June 30, 2014

Puntuation Education

Being a kindergarten teacher, one of the things we work on during the year  is the identification of punctuation and when to use each mark. Kids love playing punctuation games, but the application of this process is always a little hazy. Every year they always seem to have a difficult time knowing when to use a period and when to use a question mark. 

For us, non-kindergarten students, knowing which punctuation mark to use at the end of a sentence is pretty easy.

But, I think that, in life, sometimes we need some punctuation education ourselves.

Through the Word, we have each been given promises. Other times God speaks personally to us and gives us a promise that is only meant for our own heart. Promises that we are meant to stand on, believe in, and put our faith behind. Obviously, the punctuation mark at the end of a promise, is a period. It is a statement. 

Then why are we so often willing to let the enemy put a question mark where God has put a period?

God says...

"The Lord is faithful to his covenant promises and delivers his people through his powerful right hand."Exodus 14:15

“My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” Exodus 33:14

"The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert.” Deuteronomy 1:30-31

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

“I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted” Job 42:2

"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” Psalm 37:4

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” Psalm 55:22

"The Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones” Proverbs 2:6-8

In  Matthew 4 Jesus goes into the desert for 40 days to prepare himself for the beginning of his public ministry. In those 40 days he goes througha period of temptation. In every temptation Satan throws at Jesus, he is doing what he so often does to us on a daily basis; he puts a question mark where God has put a period.

Jesus examples how we are to fight off the temptation to question the promises of God. You see this is called the temptation of Christ because he was tempted by each one of these things. But how did he fight back? With a might sword...scripture. He chose to repeat back the promises of God to Satan, because truth is always truth and never ends in a question mark. He replaced the temptation to believe the lies with truth.

Don't allow the enemy to put a question mark where God has put a period.

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June 27, 2014

Sour Grapes & Bitter Apples

Something about summer time and laying by the pool makes me want fruit constantly. There is nothing like reaching for a piece of juicy fruit and biting into it with such expectancy only for it to be bitter, or unripe. What a let down. 

I got to thinking yesterday {:as I was laying pool side:}, I wonder if God ever feel's that way about us? Let me explain.

I was reading a book yesterday and it was talking about Adam and Eve, a story that many have heard whether you were told Bible stories when you were young or not. Adam and Eve were put in Utopia, aka the Garden of Eden. Everything was perfect...literally. Their only directive from God was to not eat the fruit from the tree of good and evil. Well, we all know how the story ends....naked and afraid. 

Adam and Eve had fruit that was available to them, yet they were only reaching for what wasn't theres to have. So we go from Utopia in Genesis 2, to one brother killing the other only two chapters later. 

In one generation we go from perfect, to something terribly wrong.

 It all began by reaching for fruit that wasn't there.

Now poor Eve has probably been spit on by half of the women when they get to heaven because of the torture she has put us other women through for her mistakes. But, now let's wait a minute. When I thought about this piece of scripture yesterday I am not so sure that we are all that different from Eve.

We all have gifts, fruits if you will, that God has given us. This could be your ability to sing, teach, serve, lead, disciple, sweep, sew, cook, encourage. The list goes on and on. We have these fruits God has placed in our lives that we are to cultivate and perfect, but rather than cultivating our own fruit we reach for the fruit that isn't our to have. Then the very thing that happened in Genesis begins to happen in our own world....it starts to fall apart. 

Just like the fruit on the tree of good and evil, the fruit in other peoples lives, their gifts, sometimes look more attractive than the fruit God has placed in our own lives. So just like the serpent tempts Eve, we are tempted to see how good the other fruit really may be. So we reach for the fruit from the tree that isn't ours and then it leads to competition like it did for Cain and Able. {:Cain killed his brother Able because God preferred Able's sacrifice over Cain's because Able gave God his best while Cain gave God his leftovers:}. There becomes division instead of unity, jealousy instead of encouragement, and selfishness instead of selflessness. 

But when we eat the fruit from our own tree and work to make sure that the fruit our tree is producing is the best it can be, the entire garden flourishes. Instead of reaching for fruit that may look more attractive, lets make our own fruit equally attractive. 

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June 25, 2014

The Single Girl Diaries-2.0 Dating

Sometimes I wish I lived back in the 50s before all the modern conveniences. I am convinced dating was a lot easier back then. Guys actually asked girls out on dates rather than to "hang out." They called if they wanted to talk to the girl and we weren't left analyzing a text message for hours. And, there was no such thing as "friends with benefits." *Sigh* They just don't know how good they had it!

This got me thinking. Yes, times have changed but why does the way we date have to? I personally have decided that I have met my quota of "hang outs" for ummmmm.......eternity. And my wrist are getting carpel tunnel from all these late night texting conversations. So, this girl is no longer accepting hang out invitations or the easy outs of texting all night. 

I am convinced that guys will only rise to the standard you set for them {:most guys, some are super human and do it all on their own.....marry them......now yesterday:}. Guys are asking girls to hang out instead of go on dates because it is a lot less of ego blow if we say no to hanging out rather than a date. And it's vague enough that he really has to make no effort embarrassing himself when he asks you to hang out and watch the world cup and the local bar and grill.  AND WE LET THEM. Meanwhile hanging out leaves us girls in a cloud of bewilderment trying figure out what the heck this hanging out stuff really means. 

