Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Flying, walking, crawling

Image result for mlk jr walk crawl fly

     My principal quoted MLKJr a couple of years ago at a staff meeting. He was encouraging us to KEEP MOVING (especially on our hardest days).  Y'all, today was a barely crawling day. Full of progress monitoring, an IEP meeting, PLC planning, and oh yeah...teaching! With a room full of 5 and 6 year olds, my energy at the end of the day is no where near the energy I have when the day starts. They are so full of questions and want to explore and are eager to learn and I want to answer and lead exploration and am eager to teach, but sometimes it's just plain hard.  I am challenged to keep reminding myself that even though they are expected to read and write and add and subtract at the end of the year, that they are just 5 and 6 years old.
     I also need to keep in mind that they are learning way more than I am "teaching". They are watching to see how I handle stress. They are observing how I handle confrontation. They are soaking in every word I say and mimicking every move I make. So if I put myself in their little shoes, would I like what I see? I would see someone who is rushing through a bunch of lessons (with 2 classes switching every day in the Spanish Immersion program, I only have 90 days out of a 180 day school year to teach reading and writing concepts to mastery). I would see someone who takes deep breaths when frustrated before reacting too soon. I would see someone who is overwhelmed by assessments, but uses those assessments to teach me better. I would see someone who laughs at kids' jokes. I would see someone who stops to pray over their lunch, even though they have 5 minutes to eat it. I would see someone who is so excited to see me grow, even if it is baby steps. I would see someone who is humble enough to apologize to a 5 year old for speaking out of frustration.
     Yes, I'm frustrated that I have to go back to square one and teach my content differently and re-teach what has already been taught ... and that's overwhelming in itself... but I'm confident these kiddos will grow with the appropriate instruction. I'm thankful for a great team who is there to lift each other up. I'm thankful for wonderful administration who provides opportunities to collaborate and allows the leeway to re-teach for the best option.
     God promises us that He is by our side every moment of every day. He will not lead us astray. I firmly believe that He has placed me in this exact school with this exact group of kiddos as my mission field. I am leaning on Him and His understanding. I am crawling today, but after a couple of weeks of rejuvination (aka intersession), I'll [hopefully] be flying again.
[2 Chronicles 15:7 "But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded."]




On a completely irrelevant side note.... Is it time to put the Christmas tree up yet? 🎄


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Sunday, April 17, 2016

My Southern Chic Wedding!

My mom encouraged me to write everything down from what I would call the most perfect day ever... so here goes!

I want to thank everyone who so graciously helped put things together piece by piece for this wonderful day. Here are the details on how to have a CUSTOM wedding on a budget ... and only planned in 5 months!

To start off, I will say that my mom and I met every Saturday for 5 months for 3-4 hours. We came up with a vision and made a list of things that needed to be purchased on the first Saturday, we bought the majority of what we needed on the second Saturday, and the third Saturday we began making things!

I asked my bridesmaids and Maid of Honor to stand by my side with a little burlap bag stuffed with a mini picture frame of the two of us together along with a torn off piece of notebook paper and a handwritten card. I hand stamped the C on the burlap bag -- a total of $10 (for 5 bridesmaids and 1 MOH? That's less than $2 a person!) The baggie, stamp, frame, and card came from Michaels.

(Thanks Leah for taking a picture!)

Both sets of our parents just celebrated 30 years of marriage! My parents were married in Oklahoma, and R's were married here in North Carolina. We were able to get married in the same church R's parents got married in 30 years ago! We were very fortunate to have been able to use the church free of cost because his grandmother still attends and does so much for the church. We wanted to get married at a venue that was sentimental and cost efficient -- and it turned out beautifully!


Berean Baptist Church - Hamptonville, NC


(before)


(after)

We were thrown a couple's shower by the sweetest Whitney and Ethan Chapmon about a month after R popped the question. We fell in love with the cupcakes at the shower, that we used the same person to do our cake and cupcakes for the wedding. She charged about $160 for a "naked" cake and nearly 100 cupcakes for the reception. Alice, Ethan's mom, helped Whitney make a corsage for me to wear at the shower. We thought it would be the perfect detail to add the corsage to the bouquet that my mom made for me. We used artificial flowers for three reasons: 1) they are cheaper 2) we could make things ahead of time instead of the day of; we did not use a florist 3)I could keep it forever  We displayed the cake and cupcakes on wood that a co-worker chopped for us. (more free!!!)

