My Linus Blanket

Conversation with Friends

Recently, while hanging out with friends and having some life conversations that lead to one discussion about what is one thing that could make our life better right now, and second what are the security blankets that keep us from really reaching for our dreams and making our life better.  While eating wings, watching some football and having this discussion my friend turned and said this may be your next post… and so here I am exploring the path of God’s plan for me and how I hold onto my security blanket that can hinder God’s plan for my life.  My challenge to you as you continue to read is to think about what your security blanket is? What hinders you from living out God’s plan for your life.

Security Blankets 

Everyone remembers Linus in the Charlie Brown comic series.  He carries his blanket without fail everywhere he goes.  He doesn’t believe that he can do anything without the blanket.  Many times it appears the blanket gets in the way of what Linus wants to do but without fail he will only continue on within the safety of his blanket in tow.  When this question was asked in the conversation, I knew my security blanket was the safety of my hometown, where I have always lived,  and my career.   Over the years I have enjoyed lots of adventures in my life, but my desire to live a daily adventure, although great, is hindered by the safety of home.  I need to make my home within the Lord like Psalm 16:8 reads, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”

Drop the Blanket

Over the Christmas holidays, I read an article about the only time Linus drops his security blanket is in A Charlie Brown Christmas when he begins to tell the Christmas Story and the real meaning of Christmas with these words, ‘And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”, Luke 2:10-11.  Linus found God’s security in his word – “Fear Not” and he no longer needed to hold the blanket.  I hear God’s word calling me to “Fear Not” and take the steps to release my security blanket and “Live Life”.  “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14.  Go and find the beauty of his world, and explore the handiwork of his hands.  “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:16-17.  Go and watch the dolphins jump and the sun set over the water.  Go and listen to the waves crash and smell the sand and salt.  Go and experience the simple and slower life that I hear him calling me towards.  I will need to seek God’s strength to drop the blanket.  The strength found in 1 Chronicles 16:11, “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”

Fear Not

I must walk in the words that Linus spoke when he dropped his blanket, “Fear Not, and know that God is with me.  As I open my eyes to my security blanket and seek the strength of the Lord to fulfill my life and allow me to let go and enjoy!   Psalm 34:4 encourages me to seek the Lord, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”  I have to unwrap myself from my blanket in order to feel the freedom that Christ can provide for my future.  I seek the freedom of John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Closing Verse: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11

Challenge:  Find your blanket and let It go.

Charlie Brown pictures are courtesy of pixabay.com

Shining God’s Light

Sharing Christ’s Love

As the new year is beginning, I do want to look toward the future with a brighter lighter.  This new year, I am beginning my day with three strategic ways to encourage myself so that I might be a better example of Christ’s Love for others.  I don’t usually plug specific apps or websites, but I am today, yet I challenge you to find what works and motivates you to get moving everyday for the Lord.  I know for me it can sometimes be hard to get going and put others above myself.  I want others to Christ in me.  I want to serve others not myself!  I want to be the catalyst that brings out the best in others.  Here is how I am starting each day in 2018. Let’s look at one day of my new year and what the Lord delivers to me.  Here was Tuesday January 9, 2018.

KLOVE Radio

I listen to KLOVE radio each morning as I drive to work.  This is a time of worship and prayer for me.  Although it is a short ride each morning, this time is significant for me each day.  Sometimes it is the music as I have written about before and then again it could be a story that is shared, but many times I end my ride in tears with the Lord.  Before I even begin this ride to work, I wake each morning and open my email to read the KLOVE verse of the day.  This past Tuesday the verse read, “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you:  God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.”  1 John 1:5 (NLT).  As I began the morning reading this verse, I listened to Jesus sharing his Father and mine with me that God is the light in my life and darkness is not found with God.  I set my eyes on the sharing the light of God.  I challenge you to bring KLOVE into your life just a little each day if you don’t listen to their station now.

