Thursday, December 22, 2016

It's Only Wrapping

Hallmark has the corner on the market for coordinating wrapping paper, ribbon, and bows. I used to spend hours and hours shopping, wrapping gifts, and making sure to perfectly coordinate everything Hallmark under our family Christmas tree. Why? It was all unwrapped and in the trash within 30 minutes of starting the opening of gifts. We tried many methods to extend the unwrapping, but the bottom line was even 1 gift at a time left all the pretties in a pile of trash in a flash.

In my heart, I wanted everything perfect for my children because I loved them so much and wanted the best for them. I am not sure they cared about the wrapping though. It always seemed like over the years that all they were concerned about was what was inside the paper. That makes so much sense from their once childlike perspectives. I am not sure they even knew why I spent so much time coordinating all the wrapping. I think the meaning and love behind the intent was completely lost.

My kids had it so right though. The outward appearance of the gifts is fleeting, just for a brief pre-Christmas season. Thus it is for us as well. The Psalmist wrote, "O Lord, what are human beings that you should notice them, mere mortals that you should think about them? For they are like a breath of air; their days are like a passing shadow." (Psalms 144 2-4) Our days are so short, but it is easy to get caught up in this world and forget that our lives are for a Kingdom purpose.

In this world, so much is about the wrapping. 1 Samuel 16:7 declares this truth, "But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." How much time have I spent being concerned over my outward appearance or the outward appearance of my home vs the appearance of my heart to God. I pray that God gives me the wisdom to focus on seeing the hearts of people as I examine my own heart as well. I pray that He gives me the wisdom to focus my time on loving well vs "wrapping" things.

I wish that I could say that I get this right today, but I don't. I have to fight my flesh all the time. My flesh wants so many things to be "perfect" and "wrapped" with coordinating bows and paper. I desire the "Hallmark" life like the cute movies I've enjoyed relaxing with over the break. The conflict is easily fixed and everything works out for everyone by the end of an hour and 30 minutes with everyone looking Christmas "wrapped" and perfect. Quick, neat, easily fixed issues that are delivered by the most perfect looking people.

That's not how real life goes though. Rarely does anything coordinate or go "perfectly" Hallmark. Life is messy. Life is dirty. People don't look like Hallmark people. People are messy sinners just like me, and we all need forgiveness and often a little work in taking care of our temples as I sit here typing in my pajamas with no make up on at noon wishing I could drop 10 lbs.

Life gets really messy. Divorce causes kids to be here and there between homes. Finances are pressed and buying gifts add to the stress. People are lonely and depressed caught up in their own personal grief that can't just be fixed for them by a bow and pretty paper. Cancer kills. Accidents happen. Life is not fair nor is it meant to be.

When I allow my mind to wander to all of the things that are messy, ugly,  and out of order, I can easily get down about what I have not done well or taken care of to fix it all and "wrap it" metaphorically speaking.  I have to pray, repent, and check myself that my motives are always to serve my King and not to serve people first or what people think nor my own perfectionism or even my desire to help. I have to go to God in prayer over it all and then give it over to Him to be God. I can only do what He has called me to do as my service to Him. I certainly am not God and can't fix this world. That's why we need Jesus.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." Matthew 6:19 The enemy is here to kill, steal, and destroy. The world wasn't designed to be Heaven. The world is a test, a trial, battle field, and mixed blessing. I am reminded to focus on the treasures that can not be destroyed. I am reminded to celebrate the treasures that no man or woman can touch, steal, tarnish, or taint.

God is speaking to me right now about the work that He has placed in front of me as a wife, mom, principal, friend, and servant. It's messy. It's complicated, and it certainly doesn't always look pretty nor is it always fun. It's beautiful work though. The heart required behind the work is right and good with Christ at the center. The purpose is Kingdom purposed, and I love that God calls us to the messy, the unlikely.

I love that His work is bigger than my brain can comprehend and a greater love than my heart is equipped to share without Christ. I love that He trusts me to take on the messy and face it for Him. I love that He loves me, gets my crazy heart for Him and forgives me when I screw up. I love that He loves it when I call Him my CEO. He is the only being that really, really gets me. Like the shirt my husband just gave me says,"Jesus loves this hot mess." He loves you too regardless of what kind of hot mess you are. He gets you.

