Time Marches On …

FB_IMG_1514778744764I have not written too much this year, if you haven’t noticed.  I have not wanted to sit down and reflect or think through anything, to be honest.  This has been a year of change for me.  And it has been a crazy fast year…. I think it is true that time speeds up as you get older.  365 days are not enough to get everything done that needs to be done…. Or, maybe I am too busy (sometimes on purpose) and that is why time flies.  If I were completely honest, I am a little apprehensive about starting a new year.  2017 is where my Daddy is and where my work of 11 years remains.   The year of complete change leaves a void of so much of my way of life.  This time last year I would have never dreamt that life would be completely different when looking in the face of 2018.  But none of it surprised God as it happened, and I am thankful for His grace and guidance as I have navigated through it all.

It all started last January, Dad went into the hospital January 8th and he passed away January 29th.  Last Christmas and New Year, if you would have told me the events that would soon take place, I am not sure I would have believed you.   So, it has been a year of firsts without him… new traditions and a new “normal.”   That has been hard.  We are coming up on a the year anniversary.  I am thankful for the family that I have been given.  I cannot imagine making it through this year without them and my faith!

In April, I learned that I would not be returning to a position and to students that I absolutely loved.  I would no longer be teaching at the school that is my home.  The place I spent 13 years as a student, 2 as a sub, and 11 as a teacher.  I would not longer be a Speech and Debate coach, Bible teacher, etc…. I miss my people there greatly.  I miss my routine, I miss my students…  I never realized how much of my time and identity was in my job.  So the look for work began.  In the Summer I spent 2 weeks at a call center… ummm, yeah, not really my thing.  I applied for job after job, being told that I was “over-qualified” or “we cannot afford to pay you what you are worth.”  Let’s just say my faith was stretch and I wasn’t so sure I had as much as a mustard seed size of faith left.  I began driving a taxi in July/August, to make some money while looking for a job.  I mean, I still had a mortgage and bills to pay.

In October, the opportunity came around for me to begin in Administration at Montgomery Christian School.  What a blessing the Principal, students, parents, Board, and teachers are at my new job/ministry.  It is a school that really is all about the students and what is best for them.  I am so thankful for this opportunity!  I look forward to many years of serving here.

Also this year, my dog was diagnosed with diabetes and went blind.  It has been a learning curve of giving 2 shots a day, learning the way around the house while bumping into walls, etc…. But Lilly is still a good dog and loves me no matter what.

In March, 2 blessings were added to our family.  My twin nieces have been a reminder of God’s continued blessings and that life continues to go on even in grief, even in heartache, and we must continue to live our lives intentionally or we may miss the good parts.

I have met some amazing people this year and been blessed with old friendships who have helped heal my heart.  For each person I am thankful, probably more than they realize.

So, as I put 2017 behind and press on to 2018, my prayer is that through heartache and blessings…. whatever comes my way, I am able to live intentionally, love completely, forgive fully, and continue to become the person God wants me to be…. because He’s not done with me yet and I have so much to learn.

Happy New Year!

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What I have learned

Blessed are those who fear the Lord,
    who find great delight in his commands.

Their children will be mighty in the land;
    the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses,
    and their righteousness endures forever.

Psalm 112:1-3

 

There are some things in life there is just nothing that can prepare you until you experience it.  I have lost relatives, friends, students… however, the loss of a parent is like nothing I have ever experienced.  However, I am thankful for the 41 years my Daddy was here to teach me, love me, and protect me.  There are countless things that I have learned from his legacy, that I pray I can carry on and live out, and make him proud.

  1.  If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right.
  2. Family is the most important relationships you can have.  When my Mammaw was in the nursing home, Dad went by every evening and fed her.  He took care of her, just like she took care of him when he was younger.
  3. It is important to sometimes sacrifice for now to gain more in the future.
  4. The simple life can be the best life.
  5. You do not need praise for helping others, you just help and go on about life.
  6. There is always better ways to do things, improvement is important.
  7. You can be a football fan without it ruling your life.
  8. Stand by the things you believe in and don’t compromise.
  9. When you are not sure about something, ask for advice.
  10. Expect excellence.
  11. Work hard.

