It is the end of National Infertility Awareness week and I have been thinking about if I would even address it this year. This time last year I was able to celebrate my miracle baby and how her story has affected me and so many others around me, but this year it feels different. Not that she isn’t my miracle any more, because I assure you she is exactly what I prayed for. But this year my heart is crying this song, Oh My Soul.
Have you ever struggled with what to focus your time and attention on? I do…all the time.
As a teacher, I want to be the best teacher out there. I want to be the Ron Clark of my school. I want to show my students I care, not just about their learning, but about them. I want to engage students in rigorous tasks that they will remember.
As a wife, I want my husband to have no doubt in his mind that I love him more than any human walking planet earth right now. I want him to know I care by how I serve him, care for him, listen to him, spend time with him. I want to speak his love language so that his love tank is full.
As a mom, I want my daughter to know how much I love her and care about her. I want to teach her and support her dreams. I want to show her the way to live as a godly woman (one day). I want to spend time with her, showering her in attention and words of affirmation.
As a christian, I want to devote my every thought, attitude, and action to loving God and loving others. I want to spend time in my bible reading, studying, and applying His truths. I want to pray for others, myself, and praise God continually.
But my inward struggle is over which of these four will win. These are the big four in my life. I still want to be the best daughter, sister, in-law, designer, blogger, etc. too, BUT the four titles above are where my deepest desires are rooted. And I struggle. I struggle to put the phone down and focus on my daughter and husband. I struggle to pray continually. I struggle to engage all of my students. I struggle all the time.
As 2017 closes out and we are looking forward to a new year, new beginning I am struggling. All of the people I follow on Instagram have these amazing classrooms with fun songs and flashing lights, or beautifully put together homes with nothing out of place, or a million pictures of their families on these amazing trips…and here I am comparing myself to them. The exact thing I tell the teenagers at church not to do.
So today, as I have been reflecting on 2017, struggling with comparing myself to the Instagram world, and looking forward to 2018 I have realized where my focus must be. On HIM. On the Creator of the universe. If I focus on my relationship with GOD, He will pour into me and I will begin to overflow. These excess will only grow and benefit my marriage, my motherhood, and my teaching. I want to ooze Jesus when I am squeezed by the world.
Who cares if I don’t most ten pictures of Hannah each day? Most of you would probably be silently thanking me for not oversharing. Who cares if my classroom isn’t the most matchy-matchy? Who cares if dinner isn’t on the table at 6 and all of the laundry folded before bed?
2018, I’m ready. I’m ready to spend more and more time with King Jesus. Focusing on HIM so that my overflow will cover all of the other areas of me!
I experienced one of the most beautiful moments in my teaching career yesterday. Our school had a wonderful program and invited veterans to attend. The school live streamed into the classrooms since we could not all watch it in person. After the second grade chorus sang the screen in my classroom went blank. I knew it was coming. I knew the school would not stream one of our assistant principals praying for our veterans. With all of the upset about coaches praying with their teams in the news lately, I knew the school would not stream a prayer into my classroom. I have cried and prayed for our schools, teachers, and coaches with this new upset about prayer in public schools. I have been upset, angered, and disappointed at where our country is headed—away from God. But as my screen went blank and I explained to my students why, I became filled with a peace as I encouraged my students to use the silent screen time as a chance to pray for our veterans. To my amazement, every head in the room bowed, every eye closed, and my students began to pray. My eyes were filled with tears as I also began to pray for our veterans, soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and country. I praised God for the chance I was given to witness such a beautiful moment, a silent praying class who wanted to lift up our veterans even when no one was leading them in prayer!
Do you have dreams for your life? Or maybe for your children’s lives? I have several for our family, for Hannah, for me! I’ve been listening to Casting Crowns a lot lately and Dream for You is one of their songs. It is about David and how his shepherd sized dreams were changed into king sized dreams. And Mary’s dreams of marrying Joseph and then starting a family were not exactly what God’s plan for her life was. The chorus says, “So come on, let Me dream, let Me dream for you; I am strong when you’re weak and I’ll carry you; So let go of your plan, be caught by My hand; I’ll show you what I can do; When I dream for you; I have a dream for you.”
This song has caused me to think about David’s story a great deal lately. It is a whirlwind story that no one could have imagined happening, especially him. King Saul had lost the favor of God and Samuel went looking for who God would anoint as King. “Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.” (1 Samuel 16:11-13 ESV) David is the youngest son of Jesse. He is a shepherd and wasn’t even on the radar of becoming anything great amongst his family. David probably dreamed about becoming a big time shepherd, owning a lot of animals, and maybe one day hiring young guys like himself to shepherd his flocks. But God had different plans for his life. God’s plan for our lives means that we may have to let go of our dreams and plans. I’m sure David never dreamt about becoming King and without God he never would have been king. God’s plan for David was so much bigger than being a shepherd.
