Grace upon grace

Do me a favor and envision the beach….

Feel the heat of the sand beneath your feet and the cool breeze coming off the water. Imagine lifting your face to the sun, you squint because its so bright. Listen to the sound of wave after wave gently crashing against the shore.

Can you picture it?

Wave after wave after wave….

Today was a typical day in my class–students enjoyed time playing, putting together the “Big Green Monster” face, smiled as they pretended to be a pumpkin on a fence, and were frequently told to use their words {remember I teach special education}. The preschool hours came and went. I enjoyed the crisp air and warm sun as I waited for the kindergarten class to arrive. Round 2 was equally enjoyable.

Wave after wave after wave….

A parent phone call didn’t go well. In fact, it was harsh. I hung up shaken, hurt.

Retail therapy and a good workout didn’t help. Two short vent sessions didn’t either.

Almost four hours later I am still trying to recover.

Wave after wave….

So here I sit, my heart beating a little too fast, seriously reconsidering my profession.

Wave after wave…

“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16 ESV

Grace upon grace. It’s why Jesus came. It’s the gift He gives.

The Amplified version is my favorite:

“For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift.”

Jesus just keeps giving. He POURS {non-stop} gifts, blessings, grace, and favor on us. He gives because He has, because He is. The grace never runs out.

Wave after wave after wave….

Tonight I will lay it at His feet. I will seek forgiveness. I will accept His grace. Tomorrow I will go back to loving my students and do what I can to make the situation better.

Tomorrow I will offer grace upon grace upon grace because I need it too.

 

 

 

A Kitchen Reno 

The kitchen reno is finally done! Okay, it’s almost done. I have to finish sealing the grout (ran out of sealer with 3 feet left) and touch up the paint. But other than that it’s done and I love it! Like sit on my couch and just smile as I look at it, love it.

One of the reasons I purchased this house was because of the big open kitchen, but after years of hating the white tile and white grout (who ever thought that was a good idea in a kitchen?) plus saving up a bunch, it was time…

Hello 1997: 

Demo day!   Pulling off the tile backsplash destroyed some of the drywall….oops!

Granite install   (Please excuse the dishes on the counter and the mess–I live here!) The granite was the only part of the project we contracted out for. Home Depot had great prices, a coupon, and an amazing warranty.

Next up was the painting…Labor Day weekend lived up to its name.  
  The Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation kit made this easy (well if you consider 30+ hours of painting easy).
Then came wiring for the under cabinet  lights, new outlets and switches, and the drywall. 
   I primed the walls to cover the grey after the drywall mud dried.
And finally the backsplash. I chose to keep it neutral so I can incorporate and change accent colors whenever I want. 

Hello 2015 .  A trip to Home Goods and Pottry Barn mixed with some family pieces (a jar of my dad’s marbles and my great grandma’s candlesticks) layered with my Halloween decorations completed the month long renovation.

  G surprised me with a new pantry door! We’re still deciding if we want to paint the glass with black chalkboard paint. What do you think? I love the glass but hate that you can still sort of see in.

 These lights might be my favorite part! They’re along the top and bottom cabinets and each section has its own switch.

Awesome, right?! I seriously love it.

Special thanks to my mom who hung out while the granite was installed. And an enormous thank you to G! Without you and your hours of hard work this would not have been possible! 

I loved finally getting to do this project but it was a lot of work.

Three things to consider before you get started:

  1. Prepare to spend more time and money than planned. Extra expenses are bound to pop up and some tasks will take longer than expected.
  2. Schedule no work days. The project may have been done a bit sooner but we purposefully took days off to relax and recover.
  3. Know that one project may lead to others. I call this the “If you give a mouse a cookie” effect. I’m already costing out can lights, curtains, and new doors for the rest of the house.

I’m off to stare at my pretty new space!

Book Club & Bible Study

Studying the Bible can seem daunting and overwhelming and amazing and invigorating. Yet despite becoming a believer at a young age, I still feel like I don’t really know how to do it let alone where to start. I have always used Bible studies or commentaries or sermons to tell me what to think about a particular passage and how to apply it to my life. And while this isn’t wrong, it isn’t completely necessary–the Holy Spirit is in me just as it is in those authors and speakers meaning I have the ability to comprehend what God is saying just like they do.

