Friday, August 26, 2016

Riding in the Car with Boys

This week, I've had the opportunity to take my boys to school each morning.  Normally, I have one child with me, and Jeff takes the other two.  The drop off and pick up lines are not in my daily schedule.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my extra time in the car with the boys.  We've laughed and carried on.  We've discussed my sensitivity to the bass in TobyMac's music.  My boys have sang along with said TobyMac music.  We've talked about the day ahead and wished one another a great day at school. We've even improvised to make sunglasses for the blazing morning sun!


As I've enjoyed my time with the boys, my heart has cringed at what I've seen going on in other vehicles.  I've seen parents engrossed in their cell phones, either taking calls, checking Facebook, or playing games.  I've seen children with headphones on.  I've seen little to no interaction in many of these vehicles.

And as a teacher mama, I say this.... Parents, cherish these extra minutes with your children.  Take time to talk to them about their day.  Take time to laugh.  Pray with them.  Make these last few minutes enjoyable so your children get out of that car knowing they are cherished by you, that you'll miss them, that you wish them a fabulous day, and you can't wait to see them after school.


Our babies grow way to fast.  Society pushes and pulls at them.  They are involved in many extra curricular activities.  Our time with our children dwindles each day.  We need to make the most of each moment, even that extra 10 minutes in the car.

My challenge to you is this.....next week while you are chauffeuring your littles to and from school, put the cell phone away. Have your kids take the headphones off. Then talk. Sing. Pray. Be silly.  Spend time with your children.  I promise that you won't be sorry you did.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Team: Five Minute Friday on Sunday Afternoon

Are you new to Five Minute Friday?  This amazing community of writers comes together each week to share their hearts and words about a prompt given to us by Kate Motaung.  Writers have 5 minutes to share, no overthinking, no editing, just writing.

And sometimes we don't get to write on Friday, and it turns into Five Minute Sunday!



This week's prompt is TEAM.



In the past, there as been a section on the Parks and Rec form for sports sign ups that says, "What do you hope your child gains from playing on a team this year?"

I have always loved that.

I would write that I wanted my child to learn basics skills of the game and learn how to be part of team.

In reality, we are all part of team, no matter if it is on a ball field, in the workplace, at church, or at home.

We have to be able to relate to others.  We have to be able to communicate (both listen and speak - and the writer in me says "write too!").

In all of these places, we have a common goal.  We have to work together to reach that goal, and to do that, we have to be a team.

Our world is a mess because we aren't working as part of God's team.  He has called us to love, to serve, and to make disciples of all nations.  It isn't up to just the preachers, Sunday school teachers, or missions team.  It is up to us all.  If we all took our part seriously and worked side by side with other Christians, this world would be a totally different place.  As part of God's team, with Him as our coach, our leader, we can do anything within His will.  We have to have one heart with Him.


Thank you for joining me for my Sunday edition of Five Minute Friday.  Please, head over to Kate's blog to read what the FMF Community had to say about this week's prompt.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Happy: A Name to Live Up To - Five Minute Friday (On Sunday)

Meet Happy.  

Yes, this is our family cat.

He became a member of our family about 8 or 9 years ago.

He has a heck of a name to live up to.

Sometimes Happy is happy.  Especially when he attacks me as I'm walking up the stairs, walking across the room, or resting quietly.


Sometimes Happy isn't so happy.  Especially when I am taking too long to fill his food bowl or the neighborhood kids are searching for him when they come to visit.

I guess it is hard to live up to his name all the time.

Like us....are we always happy?

No. Its an emotion. And as a woman, I can tell you that I have been on plenty of those emotional rollercoasters.

But as a Christian, I have a name to live up to.  And to live up to that name - Christian - I don't choose happiness.....I choose joy.

You see, my joy comes from the Lord.

My husband made me happy when he brought home Panda Express Friday night.

But my joy comes from knowing that Christ is with me always and He will meet me right where I am.

It isn't always possible to be happy, but it is possible to always be joyful.  I can find joy in my deepest sorrows.  How?  Because I know Christ.


Thank you for joining me today (Sunday) for my Five Minute Friday post.  Be sure you head to Kate's to read more amazing thoughts on this week's prompt HAPPY.  And best of all......

there is a giveaway and news about the Five Minute Friday book.



Yes!  Our favorite Five Minute Friday posts are being published!!  You definitely don't want to miss out on it!



Monday, July 25, 2016

Back to School Gift

It is that time of year.