David spent years as a servant of Saul’s, a soldier, and then running from Saul. David and his family knew he had been anointed by Samuel but it’s not like it was posted on Instagram for all to see. God’s plan for our lives means that we have to trust God with our dreams, and trust that He will make His plans come true in His time. “So David went up there, and his two wives also, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. And David brought up his men who were with him, everyone with his household, and they lived in the towns of Hebron. And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.” (2 Samuel 2:2-3ESV) “Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh. In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the Lord said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.'” So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.” (2 Samuel 5:1-4 ESV) David went from a young shepherd boy to a servant of the king. From a servant to a soldier and from a soldier to a man running from the king. The entire time he knew God had Samuel anoint him as king, but he wasn’t king yet. Now he is the king of Judah and Israel. God’s plan requires us to be obedient. David found out he would be King long before it happened. And I am sure along the way he was unsure how he would ever get what God had told him would happen, but David trusted God and His plan. David was obedient and did as God directed him. God took years to place David as king of Israel and many times David was faced with enemies who wanted to kill him. But David knew God would fulfill His promises and trusted God.
I am having to let go of my plans for my life, Hannah’s life, and our family so that I can trust God and His plan. I know His dreams for us are King sized dreams instead of my shepherd sized dreams. I am letting God carry me and going to be obedient to His word and let His dreams for me take root in my heart and trust that His plans are better than my own!
A few weeks ago Kyle said he was going to live in Calhoun as if he were a missionary. Ummmm…okay. Those were my thoughts at first. We aren’t that far from where he has grown up. It’s 30 minutes away. We are living life very similarly to how we lived in Cartersville. We both work. We have a normal home. We are active in church, but missionaries? I wasn’t so sure.
But the more I thought about his statement the more it makes sense to me. Jesus gave believers a task before he ascended. “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.””(Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)
We are missionaries. We are living with a purpose to infiltrate our community with the gospel. We are here to take every opportunity to share Jesus with the people of Calhoun. We moved 30 minutes away to be missionaries. But truly, we are all called to be missionaries. We do not have to move to spread the gospel. We can share right where we are. We can shine Jesus even if we are living in the same neighborhood we grew up in. So yes, we are missionaries in Calhoun. Where are you a missionary at?
I’m trying to process through tomorrow. As I sit in my quiet home, I am overwhelmed by the meaning behind what is coming in the morning. Tomorrow is Hannah’s baby dedication at church, and my heart is bursting with joy and my cheeks are damp with tears.
For years I prayed for this sweet baby and God has given us the happiest little girl, and now it is our turn to give her back to God in front of our family and church. Hannah’s name is special for many reasons, but today I am reminded again of Hannah from the Bible. In 1 Samuel 1, Hannah asks God for a son and then promises to give her son back to serve God. God hears Hannah and blesses her with Samuel. Later in the chapter it says, “For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.” (1 Samuel 1:27-28 ESV)
Tomorrow we are giving our daughter, and the life she lives, back to the Lord. We are going to be charged with raising her in a godly home, living a Christ-centered life in front of her, and teaching her all about Jesus! I am so excited for this moment! A moment I was unsure would ever come! These tears are tears of joy! My heart is so full! I will gladly and whole heartedly dedicate her to the Lord!
I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts for weeks now about moving. Maybe find the words to describe my amazement in how we accumulated so much stuff (Oh My Goodness at the STUFF!). Or wrap my head around balancing the many hats I have worn this summer (mom, wife, daughter, packer, mover, teacher, youth pastor wife, friend, etc.) The problem is that so much is moving, so many hats are being worn, too much is changing. It’s like my brain can’t decide how to process it.
This past Saturday we moved out of our home in Cartersville. Most of our stuff went to storage in Rome (because Calhoun storage units were not available). The stuff we need for the next few weeks moved to my in-laws with us (we are all here one week, hannah and I are at my parents next week while Kyle is on a mission trip, then we are all back at the in-laws for a week). I have several bags of stuff to move into my classroom. Plus we had to leave Kyle’s mission trip gear out too. It’s a lot to process.
Kyle asked me on Saturday, as we were finally laying down for bed, how I was doing. (He knows I don’t do well with change.) The amazing part is, I was excited! This temporary move gets me one step closer to my dream home. It’s one step closer to being obedient to what God has told us to do. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve cried (for many reasons) and laughed. We’ve shared stories about our home in Cartersville and sweat more than we ever thought we could while moving out.
Cartersville, it has been my pleasure to call you home for 19 years. Calhoun, watch out…cause we are coming!!!