These are just a few of the many life lessons.  There are so many more that I have learned over the years.  The past week and a half has been hard.  My family and I have shared memories and laughed, sometimes through tears…. I know sad days will happen, but thankfully we know Dad is in heaven.  He is walking and talking with Jesus.

I cannot imagine grieving without hope.  All the more reason to go and share Christ with those around me.  I do not want others to experience grief without the hope and peace of Christ.

It all comes down to living a life worthy of Christ.  Loving God and loving others. No earthly recognition needed.

New Year, New You… What’s your word?

So the New Year is quickly approaching.  It is time.  It is time for a new start, and refreshed outlook….

I have a friend who challenged me to find my word for the coming year.  I have chosen “Progress.”  You see… I have a tendency to be single minded and when I set goals I work at them with reckless abandon, and if I don’t reach the goal, or I fall short, or I have to change the goal, I get discouraged.  BUT… this year I am going to focus on the progress I make and not necessarily completing the goal.  I mean, yes, reaching the goal is the ultimate point, but at 6 months, I will evaluate my progress.

It is really about the journey anyway, right?  Who am I becoming?  How am I growing and changing over time?  How are my relationships evolving?

So… what’s your word?  What are your goals?  Ready. Set… let’s make some progress!

 

Refine Me

I come into this place
Burning to receive your peace
I come with my own chains
From wars I’ve fought for my own selfish gain
You’re my God and my Father
I’ve accepted your Son
But my soul feels so empty now
What have I become?

Lord, come with your fire
Burn my desires; refine me
Lord, my will has deceived me
Please come and free me
Refine me

My heart can’t see
When I only look at me
My soul can’t hear
When I only think of my own fears
They are gone in a moment
You’re forever the same
Why did I look away from You
How can I speak Your name?

Lord, come with Your fire
burn my desires; refine me
Lord, my will has deceived me
Please come and free me
Come rescue this child
For I long to be reconciled to You

It’s all I can do
To give my heart and soul to You
And pray, and pray, oh I will pray

Lord, come with Your fire
burn my desires; refine me
Lord, my will has deceived me
Please come and free me
Come rescue this child
For I long to be reconciled to You

Refine me, refine me
Refine me, refine me

Jennifer Knapp – Refine Me Lyrics

Too much….

It is always good to evaluate and re-evaluate your work, situation, spiritual life, relationships, motives, and the list goes on and on….

There are different times in life that I tend to do this, and sometimes I do it too much… but what I have come to find out about myself is that “Too Much” sometimes defines who I am.  But… I am who God created me to be.  My prayer has been this, this past month:

Psalm 139: 23-24

Search me, O God, and know my heart;  Try me and know my anxious thoughts;  And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.

Sometimes I worry too much, care too much, give too much, trust too much, love too much, work too much, say too much, expect too much…. again… the list goes on…

So is this a good thing?  Is it a bad thing? I guess it depends.  Obviously, I shouldn’t worry too much… but, the others…. it is part of who I am.  If it is worth doing, I will give it my all.  I will work, love, give, trust, care, … with everything I am….

What I hope is that in those things, that God shines through.  One of my Senior quotes (yes I had 2 because I couldn’t decide…), but one of them said “If you meet me and forget me, you have lost nothing, but if you meet Jesus and forget him, you have lost everything”… I have no idea who originally said this, but it is what I truly hope for in those I come in contact with.  James 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease” Because, ultimately my too much is all about HIM and HIM alone.  Even when I mess up… too much…. I hope my repentance is enough.

So, in my work, in my relationships, in my giving… and in my repentance….I hope that in it all, I bring HIM Glory.

Faith… Do I have it?

“So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name”

It is well Take time to listen 🙂

April 10th… A day that now has significance in the life of my family.  This day last year we were getting ready to lay the body of my Granny to rest.  Not sure how my sisters and I made it through work last year on that Friday, other than through the strength God gave me.  Just like He has given us the strength to make it through other difficult things in the past 9 months.  I cannot imagine living life without the Hope, Joy, Peace, and Grace.

