Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Striving for Spiritual Intimacy

I've just finished a personal Bible study from Women of Faith called Experiencing Spiritual Intimacy. Before I started reading, I just assumed that it would focus on being more intimate with God.  Although God the Father was mentioned in the study, it was mainly focused on the Holy Spirit.  I was surprised because most of the studies I've done (and most of the sermons I have heard) focus on God the Father or Jesus Christ.  

I was pleasantly moved and blessed by this study.

I think it is so easy to forget about the work of and the relationship with the Holy Spirit.  Sad, but true.

The Holy Spirit is just as much as part of our Christian lives as God and Jesus.  

Job 36:24 reminds us how big God is.

"Behold, God is great and we do not know Him; nor can the number of His years be discovered."

When we begin our relationship with God (and continue to grow in Him), we trust He is who He says He is.  And this builds our faith in Him.

As in Exodus and Deuteronomy, we know there is no other like Him.

We know that Jesus Christ is God's Son.

As Carson puts it:
When does 100 + 100 = 100?
100% God + 100% Man = 100% Jesus.

We believe that Jesus Christ lived a perfect life. That He was crucified on on cross and died for our sins, so that if we believe in Him, we should have eternal life.

And we believe that Jesus lives in us.

I think often we forget about the Holy Spirit, the third part of the Trinity.

God sent the Holy Spirit to live in us, to be our Helper.  The Spirit is that still small voice that guides us.


So many times, we entertain the thought of behaving in a manner so if that were the moment that Jesus came back, then we would be living right, that He would be pleased with us.  There's nothing wrong with that, but I think the more important thing to consider is this:

The Holy Spirit dwells in us that are saved.  The Spirit (and God and Jesus) already know if we are living right.  Therefore, we should not grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).

1 Corinthians 6:19  tells us point blank what we are to the Holy Spirit.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

I've read that verse many times.  I just never really did much about it.  However, since doing this study and really focusing on the Holy Spirit, this verse touches my heart deeply, especially in areas that I struggle with: anger/temper and gluttony.  When I stop to think about my body being a temple for the Holy Spirit, that the Spirit really and truly lives in me.....well, it does something to my soul.  It makes me think twice about my reactions when I'm upset.  It makes me think twice about making severe unhealthy food choices.  It just reinforces the fact that God....Jesus....the Holy Spirit....they are here; they are a part of me.  And because of that reinforcement, I want to be caught living right every moment of every day.  I am more aware of how I react to situations. I am more aware of how I spend my time. I am more aware of what and how much I eat.  I am more aware that They are closer than I think.

And in all this....thinking about intimacy in our relationships....we want that.  We want to be so close to people that we know all about them and they know all about us.  That we have a deep connection. That when they day comes to an end, when trials come, those people are here for us.

And that's what we can have with God, with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit.  With any relationship, it takes time and effort. We put those into our earthly relationships. We need to do so even more with our heavenly relationships.  When we live in unity with the Spirit, God gives us the gift of peace, the gift of wisdom, the gift of joy.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Five Minute Friday Update

I'm certain that yesterday's Five Minute Friday post had everyone on the lookout for some missing items.  However, you can call off the search party.

I am happy to announce that I'm no longer missing my keys and flash drives.  They were hiding out in a purse that was crammed inside a plastic bag full of ball caps.



Oh, Happy Day!

Now, if we could only find those missing shoes!

Happy Saturday Friends.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Five Minute Friday ~ Find

It's been a loooonnnngggg week.  The first full week of school.  I'm tired.  But not too tired for a little Five Minute Friday action.  Are you game?  Join in.  Just take the prompt and write for five minutes. That's it.  No overthinking. Supposedly no editing, but some of us can't help it.  Just write for five minutes.

This week's prompt:


I can't find my hot pink keychain that I bought last year. It has my first initial on it.  And it has my work keys.  I kinda need it.

I can't find my flash drive....well, three of them to be exact.  They have my entire school life on them from the past 4 years. I kinda need them.

