Joy In Today

“Joy is often found in the simple things”. 

  1. Raindrops on the window
  2. Patting the dogs/cats heads
  3. Feet in cozy socks
  4. The sound of a baby’s feet on the floor
  5. The laughter of a child
  6. Giggles
  7. Playing with wooden blocks
  8. Rain boots
  9. A hug from my husband
  10. Inside jokes

 

 

  1. Shared stories
  2. Dear friends to share life with
  3. Praying friends
  4. Good books
  5. Walking with the Lord
  6. Knowing I am His
  7. Scripture that reminds me
  8. Good gluten-free chocolate chip cookies while they are still warm
  9. Long sweaters
  10. All the wonderful nuts from my family tree

 

  1. Playing with my daughter and the baby with lots of laughter
  2. Almost done with school
  3. Chores completed
  4. Gray skies and puddles
  5. Having second chances
  6. A son who is almost done with college
  7. A truck that runs
  8. Warm blankets at night
  9. Hot showers
  10. Beautiful roses from my husband
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Not Mud Season!

 

IMG_20180215_125640_574.jpgYou guys, I just don’t like mud. As I look out the window today, all I see is mud and lots of it. It is February for cryin’ out loud. This is supposed to be winter. Where is all my beautiful snow? Our high today is supposed to be 69 degrees. What?! That feels like spring, not winter. Something is seriously mixed up. I require several weeks to mentally prepare myself for mud season. Said season is not supposed to start for at least another 5-6 weeks. I feel gypped. Today I nearly lost a boot in the chicken run, which with all this rain has turned into a muddy, mucky, chicken pooey sludge. This is definitely not the type of thing you want to run barefoot through. Trekking to the barn has become a messy mud slurpy. The mud literally sucks on my boots. Slurp. Gurgle. Burp.

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Once I make it to the barn and open wide the doors to let the sun in and the stank out, I see before me a pasture of muddy quicksand. The mud covers Jazz, who because she has a streak of crazy, loves to roll around on the ground. I think she is scratching her back, but it leaves her looking like some sort of equine mud monster. Someone (if you didn’t pick up on this, I am that someone) will have to bathe her really well once it gets warm for good. In the meantime, don’t judge me by our horse, who thinks she is half pig.

This finally leads me to the bane of my existence during mud season. Dogs who like to play outside and then come inside. I have towels next to each door to wipe paws. Sometimes they cooperate, and sometimes they tear through the house like their tails are on fire, leaving muddy pawprints all over the floor. Who cares that they can sit, lay, or do tricks? I need them to learn to mop a floor. Just sayin’.

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I just looked at my weather app. It is supposed to rain the rest of the week. If you need me, I’ll be the one sitting over in the corner crying.

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Be A Light In The Darkness

The light shines in the darkness and darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5 

I chose this verse as my verse of the week. After last week, and all its terror, I needed to be reminded. Reminded that Jesus is the light in an otherwise dark world. A blazing, roaring flame of light that pierces the darkness. He can’t be squelched, put out, put off, or extinguished. His is an eternal flame. As a follower of Christ, and filled with His spirit, He calls me to be a light in my circle of influence, to those that are lost, hurting, searching, and even to those that are hostile. Make a difference to someone this week. Shine.

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Not One Of Them Knew They Wouldn’t Be Coming Home

I give you fair warning, this post is sad. I realize some people don’t want to read something if it comes across as depressing. I get that, but this is the way life is sometimes.

Unfortunately for all of us, life is sometimes sad….

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Wednesday morning, seventeen people woke up. They picked out their outfits to wear on Valentines Day, they were going over plans they had, grabbed backpacks, school books, car keys, and kissed their loved ones before leaving for work or school. They weren’t expecting a shooter at their school. Not one of them knew they would not be coming home that afternoon. Life changed forever for those left behind.

My late husband was just thirty-one when he was diagnosed with an incurable heart disease. The day he went to the doctor to get a routine physical for his job as a truck driver, my preschool-age son and I were going with him so we could all go out to lunch together after the appointment. It didn’t work out that way. Instead, my husband was taken to the hospital, where he stayed for a week. He lived for another year and four months after that diagnosis. Life changed forever for those left behind.

