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!




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.



Friday, April 08, 2016

Looking for Teacher Stories



Teacher Appreciation Week is May 2-6. I am looking for stories to share on the blog about a favorite memory of a teacher.  If you have one to share, please let me know.

Five Minute Friday: Whole


Welcome to this space devoted to Five Minute Friday, a time of taking a one word prompt and writing for five minutes.  Sounds simple enough.  Just enough time to let words flow. No overthinking. No editing (although the writing teacher in me has to correct mechanics).  Just writing. For me, seeing how God uses that one word.

Ready? Here we go.


I feel like something is missing, that I'm incomplete in some way.  There's no denying what it is.  When I think the reason, I feel the tears coming. I remember what took you away from me.   I never knew you this side of heaven.  Not physically anyway.  But emotionally, in my heart.  That's different.  I was so excited about you. Couldn't wait to meet you and introduce you to your big brothers.  I didn't care if you were a boy or a girl.  I just wanted you.  A healthy you.

But

I'm incomplete.  I'm not whole.

You left us before we even held you. Before you were really able to grow and develop in my womb.

But

You are such a part of me.

Because of Jesus, I have the hope of  tomorrow.  I have the hope that one day, a glorious day in heaven, that I will hold you. I will finally hold you.


I think about today.  We should have a birthday celebration. You'd be two years old.  As a mama of three already, I know what that age brings. What a blessing that age is.  And.....this year is incomplete. Not whole.

But

Because of Jesus, that hole in my heart is filled by hope.  Hope that I will see you, hold you, and be made whole.



Thank you for joining me for this FMF post. Don't forget to head over to my friend Kate's page to join in.  

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Even If Not

Back in August, I was fortunate enough to attend the first ever (and perhaps only) Five Minute Friday Retreat.  I met close to 20 amazing strangers who will forever have a place in my heart.  One of my roommates that weekend was Kaitlyn Bouchillon.  And ya'll, Kaitlyn published her first book this year.  


I have just finished reading this precious book, Even If Not.  And I feel led to share one of my even if not moments with you.

I'm a planner. It's not my job, but I love to plan.....parties, events, life.....putting details together to make something wonderful.  I had a plan for my life: marriage, teaching job, 3 kids (2 boys and a girl).  I had always believed that my plans would fall in line when God's timing was right and I would accept his timing.  That's what I said, and I also said I trusted Him.

After being married for a few years, my husband and I decided we wanted to start our family of 2 boys and a girl.  A friend of ours was trying to conceive as well and she was pretty upset that things weren't going as planned. She struggled to get pregnant.  I told her that the stress didn't help her and that God would make it happen when the time was right.  Words from a nonChristian to a Believer.

She soon became pregnant, and I thought, "See? I told you so!"

Then it was my turn.

After missing a period and taking about a million home pregnancy tests that were inconclusive, I made an appointment with my doctor to find out for sure.  I had convinced myself that if I wasn't pregnant, it would be ok and that it would happen at the right time.  I said I trusted God's plan.

I didn't.

I went to the doctor, took yet another pregnancy test, and was told, "No, honey, you are not pregnant."

My face grew hot and I felt outrage. What???? How could this be? I wanted to be pregnant!  I knew I had to be pregnant. They were wrong. God, why are you doing this to me??? I'm ready to be a mom.

I had always said I trusted God's plan and timing. This was the time to prove it and I failed miserably.  I raced out of that doctor's office, grabbed my husband, and took off for the car.  I was heartbroken. Angry.  Full of unbelief.

I had said that I trusted God even if I wasn't pregnant, and it was a lie.

At that point I realized the disbelief, and it hurt just as bad as not being pregnant.

Truth be told, I was pregnant. God didn't let me know until my first trimester was almost over.  Why? I don't know, but I think it was to help my with my disbelief.  Although I was not yet a Christian, those months were a growing time for me. Those months would shape my thoughts and beliefs for things I would experience later on.

