Thursday, October 23, 2008


Today's been a pretty good day...busy & productive. It's amazing how many things happen in one 24-hour period!

Here's something those of you who know me well will appreciate...I opened my closet this morning and was greeted by an unwelcome guest...a gecko! YIKES...I screamed, of course, but the volume of my screams over spiders and other living creatures has gone down over the years as I'm trying to "toughen up"! It's pretty hard though! :)

Anyways, I proceeded to the bathroom where I saw another one! Jen's mom sent her a net as a "gecko catcher"-- mostly as a joke, because they're pretty fast and can sneak back in anyways. However, we thought we would get some relief from catching the little guy and tossing him over the balcony. :) So, I had the net in hand, but we were both too wimpy to actually do anything with it, so we both watched for awhile, and cringed every time it moved, until was too fast and active to catch. Then, it was out of sight, and we banged on the wall and it didn't come out. It must've disappeared through the wall...wishful thinking! :)

So, that was my adventure for the day!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I love...

I love parents...

Whoo hoo!!! I just finished our parent's night meeting for Week Without Walls. I will be leading a trip of 24 middle schoolers up to Yangshuo, China coming up the second week of November. To be honest, I wasn't really looking forward to the long night, but I have to say every time I meet with parents I'm so refreshed! It just allows me to have a whole new perspective on the kids I see everyday. The love and concern the parents have for their kids is so great to see. It also makes me realize that the work I do at school with these students is appreciated and even if the middle schoolers make it appear that information goes in one ear and out the other, we are making an impact on some level...good stuff!

I love my students...

Here's a few recent quotes:

Joe (not real name): comes running in my room, "Today was the weirdest day!"
Ms. Neevel: "Hey! Why's that?"
Joe: "A girl came up and hugged me...ahhh!!! so freaky..."

Susie: "Ms. Neevel, can I touch your hair?"
Ms. Neevel: "Uh...sure? Why?"
Susie: "He dared me!"
Then, they all laugh hysterically. :)

I love life...

Lately I've been virtually facebook-less, because our internet at home isn't working, and I have to say it's been pretty nice...besides falling behind on replying to friends' messages. I've loved coming home and cooking, going for runs, spending time in the Word, or reading other's been so nice. It makes me realize how dependent I am on computers in general and on communication. I really thrive on communication from my friends...maybe it's time to re-consider how I spend my time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Challenge of Being a Disciple of Jesus

I'm reading a book called "Jesus for President" by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw. It deals with a lot of politics and has ideas and an approach that we don't often hear. I find myself so caught up in the's full of so many of my heart's desires. It's also a very interesting book to read around election time. :) Here's a short excerpt that I found very convicting & interesting:

"Remember when ole John the Baptizer sent his disciples to ask Jesus whether he was the one they were expecting and he didn't answer them with a simple yes? Jesus instead told them to go tell John what they saw him doing. He knew that John could read the trail of crumbs. John knew that when lepers were healed, the blind saw, the dead rose, and the good news was preached to the poor, the one they were awaiting was indeed here.

What does our trail of crumbs look like? If someone asks if we are Christ-followers, can we say, "Tell me what you see"? Is there enough evidence to prove that we are taking after the slaughtered Lamb? What if they ask the poor around us? What if they ask our enemies? Would they say that we love them? Christians haven't always looked like Jesus. Perhaps the greatest barrier to Christ has been Christians who pronounce Jesus so loudly with their lips and deny him so loudly with their lives."

While sometimes the ideas sound great in theory, at times I do question what they might look like in real life. However, as Christians, Jesus didn't promise us we'd blend in with the world and its ideas. On the contrary, he stated quite the opposite.

Luke 6:22 states, "Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man." Not exactly what we hope for as Christians!

In John 15:18-19 Jesus makes it clear, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."

Let's face it...some of the things Jesus calls us to are absolutely foolish in the world's eyes...but we are not to base our lifestyles on the standards of the world. We are to be set be generous, selfless, forgiving, loving, and sacrificial. It's a great challenge that I contemplate and strive to fulfill every single day.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What is this world coming to???

Today in my face group, I noticed this buzzing noise and I looked at Eugene, one of my sixth graders, and he gave me the sweet, innocent little smile that he does and says, " it I can't use this?" Not knowing what it was, he went on to explain that it was an ELECTRIC ERASER!!! Apparently it's too much work to move your hand to erase the pencil marks, so this electric mechanism will do it for you!!! We are truly in the 21st century! :) I just thought it was funny...and perhaps a bit over the top! However, if I was in sixth grade, I would totally want one...or five! Anybody remember squiggle pens??? One word...amazing! :)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

An A+ Day!