Shine Text App

Since the New Year, I read about this app that delivers motivational text to you each day.  I was intrigued and decided to sign up.  There is also an app so you can choose how the text is delivered either through text or notification from the app.  I have really been inspired by these text that I receive right after I get to work each morning.  You get to choose the time that your text is delivered.  I like to get to work, get a cup of coffee, begin my day greeting students, and then receive some more motivation from this text before the day really gets rolling.  On Tuesday, I received this text: ” “Anything we do takes time away from something *else* we could have done, Allie.  Rather than try to tackle *all the things* today, prioritize the moves that matter most.”  Powerful!  What a great reminder as I get my day started to make smart decisions and prioritize my day.  I need to choose what matters for the day and accomplish these task well.  It is better to a job I can be proud of then just to do a long list of stuff!.  What Matters Most Today?!  Another Challenge, if you need some motivation in your life then check out Shine Text.

YOUVersion Bible – Daily Bible Verse

Just before lunch around 11am, I received my Verse of the Day from YouVersion Bible app.  Getting one more bible verse in the late morning hours of my day keeps on the path of remaining focused on the Lord as I walk through my day.  Just another reminder that I want to be an example of Christ in the lives of those around me.  The verse I received on Tuesday:  “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”  Proverbs 16:3 ESV.  On this day this is a perfect verse as I reflect on my work and how I can continue to do what is best for the students and staff that I serve.

Making Connections

As I reflect on the gifts that the Lord gave me just on this past Tuesday, I realize that there are connections.  I began with a reminder that God is the light in my life, followed by the motivation to focus on what matters most in my life that day, and then to commit the work that I am doing to the Lord.  How can I not have a great day each and every day if just Tuesday was this motivational and reflective for my life.  I challenge you to make some connections for your life.  Find some motivation for you each day that will bring you closer to the Lord and show you what is important for your life.  Have a Great New Year in 2018!

Closing Verse:  Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Challenge:  Find Inspiration and Motivation for you life each and every day.  Don’t overlook the little ways God can speak to you.

 

Christmas Traditions

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Christmas Season

Christmas music is playing now everywhere I go and the lights are shining bright.  The season is here.  I want to enjoy and let the stress of the weeks that lead up that wonderful day that is gone so quickly.  I want to remember why we celebrate this season.  I always find myself this time of year thinking about the past.  Thinking about Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my girls.  The fun, the laughs, the surprises, and most importantly the family traditions we have created together and continue to create over the years.  I believe that traditions are important for families and can be past down to the next generation.  Paul reminds me of the importance of traditions in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.”

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Family Traditions

My family has a few old traditions like the mouse calendar countdown to Christmas.  Our girls would almost fight to get to move the mouse each day.  They loved for the one whose turn it was to forget, so later in the day the mouse would secretly be moved. This simple purchase so many years ago has brought so much joy to our family.  Even now my husband takes pictures of Harley moving the mouse and sends it our now grown daughters.  It is a special memory and tradition in our home, and one I hope continues in the homes of our daughters one day with their children.

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Jesus Birthday Cake

Another great tradition for our family is baking Jesus’s Birthday Cake and singing Happy Birthday to him on Christmas Day.  Today my girls bake the cake and decorate the cake together instead of me, but I enjoy watching them back home together in the kitchen having fun carrying on our family tradtion.  We still gather round the cake on Christmas afternoon and sing and eat his birthday cake!  This is definitely one of my favorite Christmas memories and traditions!  “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7

Jesus Birthday Cake
Even the Cake Decorations are important to our family.

Sharing Traditions

As an educator, I could not help but wonder about the traditions of my students, so I asked them to share favorite Christmas traditions with me on a Chalkboard in the school library.  It is engaging to hear them talk about the little things their families do together that are important to them.  Here are a few from this years board:

  1. Enchiladas for Breakfast on Christmas morning.  Why?  Her family is from Guatemala and this is just something her grandmother has always done.
  2. Crab Legs for Christmas Eve.  This student was super excited to share how much the night means getting to eat the crab legs!
  3. Lights.  One student just shared how much she enjoys lights and lots of lights.  She and I have that in common.
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These are just a few shared on the board and in discussions with my students.

