1.a release from the penalty of an offense
2.forgiveness of a serious offense or offender.
The Light-Jesus
John 1:9&12 The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was going to come into the world...But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Friday, June 1, 2012

Simple mistakes, Big apologies

I'm not sure that this will make any sense but I just feel the need to write this down. So many times God speaks to me and I can't find the words or the time to express it for others. Other times, I don't dare to say what's on my mind because too many people would be offended or take it the wrong way. Unfortunately, that is part of the story of my life. It is so hard to articulate things without offending someone. Perhaps if we all kept in mind that very few statements are universal, we'd assume that when someone speaks, they know that what they're saying has exceptions and has to be applied with caution. Even in the Bible, somethings are universal and meant literally as they are stated, while others are meant to be considered in the context of their occurrence. God loves you. Jesus died for you. God created you for a purpose. Jesus was the Son of God who lived a sinless life on Earth. These are all universal statements. They are always true. They don't need context or careful wording. There are no exceptions to which these statements do not apply. Fortunately, I don't see anyway that what God has shown me in the last few days could offend anyone. (This is not a challenge for someone to find the offense in what I'm about to share.) :) So, here you go. I'll do my best to articulate what it is that I found so interesting. I'll begin by giving you the situations through which these stories occurred. In early May, I attended a homeschool conference in Arlington. While there I purchased almost all of the supplies that I need for the next school year. At one booth, I purchased a large amount of materials and paid cash for them. Now, several weeks later, I realized that I had never received the shipment or any contact from the company. I thought of it for several days before I finally took the time to dig out my receipt. Finally, just this week I called the company. At first the conversation was a normal customer service call with their representative trying to figure out my order. Then suddenly the lady says, "I'm so glad you have finally called, we've been praying that we'd hear from you." She explained that at the convention the young man who took my order had fillled out all the paperwork and taken my cash payment but had not gotten my name, address, or any other contact info. They new someone had made a very large cash purchase but had no idea who to send it too. They were all praying that God would prompt me to call them. I remembered that the young man had made a few errors on the order form and decided to start over on a new page. Obviously, he forgot to copy down my info at the top. She apologized and they are sending my order right away. NO BIG DEAL. Really, it's just homeschool materials and I don't need them until August. Of course, it would be bad if I never got them because it's a lot of money, but no real harm done. Last night my phone rang with an unknown number. I answered it and it was the young man who had taken my order at that convention. He explained that he had been praying that I'd call ever since he realized that my info wasn't on the form. He felt just aweful about it and hoped he hadn't caused us any inconvenience or messed up our schedule or any thing else. I assured him that it was no problem. That he hadn't caused me any issues and I hadn't even thought of it until this last week. He was so kind and so apologetic. He just wanted me to know that he took full responsibility for the error and wanted to apologize. I thanked him for his kindness and for being so polite but assured him that it was nothing to worry about. Now, last night was a long one. We were just busy all day. At 10pm, Raegan, Floyd, and I strolled into Whataburger to get some food real quick because we hadn't eaten in about 9 hours (Floyd hadn't actually eaten since the day before). For some reason, the place was packed. We placed our order and sat down to wait. We started to notice that people who came in way after us were getting their food. Just as we thought we should go ask, a gentleman came by the table looking confused. He asked what we had ordered. It became clear that he had half of our order but the rest was missing. Another server had given our food to someone with a similar order by mistake. He took our receipt and said he'd be back with our food. Of course, it took a little while because they had to re-make everything. When he returned, he had the food we ordered plus lots of other stuff. Several pies, cookies, and extra fries. He kept apologizing and asking if he could get us anything else. Not long after he walked away, he came back again to apologize. This time he gave us a gift for our next visit. Two free meals with desserts. At this point, I'm asking Floyd, "what's with people being so apologetic today?" Suddenly it hit me. As I sat there, it was as if God was speaking to me through these situations. He reminded me that many times we get frustrated or mad because someone makes an honest mistake. We blow it out of proportion, like they just committed a heinous crime or something. I admit, I'm very non-confrontational, so I'm most likely never going to say anything if someone messes up. But that doesn't mean I won't think something harsh in my mind. Also, I see plenty of people who do go irate over simple things. We always think about showing the love of Christ in our actions but I never thought about showing Christ in the way I apologize. Of course, I've thought about it for big mistakes but not simple ones. If I make a simple mistake, the way I own up to it, apologize, and try to make it right is a way of showing Christ in me. We know we're not perfect but that doesn't excuse us when we do mess up. We should take that opportunity to humble ourselves to others. These situations where someone made a simple mistake will stick out in my mind because they went out of their way to apologize and make it right. If, as Christians, we are supposed to stand out against the ways of the world, sincere apologies and ownership of our mistakes seems like a great way to stand out. Both of these men went to extremes to apologize. They made no excuses, just wanted to make things right. None of it was necessary but it certainly stood out. As I said, I'm not likely to forge it. It made me pause to wonder what had gotten into them. Isn't that what we want people to do? To pause long enough to find out what's gotten into us. Then hopefully we'll have the opportunity to share that Christ is what's gotten into us.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Great joy

