Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Losing Control --- Grace for Today...

 I am sure, at times, we all hit a place where we "lose control" and/or can't find our way through today or see the way to tomorrow. For me it is within my home, a few things out of place, laundry a little behind, school not planned like I should, etc. It leaves me feeling nothing less than CHAOTIC. I don't know where to start, which way to turn, what comes first, it really can get me all out of sorts.

Yet, today, I received the loving, gentle nudge from my Father, reminding me, control is NOT mine to have. I have reminders ALL over the house to lean on Him. AND, a place, a quiet sanctuary, known as Mom's chair, and my Jesus box (as dubbed by my middle son) that houses my Bible, tablet, devotionals and journals. I pray often throughout the day, and cry out to Him in the midst of my joys and struggles....and yet, I hit a plateau, a place like today where I feel overwhelmed and sad, frustrated, and unable to complete my tasks...or so it seems. 

See, I emailed a friend, sharing my burden. She knows my strengths, my weaknesses, my accomplishments and my shortcomings. She's my confidant, a dear friend, and she encourages me and prays with and for me, and I pray that I am the same to her. She knows my good, bad, and ugly. She reminded me today that I have the tools to do this, that I just have to pace myself, determine what's important and move forward. 

So, as I knelt and thanked God for her, He gently spoke peace to me.  He, not I, guided me through my day...not necessarily as I had it planned, but as it best flowed.

I have to share the reminders I've noticed, throughout my home and in various other places as I've moved through this day:

"The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all I need." - Psalm 23:1

 "I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me. God made me able to do everything required of me." (From Charlotte Mason's Student Motto - a homeschool curriculum method from a BRILLIANTLY faithful woman)

"You have the JOY of the Lord as your strength" (based on Nehemiah 8:10, from a Bible Promises sheet, I share with my kiddos)

AND, finally, my sweet grandmother, who is in a rehab facility for a broken hip and shoulder, she always lifts me up. She had a roommate when she first arrived, and her roommate left last Friday. She asked us to pray over the weekend about her new roommate, that she would be in her "right" mind and able to communicate with her, among other things. Well, she arrived yesterday and all our prayers aren't answered how we thought they would be. However, as I told my grandmother what a wonderful woman she was, she said, I take what I get, and find the blessing in it. God's blessings are in EVERYTHING.

Now I know, I didn't lose control, I never had it. He has it and me in the palm of His hand. I AM capable of all He requires of me. I have to learn what is priority and what is desire, and enjoy a little of the desire, but stay focused on priorities AND realize, sometimes, those can change at a moment's notice. A little prayer, a little nudging, a few reminders, and a whole LOT of GRACE from my Father...this day was peace filled. And tomorrow - I pray I remember this lesson from today.

Be Blessed!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lessons from Luke...

I am currently involved in a bible study with an AWESOME group of girls, we are following along with the Good Morning Girls current study...Living Like Jesus. It's an 8 week study on how to live more like Jesus, using the first 8 chapters of Luke. I am loving it, even through the busyness of all that I've encountered the past few weeks. 

I simply wanted to share a little tidbit that I read Tuesday morning, and it wasn't one of those things I read, then moved on about my day. This stirred something deep within me AND hasn't stopped. I have shared with my daughter, my boys, my husband...and I guess, anyone who will listen. 

We were reading Luke 5: 12-16 -- (New Century Version)

Jesus Heals a Sick (from Bible Gateway)

12 When Jesus was in one of the towns, there was a man covered with a skin disease. When he saw Jesus, he bowed before him and begged him, “Lord, you can heal me if you will.”
13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man and said, I will. Be healed! Immediately the disease disappeared. 14 Then Jesus said, Don’t tell anyone about this, but go and show yourself to the priest[b] and offer a gift for your healing, as Moses commanded.[c] This will show the people what I have done.
15 But the news about Jesus spread even more. Many people came to hear Jesus and to be healed of their sicknesses, 16 but Jesus often slipped away to be alone so he could pray.

