Nester. where bloggers are invited to post for the month of October on one subject. Last year I shared about my journey through breast cancer. You can read the series here at I Wear Pink.
This year I would like to share how God peers into the mess of our lives and brings healing, hope, and encouragement through His reckless grace.
Come join me.
Day 2: From a Mess to a Message
Day 3: Embracing the Cinderella in Me
Day 4: The Ball
Day 5: Midnight
Day 6: Details
Day 7: May the Lord Be Your Banner
Day 8: Royal Crowns
Day 9: My Bicycle Basket
Day 10: Losing My Mind
Day 11: Red Lion Inn
Day 12: What Kind Of Character Are You?
Day 13: Joy Comes in the Morning
Day 14: Do You Know Everything?
Day 15: Five Dollar Bicycle
Day 16: Son of Encouragement
Day 17: How Deep and Wide
Day 18: Wedding Supper
Day 19: The Looking Glass
Well.....my 31 Day Series, only made it for 19 days this year. I did tell you that I was a bit of a mess.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. `Look after him,’ he said, `and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise” ~Luke 10:30-37Jesus told us a story of a man set upon by thieves. The man was beaten, robbed, and left, naked and bleeding on the side of a dusty road leading to Jericho. The first two men, a priest and a Levite hurried by. In fact, Jesus said they crossed the road and passed by. They saw the man, but did not respond to his need. Then a Samaritan came down the road. He saw the needy man, just as the others had seen him, but instead of continuing on, his heart was moved with compassion. He saw the man as an opportunity to give and to serve. Instead of passing by, the Samaritan stopped and met the man where he was.
The Samaritan was likely not any richer than the priest of the Levite, yet he gave his possessions freely. He bandaged the man's wounds. He offered his oil, his wine, and his time. Then he placed him on his donkey and walked to an inn. There the Samaritan paid the innkeeper to care for the wounded man. His care was not half hearted, but complete. He simply did what he could with what he had to help another. And the Samaritan did all of this for a complete stranger.
Each of us were put on this earth to make a contribution. We love God by loving others. We serve Him by serving others. We all have something to offer to God, because He has given us something to give. What is mine is God's, because He has given me everything that I have.
God has placed in our lives people to whom we are called to minister and help, people who need us. The parable of the Samaritan clearly taught that life is not to be found in living for self, but rather in GIVING OF SELF in the service of God and others!
Were we not poor, naked, and bleeding when Jesus stopped for us?
Saturday, September 28, 2013
Life brings us something wonder-ful everyday. Here is what I wondered about and learned in the month of September.
1. I've learned that I really do not like clutter around the house. I think that I have always known this, but with six people or more in the house de-cluttering seemed like shoveling snow in a blizzard. More came in than ever went out. Pat and I are deliberately rearranging. We've tackled the pile of shoes at the entry way by redesigning our entry closet. Now there is space for a breath when we come home. We also have begun very intentionally to edit the items in our house. We have removed clothes, furniture, and "get to it someday" items. A little girl was blessed with a dollhouse and a desk went to a neighbor. Many things have gone to Goodwill. Our home is more peaceful and welcoming. What a difference empty space makes.
2. My daily planner was misplaced over the summer (see item 1) and I needed a new one, especially with school starting. I stumbled across this one and I LOVE IT! In fact when my husband saw mine, he ordered one for himself, without flowers, and for our daughter. Patty is using it as a school planner for college. There are several different styles and sizes. Mine fits in my purse, so I have it with me always.
There are three sections on each of the week at a glance pages. The top section replaces all those lists on the back of envelopes and random sticky notes. Your ideas, plans and need to do's are listed under categories that you determine. Mine say Family, Church, School, Medical, Errands, Blog, and Projects. The middle section is where you assign things from the top to a particular day. The bottom section is for appointments. I love this planner because it organizes my ideas into action. I really do get more done. (The Planner Pad folks do not know me and are not subsidizing this post in any way.)
3. I've learned that people want to hear your story. That when we share what God has done for us, it blesses others.
A dashing young man asked me to dance and my life changed in an instant. Thirty four years later I'm still dancing and loving this man.
