Thursday, May 18, 2017

Truth: Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday! Here's the link to Kate's Linkup!

Okay, I just noticed it's been a month since I've contributed to the linkup. Wow. And the journey has been wild in the in-between.
But tonight's prompt, "Truth" was too good to stay back from.
Also, my middle school students have been away at outdoor school which has given me a little more creative energy to pour out into the atmosphere. I have been painting their hallway all week!

The reason that "truth" is so important, is that it is the key ingredient of trust. If somebody is not truthful, they are not to be trusted. Whether this is in a work relationship, a parent-child relationship, or a regular person-to-person relationship, we don't wish to be lied to.
(Alright, except for vanity. Tell me I still look young and beautiful and I will probably appreciate the compliment)

It says that we shall know the truth and the truth will set us free. Free from what? What lie have we listened to?

Hint, it's in the book of Genesis.
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

This was the lie. That because we were made in the image of God, we believed we could be "like" God.
And this is the struggle in our hearts that is the root of all sin. We want to be like God. We want to be God. We want the control, the power, the steering wheel in our lives.
We don't want pain, discomfort, suffering, poverty, cancer, or anything else we deem "bad". We like to see others get what they deserve. (This is a painful truth. But, since the theme is truth, I'll call it out)

We, however, never want to get what we deserve.

The last time I looked, I really couldn't control anything. And it's been freeing to realize this, though not easy to learn. You see, when the power rests in God's hands, so does the responsibility!

We get to lean on His grace and mercy which surpass our frazzled feelings and emotions. We get to smile and graciously forgive when we'd rather breathe fire and return the wounding a little (or a lot).

And, He gives us perspective. Will this matter in 5 minutes? 4 hours? 3 days? 2 months? 1 year? (calming countdown, yes?)

Oh the little things that could stir us up, but He is quietly whispering to us, "come, hide in the shelter of my wings. I will protect you and keep you from being battered by this storm. You'll get wet, but you won't drown!"

Listen, dear ones, for He is speaking the Truth. He is and was and always will be. So, why not realize He is and was and always will be in control? And you don't have to be?! :)

Love,

Tammy

P.S. Please include your linkup number in your comments. I'd love to see your thoughts on the "truth".

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Empty:Five Minute Friday

What a fun week it's been and it's already time to link up again!
That's right. We're linking up with Kate Motaung for the Five Minute Friday prompt.
This week the word is "Empty".

Go!

Last week's prompt was "enough". I centered around the thought that we are lacking something and aren't enough to fill it.
That ties in so well to the "empty" thought.

But you know? God doesn't have room to fill jars of clay with His presence when they're too full of themselves for Him. :)
Sometimes it is the breaking, the cracking of our clay pots that allows the self to drain out and the empty that is so uncomfortable begins to make way for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to sit in the throne.

Oh self, why do you constantly creep back up to that throne and try to sit on it? You're really not the right size or shape to sit on the throne, but you keep trying and my Jesus is a gentleman. He could squish you easily, but He won't. He'll patiently wait for you to move out of His way.

I wish I could teach you to stay in your place. Seated at His right hand, you're in His favor, allowing Him to lead, to rule, and to reign.

Oh but the hope we have, that nobody else has!! When they feel empty, there is nothing to take it away. All substitutes leave them longing for something that is out of reach.

I'm linking a YouTube video of a song that I composed this Wednesday at school with our youngest kids at chapel. https://youtu.be/o4QibA5jGDI
At school I was strumming a guitar and telling them the Easter story (without revealing that I was telling them that specific story), and then the song just came bubbling out. They began to sing it with me, so we sang it a few times.
The lyrics are simple. So is the melody, and well, so are the chords. You could easily be a musician with this one!! G, C, D, G, E, C, D, G. Yep. That's it. Feel free to raise or lower the key.

I hope you'll recognize that the empty place is a gift and an invitation for fresh, living water. We can become filled with stale water and if we don't get it out, it doesn't benefit us OR the others around us. We need those mercies renewed every morning!! :)

Blessings on you this Resurrection Weekend!!
Love,
Tammy

P.S. Please tell me your linkup # or your url in the comments so I can find you! :)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Enough: Five Minute Friday

Our weekly linkup is never a disappointment. For more fun than you can possibly handle, and to meet the most amazing community of deep and caring writers, join us at Kate's linkup every week for a five minute free-write with no edits on a one word prompt.

