Water

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Searching the Ripples…

As I walk along the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas among people hurrying through life, I find flickers of peace as I watch the water move through the city.  As the light flickers off the ripples, I find some inner peace among all this busyness of life.  I want to shout to those who are missing the peace from the water because of this fast pace of life they are distracted by as  they move through life.  How many are just missing the calm waters each day of their lives? 

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Proverbs 18:4, “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.”

Christ’s Living Water 

Recently, my husband shared an article from earthables, Science Reveals How a Visit to the Beach Actually Changes Your Brain, As I was reading this article, my mind began wondering what God’s purpose for water in our lives might have been.  What symbol or meaning should water provide in our lives when we are surrounded by its peace?  As I searched scripture, I was not surprised by the common thread of living water.  Jesus is our living water and he provides peace, grace, and salvation in our lives.  Each time I am near water, I am reminded of God’s love through his  provision of living water for us by his son, Jesus Christ.  Water is a symbol of peace in our lives just as Christ’s sacrifice provides for our eternal lives.  The Samaritan woman at the well found peace in her life from the living water of Jesus in John 4: 13-15, ‘Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”’. Like the woman at the well, we must turn to Christ’s living water to find peace and quench our thirst.  Summer is a great time to find some water, recharge and refocus on Christ in our lives and the full meaning of his sacrifice for our weary souls.  

Summer Rejuvenation

Yes, Summer is finally here, so why is it that I am missing the peacefulness of the water.  I am longing for some relaxation by the ocean.  I feel like I have not stopped to enjoy the summer days yet, and I need the peace that I find near the water.  Walking along the Riverwalk in San Antonio reminded me of this deep need to reflect and reconnect with my inner being and my relationship with Christ.  The verse in 1 John 5:8 is a great summer motto, “The Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.”  I need to reconnect all three again to find his peaceful agreement in my life. 

Summer is my time to renew myself from the dry and coldness that Winter brought into my life.  I was David in Psalm 63:1, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water,” but I seek the water that Christ gave to the Samaritan woman at the well.  I seek his water to replenish my relationship with him.  Each time this summer that I find myself near the water by relaxing on the boat, walking along a river, or sticking my toes in the sand on the beach, I will remember the sacrifice that Christ made to provide that living water that nourishes my soul.

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Loving An Introvert

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Make Peace With Being An Introvert

Recently I found myself in a conversation about a difficult topic that is near to my heart,  introverts.  I know this was not an accident but an opportunity from God to share the many lessons that my husband and I have learned over the years about introverts and how they interact with extroverts.  

In the past, I honestly believed something was wrong with me because I felt different from others, in any setting or interaction.  Yet, God’s Word shows me in Psalm 139:14, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well,” that he made me and it should be well with my soul.  The truth is introverts can struggle in social gatherings.  By learning more about introverts, I have been able to make peace with who I am , and now I can feel more comfortable in a crowd.   I have had to learn how to engage people in conversation.  Sometimes this is more difficult because introverts usually need time to process information before they respond.  This processing can be viewed as shy, quiet or even disengaged and by the time introverts have something to say the moment has past.   Many extroverts in a social setting may constantly dominate the social conversation which leaves no room for an introvert.  Introverts are usually known great listeners, but many times extroverts miss out on their wisdom.  Learning how to engage and respond in various social settings is important for an introvert.  This is where learning from an extrovert, like my husband, can be so valuable.  Now, engaging with people at a social event is not the enormity that it once was for me.

I have a loving God who blessed me with special people who chose to love me.  One is my husband who has helped me learn more about myself and extroverts, so we could understand and grow as a couple. Luke 6:31 reads, “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Relationships like these are a perfect place for the Golden Rule.  Introverts need down time to recharge, but extroverts need people for energy.  This is a dynamic combination and each must learn to be compassionate in social gatherings.  In the past when I have engaged in social events over and over, it would drain me to the point that others believed I was an unhappy or even mad.  Being able to identify when this is happening is easier now for me to ensure I get the recharge I need.  God created both introverts and extroverts because the world needs both!  My husband and I have unique roles in our relationship.  

Blessing or Curse

My husband shared this article “Introverts Don’t Hate People, They Hate Shallow Socializing”  with me, and I would recommend this read and exploring Introvert, Dear.

