Monthly Archives: January 2014

Let it Snow!

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Recently we have had two snowstorms which interrupted our schedule. My Christmas vacation was extended 2 days due to a storm, then last week we had another storm with blizzard-like conditions. It is very cold, so the snowfall has stayed on the ground. The cold snap continues for a week or so. I finally figured out how to load my pictures from my iphone to the computer, so I’m able to add them to the post. I intended to write a post the day of the storm, but my lack of technical knowledge set me back.

our home Jan 2014

living roomShoveling out

 

Ok, so I didn’t upload the pictures perfectly, but here are views of our snowed-in home and the shovel and broom we used to remove the snow so we could walk the dog. The third photo is of the snowmen indoors. I’ve collected snowmen for a while and most of them are gifts. I like displaying snowmen so that the display can stay out for a while instead of taking it down right after the Christmas season. I always try to put up the tree Thanksgiving weekend and take it down during school vacation. Otherwise, it would stay up year round! The paintings above the snowmen are ones I created. I hope to have more time for creativity this year as part of my goals. Unfortunately, I did not take advantage of the time during the snow days to focus on art; I did get housework and correcting done. We may have some more snow headed our way, but only a few inches. Stay warm and cozy! Our family has a busy week ahead as there are finals at school and Jeremy has four basketball games this week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strength in Weakness

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As I reviewed the week, particularly the fact that I had not written any blog posts, I began rehearsing a list of my weakness. I’m messy and disorganized, I’m very impatient, I need to step up my computer skills, our family doesn’t plan ahead, I still struggle with budgeting, and procrastination is my middle name!

During my quiet time, I searched the Scriptures for some relief for the shame and guilt that plagues me. An initial search led me to familiar passages like 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Another favorite verse is, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses but we have one who is tempted in every way, just as we are –yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

These verses are great in theory, but how do I live them out in the day-to-day grind? I am juggling many different responsibilities and goals, and if I’m not fitting in blogging, the real question for me was, Should I keep writing?

In this season, my days are full. I am teaching full time and just added the responsibility of mentoring a student teacher. My own children are in high school, so after managing behavior all day I come home to more homework and discipline; in addition, I am taking a course once a week and I am part of a committee that is implementing the new Educator Evaluation system. My husband is in school full-time and working part-time, so the burden of housekeeping falls to me. My son plays varsity basketball, and this week he had three games, which meant most evenings I didn’t get home until 9 pm. In this busy schedule, I want to find the secret of relying on Christ’s strength in spite of my weaknesses, and I continued to wrestle with this problem.

This morning during my devotions, God was so faithful to meet me to assure me of his presence in my hectic days. While reading a portion of Emily Freeman’s A Million Little Ways, the section on “Offer Your Weakness” spoke hope into my situation. She writes, “We must make art, even in our weakness. If we don’t, we are denying ourselves ourselves.” An example written by her father resonated with me. He wrote, “I’m disorganized and messy…Just because I don’t like something about myself doesn’t mean it’s sin.”

When I come home from a busy day at work, the dishes in the sink taunt me. My cranky daughter wants some of my precious time, and I snap back impatiently. The laundry needs to be done so my husband and son have their uniforms for tomorrow, and Satan shames me.

But the Father of Lies does not have the final say. Despite my procrastination and my messy desk and a tiny bank account, and without a writer platform, last year I had 5 articles published, I attended She Speaks, I went to Europe, I received my master’s degree, and I parented teenagers and taught school and lived by faith in Christ.

When you are confronted with weakness, undesirable character traits, messy relationships, and too many responsibilities with too little time, remind yourself, it’s not sin. It’s the ideal situation for God to show up with abundant grace. “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:13

On My Bookshelf

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We recently had a winter storm; the cold weather is a great opportunity for me to get cozy and read during the dark afternoons and evenings. Here is a sample of the new books I am enjoying.

