Monday, June 29, 2015

What Are Christians Supposed To Do? (Part 1)

Photo Credit: Damien du Toit

The events of the last week have brought much passionate discussion and intense debate. Both the rainbow flag and the Rebel flag have been critiqued. I have remained relatively quiet on both topics. I have explained what I understand about various sides of the issues to those who were asking and open to discussion. So relatively quiet. I have had no Facebook statuses or pictures to declare my opinion. However, I do not live under a rock. I have read what many have had to say. A few of those people have had thought provoking posts. One of those posts got me to thinking.

What if I have misunderstood my mission as a Christian for years?

I have felt as a Christian it is my mission to tell people the right way to live in an effort to proclaim the Gospel, lead people to Jesus, and bring glory to God. I try to do it with genuine love and gentleness, but none the less I felt that is what I was to do in my personal relationships with others. What if that isn't the way I should be proclaiming the Gospel, leading people to Jesus, and bringing glory to God? I know Micah 6:8, act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God. I know John 15:12, love each other as God has loved me. I know Matthew 22:37-39, love God with all my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength. and love my neighbor as I love myself. Those seem pretty clear about the mission of a Christian. Love.

What if I am supposed to love everyone and let Jesus deal with their sins? What if the way I bring glory to God and lead people to Jesus and proclaim the Gospel is to love people like Jesus loved?

I'm not saying to give people a pass on their sins. Jesus didn't do that. He told the woman at the well about her sins and proclaimed himself as the Messiah. He told the woman who was caught in adultery to go and sin no more. He didn't tell either of them that it was okay to keep doing what they had always done. He did confront them with their sin, but he did it in such a way that encouraged them to change. He only spoke the woman at the well about her sins AFTER they had begun talking about spiritual issues. In the case of the adulteress, he sent the condemning crowd away from her and spoke to her one on one about her issues. So maybe I've been doing it wrong. Maybe I'm supposed to love and let Jesus work on the heart. Then if someone comes to me and asks about living like Jesus, then I discuss in gentleness and love their sins and the way to be free of them. Maybe I need to stop thinking "Look what this world is coming to" and instead think like the early church "Look what has come into the world." Expect the world to sin and be messed up and love them anyway because Jesus has come to take care of the messy sinful heart issues. I'm just here to love and only after seeking more, then am I to tell people the right way to live.

As the pastor said this morning, lost people are going to act like lost people, so there is no reason to be angry or judgmental about it. Christ is sufficient to cover those issues with those people in His time. I must try to live like Jesus, not endorsing, supporting, or condoning the sin, but not being angry or judgmental about it either. Love them and let Jesus deal with the sin.

In answer to my question in the title, Christians are supposed to love first.

NOTE: If you feel the need to discuss my personal opinions on either of the two major issues mentioned at the outset of this post, feel free to message me privately and we can discuss it. My personal opinions do not need to be aired publicly. Thank you.

Friday, June 12, 2015

To My Former Students

Last night was graduation. I haven't been a participant of graduation in several years. I had forgotten how emotional it can be, especially when some your favorites are graduating. (Yes teachers have favorites. The list is just longer than most expect.) As I drove home I started reflecting back on my 12 years teaching.

Photo Credit: Deapeajay

I realized that some of the first students I taught are approaching their 3rd decade. I can't believe it has been that long. Even though many years have passed I still think about my "kids". So for the graduates of 2003 and for the graduates of 2015 and all of those in between, I wanted to send you a message.


You are important. You aren't forgotten.

It may have only been 10 days since I've had you in class and it may have been 10 years. I still remember you. I still think about you sometimes. Once you have been one of my "kids", you will always be one of my "kids". I still worry about you. Not because I don't think you are capable, but because life is harsh. I worry that life will be harsh with you. I don't want you to have to suffer. But if you do, let it make you a stronger and better person.

You are successful!

I see the amazing people you are growing into and I am proud. So many of you have made amazing decisions. You have decided to love people even when it is hard. You have family that you are putting first and defending against the slings and arrows of life. I know some of you are stuck in jobs and wondering where your career is. I don't have any answers. Just know that I see your struggles and I believe in you to make a good decision. Some of you are stuck without a relationship and wondering where your other half is. Don't find another half. Be a whole you and wait for the right whole person to show up that makes your life better. Some of you are in college. Keep working hard and I know it is HARD. But the hard work pays off and the results are worth it. To all of you, don't be afraid to take risks, but count the cost before you take the risk. Make sure it is worth it.

I thank you for the joy have brought to my life. I also thank you for helping me grow into a better teacher and a better person.

Mostly, I still love you all. 

And I know some of my former students aren't here to read this. I still think about them too. I miss them. And I love them too.

Friday, June 5, 2015

What I want

A new phone
New flooring in my house
A pretty front porch
My preferred teaching schedule
Some new Jamberrys
A couple new Scentsy warmers
A new pair of flats
A new pair of boots
A new skirt
A new dress

I'm sure there is more. And of all those things on that list, I need exactly none of them. But I'm having a very serious case of the "I wannas".

