Monday, December 31, 2012

Dirty Dishes Devotions

I felt that I was supposed to make a blog of these devotions. Of course, I second guessed that and waited. Some day I will get to a place where I obey quickly, at least I hope so. Anyway, I started the blog yesterday and am going back and adding the previous devotions right now. There will probably be some new ones too. It is supposed to be devotions for women, any women, but I guess men can read them too. So far there hasn't been many that focus just on being a woman. :)

Follow the link below:

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 - The Year

At the start of each new year I pray for a word, a phrase, and knowing of what they year means. 2011 was the year of obedience. That year resulted in me going on my first mission trip and many steps outside of my comfort zone. 2012 was The Year. That is a pretty overwhelming thought isn't it!

The Year. The Year for what? I thought maybe something major, a major life change event. Um, nope. I was waiting all year for some big dramatic change to take place. But nothing happened. Well, something happened but it wasn't what I thought.

The changes that have taken place this year have been gradual and internal. I cannot point to one event or date when these changes happened, but I do know that there has been change. I have found that I have used my voice more this year, more of what God has spoken to me, not just repeating what others have said. Not only have I been writing posts for this blog, but I have also done a few devotional type writings and made a group on Facebook to read them. They are often like these posts, I only write them when God has given me something to write about. He speaks a verse to me whether in my quiet time, I read it in another book, or I hear someone else make reference to it. These verses lend me to thinking about how they relate to my life and He gives me a couple paragraphs or so to write about them.

Another way He has changed me is that I have written a few short stories all along a common theme. I don't know if these will ever be seen by others or not, but I have enjoyed writing them. I believe these stories are from God because the words just flow out of me as I type them. I can't seem to just stop and come back to them later. I have to finish writing the story. I even wrote one once that was obviously my own creation and I knew it. He didn't let my mind rest from that story until I went back to it and completely rewrote it. When that story was done I knew it was no longer my story, but rather the one He told me to write.

Other internal changes include being separated by God for a time of preparation. I am an introvert by nature and have tried not to do the separate-myself-thing because I would much rather do that then but myself into the mist of others. This separation has been different. I don't know how to explain it, but I know that it has been. Now what exactly He is preparing me for I do not know, but I do treasure this time He has been preparing me.

Even with there being this time of separation I have made new friendships and deeper friendships with others that I have known. I have never had lots of friends at any given time. I have no problem with having just one or two good friends. It is nice to have some new ones developing. I have found that I have been able to open up more with them as well.

So there are only two full days left in 2012 and I still expect some things to happen to make the The Year. But it's been a good year that if nothing else changes inside of me in these two days I will be content with what He has done n 2012. And in three days I will be asking for a new new word, phrase, or knowing for 2013. I'm pretty excited about that too.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wanting Someone Else to do the Work

Yesterday I was out with a friend for dinner. We talked for a couple of hours and she made me think, a lot.

One of the things she made me realize was that I want someone else to do all the work. I like getting the dream, the vision, but I am fearful of carrying it out. I feel like so many people in the Bible, like Moses or Gideon. They heard from God, but they didn't think they could do what God called them to do. Now, I am not saying I am Moses or Gideon, or that God is calling me to do anything like He asked them to do. Just wanted that to be clear.

Even so, I want someone else to come along and do what God has told me to do. I do not think I am capable of doing it. Well, I'm not. Moses wasn't either. The thing I have learned from him is that even though he didn't feel up to the huge tasks God had him to do, he knew how to do them. No, he didn't know the "how" of leading the Israelites. He knew that the only way to lead them was to spend time, intimate time, with the Lord God Almighty.

Anyway as I was saying, I really want someone to come along and be the one who will take the lead in what I think God is telling me to do. I would be so okay with that. I have no problem with being in the background. But is it because God made me to be a background person (which isn't bad, background people are needed to get stuff done!) or is it because of fear? Um, let me think about that for about a second...yeah, it's the fear choice.

I realized that I have been doing this very same thing for years, many years. I have been avoiding doing what He has asked of me most of my life because of fear. I want that to stop. I need that to stop. I want all that God has for me and that means I need to stop waiting for someone else to do what God is asking me to do. I need to spend time with Him so that I can. It isn't about just white knuckling it. It is all about trusting Him to do what He will do through me. It is about spending time with Him and learning to walk in His strength, especially when I'm feeling weak, fearful, and incompetent.

So, now that I know, I need to start doing what He is asking me to do. It's time to get to work!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Only Book Worth Reading

I love to read! I love historical fiction. I love to read stories with real characters, people who are flawed and real. I love to read books about God. I love to read books about characters in the Bible. I love to read books, period.

Sometimes when I read a book a phrase or even an entire chapter will mean something to me. Sometimes it will be an eye opener for me. Sometimes it will make me stop and think. Sometimes it will make me stop and pray. Sometimes it will make me cry. Sometimes it will make me laugh. The best times are when it drives me to Scripture.

You see none of the many books that I love to read are really worth reading in comparison to the one book that is. The Bible. All the books in the world put together are not worth even a small fraction of the Bible. I can't imagine people who do not read it thinking that the book that they just finished, talk about with their friends, or reread over and over again is so amazing. If they just opened up the book, the inspired Word of God, they would realize their favorite is in no way comparable.

What I really don't get, is how people who do read the Bible turn to other books for quotes about God rather than use His book for their quotes.I'm not talking about the occasional quoting of other books. I have done that. I mean when people use other books as if they are the Word is what I don't get. It is the only book that has ever been written and ever will be written that is Truth about who God is and what He says to and about us.

So as great as other books are it is the only book that truly is worth reading.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Positioning Yourself in the Face of Death

I was up early this morning, very early around 3, and I needed to read my Bible. I needed to because my thoughts were focused on something that was making me angry, and 3AM is too early to be up and fretting. I realized I needed to take the focus off my thoughts and onto His Word.

I have been reread Esther for the millionth time (I love Esther!). I wanted to read a chapter at a time and really focus on what that chapter was teaching me.Well, that was fine until 3AM and I ended up starting on chapter 4 and read through chapter 10. Not that these are long chapters but I barely stopped between them to think on anything. Even so, I did pause and think after reading one part.

"Three days later Esther dressed in her royal robes and took up a position in the inner court of the palace in front of the king’s throne room. The king was on his throne facing the entrance. When he noticed Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased to see her; the king extended the gold scepter in his hand. Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter." Esther 5:1-3

This is where I stopped, focusing on the word "position". God positioned Esther as queen. We know that
the former queen hurt the manly pride of the king and he sent her away. (Seriously, next time you read Esther notice how easily Xerxes is swayed by drink and the influence of people talking in his ear.) He needed a new wife and God positioned Esther to be that queen.

When Haman plots to kill all the Jews Esther is exactly where she needs to be. She is in the palace. She is the queen. She was chosen by the king in a contest with 1000s of other women.She was positioned just right. Even so, she had to step out of her fear to live up to "such a time as this".

Esther cannot just pop into the throne room and talk to the king. Going before the king when you haven't been called for can result in death. She had to face death and position herself to save her people. She took up a position where the king could see her. She took up a position that could lead to her death or the salvation of her people.

We have been positioned by God to be right in the place that we are in. He has done the ultimate positioning of us, but we also need to step out of fear and position ourselves. There will be times in our lives, maybe you are there right now, where God is asking you to step out and position yourself to do something. That something could be huge and life changing for others. It could be small, or seemingly small, and not effect many. Regardless of how big it is you need to do it.

If you are gripped by fear of death you need to step out into the position He is calling you to. That death is probably not literal. It may be a possible death of your reputation in certain people's eyes. It may be a possible death in relationships. It could be any kind of possible death. But remember Esther positioning herself did not lead to her death. It led to the salvation of her people. It did lead to the death of an evil man. Your stepping out into a position God has created for you can only lead to life.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

How To Get Life, Abundant Life

I have been writing devotions for a little over a month on a group I started on Facebook. It's not everyday, not yet, but I hope it will get there. Last night I was in bed when He gave me a message to write. I tried to just go to bed, I was tired, but I knew I needed to get up and write it. It was as much for me as it will be for whoever needed to read it.

I have been wondering about taking it farther than a FB group. I think it might need to become a blog of its own. I considered adding it to this one, but this blog and those devotions are different and I think need to take different avenues. So I need to work on setting up another blog. In the meantime I really feel last night's devotion needs to be shared here today. I hope it speaks to someone as much as it did me.

How To Get Life, Abundant Life

December 8, 2012

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

Satan comes into our lives for one reason and one reason only. He comes to destroy our relationship with God. Sometimes He tries to destroy it even before we have come to have a relationship with Him. Sometimes that doesn’t work and we are saved by Christ and then he tries t separate us from Him.

He will use any and all tricks in the book to either steal our relationship with God. Or kill our relationship with God. Or destroy our relationship with God. He will use fear, anxiety, loss, torture, shame, abuse, and on and on.

When he does we have a choice. We can let fear bind us up or we can come to Jesus. We can let anxiety make question everything and do nothing or we can come to Jesus. We can let loss eat away at us and cause bitterness or we can come to Jesus. We can let torture turn us into those who seek revenge or we can come to Jesus. We can let shame make us hide ourselves or we can come to Jesus. We can let abuse make us believe we deserve it or we can come to Jesus.