Thankfully I found this book:

WotW

I devoured it in just a few hours and filled it with arrows, underlines, and exclamation marks. I  took notes and am creating a work book/journal outline to go along with Jen’s method. She makes studying God’s Word seem a little less intimidating and a lot more do-able with her 5 P’s:

Purpose

Perspective

Patience

Process

Prayer

 The Cliff Notes version: When we are to study God’s Word, we must study with the “big picture” in mind–from the first page to the last the Bible speaks of creation, the fall, redemption, and restoration {Purpose}. And as we read we need to consider the historical context of the passage {Perspective} while allowing the Spirit to work in us {Patience}. To ensure we are fully understanding what is being read and how to apply it, we need to be methodical {Process}. And finally, our study should begin, end, and be intermixed with conversations with the Author {Prayer}.

Still seem impossible?

Don’t forget we are commanded to

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”  (Mark 12:30, emphasis mine).

Love Jesus with my heart & soul?…check & check.

Love Jesus with my mind?….ummm…not as easy. In order to love Him with my mind and in turn love Him more deeply with my heart, I have to know Him. And the only way to do that, is to study the Word.

As Jen says, “…the Holy Spirit opens the Word to us, but not without some effort on our part” (pg. 23).

Summer lovin

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10 {Things} I’m lovin this summer

    • Coconut oil. It moisturizes, calms the itch from bug bites, removes my eye makeup, is a healthy alternative to cook with, and just smells of summer.
    • Younique 3D Fiber Lash Mascara. I’ve been hooked on this product for almost a year and I love how well it holds up while I’m swimming and sweating. Some light mousiturizer (with SPF of course), a bit of blush and bronzer, a swipe of my Fiber Lash and I’m out the door.
    • She Reads Truth daily devotions. Love this app, love the community it is building, and the summer long study of Women of the Old and New Testament is awesome. We hear tons of sermons preached about the mighty men God used but we can’t forget all the women that loved the Lord and how inspirational they are too. Women with busy lives and sin filled pasts were used for God’s glory. We can too.
    • Morning sweatseshes. During the school year I work out in the late afternoon and try to get a morning workout on Saturdays but lately it’s been my mission to start the day with a workout and I am loving it. It helps me make better food choices for the rest of the day, revs me up to tackle my summer to-do list, and quite frankly, is just nice to have done.
    • Rest. Apparently my body likes 9 hours of sleep unlike the 7 I typically get while working. And I’ll admit, last year was a bit much–managing a double caseload plus working on a yearlong project was more than I bargained for but I’m always up for a challenge and want to improve my craft. So this last month I’ve been relaxing, unplugging, and napping. I’m totally okay with it. My mind needs a break. I’ve even been trying to avoid looking at educational pins and have been outright avoiding the dollar spot at Target so I don’t see the back to school stuff. It’s only July people!
    • Water conservation efforts. Going brown is the new green in California and it’s nice to see people making a real effort to cut back. Yards are being revamped to be drought tolerant, car washes are less frequent, and you will totally get busted if you’re being wasteful 😳 I still don’t get how the state has the largest water supply along our border and we still haven’t figured out how to utilize it, but that politics for ya.
    • Late night patio chats. The warm weather, cool breezes, late sunsets, and time with friends and family outside enjoying each other company talking about everything from books to the aforementioned topic, and especially about life and Jesus is just what summer nights are for.
    • Reading. A lot. I’ve read quite a few cheapies from iBooks, 2 books that were super motivating to live bravely for Jesus, have been able to stay up-to-date on my Bible in a year plan, one book on how to better study the Bible with my mind and heart {stay tuned for more on this}, and just started a book my 11 year old niece is reading–Dorothy Must Die. I’m thinking read along with her will be super fun and will definitely result in some hilarious conversations.
    • Max. I know its a movie about a dog, but its so much more than that. Its the story of a family dealing with the aftermath of losing the oldest son to war. Its the story of coming together and being brave. Its the story of love, friendship, and the often unsung heroes. Go see it.
    • i smell great. And its not because of the suntan lotion and all the fresh fruit I’ve been eating. This perfume is AH-MAZ-ING! I am not a perfume wearer {is that a word?} by any means because typically the scents are too strong and I easily get a headache. But this stuff is subtle and super clean, fresh, and vibrant. The sampler pack is $14 and you get all 4 scents plus a coupon for future orders. You better believe there is an order in my future but narrowing it down to one might be a problem!

