Thursday, February 04, 2016

I Draw Stick People

A while back, I began following certain people and online stores on Instagram and saw post after post of bible journaling.

I FELL IN LOVE.

The designs and colors were beautiful.  I absolutely loved the thought of doodling and coloring God's Word.

There's one thing though.

I don't consider myself very artistic when it comes to drawing and sketching.  Seriously, I draw stick people.  You should have seen my life cycle of a frog and butterfly diagrams when I taught fourth grade science.  They were quite comical to say the least.

Well, I'm one of those girls that sees something awesome and beautiful and want a piece of it.  So, for months, I considered buying a journaling bible.  I even carried one around LifeWay and then put it back. While in the checkout line, I sent my 13 year old son back to get it, but he brought back the wrong one. I decided against it. I was hesitant because I'm not very good at drawing.  I saw those beautiful pictures on Instagram and then on Pinterest and convinced myself I would never be able to make something so beautiful.

I talked to my coworker Jane about the journaling bibles (she's a former art teacher turned media specialist). She was in love too, and we encouraged each other to get one.  But still, I had this fear that I would mess it up.  I love my bibles. All of them. I highlight and circle and write and underline and draw clouds around certain verses.  I didn't want to risk ruining a bible with crayons and markers and stickers.


My mother-in-law got me a journaling bible for Christmas. I loved it and was terrified at the same time.  I let it sit. And sit. And sit some more.


Until one day.....

I decided it was time and created my first journal entry.


I admit that I was quite pleased even though it wasn't exactly like what I'd seen on social media. I didn't ruin it on the first try and that was a very good thing! And I realized.....

It's not supposed to look like the other examples on social media.


This is MY journaling bible.
This is MY artistic ability (or lack of).
This is MY time with God.


And that, my friend, is what is important.

I'm spending time in God's Word. I'm reading and listening. I'm creating from being inspired by Him. And I'm in love with it because I am in love with Christ.


How many times do we let our fears stand in our way?  We doubt our abilities and give up without trying.  We fear judgement from others and ourselves.  We don't believe we are good enough.  But we are good enough.  God says we are, even if we draw stick people or dance like a duck or sing off key.

Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." 

Sometimes we forget that.  We judge ourselves before even getting started because we fear others.  But my bible time, that's for me and God. I don't have to post pictures of what I create during this time.  I shouldn't care if you like it or not.  I should care that my time was pleasing to the Lord.


Are you holding back from something?  Are you wanting to do something for God, but you're gripped by fear?  God will break those chains.  He loves you, and He doesn't care if you are like me and draw stick people.  Do what God calls you to do.  He will bless you when you are obedient.


Monday, February 01, 2016

Bringing Out the Mama Cheetah


I decided today that it’s a good thing I’m not a mama cheetah.

We were watching a video today in class, and the narrator told how cheetah cubs learn through play. The cubs were seen pouncing and rolling and nipping at one another.

This mama wanted to say, “Boys! Stop that!” I was really nervous for those cheetah cubs, afraid they would play a little too rough and one might get hurt.

Yes, I’m serious. Don’t laugh.

I pictured my boys playing and learning, and being, well, boys.

And yes, they make me nervous.

I know they are going to play rough. They are going to wrestle and punch and kick. And they will get hurt.

As their mama, I want to protect them.  I want to have padded walls and floors and full body armor and helmets.  I don’t want them to get hurt.  But all that might seem a bit psychotic, so I won’t go there.

Seriously though….

I’m the mom of three boys.  I do want to protect them.  I want to keep them from making mistakes.  I want to keep their paths straight and painless.

But I know I can’t, and I know even if I could, then it still wouldn’t be right.

It’s difficult to admit this, but our kids need to get hurt. They need to experience disappointment and loss and heartache.  As much as I want their lives to be perfect and carefree, I know deep in my heart that my children would never learn from that. The world is an imperfect place because it is full of imperfect people.

Doesn’t our learning and growth and wisdom come from trials? 

If we never experience despair of some sort, we will never really know how wonderful life is.

I look at my 13-year-old.  I think about what lies ahead for him.  There is so much I want to protect him from, so many experiences I don’t want him to have, but if I shelter him and protect him too much, how will he ever learn?

I think we can shelter our children too much, and I think we can be too lax.  They are children.  We shouldn’t allow them to be adults too soon.  One of these days, my boys will be out on their own. They will have their own lives (and it won’t be in my basement when they are 40 years old).


 Part of living is knowing how to deal with trials and hurts and loss.  Part of my job as their mother is to teach them how to handle those experiences.  I need to teach them perseverance, compassion, forgiveness.  They need to see me demonstrate those qualities in my life. They need to see how their father and I handle stress, anger, and disappointment.  They need to witness us showing love and kindness to our enemies.  I need to teach them about Christ and His love for them.  They need to see Christ in my life.