4. I read the book Speak Love: Making our Words Matter, by Annie Downs. It is such a wonderful and uplifting book. As a teacher I have seen and experienced the effects of harsh words and mean girls - and boys. Not all of them are children, either.
It is a book of encouragement to use your words to build people up, not tear them down. To speak love, healing, and hope into peoples lives. It was a blessing to read. It makes you aware that what you say and how you say it are truly important.
As a wife and mother I love my family and am grateful to God for allowing me to be a part of their lives.
As a teacher, I really do enjoy the smell of newly sharpened pencils, crisp Fall air, and traces of chalk dust. I am so happy to be able to go to school and enjoy learning with my students.
What have you learned this month?
Friday, September 27, 2013
My list of 21 things that have blessed me this week. I am so grateful for each of them. You can read more about 21 Graces here.
- Amazing Fall weather. Gorgeous blue skies, warm golden sunshine, and soft breezes.
- A kind word from my son's teacher.
- Visiting with the ladies at book club.
- Fall flowers.
- Apples! Green apples, red apples, golden apples.
- Pumpkin Spice Coffee! Pat bought me a box! Considerate man.
- An opportunity to serve.
- My washing machine is working. It was not working for one week. I do appreciate the wonder of clean clothes.
- A gracious compliment left as a comment on a post.
- Getting to wait for the bus in the morning with my youngest son, before I head off to school myself.
- Going to the movies on a date with my husband.
- Worship music at church.
- Laughter with a friend.
- Cool Fall evenings.
- ....an extra blanket on the bed.
- My Dad feeling better.
- Enjoying my students.
- Our new fire pit in the back yard.
- Have I mentioned coffee?
- Love the bracelet Pat gave me for my birthday.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
“Poverty is not necessarily an issue to solve; it is an opportunity to serve. As we go through each day, our heart’s cry should be, ‘Lord, where would you have me give, serve, and invest myself to bring hope to the poor?’” — Orphan Justice author, Johnny Carr
Jesus told us a story of a man set upon by thieves. The man was beaten, robbed, and left, naked and bleeding on the side of a dusty road leading to Jericho. Two men, a priest and a Levite hurried by. In fact, Jesus said they crossed the road and went by. They saw the man, but did not respond to his need. Then a Samaritan came down the road. He saw the needy man, just as the others had seen him, but his heart was moved with compassion. Instead of passing by, the Samaritan stopped. He bandaged the man's wounds. He gave him a drink and then placed him on his donkey and took him to an Inn. Then the Samaritan paid for someone to care for the wounded man.
The Samaritan saw in the man an opportunity to give and to serve. Compassion caused him to stop and help. He was likely not any richer than the priest or the Levite, yet he gave his possessions freely. He offered his oil, his wine, his time, and his money. He put the man on his donkey and walked to an inn. His care was not half hearted, but complete. The Samaritan offered to reimburse the innkeeper for any extra expenses. He simply did what he could with what he had to help another. The Samaritan did all of this for a complete stranger.
We were put on this earth to make a contribution. We love God by loving others. We serve Him by serving others. We all have something to offer to God, because He has given us something to give. What is mine is God's, because He has given me everything that I have.
God has placed in our lives people to whom we are called to minister and help, people who need us. The parable of the Samaritan clearly taught that life is not to be found in living for self, but rather in GIVING OF SELF in the service of God and others! After all, Jesus still stops for each of us today.
Poverty provides us with an opportunity to serve. Compassion International reaches children in poverty one at a time through sponsorship. Please consider Compassion as one of your opportunities to serve.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Monday, September 23, 2013
Do you speak on behalf of those who do not have a voice? Do you use your gifts generously to fulfill a need - expecting nothing back? Do you want to make a difference in the life of a child?
Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. ~Isaiah 1:17I imagine that I am the play phone pressed tightly to this little girl's soft cheek.
Hello. Can you hear me now? I whisper into her ear, "Someone cares." Someone cares for you. You are precious and loved.
Briiiing! Briing! Sweet little girl, hunger gnaws at your belly in the night, but there is hope. From a land far away someone heard your cries. They have been answered.
A message of encouragement and joy has been left for you. Grow strong little one. Grow in hope. Grow in love. Grow in peace.
