Look who showed up

I sit here staring at the computer screen…trying to get my thoughts from my spinning head to this post. It’s not that I don’t have anything to share. It’s that I have so much to share that I am having a hard time sorting through it all so that it will come out making at least a little bit of sense. I have so many emotions channeling through me at this very moment that I am not even sure I can form a coherent post at all. I so desperately want to express and share this day. I think that all that I have to say is too much for even one post…which may be why I am struggling. It’s a really good “problem” to have I guess. To have so much “goodness” to shout about that I can’t contain it! So rather than cram it into on mega post that ends up a screen full of joy-induced ramblings, I will use this post as a warm-up – kind of an opener – for the two or three posts that I will work on. Let me just say that I am overwhelmed with God’s blessings. I understand joy. I am so filled with peace and contentment from my heavenly father. I often hear people say that “God showed up…” I understand what people are trying to say – and honestly I was typing that very phrase when it hit me that God didn’t just show up today and make life amazing. God has been here with me all the time – working on me, guiding me, straightening me out, talking to me, molding me, and preparing me for today’s events. He has been waiting and watching as I found my way to this place. He didn’t just show up for me. He’s been gently nudging me to find this path to peace. And he is here with me now that I have broken a huge chain that has held me down for way too long. He shares in my joy today. He is here in my tears of relief. His presence envelops me in my freedom. I cannot find the words to express the peace that God has covered me in today. I am excited to share, more specifically, the many many ways that God has transformed my life…he’s just been waiting for me to “show up” and let him work on me. 

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Happy Church…happy weekend!

20130609-201102.jpgAs we pulled into the driveway and began to unload our bags, I already wanted to go back. Back to Happy Church, with its big yellow smiley-faced sign, and it’s peaceful setting, surrounded by the beautiful mountains of eastern Kentucky. But even more beautiful than the mountains are the people. It’s funny…I always say I’m not much of a “people person” but I do believe that God is changing me into one. And I am becoming attached to the very special people that I spent time with this weekend. God is pushing me out of my comfort zone and asking me to step out in faith. And I thank him immensely for the nudge. While in Breathitt County we got to visit with our friends Randy and Janet and meet new friends, Mike and Connie. They all work/serve at Happy Church and are all amazing, obedient people of God. We cooked out with some families from the community, sat around the campfire and sang songs and made s’mores, played cornhole, and just relaxed. And began to build some great relationships. Sunday morning Brian and I got the chance to lead worship and walked away so blessed from that experience. It was a spirit-filled time with new friends and with God truly moving in that place. In a county that is one of the poorest counties in the nation, there is so much pain and sorrow and hopelessness. But there is also so much to be Happy about, there are so many blessings and God is working through the lives of several dedicated servants. Children are hearing His word, they are signing songs of praise, they are learning to live their lives with His guidance, and they are being loved like Jesus would love. I’m praying tonight about what Brian and I can do to help in some way to support that Happy effort. I’m praying that God gives me a heart to love on people more every day. I’m praying for our friends in Breathitt County. And I’m praying a prayer of thanksgiving for our time there.

My fab five

Much like many other women out there, I wear many hats throughout my day. I teach middle school in an urban setting. During the course of a typical day at school, I am a teacher, counselor, nurturer, referee, social worker, and judge (just to name a few). At the end of the school day, I then switch to my mom hat, which is not “just” mom. It often is interchanged with hats such as taxi driver, equipment manager, tutor, cook, etc. (I’m certainly not unique in this as you other moms know). And certainly not least – but unfortunately sometimes last, I am a wife, a best friend, a daughter, and a sister. Most importantly…I’m always a child of God (a hat that is NEVER removed – but worn with every other hat I wear). I can’t say I have a “favorite” hat…because I love so many of the facets of my life and the roles I play. But one of the best things about being me is my role as mama. It is one of my greatest honors to have been blessed with my children. I have 5 of them. I gave birth to 2 of them, and the other 3 were gifts that came with my wonderful husband, Brian. We don’t use the word “step” in our family. God blessed us with 5 children to care for, and disciple, and nurture and the greatest of all – to love. I would like to share a little bit about each of my children today – about who they are and why they are so special to me.

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Savannah is our oldest. At 16 she is, in many ways, mature beyond her years. She is extremely intelligent (smarter than me), and fiercely independent. She does not follow others, but does her own thing without worrying about what anyone else thinks. She is beautiful inside and out.

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Zach is 15 and is so good at it. He has been gifted with amazing athletic talent and shows himself as a leader in many ways on the playing field and in the hallways. Zach doesn’t do anything halfway. He feels things very deeply and is super expressive. He is becoming an amazing man.

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Shelby is 14 and is a stunning young lady. She is our nurturer. Someday Shelby is going to be a fantastic mother. Shelby is always helping around the house (without being asked) and likes to take care of others. Shelby’s heart for those less fortunate is beautiful. And she is the resident fashionista!

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Carty is 12 and is the youngest girl. Carty is one of a kind! She’s witty, and very quick to speak her mind. She can be girly and cute as can be one minute, and then she can step onto the soccer field and play harder than anyone out there and be tough as nails. She is also the snuggler of the group. She is growing into a beautiful young lady.

