Friday, December 5, 2014

Five Minute Friday - dear

Five Minute Friday – Dear –
Fridays are magical for so many reasons.  One of those reasons is Five Minute Friday.  Five minutes of writing about one word.  The prompt comes from Kate Motaung, who writes at www.katemotaung.com.  We all write for five minutes and then link up.  It’s refreshing and exciting and challenging.  Today’s prompt is close to my heart.  Five minutes is not enough to even get started on my thoughts about teachers.  Being one myself, I tend to think about education quite a bit!  But these are the ones that came out in five minutes. 
Dear Teachers,
     To the teachers who teach my children: thank you, for so very many reasons.  My kids are willing to wake up, get ready, and go to school because you are there.  The both know that you care about them as human beings – not just students.  They believe that you believe in them and that makes them try harder, want to do well, and believe that they can do what they need to do.  They smile and laugh as they talk about their days.  They have discussions about history, and science, and current events, and books, and even math, because you have made it important.  Many of you I have had the honor of speaking to about my kids.  Your understanding of who they are, what they need, and what they are capable of, amazes me.  These two kids of mine are my greatest treasure and you are taking care of them, just as I would.  I cannot possibly convey my gratitude.
     To the teacher who has taught her students, and her colleagues that sometimes the best thing to do is, “Let it Go”, you are making a difference.  That note you were writing today to a former student, the one full of encouragement, and kindness, and words that will touch her heart – that is so you.  It represents your heart for the people around you.  It is the tangible proof that you get kids.  You get what they need, what they want, and what is important.  You have changed the life of that one kid in a multitude of positive and lasting ways.  You taught her so much more than reading, writing, and math.  You taught her that she could learn, that she was worth teaching, and that she was capable of being loved.  You taught her that she needed to give her best effort, even when she didn’t want to, that following rules was important, and that despite her circumstances, she could be successful.  And, that’s just one of the hundreds that you have touched.  Hundreds.  Because, each one you treat like you do this child.  You not only teach, you teach kids how to learn, how to love learning, how to think, and to believe in themselves.  No test can measure that.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Truths that rocked my world yesterday:
1. Sharp edges of furniture are very painful. Especially when you hit them with your head. I don't recommend it.
2. The team of teacher's that I am blessed to work with are nothing short of superheroes. If you have ever altered your plans at the very last minute, added between 6 and 12 extra students to your already full classroom, on the day before a break begins, with no time to prep, then you have an idea. If not, just trust me - it is a feat worthy of the title superhero.
3. Working with people who care about you and your family is a job perk that is incomparable. No amount of money could possibly compete. Though I doubt anyone would argue if we had both.
4. The students that I have the honor of teaching, and the adults that take care of them, make this world a better place, in so very many ways.
5. Nurses who are kind and funny and responsive and knowledgable and just nice, have superpowers of their own. When you are scared and in pain and confused, they make you feel safe and comfortable and hopeful.
6. Having someone to hold your hand, drop everything to take care of you, and love on you, is a precious gift to be treasured. Insert whatever sappy, mushy, thought you can think of here, they all work.
7. The sound of Mom and Dad's voices makes everything a little better. No, a lot better.
8. I am abundantly blessed. Over the top, ridiculously, blessed.
Summary: heads and sharp edges are not a good combination, be in awe of the staff at White Mountain Elementary School, thank a teachers and nurses every chance you get, if you see any my kiddos or their families, give them a high five (they deserve it), value those people who love you and take care of you, call the people you love and enjoy their voices, and count your blessings.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Focus

