Because I Said So…

Because I said so.

When I type the words above, the first thing I think of is that my teachers always told me to never start a sentence with because. Then I actually start to think about the words themselves and the times I’ve heard them either spoken to me or when I’ve felt entitled to speak them to my students, and my blood starts boiling a bit.

I’d say that as a child, those are 4 of the most aggravating words to hear…but as an adult, the “Why??” that comes before them can be just as infuriating. I’m sure we’ve all been on the receiving or giving end of these words at one point or another in our lives.

I know I’m guilty of using those words myself in moments of utter frustration when I feel that my students are asking silly questions as to why they have to doing something that we’ve either done ALL year or when in my mind the thing I’ve asked them to do is obviously for their own good or protection!

While I know this isn’t a great response to give kids, I read Luke 5:1-11 and I realized that Jesus had these “Because I said so” moments too…and he still does with us when we are constantly questioning and asking why when He clearly gives us guidance or direction.

To be clear, Jesus wasn’t sassy or frustrated with the person with whom He was speaking, but rather, He wanted to take the burden off of the person, and have them trust Him because ultimately, He was looking out for their best interest. While it may not come across that way, that IS the same desire I have for my students too. I want them to trust me, to know I have their best interest at heart, and to know that I am working to protect them.

Here is the passage of scripture…There is a lot we can learn from it about trusting God when He tells us to do things and we feel like asking “Why?” and cross our fingers that the answer won’t be those 4 words-that-shall-not-be-mentioned again. We want answers, but we don’t always get an explanation. Sometimes we just have to TRUST and know that God has our protection and future in His hands, and He wants us to be obedient to ALL that He asks us to do. He does not want us to be obedient only to the things that are easy or only to the things that make the most sense to us.

Luke 5: 1-11:

The first thing I see happen in the story is that Jesus, as He was teaching a crowd, noticed two men who were washing their nets after fishing. I imagine He saw the frustration on their faces and the discouragement of catching no fish that day and I think it’s so powerful that He sees them and goes to talk to them even though (or maybe even because) He had a captivated audience already that He was in the middle of teaching. He didn’t need more people to teach, but He saw two men in need, and He went to them. I imagine Jesus even looking over, seeing them washing their nets and thinking, “Why are they giving up??” That brings me hope because these last few weeks have been hard at school, but I find solace knowing that God sees me. He sees me when I am discouraged and disheartened and He comes to comfort and help me, just as He did for these men. He doesn’t want me to give up just because I’ve deemed the last few weeks as unsuccessful.

But He doesn’t stop there. After Jesus approached them, He got into their boat and the first thing He did was just sit there and be with them as He continued to teach. He didn’t immediately ask Simon to throw his net out, He first asked him to just leave the shore. I think that’s a beautiful picture of our lives again and how Jesus meets us where we are. He doesn’t drag us out and demand things of us, He gently and lovingly takes us by the hand and walks with us step by step. He guides us the whole way and knows exactly what we need at each step.

After leaving the shore, He tells Simon to let down the nets again. Now we know that Simon had just cleaned his nets, which wouldn’t have been an easy job and we also know that he just had an unsuccessful night of fishing, so it makes sense when he reminds Jesus that they’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing… implying that it literally makes no sense for him to throw out his net! EVEN with that being true, immediately after he says that, He says, “But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” THAT is Jesus’ “Because I said so” moment…What great faith Simon had! As Simon lets the nets down, the story says that “This time their nets were so full of fish that the nets began to tear.” There were so many fish in his net that he had to call for help and BOTH boats end up being filled with fish and are so full in fact, that they’re almost sinking!

So, the question I’ve asked myself, and the question I ask you today is this: Where do you see yourself in this story?

Do you keep pulling up an empty net? Are you sitting on the shore feeling discouraged and like giving up? Are you weary and frustrated as you feel like you are facing constant failures? Know that God sees you. Just as He saw Simon, He sees you too and He cares about you.

Are you about to leave the shore? Know that God is with you and that small steps matter. God is with you every step of the way and all of your small steps will add up.

Are you taking your boat into deeper waters? Are you ready to throw your net even when it doesn’t make sense? Know that God is proud of your courage and your trust in Him. He is a protector. He will guide you every step of the way…have faith and be obedient!

Are you coming back from the deep waters with a net full of fish? Know that God is proud of your obedience. Continue to dare to be obedient and when times of trial do come, stay the course and trust God.

No matter where you see yourself in the story, one thing is clear to me. We can’t let our “But why??” keep us from trusting God. Let’s be willing and filled with courage to say, “If you say so, I will…” just like Simon did! Persevere. Trust God and be faithful. Do what He tells you to do even if it doesn’t make sense to you in the moment.

