Devastation

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God is your float

Peace in the Ripples

Not long ago, I shared about finding Peace in the Ripples of Water.  My post shared how water was a peaceful and serene place that I long for in my life.  The slower life that one finds around the ripples of water. Bodies of water are full of beauty and a peaceful stillness that brings the message that God is real and our creator.  Isaiah 12:3, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”shares that water is a symbol of our salvation.  Water is a beautiful thing…. most of the time.

Devastation of Harvey

Over the last week, everyone around the country has watched the horrors of water in Texas.  This is not the peaceful stillness, but the water that left devastation and loss of life behind.  My eyes fill with tears, my heart aches for the people impacted, and I pray for God’s guidance in helping those who are hurting from this disaster from water.   Watching Texas rally together and fold their arms around each other for survival has been the good God has given from this devastation.  Ephesians 4:32 reads, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  Texans have proven this verse true.  They have treated each other tenderhearted and God will save.  

Irma’s Fear

As Texas continues to rally and the country supports their efforts all eyes turn to the Atlantic and the biggest storm on record as it roars toward Florida.  Once again we are watching people prepare, flee, and with fear in their eyes and tears on their cheek prepare for one of the possible worst events in Florida’s history.  My heart is hurting as I watch that storm move across the Caribbean and devastate these beautiful islands.  I pray for God to tame the storm and wind as I know he can, but I also know he may choose not calm the storm.  I know that either way he will walk through the pain and heal the wounds as Psalm 147: 3 promises, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  

God’s Promise

God made a promise to Noah a long time ago that he would never destroy the way he did in the Great Flood.  This is the peace that I take into the storm even as it may approach my home so many miles away from the coast. Genesis 8:20-22 shares this promise, “Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” 

This promise will comfort me through the next week as Irma makes landfall and brings her wrath on Florida and beyond.  I will look to Jeremiah 33:6 as we move past all this devastation and the angry waters recede where it reads, “Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security.”  God will heal and provide abundance this is the comfort I have in knowing that God is in control.

Closing Verse:  Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Challenge:  Pray for God’s control as Irma comes on shore.  Pray for God’s healing and provision.  Pray for God’s blessings amidst the turmoil, devastation, and pain.  Above all Pray.

Out of the Box

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Smiling Faces

This past week students came back to school.  Seeing their smiling faces and the attitude of a new year gets me excited about not just what the year holds but their future.  I have been in education long enough to know that many are coming to school seeking a safe haven.  I have always felt blessed that God called me to love all children, and there is nothing like building relationships with young people that last a life time.  I pray that God gives me the wisdom each year to plant seeds that will grow and flourish in the young students that he has brought across my path.   As I meet and greet all these smiling faces I am reminded of the verse in Mark 10:16, “And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”

Out of the Box

This week also gives me pause when I think of all the teachers who have opened their classroom doors across this country to love all of  God’s children.  I am always amazed when I meet teachers across this country at the passion they have for their students.  It is contagious. Teaching is truly a calling for so many who want to love, inspire, and challenge our children to find the best inside of each of them.  These are the innovators thinking outside of the box to challenge our students to reach deep inside themselves and dream big.  Educators across the country are opening their arms and hearts to these children.  Watching educators love children is an example of Christ calling the children to him in Mark 10:14, “But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”

God’s Blessings

Beginning a new year is exciting and like a rebirth.  The innocence of children and the exciting of a change to start over is a perk to educating children.  2 Corinthians 5:17 reads, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  The old has passed and the new school year has come and may God bring blessings to those passionately educating our future and the children who walk through their doors each and every day.  Jesus spoke in Matthew 18: 1-5, “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,” to remind us that we should also be like children as we search for the kingdom of heaven.  Watch a child learn, Have you Forgotten?

Closing Verse:  Psalm 127:3, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”

Challenge:  Thank an Educator that has blessed your life or your child’s life.

Stopping to Rewind

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Overcoming Hurt

I need to push rewind again, Lord.  One of my first blog post was about how people hurt each other, and I wrote that if we could push rewind and hear what we had said, how would we feel about the words we spoke.  No matter how many times I pray for guidance with my tongue it is for naught when I open my mouth and speak without thinking about those who are impacted by my words.   Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” is beating through me right now.  I am eating the fruits of my tongue.  I did not stop before I allowed my tongue to bear it’s sour fruit, so now I must partake of the fruit.  Yet, even in this moment when I know that God is the only one who can control my tongue.  James 3:8, “But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” These words are a reminder that I alone can not tame my tongue.

