I’m in a fight not physical…

April 14, 2010

Welcome Friend,

Thanks for stopping by tonight.  I’ve been needing to talk to you, but I have not made the time for it to happen.  Welcome back; it’s so good to see you.  I know you’re busy, so I’ll get right to the meat of our conversation.  That’s one of the things I like about chatting with you…we manage to pick up right where we left off.

Things have been so busy around our house lately!  How about you?  Busy too?  I can imagine!  You always have so much going on…so many things that you’re doing…that is one of the reasons that I really treasure your stopping by to chat.  You’ve taken time out of your busy schedule to spend with me.  Anyway, as I was saying, things have been so busy around here lately.  It seems that we meet ourselves coming and going.  I have felt lately that I spend a lot of my time pouring out, and very little of it getting poured into.  A big reason for that is that I manage to run and run until I have no time or energy to stop and get a re-fill.  I am reminded of the verse that reminds us to “forsake not the assembly.”  It seems to me that we need to be among like-minded believers for two main reasons…first, we need them; and second, they need us.  Tonight, it would have been so easy to go home after work, put on my jammies and crawl into bed.  I needed to rest…relax…unwind.  However, I made the choice to go with my family to Bible study tonight.  I knew that I needed re-filling.  You can only run on empty for so long.  What a blessing it was! 

We are studying the book of Romans right now, and we’re on chapter eight.  Don’t you just love how the Word of God is “living and active” in our lives?  Tonight, one of the verses in our study came to life for me.  Now, I really don’t want this to denegrate into a theological debate here, but I read verse 18 with different eyes tonight.  Verse 18 reads, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  It goes on from there to talk about creation waiting for the revealing of the sons of God and so forth.  For a moment, I’d like to focus solely on verse 18…I don’t want to take it out of context or anything, so please hear what I’m saying.  The past several weeks have been difficult to get everything done at work that I’ve needed to get done, so physically, I am fighting tiredness in that area.  This morning, I received some rather discouraging news, and I thought that I could do one of two things…I could sit in the floor and cry, or I could find something to hit.  Once I ruled both of those out, I got busy doing things that actually needed to be done, and I chose to walk down the halls with my head held high and not worry about something that might or might not come to pass.  So, tonight, when we read verse 18, my mind latched on to it, and for me, for tonight, I saw it in a different light.  When we have sufferings in this life, we have two choices regarding how we act…we can take the low road (get mad and hit something) or we can take the high road (walk with dignity the path we’re on).  If we choose to take the high road, think what our witness will be to others!  This is when questions come to us such as “What makes you different?”  “Why don’t you get mad and curse?”  “How come you act different than everyone else?”  When those questions come, even if they’re never verbalized, seeds are being planted!  How cool is that?!  So, through our suffering and taking the high road, God’s glory is being shown in us.  We’re walking around shining the Light into dark places just by choosing to react with dignity, honor, and holiness.  Cool stuff!

Let me be the first to admit that there will probably be times when I choose to sit in the floor and cry in the future; however, hopefully, I will pick myself up and walk the path that lights the darkness.  Let’s shift our attention to verse 37 of Romans 8, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”  We can conquer all the poison darts that the enemy throws at us…BUT we conquer through Him who loved us…it is not any power of our own.  If we are running on empty, we are not going to be conquering much of anything, but if we are plugged in to the true powersource, we will be able to conquer much. 

I have to remember that this fight is not physical (thanks to Phillips, Craig and Dean, I can sing it)…my enemy is not of this world.  His mission is to steal, kill and destroy.  He is good at his job, so we must be ever vigilant in our fight to shine the Light. 

As we end our chat, My Friend, I’d just like to remind you to make sure that you’re getting filled so that you can fill others.  I know that you’re busy, but I hope and pray that you can find the time…and the friends…to recharge and refill.  Blessings and peace to you and your house!

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The Wall

January 12, 2010

Have you ever had a “wall” between yourself and a friend or family member?  It doesn’t matter whether you put the wall up or whether he or she is the one who put it up.  It was there, and you had to figure out a way to break down the wall, build a door, or drop your relationship with that person.  I believe that there are times when all three options are the right ones.  Wisdom comes from knowing which to do when.

