Glacier National Park 2010

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Time for Everything

Ah Saturday!  For some reason this week seemed like the longest first week of school ever!  It wasn't a bad week but rather a busy and full week.  Despite the physical strain on my still healing body, I thoroughly enjoyed myself....and can hardly wait for Monday!  I know...I sound mental but I truly love where I work, the people with whom I work and the children that I teach.  Although I haven't always appreciated and rejoiced in what a blessing this is.

Back in the Spring I had the opportunity to interview for a position in our school system which would have allowed me to teach in my actual field of certification which is English and Speech.  In fact, there were three positions for which I interviewed.  I was so excited because it isn't often that English teaching positions open up in our city system....I had the support and encouragement of my current principal and many friends and coworkers. Because I had been waiting for years for this opportunity to present itself and had prayed so specifically for a teaching job, I felt that God was saying, "here ya go...your dream job!"

My first interview went so well I just knew God had come through for me!  Then I was offered an interview for another English position.....and my thought was "oh my now I'm going to have to choose between the two jobs."  I know, I vain does that sound?  But really what I meant was "God is more than answering my prayers!"  I could hardly sleep for the week and a half it took for them to contact me about the first job.......which I did NOT get.  Of course I was dejected.....but hey there was the other job I'd interviewed for, right?

I didn't get that job either....and I cried for several days about that as well. And I questioned God.  Because of the spiritual and emotional desert I was in at that time, I couldn't understand what was wrong with self-esteem took a big hit and I really began to doubt myself and my abilities.

Then I got the call for another interview!  I was so excited and berated myself for ever doubting that God was going to give me a teaching job I not only wanted but really needed financially.  For those not in education, an instructional aide makes half of a teacher's pay regardless of the degrees one might possess.....and in our economy.....that does not go far!

As you might have already surmised...I didn't get that job either!  That third "rejection" left me foundering in a whirlpool of doubt, depression and fear about the future. It was coupled with a sense of failure in my personal relationships.....and an anxiety about my physical short, I was a hot mess caught in a downward spiral.  That descent continued until the prayerful intervention I wrote about in "Out of the Darkness."

Looking back I can see the hand of God in every event.....He was working for my good in every was my faith that was in question....and my desire to control my life, to think I knew what was best for me.  I'm learning to let go. I'm working hard to let God shine in all areas of my life.  When I worry about how I'm going to pay my bills each and every month....I remind myself that God has promised to take care of every need.  I turn that particular fear into a hopeful anticipation of seeing God make miracles happen!

Meanwhile, I have the joy of working with people who bless me every day with their friendship....with an administrator who encourages me in the work I want to do with our students....with children who continuously amaze me with their resilience and their desire to make our world a better place.  In Ecclesiastes 3:1 we read, "there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under Heaven." Now is the time for me to be exactly where I am doing specifically what I am doing! Thank you God for showing me this truth!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Out of the Mouths of Babes

My whole body aches....I can barely put one foot in front of the other....and my brain is like mush......but today was great!  I am enjoying the interaction I'm having with my students so much. For years I've worked with At-Risk students who struggle with all aspects of learning to read....and I'm still working with struggling students however, this year I'm targeting writing skills. And I'm having so much fun!

The students constantly amaze me with how hard they try to express themselves.  In order to make it easier and more enjoyable, I bend the rules a bit.  By this I mean, they are told not to worry about spelling or grammar or mechanics ......just write.  That stuff will come. My theory is that if they worry too much about being "perfect" the thoughts won't flow. Once they've gotten comfortable with the flow of thoughts then we add mechanics.

Yesterday the fourth grade students I work with were given writing "prompts" and given time to write.  I was astounded by the amount of writing they produced in just 20 minutes.  As I began to read their work I was struck by a common thread.  No matter to which prompt they responded, these nine year olds wrote about helping things to people who were "poor."  They weren't concerned with themselves but with how they could make the world they live in a better place.

Now you have to understand, a lot of these students receive free or reduced meals, have parents who are out of work, or are being raised by a single parent or a grandparent......they don't have an easy life. It made no difference.  One of the prompts was,"if I had a sack of gold I would....." and another was, "if I could fly I would." I was touched to read about the different ways the students would distribute the gold to other people "who needed it more." Those students who wrote about flying also talked about rescuing cats from trees or taking people places they needed to go.  It was never about themselves...only about helping others.