God’s Guidance and Healing

As I pray for God’s guidance for reconciliation for the words I have uttered, I find myself seeking God’s guidance from Proverbs.  Reading these words, I see that God is showing me both my wrongs and bringing peace to my heart.  I know that I can not heal the wounds that I have opened, but I pray that God will, as I learn from His words and seek his guidance.  My heart remembers God’s promise in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  This verse gives me hope that God will heal and bring good from my tongue.

Proverb’s Lessons

Proverbs is full of painful verses at this time for me, but lessons that I need at this time. God’s word is special that way in knowing just what you need to read or hear whether for comfort or to teach.  Here are my lessons:

Proverbs 12:18, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Proverbs 13:3, “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”

Proverbs 17:27, “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.”

Proverbs 21:23, “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.”

I pray God is speaking before you speak.

Closing Verse: Ecclesiastes 3:7, “A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;”

Challenge:  May God give you more wisdom when using your tongue so it brings knowledge and understanding instead of poison that stabs at those you love.

 

Loving An Introvert Part 2: Extrovert’s Perspective

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This post is written by Derwin Long, my husband and friend for 28 years.

How Extroverts Love Introverts?  

My wife asked me to write a follow up to her blog last week and immediately I said yes, but then I had second thoughts. Primarily because I got to thinking how can I write this and not come off as being condescending or sounding like introverts are somehow lacking in some important traits. However in the end I obviously decided to write this as I do feel it is important. So with that disclaimer I will attempt to share my experiences and thoughts.

Have you ever been in a social setting (my definition is more than 4 individuals) with mostly couples and notice someone who seems to be totally out of place? They aren’t talking, maybe not even smiling and possibly even separating themselves from everyone. Or maybe they are there and laugh with all the conversations but never say a word (this was my wife). What used to come to my mind at first was that this person was upset, unhappy or just doesn’t like being there or maybe doesn’t like someone that is there? Some of us are the one who is at ease in social settings and in fact enjoy them, but have to answer difficult questions about our introvert spouse? It can be very frustrating getting asked all the questions from your friends, like mentioned above, but ultimately the question is “What’s wrong with him/her?” Personally, I would just play it off with friends and say she is just quiet. At home the conversation was different and at times turned into an argument. Ultimately I had good intentions and just wanted everyone to love the person I knew, but I wasn’t very good at conveying that or understanding what it was like for her.

Coming Together as One

Here is where you might expect to get some great words of wisdom or a recipe for fixing what seems to be broke, but what we found out is that it is pretty simple. We never quit or gave up on each other. We are one, so what one feels the other feels or tries to understand. We are better together because we are different and bring a balance to each other’s life.

Mark 10:8, And the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one.

Proverbs 27:17, As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

What does this look like in practice for us? Well there are two sides to this, one is how do I help my wife in social settings? There are many examples that show us Jesus was very social and enjoyed weddings (who wouldn’t like to taste his wine), feast and parties.

  • Initially, I would never leave her side at social setting, why would I leave her when I know she needs me to support her. Seems obvious but we have witnessed someone we know that is an introvert get left to fend for herself. This doesn’t work for several reasons: one is that as your spouse is possibly your only source of safety and comfort. Two is that it puts a huge amount of responsibility to entertain and include someone when their sensory system is on overload and looking for someone who really wants to take the time to have a deeper conversation, than the typical social banter is unrealistic in many social settings.
  • After getting more comfortable being in these settings, I would give openings for her to step in to the conversation, which can be difficult when in a group of extroverts. (We had discussed and talked about this before going). I might say “Oh my wife has a story to go along with that, why don’t you tell them” or when opportunity is right share a talent or personality trait that at that time she would never share about herself like. “Do you know she can crochet?” Or “Do you know she can speak whale?” (Finding Nemo). Doing this gives others insight into her and her personality and in a way that gives others a chance to ask questions.
  • Which is another important thing an introvert can do when at a loss for what to say. Have a thought out series of questions that you know and have memorized. After all what is one of the best ways to show sincere interest? Now you may say how is it sincere when you have preplanned these questions? Because you practice what you aren’t comfortable with doesn’t mean you aren’t sincere, it means you want to get better.