What do we do, however, when the wall is between us and God?  We have the same three options in our relationship with Him.  We can drop our relationship with Him.  Let’s be honest….not a good option!  We can build a door….this would at least allow us some access to Him, and I think that this is what a lot of us do or have done in the past.  We can open the door, invite Him in for a visit, and then let Him know when it’s time to leave…thus ushering Him out the door again.  We breathe a sigh of relief…our castle is safe, and we’re still in control of things.  Now, I have to be honest and ask myself…do I really want to be in control?  When I’m in control, things seem to go from good to bad to worse.  So maybe that’s not our best option, either.   We’re down to one final option…break down the wall. 

Since we’re being honest here, breaking down the wall doesn’t sound like very much fun.  First of all, we have to address the issue of what caused the wall to be there in the first place.  Since I know that God wants to be in relationship with me, then I have to acknowledge that I am the one who built the wall in the first place.  I don’t know about you, but I know that in my life I have built all sorts of walls….I should be working construction sites there have been so many.  Sometimes, we allow the wall to be built without really paying attention to it…we get busy and put our quiet time with God on the back burner…knowing that we’ll get back to it tomorrow.  However, too often, as the song goes, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow; you’re always a day away.”  All too often, tomorrow never comes.  Some walls are built in an instant.  Maybe, we get mad at God. We are mad; we have the right to be mad; and we’re going to stay mad.  Or…maybe we get hurt.  God didn’t hurt us, but He did allow the hurt to happen, so we feel like we have the right to stay in that bubble of hurt.  Since I’ve already quoted one song, it is rather like, “It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to.”  One party that most of us don’t want an invitation to is someone else’s pity party.  Once we decide why the wall appeared, we have to figure out how to demolish it.  You see, if I allow the wall to stay up, I am blocking God’s access to my life.  I already decided that I don’t want to be the one in control, so the wall must come down in order for God to be allowed to take control of my life.  He is quite the gentleman; He won’t come where I don’t invite Him. 

Once we find the walls, we have to demolish them.  In my experience, the fastest way to demolish a wall between me and God is to be honest with Him and tell Him every little thing that I am thinking or feeling.  Look at it this way, He already knows.  I’m not going to surprise Him by anything that I say, plus, His shoulders are big enough for me to cry on.  He can handle whatever I send His way.  When there is a barrier blocking us from our Father, our praise doesn’t ring true…our prayers become forced…we are going through the motions of having a relationship, but the truth of it is missing.  It is only when we worship in truth, without barriers,  that our praises soar to Heaven…our prayers are Father’s incense…that the relationship is true, pure, and real. 

Dear Friend, I pray that you will search your heart for any walls that separate you from our Father. I pray also that you have the strength to let the walls go.   Our father loves you, and He wants to have relationship with you.  Let Him in; you’ll be glad you did!  Have a blessed day 🙂

Trying to survive today? Come on in and let’s chat.

November 18, 2009

Hello Friend, come on in…grab your cup of coffee….sit a spell.  Today, I’ve been thinking alot about my thoughts.  No, they aren’t too deep…or too intellectual…I’ve just been considering the words that I allow to run around in my brain. 

It all started this morning while I was in the shower.  I had a lot to do today at school, and the day had the possibility of starting out on the run.  Do you ever start days like that?  Your “to do” list starts off with ten or more things on it, before you even get out of bed?  And that’s in addition to the normal things that happen every day any way, like get the kids up and dressed and ready for the bus, which comes by seven each morning…pack lunches…make sure hair is combed and teeth are brushed.  It’s like when you wake up, you’re already behind, isn’t it?  This morning, I was behind before I even got my feet on the floor.  So…after getting the kids on the bus and all that goes with it…I was in the shower listing my day.  What had to be done first?  then what?  and by what time did everything have to be done?  So on and so forth; I’m sure you get the picture.  While I was washing my hair, I had the thought run past my mind, “I can do it; I can survive today.”  Then I started thinking about that thought.  I do believe that there are days that the only thing you can do is remember to breathe…days when a loved one is in the hospital….days when your heart hurts so bad, all you can do is remember to breathe…days when you’re burying a loved one.  Today, however, was not one of those days.  There was nothing life shattering about today; it was a rather normal day.  Those aren’t the days to remember to survive.

