Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Road Trips with God



“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” Hebrews 4:12 

One of my favorite quality and quantity activities with my husband and three boys is traveling. When the boys were younger, we would play a game called "yellow car" to keep the boys entertained. We would search for yellow cars on the road, and whoever yelled out "yellow car" first would get a point. However, there was really no way of avoiding the cries from the backseat, "are we there yet", or the "he's in my space" arguments. The journey of traveling as a family of five was not always a pleasant one, but those are the times I will treasure forever. It was during the journey that I had my family's undivided attention to talk to and to get to know more about their lives. We would get frustrated with each other, but the time together and the destination outweighed the ups and downs of so much togetherness in a small space.

Our traveling with small children reminds me somewhat of my journey with God. The road has not been the easiest, and I have often asked God, "Are we there yet?". Through my walk with God, I have learned to look for a lesson or building of character moments. . . but sometimes the road that He took me down was so long and hard, and it forced me to be dependent on God for strength and perseverance because I couldn't do it on my own. Over the years, I have walked the road of grief, financial uncertainty, job loss, cancer, and relationship struggles. As much as I would like to avoid the bumps in the God-lead journeys, I know they are necessary. Through my rough walks, I have learned how God works and who He is. . . I have also built a relationship with Him. Without those ups and downs. . .and long "road trips", I would not have  learned to depend on God's Word for guidance, strength, and comfort . . . and so much more.

"So is my word that goes out from my mouth:    It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire   and achieve the purpose for which I sent it" Isaiah 55:11

Trying to survive the journey of life, I have learned to get in the Word, talk to God, and allow God to talk to me. The Word gives me peace and direction. . .His Word is living and shows me where to go in those forks in the road. When I am feeling lost or confused, digging into God's Word brings me to a place of revelation. . . I no longer feel alone on the bumpy road, and I seem to find direction that brings peace with the journey.

John 1:1 tells us that, "The Word is God". If we read a little further in verse 14 of the first chapter of John, we also learn that "The Word becomes flesh". . . The flesh is our Savior Jesus Christ. This means that THE WORD IS LIVING.

There are times that I wanted God to appear in a burning bush or hear that deep voice from the sky telling me what to do in a certain situation or answer that question, “Are we there yet?” . . . when will my mountain move? . . . what job do you want me to take? Many times I have cried out . . . “Where are you God?”

When I figured out God was alive and well in His Word waiting for me to come visit, I also figured out how to "hear" God. God’s Word is alive and waiting to guide us on an incredible journey towards an amazing destination.

The Living Word has several functions, but we can begin by concentrating on these:

1. TESTIFY:

"You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me..."John 5:39

All throughout the Living Word there are testimonies and parables testifying of WHO our God is and WHAT He has done for us and capable of doing for us. As we dig into the Living Word we will learn about our mighty God and get to know Him more intimately. Knowing how our God works allows us to grow more confident in His works and have faith as we wait to hear from Him; we begin to understand His directions and wisdom.  

2. GIVE WISDOM:

"And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." Timothy 3:15

"For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding" Proverbs 2:6

Staying in God's Word will give you wisdom for your journey of life. God knows you and knows your days ahead. When you study scripture, you allow God to give you wisdom for the circumstances and events that we have not yet encountered. By memorizing scripture, we are able to recall God's wisdom and pray His Word at any moment. Through prayer and God's Living Word we are armed with a "double-edged sword" that will cut through anything we are walking through. 

3. REGENERATE NEW LIFE:

"For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God" 1 Peter 1:23

God gives us physical life when we are born from the womb of our mother. Physical life comes from sinful seeds that will eventually end in death which separates us from this earth. However, our Spiritual life comes from eternal seeds that will live on for eternity when it is rooted in the faith of Christ. God will forgive our sins and gives us a new life. . . a new spiritual life when we come to Him through the salvation of Jesus Christ. 

4. INTERACTIVE

"Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave" 
Psalm 107:17-20

Wherever we are at in our lives, God can meet us in His Word and heal us. Even when we are rebellious in our ways, God wants us to find him. We can find God when we intentionally get in His Word. Getting into God's Living Word becomes an interactive way of inviting God into your life to restore broken relationships, break chains of addiction, provide for financial distress, or heal painful memories.      