We often have no choice over what happens to us, but we have a choice to stop the thief from taking from us the one thing that we desperately need. We can choose to come to Jesus and let Him have all of it. See He already took all of it upon Himself anyway. He took it at the cross. See He’s seen that and done that and defeated that already. When we bring it all, and I mean it all to Jesus, we have that life and have it abundantly that He talks about in John 10:10.

I have always wondered “how do I really get that?” I think He’s told me. I have to give Him every stole, dead, and destroyed thing that Satan has messed with and He will take it. If He takes, and He will, then what am I left with? Life and it is abundant!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Not Sure How to Help

For the last couple of weeks I have felt inadequate. This feeling of inadequacy comes from not knowing how to help someone else. Someone who has become a good friend recently gave her heart over to Jesus. I was beyond happy for her. I had been praying for her for a few years and having that prayer answered was amazing.

Not long after this happened it appeared that a major hope was being answered for her. I was excited for her. I hoped it all would work out and increase her faith and relationship with God. Then it all went wrong.

I don't know how to help. I have prayed for her. I have given her things. I have even laughed with her. But I don't know how to help her deal with her feelings toward God.

I know that she is having trouble with this. I pray that she will turn to Him. I pray that she will realize that He didn't do this to her, He didn't abandon her. I want to tell her it's okay to let Him know exactly how she is feeling toward Him. Even if she's angry with Him, she can tell Him. He can take it. I feel inadequate to help her know that He is the comfort she is seeking.

I will continue to pray. I know He answers. He won't make her turn to Him. He won't force Himself on her. It has to be her who turns to Him. I pray that she will hear His voice because He is still talking to her. I pray that she will find that He is the answer even to the hardest, most heart wrenching troubles she may face.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bad Dreams

When I was a little girl I used to have terrible dreams. I can still remember some of those dreams, but what I remember the most is lying in bed after one of these dreams. I can still see myself laying in my canopy bed, curled up with the covers pulled up tight around my chin. I would look out the window in my bedroom and hope the sun would be coming up soon. And I would be thinking, actually saying out loud good things. I had once been to Disney World so I used to say "Mickey Mouse" out loud. Thinking about Mickey Mouse made me think on good things and at times would help chase the bad dreams away.

As I got older those bad dreams were joined by night terror. If you have never had night terror then you have no idea how truly terrifying it can be. My night terror was of various things including creepy crawling animals, bugs, spiders, and the worst would be that someone was watching me sleep. One of the worst things about night terror is I was never completely asleep when it happened. Being partially awake made everything seem so much more real, so much more frightening.

Last night I had a terrible dream. One in which I was being chased and people were trying to catch me because they wanted to hurt me. They couldn't catch me and that made them angry so instead of planning to just hurt me they planned to kill me. I kept running, crying, and trying to find the way out of the maze of stuff I was running through. I woke up and my heart was literally pounding in my chest. I was terrified, but thankful to be awake. I reverted back to that little girl and pulled the covers up to my chin and started to say good things. The difference is I don't say "Mickey Mouse" anymore, although I still really like Mickey. Now I say a name that really has power. I say "Jesus". Over and over again I say His name until I fall back to sleep.

I wish I never have to have bad dreams or night terror, but when I do, when the danger seems so real, I know the one thing that brings true peace and rest. I know and say the name "Jesus".

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Afraid of My Dreams

"Your dream, your true passion, is found just outside the boundary of your comfort zone." Les Parrott

I saw this on Facebook today, and along with a number of posts, comments, and such it seems to fit what I have been seeing a lot over the last few days, maybe weeks.

Lately, I have been thinking, rethinking the whole idea of leaving teaching. I mean in the natural it makes no sense to leave a job that I have some stability in and I think I am kind-a good at. So the scared part of me does not want to take the chance of leaving. My rational side says, "this is not the right thing to do, not the right time." But I don't want to listen to the scared side or the rational side. I want to walk by faith.

The Bible doesn't guarantee that walking by faith will be easy. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1. I guess if I could see it then it wouldn't be faith, would it? It's easy to believe something that is seen. But that doesn't take faith.

So, I need to listen to what God is speaking to me. I pray for direction. I ask for some understanding of what it might be He wants me to do. He may ask me to keep teaching, I am not saying He won't. But I really believe He is asking me to follow my dreams. (My big dream He will have to move mountains, because right now that's all I see.) I have things that I have always wanted to do and some new passions that have developed of late. I don't want to look at the negatives and what ifs of stepping out into something new.

Honestly, I am afraid of my dreams. I am afraid of failing. I am afraid that I will step out into something that isn't from God. I've done that before, haven't we all. I wish that I wasn't afraid. I want to trade my fear for faith. I want to walk by faith. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I Don't Understand

A friend got sad news today. I do not understand why she has to continue to go through the same trial over and over again. I know God has a plan, and I look forward to seeing it come to pass. Yet I am sad for her. I am sad she has to feel such pain. I am sad that her heart's desire isn't being fulfilled. I wish I knew how to help her. I do know that I can and will pray for her. I honestly don't know how else to pray than to pray for His peace to fill her up.

Friday, November 16, 2012

All That He Is

I saw this post on Facebook today.

"Maybe we need to sit for just a moment or two today.Quiet, without the weight of condemnation or the swirl of trying to figure things out.Quiet, with nothing but the absolute assurance that the Spirit helps us in our weakness." Lysa TerKeurst

Seemed like very good advice so I crawled onto my bed, where I do most of my praying and quiet time, and sat. I sat and tried to turn off all the thoughts. I tried to just listen. Soon I found myself talking to God in my mind. Then I started to talk to Him aloud. It wasn't long before I was crying. I was asking Him questions.

I poured out my heart and asked him why it feels like I am always being stripped away while others around me seem to be gaining. I know that the grass always looks greener on the other side of the street. But the reality is that so many I know are having babies, celebrating new relationships, new homes, new jobs, etc. I just feel like I should be empty by now, and yet more seems to be stripped away.

After my tears were spent I picked up my Bible and hoped that the Psalm marked for today would bring some comfort to me. Psalm 42 was written by someone who has cried tears like mine. Then in verse 6 the writer wrote that when his soul is in the dumps he rehearses everything that he knows about the Lord. That seems like the most unnatural thing to do when my heart is hurting. It seems more natural to wallow in it than to turn toward God and start thinking of all He is.

I closed my Bible and laid it on the nightstand and sat. I wanted to do that. I wanted to think on all that He is. Soon a song came to mind and I was singing out "Great Is Your Faithfulness". (I'm not a great singer but I like to sing.) You know what? It worked!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Moment of Clarity

Have you ever had a moment of complete clarity?

I had one last night. A moment when something became so clear it was beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was true. Of course, one of my first thoughts was, "why didn't I get this a long time ago?"

Well, of course I didn't get it a long time ago. Instead I wanted something. I wanted it so much that I figured there was only one way to get it. I believed it was the answer. I honestly believed it. I don't anymore.

I don't believe it anymore because God gave me this moment of clarity. What I wanted, what I still want, isn't bad or wrong. The fact that I was willing to accept something that wasn't right just so I could have what I wanted was the problem. And I am so thankful that God kept me from what I thought was the way. Unfortunately, I also didn't get what I wanted, and it is possible that I never will get it.

That makes me sad. It may be too late. I do however, know that God can do all things. He can restore the years the locust has eaten. He can also bring about something even better and just right for me. Actually, He can do even more than I can think or imagine.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Being A Part of Something Wonderful

Today I was sitting around a fellow teacher's classroom with a group of teachers waiting for a phone call that would bring one of them news. We talked, laughed, and waited. More teachers came in and soon join the waiting party. We talked, laughed, and waited some more.

Everyone had promised to pray for her, and I am sure they have. I know that I have. It is easy to say you'll pray for someone. After a little while someone said we should pray right then and now. That sounded good to me. What I missed in that request was that I was being asked to pray. I have to admit I didn't feel like the best candidate to asked. I took a deep breath and emotions wash over me, I started to tear up. I prayed, I don't remember what it was that I exactly prayed, but I felt like God gave me the words.

It was a long time before I didn't feel like crying. The emotions were so strong. I realize that it has been a long time, if ever, that I have wanted something so much for someone else. I wanted to see her desire of her heart to come to pass.

I guess a part of me thinks that if I see her heart's desire come to pass then maybe mine will too. I know it doesn't really work that way, but maybe it can help increase my faith.

Oh, and that phone call. It came within 5 minutes and it was good news!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Letting People In

Today I went walking after school on the track. I meet other teachers out there almost every afternoon. Today I was determined to walk 2 miles (I ended up walking around 3, I lost count.) The first mile there were three of us and then one person had to go. That left me and one teacher to keep walking. We walked and talked, which is why I lost count. It was nice because I haven't had any one-on-one time with her before.

We talked about family, places that I've lived, and being a Christian. It was nice. I enjoyed getting to know her and I actually enjoyed telling her about me. I am not the open-up-and-talk-about-myself type of person. Yea, even writing this blog and opening up more doesn't mean that I enjoy it.

