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Entering the Throne Room…

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”    -Psalm 5:3

It’s so easy… yet so hard. I’m up early before leaving for work. I can’t just get up and go.  I need time to prepare for the day. I need coffee and quiet time. I’ve got all of the tools necessary. Quiet and comfortable location (several options), coffee, journal and favorite pen, bible (several) and time.

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GO!

Good morning, Lord…

Suddenly a million distractions come my way.

Oh wait! I need to find a good worship song (on my iPad!).

Now that scripture would be great to put on a photograph… and then I can put it on Instagram!

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Hmmm, I wonder if anyone has commented on the one I put on yesterday?  I’ll just check real quick…

Oh ya, my bible plan… back to business. 

Lord, thank you for this new day. Please give me strength to get through this day and…

Wait! What time is it?  Shoot, I need to be in the shower in 5 minutes! 

I wonder if anyone commented on the photo album I put on FB last night?  I’ll just do a quick check before jumping in the shower!

And that it how it plays out more mornings than I care to admit.  To quote a great movie, “Squirrel!” 

Some mornings are much better and my time is spent indulging in the sacredness of my Heavenly Papa.

While I’m confessing my innate ability to botch my morning quiet time with Jesus, some mornings don’t have any quiet time at all, although that is rare. I’ve tried to exercise first thing and that has been a disaster! I’ll save that for later in the day… if I get to it!  Oh my, that is another blog for another day!

The other evening I was reading Abba’s Child  by Brennan Manning. In the summer of 1992 he spent time alone in a cabin in the Colorado Rockies without TV, radio or any reading material. After reading about his experience I began to ponder what that would be like.  Time alone with God with nothing else. No distractions but our own demons that keep us from that sweet time with the Lord. How long would it take before I could truly “be still and know”? (Psalm 46:10)

I wonder what I’m missing by letting the things of the world get in my way? What sacred indulgence does God have for me that I’ve missed because I’m too busy getting my sanctuary ready to be with Him?

What am I afraid of? Why is it difficult to go to the throne room without my coffee and journal and bible (AKA my iPad full of distractions)…?

Lord,   Show me how to simply come before You and be in Your presence… uninterrupted so that I may partake of Your sacred indulgences awaiting me.   In Jesus’ name… let it be done, let it be so…

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Generations · Hope · Humor · Lessons Learned · life happens... · Poetry Writing. Family. Growing up · Seasons · The Journey

Where I’m From…

I’ve joined a month long writing group and our first assignment was to get in touch with where we came from. We were tasked with writing a poem…not my strong area! The format came from a poem written by George Ella Lyons. So, today I become a bit more vulnerable in my writing and share with you a snippet of Where I’m From…

Where I’m From…

I am from “Kevin, Mary, Kathy, Mike, Megan, Jeff, Jenny, Matt”
and a kitchen table made from a door!
From children that were to be seen and not heard and ironing hankies.
From the big house on the corner with lots of gardens to weed.

I am from the front pew of church full of legs trying not to swing
and the white baptismal dress passed down.
From real butter and link sausage on Christmas and Easter.
From a teacher, a newspaper man, and seven of eight.

I am from pine needle houses and imaginary horses.
From half cheese glasses of juice, cookie cans above the stove
and hot dogs roasted over the fire.
From Herb Alpert and Firestone Christmas albums.

I am from people who loved me even if they struggled to show it.
From Sunday night pot roast and Wonderful World of Disney.
From beach fires, skinny dipping, inner tubes, bee stings and
the deep blue waters of Bead Lake.

I am from hard times and amazing times.
From a family torn apart…
But a childhood lived well.

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My Words for 2014…

I promised myself that I would not make a list of resolutions for 2014.  Each year I do it.  Each year I’m disappointed in myself by mid or late January.  This year I have been thinking about 2014 from a more global perspective.  What is the “big picture” for my year?  What do I want my year to look like?

I’ve been trying to come up with My One Word for the year, based on the book My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen.

Last night, as we prayed for our kids and the struggles they are having, one word fell off my tongue more times than I can count.  It was the over-arching theme of my cries to Jesus. When we finished praying I knew My One Word for 2014.

Protection

I’m excited to pray and explore and write about God’s protection over my family. The enemy has such a strong hold on today’s youth and marriages and families.  My cry to God is for protection of our youth – our three teenagers in particular, as well as our family and our marriage.  My cries are also for protection over the health of those I love.  I realized that the things that have been waking me in the night and bringing me to my knees in the morning all involve a prayer of protection.

