Friday, February 26, 2016

Claiming Truth in the Trenches of Life

Have you ever had one of those weeks.... as a whole the week was generally good, but it seemed as though there were one or two little things each day that pulled you down?  That was my week.  Many good things happened this week, and it was clear that God was working, but it was also clear that the enemy was also working overtime to try to knock down what God had been building up.

Being in a helping profession I find myself at times burdened by the choices of other people.  I feel a heavy heart for them and a burden to pray.  I am so thankful God has given me a heart for people, but there are times when it can be overwhelming as you look into their lives and see the hurt, the pain and the choices.  It breaks my heart... but if my heart is this broken, imagine the level of hurt the Lord feels as we watches his children struggle.

I also struggle to know my role.  This was definitely a struggle while we were away last year in Romania, but honestly I think it is an underlying struggle that has continued to lay heavy on my heart.  There are days in my quest to know what I am called to do that I flourish.... but there are also days in the journey that I just want to "pack my bags" and move on to something new.

I struggle with being overly sensitive.... I know that there are times when people say and do things that aren't meant to hurt, but they seem to anyway.  Times that I work really hard on something just to have it brushed aside.... or thrown out.  I wish I wasn't so sensitive.... I wish I could just let things roll off my back like so many other.  I was just thinking last night... I probably should never write that book that I have been thinking about, because I will never be able to handle the critiquing that comes along with it.  I guess my hard outside shell can't always protect my ultra sensitive core of who I am.

I wonder sometimes if this is God's way of teaching me something.... I also wonder if it is God's way of answering my prayers to continue to drawn me into a closer relationship with him.  A relationship of being more than doing, a relationship of trusting and relying on Him instead of me calling the shots.  A relationship of brokenness turned to beauty.  A relationship of being loved unconditionally without me having to do anything - ANYTHING to earn his love.

So today I will be reminded of these truths to claim as I struggle to not feel defeated:

1.  "I am fearfully and wonderfully made"- he gave me a heart to care for people, he allowed me to be sensitive (though I do know I am at times overly sensitive).

2.  "God is my refuge and strength"  - He is all I need to weather the storms of my life.  I need nothing else.

3.  He has a plan for me.  His plan is perfect and I claim that promise today!  He created me to be a reflection of Him and that is how I must define success.

4.  "Holy and Blameless" - Because of the cross - I am Holy and Blameless.  This one I struggle with an 18 inch problem (the distance from my head to my heart).... I know it to be true in my head, but I struggle to live it and experience it in my heart.  Today I will claim it!

5.  "Be still and know that I am God"  - He's got this.... now I need to rest in Him and his promises!  I give up trying to do for others on my own strength..... today let me be reminded to just BE forgiven, BE loved, and BE still in the presence of the creator.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

An Adoption Story & Reunion Retold

My Mom and Dad
It is hard to believe it has been three years since my reunion with my birth mother. I am so grateful for God's faithfulness though my journey. I am thankful for His perfect timing and wisdom... I am thankful for Nancy who loved me enough to choose life and share me with another family.  I am thankful for my Mom and my Dad who loved me and cared for me the last 40 years (oh my that sounds old). So for this journey filled with ups and downs I am grateful!

My birth mother Nancy, Amanda (my half sister) 
Cindy (my half sister on my birth father's side)

Here is a link to an article that was just in the Daily Item this week.

Monday, February 01, 2016

With All My Heart

Today marks the start of what I hope to be a new February tradition for our family. The wall of hearts were put up last night and each day between now and Valentine's Day my daughter and my husband each get to turn over a heart to reveal something we love about them. Joel and I worked together to make Ella's and Ella worked with me to come up with some for her Daddy. As we were finishing up Joel's hearts Ella asked about mine... I told her I didn't make any for myself, so she decided she would make some for me and she knows what each one says despite the fact that all I see are jumbled letters - they truly are a message of love. 

For each on of Ella's heart we made a point to find a scripture to go along with it so it was not only a message of what we loved about her, it was also an opportunity for us to have a little devotion time together as we talk about who God made her to be and how God has already gifted her in many ways.  