I can’t protect my children from everything, but I can teach them how to respond to their imperfect world. And when I do that, and God willing they live Christian lives, they will make this world a better place.


So, maybe I need to be a little more like a mama cheetah, letting my boys explore a little more, but yet, grasping their napes when danger is involved.  I can do that, can’t I?  

Friday, January 29, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Quiet



Guys, be quiet!

Will you be quiet for a minute?

If ya'll would be quiet, you could hear what I was saying.


Do you know how many times this teacher mama asks little ones to be quiet each day? Well, me neither, but I know it's a lot.

Sometimes all we gals need is a little peace and quiet. Time to relax. Time to speak.  Just no noise, silence, to do or say what needs to be done or said.

It feels like noise is never-ending.

As a mama, I try to get my boys to stop yelling.  I try to get them quiet while I'm on the phone - well, because you know our kids don't want to talk to us until someone calls us.

Quiet please! For just 5 minutes.


But one of these days, that quiet will come for every mama.

For whatever reason.....

The heartbreaking loss of a child or the inevitable growing up of a child.

The house will be come quiet.

Too quiet.

Too soon.



We will ache.

We will ache for those arguments.

We will ache for that laughter, those unstoppable giggles.

We will ache for that call in the middle of the night, "Mama, come lay down with me."



When my middle son was just a wee bit younger, he had this VERY high pitched voice.  It was loud and squeaky, and well, loud.

I remember telling him many times, "SHHHHH! Be a little quieter."

Then we got the book Holler Loudly.



My five minutes is up, but let me finish.


We got the book Holler Loudly through Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.  We read the book and this mama cried.

You see. Holler was born loud.  That's just who he was.  His parents, his teachers, and everyone in town was annoyed by his loudness and just wanted him to be quiet. It broke his spirit, but one day, Holler saved his town by being heard.

And it was in that moment that I realized that this loud, squeaky, high pitched voice was who Carson was and that one day too soon, that voice will be gone.  And it is changing.  He's a few years older, but that voice isn't the same.

And this mama misses it.

I miss how Colin used to say geen instead of green and sampoo instead of shampoo and Meeus Leaaazzzleeee.


I miss how Carson used to say aaaand as loudly and high pitched as he could get and how everything else included "well, actually."


And Carter, our youngest,  I already miss "I wuv you, Mama" and "Wook what I can do" and "Tootie too."

And just last night during our devotion about peace and trust and worry, he said this, "Mama, I have worries."

What??? He's five! What does he have to worry about?????

And he's worried about speech. That when he goes to see Mrs. Nisha to work on his sounds that he will mess up.

Oh, baby its ok.  Your speech is one of the things that makes you special and one day those sounds and your incorrect usage of her and she will be gone and Mama is going to miss it.

The laughter from, "Who farted?"

Their noise

The anger of "You're a liar! You said you would play with me."

Their voices

The singing of God's Not Dead, Kick the Dust Up, and Whose Gonna Fill Their Shoes from the backseat

The bedtime prayers that start like dinnertime blessings

I love you, Mama fifty gazillion times a day


I'm gonna miss it because one day it will be too quiet too soon.



Thank you for hanging in there with me on this week's FMF post.  The timer went off, but I couldn't stop.  Don't forget to head over to Kate's place to read some other thoughts on the prompt Quiet.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Five Minute Friday on Monday: Present

It's time for us to be present.  To really be awake and alert.

Things happen that cause me to shudder, cause me to consider the brevity of life.

We are not promised tomorrow.  A crisis can change all we know and love.



We've been blessed with a foot of snow.  Yes, a blessing.

I've stopped.


I've cuddled with my boys and their daddy.  We played in the snow, built Harold the Snowman, made snow angels, threw snowballs, went sledding.  We were there together in those cold snowy moments making memories.






When we are present, truly there, we do that.

We enjoy life, soak it in, cherish it.

We need more moments like that because in this busy world of going here and there, we get in ruts and routines, and we forget.

We forget that we are not promised tomorrow, but we only have the promise of the present moment.

So make it count.



Our children are depending on us.  They are looking to us for guidance, for love, for fun, for life.  We owe it to them.  We owe them our time.

So it is time to do Five Minute Friday on Monday.

It is time to stay up late and watch movies.

It is time to go slow.

It is time to put on layers of clothes to brave the elements (and seriously not be able to put our arms down).

It is time to bake a cake and make snow cream.

It is time to say YES.

It is time to be fully present and put family first.


I hope that whatever weather you are having, that you've found time to be present in the moment.  Thank you for joining me on this beautiful day.  Don't forget to head over to Kate's to read other great posts about Friday's Prompt: Present. 


52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 3

Today, I feel like Dora the Explorer. So here's a little song for you.





I finished book 3 of the 52 Books in 52 Weeks Reading Challenge.....