My husband can't find his Sanuk slip ons.  We have no idea where they are.  I figure they are in cahoots with the keys and flash drives and they've done R-U-N-N-O-F-T. (Any movie lovers out there?)

But seriously..

How many times are we searching for something???? I swear I'd lose my head sometimes if it weren't already attached to my body.

But how about those times we are searching and we find the wrong thing.  We find a pitiful substitute for what we really need?  For many people that happens too much.

We seek, but we choose poorly.

God is always the perfect choice.  He satisfies the longing of our souls.  When something is missing....how wonderful it is to be found in Him.


Sometimes we search for Him and don't see Him.  There's something clouding our view because God, well, He's always there.  He's always waiting for us.


Thank you so much for allowing me to share these words with you.  Don't forget to head on over to Kate's to join in.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Making Room for Being a Writer

While at the Five Minute Friday Retreat, we were treated to a video chat with Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig, authors of On Being a Writer.  They asked us to go around the room and share some goals we had as writers.

One of my main goals was this.....to write consistently.

If you go back through my blog, you'll see that there are seasons where I posted quite often and seasons where I rarely posted anything.

Consistency is quite an issue for me.

I work full time as an elementary school teacher.

I am married and have 3 children.

I coach soccer.

I coach robotics.

I volunteer in our church.

I am a resource teacher for interns and student teachers.

I have laundry, dishes, a cat, and 3 hermit crabs to take care of.

I seriously have a lot going on.

As much as I want to make writing a priority, it doesn't always happen.

Like Kate Motaung and many others, I often feel guilty for taking time to write.  There's laundry to be done, dishes to be washed, and kids to look after.  I can easily forget the laundry and dishes. I've learned they'll always be there.  But my children....I feel guilty for allowing them to sit in front of the TV or play on the iPads longer than they really should while I peck away at the keyboard.  Shouldn't I be spending time reading with them? Playing with them?  And my husband.....shouldn't I be spending that time having meaningful conversations with him? After all, when the kids are asleep, that's our time to really catch up on our day and activities and connect (Currently, we are in bed. Me with the laptop, him with the iPhone, and Cubs on the TV. Go Cubs! Go!). I think as moms, we do guilt ourselves into neglecting our time to do "our thing," whether its writing, exercising, crafts, or gardening.  However, what I'm realizing, even if its just for me, is that I need that time to refresh. Time for myself is good.

In reality though, my writing time is what Kate described as scraps. Pieces from here and there stitched together.  The kids are playing, laundry is going, and the dish washer is running so I sit to write.  Then I hear, "Mama!"  I get needs taken care of and then try again.  That's the way it usually goes.  I won't even mention how many of my Five Minute Friday posts took at least an hour to get through!

But time is definitely a factor.

As far as space, my writing spot......its usually somewhere close to all the action in the house.  I've realized the closer I am to my 3 boys, the less they need me.  If I go to the bedroom or outside (anything that even hints at privacy), they realize they can't live without me and are completely unable to do anything on their own.

We've just moved into a new home, and although I am typing from the comfort of my bed, my usual physical space for writing is my breakfast table.


It's in the kitchen which means my boys are usually in the next room. It also puts me very close to the coffee pot.  The view is excellent.  I can gaze at the horses out the door during the day. And at night, the yellow walls brighten up the room. Its a nice consistent spot to be.

The biggest thing I have done in arranging my life to be able to write is spend time with God.  That's huge considering the purpose of this blog is to bring Him honor and glory.  He and I made this deal when I started blogging that this space is for Him.  He would come first.  Then I would use what He's teaching me through Bible study, prayer, and life to give hope and encouragement here.  As you can see from my picture above, my Bible is always close by when I'm writing. I take pictures of scripture as I'm doing Bible study so I can use it in my writing.  God speaks to me like that,  and I have to share it.

All in all.....

I'm trying.

I'm trying to give more attention to this thing called writing that I love to do.

I want more of it.  I want more out of it.

One day, I'd love to make a career out of it.  Not sure if that would ever happen or even if God wants it for me, but that's a hope and dream of mine.