This morning in Church we were singing this version of “It is Well” and as I reflected on how God is constant in life through the death of my grandparents, Dad’s surgeries, and in daily life.  As I live through the stuff this world throws at me… He is there.  I just have to keep my eyes on Him as I meet it all head on…. Knowing, as His child He has my future in mind and the best plan for me.  And when I look away, as I seem to do often, He is there, ready to lift me up…. Just as He reached out His hand to Peter (See Matthew 14:22-33).

There are days I wonder if I have enough faith… even though it just takes the Faith of a mustard seed… I find myself trying to take hold of things in my life that I have already given to God to take control over.  ( Matthew 17:14-21).

My prayer this week is that I allow Him to work through me, even in difficult situations.  That I leave things in my life up to Him.  I mean… His plans are so much better than anything I can come up with, right?  I just need to get out of the way and let Him work (John 3:30).

It is well (full Lyrics)

Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard

Chorus
And through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
And through it all, through it all
It is well

And through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
It is well with me

Verse 2
Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see

And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea

Chorus
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well
It is well

Bridge x3
So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name (repeat last line during 3rd run)

It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well it is well with my soul x3

Chorus x2 (softly slowly)
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well with me.

Read more:  Bethel Music – It Is Well Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Those Life Milestones

I had a student ask me today if I was going to Blog about my re-birthday… shoutout to Miller… and as I went through the day in reflection, I decided there was something to say.

So, today is my 25th re-birthday. 25 years ago, during our very first Dnow at my church where I grew up (Eastmont Baptist in Montgomery, Alabama) ,I felt the Holy Spirit prompting my heart.  I cannot tell you what the person preaching was talking about, all I heard was… Rebecca, I am more than just your Savior… I need to be your Lord….  I remember the Sanctuary (now the fellowship hall) seeming so small.  I was so ready for the person talking to stop.  I had to tell somebody!  Jesus was more than just someone who died on the cross for my sins…. yes, He did that, and yes, that is important!  But following Him is more than just being a “Christian” and knowing all about Scripture, attending a church service, getting baptized, … and the list goes on…. it is more than what we do and where we go.  While all those things are important and we should glorify Him by our actions;  It is so much more!

It is living daily striving to have Him as the leader of my day… and when I step ahead and mess up… realizing His grace and forgiveness are sufficient.  Since that day… March 9th has been a day of reflection

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I am so thankful for His grace and mercy.  So thankful for His love and hope. No telling where I would be without it.  As I begin my 26th year in this journey being a follower of Christ, I pray that those around me witness my victories and defeats, success and failure as someone who is not perfect, but desires to love those around me with His love.  Because, isn’t it really about loving God, loving people, and as I am going, making disciples?

Thankful He is in control.  Thankful He is my Savior and Lord… Lord grant me the wisdom to daily take up my cross and follow you.

Luke 9:23-25

“…Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?  

How is it already time for Lent?

How is it already the middle of February?  With all my trips for work and living life, it has been difficult to keep organized the last 2 months.  I am ready for a break just to stop for a second.  I find that in my hecticness (not a word, but going to use it) of life these days, it is more difficult to spend time with my Savior.  I need to retreat.  I need time just to be still.  I need to practice being still and making time.  It is so true that we create time for the things and people that are important to us.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

Today begins the Lenten season. And while I do not usually go to a Lenten service – Baptist usually don’t – but I really want to focus today on what these next few weeks hold leading up to Easter and the celebration of what God has done for us through the death and resurrection of His Son.

As we begin the 40 days of Lent, we must first reflect on sin, since that is the reason Christ had to come in the first place.  When we look at the origin of Sin, we look to Genesis 3.  When God confronted Eve, Adam, and the serpent about the sin committed, none of them took responsibility for the sins committed.  They blamed one another.  They were punished, even though they tried to shift blame.  There was then a need of reconciliation in their relationship to each other (Adam and Eve, not the serpent) and each of them to God.

So, I then reflect on my sin.  How often do I shift blame and try not to take responsibility? How often do I try to explain away the consequences and my relationship with God is in need of reconciliation? How often do I have relationships that need repair because of sins committed.  My answer is OFTEN!  Boy do I have work to do! Reflection on sin is humbling and difficult.  I realize how prideful I truly am and how flawed.  I hope that when others see my sin, and see my reaction to that sin, that they see Christ working in me and through me as I ask for forgiveness and reconciliation happens in my relationships.