My new husband was also widowed. His wife was thirty-nine. It was a perfectly ordinary day, with the exception that her back was hurting her. She went to her chiropractor and still wasn’t feeling better. Later that evening she dropped to the floor, in and out of consciousness. An ambulance was called. They found out she had been bleeding internally. Maybe an aneurysm? The doctors weren’t sure. She wasn’t coming come. Life changed forever for those left behind.

The miscarriage.

The cancer diagnosis.

The car accident.

Sudden Infant Death.

Old Age.

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My husband and I co-facilitate a GriefShare group. We will be starting it back up soon for the Spring. Between the two of us, on and off, we have been involved with this group for nearly fifteen years. During those years we have listened and held hands of those grieving. Cried and laughed. Hugged and supported. It is not easy, because every time we meet someone new, someone hurting…..we are reminded of the pain of our own losses. I used to second guess myself, was I sure this was the ministry where I was called to serve? Is this really what we wanted to do?

My answer is yes. It will always be yes. Not because I am important or even special, but because God is. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 

Jesus wept at the tomb of his dear friend Lazarus. He understands people’s pain. God knows what it is to watch His innocent, blameless Son die. It is because of Christ’s death that we who know Him, have hope. That is what I am called to share with the hurting. Hope. His hope.  Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 

On my late husband’s gravestone is the scripture reference of John 11:25. My husband wasn’t perfect. Honestly, he had a lot of bad habits, he made mistakes… but he knew Jesus. As a follower of Christ, I know where my husband is, and others that I have loved who have died,  and who knew Jesus. I don’t mean know of Him in an academic way, purely historical. I mean love Him, accept Him, and follow Him.  That verse on the gravestone says, Jesus said…, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die…

Friends, do you know Jesus? None of us knows when our last moments will be, and quite frankly we live in an increasingly turbulent, violent, and scary world. No one wakes up thinking this is going to be the day he/she dies. I don’t want to die yet, but if today should be my day I know beyond a shadow of a doubt where I will be…with my Jesus. More alive then, then I will ever be on this Earth.

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Please take a moment to read a group of verses in the book of Romans. Thank you to Mr. Peterson, at Bible Gateway.

 

For your quick reference, here is the Romans Road to Salvation: a selection of Bible verses from the book of Romans that present the plan of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ

The Problem

Romans 3:23 (CEB)
All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.

Romans 3:10 (CEV)
The Scriptures tell us, “No one is acceptable to God!”

The Consequences

Romans 5:12 (NIrV)
Sin entered the world because one man sinned. And death came because of sin.
Everyone sinned, so death came to all people.

Romans 6:23 (ERV)
When people sin, they earn what sin pays—death. But God gives his people a free gift—eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Scope

Romans 1:20 (ICB)
There are things about God that people cannot see—his eternal power and all the things that make him God. But since the beginning of the world those things have been easy to understand. They are made clear by what God has made. So people have no excuse for the bad things they do.

The Solution

Romans 5:8 (GNT)
God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!

The Response

Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

The Assurance

Romans 10:13 (NLT)
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

 

The Result

Romans 5:1 (VOICE)
Since we have been acquitted and made right through faith, we are able to experience true and lasting peace with God through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King.

Romans 8:1 (NIrV)
Those who belong to Christ Jesus are no longer under God’s judgment.

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)
I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

 

The Genius Five Year Old

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This is my twenty-eighth year in education. For seventeen of those years, I taught full time in four different elementary schools in East Tennessee. I’ve worked in a rural Appalachian school, a large suburban school, an inner city school, and a small, local, city school. I took time away from public school to homeschool my own children through middle and high school. I am currently working part-time as a home instruction teacher for students who are on IEP’s (individual education plans) and who for various reasons are unable to attend the brick and mortar school. Over the years, as a special education teacher, I’ve seen a lot. I’ve had the opportunity to work with students with many different disabilities diagnoses, different races, different socio-economic situations, and different family situations. Yearly, I complete assessments for a myriad number of homeschooling families. I co-founded a monthly support group for families that have children with various disability diagnoses, whose sole goal is to educate families and come alongside them with support and give them the chance to network with other parents. I tell you this to let you know I am passionate about learning. I am always learning, myself, but also helping students, parents, and anyone else who is interested, to learn.

