Be an Encourager – Saying Yes to God

Silly me.

I thought that saying yes to God meant life would just fall into place and everything would be wonderful.

What was I thinking!

Saying yes to God really means that Satan is on a rampage. Trying as hard as he can to derail my commitment.

Yesterday, he had me.

I was not the person I knew God intended me to be.

I was not the person I wanted to be.

I was not the person my students deserved.

God, however, was paying attention.

And, today, He let me know it in a BIG way!

In the past, I’ve written about how I, like David, sometimes have to hear from God not once, not twice, but sometimes three times. And, each time, I kind of go “Really God?” You sure???

So, today, God very clearly told me “Be an encourager.”

Our pastor spoke at chapel this morning. His message.

Be a giver. Choose to encourage.

His example.

David.

Then the ladies at inCourage posted this 532099_10151860061538674_870882802_nOuch!

That one hurt a little.

I wasn’t sure I spoke love to my students yesterday.

I know I wasn’t encouraging.

When I came back to my classroom after lunch, I had this post from “Take Back Your Lunch”.1174759_674836649211854_2122322216_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did this today.

After listening to Pastor and reading the post from inCourage, I looked at my students with new eyes today. I didn’t want to give up on them only four days into the school year.

I wouldn’t give up on them.

I won’t give up on them.

Like Romans 9:25-25 says:

“Hosea put it well: I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved.  In the place where they yelled out, “You’re nobody!” they’re calling you “God’s living children.””

 

Grace for the Weekend – Celebrate

Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. I Peter 4:8-9a

This verse makes me smile. My family lives this verse without even realizing that we do. We all love each other with abandon, and forgive each other our many differences because above all, we love deeply and passionately.

At no time is this more real to us than in a month like August.

A month full of celebrations for our family.

Last week we celebrated our grandson’s first birthday. My brother was here. His other grandmother, great aunt and Aunt Nattie were here.

DSC00713This week we celebrated number one son’s birthday.

With our adopted family Dan, Rachelle and Will here, the day was wonderful.

Today at church we celebrated back to school Sunday. In our family this is a big deal since we have four teachers, two university staff members and one college policeman in our midst. In fact, all of us in some way touch the lives of students.

Next week we celebrate Football Sunday.

And then it’s time for college football.

All things our family enjoys celebrating.

I’m looking forward to many celebrations this school year.

As I pray over and for my students, I am looking for God to do great things in their lives.

As my family celebrates the birthdays to come and the accomplishments of each other, I look forward to the goofy, fun and sometimes crazy family gatherings around my dining room table.

DSC00710But, most importantly of all, we celebrate life. Both the life we were born to and the life we have been given through Jesus Christ who sacrificed His life for us.

As you celebrate this month and throughout the fall of this year, may the thought of Jesus and His grace never be far from you.

 

 

Say What! – Saying “Yes” to God

It’s been a long week.

The first week back at the beginning of the school year always is.

Day after day of workshops, meetings and decorating the classroom.

All in anticipation of the first day with students.

I know that being back at the high school where I am is the right place for me. I know it’s my “yes” to God.

But, He didn’t mention how hard the the yes was going to be. Nor did He mention how much He was going to expect of me because I chose to to say yes in obedience rather than continue to just get through my life hoping that I was doing what He wanted from me.

God’s been prodding me all week to get back into our study. I’ve resisted. Too much other stuff to read and digest. Too few hours of sleep adjusting back to a teacher’s schedule. And too much tired. From a day of sitting, not doing, and listening not teaching. I pushed Him away. Tried to stay away from my “secret place” as Lysa refers to time with God in chapter 3.

Today, however, the first day of classes, I took the time. God and I were at a point where He wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

26So, I dove in to chapter two and answered the questions at the end.

When I got to page 41 and the verses Lysa included there, I had an “Aha” moment.

I know God put those verses there for me. They flowed perfectly with the devotional our school administrator gave yesterday and with the challenge he presented us with for this school year.

I won’t go into a lot of detail here, but what he challenged us to do was to approach the school year, our students, their families and all those we meet from an “offensive” rather than a “defensive” position.

Our faith should be the first thing people see in us, not something we apologize for. Especially not in a Christian school!

Lysa uses the Message version of the passage from Romans 9 and it resonated  with me so much that I sent it along to that school administrator. I believe it is a further challenge of what and how we, as Christians, should be.

Did you catch it?

Did it grab you?

Did you feel that “ah” moment?

Just in case you missed it, here it is again.

Hosea put it well: I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved. In the place where they yelled out, “You’re nobody!” they’re calling you “God’s living children.” Romans 9:25-26

And then in verses 30-33:

How can we sum this up? All those people who didn’t seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. Isaiah (again!) gives us the metaphor for pulling this together: Careful! I’ve put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion, a stone you can’t get around. But the stone is me! If you’re looking for me, you’ll find me on the way, not in the way. (emphasis mine).IMG_0802

I want to find God on the way to everything I do this school year. I don’t want to be so absorbed in the “God projects” that I miss the “God opportunities”.

I pray my yes will be yes and my offense will be strong.

Not for me.

For Him.

Grace for the Weekend – Celebrate

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

 

My beautiful, amazing, wonderful grandson turned one on Thursday. DSC00573

What an incredible year it has been.

I am so thankful that God has allowed Dave and me to be a part of the first year of his life. Having young son and his precious wife close by has been such a blessing. Getting to watch the changes our little man has gone through since we first got to meet him a year ago.