I saw a beautiful picture on Instagram yesterday that said “My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk to me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”” (Psalm 27:8)
I had to screen capture it and this morning as I looked at the image again I wanted to read Psalm 27. This Psalm is David’s and is titled The Lord is My Light and My Salvation. It is such a beautiful prayer to lift up, but verse 8…how many times do we feel the draw of the Lord and actually go to Him? I know so many times I get distracted. I’ll spend time with you when my coffee cup is empty (I want to be fully awake for Jesus). I’ll spend time with you when my daughter is napping (what if she needs me while I’m doing my quiet time). I’ll spend time with you when my favorite show is over (I don’t want to be wondering what is happening in the show). I’ll spend time with you before I go to bed (so that you’re the last thought before I sleep). So many excuses! Why can’t I respond immediately with “Lord, I am coming” ? I know I am probably not alone in this struggle, but today my prayer is to put God first, before the boxes I need to pack, before the DVR, before my caffeine fix. God is first!
Last night driving home from my parents’ home Kyle said, “I don’t even recognize our life compared to this time last year.” And oh how true that statement is. We have always known that God could lead us anywhere (just like he can everyone…not just ministry families), but the whirlwind we have been in for the past year makes our lives completely different. Unrecognizable. Bare with me.
In June 2016, I was pregnant. I worked at Cartersville Elementary. Kyle worked part time at ATCO Baptist. We had no clue how we were going to afford a baby. We were living in a 900 square foot home with two dogs trying to make space for a baby in all of our stuff. We were overwhelmed!
Fast forward a year to June 2017. We have a healthy, beautiful 10 month old daughter who is crawling all over the house. I work for Calhoun Elementary. Kyle works full time for Trinity Baptist. We are packing our tiny home and moving to our dream home/mini-farm. We are overwhelmed!
Two different kinds of overwhelmed. I feel a bit like Jabez. Praying for guidance, blessings, provisions, ministry opportunities, protection, peace…
“Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.” (1 Chronicles 4:10 ESV) I know Jabez didn’t use all of the words I did, but God has blessed Kyle and me in ways we didn’t even know how to pray for a year ago. Our border has been enlarged to encompass Calhoun now! We have prayed for God’s blessing and He has more than provided! God has protected us from harm. God is Good!
Years of praying brought us a healthy, happy baby girl! God is good!
I didn’t want to leave my job and had planned on staying unless God moved mountains. I received a phone call in April from a principal who didn’t even have a job listed as open on the website. I interviewed the next day and knew I was going to their school. They offered me a job 24 hours later. God decided to heave a mountain out of the way! God is good!
We decided to list our house even though it had little repairs that still needed to be done. We had a contract on it within 24 hours. God is good!
We had been looking for months at homes in Calhoun and nothing made us excited! Until a tiny farm came up for sale. Lots of people were looking at the home and we just knew we would never get it. Until 2 days later we got a call that said otherwise. God is good!
I could bore you with a million details that give me chills because I know they were from God. His hand has moved what feels like a mountain chain to bring us where we are. Trusting Him is one of the hardest things to practice, but has huge rewards! We are still walking through the changes, stumbling on details, and ironing out wrinkles, but God is so GOOD!
So much change has happened in our lives this year. My word for the year should have been CHANGE.
Kyle has CHANGED jobs.
I am CHANGING jobs.
We have CHANGED churches.
We are about to CHANGE houses.
But the amazing part is how God has orchestrated all of it! Don’t get me wrong…I have struggled with the changing. Look at this journal entry from earlier this year:
It happens every time. Every time we start over I spend hours, days, weeks, maybe even months crying. Crying because I miss people. Crying because I don’t have my friends. Crying because I hate change. Crying because I am confused on whether we did the right thing or not. When we left CFBC I cried for all of those reasons and some. It took time to adjust to ATCO. Then I fell in love with ATCO, made new friends, and found my new way of life. It was different than First Baptist, but it became my normal. Now at Trinity I don’t have a normal. I don’t have a routine. I don’t have friends yet. (I hope yet is right) It’s hard.
But God has already started to give me a peace about that struggle. The constant list of questions running through my mind these last few months has started to dwindle.
Will I get a new job? Change. Will I get a new grade level? Change. Will I move homes? Change. Will we buy a different car? Change. It’s so much to think about and handle. I dislike change so much.
But you know what is constant? My husband. Kyle is a trooper and knows my struggle with change and is supporting me the best he can right now. My daughter. She doesn’t recognize anything as being different. She just loves her mommy and daddy. Most importantly, my God. He does not change. He is a constant in my life. If I don’t feel Him it is not because He isn’t there. He is always there. My God has saved me, loves me, never leaves me, provides for me, goes before me. He is my rock, redeemer, friend. He shelters me, carries me, comforts me. He is king of my life, Lord of everything.
Today I know that He is counting the tears I cry. I know He is preparing the way for me, whatever way that may be. I know He has a plan for my family and even though I cannot see it now I know He is working it out for our good. Today I may not like the feelings of change, but I know God is requiring me to trust Him in the change.
I don’t know all of the answers to my list of questions, but I do know that where I ended up in that journal entry is still true. God is my constant. He does not change.