When my second born would be rushed to NICU after birth, I had to believe.

When my third child was induced due to the loss of amniotic fluid, I had to believe.

When my husband was deployed to war, I had believe.

When my fourth pregnancy ended in miscarriage, I had to believe.

Each day, I have to believe, that even if God doesn't follow my plan, that He is still good.

And He is good, very good.

And I believe.


Kaitlyn, thank you for sharing your words and reminding us that we all have a story to tell....no....a story we must tell.  God works in all moments, the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the messy.  When we are broken, He is there. When we are whole, He is there.  Even if life is not what we thought it would be, God is there. We tell these stories to share the love of Christ.  We weren't meant to keep them to ourselves. Share we must. Blog it.  Write it.  Tell it across the dinner table. Whisper it in the darkness. But share it.

Friends, get you a copy of Even If Not. Read it. Share it.  Tell your even if not story.



Sunday, March 13, 2016

Spring Fever Giveaway Winners


Thank you so much to everyone who donated prizes for this year's Spring Fever Giveaway.  I was thrilled with the response. I am looking forward to next year's giveaway already!  But I know what you are waiting for.....

The winners are...

Day 1
Ann - Carrot Door Hanger from Creations by Bonnie

Day 2 
LeeAnn - Hand Made Dress from The 7 Year Adventure

Day 3
Angela - Monogrammed Towel from Barn Door Designs
Ashley - Monogrammed Shirt from Rachel

Day 4
Cari - 3D Fiber Lashes from Younique
Christina - $20 Gift Certificate from Mary Kay

Day 5
Barb - Bracelet from KEEP Collective
Pam - Necklace from Mustard Seed Market


Congratulations to each of you.  Please check your email for a message from me and how to get your prize.

Again, thank you to all the prize donors.  You are greatly appreciated!



Friday, March 11, 2016

Spring Fever Giveaway: Mustard Seeds of Faith


I can't believe it's here.....the final day of the Spring Fever Giveaway.  I seriously hope you have enjoyed reading about some of my favorite people, items, small businesses, and blogs.  I've enjoyed sharing with you and have been saddened that I couldn't enter to win these amazing prizes!

Today, I have two special treats for you......Who am I kidding??? All of the prizes have been special.

Our first prize comes from one of the newest small businesses in my hometown, Mustard Seed Market.  Mustard Seed Market is located on the square in historic downtown Franklin, Kentucky.  The Market features art, handmade items, vintage and one-of-a-kinds along with boutique ladies clothing (and plus size clothing), jewelry and accessories.




When I drive by, my purse is calling out to me, "STOP! You need that ---- in the window!" I even want the lawn chairs on the sidewalk, so bad in fact that I made my teenage son take a picture of them as we drove by so I could tell my husband!


One of our prizes today is this lovely necklace from Mustard Seed Market. Isn't it precious?
You will definitely want to check out Mustard Seed Market on Facebook and Instagram.  


Our last prize is from a dear sweet friend of mine. Krista and I met at church and we both share the amazing calling of being the mom of 3 boys!  I love her dearly and am blessed to know her.  Recently, Krista has become a KEEP Collective Designer.  I'm fairly new to this beautiful jewelry, not sure my words could do it justice, but I do know the pieces are lovely and unique.  


Today, Krista is offering you this lovely bracelet below.





To enter to win one of these lovely pieces of jewelry. Complete the Rafflecopter options below.  Good luck. And a special thank you to Mustard Seed Market and Krista from KEEP Collective for donating today's prizes.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

***Disclaimer***This giveaway is in no way affiliated with any person, company, organization, website, or other group other than the blog owner and the individuals donating prizes. The Spring Fever Giveaway is just a fun way to get excited about spring. Those donating prizes are NOT being paid and are doing this for fun and to get a little free publicity.  All winners will be contacted with information on how to redeem their prizes.