This week's word prompt?
Enough.

I'm experiencing a deja vu. I am certain that this was already the prompt recently, but I have looked and it's just not so.
What can this mean, other than I have been mediating on this very word and it's finally time to write my thoughts.

This has been a struggle for most of my life. The world tells us that we are not complete. That we lack something. That we are not enough.

It's clever, really. Because it is the truth to say that we are not complete. But the world offers us multiple ways to feel complete that do not satisfy that hole that only Jesus can fill.

The truth is, that our best is good enough for Him. He wants all we have to offer and THAT is enough.

Our strivings and righteous deeds don't add to our salvation, nor do our mistakes and sins take away from it. It is finished.

I must admit as I think about Easter coming up in one week, that I have spent most of my life trying to be good enough for God to love me. To be worthy of Jesus' sacrifice. It's exhausted me at times when I am in a puddle of tears looking at my failures.

I'm so hard on myself because how can a Holy God love such wretched beings as us?

And yet, the Bible promises us that "as far as the East is from the West, so far has he taken our sin from us." And "while we were yet sinners, Christ Jesus died for us." (Romans 5:8)

(Psalm 103:11-13, "For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;)

Is God's love enough for you? Will you believe that He has redeemed you?
Will you allow His redemption and grace to cover you so that you are no longer feeling guilty and ashamed, but you will rejoice in His promise to make His mercies new every morning??

-Tammy

(p.s. please leave me your linkup number or URL in the comments so I can find your post and return the blessing!)


 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Friend: Five Minute Friday

It's fun that this week's prompt is "friend", because instead of FMF standing for "Five Minute Friday", it could just as easily be "Friend Making Friday".
The regular contributors that comment on your post after reading it can become your friends as you pour out your hearts in such a short time. You realize so many "me too" moments, that you feel accepted and surrounded in love and understanding!

And what better reason to meet with some of these friends in real life this summer? Sign up for the retreat! :)


Okay. Prompt is "friend". Go!




"A friend is a friend to the very end."

I memorized that statement in the third grade to help me remember my spelling choice that the "I" truly did belong before the "E". :) Fri-end.

How difficult it was for me, however, to make friends. I felt that I was always friendly, even though I was shy and self-aware. I constantly tried to follow patterns and rules to make sense of the world.
It worked so well for me in Mathematics and English, that I couldn't understand why it began to change in about the 5th grade. I hadn't changed and the boys in my class were still the same, but the girls were different.
All of a sudden, there was a sense of being left out. I see this tying into last week's post on "Abandon" already!
I had a steady friend, though. Her name was Susanna. Suzy for short.
I always remembered her phone number and birthday.
From 3-8th grades, we were friends. I was just another brown-eyed, brown-haired girl in her house (all her siblings matched me save one). She was 3rd in line with two older brothers, a sister just after, and then four more brothers.
My 5th Grade birthday Party. Suzy is on the Far left with glasses. I am on the far right with glasses and pink pants.

Suzy was steadfast. She didn't have highs and lows like so many of the others. She was a thermostat instead of a thermometer. I'm a bit more reactive, myself.

When I contacted her in college, she was home for Christmas and invited me out for the summer. I ended up meeting my husband and a year later, was graduated and married and living in the same town.
She got married three months before me and helped plan my wedding along with hers. We shared many of the decorations and were bridesmaids in each others' weddings. She was my matron of honor!
Suzy's wedding was in June. Note the beautiful periwinkle bridesmaid's dresses? She found 6 for $120 online, and I bought three of them and she bought the other three. We shared many decorations for my September wedding.



My wedding day and Suzy (in the matching bridesmaid dress) as my matron of honor! :)

Two years after I had my youngest daughter, she had her first. My youngest's middle name is Susanna in honor of this dear woman.
She's meek, gentle, humble, and a very hard worker! She made her own business and transferred slowly from employed to self-employed.
Me trying to get Naomi Susanna (my third daughter) out of my belly on Susanna's horse. :) Two years later, Suzy had her own daughter!


God sometimes gifts us with friends that we don't get to spend time with often, but when we do spend time, we pick up right where we left off. Suzy is one of those friends. One of my greatest joys was surprising her on her 30th birthday with a group party at Applebee's. She thought it would just be the two of us. :) Holding her daughter at the hospital was another. I felt like an aunt!

