Saturday, April 30, 2016

Pass: Five Minute Friday

Kate's linkup happens every Thursday night on Twitter. I didn't get to be a part of it this week. It's spring and the school year has only 7 short weeks left. I had "3 hours of homework" that took from 7 to 10 pm to get done.
But, I did get the prompt.


Truthfully, I have had much more than five minutes to ponder my post so this will seem more coherent than some in the past. I thought about hall pass and free pass and taking a pass because you didn't want to try something. I thought about Passover. I finally settled on Pass and Fail.

And, perhaps it was the stack of math tests I had just gone through, but it made me go deeper.

I was academically motivated as a child. A firstborn with everything to prove, and a natural skill at academics, I never was content with just a passing grade. I always wanted to be the best and do my best and I can still remember the spelling word I missed in the fifth grade spelling bee. "Bulldozer". "B-U-L-(huge pause-one or two?)-D-O-Z-E-R". "I'm sorry, that is incorrect."

In my Christian walk, I grew up with a lot of the same ideals about walking with Christ, but it set me up for constant failures. It is only in the deep trenches of parenting that God has been able to show me with fullness that I cannot measure up. Ever.
And it's okay.
You see, with God, it's not about us. It's about Jesus. He passed the test because we couldn't. We get a "pass" on this one. We just have to believe it and accept it. Out of our thankfulness, our failures are regrettable, but still redeemable. There is no sin He did not pay for. My successes don't add to his love and my failures don't take away.

I'm sharing a video with a powerful drama that I first saw in 2006 or 2007. The song is "Everything" by Lifehouse, and it gets me every time when the main character struggles. Really struggles.

Because, we have an enemy who is so skilled at telling us we're Failing.
He discourages us. It's his job.

We can know the truth, and the truth can set us free. It can help us get past the lies.
"Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!" (Romans 5:7-9)

When you pass from this life into eternity, where will you go?


Monday, April 25, 2016

Overcoming Stress...A Meaningful Monday post.

No linkup tonight. Just the musings of a middle-school teacher who needs Jesus in increasing amounts the more I know of Him and love Him.
He has been opening my eyes to His perspective on things, but I'm still a human in the experience and revelation. I still need prayer and to pray frequently. I'm pressed but not crushed. And in the midst of being pressed, the fruit of the Spirit is growing in me and producing fragrance of Jesus and His work within. Someday, I will be completely surrendered to Him.

Days full of stress, I sometimes want to jump forward to that complete surrender day. But then, I realize, He's just a prayer away...really He's not gone, I'm just not looking or not listening because I'm looking at the stressors.
So today I drew a picture. A word picture.

It may be a little blurred, a little shaky, but so are we when we're stressed out. :)

First step when you're stressed?

Take a deep breath. Inhale for 4, Hold for 4, Exhale for 4.


Focus on what you know to be true. Solidify your response by cutting out emotional reaction.


What could have contributed to the stress? Is it truly directed at you, or is there more under the surface? Are you just an innocent casualty of somebody else's pain or stress?


Write it out, or if you need to, speak in the situation. (After you've stopped and taken some time to breathe.) Try to be objective and speak truth yourself.


If there is a way to right the wrong, here's the place to do it. If you're being wronged, see if you can come up with a solution.

Send away.

If there is not a way to right the wrong, you need to pass it on. Don't hold on to the stress. It will eat you up from the inside out.

Do not worry about anything, instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6 (NLT)
How many times have you brought something to God, telling Him how heavy it is, but kept holding it in front of Him instead of giving it to Him?? You are weary from holding out this burden in front of you in His direction, but you're not allowing Him to take it away from you and carry it for you??

Tonight, let's let go. Let it go. He's got this. He knew it was coming. He's more than willing to take it. If you don't have the power to change it, just let go.

One, two, three, four,



Friday, April 22, 2016

Unite: Five Minute Friday

Linking up (on Saturday) with the Five Minute Friday group. A real community of real people that encourage each other with a one-word, five minute, no-edit free write every Thursday night (or one of the following days).
Here's this week's link.

  This is such a pleasant word. I was blessed to re-unite with my four siblings this Spring Break along with all our children and my parents.

