I started a new journal (one of about 10 – don’t judge) this year for recording verses and thoughts that strike me in a new way. I have read through many of the books of the Bible several times, but, as I have said before, I truly believe that the Spirit reveals things to us from the word in a new way as we are needing them or as we grow and become ready to receive them. To that end, I have decided to journal these verses as they present themselves with the significance they have to me at that moment in time. Just the other morning while I studied I wrote down this verse. “…the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6) There is so much meaning layered in these few words. On the morning that I wrote them, I truly was thinking about serving and loving on the people whom God has brought into my life – mostly through Celebrate Recovery and our new church home. And I whole-heartedly believe that truly, as a Christian, our faith is expressed through the way we love those around us. This morning, though, as I re-read that verse, it presents a new, slightly different meaning. I think of this verse today in terms of my covenant with Brian. We just celebrated our first anniversary. I would be lying if I said that everyday of that first year was like a honeymoon, with rose pedals and violins,etc. We had our challenges. Not only the challenges presented by trying to blend our families (I use the word BLEND very loosely), but also just the ups and downs of really learning each other and living together AND growing in our walk with God at the same time. At times, we were overwhelmed and thought that maybe our expectations of this covenant we had made with each other and God were too much. We were very intent on the fact that our marriage was priority and that God was using our love and our union to make us more holy. But in the day to day “muck” of life – that all seems too lofty and leads to disappointment. I am certain that God brought Brian and me together for His purposes. I am certain that Brian is the man God intended for me, and I am so grateful for the love that we share. This verse this morning really spoke to me as far as Brian and my marriage is concerned. We can get bogged down in daily life, raising kids, paying bills, highs, lows, failures and disappointments. But when we take time to be still and to share with each other, “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” I am made more holy through this covenant. I am learning to love like Christ loved through this covenant. I sit here in the middle of a home that has, at times, felt broken and failed…and I am more certain than ever that I am where God called me to be. My faith in God is being expressed through this love.
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.
Today I am feeling a bit guilty. I feel guilty for letting myself get caught up and run down by my “problems.” Guilty for worrying about stuff that really just doesn’t matter. Guilty for allowing the frustrations of my world cause doubt and fear. The reality is that my problems are nothing. While my daily challenges may seem like moutains, they really are insignificant in the big picture. I work with children every day who deal with more than I could even imagine dealing with – even as an adult – and yet they are trying to navigate their way through minefields as children. Continue reading
The weekend is over – at least according to the calendar. But it is still being replayed in my mind over and over. It was a weekend that we had anticipated and looked forward to for some time. On December 10, 2010 Faith Passage played our first “show” at Now or Latte Cafe in Trenton, Ohio. We had only begun writing songs a few months prior to this – but couldn’t wait to get out there and share them with people. A lot has changed in this last year Continue reading
Today, at the end of yet another exhausting school day, I stumbled into the teacher workroom. It usually takes me about 15 minutes after the students leave for the day to de-tune and re-group before I can even think about the pile of work that awaits me in my classroom. Today, when I checked my mailbox, hoping there was not more work to add to my list, I was so surprised to find a king size of my favorite candy bar. Attached to this 2.6 oz. treasure was a note that simply said “Sending positive thoughts your way…” This made my day! I was truly touched that someone thought enough of me to take the time to buy my favorite candy bar (or to even know what my favorite candy bar is), to attach a note, and to sneak it into my mailbox. Wow…how special that random act of kindness was to me. I will make it a point to “pay it forward” tomorrow and try to make someone else smile. Hopefully, someday we will live in a world where random acts of kindness become less random and more the norm.
What have I gotten myself into? About a month back I received an invitation to an event for Cincinnati creatives. My first reaction…well I don’t know how these people got my name but I’m certainly NOT one of those people. Me…a creative? No way. I didn’t delete the email, but I didn’t immediately clear my social calendar either. A few days later I found myself re-reading the invitation, slightly intrigued, but still certain that I had mistakenly received this invite. I researched the host group, an amazing group of people out of Chicago called STORY, and became even more intrigued – and more convinced that I would not be going. The whole thing worked in my brain for a few days and I mentioned the event to Brian. His automatic response was “Well, you’re going, right?” For a week he asked me – often – if I had registered yet. I finally caved and registered. Waves of doubts and fears instantly rushed over me. What does one do at a creative meet-up? Have I ever been to a social mixer? I’m not a creative, I’m just a middle-aged school teacher who writes songs and sings. And then I made the mistake of looking at the list of the “others” who had registered for this event. Oh wow…more waves. More anxiety about walking into a luncheon by myself and feeling insecure about why I’m even there.