I hope and pray that my daughters will have a steady friend like Suzy. We met in 1989 and I am so blessed that almost 30 years later, we have ended up in the same town and our daughters know each other!


-Tammy

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Abandon: Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday has become a true joy for me. This community is so warm and inviting. I've built relationships through reading and responding to people who have poured out their hearts in just five minutes. I'm ecstatic at the realization that I will finally be meeting some of them in real life this summer! (There are still some tickets available if you think you want to join us in Kansas City, MO this summer at the FMF Retreat!)
Here's Kate's website with all the information.

This week's prompt is "Abandon".


Go!

I've been lingering on this word for the last 36 hours, ever since the prompt went live. I could take the word in a positive or a negative sense, or both.

But really? I want it to reflect hope. So here we go.

As a young child, I experienced unintentional abandonment. We were on a cross-country trip from Colorado to Oregon and somehow in the headcount, I was overlooked.
My parents didn't get far before returning to the gas station and I don't have a concrete memory of the incident, but they have told me about it.
To this day, I still have trouble with goodbyes.

My Lord, however, has told me He will never abandon me.
"For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath." Deuteronomy 4:31

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body." 2 Corinthians 4:8-10

I have had several moments in my life since the time I intentionally accepted Jesus as an independent adult that I felt abandoned. The rug was pulled out from under me, and there was nobody there. My friends weren't home or answering their phones. Another more recent time of great trial for me, my husband was away on a business trip and there were no human comforters available.
I felt so ALONE.
But do you know? I wasn't.
God knew that I can tend to rely on the ones I can see and hear, and forget to rely on Him FIRST. For that very reason, I think He orchestrates those trials to line up with the absence of human help in my life.
It is I who often abandon God's side. I run off, doing my own thing, getting excited about what I think I'm seeing ahead of me, not realizing I'm wandering away from Him.
He does not abandon me, but patiently comes alongside me.

So, I leave you with the song that brought me great great comfort in that time of trial.
"I am not alone" by Kari Jobe



(and if you have time to visit SoundCloud, my friend Shannelle Cayetano has an AMAZING cover of that song!)

Shannelle Cayetano on SoundCloud


-Tammy
P.S. Please let me know your linkup number or URL so I can find you and comment back. :)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Slow: Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday is a one-word writing prompt that happens weekly. It's hosted by the elegant Kate Motaung at this link: www.katemotaung.com
I hope you'll consider joining us!!

Tonight's Five Minute Friday post prompt is
Slow.

The minute I heard the prompt, I knew I'd be pondering James 1:19.
"Be quick to listen, SLOW to speak, and SLOW to become angry."

God is refining me further. He is wanting to get really deep into my heart and soul and make me more like himself.

So, I need to be more SLOW in my speaking. I need to be more SLOW in my anger/reaction to things in life. I need to be a better listener.
The key to resolved conflict is effective communication.
This is as true for my kids and myself as it is for all external relationships we have.

Tonight I type this in my pajamas. It is 8:00pm and I am already ready for bed.
It was a really good day! I ended the day with a chance to be a good/better listener. And I do feel like I tried really hard to listen. When I spoke, I tried to be SLOW to speak.

Still, I was not able to completely communicate what I meant or was thinking and was not able to completely understand what I was hearing.

This means frustration. We want to understand and when we don't? It can be so so very frustrating.

God has a plan in all this, though. He wants us to keep trying. To tear down walls.
I am so very grateful that I heard that phrase in my communication received. I was able to say multiple times, "I agree." "That is what I want."

So I would say that even though I am still frustrated that I don't understand but want to, that steps forward were made. And that is how God is working in my life. He has brought me very far this year.
And He is really speaking to me in my desk calendar from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. If you're looking for a quick devotional for your day, it has been timely for me this month.
No, I don't get anything for promoting it. It has just really helped me.

And, that's five minutes.
-Tammy

This song was what I was singing this morning. It's called "You are my Hiding Place".
It was on the Corrie Ten Boom movie of a similar name.


p.s. if you comment, please tell me your linkup # or your url so I can find your post as well! :)
P.S.S. I am so excited to be attending FMF Retreat! Hope you can too.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Interceding for those who hate you

Whoa. Heavy title, no?

I've been in a Bible study on James since September. Francis Chan's study is refreshing and in depth and last night, the Holy Spirit brought conviction and clarity to my heart.

