Monday Moment

Today I’m thankful for a new week.

I’m thankful for the joy that comes from watching students get excited about learning. It makes me wonder can I help to facilitate this joy more often?

 

sunset trees

I’m also thankful for….

-Fall weather and beautiful colors

-Full moons (I might have to remind myself of this as the week goes on and there’s a full moon and Halloween:)  They are so beautiful though!  Thanks God for your gorgeous creation.

-Friends who keep me accountable and encourage me to pray often

-God’s Word that reminds me that my hope is certain and it comes from Him not from my circumstances

-Family who listens to and encourages me daily

-The body of Christ

-God’s presence with me all the time

What are you praising God for today?  I’d love to hear!

 

 

 

Sunday Surprises

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I sit here in shock, in sadness and in prayer.  The last few weeks, it has been my goal to start blogging again.   I thought that I’d start with a post on a Monday so I could begin, again, a pattern of praising God for what He’s done.  I began thinking of things that I could share-things that God has done recently but today I realized I couldn’t wait until a Monday.

Today I’m mourning the sudden death of a friend’s son. It came as such a surprise.  There have been conversations about why this happened.  Our church has had many surprise deaths in the last few years.   What is God doing?  How come He took someone so young?  How will this family and the body of Christ get through this again?

There’s hope in knowing  that this world is not all there is but it doesn’t make the pain go away now.  It did, however, remind me that today matters.  We don’t know what tomorrow will look like or whether we’ll still be here.  We don’t know what God has in store for us, but we do know that He is present with us today and that He holds the future.

How will I make today matter?

I don’t always understand why things happen but I know that I have a God who cares about me and desires to be in relationship with me.  I can go to Him with my fears and my questions and my anger and my shock. He’s big enough to hear all of those emotions, and He promises to never leave me.   He promises to walk alongside me in the good times and the most difficult times.

These things may have surprised me but they haven’t surprised Him.    I don’t understand His ways but I can look back and see how He has been faithful in other hard times.

Today I’m thankful for His presence and that I can run to Him when I don’t understand this life.  I’m thankful that He invites my questions.   I’m thankful that even when I don’t know how to express my feelings, He is there listening to my tears and walking beside me.

What are you questioning today?  Run to Him and talk to Him about those things.

Finding HOPE by moving towards PEOPLE

Today, we’re going to look at how moving towards PEOPLE in the body of Christ can help us find HOPE during the joyful times and during the dark times in our life.

When you’re in pain, do you usually want to be around people or would you rather hide out somewhere by yourself?

We’ve already talked about how we have to start living in a new kind of way. We have to be HONEST  about our pain AND believe God’s truths-particularly the truth that He is OMNIPRESENT– to help us move through the pain. Many times, when we’re in the midst of pain, we can’t take hold of God’s truths without the help of other people.

Who do you have in your life? Who do you trust? Can you think of 5 people that you trust? Write their names down in a journal. Think about your family, your friends, your coworkers, your youth leader, people at church, neighbors, teachers, etc.

I’m going to ask you to take a risk and share some things with at least one of them. Remember when we talked about how we each have a story?  We need to share those stories with each other. God has put us in the body of Christ for a reason. He knows that we need each other!  We need to be connected with people who can
share truth with us and who can help us move towards hope.

Remember God has also given us a story to tell.

Get out that journal again and that cup of coffee.  Take some time to think through your life story.

Who are the characters in your story?

What’s the setting?

What’s the problem or conflict? (There might more than one).

What are some resolutions you’ve seen? (Are you still waiting for resolution for some things?)

You might want to focus on the last few days or weeks or months, or you may want to go back further than that. Create a plot diagram or a just write down the answers to those questions.  You can draw pictures too if you’d like.

Then think about……

How have the CHARACTERS in your life impacted you? How have the people in your life made a difference to you?

Name ONE PERSON who has made a large impact on your life. Also tell HOW they have made a difference in your life.

How have YOU made a difference in someone else’s life?

What do you LOVE about your story?

What do you HATE about your story?

Now, take a minute to think about God’s story. Even though His story is much bigger than yours, guess what? Although He is the King of the Universe, He has YOU in the palm of His hand.  Your story fits into the bigger story of God’s story.

Sometimes we can’t see where our story is going, but He knows and He has a plan that is much bigger than our plan. Take a minute to think about how big God is. Can you even fathom it? There are more than 7 million people on this planet, and yet He has the whole world in His hand. He knows each person, and He has control over each and every one of those people’s stories-that includes YOUR story. He knows what is best for you, AND He has the power to make sure the best happens.

How do you think your story fits into the bigger picture of God’s story?

How have you seen God at work in your story?