So very much is determined by focus.  Deep blue waves, framed by a beach of golden sand, and a sunset of vivid pinks and oranges are missed because the focus is on the lone pigeon walking on the beach.  Majestic mountains, crowned with snow, and covered with deep green pine trees and crisp yellow aspen trees become a blurry mess because the focus on the camera was set wrong.  An alley strewn with trash and surrounded by abandoned buildings is made beautiful because the focus is on the child who is sharing lunch with a homeless stranger.  No matter how beautiful, or ugly, the scene, our focus determines what we actually see.  In turn, what we see often determines how we feel and how we respond. 
     This past week a tragedy claimed the life of Carolyn Bridger.  The world lost a musician who touched your heart and soul with her passion and her talent.  Let me be clear, when I say world, I mean at the very least the four continents on which she has performed, taught, and won awards.  The communities in which she lived and served are reeling from the loss of a mentor, colleague, friend, and an indispensable member of more than one staff and of a symphony.  Most importantly, a family dear to my heart, lost a sister and an aunt, one who they treasured.  A facebook post by one of nieces is what sparked my thoughts on focus.  She stated, “Our family is choosing to focus on and celebrate her life rather than dwell on the tragic manner in which she died.”  What struck me was the truth of that statement.  This is a family who will truly focus on the joy their loved one brought and the cherished memories, rather than the tragedy.  That’s powerful to me.  Powerful because that is not the easy way out.  Powerful because it shows the nature of this family.  Powerful because, I know, it represents the deep, unconditional love they share.
     In order to in any way give you a true picture of the power of that statement, you either need to know the family, or have some background.  These are not hollow words thrown out because it is the right thing to say.  This is the heart of this remarkable family.  Having known them for over 30 years, I can almost hear some of them in my head.  They are thinking right now that I am overstating or exaggerating.  They are thinking that I am presenting a perfect family when we all know that isn’t even possible.  To me, that is exactly what makes them so remarkable.  They aren’t perfect, they work at it.  They love each other because they choose too, not because they live in a fairy tale.  One of the nieces said that to be fair, I should tell you how much they have fought throughout the years.  So, I will try.  I met three of the nieces when I was six.  Katie and Amy became my very best friends.  Erin, who is several years younger, was subjected, along with my brother, to the torture that three older “sisters” can inflict on younger siblings.  Yet, she is kind enough to still call me friend.  Yes, they could fight.  If one were to judge fights, many of them would have been ranked, epic.  The nature and intensity of their fights comes from the brilliance of each participant.  All three sisters are incredibly gifted artists and have brilliant minds.  That much intensity, talent, and passion is bound to explode at some point.  The crucial point here though, is not the fighting.  It is the fact that they have chosen to love each other, protect each other, and value each other with that same level of intensity.  If their fights were epic, their defense of each other is nothing short of legendary.  No amount of disagreement among them could change their level of love for each other.  They watched their mother and her sisters model it and live it out every single day.  They have a bond that I simply cannot find the words to express.  I know that I crave that kind of connection with others.  I know that it is a palpable love.  I know that it has been tried and tested, maintained, and strengthened.  I feel when I am with them, I see it in their actions, and I hear it in their words. 
     As a child, I marveled at the relationship that their mother, Susan, shared with her sisters and their mother.  They were a force!  Only Susan and her sister, Beth, ever lived close to one another, geographically, that I can remember.  Even then, Beth and her family moved while I was still young.  The distance never stopped them.  To this day, they are together whenever it is possible.  Plans are made, schedules manipulated, and every resource used, to ensure that they are together often and for every important event.  If you know me, you know that I struggle to remember details, especially from when I was younger.  What I remember well are feelings.  When I think of Susan and her sisters, I remember that there was love, and respect, and deep desire to be together.  I know that I specific, tangible, memories of both Beth and Carolyn – which is proof that they were extraordinarily important and present.  I remember that Susan felt a deep love for all three of her sisters – including Ellen – the youngest – of whom my memories are very limited.  She enjoys them, she cares for them, she is connected to them, and it was such a powerful testimony to me.  It continues to be.  I remember when one of the nieces, Robyn, was performing (yes – they are musically gifted).  It immediately became the focus for the entire family.  Everyone was excited for her, everyone made an attempt to be there, everyone shared their encouragement and deepest hopes and wishes with her.  Focus.  Their focus is on family.  Their focus is on celebrating each member of the family. 
     Katie, Amy, and Erin, have continued that legacy in such a beautiful way.  Right now, as I type, they are together.  They all have jobs, and families, and responsibilities in other places, but they are together.  They are laughing and crying together.  They are supporting each other and celebrating their Aunt Carolyn.  They are allowing their children to play and enjoy each other, even in the midst of their immense pain.  Focus.  Their focus is each other.  Their focus is family.  What they share is exceptional, and is made even more remarkable because they choose to make it that way.
    

      

Friday, August 29, 2014

Five Minute Friday – Reach
     Each Friday over a hundred different bloggers share their hearts about the same prompt.  One word, five minutes of writing, without editing, without worry, without fear.  It is always a blessing to write with this group, read their writings, and read the encouragement others share.  So here goes:

     I have chosen not to write for quite a while now.  Still overwhelmed at what August brought and the experiences that have changed my life forever.  Writing any words would be a reach, a stretch.  I still haven’t wrapped by brain, or my heart, around the friendships, the generosity, the love, the kindness, the miracles that happened the week one person shared the gift of life with another in the form of a kidney.  Through that time, so much more was given as well.  And no matter how much I try, I have yet to find words that express my gratitude, to the donor, to his family, to the friends who sat in the hospital waiting room for hours on end, to the strangers who became like family during those hours.  I cling to memories as reminders of the good human beings are capable of doing.  There are folks in New Mexico, in Nashville, in Kentucky, in Oklahoma, in Alabama, in Puerto Rico who I would love to be able to reach out hug.  Some of whom, I’ve never even met.  Grateful that I was able to be a part of something that was so powerful.  Still reaching for the words.  Thanks for letting me continue to share those words as they come.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Begin