Whenever I have any doubts about what in the world I am doing, I focus on John 15:16. God called and chose me. So no matter what people say, God says what matters. He knows what's just wrapping, and He knows what's inside this package. I pray that you know that He loves you today regardless of your "wrapping" and whatever mess you are facing.  I pray that His voice is the loudest in your life, and I pray that your gifts are nothing that this world can take away from you.

This year, I don't care about the earthly treasures that are purchased or the hodgepodge of wrapping paper under the tree. What I do care about is that my daughter is flying home today and my son on the 26th. I care that I have a husband who loves this "hot mess" regardless of my wrapping. I care that mom is alive and well living with me. I care that I have amazing family and friends in my life who love me. I care that God placed me right in the middle of this messy, beautiful life and that He allows me to work for Him. I care that He has blessed me with people to love well through Him.

Life isn't always easy In His Trenches. It's hard. It's hurtful. It's a mess. BUT, the joy that comes from loving the Lord and serving Christ is beyond what I can express. I pray that the Holy Spirit is touching you today to draw your eyes to the beautifully messy work in front of you that God specifically called you to work, love, pour into, and bear fruit. John 15:16 "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last-and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you." You are chosen. You are loved. I pray that you have a very Merry Christmas filled with the peace that surpasses all understanding.

BTW, if you love wrapping gifts and decorating, this is not casting stones at you. Everyone loves and serves according to their gifts. Decorating is a gift that many people including me enjoy and appreciate! I just have to check myself on how I'm spending time and where my focus is regarding my own priorities. I hope that makes sense!!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

New Beginnings

Have you heard the song "Miracle Maker" by Kim Walker-Smith? Here's a link to the Youtube Video of her performing it.

The lyrics begin with "I'm waiting here for my life to change, when the waters stir, You can rearrange me. Just one touch is all I need, I've nothing much but the wounds I feel, I've come to find the hand of the miracle man." Have I not suffered some wounds in the last 5 years? This song hit me the very first time I heard it. I prayed for God to rearrange me. I prayed for His touch to heal me. I prayed for Him, and then I waited. I put my hand to everything that I could put my hand to, and then I had to wait.

I have sang and sang that song so many times in the last year. I have declared God's word over my life. "Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday." Psalms 37:5-6 I have prayed and prayed, and I have believed with faith that God would make my path straight, heal me, and deliver me. I've hung onto His promises even in the darkest of my own personal apocalypses. I've struggled to fulfill the desires of my heart to serve Him.

Friends, I am so excited to declare again and again that God is a righteous deliverer. He makes paths straight, He opens doors, and He sets captives free. I prayed in January for release from the bondage of public education, and God has released me!! Not only has He released me, but that release has had trickle implications that are further answering prayers. By leaving public education, God has made a way for me to pay off some of my personal debts with my public education retirement. I will have some freedom from that bondage that has strangled me for years.

I am joyfully announcing that I am the new principal for Southeast Christian School in Parker, Colorado. In one move, right on time (right when I was about to crack), God delivered me from public education and put me right back in the middle of ministry. He has opened the door for me to teach, lead, and speak. The desires of my heart have been handed to me. Come Holy Spirit, fill me and work through me.

I will be blogging regularly now that I have no concern of public education political repercussions, and I am committed to getting back into the trenches serving. I have an opportunity (due to my new position) to travel to Africa as part of a missions team in June. That is another answered prayer, ya'll.  Let's see what adventures await in this new season of my life. God has so overwhelmed me that I can't even process it all. All I know is that I am so humbled to be part of His kingdom and to get to serve his children. He's the best CEO ever. I'm thankful to be co-heirs with Christ and included in His Kingdom work. (Romans Ch 8)

Life has been tough. It's been scary. I sang for God to rearrange me, and I no longer recognize my life. I am excited to wake up tomorrow for school. I am energized to be able to openly share my faith and love for Christ in a loving Christian community. I am excited to support making disciples of men. I can't wait to teach a Chapel. Holy Spirit, flow through me! God is so good!

It's not always easy In His Trenches, but it's so worth it! I apologize for all of the exclamation marks, but I am overcome with joy. Hallelujah! Today, I am thankful for every heartache, struggle, and devastating moment that has allowed me to rejoice in this very moment. God is so good.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Waiting on Breakthrough

As a planner and perpetual doer, I often get fixed on a vision, action plan, and sometimes my own ideas about what I need to do as next steps in my journey. Most recently, I have been fixed and focused on buying a house, paying off debt, and creating a consulting business. Unfortunately, it simply does not appear to be in God's plans for us to buy a house. My intentions can be good, but is my good really what God wants as I seek to serve Him?