This year, along with my other teaching, I get to spend a large amount of time playing with my seventeen-month-old granddaughter. I get to watch learning happen, as each new and exciting opportunity unfolds. Geo-blocks. Yes! Unix cubes. Wahoo! Puppets and dolls, and sensory balls that light up, and everything. With a one-year-old literally, ANYTHING can become a toy. A paper towel roll, a cardboard box, toilet paper, or Kleenex. Anything.

 

people-children-child-happy-160946.jpegThe other night my husband came across an article that he told me I needed to read. It was an article about our education system in this country, and quite frankly, how it is letting us down. This is not about the teachers, and really not the local administrators either. It is more about the education system as a whole. It has been my belief for many years (and remember I have been on the “inside” for just shy of three decades), that our education system in the United States is broken. Learning that might have worked as preparation for the factory jobs of the industrialization era, doesn’t work anymore. It is my opinion, that this type of rote education has stifled creativity, problem-solving, and innovation in our children.

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Back to the article (Study Shows Kids are Born Creative Geniuses, But the Education System Destroys Imagination), my husband showed me… “Dr. George Land and Beth Jarman were commissioned by NASA to help the space agency identify and develop creative talent”. Sixteen hundred students, followed at five years old, ten years old, and fifteen years old. Creativity and innovative problem solving plummeted as the students got closer to graduation.

This is Dr. Land during a TED talk.

There has got to be a better way!

 

What If?

 

I read an article entitled, What if All I Want is a Mediocre Life?. The article is written by Krista O’Reilly Davi-Digui. At first glance, it looks like the title is saying a bland, ho-hum kind of a life is the goal. That is not what she is saying…unless that is what someone is truly looking for. It is more about being okay in your own skin. Looking at your life with all its craziness and laziness, ups and downs and realizing you are okay with it.

This is something I have been thinking about and working through for the last several months. My life, like yours, isn’t perfect. It never will be, but it is good.

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  • I like to wear leggings and big sweaters instead of tight jeans and fitted t-shirts. (Because I am almost 50 and comfort far outweighs “cute”) Although, I will say I love vintage t-shirts.
  • I drink green tea and water every day, instead of soda. (I have a tea addiction and I embrace that)
  • I recently got my hair cut short, sort of a long “pixie”. It is simple, much easier to take care of and it fits in with my “messy”, low maintenance idea of hair care. (Blow it dry, spritz with hairspray and I am done)
  • I’ve lived in the country and I’ve lived in the city, and I enjoy the country more. Yeah, I have to drive to get anywhere and the selection of stores and restaurants is not great, but the open night sky and sunsets, peace and quiet, and having animals…worth every single inconvenience.
  • Sometimes I am grumpy and under pressure to finish assignments or assessments, or I just want to sit and watch Netflix. (Sometimes I do just watch Netflix because I can and because I need to relax–which is difficult for me)
  • I am passionate about people. My heart is for those with disabilities. My specialty is working with those with autism. My heart aches for those people caught in human trafficking. (I try to be a voice for all those individuals that deserve to be heard)
  • My children are grown and I am releasing my grip on them. I don’t always get it right. I am learning the fine line between love and letting go. (It is hard…so hard.)
  • I decided to go back to school in my 40’s to get a graduate level degree. I didn’t have to do it, but I wanted to do it. I have a 4.0 because I love to learn.
  • Winter is beautiful to me, even though the cold air dries out my skin and I am left with chapped, raw hands and itchy skin. (But, the snow falling soft and quiet…)
  • I am a good wife, I keep our home running smoothly on a daily basis…but, sometimes I can be grouchy and things get on my nerves and I am not always loveable. (But, my husband because he too is good, loves me anyway)
  • I like to get dressed up on occasion, but most of the time my life consists of tennis shoes, and sweaters, cleaning litter boxes, wiping up cat puke, and mucking a horse stall. (It keeps me humble)
  • Stubborn, edgy, and sometimes I blat out stuff I shouldn’t. Sigh.

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No, not perfect.

Not even close.

A good life.

A messy life.

My life.

And I am okay with it.