For me, I am on the shore sitting there staring at my dirty net thinking, I don’t even feel like cleaning this. I see myself with slouched shoulders, sand everywhere, not even caring that I am dirty. The one thing I know is that I am tired and that I am discouraged. This story serves as a reminder to me today that I cannot expect every “net” that I cast out to be a success, but that also doesn’t mean that I should give up. I am choosing today to remember that Jesus is with me on the shore. He sees me and just like He did with Simon, He comes over to me, He walks me over to my boat, we get into the water, and I will come back up with fish. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow…but I will keep pressing on, because Jesus told me to…

This song has brought me encouragement too. ..I relate to it all, especially the wanting to lock the door and hide away. The lyrics inspire me to keep going on bad days because as the song says, “A single battle lost, but not the war.”

Tomorrow is another day!

Our Temporary Home

Today is a special day for Ed, Maverick and I as we are celebrating our 1-year house-a-versary!! Yes, I completely made that word up and my computer has put a little red squiggly under it, trying to tell me I’m wrong, but I am going with it!

Our home the day we bought it, no grass…just lots and lots of dirt…truly a cleaning nightmare!! Haha

As we’ve been coming up on this day, I’ve thought of what this house has meant to us in the last year, and I can’t help but feel so thankful! When I think of our house, the first things that come to mind are blankets, our fluffy dog (basically another blanket), coffee, ice cream, family and friends, lots of board games, and a sense of joy and warmth. Part of that is from the environment we’ve set up in our house, with endless blankets, the Keurig always flowing, and the doors always open for anyone who is willing to walk into our crazy, but another part of that is the people who grace the walls of our home with their presence.

Mostly, I am so thankful that our house is a place that I long for and always look forward to coming home to because I know that is something that not everyone has. I was reminded of Psalm 23, as I think it captures well what our home means to me…

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Our home is a place of rest. A place of renewal, where we can connect with God and be led by Him to refresh our souls, because life ain’t always easy. When we have hard days or go through those dark valleys, we can be at peace knowing He is with us. He wants to comfort us. He blesses us and is close beside us, protecting and comforting us all along the way…and our home is a place where all of those things can happen and where we can remind ourselves of those truths. What really got me as I sat here reading was the last verse of Psalm 23…

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While our house here on Earth is a blessing and a place of comfort and joy, we have an even better home waiting for us…Heaven. God has given us an even greater gift than our Earthly home, He has given us the gift of eternal life and security with Him in HEAVEN. The beauty of what Heaven will look like and be like is unfathomable to us, it is going to be even greater than we could ever imagine and far better than any home we will have here on Earth. So, while I am thankful for our Earthly home today, I am even more thankful for my Heavenly Father and that I will get to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. I will celebrate and be thankful for the blessing of a home, but I will be sure to remember that this is just our temporary home, and a small glimpse of what Heaven will be like. All the things of the Earth, including our homes, will not last… What joy awaits us when we get to the gates of Heaven and can run into the arms of our loving Father to spend eternity with Him! THAT is what will last.

My Mom and I have always been big fans of Carrie Underwood and I was reminded of her song as I wrote this. I posted it and some of the lyrics below…give it a listen if you have time and have your tissues ready…it is a real tear-jerker!!

This is my temporary home
It’s not where I belong
Windows in the rooms, that I’m passing through
This was just a stop
On the way to where I’m goin’

I’m not afraid because I know
This is my, temporary home

The Waiting Game…

Something so lost in our society today is the ability to wait. We are so used to getting everything so quickly, with Amazon packages on our doorstep within 2 days of ordering, food coming right out of the drive-thru window within a few minutes with hardly any work on our part, and possibly the worst instigator of all in our inability to wait…social media, where everything happens in an instant.  Even waiting in lines or being in traffic bores us to death or even aggravates us and gets our blood pressure boiling way quicker than it should. We’ve lost the art of waiting. So, it’s no surprise, that when we have to wait for an answer or face big life decisions and we don’t come up with a solution or find an answer right away, we struggle hard!

I’ve personally experienced this in my own life in many ways: waiting for high school to end, waiting to get my degree to start teaching, waiting for Ed to propose, then waiting for our wedding, then waiting to get our house, then waiting to fill our house with furniture…We are always waiting, waiting, waiting…which has led me to wonder, how do we wait well in times when we haven’t yet gotten an answer or solution to a long-waited problem or question we’ve asked God?  

In thinking of waiting, I was reminded of the story of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis. God told Abraham and Sarah that they would have a baby, which seems rational, except for the fact that Abraham and Sarah were old. In fact, because they were old, they had a hard time believing this could really happen or even be possible. The Bible says in Genesis 17:17 that “Abraham bowed down to the ground but laughed to himself in disbelief” when God first told him the news. We keep reading to find out in Genesis 21:1 that “The Lord kept His word and did for Sarah exactly what He had promised” and in 21:2 that “…it happened at exactly the time God said it would.” By the time they had their baby, Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90! I think it’s safe to say that nobody would’ve thought they’d have a baby, but God does what He says He will do.