Over the years I have heard some wonderful traditions that families share.  Some I wish I had even thought of.  Some that brought a great laugh but was still so important to the student.

  1.  One I wish I had thought of is only receiving three gifts for Christmas.  “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”  Matthew 2:11
  2. Several years ago a student shared that on Christmas Eve they had to eat their meal with a different utensil from the kitchen.  This was a long family tradition and brought lots of laughter around the table.  Who knew what you would get?  How do you eat with a whisk?

The Gift of Jesus

Traditions are important in families and even school communities.  God shows us how to celebrate him anywhere.  This is a like a tradition.  Praise the Lord in all that we do as Psalm 150:1-6 exclaims, “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! …”

During this  Christmas season with traditions being shared and even created remembering the reason we have this season is the most important.  God loved us that he gave us the greatest gift of all.  He gave us His Son.  He gave us Life.  ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16.

Closing Verse: “Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.”  1 Corinthians 11:2

Challenge: During this Christmas Season full of traditions don’t forget God’s traditions and gifts in your life.

Finding God in my Mirror

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Constantly, I battle within myself over my outward appearance, and this ultimately effects my inner self.  My blessing has come with age as I am able to accept who I am both inside and out.  Yet, from time to time I drift back into my negativity which affects those close to me.  Although verses of scripture tells my heart that God is with me and loves me for who I am, I always find a way back down that dark path.  One of my favorite scriptures that I open often is found in Matthew 6: 26, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”  I know God is there in my mirror, but sometimes I just fail to see him loving and caring for me.

Last week was one of those weeks, when I just could not find the good in myself.  I just looked in the mirror and saw this person that I did not want to see looking back at me.  Instead of heeding 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”  I cast my negative doubts on others like my husband.  He carries the burden of not being able to help me through the valley because this is not his valley.  But, I drag him down into it with me anyway each time I go down this dark path.  He is a loving husband who always has the right words that I just fail to hear.  His constant love and devotion always brings me out of the valley and reminds me of Proverbs 16:24, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”  I must hear his words which are from the Lord in order to heal my body and my soul.

As I ponder the reflection in the mirror this week after I have found my way out of the valley, I realize that God does not really look at me the way others do and the way mirror reflects.

1 Samuel 16:7 reads, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Knowing now that God looks at my heart, I need to stop pursuing the mirror and focus harder on my heart for the Lord using the words from Proverbs 23:12, “Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.”  This scripture causes me to reflect how focusing more on my heart might help my view in the mirror.  Can I and will I find God in the mirror?

I spend more time reflecting now on who I really am and the gifts that God has given me.  This is the only way I can focus myself away from the dark path.  I make peace with the spirit God has given me.  1 Peter 3:4 reads,  “But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”  I grasp for this verse and the message it writes on my heart.  I am precious in his sight.  Once again, I can stand on the mountain top and look in the mirror and see the gift that Christ has given me.  I see my new self given to me through Christ sacrifice on the Cross.  “And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”  Scripture from Colossians 3:10 brings this comfort to my heart and the image I see in the mirror.  I am blessed!

Closing Verse:   “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10

Challenge:  Are you finding God in the mirror?  Are you focusing on your heart so it will shine through on the outside?

Please Share…

 

Happiness is a Choice

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I ran into this quote just the other day, “Happiness is not something you get, but something you DO,” by Marlene Cox.  As I thought about the quote, I noted how it connected to our family motto, “Happiness is a Choice”.  My husband has been quoting this for years in our home to both myself and our daughters.  A simple reminder that we are in charge of own happiness.  Sometimes choosing happiness means serving the Lord and doing his will.  His will leads to my salvation.  Isaiah 12:2 reads, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”

For some reason this past school year has been a challenge, and I am not sure I can put my finger on the reason.  Over the course of this year, I have learned to lean on the words of our family motto, “Happiness is a Choice”.  I have to keep reminding myself that I have to choose happiness in my life because it will not choose me.   As this year has been a struggle, I have found myself turning more and more to the Lord.  As I write these words, I realize maybe God is trying to get my attention.  Maybe he is focusing me more on Him and His Word.  I seem to be looking at life different from the past, and I don’t mean this as a “bad thing” just as a “different thing”.  So in moving through such a different time in my life, what has God taught me?  

