52 Books in 52 Weeks Reading Challenge Update

This summer has been the summer of reading for me.  Early in the summer, my boys wanted to take a trip to Barnes and Noble to pick out a book. My oldest son was a on a quest to find his book for his summer reading assignment.  He chose a book based on the fact that I’d seen the movie.  Once he started reading it, he decided it wasn’t the book for him, so I gladly took it off his hands.

 

My 9th book of the summer and book 21 from my reading challenge is The Help. This is under the category of “a book that is a story within a story” from the PopSugar Reading Challenge.

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I think I’m about the only person on the planet that had not read this book. The first time I saw the movie, all of my friends told me they’d read it.  I’m glad I finally got the chance. I loved this book just as much as I loved the movie.  Any book that can make me laugh and cry and cringe all in the same setting is my kind of book.

 

How has your summer reading gone?  I think I’m going to take over my son’s final summer reading selection once he finishes it up. I found Confessions of a Domestic Failure on the shelf at a Wal-Mart this summer. My husband encouraged me to purchase it, but I couldn’t make myself do it.  Now that I’ve finished book 21, I will have to hunt it down.

 

Happy Reading!

Five Minute Friday: Try

Honestly, I wasn’t even going to “do” Five Minute Friday this week because I just wasn’t feeling the word TRY.  But then I got to thinking about how often I encourage others to try to do something. Just the other day, I told my oldest son, “You’ll never know until you try.”  In less than a week, I’ll be encouraging my new students to try to do something new in the classroom. How many times as adults do we give up, that we don’t put forth that effort needed to find out whether or not we will actually be successful?

I thought to myself, “If I don’t even attempt to write about this prompt because I’m “not feeling it,” then what example is that to my children and to others?”

So, why would I even admit this to you in a Five Minute Friday prompt?  Because as a Christian, it is my duty to admit my struggles to you.  I’ve found that when we share our struggles and hardships and then show how God worked through them, we encourage others.  We lead them closer to Him.

I didn’t want to cook on the grill the other night, but I tried anyway. I burnt up the chicken legs in less than two minutes.

I was nervous about contacting the KBC about writing for their blog, but I did anyway. I posted my first article with them today.

Sometimes things will work out and sometimes they won’t, but we will never know unless we try.

I encourage you to lay aside your fears and your doubts, lift up your voice in prayer, and try whatever God is leading you to do.

Would You Mark Your Calendars With Me?

My desire for several years now has been to connect with and encourage others through writing.  I am thankful for women like Kori Yates, Sara Horn, LisaJo Baker, and Kate Motaung who have provided me and other Christian writers with the opportunity to share our voice.  When I first began blogging in 2009, I committed to using this avenue to bring honor and glory to God.  I hope that as you’ve read my words, that you can see I’ve held true to that commitment.

 

Beginning in August, I will be joining some amazing women at Crosseyed Living, a blog created by the Kentucky Baptist Convention to encourage women to stay focused on Christ.  I’ve been a follower of this blog for quite sometime, and now I have the opportunity to contribute to the blog.

 

Would you join me?

 

My first post will be up on Friday, August 4.  However, I encourage you to visit the blog and read the encouraging words of these amazing Christian women.  My prayer is that you will be encouraged there and that your faith with be strengthened.

Where’s My Burning Bush?

Hopes, dreams, goals, ambitions.

We all have things we want to do, milestones to conquer, bucket lists to check off, finish lines to cross.

Yet, in the burning desires of our hearts, comes the call of God. Then arises the question: God, what is it you want me to do?

And we look for that burning bush.

Oh, how we can look back at Moses and become envious, for God revealed himself to Moses through the burning bush. He told Moses exactly what He wanted him to do. The expectations, the plan, it was laid out right there before Moses.

How many times, my friend, do we look and pray for that burning bush? For God to clearly reveal His perfect plan to us?

How easy that would make all this decision making!

But wait.

Moses had a problem with this clear plan of God’s.

God told Moses, “This is what you are to tell the people and this is what you will do,” and proceeded to reveal His plan to Moses.

But Moses said, “Wait! What if they don’t believe me?”

God had an answer, and it was in Moses’ staff. He would toss it to the ground and it would become a snake. Moses was told to pick it up by its tail (Eeeek!), and it turned back to a staff. The staff would perform miraculous signs so the people would believe.

Fair enough.

But Moses still relented. He said, “But God, I am not a good speaker. I can’t talk to these people! Send someone else.”

God told him that he would be fine. God Himself would give Moses the words to share. But still that wasn’t enough for Moses, so God gave him his brother Aaron to be his helper.

Does this sound familiar?

How many times do we pray for God’s will to be done, to be revealed to us, to be a witness to that burning bush? Then how many times, when God reveals Himself and His perfect plan to us, do we back away and find excuse after excuse on why we can’t proceed?

