Sunday, February 27, 2011

Confession 168: Thank You!

Last year, as I was watching the Academy Awards, I posted this.  I tried to do a new original one, but everything I would ever want to say is right here.  So, I'm re-posting.

I don't know about anyone else, but I've always kind of liked Awards shows. Okay, I'll admit it, I LOVE the Academy Awards!! Before I had children, I used to see all of the nominated films each year. I held Oscar viewing parties, I had my ballot filled out and ready to go. One year, I even made Oscar themed games and gave away Academy Award winning movies for prizes!! Yes, there is a little domestic diva who lies buried inside of me and pops her head out from time to time! This year, I only saw Up. But I saw it every day for two months straight, so that has to count for something!!

As I'm watching the drama unfold on the red carpet (a.k.a. people with little sense and too much money tripping over one another to congratulate themselves on making more money and staying upright in stiletto heels) I can't help myself. I start to picture myself on that stage, standing tall in my classy, strapless, Vera Wang with well-defined biceps and triceps, holing the Oscar for best original screenplay, and launching into my acceptance speech. This year, it goes something like this...

First of all, I'd like to thank God-- not for the Oscar, because I don't think God cares whether or not I win an Oscar, but for the opportunity to live this beautiful, albeit sometimes messy life. God's limitless grace and mercy, his faithfulness, his unfailing love and presence has kept me going through all of the ups and downs. I thank God, too for the opportunity to bring this story to all of you. It is so important that we, as human beings, work to ensure a better future for all of our children. That's why this award means so much to me--it brings the story to even more people. And that is my way of making a difference.

To my family, thank you! My wonderful husband, Chris, who saw more in me than I ever saw in myself. Who pushed me, encouraged me, convicted me and supported me. I would never have become the woman God intended me to be without you.

To my parents, Clell and Linda--where do I start? You taught me how to dream, how to believe, how to hope, how to have faith. You worked to build a foundation of love for my life, and I have been so blessed by that love. I hope I can honor you in all that I do.

To my sister Libby, my friend, my compatriot, my co-conspirator. Thank you for your passion and your fire. You inspire me to fight for a better world.

To my in-laws Ken and Mikki, how blessed I am to be part of your family!! Thank you for your amazing love and grace.

To Mrs. Rife, the Queen of Everything, I know you're smiling down from heaven right now. Your Princess has come a long way, and I thank you for pushing me in the right direction. You never stopped believing.

To my students, thank you for all the lessons along the way. You might never know this, but you are so much a part of who I am. I have loved all of you. Listen to me tonight--you have the power to succeed! Don't let your life hold you back--press on!

And finally, my two sweet, beautiful boys. I thank God for entrusting you to us every day. You are the lights of my life. This is for you!!

Well, there it is. My Academy Awards Acceptance Speech. Of course, I would have been ushered off the stage by "Oscar Girl" before finishing the introduction, but I'd have a hard copy if anyone wanted to listen to the rest. So, how about you? What's your Award Winning Speech? I'd love to hear!

Blessings and Peace,

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Confession 167: Seeds of Faith

Hello Everyone!!  If you're still hanging with the inconsistent blogger, I'm posting over at Seeds of Faith today.

I'm doing a long-term sub job in 3rd grade which is great, but oh my... Have I mentioned that I'm a high school teacher?  I'm also in the process of doing my very first (and possibly last depending on how it goes!) women's retreat.  It's been so much fun getting the Biblical study together!!  I feel like I'm finally putting my Christian Ed degree to use! :-)  Prior to this, I had been mentally referring to it as my M.R.S. degree.  Which is a fabulous degree, by the way! :-)  And now I'm rambling on and on because I'm sleep deprived thanks to my youngest who thinks Mommy should rock him in the recliner half the night.  Oh what a joy motherhood is!!  It seriously is, right? :-)

Blessings and Peace,

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Confession 166: When God Drills A Message Home

The Lord is my Shepherd.  I shall not WANT.