I am realistic and realize right now that I can't quit teaching to pursue writing. Student loans, a teenager who is going to need braces soon, a car payment, and two mortgages tell me so. You can help a girl get closer to her goal by buying my old house!  That'd save me some money each month!

But I do have goals, and I think that's a start.  And knowing what those goals are, I can arrange my time and my space to reach those goals.

I encourage you to do the same.  Whether it's writing or something else, make time for it.  Get rid of some time wasters.  I'll tell you what...I'm NOT missing Frozen Free Fall or Hay Day.  But I do miss out (and feel it in my soul too) when I don't take time for me. And writing is me.  It's what I do. It's who I am.

And I feel so brave typing those words. You can too.




Monday, August 17, 2015

I am a Writer

I've never considered myself a writer.  I guess the fact of the matter is, I've unconsciously felt that writers were published, sought after, paid, and famous.

But me? A writer?

Nah!

Until this....

As an attendee at the Five Minute Friday Retreat, I received a door prize.  This lovely gem....


I took that picture and sent it to my husband with this comment: Could this be a sign?

And it was.

That cute little necklace gave me the courage to call myself a writer.

If I go back to the prerequisites I listed above, I can only check off one of those. I am "published," and I say that lightly. I have written for Wives of Faith and Planting Roots, two wonderful military spouse communities. I also publish here on the blog. That orange button up there in the top right corner says so!

But seriously...

I am a lover of words.  I love how words can lift people, can boost their imaginations, can change their perspective.

I am a user of the written words.  I write notes of encouragement. I write love letters to my husband and children. I write here on my blog and in my journal. I write for me. I write for you.

I am a writer!

I'm not a writer because you say I am. I am writer because God has given me that gift, and as I am learning, I am to be faithful in using that gift.

Whether I publish a book or not, 
Whether I am a sought out author or not,
Whether I am paid or not,
Whether I am famous or not,

I will continue to write
Because I am a writer..



Sunday, August 16, 2015

LEARN (Five Minute Friday Sunday Evening)

I am a mama.
I am a teacher.
I am a wife.
I am 37ish years old.

When my kids ask me how I know something, my reply is, "I know everything."  They laugh because they know it's not true.

And it's not.

I still have a lot to learn.

And I do learn....every day.

The most important life lesson that I've learned and am still learning is

God's not done with me yet!

Thank you, Lord.

Some days I'm a hot mess.
Some days, cool as a cucumber.

Either way, far from perfect.

I am learning, as a woman, that I am ME. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Scars and all.

I am learning that my journey is different than your journey and that's perfectly fine.

God didn't intend for us all to be the same.

I am learning more and more every day that I want to be found in His holiness. I want Him to fill my soul with His presence.  Because really....honestly...without Him, I am nothing.

I am learning more and more every day that I crave His grace and mercy.....especially on those "hot mess days."

And as I learn, I have to share, to teach, to show others what God has done in my life.


Wow! That five minutes went particularly fast today.  Thank you for allowing me to share my Five Minute Friday thoughts with you on this Sunday afternoon!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

These Are My People

I'm a homebody.  I don't like to bring attention to myself.  New social situations are uncomfortable for me.

So the thought of attending a weekend retreat with total strangers terrified me.  With the encouragement of my husband, I clicked submit and marked my calendar for August 7-9: The First Ever Five Minute Friday Retreat.

And y'all, let me just say this: 
These are my people


Different Ages. 
Different Races. 
Different Backgrounds.
Different Hometowns.
Different Experiences.
Different Denominations.

One Heart.

The Heart of Jesus is the way I'd describe these women.  Amazing women.  Women who are now a part of me.

As a writer....and yes, because of these women, I can boldly say, I am a writer.....I've learned so much in such short amount of time.  

I was reminded that we are the body of Christ.  We've each been given different spiritual gifts, different life paths, and different hopes and dreams and realities.  But in all of this, we need to be content with our own journey, our own path.  We need to realize, as Mary said, "My big is someone else's ordinary."


And for me, the Five Minute Friday Retreat was my BIG, very big.

