and cumbersome, a three-day flight
She felt as though she may…just might.
But the Force, the Spirit kept her until then,
They landed and knocked on the door of that Inn.

Lord,  “this is our most desperate hour,”
Only an out-building for droids is our offer.
Finding a crate of packing straw,
She rested her feet; Joseph cleared the stall.
Soon, she’d gaze on the One she’d bore,
The Creator of all the stars that soar.

“Your eyes can deceive you, don’t trust them,” he said.
One shepherd to another in the pasture, their bed.
They gazed to the Heaven and saw a great light
A Death Star? —No, beautiful, but they had great fright.
Suddenly the voice of a Skywalker announced
The Good News of the birth of a Savior, Immanuel pronounced!

They followed that star to the place He lay
The Lamb of God, at rest and at play.
The rumors began and the airwaves busy
Wiseman stared at their skymaps until dizzy.
“Sir, the possibility of navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to one.”
Trust God! We must take these gifts now, worship and serve the One!

A New Hope came down, the Force of God made human
To fulfill the prophesies and make us new again.
The Phantom Menace, the dark side is bent
To hinder and bombard us with weapons of intent
To distract, mislead, discourage and hate
But God’s final battle determines his fate.

So be a hero like Mary and obey.
Be humble like Joseph and listen always.
Follow His lead on earth and sky
Lean, I do on His wisdom from High
Though beat up and battered, our starships will cease
But He’ll promise to guide you to a Heavenly Peace.

Just believe in the Good, the Greatest Story of all
That Jesus Christ is the biggest box office draw.
He’s the Alpha and Omega, the prequel and sequel
Our Grace and Forgiver, Peace-giver and tranquil
This Christmas morning “awaken to the Force”
Of His Love and His Mercy, the Truth and the Source.

Matthew 28:20 …and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Merry Christmas and His Peace in your hearts for 2016 and beyond! 

Coleene VanTilburg 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Butterflies, A Benefit, And A Baby

It's that time of year for me. Busy--busy!  It starts with the return to school, my job in late August, confirming a date for my annual fundraiser, NephCure Kidney Int'l., and starting to plan this event, in addition to two of my ministries returning in their new season, Aspiring Writers' Forum and Coffee Break.  

What does that look like?  A lot of e-mails, texts, meetings, conversations, brain-storming, writing curriculum, attendance, posts, follow-up, "team meetings," signing on the dotted line, mailing stuff, picking stuff up,  meeting new faces, asking, some pleading and the most important...listening and praying! 

I love all of it!  Thank you Lord!  

This last week culminated (almost) with the Walk for Kidney Disease in which I am the Inland Empire Coordinator. In the push of the last two weeks before the walk, I began to feel that this year might just be the best yet. If you are my friend, and read this blog often, you know that the butterfly comes into my life often, bringing me a sign from Heaven that God is ever present, and the lifter of my head--literally. 

They flutter on wings of HOPE...(and a little excitement!)  The few days before the walk, they found me where ever I seemed to be! I posted individually on Facebook, but when you put them all together and SEE God's supernatural communication to my heart in such AFFIRMATION, well it's just so awesome. 

Thursday, October 15th: It started with a community trip with my class to the library. I didn't notice the cut-out on the chair I sat in until I got up to leave. 

Friday, October 16th: My son finds a "dead" butterfly on the sidewalk in front of our home--a specific butterfly. He picks it up and brings it inside. I wasn't home. Nervous; not sure how I am going to react, but I love the fact that he gently brought it in the house for me. I have my "considerable thoughts," but we'll leave it at that. 

Monday , October 19th: The week of the Walk, and I find my own sidewalk butterfly walking to class with tons of kids trudging along side me. I bend down to grab the glittery object, stop in awe as I gaze down at its shape and sparkle, confirming that "dead" things still have life if we see the Hope. It's missing a few of it's rhinestones...but aren't we all!  

Thursday October 21st: Another trip to the Chino Hills Library with my class, and this time I sat facing the window. Looking up, I saw them, capturing my attention and heart.  God is so good, I thought. By this time, I noticed a pattern for the last few days. Once again,  I am filled with His love and inspired. 

