Saturday, August 10, 2013

Blessed beyond measure

For those of you that know me, you know that several years ago God asked me to stretch way beyond my comfort zone when my principal at the time asked me to teach 5th grade.  Reluctantly, I agreed.  For two years, I taught 5th grade alongside one of my very best friends.  Those years brought many challenges and many blessings.  I had the privilege of teaching students that I had previously taught in second grade.  I also had the honor of teaching new students.  Combined, the students of those two years brought much joy into my life, amid the stresses of wanting to give them all that they needed and often unable to give or get them what they needed most.  At the end of the second year in fifth grade, I asked to be moved back to a primary grade and taught second grade the last two years.
When we first taught 5th grade together!

Fast forward two full years...

In the spring of this year, God again asked me to move out of my comfort zone and pursue a new teaching position in a new district.  (This is big for me because CHANGE isn't something that I easily meet with acceptance.)  Striving to be obedient, I applied for several jobs within that district, including second grade, third grade, and fourth/fifth split grade.  I was called for an interview.  When the principal called to offer the job to me, you guessed was for the fourth/fifth grade position.  Again, striving to be obedient, I accepted the position and prayed that God would give me exactly what I needed to be able to reach my new students.

Since that night, He has been answering that plea over and over in so many ways that I probably can't even remember them all.  First, that same evening that I got the call, my friend (the one that I had taught 5th grade with before) called and said that she had just been told that she would be teaching 4th/5th in her school.  WOW!  God cares so much for both of us that he placed us in the same grade so that we could spur each other on even though we are in different schools in different districts.  What a blessing it has been to chat, plan, share ideas, and pray for each other as we embark on this latest adventure in God's plans for our lives!  Second, He placed me at a school where the principal obviously loves her students and her teachers and does all she can to support both groups!  At the same time, He gave me two wonderful young ladies to work with on my new team.  They have been more than helpful, they've been a life-line!  Finally, over the last few weeks God has poured out His love on me by confirming the "whys" of placing me with this age.  From reconnecting with one of those former fifth graders that is now starting fresh as a freshman in high school to running into a student I had in second and fifth grades at Wal-Mart to being able to cheer for three of my former babies for their performance in a major musical, peace and a renewed excitement for teaching has flooded my soul.  To top it all off, within minutes of my twenty-eight students walking through our classroom door, I fell head over heals for each of them.  They have a zeal for learning that is contagious.  In just three short days, bonds have been built and our classroom family has formed.


So while there has certainly been stressful moments ( little orange flash drive that held nearly all my school files of the last 5 years is lost...AGAIN!), saying YES! to God has produced a peace that can't be explained in human terms. 

My cup overflows as God continues to bless me beyond measure!

Luke 6:38  Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”


Saturday, March 16, 2013

How forgetful we are!

So I'm sure you've heard it said that elephants never forget!  People on the other hand are quite forgetful.  I am most likely the queen of forgetfulness.  In fact, I often joke with my students about my slippery mind.  Sometimes being forgetful can serve us well.  Other times it is something that can cause us to fall.

This past week (well past couple of weeks) have been some the most emotionally and physically exhausting days of my  life.  My faith in my Lord and in people has been tested.  I have found myself literally crying out...shouting out...begging for God to help!  My face and eyes have stayed red and puffy from crying.  I have felt physically ill from the emotional distress.  At one point, I questioned whether God even heard my pleas.  I knew in my head that He did, but at that moment my heart felt alone and deserted.  During these past weeks, I have spent as much time as possible reading scripture, listening to worship music, praying, seeking counsel from godly friends.  While all that helped for brief moments, I still felt like I was in a desert all by myself.  So what was the problem?

Have you ever been completely ready to leave the house, get out to car, and THEN realize you forgot your keys in the house?  Or maybe you are cleaning your house and you head into a room to get something and all of the sudden you have no idea what you went in that room for in the first place?  Possibly, you are like my mother-in-law who left church one Sunday (like completely left) and then realized she was short one kid?  (I don't think I've ever forgotten one of my kids anywhere, but don't hold me to that.  After all, I very well could have just forgotten that I did it.)