Store aisles are filled with folders, paper, crayons, and pencils.  Our mail contains the best sales for school supplies.  Although they've done hours of Pinterest PD, texting, and emailing, teachers are officially meeting to prepare for classrooms full of kids.

Yes, it is back to school time!



As parents, we usually get our child's teachers a gift for Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Teacher Appreciation Day.  But what about a Back to School Gift?

As a teacher, the best (and I think only) back to school gift I have gotten was a note from a parent. It let me know that she had been praying for me and our school year. I taped it to the pullout on my desk and read it several times throughout the year.

I cherished that note.

Teachers have a wonderfully stressful job.


We love our students. We call them "our kids" - forever. We see these students in ways their parents will never see them.  We laugh with them. We cry with them.  We hug them when they celebrate and when their worlds are falling apart.


Teachers do more than teach. And to know that a parent was praying for me, praying for our school year.....that meant so much to me.


Parents, we do need your prayers.  Your children need your prayers. It is a crazy awful world we live in.  So many uncertainties. So much evil.  For some of these children the school is their safe place. The school is their guaranteed meal. The school is where they are loved and cherished.


I've come to realize in my many years of teaching that some of these students that I call "my kids" need me to teach them reading and writing.  Others need me to teach them love, compassion, and responsibility. And others, those children need to be loved and cherished and told they are indeed someone special, someone who is fearfully and wonderfully made.


So, parents, pray for us.  Pray for us to be what these precious children need us to be.  Pray for us to see them as more than a test score. Pray for us to show patience, love, and understanding while we stretch their minds and push them to succeed. Pray for us to protect them from bullies and self harm. Pray for us to see them as God our Father sees us.   Please, pray for us.

And then, I ask you this....Would you please show us grace and mercy?  We teachers are human. We mess up. We jump to conclusions. We get tired and frustrated. Life happens to us as it does to everyone. So, please, show us grace.

And then if you want to....send coffee.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Help

I saw a thing on Facebook this morning that says, "Be careful who you vent to. Only a few people care and others are just curious."

Venting sometimes helps.  It makes us feel better to "get it out."  But sometimes it can make things worse.

We do a lot of things that we think will help us, but many times, those things make whatever "it" is worse.

If there is one thing I know, I know this......God is my helper.


Scripture says, "Where does my help come from? My help comes from the the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." And for those of you who are musically inclined, I sing that every time I read it or write it!

God always makes things better.

When He helps me, he doesn't always fix it the way I want him too.  Sometimes he leaves the problem alone, but he changes my heart.

God knows what's best for me, and things always work out for the best when I go to him first.  It sounds cliche, but its true: God will provide.

We just have to get out of the mindset that God will provide and help us the way we want and expect him too.  His way is so much better than mine.



Happy Friday to you!


If you are staying in today to beat the heat, head over to katemotaung.com to read more about the word HELP and join in the Five Minute Friday Fun.







Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Jesus Loves You




We are a hurting world.  We are a sad world. We are a sinful world.

We want peace. We want our politicians to be the hero and make everything ok.

There is only one who can bring peace to our nation.

The One True God.

Do you know Him?

God wants a relationship with each of us.  He wants us to be fully devoted to Him.

He doesn't give us a list of rules and regulations. He wants us to admit our need for Him due to our sinful nature.  He wants us to believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. He wants us to confess our faith in Him.  He wants us to place Him at the center of our lives and live for Him in each and everything we do.

And yes, that may mean giving up some things.  That may mean a lifestyle change. That may mean the loss of relationships.

But you know what?  God gave His Son for us.  He loves us and He wants us to love Him.

Our world will never know true peace unless every single person on this earth knows and loves and serves Jesus Christ.

Our world will never know true peace until every knee bows and prays to the One True God.

A life lived for Christ is so much more glorious than a life lived for anything else.  We are not promised tomorrow. We are not able to take our possessions with us when we pass from this earth....and we will pass from this earth.  Our bodies are tents for our souls. One day our tents will serve us no more. Our souls will move from our bodies to eternity......either heaven or hell......eternal peace or eternal turmoil.

Jesus loves you so much that He gave his life so that we can spend eternity in heaven, eternity in peace.  Why would we not accept that gift?  If you were starving would you deny the food and water placed before you?  If your house was burning, would you deny the hoses that would extinguish it? Then why would you deny Christ who offers you more than this world ever could?