This article really helps to understand how introverts respond in social settings.  Extroverts can be a blessing for introverts, but an extrovert can also be a curse.  On the flip side introverts can be the same for an extroverts if both are not learning and working together in the relationship.  God calls us into relationship and made each of us different to complement one another.  The struggle is not letting the curse take hold of relationships.  I am reminded each day that God loves both just by reading 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 seek the value God places on my husband, the extrovert, and I pray God shows him my value in return.

Back to the earlier conversation I mentioned, I have finally reached a point in my life that I can discuss who I am and talk about myself as an introvert and my experience with people.   This conversation allowed me the opportunity to speak about introverts to a few friends who were struggling to understand a situation with some other friends.  I was able to really explain that situation by sharing my own struggles and successes.  The struggle continues each day as I shared weeks ago in the post “Finding God in my Mirror,” but God is constant and good.  Understanding and loving others is one of Christ final commandments found in Luke 10:27, “And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’” I am blessed by God’s love for me, and I know that I must continue to work at understanding and defining who I am while I love others where they are.  

What has God taught me?  

Love and prayers are the answer.  By providing love and an abundance of prayer my husband and I were able to understand our relationship more deeply and respect the needs of each other.  I pray that for all introverts as they maneuver social settings and deep relationships with extroverts in their lives.

Closing verse:  1 Peter 3:4 “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.”

Challenge:  Don’t Judge Others before you really know who they are inside and out.  Get to know a Quiet Spirit more deeply that God has placed in your life.

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?

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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?

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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.

 

God’s Protection

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The past several weeks have been both a busy and exciting time for our youngest daughter, but also one that has taught my husband and I to lean on God and know that he is holding her in his hands.  She finished her internship, another blessing from God, gave all her possessions to her Dad and jumped on a plane to travel across Europe for two weeks.  What does this means for me?  Lots of prayer.  Giving her to God, giving all my worries to God, and praying for his protection and guidance for her.  Scripture has become a comfort as I read with purpose to diminish my anxiety and worry, and look for God’s Grace.

By choosing to turn to scripture, I receive great comfort and God’s grace is easily found in his word.  My husband and I have told our daughter over and over go and do what you want now before your life fills up with responsibilities that will make it harder, so it should not be unexpected that she is doing just as she was told!  These different choices that she is making in her life leads me back to God for comfort.  I want her to live the words of Jeremiah 29: 11, “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.” and as she now is striving to live these words from scripture, I pray she waits always on the Lord.  Isaiah 40:31 is a reminder of God’ timing and that we should follow his will, ” But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  I long to see her mount up with wings like an eagle and soar.

When searching for scriptures on protection, I found so many that compares the Lord to a mother eagle.  As I read these, I identify with my over protective self just as God can be over protective of me, yet he allows me to make mistakes, make choices, and celebrates in my successes.  I have to be like the mother eagle who is protective but wants her babies to fly.  She is willing to allow her babies to take risk so they will spread their wings and soar.  The mother eagle’s pride comes from their soaring away from her not clinging to her.

What does scriptures say about protection compared to an eagle?  Here are a few of my favorite from Psalms that I have been cherishing over the last week.

  • “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.”  Psalm 36:7
  • “Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah.” Psalm 61:4
  • “He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.” Psalm 91:4

Although, they don’t refer directly to an eagle, I picture a great eagle.  When wings are spread for me to take shelter or protection under I see an eagle wing.  An eagle is a majestic bird and my simple brain can only draw that comparison.  In reality, I know that God’s protection and wings are nothing that I can truly comprehend or know until I am in his presence in heaven one day, but until then I will visualize the mother eagle spreading her wings over her eaglets.

As I must now remove my wings and let her fall under God’s wings, I realize that he is now in control of her path.  I must heed 1Peter 5:7, “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”  Scripture tells me to give my worries to God and he will care for me.  As I receive strength from scripture, I am reminded that he cares for her and will direct her path.  The Lord assures me in Psalm 25: 4-5, “Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day.” that if she knows him and his ways he will direct her towards salvation.  So my prayer for her is found in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.”  I pray God’s word will light her path and he will keep her in the shadow of his wings just as Psalm 17:8 reads, “Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.”

As I pray for her journey across Europe, I find myself praying for her path in life and that God will direct her and she will seek his word and guidance as she grows and prepares for her future.

Closing Verse: “For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.”  Psalm 31:3

Challenge Verse:  “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Psalm 22:6.  Know that if you have planted the seed of the Lord in your children that God will cultivate those seeds one day.

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