My hope and prayer is that she will always know she is loved not for what she can do, but for who she is in Christ!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mine, Mine, Mine

Mine, Mine, Mine... hearing those words would probably lead you to believe that this was a post about my four year old daughter, who happens to be an only child and her inability to share.   While that is true at times.... this post is about us - the big kids.  Though I am talking about us, as adults, I can't help but play the scene from "Finding Nemo" over and over in my mind.
Our small groups at church are currently doing a bible study on the book of Malachi.  I will be honest, this is not a book that I have studied much in the past (honestly, I probably have never really studied it as a whole ever).  So much of the book of Malachi is about God's unchanging love and pursuit of His people, yet his people keep turning their backs on him, time and time again. They were doubting his covenant love for His people and not trusting in his ability to be just.  Malachi (which means messenger) calls on the people to return to following the law that God established.
The specific passage that we were studying was Malachi 3:6-12.

Breaking Covenant by Withholding Tithes

“I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,”says the Lord Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed,
for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.

God is calling His people to return to Him in verse seven.... but the people ask how are they to return... and God basically says - stop robbing me!  Return to me what is mine.  God asks us for the people to bring to the storehouse their tithe (most interpret that to be 10% of their money, their crops, etc.) and their offerings.  In our study we were asked why do you think God focused on the tithe and offerings?  As I thought about that question, I thought about how we as people love our money... we hold it near and dear to our hearts... our lives revolve around it... it can control us, it is one of the top reasons for marriage problems and divorce.... God was asking them to give something that took great sacrifice.  

So I started thinking about giving up my tithe and my offering, and the more I thought about it and discussed it with our group the more I realized.... it's not about what is mine to give up... because NOTHING I have is mine... I am just returning to God what is His.... that is obedience!  It was never mine to begin with, however as a sinful human I struggle to remember that what I have is not my own.

My God's - therefore I need to give freely to others what God has blessed me with, even when I feel like I have nothing to give, I need to give as the widow did in scripture.

My house... is God's - therefore I need to use it to take in people who need a place to rest. I need to use it to invite in both friends and strangers to share God's love with.

My car ... is God's - therefore I need to be willing to share it with others.  I need to be willing to pick up people for church.  I need to be willing to deliver meals to new moms and shut-ins.

My child.... is God's - she is not mine... she is God's gift on loan to us.  She is God's child with whom we pray He will use to change the world, and share Christ wherever she may go... which means letting go, because she too is not mine.

Mine, Mine, Mine.... needs to change to Yours, Yours, Yours - God let that be my daily prayer and my daily offering to "the storehouse".  May we as a family use everything we have for Your Kingdom and for Your Glory, and not for our own.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A prayer for my sleeping child

There are few things quite as precious as a sleeping child.... whether it has been a great day filled with learning and obedience, or a day that seemed to be the worst of days filled with tears, whining, and what seemed like constant disobedience.  My heart melts over my sleeping child.  Sometimes I just stare at her, looking at her precious peaceful face.  Sometimes I cry tears of joy because of the amazing gift that God so gracious entrusted to me.  And sometimes I honestly look at my sleeping child and celebrate that the day is done... and tomorrow is a new day (if you know what I mean).

Lately I have been convicted of my need to do a better job at praying more specifically for people and for situations.  I am okay at mentioning names before the Lord, but not so good at being detailed in what I pray for.  That conviction has also rolled over into my need to do a better job praying specifically for my child and my husband.

Our evening routine involves a book or two, an evening prayer, and singing.  After the singing is through I usually kiss my sleeping child and quietly exit the room being careful to not wake the sleeping child.... however lately I have found myself lingering, looking and praying.  As I began to think about how to pray for her, I thought of the old hymn... Take My Life and Let It Be and it prompted me to pray like this....

I lay my hand and her HEAD - Lord, give her wisdom.  Help her grow in her knowledge of you. Help her to make wise decisions that would bring you honor.  Fill her mind with godly things and protect her from lies of the world.  Help her to think before she acts, so that she can be a light for you.

EARS - Lord, help her to listen - as the saying says you give us two ears to hear and one mouth to talk let us listen more than we talk.  Help her to be still and listen to that still small voice.  Help her to hear the cries of the people around her who need loved and cared for.  Help her to listen and obey as we seek to teach her your ways.  Give her ears that are fully tuned to your voice.