     Begin.  That’s the gist of it all.  Begin.  Start.  Try.  Not, be perfect.  Not, succeed now.  Just, begin.  That’s what Five Minute Friday has done for me, it helped me to begin.  It gave me the freedom and the encouragement I needed to just begin.  Begin to my thoughts down in words.  Begin to allow others to read those thoughts.  Begin to do what my heart longed so to do.  And now that I have begun I can hardly stop.  Words stream through my head constantly.  The computer has become my friend.  I write now without the stress of how it might end.  Because the gist, the point, is to begin.  To start and let it come.  To try and then let come what may.

     What is it that you need to begin today?  Reading the book that speaks to your heart?  Writing that book that speaks to another’s heart?  Laundry?  Dinner?  A friendship?  Go ahead, begin.  Take that first step.  The saying goes that the first is the hardest step.  And so often it is.  Take it.  Go ahead.  Begin what seems impossible and then let it come as it will.  It won’t be all candy and roses.  But it will be.  And being is so much more fulfilling that watching and waiting and wondering.  Beginning and being is worth the risk.  And sometimes, in fact, often the result is beauty, and fulfillment, and joy that can never be replaced. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Finish

Finish is far too much like saying goodbye.  Maybe that is why I struggle to finish things.  I tell people I'm the idea person.  I have all sorts of great ideas. I have started some amazing projects.  Finished, not so much. Part of the problem is that I am never satisfied with the product.  Which is why Five Minute Friday is so liberating.  I have to finish.  I have to let it go.  It is a blessing.

Depression and Jesus

     Depression is that thing that makes good things seem insignificant and bad things seem insurmountable.  Depression makes sunny days too bright to bear and cloudy days too dreary to function.  It matters not the weather, it is as if my heart is broken to start the day.  It matters not the circumstances, or the people, or the place.  No doubt, people help make it better.  Those who love and encourage and support are invaluable.  I am blessed to have so many of those people in my life.  But, depression doesn’t have to have a reason.  Sometimes, often in fact, my heart hurts and my brain can’t convince itself or my heart different. 

     There is one thing that brings always brings peace.  Jesus.  My soul has found rest in Him.  Every. Single. Time. The truth that He is God, that He became man, lived a life free of sin, died on a cross, paid my penalty for sin, and rose again is the one thing, the thing, in which I hope.  I find comfort in the words of the Bible for I have seen the promises fulfilled in my life and the lives of others.  The truth of it resonates in every fiber of my being.  And over and over and over again He shows up, comforts, brings peace, and guides my steps. 


     So, I do not speak or write about God or His Son Jesus because I think I know more than anyone else.  I do not speak or write about Jesus to force someone else to believe as I do.  I do not believe because someone told me too or because I think it is what I should do.  I speak and write about the love of my life because He has saved me.  My very being sings His praises.  The core of who I am is sold out to who He is.  There is no other motivation behind anything I write or say.  Do I want you to believe?  Of course, but not because I said so – because you have had a personal, intimate encounter with Him.  Do I want to encourage you?  Absolutely, I believe that is the gift He has given me.  I pray that my writing gives others tools to know Him more, trust Him more, and be strong in Him.  But the meaning of everything I write is just that I love Him and I want to share.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Being a Mom is Tough

   Mom instead of Mommy

     It's beginning to sink in.  But I am only barely coming to terms with it.  I am no longer Mommy.  I am now Mom - or worse - Mother.  We have reached the point that both of our kids are either pre-teen or teen.  It's tough.  Not just because teenagers can be difficult but because they are almost grown.  Almost every mother of a child older than 10 and every single grandmother that I talked too when pregnant for the first time told me to treasure every moment.  That they days would fly by and I would look up and they would be grown.  I believed them.  I had seen first hand how quickly children grow as a baby sitter, teacher, and summer camp preschool worker.  So, every time I was awake enough to cherish the moment, I tried.  I often prayer, "Lord, help me remember this time right now.  Help me remember how it feels to hold this baby to my chest.  Help me remember how it feels to hold hands with a bouncing preschooler.  Help me remember how it feels to sit with a child in my lap and read."  I took pictures.  I wrote cute things down in a journal.  I stayed beside their beds for hours at a time when they were scared or sad or lonely.  And still, still, it went too fast. Way too fast.
     Thankfully, there is joy in who they are becoming.  Watching them develop their own interests and their own ideas is fascinating.  The conversations we have are deeper and about a much wider span of topics. We can do more together.  I can share shoes and jewelry with my daughter.  Concerts do not involve people dressed up like stuffed animals or animated characters.  And everything is easier without car seats and diaper bags!  But it is different.  I am struggling to know where the boundaries are, struggling to know how much, and when, to push.  I struggle with guilt of what I didn't do while they were young and should have.  I struggle with how to get through to them when communication seems so difficult.  I knew what I was doing when they were little.  Well, at least more often than I do now.  I had lots of experience and education to help me understand and act accordingly.  I'm not at all saying that means I did it well all of the time, just that it was easier.  Now, I got nothing.
     No, that's not true - I have a God who loves me and my children.  I have a Bible that guides me and encourages me.  I have a husband who loves me, loves our kids, and helps in every way possible.  I have friends who have been there done that and are willing to share advice and encouragement.  I have parents and a father-in-law who love on me and my kids.  And now, I have a group of mothers to help support and encourage me.  Thank God!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Belong

