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.