EYES - Protect my little girl's eyes... help us to teach her what is good to see and what to turn away from.  Give her eyes filled with compassion for those that she sees to be hurting around her.  Help her to be sensitive to those that she sees that look or act differently - help her to see them just as you see her.

MOUTH - You tell us our tongues are sharper than a two edged sword..... help her tongue to be used to build people up and not tear them down.  Help her to speak truth but in a way that is filled with compassion.  Help her words to be kind and caring.  Help her to use her mouth to tell others of your amazing goodness.  Let her be your mouth piece to a hurting world that needs to know of your love.

HANDS - Let these hands be used to serve you.  Let them be used to build for your kingdom and not be used to hurt others or for selfish things.  Use her hands to help bring joy to the brokenhearted and healing for the sick (she told me she wants to be a doctor, so I guess it is never to early to start praying if that is what she does).

I lay my hand on her BACK - this precious little body Lord is a gift from you.... protect her body from harm.  Keep away anyone that would want to hurt her or take advantage of her.  Lord wrap your arms around her as she sleeps so that she can be comforted to know that she is safe in your arms. Thank you for the gift that she is to me and so many others...thank you for her!

LEGS - You tell us that we are to run a race not of speed but of endurance.... give her legs to run that race and run it well.  Lead her on the path that is the straight and narrow.  Give her patience in the journey but help her to follow the leader of the pack, which is you.

FEET - Lord - these tiny feet will walk many miles over her lifetime... may those steps by following in your footsteps.  Let her be your hands and feet and be like You to other people.  Though it would be so hard to let her go far away, Lord if you call her to serve around the world... help me to be willing to let her go.... and help her to be willing to be obedient.

Lord for this little child, my baby, your gift to us... I pray your hand of protection, and pray that you amazing love would radiate from this child.  Thank you for sharing her with us!  AMEN

Friday, June 12, 2015

Countdown to Forty - #26 - Coaching Memoirs

As a former Physical Educator it only makes sense that I would love sports and also be drawn to coaching!  Coaching was one of my favorite things to do in each of the different communities I have lived over the years.  Your team becomes like a family to you, you get to not only instill physical skills but you also get to impact your athletes on how to do live, how to win and how to lose gracefully.  You also get to teach them about how to work together with others to achieve great things for the team..... and great things may not always be a championship...though that is a lot of fun! Great things could be a PR (personal record) improving your win/loss record, or just working better together as a team.

An a high school and college athlete I learned so much about life and teamwork through sports. There are also some great spiritual analogies that we can learn through sports and other teams.  Though I love sports and I loved coaching, I have also seen over the past 10 years how sports are changing and how the competitive spirit has gone from healthy to insane!  I have seen a dark side of parents who think their child should be number one at whatever sport they do.  I have seen people act as though little league baseball is the National World Series for paid professionals.... it makes me sad that we have somehow taken the joy of play out of sports.

Due to my MS, I haven't coached in several years (it's that whole depth perception thing).... but I have many great memories from over the years in a variety of sports that I have coached.... some of which I had played in high school or college, and some of which I had never played before, but hey some of the best coaches are not always the best athletes at those sports... they just know the game well.  I can't say that the sports I didn't play I knew well.... in fact I didn't know them well and I had to work extra hard to learn the sport as well as coach my team.... Thankfully I wasn't the head coach (at least at first).

In high school - I played Tennis, Basketball, and did Track & Field.  In college, I played Tennis and helped with the Basketball team.  So of all the sports, these are the ones that I know the best! However, my first year of teaching the first two teams that I coached in Clearfield were volleyball and softball..... I just laugh thinking about it.  They were in need of coaches and since I was there new Phys. Ed. teacher they asked me if I would and so I did because they were both JV positions.  It was a bit rough I am not going to lie.... I really knew nothing other than how to teach basic skills and rotations in volleyball (I only coached one year until they found someone who was skilled)  Softball I knew a bit more because I had played baseball when I was younger (10 years before coaching) but as the assistant I was able to learn enough to at least keep them team going when the other coach resigned.  I didn't really love the sport... but I loved the girls and it was fun to be a part of a team that did so well.