If a guy really likes you, and is interested in something above your belt, he will man up and ask you on a date...if he knows, with you, the other options are out. Going on a date gives you clarity and a leg up knowing that he is at least into you enough that he didn't take the easy way out.

Then there are the guys that would rather strap on a 50lb weight and sink to the bottom of the Amazon than pick up the phone and call rather than texting until it is so late in the night that you drop the phone on your face because you  are falling asleep. I am not against texting. Not in the least. Actually, I am not much of a phone talker, but when it comes to building a relationship you need to be able to hear their words rather than read them. We all know that we have read a text one way while they meant it another and got ourselves in some hot water. The phone is just more personal and is yet another way for him to show you he isn't going to take the easy way out.

So maybe I don't want to go back to the 50s. I really do like typing on my Mac while having my iPad charging next to me and my phone in my back pocket. Convenience is nice, but there is a place for it and dating is not it.

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June 17, 2014

One Step Closer

This is a phrase I have been repeating to myself quite often these days. It's been a pretty monumental week. Very rarely do you leave your first ever grown-up job and move out of and close on your first home all in one week. But I did. 

Saturday was the big move out of my first home. The song "The House that Built Me" by Miranda Lambert comes to mind. I bought this house, my first home, when I was 23. I was young and had never lived somewhere where my parents didn't pay the bill. It's where I learned to be independent. It's where I learned that if it can break, it probably will. It's where I attempted to learn to cook {:mostly to the serenade of the fire alarm:}. But mostly it is the place where I have so many sweet memories of learning what it means to be an adult and laughing and learning along the way with my friends and family. 

As I put the house on the market I was anxious for people to start looking at it and to get the process rolling. Then, when I got a contract on the house, I was ready to slow the ball down. In the waiting period of selling my house I prayed that whoever lived in that home would honor and live to God's glory. As I handed the keys across the table today at closing I couldn't help but think "how good is God?" You see, I happened to sell my house to a friend of mine....who I met through church. How awesome is that?! I closed with just 3 weeks left before I leave. Talk about perfect timing. Oh, and did I mention she was with the same realtor as me? Which if you aren't familiar with real-estate, means that I had a lower realtor fee. Cha-Ching!

It's pretty amazing in itself to be moving to Australia, but to have God continually reaffirm the move through answered prayers and favor is kinda crazy cool too.

{:Myself, my realtor, and Shannon-the new home owner:}

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June 12, 2014

Good vs. Great

I once heard Joyce Meyer say "often times the enemy of great is good." How true is that? How often do we settle for something good and miss out on what is great?

We settle for a relationship that is good. A relationship that is comfortable with no major red flags. I mean you're not head over heals, but he treats you good, you don't fight, and dating again is just too daunting. So you settle for what is good and possibly miss what is great.

You have a good job. You don't love it, but you don't dread going to work everyday either. Plus, it pays the bills. You have a passion to start your own business, but chasing after that would be irresponsible, right? So there again, you miss out on great because you settled for good.

I wonder in my own life how many times I have I missed out on something great because I am too comfortable with the good. I am certain that we settle in life far more often than God would ever intend. We don't serve the God of "good enough." We serve the God of abundance, multiplication, and miracles. {:Ephesians 3:20:} I think the enemy sometimes uses what is good to keep us from what God has that is great.

I have a good life. I have a cute 3 bedroom home with a perfect sized yard. I have a good job that I enjoy as a kindergarten teacher. I have the cutest fur baby on the planet, Gracie. I live close to my family. And, I am blessed with so many amazing friends that I couldn't even fit them all in my house if I tried. All of this is good, but I believe that by selling my house, quitting my job, leaving my friends, and moving half way around the world I am refusing to settle for good. Yes, my life is good but I know that through being obedient, God is going to do something great in my life.

Refusing to settle for what is good means shattering the boundaries of your comfort zone and reaching out for the GREAT God has in store. Jesus didn't hang on a cross so you could live a good life. He hung on a cross so you could have a full and great life. {:John 10:10:}

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June 9, 2014

My Farewell to Teaching

What happens when one of the titles that you has identified you for the last six years ends today? That's the position I find myself in today. Today I will turn the lights out in room 306 one final time.  Today is my last day as a kindergarten teacher. I have to say goodbye to the girls I have worked with for six years and who aren't just my colleagues but my friends. I have to take of my teacher hat and put back on  my student hat. But, when I think about it I'm not sure I ever have really taken off my student hat.