I believe that God's plans are to prosper us and not to harm us. The enemy is always working to undermine God's best for us. What I have noticed is that each time that I pay off one debt that something happens like a visit to the ER that puts an equal or greater debt right back on us. The enemy is not in charge of my life though. So, I'm praying fervently to be freed from financial bondage.

As I grow closer with God, I learn that my plans and ideas have to come from Him or they will inevitably fail. The hardest part of this struggle for me is waiting to hear God's voice. Waiting, as you well know if you have read my blog over the years, is not my strongest character trait. Also, I have classic American Dream issues that sometimes get my focus right off of serving God and right onto building the nest I so desire for my family.

God gave me a vision for being a writer and speaker many years ago. I've pushed into that vision as boldly as I can go with the creation of my new website, publication of Positude, leading of a women's retreat, and subcontract work in the education field. I am now waiting for God to open some major doors for me. I have had to reach this point where I just give it to God and quit being anxious about it. If He wants something done with me or for me, then it's officially up to Him. I have been disappointed on so many levels about not having the desires of my heart to serve, teach, and speak fulfilled in my timeline. I believe God gave me those desires. So, I put my hand to the plow, built a website, wrote all the plans out by direction of the Holy Spirit, and now it is up to Him. I have been sitting on my big book contract for 4 years now. I grimace even acknowledging that fact.

I will continue to put my hand to the plow that He puts in front of me. What I have to quit doing is forcing things. Where can I find the balance of seeking God's will and being patient for His direction? I believe that I am saved by the blood of Christ. I know that I am filled with the Holy Spirit. I have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit working through me to speak, heal, direct, pray, write, lead... I am just waiting for Him to fully activate me. I desire doing so much more for Him and for my family.

In the interim, I will pray and fast seeking God's clear direction and protection from the schemes of the enemy. My hope is in the Lord.  I don't accept Satan's lies nor his bondage of debt, shame, guilt, or whatever else he throws at me. I know that God will use me when He is ready for me to be used. I also know that I have to prove myself as faithful through whatever storm hits me.

Listen friends, God will speak to you and guide you. He will deliver you, and He has plans for you. I pray that you clearly hear His voice and that you are filled by the power of the Holy Spirit to serve. You are not alone in His trenches. None of us are perfect, and none of us has it perfectly all together or all figured out. That's ok. Rest in the knowledge that you are saved by the precious work of Jesus on the cross and that God's plan for you will manifest in His timing. I'm praying that He idiot proofs my path. May I always be on the path leading to Him.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Publish Book- Check

When you set a goal, you might question is this really God's path for me. I know that feeling. God spoke to me about writing my story 7 years ago. I blogged about my adventure attending the Colorado Christian Writer's Conference and signing a book deal with Morgan James Publishing in May of 2012. Where is that book?

That book is still outlined and sitting in my hard drive and brain. I'm stuck. That book wasn't coming to me nor was the path being cleared for me to participate in the First Time Writer's University through Morgan James.

I prayed. What was the hold up and why wasn't I fulfilling the vision that God gave me? Then, a little book that I had started 7 years ago came back into my focus at the same time that a friend shared her self-publishing endeavors through Create Space. SO, I spent last Christmas break and every weekend until my spring break writing. I had a team of amazing ladies edit and study my draft. Then, I spent my spring break editing. Yes, I had other work that I could have been doing, but I put some things on the back burner to prioritize writing. I was on fire, but I wanted to make sure that whatever I put out to the world was edited and professional. I'm proud of my first imperfect attempt!

I am really excited to announce and launch Positude. Positude is a devotional based on the Biblical keys that have helped me personally overcome my biggest struggle, staying positive in the face of adversity. Click here for the link to Positude on Amazon.

Have I written THE BOOK that I believe is part of God's vision for my future? I don't know. I do believe that this first book is a positive step towards reaching my ultimate goal. I hope you walk through the devotional with an open mind and will be willing to give me some feedback on next steps. I greatly desire fulfilling my contractual obligations to Morgan James this year. I am praying for the clear direction for that book.

God bless you all! Life isn't always easy in His trenches or clear as you are seeking God's will for your life. Sometimes, you just have to take a leap of faith as a first step. I've been still, I've waited, and now I'm leaping. Praying you hear God's voice and will know when the time to move forward is in front of you.