(cupcakes @ bridal shower -- yes those are edible antlers!)


("naked cake" with Willow Tree cake topper and cupcakes at wedding reception)

(corsage at the bridal shower)



(mom made the bouquet and wrapped a piece of lace from her wedding dress around it and attached the corsage to it)

The ribbon banner that hung over the baptistery was the most time-consuming project. My mom and sister helped me measure, cut, and tie ribbon onto the rope very early on in our planning. The ribbon banner was also used at a bridal shower! (and is currently hanging up in our dining room)





Here is the banner at bridal shower number 2 @ Sarah's. The 'Mr. & Mrs.' banner attached to the ribbon banner was made by Kenz and used at the head table at the reception. 

(MR & MRS banner at the head table)

We had a "light refreshments" reception with a couple of yard games (cornhole & giant jenga) so the only tables were those with drinks and food and our head table. Behind the head table we displayed pictures of R and I from high school all the way through engagement pictures. We used gifts given to us (large "C" tile, "Crouse" wooden sign ((used at shower #1)), and an engagement picture printed on a tree slice) mixed in with the pictures Kenz also gave us old window frames that we used on just about every table. Mom printed the pictures for the canvas from vista print and made our canvases for us.

The same friend of mine from work that cut the wood for us, also let us borrow mason jars that were already wrapped in burlap and lace. Kenz and Mom made bows to hang them on the pews with and we picked up baby's breath from Lowe's food two nights before the wedding.



Alice did a wonderful job stringing magnolia to drape with the ribbon banner and she also made two wreaths for the doors. I wrote a song for R for our first dance and when she heard it she made a sign with the lyrics "together forever" and surprised us with it when she came to help decorate.





We were  very fortunate to have had such amazing friends help us out with pictures. Lindzi took our engagement and reception pictures (and a few at the wedding, too!), Jeremy took my bridal portraits (both Lindzi and Jeremy did this out of the kindness of their heart) and a friend from church, Hannah Boyd cut us an amazing deal -- a blessing, that's for sure -- for pictures of the wedding and wedding party.

(engagement pictures: Captured by LinZ photography)


(bridal portraits by Jeremy Gardner; PS-- this LOVE sign was used above the ribbon banner in the wedding)




(wedding pictures: Hannah Boyd Photography;; Mom made my calalily bouqet, the groomsmen/best man/groom's boutonniere, the mothers/grandmothers' corsages too! 

And a quick story about the bridesmaids' flowers.... We originally had planned for each bridesmaid/MOH to carry one single calalily, but the calalilies that we had did not open in enough time, so we took the flowers that were on the table from rehearsal dinner the night before (R's mom handpicked them for rehearsal dinner centerpieces) and mom made all of the girls' flowers!)

reception hall (old school house turned into an event center through the ruritan club) BEFORE

reception hall AFTER (it was 1.5 miles away from the church)


(Reception pictures by: Captured by LinZ ;; The bubbles were leftover from one of Kenz's friends weddings and she gave them to us! The reception was held in an old schoolhouse about a mile down the road from the church. We paid $100 to be able to get in and decorate on Friday and to have it all day Saturday.)

For the bridesmaids/MOH dresses, I asked all of the girls to find a navy dress that fit their body type and their budget and to wear burlap toms. My grandmother hand beaded my veil and also made my niece's (flowergirl) tutu. Mom made the flowergirl's crown and she wore a ballet leotard under the tutu with her cowgirl boots. The guys were asked to wear khakis and a white button up and R gave them all silly bowties to wear as  their gift. My cowgirl boots that I wore under my dress were a gift from R's mom and grandma for Christmas.


(flowergirl;; handmade tutu by my grandma)

(bridal party)

(hand-beaded veil and cowgirl boots)


(GRAMMA!)