This afternoon I’ve also been thinking about the coming year is terms of it being a empty book… waiting to be filled.  I sat down to pray and asked God to fill my book with stories of…

And I began to pray a list of words.

Being that I’m now 50, I knew I’d better write these words down or I’d be in trouble.  By the time I finished heating my tea in the kitchen, the words would be gone… out of my memory!  I might even have forgotten that I was praying prior to the trip to the kitchen!

So, I leave you with my list of words… and the amazingly beautiful sunset on this 2nd day of January, 2014.

photo(1) copyphoto(1)What are your words for you this coming year?  What words describe the kind of year you are longing for?  Don’t be afraid to write them down and see what God is going to do!  Your book is empty now and you have all year to fill it!

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The Gifts of Advent…

Recently, I’ve been drawn into watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel.  I know what you are thinking… please don’t judge me!

Most of the movies portray Christmas in a very sweet, festive light…always with a happy ending. If you just watch one or two, it’s fine. If you watch more than that, you begin to see the “life is always a happy ending” message that Christmas movies 24/7 send. It’s like too much FB.  After a while, you begin to look at your own life and those around you in comparison to the movies. Most really don’t compare.

This past week I sat on a Child Study Team. Teachers come to talk about students who are really struggling and we discuss ways to help them and whether or not they need to be assessed for learning issues. Our latest meeting brought to the table four primary students. We began the discussions around their strengths and what they do well. Then we moved to their struggles, both emotionally and academically. By the end of our time together, it dawned on me, that while each of these four students struggle academically, their bigger issues were emotional. Each one comes from a home life that seems impacted by emotional and financial stress. They live in chaotic worlds. We brainstormed ways to support the students as well as their families. Our meeting ended with learning about a special needs student that lost his 8 month old sister while he was snuggling with her. She was wrapped up in blankets and suffocated. We all sat devastated. With heavy hearts we ended our meeting and headed home on that dark and cold December evening.

As I drove home, my heart was heavy. How can I help these kids and their families? What can I do to ease their pain and suffering? I’ve got my own stuff, but suddenly it didn’t seem very important. I was feeling hopeless about the current state of our families and the immense need so many of them have. Braving the quickly-dipping temperatures, I was forced to stop for gas. I was numb as I stood at the pump, willing the gas to fill my tank quickly. My mind was whirling with the images of these sweet kids that I have the privilege of working with each day. The tank filled and I grabbed my receipt. As I was getting settled in my warm car, the woman behind me honked and jumped out of her truck. She came to alert me that I had not put my gas cap back on or closed the little door. I’ve never done that! I thanked her over and over. What a warm blessing she was to me in that moment. My hope felt a bit more restored. I was able to see some goodness in what felt like such a dismal world around me.

This week has marked the beginning of the 2013 Advent Season. I began reading a wonderful book by Ann Voskamp called The Greatest Gift – Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. Each day she shares a small morsel of hope in what seems like a ever-declining world. Here are some excerpts from Days 1-6 along with photo’s of the ornaments from The Jesse Tree that Ann provides to compliment her Advent readings.

Day 1 – “There, here, in the midst of the inconceivable, the loud claims, the hard sells, the big spectacles, (*the hopeless feeling so many have) Christ comes small, the micro- macro-miracle who comes in the whisper and says, Seek Me. Just where you are, look for the small glimpses of God-glory breaking out, sprouting, shooting, unfurling, bearing fruit, making the shoot that bears witness to God – the hardly noticed child, the hymn hummed over the sink, the unassuming woman bent at the register, the dog-eared Word of God beckoning from the shelf.”

IMG_4001Day 2 – “This Christmas story… It begins with the always coming of Christ…No matter your story before, this is your beginning now; you were formed by Love… for love.”

IMG_4002Day 3 -“And your God, He’s coming now, everywhere, for you…God refuses to to give up on you.  Your God looks for you when you’re feeling lost, and your God seeks you out when you’re down, and your God calls for you when you feel cast aside.  He doesn’t run down the rebel.  He doesn’t strike down the sinner.  He doesn’t flog the failure.”

IMG_4003Day 4 – “How did we ever find ourselves with the gift of finding favor with God?  God, who hung the stars – He has taken a thread of His heart and tied it to yours.  And He didn’t need to, but God tied His heart to yours so when you feel pain, He fills with pain.”

