Friday, December 28, 2012

One word....

For the past few years, instead of making a New Year's Resolution, I have instead chosen a "word" to focus on for that year. Each year has been different and I can't really explain why the words were chosen except that they seemed to "fit". 

The first year, my word was "Hope", the next year it was "Anticipation", and last year...well last year I cheated a little and chose two words - "Incredible Mercy." Each year, these words have proven to exemplify what I was going through that year and truly be what my year was all about. (Hmmm, makes me want to go back and look at all the pictures from this year and remind myself of just how merciful God has been to me this past year...but that's a blog for another day.)

This year however, as Christmas drew closer, I realized I had nothing. Seriously nothing. I looked forward into 2013 and felt nothing at all. Usually I am so excited about the new year, but this one seemed just blank. So, I prayed. You know, you have to be careful when you pray...God has a tendency to answer! Within a couple of days, I had my word. "Move."

I wondered if that could seriously be my word for 2013. I mean, it doesn't sound very spiritual; but the more I mulled over it, the more certain I became that it was my word for the year. At first, I thought of all the ways I could live out this word. Getting up and turning off the tv definitely came to mind. Taking the time to exercise each day was another option worth considering...but I knew this word had to have a spiritual side that I wasn't quite getting.

I did a search and these are a few of the verses that came up associated with that one simple word - move.

Isaiah 43:18-19
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” 

I love this verse! It was one I worked on memorizing last year on New Year's Day! While it doesn't say the word "move", it's all about moving!

Check out this one from Philippians:
Philippians 3:12-14
Pressing Toward the Goal
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Finally, there's this one from Isaiah:
Isaiah 40:31 “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

While all these verses are about moving forward, there was more. There was the feeling that it is time to move spiritually. Like God is setting the stage and now is the time to move.

Two of the more interesting verses about moving that I found were from Exodus 14:15-16 and they follow one of the most well known verses about NOT moving! 

Exodus 14:13-16
Moses spoke to the people: “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you’re never going to see them again.
14 God will fight the battle for you.
    And you? You keep your mouths shut!”

15-16 God said to Moses: “Why cry out to me? Speak to the Israelites. Order them to get moving. Hold your staff high and stretch your hand out over the sea: Split the sea! The Israelites will walk through the sea on dry ground.

I have a feeling that this will be a year of amazing things in God. I'm not sure what it will far for me it looks like it will include a mission trip to Cambodia and Vietnam, perhaps a career change from classroom teacher to administration, and....and....and I have no idea what else! But I do know it will be an incredible adventure.

So...what will your "one word" for 2013 be? 
For help choosing your word, you can check out this site:

On a much lighter note, to begin my year on "the right foot" and move, I am trying a one hundred day challenge to exercise each day for the next 100 days. I'm posting a picture on facebook to keep me "moving" in the right direction.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Not enough at Christmas....

Want to know a secret? I have trouble with Christmas....

Don't get me wrong....I love Christmas, or at least I want to. I get excited around Thanksgiving to put up the tree, and I start humming along with Christmas carols on the radio WAY too early for those around me. I love what Christmas means, and I love so much about the day - but about two weeks before the big day, my mood takes a definite turn south and no amount of hot chocolate or feel-good movies seem to help...not even if the hot chocolate has marshmallows.

The other day was especially difficult. The "Christmas funk" hit earlier than normal and I just sat in my chair over my morning coffee and cried. Not soft tears either - big, fat, ugly red eyed tears....for no good reason. Then, I did the only thing I could do - I finished my coffee, wiped my face and got into the shower to get ready for work. No time for sorrow. There was much to be done. Besides, I had no reason to be sad. I reminded myself that I am truly blessed. (I will admit, this stern talking to did nothing to improve my mood, but it did get me to work on time.)

Then, the very next day, I happened to see a post from a friend on facebook talking about the sadness some people feel this time of year and I went out on a limb and admitted that for no good reason, I sometimes struggle with Christmas. (Who am I kidding - sometimes? It's become a yearly event!) Then someone commented and asked a simple question - "Why?" I surprised myself that I knew the answer and that it was as simple as the question. I struggle because at Christmas, more than any other time of the year, I realize just how much I fail and how woefully inadequate I am.

Now before you think, "Wow, Donna is really having herself a pity party!", hear me out. This is not some false humility or plea for affirmation. It is actually a very practical reality. I am not enough. None of us is, and at Christmas, God said "I know," and sent His Son to be more than enough for us.

This is a tough pill to swallow for someone who takes pride in doing things herself. I take personal responsibility to make sure the things around me run as smoothly as possible. I try so hard to make everybody "happy" - but sometimes I hit the wall and realize, I just am not enough. Not strong enough, rich enough, wise enough, patient enough....need I go on?

Now that I think about it, maybe the tears I shed over my coffee that morning were actually a gift. I have been given the gift of realizing I simply am not enough. At Christmas I feel this most keenly, and perhaps that is because it helps me come back to the place where I truly realize, I need a Savior.