Wow! Today was such a great day! I woke up around 7:45 without an alarm...amazing! I was back in bed for a nap around 8:30! haha...

This morning I went on a hike with some friends. We hiked Lion Rock, which is a pretty big mountain here in HK. The climb was pretty steep, but it never ceases to amaze me how quickly you can leave the hustle & bustle of the city filled with high rises, people, and noise and find peace and greenery! I always love hiking here. It's such a much needed retreat for me, and I just feel so at home in nature. It's so easy for me to sense the presence of God in nature.

Upon arriving at the top, we were presented with amazing views of sooo much of HK. I was blown away by how far we could see in every direction. It was fun to pick familar places out and be amazed at how small everything seemed from up so high.

After the hike we all went out to eat for a well-earned Thai meal, which a couple of us voted as the world's best food! :)

Then, I went home to find our land lady and a repairman at our apartment. We got new ceilings in our kitchen and bathroom, which was definitely a good surprise! After a long hike, it was definitely reading and nap time for me! What a great Saturday afternoon treat! :)

To top off an already great day I went to my friend Ashley's apartment for girl's night. We ordered pizza and just spent a lot of time talking. I knew about half of the girls there and the other 1/2 were new to me, so that was fun to meet some new people. Ashley got these conversations starters called "Table Topics" so we read some of those and had some really good discussions. It was just so refreshing to spend time laughing and having meaningful conversations...just what I needed to finish off my day!

Here were a couple of questions that I found very interesting:

1. Do you tend to live more in the past, present, or future?
I know this is an area God is still working with me on! For those of you who know me well, you know that I'm a huge reminiscer! I love to look back on past events and share "remember when?" moments. I don't think this is always bad, but at times I find myself longing for the past and not enjoying the moment. The amazing thing is that when I look back on my life, I'm amazed at home much I've enjoyed every single stage of my life. I think it's a testimony to God's faithfulness. He gives us certain things for certain seasons, and although it's sometimes hard to switch seasons, God knows what we need and He's so faithful to provide. I try to keep that in mind as I'm entering this new season of my life.

2. How do you think our culture will change in the next 100 years?
This seems like a very fitting question considering the times we're currently experiencing. With financial crisis right around the corner (or perhaps already here for many), wars waging in many parts of the world, and the widespread advance in technology, I'm very curious to see what the world will look like in 100 years.

It was so interesting to me to hear people's responses. We talked a lot about how social interactions will be largely affected due to advances in technology, and others shared that perhaps Jesus would come back within the next 100 years. Now of course we can't know that, and the Bible even says in Matthew 24 that He'll come at a time that we don't expect Him. (42"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.)

However, it really made me consider the fact that we should constantly be living our lives as if Jesus will return today. Do I live with a sense of urgency for spreading the gospel and making Jesus my #1 priority every day, or do I get caught up in my own busy agenda?

4But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:4-11)

Well, time for me to head to bed for the night!

Friday, October 10, 2008

6th Grade Party Time!

I sit at my computer tonight and I can't help but beam with joy. Just two hours ago my apartment was filled with extremely energetic sixth graders. I had my FaceGroup (homeroom) over tonight for pizza and games, and it definitely brought me back...

It doesn't seem that long ago that I myself was in their shoes. So I try to remember what it was like in the days we'd go to Tony's Pizza after the big 6th grade rollerskating excursions & fill that place with energy & excitement. I distinctly remember 2 highlights: the couple's skate at the roller rink :) & shaking large amounts of salt and pepper into the extra sauce at Tony's to make very interesting and inedible concoctions.

The reason I say all this is because I need to bring myself back to these days daily as I work with these students. It all happens quite naturally, because when you hang out with 6th graders you quickly find out they're some of the most fun, energetic, moldable...and crazy people you'll ever encounter...and I love them! The energy is contagious....I can't help but smile when I'm with them.

As I mentioned earlier, it seems like just yesterday I was having crazy sleepovers and being the goofy middle schooler that I was. Therefore, it's not too difficult to relate to them on a "fun level". However, sometimes I struggle with how I can be a spiritual leader to them outside of class, because their shells seem hard to break at times. It takes a lot for them to open up. But when I think back to when I was their age I was most shaped by the everyday attitudes & actions of the people around me. It is the love, patience, joy, peace, and calmness that is only found in Jesus Christ that I try to embody each day, hoping they will see that life is truly good when it's lived as a surrender to Christ daily.

Again...I think back to a few hours apartment was filled with students who (on their own initiative) wanted to make up a talent show. They had 7 minutes to prepare their acts, and "Wow"...haha....there was a lot of randomness, but it was beautiful. The innocence of children is beautiful, and at times I'm reminded to go back and find joy in the little things. These kids teach me well! :)