I was fortunate enough to not need any alterations done on my wedding dress except to take a couple of inches off the bottom (5'5" bride - ha!). My grandma did a wonderful job with alterations, the veil, and Annie's tutu. I'm blessed to have had all of these things made with such care and love. My parents blessed me by buying my wedding dress -- but I still managed to find it on sale at David's Bridal!

pic by jeremy



A few more [very important] details:

Bridal shower #3 was thrown by R's mom and it was a sweet brunch in the Chapmon's packhouse.


Bridal shower #4 was thrown by my mentor at school with another sweet brunch at Two for Tea.



[surprise] bridal shower #5 was thrown by amazing kindergarten team! They also blessed us with a knife set off of our registry. (We had an online registry through myregistry.com which allowed us to add things from different places.




We had a peanut table set up with take home bags for our favors (I can't seem to find a picture of that... /: )

For easy set up, mom and I put together tubs for each table at the reception and any other decor that was needed at the church and the schoolhouse. We set up everything on my dining room table, took a picture of how we wanted it set up, put all of the necessary items in the tub, and taped the picture we took under the lid. This was a great way for people who had volunteered to help us set up be able to take the bucket and match the table/room to the picture under the tub.




R and I were talking on the way back from the honeymoon that there wasn't one thing we would have changed about this amazing day. Our officiant, Richie, did an amazing job preaching the gospel and sharing with our closest friends and family about what marriage truly is about. His wife, Tricia, did a fabulous job singing. We are blessed to have such great friends in Richie and Tricia.


I cannot thank the people enough for making this special day so perfect! Thanks mom for meeting with me every week for 5 months (and the wedding dress; and the bouquets; and everything else you did)! Thank you Alice for all of your help decorating the church and helping us craft along the way and for stringing tons and tons of magnolia! Thank you Gramma for ALL that you made: my veil, Annie's tutu; the bridesmaids jewelry. Thank you to R's grandma for making baskets for all SIX of the bridesmaids. Thank you Kenz for EVERY.SINGLE.THING. you did -- If I tried to list it all, I would forget something! Thank you Beck for all that you did keeping me sane oh "most beautiful maid of honor of all the land". Thank you to Whit and Sarah for opening up your houses and allowing me to be showered with gifts and love. Thank you to Ms McBride for the wedding signs that we put on the road, the mason jars, and cutting the wood. Thank you to Ms Hall for the beautiful picture frame and stand and for throwing a wonderful shower. Thank you to Ms Kimbro for allowing me to borrow such beautiful wreaths and giving us the fabric to drape over the baptistery. Thank you to the Crouses for a special rehearsal dinner and for all of the food! Thank you to each and every one of our friends and our families for coming out to share this special day with us and for contributing various things that made the wedding even more sentimental!


We had our rehearsal dinner in the church's fellowship hall hosted by Richard's family. His mom made this beautiful cake topper that we have displayed in our living room now. We had a baked potato bar for rehearsal dinner along with soup.





-xoxo-
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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

FIRE!

What is your first reaction when you see fire? Well, I think it depends on the circumstance if you ask me. If I see a flame on a candle, I would not act the same as if I were in my house cooking and the stove caught on fire. Honestly, I would try to put it out, then I would run away from it. Why would I react this way? Because fire spreads and if I am not quick to be cautious, I can do a multitude of damage.

As Christ followers, we tend to use the phrase "on fire for God" and sing songs that say "Lord, I'm running to your heart with a soul on fire". ON FIRE! Waaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiittttttttt a minute! FIRE!!!! STOP, DROP, AND ROLL! The world sees fire, spiritual fire, as a threat to the way they want to have control over their lives, so they try to put it out, and when they can't, they run from it. Our jobs, our relationships, money, "religion" all try to make us stop what we are doing for the kingdom, drop our preparation in the word and in worship, and roll over as if we give up.

Most of us, whether we grew up in church or not, have heard "This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine." What is that mysterious light you talk about? FIRE! Hebrews 12:29 says: For our God is a consuming fire.      If we take the verse from Hebrews and replace the word "fire" with "God" in the popular children's church song, you get: "This God of mine, I'm going to let Him shine, let Him shine, let Him shine, let Him shine".