As I’ve pondered the question of how we wait well…I think that we’re left with 2 choices…

  1. Believe God and wait in PEACE for His timing. Continue to seek God’s wisdom and guidance while you wait and try to find the joy and God in the waiting.
  2. Don’t believe God and live with worry, anxiety, and the danger of possibly trying to make things happen yourself on your own timeline which can lead to brokenness and hurt He never intended to be in your life.

So practically, what does waiting well and looking for wisdom or guidance look like then?? I think it’s easy to read those two options and think okay, easy enough, but when put into practice and while in the midst of waiting, it can feel a lot more complicated than a simple option 1 and option 2.

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Proverbs 24 gives a clearer picture of how to do these things.  In verses 3-4 it talks about the idea that “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established.”  So right away, we need to recognize that before we see or realize the whole situation (and even if we never do), we need to seek wisdom in order to “build our house”, or in this case, make a decision.  Well, how do we do that?  Verse 6 says “…victory is won through many advisors”.  We get wisdom in 2 different practical ways…

  1. By seeking God through prayer and reading the Bible every day
  2. By talking to people in our lives that we trust and love who can help us use discernment to make decisions

When we do these things, verse 14 says that “Wisdom is like honey for [us]: If [we] find it, there is a future hope for [us], and [our] hope will not be cut off.” 

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So first, we seek wisdom, then as we gain more wisdom, we begin to get a better understanding, which will eventually lead to knowledge and treasures as we see God’s plans fulfilled within our lives…in other words, as we wait and seek God, He will slowly (but surely) give us wisdom, peace, and guidance on HIS timeline. We’re able to wait and have peace while waiting BECAUSE of our relationship with God, our trust in Him, and because of our relationship with others who can encourage us, pray for us, and be a comfort…because let’s be real…waiting is hard!

I think that one of the most important things I’ve learned in waiting is that as much as I wish it wasn’t, the old saying I’m sure we’ve all heard is so true…good things take time. 

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At my best friend’s wedding in which I had the privilege of being her Maid of Honor, my speech talked about her season of waiting before marriage. It was no secret to anyone that knew her well that she was so excited to get proposed to and married to her man that waiting became very difficult for her. In her waiting, she faithfully led a Bible study, sensibly called, “Wait and See”. I joined her study even though at the time I wasn’t really waiting on anything, but mainly just because I wanted to be her friend. We’d spend hours together after Bible studies sitting in our cars, dreaming of our future weddings, homes, kids, and anything in between…it probably didn’t help the waiting very much now that I think about it 🙂 I treasure those heartfelt conversations to this day, and she is my very best friend for reasons just like that. She is real, honest, and a dreamer. Even with those conversations waiting was very hard. BUT, I can tell you that when her wedding day came (because it did!!!) it was such a joyful, beautiful day and I’d argue that it was BECAUSE there was so much waiting and anticipation around it. The waiting actually made it even more special and there was so much joy that could be found in the journey and in the fact that the moment was finally here. It was surreal.

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I couldn’t wrap this up without mentioning one more verse from Proverbs 24 which is pictured above. It says that “A righteous man falls seven times and rises up again; but the wicked are overthrown by calamity.” As a follower of Christ, this verse is SO encouraging because we can know that we WILL fail in our waiting. We are human and we are so shaped by our society which idolizes everything happening in an instant. So, it’s okay if you have a bad day, get so frustrated over waiting, or just find it plain hard to wait. The Bible says we will get back up, so give yourself grace!

The truth is, we will always be waiting for something or trying to make some decision, so the best thing we could possibly do is to learn to seek God in the midst of our waiting, to ask him for peace and guidance, and to surround ourselves with community and people who love us and can go with us on this journey called life.

So, let’s embrace the art of waiting. Let’s look to waiting as an essential part of the journey! You never know how God is growing you or using your waiting to draw you closer to Him. God wants us to draw near to Him and to trust that He will do what He said He would do. He is faithful and His timing is best…just wait and see 🙂

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The Protection of Peace

A word that I’ve noticed coming up a lot lately, especially with the Christmas season upon us, is peace.

Advent Day 22 Let there Be Peace on Earth – My Radical Life

As this word peace keeps coming up, I’ve been thinking a lot about it. As Philippians 4:7 and many other verses in the Bible tell us, peace is something that we always have access to and it is something that God desires us to have!

As I read the verse above a few days ago, what stood out to me was that the peace of God will “guard [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus.” Peace is not just something we can “have”, it is something that we NEED! Peace is something God gives us as a guard to protect our heart and our mind from anything happening around or in us!

While that did impact me and make me realize the importance of peace, it still seemed like a pretty abstract idea until I was reading about Moses and the burning bush in Exodus 3 this morning and that’s what I’d like to share with you today.