As you enter this season, take time to first reflect on your relationship with Christ.  Your sin and asking for forgiveness.  May the next 40 days be a true experience in experiencing Christ through your daily life.  Take time daily to BE STILL and grow your relationship with your Savior and Lord.  Don’t only believe in Christ.  Know Christ… and then go make Him known to those around you.

 

Putting the past behind and pressing on

Philippians 3:12-16

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.

When I began thinking about writing this post, I had so much reflection to do.  This year has been a tough one, but one that God has taught me so much.  Teaching has been incredibly busy during the school year.  My grandmother passed away in April.  I had the opportunity to speak at a conference this past Summer. School started in August being crazier than the year before.  Two weeks after school started Dad had emergency surgery (statistically he should not be on this Earth at this time, but he is and for that we are so very thankful) and then just a month-ish later, he had another surgery to remove his kidney, and he is on the mend and awaiting a 3rd surgery.  Financially, I have been working on getting out of debt, so that has been “fun”… Spiritually, there has been mountains and valleys. Physically, I am working on getting healthy inside out…

What I know, throughout 2015, no matter what avenue I look, God has been there and was not surprised by anything that happened.  Yes, there were some regrets.  Yes, there were some victories.  Yes, there were some ordinary days. Yes, there were some defeats.  He was there in every second, every moment, every breath.  For that, I am thankful for the relationship with my Lord and my Savior… which I do not deserve and cannot earn.

 So, what does the new year hold?  There are 365 days to fill with words, action, memories, family time, friends, work, pleasure…

We are all given 24 hours in each of those days and making the most of each moment is important.  My hope and desire is that God will use me this year to make a difference and show His love to those He places in my path.  I have been setting goals and making plans, praying that He directs my steps along the way.  The ultimate goal, however, is Christ’s command for us to Go and make Disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).

I hope each of you has a fantastic 2016! I hope that in each second, of each day, you find the Joy of Christ… Joy in the happiness and joy in the sad times.  Even Joy in the ordinary days.  Set your goals, make your plans, and pray that He orders your steps each and every day.  And when you make a mistake, I pray you find joy in His grace…. as you are striving and pressing on to reach the prize.  Happy New Year!

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A Life Interrupted and encouraged

Life does not go as you would always expect. Life happens, plans change, people change, and nothing seems to stay the same… and yet, somethings never change.

As a teacher, school has begun.  It is busy as always, getting everything in order and back into a routine.  This year, for me, however, has been a life interrupted.  Because of the craziness, I have been very humbled and encouraged.

As I sit here writing, we are 10 weeks into the school year.  During the 2nd week of school a family emergency occurred.  My father went into emergency surgery for an aortic dissection, which is very critical.  We were not promised he would make it out of this surgery.  During the process of discovering the issue that was causing him discomfort and pain, they also discovered 2 other issues.  He had a tumor in his kidney and an aneurysm in his abdomen.  Had the emergency not happened, not sure when the other 2 issues would have been found. Thankful does not begin to express the feeling my family has.

I have learned and been reminded of some things over the past 2 month.

  1. God is good – Not because my Dad is still with us.  He would have been good either way, but He has sustained us through the fear and unknown.  It is humbling to realize that we are not promised even the next breath…
  2. Time is important and I want to use each second given to me to Honor Christ and encourage others.  I can’t waste time on regrets, anger, irritation, etc…
  3. Little things matter, and so do people and family.
  4. We all waste too much time on things and stuff, and not enough time on what does matter.
  5. Juggling all of life is hard.  Thankful for those that step along side me on the journey.
  6. I have an amazing family.

I cannot even express how grateful I am for the miracles that have happened over the past 2 month, or even show gratitude to my precious people who have loved me well through it all.  Those near and far that have prayed, encouraged, hugged me, let me cry, cooked or brought us food/snacks, made us laugh, sent encouraging messages, celebrated with us as we saw God continuously do a miracle.  I am so blessed to have you all in my life.

 “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart,..” Philippians 1:3-7

God’s not done with Dad yet………..I can’t wait to see what assignment He has for him to do next!