My husband's phone bit the dust last night, so he is getting an upgrade. And I'm jealous!

There is a house near mine for sale. Of course I found it online and looked at pictures. It has great flooring and a super cute front porch. And I want it!

The end of the school year brings thoughts of the coming year. I have big plans for a paperless classroom with lots of Project Based Learning. And that seems within my reach. However the schedule it seems I will get is not the best for me in my mind. And I'm freaking out.

Jamberry, Scentsy, shoes, skirts, and dresses are just more things that I think will make my life better. And I want them.

Have you noticed a theme? What I want. What is best for me. Me, myself, and I.

Lord, help me keep my selfish heart in check. Remind me of all that you have given me. Help me look to the best of others before I look to what is best for me. Amen.

Photo Credit: Proverbs 31 ministries

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Finding the Source of Nourishment, Again.















Photo Credit: David Sanabria


In the last few weeks, I have had a bit of a revelation. I have been stuck in a negative rut lately. Carl had some thoughts on negativity too. He's noticing something I have noticed recently too. Some people work at being negative. They can't or won't see the positive. I have seen that multiple times this week. I then started to wonder how many times have I not seen it? How many times have I been so entrenched in my own negative thinking that I didn't notice the negativity of others?

Oooh. That was a scary thought.

The other thing I have noticed recently is a group of people that really blessed me in the last few weeks, the parents of my son's soccer team. This year was the first time that Ben played a team sport. It was a fabulous experience! He had an awesome coach that really worked the boys to improve their soccer skills and celebrated what they learned. One coach doing a great job may not have been something so incredible, but the parents all joined in. We cheered for the boys and girls on both teams who made plays. We cheered for the boys on our team that learned to get in there an challenge for the ball. We cheered for the boys that learned how to tackle and how to save a goal. We cheered. We laughed. We just enjoyed each other's company and each other's children. We fed off of each other's positivism.

That was a wonderful feeling.

These two experiences so close together have made an impression on me. I need to be careful who I surround myself with. In some cases, I don't necessarily have a choice. However, I do have a choice about the amount of time I spend with them and the amount of their words to which I am listening. I need to protect my half full cup!

There is negativity that lives in minds of us all, but we don't have to feed it. I need to be more careful about who I am allowing to feed my mind. I can't let excuses of being tired, being busy, being a mom, being a wife, being involved at church, etc. overwhelm the person God is calling me to be. I need to be focusing on God and letting him be my primary source of nourishment. I have been depending on others for far too long. It's time I start looking The Source instead.

And feel free to call our if I'm doing anything different!

Friday, May 15, 2015

What My Ancestors Can Teach Me

Recently, I've been rather addicted to the show Who Do You Think You Are?. There are episodes from the UK and South Africa. When I run out of US episodes, I watch some from the UK and South Africa. I'm certain there is quite a bit of staging involved. These people didn't just randomly happen upon this one relative who has an amazing story. However, the stories themselves are real stories of real people. So a few weeks ago I got a trial account from Ancestry.com and looked to see what I could find. As it turns out I could find a LOT of stuff!

Photo Credit: Scott Ableman


A few quick facts: I am lots of English and lots of German. I am a bit French, Dutch, Irish, and Native American. And more than those discoveries, I found that out most of the branches of my family extend back before the Revolutionary War. I am very American and have been for a very long time. I also found out that I have a pirate in my lineage. He barely escaped a slave revolt in the Caribbean which took the lives of his wife and two children. That should probably make me sad, but he was a pirate, so I don't know what else he expected to happen. He came back to America and found a new wife which lead to a new family. There were various DAR records, which leads me to believe that a few fought in the Revolutionary War. I found the name of the Cherokee, Wood Trailkiller Pack, who had been rumored to be in the family tree. I also uncovered another ancestor that might be a Native American. I found large numbers of ancestors that were from Virginia and North Carolina. A few that were from New York and New Jersey, but those found their way down south as well. I found a woman that became a Quaker after her first husband, my relative, died. That made me proud. From what I understand, she was charged with a crime because she didn't get married the 'proper' way. I think she got married the Quaker way which wasn't acceptable. I am so proud that she stood for her faith. She believed in equality of the sexes and of the races. I cling to the hope that more relatives are like her and less like her son. I found that he was a slave owner. I think it was only two. I really just want to go back in time and rage at him. They were human beings! Didn't he know that? He could have made another choice. He could have made a better choice. I haven't the courage to look at who may have fought where in the Civil War.