Exodus 3, starts with Moses taking his father-in-law’s flocks far out into the wilderness. While he is tending to the flocks, he sees a blazing fire in a bush and is amazed to see that even though the bush is on fire, it is not burning up! He stares at it in utter amazement and decides that he HAS to go and investigate because it’s such an amazing, inexplicable event. As he walks towards the bush the Lord (who is in the burning bush) sees him coming and calls out to him saying, “Moses! Moses!”. Moses replies, “Here I am!” and I wonder if, at this point, Moses is thinking he’s completely lost his marbles…or if he is dehydrated and seeing things!! God goes on to tell Moses His plan to deliver His people, the Israelites from Egypt and he gives the full details of how He will do this, by using Moses.

Missiology Through Scripture – Exodus 3:7-10 | The Pettengills

As I was thinking about peace and it being protection, I had many thoughts running through my mind that I’d like to layout. First, I thought it was profound that Moses had this incredible encounter with God, but in order for it to happen, he had to be in a space where God to speak to Him AND where he could hear Him. So as it states, Moses went far out into the wilderness, and part of me wonders if he was drawing himself away in solitude in order to have an encounter with God. Obviously, that’s something we may never know, but I do believe that to hear from God we need to position ourselves to be able to hear, which partly involves going out into the “wilderness” or quiet, away from the world and busyness of life.

The second thing that I thought of was the burning bush and how it can represent our lives. I love the fact that God himself, as the text states, was IN the blazing fire! Often, I think our lives can feel like a dumpster fire when we’re having bad days or facing hard times, but how beautiful a picture to know that God is still with us amidst our trials. He is right there with us in the fire. But even more than that, our lives or “fires” should be something that people are drawn to, just as Moses was so drawn to the burning bush…

People should look at our lives and be drawn to us. They should WANT to come and see how we can live with such peace, despite what we are going through. As my pastor always says, our lives should look so different, that people HAVE to ask what makes the difference. So that is the beauty of our stories and testimonies. God uses the hard things we go through to draw others to Himself, just as He drew Moses in.

So, I’m left to thinking, what a beautiful picture this story is of the peace that God desires for us and of HOW we can access that peace. We must seek after God, look for Him, pray, and diligently or intentionally go into the quiet. Then, He will make His presence known and we can be at peace, knowing that He is with us through all things. He will lead us, guide us, and give us direction, encouragement, or whatever we need, just as He did with Moses.

The peace I give

May peace be something that we carry with us not just this holiday season, but throughout the entire year…When times are good and when times get tough. When there are things to celebrate and when there are things to grieve. Let God’s peace and His presence be your protection. Rather than being consumed by anxiety and worry, pray for God to fill you with His peace and to protect you and remind you that His peace is something you can have, no matter what is going on, because true peace is found in trusting God and knowing He is in control of ALL things and with you at ALL times.

God’s Order: Gift of the Sabbath

Ed and I have been trying to implement a Sabbath day into our weekly routine. Even just typing that now feels so forced…implement, like it is something so against our usual nature. Well, that’s because, as it turns out, it IS 🙂

You see, I have this problem. I am well aware of my problem, but I still haven’t seemed to work through it. I worry. A whole lot. I struggle to take life one day at a time like God commands and desires me to do. I’m always preparing for the “next” thing with hopes of preserving some time for rest or with hopes of having a sense of feeling “caught up”. But the reality is, I never reach the rest, and the feeling of being caught up sticks around long enough for me to sit down for a minute before the next thing beckons for my attention and I’m right back to where I began.

So, the order I seem to desire for myself is anxiety, hurry, and worry. I put so much pressure on myself to get everything done, that I never actually get to rest or have a TRUE Sabbath day.

Sabbath days are not supposed to be filled with any kind of work. We are to only do things that fill us and help our minds, hearts, and souls focus back on God. It is a gift that God desires for us to use to re-center ourselves on Him. To find rest, solitude, and peace. But I find myself making excuses because this is an uncomfortable place for me to be…Okay, I can just do this one thing. It’ll make me happy if I clean the kitchen. If I clear my emails. If I check Facebook and get all caught up. When I know for a fact, none of those things bring me true joy and none of those things bring me closer to God. In fact, they bring me closer only to anxiety, frustration, and stress. The exact opposite of what God desires my Sabbath day to be.

I know these things to be true, yet I STILL have such a hard time letting go. Of embracing the gift that a Sabbath day is. Of taking time to pray, to sit, to listen, to worship.

So I’ve come to realize that my idea of order and God’s idea of order are very different…

My order looks like this (get ready to be stressed out!)…clean house, lesson plans done, emails all responded to, bills all paid, food cooked and prepped for the week, dog fed, walked, and tired out, laundry all done, bed made, everything put back in its “home”, caught up on social media, all texts and calls responded to, all chores done, not a speck of dust anywhere in the house, not a crumb on the floor, candles lit, and the list goes on. Sitting here typing all of that I realize, that is nearly impossible. I’ve done it all at once a few times, but I find myself constantly trying to keep up, keep up, keep up. So here’s what my “Sabbath” day ends up looking like…

*Sits down to read the book I’ve been “trying” to read for 2 months called (ironically), “Fight Hustle, End Hurry”*

4 minutes pass. 3 pages in. Dang, I read slower than I thought…it’s been a while.