    I drove into the entrance a little bit excited and a lot scared.  And completely in awe of the beauty surrounding me.  It was the beauty of the place that had brought me back.  My family had visited when I was a teenager and longed to return to the mountains.  I got my opportunity as summer staff at the camp we had visited.  Drove across the country for the chance.  But I was alone.  What awaited me?  Who awaited me? Would I find a place where I belonged?  People with whom I belonged?
     It is the desire of our hearts.  To belong.  To know and be known.  To be wanted.  We are desperate for it.  We do crazy things to try and obtain it.  And sometimes we find that place and those people.  What a rare and beautiful gift.  I found it in that place.  On that mountain, where the steeple lit up the night in striking colors.  Inside the rooms of a preschool where we passed the bean bags and drank untold amounts of apple juice.  Down the sidewalks where we walked, up and down,  and up and down, with a stroller that held six.
     There, in that place, people belonged.  Not because we were all the same.  Or because we thought the same.  But because we were in it together.  We shared the same experiences, the same goals, and the same terrible dining hall food.  And it brought us together.  Gave us a place where we all belonged.
   

Monday, July 7, 2014

Shopping Cart Questions

    Knowing that the chances are approximately 1 in 463 that I will get a cart that works with me instead of against me, I just take the first cart and go with it.  Less than six feet later, it is clear I picked wrong.  I consider turning around and taking the cart back.  But for unknown reasons, I keep going.  As I attempt to push the cart in a straight line, just straight, I start to get frustrated.  My thoughts are something like this, “Stupid cart. Just move.  Just go.  Please!!  I hate these carts.”
     It’s important to note that I am still not more than four aisles into the store.  Turning around and going back would in no way be hard, at all.  Once again, I consider getting another cart.  Once again, I reject the idea and keep moving.  Fast forward about five minutes.  Now, I’m just plain angry.  My thoughts are more like: “Every single time.  Every single time I get an impossible cart, and I have to struggle and struggle just to get around, and what makes it so hard anyway, and why don’t they fix them, and why in the world can’t they make a cart that will work, and on and on and on.”
     At this point, it occurs to me that maybe I’m tired and hungry and need to calm down.  It is after all, just a shopping cart that requires a little extra muscle.  Is this really something I want to spend my emotional energy on?  Am I actually throwing a little fit in the middle of a grocery store, albeit, in my head?  And, why in the world, did I not just simply take the cart back and get another one?
          And then, it became a challenge.  I continue with the cart, but mostly because I was kinda intrigued.  Why didn’t I take it back, really?  As I pushed and shopped, I also pondered.  Which quickly led me past the cart question and to a more serious question: why do I repeatedly do things the hard way and then get angry because it was hard? 
     It’s not like I didn’t know it would be hard.  I know that pushing around a messed up cart will make shopping more difficult.  I know that completing small pieces of a project in a timely manner is easier than waiting until the last minute and trying to cram it together.  I know that exercising in the morning is easier than waiting until the day starts and plans get in the way.  I know that putting things away after I use them is easier than clearing piles later.  I know that one way is easy and one way is hard. 
     It’s not like being angry about it will make it any easier.  In fact, it makes it much more difficult.  When I’m angry and stressed, my heart races faster, my muscles clench, and my brain doesn’t work as well.  Not to mention that those around me suffer due to my foul mood.
      There has to be a better plan.  Clearly, the best plan would be to make wiser choices.  Take the cart back.  Put things away.  Exercise early.  Etc., etc., etc.  Just get it done.  I realize that making the best requires discipline, and follow through, and work.  I am also aware that it makes life easier.
     But here’s the big take away from my cart story, once you choose the more difficult path, accept it and don’t let it be an excuse to be angry.  Just take it for what it is and move on.  Let it motivate you to make the better choice next time.  Let it be a lesson for those around you.  Do your best to turn it in to something good.  Your family, your friends, your co-workers, and random strangers at the grocery store will be super grateful!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Exhale