Have you ever had people who you just cannot seem to please? The more you try to make things right, the more they find wrong?? It will happen at least once in your life. Some professions will give you more opportunities than others.
(Insert IRS joke here)

When people don't know you well, they don't understand where you are coming from and perceive you through a different lens. What you say as a joke to a stranger may come across as an unkind criticism with a grin.

More than once, when in a situation I just couldn't fix, I have gone to God with my hurts and received healing from Him, but last night He gave me more insight.

Sometimes, perhaps, that person is in your life because you ARE faithful. Because you DO pray. And because THEY NEED YOU.

I'll give you a minute to get up off the floor.






It is said bless those who curse you. I have been praying blessing on people who hurt me, but last night God took it further. What if I am not just to pray blessing and hope that they'll give me a peaceful day, but what if I'm to intentionally make war on their behalf?

What if the God of Heaven is asking me to unleash His armies on their enemies? And that it is BECAUSE of my faith in Him that He trusts me to be in prayer for them and to ask Him to forgive them for what they don't know they're doing???

What if God is going to work through me to bring them closer to Him?

I have asked God "why" before, but it was the wrong "why".

Don't ask, "Why God? What did I do to deserve this?"
Instead, ask, "Why God? What are You doing? What mission do you have for me in the midst of this? My humanity is totally blind to Your Hand in this situation. Please give me Your eyes. I am willing to be used."
                                               (Overcomer-Mandisa)


I tell you, this just changed my life and rocked my world last night. And at first? It stung.

Conviction rolled me over as I realized how selfishly I had been approaching this. And now? It's not overwhelming me. I've got my guns aimed at the REAL target instead of in a defensive position, trying to brace for another attack. I'm full-blaze aiming at the enemy that I share with all humans. The one who hates all that God has made. Yep. I see him now, cowering behind the smoke and mirrors.

Thank you, Lord. You are SO Good.
And, here's some of my music for the day. Enjoy! (What a Beautiful Name-Hillsong)


Love,
Tammy

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Refine: Five Minute Friday

This week's Five Minute Friday linkup is like every week. We write with a timer and publish our rough draft as a final offering. We then link up and comment on the person before us. Every time, I am blessed and encouraged by what others write on the same word. Sometimes it's a rhyme, sometimes it's free-form poetry, sometimes it's a beautiful anecdote, and sometimes it's a raw, vulnerable snapshot of life in its fullest.
The community is faith-based and we bond over one word a week. Join us, won't you? Here's Kate's link.

This week's word?

Refine.

Go!

For many of us, the thought of refining does not conjure up comfort. And in seasons of refining, it's dually unpleasant. Not only are you being held in fire hotter than you can physically stand, (You are a molten puddle instead of a solid object) but you are also seeing impurities float to the surface before they're removed.

Not many things are uglier than your own sins that you'd just as rather not face. Yet, God has bigger dreams for us than we can fathom. The sign of full refining is that the silver is so clean and clear that the refiner can see His own reflection in the metal. That analogy, or metaphor? Not wasted on us word-lovers.

Can people see Jesus reflected in me? What needs to be refined and removed so that it's not about Tammy anymore?

Today is January 21. I have been through a MONTH of refining and recovering and more refining and more recovering. My heart has been broken twice and my blood pressure has been from Mount Everest to the Dead Sea and back, I think.

And yet, I am being allowed to see that it's not about me and it never has been.

We miss so often the point of refining. It's so that GOD can be GLORIFIED. What credit is it to God if we're perfect humans preaching the gospel to imperfect sinners? None.
But, if He saves imperfect humans and they spread that hope and good news to other imperfect humans? And we're redeemed but not fully perfected and we constantly need Him and mistakes are proof we are trying? And He's all about that grace, that grace...
(sorry. I abhor that pop song but my mind wandered for a second)

And, time's up.

And the end of the story? I am in a job that refines you constantly and challenges you, and I was sent an encourager who reassured me "You're doing great!" And another encourager that said she had the same experience in a challenge that I'd had and she was just as surprised. God is allowing me to be edified in the midst of this. He brought me to this to bring me through this, and it is for His credit and glory that I should pray even harder and embrace the fact that I'm enough of a threat to the enemy that he's sending attacks my way.

God is Good.
Amen.