Friday, June 26, 2015

SMART Goal Time

Hi, Friends! Last weekend was my first ever women's conference to co-lead with my friend Christine Heinrich (author of Seasons). What a fabulous weekend!

Briefly on the conference, we walked through some processes to get the ladies to open up about life events, labels that hang over them or identify them, constraints to walking in victory and serving Christ fully, and then what events that God is calling them to share with others in order to help others heal or grow in Christ. 

As you can imagine, it was exhaustingly beautiful. God was with us, and the Holy Spirit moved. Some of you may wonder what does that mean when I say the Holy Spirit moved. I am going to try to explain.

First, as Christine and I each started sharing our stories, we each were led to talk a particular way that neither of us had prepared. (Actually, we had prepared along a little different line.) As we were speaking, the Holy Spirit kept giving us things to say or read from our two books that just amplified what we were endeavoring to do for God. The response as you can imagine was phenomenal. 

We had a small group of 12 in attendance, and yes, I was initially disappointed that more of our family and friends didn't attend. Jesus started with 12; so, I will tell Satan to be quiet about not getting the numbers that I had hoped for in attendance.  Actually, my hope was more about me, and when I let that go and gave the day to God I was filled with joy over having 12 people. God is always teaching me.

Many of the women had relationship with each other, but some of the ladies were from out of town and known by none. Imagine sharing your delicate stories and personal constraints with random strangers. That takes bravery. It was brilliant to sit back and watch the power of the Holy Spirit work in cracking through the walls we put around ourselves to get to our hearts and hurts so that healing can step in. Healing comes from the Comforter which is another name for the Holy Spirit.

Yes, there were tears, but there was joy found in knowing that each of our stories has a purpose. We talked about our identities in Christ, and that he has placed or will place a passion and desire on your heart if you pray for it. We unraveled the things we believe about ourselves and what we believe God can do through us. We had to break down the safe little box that we all like to put God inside. God doesn't fit in our little boxes. 

Each one of us prayed and made a commitment to write and fulfill a SMART goal. A SMART goal is simply a Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Timely goal.  My SMART goal is to blog weekly as I continue to write and teach about Positude and In His Trenches. So, hold me accountable if I slack!  

In scripture, it is written: "And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don't worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said." (Luke 12: 11-12)

I never really understood that verse until the last 4 years. Time and time again, the Holy Spirit just inspires me with what to say and how to say it. I will further say that as I wrote Positude that I kept continually praying for guidance about what to write. The Father answers us when we ask. Period.  

Last food for thought, have you prayed for God to give you a passion for serving in the Kingdom? I highly recommend that you pray for God to show you how to serve. I have been involved in ministry off and on throughout my life. I love children, obviously since I'm a principal, but children's ministry is not my passion though I tried my best to be Sunday School Superintendent. My passion is teaching older youth and adults. I have a vision for how to serve and teach today that I am on fire about following through with God's guidance. I pray that you seek the same knowledge and wisdom from God. You have gifts, time, and talents to share. Get plugged in to serving somehow/someway. 

Life isn't always easy InHisTrenches, but it is beautiful and full-filling when you are doing what God has placed on your heart.  Please find me on Facebook as IN HIS TRENCHES and look for Positude on  Positude dives deeper into the Biblical tools that have helped me stand. God bless you all, and I hope to hear from some of you soon! If you would like for me to come lead a conference or speak at your church or organization, please email me at I can't wait to see what God has planned next!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Struggle and the Victory

There is a lie that I have allowed to shake my faith that I want to call down today:  "if it isn't easy, then it's not from God." That's a lie straight from hell that I want to expose.
 Jesus said to his disciples in John 16: 33, "I have told you these things, so that in me you have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Then, Jesus' brother says in James 1:2-4, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
Google scriptures about persevering and you will find many references for verses that you can access that will clearly explain how FAITH is acting on God's promises when your flesh, eyes, heart, mind, and friends and family are all crying out for you to listen to them or seek safety/comfort/routine but God says something different. (Not that your family and friends aren't acting out of love for you.)

Look at the Israelites. There is story after story where their lack of faith when the going got tough almost cost them the promised land. Well, it did cost one generation from entering the promised land. Remember Exodus when the slaves were freed but in less than 40 days were crying out to go back to slavery? Clearly, it was not easy on God's path for them.  Why would you or I expect everything to be easy?