Five Minute Friday - Where bloggers join together to write for five minutes about one topic.  A phenomenal community created by Lisa-Jo Baker at LisoJoBaker.com
Today's prompt: Exhale

     The phone rings.  My hands start to sake.  My heart rate shoots up.  I hold my breath.  Will this be okay?  Is this the call I've been dreading?  Is this where the dream falls apart?
     Breathe.  Exhale.  Let it out.  Deep breath in and back out.  Re-adjust.  Re-think.  Trust.
     God's got this.  No matter what this call holds, God's got this.  It will be okay.  Eventually.  And is there even really a reason to dread?  Nope.  Won't do me any good anyway.
     Breath. Relax. Exhale. Trust.

     And the phone call.  All good.  Nothing to dread.  Nothing to worry about.  Just a simple phone call.  And a great reminder to exhale and trust.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Grief and Hope

     Something is missing.  Nothing is as it should be.  Everything is just not quite right.  It is a wonder to me that the world continues to function.  That people go about their business as I life hasn’t been rocked to the very core.  It is wonder to me that I continue to function.  Because sometimes, the missing her almost keeps me from keeping on.  Sometimes, the grief is almost too much.
     Grief lingers.  It haunts.  Sometimes it hides, just in the shadows, and for a time I feel relieved.   Then it jumps out and swallows me whole.  Its grip tightens around me.  I have to scratch, and claw, to climb my way out.  But I do.  Because grief is not the end of the story.  Grief is a process.  Yes, it is nasty and ugly much of the time.  Yet, it is also sprinkled with beauty and joy and hope.  Beauty in the memories that make me smile.  Joy in knowing that she is at peace and at home.  Hope in knowing that I will see her again. 
     God is well acquainted with grief.  He full well knows the pain of being separated from the one you love.  He understands mourning.  And He walks through it with us.  He holds us and comforts us.  “Praise the Lord, praise God our Savior!  For each day He carries us in His arms.  Our God is a God who saves!”  Psalm 68:19-20a (NLT)  He promises that He will one day wipe away all our tears.  “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…” Revelation 21:4 (NIV)

     And that is more than enough reason to keep on.  

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Lost

Five Minute Friday: Lost
     I’ve been lost.  Utterly and completely lost.  Not because we didn’t know where we were.  Not because we didn’t know how to get where we needed to be.  Lost because it was dark, the clouds shut out the moon and the stars, and we were on the side of a mountain.   We knew the way home, when we could see the path.  But we were all but blind.  I held onto a bug that glowed in the dark for as long as it could glow.  I searched desperately for anything that would show me the next step to take.  Finally, cold, hungry, and scared to get any further off the path, scared that I might fall, we stopped.  We set on a rock and waited.  There was simply nothing else to do.  So we waited for the light.
     I learned a lot that night.  I learned that I needed to be prepared for the journey.  A flashlight, a jacket, and a granola bar would have changed everything.  I learned that fighting fear is much easier when you are not alone.  I learned that while darkness may prevail for a time, light does return and shows you the way home. 
     While these lessons were born out of physical need, they have clear implications to our spiritual needs as well.  First, we need to be prepared for the journey.  We need the Armor of God.  Second, we are never alone.  Fear will come, but we always have trustworthy partner who will calm our fears.  Jesus promised He would be with us – even to the end of the age.  Third, God wins.  There will be darkness.  There will be seasons of life where we can’t find our way out.  Don’t give up.  The light is coming.  His mercies are new every morning.  God is bigger, brighter, and stronger than the darkness.  We can take comfort that He will never leave us lost.  If we seek Him, we will find Him and He will rescue us.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Five Minute Friday - On Monday

Every Friday hundreds of bloggers write for five minutes without over-analyzing or over-editing.  It's a chance to write what is on our hearts and not worry so much about how we write.  Lisa Jo Baker provides a prompt.  One word.  And we all give our thoughts.  I love Five Minute Friday.  I can spend hours reading other people's blogs and being astounded at the beautiful way they weave words together.  And, because the biggest rule is that you must read and comment on the blog before yours, I get the blessing of people reading my words and encouraging me.  This Friday, life got just a little too busy.  And Saturday.  And Sunday. Now it's Monday.  While I may be the last to post a link and no one may read and comment on my blog - I refuse to miss Five Minute Friday.  I crave the freedom and community it affords me.  So I will write.

Five Minute Friday - Prompt - Release

Oh, how beautiful this word sounds to me.  

Release my burdens.  
Let go.  
Unclench my fists.  
Relax my muscles. 
Breathe.  

The thought makes me feel lighter.  More joyful.  