Let HIM shine in all that we do. I had a friend following me home one day to see if the way they were going was quicker than this route I was familiar with. My friend said to me, "Don't worry, I can keep up." (Implying speed and yellow lights were irrelevant) When I replied, "Trust me, I drive the speed limit. 4 over if I'm feeling brave." She immediately said, "Way to be spiritual in all that you do, even driving!"  At first, I was offended. Very offended actually. But then I realized that I should be letting God shine through me in all that I do. Grocery shopping, driving, worshiping, praying, teaching, talking ... literally everything I do should be to glorify God.

Being on fire for God is an amazing thing, but just be aware your fire is meant to spread. Your fire will also have many attempts to be put out, so prepare yourself by staying in the word ("the word" = His promises = the Bible) and praying. Pray that unwanted fires in your life be put out immediately. Pray that you can show the love of God to everyone you come in contact with.

Stop being afraid of what others think. Drop the negative "what if" thoughts, and just let God breathe through every moment of each day. And roll into the pool of mercy and grace God, our fire, is constantly providing for us.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

EZER KENEGDO

Pursue.
What do you think about when you see this word?
A group of girl friends of mine responded with:
• What you desire to be.
• Chase after something you desire.
• Go forth.
• What a guy should do when he likes a girl.
• Cop chase.
• To be chased down.
• Seek after something/someone.

The words that stand out the most? CHASE. GO. SEEK. DESIRE.

The word pursue is such a profound word in our culture.  We are culturally programmed to think about the word romance to be between a man and a woman, but have we ever stopped to think about it referencing our relationship with Jesus? The bible tells us in John 4 how God wants to romance us.  This chapter in the bible tells about a woman, who was imperfect and flawed, asks Jesus for the water that will cause her to thirst no more. Our culture puts so much emphasis on pursuing SATISFACTION and IDEAS, but when we think about it - we should be focusing on allowing God to pursue our hearts over earthly satisfaction and ideas.

Sometimes it's easy to see someone we admire. When we like the way another woman dresses, or the career someone has, or even the family another woman has established, we have to be careful with what we are pursuing. We should not pursue to be that other person, but rather build on the qualities we admire and make them our own. Do not pursue her career because she is successful in it, rather aim to be a hard worker as she is and your career will blossom the way it should for you. Do not pursue a family with exactly three kids and a six-foot husband because someone you admire has that, rather aim to be the best wife and mother God has called you to be (if in fact he has called you to be a wife and mother).  We do not want our pursuit to lead to being bound up because our priorities are skewed.

What is so alluring about a relationship that makes it so desirable anyways? We were created for relationships. We, as humans, were ultimately created for His delight and enjoyment. Have you ever stopped to think about why we, as women, were created? I saw something on facebook a few weeks ago that said: I, as a woman, was created to do what man couldn't. I think I snickered and kept on scrolling, but WOW that person is so right! We weren't made to be all that a man is, we were created to be and do what men aren't able to do. There are obvious differences between man and woman. Men are often seen as having strength, power, security and protection. Women are often seen for their tenderness, compassion, nurturing, serving, and inner and outer beauty. Now, that's not to say a woman can't be physically strong or a man isn't compassionate, it's simply saying men's strengths are often different that women's.  There are things from God's very essence that can't be given by man and without one or the other, the world would be missing 50% of HIS beauty.

Ever think about this?
EVE IS BREATHTAKING.
EVE IS THE CROWN OF CREATION.

Man was created to glorify God, woman was created to glorify God with man. Woman was created to help man meet life's demands.

Genesis 2:18 talks about EZER KENEGDO, which is God's word to woman. It kind of takes you aback the first time you think about God writing "She was to be his helper...". OUCH! I was created to be someone's helper? I think I initially missed the point. God uses this verse to help us realize when we desperately need Him to help us and we are to mirror God, so in that case ... YES! SIGN ME UP! LET ME HELP YOU!

We, as women, should be so humbled by the fact that God allowed us to carry beauty in the world! Our beauty is determined by our joy and our passions. We, as women, desire 3 things.
     <1> Romance - we long to be pursued!
     <2> Beauty - We want someone to find us captivating
     <3> to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure to be shared

We need to keep in mind that we can't depict God's heart without a man or without a woman. What men have to offer and what women have to offer may be different, but it's what makes up God's heart.