Today's Journal and Reflection: Where are you heading on your journey of life? Are you allowing God to take the road trip with you? Are you asking God, "Are we there yet?". . . if so, where are you wanting to go and why? Are you needing wisdom and new life from God? Wherever you are in life today, God will want to hear from you and take the road trip with you.  






God Goes Before Us

"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8


We had been trying to sell our inflatable rental business for years. We were so close several times, but the deal would always fall through. It was years of trying to sell the business, and we just assumed that God wanted us to continue with the rentals because we were able to meet new people in our community and pray for the people who we rented to. But what we did not know and completely comprehend at the time was the fact that God was going ahead of us and knew exactly when the inflatables would bless another family's finances, and ours at the same time. 

A couple that had just been relocated to our town because of a flood in their city were looking for a business to bless their family's budget. Our inflatables were able to do that for them. . . but what they did not know and what we did not know was that the money we put in the bank for savings was actually part of a bigger plan that my husband and I had no clue about. We sold the inflatables in April of 2017, and we were so excited to have money to make our Dave Ramsey three month emergency fund a reality. However, in May 2017, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Here is where I began to see just how God goes before us even when we are praying in desperation for our own timing. There were so many times I had prayed and asked, or pleaded, for God to sell the inflatables and bless our savings account with financial freedom. But God answered "no" several times because He knew that hospitals and doctors require large sums of money before breast cancer procedures and surgeries can happen. If we did not have the inflatable money at this exact time, we would have been struggling to find the money for my breast cancer surgery and treatment. God had gone before us and knew exactly what we needed before we had even come to the large and steep scary mountain of cancer. . . 

"I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron." Isaiah 45:2

Through the storm of breast cancer, I saw God's character and how God had been preparing a rainbow for me to walk across. How he had leveled the mountains, so I would not have to climb the rough terrain, and He broke down the gates and allowed me to peacefully and restfully walk the journey of breast cancer. I would have never asked for a storm like this, but without it, I would not have experienced the power of God going before me, and I would not have had this opportunity to grow in my relationship with God. 

Have you ever gone through a rough time and had a friend or family member stick by your side listening to you or helping you with advice. . . and through this time you grew closer to your friend or family member and as a result shared a bond? That's what I gained with God when He walked before me, with me, and behind me during my breast cancer journey. I saw God's true character. . . and grew in my faith and courage for the next challenge in this fallen world! God does not promise life to be easy, but God does promise to walk before us and with us. 

Now, because of my breast cancer journey, I can go forth faithfully in confidence knowing that God has already been where I am going.  I learned about God's character and it is now easier to put complete trust in Him. 

I have not always had this courage within my faith. I have worried, and still do until I get my mind grounded in God's promises. Having courage within your faith takes time with God. Once you experience God's Grace and Mercy and you grow in your relationship with God, the courage will be built in your faith of walking with God. . . confidence that God has already prepared the path. This kind of confidence and faith takes lots of courage, but with that courage comes peace and rest trusting that God knows exactly how your circumstances will turn out before you even begin the journey down that road. 


Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or terrified of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6 


Today's Journal and Reflection: Have you been praying for answers and you feel as if you are not being heard? What do you fear if your prayer is not answered on your timeline? Does God's promises help you find confidence while you wait for God to reveal His plan? Why/Why not? By staying in God's Word, you can find more about God's character and how He has worked in other's lives. . . He is the same today as He was yesterday when He performed miracles that are documented in the Bible. 

Friday, July 24, 2020

My Teacher Peace in My Stillness

Psalm 46:10 ~ “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ “


I’ve been anxious about all the unknowns of  the 2020-2021 school year with the Covid-19 looming over it . . . not anxious about going back to school because . . . I don’t know. .  . I just have peace with it. God is good and I have faith that God has a perfect plan. But the unknowns of how I’m going to be teaching curriculum to both students in my classroom and at their home . . . both at the same time. . . and which students and how many students will I actually be seeing each day makes my mind uneasy. Will I be able to do what my administrators ask of me? I like to prepare, and I do not know exactly how to prepare right now. 