I like the fact that God puts people into your life to do those things you don't really enjoy, or at least didn't think that you would enjoy. I am starting to like this take-me-out-of-my-comfort-zone thing. Not that I like it all the time mind you, but I feel freer and have more joy since I have started doing it more.

I think I might even come to like letting more people in.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dirty Dishes and Devotions for Real Women

Today I took another out-of-my-comfort-zone step and I can't stop smiling. I feel so good about it! I started a group on Facebook called "Dirty Dishes and Devotions for Real Women". It is a first step of writing devotions for women. I really feel like God is telling me to do this, so as uncomfortable and vulnerable as it is I took the step.

If you are a women and on Facebook and want to be added to the group let me know and I will add you. If you are not on Facebook and want to get the devotions comment with you email address and I will email them to you. (I can delete your comment right after I save your email if you don't want it out there for everyone to see. Just let me know that's what you want.) At this point, they will not be daily, but I will work on getting them written so you get them often.

This is a big step for me, like this blog, and sharing my writing hopes (see yesterday's post about that), and I would greatly appreciate your prayers. I ask for His direction in what to write and when to write it. I also ask that every woman who reads the devotions gets something from God through the devotions.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Direct Answers and I Need Feedback, Please

The other day I had a statement about a student in second grade directed at me. I don't know this child, but it seems he is a handful to put it mildly. My response was that I won't be getting him because I won't be teaching by the time he is a fifth grader. I hadn't meant to come right out and say that, but I did. I almost smiled because I realized it was true. At least I won't be teaching as I am teaching now, if I am at all.

Today I was asked if I was going to start writing. My answer, if just the briefest of hesitation, was "yes". Yes, I am!

So now is the hard part, put out there a sample of something I am working on. It is one short story in a series of them that I am writing. What I need now is honest feedback. So here, goes my few blog readers, please read and please let me know, honestly, what you think. Talk about being open and vulnerable! :)

Those Who Mourn

The grayness began to soften to light as she laid there willing the sleep to remain. She grasped at it. Sleep meant the sweet bliss of no pain, no shame. The harder she tried to hold onto sleep the more alert she became and the pain rushed in causing a gasp to escape her lips. Yet she refused to open her eyes. She refused to let go of these last few moments, even as the pain spread, she tried to remain still. The sounds of a rising betrayed her wishes and she sighed deeply and slowly opened her eyes.

            The room was dull and cold. She blinked at the thought that so was her soul. The walls of stone closed in on her and the soft noises from the adjoining room lifted her from her bed. With no joy, she pulled the gown from the peg and pulled it over her head. The rough fabric fell into place and she wrapped the belt around her waist. Running her fingers through her hair she breathed deeply and the pain took complete hold.

The ache so real, so constant, and seemed to be the only thing she ever felt. She tried to remember a time before the pain, but it was only a memory. The voices in the other room spoke quietly and she knew it was for her sake. She loved them and hated them for it. She didn’t want their pity. The shame she felt was already too much, she couldn’t take on their pity as well.

Pushing back the curtain she stepped out into the center room and moved quietly toward the table in the kitchen. No one spoke a greeting, but hopeful eyes sought her face. When they saw only pain they turned back to their own tasks. She picked up the knife and cut the goat cheese into pieces and placed them on a plate. Turning she grabbed the pitcher of tea in her other hand. She placed them on the table and sat upon the bench. A plate of dried fruit and bread were set next to them and then her mother joined the family at the table.

The prayers were spoken and the food was quietly divided. She knew she had to eat her portion. The young girl and even younger boy could use more nourishment, but it went to her. She looked up briefly at Sarah, her sister, and regretted the fig she had placed in her mouth. Her gaze lighted on the child of promise, Eli, as he ate his breakfast. She saw the words that wished to pour forth from him as he struggled to keep silently. She dropped her gaze in shame. Oh, how she wished that it was she who had died.

Yet, here she sat, taking precious bites of food from her family’s table. She should be sitting at her own table, in her own home, with her husband’s family. Her father-in-law should be talking excitedly about the promise that their crop would bring at market. Her mother-in-law should be busy serving more food to her growing sons, and she should be quietly serving as well. Her husband, how the pain that word scorched through her heart, her husband should be stealing looks of affection that would cause her to blush. His brothers then take their turns teasing their beloved brother. Instead she sat here, at her father’s table, and burned under the oppression of her lose.

First the youngest brother became sick. His fever raged for two days before her father-in-law joined him in the throws of anguish. Her mother-in-law sought to comfort both while her two remaining sons took to the fields to care for the crop and she ran the house. Death came early one morning as she heard the crying of a mother holding her lifeless son. That evening the weeping came as the wife of many years became a widow. The sons tried to comfort their mother but she insisted on preparing her husband and son for burial before she would allow herself time for that.

As the dawn of the next day spread across the sky, so did the illness as it claimed the other two sons. Both women tended to them. The bathed them with wet clothes and tried to fill them with herbs and medicines. By the evening she alone tried to care for three as her mother-in-law became feverish and weak. They found her three days later with her dead husband’s head in her lap and her mother-in-law and brother-in-law dead beside them.

Her family came. They helped her prepare the body of her husband as her mother-in-law’s sisters prepared the others. After they were buried her few things were gathered and she returned to her fathers home.

That had been only a month ago and she was sure that her pain would never lessen, would never cease. As the breakfast meal was finished and the dishes cleaned and put away, she picked up the empty jug. Her mother gazed at her quickly before turning back to her tasks. She knew the look. She knew it meant that it was late in the morning, too late, for a trip to the town well. It meant that only the unclean went to the well at this time.

She felt as cast out as the unclean and she knew those women wouldn’t look at her with pity. They wouldn’t look at her at all. She didn’t want others to look at her. She didn’t want to be seen.

            Moving along the dusty streets she let her mind wonder. A smile played at her lips as she thought of the first time she saw her husband. He was still a young man and she merely a girl. He was busy in the marketplace selling his family’s produce. As he haggled with a customer he looked up and saw her. Their eyes met and she felt the color rise in her cheeks. He was the handsomest man she had ever seen and he was smiling at her. It wasn’t long after that the marriage was arranged between their fathers.

            She hadn’t heard the voices, the crowd that was moving down the streets of the town. Now she saw them. They were pressed tightly around a man. She tried to move into the shadows of the building, she tried to hide. She watched the crowd as it moved towards her. She did not know the man that they followed, but she heard them calling out to Him.

            The crowd grew so thick that they came to a stop right in front of her. She pressed herself as close to the wall as she could. She felt panic and desperation rising up within her. She couldn’t get away. She looked around trying to find a way to get away from the crowd. And then she saw Him. She saw Him looking right at her.

            Hope welled up inside and stole her breath away. She tried to break contact but the eyes of compassion seemed to seize her. They looked inside of her, into the depth of her aching soul.

“Beloved, I can make you whole.”

She gasped for breath.

“Beloved, I know your pain. Let me make you whole.”

The crowd grew thicker, crying out to Him, eager for His touch yet His eyes remained on her. “Beloved, I love you. I am the Way. I can bring you healing. I can heal the hurt of your heart. Just come to Me and I will give you rest.”

She couldn’t see anyone else. She couldn’t hear the growing noise of the crowd. All she saw was his eyes and all she wanted was to believe their unspoken words. She feared blinking, feared it would silence the hope.

Within her came a cry, a cry so desperate, a cry so painful she feared breaking into pieces. “Yes, Lord, yes!”

A smile touched His lips and joy overflowing filled her being. The crowd started to move again. They passed by her and disappeared around the corner of a building. The street became quiet again. She stood there alone. A smile on her lips. A joy filling her soul. A freedom from the pain. A word. Jesus!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Few Things I'm Considering

I am considering doing something outside of my comfort zone. I think that's a funny statement, because ever since I started this blog, even before then, I have been doing more and more outside my comfort zone. I guess I'm actually considering a few out-of-my-comfort-zone things.

One is leaving teaching. I don't know if it'll really be completely out of education, but I am considering leaving the classroom. As risky as leaving teaching may be figuring out what I will do is even more risky. (In a perfect world I would be a stay-at-home wife and mom, but I'm not either so that won't work.) I have never really thought about what I would do beside teaching. I planned to be the old lady teacher that crouched at all the kids, okay so I have trouble crouching at kids, but I'm trying to paint a picture here. So trying to think of what else to do is kind of tricky. I have a lot of likes, maybe even loves, but I wonder what I could do with those. So not only am I considering stepping out of my comfort zone I don't even know what zone I will be stepping into.

This blog has helped me open up and I have enjoyed writing it, well not all the time because some posts are really hard to write. Writing is something I have enjoyed but never really had an idea of what to write about. I have tried over the years to write and it never really worked out. I never stuck to it. One evening I got an idea in my head and had a hard time not writing. When I finally went to bed I kept sitting up and turning on the light and jotting thoughts down. When I have time I have been working on it. So writing more is one thing I am considering.

