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

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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?

 

book_sm

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

Be{ing} Intentional in 2015

Last month on my birthday I prayed for guidance for the year ahead. What would 31 look like if I gave it to God and followed the path He set for me? The Lord took me to 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12

“6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” 11 We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. 13 And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.”

And it struck me that so often when asked how I am doing, my answer is always, “Good, busy, but good”. But what was I so busy doing? Was I busy doing things for the Kingdom? Working for the glory of the Lord? Often the answer is no. Often I am just “busy”.

But this year I want that to change. I want to be busy, but busy in ways that honor God. This led to thinking about a phrase that would capture that desire and motivate me when I was watching TV for no reason, scanning Instagram for the umpteenth time, or when I find myself glorifying “busy”, something that would remind me I am not to just be “busy” but to do good and work with a purpose. Two words popped into my heart and haven’t left: Be Intentional. God wants me to be intentional with my heart, my words, my finances, my actions, my thoughts, my life. He doesn’t just want me wandering around squandering the blessings that He has given me, but to be intentional with them because that is what brings Him the most glory.

So this year my plan is to be intentional with…

My heart–by filling it with Scripture. Psalm 1:2

My love–by ensuring that it is real. Romans 12:9

My money–by spending less and giving more. 2 Corinthians 9:7

My thoughts–by worrying less and thinking of things that are true and lovely. Philippians 4:8

My time–by using it wisely–more time in the Word, serving, and spending time with godly people. Mark 10:45, Psalm 1:1

My words {spoken & written}–by carefully choosing them and not just talking to talk, but talking about Jesus!

My work–by doing it all for Him no matter how crazy my students drive me or if I don’t agree with decisions made, I will remember that ultimately I am working for the Lord. Colossians 3:23, Proverbs 31:17

It is my prayer that by being intentional this year that the Lord will be glorified and I will grow closer to Him, that I will find more joy in saying yes and peace in saying no, that my heart will be full of His word and with love for others. His will be done.

beintentional

What are your plans and goals for the new year?

This Year {2014}

“Each day it feels like nothing has changed, but when we look back everything is different.” –Unknown

Its funny how as the year passes, at times quickly and others slowly, it seems like nothing in our life is different. But if you really take the time and think about where you were one year ago, nothing is the same. I often forget all that has gone on in the last year–the adventures, the lessons, the laughs, tears, and memories; I am so thankful I take a lot of random pictures! And keep a gratitude journal. I don’t read what I’ve written until the end of the year   and it is really amazing to re-live the days and reflect on what brought me joy. 2014 was quite a year!

Babies were born that fill my life with snuggles;

Health became more of a priority (and I like it!);

Adventures were had across the country (Kentucky, Hawaii, Silver Lake, Pismo);

Nieces and nephews grew before my very eyes into amazing little people;

Beauty was seen in things big and small (the colors of the sky, the smell of summer rain and hot coffee);

Relationships flourished;

Books were read that made me smile, relax, think and get motivated;

Challenges were faced (remember Challenge-tember?);

Disappointments served as lessons learned;

Hope grew;

And Jesus poured out grace upon grace, love upon love, and mercy upon mercy until my cup overflowed.

 

My days, my life, and especially my heart are very different than they were 365 days ago and for that I am so very thankful.

This year 2

 

 

 

I love me…I love me not.