My district has implemented a new Learning Management System (LMS). This LMS has a lot of components and at this point I’m not sure how my district wants me to use it for my students. I’ve joined social media groups full of educators that are using this LMS and different apps that can be used in conjunction with it. I’m working hard to prepare so I can have a head start before I actually get trained by my district. There are so many helpful social media groups full of talented and helpful teachers coming together . . . everyone is sharing and caring! I have been so busy joining every group available and getting so many helpful resources at my fingertips. . . I’ve been reading, watching videos, and learning from other teachers. These groups have been so helpful, but I have developed overwhelming feelings of being unequipped and unworthy of the task before me. These feelings have become fear in my mind. The devil knows just where to get me! It's a battle in my head that wears me out!  And my social media feed is overtaken by educational groups. . . it just keeps coming and coming at me. 

As the anxiety and fear began to set in, I looked up and said help! God said Be Still and get in My Word. . . He said remember who I am and what I have already done. It hit me. . . I was so busy preparing to be effective as a teacher, but how much time was I preparing to be effective as a Child of God? I was beginning to spend way too much time in the wrong preparation. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely need to and will learn what I need to be prepared and efficient with the new LMS . . . but it does not need to come before my preparation with God. I was drifting away from my foundation of peace and spending too much time studying worldly knowledge for peace instead of depending on God's knowledge or knowledge of God for peace. 

“If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! Get rid of your sins, and leave all iniquity behind you. Then your face will brighten with innocence. You will be strong and free of fear. 
You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away. 
Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Even darkness will be as bright as morning. 
Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety.
 You will lie down unafraid, and many will look to you for help"  Job 11:13-19


What was eating away at my peace was fear of failure! See there are also new setups and procedures in the classroom to go along with the new LMS . . . I can’t stand not knowing something and not being effective at it . . . I’m my own worst supervisor! I don’t like learning on the job . . . I like going in prepared. . . at least as much as I can because students teach me something new everyday. At least I can try to know enough that I can fake it 'til I make it.  

All this newness has set fear into me and fear does not come from God. So I heard God say “be still and just listen”. . . So today I was still and listened to God, and I asked for discernment and wisdom on moving into the new school year and using the new technology and new strategies to teach.

He reminded me that He has gotten me through everything He has already called me to. . . and why wouldn't He get me through this? I see Him now merging my experiences and passions that often seemed so random and isolated from each other, and I often wonder what in the world am I doing with my life with this crazy journey I have been on . . . but I see Him bringing some of my craziness into light for me. I say this next part not to give you my resume but to give you a glance at my journey that I never planned or imagined, but God is using to help me. I never really enjoyed or was the best student until graduate school. . . just saying graduate school makes know that God was in charge, not me. Once I finished the "requirements" to get a job and become an adult, I thought I would never see another classroom. But here I am a totally different person than I thought I would be. . . but God knew the plan all along. I have a marketing degree and absolutely love being creative and presenting ideas! I’m now a life long learner . . . I love taking graduate courses and attending professional developments . . . the more I know the more I know I don’t know! I also have a Masters degree & I’m a certified teacher/certified Reading Specialist with a Mentor Teacher certification,  and close to other certifications simply because I keep taking classes, and I absolutely love helping others find their inner strengths and abilities . . . I love to create and present lessons to help people learn. I’ve taught first grade, Senior English, been a high school varsity cheer coach,  been a Reading Interventionist, taught middle school PE, and now I’m heading into 4th grade . . . it’s been a crazy ride . . .give me content and I will create a lesson with some amazing strategies I’ve learned along the way! I’ve even taught adults and helped them find their better . . . I teach middle school girls Sunday school, I love mission trips, and I love volunteering at church camps . . . and I’ve been a small business owner managing events/fundraisers and parties, creating websites/marketing materials, and managing employees. . . and I love to write. . . I struggled learning to read and write when I was a young student and that experience makes me a passionate teacher that wants to help anyone and everyone find their ability and gift within. . . everyone can learn if given the chance and the right tools. . . and the passion to do it. No one should struggle. . . and I want everyone to believe in themselves. . . I want people to know that someone believes in them. 