War and Peace: A book with more than 600 pages.


I started this book back in 2015 and was going to put it under the category "a book with antonyms in the title.  However,  I lost it in our summer move and just recently picked it back up.  But it is finished!  And NO, I don't feel guilty for including it in this year's challenge.


This book was HUGE.

Intimidating.

But over all

really good.

It was action packed.

Included a love story or two or three or.....well, lots of love stories and triangles.

All in all, I've come to realize this.....

The characters in this book are like many of us.....

wanting to love and be loved and wanting to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, searching for that one thing that makes us whole. And what some of the characters found out was that something is the love of Christ.

Now that is not something I expected from this book, but it is spot on.

So, now that this book is finished, I can eagerly finish the miniseries and explain to my husband what's going on (because I read the book and understand it).


And on to something lighter.....much lighter!

How's your reading going?  I'd love to hear about it. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

It is all Important

Do you ever struggle through certain parts of the Bible?

I'll admit, that the genealogy listings can really cause me to zone out.  I find myself skimming and looking to see were the "begot" list ends.

I've come to realize, though, that every part of the Bible is important.  There are things I've read multiple times and never thought much about until one day.....BAM!  It hit me. It made sense. It connected to something else.


If we look at certain things in the Bible as nonsense or unimportant, we can miss out.  One of my favorite parts of scripture is found in a list of genealogy.

Read it with me.

"and Koz begot Anub, Zobebah, and he families of Aharhel the son of Haram. Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, "because I bore him in pain." And Jabez called to the God of Israel saying, Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!" So God granted him what he requested. Cheleub the brother of Shuhah begot Mehir, who was the father of Eston. And Eshton begot Beth-Rapha, Paseah, and Tehinnah the father of Ir-Nahash. These were the men of Rechah."

Did you see that?  Right there in the middle of 1Chronicles 4, there was something big in the midst of the who begot who list.

There was Jabez and his prayer..

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.

In the entire genealogy for the family of Judah, Jabez was the only one described.  And he was described as more honorable than his brothers.

Jabez prayed.

He asked God to bless him.  No, I don't believe this is selfish.  Don't we all want God's blessings?  Yes, so we need to ask for them. Our Father wants us to ask.

God answered his prayer.

Jabez asked, and he received.  What an amazing lesson for us.  Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9, and James 1:5 are other examples of when we are told to ask for things in God's name.

There is a book called The Prayer of Jabez by Dr. Bruce Wilkinson.  In this book, readers are challenge to pray The Prayer of Jabez wholeheartedly and await the results.

If we ask God to bless us, He will.

If we ask Him for opportunity to serve, He will provide.

If we ask of Him, in His Name, we will receive.


You see, God's Word is important. All of it.  I pray that as you read your Bible, that you'll hang in there through the parts that don't seem to matter.  It all matters.  And if you look and ask God to speak to you through His Word.....He'll do it.  Just listen.


How's your Bible reading/studying going on this 18th day of 2016?  Have you set any goals?  Do you have a specific Bible you are reading from?

I am currently reading through my One Year Chronologic Bible.  I started this last year, so I'm not on "today's" daily reading.


I am also beginning my ESV Journaling Bible. With a whole lot of reluctance,  I've made my first entry.


I am not artistic by any means, but I think I will enjoy growing in God's Word with it.  My initial fear was that I would mess it up.  I just have to understand that it won't be Pinterest Perfect, but it will show how God is speaking through me.  


Friday, January 15, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Time



Time can be your friend or time can be your enemy.  You have the choice on how you view it.

Time.

It's short.

It's long.

There's never enough of it.

My favorite thing my husband has said recently, "You've got one shot. You've got to make the most of it."

Its about time.

Friends,  we are not promised tomorrow.  God knows how many days we have. We don't, and we shouldn't pretend to.

As I'm typing these words, a young mother of 3 is in a coma.

Another mother is battling breast cancer.

Another woman has lost her baby.

A family has had their daughter ripped from their lives from a murderer.

A family is destroyed by a drunken driver, a texting driver, a home invasion, a terrorist attack, an accident.........

Time.

We thought we had more time with our loved ones.

We thought we had more time with our children.

Time runs out.

We don't want to talk about it.

We don't want to think about it.

But it's truth.

So take this time.

Count your blessings; count them one by one.

Hug your children. Play with them. Build blanket forts. Paint. Build Legos. Build a snowman. Sing terribly loud in the car.  Cuddle. Laugh. Soak up each moment.

And my five minutes are up, but my words are still many.

See, in this five minute time slot, I have more to say. More to share. More life to live.


Thank you so much for joining me for my first Five Minute Friday post of 2016.  I hope that you will take the time to leave a comment and visit Kate's to read more amazing words.  I pray that you would take time this weekend to spend quality time with God and your family.  Cherish those moments and hold them close.