The next thing I am considering has to do with writing too. This morning I read a devotional that I get as a daily email. Sharing about how the author had prayed for a Christian man who was ho-hum. Of course this early 20's prayer didn't end up the way she expected when at 22, yes so what was she 21 when she made that early 20's prayer. She met and married a Christian guy who turned out not to be ho-hum. Of course she ended the devotion with that's how we approach God like we just want a ho-hum relationship and He wants so much. Anyway, the devotion left me in tears and angry at her early 20's prayer being answered, even if differently than expected, at 22. I thought about how devotions for women seem to fall into two categories: those for married mothers and those for childless singles. I really wish there was devotions just for woman regardless of status.

That led to me praying about it on my drive to school this morning. I told God I didn't want to just complain about it, but I wanted to find an answer to the problem. The answer could be finding the right devotions from the right Godly woman. The answer could also be something else completely different. So I am praying that He will show me the answer and if I have to do something to make the answer a reality.

Now, none of these things I am considering are things I can do in my own strength, as a matter of fact they terrify me! I have to trust in God and whatever I do must be done in His strength.

Monday, October 29, 2012

To Give Up or Not to Give Up?

To give up or not to give up? That is the question that I ask of me.

Sometimes giving up is good. Sometimes giving up is exactly what God is asking me to do. Sometimes giving up is bad. Sometimes God wants me to preserve and not give up. So when do I know which one is which?

I have wavered back and forth between both. One day I may be sure that I need to keep praying, keep believing and the next day all I want to do is give up. Sometimes this is based on events that encourage or discourage me. Sometimes it is based solely on my emotions. Sometimes it is based on misunderstanding or misperception. I just feel confused about what I should do.

I pray. I have prayed about this over and over again for years. I can't believe sometimes that it has been years. I never thought I could wait as long as I have. I can think back and remember that there was no way I could wait for months, let alone years. I have been waiting years now.

I am not the only person who struggles with this. I am not the only one struggling with waiting. I am not the only person who struggles with whether or not I should keep asking, seeking, and knocking. I know I'm not the only one, but sometimes it sure feels like I am.

So, I need to know which I need to do. I need to know whether I keep keeping on or throw my hands up and move in another direction. I know that the only one who can answer this for me is God, but I do wonder if others who are waiting, or have waited, have any words of wisdom that you will share. It would help me to know there are others and I'm not in this waiting game alone.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Obedience Even When It Doesn't Make Sense

Have you ever had God ask you to do something that you've done before and it didn't work?

This morning God woke me up early, very early, and I had to ask Him why. I kept thinking if I can just get my brain to turn off I could go back to sleep. That didn't work, so I changed directions and ask God why I was supposed to be up. He told me to do something that I have done before, something I promised I wouldn't do again unless He told me to. I definitely questioned Him. I asked Him that was just some crazy, too-early-in-the-morning thought or was it really Him. I told Him if it wasn't Him to let me know otherwise I would do it.

Well, I feel back to sleep, with less than 30 minutes before the alarm was to go off, and started my day. I let the dog out, feed the cats, and climbed back into bed to read my Bible. After letting the dog back in and finishing my chapter I got on the computer to check email and Facebook. I was already trying to ignore what He had told me to do.

The more I tried to ignore it then more stirring there was inside of me. I knew that even though every other time it hadn't worked, hadn't helped, He was asking me to do it again. So I went ahead and did it, even though I was still having internal debate with Him.

I have no idea how it will work out this time. It might not work in anyway that I can expect. I may never see any result from it, but I know that I needed to be obedient and do it. And when it was done I felt peace because I knew it really was Him and not me. Even now, more than 12 hours later, I still feel that sense of peace.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Admitting That I Don't Believe

I don't believe that God is going to give me the desires of my heart.

There I said it. I have thought it, wrestled with it for years, and tried to pretend that I don't believe it. But I do.

I know in my head that it isn't true. I know the verses that tell me that He will, that He wants to. I know the messages taught, books wrote, and songs sung. The problem is that it doesn't really matter how much my head knows it if my heart doesn't.

This morning I deleted part of my post from yesterday because it included something about the desire of my heart. It was too much of me to leave out there. It was too much of what I long for Him to do and since I struggle with believe He will, I just couldn't leave it out there. I will admit deleting it hurt me, but the idea of letting other people know it and it not happening hurt just as much if not more. Writing it and feeling the overwhelming sense of rejection caused me to cry myself to sleep.

I woke up with the same ache and went straight to the computer to delete it. On my drive to work I kept trying not to cry about it and that led my to pray. So my new prayer is not for the desires of my heart. My new prayer isn't that I will know about how much He wants to give blessings to me. It isn't that I see what He can do. My prayer isn't that I will know the character of God. My new prayer is that I will know God. I want to just know Him. Maybe if I can just get to know Him, He will change my heart.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Not Feeling Very Strong and Courageous

"Be strong and courageous!" When God said these words to Joshua he was about to enter the Promised Land. So why would he need to hear those words when he was going into the Promised Land? Because it was full of giants and all sort of ites that wanted to keep the land. The whole verse is "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not fear, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9 ESV)

I have to admit that when I hear this verse it does give me strength. I mean if the God of the universe says that He will be with me wherever I go why would I ever be afraid. Well, it might have something to do with those giants and ites that are waiting for me to come into the Promised Land and they don't want to leave.

God has been taking me through my own wilderness experience and I'm on the verge of entering a Promised Land. Unfortunately, like all Promised Lands there are things to fear in it. I fear the unknown. I fear failure. I fear rejection. See, God knew that Joshua would have things to fear, that he would be afraid, so He told him not to because He would be with him. God says the same thing to me when there are things to fear, because He knows my fears and He knows the giants and ites that I will be going up against.

I keep trying to think of what I want. What I want my Promised Land to include. Of course, just because I want it to be a certain way doesn't mean that it'll turn out that way. I would love to custom order my Promised Land.
It would include a job where I get to do something creative, something that brings me happiness. (Teaching has let me be creative and has made me happy, but it is time for a change.) I can think of the things that I love to do. I love to cook and I really love to bake. Not sure that I am good enough at either of them to make a living. I love crafts and making things. The idea of doing that is very appealing to me. Lately, I have wanted to take old furniture and transform it. It would allow me to be creative. I also really like the idea of transforming something old into something new.

Of course, none of these options have the security of my present job. That is one thing I fear. I fear not the fact that I don't know what I will be doing. I fear that I might not have the financial security that I have now. Teachers don't make a lot of money, believe me, but I do have a decent paycheck that covers my bills. I have health insurance. I have retirement. The idea of walking away from those securities cause me to fear.

So I guess the question is, do I continue to stay where I am and let the fear win or do I step out into my Promised Land? Do step out into the unknown? Into a land full of giants and ites? Honestly, part of me says no, but the other part of me can't wait until I get to make that first step in.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Judge Not

This morning I was convicted of holding other people up to my standards. It is so easy to judge people based on my perspective, my experiences, and my belief. It is so easy to expect people to react like I would react, but it is not right for me to do so.

Recently someone decided to stop speaking to me. She has her reasons, although they are not based on what really happened. I could judge her reaction based on how I would have handled it, but I choose not to. Not to sound like I have it all together, I have make this decision daily, and sometimes it is not an easy decision to make. It is so much easier to choose to react badly.

Another situation, one that doesn't involve me at all, recently happened and someone made a comment about how they would have reacted if they had experienced the same things as another person. It is easy to say, but it is so not true. We have no idea how we will react to situations that we have never faced. We can't look at our own lives and think we will know how we will react to situations we have never faced, possibly will never face.

But neither of these situations were what I was convicted of this morning. I realized that I had been holding another person's life up to my standards. I had to stop and think about what my life has been like, what my exposure to Christ has been, and what my relationship with Him means to my life. This person has not had a life like mine. This person has had infrequent exposure to the Truth and has been mislead more than not. My childhood wasn't easy, but even so it wasn't as difficult as this person's. I don't know how I would react to life if it was like this person's. So I was convicted of judging based on my life.

Ultimately, this conviction lead me to tears and prayers on a deeper level. On a level that looked beyond me and even beyond this person. The prayers were for this person to have a chance to be exposed to Truth and to develop a true relationship with Him.

Will I slip into the habit of judging? Judging based on my life and believes? Yes, I am sure that I will, but I hope that it will become easier not to.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The One That I Love

This blog exposes me. It makes me put out there things that I would rather keep all to myself. Things like fears, feelings, dreams, and longings. I especially want to keep my longings to myself. I keep just enough of me back. I have such a hard time letting it all out, letting it go. I don't want to risk being judged, being rejected. Part of me wants to spill it all out and let it go. Part of me dreads that possibility. But right now I feel like I will bust if I don't pour some of me all over this post.

I love someone. I mean truly love this person. I want this person to experience joy, especially the joy of a relationship with Christ. I want this person to not have to experience the pain of strained relationships with family. I want this person to know he is wanted, that he is loved. I want him to experience a stability in his life that he has rarely had. I want him to have great friendships. I want him to have success in the things that he loves to do the most. I want him to smile everyday. (He has a great smile.) I want him to feel loved. I want him to know that I love him and that no matter what I always will. No matter the miles of separation. No matter the past. No matter the present. No matter what the future may bring. I want him to know, but I fear that he never will.

