Thursday, January 28, 2016

Quiet: Five Minute Friday

Linked up for the weekly Five Minute Friday fun with Kate Motaung!

Oh, quiet.

That's a fun prompt, because it causes my mind to go in the opposite direction. I'm not naturally a soft-spoken quiet person. I'm quite talkative. And yet, I can also tend to be shy in new situations.

I always admired those soft-spoken people who still held authority. I'm still trying to learn their secrets. At some point, however, I recognized that God wanted my voice for His words. That He gave me the confidence to be up in front of others teaching or singing (and I truly ENJOY it!). He did not ask me to be quiet, but to quiet my soul so He would be the one speaking and directing.

Recently, I've been added a new responsibility at work and it's going well. One of the rules, however, is that it must be quiet in my classroom. This is easier to enforce on some days than others. I try to equate quiet with peace. If my soul has peace, my soul is not in turmoil. It is quieted. It is not loud. Loud and angry are often paired in my mind.

When I feel overwhelmed with visual noise as well as obligations of time, it is a refreshing moment to see God's words in an artsy picture on my Facebook or Instagram feed.
Recently, Ann Voskamp began a post with the word "Pause".
That was from the Holy Spirit! It was as if the whole world were controlled by a remote control and I was able to hit the "pause" button and it stood still and I could breathe again and listen in the quiet for God.

When the Psalmist in Psalm 23 states "you lead me beside still waters", other translations say "quiet". Although I love waterfalls, sometimes a small section of quiet waters is also welcome.

God speaks at the same volume all the time, but only when we are quiet enough to listen do we actually hear what He has to say.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Present: Five Minute Friday

It's Friday and time for the Five Minute Friday linkup. I'm way late in this game, but rather than explain, I'll just give you the link to Kate's linkup.
This week's prompt is "Present".



As a first-year school teacher, the word "present" brought up a different use of the word than I would sometimes have pondered upon. I remember using the word "present" from time to time, as it was formal and I enjoyed formalities and literature and C.S. Lewis and the worlds I could escape to.

But then, I would have to come back to the present. There was nothing like getting lost in a book only to be jarred back to reality by the passing bell. I also greatly enjoyed logical math equations. I found comfort in their predictability.

Still, on the other side of the desks now, I have so many that are not "present", even when they are "here". It's increasingly difficult to maintain the attention of a group of children when you are in front of them. They're used to tuning out televisions and talk shows and news anchors, and sometimes we teachers fall into the "talking heads" category. (And now you're all hearing Charlie Brown's teacher via muted trombone)

I didn't write last night and almost didn't write at all, because part of this prompt made me uncomfortable. In that "Yes, I'm talking to you" sort of uncomfortable. I'm guilty of not being present. With my kids, with my husband, even with my friends.
It's so much easier to take a 15 second snippet of engagement and then break away. 30 seconds of attention and then-back to my distraction.
This is our pattern now. We are struggling to stay engaged and animated.


So, my thought continued is this: if I cannot be present with the people I love most, how is that affecting my relationships in the deepest levels? What value am I communicating to them if I'm not willing to lay aside my distractions and be intentional? I certainly won't be teaching them to communicate well. Our children will be whatever we teach them to be. I want to teach my children to be "present."


P.S. I'd love to know your linkup number or URL so I can read your post as well. Please don't leave that out of your comment! :)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Time: Five Minute Friday

Kate's linkup is live. I'm joining Five Minute Friday and this week's prompt is "Time". Go!

Well, I recently watched a movie. The point they made in it that stayed with me is that time is what proves our existence. Outside of time, we have no proof of being. And yet, our creation is the beginning of timeless existence.

It is when others acknowledge our existence that we feel valued and are given worth. God's value on us is the life of His Only Perfect Son. He gives us worth and hope. We are used by Him to remind others of their worth and hope. Part of the reason I have continued participating in the FMF linkup is the value placed on me and my thoughts by others in the community of writers.

They could simply link up and never comment or read another post and glow in the admiration they receive, but instead they reciprocate. It may only take five minutes to type, but it's another five to link up and another five to read and another five to comment. So, ten minutes per link to acknowledge others can seem daunting. And yet, you can bring a week of life to somebody in those ten minutes. Perhaps you are a faster reader and typer and it only takes you five minutes to bring life.

Life and time are synonymous for me. I can bring life with my words and life with my time. My girls clamor for my attention at home, now that I'm working "part-time" at their school. I drop them at class and see them at the end of the day. Their teachers get more time with them than I do on a daily basis. My middle daughter finds reasons to come see me, often complaining of a tummyache. I keep a stash of wintergreen LifeSaver breath mints in my drawer. It's a placebo, but really, she just wants to be with me. Those days are interrupted, but precious. Even my children remind me that I have value.

I just want to thank those of you who often come by and comment, even if I've not come by your blog yet. And those of you who regularly comment via Twitter. You have given me worth and value by taking the time for me. I appreciate you more than you know. Much love!!


P.S. I don't have any way to read your blog if you don't list your linkup number or your website in your comment. And I'd love to follow up with you, so please give me one of the two! :D

Friday, January 8, 2016

First: Five Minute Friday

Kate Motaung is our leader for Five Minute Friday. Here's this week's link!

I missed the FMF party last night. And for the FIRST time in a year, I wasn't sure if I'd participate in the linkup. Not due to anything related to the writing. I enjoy it and the community!

It's because for the FIRST time in a long time, I was in a broken, broken place. And I wasn't even the reason I was there. It was somebody else. It was their story and there was more to it every day and I didn't think my heart could break any more than it had, until I'd get the next piece.

It was the FIRST thing that I dealt with this week after a long break from responsibility. I was all poised to write something super spiritual about my Oneword365 being "Humble" and the last being FIRST and putting yourself last so that God would raise you up to FIRST place in His kingdom.

But I couldn't. It's not that I'm defeated. Nor is the person. No, but this is the FIRST time in my life where I have seen so much evil in one small amount of time and there is a mark on this person. It's God's mark, but the enemy's target has the mark in his crosshairs.

So, I'm praying. I'm emotional. I'm exhausted, but God? He is the FIRST and the Last. The ALPHA and the Omega. The BEGINNING and the End. Our stories, the middle is the messiest, but the sorrow highlights the joy. The sunset and the cold dark night always give way to the light.

And I know that GOD will take everything and redeem it. He took me to Psalm 25:4-5 last night. I am the FIRST child in my family and a college graduation gift had that inscription.

Show me the right path, O Lord;
    point out the road for me to follow.
 Lead me by your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God who saves me.
    All day long I put my hope in you.  (Psalm 25:4-5 NLT)

And then, I kept reading.
There was my word, "humble" in the middle of it.

Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love,
    which you have shown from long ages past.
Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.
    Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,
    for you are merciful, O Lord.

The Lord is good and does what is right;
    he shows the proper path to those who go astray.
He leads the humble in doing right,
    teaching them his way.
10 The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
    all who keep his covenant and obey his demands. (Psalm 25:6-10 NLT)

So, if I remember to keep God FIRST above all that happens, I will be okay. And so will you.