Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Walking backwards...

I looked up at the clock and realized it was time for my students to return from activity...which meant I needed to step outside my room and make sure they weren't getting "lost" as they walked down the hall. I looked down at the sea of hormones in tennis shoes making their way toward me and that's when I saw him. That familiar blue jacket of one our students. He was at the front, moving my way - backwards. Deep in conversation, he was oblivious to the fact that he was headed directly into the watchful gaze of a teacher...

I called out to him. "Hey, buddy. God made your eyes and your feet face in the same direction for a reason - so you could watch where you are going!"

We both laughed and he turned around as I just shook my head in amazement of these silly kids.

I didn't really think about it again...that is until I was reading the book, God Loves Broken People by Sheila Walsh. 

At the end of the first chapter, this passage jumped out at me. "God says to you and me, "It's time for something new in your life. I open up new roads before you. I want to fill the desert of your soul with living water and satisfy your thirst with heaven's swift, cool brooks. Don't dwell on the past, and refuse to camp in the tragedies of your history or family background. Leave it all behind! And then come to Me, for I have something brand-new in mind for you.
So with one hand firmly gripping the Word of God, and the other hand reaching for the fresh future God is busily at work preparing for us, let us walk together on this journey into God's best..."

As I read this, my young blue-jacketed friend flashed back into my mind.

I had to wonder if I am doing just like my little friend. Am I walking backward, looking at the mistakes and regrets of my past and forgetting to look forward to where God is leading?

Keep in mind, I am almost 54 years old - there's a whole lot of "past" I could focus on...and realistically, not QUITE as much future. But I'm supposed to focus FORWARD?

For some reason, all this brought a verse to mind. 
Acts 2:17 -“In the Last Days,” God says,
“I will pour out my Spirit on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy,  also your daughters;
Your young men will see visions,  your old men dream dreams."

Dream dreams? You mean God wants to give dreams to us "old guys" too? Dreams of what the future will bring? I mean, aren't we too old for dreams? When we were young we had lots of dreams, but our dreams never really came true. Instead we got reality. Is it possible that our dreams were for a time yet to come?

Like my crazy random thoughts are known to do, they wandered back to a church service years ago. I sat on the second row and listened as the missionary Jewell Matheny spoke. She told of when she was younger and knew she had a call from God, yet there were babies that needed her. How was she supposed to serve when she was up to her elbows in dirty diapers and runny noses? She cried out to God - when would her time come?

Those who know this wonderful family know that Jewell Matheny DID do some amazing things. First she raised a family that loves and serves God and she served alongside her husband as a pastor's wife and as a missionary. Then, after her husband's death, when many would think of retiring, God gave her a dream. She followed that dream and is now known as Mama Jewell to so many in Africa. As one African pastor said, "Africa will never be the same thanks to Mama Matheny!" 

The point of all this? God has a plan for each of us. It's not just for the young...but even for the "old" - we can still dream dreams. We've got to stop walking backward and looking at the past. God made our feet and our eyes point in the same direction for a we can watch where we are going. And as long as we are going with God - the journey is for a hope and a future.

"Never let your memories be greater than your dreams." - Doug Ivester

*Note: Today when I got to school, I was looking forward to finding my little blue-jacketed friend so that I could give him a hug...only to discover yesterday was his last day. He had moved. I was almost overwhelmed to the point of tears when I realized that God had "put a spotlight" on my young friend so that I could see....and not forget to pray as he moves forward into what God has prepared for him.

Some of you already know, I am planning to go on a mission trip to Cambodia this March. Not sure all that God has planned - but I'm working on moving forward....into whatever God has planned. I would love it if you could visit my site and learn more! To-Cambodia-And-Back

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tuning in and tuning out...

I admit it. I cannot run without music. I know....some say that means I am not a real runner. Whatever. I just know that without it all I can focus on is how hard I'm breathing, and how I evidently have a slight limp in one leg...going from my cadence.

For example, on New Year's Day I did a 12K and things were going fine until my music quit on me. I was using the "cloud" and since it was such a cloudy day, evidently my "cloud" couldn't make it through the atmosphere's clouds. Neither could pandora or iheart. I only had my thoughts of quitting and my pained breathing to listen to. Oh, and that uneven gait I mentioned. My focus was on me. So yuck.