During the month of September, Compassion reaches out through bloggers to find sponsors for 3,160 children living in poverty. Won't you help? Please go here. There is a child who needs you.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.~Genesis 1:1-3, 2:7
I want you to notice two things in the scriptures above. The first is that God spoke everything in existence. The second, that God formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed life into him.
Before there was an Earth as we know it, there were words. God spoke before we even drew a breath. “And God said, “Let there be light.” The third verse in the whole Bible. God spoke and the world began. When God spoke the moon was flung into space, the oceans were formed, fish swam in the sea, and elephants dipped their long trunks into the cool fresh water for a drink. God spoke and the stars twinkled in the night sky, flowers burst into bloom, and Adam and Eve talked with God in the garden.
God could have created any way He wanted. He is God. He could have thought things into place, or snapped His fingers. He could have done a Genie blink and the first trees could have appeared. He could have waved a baton like a cosmic conductor. But instead, He did none of those things. He chose to use words to create.
There is power in God’s word. Whenever God speaks in the Bible, things change. Circumstances and lives, water to wine, the sick are healed, hearts are mended, and people are fed.
Adam was formed with God’s hand from the dust of the earth. Eve fashioned by God from Adam’s rib. God breathed life into them. Being so close to someone that you can breathe their breath is intimate. Sharing breath speaks of a closeness of body and spirit. It’s as close as a kiss.
When God created us in His image, God also gave us the power of words.
Proverbs 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death.
We can all think of times when someone has spoken to us and built us up, or sadly, torn us down. Words can break our hearts. As wives and husbands, parents, students and teachers, brother’s and sisters we have the power to speak into each other’s lives. The mouth speaks from the overflow of our hearts. Let us use our power for good and not evil as we go about our days. Choose to speak life, to never let a compliment go unsaid, to build and not tear down. Choose to not ever be the bully on the playground.
Speak every word in love.
The ideas in this post are based on a wonderful book called, Speak Love: Making Our Words Matter, by Annie Downs. It is available at Amazon.
Friday, September 20, 2013
My list of 21 things that have blessed me this week. I am so grateful for each of them. You can read more about 21 Graces here.
- Pumpkin Spice M & M's.
- Sharing a bucket of popcorn in a dark movie theater.
- Laughing with friends.
- Spending a day screening preschoolers and kindergarteners for school. They are so adorable.
- Senior citizen discounts!
- A loaves and fishes experience when two extra people showed up for dinner on a night we were eating light.
- A school BBQ on a perfect fall evening.
- Birthdays. Every one is precious.
- Homemade birthday cards.
- Chocolate cake made be my daughter.
- Family that cares enough to alert waitstaff that it's your birthday so that you can endure the humiliation of having them yell it to the
whole worldentire restaurant!
- Children's laughter.
- A new classroom. A better space for me and my students.
- My ancient washer needs a new part. It can be fixed and continue to serve us, faithfully washing enormous mountains of clothes.
- The beautiful colors of fall beginning to appear on the trees.
- My sons playing together quietly with lego's.
- Talking to my older sons on the telephone. How I love to hear their voices.
- Coloring with the BIG box of crayons.
- Listening to the sound of crickets at night through the open bedroom window.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
You can update the look of your dining room chairs in an afternoon by recovering the cushion with a stylish new fabric..
I chose an upholstery grade fabric that is stain resistant. It comes in long 54 inch rolls. One yard will cover two cushions. I always like to get extra fabric to make a runner for the table. It's better to have too much fabric, than too little. So get more than you think you might need.
I found a four pack of foam for seat cushions at Walmart. I was upholstering five chairs, so I needed two packs. I also used a light duty stapler, a tape measure, and an electric drill. My stapler is old, but you can find a similar one at Amazon.
I cut a piece of the replacement fabric about three inches larger than the chair seat. Note: Pay attention to the pattern of the fabric so that it is consistent and facing in the direction you want it to be in on the chair. I placed that top side down on the table. My chair seats were tapered. I used one of the extra foam cushions to cut a long triangle to place on either side of the seat. These were set on the fabric and finally the seat frame was added. I wrapped the fabric around the layers rather like a present. The material needs to be pulled taunt while it is being stapled in place. I started by putting a staple in the center of each side. Then a staple for each of the corners. Pay attention to the front corners to keep them neat. Continue to pull the fabric tight and work your way around the seat. Extra material can be trimmed away by following the staple line.