This weekend, we get to celebrate him and all that he means to our family, to precious girl’s family and to God.

Last night we had dinner together around the big oak table in my dining room.

There was laughter, story telling and lots of hugging of little man going on.

It was a happy scene.

Today, precious girl has planned a party for him to celebrate his birth. I can’t wait to see his face when he opens presents, eats his cake, and enjoys the family who loves him so much.

Then, tomorrow, we will all go to church together and as a family with young son and precious girl we will dedicate this wonderful child to God. And, we’ll dedicate ourselves anew to following God’s plan for our lives and for his.

We’ll be taking lots of pictures along the way to document the wonderful time. For those of our family who couldn’t be here, those pictures will bring them closer.

For those we love who are watching from heaven and smiling down on this precious little boy, well, they’ve got the best seats in the house!

IMG_0467Whatever you do this weekend and wherever your journey takes you, celebrate the things and people who are important to you and take a moment to thank God that He has provided.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

 

Saying “Yes” to God – Grace by the Book

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5

Several months ago I went to see my pastor because I had a question that was weighing on me and for which I didn’t have an answer. The question was:

How does a Christian live their life when they know they aren’t living God’s plan for them?

Pretty crazy, right? As a Christian I should always be living God’s plan for me.

But, I knew I wasn’t.26

And, I also knew that the not living His plan was the reason for my season of discontent.

Three jobs in three years.

Two churches and no real connection.

My family struggling with everyday life and with decisions that just needed God’s grace to help determine the right outcome.

All these things had finally weighed me down to the point where all I wanted was to know how to say “Yes” to God and to be, as my sister-in-law describes it

“Smack dab in the middle of God’s will.”971541_10151512857047694_791469752_n

Hadn’t been there in awhile.

Didn’t even remember what it felt like.

I had been living my life with me in the pilot’s seat and God as a sometimes distant co-pilot.

What my pastor said that day shocked me.

But, I knew he was right.

As a Christian, living outside God’s plan for you is not an option. It’s sin.

I knew in that moment that whatever it took, I had to say “Yes” to God and to live the life He had planned for me.

Not the one I was struggling to orchestrate.

What happened next can only be described as a God thing.

Preacher took me to the office of his wife, our ministry’s personnel director, and he told her to make sure I had an application on file and to put it on the top of her pile for the coming school year.

See, our ministry has a Christian school. And, for the time when I absolutely knew I was smack dab in the middle of God’s plan for me, I was a teacher and administrator there.

I left, though, six years ago for what I thought I was supposed to do, but not what God told me to do.

Walking away didn’t change the outcome of what I left for. My mom still died from the affects of the disease she had.

I couldn’t save her.momandme

I almost lost myself.

I felt like Moses and the Israelites in the desert. God gave me just enough to get through each day, but the promised land was only something I could see on the horizon.

I wanted to be Joshua telling everyone I knew that God could beat anything and breaking down the walls of Jericho but, I was more like the ten who came back and said we can’t do this.

Funny thing is, God never left me.

He waited.

Until I was ready.

And, when I fell so low that I couldn’t go on.

When I cried out.

He was there.

When he threw the lifeline.

I took it.

I said “yes” to God because I don’t want, as Lysa says:

“We have to set our rules and agendas aside-our dos and don’ts, our social graces and proper places-and follow God’s command. His one requirement is so simple and yet so profound: Whatever God says do, do it. That’s it. That’s the entire Bible…” (pg. 20).

I’m saying yes and I’m living this week with my palms up.

Waiting on God.

Waiting for God.

Anticipating great things.

Grace for the Weekend – Enjoying Summer

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah 6:3

IMG_0467545947_284797728267806_179421925_nIMG_0765IMG_1238DSC00082DSC00553“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:30-34

Living God’s Grace When Life doesn’t Turn out Quite Like You Plan

Ten years ago number one son married the girl he believed was his forever love. Just shy of his 19th birthday his dad and I gave our blessing to the union because the alternative was to lose our son.

Not an option.IMG_0535

The marriage was full of love, passion and fun, but also full of struggle and competition. These two young adults were not only learning to be grown-ups, but also learning to care about someone other than themselves. They were grounded in their faith, their families and their friends. IMG_0483

But that wasn’t enough.

Six years after that beautiful August afternoon, my daughter in love, decided she needed something more. She walked away from the love of her life to see what she had missed by marrying at 18.

Devastated doesn’t begin to describe number one son after this happened.

He tried everything to work out the issues to get her to come home, but nothing worked. She didn’t want to be with him or with our family.

So he moved on.

Slowly.Mother Swan and chicks

Painstakingly.

Sometimes faltering.

But always covered in our prayers and the prayers of those who love him.

Tucked under God’s wing. Wrapped in his love.

It’s been four years now since she walked away.

Regret has come to her. Freedom to him. Reconciliation has occurred, in that they are now friends.

But reconciliation as a couple won’t happen. Too much hurt, too much pain. Life goes on.

Yesterday number one son called me to ask me if I remembered where we were ten years before.

How could I forget.

He’s a better man now. Lessons learned. Battles won. I wish I could say faith restored.

We’re working on that one.

I hold on to the God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11-14

“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed. I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you.”

and Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

And, I pray.

For him,

and for her…

without ceasing.  (I Thessalonians 5:17)