Uh-oh, I just got an email. Gotta respond real quick so I can keep that box checked and still be all caught up on my emails.

I get up to get a drink of water. Gotta stay hydrated!

Yikes, crackers on the floor, let me clean it up real quick so I can still say the floors are clean! Hmmm while I’m up let me just look at my phone real quick (even though technology on the Sabbath is a no-no for me!!). Oh…my Mom just called, I’ll call her back really quick, it’s probably important!

Okay, back to reading. *Reads 4 more pages.*

*Makes mental to-do list of all the things I will have to do tomorrow to “catch up”*

Well, maybe I should just scratch this idea and keep working, or tomorrow will be really stressful…

So, the rest never comes when I strive after the order that I desire for my life. It’s almost laughable when I write it all out because it’s SO obvious why I have a lack of peace and feel so much worry and anxiety. The thing is that it’s so easy to justify this way of living too! I want to be a good wife. I want to be a good daughter. A good sister, teacher, cousin, friend, steward of my body, dog owner, mentor, writer. But what good can I be when I’m constantly focused on what do I need to do next to maintain “perfection” in all these areas, when the list will NEVER end?? And what am I missing out on? Time with GOD. The only one who can bring me true peace. The only one who can actually help me be good at anything He has called me to do.

What I’ve come to realie this week as I’ve grappled with my struggle to experience a true Sabbath day is that: God’s idea of “order” for my life is different that my idea of “order”.

His order for my life is to rest and be still. To trust that He has given me enough for the day and that all will be well and ready to receive me back the next day when my Sabbath is over. That’s it. Just those things! And how much I prefer that list. So much shorter, so much easier. Easier in a sense that I just get to spend time with Him and trust that nothing will fall apart without me for 24 hours. I don’t have to work, work, and work. And by the end of my Sabbath time, I can peacefully step back into whatever He calls me to do, THAT is the ultimate difference.

Yes, God desires me to be a good friend, daughter, teacher, wife, etc. But He also desires for me to take care of myself the way He has commanded me to, which requires a Sabbath, as both a gift and a command in Scripture…Not a fake Sabbath where I say I am resting, but I’m really not. A true Sabbath where I only do things that fill me.

God’s order is better than the “order” I desire for myself. I realize that I constantly make the mistake of believing I can do more with 7 days than God can do with 6, but I know that is not true.

I’m left with a choice. Do I want to be anxious about order and cleanliness, or do I want to trust, let go, and receive the gift of the Sabbath and the rest that I know I need?

If God, the Creator of all things took time to rest, then we definitely need to do the same.

Attitude of Gratitude

After getting to spend a weekend hiking and immersed in nature, I am feeling refreshed. I adore all of the colors of fall and being outside, so a little camping trip was just what I needed. Ed and I spent yesterday getting everything in order at home after camping, so I woke up this morning feeling excited to tackle the day.

Since we went camping, I’ve been noticing the small things more. On a walk yesterday, I noticed the trees in our neighborhood are vibrant hues of red and yellow. That my mum outside is blooming. How Maverick cuddle up next to me this morning. How the smell of waffles in the morning is so yummy.

So I was inspired to continue this positive thought pattern and keep a list of hourly gratitudes today. Each hour today I will write down ONE thing I am thankful for, one thing that went well, or one thing I notice that hour…and I hope to involve my students too to encourage them to see the good in today…because honestly, who doesn’t need help with that on a Monday??

If you feel so inspired, I’d love for you to join me too and create your own hourly list of gratitudes…let’s propel ourselves into this week with positivity and thankfulness!

Pin on Art

4am: I am thankful I woke up 8 minutes before my alarm went off…waking up without an alarm is the best feeling!

5am: I am grateful Ed and I got to spend time together this morning reading our devotional and we had plenty of time to get it done without feeling rushed.

6am: I am glad I got to walk Maverick 2.3 miles this morning to get myself some physical activity and to get him so physical activity since Ed and I will be at work all day.

Taking the Long Route: What’s Your Egpyt?

Exodus 14:14" Poster by LexisofRVAarts | Redbubble

This morning was one of those times where a verse just spoke RIGHT to my heart as I was reading the story of the Israelites leaving their captivity in Egypt and crossing the Red Sea. After being slaves in Egypt for over 430 years, the Israelites are finally leaving and no longer slaves…something they’d been praying and pleading for for SO many years! I saw myself in the story as the Israelites and could relate to their struggle to trust God and not be overcome with fear, anxiety, and the need for control and comfort as they stepped into this new thing God was leading them into. I have the tendency, in all areas of life, to “tighten” the reins, start to worry, and speedily re-gain control any time I feel I am beginning to lose it. So the reminder to be still, in Exodus 14:14, pictured above, was so convicting and assuring to me…I wanted to share that with you this morning with hopes it encourages you as it did me.