At Clearfield I also was an Assistant Basketball Coach to a team of girls that were awesome!  We had so much fun together.  Being the only female coach I was also a team mom.  I did the first aid, helped solve the team drama (which is always there when you coach girls and sometimes boys as well).  I did pre-game chats with the girls in the locker room.... as each game they would sing the Hanukkah Song by Adam Sandler and then ask each other who was going to pray.... and then it was always me that they wanted to do it.  They also quoted Happy Gilmore daily!  I loved working with those girls.  I also had the privilege of being the Head Girls Tennis Coach.  Though their wasn't really any feeder programs the girls did well and I was very proud of their accomplishments.  We had a great time together, laughing and joking....I have so many memories with those girls!

In Lewisburg, though I wasn't a teacher, I still had the great privilege of coaching.  I coached at the Jr. High girls basketball level - of which my girls had so much fun learning new words.... such as atrocious!  Then I also was able to coach at the Varsity Level - once again being part of a team that went to States (don't think it had anything to do with me, we just had hard working talented girls on both teams).  I also had the opportunity to do two coaching firsts for me while in Lewisburg.... I coached Lacrosse (which I knew nothing about - though I was good at braiding their hair, doing agility drills and first aid) and I got to coach Boy's tennis.... (I had never coached a boy's team before) Being able to beat many of them on the courts helped them realize I knew what I was talking about. We had our share of highs and lows but as a whole our team did very well and made several district appearances.  The funny thing is that I remember the things that were not tennis related.... like when a few said boys put a figurine out the bus window thinking they were Napoleon Dynamite.... and a few other things that I won't mention since they have all grown up now.  

Taking time to write about Coaching has filled my heart this morning!  I miss those coaching days, but I miss more the relationships I had with my student athletes, the comradery of the team, and celebrations we shared together.  Thanks for all the great memories!  If you have a fun memories or pictures to share I would love to hear from you.... it would be a great 40th gift to me!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Countdown to 40 - Only 27 days to go....

One of my favorite things to do in the summer time, well I guess also the spring time and the harvest time is gardening.  And for those of you who know me pretty well you will know that I have what I call a middle school pallet.... I am not a huge vegetable person, some of it is because of texture... some no matter how many times I have tried them or tried to make myself like them.... I just can't. But whether I like to eat them or not.... I love to grow them!  I seriously love it.  It must be a trait that runs in our family too, because we always had a garden growing up, and now my sister, Jill has one of the largest and most amazing gardens I have ever seen.  Well it is actually five gardens I think, but it is so well kept and organized.  My sister is my go-to whenever I have a gardening question.... actually I sent her a picture today from Romania to ask whether something was a plant or a weed. We love our gardening.
I really like raised beds, maybe one day I will have some.

To me, gardening is theraputic.  I actually even enjoy weeding most of the time (just because I said that doesn't mean I am volunteering to do everyone else's).  I told Joel one time that I would like to garden even on Sundays.... though some would look down upon that because it is work, I think it is a time for me to Be still and quiet and reflect on God..... but I usually avoid it if at all possible since I know most others would see it as work.

My biggest challenge with my garden though is the summer heat..... my MS and heat don't go well together so I have to be creative about when I can work and when I can't.  I also have to be creative about keeping pests out.... I have found marigolds work great!  Now to get those nasty bugs from eating my green beans without having to use Seven is my next goal.  

So you may wonder what I like to grow in my garden.... well... I will start from the house and work down.... Sunflowers, pumpkins, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, lettuce (several kinds), spinach, green beans, roma tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, and onions.  Now you may wonder which of those things I actually like.... the carrots and the lettuce :)  Haha - though I am not a huge fan of many of the things I plant - I just love to grow them just so I can share them.  Also my family likes them and I have found creative ways to use all those things in my garden so even I can eat them.  Canning is another thing I enjoy doing with my produce from the garden.

So what about you.... are you a gardener?  If so I would love to hear what you like to plant, and why you like to garden.  Happy Growing to you and your garden!