Two is how does she help me learn more about myself? There are many examples where Jesus withdrew from everyone and spent time alone with his thoughts and in prayer.

  • Being an Extrovert I can seem somewhat superficial, never taking anything serious, always joking especially in social setting. Some of it is an intentional desire to be liked and be the life of the party, some of it is just a way to disconnect and have fun. My wife has taught me even in social settings to be comfortable going deeper with friends and building stronger relationships. We used to have zero couples that we considered close friends but now we are blessed to have at least 4 or more that we share life with. Ecclesiastes 4:10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
  • She has also taught me that I need time to just do nothing, listen to music, maybe read a book, Bible or just be alone with my own thoughts. There was a time when I couldn’t be still always thinking about what needed to be done or what I wanted to do, but now our favorite place to enjoy downtime is on a beach with several umbrellas and no place to be other than there. These times have been some of my favorite.
  • She has also taught me that not every moment has to be filled with talking whether in social setting or just me and her. That just because no one it talking doesn’t mean anyone is upset and in a social setting just because I think it, doesn’t mean it should be said.

Closing

Ecclesiastes 3:1, To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Final thoughts: Ultimately I think we all want close relationships with our spouses, children, friends, and in business. Being an introvert or extrovert can be helpful or it can get in the way. I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone whatever that is and experience life from a different perspective.

 

A Time to Love God’s Children

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The past two weeks at school, students have been struggling through their state test.  This is such a difficult time for the students that I love so much.  It is also difficult for teachers, parents, and the entire school community, just read the post by parents and teachers on social media.  The state places a whole years worth of work on a few hours each May.  If a child is sick, had a bad night, didn’t get breakfast, etc. then their score is effected which determines their placement for the next school year.  I know both good and bad can result from testing because I have witnessed both over the years, but it does not make these 4 days any easier for the school community.

All I do is pray that God will show me how to love and care for our students through this time and beyond.  Educators stand in the gap for them and guide them through each spring.  Philippians 2:4 reads, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interest of others.”  This verse is a constant reminder each day and especially during this testing period to love my neighbor.   I try to understand how we got to the place that a few hours determine a child’s ability going forward that a teacher could not determine after building relationships for 10 months.  I just struggle with the whole child being cared for because so many students need so much more than to be successful on a test.  Of course, test like these provide data but should not be all that defines our students.

A quote by Woody Allen reads, “If you don’t fail now and again, it’s a sign you’re playing it safe.”  This quote reminds me that in order to be successful in life we all need some failure.  As I watch students test this week, I wonder if we are teaching students this valuable tool.  Are we teaching students how to fail?  Are we teaching students how to learn and grow from failure?  Or are we burdening them with the what will happen if they fail.  I have heard teachers over the past month give passionate encouraging speeches, but what will be the speech for the child that had the bad day.  How will we leave them after we give them a score.  I pray that students feel loved and encouraged as  Thessalonians 5:11 expresses, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

As we close out this year and testing completes for students, I grasp for the verse found in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  It is time for students to just rest, have fun, and prepare for a new school year to build on both their successes and failures.  I find myself digging deeper in how I can show students how to grow?  How to believe in themselves in the midst of failure for some and success for others?  How not to be defeated but to find their inner passion?  How do I show them the love they need during this time of their life when they are learning and growing?  How do I love these students (my neighbors)?  Failure is important for us all.  The struggle for some will be too much failure.  These are the students I am praying for moving forward.

As I sit in the silence as students test, I pray for God’s guidance in their lives.  I pray for success from failure.  I pray for a time of rest and renewal.  As I watch students during these testing settings, I am  reminded that this too shall pass.  There is a time to test and a time not to test.  There is a time for everything as Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reads,

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Always time to love God’s children.

Closing Verse:  Matthew 19:14  ‘but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”‘

Challenge:  Are you loving all God’s children as Christ loves you?

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.

 

#Redemption

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If you were following the NCAA tournament you could not have missed the redemption tour message from the Carolina Tarheel Basketball Team.  After the final game with the Redemption tour was complete, I started thinking about what the word redemption means.  What did it really mean to those twelve young men playing basketball.  Redemption is defined in two ways  the action of regaining or gaining possession of something or clearing a debt and the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.  Both apply to this years National Champions, but how does it apply to our lives?