Suman Wedding 34The baby of the family is Nicolas. He rounds out the crew at 8 years old. Nicholas is energy. All of the time. He goes and goes and goes. He is our trooper. No matter where we go or what we do, Nicholas goes along, never complaining. He is his daddy’s little man – always trying to be just like Brian. Not to mention he is simply adorable.

That’s my family. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for these 5 blessings. I am so honored and humbled that He has given them to my care. On this Mother’s Day, I am overwhelmed with pride and joy. Thank you God for each of these beautiful lives you have entrusted to me.

Discipline creates desire

“When you don’t feel like it, do it anyway. Discipline creates desire, not the other way around.”

I recently came across this quote and thought it was perfect for my goals for the summer. I started my very first week of summer break with the goal of working out a minimum of 4 times a week. Now, throughout the school year my alarm tears me out of sleep at 4:30 every morning. And here I was setting a goal to get up at 5:00am (sleeping in for a half hour) at least 4 times a week in order to get in shape and change my lifestyle. Which leads me to why this quote seemed so appropriate for me this summer. There have been many mornings that I do not feel like it. Many mornings. But I kept telling myself that the more disciplined I could become toward my goal, the more desire I would have to keep at it. It has truly been a phrase that I believe has made a difference…but not just toward my physical goals. Another goal that I have set for myself (and I think most Christ-followers do) is to be more immersed in God’s word – in order to be closer to Him each day. I love to read and study and learn…and I cannot even name the closeness that being in the word has brought me. But I’m not going to lie – sometimes it is hard. At times the frustration that I feel trying to “understand” outweighs the feeling of closeness that I get. One of my Bible study groups right now is studying the book of Isaiah. Let me just say that I didn’t even know that I didn’t know so much. It has been such a challenge. But the same principle that I have applied to my physical way of life has been so beneficial to me growing my spiritual side. There are times when I don’t feel like sitting down and trying to understand or to apply the word to my life. That’s the truth (and I feel guilty for saying that)…but the more disiciplined I become in my time with God through his word, the more desire I have to do it more. God has planted that desire in my heart to learn and study and spend time with him. It has been an amazing transformation for my spiritual life. The times that I don’t feel like it are few and far between in both my workouts and my study time. I see and feel the physical benefits of my early morning workouts, and I see and feel my relationship with God and the conviction in my heart growing as a result of my time alone with His divine teachings. My desire to serve God and to share Him with others is stronger than ever before. So glad that I came across this quote and that it has made such an impact of my every day.

People Person

I have never been one to have a big circle of “friends.” Never had real close longtime friends. Sometimes that would bother me – make me wonder what was wrong with me? Or what was wrong the other people that they didn’t want to be my friend. But for the most part, I have been good with not being especially social and kind of being alone. Over the last few years I have done a lot of looking inward and thinking about who I truly am and why I am that way (sometimes being self-aware is no fun). What I have really learned about me is that I have been the one who has chosen to not have friends. I seemingly got along with a lot of people, but rarely let anyone “in” or close. It has been my choice to keep people at a distance. Until now. The relationship that I have with God is all about love. His love for me…and in turn me showing that love to others. You’ve kind of got to be a “people person” to show and share that love. It’s not that I don’t like people, or that now I am faking it. Now that I have truly felt the love of God and  have seen it working and alive in my daily walk, I want to share it with others. What has been really great about this growth process is that I have been blessed with some absolutely amazing people to get to know. God brought me my best friend, my ministry/accountability/study partner, and the love of my life – Brian! (I could gush and get all sappy here – but I will spare you…just know I love him to pieces). God has also challenged me to leave my comfort zone and to open up to other new people. I have met some increible women of faith who are genuine and authentic. They love God and during our times together are so real…they share the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am awed that God loves me so much that he has sent me such Godly sisters from whom I can learn so much. I have also been given the blessing of serving many beautiful people who are broken and lost and in true need of Jesus. People who just want to be heard and loved. I love listening to their stories, and sharing mine. God has pushed me out of my “shell” and has given me so much strength. While I don’t feel worthy all all of His blessings and mercy, I am so grateful that He loves me extravagantly enough to not leave me the way I was – but rather to lead me to becoming the person I am becoming…a people person.

If you died today…

Recently I made a day trip to Columbus to attend a workshop for school (people who think that teachers don’t work in the summer are wrong). As I was driving home enjoying the quiet of the car I noticed a GIANT billboard that read, “If you died today, do you know where you would end up?” Less than a mile later was another GIANT billboard that read, “Hell is for real.” I thought about these obnoxious signs  most of the way home and for several days since. Now, before I go any further, let me say that yes, I do believe that hell is real and that it is serious, etc. That debate is not my purpose here. Continue reading

Saturday Morning

I have always said that I love early mornings (when I’m not rushing around trying to get to where I need to be on time).  As I sit here this morning looking out over the grass still dripping with early morning dew, I have such a feeling of peace. Life is nowhere near perfect, and there are times when I feel like troubles are closing in around too fast for me to handle. The daily stress of being a single, working mom often feels overwhelming. Until a quiet Saturday morning comes along to quiet all of the “noise” and let me breathe. These moments alone with God are priceless.  I know that God is with me all day everyday as I go through life…but on mornings like this, He is more than just “with me, ” He comforts me, reassures me,  and blesses me with the beauty that surrounds me. This time together with my God is refreshing! I feel truly blessed to have been able to share this time with such a loving, wonderful God. I am thankful for the peace that only He can provide.