IMG_4004Day 5 – “This is the gift that wraps up all stresses quiet: I will bless you. … But the weight of everything melts like thinning snow in the heart of His words: “I will bless you.”  He will not burden you.  He will not break you.  He will bless you – the God if invincible reliability, the God who has infinite resources, the God who is insistent love.  You can always go ahead and breathe – He will bless you.  You can always breathe when you know all is grace.”

IMG_4005Day 6 – “The gigantic secret gift that He gives and we unwrap, that we never stop unwrapping – we who were barren now graced with the Child who lets us laugh with relief for all eternity.  There is nothing left to want.  There is nothing left to fear: “All fear is but the notion that God’s love ends.” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts) And His for you never will.  So loosen up, because the chains have been loosed, and laugh the laughter of the freed.  Laughter – it’s all oxygenated grace.”

IMG_4006(Above are photo’s of ornaments from Ann Voskamp’s website – A Holy Experience – Jesse Tree – each coinciding with every day of Advent.)

So much hope each day in a few short pages of words.  I love that it’s not about bows and packages and stockings and lights and trees.  It’s about the Giver becoming the gift.

“The Giver becomes the Gift, this quiet offering.  This heart beating in the chest cavity of a held child, a thrumming heart beating hope, beating change, beating love, beating the singular song you’ve (*we’ve) been waiting for – that the whole dizzy planet’s been spinning round waiting for.  Waiting.   Advent… it means “coming.” (A. Voskamp, The Greatest Gift)

I don’t want the quiet stresses that seem to surface during the holidays to trump the gift of Jesus coming this Advent.  The waiting… I don’t want the waiting to be clouded with things that are not important.  I want to clearly see and breathe the grace and hope that is mine (ours) for the taking!  There is no greater gift…

IMG_4007* my thought inserted into her words from the book

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School Days…

We are about to begin our third week of the new school year. I’m about to begin the third week of my 26th year in education. It should be 27, but I took a year and worked for a non-profit.

I think back to my elementary school days. I LOVED school! I could not wait to get back in September. We would go for a few days and then have a weekend. I always hated that first weekend because I would rather have been in school instead of at our lake cabin. I know… our lake cabin! Hmmmm… school or a lake cabin? If only I could have that choice now!

This year I began the school year a bit tired and not as excited as usual. Feeling a bit bummed by this, I decided to take my camera to school the second day and photograph what elementary school is all about! It helped me evoke some strong memories of why I love school so much! It helped me get back to what is really important… kids! Oh, and crayons, felt pens, colored pencils, Number 2 pencils, books, glue… the list goes on!

So, here is a little photo journey of a day in an elementary school.

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20130915-151454.jpg20130915-151543.jpg 20130915-151513.jpgDo any of these photographs evoke memories for you?  What do you remember?  What was special about the start of elementary school?

pencil boxes… new crayons… colored notebook paper… pee-chee’s… “school shoes”… lunch box (I never had one – I always ate lunch at home – joy of living kitty corner from the school)… freshly taped name tag… spearmint paste… tempra paint… meeting new friends…reconnecting with the old… new school clothes… sleepless night before the first day… your first day of HW… new teacher… your desk…

I would love to hear about the memories you have from elementary school.  I hope you will share!

Today I’m reliving a few old memories to fuel my desire to create some new ones… even though I’m much older!  Sometimes things get old and mundane because we forget from whence we came!  My goal this week is to try to look at my school and my job through eyes of wonder and excitement that I had 40+ years ago!

Generations · Humor · Lessons Learned · life happens... · Prayers · Seasons · The Journey

It’s Only a Number…

This year’s birthday sentiments started a bit earlier than my actual day after posting about a weekend getaway celebrating my upcoming 50th birthday. Another post mentioned that seeing 50 on a card seemed seemed a bit harsh for a few moments! I’ve decided to make a list of all of the birthday comments I’ve received this year around age. Thanks to everyone for the good wishes, but especially the advice and wisdom. Come to think of it, most of these comments are from those who have gone before me! It truly is wisdom!