So back to the relationship thing. Eve and Adam were created to have a relationship with each other and with God. Guess what? God was jealous of Adam and Eve. He was not jealous of their relationship, or their fancy garden, or their fancy fig leaf clothing. He was jealous of their hearts. Waaaaaaaaiiiiiiiitttttttt a minute! The Bible tells us in many verses not to be jealous! (Song of Solomon 8:6, 1 Corinthians 13:4, Philippians 2:3, James 3:14-15, Psalm 37:1-3, James 3:16, Proverbs 14:30)

God's jealousy over Adam and Eve's hearts, and over our hearts, is because our hearts are rightfully His! Righteous jealousy is when something that is rightfully yours is taken from you. Unrighteous jealousy is when something is not rightfully ours, yet we want it anyway.

Psalm 139:18 says, "Were I count to them, they would outnumber the grains of sand; when I awake I am still with you".

God loves us more than each grain of sand. WOW! That's a lot. God gives us a fountain springing up into everlasting life - it's interactive in our lives, not just a one-time-thing. Oftentimes it's easy to think about how if God really and truly loved me, then why do I encounter rough times? Just remember, when worldly things get in the way of whole heartedly pursuing God, He finds a way to snatch our hearts back. We are all pursuing something all day, every day. The Bible is full of God pursuing us!

We (as women) have a purpose (as a gender). We were made for relationships, not just marriage/dating relationships, but friendships too. My challenge to you is this: Step out of your comfort zone and purposefully be approachable and inviting with our body language. In order to really pursue somebody, we really should think through scenarios and know that the Holy Spirit gives a lot of grace. I challenge you to pray with a listening heart that God may use you to serve, to nurture, or to shine His beauty through you. I challenge you for the next week, that every time you get in the car alone, to put everything aside and pray ... a 5 minute prayer, an hour prayer. Pray for God's will to be done through you. Pray for God's beauty to shine through you. Pray that God will use you to better His kingdom through relationships.

Remember, you're an Eve. You're breathtaking. You're God's very own creation. Without beauty the world would be .... DULL. They can thank us (really they should thank God) later.
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Monday, September 28, 2015

Want want want .....

Why is it that we always want MORE?  It's come to my attention lately that most of us aren't satisfied with what we've got and we focus on what we want more and more. Single ladies can't wait to find someone to date, then they WANT to be married, then they WANT to have kids, then they WANT this and that and as soon as one want becomes a reality, we want something else.

WHY!?

Psalm 23 plainly says, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want..."



Someone once explained to me why a shepherd carries a staff (the one with the hook) and a rod (the one without a hook). When other animals would pose a threat to the sheep, the rod was used to defend them and when the sheep wandered off, the staff was to pull them back in. Our heavenly father is our shepherd. ("The Lord is my shepherd...") He guides me, directs me, steers me towards heaven.  When I wander, He uses His staff to bring me back. And when the enemy is after me, He uses His rod to defend me. So if God's word, his promises to us, his children, says that our shepherd will take care of us and that we shall not want, then why in the world do we desire what we don't [yet] have?


We learn in kindergarten the difference between wants and needs. Some examples: I want a house -vs- I need a roof over my head // I want a brand new car -vs- I need reliable transportation to work // I want this new shirt -vs- I need to do laundry instead of buying new clothes.  I [embarrassingly enough] have a pinterest board named *need this in my life*.  The board has everything from custom cornhole boards, to shoes, to house decor, to chocolate chip cookie dough stuffed oreos ... and, to be honest, I do not have a single one of those things. Why do I not have any of the things on my *need this* board? Because I don't really NEED it. I want the new shoes, I have what I need -- too many shoes! I want the grey paint and picture frame arrangements, I have what I need -- a comfy roof over my head with pictures and coffee decor galore. I want the chocolate chip cookie dough stuffed oreos  and the pumpkin white hot chocolate, but I have more than I need -- a fridge and pantry with plenty.  Philippians 4:19 says, "And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus". Meaning our God, our shepherd, our father will take care of every need that he sees as a true need. Wanting more could even be seen as not trusting our provider.