My sister-in-law, Katie, is a talented photographer and took portraits of many of us. This one she set up and hopped in with a self-timer. It was one of the best times with family I've had in a long while. One of my siblings lives in South Dakota, another in Nebraska, my parents are in Idaho (along with two of my siblings) and I'm in Oregon. The last time my parents had a photograph with all five of us, I was the only parent. I was pregnant with our second child, so we had one little sprite in all the photographs. She was 15 months at the time. (She's on the far left in the shot. My husband and I are also on the far left)

My husband and I were the only parents besides my parents. My brother-in-law was deployed at the time.

2008 Thanksgiving. I was in early first trimester (on far left)

We're still stair-stepped in birth order. (Except my brother.)

The multiple times we have moved across the United States...we developed friendships with people, but truly our sibling bonds are the deepest friendships I have.

For you, perhaps that is not true. I urge you, however, to reconcile and live at peace with those you value the most. Heaven is about relationships. If we do not learn to love and reconcile now, we are not experiencing the fullness of Christ's love.

Thank you for being that community for me. United we stand, divided we fall. So glad we're past all the pesky little petty arguments that can separate siblings. :)


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Easy: Five Minute Friday

Another week at the Five Minute Friday linkup.

This week's prompt: Easy.

Wow. It's been the most upside-down week in my life yet. Easy is not the word. It has been quite hard, watching somebody close go through great loss and unknowns and still no answers. There is nothing I can say or do. I can pray but I feel sometimes that it's not enough.

And, when you are obeying Galatians 6:2 and "Carrying one another's burdens, because in this way you fulfill the Law of Christ", it can cause you to feel burdened after a while.

Thankfully God also let Psalm 68:19 pop up in my "burdens" search.
"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
    who daily bears our burdens.
 Our God is a God who saves;
    from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death."

His yoke is Easy and His burden is light. (I'm sure that will be a well-referenced verse in this week's collection.) 
Praying is actually hard to do sometimes. We are still praying for a miracle. Join me in praying that a lost person will be found. He is physically missing after four days. Maybe five by the time you read this. His mother is a co-worker of mine.

What God is teaching me in this is that if I will allow Him to carry me, I will have the strength to carry others because I am not doing it alone. And they need us to surround them and carry them when they are in crisis. I'm so thankful that my FMF crew offered to carry me when in January I was smack dab in the middle of another person's crisis.

Evil is real. Pain is real. Going through those things is never easy. But God promises to walk with us through them. And knowing you are not alone in a crisis? That makes it easier to bear.

I hope you'll continue to join us here on Five Minute Fridays. It has been the greatest blessing of my life!

P.S. Please list your linkup # for this week or your url so I can find you if you comment. :)

Friday, April 8, 2016

Whole: Five Minute Friday

It's Friday, and the end of the quarter, so I'm late to the linkup (relatively).
Here's the link. (Five Minute Fridays over at Kate Motaung's website)
Here's the prompt.


For another fun take on the word whole, read this post:

He's got the Whole world in His hands, He's got the Whole world in His hands, He's got the Whole world, in His hands, He's got the Whole world in His hands.
Todo el mundo!

Whole is a wonderful word. It stands for completion. It lacks nothing. And, when we are made whole with Christ, He is all we need. It can also mean restoration or reconciliation.

Last week I spoke about my decision to follow Jesus.
And, I linked the wrong song.

So, I want to tell you that 16 years ago, Christ made me whole. I just didn't see it all at once.

I still wanted to be married and have a family someday.

I also wanted to go to Nashville and get a job at the Gospel Music Association and be able to write songs that people would sing all over the world that praised God.

Those dreams don't work well together.

Now, I want to teach and encourage others.

And somehow, I really am doing all of those things without world renown.

13 years ago, I met my husband. I was finally Wholly God's. I was content to be single forever, and He was my heart's desire. Navigating room for a husband without edging God out was something that concerned me.

I've still yet to meet anyone who can answer the questions I asked back then. "How do you balance loving God and loving your husband? Won't he take God's place?"

It's similar to the pondering of a pregnant mother who already has a child. "How can I love another child and not take away from the love I have for the first?"

You'll find that when your heart is already whole, there is room for more love.

And if God loves the Whole world, then there is always room in His heart for you! :)

"For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him.."
(Romans 5:6-10, HCSB)
He saved you before He made your body, but He knew already that He loved you. And that you would need Him to feel whole.