It's a small portion of the story, but I'm firmly convinced, sometimes, those are where the larger lessons lie. Jesus healed the leper, and then many (I'm sure it was multitudes) came to hear him and be healed of their illnesses....and then it says, "but Jesus often slipped away to be alone so he could pray."

I am thankfully a sinner, saved by His amazing grace, covered under the Blood of Jesus. But sometimes, I think, if God parented me like I parent my own children, he would be so incredibly frustrated.

Yesterday, for example, I gave my son a math test. My sweet boy is BRILLIANT. He also possesses a HUGE amount of stubbornness determination and independence. He turns in his test, missed a few problems, and I knew he had breezed through this chapter. I asked if he had any scrap paper, because that's often easier to understand where his mistakes were. His comment was, "No. Mom, some problems are able to be worked out in my head. These were easy."

So, I give him his test back and ask him to do corrections. He did. And there were still several wrong. It upset him that I was telling him they were wrong, yet NOTHING I could do would change that. So, I sent him for a whiteboard to work it out, he reiterated to me the lack of need for scrap paper all the time. So, he begins to work it out, and comes to a point where I knew he was messing up...it wasn't his original answer it was in reducing the fraction. He took one look, and knew. So, no math tests will be accepted without an accompanying scrap sheet. He wasn't thrilled with that, to say the least. 

All that to say, I have shown my son countless times WHY it's important to use scrap paper.  It keeps neater papers, it helps you (or others) find your errors....etc. However, it took this one time, to show him, while he's smart, something's you don't notice until you write them down.

Much the same, the importance of spending time with our Heavenly Father, has been taught and modeled my whole life. My favorite memories include my grandparents, one on the couch, one in the chair reading their Bibles. And my sister and I, though we didn't comprehend it, reading pretending to read as well, but King James Version was just too much, I guess, when you're 6 and 8. But, I was taught. My grandmother explained to me over and over. My pastors, have all expressed the importance. I know how much more prepared (NOT perfect) I feel when I start and end (and keep Him on the line throughout the day) my days with my Heavenly Father. And yet.....I struggle. 

I do great with my Bible study times when life is going along at my pace, with my plans happening. The times when I struggle, are when I have a sick child, or when emergencies arise, or when I'm just plain tired...exhausted from the daily job that I do. But here, we see this man, Jesus, healing and speaking to so many daily. And then it says, "but Jesus often slipped away to be alone so he could pray."

To include that minor, and even simple detail, in such an important story, says to me it's of great importance. Jesus.....slipped away....from the busyness, from the teaching, from the healing, from the leading.....TO PRAY. It doesn't say, but I would guess, He needed to "recharge his batteries" and take some time to refresh Himself as we do.  I mean, He spent  ALL His time, serving others. 

As a homeschooling, stay at home wife and mom, I know that my days are spent meeting the needs of others. So many nights I feel exhausted and slip into bed, and begin to pray, only to find myself waking the next morning, realizing I fell asleep in the middle of my prayer. I am not sure how I will alter things in my life, or how I will slip away to be alone without the boys killing mauling playing like boys do, with the potential for harm around the corner with every new idea. But what I know, is my upbringing is coming back to me, my awareness has been raised, and I am in very frequent prayer for wisdom surrounding this.

The Bible Study is entitled Living Like Jesus, and His model is clear. In the midst of His busy 33 years, He OFTEN slipped away to be ALONE to pray. I encourage you to think of this, and see if you, are missing a bit of alone time, or time to just communicate with the Father. What is He saying to you? Are you drained, and in need of a recharge? Slip away, be alone, pray.

Be Blessed!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Bend in the Road...

It was just like any other day, or at least, the days I LOVE, when all seems to fall into place. Beds made, morning chores done, and school was planned for later that day, since one of the kids had an early doctor's appointment. I made my morning phone calls, including my grandmother, just to let her know storms were coming. 
She's 88, super-independent, and my hero...she drives, she cleans, she cares for others, and above all, loves Jesus. I just wanted her to make sure, IF she had any errands to run, to come home before the storms. I like knowing she's safe and sound. 