The most exciting person I found was Thomas Farmer. Thomas Farmer came to Jamestown in 1616. He was considered an Ancient Planter. He came over as an indentured servant and was eventually given land by the Governor of the colony. I am amazed that my ancestors have been in America for nearly 400 years. I am simply amazed at how 'American' I am. I suppose that explains why I am so interested in US History and passionate about how we are presenting ourselves at Americans. I am amazed at how this man could have left everything he knew to come to the whole other side of the world knowing he probably wouldn't ever be 'home' again. That must have taken a great amount of courage and stamina. And not only did him come halfway across the world, he came knowing he would have to work for someone else. He wouldn't even have his own land, but he came anyway. And now here we are 400 years later a rather successful happy American family. I can't say that I know what Thomas' goals were in coming to the New World, but I think it is something like what we enjoy today.

In the minimum amount of investigation I did, I found people I was proud of as well as people who I was ashamed of. I guess that is what family is really like. I found rumors that turned out to be real. I also uncovered people that we had no idea were a part of our family.

It seems crazy to think that something that happened so long ago could actually have an influence in my life today. But part of me understands why the land of North Carolina feels so familiar. I understand why I am so passionate about who America is. I understand why I love bratwurst and why I think the Union Jack is pretty amazing. Maybe that's over stating it a little. However learning this history of my family has impacted how I understand who I am.

Now I wonder what other stories these names and dates hold. I guess I have a lifetime to find that out.

Friday, May 8, 2015

More Ramblings on Identity: My Daughter and I

Let me start this by saying I am such a judgmental person. Most of the time the words stay in my head, but they still come. So yes I am a judgmental person. The other day I was dropping my son off and my judgmental opinions reared their ugly head. There was a perfectly coiffed and fabulously put together mother dropping off her daughter. I was rather sloppily thrown together and needing to wash my hair. (It's been a long week.) Her daughter had a sleek bob. It was blonde, but seemed to have some brunette underneath. I wondered if that was natural or it was dyed. Then I wondered if that mother would dye her daughter's hair. And that led to several other thoughts.



Eventually these thoughts led me wondering about the identity I'm helping to create for my daughter. I'm not a girly girl. I do make up every now and then. Actually since writing this, I'm doing make up more than I used to. I do a little something with my hair, but spend very little time on it. I don't think I'm going to change much. I just find other things more important to spend my time on and thankfully my husband agrees with me. I'm relatively pleased with myself as a woman. I will admit that too often I feel like I have to choose between sleep, reading, or prettying myself up time. I think most women of young children would agree.

And that brings me back to my daughter. The type of woman she sees me being will influence the type of woman she becomes. I don't spend much time on myself and my 'look'. So I figure it is safe to assume I won't spend much time on hers either. Is that what I should do for her? Is that being a good mother? Or should I spend more time on her 'look'?

I'm not sure if this makes any sense, but suffice it to say that being the mother of a girl isn't easy. It has me wondering about many things about myself, women, and my daughter.



 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Life: Just About Now

I don't want the week to go by without saying anything here. I have a few blog post ideas running through my head, but neither of them are ready for publication yet. In an ideal world, I would have time to sit, think, and write. Then a great post would emerge. However, that has not happened yet this week. Nor will it happen today. So here I am writing a post about why I can't write a post. So I'll just tell you a few things about my life right at this moment.



Ben is downstairs playing with his Lego's. I'm so glad we have that space for him to play down there, so we don't have to step on them and so he can feel like something is his special space.

Lily is in the kitchen playing with pots and pans that she pulled out of the cabinet. She is in to everything and it is exhausting! But I wouldn't have my little explorer any other way.

Drew is playing a video game that Ben abandoned halfway through. He finished a monster load of dishes earlier, which is his least favorite chore. He knew I was stressing about it, so he did them for me. I love that man!

I'm thinking about a couple special friends. One just had a beautiful baby girl and now gets to be a SAHM of two. I know how happy she is about that and I'm happy for her. Another friend found out she was pregnant this week after a long hard road of trying. I'm so happy for their family.

Yesterday we went to a book fair at Ben's school. I picked up a couple more books. They were buy one get one free, so it was my duty to get a couple. My list of books I'm dying to read is now much higher than the time I have available to read. Oh the problems of a book worm.

I put in a Scentsy order this morning. I have been able to put in at least one order every month for the last several months. I'm so pleased that I can do this for fun and not take too much time. I'm also pleased that my house, laundry, hands, etc. always smells so amazing!

I have managed to carve out a few hours the last couple weeks to enjoy some wonderful Disney movies. And for fun I've started taking pictures of those movies and adding quotes to it. Then I post them on Instagram. I believe that means I'm making Disney 'edits'. So if you follow me on Instagram and you aren't excited about it, I guess you'll have to start getting excited. I'm not going to be only doing edits, but I'm going to post some every so often for fun.

There are some lovely flowers blooming in my yard, so every time I go outside I get to smile. They are one fabulous benefit to spring.

 While both kids are playing nicely and the chores are done, I believe I'm going to make a cup of coffee and read a few pages from those books I mentioned. Life is pretty good.