Kind of makes it easy to understand why Jesus encouraged His followers to become "like the least of these" when speaking to and about children.  If, like my students, we thought more about helping others than helping ourselves imagine how much better our world would become.  I can't wait to tell those blossoming writers how they've inspired me to be more giving, to look beyond myself and reach out to those in need. 

I love my job!    

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Back In the Groove

My goodness what a week!  For me, going back to work was a mixed blessing.  The biggest issue was having so little energy and dealing with the physical restrictions so necessary after surgery.  Instead of going out to eat every day with coworkers, I went home and took a quick nap...had to in order to get through the day.  Don't know what I'll do next week when the students are back and my day begins with morning duty at 7:15 and doesn't stop until after 3:00! Deal with it the best way I can, right?

There were times during the week when I felt overwhelmed by everything and began to doubt my ability to deal with, well, my life and all that it encompasses. I was afraid that I won't have the energy to stay healthy.  Then I was afraid if I had to deal with health issues I would have to miss work....and because of severe fibromyalgia episodes last school year I have NO sick leave hence if I miss work...the pay is docked and so forth and so on. THEN, I began worrying about being able to pay bills.....and if I can't pay bills then where will I live....and the litany grew and grew and grew.....and all because of fear and doubt.

Amazingly enough I was reading a book in which the author referenced several verses.  And of course there was one which totally spoke to my state of mind.  God has a wonderful way of reaching us in many long as we are willing and eager to listen......doesn't He?  Anyway, this was the verse; "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." II Timothy 1:7

Reading those words reminded me that if I have fear, it is not from God.  And if it is not from God I don't want it nor do I have to hold on to it. Just like any other negative thoughts or attitudes which might intrude on my frame of mind, I have to turn it over to God.  Let Him calm my fear with His peace....let Him remind me that He is in control and will take care of me. Of course the issue for me is to be as close to God as possible.....that is my journey.

I have to be honest the journey is not takes constant prayer.....makes the reading or meditating on Scripture the beginning point of every day.....and immersing myself in an attitude of total dependency on God's strength to get through the day.  And when I feel like I've failed God or means  turning to God is imperative.  In the past when I felt that way I withdrew from God, pulling further away every day.  I don't want to be in THAT place ever again!

So what if this spiritual journey of mine is difficult?  It is leading me to an attitude "of power and of love and of a sound mind." I've always been told anything worth having you have to work my life in an attitude of peace and love is most definitely worth any difficulties I may face along the way. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Loving Others

"A new command I give you: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13 :34-35

This is one of my favorite Scriptures!  It is clear and concise and tells me exactly what I'm supposed to do as a other people like Jesus loves me. Simple right?  Not always because I am far from perfect.  However, because I want to be a Godly woman loving others is my goal every single day.  But I can't do it on my own.

Every day I pray to see others as God sees look beyond the surface to the hidden hurts each one carries respond with kindness, caring and compassion to the things God reveals to me about the people with whom I come in contact. When I can't do it on my own....well, then I pray that God will love them for me.

Working with children as I do, I feel so strongly the responsibility to show each student God's love in action.  Some have loving parents who are ever present for their children......but many do not.  Others have loving parents who are having to work two jobs just to keep their family together.....that doesn't leave much time for nurturing those situations, both parents and children need to see God's love at work. And in my mind, it is crucial to show love and concern but never judgement.

You see, the new command in that verse is about loving one another, plain and simple.   It is not my responsibility to pass judgement on anyone......thank goodness!  That is not a job I want.  It says, love one how? as He loved why? so people will "know you are my disciples."I want to be known as one of His I will reach out to others as He reached out to me....and I will do it gladly.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Facing Temptation

Because of my recent surgery, I was unable to attend my church for the past two weeks....I missed it a lot. Although I prayed and meditated on God's Word every day, there is just something amazing about doing the same thing in a room full of others doing the same thing!  All those prayers being lifted up....all those praises for the things God is doing in each heart......all those believers asking God's Spirit to fill our hearts..........believe me when I say God was present.