During the Lent season, many Christians have turned their hearts toward Jesus and his sacrifice and humiliation to provide “the way” to our Father and everlasting life.  Hebrews 9:12 defines Christ’s redemption of us, ” he entered once and for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”  As I focus on discipline and sacrifice during Lent,  I compare my life to the redemption tour.  I reflect on the ups and downs of my life -both the joy and sin.  I see my failures and the hurt this causes those I love and most importantly Christ, yet in the end I know my debt is paid and I have been saved by Christ and one day I will live with him in heaven.

One part of the redemption definition focuses on being saved from sin.  This Easter season we remember the sacrifice that God made by providing his only son, Jesus, as a living sacrifice in order that our sin might be washed clean.  1 John 4:19, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”   With Christ partitioning for me before the throne, my sins are not forgotten but heaped upon Christ in order that I might be presented as a bride in her white gown.  Much like the team that has made numerous mistakes and their coach graciously and humbly accepted as his fault in order to put forth a complete team the next time they hit the court.  This sacrifice brought them to glory and a National Championship.  I long for my championship and my home in heaven with Christ.

The redemption definition also includes regaining or gaining possession of something or clearing a debt.  Christ as clearly paid our debt with his blood, his redemption for us.  We are reminded in Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” By paying this debt he has allowed me to gain possession of a heavenly home with him one day, my championship. As the Tarheels watched the clock tick down to zero, they could feel their redemption for all that had been lost in the last championship game, but this loss had now been regained.  Just as we were once lost we now are found in Christ, our shepherd, so that we might gain his glory through his redemption for us.  This gift is defined in Romans 3:24, “and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”.

Closing Verse:  “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” Ephesians 1:7

Challenge:  Have you stopped to discipline yourself and reflect on the sacrifice of Christ this Lent season.  As Holy Week comes to an end turn your focus to Christ’s gift of salvation through the cross.

Please share if so lead.

 

Come As You Are…

Come out of sadness
From wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted
Let rescue begin

My husband and I work the sound and presentation for Sunday mornings at our church once a month.  Recently, The song Come As You Are by David Crowder was sung at our church.  I listened to it during practice several times and then during worship.  For some reason every time I heard the words, tears filled my eyes and began praying for the Lord’s rescue in our lives.  I sometimes forget that when the mountain seems so high and the task so daunting that God is there.  I strive to have David’s faith as he met the Goliath.  In Samuel 17: 37, ‘And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!” ‘

Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face

Maybe it is due to the recent tears and pain in the life of my family that caused me to pause.  The words remind me of God’s love and that the pain here on earth will one day be healed in heaven.  This gives me great comfort in times of deep sorrow.  Deep sorrow of the depth of human sin and the lack of compassion and love we can have for one another.  We all choose to stand so strong on our beliefs that sometimes we don’t even try to understand, love, have compassion for our neighbor.  I sometimes just want to cry out to God to fix all this brokenness as David did in Psalm 57:2-3, “(2)I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. (3) He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me.  God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!”
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

There’s hope for the hopeless
And all those who’ve strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace

Bringing our sins and troubles to the Lord on humbled knees will provide a sense of comfort and grace in our lives.  As sinners when we lay all our brokenness before the Lord and lift our eyes for his mercy then our lives can find hope and love and peace.  This song reminds me to turn to his loving arms for comfort during these trials.  I must have the faith of David.  I will turn to my Father in heaven because my earthly life will fail me over and over.  The people in my life will fail me over and over.  The only constant is my Lord, as 2 Timothy 2:13 comforts me, “if we are faithless, He remains faithful – for He cannot deny Himself”
There’s rest for the weary
Rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t cure

There’s joy for the morning
Oh sinner be still
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal

My prayer is for the joy in the morning.  I know it may not come soon, but I will continue to pray for the  joy in the morning to arrive so the light of Jesus will shine on the darkness.  Until God brings joy from all this pain.  I Chronicles 16:33, “Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.”

David Crowder – Come As You Are Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Closing Verse:  John 9:5, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Challenge:  How can you help others walk through the darkness until they find the joy in the morning?