A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman

                Last year I discovered Emily and her work; the fact that she was speaking at She Speaks was a big motivator for me to attend the seminar last summer. As with Grace for the Good Girl, this book is one I keep reading and meditating on daily.  The question that is posed today is, “What does it mean to live life like an artist in the midst of this everyday hustle?” I am struggling to find time for my blog posts and creativity goals because of the busy schedule of our life right now. I am glad that the answers this book supplies are not trite; instead Freeman challenges us to wrestle with the deeper questions and “sink in” to God as he defines us and our art. I would love to create an artist’s circle and use this book as a starting point. I am still waiting on God’s timing for that.

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

                This is a great work of fiction recommended to me by my friend Becky who never steers me wrong. The setting is World War I and the story follows the life of a woman who had been a servant at an English manor. As she is dying, a movie is being made about the lives of the wealthy people who owned the home and a young man who committed suicide on the property. The story flows seamlessly from the present to the past, and the story’s twists and turns kept me up past my bedtime many nights as I tried to predict the outcome. Go out and read this book!

Prayer Warrior Mom by Marla Alupoaicei

                My mother often gifts me with a book to aid my spiritual growth, and as a mom of two teenagers, I was grateful for this helpful volume. Each chapter is full of insight and Scripture as well as guiding prayers for any mom. Again, I want to start a group to pray through this powerful book.

The Zion Covenant: Vienna Prelude and Prague Counterpoint by Bodie Thoene

                This is a historical fiction series.  The novels are extremely well-written and researched. The story is compelling and the time period fascinating. The setting is just prior to World War II, and the main character is a Jewish musician who begins helping Jewish children to escape the Nazi Reich that is taking over Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.

New Year’s Resolutions

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As you can infer from my previous post, I enjoy this time of year as I take stock of the previous year and anticipate the one to come. I have almost always made new year’s resolutions, and this year is no exception.  I recently listened to a teleseminar by Donna Partow and used some of that goal-setting time to finalize some areas that I would like to develop this year.

1. Writing—I am returning to blogging and I am planning to complete 1000 posts.  From what I’ve read, that is about the number of posts it takes to have a strong online presence and build a platform.  In addition, I want to start writing a devotional book. This will take about 2 years as I plan to cull my quiet time journals for the various selections.  I also hope to write an e-book on prayer. Now I’ve made it public, so that gives me more encouragement to stick with it.

2. Career –When I return to work as an English teacher in January, I have some new leadership responsibilities as our school system begins to implement the educator evaluation system established by the federal government. In addition, I will have a student teacher under my supervision. As I anticipate receiving my professional license this year, I am looking ahead, and wondering if I should pursue an administrative license. This is something I am praying about, as my full-time work really becomes a ministry.

3. HOME –I am still working on home management and I continue to follow the Flylady system. We have been in our home almost fifteen years, so at this point in addition to decluttering, some remodeling needs to take place. With our busy schedule, things pile up quickly if I don’t maintain order.

4. Finances—With my husband in school, our budget is strained, and this year I want to pay off some debts as we will be needing a newer vehicle.  It seems this area is a constant battle for me. However, God has been so faithful to provide for all our needs and many of our wants as well. The discipline of keeping a budget makes me disciplined in other areas as well, and I have seen my children become content.

5. Creativity— I have stacks of art magazines and supplies stacked up without finished products to show for it. So, as my “reward” for meeting my writing goals, I am going to give myself permission to work on my art.  If I don’t develop my creativity by completing a few specific projects, I will give or throw away my magazines and art supplies on July 31, 2014, freeing up time, space, and mental energy to pursue something else.

I didn’t include my spiritual disciplines or exercise on my list because these two items are part of my every day routine. When I wake up, I walk the dog, make some coffee, and have my devotions before I start the day. In the afternoon I take a walk or go to the Y.

The verse I chose for the year is “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of POWER, of LOVE, and of SELF-DISCIPLINE.” 2 Timothy 1:7