I say all this because I shouldn’t have fear with all the crazy things I’ve done in my life and all the changes I’ve made along the way . . . and I survived every time by the Grace of God. And shame on me for having fear when God has brought me through so much including the dark days of grief and cancer. God has been with me every step of my journey and will continue to be. . . I needed to Be Still and to be reminded of who God is and what He can do!

God has shown me how each piece of the puzzle fits together and nothing has been wasted for His Glory . . . not even the doctor telling me my mom’s heart stopped or the phone call with the word cancer on the other end of the phone . . . God used all of it to make me stronger and to teach me about His AMAZING GRACE

God showed me an inner strength I didn’t know I had when my mom and brother died a year apart and my father in law dying just a year before that. He showed me how to depend on Him to part the sea and make a way when you get the call that you have breast cancer. He gave me a dad that wakes up each day that is thankful and lives life to the fullest even when it's in a wheelchair. . .Choose Joy! 

I Choose Joy . . . Life is not fair and I’m thankful because if it was Jesus would have never died on the cross for our sins! Nope life is not fair and it’s just plain darn hard sometimes . . . So Be Still and Know that He is God! He has a perfect plan for each one of us! Jeremiah 29:11 The journey might seem like lots of detours and dead end roads but God sees a path full of possibilities that we can not see. 

So what God has shown me today is how He has taken my crazy path of passions and experiences, struggles and victories, and merged them together to make a way. . . He reminded me that I’ve already learned how to create websites, graphics, and logos - that technology is a joy for me . . . He’s reminded me of the sparks in my former students’ eyes . . . He’s reminded me of all the times He has made a way when I thought there was no way . . . we all have talents and passions that we can use . . . We all have experiences that made us who we are . . . the strength or knowledge that God needed us to gain from the experiences. The devil was trying to make me forget that I do not have to prepare for the school year alone. . . God wants me to prepare for the school year with Him. 

Just Be Still and know that He is God! He made each one of us and made us perfect for His Glory! My path has seemed crazy to me, but to God the path makes total sense. He called me to be a teacher, whether in the classroom or in my daily walk with others, and He has designed a journey to prepare me to glorify Him as a teacher. . . that right there gives me peace! He doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called! 

We all have different talents and passions that can help others and ourselves, but ultimately we have these gifts to glorify God. God doesn’t want us to fail or struggle at what we do . . . He loves each one of us and made each one of us for a purpose. Be Still and ask God to reveal that peace to you . . . What pieces of the puzzle has God led you to in order to prepare you for the task in front of you? What are you spending your time preparing for? 

Are you prepared for the day that He comes back for you?

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:3

Monday, January 6, 2020

Content in the Moment

Content in the Moment:

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want" Pslam 23:1

When I was a young mom and my boys were babies, I remember having my family room full of baby entertainment equipment. I had a swing, an exersaucer, a floor time mat, and a bouncy seat strategically placed ready for their awake time. My boys loved their play equipment, but they were never content for any length of time; I knew it was time to move them to another piece of equipment when they would begin crying or getting restless. Eventually they would get tired and fussy and nothing but a little lap time and would soothe them. 

There are times in my life when I felt there was something more besides where I was at in life and that would make me feel better and more content, a lot like a baby with a short attention span ready for an environmental change. My discontent has felt like frustration, boredom, and emptiness. These feelings can throw you in a pit of discontentment and hopelessness of being stuck.

God tells us He is ALWAYS with us. We should be joyful and content with what we have and where we are in life. We should not worry or want more than what God has given us if we have a close relationship with God. I'm not talking about setting goals and striving to be a better person to fulfill our purpose on earth; I'm talking about not putting hope in something or someone other than our God, our Shepard. 


If we are experiencing depression, despair, loneliness, emptiness, or frustration. . . then we may want to look at where our hope is coming from. We will never be completely satisfied if we are letting someone or something other than God shepard us. If we are letting our success in work, relationships, finances, or even our volunteer accomplishments determine our happiness, then we will never be completely satisfied. . . as Pslam 23:1 tells us . . . with God as our Shepard, we shall not want. We should be able to find contentment and joy wherever our feet currently are. We should never let someone or something other than God determine the joy in our lives. 