While Texans always joke about the odd weather here, I think this winter is even more odd than most of us could ever expect. I call it winter loosely, as the middle son has been in sleeveless shirts, shorts, and sandals all week. I'm taking a moment now to jot down a couple of moments that have brought me great joy and touched my heart this week.I don't want to forget them, so here is the place I'll come back to look some day.
Yesterday, we had CC. The kids are all in the afternoon writing and grammar class that I teach. We had 8 students and 4 parents in the room and the temperature was high. I had not dressed for summer because it was January 31 and I hardly ever remember to check the weather forecast. By the end of class, I just wanted to escape the heat. Now, it's pretty common knowledge that I'm normally cold, so you can imagine that it was quite warm for me to be so miserable.
After class the kids and I walked to the car and this is where the moment of joy occurred. I dropped my bag in the trunk and turned toward the slight breeze in the air. It felt amazing! I stretched my hands up and said, "isn't this amazing. It feels so good." the kids quickly agreed. And then it happened. Out of nowhere, the girlchild raises both hands up in the air and begins to praise. She says, "thank you Lord for this beautiful weather..." and continued quite loudly. One of the boys yells out, "Amen" and the other joins in with a "hallelujah." at first I thought, "you silly kids" because I thought they were just kidding but just as quickly I realized they were totally serious. Immediately I thought, " why didn't I think of that?" and then, "thank you Father that they praise you so easily and unashamedly." Of course a lady that we didn't know happened to be walking to her car at just that moment, parked right next to us. The look on her face was a bit interesting. She wasn't really sure what to think.
The entire moment was a gift from God. He showed me that inspite of all my failures, my kids have learned one of the most important lessons in life. To praise Him in the small things, the everyday things; not just at church on Sunday, not just when major things happen, or prayers are answered; but when the weather is just right and the breeze is a welcomed respite after a sweaty writing class. Thank you, Father!

The second thing was just a silly conversation today. Again, it was a warm temp for February 1st. As we drove to our field trip the kids and I were discussing the weather. The girlchild was describing the fact that it's like summer during winter right now. I threw out a thought, "let's hope that this doesn't mean it will be winter during the summer." The youngest replies, "we'll call it swinter," then the girl says, "no, wummer," and I said, "bummer would be more like it." for some reason this entire conversation was so funny to all of us. I love the random silly things that we talk about. Especially because they are mixed in with some of the most meaningful conversations as we all learn to love our Lord and draw closer to Him.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

it's official

I have so many things that I haven't had time to put down on paper yet but this week, a few specific things have come into my mind so many times I can no longer hold off on sharing.

Although the kids have been forced to do multiplication tables, handwriting, and other "school" things all summer, this week was officially our first week of homeschool (yes, I'm aware that public school doesn't start until next week but guess what, we're not in public school). The kids and I have been very productive. On the VERY FIRST DAY God blessed me in this endeavor. The day started off a little less organized than I expected, so I had the kids sit at the table and begin reading any book of their choice. I set a timer for 20 minutes and began to gather the few things I realized were not where I needed them (the best part is that the kids just thought this was the plan). For the last few minutes, I even sat down and started reading a book of my own. When the timer went off, I asked each child to share what they had been reading about. Troy was so excited to share I had to cut him off and make him wait his turn. When it was finally his turn, he said, "this is very interesting." I assumed he meant the story but he continued, "this is the first chapter book I've ever tried to read by myself. I love it. It's better than a picture book. You can picture it in your mind and imagine what it would be like. You don't just have to look at their picture. You make your own." So then I asked what he was picturing and the conversation continued.