Our Women's Bible Study has been working through Cynthia Heald's Becoming a Woman of Excellence.  Our topic this week is surrender and obedience.  I think the lesson of surrender and obedience is going to be the defining theme of my life.  It seems to be the message God continually wants to drill home to me.  I've realized that the heart of surrender is trust, and the heart of obedience is love.  I will surrender when I truly trust God, I will trust God when I realize the fullness of his love for me, and the fullness of his love for me will move me from selfish ambition to a life of love which is a life of obedience.  Sounds great, right?  Then why, with every new challenge, do I have to fight the fight of surrender all over again?  Why, when I get a letter stating that Garrett's insurance has been revoked yet again do I feel so helpless?  And why does the thought of beginning the job search all over again as teacher contracts begin to come up fill me with such heaviness and dread?

The answer lies in the desires of my heart and the fear that the desires of my heart are not the desires of God's heart.  Yet the thing that God is going to keep drilling and drilling into my stubborn heart is the reality that HIS plan for my life goes "exceedingly, abundantly beyond" (Ephesians 3:20) anything that I could ever plan!!

In the past several months, God has led my family and I to rest beside still waters.  He has restored our souls.  So many times lately I have had cause to pause and say, "My cup runneth over."  God has met all of our needs.  Oh, that my heart could be steadfast! (Psalm 119:5)  That I could fear no evil!  That I could say with David, "surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life" instead of crying out, "SERIOUSLY?!" with every new challenge.  It's so hard to surrender!!

But this truth I remember: He who has begun a good work in me will see it through to the completion.  (Philippians 1:6).  It is my job to press on toward the goal which Christ has set for me.  I will continue to learn the lessons of surrender and obedience so that I can say, as Paul so boldly stated, that I can be content in all things (Philippians 4) knowing that all things work for the good of those who love God. (Romans 8:28)  And I will give thanks that our Christian walks are truly an ongoing process.  There is nothing to "get right", only room to grow.  And boy, do I have some growing to do!!

Blessings and Peace,

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Confession 165: God and Chocolate Cake

I'm thinking of Psalm 42 this morning as I engage in yet another abbreviated devotional time.  I've been doing a full-time sub job the past three weeks, and it and my children have thrown my routine off a bit.  In this psalm, the psalmist compares his love for the Lord to a deer panting for streams of water.  His soul cannot be quenched until he has been with God.

Sometimes I wish I could respond to the Word as well as I respond to a big slice of soft, decadent chocolate cake.  I can't resist--EVER!  Yet, when I'm busy and have a schedule to keep, I will resist God's pull into his Word from which comes my strength, hope, and focus for the day.  So, my challenge to myself today is less cake, more God.  He will fill me up without packing on the pounds!

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
   so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
   When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food
   day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
   “Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember
   as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
   under the protection of the Mighty One[d]

with shouts of joy and praise
   among the festive throng. 

 Blessings and Peace!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Confession 164: The Gift of Time

We woke up to more snow on the ground this morning.  No school.  It's our tenth snow day of the season, some sort of new record I think.  As a substitute teacher now, I don't get paid on snow days.  I know I should care, but in reality, it doesn't bother me.  Call me crazy, (lazy) but I love snow days!  I love the way we can gently ease into our days when there's no place to be in the morning.  I like cuddling under the blankets with my boys while they watch Mickey Mouse.  I like listening to their little teeth munching on Pop Tarts, the gentle smack of their lips as their mouths open and close with each chew.  Obviously, we haven't worked on the whole chew with your mouth closed skill yet! :-)  I also love the thought of the day stretching out before us with no plan or list or schedule attached to it.  It's time, precious and fleeting, stretched out before us to shape and mold as we wish. As my educator parents taught me from a young age, snow days are a gift and should be treated as such.