But hands that have been clenched for too long release so slowly.  The joints and muscles have grown so stiff.  So used to clinging on to what lies inside.  And there is great fear in what might fall should they open.  

There are really only two choices though. Keep clenching and clinging and thus choke out joy and hope.  Or, release those things we can't really hold anyway and thus allow for joy and hope to rest gently on our outstretched hands.      





Friday, June 13, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Messenger

Messenger. 
One who brings a message. 
Messages can be life altering. They can bring hope and joy or devastation and sadness. Messages can be small and simple.  They can bring a smile to a face or tears to eyes.  Last night, as I read a message from a friend, I was reminded of how powerfully good human beings can be to each other.  In this instance, people came together and decided to be messengers. Spreading the message that one of their own needed help.  They spread it loud and clear. Their message was heard and received and in just over 48 hours the need of their friend was met in abundance.  It made me think that we all are really messengers.  And we choose to either bring more joy or more sadness.  More smiles or more anger.  The world would be changed if we all chose to share good messages.  If we made it our goal, our job, to inform the world that there is hope, there is a God who loves us, there is beauty, and there is good.  

Monday, June 9, 2014

Remember and Trust

Remember and Trust. 
These are not the words I was seeking.  They were not the words I was praying for.  I wanted something more like – BAM!  Done! 
But my heart and my head clearly heard the other.  I was crying out to God.  God fix this – now.  Be You – show me You.  Do huge miracles so my eyes can see you and my heart can feel you.  Now.”  My greatest desire was a touch from Him.  To experience His in a way that was tangible and real.  So I begged.

He answered.  Remember.  Remember that I have answered your prayers in the past.  (Like, yesterday.)  Remember the times when you brought before me requests that were impossible in your own strength, and I made them happen.  Remember all the times I have gone before you and cleared a path, where before it was entirely impassable.   Remember all the prayers that felt unanswered until you saw I had a different plan, a plan that turned out to be in your best interest.    
   
Oh, yeah.  There are those answered prayers.  There are the answered prayers that stack up as tall as a mountain.  There are the ones I thought were so crazy I shouldn’t even think them. There are the ones so small in the grand scheme of things that it seemed to even ask.  There are big ones and small ones, huge ones and tiny ones.  But they are all a testimony His faithfulness.  

Gently, He touched my heart again.  Now, trust.  Trust that I know what I am doing.  Trust that I will answer, in the right way, at the right time.  Trust that my way is best.  Trust that I am enough.  Trust that I am with you and I will stay with you.  “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.” Psalm 125:1 (NIV -1984)

Yes, trust.  That is what my heart needs.  Trust brings me peace.  Trust lets me give it all back to God.  I still have to do my part, but He will take care of the rest.  Trust lets me hope.  So, I will trust out of obedience.  I will trust because He has proven Himself over, and over, and over again.  I will trust, and He will provide.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Hands

     Their hands lay gently on top of each other.  Beauty and grace, hard work and time, etched on each.  It's a picture of their hands but it reveals so much more.  It reveals not only how close they are, but of how alike they are.  They are mother and daughter but also friends.  Both have nurtured, both have provided, both have been the caretaker.  Both have listened, both have comforted, both have soothed.  Each has held the other's hand in joy and sorrow, celebration and grief.  Each has held the other's hand to support, to guide, to hold the other up.  Each has given all of their heart and all of their strength to the other.  Mother gave the daughter life.  The daughter held her mother's hand in death.  And now the joy and comfort come in knowing, someday, they will be together again and this time there will be no death, no tears, no pain. Only joy.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Who you are in enough.

     Who you are is enough.  In fact, who you are is good.  No, really.  Are you perfect?  No.  Are there things you need to work on, to get make better? Yes.  But who you are, right now, in this minute is enough.  I get that this sounds like a cheesy speech, designed to make you pat yourself on the back and feel all warm and gooey inside.  It’s not.  It’s a reality check.  We spend years of our lives, and billions of dollars trying to make ourselves ‘better’.  Based on my experience, and that of those I know, most of us are really trying to make ourselves someone else.  We are so uncomfortable with who we are that we use all our energy, and emotion, and time, trying to re-create ourselves.  Folks, we need to stop. 

     As the preacher said Sunday, “we need to remember who and whose we are.”    We were created by God.  And God is good.  What He creates is good.  "God saw all that He had made, and it was very good." Genesis 1:31 - (NIV)  And yes, this verse is after He made human beings.  Yes, we have sinned.  Yes, we need a Savior to set us right with God again.  "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ." Romans 3:23 - 24 (NIV)  But God didn’t mess up.  He didn’t make a mistake when He made us.  Sometimes, we feel like He did.  Sometimes, we can’t understand why we have personality characteristics that we consider flaws.  But God formed us - and He always has a reason.  Maybe we ought to start spending more time and energy accepting who we are and using our strengths instead focusing on, what we consider to be, our weaknesses.  Maybe we ought to spend some time resting in the truth that God made just how He wanted us.  Maybe, even, we should celebrate that God did good!  