Oh, I have said it. I have showed it. I just don't think it has been enough.

You see this person I love is not an adult, but a child, well a teenager. I first knew I loved him when he was only 9. I had the strongest pull on my heart that I have ever had in my life. I am not a parent and although I can't be sure, I believe I love him like he was my own child. Like I said, I have never loved anyone like it before or since. And just when I thought maybe he would become more apart of my life, it all crumbled in front of me. I was devastated and the pain of that time is still with me. In some ways the intensity of the pain has diminished but in some ways it is just as strong as ever.

I have tried to keep my hands totally off and let God do what He will, but it has been hard. I have put my hands in and it hasn't gone well. This morning I was trying to convince myself that I could put my hands in just a little bit and it would be okay, but I knew that it wouldn't be. I knew it wasn't for me to do. I knew it wasn't about him. I knew it was about my selfish feelings. I knew I had to stay strong in my faith and keep my hands off.

That doesn't change the fact that I want the pain to go away. I want the joy of being apart of his life. I miss him terribly. I pray for him. I cry for him. I hope for him. And for right now, that is all I can do.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Change Is Happening!

Life is full of change. And I am pretty sure this is one of those times for me.

Right before I started teaching my last year in New York God spoke to me. He told me "don't look past this year." So in faith I knew I was supposed to finish out the year and then quit my job, sell my place, and move. Move where? I will admit  a few times that year my faith was shaky to say the least. The school year ended and I no longer had a job. I had decided to move to Texas with my parents, but I still owned my place and my last paycheck was coming soon and then what. I had August left. After August I would be broke and stuck. In August a man came along and with only a day or two before the I was supposed to move my place sold. The moving van was packed and my brother and were set to drive to Texas.

God came through on the last moment. Can't say I didn't wish it had been sooner, but He was right on time.

My last year in Georgia I knew it was my last year even before school started. I knew I was going to move to North Carolina. I put my house on the market and it just wouldn't sell. A few came and looked, some even acted as if they would buy and then nothing. I got new job in North Carolina and I knew I was to go, but the house wasn't selling. My faith was shaky again. I left North Carolina but this time the house didn't sell at the last minute.

It never sold actually. It was foreclosed because in almost 2 years I had eaten away my savings paying for it and living in here. My faith was really shaky through that whole process, but the end it all was for the best. That is another story altogether.

Last school year I felt like God was doing some major work on me, preparing me. The school year was difficult and I kept thinking that I wasn't sure how much more I could take. I thought something was going to change. God told me on January 1st that this was the year. I, of course, had my ideas of what that should mean, what I wanted it to be. None of what I expected has happened and my faith has never felt so shaky as it has the last month.

Then yesterday I finally realized whatever change He has in mind has to be better than this. So I made a decision to embrace it. I have no idea what the change will bring, but I know embracing what He wants for me has brought me peace. And I am excited that someday I will be posting about all He is doing and showing me!

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Vulnerability of Complete Surrender

When I used to live 5 minutes from work I loved the fact that I never felt rushed to get to work. I loved being able to go to events at school just 5 minutes before they started and it only taking the same number of minutes to get home afterwards. It made evening events not so bad, I still had much of the evening to myself. I was close enough to go to Kate's Skate nights, school restaurant nights, and such. It was convenient.

Now I live in my blessing of a house. I love my home and I thank God for it almost every single day. My drive is longer and I must cross 74 to get to work. Depending on what time of day it is that can be a bit of a wait. Too close the 7 AM and the cars are backed up for quite a ways and it can take 2 lights to get over 74. It makes going to evening school events very inconvenient, but it does allow me the time to pray that I need so much.

Since I started driving, I have been a car prayer. Of course that's the only place that I pray. For whatever reason it is one of the most special places for me to pray. Now my trip to and from work is closer to 20 minutes and I get to talk to God both ways, if I'm not singing, which I'm really good at in the car. :)

This morning as I drove to work I was praying. I was praying about surrender. I was asking God to help me to surrender so many things in my life right now that seem to be crowding into my thoughts and feelings lately. It was a good time of prayer and it reminded me of an incredible instance in my life.

When I was a senior in college I prayed a prayer that resulted in something that I had never experienced before or since. I do not remember the why of this prayer. I don't remember what events were happening at that time. I just remember the prayer and the results. I prayed a prayer of surrender, total surrender. I have prayed to surrender parts of my life before this prayer and also since. This time was different.

The difference was the results. Instantly I felt a peace like none I have known before. That peace was followed by a complete sense of rawness, exposure, vulnerability. It was an amazing sense of knowing that at that moment anyone or anything could rip me to shreds, and yet having the knowledge that I was totally in God's hands. This amazing experience only lasted a day, but it was a long day. I went about my classes, hanging with my friends, and being a senior in college, and the whole time this dual vulnerability/peace in His hands was also being experienced that day. The next day the stripped away feeling was no longer there, but I still knew that I was in a total surrender state.

I only know of one other person who has experienced this, I'm sure there have been others, maybe many others. I only know of one. I know about Carrie's experience because after my experience I told her about mine. A few days later she told me that she didn't understand what I experienced until she prayed the same prayer and experienced the same sense of total surrender and vulnerability.

Like I said, even though I have prayed to surrender to God since then I have never had that experience again.  Part of me is glad that I haven't, it was extremely hard, and part of me wishes I would. As hard as that experience was, the fact that I knew I was completely in God's hands overshadow any other feelings or fears of that day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Trying to Figure Out How to Deal With the Feelings

Lately I've been feeling, I don't know what word fits best, but not right works. I try really hard to balance my feelings. There was a time when I would stuff all my feelings down and ignore them. That by the way is not healthy. So a few years ago I decided to let God heal me and help me feel again.

The healing process can be a painful one. Stuffed feelings tend to grow infections all over your heart, and my heart was green with gangrene. God had to gently remove the yuck, but even though He was gentle it hurt. It hurt a lot! I spent so much time crying, most of the time I didn't even know what I was crying about. Even though it was one of the worst times in my life it was also the best. I know that sounds crazy, but it's true. I know that God was working so even though it hurt I knew it was making me better.

Since then I have done my best not to stuff my feelings, sometimes that is really hard. I do not enjoy feeling the bad feelings, and I want to stuff them so badly. Lately, I have been feeling those bad feelings: lonely, sad, angry, and hopeless. I have wanted to stuff those feelings away, and sometimes I do. That hasn't helped, because I have continued to feel the yuck feelings, and the effects of stuffing.

My problem now is having the emotions and figuring out how to deal with them. Do I just wear them on my sleeve? Do I put them away when I need to do my job and let them out when I'm not at work? Do I just go through my life, feeling them, and not letting them overwhelm me? That would probably be the right answer, but as a former stuffer I still don't know how to do that.

I want the yuck feelings gone. I want my prayers to work and for me not to be sad, to not miss people, to not be overwhelmed by my job, etc. I figure I have feel these feelings for some reason. I just wish that I didn't. I wish that the people I miss weren't gone to be missed. I wish my job wasn't so stressful so I didn't get overwhelmed. I wish I wasn't feeling sad and lonely.

Why this post? I've said it before that posting is like my therapy so maybe that's why I posting. Maybe somehow it is helping me deal with those emotions and feelings that I don't know how to deal with.

Monday, September 17, 2012

He Always!

I saw this on Facebook and had to share. It is exactly me. I fear what is to come and the pain of the past sometimes cripples my heart. Sometimes it is hard to look up when my eyes are full of my present condition, but looking up to Him is the answer. He is always there. He always loves me, even when I don't deserve it. He always keeps His promises, even if it feels like He is taking too long. He has never failed me and He never will.

Friday, September 14, 2012

My Post Posting Condition

So I wanted to post and let you know that I have this condition that happens after I hit "publish". Whatever emotion I am dealing with while posting seems to go away. It's like I get lighter after the post, like it lifts off of me. I can think of only one time that didn't happen, at least not right away. My last post was about being angry and after my post I wasn't angry anymore. I still have to deal with my lack of faith on this issue, but the anger was gone.

Whenever I have those need to post I guess it is like therapy for me. I have my posting session and then I feel better. I know that I'm supposed to post, because God wants me to be obedient about sharing what I am feeling and going through. Maybe I have to keep feeling the emotions until I post about them. Maybe that's why they seem to simply disappear after I post.

Now, for that issue I'm dealing with now, I was praying on the way to school. I once again had to admit that I can't handle this on my own. I can't see beyond my emotions and my small view. I can, however, put it in God's hand and let Him deal with it. That does make it easier, not easy but easier to wait on Him to work everything out for good in His time.

So as long as posting helps me deal with what I am feeling and experiencing then I will keep posting. :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I Am Mad at God, and No Lightening Has Not Struck Me

I really should be getting ready for work this morning, but I have had a bad few days. Two nights ago I cried, no I sobbed myself to sleep. How can someone else's good news send a person to sobbing? Honestly, I don't know how I can be truly happy for her and devastated at the same time, but I am. I cried so much that I really started to think, "How do I even have any tears left in me!"