The Benefit, NephCure Walk, 2016
About 116 in attendance and $5000 raised so far!

Saturday, October 24th: My friend Liz came to my walk, serving me by taking photography. She greeted me with a sweet picture of a flufy butterfly and notes,  put together by her 3 young boys. They traced their hands and each wrote a personal message on the palm.  

"I hope they find a cure..."  From Jayson

"Dedicated to Timmy's Troopers, Revelation 21:4,  "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death, no sorrow, no crying. there shall be no more pain, for former things have passed away."  From Andrew

"God please help the children."  From Kyle. 

Did I...have I mentioned that I serve an awesome, comforting, amazing, affirming, promise-giving, healing God?  

The Walk?  The BEST YET!  Old friends of my sons I haven't seen in years came, friends from work, friends from high school, friends from Ted's work, friends from church, neighbors, 5 other teams and their support, the weather: perfect, the donations: generous and the kids...the kids; they have my heart. 

One of my dearest friends, with so much going on in her life, made the trip out after just moving back home, relocated for 6 months because of a flood. She brought her son and youngest daughter expecting a baby in 11 days.  As you might guess by the title of this blog, a little walking around a lake on a fall morning just might start the process of birth. About 5:00 later that night, my friend gave me call that her daughter's labor had started and that she and the baby's dad were on their way to the hospital.

A beautiful little, precious-in-His-sight baby girl, Mallorie, came into the world at 6:45p.m. on October 24th!  For this baby, her mother and dad, we have prayed. God is Good. 

Butterflies, Benefits and Babies!  God is Good and I give Him praise for all He does for His children and all he leads us to, to know Him and make Him known. To God be the glory!  

Thank you for letting me share. For information about NephCure, click here.

To make a donation to our particular Walk, click here:

Thoughtfully yours, Coleene  

P.S.  This morning, I clicked over to my Google + account after a reminder from the site to post a picture from the Walk. When I posted the event several weeks ago, the virtual photograph above the event was a live shot of a butterfly flapping its wings on a bush! So, just one more!   God is good.  

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Week of Concerns; A Lord Who Overcomes

Labor Day comes and goes. The heat of summer swelters over us, and even some thunderstorms brew up from the warm southern waters. We experienced a one-day deluge, a constant downpour--  refreshing unless you're driving on a freeway. A prediction of an El Nino weather condition may cause some to pause, hopefully to prepare our cars, our roofs, and our umbrellas for more. I hope the reservoirs open their mouths wide and catch every drop. Finally getting a day at the beach last week, I take in the beauty of the powerful surf and the vast ocean, reminded of God's deep and wide love for me.

  Can I comprehend Lord  the breadth, the length and height and the depth of  Your Love?  

A new assignment served itself up on my plate this year. Same school, but different kids with different challenges. Assigned to a moderate to severe contained class, with one teacher and a few other staff, I am the newbie. Immediately, by the end of the first week I'd say, I felt very comfortable. The kids...easy to love, the staff... felt a part of a team, the teacher...she's got this and then some! God moved me in a different direction yet with the same destination in mind. I am reminded of His plan for me, that despite all that I thought I might be, or could be still,  or what others think I should still consider,  even this late in life,  God whispers in my ear that I am OK and pursuing the right path. Affirmed in the gift He has given me and the joy and healing in that pursuit,  I trust You God

...because Thou, O Lord hast helped me, and comforted me. 

A young woman remained all year in the forefront of my prayers, her name: Traci. Her dad, one of my closest friends, called me back in January while I sat in the movie theater. I got back to him to find out that his daughter who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis, listed by three major hospitals for a transplant--got the call. Many prayed for this day. San Diego, their home for the next 8 months would find them commuting, living, and hoping in prayer for their daughter's ability to thrive and regain some normalcy in life.

She received two lungs, a liver and a pancreas--the first 4-organ transplant ever! The surgery lasted more than 24 hours. Her body never rejected the organs, yet she suffered with many setbacks due to infection and her kidneys shutting down. After all these months of mighty prayers and hopes, Traci went home to find her perfect healing.