What do all those instances have in common?

In all those cases, you had to GO BACK!  You can't get anywhere without your keys, so you GO BACK to get them.  You can't remember what you needed, so you GO BACK to the room where you thought of it in the first place.  It is frowned upon to forget your child somewhere, so you have to GO BACK to get him.

This morning, in the stillness of the quiet house, God reminded me that I have forgotten some very important things and that I need to GO BACK and get them.

First, I had forgotten that I am the daughter of the ONE True KING!  The King who NEVER forgets me.  The Lord who will NEVER leave me or forsake me.  I had to GO BACK and be reminded that "He Himself has said, “I will never desert, nor will I ever forsake " in Hebrews.  I had to go back and get my identity!  I am not the wife who is too tired to get up and fix her husband's breakfast or the mom who is so emotionally spent that she didn't make it to her son's concert or the teacher who is at the end of her rope because she doesn't know how to reach a suffering student.  While all that is true of how I have felt these last few days, it is not the TRUTH about who I am.  I am a child of God and THAT is where I should find and rest in my identity.  

I also need to GO BACK to the things I know.  We sometimes get so caught up in being the best and learning new ways of doing things that we forget that the "old" ways worked!  Yes, there are some great new ideas out there about running your home or about connecting with students, but sometimes we just need to lay those aside and go back to the ways that have worked for us in the past.  I know that the house will run more smoothly if all of us that live here work together and do a little each day.  I know that my students are much more likely to learn in they are enjoying the act of learning.  I know that my relationship with my husband is the most peaceful and the most passionate when we are intentional about dating each other.  I have to GO BACK to what I know works...even if it isn't what others say "should" be happening.

Finally, there are times that forgetting is good.  I realize when we're wronged, it is difficult to 'forget' and most likely we won't ever truly forget.  However, when we couple that forgetting with forgiving it goes much farther than trying to forget about it without forgiving.  So often in life, people don't even realize how they hurt us.  Maybe it is something they say or something they do.  Maybe it is something they DON'T say or something they DON'T do.  The truth is that we are called to forgive anyway.  Jesus said in Matthew 6, "14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Emphasis added)  Oh Lord, thank you for this reminder.  I'm commanded to forgive.  It says nothing about whether they ask for forgiveness or not.  I'm supposed to forgive!  If I live with a spirit of unforgiveness or revenge, then why should I expect my Creator to forgive me for the multitude of sins I commit daily?

So the challenge is to GO BACK!  We will always forget, but the one thing we need to remember is to GO BACK to the TRUTH of who we are in Christ and the truth of what we know works.  Will we be able to do this perfectly?  Nope!  But to borrow a phrase from Lysa Terkeurst, we can make "imperfect progress" by striving each day to do better.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Quick Cheesy Mexican Bake

I love to cook!  I especially enjoy cooking when I am on a break from school.  I don't like to feel rushed.  When working, cooking can be a challenge to fix something quick, simple, and yet delicious for my family.  Plus, with 3 kids in college and 1 nearly out of high school, our money has to be stretched A LOT!  I've been searching for quick, simple, delicious, AND inexpensive meals for our family.  While I've found a few, I just haven't found something that I wanted to cook.  Hahaha!  I guess I'm picky!  While I had time off today, I came up with the following recipe.  It is all the things I've been looking for!  Enjoy!
Quick Cheesy Mexican Bake

1-2 pounds of ground beef (could substitute ground venison)
1 small onion
Ground Cumin
Ground Coriander
Chili Powder
Red Pepper Flakes
Chipotle Rub/Seasoning
1 package cream cheese
About 2 cups shredded cheese (I used Mexican blend.  Could use cheddar.)
Barilla Ditalini (Could substitute any small pasta)
Cook pasta according to directions on box.  Meanwhile, brown ground beef with the small onion.  Add seasonings.  I didn’t put amounts because I just eye them to how I think my family will like it.  Stir in cream cheese to beef mixture.  When pasta and beef are cooked, mix together.  Stir in about 1 cup of the cheese.  Pour into a baking dish.  Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Is Believing Enough?