NOW, here’s your challenge.  How much of your story have you shared with those people you listed before?   Some of us don’t like to share our stories with others.  Now the truth is that we don’t have to share our story with everyone we meet, but remember that God has put us in fellowship with others for a reason. He knows that we need each other people.   What part of your story do you think you could share with one of those people?

Think about those same people. How much of THEIR story do you know? Which one of those people do you feel comfortable asking more about their story?

Finding Hope in the New Year-Trusting in God’s Omnipresence

The Pacific Ocean

Last time, we thought about how HOPE starts with being HONEST with where you are. He already knows what you’re thinking and feeling. He wants to meet you there!

Today we’re going to think about His promise that He will never leave you nor forsake us. The O in HOPE is going to stand for God’s OMNIPRESENCE. He is AWAYS with us. He hears everything we say and think. He knows when we need to just be held in His arms. He knows our fears and our tears. He is OMNIPRESENT!

We have to remind ourselves of the truth even when we don’t feel like it. It’s like living in a new way. You and I need help to act on God’s truths even when we don’t seem to experience it. We need to remember that God is always with us even when we don’t feel His presence.

There will be times where we have to step forward in faith even when we feel like the water is crashing down on us. Because He has promised that He will never leave us, we can trust that even if we don’t see what He’s doing in this moment in our life, He is working-it might just be somewhere where we can’t see it.

How can we take comfort in the fact that God is always with you (even when it may not seem like He is)?

Grab a cup of coffee and take some time on this New Year’s Day to read Psalm 46. Get out that journal or that piece of paper or open up a new document on the computer.

List names of God from that Psalm. Then write about how that name of God gives you comfort/hope.

Here are some I’ve thought about this year.

God is…..
My CounselorHe listens to me.
A Great LightHe shows me the way when I feel that I am in darkness.
My High Tower-He is higher than my troubles. He is a place of calm and refuge.

Why don’t you try these…
My Strong Rock
King of Glory

Check out Psalm 46 and other psalms for other names of God too.
Maybe make a bookmark to keep in your Bible or write them on an index card and hang it on your fridge or in your car.

Let’s thank God today for His OMNIPRESENCE! In this New Year we can remember that no matter what comes, He promises to never leave us alone.

Monday Moment of Joy-Honesty in Finding HOPE

Hope bookmark2

How do we find joy and hope this coming year? In my next few posts, we’ll take a look at the word HOPE and use an acronym to help us look for hope. The H in HOPE will stand for “HONESTY.” The first step in finding hope is to be honest about where we are. Be honest about our feelings. Be honest about our circumstances. Be honest about our sin. Be honest about our dreams and desires.

Take a look at the list of feelings below. Find a journal or an index card, and write down 3 feelings that you’re feeling right now. I know there are a lot of feelings, but try to choose your top three. Come back tomorrow or next week and choose three more. Our feelings change constantly, but God meets us there in each moment!

Be willing to be HONEST about your feelings! People may tell you not to feel this way or they may tell you to get over it. Be willing to take a risk and name your feeling-name your suffering, your pain, or even your joy.

• content
• satisfied
• joyful
• anxious
• glad
• ecstatic
• sorrowful
• upbeat
• unhappy
• beaming
• blessed
• condemned
• fortunate
• sparkling
• unfavored
• guilty
• ashamed
• peaceful
• worthless
• inadequate
• lonely
• frustrated
• confused
• worn-out
• defeated
• energetic
• useless
• strong
• bored
• enthusiastic
• weak
• unimportant
• agitated
• nervous
• fearful
• Sad
• Angry
• Hurt
• Happy
• Irritable
• Hopeless
• Isolated
• Furious
• Tired
• Resentful
• Happy
• Proud
• Cheerful
• Bitter
• Sluggish
• Depressed
• Thrilled
• Helpless
• exhausted
• moody

Now take those to God. Continue writing in your journal if you’d like or just talk to Him. What makes you feel that way? What has happened in your story? Describe those feelings. What do they feel like, sound like, look like?

How does this feeling show up in your life? “When I feel____________, it shows up in my life in the following ways…”

Thanks for being honest! Stay tuned for a next step in finding HOPE in this New Year.

Christmas Week: Monday Moment of Joy or Disappointment

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This is the week for joy-right??? It’s the week we get to spend time with family and see people we haven’t seen in forever.

It’s the week we get to eat good food and open presents.

It’s the week we look forward to because those gifts we’ve spent so much time on will finally be opened. We picture the joy on those family member’s faces as they open that much anticipated gift.

We look forward to some slower down time as many of us have off work. We may even have time to pop popcorn and watch those Christmas movies-you know those movies that are SO predictable? Yep-they’re predictable, but that’s why I love them! I know what’s going to happen-unlike real life where I’m never sure what the next act is going to bring.