Now, if you recall, Troy has struggled since 1st grade with reading and every other area of school. I can't even express the feeling of hearing him talk about reading in such a positive way. To top it off, when we finished our morning lessons and broke for lunch, he shocked me even further. He inquired, "so this is free time?" He wasn't quite sure he believed it, so he asked more specifically, "so can I read my book?" Of course I said yes. The entire time I cooked and Raegan and Tyler scammered around Troy sat at the table reading. He was totally engulfed by the book! He was so excited about his new found pleasure that every time he reached a new chapter, he would announce it to anyone in hearing range. And that was just the first day.

Tuesday we got started on time without any delays. We are beginning each day with a Bible lesson. I wasn't really sure how to approach it so back in July I just asked the kids what they were interested in. They unanimously agreed that they would like to read the whole Bible from beginnning to end. So, that's what were doing. We take turns reading. We read the extras in our NIV study Bible. Then to close each day, I read the exact same passages from our King James version. It is a great opportunity for the kids to hear the Old English and it brings up great vocabulary lessons. When they ask what a word means, I ask them to think back to what words the NIV used for the same scripture. Then we discuss the new word and look it up in other sources.

Wednesday brought another new surprise. In the morning, I was going over the days schedule with the kids. I explained that I had to tutor a student at 2:30 (usually it's later but that day was an exception). I told them that if they finished all of their lessons before I had to leave, then we would go to the library when I got home. There was literally jumping and verbal excitement. They worked hard and wouldn't let me forget that they were going to the library when I returned from tutoring. The boys checked out 3 books and Raegan got 4. Mind you, all of Raegan's books are at least 1.5-2 inches thick but I had to convince her that 4 books was enough for just 2 weeks.

Today (Thursday) was great as well. The kids worked hard to get done early again because they wanted to do a long bike ride. We finished almost everything by lunch. After lunch they each did the one thing they had left and then we headed out for our bike ride. We rode for 1.5 hours (with a few pauses and a short break at our turn around point). The kids did a great job. At one point, we had to make a sharp turn (basically a U-turn) to stay on the trail. I was leading the way, so when I turned I looked up to see how far back the last kid was. When I looked back at my path, it was too late. My front tire was already going off the trail and into a rut. It happened very quickly. The best description is that I completely wiped out. I was flat on the concrete. Thankfully, I was only about 40 years from our break spot at a shadey picnic table. We rested about 15 minutes and hit the road to return home. It was so hot! (it was 3pm, if that gives you any idea). I really wanted to vomit! I've often seen people at the end of a run or hard workout bent over, letting it all go. But I've never experienced that. I've never even had nausea or anything. This was a new experience for me. I just prayed for God to get me home before I lost it. Once we got to our neighborhood, the kids knew the way. They pedaled on at their own pace and I just took it moment by moment. Tyler and I rode up the drive way about the same time and I had made it. Once we got inside, the nausea just left me. We had made it! I'm feeling the bruises now. :)

I guess the point of all this is just that I'm seeing this pathway unfold little by little and I'm already loving it! The boys are excited every time they finish a lesson successfully and I'm excited to be there with them. We're all learning so much. In two days I've learned all about Charles V, who was king of 3 different countries (at the exact same time) by the age of 16. It's an interesting story, so if you have no idea what I'm talking about, look it up. I also learned all about Phillip II, Charles' son and Ferdinand, Charles' uncle. They both inherited parts of Charles' empire when he stepped down from the throne. And we learned all about the encomiendas that granted Spanish Conquistadores the right to go to South America and take all the gold. These were granted by Phillip II.

Life is different now but I'm loving it!