Of course yesterday I woke up with a splitting headache and swollen eye lids. They looked grotesque as I was putting makeup on them. I had to go to work when all I wanted to do was stay curled up in bed and not see anyone. No such luck! I'm a teacher, from the moment I enter work until I leave there are people around me. The only benefit of teaching when you are upset is from the moment the kids enter the room until they leave I have no time to think about anything outside of school. My brain is too busy thinking of the million teacher things, including "why in the world did that kid just do that?" (Aside, I have been doing that more this school year than any other. It's going to be a long year!)

Even before getting to school I was driving to school. The music was on and I had no desire to listen to music about God, so I turned it off. The silence was worse. I felt like I was stuck in a silent, dark well I was. So I turned the music back on and God started talking to me. He started asking me questions through the song so I answered. Thankfully, my drive to work is in the dark for most of it and there is little traffic on my route, because I was screaming at the radio. I was telling Him exactly how I was feeling and all of His shortcomings.

I heard that gasp. No lightening didn't strike me and no, it isn't sacrilegious. Do you really think the One who created all doesn't know our thoughts and feelings before we even have them? I am in a relationship with Him and in relationship I am supposed to do real. So, I am!

After school, I went home and tried to just think about anything else. I had already had my fit and had endured a day of school, emphasis on endured, and I just wanted to relax. But I kept feeling this nudge to blog about it. I didn't want to. Why would I want to admit my extreme feelings and my screaming fest? Well, I guess it has something to do with the whole "even if my voice shakes" thing that this blog is supposed to be about. But I didn't.

This morning I woke up to the alarm, which thankfully is music and not a horrific blaring noise. The song, which I have never heard before, and I can't remember the words somehow moved me for another honest moment with God. No, I didn't yell at Him. I simply told Him the truth. I told Him, that I just don't believe Him for this. I have seen nothing, experienced nothing to make me believe Him about this situation. I sighed and knew that He already knew that. He already knows that I am struggling, this is no shock to Him. I'm not mad, not now. I am sad and trying to find Him in this, because He is there. He is right in the middle of my situation. He has it. I can't see that right now, but I know in my heart that He has this. I just wish He would be quicker about it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Innocent Pictures Cause Tailspin of Thoughts

Just when you think you have moved past something, gotten over someone, dealt with a past hurt, something triggers and you are right back there. Know what I mean?

The other day my computer did something weird and for whatever reason it started showing a very old screen saver that I had. It is a series of pictures. I do not have my computer set to use that screen saver and haven't for years. So the computer starts doing weird things and all of a sudden this screen saver comes across my screen. Besides wondering why my laptop has decided to be demon possessed I am freaking out, yup freaking out, over the pictures rolling across my screen. Those pictures sent my heart into my throat!

Okay, so hit the enter button and all is right in laptop world, and has been ever since. My mind though is on a downward spiral. Feelings I had laid at Jesus' feet came rushing all at once. Memories flashed through my mind connected with the pictures. I was sort of in shock. I mean I had given Him all of this and had been at such peace about it all for so long I really thought I was "over it". I guess not.

Okay, needed to pray and get myself back in a peaceful place. That minor crisis averted. Then a few days later a picture shows up on Facebook. A innocent picture that in and of itself wasn't anything to cause an issue. It really is a very nice picture. (And no it wasn't one of those pictures that makes me hate Facebook.) But that picture sent me reeling. I actually was having trouble breathing! My mind went into another tailspin and my thoughts became consumed. That went on for a couple of days, literally my dreams became filled with these thoughts.

Then I decided that I can't let my thoughts rule me. I prayed that God would help me get my thoughts in the right place. Each day since I have to make that decision again. I need to leave it to God. It is an impossible situation and if it is to change it will take the hand of God.

Have I struggled with my thoughts since? Yes, yes I have. Do I need to give it to God over and over again? Yes! I can say that it has gotten easier each time that I place those thoughts where they belong. In His hands.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Weird Ponderings

"Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" Matthew 7:3 (ESV)

Maybe I am just weird or maybe other people wonder about this too. I wonder about "That Thing" that people find annoying about me. You know how everybody has that one thing, some have many one things, that they do that drives other people crazy. For example, I have known more than my share of people who come into a room and just start talking. They don't care that others were already in a conversation. It's like they think that everyone just sits around silently waiting for them to come and start talking. Are they even aware that they do this? I think the ones I've known have absolutely no clue.

So sometimes I wonder what my thing is. I don't like the idea that I have something that drives people crazy but I know I do. Now I know I can be passive aggressive, really trying to not be, and I know I sometimes don't say things when I should, that I can be vague. I know about those things and a few others. Still I wonder what the other thing or things are. Now, I'm not inviting people to tell me. I don't think my ego could take that. I'd rather leave that up to God to do in His timing.

Sometimes I wonder if that is what the verse above might be talking about, well in part. I know my flaws and still notice theirs. I make comments about them or judge them. But I wonder if it also is talking about how we notice other people's obvious flaws but we have a huge flaw that everyone else notices but we have no clue about.

Okay, I know this post seems random, but I honestly have wondered about this for years. Today I was thinking about it on the ride home from work and thought I'd blog about it. Maybe someone else is like me and wonders about this too.

Monday, September 3, 2012

I Hate Facebook!

Yup, I really do. I hate Facebook! Hate is a strong word, but in this case it is true. The irony is I check Facebook almost everyday. Well, the truth it isn't Facebook's fault at all. Let me explain.

Facebook is full of reminders of what the have-nots don't have and want. I know people who want children, I am one of them, but some of them can't have them for medical reasons. At least once a day there is a post about a child's birthday, first tooth, expected arrival, potty training successes, and on and on and on. The posts I can glance at move on, but my mouse is demon possessed. It never fails that at least once a day it manages to hovers over the right side of the screen where people's likes and have commented shows up. (What is that part called? I remember when it came out and people hated it.) A picture of a cute baby or family pops up or a comment about some kid I don't even know is staring me in the face. I move the mouse as fast as I can.

I understand that longing that grabs hold and makes me whole being want to cry, and I am sure other people feel it too. What's worse is what I scrolled over today, by accident. I friend liked or commented on some one's photo. The photo popped up and had a caption, gotta love the caption. It was of a baby's first birthday and surrounding the baby where five, yes five siblings. The caption said something about it being her birthday and how incredible blessed they were. Two of the siblings were obviously adopted. So not only has this person been blessed with four children of her own, she and her husband have even adopted two children. That photo sent me here to finally post about how much I hate Facebook.

Then there are the "today I am celebrating "fill-in the blank" years married to my best friend". I hate those even more. It really feels yucky, and that is not a strong enough word, to know that so many people have found their best friend, married him or her, and have been together for years, most are double digits, because I'm old and my friends have been married a long time.

By the way, this is a pity party post, and I hate that too, but I'm trying to be open and honest and this is what I need to post about right now.

Now, I don't want people to stop posting these great posts about their babies, children, and spouses. Well, maybe part of me does. :) People should share these wonderful blessings in their lives. And they better realize how truly blessed they are! Because the posts I really hate and make me want to pull people's hair out is when they complain. Yeah, those "my kids are driving me crazy" and "my wife/husband really annoys me when she/he does..." posts. I know people can be annoying. I know kids can drive you crazy. I know that sometimes people feel frazzled and worn out and cranky. But complaining about those blessings that so many people long for that drives me to the edge. (I know that have complained on Facebook about things that I should consider a blessing, like work, and it is wrong and I'm working on it.)

So, now you know why I hate Facebook. But I'm sure that I'll be checking it soon to catch up on today's news. And once again, writing these posts help me deal with the feelings. I could bottle them up like I've always done or I can post them. So I post them. :)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Not Liking the Destruction

I really hate destruction! I hate destruction in families. I hate destruction in friendships. I hate destruction in any kind of relationship; work-place ones, teams, groups, churches whatever.

I know that people grow and change and some things in their lives change as they grow. I mean a football player can't be a senior in high school forever. Kids grow up and become adults. They go to school, get jobs, move away. I am not talking about the natural kind of maturing that takes place that brings about change.

Neither am I talking about the change that comes when God tells you to move. He tells you to step out in faith on something and sometimes that moves you out of the comfort of home, the workplace, or the church you attend. That is called obedience and even though it is hard it is important to obey the One who calls.

But destruction seems to be a theme lately, at least in my little world. I haven't suffered from any destruction, but it has affected me. Knowing that a father and son have experienced destruction in their relationship hurts my heart. Knowing that something happened to cause a divide between friends makes me sad. Knowing that something caused a break in a church grieves me.

Maybe the worse part of it all is that I know of the effects, the end results, but I do not know what caused it. It could just be that I'm nosey and it really isn't any of my business anyway. That is very possible! Yet I keep thinking if I just knew what happened, if I could just understand maybe it would be easier. Of course, that probably isn't true at all. It wouldn't change what happened and it actually might make the way I feel worse.

The one thing that gives me hope is I know some of those involved love God. I cling to the scripture that says, "and we know that all things work together for good to those that love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28 NKJV) Those that love God need to continue to, they need to continue to turn to Him and to His purposes. Then they can rest assure that even though it looks bleak it will work together for good, maybe nothing like they expect but good none the less.

