Category Archives: Adjustment

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

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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

 

Ask, Seek, Knock

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This year I have meditated on Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” In January, a friend had told me about Debbie Macomber’s book One Perfect Word. It was a great inspiration to me, so I decided to select a word or phrase.  My REACH philosophy is still a guide, but I feel I’m at a turning point in my life. I’m wondering what is next. I feel like something new is ahead. As I look to the future, particularly this summer as I have a few months off from teaching, I am diligently asking, seeking and knocking about various opportunities. My daughter is attending an educational program for six weeks, and it is a valuable, enriching experience in which I participated at her age, but it is a considerable expense. I need to take two more courses to complete my master’s degree which will get me a substantial raise in the fall. I am really interested in a writer’s conference, but that again is an expense.  My son needs to get a job and get his license. My husband still works nights and weekends, which is tough on family life. All these situations are  items that I am bringing to the Lord, awaiting his response, and actively exploring some options and opportunities.  I can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

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February was a very challenging month. On Friday, February 1, my son had an away basketball game.   During the first quarter, my son got poked in the eye.  He went to the bench, and the medic  was very attentive. After repeatedly checking my son’s eye with a flashlight, the medic told us that he recommended that we go to the emergency room because he thought Jeremy’s pupil was bleeding. We are grateful that he took the injury seriously and gave us good medical advice. We went to Boston to a specialist. He was  put on bed rest for two weeks. We had to go to an eye specialist regularly to check the pressure and bleeding in his eye. We are so grateful for the great treatment we got from all of the doctors! Our friends  and family were very gracious to bring us meals. The following week,  a blizzard hit our area, and we lost power for about 12 hours.  We said a family prayer the next morning as our house was so cold, and immediately the power was restored! However, we soon learned the reason that God restored our power was so that we could host my sister and her family as they also lost power for several days and needed a warm place to sleep. During the same blizzard, a friend from church had a fire in her home, and she is still displaced.  Then, we heard my grandma fell and got hip replacement surgery. She lives in Arkansas, and we miss her and wish we could be closer to visit and give her encouragement. This month has certainly been an adventure, and we are so grateful for God’s provision of healing and safety during this difficult time.

Report card from Jesus

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It is the stressful season of ending a semester and beginning a new one at the school where I work.  I know most people think that teachers sit around with red pens, drinking coffee, cackling with delight as they write large “F’s” on report cards.  However, that is not the case; it is so heartbreaking when my students fail.  Since I have always loved school, I am tempted to use this time to reflect on my own life and my  many resolutions and issue myself a report card.

The old me would have rushed to analyze yet another busy day of jugglemama, rushing from one activity to the next, striving for perfection that is unattainable. I already get a red slash for my eating habits today. I made Toaster Strudel for myself and the kids for breakfast; then when I dropped off my son I realized he never ate! I thought I had forgotten the pastries at home, but when I got to work I discovered I had put them in my lunch bag. So, I ate BOTH of them.  Then, during lunch, I ate a brownie that someone had brought in. However, I did got to the gym today, so does that even things out with a “C” ?

I blew my budget as well; I knew I was cutting things close,but  over the weekend I bought my daughter some earrings WITH A COUPON to thank her for helping me scrub the kitchen floor. I bought my son a $10 CD to even things out. However, I forgot that the health club payment hits at the end of the month, so I have a $2 overdraft. Another failure. I try to compensate for that by something else, like vacuuming the living room. I constantly check off items on my to-do list; keeping myself on such a tight leash!

But I am learning to walk in grace. I have been listening to Chuck Swindoll on my way to work in the morning. He is preaching his “Grace Awakening” series. He shared a very encouraging story.  When he was in seminary, he and his fellow students would rush to check their grades on their blue book exams at the end of the term. One student in particular struggled academically, so before he opened his book, he wrote “GRACE” across the cover.

So, today, I’m going to let Jesus grade my busy day of juggling my health, my budget, my work responsibilities, my parenting, my marriage, my heart. And I’m so grateful that the letters I find are G. R. A. C. E.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” Romans 8:1

 

New Year’s Resolutions

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I am a person that loves to make new year’s resolutions, and this year is no exception. I have chosen several areas to improve.

The first area is FINANCES. Up to this point, my money management has been a mess! Last year we were able to get on track with a budget and paying bills, but this year I want to focus on SAVING as we still live check-to-check. So, I am trying to follow the 80/10/10 rule of living on 80 %, tithing 10% and saving 10%. Today I started the saving part as my husband’s check came in; I transferred ten percent to an account to start building up a savings/emergency fund. Now I have to write a check for tithing and submit it on Sunday.

My second resolution is about RELATIONSHIPS. First, I want to improve communication with my mom and in-laws as they live out of state; I miss them a lot and I’d like to stay in touch more. Often the days are so busy that I think about picking up the phone, but I don’t make the call, and I hope to follow through with this. Second, I want to be more authentic in my relationships. This year my husband and I made a decision that was important to the family, but at the risk of gossiping, I never mentioned my thoughts or feelings to my friends, including my sister. Now that time has passed, I see that I should have said something just to get encouragement. I am glad we made the decision that we did, but there are lots of emotions to process that I need to express. Also, I avoid conflict, so I often avoid situations where I need to have a difficult, authentic conversation.  I often struggle, but I don’t let others know, and I need to be more vulnerable.

Also, I am going to pamper myself this year. Often I put myself last, and I want to be kind to myself. I need to allow myself rest and give myself freedom to try new things.

Finally, I am always working to improve my home management. Fly Lady’s system has been very helpful, and already I see some slow but steady progress in conquering clutter.

Happy New Year!

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“Your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, ‘this is the way, walk in it,’whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” Isaiah 30:20-21

This has always been a guiding verse for me when I come to a time of decision making. This morning I was led twice to this verse! How appropriate on the first day of the new year to be tuned to the lord’s leading.  I have many hopes and goals for the year ahead. Most importantly, I want to do God’s will.  Happy NewYear!