Blessings to you!

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Book 1 - 52 Books in 52 Weeks 2016 Edition

I have begun my reading challenge for the year and have one book under my belt.  I am placing this book under the category "a book with a title that describes my life."

Today, I finished reading All I Need is Jesus and a Good Pair of Jeans. I came across this book a couple of years ago at Barnes and Noble and flipped through it. I was hooked, but never bought it.  One of my students gave me a B&N gift card for Christmas this year, so I knew I had to order it.


I absolutely LOVED this book.  When I got to about the 17th chapter, I had the thought, "This would be even better with study questions!  I can't believe it doesn't have them."

It did.

So, it looks like I'll be reading this again this year!  Anyone interested in doing a study group with me?

Saturday, January 02, 2016

When the Christmas Decorations are Put Away

Yesterday, I took down and put away all of my Christmas decorations.


To tell you the truth.....

I didn't want to.

Seriously, I love the soft glow of the lights.  I love how the stockings hang from the mantle.  I love the Christmas cards taped to the doorway.    I love the sound of the jingle bells on the front door.

But it had to be done.

As we put away or decorations, we do one other thing (and I credit this to a blog post I found online a couple of years ago).   We write notes to God.  Each member of our family takes a note card and writes a wish, a promise, a goal, something to God.

Maybe we want to read the Bible more.  Maybe we want to be more available to Him.  Something different for each of us.

We write these out privately. Seal them in an envelope. Place them in our stockings. Pack them away.

The next year as we retrieve our Christmas stockings, we open our notes and share them aloud.

It's amazing to see that we've kept our promises or grew beyond what we wanted.  It's almost like giving a Christmas present to God, but He blesses us more.

These notes help give us a purpose for the year.  We don't want to look back upon reading the letters and realize that we let God down.  We want to live each day intentionally for Him.



Thursday, December 31, 2015

One Word 2016

On the eve of this upcoming year, I am ready.  Ready to commit to my One Word that will shape my life, not only for the next 365 days, but for the rest of my lifetime.

We all have different ways of selecting that one word.  Sometimes we choose it randomly.  Sometimes God chooses it for us. Sometimes it is easy to select. Sometimes it comes with a bitter taste.

I was all prepared to announce my One Word days ago.  But then......

I went to the mail and found my Faithbox.  What a nice surprise it was!  I really wasn't expecting it until the first of the year, but was delighted to open it.


Greeting cards. Tea. Devotional. Planner. Bracelet.

And that question......

What's your purpose?

Isn't that the question we all want the answer to???

What is my purpose?

Author

Stay at home mom

Soldier

Factory Worker

Pastor

Teacher

Musician

Lawyer

And the list continues.

Throughout our lives, we make decisions based on what we feel our purpose should be.  We plan our futures based off this idea and it determines which college we go to, which company we work for, the person we marry, the number of children we have, the neighborhood we live in.  Many times we choose our purpose without considering God's purpose for our lives.

I'm no theologian or Bible scholar, but I do know this......

I was created to have a relationship with Christ. To know Him. To love Him. To glorify Him. To lead others to Him.

That's my purpose in life.  

Author Susanna Foth Aughtmon said, "It is not so much about following a career path as it is about following the path of Christ."  

I couldn't agree more.  

That is a difficult thing to admit because we all have hopes and dreams for our careers.  What I wouldn't give to be a stay at home writer/mama.  To be able to plan my day around Bible study, coffee, reading, and writing.  Ahhhh!  

I understand, and accept that this option is not in the cards for me right now.  I choose to be ok with that and will continue to take part in bible study each day and read and write when I can.  And coffee, well, as long as there's Folgers, and Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks......I'll always have coffee. 

But my purpose other than to live for Christ?  

What is that?

I've considered this a lot lately.  

And I've thought this.....

Sure, I love Jesus. I live for Him, but do I really live with PURPOSE?  Do I have a purposes each and every day?  

And no, not really.

I am a fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl.

I don't make plans.

I don't make lists.

I just go with it (usually).

But what if I tried to intentionally live with purpose each day?

What if I made lists and goals?

What if?

Well, why not?  

So, there we have it.

My One Word for 2016.


So for the next 365 days, I will work to live with purpose, not that I want to be chained to To Do Lists, but that I know what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.  That I am being intentional and doing things that are worthwhile and meaningful. And that in all of these things, I am doing them for the Lord, to grow His kingdom.


We need to know that there is purpose in all things.  God has a plan and why shouldn't we?  I need to be reminded that there is a purpose to getting the laundry done. I need to be reminded that there is purpose in the mess of life.  I need to know that my purpose as a teacher isn't always academic.  I want to be able to live with purpose AND see purpose in my daily life.

And letting my five year old write my One Word for me.....yes, there is purpose in that.