Life’s journey is a long, winding road. And for those that desire to do the will of God, it can seem to be longer, with more twists and turns. God doesn’t always put that burning bush in front of us. I think sometimes He tests us, He prepares us, and then eventually helps us to step into that perfect will of His.

If God did reveal Himself to us, face to face, and said, “This is what I want you to do. Go. Do it,” would we? Would we jump to the task joyfully and wholeheartedly obey? Or would we be like Moses and say, “You know God, I really don’t think I can do this,” and then give Him a list of reasons why we can’t do what God’s called us to do?

And maybe, that’s why God doesn’t always clearly reveal His plan to us. If we see the journey upfront, the heartaches, and the pain, we will back away and say, “God, find someone else. This isn’t for me.” Instead, I think God sometimes leads us one step at a time so that we don’t always know the path we are on until we get there. He doesn’t always give us the chance to back out.

When we ask God’s will to be done in our lives, we need to mean it….wholeheartedly, without a shadow of a doubt, truly desire what God wants our lives to mean for Him.

He will lead us to a land flowing with milk and honey, but the journey won’t always be easy. It won’t always be beautiful. However, it will always be worth it.

When Moses finally obeyed and the Israelites were being lead on their journey, God provided for them. He lit their way and fed them physically and spiritually. He wouldn’t do any less for us. God loves us, and regardless of what journey He has called us to, He will provide.

We just have to trust and obey.

A Million to ONE

On a recent Sunday morning, I awoke to dark skies, low rumbling thunder, and rainfall. Oh, how nice it would be to stay in bed this morning I thought to myself. My husband was away at AT (annual training) for his duties as an Army Chaplain. He had asked a former pastor who is now a member of our church to fill in behind the pulpit while he’s away. Had I not been responsible for teaching my Sunday School class, it would have been easy to stay home in my pajamas and read my Bible while sipping my morning coffee as my three exhausted sons slept in.

And my thoughts when back to a couple weeks before….

As my family got ready for church that particular Sunday morning, I struggled finding something to wear. I have a closet full of clothes, but wasn’t satisfied with anything I put on. Too tight in the thighs. Muffin top looked extra poofy. Too low cut for a pastor’s wife. My clothing selections lay in heap on the bed as my husband asked, “Are you changing again?”

Needless to say, he got “the look.”

Today, I am reminded of this….

Satan works hard on Sundays. He gives us a million reasons to miss Sunday service and a million reasons to be in a bad mood before we even leave the house when we do go. Whether we’re dying to head to the lake, go shopping, play a round of golf, or whether we are just plain tired and want to sleep in, Satan will give us all the reasons that skipping church services is ok. If he knows that the only thing keeping us from attending is an emergency, he will then do everything possible to distract us and harden our hearts while we participate in our worship service. He wants us to miss out. He wants us to be in a foul mood. He wants us to put our own selfish desires first and not give a fleeting thought to God.

Although Satan gives us a million reasons, God gives us one: LOVE.

God commands us to keep the Sabbath holy. If we obey His commandments, we show our love for Him.

Part of showing our love for Him, I believe, is being active church members.

Yes, as a pastor’s wife, I will encourage anyone to attend church regularly, but here’s the thing: I was a church member long before becoming a pastor’s wife, and I know how important it is for “regular” people to attend.

I didn’t grow up in church. In fact, I had quite a negative view about church and why people attended. Most of my knowledge about God came from a summer of VBS and the inside covers of my many Gideon Bibles. I always knew about Jesus, but I didn’t come to know him until I was a young mother in my mid 20’s.

My home church is full of the love of God. From day one, my family has been loved on by the body of Christ. They have encouraged us, supported us, and prayed for us. They’ve helped to meet physical and spiritual needs. They’ve helped us grow in our walk with Christ. In doing so, we’ve developed some strong, Christ centered relationships within our church.

And the thing about it is this – that couldn’t have happened on the patio reading my Bible and drinking my coffee. It couldn’t have happened on a boat in the middle of a lake. Christian growth and Christian relationships are developed within the church.

Hebrews 10:24 – 25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” When we make our church attendance a priority, we are able to strengthen one another, to be blessed, and be a blessing. As a Sunday school teacher, I have seen this first hand when women who feel alone or feel like the worst moms in the world, or frazzled women who struggle with tempers and gluttony and jealousy make a commitment to come to Sunday school each week to study God’s Word, to offer encouragement, and to be encouraged. I’ve seen women grow and change and become leaders within the church. I’ve seen them step out of their comfort zones and go on mission trips and serve in the community. I’ve seen women be the Christian example in their workplaces and homes. These women do this because they ignore Satan’s million reasons to stay home or sulk in a pew and instead, accept God’s one reason of love.

Because of love, we should make Sunday school and regular church attendance a priority. When we put God first in our lives, His love empowers us. His love radiates from us. His love moves us.