Don't get me wrong.  We still have our moments.  The kids get bored and decide to use their time making mischief.  I lose my patience and threaten, yell, and wish I had sent the boys to daycare.  My view of how we should use this gift of time is often very different from the boys' view.  They want to play Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Monster Under the Bed.  I want to read, or fold clothes while watching a Hallmark movie.  There's no perfect in this life, so our snow days aren't either.  Yet, at the end of the day, I am always grateful for the time we've shared and find myself hoping, just a bit, for a little more snow in the morning. :-)  As Kathleen Kenison writes, "Life hangs by a gossamer thread.  Today is a gift; tomorrow, not a guarantee."  The book of James puts it this way: " do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." James 4:14

Snow days offer my family a gift of time.  Today, I would encourage you to celebrate the gift of time, in whatever form it takes.

Blessings and Peace,

Friday, February 4, 2011

Confession 163: Being Me

"Just be yourself".  How many times do we get that advice in our lives?  People say that before a job interview, before a first date, when we move to a new place, begin a new career.... yet my problem is, I don't want to be myself.  I want to be someone better.  Throughout my life I have gotten caught in the notion of who I should be rather than who God made me to be.  I try to live my life the way that people I admire and look up to live theirs.  Let me give you a few examples...

My best friend is the mom I have always wanted to be.  She and her husband had an idea for the life they wanted to create with their family and they have done just that. She is wise and creative in her parenting.  Her kids are smart, creative, inventive and completely unique individuals.  They've never been introduced to Pop Tarts or chicken nuggets.  Instead, they get home-made granola bars, freshly grown vegetables out of the garden, and organic dairy and meat.  I look at her life and think, "That's what I want to do!"  The problem: I'm me, not Elaine.

My sister is a force to be reckoned with.  Strong, brave and outspoken she speaks her mind and makes a difference in the lives of those she works for and with.  She doesn't back down to the challenges of life, but rather, bowls them over with her indomitable spirit.  So many times in my life I have been in situations where I thought, "If I were Libby, I would just say...."  However, I am not Libby.  I'm just me.

I could go on an on, but the sum of it all is this: God made ME.  If he had wanted another Elaine or Libby, he would have made them.  But he didn't.  He made me.  Trying to live my life like someone else is a waste of the precious time God has entrusted me with here on Earth.  You see, God has a plan for my life, the same as he has a plan for yours.  And he has placed within each of us all of the gifts we need to fulfill that purpose if we would just give ourselves over to him! 

God tells us, "I know the plans I have for YOU! (Jeremiah 29)  I made you a mighty branch so that you might grow my fruit and bring it to the world. (John 15).  I formed you in the image of my Son (Romans 8), in the image of ME, that my purposes might be fulfilled in your life. (Ephesians 1)  I need you to be the person I created you to be."

Talk about ultimate freedom!!  The truth is, we don't have to be the person we think we should be. Instead, we must strive to be the person God created us to be.  So that is my goal this year, to seek the purposes God would have for me, to let go of who I think I should be and focus on who God designed me to be.  I don't know what the end result will look like, but I'm going to "press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." (Philippians 3:12)

Blessings and Peace,

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Confession 162: Snowpocalypse

We are in the midst of an actual blizzard tonight!!  I know, for you Great Northerners this is nothing, but I can't remember ever having a blizzard warning out before!  We have FEET of snow outside and the two major interstate highways that run through Missouri are completely shut down.  I love it--The Great Blizzard of 2011. Or, as my husband has nicknamed it, Snowpocalypse.  The gusts of snow were literally fighting it out in the air as the flakes fell to the ground.  My boys were in it up to their knees this afternoon, and our dogs have absolutely refused to set paw outside as the drifts in our backyard come almost to their necks.  I keep thinking of a Little House on the Prairie episode when I was a kid in which Pa opened the door after a blizzard and found a wall of snow in front of him.  I was trying to remember how they got out.  Maybe Pa climbed up the chimney, I don't know.  It's not that extreme here, but I'm thinking we're probably out of school the rest of the week.  Call me crazy, but I love it! 

Blessings and Peace,

You get what you pay for!! :-)

Ummm...I'm stuck.

Can you see me now?

Making warm goodies.

You might be able to make me come inside, but you are NOT taking my hat!!

My Family

My Family

My Family 2

My Family 2