He wants us to depend on Him and seek peace from HIM.  
Was Paul's imprisonment illustrated in the book of Acts because he was not walking the good walk of faith? Was it because God was punishing him for some unseen sin or because he wasn't seeking God's will for his life?  Look up the story of Paul and Silas praising their way out of prison in Acts 16. Was the adversity because of their sin or lack of favor? Our pastor gave a sermon that accessed this tool of praise in the face of adversity. It hit home with me and made me question some false teaching from years ago.
I am telling you though that when favor becomes dependent on you and me, that we are negating the cross and what was done for us. When God calls you to do something, you know it down to the very core of you. (He is not going to call you to do something that is out of alignment with his word.)  No one else may know or understand why you are doing what you are doing but you and God. Actually, everyone you love may turn against you and judge you. That does not translate to God not calling you to do it and that does not mean when adversity strikes that you are "out of favor". What does that even mean? I'm saved. How can I ever be out of favor?

Whether something is easy or hard doesn't determine the amount of favor that you are under. We are all under the favor of Christ, and something requiring some faith and hard work may mean that God wants us to work and persevere/sacrifice for Him for the growing of our faith. 

I give all of this rhetoric to illustrate my struggle. When I took the leap of faith and applied for principal jobs all over the Denver/Dallas/Austin/Fort Worth/Katy areas to better my income and opportunities to advance, I got the call from my current district first which is in the Denver metro area. When they flew me out here, I was scared to death and endured about 10 varying rounds of crazy interviews with some very scary professional people who intimidated my socks off. It was not easy nor was it comfortable, but I had peace.

I prayed my way through all of the interviews and preparing for the community presentations. God gave me that presentation which was based on Faith, Hope, and Love as the theme to illustrate who I was to staff and community members. I laid myself bare to these people because that is what God told me to do.

A school chose me. There are so many things that happened over the next few months that God just sailed me through to the signing of the contract. It was a miracle, but it was tough and I felt raw and exposed after it all. Then, think about the mental piece of me preparing to move basically with my kids to a foreign land. (By the time any other metro Texas schools contacted me, I was already committed to my new one in the Denver Area but I knew that God was idiot proofing my path. I prayed every day that he would idiot proof my path. So, why question where He was leading me? I had faith. Regardless, I had a great school that I was under contract for if God had wanted to keep me right where I was.)

I had a buyer for my house, and things were lining out to leave. God gave me the money for the U-haul and down payment on my apartment here that were all totally His hand. I had friends and family who were supporting my move and others who were saying not to go, but God clearly was opening doors and clearing paths.

My son wanted to come live with me but was afraid to talk to his dad about it. I kept praying and having faith that it would work out before school started. Ben and I still weren't in a committed relationship up until 2 weeks before I left Texas. I moved believing that God wanted me here Ben or no Ben.

Adversity struck soon after I got to Colorado: my buyer backed out and my house didn't sell, my son didn't get the courage to talk to his dad until that October after school had started, my car broke down again, my daughter went back to Texas to live, school was gearing up to not be an easy transition, my commute was brutal because the small town girl was a wreck in city traffic. I was about to financially crack on top of everything else because of double rent and debts that I thought my new pay raise would cover but the move and expenses of carrying my house drove me deeper into debt because I had to take out another loan. Sigh.

Friends and family said come home. Ben said go home. The Holy Spirit said don't you dare give up on God's plan for you.  So, I pressed into God. I believe that His plans are for me and not against me. His plans are to prosper me in Him which doesn't necessarily mean that it will prosper me in this world. So, I had to sling some fleshly rebellion off time and time again. God had to take some pretty pathetic cries from me day after day for Him to rescue me from the circumstances. I wanted my son and daughter, I wanted financial peace, I wanted a commitment from Ben, and I wanted to prosper in my career. (I'm a pretty demanding somebody.)

Would God ask me to be without my son? Would God then ask me to be without my daughter? My church friends? My family? What all was God asking me to give up to follow this plan of His for my life? Would I live forever in this financial death grip around me and no solid commitment from Ben? Where was God taking my life, and how was I going to end up publishing my book and serving him with this gigantic mess?

