Ever been stuck seeing the challenging side of life? I can't be the only one! :)
Well, with the help of friends and family, and much prayer, guidance and signs from God, my entire outlook on everyday life is in the process of flipping. And that's a darn good thing!
After dealing with some tough emotions for many years, my outlook on life was pretty negative, even though I am very blessed. Well, now that those emotions are becoming healthier, and because of the many blessings God has provided, I am seeing the world as an expression of His spirit and presence. And I am seeing God's love work through people. It's amazing to look for God in people, because He's there. People are constantly showing love to others. You just have to really pay attention to it, even in small things. Life is goodness.
I was noticing people at the coffee shop, acknowledging each other. Shoot, I even noticed a guy's crazy socks and made a point of mentioning it to him. For a long time, even though I can be outgoing, I would have kept my kind comments to myself out of anxiety. No more. I'm getting a real kick out becoming more involved in everyday life with people and am seeing a whole new level of love, for me and for others.
I hope this little testimony makes a difference for you too, to see that all kinds of people are showing God's love daily and hourly.
Unexpected blessings this week, you ask?
Well, let's see, I was invited to see a former student play piano today, and it was awesome to see her play, with no music in front of her.
My good friend Corey brought over a chocolate pie that his mom had made for me, and also gave me two pair of crazy socks. She knows me well! :)
Ran into Tom Pipines from Fox 6 News and am working on getting a story made of the Box Project in my 4th grade classroom at University Lake School.
Saw the goodness and willingness of people to make a difference in the community as my sister and others worked to create painted boards for new picnic tables to be placed in West Park, in Racine. It's called Art to Table Picnic Table Project.
Click here to see Art to Table.
I am very grateful for all, and am really glad to be seeing the world in this new loving way. Blessings to all of you. XO
And it's been a few weeks since I included a God works! photo. Here's a classic from Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park, WA. Look at those blues!
That's the name of the book recommended to me by Pastor Gillian of First Presbyterian Church in Racine (she is an awesome preacher and pastor). The book is a compilation of thoughts and writings on prayer by the well-known Henri Nouwen, although I had never heard of him. He is real - that's a high praise compliment, because he's truthful about his spirituality, doubts, struggles, and triumphs, but full of wisdom too.
The reason I mention all of this because he writes a chapter on forgiveness that really hits home. The chapter speaks on forgiveness of myself, but also of others, and how powerful it can be. He talks about forgiving by praying and getting in touch with God - the same God for me and you, but also for the other person I need to forgive. He mentions that it may be the hardest thing in the world to do, to really pray for someone else, even if they hurt me or see things in a different way. God loves that person too, even if it's hard to understand with the pain or trouble they may have caused. Praying for the good of that person is hard, yet isn't that love? He is honest about that, and how hard it can be, but how freeing it can be too. I need to do it, and let God work out life's details as I let go. This is a very intimate thing to share, but some boundaries are worth breaking, to share real love.
While I prayed about that, I also realized not only do I need to forgive, but also have an attitude of thankfulness for people who may have hurt me, because in the long run, through it all, comes healing and growth. The outcome of love is not always known, but we need to love anyway. It's a process, and we could all use prayers.
Deep stuff, I know! But real joy is coming out of all of this, I can tell you that. It's joy that doesn't come from getting what I want, but the peace of God, with much gratitude.
You may think that because of the some of the songs include that I have become a Jesus freak. In all honesty, I wouldn't say that. I believe in God and that He is pulling me out of the hell and deep sadness I was in. I still struggle with the exact meaning of and faith in Jesus, but still listen to His message and life. I have doubts, but I also have faith. There have been many talks and prayers with pastors, friends and family as my faith continues to grow. I guess you could say I'm open to Jesus. Is that faith?
Below are two songs by Helen Baylor, sandwiched around her testimony, which brings tears to my eyes everytime hear it. Give them a listen.
Blessings and joy to everyone. XO
Yep, plans don't always work out, that's for sure. My plan was to talk with 20-30 people about the box project while at a math conference in Minneapolis.
Well, one participant showed up. But, in the same way that all these God moments have happened, with no control or forcing from me, the one participant happened to be from Concordia University in Mequon. Yep, we both drove 300 or so miles from the Milwaukee area to a conference in Minneapolis, only to run into each other in this conference room. Pretty cool.