Unfortunately not everyone who has suffered in their relationship loves God. I pray all the time that they would love God, that they would turn to Him. There is nothing more that I can do. I do not like the helpless feeling of that. I am not a big have-to-have-control type of person. I am quite the opposite, but in this I wish I had some sort of control that somehow I could fix it, making it all better.

One thing is for sure, all this destruction has led me to a different level of talking with God about everything. I hope that it does the same for those who love Him. I hope that those who need Him will be drawn to Him.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hit By a Ton of Emotional Bricks

The last few days have hit me like a ton of bricks, and they hit hard! School stuff, emotions, and feelings I haven't felt for a long time all on a collision course for my heart and all struck at the same time.

I cried my way to work yesterday and couldn't have told anyone why because it was such a mix bag of things. Last night I woke up with night terror so bad that I sat on my bed with my heart pounding so hard in my chest that it made my head hurt. I woke up this morning sad and after feeding the furry babies cried myself back to sleep over something that I had given God such a long time ago and have gained such peace from Him. It wasn't the same, I didn't pick it back up, no it was different. It was like crying over a death from long ago that memories, good memories, stirred up remembrance.

As I got up I know I had a lot of cleaning to do. I opened Rhapsody on my computer and went to my cleaning standby, TobyMac. Who wouldn't be motivated to keep at even a ugh task as cleaning while listening to Toby? Well, today it aggravated me. I put down the dust rag and changed the music. I can't say it is better, still listening to it. It is good music, at least I think so, but the words are tearing me raw. The words feel like lies, but they aren't. The words whispering in my mind tell me they are but I know there not. I just need my heart to get where my brain already is.

I will keep cleaning when I'm done, but I knew I needed to sit down and write this. Not that I want to. I really don't like crying and admitting crying is even worse. I don't like sharing deep down me. I don't like hitting "publish" at the end of many of my posts, but I know that God has asked me to share my heart in this way. So I'll try to pour out what I can't even understand and put into words.

So the school stuff, last year I had a very stressful year. I had students who weren't behavior problems in the typical sense at least. I had OCD, ADHD, Autism, Emotional Disturbed, Learning Disabled, Anxiety Disorder, and many unnamed issues in my room. I felt like a punching bag each day. I felt pulled in a million needy directions. I had tears to deal with, some over hurt feelings and others over angry outbursts day in and day out. I honestly wanted to quit. I thought I would never teach another year. I thought I couldn't. The crazy thing was I loved these kids. They were needy and they needed me. The last day came and they all left after their promotion ceremony and I thought "next year will be so much easier!" I mean it had to be! Well, I got the class list and all dreams of a year without any such problems mocked me from the sheet of names. It isn't the kids themselves that are the issue. I guess the issue is I hoped that I finally was getting my due. I have had this type of class for years, I can't even count how far back. I guess I was hoping beyond hope that this year would be different. That this year the power that be would think I had suffered enough and needed a break. That didn't happen.

The emotions and feelings, well I already mentioned crying myself back to sleep this morning. The other day I put my pictures back up of the niece and nephews, one of Riley, and then I put up two of "my boy". I thought I could just hang them but the roll of emotions that went over me as I did made me stop and turn away. He isn't in my life, besides me reading the occasional Facebook post, and he isn't the boy that he was. Maybe I miss the memory of who he was most. Maybe I miss the hugs he readily gave or the smile that lit up his whole face. Maybe I miss a memory, a dream, maybe.

I also miss a feeling. A feeling that brought a smile to my face and a soaring to my heart. I miss a blossoming of something good, something I had never had before. Then it changed! Suddenly without any warning. Like running into a brick wall that wasn't there a second before. I tried to push against that wall and it just added another layer of brick. Finally the wall was so thick there was no point any longer. When it got there, or I finally realized how thick it had become, I totally turned it all over to God. He replaced it with a peace like I never expected and I felt light and free. So why the good memory stir today to push me to tears that rolled thickly down my face? I don't know!

Maybe it is what all struggle does. Struggle either draws you to Christ or it builds up a wall of its own inside of you. Right now I don't want to draw close to Christ. How's that for honesty for you? But I know beyond a shadow of doubt that I don't want it to build a wall in me. Maybe that's why I need to write this, need to post this. Maybe that will help me turn to Christ. I hope so.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

You Are Invited!

Ready or not, and I'm pretty sure I'm not ready, but next Tuesday will be my first "Open House". I really don't know what to call it so that's it until a better name comes along. :)

So, August 21st at 6:00 PM my house is open to anyone who wants to come for dinner, time to read The Word, and talk about it. When I say anyone I mean anyone. Christian or not, church goer or not, married or not, parent or not, anyone is welcome to come. Kids are welcome too. They will be part it, not separated, so if you bring them know that.

If you want to come, come! If you want to bring something like a side, bread or salad would be great. Or you could bring drinks like soda, tea, or juice. If you have a Bible bring it, if not I have a few you could choose from. Do me a big favor, please, and let me know so I can make sure I have enough food ready.

Now my school friends are thinking that I'm nuts! This is the first full week of Teacher Workdays as we get ready for school to start. It is a super busy time and hectic and would seem like the worst time to do this, but I know it is the right time. This is the perfect time because I shouldn't let busyness keep me from God, from spending time with Him, or spending time with others.

I will be cleaning, organizing, and pray for next Tuesday!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Little Thing Called Forgiveness

I have been harboring some unforgiveness for a little over 3 years. The thing is I thought I wasn't. I thought since the person I was upset with and I had no interaction and I had prayed about the hurt then thee wasn't any unforgiveness there. I had reached out to this person a few times over the last few years. I mean how could I reach out and still hold unforgiveness, right? Well, there was!

How did I realize that it was there? Simple, I knew that I was going to see this person soon and all the hurt and anger came back. Oh, I was surprised because like I said I thought I had dealt with it. I have been praying for the last few days about how I would deal with seeing this person. My prayers were focused on kind of "I hope I don't see this person. That we sort of just miss each other". Yeah, God wasn't going to let that happen.

So I slipped into bed and started to pray and as I prayed listing things to God it was more and more obvious that I had not forgiven this person, not at all! If anything it had gotten worse. I mean I could now add the "I reached out and got rejected" to my list of wrongs done to me. When I realized I was harboring unforgiveness I literally felt my stomach drop. It was gut wrenching! Then my listing continued, but now it was a list of all the things I need to let go of in order for the forgiveness to happen. As I listed each thing I felt my heart grow lighter, I mean literally!

Well, as it turned out there was no "sort of just missing each other" thing at all. Turning a corner and there we were, and with total honesty I was able to greet this person with joy. I was actually happier to see this person. I felt so much at peace!

Did forgiving change the past circumstances? No! Forgiving changed me though and for that I am truly happy.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Faith for Miracles

I've been reading Matthew for the last few days and have been thinking about the miracles that Jesus performed. Three of the miracles stuck out to me. There are similarities in them, and things that really stuck out to me that were different.

The first miracle takes place in Matthew 8. Jesus enters Capernaum and a Roman captain comes up to him. Let me stop right there and point out that the Roman came to the Jew. Rome conquered Israel and Jews hated Romans. This Roman captain comes to Jesus and asks Him to heal his servant. Jesus offers to come heal the servant. The Roman tells Jesus that he needs to just say the word and he knows the servant will be healed. Jesus says that He has yet to come across such trust in Israel. He mentions that he is the beginning of many outsiders who become part of God's kingdom. Then Jesus tells the Roman to go and that his servant it healed. Then Jesus continues on.

The next one is about the Canaanite woman who comes to Jesus (Matthew 15) and asks him to drive an evil spirit out of her daughter. He tells her He is too busy dealing with the lost sheep of Israel. Um, wait a few chapters earlier He makes no comment about not helping Romans, as a matter of fact He says he was one of the first of many outsiders to come. Isn't this Canaanite an outsider? Yes, there is a long history with Canaanites but it struck me as strange. She goes on and says even the dogs eat the crumbs from the master's table. Jesus in so moved by her faith that he tells her that her daughter is healed. Then He just continues on his way.

The last one takes place in Matthew 9 and it involves a local official. The official comes to Jesus and says that his daughter is dead and that if He just touches her then she will live. Jesus got up and went with him. Before he gets there another miracle takes place when the woman with the bleeding touches Jesus and is healed. Jesus gets there and tells the mourners that she is just sleeping. He then goes in, takes her hand, and she is alive.

The similarities are that in each of these miracles someone came and asked for a healing for someone else. The Roman came and asked for his servant to be healed. The other two came and asked for their daughters to be healed. Of course, all three people were healed. All three people should faith that Jesus could do it.

The differences are what stick out to me. In both the Roman and the Canaanite they did not ask for Jesus to come with them. The Roman made a point of telling Jesus that He just needed to say the word and the servant would be healed. The Canaanite woman didn't make any conditions. She didn't ask for Him to come, to touch, to say a word. She just begged Him to help. The only one who asked for Jesus to come was the official, who I assume was a Jew since they were in Israel.