As I left my son's doctor's office some short time later, I looked at my phone (which I always put on silent at appointments) to see I had 3 missed calls, and one of them left a voicemail. They were all her, and it was odd. She rarely calls more than once a day, and NEVER 3 in a row. The voicemail was her, she didn't mean to leave it, but it let me know she had fallen, and was alone, and needed help. 

As it turns out, she had broken her hip and shoulder, would need surgery to repair them, and we are now on the rehabilitation portion of her journey. What I have learned, is that even though I lived away from home 15 years, that sweet lady, instilled more in me in the 15 years that she raised me, than I ever learned on my own. She was an integral part of my upbringing, since both of my parents worked and my mom was ill a lot of the time. 

And, while I have doubted my homemaking skills at times, that day I realized something huge. These tiny steps I take each day, these things my grandmother told me was important, even when I wasn't too interested....are so important. I left my family a clean house, a menu, food to create meals, and the ability to learn (if limited, still school was done) in my absence. And I knew how to lean on the Father, and pray through each moment!

Don't misread this. I am NOT bragging on my abilities. I am simply giving credit to God for certain realizations, that, even though I dread sometimes, I attempt to accomplish the tasks needed for the day. AND, for His provision of this precious woman who has served others ALWAYS before herself, yet never neglected her time with Him. I still see her kneeling by her bed each night, covering us AND so many others in prayer. 

 Above all, I thank Him for the structure of our household. To some, it may seem crazy, but my husbands days/nights/off days (3-12 hr days/3 days off/3-12 hr nights/3 days off...repeat), homeschooling, and me being a stay at home mom, were ALL perfectly lined up to allow me to jump in and take care of the needs as they arose. My constant laundry, while frustrating at times (and repetitive), has been nice as I pick up my grandma's clothing to wash and return.

And, after beginning this, my great-uncle and great-aunt, who live beside my grandmother, fell within 18 hours of one another; another great-aunt, who was staying with my grandma when she fell, is going today for a scan to see if her lymphoma is back...and when it all seems too much...I have peace. Because He gives me peace.

I could walk in fear, shut down and do nothing, whine because there's too much going on, be afraid for what comes next, but I prefer to remember:


"The Lord is my Light and Salvation. Whom shall I fear? Of whom shall I be afraid? The Lord is my Rock, protecting me from danger, why should I tremble? When evil comes to devour me, when enemies attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if attacked, I will remain CONFIDENT. The one thing I ask of the Lord - what I seek most, is to live in His house all the days of my life, delighting in His perfections and meditating in His temple. For He will hide me there when troubles come. He will place me out of reach on a rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary, I will offer sacrifices with shouts of JOY, SINGING, and PRAISING Him with music." (Psalm 27:1-6)

I can CHOOSE to wallow in pity, for me and my loved ones, OR I can follow the example of my hero, my grandma, who helped to shape me as a mother, as a Christian, and as a woman, AND, even in her time of trouble, still speaks of her faith and taking each day as it comes and finding JOY in each day!  I choose JOY!  

Be Blessed!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

I'm joining up with one of my favorite organized  bloggers, Organized Junkie, this week on Menu Plan Monday. I've been planning menus off and on for a while now, and love it, but figured if I linked up, I could get new ideas. I plan enough meals for the week, but do NOT assign a day to them, so, here's what's on the menu at our house this week:


Tortilla Soup

Honey Lemon Chicken w/Potatoes

Corn Dog Chili

Taco Soup

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Fajita Nachos - from:  Oven Baked Chicken Fajita Recipe

and an old family favorite, pulled from an old menu, Western Casserole...I will share this recipe later.

Have a Blessed Week!

Let it Rain .... Blessings a plenty...

And, here it is, the finale to our story....not really, though, it's just the end of one chapter, because we are still walking this journey, singing our New Song....and I'm excited to see what all God has in store for us.