ONE of the most visible area this constant struggle for control plays out in my life (because sadly there are many other areas too!) is in my classroom. I am so quick to jump on any behaviors to keep the order and peace. At times, this is a good thing, but at other times, it completely steals my peace as I start freaking out and figuring out how I can fix it…what if I do this? What if I move that person here? I’ll take recess. I’ll call home. I have an endless list of strategies and when I’m most stressed, I use them ALL at once which creates such an anxious space within my own heart, and within the hearts and minds of my students as well.

Now, let’s get back to the Israelites…When the Israelites first left Egypt, Exodus 13: 17 says, “God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.” This was the first place I could relate. I thought of my own journey in life and how many times I’ve had to take the “long route” and I began to wonder how many times those longer routes were actually protection from God and an opportunity not only to grow, but to trust Him and His timing. How beautiful that our Creator knows us so well and desires to protect us, even if it means re-directing us on a longer route to get to His final goal for us. Sometimes, the longer route is protection!

I can personally say that I feel like I am currently on the longer route in regards to my career. I’ve struggled so much with teaching, something I never thought I would struggle with but God is beginning to bless me with the ability to see all the different areas He has been growing and strengthening me THROUGH this longer route. I can say with great certainty that without these years of struggling with teaching, I wouldn’t be as nearly as close to God as I am. I wouldn’t pray as much. I wouldn’t notice His presence as much in my life. I’d rely more on myself than on Him and be more confident in my own abilities, rather than knowing HE is the one who gave me this gift and everything I need to be successful at my job. He’s taught me how to be obedient. How to seek guidance from Him and to step into action with the direction He gives me, even when it’s not what my heart wants at that time. To be at peace, even when chaos surrounds me. To look for the blessings and things I have to be grateful for when nothing seems to be going my way. I cry just thinking about these things because it’s been such a journey and such a struggle at times, but I am so thankful I have held on and continued to press on with His help or I would have missed out on so many blessings.

That doesn’t mean I have perfect days every day or that I don’t falter, but I’m realizing all the things this longer route has taught me. I still believe I’m on this long route, and who knows when it will come to an end, or if it even will, but I know that God is with me all along the way, just as He was with the Israelites…

Exodus 13: 21-22 says that as they were on this longer route, “The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and He provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. And the Lord did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people.”

The Pillar of Cloud and The Pillar of Fire (videos) - Torrevieja Christian  Fellowship | TCF-Spain

And I believe the Lord does the same for us today. He lights our path, protects us from our enemies (including our own selves), provides us with assurance of His presence, and leads us on all of our “routes” of life, which ultimately, he uses to lead use to true freedom, just as it did for the Israelites.

So as God is continues to lead the Israelites, Pharaoh suddenly decides that he can’t believe he let the Israelites leave Egypt and not be his slaves anymore. The Bible says he regretted his decision and changed his mind, so he resolved to chase after the Israelites and to bring them back to be slaves. He brings his entire army and starts to chase after the Israelites, who when they see the army, start to freak out.

SCRIPTURE READING. - ppt download

I realized after reading that, that we are JUST like the Israelites. Anytime we face opposition or hard times, we doubt. We get upset. We question God and wonder if we misunderstood His plan. At this point, the Israelites are so discouraged they are even willing to go back to SLAVERY rather than have to face a challenge, even when God has made His presence, protection, and promise to deliver them so apparent by bringing them out of Egypt and slavery in the first place! How quickly we forget…

On our journey, we WILL face attacks too, just like the Israelites did. That is because we have an enemy. While God desires freedom for us from our own “Egypt”, Satan desires us to be held in bondage or slavery, just like the Israelites were. When we start to step into freedom, satan realizes that he is losing his hold on us and he starts to chase after us, just like Pharaoh did with the Israelites. It’s in those moments that we have to have faith. We have to stand still, to trust God, to know HE has us and will protect us. We have to fight the desire to go back to “Egypt”…whatever your Egypt may be.

And that’s where the verse I first shared comes in. Moses’ response to the people’s doubt and fear baffles me. He tells them in Exodus 14: 13, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” And if you read on, the Lord does just that. He parts the Red Sea so the Israelites can walk through, and just as the Egyptians are trying to go through as well, the water recedes back and all the Egyptians are swept away.

It broke my heart to read Exodus 14: 24 where even the Egyptians realize that “The Lord is fighting for [the Israelites] against Egypt.” It took a miracle not only for the Egyptians to realize God’s power, but for the Israelites to believe too. They didn’t trust or believe until AFTER the miracle in Exodus 14:31 where it says, “When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that the Lord had unleashed against the Egyptians, they were filled with awe before Him. They put their faith in the Lord and in his servant Moses.”