Where else can you walk through the door not knowing what's on the the other side and be greeted by strangers who already know you?



Where else can the theme of the weekend, whether woman planned or God planned is bravery, when you feel like the least brave person you know?

What else can make you feel a little empty when you walk away from it that last day?

Y'all, these are my people.

I'll never forget Martha's sweet manner.


I'll never forget Janel's contagious personality.


I'll never forget listening to Kate read about Spanx as we laughed til we cried.


I'll never forget praying for Christy and Melinda when they were stranded with a flat tire even though I'd never met them in real life.

I'll never forget praying for women that I'd never know, only God would know, as I cut denim petals.


I'll never forget dinner at Hadley's with fried everything and saying a few Spanish words with that southern twang.


I'll never forget sweet Haven and the joy she brought to us.

This was a time of many firsts for me.

The first time to leave my family and do something on my on, by myself, for myself.

The first time eating grits. 

The first time cooking with black beans (Thank you Mollie for letting me know I needed to rinse them!).



The first time sharing my writing face to face.


The first time connecting with women on a different level than I am used to.

The first time using my bar of Zest to wash my hair because I grabbed body lotion instead of shampoo.


I admit.....It would have been easy, oh, so easy for me to back out.  With Space Camp, Army Training, Soccer Tournaments.....yes, I could have easily said it just wasn't the right time for me.  I was a too busy. I wasn't quite ready to jump into this.

But

God gave me a peace of mind. He never gave this socially backwards girl a nervous heart.  He sent me right where He wanted me.  And Kate, I agree with you.  We were meant to be there.


I take away from this experience many things.  New friendships. Wisdom.  Memories.  I take away a little piece of the bravery shared through our devotions. I take away gifts from obedience and following through with what God has asked me to do.  I take away the reminder that as a writer, I am called to write TRUTH.  My audience isn't necessarily you, the blog readers, my audience is Christ.  When I  click publish, my words should reflect His Truth. His Love. His Mercy. His Grace. His Hope. His Redemption. His Story.


And that's what I've found in these women.  I've found that He lives in their hearts and in them, they have a story to tell, and as Kaitlyn says, a story that matters.  We matter.  We matter as women, as mothers, as daughters of the One True King.

And y'all, these are my people. These are my sisters.  Forevevermore, because of a little thing God put in the heart of Lisa-Jo Baker and she passed along to Kate Motaung, these five minutes we spend on Fridays, knit together a bond that is strong, that is pure, that is God created.

I'm grateful.  I'm grateful for the time spent with these women.  For their love, their sincerity.  I'm thankful that although we are all different, no judgement was passed. Our insecurities were out the door because of love, because of kindness, because of compassion.

I am grateful for these people, my people.  


Love and hugs to you all until we meet in real life again!



Friday, August 07, 2015

Five Minute Friday: HERE

We are gathered here at the Five Minute Friday Retreat. We've chatted, eaten, laughed, and applauded one another.  So now, before bedtime, I will spend five minutes writing, unedited, no overthinking, just writing.


HERE.


So often we are consumed by WHAT WE MUST DO to get the approval or love of others.

How do I get people to like me? How do I keep my friends?  How should I act? What should I say so I don't offend anyone?

We go there to their world.  We act like we believe what they believe.  We do what they do.  All to be accepted.

But God's not like that.  We don't have to go "there" for Him.  He meets us HERE, right where we are.

What an amazing gift that is.

You see, I will never be good enough.

I will never be holy enough.

I will always be imperfect

cracked

scratched

broken

sinful

whatever you want to call it.

And that's ok.  He meets me here where I am, in my brokenness and loves me anyway.

Thank you God for that gift.

Thank you for not requiring anything of me other than surrender.



Five Minute Friday Free Write: TELL



Here it is. I can't believe I am here at the Five Minute Friday Retreat.  Tonight we are having time to Free Write.  We are contributing one word prompts and and getting ready to write for five minutes flat.

Let's do this!!


"Tell me a story, Grandma."

