Sweet Whispers

The alarm didn’t have to jolt me from my slumber this morning.  I awoke long before the alarm had the chance.  Perhaps my prayer of “God get me out of bed early” was answered or just perhaps, since I didn’t stay up to 1-2am reading, I actually got the slumber I needed.

At any rate, I got up, got dressed, grabbed my sneakers, and took a morning walk.  I had a goal this morning–20 minutes without dying.  Yeah, sadly, I am a bit out of shape and haven’t truly walked in a long long while.

As my trusty sneakers pattered along the pavement this morning.  The sunrise peeked through the trees.  The sweet songbird melodies welcomed me but not as an intruder in this morning’s concert.  My presence was meant to be there capturing God’s sweet good morning kiss.

 Pounding down the road, I reached the fence post.  My breath stolen not from the exercise but rather from the sweet dew.  The field glistened and my heart filled with joy.  I became aware of my heart pounding.  I am blessed with a new day.  For that, I am grateful. Grateful for the chance to witness smiles of strangers, steal a moment to write, and to spend time engrossed in my thoughts.

 

As I turned off the paved road onto the country drive, my heart stopped.  Luckily, my goal was still in play–I am not dying from the exercise but my heart stopped at the sight of the beautiful fog stretching across the morning field.  I just wanted to stand there (maybe to catch my breath) to be still.  Still in God’s glory.  I scanned the canvas God painted for me.  I couldn’t believe that the beauty was for me alone to see.

I stood there for a while listening to the sweet whispers of the breeze through the trees and the soft pitter patter of pawed feet walking near.  Two dogs have joined me in the view.  Their silence was golden.  They just walked up and sat near me.  Probably wondering what this out of breath human was looking at.  

Beautiful, isn’t it?  I asked my companions.

I turned and walked away.  The two ran along in the dewy grass.  Our day was about to begin.

Upon returning home, I said a little prayer of thanks.  God was surrounding me this morning and I felt His presence.

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In Sync

So over the past few weeks, I have really contemplated my blog challenge.  I have been analyzing my life, searching for answers as to why I feel like I do, and waiting for God’s direction.

His direction was being sent constantly, I just wasn’t ready to hear it.  I have been hearing his soft whisper for a long while……  Go walk…… Read your Bible…… Go to Bible study….. Blog….. Eat right…..  I was out of sync.

Yep, I was doing everything in my power to literally not listen.  And the first step in this month’s challenge is to listen.  I need to follow His lead in everything.  I have no excuse not to follow His commands.

If you love me, keep my commands.  John 14:15

When I look back when I was the biggest Jesus Freak, I was in tune with what God expected from me.  Many times it is my need for control or my desire to do what I want, that keeps me from following His commands.  But, He knows what is best for me.  I would I ever think that my way is best?!?!?!?!?

Secondly, for this challenge is to rekindle the grateful heart.  My heart has grown bitter.  I have allowed callouses to form and to prevent me to feel the gratitude I need to live positively.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Thankfulness leads to peace.  Peace is what I need.  I have been so restless.  I have longed for just a peaceful moment each day.  Most days have been filled with dread.  Most days I feel anger, sadness, and unsettled.  Things have to change…….

So this morning, I looked for snapshots of gratitude.  I walked this morning and kept an eye out for little signs of God’s love and wonder.  Nature is where I find peace.  God’s grace and love and mystery surrounds me and it is about time I look for those nuggets.

I did…… I found God’s wonder…….

I captured the moment, the feeling, and beauty.

So far the challenge includes me listening and following God’s commands and to have a grateful heart.  And the third part of this month’s challenge should be something I do regardless.  But, I am stubborn, a control freak, and well……. not the smartest.

God’s been nudging a long time on this one.  And well, I need to listen.  My food allergies and intolerances have really been a challenge.  I will say things like…… “It is worth the stomach ache.”  “It’s a holiday and I am gonna have it.”  Ummmmmm how crazy is that?  I know if I eat cow products I will get sick….. yet I will.  I know if I eat gluten or root veggies my stomach swells and I feel miserable for days….. yet I eat them.  Why?  Why?  Why would I do that?  Again, it goes back to my control thing.  I would rather be in control than in comfort.  Crazy isn’t it.

So there’s my challenge.  So, only time will tell……….

Lost for Words

Once I attended a Beth Moore Bible study at a local church.  In one of the videos, Mrs. Moore talked about feeling detached from God for a period of time.  She described the lost feeling she was carrying in her heart.  She talked about how she mourned for not feeling God close.  She explained that she just wanted that close feeling back again.

Just last week, Mark and I went window shopping at Mardel’s.  Don’t you just love looking around in that store?  I could and did spend hours in there touching every single item…….  Anyways, I caught myself thinking:

I miss spending time here.  I miss looking at my next Christian book to read.  I even miss looking for my next blog giveaway.

Then it hit me.  I, like Beth Moore, miss the closeness I once held with Jesus. I stood there lost for words.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I haven’t fallen away from Jesus.  I just don’t have the same vigor I once had.

Being the over analyzer that I am…… it can be a burden sometimes……. I started asking myself the million dollar question:  WHY? What has changed? Then, I started making a list:

  1.  Do I still believe?
  2.  Is it my home church?
  3.  Is it because I work now?
  4.  Has God cut me off?
  5.  Am I doing something wrong?
  6.  Have my priorities shifted?
  7.  Am I crazy?