". . . for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Philippians 4:11

Life may not always be what we want, and we may be going through tough times. . . but God is all we need during the good and bad. If life is not what we want it to be right now, then we need to cry out to God and ask Him what is all this chaos about. . . our God is not a God of chaos. "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace--as in all the congregations of the Lord's people." 1 Corinthians 14:33 Ask Him to give you the strength and courage to get through the tough times. Ask Him to show you the blessings and joy within the tough situation. Look for the lesson He is allowing you to learn . . . what is He cultivating good out of a situation that the devil intended for evil?

I have often been like a lost sheep . . . looking for something to give me hope or more fulfilling than my current situation. These situations may be my career, my body, my finances, or relationships. I get impatient with God and myself while waiting for answers and solutions. I begin to get too busy trying to solve my discontentment on my own. Or I look to other people to fix my problems or dissatisfaction. Why can't I just be content with my current situation? Why can't I just enjoy the blessings that I currently have. . . why do I want to strive for more. . . why do I want to add more to my plate?  

I began digging in God's Word and searching for answers about being content in the moment. . . God led me first to Psalm 23:1 "The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want". . . don't laugh, but I always wondered why this scripture would tell me I would not want the Lord as my shepherd. . .I know I know but sometimes we just read words or memorize scripture, and then one day it is like a light bulb turns on and it makes perfect sense. . . God's Word is living and speaks to us just at the right time. I started digging in a little deeper to understand this verse. All these years I have been missing the point of Psalm 23:1. Now that my mind and heart were open to hearing what God was wanting me to know about contentment, I was seeing what God was truly saying. . . God was revealing to me just at the right time. . .  if I truly believe that the Lord is my shepherd, then I shall not want anything else to truly have joy in my life . 

I had prayed and prayed during my year off from teaching while I was going through my breast cancer journey and having some "me" time for healing. I was praying that God would show me the exact job He wanted me to have and not the job I thought I needed. For the first time, I truly surrendered my wants for a career and prayed that God would use me and place me where I could be someone's solution. That was scary, but I have learned over the years that trying to do it on my own does not work. . . I was finally willing to give up my own wants to go where God wanted me. . . thank goodness God doesn't give up on us and is patient with us. I met some amazing educators and some students that completely stole my heart. My position was later cut from the school district's budget, but that was my mission for that time. I might not understand why some things or people come and go in my life, but I do know that God has a perfect plan . . . Jeremiah 29:11

Contentment is not easy with the information overload this world throws at us. It is important to keep our eyes on our Shepard.

True Contentment is Found in Trusting the Good Shepard:

1. Make the Lord your Shepard by trusting His provision in every situation of your life. . . Ask the Good Shepard to be your Lord and turn away from trying to do life on your own. With the Lord as your Shepard, you can truly be content while resting and finding peace in His Truths. 

Psalm 23:1 "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want".

2. Know that your Shepard provides everything you need . . . He provides rest, food and drink, restoration, and a guided path in the right direction. 

Psalm 23:2-3: "He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." 

3. Know that your Shepard will walk with you through the good and bad times. . . He will provide comfort for your fear, He will fight your enemies, and He will cover you in protection so you are not overtaken from the irritations of this fallen world.

Psalm 23:4-5: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows." 

4. You do not have to earn your Shepards love and mercy, He will be with you forever. 

Psalm 23:6: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." 

5. Pray to Your Shepard. . . 

Content in the Moment Prayer. . . 
Dear Lord, please help me and anyone else struggling with contentment to keep You at the front of everything we do and in front of our steps. Please do not let us take steps without You leading the way. Please do not let our minds stray from You. We do not want to want more because we accept You as our Shepherd. We want to be content and living life at a healthy pace following You! You ARE OUR SHEPHERD! Thank you for always watching over us even when we try to do life without You. Let us continue to be someone else's solution while You provide the steps and direction for the ultimate path to the solution. 

Today's Journal and Reflection: Do you truly accept God as your Shepard? What areas of your life are you currently trying to shepard yourself? Are you currently searching for something or someone to make you content and happy in life? How does Psalm 23:1-6 give you comfort? What verses of Psalm 23:1-6 do you need to study a little deeper in order to completely trust your Shepard and be content in your current situation?