One really important reason for being part of a body of believers became so apparent to me today.  Over the past few days my heart has been tempted......and it would be so easy to slide back into giving in to those temptations.  And honestly, it doesn't matter what my personal temptations are because we all have temptations we face daily. Only my best friend knew of my struggles with this issue.....or so I let myself think.

Imagine my surprise when our pastor began his lesson today with the following Scripture:

"Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away." James 1 :14

Another reminder that God knows everything about me!  He knows my weaknesses...and my strengths. AND He knows how to get my attention!  Sitting there today I realized there is nothing, nothing as important to me as being in God's Will for my life.  Yes, there are things I think I want or need, but if it takes my focus from God.....then it is not good for me.  If it is not something which glorifies Him then I don't want or need it.....period. I have lived away from God and I do not want to be away from Him again.

Our pastor went on to share the way we can resist temptation.  He shared Psalm 37 : 1-6 as a kind of blueprint I guess you could say.  The verse which resonated within my heart was verse 5 which says, "Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him and He will help you." That is my plan.  Whenever I am tempted.....I will turn that false desire over to God and He will help me.  Since we are all tempted daily.....I plan on taking more "delight in the Lord" because the closer I become to Him then the "desires of my heart" become more in line with what delights God.

Today God confirmed that He cares about me every-single-day, and He will use whatever means necessary to remind me of that fact.  I also know that if I do stumble, which is inevitable, He will pick me up, dust me off, and put me back on the path He has for me.

Friday, August 10, 2012

How It Began

I first began this blog as a way to work through mental and emotional issues.  For me, writing is like talking to a friend who always listens.....but doesn't necessarily respond.  I wasn't always faithful to write regularly. This summer I've made a conscious effort to be more regular in my writing because now more than ever I need clarity and focus.

I feel that I've come along way since June in that I now like myself......which is a big deal for someone who never felt "good" enough or "successful" enough.  That is not to say I think I'm perfect....not by a long shot. But...I can accept that I am a work in progress with faults and failings that only God can fix.

Most of my entries since June have included Scriptures, not because I am trying to "preach" to anyone. Rather, I want simply to share my journey to becoming the best person I can be......and for me that has meant looking to God for the strength and guidance to do so.  If you've been touched in any way by the things I've shared, its because that is my prayer every time I write.....that God touches you, not my simple thoughts......because although you are reading about my journey...this is not about me.....this is about what God is doing in the life of someone who is willing to be obedient and eager to serve Him.

Life is never is so much better with a God who loves me despite my failings.....a God who helps me bear emotional pain....a God who wants only the best for His followers.  I know that going back to work is going to be difficult so soon after surgery. I will be trusting God to give the extra measure of energy I know I'll need and if I know God, He's going to give me more than enough.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

He Cares

"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares about you." I Peter 5:7

I spent today doing just all my anxiety to God.  For some reason  I felt overwhelmed by so much.....and by so many different things. The surgery was 2 weeks ago and I really thought I would have felt more energy than I do......and less pain.  School begins Monday and I really need to feel better than I do today!

Today for the first time, I thought to myself, "I wonder if God ever tires of my weeping and whining to Him?"  And I felt guilty for being so weak, for not being able to be strong, ........and many more negative thoughts kept on coming....and I felt like I was sliding into a place I never wanted to be in again. A place where I couldn't find anything about myself to like......a place where I couldn't imagine God being able to love someone like me.

But unlike times past, I stopped myself.....because God does love me.  I turned to Scripture for the comfort I felt I needed and there was I Peter 5: 7...."Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares about you." There was the answer. No, God does not get tired of hearing me weeping and whining.  It says in His Word I am to cast all my anxiety on Him.  Not just a little bit once in a while....all of it!And I am to do this because He cares about me....not just sometimes....always.

I am working daily on becoming a better person.....on following God's guidance in all parts of my life.  For too long I stumbled in darkness causing pain to myself and to people I love......but I'm not in that place anymore.  I am content to lean on wait patiently for His plan to unfold.....and to let Him love me.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


"Many are the plans in the mind of a man but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand." Proverbs 19:21

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I enjoy arts and crafts .....look in my closet and you will see numerous projects in various stages of completion.  Some have been there longer than others but they will all eventually be completed. The good things  about that are, I always have something enjoyable to work on and because my interests are varied, I'm always attempting to learn a new skill. On the other hand, not all my projects come out as they are intended because I've either lost the directions because its been so long since I worked on the project....or I'm too impatient to follow the directions correctly.