"God does not ask us to give up things and sacrifice for Him; that is old testament and not true for Christ followers." That is another lie straight from Hell. Jesus clearly says to the rich man in Mark 10:21 the opposite "Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack", he said, "Go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

He goes on to say in 27-31, "Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." The Peter spoke up, "We have left everything to follow you!" "Truly I tell you," Jesus replied, "No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields- along with persecutions- and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first."
I'm in the middle of a custody battle for my son. My house sold, but now I am paying lawyers fees, a monthly sum to my ex, flights, and paying towards a personal loan. So, I'm still in the financial vice grip of hell. Does that mean that I am out of favor with God? Does it mean that I am not on His path for my life? No.

God is my God. I love him, I will serve him, and I will praise Him no matter the circumstances. I have tried to offer my administrative services out there to the world to make some extra cash to crawl out of this debt, and nothing has come to me. I can only have faith that this trial will end soon. I will praise my way through the releasing of the financial prison cell doors and releasing of my son from the stupid geographic restriction that I agreed to so many years ago. I will not run back to Texas, and I will not lose faith in what God has called me to do and where He has called me to be. I'll fight anyone who tries to lure me off His path for my life to serve Him including but not limited to fighting me. (Internal battles are the worst.)

I know that God is going to show me the way, and I believe breakthroughs are coming this year to publish my book, bring my son here, and open ministry doors for me. We go back to court for round 2 when school gets out. 

What if everything doesn't go in my favor? I will praise Him anyway. I will write anyway. I will pray anyway, and I will continue to proclaim all that God has done for me because favor happened on the cross. I am believing though that something big is about to change, and I have faith for a miracle. I have seen them in the past, and I believe God will give me more in the future. He is the God of miracles and I have His favor under Christ. Amen.

Brothers and sisters, don't believe man's lies. Don't rely on your flesh. Stand on God's word, and believe what He tells you. He wants us to find peace in Him. He wants us to rely on him, and He wants us to persevere through struggles of many kinds to build our faith. If faith was easy, everyone would do it.

God bless you as you face battles. Life is not easy in His trenches. We have a victor who opens prisons doors and sets the captives free. I am praying for freedom today not just for myself but for my new marriage so that I don't drive my husband crazy with my worry. Did I mention that WE GOT MARRIED?? God answers prayers every day.  Amen. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Coaching vs Criticising

Whether personal or professional, I coach, teach, and sometimes have to correct as well as recieve instruction. What I try to avoid and don't like receiving is just plain criticism. There are times when analyzing a situation can feel like criticising because you have to be able to break apart a situation, relationship, methodology, or choice in order to examine and refine it, but speaking the negative without a plan to address it doesn't really do anyone any good. On the contrary, it can do more harm than you can imagine. 

I pretty much tanked this past week personally and professionally by venting my frustration over some unrelated situations. Yet, I advise teachers all the time to never overwhelm a parent with more than 2 or 3 action items to work on at home and always partner that with "here is our plan at school". I had no plan of action but a basic throwing up of the hands. So, I want to do some reflecting and revisit a couple of simple Biblical pieces of advice to get myself right. 
Ephesians 4:29 states "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

By definition, edify means to instruct (teach) or improve someone morally or ethically. Tearing someone down is not building someone up, and I definitely did not build up because I was just venting my frustration and feelings of overwhelmedness. Did it benefit anyone? That's the problem with venting and criticizing, it does no one any good. What it becomes is a voicing of all the negative thus giving the negative power over your life. If it has you upset enough to vent or criticise it, then it has your emotions. That is giving it power in your life. 

Criticism is the practice of judging the merits and faults of something. I would just recommend being careful about judging. I know that supervisors have to sometimes tackle "areas that must be addressed for the sake of the organization" (been there), but help the person come up with the plan to address the area of concern. 

Just dropping the criticism on someone and leaving it does absolutely no good. Criticising is easy but it is not coaching or teaching; coaching takes some work and commitment. As a matter of fact, a good coach would figure out a way to get the person to figure out their own weakness and then support the plan to address it. (Does that mean that you never give a criticism and plan to address it as a directive? No, just use caution and read my blog about having a coachable spirit.) 

"The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its' fruit." Proverbs 18:21 Your words have the power to destroy or give life. If you want to see fruit, then you have to speak love and life. 

For example, let's say that you have an employee or friend who is having a hard time accomplishing a task that to you would seem easy. As a matter of fact, it would seem to you almost ridiculous that he/she hasn't "gotten it." Do you stop before making a comment/criticism and reflect on what the Holy Spirit would have you say or vomit, "What's wrong with you, that's like the dumbest thing to manage. My 4 year old neice could get that going." 