It's true that I am suppose to be the teacher, but the truth of the matter is in their childlike wisdom I have learned a tremendous amount from them. I have learned that age diminishes to your ability to laugh at the little things. I have always been amazed at how funny the little things are to them, like me dropping a marker or not being able to turn a page in the book we are reading. I've learned that the only person upset about the fact that my science lesson was a flop is me; the kids still had a blast. I've learned that beauty is always in the eyes of the beholder. {:It was drug prevention week and the theme for the day was "Drugs and Me Don't Match." We wore mismatched clothes. I had on a silk dress, sweatpants, and cowboy boots, and I had a student tell me how beautiful I was that day.:} They taught me that there is never a bad time to encourage someone. Kids are the most honest but there also the first to tell you how pretty you look or how they love the way you do something. They have challenged me with their generosity. Kids are always willing and desiring to be the one that helps a friend out with a new crayon, ice cream money, or just to tie their friends shoe. They've taught me the compassion the human heart is capable of. I have had sick children, disabled children, homeless children and it never failed to maze me their intuitive ability to love these peers a little more, to question their situation but never their character. They only questioned because their immediate desire was to help. They have taught me that there are no secrets if you plan on telling a five year old. {:Those poor parents if they only knew the store I heard about them. I don't even want to know what they may have said about me. Out of the mouths of babes:}

So as this chapter comes to an end, I can't help but to smile through the tears. Through all of the stress, nightmare parents, hours of lesson plans I realize that I owe a lot of life lessons and character building to these precious, sweet five year olds I have had the blessing of teaching in the last six years. After today I may not carry the title of "teacher" anymore but I will forever carry the impression their tiny hands have made on my heart.

Thanks for trusting me with such precious little ones God, and thanks for allowing me to learn so much from them.

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June 4, 2014

Empty Vessels

Empty is a sight I am becoming very familiar with. Everywhere I go there are BOXES. In my car, in my house, at work, at church. They're everywhere. And when you see boxes, they are usually accompanied by an empty space or room. As I box up my things around the house, things are looking pretty empty. Looking around at my house and seeing things disappear is tough. Opening a door and seeing emptiness behind it is almost disheartening. But, the other day Jesus reminded me of the story of the woman with the empty vessels. In this story {:1 Kings 4:} a widowed woman comes to Elisha in a panic that the tax man is coming for money and with the recent death of her husband she has none, except a small jar of oil. Elsiha told her to go and collect empty vessels, as many as she could find, from her neighbors. He told her to take them into her home and pour the oil into the vessels. That small jar of oil filled every vessel she had. When she had nothing more to pour the oil into, the oil stopped flowing.

How often have we all experienced emptiness. My emptiness is the kind I can see, a home that's being moved, but often time our emptiness isn't something we can physically see. It's in us. You're emptiness may be from a move. You once lived in a place with a great number of friends and now you're sit down in a new place with no one. Your emptiness could be from the loneliness that can come from being single. Maybe your emptiness is from the lack of fulfillment from a job. I don't know what your specific emptiness may be, but you can fill in the blank with yours here. 

Know that whatever is empty in your life causes you to be ready for God's blessing to pour in. Elisha told the woman to go and get empty vessels, because they had the capacity to hold more of the blessing that was about to flow into her home. Full vessels can't hold any more, half-full vessels can only hold some, but empty vessels are the ones that are ready for the full blessing of God. So the next time you sense emptiness in your life, strengthen yourself with the knowledge empty vessels are the vessels that are most prepared to receive the miracle. Maybe our emptiness isn't something to sadden us at all, but rather strengthen us with the anticipation of what He is about to do with it.
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June 2, 2014

The Good in Goobye

One of the hardest things to do after a break up is to actually break up. Watching the other person walk out of your life whether by your choice, their choice, or a mutual decision, is a tough thing. They are going from a huge part of you world, to just another person in your world-if that. Being sad and missing that person is perfectly normal, but that missing them feeling doesn't mean breaking up wasn't the right thing to do.

I had a boyfriend in college who treated me like a princess. He went out of his way on a daily basis to make me smile and make my life easier. We lived in the same dorm building and he would run down and change my laundry from the washer to the dryer just so I wouldn't have to walk down a flight of stairs. He would have guys nights and bring me back something just because he said he wanted to make me smile. He was a baseball player and I was a cheerleader so a lot of nights our practices schedules would conflict with each others which would make it difficult for us to see each other, but almost without fail I would come into my dorm room to a sweet note slid under the door. "Awe," right? He seems perfect! Only problem was, he wasn't my perfect. I knew he was far more into the relationship than I would ever be. We were just on two different pages of what we wanted at that point in our lives. He was older than me and ready for something serious. I was a freshman in college and just recently out of a long relationship. So I had to end it with the guy that treated me like every girl dreams of being treated, because my heart just wasn't in it. I remember being heartbroken over breaking up with him. I had this pit in my stomach wondering if I did the right thing. 

Looking back now, I realize how absolutely normal those feelings are. Luckily, I never acted on those feelings of "maybe I did the wrong thing." I wish I had been that strong every break up, but I wasn't. I have done what every girl has done, you break up, but continue to talk and text and then eventually get back together. All too often this story ends with you being in the very same place again a month later, because the reason you ended things in the first place is often still there. 

I know what you're thinking, "but what if things can change and things do work out." Yes, that does happen, but rarely. After a breakup we act out of our sadness and end up prolonging our sadness instead. Endings are sad, but you can't have new beginnings without endings. The good in goodbye, is that you are one step closer to meeting the one you won't have to say goodbye to.

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