1. It only hurts for a bit… hang on!
2. It’s the new 30… you are as old as you think!
3. You are as young as you feel!
4. Welcome to the world of AARP!
5. It’s just a number!
6. Just means you’ve been awesome for half of a century!
7. It just keeps getting better after 50… honest!
8. You start getting great discounts!
9. It’s just a number that man created, but if you feel young, you’ll be young.
10. In 10 years you will wish you were 50, so live it up!
11. Welcome… it’s actually not too bad over here!
12. Remember that age is a matter of mind over matter… except when your body joints crackle!
13. In reality, it’s the last day of your 50th year when you hit 50!
14. It’s the 26th anniversary of your 24th birthday!
15. It’s the start of the next 50 years of my life and I get to make all of the choices!
16. Just tell yourself, “I am only ___” and you can, in your mind, become that!
17. Just numbers… that’s all!
18. Look on the bright side. In 5 years you can order off the SENIOR menu at Denny’s!

I’ve been blessed with 50 years on this earth. I’m encouraged by all of the well-wishes I’ve received thus far. I’m encouraged to make every minute count and live life, not based on a number, but on love and friendship and the privilege of serving others.

Yesterday, I found out that a friend from HS passed away suddenly. A few weeks ago on FB, she posted pictures from her 50th birthday celebration and of her new grandchild. While her death most likely had little to do with her age, it tends to put things into perspective. The perspective is that no matter how young or old we are, life is fragile and can be taken from us in an instant. Whatever age we are, we need to embrace our life in the here and now. Love those around us. Make choices that will leave a positive mark on our story. We never know when the number after our dash will show up (1963 – __ ). What story lies within the distance between those numbers, be it long or short? I believe the story that my friend left behind blessed many many people and will continue to for years to come. That is the kind of legacy I want my dash to hold.

I’ll leave you with this… no matter your age, just remember these words… RIGHT NOW, YOU ARE AS OLD AS YOU’VE EVER BEEN!

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Everything I’ve Learned…

In a matter of days, I will have been on this earth 50 years. There was a time in my life when I thought 50 was really old. Well, today I’m rethinking that a bit! I was recently told that the 40’s are the old age of your youth and 50’s the youth of your old age. Interesting perspective. So, I guess I’m young again!

Since I’ve most likely lived over half my life already, I’ve decided that I needed to record some of the lessons and “profound” ideas that I’ve learned thus far. So, here is a snippet of my random list in no particular order of importance or thought process. Remember… I’m almost 50!

1. When you get a new box of Crayola Crayons, once you begin using them they will never be the same again, no matter how you sharpen them.

2. When you decide to cheat in 6th grade SRA because everyone else is doing it, you WILL get caught.

3. When living in a large family, eat fast or starve!

4. Life is hard… no one ever said it was going to be easy.

5. If you lose your skate key, you are either out of luck and can’t skate or you are stuck in your skates indefinitely.

6. Trikes are best ridden on flat surfaces, not down steep hills.

7. Everything is better when you have a clean drawer of underwear and a full tank of gas.

8. When given tasks that you don’t want to do, complaining about them and putting them off does not make them any easier or more enjoyable.

9. Trying to be cool does not make life easier.

10. If you bug your mom long enough and make up songs to remind her of what you want, you will eventually win… usually.

11. Friends are amazing. Some will be in your life for a short time and others will stick around for a very very long time. Either way, friends are a blessing and a gift.

12. Sometimes we don’t know what we had until it’s gone.

13. Never say “never.”

14. Everything we say and do has an effect on the stakeholders in our lives in some capacity.

15. Over-thinking things does not always yield the best results. For that matter, neither does NOT thinking things over at all!

16. If you are having trouble getting your glass to be half full, maybe you should scale back and get a smaller glass.

17. If you really like a boy in high school, perhaps it’s best NOT to walk by him in the Commons hoping he will notice you as you trip in your clogs and go down to your knees.

18. If you really love someone, don’t give up… you never know when they might just come out to the mailbox at the perfect moment!

19. Life was much simpler before caller ID, pagers and cell phones.

20. Holding car keys in the grocery store before you have your license DOES make you look cool.

21. Loving another person does not guarantee happiness.

22. Loving is difficult and some days it is a choice.

23. We were all young once…

24. Life without God… there are no words.

25. Today, I am as old as I’ve ever been… just sayin’.

I think this list of things I’ve learned over my almost 50 years could go on and on. Each moment in time brings new life. We are constantly learning lessons – some more difficult than others. We must embrace each of the moments we are given and choose to make the best of them. I believe that in every situation there is something good and right, even if it takes a bit longer to find it.

Some lessons we learn are meant just for us. Others are meant to share. My list is just a glimpse of the crazy, hard, amazing, happy, meaningful and purposeful life that I’ve lived thus far. Even though I’ve grumbled and complained along the way, I would not change any of it for the world!

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