I didn't actually take it as a God moment at first, because I was a little disappointed at the turnout for my workshop. But meeting Nicole was great and we had a wonderful discussion. She was impressed by the boxes of my students, took photos and handouts, and is going to try it with her pre-service college students.
Plus, she won a free book as a door prize, since no one else was in the raffle for it!
Great to meet her and hope to work with her down the line. I'll help in any way I can. Learned some good things myself this weekend too. Excellent conference.
Blessings to everyone. XO
I had an "aha" moment this morning. If I was in my class, I'd stop and hit the gong. I guess this is my gong. In my classroom, students who have an "aha" moment can get up in the middle of a lesson to hit the gong, to signify that they learned something. Then we give them applause to celebrate. Sometimes, they learn something new that everyone already knew, but it doesn't matter, because they finally got it.
Well, I finally got it this morning. And that is: I can't control everything, and almost as importantly can't force things either. Anybody else have this problem? You want it the way you want it, and you want it now. That isn't the way the world works, so I'm finally owning up to that and accepting it.
Want to know what really made me see that I can't force things? Seeing a mother deer and her fawn in the park last night, for another God moment. It was probably the coolest thing I've ever seen. While walking with a friend Corey, he stopped us when he saw the mother only twenty feet from us. We froze and for the next half an hour watched as her fawn ran toward her, nursed for a minute and then continued their wondering in the forest, all as they got closer to us. At the end, this mother and fawn were within 5-6 feet of us. We stood in awe the whole time.
And here's thing: I didn't force that to happen or control any of it. And that is the way it is for these God moments that have been occuring over the last many months. None of them were me forcing the issue - they all came when I wasn't forcing the issue.
Hmm, there's a lesson there. I'm letting that sink in today.
Blessings everyone! XO
My eagle will be traveling with me, reminding me that..."those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.They will soar on wings like eagles..." Watch for Francis the eagle to show up in many places, constantly watching for God moments to occur and to remind me that God is there with me and others.
By the way, Francis comes from Stripes..."Lighten up Francis!"
And this message really helped today.
As you know, I've been writing about the love and presence of God in my life and those of others. With all the killings going on in our world, the terrorism and senseless deaths all over the place, it may seem that God is not here or He just doesn't care. Those are worldly things we see and hear about. Plus there are all of our own personal concerns and pains - plenty of those. And no one really has answers for most of these things. There are serious issues in our world today. But I think God is here, even in the midst of all the human tragedy and fear. In the midst of all the pain we see and hear about, I want to offer a different perspective.
I truly believe God works through people, and if you look around there is much more love working through people in the world than there is evil. It may not seem that way, because we hear so much negative news, and things definitely need to get better, but He is here. He is a God of love, wisdom and change, even if it takes time and we never really understand it all.
By writing today, I'm hoping to really put a different spin on viewing the world, because that is what's happening for me. You see, God is changing my life and the way I see the world, and it's blowing me away. Instead of trying to find fun and happiness by trying too hard, which can be fleeting and empty in the long run or at the end of a night, He is bringing me joy in life itself, which builds upon itself. I hope sharing this perspective will make sense to demonstrate why I think God is here even in the midst of all the worldly pain.
I have a pretty blessed life - a great job and passion, great friends and family, dreams, a future, my health, plus plenty more. So, maybe I have a skewed view because I have it pretty good. But I've also dealt with some things that really make no sense and cause confusion and some tough emotions. All of that has skewed my perspective too. This is where God comes in. He is taking all of my views of life and flipping them around toward love, and that is making all the difference in the world.
Ever since a painful chapter started in my life last fall, I've been searching for peace. At a most unexpected time, I "heard" a voice telling me He was going to pull me out of my hell hole, to show me His power to give me peace and so I could share it with the world. Over the months, I have surrendered more and more, giving my life and outcomes I'm concerned with to God and believing in His healing. Some of it has included me fighting and screaming inside. This somewhat humble surrender has made me let go of being right, lots of ego and stubbornness. And let me tell you, it's a process! And I'm not always happy about it! BUT...during this time, which is no coincidence, God has been blessing me more and more. If you've read any previous posts, you know of the blessings.
And I guess now we're heading toward what I want to really share today. And that is: God is here, working through us. It's really that simple, but that profound and meaningful. His love is working through us. Whether the moments are small or large, He is there. He may be working through friends or strangers. You just never know. Over the years, I have always wanted gratitude in my life and being, the kind my mom shows every day. Well, it's taken pain and surrender, but I have finally found a grateful attitude that is blowing away the way I use to take things for granted. One thing is for sure, when LOVE is working through us, love cannot and should not be taken for granted. We have to stop to take it in. And I mean really take it in - let it change and mold us.