I hope to hear those words one day.  To be surrounded by grandchildren who want to hear my story.

But what will I tell them?

I hope to tell them of a life worth living.  One that was lived to the fullest. One that, well, at the end of it, has NO REGRETS.

I hope to tell them that although life wasn't always easy, I made the best of every situation.  During my struggles, I leaned on God for support, comfort, and guidance.

I hope to tell them how God took a broken woman and used her for His Will.  That I was obedient despite the devil placing fear inside of me.  That each time, I overcame and was victorious because of Christ.

I hope to tell them how I loved my family so much that we laughed together, cried together, played together, and prayed together.

I hope to tell them that although I didn't always agree with the choices their parents made, I still loved them and they never doubted that love.

I hope to tell them that they are my prized possessions, precious gifts from God.

I hope to tell them that they, too have a story to tell. A life to live.  I hope to tell them to seek God, serve Him.  Obey Him. Then one day, when their grandchildren say, "Tell me a story," they will have a story to tell of a life worth living as well.




Monday, July 20, 2015

Back Where I Belong

As the school year ended, I was really excited about sleeping in and then getting up, grabbing a cup of coffee and my Bible, and spending time with God each day.

I hate to admit that as excited as I was about not having to rush about my morning, I have FAILED miserably in spending time with Him this summer.

I can make excuse after excuse, but I won't.

Plain and simple truth?

I put things between us.

Whether it was sleep, TV, technology, the new house, whatever....I failed to spend quality time with Him.



Yesterday during Sunday School, our lesson was about Jonah's disobedience toward God and Ninevah's return to God.  You know the story....

God told Jonah to go to Ninevah and tell the people to repent or they would be destroyed.  Jonah didn't want to so he got on a boat to go far away.  Well, God got upset, caused a storm, and Jonah was confronted by the others on the ship.  Overboard he went, into the stomach of a fish. After 3 days, Jonah was vomitted out and then decided he should obey God.  God gave the people of Ninevah a second chance (and Jonah too).

Second chances.

They are nice aren't they?

When we've messed up big time or lost our way, we yearn for someone to wrap their arms around us, hug us tightly, and say, "It's going to be ok. I'm here and I love you."

God does that for us.

The thing about God is that He knows us....better than we do.  He knows what's in our hearts. He knows our thoughts. He knows our words before we even speak them.  He knows we are going to mess up.  He knows us, BUT He loves us anyway.

God is a giver of second chances.  He gives us a chance to get back where we belong.  And where is that?

With Him.

So today, I am dedicated....I am starting my "second-fortieth" chance.  You see....I've lost count of the number of times I've neglected my relationship with God.  But the thing about God is this....He never walked away from me. He's just been whispering to me and waiting for me to return back to Him.

And that's what I'm doing.

I want that intimacy back.  And what better way to get back there than to spend time with Him.

So today, I looked on my bookshelf and found this....



I started it a long time ago and never finished.  Today, I restart.  I take advantage of my "second-fifty-fifth" chance.

Jesus told the story of the prodigal son.  It is a story of second chances. And today, I return....the prodigal daughter returns to where she belongs.

But I am aware that Satan lurks nearby.  He already has his hand out ready to snatch me back, but God is stronger.  He led me to scripture this morning that I need to keep close to my heart.

As I was reading from Experiencing Spiritual Intimacy, I was instructed to read 1John 5:19-20 that talks about knowing God through Jesus.  But my eyes went further to verse 21

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

That hit me.  That....That is what has happened to me.  These idols, I have placed them between myself and God.  I came up with excuse after excuse without really knowing what I was doing. When God whispered to me, "You haven't spent time with me today," I answered him, "I know and I will in a minute. Just let me finish this."  Whatever "this" was, it took His place.  Many days, that idol made me lay down at bedtime and cringe, "Dear God, I'm sorry. I didn't spend time with you like I said I would. Tomorrow will be better."

Only it wasn't.

But thankfully, God is more faithful than I am.

He met me today, wrapped His arms around me, and gave me my "second-sixtieth" chance.  He is helping me get back where I belong.