I'm the type of person who is always eager to learn new things and my mind is always racing with ideas. The problem is once I've implemented a plan...basically gotten things started....I'm ready to had the supervision over to someone else and move on to the next idea. Not a good habit to cultivate. And I realize that so I'm trying to change that part of my personality.

Instead of jumping into a project with both feet because it looks like fun......I'm determined to weigh the pros and cons.....decide if it is an idea that benefits others as well as myself......and make sure I'm willing to spend the time necessary to complete the project. The very first thing I'll do though is to pray about it.

That is the most important change in my approach to life. Short 30 second prayers were the way I handled things.  My painful metamorphosis this summer has shown me that prayer really should be without ceasing.....a constant dialogue with God so that He can keep me on the right track. If nothing else, the change in the way I approach prayer has changed how I approach others things in my life.

"Many are the plans in the mind of man" or woman in my case.  But my plans are secondary to the purpose of God. Prayer is teaching me to be talk to God about my ideas.  My plans may sound brilliant to me but if they don't line up with what God's purpose is for me then they aren't worth the energy.  Sometimes my plans and God's purpose do line up and when that! Things are amazing!  But sometimes they don't....and God helps me see that.....and usually I say to myself...."what was I thinking?" 

God wants His children to succeed and that is part of His purpose for us.  We just have to remind ourselves that God's idea of success and the world's idea of success are different.  As for myself.....I choose the "perfect" success God has planned for me no matter what shape it takes.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fulfilling God's Purpose

"The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands." Psalm 138 : 8

Sitting here this morning, enjoying that first cup of coffee, watching the rain clouds gather as a tiny hummingbirds zips around the feeder I hung just for him........and it occurs to me, that I've had no human contact for nearly a week!  No wonder I've felt a bit low. Of course, were I free to drive I would have gotten out of my apartment and done SOMETHING to allay this pressing loneliness.

Thank goodness for least I can play games, read the posts of friends (and comment when appropriate!) And I've used the time to read my read others books I've had on my Kindle work on my isn't that I don't have anything to do.  The point is I miss people... the exchange of ideas over a cup of coffee....the shared laughter....hugs of encouragement......all of that. Of course, once school begins next week there's no doubt I will be longing for these quiet times!

At any I sat here enjoying my "pity party," I remembered the above verse and I had to stop and look it up. And there it was.....another promise from the God who loves me unconditionally.

"The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me."  Yes He has a purpose for a lonely middle-aged woman who lives alone and is currently recovering from thyroid surgery.  This place I find myself in is only temporary.....and it is okay to feel sorry for myself and cry and wonder what comes next....but only for a little while.  Because God has a purpose for me, a job He needs me to do and I won't let Him down.I don't have to know what it is yet because if it is God's plan for me then it is perfect. So for now, I will pray and meditate on His words and open my heart to His guidance and offer myself as a willing and obedient servant.

Why? Well, the next part of the verse sums it up for me.....

"...Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever." His love, His promises to His children never stop...if they do it is because we turn away from Him not because He forsakes us.....and even then, He is still waiting for us to come back.  I know because I once turned away.....and when I hit bottom, there He was.....arms wide open and a smile of welcome on His face.

"Do not forsake the work of Your hands." I can assure you from my experience that He doesn't.....and that is a wonderful feeling.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

He Hears My Voice

"But I call to God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and noon I utter my complaint and moan and He hears my voice." Psalm 55:16-17

The past couple of days have been kind of rough.  My surgery was less than 10 days ago and I'm not as far along in my recovery as I had hoped.  I'm still dealing with pain issues coupled with increased itching along the incision. My mother says that means its healing.....I certainly hope so.

The biggest issue is the ban on driving!  The fact that I am limited to this apartment with no human contact has brought on a bit of depression.....and I vented quite thoroughly about that to my best friend this afternoon. God bless her for her patience. After talking to her, I dried my tears and did what I should have done in the first place.