I must find my happiness in the Lord.  Psalm 100:2 reads, “Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!”  The Lord has clearly shown me that I will never find happiness in my work and those around me.  As scripture in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  I know that as I dig deeper into his word that I will find a clearer path to walk.  People will never put me and my work as high as the Lord will.  Each day as I have struggled through a morning or a day, the Lord has reminded me that he determines my path and my worth.  I just have to do his work each day and he will bless me. And I have been blessed to have the chance to see my life’s work and its impact and now to look forward at what my future may hold.  I tried to follow the path the Lord has prepared for me.  I pray I have, and do, and will continue to serve him and be an example of his loving grace.  I am reminded of Acts 2:28 and for some reason it gives me peace, “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.”  One day I will stand in the presence of the Lord and my prayer is that I will hear him say the words of Matthew 25:21, ” His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master’”.

I have to close with how God is really working in my heart this week.  I have not been feeling well or sleeping well and that leads to being a negative person.  I can remind myself that I have to choose happiness, but God decided to just slap me across the face.  First on my drive to work the KLove morning team was discussing the difference in happiness and joy.  Just thinking about the two made me realize “Happiness is a Choice = Joy”.  Things may not always be going the way we want, but Joy is always in our hearts because we are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ.  After arriving at work, my daily inspirational calendar read, “What are three things that are making you happy RIGHT NOW?”  Here are my three at that time:

1. Loving God

2. Gracious Husband

3. Hot Black Coffee

I can’t lie that is what I wrote down.  I am a blessed woman.  I choose Happiness!  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”Philippians 4:4

Closing Verse: “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,” Psalm 30:11

Challenge:  When you are having one of those days that get you down = Choose Happiness.  Better yet, write down your three things that are making you happy at that moment.  God will show you his grace.

 

A Christian New Year: Meeting Jesus During Holy Week.

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“He is not here, but has risen.” (Luke 24:6)

Looking back over the Lent Season and more specifically Holy Week, I am reflecting on my relationship with Jesus.  This time of year is a like the new year, I realize that I need to tend to my relationship with Christ in order to grow stronger like the mustard seed in Jesus’s parable found in Luke 13:19, “It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”.  How did I tend my garden during Holy Week.

Holy Week began with Palm Sunday the reminder that Christ humbly entered into a week of suffering both knowing and understanding what the end would bring.  Jesus entered Jerusalem as a humble King but left crucified on a cross.  How should we as Christians reflect on this week and apply it to our lives?  Palm Sunday was a day I spent in reflection of the beauty around me, my family, and the life that God has blessed me with.  I was reminded of Christ as my King and Savior.  Also, sadly on this past Palm Sunday I was reminded of the violence that so many Christians suffer around the world just as Christ suffered to bring us to salvation.  The violence around the world and especially Palm Sunday must cause God to grieve for his people and his people must wonder what the future will bring as we move through Holy Week during such a volatile time in our world.  Palm Sunday reminds us that Jesus is peaceful and bring peace to our lives even in the midst of chaos.  As Holy Week begins my focus for the week even in my busy life is the walk with Jesus through this week.  I read his entry to Jerusalem and paused at Mark 11: 7-8, “And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.”  Palm Sunday for me was a day of reflection with little distraction from tending my garden.

Each day since Palm Sunday, I tried to understand Christ’s walk to the cross, and the lessons he taught the disciples and left for me during these last days.  He was preparing them for what they were going to witness in order to share the Gospel moving forward after the crucifixion, and he was preparing his people for a future with a resurrected Savior.