I have been reminded over and over lately of the verse in II Corinthians where Paul is telling the church to take every thought captive….We demolish every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (10:5)  It seems that everywhere I go lately, I hear or see either that verse or a reference to it.  Maybe God’s trying to get my attention, hmm?  So, this morning in the shower, I had the thought that I was going to survive today, then I started thinking about that verse in context of II Corinthians 10:5, and I took it captive.  I did not allow that thought to stay around.  When I am surviving the day, I tend to watch the clock….missing opportunities to bless those around me or be blessed by those around me.  What would Christ say about surviving the day?  I think He might say something like The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.  Oh wait!  He did say something like that; he said it in John 10:10. 

As we walk down the path towards living a life of praise, we are not called to survive the day….that’s what the enemy is trying to get us to do.  He wants to steal our day…to kill our day…to destroy our day.  Are we going to let him get away with that?  Or are we going to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into living an abundant life?  a glorious life? a life that matters to those around us?  a life that matters to us?  It is this type of life that, I believe, will be rewarded with Well done, my good and faithful servant. 

As we head into the holiday season, with each day getting more filled than the day before, we might need to be especially mindful of our thoughts…and surviving the holiday season.  So, today, let’s choose not to be survivors, but to be overcomers.  It is my hope and prayer that each of you has a blessed day both today and tomorrow.

Joy from a Math Workshop?!?

November 4, 2009

Yesterday I went to a wonderful workshop for math teachers.  Some of you may be wondering how a math workshop can be wonderful….mind boggling isn’t it?  The topic was “Proportional Reasoning Across the TEKS,” so that wasn’t it.  I missed my students, so that wasn’t it.  I did eat quite a tasty meal at Chili’s, but that wasn’t it either.  The reason that the workshop was so good was that I got to see a friend of mine.  She’s the kind of friend that I would like to be.  She asks how I am, and then waits to see how I really am.  She affirms me not only as a person, but also as a teacher.  I know that it may surprise some of you, but some days the teaching profession (as with most other professions that I know of) can be rather thankless.  Yes, it surprises me, too, when Little Johnny doesn’t jump up and down for joy because I’ve taken the time to explain the Pythagorean Theorem to him.  For some reason, that doesn’t seem to be worthy of a standing ovation.  Hmmm….

All joking aside, we all need to be validated.  There is a rather neat activity going through some of my Facebook friends’ pages right now.  It is where all of your friends can share with the world one word that describes you to them.  Finding out that others consider you to be caring, Christian, sister, funny, a blessing is enough to give me warm fuzzies for a week.  Isn’t that what being part of the body of Christ is about?  No, not the warm fuzzy feelings, but about building each other up?

Paul told his churches at least nine times in his letters that he thanked God for them.  He went on to tell them exactly what they were doing that he was thankful for, too.  He wasn’t vague; he was specific.  For example:  I thank my God through Jesus for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. (Romans 1:7) I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way–in all your speaking and in all your knowledge–because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you.  (I Corinthians 1:4-6)  I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.  (Philemon 4)

Another first century Christian was described in Acts 4:36 in this manner:  Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement)…  The first thing that we know about Barnabas, the man who would one day journey with Paul, is that his name was Joseph, but the apostles called him “Son of Encouragement.”  I’m relatively sure that they didn’t call him that, because he was a grumpy gus or always doling out put downs.  Wouldn’t it be incredible for all of eternity to be known as an encourager?