I hope that you would stop and pray for some patience before proceeding, but how often do we seek the Holy Spirit in these types of situations? After all, we got this; the friend is asking us for help, right?  I don't think that the Holy Spirit would be pleased with the vomit version/critical comment or with not being consulted if you claim to be a believer. 

On the contrary, the Holy Spirit has access to all the answers in the universe, and who has better advice than God? Holy Spirit speaking through you might say, "I understand you are having a hard time with that. Maybe I can help you figure it out. Why don't you explain what you are doing and let's see if a different set of eyes helps." Then, pray for the Holy Spirit to give you the answer and the words. It's amazing, but the Holy Spirit often has answers and guidance just waiting for us that we never tap into. 

I think back to my days as a classroom teacher and having to explain myself a lot, repeatedly, time and time again to the same kids who "always didn't get it" the first few times I explained whatever it was. The problem, though, was me and how I was teaching the concept not the kids who didn't get it. I can't change how a kid learns; so I have to change my mode of instruction. 

My frustration which was a result of my own feelings of inadequacy as a teacher only made the kids take on a negative attitude. Then, they would shut down, think that they couldn't learn, and hate my class/school. That had to change. So, I prayed for answers, changed my teaching to meet their needs, and the rest has been history. (What's best for kids isn't always easiest for adults, but it is what we as educators are paid for and expected to do.)

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control as outlined in Galatians 5:22-23. If your coaching doesn't line up with the fruit of the spirit, then maybe this is a good time for you to reflect on how you are coaching and teaching others.

As believers, we have embraced the walk of loving others like Jesus loved us. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and love our spouses like Christ loved the church. He layed down his life for the church, are you willing to lay down "yourself" for anyone? What expectation should be any different when teaching/coaching/advising our employees, colleagues, children, spouse, family, or customers? Do you love them more than you love yourself? Then take the time to reflect and teach them.

It's not easy to restore someone gently when you feel pretty passionate about whatever it is that has you riled up, but Galatians 6:1 reminds us that even when catching someone in a sin that those of us who are spiritual should restore that person gently. How much more so when just trying to coach someone through a computer system at work, budget, t-ball lesson, or driving lesson? The list could go on and on.

Are you gentle in your coaching and teaching? Would your kids say yes? What about your spouse? Family? Co-workers? Employees? I want to encourage you to pray about this today and just check yourself with the Holy Spirit. 

I'm praying that those that I have not coached gently would forgive me. I pray that as I move forward that I would enlist the Holy Spirit in every good work that I have been called to do. May the fruits of the Spirit shine in me and from me. May the vomit be removed from me that I would not curse, vent, or criticise. I pray that each of us are gentle and loving like Jesus loves. He didn't throw any stones. Why should we think that it's ok for us to throw them? I pray that God convicts us of the stones that we are throwing and the condemnation that we speak against each other. Father, help us to speak LIFE. Help us to remember that there is no CONDEMNATION in Christ. Amen.

It's not always easy to shine the light on our personal practices, but it is so worth it when we see the fruit in our relationships at work, home, church, and family events. God's blessing to you as you speak life and continue the hard work of refining each other In HIS Trenches. I see future blogs around this topic such as iron sharpening iron and an examination of Jesus' teaching/coaching strategies. Have a great week!

Friday, July 4, 2014


Hiring quality employees is probably one of the toughest pieces of my job. I have been asked many times what it is that I am looking for, and quite honestly it is the same thing that I look for in anyone that I am going to be around. Does he/she have a coachable and teachable spirit?

I can help someone gain knowledge, methodology, and pedagogical information and applications. What I can not do is change someone from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. I can not make someone see the value in reflecting and continuing to learn.

Jesus' disciples called him Rabbi which translates to a Jewish teacher. I like studying how Jesus approached people and taught. Jesus would quote scripture (site evidence), give parables (examples to demonstrate), and ask thought provoking questions amongst many other methods to get his students to make connections. 

In Matthew 11:15 Jesus says "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." I always wondered when I was a kid what that meant to have ears to hear. We all have ears, why wouldn't we hear? As an adult who is an educator, I completely understand that not everyone has ears to hear including me. Each of us at varying times may hear the noise but not really hear what is being said and own it reflectively. 