I truly believe timing is everything. My teaching pastor, Joe Boyd, recently tweeted about a book by one of his close friend, Todd Henry, called The Accidental Creative. (I have mentioned this book in another posting). Intrigued even more after seeing Joe interview Todd about creativity, I began reading the book. Here’s why I’m going to walk into my meet-up, mixer, luncheon tomorrow like I belong…I do belong! I AM one of those creative types. I am a songwriter, a singer, a writer, a blogger. My thoughts and ideas and creations were put in me by the ultimate creator. I have just as much right to be there as anyone else on the guest list. I may not have a big title, or run my own business, or any of that, but I do create and I do have a lot to share with the world. I am still nervous about going tomorrow – what will I wear, where will I sit, will anyone talk to me – kind of first day of school stuff – but I am more excited about the opportunity to learn more about myself and others at this event. I am ready to meet up with more people like me – the creative type!
I recently blogged about being overwhelmed – by good. About counting my blessings even when things did not initially appear to be blessings. Perhaps God thinks I needed a few more “lessons” where this subject matter is concerned. There are times in life when it just seems that everything is stacking up against you…and its times like those that counting blessings is a difficult exercise. Yesterday was one of those days for me. I had planned a fun day at King’s Island water park. Each of the kids was going to have a friend there, and I was going to lounge in my chair and do a little summer reading. Seemed simple enough. As we waited to turn into the water park I smelled chlorine…but knew we weren’t close enough yet to be smelling the chlorine from the water there. Nearing the gate to pay for our parking, the smell became nearly overwhelming. The night before I had picked up a few gallons of chlorine for the pool, but had gotten them out and used them…well all but one it turns out. Apparently the “safety” cap on this bottle to prevent spilling wasn’t exactly effective. Let’s just say, a gallon of chlorine in the trunk of the car leaves a mess of everything in its wake. Fast forward a few hours…we had a great day doing what we came to do at the park and are leaving to try and hurry to pick up Faith Passage’s hot-off-the-press banner. We fight the 90+ degree heat with the windows down (still overwhelmed by the smell of chlorine), and rush hour traffic to get to the sign company before they close. The excitement of picking up the new banner was doing a fine job of making me forget the chemical mess in my trunk. Until I went to pay for the banner – and realized that I didn’t have my bank card – and the last time I had seen it was at King’s Island. So let’s re-cap here for a moment…I’ve got a gallon of chlorine soaking in my trunk, (several towels, t-shirts and even a basketball uniform all showing the effects), and now I have a missing debit card (lost at a busy amusement park), and I’m standing in the sign store in my swimsuit and cover up with no way to pay for this fabulous new banner. Stay with me here…this is where the counting your blessings part comes in. I probably had every right to break down and kick, scream, pout, cry, or all of the above. And I won’t lie, I did consider each of those options. And I think that Greg, at the sign store, was preparing himself to witness one or all of those options. But I stopped for a moment and thought about my blessings. As Greg expressed his sympathies for me and my rough day it hit me that there were blessings to be counted here. First, I am blessed to live in a house with a pool, for which I have to buy chlorine. I am blessed to have a car in which the chlorine can wreak havoc. I am blessed to be able to take my children to King’s Island where I lost my debit card. I am blessed to have money in the bank that could have (but wasn’t) been stolen from me. And as I began to count, I felt ashamed that I almost chose a lesser option as a way to deal with this situation. I believe that little moments like this – small decisions to count blessings or find the positives not only affect me – but they can have affects on others as well. Maybe there will be a point in time that my children will be faced with things and they will remember to count their blessings. So at the end of yesterday and it with all of its craziness, I was overwhelmed…I was overwhelmed with blessings.