What are you loving this summer?

 Dorothy  max     

Quick DIY Spring Wreath

Spring has sprung! Okay it doesn’t officially start until Friday but with temps consistently in the 70’s, it’s been here for a few weeks. I haven’t had a wreath on my door since Christmas and I was getting super tired of driving away from my house each morning thinking how boring my front door looked. I had a failed DIY wreath from last spring that I’ve been trying to figure out how to make work and after finding some pre-made paper flowers at Michaels I knew I had my fix and the makings of a wreath that said “Hello Spring!”

The wreath came together quickly and cost less than $30, less if you use some coupons! And took less than 20 minutes to make! 



Materials:

  • 18 inch straw wreath
  • 2 spools of 2 inch ribbon
  • 2 packages of paper flowers 
  • Multiple pushpins
  • A pen

Directions:

  1. Wrap the wreath with the ribbon overlapping the ribbon about one-quarter of an inch. Secure ribbon with two or three pushpins.
  2. Layout flowers along one side of the wreath mixing the patterns and sizes. Secure with pushpins. I used the pen to push the pin {say that 10 times fast!} down into the center of the flower so it wasn’t visible. 
  3. Hold it up to ensure you like the placement. I moved a flower or two and ended up spinning the wreath so the flowers ended up on the left. 
  4. Hang on your door and enjoy! 

Seriously it’s that easy! I like using pushpins instead of hot glue so I can move the flowers easily or change them out later for a different color. I played around with adding a banner then decided against it. But make it yours! When it’s so quick and cheap don’t be afraid to play around. 

Happy Spring! 

A memory

I originally wrote this on March 30, 2013. But today my heart hurts and tears stream down my face because, quite simply, I miss my Dad. What would have been his 56th birthday is just 4 days away. It remains unedited.

A memory
You know how certain things can trigger a memory? A sight, a smell, or a sound and BAM! you’re instantly back in that moment and no matter how hard you try, you can’t stop it from happening. Today it was a combination of a sight and a sound…
As I drove toward the next of many stores on my errands list I heard the ever familiar sound of sirens and saw the paramedics coming my way, fighting oncoming traffic. I did my best to pull over and silently yelled at those who weren’t doing the same. Then I caught a glimpse of the driver. It was him, one of the medics that responded the night my dad passed away. Instantly I was taken back to my dad’s front yard, that medic was standing there, unsure of how to help this young girl hysterically crying, waiting for the arrival of anyone familiar to comfort her. I remember the solemn look on his face as he stood in silence with the other firefighters, maybe he wanted to offer a hug but knew it wasn’t professional, maybe he thought about one day losing his parents, or of the dozens of calls he had gone on with the same sad ending. Instead he offered me a chair, afraid I was about to collapse. I didn’t sit, I just stood, tears streaming down my face, at a complete loss for words, begging some friend or family member to arrive to console me. When I didn’t sit he took a small step closer but didn’t say anything. A few of the guys stood off to the side, whispering; one of them said he’d known my dad. The minutes ticked by, only a few, until finally my sister and her husband arrived. My brother-in-law was the first person I called after hanging up with dispatch–I had told him he needed to come quickly because Dad was not responsive and the fire department was on their way. Within a minute I had to call him back to say Dad was gone . The crew stayed a couple minutes longer, gave their report to the sheriff deputies that had arrived, said their condolences and left.
I had always intended on visiting that fire crew’s station to say thank you for being there that night, for being a welcome sight when my world was crashing down, and for being so kind when they told me it was too late, that my dad had been “down” (their lingo) for at least a few hours. But I never did. Maybe a part of me knew that I’d cry like I did today, that it would just be too hard to see them and offer words of gratitude for being there that night. What’s funny is I’m not sure if I could pick out any other fire fighter that came that night, but today, seeing that medic in uniform, driving his truck with lights and sirens on, I knew without a doubt who he was and what he’d done. And I was instantly taken back to the night that forever changed my definition of normal.
Do you have any sights, sounds or smells that instantly take you back?