Yesterday I decided to go for a 45 minute run, something my coach friend suggested to me years ago. I wasn't focused on pace per mile, just on running continuously for 45 minutes. I definitely made sure I had music this time - my trusty old ipod thingy. (It's not a real ipod. It's old and it plays music and that's all I cared about.)

At first it was painful. In the middle it was painful. Let's be honest. It stayed pretty much 'mind over matter' the whole way. You know that runner's high they talk about. Never did find it. But still I ran. One foot in front of the other. Step by step with the music helping me along. (By the way, this past week I participated in an experiment for a science fair project as to whether what you listen to matters when it comes to your speed in running. I discovered that I ran faster when I had at least something to listen to besides my own breathing and a good 15 seconds faster per quarter mile when I listened to music with an upbeat tempo.)

Don't ever let anyone tell you that what is playing in your mind doesn't make a difference. It does! While my music was simply "background," it helped me focus on something other than "me." 

At one point in the run, I noticed a twinge in my knee. Nothing painful, just aware that the muscle seemed to be tightening. Note to self: Check on that. Do some strength training exercises for that muscle group and check shoes. Perhaps they are worn past their running days. But since I had my music to help me along, my thoughts did not stay there on that 'twinge'.

Mostly I prayed and "talked to God" about some things I am dealing with and an upcoming missions trip to Cambodia. The thing is, while I was out there just pounding the pavement, I was tuning in. I could feel that "twinge" or nudge in my heart leading me to answers. All the while, my background music played and helped keep me moving forward.

I have to wonder, what if the music that was playing in the background had been something other than music that glorified God? Would my thoughts have been able to break through the noise. Would they focused more on the problem than the One who is the solution? I don't know - but to be honest I'm not willing to test the theory. My runs have become a time when I can sort out my thoughts and really examine what I am thinking....and to turn them over to my Heavenly Father.

So what is the point of this post?  I guess it's simply to remind myself to check out what my "background" music is. Am I listening to others talk about the problems or am I making sure that I fill your life with the sounds of those who focus on the solution? Some days, I do a little of both. Some days I can't get my mind off the labored sound of my own breathing and my slightly off-tempo spiritual gait. In other words - I can't seem to get my focus off me. Other days I manage to drown out the sounds of myself and am able to focus on something a lot higher.

I've got a long way to go to make sure I stay tuned in to the right things. I fail a lot, just ask those around me. But I am trying...honest I am. I may not have a choice as to what is going on in the world, but I can choose whose report I listen to. I choose to listen to and believe the report that "Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world." 

Today in a devotional blog I subscribe to, Girlfriends in God, I saw a wonderful idea for helping keep my thoughts in check. "Put a rubber band on your wrist and wear it like a bracelet. Every time you complain, grumble, or simply talk negatively about anything and anyone, pop the rubber band. That's right, pull it out and let it pop your wrist.

If you really want to see how much you grumble, get a girlfriend or family member to do it with you. Agree to tell each other, "Girlfriend, you need to pop that wrist." Sometimes we all need a little help from our friends."
I think I may add that when I find myself THINKING negative thoughts, I will give a little "pop" as well. Let's just hope I don't lose my wrist before lunch!

By the way. To find out more about my upcoming trip to Cambodia, you can check out my link at To Cambodia and Back. I will be going to work with the Hard Places ministry there as they reach out to the children. I don't pretend to know all that God has planned, but I know He has laid it on my heart to go into a very dark place and simply shine the light He has placed in me. And let me just say, your donations and PRAYERS ARE APPRECIATED!!!

1 John 4: 4-6
4-6 My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world. These people belong to the Christ-denying world. They talk the world’s language and the world eats it up. But we come from God and belong to God. Anyone who knows God understands us and listens. The person who has nothing to do with God will, of course, not listen to us. This is another test for telling the Spirit of Truth from the spirit of deception.