Christmas might be the most wonderful time of year for you, or perhaps, like me, it is a time when you meet face to face your inadequacies. Maybe Christmas is filled with the perfect gifts and decorations and celebrations, or maybe despite your best efforts, it's filled with unmet expectations and broken dreams. If it seems to be more of the latter, I guess we can stop and give thanks. For when we are weakest, His strength shows forth most clearly. We are not God sent His Son.

Merry Christmas my friends. Merry Christmas.

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NKJV)
6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why a stable?

This is a repeat of a post from December 2008....but since it is one of my all-time favorite "Random thoughts", I'm sharing it again.

The following "random thought" actually came to me while teaching in Kid's Church one Sunday just before Christmas. I don't think I've ever heard this fact, I had never thought of it before the words began to come out of my mouth that Sunday morning.

It was a typical Children's Church service a week or two before Christmas. I had a wonderful group of kids, most of whom I had known since they were born. These children knew the Christmas story quite well, so making it real and new was quite a challenge. I had told the story and tried to paint a picture so that the children could experience the story anew. It was then that I asked the question - "Why was Jesus born in a stable?" 

Of course, the response was "Because there was no room in the inn." Then I asked a question even I hadn't considered before. "Why wasn't there room at the inn? Did God forget to make reservations?" Of course, we all laughed at such a ridiculous question. Obviously the birth of Jesus being in a stable was no accident....but why would God allow His Son to be born in a stable?

It's not like God didn't know when Jesus would be born. Yes, the city was crowded, but couldn't God have made room for this family in an inn somewhere? After all, He's God! He knew when the angel told Mary she'd have a son that they would be making this trip 9 months later! He could have made arrangements! I understand that there are many different views as to what this stable might have been, but it doesn't change the fact that a stable isn't a place for a baby to be born! That's where animals are born....animals like sheep. The kind of animal you'd use for a sacrifice. In fact, it has been asserted that it was specifically the place ewes were safely brought to give birth to the lambs. In this sheltered building/cave the priests would bring in the ewes which were about to lamb for protection.

You know, every time I think about that, it causes a lump to rise in my throat. Jesus, the King of Kings was born in a place where sacrifices are born. Wrapped in swaddling cloths, much like the lambs were to protect them from injury. 
He was born in Bethlehem, at the birthing place of the sacrificial lambs that were offered in the Temple in Jerusalem.
 Jesus - born as a sacrifice.

This Christmas, as you take time to read the original Christmas story, may your heart be filled with the knowledge of God's love for you. There is so much more to the "story" than we even know. Merry Christmas.

John 1:29 "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"

For an interesting read, check out the article at the following link -  ( It has much more information on this topic than I knew when I wrote the blog!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Principals I have known...

I've been thinking about principals lately - probably because I'm currently working on a license in administration myself. At any rate, today's blog is about some of the principals I have known. 

Since I've been teaching, I've had the privilege to work under a number of principals, and I've learned a lot from each one.

My first principal was a lot like Andy Griffith...kind and gentle but with a firm handle on what was right. I don't think I ever saw him angry, but my own children remember having to go see him for something they had done wrong. They hated disappointing that man.

There was the principal who gave me my first chance in a public school classroom. Despite the fact I was from an alternate route program, she saw something in me and made me believe I was a good teacher.

From one principal, who stood all of 4'11" tall, I learned how to deal with parents and children alike. The students would hear her high heels clicking down the sidewalk and all sit up at attention. They truly loved and respected her. She had an ability to find the best in people that truly amazed me. Her wisdom was surpassed only by her smile. No matter what, she always seemed to be smiling.

Another principal sticks out in my mind because of the way she stuck her head in our rooms each morning just to say hello. We knew she was there....the kids knew she was there. Trust me, that makes a difference.

There was the principal that went out of her way to help our special education students, or the one who, despite our differences in teaching style, encouraged me to try crazy lesson plans that got the kids involved. 

There is the principal who seems tough, but it soon becomes evident that she has a heart of gold. Having had "imperfect" children herself, she shows compassion for parents and students alike. I really relate with her...(you know who you are, my friend.)

Then there is my current principal. I think what strikes me most about him is that he is willing to confront the tough issues...and the way he loves the kids.

All great principals...all with one common denominator. They freed me up to do my job because I knew they had my back. 

Knowing that someone has your back gives you confidence to do what you are called to do. I don't have to worry about the million and one little things that a principal takes care of like the building, the schedules, the cafeteria, the budget, or the kids that need "a bit more correction" than I can give. They take care of those things so that I can do what I do best - teach. 

Confidence that it's taken care of...doesn't that remind you of what it's like with God.

We often worry about how everything is going to come together when all we need is to do what God has called us to do. We need to relax and trust that He'll take care of all the details. He's got our back and that can give us confidence to do what we know we are to do. 