If we’re going to live a life of praise, I fully believe that we need to be encouraging and uplifting those around us.  Through our encouragement and uplifting spirits, the body of Christ is encouraged and uplifted….God’s ultimate creation, our fellow men and women, are lifted higher than maybe they thought they could go.  I am truly blessed for several reasons, one of which is that I was born into the family to which I belong.  I was surrounded by aunts and uncles who believed in me…who held me accountable…who loved me…without whom I doubt that I would be the same person who I am today.  They took the time to bless me and help my parents mold me into the person I was going to be…who I am now.  We all need those people in our lives…be they teachers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, ministers, whomever…but (!) we also need to be those people to whomever God puts in our paths.  When I am blessed enough to spend time with my family, I feel better after it’s over than I did going in.  That’s who we need to be.  When people leave us, they need to feel better about who they are than they did before the encounter.

That’s not to say that we just lie to them or act fake with them so they’ll feel better about who they are.  We still have to be genuine and do the things God has called us to do.  I’m betting that David didn’t feel better after he was visited by Nathan  in II Samuel 12, but he did receive what Nathan had to tell him.  If we’re being called to be Nathan to someone, then we have that job to do, but we can still do it in love.  Because of Nathan’s message to David, David was forced to confront his sin with Bathsheba…ultimately restoring his relationship with God.

So, Dear Friend, I leave you with this thought.  Who is it in your path that you need to uplift and encourage today?  Or are you the one who needs to be encouraged and uplifted?  No matter which category you find yourself in today, I would like to pray for you as we close our time together.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for these friends.  I ask You to bless them as they go about the rest of their days.  Let them know what a treasure they are to You.  Bless all of the situations that they are in.  Show them Your love, Your peace and Your truth right now, Lord.  May Your grace be upon them.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Think on these things…

November 1, 2009

As I head into a new work week, I find myself fighting off a bit of bumminess (yes, it’s a word, I just made it up and you all know what I mean by it….heheh).  Anyone else have to fight being bummed on Sunday nights?  I think sometimes that Monday is not the best day because of our attitude toward it.  We don’t let Mondays be good days, because we’re convinced going into them that they’re going to be bad.  Guess what?  If that’s our attitude, we’ll be correct in it.  Therefore, another part of the plan is to allow God’s grace, mercy and love to shine through me…especially…in spite of…because of…yep, you got it…Mondays! 

I’ve been chewing on Paul’s words in Philipians 4:8 for a while now.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

Paul is writing a letter to the church in Philipi.  He is at the end of his letter, and he is about to sign off, but he can’t yet, he still has one more thing he has to tell these precious folk.  Maybe he knows that the mail will be delivered on Sunday night.  (Just for the record, verses 4 through 7 are powerful, too….read them if you get a chance.)  So, tonight, he’s addressing me as I’m contemplating Monday morning.  He’s saying, “Heather, think about things that are true….noble…right….pure… lovely…admirable…excellent….praiseworthy.  As you go to sleep tonight, think about how wonderful God is.  You know, He made the universe with you in mind.  Did you know that God created all of the mathematical laws that you teach each day?  He created those shells that have all those chambers with mathematical ratios…and yet, aren’t they pretty to look at and to listen to?  As you go to sleep tonight, Dear One, think about the light that you take into the classroom each day.  What new stunt do you think Little Johnny will do tomorrow to get your attention?  How will you respond?  Decide now to respond with love and gentleness.  What a blessing your two children are!  They’re growing up so quickly.  Don’t forget to pray for them as you count your blessings before our Father’s throne tonight.  They really are excellent and praiseworthy.  I know you’re tired, Little Sister, so I’ll let you get to bed.  Remember what I said….focus on the blessings…the good things in life.  Sweet dreams….”

Ok, ok….huge paraphrasing on my part, but do you see what I’m saying?  Think of all the great things that have happened in your life.  If some certain Mondays had never rolled around, I wouldn’t be married to my wonderful husband….I would still be expecting my children (almost eleven years of pregnancy…ugh!)…I would have missed out on Thanksgiving with all my mother’s family last year…payday would not come…the kids’ Christmas concerts wouldn’t make their way into my life.  Maybe we should change our view of Mondays.  Rather than thinking about the weekend being over, maybe we should consider the blessings.  We have another week of surprises headed our way!  There are blessings just waiting for us to find them…some will jump out at us, but what about the hidden ones…the beauty of the sunset each night….the trees that are changing colors…the hugs we have yet to give and receive from those we love…the giggles of a child…the hands we will hold this week…the hidden ones are some of the most special.