It’s the week we anticipate to be full of delight and joy….how’s that going for you today??? Is it all that you anticipated?? or is it full of disappointments?

Today, my moment of joy, came in spending time with a friend. We both had SOOO many things to do today, but we both decided that we needed to take a little bit of time away from all that craziness. So we drove around and got coffee and chatted while her kids slept in the back seat. As we talked, we listed many things that we looked forward to this week but also many things that had not gone the way we planned (and it’s only Monday!)

Maybe you are like us and your Christmas week doesn’t look perfect. Maybe it looks more like this….
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full of messines or muddy relationships or disappointments.

When I got home, I began to think about all those things on my to do list and very quickly became overwhelmed.
Then I was reminded that, yes, this is a week full of anticipation-a week that we look forward to joy. But…..that joy needs to come from remembering why Christ came.

What if our work schedules don’t work out and we don’t get to see all those family members/friends that we wanted to see? What if our family member doesn’t get all excited about that present that we spent so much time on?

What if our “downtime” is spent fixing the plumbing or caring for sick kids or working out health insurance for next year? What if the food doesn’t turn out the way we expect it to? What if our plan doesn’t work?

What if our family time gets “ruined” by a fight or an accident? What if we’re grieving over the loss of a family member or good friend?

How do we find joy in all those disappointments? How will we respond when things don’t go the way we think they should?

Taking some time tonight to find a holy night/a silent night and to bask in God’s love for me. He loves me so much that He would send His only Son into a world full of sin and messiness in order to save me. Wow!!

Hoping you can find some time to slow down this week and reflect on what He’s done for us. Praying for you that you’d find peace in this season-not because everything is calm and has gone the way you want it to, but because God is good and has come to meet us in this mess.

How are you looking for peace during this week?

TV Voice Competitions and Students with Autism

So I don’t know about you, but I’ve been loving all the TV Voice competitions.  Although I loved The Voice last season too, I had forgotten how much I LOVE watching the original coaches.  It’s been so fun to see them encourage their teammates and coach them to be the best that they can be.  At school, I see that as my role-a coach-not just someone who imparts knowledge but someone who coaches my students to become the best that they can be.  My goal is to encourage them, to challenge them to take risks (in a safe environment), to celebrate their successes, to walk alongside them in their hardships and to help them become life long learners.  I feel like I get just as excited as those Voice coaches when my students have successes.

Tonight as I am watching another voice competition on TV, I’ve begun comparing these groups to the school musical that I watched tonight.  My friend invited me to go with her to her son’s school to watch their holiday program.  Her son goes to a school for students with autism.  Honestly, this was the most amazing program I’ve seen in a long time!  These students with autism had been encouraged in their talents.  They had practiced long hours.  They had been challenged and encouraged to take risks and to try new things.  They were confident in their parts, and you could tell that their successes had been celebrated.  I loved watching the smiles on their faces and listening to their amazing voices.  Each actor stayed in character and performed the dances and songs with grace and joy.  I laughed and cried and smiled.  What an awesome way to spend an evening in the middle of a busy week.

When I got home and turned on the TV to watch the end of the Sing Off, I watched those groups sing and dance.  But…instead of getting lost in the drama and the fun of those groups, I found myself thinking again about those amazing students with autism who were doing the same thing tonight.  I’m so thankful for those teachers and parents who love those kids and care about them enough to provide opportunities for them to show off their talents.  It gives me joy and hope for my day tomorrow!  Thankful for neurodiversity!  (Do you know what that word means?  If not, look it up:)

Hope

Stay tuned for a preview of a new booklet geared towards teens who are dealing with hopelessness or grief.  The booklet walks through the acronym HOPE that I’ve described below-putting the finishing touches on it now!

Honesty

Name what you’re feeling.   Name your sin. Think about your story-where have you been?  Where are you now?  Where do you hope to go?

Omnipresence

Remember God’s constant presence with you. He promises to NEVER leave us!   Thank Him that your story is a part of His bigger story.

People

Move towards other people in the body of Christ.  We need each other!  Listen to them.  Be honest with them.  Ask for help.  Allow others to remind you of God’s truth.

Eternal Perspective

Remember that this world is not all there is.  Christ died for us so that we could live eternally.  2 Corinthians 4

Hope in the Journey

Enjoy this free bookmark:)

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/HOPE-bookmark-a-reminder-to-hope-in-Christ-823517

In those tough times, I need to remember to….

Be HONEST with my feelings.
Trust in God’s OMNIPRESENCE.
Move towards other PEOPLE in the body of Christ and
Live with an ETERNAL perspective.

Enjoy your weekend!