At church this past weekend, the pastor mentioned something that has been hard for me to stop thinking about. Many have the belief that they don't understand why God would allow us to go through turmoil. Well the first book in the Bible tells us that God handed over his creation to man Gen 1:28-30  God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.  They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground -- everything that that has the breath of life in it -- I give every green plant for food." And it was so. 

When you keep reading, you realize that after God handed off "the whole earth" to man, man passed it off as well. Genesis 3 shows how man handed off his reigns to the serpent.  So to answer the question of why God let's bad things happen or why he allows storms to be in our lives, the answer is: He doesn't. He gave us the opportunity to take care of his beautiful creation and we decided to WANT something that was not meant for us and give up our rights to a sneaky life-sucking serpent. So God sent His son to live in the world and die a worldly death followed by a heavenly resurrection only so that we may be forgiven for our inevitable failures. But He didn't stop there! He promises that if we remain close to Him and lean on His understanding and trust Him, that He will carry us through any storm the devil tries to throw at us. And when we allow the storm to flood our lives, we are already forgiven and given another chance.

A friend and I were talking about this earlier and she said to me, "I don't believe anything is coincidence anymore. It is either of the Lord or of the Devil and I need to strengthen my defense to be able to differentiate between the two."  If you have not seen War Room yet, GO SEE IT. And then go see it again. And again and again and again. And if you have the opportunity to read the book on Fervent Prayer, do it. The movie and book both mention that we are in battle against our evil enemy who wants nothing more than to keep us away from our God. We should go to war against our enemy in prayer, in fervent prayer.

Our shepherd promised to take care of our needs even when we allow wants to cause storms in our lives. The only thing we should be WANTING is to be closer to God ... and when you think about it, that's really what we NEED.
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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

change

When you see the word "CHANGE" what is the first thing you think of?




Some may think of the jingling sound in their pocket with different types of coins! My mom always told me never to think less of a penny, because pennies lead to nickels, nickels lead to dimes, dimes lead to quarters, and quarters to dollars.

Others may think of "change" immediately with Mahatma Gandhi's quote "Be the change you want to see in the world" or by the timeless Churchill song, Change.

Time changes things. Life changes things. People change too. I like to explain change best with the illustration of an apple. Some are red, some are yellow, some are green. Time makes apples not yet ripe and unable to give off their best flavor. Time also makes apples rotten when they've been left out too long. The one thing that remains constant? The core. The core of the apple is what the apple is all about. No matter what time, life, and people do to contribute to the wear and tear of the apple, the core remains the same. The core has more to give. We can take note from apples because our interests change over time. our style may change over time, but who we are -- deep down to the core -- doesn't.

In high school, I loved lifeguarding because it basically paid me to be tan. Now, I enjoy going to the pool to play with my niece, but it's usually too hot for me to want to even try to stay and get tanned.  Growing up, skirts and dresses were my favorite until I got to my "adolescent" stage and wanted to wear jeans just like everyone else. Now that I rule my own little world, skirts and dresses daily for me please!  I've lost people I loved, I've been sucked into poisonous relationships, I've been rejected -- and each of these hard things made me that much stronger. Even though my style has changed over the years and my interests shifted from "hardcore athlete" to "teacher leader", I'm completely okay with that.  Just because my interests have changed over the years, that doesn't change the fact that if a friend was in need, I wouldn't hesitate to drop everything I was doing to go help them out. Another change in my life is who I choose to surround myself with. By constantly keeping people close to me who are running after the Lord and choose to share their joys and their trials and are just genuinely good people DOWN TO THE CORE, I have found myself in constant "good spirits".