Jill sends me a text reminder about the Blogtember Challenge, and I would really rather not do it because it means focusing on myself instead of others.
Write 10 things you love about you…ummmmm……really?
Not sure about anyone else out there, but I struggle with taking care of myself because I am looking out for other people in my life. I know that’s something I love about me- I have a genuine concern about the people I am associated with. Must get better at sharing my thoughts to this end out loud and acting on the thoughts I have to help others.
Let me think, I also love that my students like being in my class. Their faces light up when I walk in after being out for a day. How is that about me? I know that I care about my students and strive to provide them the best education I can while treating them like every other kid. I love that I am the kind of teacher that loves her students and refuses to give up on their abilities.
I love that I am saved. This belongs at the top of my list and the fact that it isn’t is why I love that saved part so much. I am saved through God’s grace alone; I have never done anything to deserve it. I look forward to an eternity of living in the presence of my Lord- makes this life and it’s tragedies bearable.
I love that I am an introvert. I get to see and hear so much more! I am not knocking extroverts; without them, my husband especially, I would live a boring solitary life. Yet, I really like that I take time to consider things and that I don’t mind being alone to do things.
I love that I like to read. Give me a book to get lost in or learn from.
I love that I’m a life long learner. No matter how much I know about something, there is always more to learn. The more I learn the more I have to share with others!
I love that when I know I am right, I won’t give in or give up. I may quiet down, but I will push until I get my point across.
I love that I am learning to delegate and be happy with the results, even though they may be different than I envisioned. Talk about procrastination for perfection and just put my name as the header. I struggle with wanting things just so, and this desire has hindered so many of my worthwhile activities. So many things just sit because I want to get them done right.
I love that I pray now instead of ruminating on life. It took so long for me to learn that I cannot control everything and that I just need to trust in my Heavenly Father and use the gifts He has given me. Again, it’s a gift; I cannot change what I have been given, just my response to it.
Ok, I have to confess that I keep counting how many things I have written about myself. Why? Because I am afraid to go over and sound self-indulgent! So that will be the last thing I love about myself, I have definitely learned to laugh at the error of my ways. I can be pretty ridiculous sometimes, but if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be me.
Thank you for the encouraging text Jill.
And to the rest of you…have you taken time lately to love on yourself? Try it! God has blessed you with so much and it brings Him glory when we acknowledge the works His hands have made!
I love me…I love me not. I Love ME!!!

Listen up!

Do you ever have days when it seems all you are doing is checking things off the list? Or you mentally think about the week ahead and all you can think is, “I need a nap”?

Its four weeks into the new school year and I’ll be honest, I’m exhausted. And its not my students that are exhausting me as they can sometimes do. Its the constant loooong list of things to do at work, at home, after work, on the weekends, in the next five minutes. My classroom has gotten into an amazing grove, students are progressing, and data is being collected {it needs some work}, but I still need to update the Excel goal spread sheet, create next month’s newsletter, write another IEP, then go to a BTSA meeting {remind me why I decided to be a Support Provider? Oh right, God told me to}, and review the CAPTAIN report rubric.

And please, lets not get started on the list of things to do at home! Fix the fence, build a fence around the air conditioner {oh I love my puppy!}, decorate for the holidays {this one is going to wait because I’m really not ready for Fall}, clean, do laundry, and workout. My mind is telling me I really need the workout so I’ll feel better and have the energy I need to keep checking things off the list.  But another part of my mind is telling me to just rest and be still and that putting off those things for one more day will be okay because being still for just a moment is really what I need.  Yesterday I chose to listen to my body that was screaming for rest and relaxation {after I came home from a meeting and finished the baby shower gift}. And I’m so glad I did. I cozied up in my new favorite sweatshirt, watched some Monday Night Football, and went to bed before the game was over because I needed it. It was great!

How often do we push aside the things our bodies and hearts are telling us we need because we need to get just one more thing done? And how often does that result in us feeling run-down or overwhelmed? Angry or irritated? Sick? More than we would like to admit. And how often does the first thing to get pushed aside is time with Jesus? Don’t worry you don’t need to raise your hand; no public shaming here. Because it happens. We think that things are going great and we’re busy, and well Jesus knows that so it will be okay if I don’t spend time with Him. Jesus will understand why I set aside my quiet time to get another load of laundry folded or an IEP written. But the thing is, it is in those moments when He is calling to us. Calling us to rest in His presence. Calling us to ask Him for help to get it all done. And when we do, when we listen, really listen, to what our souls need and heed to that calling, that we will feel refreshed, energized, and at peace about the never-ending to-do list.

Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”                      {Matthew 11:28-30}

Isn’t that a relief? We can go to Jesus and lay it all down! And then find rest! Now I’m not saying throw your to-do list out the window, neglect your responsibilities and be a couch potato, but take that list to Jesus. Ask Him to help you prioritize. Ask Him for help and energy to get it all done. Ask Him to help you say no if you need to. And above all, ask Him to give you a desire and the time to spend with Him. 10 minutes of prayer will do wonders for your soul. 20 minutes in the Word can alter your attitude. 30 minutes of worship will enliven your spirit.

So listen up! And obey the call to be still.

bestill

 

Current Events


currently

listening to HGTV…seriously my favorite channel.

reading through Psalms & Colossians…I’m using Kristen’s devotional for Colossians & I love it! 

drinking hot coffee. Yes I know its the middle of the afternoon & 90 degrees outside.

feeling YUCKY! My sinuses are driving me crazy!

anticipating the Ventura race I’m running tomorrow. A 5k at the beach with friends? Yes please.

dreading the 4AM wake-up to get to said race.

procrastinating taking down my pool. I don’t want summer to end.

working on 2 IEPs, a baby shower gift, and a presentation.

excited about football season & my new Charger’s sweatshirt!

needing a nap, to do laundry, go to the store and get more writing done.

loving PiYO & Shakeology. Haven’t felt this good in such a long time!

praying about career steps & for friends.

preparing my heart for what comes next.

missing my Dad.

girl and dad

Photo: Google Images {On my Thoughts board}

What is going on with you today?



Challenge Update: Today is Day 6 of  Challenge-tember and so far the hardest challenge has been writing daily. It takes more time than I thought {mainly because I’m a perfectionist and new to this}  and because work and my evenings have been so busy. Not that I’m complaining. I’ve spent much needed time with my niece and nephews this week, been productive on work projects, logged a few miles, and been in the Word. And this is supposed to be a challenge, right?

Happiness & Joy

Ahhh! It’s 8:30 and I just realized I didn’t write a post…I can’t fail the Blog-tember challenge on day 2!

Today Bailey has prompted us to “Write about what makes you happy, from the little joys to the huge game-changers” and really I’ve been thinking about it all day. I even started to write something up on my phone as I waited for a meeting to start. The truth is that a lot of things make me happy….my family, framily, & friends, the blue of the sky, the cool breeze on a hot day, the smell of fresh cut grass, coming home to my puppy after a long day, seeing my students make progress {Yay for progress in just 4 weeks of school!}, spending time with G {especially after those long 72 hour shifts}, but only one thing brings me JOY. And that’s JESUS. Because He chose to hang on the cross out of love for me as payment for my sins, I have peace and peace brings joy. I know without a doubt that I will spend eternity worshipping Jesus, shouting songs of joy. This joy doesn’t change with my circumstances because it is a fact unlike happiness that can easily turn to sadness based on the events of the day. It is this joy that is deep within my soul that has gotten me through the most difficult of times. Knowing that the great God continues to love me despite my doubts, fears, sins, and ingratitude while sending me little things like the warmth of the sun or the laughter of my nieces and nephews is overwhelming.

It hasn’t always been easy to hold tightly to the joy I have in Christ but there are a few things I have figured out that have helped me:

  • Be grateful for everything! I have kept a gratitude journal for 3 years–I write in it nightly and it really helps me focus on the good things the Lord has done.
  • Preach the gospel to yourself. We so easily forget the truth-Jesus humbly came, died on the cross for us, rose again on the 3rd day, and now sits next to our Heavenly Father waiting for us and interceding for us.
  • Serve others. J-O-Y = Jesus, Others, You. Keep your priorities in that order and your joy will be real.
  • Pray. A lot. The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing, but while we ask God for things, also thank Him for what He has already done.
  • Be in the Word. Filling our heads and hearts with truth and the beauty of the gospel are the best things we can fill up with. (Challenge #3 for the month-read Scripture daily)

So be happy about the little things like sunsets, campfires, the smell of the ocean. And have joy knowing your treasure is stored up in Heaven. Choose to have joy in the truth.

Joy

{This is the background of my phone. I made it as my daily reminder to set my eyes on Jesus.}

What makes you happy? Does Jesus bring you JOY?

 

P.S. Don’t worry I read the Bible this morning and ran this afternoon 😉