I talked to God......and I cried some more.  But the bottom line is, I am really so blessed.  Yes, I'm still experiencing discomfort from the surgery BUT there was no cancer!  So I can't jump in the car and go somewhere.....there are lots of projects here at home to work on.  No I don't have a 'special' someone.....but I am special to Someone and He created everything!

Believing in God doesn't mean every day is perfect nor does it mean I don't have low moments.  The joy comes from knowing He hears me "evening and morning and noon."  I can whine and moan...I can shout and scream....but I can also laugh......and sing for joy.  I don't have to limit what or how I express myself to God.  He loves me just as I am.....and as I grow spiritually, He will continue to love me and guide me and help me become who He planned me to be.

Friday, August 3, 2012

An Olympic Lesson

"So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Cor. 10:31

Like so many I am staying up way past my normal bedtime in order to watch the Olympics.  And it has been wonderful!  Not because of the medal tally presented at the end of the evening but because of those glimpses of kindness between the competitors......Missy Franklin, knowing she was out of the medals in one race, turning with her bright smile to the gold medalist and giving her a big hug.....Michael Phelps after winning gold in the team medley, giving the credit to his teammates saying without the lead THEY gave him it might not have happened.

Truth be told those kinds of things are why I watch sports......yes I have favorite teams....War Eagle!...Go Braves!  But I like to see the way the athletes interact....see how the old timers encourage the rookies.....see how much fun they have with each other. I watch to see how these athletes who so many look up to as heroes behave as human beings. Because whether they want the responsibility or not, their behaviour does influence our younger generation.

Last night I felt a bright flash of hope for the generations to come. After winning all around gold in women's gymnastics, American Gabby Douglas explained how she got it done......"Its a win-win. The glory goes up to God and the blessings come down to me,".....simply and eloquently put.....and a reminder to us all.

"......whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." No exceptions.  As I go through my day I need to remember that behaviour in whatever situation, my thoughts, my actions,.....all must be accomplished in such a way that God is glorified.  What a responsibility!  No wonder we are admonished to 'pray without ceasing!'  I need God's strength...God's peace...God's grace...God's make sure all I do brings God glory.  You know what?  I have all those things...just by saying His name.  Thank you God for loving me so me to love those around me in the same way.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hello God...It's Me Again

"And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forgotten those who seek you." Psalm 9 : 10

I heard a sermon once on all the names of God, each one reflecting an aspect of His personality.  Although I found it interesting at the time, I have to confess I don't remember all His names. For me, to know beyond any shadow of a doubt that He is God is all I need. When I pray I don't stop to analyze which part of God I want to hear my prayers.......I want all of Him to hear and respond!

Which reminds me of a study I tried to participate in many, many years ago.....How to Pray. Before beginning the study I had no idea there were RULES about praying! I was dumbfounded...and a bit concerned. I had been praying for years and was finding out I had been doing it all wrong!  Unfortunately, the "rules" I was being taught did not make my prayers more effective nor did it make me a more efficient pray-er.  Instead it turned my prayer time into a trainwreck of trying to decide which part of God needed to hear which prayer....and which of His names I needed to use to insure that a particular prayer went to the right part of God..........after a few dismal attempts I quit all...for a very long time.

Thankfully, I forgot all those "rules" and realized that I knew the name of God I needed to use when I needed to talk to Him.  Because that is what my prayer time is like....talking to my very best friend. I'm not always on my knees when I pray.  Sometimes I am pacing around my apartment talking to the ceiling and gesturing wildly (we Italians do so like to talk with our hands!)....sometimes I'm sitting on the porch enjoying a beautiful sunrise and telling God what an awesome job He did when He made it.........and sometimes, especially lately, I have literally been on my face before Him crying out in my desire to understand why things had to happen a particular way...pleading with Him to make feelings go away.................and do you know what I call Him then? Father.

I call Him Father...and like a good Father I can almost hear Him saying,"Hush's going to be fine....I know you don't see it but I promise you will one day....I'm going take care of you so don't fret......go ahead and cry because sometimes that's all you need is a good cry....." and you know what?  He's right.....every single time.

There is so much comfort in the fact I don't have to know all His Names......when I seek Him, He knows which part of Him I need and that is Who responds!  All I have to do is seek out and He hears me......and if I can be patient, He will take care of everything.....perfectly!