One more side note: we have decided to down size and begin getting rid of things we don't need. God has put a lot on our hearts and we want to be obedient. So, on Monday Floyd listed our pool table on Craig's List (yes, our beautiful 8 foot pool table with claw feet). The very next day a man came by and bought it. He actually bought the pool table, the racks, all accessories and both sets of pub tables and stools. The kids and I now have a huge empty room for homeschool and when we eventually downsize our living space, we'll have less stuff to worry about. This is just the beginning!!!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

random reflections of the day

Today was our final preparation meeting for Uganda! We got our MRE's and last minute details. It's all so exciting. At this point last year, we were all funded for our different trips. This year, there are lots of reasons that make it more difficult for people to give. We know times are hard, heck I get my LAST pay check tomorrow. We definitely relate to financial uncertainty. I have no idea where the remaining $2730 will come from but I trust that God has a plan. Just like He has a plan for my family, He has a plan in Uganda. There are people there waiting to hear about their Savior! Their salvation is hanging in the balance. While I haven't experienced this before, I just know it is true. I know that great works are in preparation.

So many members of our team are still struggling to get funding and most of us do not have bank accounts that would easily give up a couple thousand dollars. I truely believe that this is all part of the preparation. Many conversations have been about "what if?" What if I don't get my funding? The unanimous response has been, "I will lay down everything I have in order to board that plane!" WOW!!! It reminds me of Abraham and Isaac (how fitting because Floyd has been working on his sermon for the Sunday that he'll be preaching at one of the churches in Uganda and it's about Abraham and Isaac). Abraham had to show God that he was willing to lay down everything. He laid down that which was most dear to him. Abraham was asked for way more than any of us!

Just when Abraham was ready to strike, God stepped in. He sent a ram to be sacrificed. He knew that he had all of Abraham. Genesis 22:14 says "So Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh..." Jehovah-jireh means The Lord Will Provide. What a fitting name! I have called upon that name so many times in my life. Yet I realize that I have never called on that name in the midst of starvation or from the side of a street with no place to go or from a bottomless pit of despair. In my little world, I've always had food, shelter, extra clothes, many pairs of shoes, a vehicle, electricity, running water, etc. I believe I could go on for a while. So, the question is, "does God have all of me?" Am I willing to lay down everything. To take up my cross and follow him (Mat 16:24, Mar 8:34, Luke 9:23) or to sell all of my possessions, give it to the poor, and follow him (Mar 10:21)? I would sure like to hope so.

Floyd and I are at a point where we are going to learn by experience in relying on God. While I'm a bit terrified, I am trusting "unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us" Ephesians 3:20. I have to trust that if God asked me to homeschool, he'll provide everything that is necessary. If he told us to go to Uganda, he'll provide all that is necessary. Whatever he asks, we must be willing to respond and trust that he will provide in his perfect time. It's difficult because I'd like to see at least a little distance up the road but I've literally got nothing! I can tell you that somehow I'm going to end up on a plane to Uganda in less than 13 days and 2 weeks after that, I'll be home. At that point, I'll begin homeschooling "officially." Every other detail is completely up in the air! Can you imagine knowing so little about your own future? People have vacations planned for further in the future than that. (I guess I misspoke, I also know that I'm scheduled on the tech team for 3 weeks after I return ;) That really is all the vision I've got!) How will God provide in the coming months? All I know is that it will be a great story of his provision. I only hope that Floyd and I can hold on and not mess things up by trying to "make things happen" ourselves. We can be a little controlling from time to time. ;)

I pray that everyone allows themselves to trust God, respond to His callings, and experience the joy and blessing of generosity! With such a great example set before us, we must realize that when our hands are open, they are eagerly giving but are also readily in the position to receive. Not to receive money or greater wealth. To receive greater joy, peace, and pleasure in a difficult world. God does not take our generosity lightly. When our hands are open, so is our heart and mind. He is able to do great work in us and through us!

So, I have no idea where this all came from and I'm not even sure that it is comprehensible but I hope you got something out of it, if you've read this far. Bottom line: God loves me, God loves you, God is our hope, our savior, our mighty fortress! In Him we can put our trust!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Wrestling with God...

This is LONG but I ask that you keep reading because in my little world, this is BIG, actually HUGE!

Wrestling with God…anyone that goes to my church has heard that phrase more times this year than probably in their entire lives combined. My church has been on a journey of growth and change for quite a while and this year it really went big with the Movement to Multiply. The underlying point is a capital campaign to pay off debt and enable the church to grow out in abundance. In order to reach people for Christ, we must grow out, so it makes perfect sense. So Bruce (our senior pastor) began to ask everyone to commit to a deeper level of communication with God for a time period of 2 weeks. During this time you were to pray about how God might want you to be involved in this movement. Bruce called this “wrestling with God” and mentioned the story of Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32.