Since I've been sharing God moments with people, many have asked if I am just noticing them more, meaning they have always been there, or if they are happening more. I think it's a combination. God's love working through people has definitely always been there, and maybe I just didn't notice it enough before. That's true. But since surrendering more of my life to God, it's really undeniable that God's favor and blessings have increased in my life. I don't think God was holding back before, but it's really that I am now open more to His loving blessings coming my way. He is blessing me and changing me, helping me find peace and joy.
Here are some examples from my life that show God is working through people. On the Fourth of July, I was in a weird mood, grateful but a bit lonely. Wanting to be with people, but not wanting to talk too much. Thinking about love and integrity helping me become a stronger person, more confident, but also more at peace. At a house party on the parade route, even early in the day, my feet were sore (am I really that old?!). I found an out-of-the-way place to sit on the front steps of the house. This spot was behind a canopy and food tables, took a little coordinated footwork to get to it, yet I could still see the parade. While seated, I watched the parade, tried to calm my emotions a bit and watched others talking and laughing. Then within a half an hour, two friends made their way through the obstacle course to join me on the steps. This is the type of thing I'm talking about, with God working through people. Both of these men had to take action to go out of their way to talk to me. That is love at work in people. Yes, love is an emotion, but also really an action.
Also, just the other day, two moments happened that showed me God's love working through people. A rector of a church agreed to meet me for breakfast. The last time we talked, he recommended a Christian book to me, so I had emailed him that I had started reading it and it was helping refine my faith. When we met the other day, after we shared how life was going, he pulled out another book by the same author, as a gift for me. That just blew me away. He went out of his way to find a book and bring it to me. THANK YOU! Not only for the book, but also for thinking of me.
Later that day, Joe, a student who was in my class just this year, was playing baseball at the small stadium in front of Miller Park. I had texted his mom to see how he was doing this summer, and she invited me to come see him play. When I got there, I didn't see him or his parents right away, but then saw his dad in the bleachers, so went to sit by him. When his mom swung by a few minutes later, she said hi and then asked her husband for the car keys. When she returned, she had a gift of crazy socks for me. How cool is that? She was thinking of me, and what a demonstration of God's love it was. THANK YOU!
These are demonstrations of kindness that are really God working through people. And THEY ARE EVERYWHERE. I am grateful to know God is here, He is guiding people and He brings peace. I sure hope these thoughts bring peace and understanding. Blessings to all of you. XO
In the last three weeks, I've had two hummingbirds fly by me in the oddest spots. They've hovered for just a few seconds, let me see them, and then just taken off. For that, I thought the first song below might be appropriate.
And while I was writing this blog, the second song came on to Youtube.
Here are two of my favorite songs of all time - appropriate for this long weekend's celebration.
Happy Fourth of July everyone. His truth is marching on!
That integrity and "unhealthy codependency" post written the other night, helped me make a tough, tough decision this week. It's even hard to write tonight because of it.
Ever have a time in your life where you had to discern things to figure out how to take action to change? That was my week. Sometimes, it's just too hard to make a move - this week pushed me to the limit since some unhealthiness was really keeping me from growing, moving on and from God's better life for me. I prayed for strength and dug down deep for determination to take action that I knew was the best course. My entire insides were shaky and doubtful, and I almost didn't take the action, but was finally able to make a decision, and let go of the outcome, by having faith that God would make things work out correctly. That's what faith is, right? Integrity has to win out, thanks to God.
Below is a video of Joel Olsteen talking about "faith in fear vs. faith in God." It hits home. I don't see everything the same way he does in this sermon, but overall he has a good point.
Had some crazy God moments this week, but will only explain one. They are so cool, and I hope they give you faith to see how God is working in our world.
I'm lying in the dentist chair yesterday, getting a cleaning, and my dentist walks in and HAS to tell me a story. He says he was at a going away party for a woman in the dental field. As he's leaving the party, the woman the party was for comes up to him and says, "when you told me a while back about the patient who changed careers into teaching, it changed my life." She is now going into teaching and the story my dentist told her about was mine. He then gave her my book too. He couldn't wait to tell me and we both had goosebumps. Tears in the eyes too. Where do these come from? I think it's God working in the world.
Blessings to you all and Happy 4th weekend. XO