In June of 2004, 12 years ago, I made a life changing decision. I chose to live my life for Jesus.  I admitted my need for him. I was a sinner. I still am, but now I'm forgiven. I chose to believe that Jesus is God's son, that he died for my sins and rose from the grave so that I would not have to face eternal death in hell.  I confessed my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior in Lord. I told of my salvation, I stood before the church, I followed Jesus in baptism.

Every day I am growing, changing, and learning.  I am not perfect. I am a sinner and won't be perfect until I reach my heavenly home.  But Christ lives within me.  He is my one desire.

Yes, I love my husband. Yes, I love my children.  But I can NOT be the wife and mother they need me to be without putting Christ first in my life.  Jesus loves me and I love Him.

And He loves you too.

Oh, I pray that each of you who read these words would know and love Jesus the way that I do.....

If we all, each of us that walk this earth, if we all knew and loved and shared Jesus......my, what a different world we would live in.

Do you know Jesus? Do you love Him?

Jesus loves you!


If you don't know Jesus as your Lord and Savior,  and you are feeling Him tug on your heart, you've pushed him to the side long enough......don't deny him any longer. Open your heart to Him now!


If you do know Jesus, share Him with others.  God commands us to do so.  We aren't meant to keep Him to ourselves.  When something good happens to us, don't we share it?  Don't we rush to Facebook and Instagram and post away?  Well, why not flood social media with the greatest news of all??? Can you imagine logging on to Facebook and seeing nothing but the love of Jesus instead of the hatred and trickery of Satan????

Y'all, this world scares me.  I think of how it has changed since I was a kid and what my children are witnessing and what they will experience in their lifetime.  But this world will not change unless Christians stand up and share Christ.  We must pray without ceasing instead of praying when disaster strikes. Imagine a world where we are united in Christ.  Right now we've let Satan divide us through gender, race, sexuality, politics, and religion. We need to be united in Christ.  We must be united in Christ.

Jesus loves you. What are you going to do about it?




Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Outside the Box

Tonight, this mama's heart is full.

Our church has an amazing children's ministry called Camp Creative.  During this two day camp, children learn Bible stories and take part in creative ways to praise and worship God.  Activities this year included storytelling, art, hands and feet (blacklight mime/signing and interpretive dance), woodworking, puppetry, Legos, and cake decorating.

As a mom of three very different boys, I am so appreciative of this ministry.  I have two sons that are eager to take part in most activities our children do at church.  My middle child is sometimes a little reluctant and has been known to stand on stage during performances....just standing there.


But this ministry.....it excites him.  Sunday night he was ready for bed because he knew Camp Creative would come bright and early Monday morning. When we got home from day 1, he talked about his favorite activities of the day. And I'll be honest, I cried when I saw him participate in the blacklight mime/signing practice session.  Today, he has talked nonstop.  He's repeatedly told me his favorite parts of his classes and the four parts he has in the blacklight show.

Ya'll, this is it.

The Bible says Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

This camp shows kids there isn't a single right way to praise and worship God. We teach them about the One True God, about Jesus Christ our Savior.  But we show them ways to serve, honor, and glorify Him that don't fit in a box. These children are learning and worshipping and praising and serving in so many ways.  And they are excited.  They are excited about Jesus.

And this mama's heart is happy, it's full. I'm an emotional wreck because my quiet kid, my kid that is rarely excited about anything is excited.

I am thankful for our church that supports ministries like this.  I'm thankful for those that organize and teach and herd children around. I'm thankful. Tomorrow night as the children take part in their "Praisentation," I'll be praising God for this amazing ministry and how it affects my children.



Saturday, June 04, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Haven

There's a place I like to go.  It's normally quiet.  It's quite comfortable.  It's my own little spot.  It takes me to my haven.

I rise early in the morning. Make my coffee. Have a seat. Cuddle with the cat. Open the Good Book.

In this spot I read.  I'm taken beyond the Living Word and placed alongside my God.  My Safe Haven. My Rock. My Refuge.



Regardless of what is on my heart that morning, He tends to my soul.  In this spot, it's just me and Him.  Spending time together. Knowing each other. Loving each other.  Me listening and learning.  Him speaking to my heart.

I cherish this time.

It isn't always uninterrupted.  Sometimes it may come later in the day.  Some days it comes multiple times per day.

Always a safe space.

Always my haven.

I read His Holy Word.

I devour it.

It leaves an imprint on my heart, mind, and soul.

It's is a part of me.


His Word is living.

His Word is powerful.

His Word is what I crave.

His Word takes me to a place of love, mercy, hope, and comfort.

His Word is full of grace.

His Word is my haven.


