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 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, 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 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.

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!

Armed and Dangerous

There was this girl in high school that I loved, but she drove me crazy.  She was ALWAYS happy.  She never seemed to have a bad day, always had a smile on her face. It was slightly annoying.

And now, 20 years later, my desire is to be that girl, that girl who chooses joy in all circumstances.

The first part of John 10:10 says this,

"The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy."

And I ask you this: What is your thief?  What has come to steal, kill, and destroy your joy?

Is it worry?
Are you worried about how you are going to make ends meet until the next paycheck? Are you worried what your test results will be when you meet with your doctor?  Are you worried what life will be like when your child goes off to college?  Are you worried about your husband when he leaves for deployment?
What are you worried about?

Is it fear?
Are you afraid you aren't good enough? Are you afraid the treatments won't work?  Are you afraid your wayward child won't return?  Are you afraid to let your child behind the wheel without you?  Are you afraid of how war will change your spouse?
What are you afraid of?

Is it insecurity?
Do you wonder if you are a good enough mom, if you are messing up your kids? Do you wonder if your husband really and truly loves you? Do you wonder if your coworkers are secretly talking about you? Do you wonder if you are special? Do you wish you could change your body, get rid of that muffin top, smooth those cellulite thighs, or just buy flowy tops to cover up all of your flaws?
What are you insecure about?

The list can go. Questions can continue to arise. All of those doubts and fears and insecurities are thieves out to destroy our joy, our peace, and our hope.  But wait. Listen to the second part of John 10:10:

"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

And that is the sound of Christ reminding us that our joy comes from Him.  Those are the words of hope, peace, and love.

Jesus said in John 16:33 that we would have trouble in this world. He never promised life would be easy, so why do we think we are exempt from sorrow?  As Christians, we endure trials for many reasons. I won't claim to know them all, but I think some of our trials are due to sin (ours and others) and so that we can grow in our faith and relationship with Christ.

I would never hope to experience any type of difficulty. However, I do know that when everything seems to be right in the world, we don't depend on God as much. We don't grow closer to him. But the moment our faith is shaken and tested, we reach out to Him. We want Him to fix things.  And we aren't the only ones. In fact, Israel did the same thing. In Jeremiah 2:27, we are told that Israel turned her back on God, "but in times of trouble they cry out to me, 'Come and save us!'"

And that's us, isn't it? Sometimes.   In times of trouble we want God. We call out to Him to come save us and fix everything.

We shouldn't wait for times of trouble to call on God.  He wants us to be with Him each and every day.  He should be our priority.  He should be the first one we talk to in the morning and the last one we talk to at bedtime. We should thank Him and praise Him on the good days and the bad days.

The best way we can choose joy is to become armed and dangerous against the thief: know God's Word.  

Romans 8:31 asks us "If God is for us, then who can be against us?" We are our own worst enemies. Satan knows our worries and fears and insecurities, and he will use those to drag us down and destroy our joy. To defeat him, we must "put on the full armor of God" and not forget about "the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God," (Ephesians 6:11,17).

Often, we wonder WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? We know from the Bible that Jesus himself used God's living word against Satan. Luke 4:1-13 tells us how Jesus used scripture as Satan tempted him. And if Jesus uses scripture to fight Satan, so should we!

So my challenge for you is this: Spend some extra time each day in God's word.  Ask Him to speak to you through it.  He will.  God's word is alive.  God's word is powerful. God's word will add joy to your life.