So…as Monday rolls around, think on, and look for, that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy….and give Him all glory and praise as He allows your light to shine in this world.

I think I’ll close this chat with you in the same manner that Paul closed his chat with the church in Philippi:  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you and with your spirit.  Amen.

The Plan

October 29, 2009

I have been on several spiritual journeys in the past several years.  One journey has been a Biblical study of praise.  I have read several books on the subject, and while several of them have been quite good, I have been called back time and again to the original source….the Bible itself.  One sub-topic that I have found myself tossing around mentally over and over is the thought that we are to continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God (Hebrews 13:15).

Notice that the author of Hebrews doesn’t say that we are to offer praise to God when we’re doing well…when we’re happy…when those around us are healthy.  He says to offer a sacrifice of praise.  We all know what the sacrifices are in our lives.  We sacrifice our time to our children who need to read out loud to us…we sacrifice our taste buds to those we’re cooking for…we sacrifice our desires for a nice romantic comedy (chick-flick) to those who would be better off with a G-rated animated flick.  And, yes, we make those sacrifices willingly.  However, left to my own devices, I would probably spend the evening curled up in the recliner…cat in my lap…broccoli cheese soup in my tummy…reading a Christian fiction novel or watching a chick flick that I can quote, because I’ve seen it more times than I can count.  So…a sacrifice of praise, hmmm?  I’m guessing that means that I’m not supposed to hang on to my praises waiting for the perfect day. 

Some days praising God is easy and praises flow naturally out of my heart and off of my tongue.  Then there are the Calgon days.  Those days it is a little more difficult to count my many blessings.  Those are the days that I need to praise most, but I tend to see them as the hardest to praise at all….but that’s just not going to cut it!  So, what to do about it?  How to change that?  I think that is the real question.  How can we, on our Calgon days, offer genuine sacrifices of praise?  Here are some suggestions that I’m going to try.

  1. I’m going to make a play list on my iPod of five of my best songs.  When I’m down, those are the songs I’m going to head to for a 15-20 minute vacation from the pity party that I’m throwing myself.  Just for you curious folks out there, the songs will be “I’m Smelling Coffee” by Chris Rice, “If I Could Just Sit With You a While” by Dennis Jernigan,  “Not Forgotten” by Israel and New Breed, “Wherever We Go” by Newsboys, and “Glorious” by Newsboys. 
  2. I’m going to list my blessings.  When I’m having a hard time remembering what they are, I can pull out my list and praise God for each person, place or thing on the list.
  3. I’m going to exercise in the midst of the Calgon moment.  While I’m exercising, I’ll pop in a dvd featuring Chonda Pierce, Anita Renfro, or someone else who can make me laugh.
  4. I will pull out the craft stash and make a card for someone who’s worse off then I am.  I will pray for them while making it, and I will force myself to mail it….before it gets either the nice aged look or the soft fuzzy feel that comes from a nice thick layer of dust.
  5. I will find a beautiful box and put important things in it.  Not the regular important things like diplomas and marriage licenses, but the really important things….like sticky handprints….letters from past students….a letter that my brother wrote me when I was a freshman in college…a necklace from a sweet young cousin that turns my neck green…the letter that Mother wrote the day I turned 18…sweet notes from my Love…you know, that kind of important stuff.  Then, on those days, I’ll get out my box and remember that I am special…that I am loved…and that I am a mighty woman of God.

I don’t know what will work for me…much less what might work for you, but I do know that I have taken a good step in making a plan.  In closing, I just want you to know that I am so thankful that you checked in to visit for a while.  I would love to hear back from you….agreements…disagreements…maybe even your plan for Calgon days? 

Let’s end our chat with a bit of praise to get us started…in the words of David:  Praise the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name. (Psalm 103:1)