Okay, I hope I word this right because I think it is significant in this day and age. The outsiders did not need Jesus to come and touch. In both cases He simply spoke and they were healed. In both cases He emphasized their faith. Jesus came for the Jews, He said so to the Canaanite woman, and the Jew was the only one who asked Jesus to come and heal his daughter. He was the only one who needed Jesus to come. His faith was not as strong and he was an insider.

What does this mean for now? I think it means a lot about faith and a lot about Christians. Who had more faith in these miracles? The outsiders. Is that still true today? Not in all cases, but I think it might. Those who are not Christians do not expect God to come to them. They don't think they deserve Him or His touch, yet they still believe in Him. They believe He can heal. They've heard the stories, even read them for themselves, and they believe. Wen they need a miracle they do call out to Him and those who have faith like the Roman ans Canaanite call knowing He can heal. They know that He just has to say the word. Their faith is based on not seeing and on still being an outsider. Hopefully, they will go from outsider to insider, miracle or not.

Christians have faith too. They must or there is no way they could have accepted His forgiveness. They must have faith to believe that they are forgive and Christ is in their hearts. Yet, so often we, myself included, need to see His hand touch. We have the faith that He can put we still have to see it. We even pray for His touch. This isn't a bad thing, His touch is more amazing than words can even express. It's not about His touch. It is about our need to see His touch. Why don't we have as much faith as an outsider? A faith that knows we don't deserve it but we know He can heal, touch or not. Why don't we just ask Him to say the word? I know there have been times that I have prayed for Him to just speak into a situation or into my heart, but most of the time I pray for Him to touch the situation or touch my heart.

I want the best of both of these types of miracles. I want the faith that the two outsiders had and it just take the words of Jesus. I also love the fact that I am an insider, I have accepted Him into my heart, and that I have the ability to go to Jesus and know that He will come and He will touch.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Doing The Hard Work

Lately, I have been organizing. I am not an organized person so this is not necessarily an easy task. Yet, it feels good to have the odds and ends find a place. I like the looks of organized cabinets. It is nice to not have to move things out my way just to move them again because they got in my way in the new spot. I am not done. I wonder if I ever will be.

Today I did some rearranging in my bedroom. I wanted to move a cedar chest out of the living room and into my bedroom. That meant getting my round coffee table from my classroom. I went there today to arrange my classroom furniture. When I got home I moved around the furniture in my room so the cedar chest would fit in. It looks pretty good, but the kitties really didn't like it.

Now, why am I doing this? Well, obviously this is my home and I want it to be in a good condition. More importantly, because I made the invitation to open my home to dinner and time to study the Word together. I certainly don't want clutter in the way. :)

Some may have wondered if I have forgotten about the invite I made in the last post, but I haven't. I just need to take care of the grunt work and then an exact invitation will be made. My house and I will probably always be a work in progress, but hopefully both will be ready for the next step in my journey very soon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ready to Bust!!!

I feel about ready to bust! And not in a bad way. In a breaking free, breaking out, scary-cause-it's-new way. I am excited and apprehensive and happy and scared spitless. (Where did that saying come from anyway?)

Last night I was having a dream. I don't remember all the details but I remember enough to know the message. Throughout the dream I was in the midst of others but I was the only one experiencing certain things. At one point wind, strong wind, was blowing on me. I was bent over because of it. I couldn't understand why no one else noticed or felt it, but it was obvious that they didn't. I said something to them and they all seemed shocked. The dream went on like this. Experience after experience where I was the only one who was experiencing something different. I woke up in the middle of the night and before I even had the whole question of what it meant out to God, He answered. He was telling me that I was set apart for some things. I was to do some things differently. Others may not notice, but that it was from Him.

The last few months I have been set apart literally by listening to His call to leave the church I attended. I thought I should look for a new church, but God said, "no!" I went with my Mom and Rick, my stepdad, to a gathering of their Home Church but it wasn't right. I went to a women's prayer time with ladies from this same group and I felt uncertain, unsettled. I knew that God was telling me, "no!" But I missed being with others, even though my time with Him has been deeper and more peaceful than ever. I felt He was preparing me, and that in its self is exciting and scary.

When I bought this house I knew it was not just for me. Which has perplexed me since it has been a little over a year and it is still just mine. Now I am no Martha Stewart, thankfully because she bugs me, and I am a bit of a clutter bug. God told me some time back to clean out. I had a pretty big yard sale and donated the leftovers and a lot was gone. But not everything. I want to be organized, but get overwhelmed in the how and expense, it isn't cheap. My kitchen is too small for all my kitchen stuff, but I know that food is somehow an important part of this house.

When I bought the house my Mom, Rick, and I prayed in each room of the house. In the dining area Rick prayed specifically for the people who would be there eating. Now, that sounds normal since it is the dinning room, but the gist of the prayer was beyond just normal meals in the room, and I felt a pricking in my heart. A glimmer of a desire that I had had for feeding others. I kind of sort that was interesting, but pushed it back in my mind for sometime, since I had painting and moving and unpacking to focus on.

Well, coming to the ready to bust part. As I prayed this morning I confessed my selfishness to God. I confessed that I wanted this and that, not bad things, just my way. I then took those things and turned them over to Him and that is when something started to grow in me. I started to feel overwhelmed by this idea, this coming together of thoughts and dreams and this preparing time. I started to do a few things to get ready, but the need to burst feeling was getting to the point where I had to burst. I knew that by sitting down and typing this I would be putting it out there, no take backs. So here goes...

I am opening up my home. I am opening it up to anyone who wants to come and have dinner with me. I am opening it up to people who want to fellowship around a meal and then spend time in God's Word together. Not a group that has a set study or lesson in mind, but rather we read His Word and listen to His Voice as He reveals Himself through it. A time to listen and share what He says through the Word. A time to pray with and for each other. A time to be more reflective of His early church.

I have written before about this desire to know more about the church. Not so much for the amazing miracles that He preformed through them, but rather how they lived. They went about their day, their work, their serving others without it being planned and broadcast, just done. They gathered for meals every day, because well every day you need to eat. They went to work at their jobs, speaking to the crowds or building in their carpenter shops or selling in their booths or washing clothes or whatever. they didn't stop doing their life, yes so were called from the occupations to speak, like Peter and John, but many went about doing what they were made to do and gathered together and ate, prayed, and teaching or being taught. They lived life. It wasn't a separate part of them that set aside time for church or groups or classes. It was a part of their everyday.

Now, I  may not be able to open my home to others everyday, at least not in the beginning, but I will start with a little time and let God grow it as He will. When? When will it start? Good question! I still have some work to do to make the house ready, but it will be soon. Who? Who can come? Anyone! Family, friends, adults, children, those who know God and those who don't.

I am excited and I feel the pressure within my decrease as I let myself burst all over this post. So soon, very soon, be looking for a post where I say, "come" because it will be soon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Risk Taker?

This might be shocking, but I don't like to take risks. I do not like to step into the unknown. I don't like to take a chance. I like everything to be predictable, to know the outcome. Life, unfortunately, is not like that. A walk of faith is definitely not predictable. It is full of the unknown and risks.

There are things that I will avoid because I play the worst-case scenario in my mind. Sometimes when I finally do it the results turn out better than I thought. Sometimes better than just "better", sometimes it turns out great. Sometimes it turns out badly. Sometimes the results I feared actually happen. Yesterday I had to take care of something I have been avoiding.

Yesterday I had to take Riley to the vet. Okay, she loves the vets! I know that might sound weird but she loves the attention and since she has a very high tolerance for pain the shots don't even phase her. Now, Riley is a chubby girl so I was a little concerned that she would weigh more than I thought. She does but she has lost a lot since her last visit,11 pounds, so the vet was pleased with that. She is on a diet and needs to workout as often as the temperature allows.

What I really worried about was her health. She is 9 years old and slowing down. One of her favorite things is a nap. She was acting very, very old about 2 months ago. Her hip seemed to bother her and she was even more lethargic than usual. The most concerning thing was that she had bumps on her sides. My fear? Cancer. I worried that she was dying and I couldn't face that idea.

Her results, she is chubby and has fat lumps. The vet said that there are soft and squishy and that if they were tumors they would be hard and difficult to move. So she doesn't have cancer.

Then I worried about the results of her tests. In the winter I don't usually give her heartworm/flea medicine. I had read that resistance to working out, including walking was a symptom of heartworms. She tends to lie down when she doesn' want to walk anymore. Also wide ribs was a sign and she has wide ribs. Mind you she has always had wide ribs, but when you are thinking the worst-case reasoning goes out the window. Her test result? Clear.

So I put off taking my poor old pup to the vet because I feared she was sick, that she was dying. Riley is not sick. The vet said she is healthy considering her age and weight. He mentioned "years from now", and I couldn't wipe the smile from my face.

Then I got in my car, prayed a quick thank you prayer and a prayer of repentance. I had to repent for letting fear be the voice I listened to and acted on, or didn't act because of. I realized that this is a pattern for me and talked to God about it on the way home.

This isn't news to me. I have always been this way, remember I like predictable, safe. But I want a life, a spiritual life, that is full and abundant and I don't think safe and predictable are words that describe that kind of life. So the next time I struggle with either listening to fear based on the unknown or risk I hope that I remember that I have a Voice that I can listen to and turn to Him.