Monday, as I worked, I remembered that on this day Jesus entered the Temple in Jerusalem to find practices that where not for a house of the Lord.  Jesus drove out those who bought and sold in the Temple by overturning the tables.  He spoke in Matthew 21: 13, ‘He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”  Jesus did not show anger according to the disciples, yet spoke the truth of what he saw happening in the Temple.  He protected God’s house.  As I worked this day, I remembered Jesus and this frustration and walked through the day with Jesus as my focus.  Hold your tongue, speak truth, show love is my focus for this Monday of Holy Week.

The next day, Tuesday,  Jesus was met the Temple leaders who tried to question his authority.  Christ spoke and taught this day in parables as he spoke to the leaders and prepared his disciples for his coming death and resurrection.  As I read the lessons Jesus taught on this Tuesday before his death, I search for the lessons these parables can teach me today.  One parable is the parable of the Two Son’s (Matthew 21: 28-32) which illustrates Jesus rejection by his own people.  The lesson that Jesus has taught me today is to be careful and remember to humble myself before God and ask for forgiveness of my sins.  I tell students that their character is what they do when no one is looking, but I must remember that God is always watching and Jesus has reminded me of that today while reading the parables he taught on this Tuesday before his death.

On Wednesday, Judas conspires to betray of Jesus, yet in the evening Judas rebuked Christ for allowing Mary to wash his feet.  I try to get inside of Judas’s mind.  What was he thinking?  Did he love Jesus?  Was the money worth this betrayal?  Was he considering backing out?  I have never heard the term “Spy Wednesday”, but as I researched some of this Wednesday of Holy Week, I found this reference to this day.  Matthew 26: 14-16 clearly speaks of Judas’s betrayal, ” Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.”  This makes Wednesday a strange day to walk through.  Knowing what Christ knew about his future, about Judas, yet continuing to love through the pain he must have been bearing this week.  I find myself in prayer and thankful for the sacrifice Jesus has made for me.

Maundy Thursday has arrived and Jesus is preparing for his Last Supper and the final directions for his disciples.  He breaks bread and washes their feet showing his servant example to prepare the way for their ministry. John 13:5 shares Christ service to this disciples, “Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”  He poured out his love on his disciples knowing the outcome he faced within hours.  This Thursday I find myself focussing on God’ beauty around me.  The world he has created for me, yet his greatest gift he sacrificed for me.  I don’t stop and focus on Christ enough and show his love to others.  I fail to wash the feet of those around me as the example Jesus left for me.

Good Friday or “Black” Friday is here.  Why is it Good because Jesus suffered the unthinkable death and descended into hell to wash us clean.  He suffered so that we might not.  Jesus brought the “Good” back to his chosen.  He chose to suffer so that we would not have to even though we are more  deserving of this death.  I am humbled at his gracious love for me.  I can not get enough of the beauty around me and the handiwork of God.  As I watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico, I know he painted a beautiful picture for me that I did not deserve.  I am extremely humbled by his mercy.  So many years ago this Friday ended as described in Matthew 27:51, ” And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.”

The darkness of Saturday has fallen as Jesus death is real. His final words still ring in their ears and as I read them this morning they linger in my thoughts all day.  ‘When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.’  John 19:30.  It is hard today to really imagine the pain those close to Christ must have endured this day and the separation that Christ endured for us from his Father.  But the pain for his mother is something I can not imagine.  What she must have suffered watching him die on a cross before her eyes?  Even though Mary knew he was special and in God’s hands, the pain must have been crushing for her.  Saturday must have been a dark day for Mary as she grieved the loss of her first son.  This Holy Sabbath for the Jews must have seemed empty for many.  I know I feel the emptiness of this day, but long for the Glory Easter morning will bring.  A sense of renewal once again is coming.

Easter morning is here and I wake to a sense of peace and rest.  I walk through the day thinking of his sacrifice and glory.  I am indeed saved because Matthew 28:6 tells me, “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.  Come, see the place where he lay.”

Closing Verse:   “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Challenge:  Have you stopped to humble yourself before the Cross?  The cross which bore your savior so many years ago.  Even though Holy Week has passed don’t forget to stop and tend your garden.

Please share if lead…