Of course, Bruce had no idea that I’d been wrestling with God for months already! Back in January, I reached the point of total loss in how to help my son succeed in school. Driving from Sherman to McKinney is a long trip, so I decided that I’d drive in complete silence and listen for God to speak to me. I cried out, “Lord, my ideas are all gone; you have to tell me exactly what to do for my son!” (If you don’t know the background of my son, just know that school has always been a struggle for him and he’s 10 now.) As I drove along in silence, I was literally crying and waiting for God to speak to me. Now, I’ve prayed many times before and have felt the hands of God but I wouldn’t say that I’m really good at discerning His voice. Suddenly, more clear than at any other time in my life, God told me to homeschool my children (not just this son, all 3 children). Of course, I immediately began to argue with Him and doubt my sanity.

And thus began my adventure; my wrestling with God.

I have always worked. I’m a teacher because that’s what God told me to do. How could I stay home? We NEED my income! After moments of arguing and doubting, a name popped in my head; it was a friend from church (not a close friend but someone that I respected and would love to be better friends with). I didn’t even think I had her number. Finally, I checked my contacts and found her husband’s name. After a few more minutes of arguing, I dialed the number. Sure enough, she answered! She probably thought I was crazy. All I remember is telling her that God told me to call her and crying. She was so great! I gave her a little bit of the story and we made plans to get together the next week.

This friend gave me all sorts of information and committed to joining me in prayer about the situation. Since then, we’ve become better friends and I look forward to growing together. Also, I enlisted another friend (really a sister, just not biologically) to pray for this situation as well. I don’t have sufficient words to express my gratitude for their support and encouragement in this journey!

Surely I had lost my mind or hallucinated. I have a tendency to be extreme in everything, so maybe God just wanted me to make my kids a bigger priority and give up other commitments. Believe me; I looked for every possible way that I could have misunderstood God’s direction. I began to read a book called “Discerning the Voice of God,” started the study “Called and Accountable,” and prayed with everything I had. I really needed to know for sure that I had heard God.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to homeschool my kids. I know it would be good for them but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. What if I failed them? Could I really be organized and diligent enough to educate 3 children on my own? And of course, there’s that one HUGE problem. We NEED my income! At the point that this wrestling with God began, Floyd didn’t even have a job. Now he has a job and God has been gracious but it still couldn’t meet our needs on its own (at least not on paper).

All through my efforts to figure this out, the direction never changed. In fact, it just became more and more clear. God wants me to homeschool my kids. While Floyd knew that I was praying about this, I hadn’t really told him the depth of this issue. I was being tormented! That’s the best way I can describe it. My mind never had a moment’s peace! Finally, I had to tell him. I needed him to pray hard because I needed God to give him the answer. He’s the head of the house and God uses our spouses to communicate with us. I needed Floyd to be in this conversation. This is not a decision I could make on my own.

Meanwhile, the church wanted us to wrestle with God about the movement to multiply. To be frank, I really didn’t want another thing to wrestle with God about. I had been wrestling for 4 months at this point. Ironically, Floyd and I finally made a decision about homeschooling just weeks before the leaders were to make their commitments. I was going to resign from my job, my very secure job. While other teachers are praying that they have a job, I was going to walk away. To say the least, if we wrote down a commitment of $5 it would be a stretch. That five dollars would have to come straight from the hands of God. Never the less, God gave us a number. I won’t go into detail but it’s definitely a far cry from $5.

So, where’s all this going? I have no idea! We made our commitment to the church and I’ve officially resigned from Sherman. I’ve registered the kids for a local homeschool group so that we’re connected and accountable. The kids and I are very excited. We even joke about having to live in a tent when we lose our house. My daughter has given our homeschool the name “Leap of Faith Christian Academy” because that’s exactly what we’re doing; taking a leap of faith.

I don’t know how it’s going to work out. I can’t do any magic math to make the finances work. When I think about the money, I’m terrified. I start to doubt whether I really heard God. Then I quickly remember the months of prayer and the tormenting. I am at peace with this decision (as long as I’m not focused on money). I feel in my soul that this is the right decision. I know it is completely illogical but I also know that God’s thoughts are higher than ours. It doesn’t have to make sense.