I saw that same medic on Sunday. I froze, took a few deep breaths, and thankfully, with God’s grace plus the perfect not-yet-spring air, sounds of a softball game, and the comfort of my best friend sitting next to me, I made it through the moment.

Shake it off!

Life has a way of shaking us. Just this last month I celebrated a miracle baby turning one, showered soon-to-be parents with lots of pink, and rejoiced as I realized prayers were being answered. I also wept as a friend told me her marriage was over, lifted up in prayer a little girl fighting for her life, and was so filled with anxiety that I was brought to tears. I was jumping with joy and shaking with sadness for this broken world.

This year is about being intentional and this last month has shown me how intentional I need to be with my heart. Do you ever wonder what God really wants of us? Or what it takes to spend eternity with Him? Psalm 15 has the answer…prepare yourself.

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
    Who may live on your holy mountain?

The one whose walk is blameless,
    who does what is righteous,
    who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
    who does no wrong to a neighbor,
    and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
    but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
    and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
    who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things
    will never be shaken.

Yikes, right? I told you to be prepared. Did that cut right to your heart like it did mine? I know as hard as I try my walk is not blameless, slander has come from my mouth, and I haven’t always kept my word or given my money (or time) to those in need.

But there’s some great news if you read Psalm 16.

Keep me safe, my God,
    for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
    “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
    I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
    or take up their names on my lips.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,

Did you catch it? God promises to keep us safe and guide us as we strive to follow Him. When we fix our eyes on Him, we will inherit the Kingdom! So even when I mess up, let the worries of the day overwhelm me, or hold tightly to the things of world, I can trust that He is still with me. We can be at peace knowing our sins are forgiven and our lives are safe in His hands.

The best part is in verses 10-11: “Because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. 11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

Jesus lives and is the path to Heaven! He alone is the Way, the truth and the life {John 14:6}. When we believe in His death and resurrection, in His love for us that is so immense he bore the punishment we deserve {remember all that stuff from Psalm 15?}, we can spend eternity with Him! And as we do, our hearts and lives are filled joy.

But joy isn’t always easy to come by or hold onto. Life happens. Hearts get broken, mistakes get made, cancer invades our bodies, jobs and lives get lost and with it our joy. We begin to question the decisions we’ve made and fear taking another step. Thankfully, we have Jesus and yet another promise I myself know to be faithfully filled time and time again. Look back to 15:5b “He who does these things will never be shaken” and 16:8b “Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken“. First God promises that those who walk with Him will not be shaken then David proclaims it as true because he has experienced it. And we all know David had some troubles of his own that should have caused him to be shaking! But he trusted in the promises of God, the security and refuge he knew God would provide. He trusted in God’s forgiveness and strength. So when life comes at you and threatens to make you tremble down to your very core, know that God is with you. He is holding you up and will be your strength. Know that no sin is beyond God’s grace and nothing you are experiencing is beyond His control. Jesus said “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” {John 16:33} Believe in Him and trust in His strength and love for you. Life is going to happen so instead of being shaken, shake it off!

Shake it off

The truth is

The truth is last week was hard. I wasn’t ready to go back to work. My heart was full of anxiety and bitterness. My mind was full of thoughts on how to adjust, how to fight, and how to work for God’s glory. As much as I prayed, my attitude didn’t change.

The truth is people didn’t show up that were supposed to, my contractual “student-free” time didn’t happen, all the changes weren’t communicated as they should have been, and I never got any answers as to why all this was happening.

The truth is my heart was hard because I refused to let it be soft.

The truth is the changes weren’t as big as I was making them and I could have helped with the communication.

The truth is I held onto everything I knew I needed to rid myself of {1 Peter 2:1} and was refusing to love as I’m called to do {Romans 12:9-21}.