It has been way to long since my last post.  I would love to have the time to write regularly.  That just doesn't seem to be the case.  Then, when I do have time, words fail me.  Anyway...

so I have spent the last hour or more typing and retyping, then typing some more.  Trying to put my thoughts into words.  The words just aren't flowing.  I have MUCH I want to say.  I have MUCH I feel like NEEDS to be said. 

For now, I'm sticking with a verse from my morning study...
Psalm 19:14
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
The words I have written and rewritten this morning didn't seem 'acceptable' so for now I'll just not write them. 

(In case you're wondering about the title of the post...that was what I planned to write about.  It just didn't happen this morning.  Maybe later.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

For these boys I prayed

Depending on where you are in the world, today or tomorrow is Blake and Cody's birthday.  If you don't know the story of how God blessed us with our family, it's one of my favorite to brag on the faithfulness of God!

This is a story that begins even before Dougie and I got married almost 24 years ago.  I had always wanted a lot of children.  When we got married, we waited for children so that I could finish my degree.  However, we both agreed that a large family would be great!  I prayed and prayed for God to give us many children.  I also prayed OFTEN for Him to give us twins!  Yes...I prayed for twins...regularly!

In the fall of 1991, we learned that God was blessing us with our first child.  We didn't know and didn't want to know if our blessing would be a boy or girl.  We were simply thankful to be given this amazing gift.  It wasn't twins, but we couldn't have been any more excited!  A couple of weeks later, my sister, Becky found out that she was expecting, too...


wait for it...

she was having twins!

Have you ever had that moment when you let disappointment and jealousy over someone else getting what you prayed for rule your life?  Oh, I was happy for her!  And please don't misunderstand me...I was thrilled to be blessed with one baby!  However, I questioned God.  Why would he give HER twins when I was the one that longed for them?!  Why had he not answered my pleas?

Nine months later (well there about), Brooke was born on June 9.  Oh what a jewel!  She was (and still is) the prettiest baby ever.  She filled me with more joy than I could have imagined!  Nine days later, Becky had Austin and Alex.  Truly, all of them are miracles!  How can anyone look at a baby and not believe in miracles?!

At the time, we lived in a tiny apartment behind my parents and Becky and her family lived next door to them.  When the boys were able to come home, Becky and I spent our days at one or the other house taking care of three babies.  I still smile to think about all three of them lined up in the floor of our little living room or propped up in the recliner at her house so we could take MORE pictures!  Brooke was a big baby.  They were tiny!  It made for some great pictures!  Man...taking care of three babies was hard, exhausting work!

God never took away my desire to have twins.  However, let's just say that I didn't pray for twins quite as often! ;)

Fast forward to the fall of 1993.  It was November.  I had just found out about a week earlier that we were pregnant again.  We were so excited.  Lots of things were happening in our lives.  Brooke was a wonderful little toddler!  We were getting ready to build our house.  And now, another baby!

The morning Doug and a family friend was due to dig the foundation of our house, I woke up not feeling well at all.  Not only was I feeling worse than I had in the week before (my body has always told me almost immediately when I'm pregnant), but there were other signs and symptoms that something was wrong. 

I called my doctor, and he wanted me to come in for an ultrasound.  A close friend agreed to take me to the appointment.  As she drove, she prayed for me.  As she drove, I prayed.  Please God, don't take this baby from us! 

As I said, I was very early along.  The ultrasound tech had to do an internal ultrasound in order to see anything.  She kept the screen where I couldn't see it.  At one point, she looked very perplexed.  She looked at me and I could feel myself hold my breath.  I could tell she had seen something on the screen that she didn't expect.  But what?  Oh please God don't take this baby from us!

Then came her question...

"Is there a history of multiple births in your family?"