Friday, May 30, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Nothing

     Nothing.  Absolutely nothing is worth the energy and effort and emotion that worrying requires.  Nothing.  Nothing in the history of the world has ever been positively changed by worrying.  Nothing.  Ever.  Thinking through things logically, yes.  That has changed minds, held tongues, and given rise to some of the most beautiful stories, poetry and art ever created.  But worry, no.  Worry is thinking about things we either can't or won't change.  Worry is obsessing over what might happen.  Worry is brooding.  Worry doesn't involve action, or faith, or hope.  Worry creates sadness and hopelessness.  Worry causes our blood pressure to rise and our muscles to tense.  Nothing good comes from worry.  Now if I can only remember the truth of that when I start thinking of all the things I think are worth worrying about.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Close - Five Minute Friday

Close requires risk.  It means you are putting your heart out there to trust and care for another person.  It means that someone else now has the power to wound you.  But it also means that you allow someone else to encourage you, build you up, and enrich you.

Close requires work.  It means you spend time being physically close to someone.  It means you spend time talking to someone.  It means you forgive when you are hurt.  And it means asking for forgiveness when you are the one who has done the hurting.

Close requires giving and receiving.  It means that you give of your time, your energy, and your heart.  It means putting someone else's needs and wants above your own.  But you must also receive these same gifts. You have to allow others to give to you.  Which often means being humbled.

Close is a blessing.  Close is friendship and love.  Close is necessary.  God didn't design us to do this alone. He designed us to experience closeness with Himself and with others.  Spend some time today being close. Close to Him and close to those you love.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Writer


The simple word writer stirs in me great longing and excitement and desire.  Being a writer is my dream.  Being a writer means that you can connect with people at an intimate level.  Being a writer means that you can communicate to others that which lies deep in your heart, that which is most important to you.  Being a writer means that you get to share with others what is most meaningful to you.  Being a writer means  that your words make an impact on people.  What a privilege.  What a blessing.  What a responsibility.  What a joy.

Join Five Minute Friday.
1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Be generous and leave an encouraging comment for the person who linked up before you. That’s the best part about this community.
Five Minute Friday

Friday, February 7, 2014

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8nCatViWDw0/UvP6wuGQsvI/AAAAAAAB_5c/_QraPh1stEE/s1600/1890368_10201410543648785_1865319393_o.jpg

Follow this link to a great blog post and Teachers Pay Teachers giveaway!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Five Minute Friday. My favorite link up. Where writers from all over the world come together to share our thoughts on the same topic and then encourage and support each other. Join us at http://lisajobaker.com/. Today's word: Hero.
Heroes love. Heroes are brave. Heroes put others above themselves. Heroes so often go unnoticed. My heroes come in many forms. The soldier and his/her family who make so many sacrifices to help ensure the safety of others. Men and women who fight fires and crime, and sickness. Unbelievable courage and selflessness. The child or teenager who goes to school every day and puts up with a bully, or bullies, but still gets up and goes. The child who is willing to tell an adult that such behavior is taking place. The adult who sits at a nursing home watching there parent slowly lose the fight with dementia. The student who fails test after test, but keeps studying, keeps learning, keeps trying. Any person of any age who fights an illness that keeps fighting back. These are mighty acts of heroism.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Visit
On Fridays we write together. On one shared prompt.
And we take comfort in each others’ words. Familiar and different at the same time.
If this is your first time – click here for how to join us. You’re so very welcome.

Go:
     God calls us to fellowship together.  As with all God asks or commands, there is good reason for it.  When we visit, when we come together and enjoy each other, we are refreshed.  We are able to share that which causes us joy and pain, and allow someone else to share in it.  It reminds us that we are not alone.  That there are others who have the same feelings, the same highs and lows.  We celebrate together, which multiplies the joy.  We suffer together, which eases the pain.  We talk, we laugh, we cry, we connect.  If we allow ourselves to truly enjoy the people with whom we visit, and allow our hearts and minds to be open, we will receive a blessing.  