Sadly, I admit that twice on that Sunday, I had thoughts of staying home from church. I had even asked my boys how they felt about missing the Sunday evening activities and service. They were all for it. Yet, I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do. I apologized to them for considering it and for even giving them a say in the matter. They were fine with my decision, and as we made our way indoors to freshen up, our 5-year-old neighbor asked, “Why do you go to church so much?” I told him we go every time our church has services so we can learn more about God. I realized I wouldn’t have been able to witness to him in this way had we stayed home from church. Later that evening, I reflected on the conversations I had with others before and after the service. I reflected on what my children learned during the sermon. God showed me what we would have missed out on had we not been there.

Let me say this: I’ve never been sorry for attending a church service, but I have been sorry for missing one.

As women of faith, let us focus on God’s love and not Satan’s many distractions. May we let our love for Christ be the reason we do what we do.

Back to School Gift

It is that time of year.

Store aisles are filled with folders, paper, crayons, and pencils. Our mail contains the best sales for school supplies. Although they’ve done hours of Pinterest PD, texting, and emailing, teachers are officially meeting to prepare for classrooms full of kids.

Yes, it is back to school time!

As parents, we usually get our child’s teachers a gift for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Teacher Appreciation Day. But what about a Back to School Gift?

As a teacher, the best (and I think only) back to school gift I have gotten was a note from a parent. It let me know that she had been praying for me and our school year. I taped it to the pullout on my desk and read it several times throughout the year.

I cherished that note.

Teachers have a wonderfully stressful job.

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We love our students. We call them “our kids” – forever. We see these students in ways their parents will never see them. We laugh with them. We cry with them. We hug them when they celebrate and when their worlds are falling apart.

Teachers do more than teach. And to know that a parent was praying for me, praying for our school year…..that meant so much to me.

Parents, we do need your prayers. Your children need your prayers. It is a crazy awful world we live in. So many uncertainties. So much evil. For some of these children the school is their safe place. The school is their guaranteed meal. The school is where they are loved and cherished.

I’ve come to realize in my many years of teaching that some of these students that I call “my kids” need me to teach them reading and writing. Others need me to teach them love, compassion, and responsibility. And others, those children need to be loved and cherished and told they are indeed someone special, someone who is fearfully and wonderfully made.

So, parents, pray for us. Pray for us to be what these precious children need us to be. Pray for us to see them as more than a test score. Pray for us to show patience, love, and understanding while we stretch their minds and push them to succeed. Pray for us to protect them from bullies and self harm. Pray for us to see them as God our Father sees them. Please, pray for us.

And then, I ask you this….Would you please show us grace and mercy? We teachers are human. We mess up. We jump to conclusions. We get tired and frustrated. Life happens to us as it does to everyone. So, please, show us grace.

And then if you want to….send coffee.

Five Minute Friday: Collect

I have a huge collection of Barbie Dolls.  When my husband and I first married, we were like big kids.  We would spend a Saturday going to every flea market, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and any other toy store we could find.  Our goal: to find items to add to our collections. For me, it was Barbie, and for him, it was NASCAR. I dare to say how much money we spent on our quests, but we did have lots of fun.

 

Now, those collections are sitting in boxes. My dolls are in my mom’s upstairs storage, and all that NASCAR stuff…..well, let’s just say that after having children (all boys), many of them have gotten opened over the years.  But my collection of Barbie dolls isn’t doing anyone any good.

 

I thought that maybe I’d have a daughter one day to play with them, yet God blessed me as a boymom.  I thought maybe I could then sell them.  Yet, they still sit in boxes.

 

I thought I’d……

 

Isn’t that the way it goes with our plans?  We collect and hoard and stock up the bank account, yet we never do anything with it.  We put off because we think something better will come up.

 

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I pray that this weekend, you ask yourself what it is you are collecting, what you’re holding on to and if it is doing anyone any good.  Life’s too short to just keep holding on. Friend, don’t hold on to that grudge. Don’t hold on to that fear. Don’t hold out for a rainy day.  Don’t delay on living your life to the fullest.  We aren’t promised tomorrow.

 

 

 

52 Books in 52 Weeks Update

In recent days, I was on a mission to finish the Maze Runner series.  I have to say,  I really liked this series. Never would I have chosen to read them on my own, so I am thankful my pre-teen encouraged me to do so.  I told my husband they were addictive.  James Dashner definitely knows how to keep his reader’s attention. I’ve just finished the series and added 3 books to my 52 Books in 52 Weeks reading list.

Book 18 – The Death Cure

Book 19 – The Kill Order

Book 20 – Fever Code

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These books fit under the category of “3 books written by the same author” from Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 Reading Challenge.

 

Now, I need to read something a little lighter, a bit happier.  As I was driving home today, I saw a girl walking down the street wearing her pajamas (this is July in southern Kentucky), and she was flapping her arms like a bird.  My immediate thought was, “She must be a Crank.”  Yeah. Time for some lighter reading, Y’all!

 

How is your summer reading going? Do you have any suggestions for a fun read for me?