If you've enjoyed my FMF post, stop over at Kate's to read LeeAnn's thoughts on the word Haven.  There are other great writers' links as well. 

Summer Lovin' - Ham Rolls

One of my favorite things about summer is the food.  It's a time when I'm looking for something quick and easy to prepare.  And for that reason, I love Ham Rolls.

Ingredients:
2 packages of cream cheese, softened
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
1 can of black olives, chopped
Tabasco sauce
1 large package of thin sliced ham
1 package of 10" soft tortilla shells


Allow cream cheese to sit at room temperature so it will be soft enough to mix well.




Chop green onions.




Put green onions and black olives in bowl with cream cheese. Add two dashes of Tabasco soft.



Mix well.



Spread mix on tortilla shell.



Place ham slices on tortilla shell and then roll.



Cut roll into smaller pieces. 
Repeat with remaining ingredients.



Eat right away or chill before serving.


Not only are Ham Rolls a favorite summer time treat, but I love them for parties too.  My mom usually brings them at my request!  If you make these, let me know what you think. I think they are quite addictive!

Do you have a favorite summertime food? I'd love to hear about it. 



Wednesday, June 01, 2016

52 Books in 52 Weeks Update

Last year, I joined in the 52 Books in 52 Weeks reading challenge. I read 14 amazing books.  This year, I have already completed 12 books. For those of you looking for a few good books to read this summer (or want to add to your kids' reading list), here's what I've completed in 2016 so far:

A book in a genre I don't typically read
The Iron Trial was a recommendation by a student in my class. He is really into stuff like this. I promised him I would read it. I did, and it wasn't too bad. I actually have the second book in my bag to read this summer.

A book recommended by someone I just met
One of my new students was reading If I Stay as her AR book. I asked her if it was any good, and she said yes, and then she told me I should read it.  I really liked the book. I watched the movie and did the ugly cry even though I knew what was going to happen.


 A book with a title that describes my life
LOVE this book. LOVE a good pair of jeans. LOVE Jesus.  


A book with a blue cover
I used this book in lit circles with my fifth graders. I read it beforehand and fell in love with it. The jaw dropping ending really got me.  Loved the movie too. Be sure you read the book before you watch the movie!


An autobiography
I am fascinated by Malala's story. After reading this, I used it for lit circles in my classroom. My students loved it. It was a wake up call for them because they had such a hard time believing that children in some countries aren't allowed an education like they are. 

 A book based in my town
The setting of this book is my hometown. Our librarian used this book in her Battle of the Books program a few years ago, and I fell in love with it.  All church goers (young and old) need to read this.  Its a story of forgiveness and how God works through all things. 


A book I haven't read since high school
I had forgotten how good this book was. I love that it is referenced in so many other pieces of literature.

A book I've already read at least once
This is another book used in our Battle of the Books program. To Kill a Mockingbird is referenced in this book, you'll have to read it to find out why.  I've always loved this book, but this year, after I completed it as a read aloud in my classroom, one of my autistic students said that he really liked it because it helps you understand how people think differently.  Score one for the teacher!

 A book published this year
A fellow Five Minute Friday Retreat friend wrote this wonderful book about trusting God even if He doesn't answer our prayers the way we want.  For anyone who has had trouble trusting Him, read this book.  Some people are bothered by the fact that Kaitlyn didn't go into extreme details in some of her stories, however, I don't think she needed to. I think we can all relate no matter what.


A book that's under 150 pages
This is an older book that I love and use as a read aloud in my classroom. It touches on bullying in a way that all of my students can relate. I love that it reinforces 2 facts: A) If you don't step up and stop bullying, you are just as guilty B)Bullying has negative effects

 A book written from a child's perspective
This is another book I used as a read aloud in class.   I love this book for so many reasons.  It is actually told from the perspective of a classroom of children and demonstrates the love their teacher had for them and the love they had for him.

A book thats more than 600 pages
I thought reading War and Peace was going to kill me! It took almost a year, but I did it though. I was proud of myself for not giving up although I wanted to at times. I was so excited about the mini series until they cancelled it right in the middle.


Now that summer is here, I hope to get in some grown up books.  These books are on my To Read List: Hands Free Life, Fear and Faith, Do These Jeans Make Me Look Fat, Made to Crave, The Most Effective Way to Lead, 40 Days of Decrease, Beowulf, I am Malala (the adult version), Hold Me Like a Breath, Where I Am, and the Copper Gauntlet.  

What's on your summer reading list?  I'd love to hear!

Happy reading!