It’s sad to think that it took ANOTHER miracle for them to believe when God had rescued them from slavery in the first place AND He had physically been with them and guiding them on their journey…but then I realized that the same is true of us today too. How often do we doubt and distrust God, when He is right here with us all the time and when He has already saved us from our “Egypt” or things that held us in bondage? He desires freedom for all of us, but that journey to freedom isn’t always easy. It will be full of trials and challenges, because we have an enemy who so badly wants us to not experience the freedom God wants for us. But nothing can keep us from God. He will fight our battles for us! So don’t give up on whatever God has shown you He is doing or working on in your life. Keep going and trust the journey. It may be longer than you hoped, but there are so many blessings along the way, and what greater blessing than the Lord himself and to have a relationship with Him…

I feel like there is so much more I could say, but I’m going to wrap it up here. If you have any other insights, revelations, or comments I’d love to hear them! I hope you have a great day!

The Mondayest of Mondays

I’ve been marinating on this post for a while now as the words have sat in my journal, but other things have been consuming my time. I woke up this morning, grumpy as could be on a Monday, so writing this post is a reminder and declaration over my own life as today feels like the day I need to write this post as it’s the Mondayest of Mondays yet. I hope it encourages you and propels you into a peaceful Monday!

John 16:33 says that in this world, we WILL have trouble. While that guarantee can be discouraging, God promises us so many other things too that we often forget about or overlook when going through hard times because we let the troubles overtake us.

The Bible says that when troubles come, we can still have peace…God does not desire for us to feel anxious. He wants us to trust Him no matter what is happening around us. To pray. To see Him as our protector. He wants to give us peace! As we ask for His peace to fill us, we can move forward and stand firm even during trials and storms.

Bible Verses About Peace To Help During Uncertainty | Compassion UK

Satan, on the other hand, wants to take our peace because when we live our lives without peace, we instead live lives full of frustration, anger, bitterness, and envy…all of which flows out and destroys our relationships. Satan wants to control our hearts and our minds. our friendships, our careers, our marriages, and any other area in our life in which we can influence others to know and have an intimate relationship with God. His goal is for trials and troubles to overtake us so we feel so helpless that we give up!

We have to fight that, and one of the ways we can do that is by praying to God for peace and by asking Him to change our feelings to line up with what He desires for us. Our emotions can be so misleading if we use them to direct our actions throughout the day…especially if you’re feeling grumpy like I am. I know that I need to be stable internally, which can only happen when I pursue God. This will help me to be levelheaded and not swayed by the shifting circumstances around me, because as a teacher, I know that challenges WILL come my way today and I need to be prepared to respond and not react.

So, I am moving into today stabilizing my heart, my mind, and my emotions. I am asking God to fill me with the Holy Spirit and to help me to exude love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control today. I’m choosing to pray and be thankful for another day that I get to make an impact on my students. I will not let anxiety, selfishness, or frustration take a hold of my mind and direct me into a miserable day.

I am enough because I rely on God and HE is enough. He fills me with everything I need to accomplish the tasks He has set out before me today. Please be my guide today, Lord and fill me with your peace and the awareness of your presence in my life.

Peace in the Eye of the Storm - In the Middle of the Mess Video

Emphatic Prayer

I was going through our wedding photos this morning to finally have them printed and I was so moved by one of the photos. It’s not the first time I’d seen it, but it hit me differently as I noticed and was moved by the people in it and what they were doing…

As Ed and I went about planning our wedding, we tried really hard to always remember that the main purpose of our wedding ceremony was to honor God, recognize the gift of marriage that He has given us, and to publicly declare our commitment to serve God together as we go about the rest of our years here on Earth. So we decided to do two things during our ceremony to ensure that that happened…1) a candle lighting ceremony and 2) a time of prayer.

At the beginning of our wedding, our Moms started the candle lighting ceremony as they both lit a taper candle. My Mom lit my candle and Ed’s Mom lit his candle. Later on, Ed and I each took our individual candles and lit a shared, larger candle, as we blew out the individual ones…symbolizing the two of us now becoming one. I love that our Mom’s got to light our candles. It’s so beautifully symbolic of their influence in our lives as they each poured so much into us to help us become who we are today…but that’s a story for another day 🙂

After Ed and I lit our unity candle, we invited our family and friends to come and pray over us. It was a powerful moment, with heads bowed, hands reached out to touch us, soft smiles, tears, and focused prayers. But what got me when I looked back at the photo was the reaching. It’s hard to see if you just buzz past the photo like I did, but if you look more closely, my Dad and my Grandma are both further back but reaching out to be able to lay hands on us and pray for our marriage. It really moved me to think that it was so important to them not just to pray for us, but to have their hands on us while they prayed.

It reminded me of Jesus. It reminded me of how deeply He desires to reach out and touch us and our lives. No matter far away we stray, He will always be there, reaching, if we stop to look back to see Him. We can never get too far away from Him to reach us.

