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My friend, Kristi, posted this on her Facebook status today…”Christmas to me is about new beginnings. That is why Christ was born, to give the world a 2nd chance, he was the ultimate symbol of forgiveness. When I think about this year and what has happened, I am thankful for another year to have a do-over.”

It was a beautiful gift to my soul today.  I needed it.  These 3 sentences say it all.  Today, I woke up feeling as though my world has turned upside down way too many times to count in the past 10 years, and on a day when for many reasons I woke up feeling hopeless, I was given this gift.  I am posting this around my home…to remind myself this year of the power of Christmas…the power of the Holy Spirit…the power of Jesus- his birth, his life, his death, his resurrection.

And as I was thinking on these words Kristi posted, I “stumbled” upon this treasured video a few minutes later.  May your heart be filled with awe and the power that only the Holy Spirit brings.  May we enter the next week with a new found hope that only Jesus brings and the gift of a new beginning in the new year…the gift of God’s grace.

 

Jesus, I surrender…again…and again…

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Believe…

Hi world.  It’s been a long time.  A lot has happened in my life since August, yet the journey of God’s call on my life to dance in the rain continues.  As I end the year of 2012, I am thinking about the word “believe” which God gave to me in January.  Here’s a little treasure I thought I’d share…

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I’m hoping to start writing again.  Just not sure the words to say right now…and I am incredibly busy tending to many emotional, physical, and spiritual needs.  But even a couple sentences now and then is better than nothing and will continue to propel me into the arms of God, who loves me always and finds me worthy in his sight.  So, I will persevere.

God reminds me that it is in the public declaration of praise and thanksgiving that His power is transformed and manifested inward.  I tend to find it faster and easier to do so through my personal Facebook page and business facebook page and Instagram over the past few months.  If you want to join me there, feel free!  However, I do want to keep this space as the gift it is for embracing and finding joy & God’s goodness amidst a world of hardship and uncertainties.  I know that to dance and be free, I must continue to claim truth always and cling to it for dear life.

Thank you, God, for this beautiful picture and words that call me to believe even when I can’t see.  And thank you for the movie “The Polar Express” because it reminded me this week of the very same thing.  Your ways are higher than mine and for that, I am grateful!

I’m in a season where I need to choose to see the goodness…let the light bleed into the dark.  I know I’ve been gone from the blog world awhile.  So I’m stepping out and into my trust in God…no matter what things look like around me.  This blog is about dancing…experiencing God’s goodness in the midst of a broken world filled with crap…and about soaking up God’s truth.  It’s is that truth that keeps me picking up my umbrella again and again.

In the last 24 hours I’ve been given some amazing gifts.  Some of them are gifts just for me from God.  Sorry I can’t share those! 🙂  But two of them I will…

One was a song…Only Love Remains by JJ Heller- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3BDYBGhSgI

The other was a scripture…Ephesians 3:16-19.  I read it this morning and then someone else posted it on FB.  After seeing it for the 2nd time within about 5 minutes, I knew it was something I am supposed to hold onto today.  Trusting in God is a risk.  A risk worth fighting for so that perhaps I can truly believe.

Ephesians 3:16-19…New Living Translation (NLT)

16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Another version I like…

The Message Version (MSG)

 14-19My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

Connecting the Dots

I love it when things connect!  This week…God connected the dots for me once more.

My word for 2011 was enjoy.  My word for 2012 is believe.

As I was finishing my first read of “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, the dots started to connect a little deeper.  (I say “first read” because I plan to continue reading it over and over again for the rest of my life…slowly chewing it and savoring each bite.  It’s my favorite book I’ve ever read…deep to the core a beautiful invitation to dance with our maker.)  Here’s what I’ve gathered in thought…

-Joy comes through union (being one) with God…letting God be in me and me wanting to be in God.  (I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  -John 14:20)

-Thankfulness is great; it opens a door for joy.  Yet blessing God and giving him a gift of my praise is an entirely different thing.  I can bless God and be one with him in the space of thanks.  Our hearts intertwine and love is made.  His love can fill my empty spaces.

-I am called to do more than believe in God; I’m called to live in God and be one with Him.  As I seek to be one with Him…I will believe with not only my mind but my heart as well.

-As I am faithful in blessing God with my thanks, I will enjoy Him.  And as I enjoy Him, I will be filled with a satisfying joy that no other could provide.

And the questions remain…How BADLY do I want the deep communion?  How receptive to God do I REALLY want to be?  Can I LET GO of the things I’ve been letting fill my broken heart and CHOOSE Him instead?  WILL I?

As I lift my hands above in praise, joy meets me. His joy. Thank you God for my daughter who reminds me of this truth constantly. What a gift you have given me! I praise you with hands wide open and lifted high!

I’ve decided it’s time to start sharing more of the joy in life!  Since I like to share and encourage others and since writing encourages me and helps me hold on to beauty, I’m going to be sharing nuggets of our homeschooling experience & the fun things we do here.  I want to cling to the good things a little deeper in the process!