Place the chair on the now cushioned seat and replace the original screws.
Sunday, September 15, 2013
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;There are moments in your life that change you forever. Sometimes you can almost feel the earth shift under your feet. Other times it happens so quietly that you don’t realize the significance of what has happened until you look back for that moment that made everything different.
His love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south. ~Psalm 107
I was out with some girlfriends at a dance hall when a dashing young man came over to our table and asked me to dance. I can still see him. His blue eyes flashed at me under his dark brown hair, a combination that had always made my heart beat faster. He had on a white button down shirt and brown corduroy pants. We danced late into the night and I have been dancing with that man ever since.
Pat and I had been dating almost a year when the company he worked for hired another young man by the name of Steve. Steve had recently moved to the area with his wife and daughter. Steve was short, going prematurely bald, and carried a pocket sized Bible. He began to talk to Pat about having a relationship with Jesus. He and Pat would have long debates on how a relationship was different from a religion. I lived at school about an hour away during the week and went home on weekends to see my family and Pat. Pat would call me during the week, long distance - when long distance cost an exorbitant amount of money. Pat told me about his conversations with Steve. He wanted me to provide him with ammunition against the things that Steve was saying. The problem was that Steve made a whole lot of sense.
On Saturday evenings, I went to a Catholic church with my Mom. We always left right after communion. Going to church made me thirsty to experience more of God. The God I had learned about had a whole lot of rules, and seemed to become very angry with those who did not follow them. I had studied Jesus in the New Testament before dropping out of catechism class, but I couldn’t connect the stern Father and His miracle working Son.
One night after hanging up the phone with Pat, I prayed, “God, if Pat decides to get baptized then I will know that You are in this.” Now where that came from I am not sure, because we hadn’t even talked about baptism. Both of us had already been baptized as infants.
The next weekend, Pat was about three hours late to pick me up. He claimed that he had been busy. What he didn’t say was that the night before he had been given a dream. In his dream he saw hell all around him. It was utterly dark and full of emptiness and despair and then he sensed God’s hand cover him and everything changed into joy, happiness, and love. It was in a phone call in the middle of the next week that Pat confessed that he had gone with Steve to be baptized in a nearby creek.
The next weekend I was also baptized in the same creek. I remember feeling so fresh, clean and new after coming up out of that water. My life was forever changed.
I have to admit, neither Pat nor I prayed long eloquent prayers asking Jesus to come into our heart. We didn’t know enough to. God drew us to Him in His unfailing kindness with an everlasting love.
Pat and I immediately looked for a church to learn and serve in. We married about six months later.
Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south. Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love ~Psalm 107Sometimes, you meet a stranger who asks you to dance and your life changes. But anytime God asks you to dance, your life will always be changed.
What has God done for you?
Friday, September 13, 2013
I explain how it works here.
- Winning movie tickets for two at our dentists office. Pat and I are planning a movie date for the weekend!
- My boys went back to school on Monday. New beginnings.
- Continuing our home projects. Moving into the kitchen.
- My husband went out and bought all of the specific binders, colored folders, # 2 pencils, highlighters, graphing calculators, index cards, red pens, spiral notebooks, boxes of tissues, hand sanitizer, and paper the teachers requested for class. THANK YOU, Pat!
- My new planner - which is amazing!
- Shopping for baby girl clothes for a friend.
- New school shoes.
- Getting to see my students again.
- An encouraging word from a friend.
- A tiny frog in my yard. It was about the size of a nickel.
- Moving the alarm on my clock to off on Friday night.
- Kayaking on a quiet lake.
- The fresh smell of rain.
- The trees in the neighborhood sporting their first tinges of fall color.
- The sound of thunder rumbling in the distance.
- Evening walks with my husband.
- Our cat curled on my feet at night.
- Any dessert involving Nutella.
- Hair dye, which restores hair to an actual color found in nature. (Not for me.)
- Being in Grand Central Station.