The last question is debatable.  It can be said that I am a weee bit on the nuts side. But when I think about it……. At one time I wore the title “Jesus Freak” proudly.  Hmmm…..  What has happened to me?  I know God is still there.  He hasn’t cut me off.  I mean there are verses in the scripture that say He will never leave me. (Deuteronomy 31:8, Hebrews 13:5)  Am I doing something wrong?  I don’t think I am living in the wrong.  I am still active to a point– Ahem.  To. A. Point.  That might give me some insight.  When I was a stay at home mom, I had time to study, read, participate in a dozen Bible studies, and to blog.  During the school year, my time is taken up by the classroom and all the work that goes into teaching.  It is tough. But what is my excuse for the summer?

Well, let’s see.  I am writing curricular maps, learning Google classroom, reading literature to teach (I have read 3 novels just this week), taking an online course for Arkansas History, attending workshops, and so much more.  See teachers really don’t have a summer vacation.  We are educating ourselves so we can educate our students.  Days of summer fun are really limited.  I will put away my soap box.

Nothing on my list jumps out.  I can justify every single question.

But are they just excuses?

Are my justifications validating or should I see a bigger picture  here?  I mean, when we started going to church many years ago, I was working full time plus having small kids.  And my heart was burning up for Jesus.

Have my priorities changed that much?  I must ponder on this some more.

Do I study His word?  Not really.

Am I praying?  Not really

Am I focused on God’s path for me? Not really

I think I have found my next blog challenge.

November What??

Some people call it “No Shave” November.

Some people call it “No Heat” November.

Sardis United Methodist Church has declared it……. “Not Negative” November.

November, What?????

You heard me “Not Negative” November.  So how is this going to work?  Simple.  Our goal is to live Philippians 4:8-9.

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Okay, Regina, what are you planning to do??

  1.  Lift up instead of tearing down.  It is my goal–and this is going to be tough–to say words to and about people that speak life.  And trust me…. there are some people in this world that really get on my everlasting nerve.  We all have those people that just drive us nuts.  Well, instead of being negative, I am going to remind myself they, too, are God’s children.  I am going to pray for my heart to soften and to understand why they do the things they do that just make me want to run down the street screaming like a mad woman.  I will speak positive statements about them, to them, and on their behalf.

Let no evil talk come out of your mouths; but only what is useful for building up, as there is a need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.  Ephesians 4:29

2.  My words are to be useful.  Okay.  Hmmmm.  This is really going to be hard….. especially at lunch.  Teachers’ Lounge.  All you teachers out there…… you know what I am saying or NOT saying.  I am guilty of complaining about things that do not make sense.  It is a wonder that my lunch ever gets digested from all the belly aching that I do.  And it isn’t just in the teachers’ lounge.  I complain about housework, homework, church…… every one just needs to listen to me cause I have all the answers.

Ahem…… I have words and no actions.  I rarely have anything nice to say. Rarely do I try  to find true solutions to what is going on around me.  When was the last time my words were actually useful?  When did they create a positive change?  Maybe if I shut up for just a few moments…….. actually stop being a part of the problem and start being a part of the solution…. my actions will follow and create change.

This is truly going to be a tough challenge.  But I am eager to see the change in my heart this little project brings.  So, my friends, are you ready to accept this challenge?  I promise it won’t be a fun ride.  But, I would love the company on this roller coaster…… at least the support you can give me.  You know the saying….. kill them with kindness….. let’s just hope this kindess doesn’t kill me!!  I am just joking….. no really, I am….. honest.

And remember to look for God in all the little places…… even in the little positive comments I will soon be making!!

Don’t be a Fool

My 7 year old self was stubborn.  Completely.  Some say I came about it honestly.  Looking at all sides of my family……. this could really be a true statement.  Hmmmm……

So, at all of 7….. I was angry.  So angry at the little girl across the street.  She promised to come over and play.  She didn’t.  I was mad.  My little brother broke my toy and to be speak frankly….. my panties were in a wad.

Mad doesn’t begin to express how I felt that day.  I was so mad….. I was going to end it all.  I took a deep breath and held it.

I’ll show them……

I will turn purple like they do in cartoons and then it will be all over for me.  I will go streaking across the room like a deflating balloon.

Yep.  I’ll show them……

So today…… two students got into a tiff.  It began like three classes before the blow up.  One holding a grudge.  The other ready to pop the other’s balloon.

I went into referee mode sending each to the corner of the ring.  Slowly as tempers cooled, I brought them back together.  I gently pointed out the oopsies and guided them into a truce, a hand shake and an apology.

Then, I thought about my 7 year old self.  Sigh.  I completely get the holding a grudge and then unleashing on some innocent bystander.  In fits of rage, I am not so pretty.  Who am I kidding???  I am a snotty mess because this gal can’t get MAD without crying.  Ugh!  So frustrating.  I want to yell and scream, yet all  I can do is sniffle and blow into tissues.  But let’s go with the tougher Regina that can argue/battle like Whacko  Wonder Woman.

Does getting worked up and angry really worth it?  Does it truly get the results you really are wanting?  Why is it that we want to yell and scream to get our angry point across?  Are we that self indulgent that we need to be heard over every sound in the room? Blood pressures go up.  Relationships get strained.  Trust can be severed.  Love can be lost.

Is it really a smart thing to do?  My student earned detention over holding a grudge then exploding.  Detention may not be the adult consequences but there are some very hurtful things that can happen.  Declining health.  Divorce.  Cutting ties with family members or children.  Distrust.  A cold heart.

But of course the Psalmist said it best in Psalms 20:3

It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Hmmmm… I gotta remember that when this fool is feeling the urge to blow someone’s hair back….. with my tear-filled hankie!!

Y’all look for God in the little things in life.  He’s there.