Stop

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A New Adventure

     Adventure is a super positive word by my definition.  To me it means that unknown and unique experiences are ahead, and that's exciting.  While not all adventures have positive circumstances or end up with positive outcomes, every adventure leaves behind memories, lessons learned, and new paths that can be followed.  So, I like adventure.  But, I also like to be prepared.  Just ask my poor husband who has to pack the car before our adventures!  I want to know that I have the necessary items to meet any challenges we may face, tools to help navigate our way, and nourishment to give us strength to complete our jouney. 
     This week, I started a new adventure!  One I have long wanted to take, one I have prayed for, hoped for, and worked towards.  I am now a fourth grade teacher.  I am overwhelmed with gratefulness for this opportunity.  I'm also just a wee bit nervous.  Okay, sometimes, I'm scared out of my mind!  I've got the tools I need to make this a fantastic adventure.  I've got kind, smart, and helpful co-workers to help me navigate my way.  I've got precious, loving friends and family who provide nourishment with their encouragement and support.  But when I woke up Monday morning, so excited that I couldn't sleep, I wanted something more to help sustain me.  I needed the peace that only God can give. 
     Naturally, I checked my e-mail first.  How checking my e-mail was going to give me peace, I have no idea.  But, I was immediately drawn to my daily e-mail message that provides a Scripture verse for every day.  I eagerly clicked on that link, hoping for a sweet reminder of how much God loves me.  Or, a promise from Scripture about how He is always for me and with me.  The verse: 1 Peter 1:13, "So think clearly and exercise self-control." (New Living Translation)  Seriously?  Not one mention of love, joy, hope, grace, or peace.  (Unitl you read the next sentence - but I didn't at the time.)  Really?  Nothing about how God will be with me, protect me, or strengthen me.  No, just a command.  "Think clearly and exercise self-control." Where's the blessing in that?  How does this help nourish me?  I sat back in my chair, rather disgusted. 
     Hear me out.  I just couldn't believe that God had not provided me with what I wanted. I realize that it is an automatically generated e-mail sent to thousands of people a day, and not meant just for me.  But God so often uses those verses to minister right to my heart and soul.  I had been convinced that when I opened the e-mail the nourishment I needed would be staring back at me.  So I stopped and pondered.  Was it possible that there was indeed a blessing in those words.  To my surprise, there was.  As I 'thought clearly', I became aware that when I choose to think clearly I have a much greater capacity to make good choices, use the talents I have been given, and perform the tasks set before me.  When I choose to think clearly, I can identify and find the extra tools that I need face any challenges that may arise.  When I choose to think clearly I can navigate my way so much easier.  That indeed gives me strength and gives me confidence.  That allows us to be at our best. 
     An extension of clear thinking is self-control.  When I choose to exercise self-control, I avoid situations that drain my strength.  When I choose to exercise self-control, I say and do only the things I know are helpful for me and those around me.  When I choose to be self-controlled, I don't allow my emotions to interfere with my actions.  And again, that allows me to at my best.
     What a blessing.  What a great reminder.  One last series of sweet thoughts came to my mind as I began to return to my all important e-mails.  When I think clearly, I remember that God is always with us.  I remember that God is for us, not against us.  And I remember just how much He loves us.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Day

     Ah, the blessing of a new day.  The hope that today might just be better than yesterday, or in some cases, just as wonderful as yesterday.  The hope that what lies ahead may be joy.  The hope that whatever lies ahead I will handle it properly, with the grace that God affords me. 
"Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning." Lamentations 3:23 NLT
How grateful I am for that promise.  Some versions say, "...for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning."  He promises mercy and compassion, in full portions, every day.  That fills my soul with joy.  He knows me, He gets me.  He understands just what I need, what you need, and He provides it.  And lest we think it's not enough, He gives us more each morning. 
     We have just started a new year.  A time that most see as a fresh start, a clean slate, a time for new beginnings.  Folks, I can't wait a whole year.  I need a need another chance, day by day.  Sometimes hour by hour.  And God gives us that.  No, we can not erase all that has happened in the past.  We can not rid our hearts completely of it's hurts.  We can not wipe away all the words said to us, and by us.  But we can try again.  We can press on and do so in a healthier, more compassionate way.   I choose today, to grasp His mercies, to cling to them and allow them to fill me with hope. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Fight

     Really, we are going to keep doing this?  Are we are going to keep rehashing that which we clearly see from different perspectives.  Are we going to continue to attack each other because we have different opinions.  I understand that we can't sweep our fight under the rug as if it never happened.  I realize that our relationship has been changed by this repeated exchange of angry words.  But maybe, could we possibly try our best to put it on the shelf and leave it alone.  Let it be.  And then, could we start the process of working towards healing our relationship?  Could we acknowledge that all were hurt, that things were said that wounded our very souls, but that because we love each other, we are willing to heal.  Willing to at least attempt to find common ground.  And then, most importantly, could we work together to find a way to communicate that does not involve fighting.  Could we give this fight to God and let Him heal us?  Could we trust that He is bigger than a fight?  Here's me saying, "I'm done fighting."  I don't want to hurt you.  I never did.  I don't want to fight.  I'm done.