...and the righteous cry out, let me dwell in Thy tent forever. Let me take refuge in the shelter of Thy wings...

That happened on Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday I am back in class when I receive a text message.

Did you know Sumiyo?  "No, I replied, I don't think so..."

"You might know her as Muku"...said the next text.

"Yes, of course I did."  She worked here with me a few years back."

"She lost her life in those floods...the one in Zion."

Again, my heart feels the pull of how tragic, how fleeting, how unpredictable, and how quickly a smiling face begins to etch a memory in my mind. She almost reached her 60th birthday. She loved to hike, always sharing with me when she'd occasionally give me a ride home, where her next hiking venture waited. This new sport for her , "canyoneering" according to the news, took her to a place where she felt close to God, the beautiful formations and sandstone cliffs of Zion, Utah.

Our friend Muku, 3rd from the left. 

Walk about Zion, and go around her; count her towers; consider her ramparts; go through her palaces, that you may tell it to the next generation. For such is God, Our God forever and ever. He will guide us until death. Psalm 48:12-14

Wednesday night, our writing group in which I co-lead, (AWF--Aspiring Writer's Forum), met for the first time this season, year 7! I am truly amazed at all the Lord's doing with this bunch and the continued support and enthusiasm shared. I am looking forward to submitting more of my book for editing, critiquing and the dream of publishing as well as listening to others as they write for God's Glory.

...for I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord... 

...but by the Grace of God I am what I am and His grace toward me did not prove vain, but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the Grace of God with me. I Corinthians 15:10. 

My writing partner struggles with her health and I continue to encourage her and pray for her strength. She finds her purpose in mentoring and leading others to tell their God stories. I follow in her footsteps. Along her walking path, her beloved "furbaby" Kindu, also struggles with health issues. Sadly, this week of year 7 of AWF, Kindu's last chapter closed with a sad departure. My heart hurts for my friend  who mothers her beautiful dogs with joy and passion, even dedicating a blog to their antics.

...are not  five sparrows sold for two cents? And yet not one of them is forgotten by God.

Saturday, I attended a baby shower for my close friend's 4th daughter expecting grand baby #6! Try as hard as I can, weddings, showers...fill me with a bit of melancholy, but I muster through and DO rejoice in the expectations. I wonder if God's plans include this blessing for me. Questions pop up from strangers in conversations, and yesterday was no exception.

...and for this child I have prayed.

John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." 

So what can I say about this week?  We cannot predict, nor forecast what may happen tomorrow. Each day we must choose to trust God, who remains in control.  He is  my rock and my refuge. He is Jehovah Jireh, the Provider of all good things. He calls us together in fellowship to minister to one another in times of uncertainty, struggle and sadness. God bestows gifts to us, ones He prepared for us to use for His glory. He comforts us with the knowledge and promise of Heaven in the sudden and the unexpected. He cares about our deepest pain and holds our tears in the palm of His hands. We can come to Him in prayer, sit and bear our burdens to Him. He hears and shows us the way from the darkness. He teaches us to see beyond our own circumstances and recognize all those times we especially need His strength.

And sometimes He just surprises us with precious gifts that speak straight to the heart.

Lying in the dark, on black asphalt, something shiny caught my eye as I walked to the car. Picking it up I recognized it as a bracelet of some sort, nothing fancy. I dropped it on the bottom of my purse. When I got home, I remembered a little later about the find. Retrieving it, and looking at it now in the light, I immediately felt a wave of Love from the Holy Spirit wash over me.

A charm bracelet with 8 different angels. 

This week had its challenges, its finality, its tears. Next week, we remember our own son Timothy,  his birthday on September 25th. As I fund raise for NephCure and retell his story, I celebrate the Lord's healing in my heart and the divine purpose, some of which still hides in God's sovereign plan, but some that reveals itself everyday to me. In that, I place my hope. In that, I sing with the angels.

Psalm 91:11 "For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.