We are finishing up school this week and as we do so I am getting geared up for some summer fun!  This year I’m going to try and be a little more intentional.  Summers are a time when kids lose so much of what they learned.  I’m a firm believer of continuing the learning process throughout the summer because I’ve seen students lose it all and as a public school teacher, I’d spend the first 4-8 weeks reteaching everything from the year prior before I could teach new skills.  So, we will be doing a Summer Bridge Book every day.  It’s one workbook page (front and back) for 50 days.  It has a combination of skills to review and maintain!  It’s independent and easy to implement!  Kylie will also practice piano and read for 20 mins (at least) every day and practice +/- facts every day, too!  We will do a fun intentional learning activity together a couple days a week (art, crafts, physical activity, educational games, spanish practice, outdoor games, investigations & journaling, science experiments, baking, serve others, lemonade stands, etc).  I’ve written a bunch of things down on index cards that would be fun to do together.  So I have something to pick from!  It took a few hours to sort through sites online and come up with ideas, but I know it will be worth being intentional to make memories with my kiddo!  (P.S. I’m going to let her add some ideas, too!)  All in all, she should be done in less than an hour each day!  Some days it might be 30 mins…some days a little more, but a system will help me to be intentional and to make sure we don’t get too lazy!

I’ve also decided to create an “I’m Bored!” jar with a bunch of fun things she can do independently or with a little help from me.  Yay to trying new things!!

 

Here’s some links to fun activities to do this summer!  Enjoy!!!

15 Science Experiments: http://www.momto2poshlildivas.com/search/label/Mad%20Science%20Theme

75 Kid Activities: http://cuegly.blogspot.com/2011/09/75-kid-activities.html

Water Balloon Games: http://ministry-to-children.com/water-games-for-kids/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Ministry-To-Children+%28Ministry-To-Children%29

Make Sidewalk Chalk Paint: http://www.theidearoom.net/2010/07/sidewalk-chalk-paint.html

Sidewalk Chalk Math & Reading Activities: http://momitforward.com/math-reading-sidewalk-chalk-activities

40 Activities with Blocks/Legos: http://handsonaswegrow.com/2012/03/lots-of-blocks-activities.html

And the grand finale…a gazillion things to do: http://itswrittenonthewalls.blogspot.com/2012/04/gotta-see-fun-summer-activities-to-keep.html

The Guest House

I find this poem interesting enough that I keep coming back to it since a friend shared it with me.  Our society runs from pain and masks over it time and time again…trying to hide from our own brokenness.  There is freedom to be…freedom to feel…freedom to experience oozing from this poem.  We must stop running and instead embrace each moment, both good and bad, for the crowd of sorrows has a purpose in our lives.

THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks

Morning Glory

Psalm 62:1 My soul finds rest in God alone.

While I was praying with my small group 2 weeks ago, God gave me a vision of open hands and the word surrender kept coming to me.  The cool thing is that it came while praying for my friends, but yet it was for me, too!  I love how God speaks in the midst of a community that seeks Him together.  The next day I suddenly felt empowered to begin a new morning rhythm.  I LOVE it!  It’s becoming my favorite part of the day.  I am not one to have a scripted quiet time, but for some reason I felt a prompting to try implementing certain things more regularly.  I realized I needed some focus and direction.  So, I wrote a list of 6 things on a bright pink index card (so it stands out!!) that I feel God is leading me to do more often.  I’m pretty confident that in order to change patterns and instill new habits, it takes retraining.

Here’s the 6 things I’m trying to be more faithful with first thing in the morning before anyone gets up:

-Surrendering anything and everything in prayer with my hands open

-Writing in my praise journal a few things each day

-Journaling

-Read scripture

-Pray for others

-Write a few goals for the day

I am really LOVING my new morning rhythm.  I don’t do all 6 every day.  Sometimes I spend more time writing out scripture I find or praying or journaling.  These things are all intertwined anyways, but for some reason having a bright pink index card with these 6 things keeps me focused.  Even when I’m tired, somehow the silly little card gives me direction and focus so I don’t just stray to the computer instead.

The fruit of this new rhythm keeps me coming back for more each day.  In the last week we have all seen a doctor.  Kylie for some stomach issues.  Myself for starting Lupron injections to treat my endometriosis.  Leyland, our cat, for limping.  And RD went to the ER after someone hit him at a stop sign earlier this week, which gave him a mild concussion.  Oh my!  What a week!  But the really awesome thing is that I’ve been more at peace.  My house has been unkept, but my spirit has been calm.  I even found myself throughout the day saying “God, I surrender ______ to you.”  When I was off the phone with RD after his accident, the first thing I did was open my hands and pray.  Right then and there I realized the impact of how I’ve been starting my day.  It REALLY does make a difference.  If I pray and fill my heart, mind, and spirit with God’s spirit in the morning, I’m more inclined to seek Him throughout the day.  I am not as weary because I’m not trying to live this life on my own strength.  I am not as fearful or worried.  God’s light becomes brighter than the darkness.

It’s funny how I know this truth in my head, but yet find it so hard to do on a regular basis.  I let fatigue and my other list of things to do cry out louder and I give in.  My sinful nature wins and by the end of the day I find myself exhausted and weary.  Sigh.

Today, I am thankful for my little pink index card.  I am thankful for God’s faithfulness as I once again attempt to make Him first in my life.  I’m so thankful for these moments of morning glory that fill me, uplift me, empower me, and bring me focus.