Life experiences have taught me to be more guarded. Time is teaching me to be more confident. When I feel like "just a penny", I know I'm just a small part of God's big masterpiece. And ..... people. People are teaching me to believe in myself more because when I don't, it seems as if there is a "please walk all over me" sign tacked to my forehead. People are shaping and molding me into the person I am becoming. Churchill says it best: "you got nothing to lose, so change change change".
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Monday, June 29, 2015

The light at the end of the tunnel

It always seems to me as if things tend to get easier when I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  When I am unable to see the end nearby, things tend to be tougher. John 8:12 says: When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Holllllddddddd on! Jesus is the light of the world.... He's the light at the end of every one of our tunnels.  Why do we have to go through dark tunnels to get to the light though? A tunnel is simply defined as a passageway surrounded by walls that have an entrance and an exit. They aren't meant to be forever long walkways, they are meant to go from one place to another with JESUS AS THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL! Sometimes our tunnels have names like, "lesson" or "reason" or "season". Tunnels bring us from one place to another and it's scary to travel these tunnels alone and in the dark, but that's why Jesus walks alongside us and even a little in front of us guiding the way. Don't try to walk this life alone, we're not meant to (tenth avenue north says its best with their song No Man Is An Island; we're not meant to live this life alone). Sometimes it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel because we cloud our vision with things like work, money, and other "things" ... And when we have cloudy vision, it's hard to see the light at the end. I challenge you to really find out what is clouding your vision while walking through whatever tunnel you are in right now. One thing I know I need to work on is to stop trying to be who I think people want me to be. I really need to take pride in enjoying the things I enjoy and wearing the clothes I like to wear and drinking my coffee the way I like to drink it. Too often I want to be like someone else I look up to and adore, but my goal shouldn't be to be like them, it should be to be the type of person that other people look at and say, "I want that". If I don't wear a necklace every single day, but dwell on the fact that I wish I was the girl whose outfit looked cuter because she did wear one, I'm missing out on someone else thinking they wish they could pull off simplicity. If I choose prefer to listen to silence in the car when a friend is riding with me for fear that my Christian music is going to offend them, I'm missing out on the opportunity to witness to them. If I choose to not go dancing because I don't want to be the worst one there, then I'm missing out on a great night full of fun. I need to suck up my selfishness and ditch my cloudy view of the tunnel itself and put my eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel because "God won't bring you to it if He won't bring you through it!"
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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A letter from God

When my human mind tries to think about what a letter from God addressed to me might look like, I'm defeated. 1 Timothy begins with, "To Timothy, my true child in the faith..." WOW! I'm pretty sure I read this same verse about 20 times in awe! "My true child in the faith..." That's powerful! Then my [human] mind begins to think about what the letter addressed to me might look like. "To Denise, my worry wort. Have I not told you to not be anxious?" Nah, I highly doubt God almighty would use the term "worry wort", but that would be a viable letter. Maybe Matthew 8:26 is a letter addressed to us all? "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" If faith is believing in something we cannot see (thanks Super Kid Academy ...definitely taking you back to my childhood), it appears more times than not that it's easy to have FAITH when things are going great. It's the trying times that we need faith the most, but it's the trying times when it's the hardest to remain faithful.  Matthew 17:20 says,  "Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." A mustard seed! A tiny bit of faith will move mountains, yet we drop that seed sometimes and don't even bother to try to pick it up. We defeat ourselves. What mountains are in your way? Is it a job you hate, or a job you love too much? Is it an unhealthy relationship? Is it finances? Is it simply too much on your plate? Personally, I thrive when I'm busy. Working three jobs, getting home late, waking up early just to do it all over again, I consider that successful. Until stress hits me...hard. My back hurts, I have ulcers in my mouth so bad I can hardly eat, migraines every single day ... and then it's not success anymore. I'm not saying being lazy is a good thing, I'm not saying staying busy out of your mind is a good thing ... I'm saying my goal is to find that balance. The balance of working my hardest to be a successful teacher and building lifetime relationships instead of working 3 jobs and getting home in enough time to maybe eat dinner, shower, and go to bed ... all to wake up and do it again. It's a mind-shift. I'm shifting gears from what God made most important in my life for a season and building off of what He put in my life for a reason. Kutless' song That's What Faith Can Do says:  "Life is so much more than what your eyes are seeing; You will find a way if you keep believing..." IF WE KEEP BELIEVING! Have faith and believe that God's got a plan for your life. He may throw obstacles in your way just to test your faith. Sometimes we wait a week for things to turn around and sometimes we wait ten years for perfect timing to be revealed. Whatever the "time" you wait is, actively wait in prayer and in the word because you are a child of God and what father wants anything more than success for His children?


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