I feel like Abraham might have when God told him to leave his home. He had no idea where he was going but he went. Since I know that God never fails us, I can only sit back and wait to see His work in this. I’d really like a five or ten year plan (heck, at this point, one year would be nice) but He’s asking me to take one day at a time. I realize that it could be bad, from a worldly perspective. We may struggle financially or maybe He’ll move in ways that are beyond our imagination. Either way, as long as I’m in His hands, I will not fear!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

breaking the silence

It's been months since I've actually said anything (at least on the blog). I have had a lot going through my mind but find that I'm being told to be quiet (or maybe I'm just reluctant to say what I'm really thinking). If you keep reading, prepare yourself because the gate has been opened and I do not know what might flow forth.

First, I've been wrestling with God for several months on a particular command that I heard quite clearly. It was one of the most clear moments of my life and yet it is also one of the scariest. Could He have really said what I heard? I must be completely confused! It makes absolutely no sense, at least from any human perspective. (Yes, I'm being vague and no, I won't come out in this post. It's not time yet but read on.) I've wrestled way more than I let on to anyone. I did finally open a little more to my dear friend Lisa and to Floyd. Once I did that, the decision came much faster. Floyd and I finally made a decision less than a week ago. Of course, only a few days later Floyd was hospitalized with Pancreatitis and it was plenty of reason for us to start doubting our decision. What would this be like if it had happened a few months from now? Throughout this past few days, God has demonstrated His active role in our lives. I can't even begin to tell all the amazing things He's done just in two days. Believe me, if you run into me around town, I might talk your ear off in my excitement! It seems to have confirmed our decision and we are still in agreement. Don't worry, I'm sure you'll know soon enough.

Second, I've had two things really bothering me for a couple of months now. First, I have come to appreciate audiobooks and having the Bible on cd. I listen to them as I drive to work and around town. A lot of my listening had to do with hearing the Holy Spirit and with the Apostles. After Jesus ascended to heaven and the Holy Spirit came, the people were on fire (not literally). The apostles set out to share the message and new believers were told to join in the effort. The people were radical. To everyone else they seemed completely crazy! The visual I have is someone adding feul to a fire and fanning the flames.

Now, in our world, it seems that we're always asking people to be logical. Someone shares something exciting and we start asking questions to see if it makes sense. We try to calm them down because of course we don't want others to think they're crazy. We don't want them to seem like a religious freak or a Bible beater. We're worried that it doesn't make financial sense or it doesn't look good on paper.

For the last few months I've had this on my mind. I don't want to be a calm-down kind of person. I want to hear someone's excitement and add fuel to the fire! Of course, I want to be directed by God but I'd rather err on the side of reacting with passion as opposed to looking at everything logically or not reacting at all out of fear or uncertainty. The Bible makes it clear that His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts. It makes me wonder, if we can make sense of everything in our lives, maybe we're missing something. Maybe we haven't really been responding to His call. Something should be beyond our logic.

Now, I know some of you might be getting a little worried. I've never really been described as a calm person before and I really do enjoy being a bit crazy. I'm always telling my children that crazy is a good thing. I feel that it is only right to prepare them because with Floyd and I as their parents, they don't have much chance of not being crazy. (I know that sounds like I'm being silly but I mean it sincerely.) I wish I could offer you comfort but, alas, I cannot. I'm feeling a desire to be more radical. To step out more for God. To really lean on Him and respond to His calling and go wherever it leads. Who knows where that will take us.

The second thing on my mind is really just the result of some life lessons that I've experienced several times. This may be hard to explain, so bear with me. For some reason, one of the gifts that God has given me is to look at a situation and see it without any bias. I can have a conversation on any topic and get as heated as you can imagine and have no personal feelings of negativity towards anyone involved in the conversation. It really boils down to an ability to speak the truth without any strings attached. Often times this gets me in trouble. I really enjoy debate and I truely believe that to learn we must participate in active discourse with those who feel differently than we do. Unfortunately, I've learned that most people can't have a candid conversation without attaching feelings to it. It usually ends up in one of two ways. 1) I walk away feeling pumped up because I greatly enjoyed a great debate and now have more research to do. I have to go look into the points that the other person brought up because it's great for personal growth. The other person walks away feeling like we just got into a huge argument and they have hurt feelings or are angry or some other form of negative feelings. Or 2) I walk away feeling like I got no where because I was simply trying to point out a particular area that could be improved or done differently and the other person didn't seem to want to hear anything or thought I was just being difficult.