The other reason it reminds me of Jesus is because in the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus often laid His hands on people as He prayed for them. He’d lay hands on the sick to heal them and on children to bless them. More than that, the laying of hands was a way to recognize new leadership or to commission new callings and to pass on blessings to people as they began a new work or ministry…and that is exactly what we did that day and why this photo will continue to bless me every time I see it and that is why I will treasure it in my heart and remember the blessings poured out upon us on our wedding day so intentionally and purposefully.

It is a reminder of the power of prayer. May we pray emphatically and with purpose and intention, each and every day. There is A NEED to pray over people every day. Prayer gives us a visible, tangible, and powerful experience with God. I’m so thankful for prayer and that God has given us a way to communicate with Him because He loves us so much. I’m so thankful that He has given us a way to feel His power and love as He reaches out for us.

I know I’ll be spending time in prayer today. It’s something I often put off, but God’s been teaching me a lot lately about making myself available to Him, and one of the main ways to do that is through prayer. One of my favorite songs is called Talking to Jesus by Elevation Worship. It’s such a beautiful, simple, and powerful song about how to pray. Let’s start there today…<3

Fighting Hurry, Staying Grounded

I’ve started a new thing now that I have a longer commute where I listen to one podcast each morning to help the time go by more quickly. Yesterday, I started a new podcast called “Fight Hustle, End Hurry”. It was so timely and convicting…if you have time you should 100% listen to it, especially if you struggle with busyness or hurry in your life like I do. There were so many things said in the podcast that resonated with me and made me think about the way I live my life, specifically this week as I have so much to do and such little time to do it with school starting Thursday and trying to get my classroom all set up.

Fight Hustle, End Hurry | Podcast on Spotify

They talked in the podcast about how Christians today desire to be like Jesus, but have no desire to live at the same pace that Jesus did. He lived a life that was full, but not too full… and I’d argue, full of the “right” things as He went about His day with purpose, but He also left room for what we would see as or call “interruptions” today. Our desire to get so much done, leaves no space for what GOD wants to do in our lives and what HE wants us to do because we’re so focused on what WE think we need to do. I grappled with this thought and asked God, “Why is it not good that I want things in my life to be orderly & taken care of?? Isn’t that what you desire as well?” I felt like in that moment He told me that all of those things ARE in fact good and the Lord does desire order for our lives and for us to steward what He gives us, but that what He truly desires is for us to be present. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being present…and often when I am striving to be “perfect” (which will never actually happen), I am not present.

My thoughts become unfocused as I am thinking in the back of my mind of all that I have left to get done for the day. That is not what God desires. PEOPLE should be my priority and “hurry” is the enemy of me being able to actually live that principle out in my life. So I went into school yesterday, ready to focus on people, building relationships, and getting done what I feasibly could, without letting that become my sole focus.

I did not get much done, but I DID have conversations and I did remind myself to keep focused on the actual goal, which is to love people. There were many times throughout the day I had to “catch my thoughts” so to speak, and re-align them to what God wanted me to think. BUT I do believe that this is the first step in making change in our lives, as we have to be aware of what we are thinking and able to stop before we can change our thoughts!

Fast-forward to this morning…I woke up this morning feeling hyper-focused and ready to speed through my morning routine to get to the building ASAP and get started. As I made my coffee I started reading my short devotional for the morning which is titled “My positive thoughts create my world.” I knew right upon reading the title that it was going to be exactly what I needed…and it sure was!

It talked about how we create our lives by the power of our thoughts. We can choose prosperity, peace, and wholeness, even when we experience things like discord, lack, and illness. The goal is not to dwell on those things, but instead, to turn our thoughts to to the truth and what God says. He says that peace is ours. That He will supply our needs. He will direct my steps and help me to accomplish what He wants me to get done today, in His power and that He will be with me at every step today.

So I thanked God and I scrapped my plan to workout and rush out of the house, and that is why I sit here now typing this with hopes that it will inspire someone else today to turn their thoughts to God and to what HE says about you and what HE desires for you to accomplish today.

I know that I am going to fight hurry today. I am going to consciously move at the pace of Jesus, accomplishing the things I need to, but knowing that God desires me to be present, not perfect…and that is what I will be as I keep God in my thoughts and His peace in my heart. I have the ability to stay focused, positive, and at peace no matter what I face today. God has equipped me and He wants to equip you too…I love the verse below because it paints the obtaining of peace as an active process in which we have to pursue peace. It will not just fall into your lap. Actively pursue peace today. Whatever is True, Noble, Right, Pure, Lovely, Admirable,  Excelent, Praiseworthy, Think About Such Things, Phillipians 4:8 Bible  Verse Wall Art, Scripture Poster Decor, Christian Quote Gift 11x14: Posters  & Prints
Psalm 34:14 — Verse of the Day for 10/13/2013
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