Romans 8:31-39

31-39 So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. (Notice it doesn't say it won't be tough...just that no matter what we have the assurance that God will not leave us to fight alone!)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Move...what I've learned so far

For those of you who read my blog, you already know that the word "Move" is my word for 2013. (Go here to read that blog.)  I've done pretty good so far at keeping my promise to myself to move each day...even posted pictures on facebook to keep myself accountable and found a partner in crime. Even though the year is only 5 days old, I've decided to share what I have learned so far about my "one word" the order of occurrence.

#1- While it is important to stop putting things off and "get a move on," it is equally important to watch where you're going! (As evidenced by the picture today.) While putting away the Christmas decorations, I discovered that we had neglected our attic for way too long and it needed some maintenance. No time like the present...I was on the move and I started right in to tackle some of the problem. It was then that I discovered a part of the attic floor that was NOT reinforced and my foot proceeded to enter the pantry by way of the ceiling. Lesson learned. Don't MOVE fool-heartedly, but with eyes wide open, aware of what is going on!

#2 - This one came to me while looking at some Bible verses this morning, specifically Acts 17:28a - "In Him we live and move and have our being." Those of you who remember the song that came from that verse may remember the next part is "Make a joyful noise, sing unto the Lord, tell Him of your love, dance before Him.... Couple that with something I read yesterday about how each of us is "called" no matter what our line of work and you have today's main "random thought." No matter what I am doing, I need to be doing it as worship unto Him! Teaching that class I dread - worship unto Him. Taking that test I'm afraid of - worship unto Him. Dealing with that "difficult person" that crosses my path - worship unto Him. Even cleaning up that overstuffed attic - WORSHIP UNTO HIM! What a difference this makes in even the smallest or most dreaded things! 

#3 - Okay - I had to think about this one. Since I believe good things come in threes, I wanted to find a third point. I said a simple short prayer and asked - what is point 3? This thought came to mind. No matter where I move, no matter what I encounter along the way, no matter what 2013 may bring, God has already been there and has made a way for me. (Okay, right now I get a picture of God and Jesus and all the angels laughing at me putting my foot through the ceiling...wonder if He hits rewind and watches it again just to get a laugh?) Well, no matter what comes my way, as unexpected as it seems to me, God is already way ahead of me and He's got it under control.

So, how is your 2013 and your one word revealing itself to you? Don't have a word yet? It's not too late! Let God show you that one special word for the year and watch at how He reveals Himself in it. Happy "moving" my friends!

Friday, January 4, 2013

2012 in Review

I was just reading one of the blogs that I follow, At Home With Kim ( and discovered a wonderful idea. She took a look back at the year through her blogs. What a neat idea, so like any good teacher, when I see a good idea I steal - I mean BORROW it!

The idea is to pick one blog from each month of the past year. Some are my favorites, others seemed by the number of comments, to be reader favorites. In it all, it's been a wonderful year.

January - As usual, it started with One word 

February - I undertook reading the Bible through chronologically (which I did not complete) and discovered that Reading the Bible was messing with my theology

March brought battles with blood sugar and some personal challenges. In the midst of it all, some favorite blogs came back to mind: Broken Crayons and Wake up Sleepy-head!

April was really fun and I celebrated my 53 birthday and experienced my first Warrior Dash

May means the end of another school year and my daughter's prom and graduation...Never once... did I expect to be so blessed.

June brought lots of classes for me as I returned to school. It also brought thoughts on Raising Kids and Haircuts

July...well, my favorite from July was actually a repost: So you had a bad day...

August brought a hurricane expected to hit on the anniversary of Katrina...Seven years ago...
September - I must have been busy in September because writing slowed down and other than a couple of reposts, nothing stood out. In October, my husband and I celebrated 30 years of marriage. Wow...seems like just yesterday we said "I do." Meanwhile, the rest of the nation was heating up for an election and in response, I posted three posts: The day after the election and The day after the election part 2 and even a part 3.
November brought my son getting his driver's permit, and a humorous thought: Nobody looks "fine" with a toilet in the background

and a resolution to get rid of some of the clutter in my life with
a resolution I did NOT keep...still battling the clutter around here.

We finally came to the end of the year and FINALLY a Christmas that came with a revelation: Not enough at Christmas
and some much needed peace.

And now we are in's been quite a year - of challenges and blessings. 

So how was your year? I challenge you to look back and realize, no matter what happened, just how blessed it has been.