But as Friday morning began and I spent some quiet time with Jesus before work I began to feel the peace settle in, the anxiety and bitterness melting away, and the Holy Spirit reminding me why I do what I do. I teach because I love it. I teach because I can help my students. And I teach because it is what God has called me to do {for now}. I teach because it is my way of loving like Jesus does.

So as another work week begins tomorrow I will hold tightly to the truth that God graciously poured over me because the truth is love is the only way.

Book Club: The Best Yes

Words have power. Power to convey our emotions. Power to break our hearts. Power to motivate us. Power to take us into another world. This power is one of the many reasons I love books. I can escape the everyday and enter another time and place. I can imagine a life totally different than my own. I get motivated to make better choices, to live more boldly, to be more real. And I love sharing the wisdom and imaginary worlds found in books with my friends.

Today {and hopefully every month} I am sharing with you, my friend.

It took me six short days to devour the wisdom written by Lysa Terkeurst in her latest book, “The Best Yes“. Throughout her stories of life as a wife, mom, entrepreneur, ministry leader, and all around funny lady, Lysa discusses not only how to make good decisions, but how to make sure we make the BEST decisions.

At first I wasn’t sure if this was a “must read” for me in my current season of life. My calendar isn’t crazy busy {maybe because I already have that saying no part down} and I don’t have any major decisions to make before me. But it is always better to be prepared, right? I have no idea what the Lord has planned for me and it could be soon I will have a season full of crazy decision making. And the bottom line is this–“…a Best Yes is (me) playing (my) part”, (page 5, substitutions mine)–my life, my decisions are part of the story God has planned for me so I better figure out how to do it right and make it awesome!

Lysa fills the 231 pages with wisdom from her life, the experiences of others, and most importantly, God’s Word. Seriously though I underlined, starred, drew arrows, and Amens! all over the place. I’m talking like half the book. These are some of my favorites:

The one who obeys God’s instruction for today will develop a keen awareness of His direction for tomorrow.        (p 11)

It’s giving a voice to what otherwise just stays a quiet whisper locked inside. It’s about letting out that cry of passion God entrusted to you (p. 29)

How we spend our soul matters (p. 32)

Intuition and discernment are two very different things (p. 37)

We will steer where we stare. So stare mightily at God and His plan (p. 91)

The only way to diminish our regret is by making decisions that lead to peace (p. 99)

…Being present with a heart bent toward love and daring to look at what’s been placed right in front of you is honestly the best place to start. (p. 176)

Like whoa! Good stuff, huh?

Some decisions are easy to make…Do you want fried chicken for dinner? {No.} Do you want ice cream? {Yes!} But others are not…Do I go on a date night with my love even though we just got in a fight? Is it okay to see that movie? Should I add another activity/responsibility/meeting to my already filled calendar? Will letting that young woman live with me be beneficial or a burden? Do I quit my job or work to make it better? Decisions are part of our life. With the guidance of Scripture, godly people, and Lysa’s wise words, I am confident that with each decision, small or big, I will be able to find and live out my Best Yes. Are you ready?

 

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Take Action

What’s my goal for 2015? Take Action.
So often I wait for the perfect time, the just right moment, the page to look just so, and the list goes on. I get so caught up in my need to have it be either “right” or accepted that I miss opportunities and I waste valuable time.
My desire is just to start taking action, make decisions, get things done – whether they are how I want them to be or not – just get them done!!
My first action was to get my family reading the Bible together. So tonight, my husband and my son and I all sat for 10 minutes of Bible time. Did it go as I planned? Of course not! My son wanted to read out loud and make a “speech” out of it. My husband found the lights I had turned on too bright so I had to read in semi-dark.
Was it “perfect”? Yes, in it’s own way it was. And I look forward to this particular action taking place night after night.
So what about you? Did you make goals for 2015? Have you taken action on them yet? If not – what are you waiting for?
I pray whatever goals you may have that God’s will be done, and you are on a path that shines light on Him.
Matthew 5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
English Standard Version of the Bible
retrieved from https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=let+your+light+so+shine+&qs_version=ESV