So this new job...while it fell right into our lap, I'm aware, that it was Divinely arranged and God was teaching us so much through the journey we were on. We started out, on August 31, calling and making contact with anyone we could, getting out resumes. Our Labor Day weekend was full of updates and phone calls. We were blessed with some amazing people who jumped right in to do whatever they could to help. Don't even believe in chance meetings, because, if you've been placed in the path of someone, God had a reason for it. TRUST ME!

I met a dear sweet lady through a mutual friend in 2008 or 2009, who has become one of my dearest friends. We got to know each other over phone, text, and facebook, and upon moving back to Knoxville, lost contact, briefly. When we reconnected, it was shortly before we were looking for our new home, and wouldn't you know, we wound up right down the street from her. Over time, we became acquainted with her parents and many of their friends, you know the kind, the ones who love you like family.
So, her father was one of the first Shawn made contact with. He mentioned some people he would be calling, got a resume, and set to work. Little did I know, how things can come full circle. See, in my mind, Shawn would be candidate for and offered a position that I applied for, for him, the morning of the day he lost his job...of course, that was before I knew what would come our way that day.

Meanwhile, my dear friend's dad offered my hubby the opportunity to maintain his lawn for the remainder of the summer, and then several of their dear friends did the same. I am THRILLED (though, at the time, I was sick!) to say, we were denied any assistance from our Government. No food stamps. Yet, we never, and I mean NEVER went without. He was able to come up with enough yards to mow, and odd jobs, here and there, to supply every need we had AND a few wants, here and there.

He and his wife, also went WAY beyond what was necessary, and gave us a some money to provide security until we got on our feet. They were more than gracious in telling us, they WANTED to do so, it was completely unexpected, yet, completely GOD! I will never be able to thank them enough for their generosity, or repay them. But, that's the thing about God. He provides people, when we trust Him, who are generous (be it with time, money OR services) without expectations!

So, back to the job...the job I just KNEW Shawn would have, and trust me, I had it played out in my head. I KNEW thought I knew what God was doing! He was providing for us before we knew we needed it. In hindsight, He absolutely was, but not MY way. He received the call, that they were looking for someone with a bit different experience. I was disappointed DEVASTATED!!!!  What in the world were we going to do now? Shawn was patient, disappointed, but reminded me, that we have sown our tithes, been faithful (of course, not perfect) to Him, and trusted His provisions...and that shouldn't stop now!

On a random day, when we were sitting at the library, Shawn received a call. It was a man, whom we'd made contact with through my dear friend's dad....MANY weeks ago. He was interested in Shawn. The drawback? He would have to start ALL over. Beginning in production, because that's how it's done there. He asked for Shawn's resume, and we sent it. We get home, he has an email, but from another person within the company, a person who less than 6 weeks back lost one of his guys. Wanna see God? While Shawn wasn't above starting again and working his way up....I believe God knew this. This guy could offer Shawn a position (NOT IN PRODUCTION) doing what he loves!!!!!  

Of course, I don't think I passed God's test of patience, or lessons with flying colors. Because the interview happened quickly, but we waited forever a few days to receive confirmation on which of the 3 guys would be chosen. I am ashamed to say, I was having a  rough morning, one that involved lots of coffee, tears, and my husband leading me through scripture (when I should have been comforting him).  We had JUST read in his study Bible, a little devotion and the words that stuck out to me were: "When you're just about out of options, that's when you're ready for God's miracle."  The phone rang.

It was THE call. He was offered the position and was to report the next Monday. Who would have thought, a call made in the first week, would have been THE call that was the be all, end all? God, that's who. He knew, and in all of the applying, follow-up calls, interviewing and more, that it was already worked out.

And, so....for now, that's where we are on our journey. It is FAR from complete, it is one we will continue throughout our life. It's a story written through tears, faith, and wouldn't be what it is, without Him.

I am reminded of the scripture I wrote down (paraphrased), in our checkbook, the day he lost his job: "The Lord God WILL provide." (paraphrased from Gen. 22:14)

Thanks for patiently waiting as I've penned this long story. I hope you take away something, or view your own journey a little differently as you've read. 

Be Blessed!