- Red, white, and blue on 9/11.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
“Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” ~Esther 4: 14
One person with a desire to make a difference. With a vision for change. Willing to take the challenge.
One action. Sponsoring a child. Changing lives forever. Spreading hope. Making a difference. Showering love. Answering prayers in an envelope. Breaking the cycle of poverty. Recognizing the potential of the onel.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
We have been working on our entry closet. This closet serves as our launching pad for the day. It houses coats, backpacks, and shoes. It is used by guests, how embarrassing, and family. There were even seasonal tablecloths stuffed in there.
Let me give you a glimpse at how far it has come.
Let me give you a glimpse at how far it has come.
Here is the sad looking before. In an effort to organize several years ago, we added this shelving organizer. It was a bit of a disaster and never worked for our family the way I hoped.
Here is the same closet now. Not quite finished, but coming along. It does make me smile!
Friday, September 6, 2013
I've always admired those faithful people who are counting a thousand blessings. I thought about attempting it from time to time. But, recording 1,000 blessings seemed a little overwhelming. I'm good at accepting blessings, but to write them down was another story. That's why when I saw the idea behind 21 Graces, I was excited to jump in. Everyday I note three things which blessed me. That's it, just three things. At the end of the week there are 21 Graces. So simple. God always blesses me with far more than three each day.
Friend, you are welcome to join in on the fun. Visit Jordy Liz Blogs to link up or to find out more.
- My son, Brian, came to visit for the long weekend.
- Brian replaced some of the light switches in the house for us.
- A second trip to the Renaissance Fair.
- The generous heart of my youngest son, Connor, who gave $1.00 to Robin Hood because the actor said he needed money for the poor.
- An inspiring Convocation speech from our new Superintendent for the opening of the school year.
- Productive meetings for the first few days and time to add the last touches to our classrooms before the students come on Friday.
- Continuing work on projects around the house. We are beginning to see some things coming together. So exciting.
- A little frog sitting in a mud puddle enjoying the day.
- We built a small fire pit in our backyard with leftover pavers. Camp fires at home!
- We had s'mores!!!!
- Building a fire in the fire pit is like an open invitation to the kids to stop whatever they are doing and come sit with Mom.
- Reviewing a new book by Misty Leask. The book is Dear Wife.
- Giving a friend a picture that I took of her and her puppy.
- Passing an art picture on to a friend who will appreciate it.
- Changing our bedspread for Fall.
- Listening to my boys laughing together.
- Making a new friend at school.
- A thoughtful husband.
- Encouraging others to sponsor a child through Compassion International.
- Watching our chickens peck and scratch on the lawn. The girls won't eat earthworms. I thought all chickens ate worms. If you have chickens - do yours?
Thursday, September 5, 2013
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. ~Jeremiah 29:13
Now it was my turn. It was dark and the way was uncertain. There were obstacles to go around and many places that needed to be searched. Gleefully, I turned the flashlight high and low searching out my friends favorite hiding places. We never tired of playing flashlight tag.
God says that we will find Him when we seek Him with all of our heart. But how do I keep my focus on Him in this demanding world that pulls me in so many ways? I want to have a childlike wonder at the closeness of Jesus who loves even me. Me. Me with all of my warts and worries, sins and secrets, me. It is so easy to lose sight of Him when my attention is arrested by the busyness and stresses of life. I ricochet from one thing to another like a flashlight in the dark.
Still, I want to grab hold of the light and chase away the dark. I know the Lord is not hiding from me like my friends were in our game of flashlight tag. He wants to be found. To be found and passed along to others. Everything you and I do as believers should point to God. We are to shine. To make a difference in the lives of others. To take charge over the darkness. We draw others to God by pointing, or shining our light in His direction. Person to person. Hand to hand. His love reaching out.
One way to shine your light is through the ministry of Compassion International. Right now, there are children waiting. You can sponsor a child with a tax-deductible contribution of $38 a month. Your support provides food and clean water, medical care, educational opportunities, and even more importantly, your sponsored child will hear about the Light of the World. Please visit the Compassion website.
Your word is a lamp to my feet . And a light to my path. ~Psalm 119:105Tag! You're it!