-Tammy
(p.s. please include your linkup number or URL in your comment so I can be sure to find your post as well!)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Connect: Five Minute Friday

Writing for the Five Minute Friday linkup tonight. Over at Kate Motaung's website, we have one word we write on for five minutes every Friday. You don't edit or scrutinize. You simply write and place your offering amongst the other ones, then read other posts and comment and create community. It's delightful!

Go.
"Connect"

Funny how my mind often works. When I see a word, I think of its antonym. Tonight, when thinking of writing on 'connect', I instead thought of 'disconnect'.

And, perhaps it's because I've been feeling disconnected and longing to connect again. Every Christian will go through seasons and cycles and I don't need to add to the beautiful writings out there to detail it for you. But in my current season, it's been easy to be busy and difficult to connect in real life.

I LOVE my Five Minute Friday community and even here, I have been able, at best, to only contribute twice a month, though I will read and comment on other posts that I follow.

In our small group, we are a landing point for new couples. We get them established, plugged in, they begin to serve, and then we have to let them go. It's a little difficult to always have new people that move forward, because we just want somebody steady sometimes. We used to have that, but God showed us that the group had become stagnant and newcomers didn't have the chance to break in and be a part, so we had to disconnect.

It was awful. All the couples we had weekly updates with were still meeting and we were in a new group with people we cared for but they'd all had many memories together without us. Now WE were the new people.

It made us more sensitive both how we received and how we extended fellowship.
Truly,  sometimes you need to disconnect before you can fully connect. This is also true in our daily lives. If our devotions become a mechanical routine, a mark on the checklist, then what connection have we truly made?

"But to walk justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God."
This is where connection happens. When we focus on three little things that are really quite large, and then God connects us to Himself in depths unfathomable.

Tears, anger, joy, these are all legitimate reactions. (Read the Psalms if you don't believe me)
He embraces you through all of them. For me it's been tears lately, when I haven't felt desert dry and parched for connection, I've been weeping through my time with Him. I've been growing. And I don't have a nice setting for that. It's ugly cry every time it's hard. It was hard to learn to walk, hard to learn to drive stick shift (I couldn't have the radio on or anyone talking. Oh man, my poor husband!) and through it all, those who love me stick by my noisy huffing and puffing as I work through it and get on the other side.

Thank you for connecting with me, even tonight. I am so blessed to have your eyes on these words, affirming that I'm not the only one who feels this way.

-Tammy
{P.S. Please leave your linkup # or your url so I can read and comment back for you!}

Monday, January 2, 2017

Courage: My One Word for 2017

It's funny if you're attending school, or if you're teaching school. When you refer to "this year", you have a calendar that runs approximately September through June. And, in line with that timeline, my 2016 word, 'humble', was given to me in September 2015. I had to walk through a lot of humbling, but God is so good and has been teaching me much in that word. In July 2016, I was helping with our Vacation Bible School when a young woman in our church asked to pray with me. She believed she should pray the word Courage over me and also blew a shofar.

So, though my word began in 2016, I will carry it as best I can through 2017 as well.
This year I am a full-time teacher, and last year was my first year as a staff member instead of a substitute teacher. It was a humbling experience to be sure. And to be teaching full-time is a balancing act that requires a lot of strength. If my strength is not in the Lord (as I'm often reminded), my strength is quickly sapped and I'm left with a lot of opportunities to fail and learn.

This summer I painted Courage. He is a lion and the main character in the chapel stories I am teaching to my students on Wednesday mornings.





Now in this painting I am showing you I printed out the lion's head and used mod podge to affix it to the canvas. But during the summer, I projected that lion head onto the wall at our school and painted the mural. That lion is our mascot. I had no idea that I would be using him as my personal emblem of courage!
Our old logo

covered

primed

new gray background

projection for tracing

the paper is 8.5 x 11 (to give perspective)

all traced and with part of the painting begun

most of the painting filled in-first coat

My blessed teacher friend, Jessica, who helped me finish the second coat in every place that needed it

Our God is the Lion, the Lion of Judah.

As you enter 2017, perhaps you are feeling lowly or lacking in fervor. Let me share with you the first verse of courage he shared with me yesterday.

Jeremiah 20:11
"But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten." (NIV)

As I walk this year in courage, I also feel the word strength flowing through it. Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord! (https://youtu.be/yubLGTOcm8c)

His humble servant,
Tammy