(A much later ultrasound.)

WHAT?  Did you say MULTIPLE?  Well, yes.  My sister has twins.  Doug's family is full of twins!  Yes, there is a history!

She turned the screen to me.  All that was on it were two itty bitty flashes.  She said, "You're having twins!"  WHAT?  Oh my!  Deep breath!  Really?  Are you sure?  She assured me that those itty bitty flashes were two little hearts!  Wow!  I was speechless!  Then...

OH MY WORD!  We have to change the house!  Wait...Dougie doesn't even know yet.  You know that's not really something I wanted to tell him on the phone. 

As we pulled into the lot where they were digging the foundation, I could see them already digging.  Dougie came over to the car.  I handed him pictures and told him we were going to have TWO BABIES!  (He turned a pale greenish color at first!)  The digging stopped.  The plans were changed.  And our life has never been the same!

Now, our twins, Blake and Cody, have just graduated from high school and are headed to college.  If you were wondering why I started the post with the statement "depending on where you are in the world", it's because currently Blake is serving in the Philippines at Gentile Hands orphanage being the hands and feet of our Lord.  That means for the first time ever, Blake and Cody will celebrate their 18th birthday tomorrow apart. 

It has caused me to think on lots of things.  But mostly, it has just been a reminder of God's faithfulness in our family's life.  I prayed for these boys long before they were ever born, but GOD knew His plans for them even before time began!  As I've prayed for them (as I pray for all four of our children) over the years, God has been gracious and merciful to them and to us.  He has protected them from things that should have killed them.  He has healed their bodies.  But most of all, He has saved their souls.  They are young men on fire for the Lord!  Blake has plans to serve somewhere in the foreign mission field.  Cody has plans to serve as a pastor.  While they have plans, the thing that speaks most to my heart is that they long to be obedient to the call God places on their lives.

For now, this momma that prayed so regularly for twins will continue to pray for our twins as they follow God's directions for their lives!

Happy Birthday, Blake and Cody!  I love you both!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hawaiian Chicken

I apologize up front that there are no pictures of this wonderful dish.  My boys devoured it up before I even thought about getting out my camera.  Oh well!  I love when they fully enjoy what I cook for them.

What You Need:
3-6 large chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 bottle hickory barbecue sauce
1 can crushed pineapple
1 can pineapple chunks, drained
1 small can mandarin oranges, mostly drained
1 bag frozen peppers and onions mixture
1/4-1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2-1 c. dark brown sugar
salt and pepper

What You Do:
Mix barbecue sauce, crushed pineapple, pineapple chunks, oranges, peppers, onions, ginger and sugar.  Pour a think layer into bottom of crock pot.  Generously salt and pepper both sides of each chicken breast.  Place on top of barbecue sauce layer.  Pour the rest of the barbecue mixture over the chicken.  Cook in crock pot on Low for about 4-5 hours.  (Cooking time will vary depending on your crock pot.)
Shred or cut chicken into chunks.  Stir chicken and sauce together.  Serve over your choice of rice.  We used teriyaki rice.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Beef Tamale Bake

What you need:

1 box corn muffin mix
1 can cream style corn
1 can mexi-corn
1/3 c. milk
1/3 c. Mexican Shredded Cheese (I used Kraft's with Philly Cream Cheese in it.)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Sour cream, optional for topping

1 jar enchilada sauce
1-3 pounds of ground beef (I used 2 lbs, but you could easily adapt for more or less), browned with 1 chopped onion, salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander
1 c. Mexican Shredded Cheese

What to do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the ingredients for the base.  Pour into a greased 9x13 oven-safe dish.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until set.  Remove from oven and poke holes all over with a fork.

Pour enchilada sauce over base and spread around to make sure some goes into the holes you made.  Add ground beef mixture.  Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake for 20 more minutes. 

It was a huge hit with my husband, Doug!  He told me several times how great it was.  I also thought it was quite delicious.

Enjoy!  Let me know if you try it.