It's hard to get people to understand that you're just telling them what you see because it could make a difference. Of course, if they disagree with my thoughts, I'm okay with that. I just want to point it out and move on. I'd hate to regret it later because I didn't say something that could have made a difference. I'm always checking myself and praying for clarity on my motivation. Frequently, I just keep my mouth shut because I know that most people don't really want to hear the truth. Or they don't want to hear an opinion outside their own.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people do the same thing the same way simply because that's the way they do it. That makes absolutely no sense! If we want to be logical, we should start by recognizing that change is difficult but good. Also, I believe that variety is a good thing. Mix things up and keep people guessing. Our brain is so intricate. We need repition for learning but we also need variety for our imagination and to keep us interested. Also, God made people so different. We all have commonalities but we are created by a creative God. For example, we are all designed to live in relationship with others but we form relationships with different kinds of people and in different ways. I may connect more in a certain form that completely turns off another person. As a leader/teacher/etc. we must recognize this difference. We must look beyond our own method of connection and look pass the "squeaky wheels" (a term of endearment for those that speak up for themselves). Our first tendency is to teach/lead/communicate in the way that we prefer and the second is to respond to the requests of the "squeaky wheels." As a teacher, if I don't notice my quiet students that don't say much, they will leave my classroom having never made a connection. How sad that I missed such an amazing opportunity. The same could be said in a life group or church or any other setting.

Wow, I'm not even sure how many different tangents I've been on in this post but if you've read this far, I'd be glad to hear your thoughts. As stated above, I'm curious to hear if you agree or disagree with anything. :) Perhaps this longevity is the reason that I don't write often. Or maybe I should write more often to avoid this longevity :) Either way, so long for now.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What am I thankful for???

Wow, how to narrow it down? I'm thankful for grace, for calm in the storm, for a stable job that gives me some purpose, for having a home and a car and food to eat and an electric bill.

For Floyd and the amazing friendship we have-he's my bff; he makes me laugh all the time, even when I don't want too; he lifts my spirit and stirs my soul when I get to hear him singing praise to my King; he ignores my crazy behavior; he shares in my joy and in my pain; he overlooks my flaws; he loves me as best he can; he loves God and is learning to love Him even more.

For Raegan, she cracks me up with her fancy vocabulary, amazes me with all her stories and creative ideas, touches my heart with her care and concern for others, and blesses me with mom and daughter time.

For Troy, he makes me laugh like nobody else can and doesn't even realize that he's funny, he teaches me patience and perseverance in working through his learning disabilities, he amazes me with his gentle and kind heart, he is a unique guy with so much character.

For Tyler, he makes me laugh because he is a clown and loves to entertain, he makes me feel special because he always wants to hug me and says he loves me at the most random times, he reminds me that time goes by so fast because he's the youngest.

For all 3 children because they all remind me that God makes every person different for a reason. Each one is perfect the way they are. God doesn't make mistakes so every detail in their personality is exactly the way it's suppose to be. I pray that we all remain healthy and live long enough to see how God is going to use all their little idiosyncrasies to benefit His kingdom.

For friends, God has blessed me with so many in the last few years. I cherish each one for different reasons. Just like I was saying about the kids, each friend has a special purpose in my life. I'm not a very good friend because I get busy and lose track of time (hours, days, weeks, and even months or years) yet my friends are still there. They reach out to me and don't let me get too far away. I am so grateful for that because I really do treasure each one. Though I think of them so often, I'm no good at reaching out and staying connected.

For God, He saved me, He forgives me, He builds me up and wants me to be better, He doesn't settle for less than my all, He loves me, He provides for all my needs, He created me, He saved my marriage and my family, He exceeds my expectations, He never fails, He never gives up, He is faithful, He has a plan for me and it is good, He gives me strength, He is.