As long as I am doing what I have been called to do, I can move forward boldly with confidence because God has got my back. I don't have to worry whether the provision will be there for what He's called me to do - He'll take care of that. I don't have to worry about my safety - He'll take care of that. I don't even have to worry about my ability to carry out the plan - He'll take care of that. 

I'm not saying my principals are like God, but sometimes He allows us to see bits of His personality in those around us. I have been blessed with leaders who have shown me a little bit of God's personality. They have helped me simply be what I was called to be because they took care of the rest...and I always knew they had my back.

I belong to God...and He's got my back. If that doesn't give you confidence, I don't know what will. 

Lord, open our eyes and let us see.... 

2 Kings 6:15 - 17
Early in the morning a servant of the Holy Man got up and went out. Surprise! Horses and chariots surrounding the city! The young man exclaimed, “Oh, master! What shall we do?”
He said, “Don’t worry about it—there are more on our side than on their side.”
Then Elisha prayed, “O God, open his eyes and let him see.”
The eyes of the young man were opened and he saw. A wonder! The whole mountainside full of horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha!

This all reminded me of an old song by Keith Green. Follow the link to hear it: Keith Green - He'll take care of the rest....

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Not exactly what I was hoping for...

This Christmas season seems more hectic than most. I am currently up to my eyeballs in work and school, so I humbly share a repost from last year along with a prayer that all who read may be blessed. Thank you so much for means more to me than you could possibly know.
When I was little, I could hardly wait for that special item to come in the mail. Some of you may remember the excitement, the thrill, the perfect anticipation that came in something called the Sears Christmas Catalog. Oh, there may have been others, but none compared to Sears. 

I'd quickly flip past the dresses and underwear, past the shoes and appliances, straight to the toys...then I'd carefully get out my notebook and pencil and begin choosing my list to present to Santa. Did you know he used the Sears catalog? Oh, I'm sure he did because I remember listing each item, including the page number so that he would have no trouble knowing just which presents to place underneath my tree.

At our house, Santa came on Christmas Eve because our small little town in South Alabama was one of his first stops. We'd watch the Santa Radar out of Mobile and we KNEW when he was getting close. Sometimes we'd be at my father's gas station when Santa arrived - once we almost frightened him away and we had to rush back out of the house so he could finish putting our toys underneath that silver Christmas tree - you know, the one that rotated and had the different color light wheel that made it change colors.

As you can tell, Christmas was a big deal. I don't ever remember NOT getting just what I'd hoped for. Mama must have worked herself silly trying to locate the things on our list but somehow she always managed to find the most important things. I never quite managed to inherit that amazing talent from her...I wish I had. Somehow, the Christmases since then have fallen, well, a little flat.
Somehow, since I've grown up, I've never quite found what I hoped for underneath my tree. Oh, I've had some wonderful presents, but the peace...the joy...the wonder...they just seemed to have disappeared.

Today, I got to thinking about those shepherds - you know, the ones who were watching their flocks by night. I bet they were hoping for something. They may have been sitting around, talking about how difficult life could be. Maybe they were just talking about the weather and the price of wool. Maybe they were just so tired they just sat and watched. I wonder if inside they had that longing for more..more peace, joy, and wonder.

For years, they had probably heard the stories of the long awaited Messiah who would one day day. They'd heard those stories since they were boys...but that had been long ago. Still, they hoped that one day He'd come. Surely when He arrived, He'd be a conquering king and would finally free them from bondage. He'd probably be big and strong and very kingly indeed. I bet each of them KNEW how they thought the King would come. But they were caught by surprise.

Luke 2 - "Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 

Not what they were expecting, I am sure....but they didn't let that stop them. They said, "Let's go!"

I want to be more like those shepherds. As Christmas approaches, each of us has in our mind's eye what it's supposed to look like. We have the "perfect Christmas" all mapped out, thanks to our Sear's catalog (do they even make those anymore?) and our internet searches, and our tv shows and movies that show us just how it's supposed to be done. But what if it's not what we were expecting? What if, instead of some shiny impressive King, it comes humbly in a cold manger filled with daily life mooing for attention? What if it's even something that at first makes us, as the King James version puts it,  "sore afraid?" (I've always wondered about that, by the way. How afraid must you be to be sore?) 

What if we discover like the Grinch, that Christmas "came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages boxes, or bags!

And he puzzled and puzzed, till his puzzler was sore." (There's that sore thing again!)"Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more."

If Christmas isn't what I was expecting, will I still do as the shepherds (and even the Grinch) did and go rushing in to discover more? Will I stand there in wonder and be so afraid I am sore? Will I even notice if it doesn't come the way I'd hoped it would come or will I miss the wonder completely?

The ADVENTure continues...I have to wonder what all I will discover on this journey to Christmas, but I'm pretty sure of one won't be exactly what I was hoping for. Nope, it will be a whole lot more.