I have not had ears to hear many times in my life. From friends warning me away from a guy that was bad news, to college classes where I absolutely had no interest or desire to learn and so didn't, or to pieces of being an educator where I was quite arrogant in my knowledge rather than thinking that I might have something else to learn from a situation. Seeking more knowledge on what it means to really educate has taught me that the more I learn the more I need to learn.  

I pray for wisdom. What is true wisdom if I am not being reflective and humbly considering that I may not already know the answer or path? I believe to gain wisdom that we have to have teachable spirits with ears to hear which means humbling ourselves before God in all circumstances. 

When we think that we are the supreme experts of anything, then we make ourselves an idol. We have all interacted at some point with those individuals who think they know everything (or been one). There is a marked difference between a highly intelligent person who is an excellent resource and a "know it all". To me, the highly intelligent person is the one who is willing to continue learning, researching, and reflecting in order to grow and readily admits when he/she needs to further research before assisting you. 

Wisdom means that we should not contain any fear regarding growing and learning. Should you be afraid that someone out there or in your home knows more than you do about something? Well, if you have made yourself an idol, then of course you will be afraid that someone is smarter, faster, stronger, better.  That would mean that the alter that you have been bowing down to is faulty. 

What about the person who simply just doesn't want to learn? The excuses are many: too hard, I'm not smart enough, I'm too lazy, my brain doesn't remember easily, I have a disability... If you have accepted all of those excuses as truth, then you don't have a teachable spirit. Whatever you ask for including knowledge and wisdom in the name of Jesus can be given unto you if the objective is Kingdom centered for your service to God. 

Jesus says in Matthew 11:25 "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children." 29 "Take my yoke upon you and LEARN from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Why does Jesus reference revealing to the little children versus the wise and learned? Little children are teachable, curious, open minded, trusting, etc. Typically, we know it alls are pretty set in our ways. Learning is continuous throughout life. 

People can easily become complacent when they grow weary of learning or closed off to learning. It is so easy to fall into routine or settle into our American dreams because we are not open and teachable.  

The fear of moving to another state and having to learn the language, roads, people, systems, etc could have gripped me a year ago and prevented me from taking such a huge positive step forward in my life. It has not been easy, but I have learned so much in 1 year. I can only imagine what missionaries in foreign lands go through. 

I know that God has allowed me to grow in knowledge and wisdom. I know that he has equipped me to handle many situations that arise in life and in the education system through the knowledge and experience that He has allowed me to gain.  However, if I approach every situation as though I already know the answer then I am not allowing that the situation may require a unique solution. God may have something else in mind that is novel, and there may be a new blessing.
Each of has to know though, that every situation is unique. Proverbs 3:5-6 states, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding in all your ways submit to Him and HE will make your paths straight." When a situation arises, pray for God's wisdom before jumping to a decision based on your own knowledge and understanding. 

One of the most profound pieces of learning through my training as a leader is around synergy which roughly means that "we are smarter together than me". In the education system, we use problem solving teams to analyze, adjust, and plan. I have found that the coming together of those teams to solve student and family issues has been critical to success. Likewise, Jesus is the vine and we are the branches; cut off from HIM we can do nothing. 

When I lean on my own understanding, I suffer many consequences. What I have gained in wisdom that is that I can either do things God's way or the hard way. 

A network of believers can be a huge resource in helping you to grow in knowledge and wisdom. "Wherever 2 or more are gathered in my name..." Jesus encourages us to come together in His name. Seek synergistic environments for believers to grow and learn together.  
I encourage you today to be like a child who is teachable and coachable. I pray that you have ears to hear. Then, listen, reflect, and pray. I pray that you are always a learner who is seeking wisdom and knowledge to serve.  I pray that you are open to discussion with other believers and directed by the Holy Spirit. 

In all your ways submit to HIM. That means work, home, driving, etc. He will make your paths straight if you have ears to HEAR HIS VOICE. I am praying that God directs my steps and clearly teaches me and the same for you. Gods blessing to you.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Fear vs Love

Fear is the opposite of trust and love. Being careful to not lay the sins of others bare from my past, I will shine the light only on my struggles by simply saying that I have been hurt. I have been betrayed, and I have hurt others. I have been publicly flogged as a leader and woman (metaphorically speaking). I have hid in shame, and I have walked in fear.

Some people heal faster than others, never stop persevering, and do not alter their behavior based on the negative feedback from this world. Others of us, over time, change our hearts and ability to trust, love and serve based on the hardening of our hearts by a very cruel world.

Fear has clouded my walk for many years: fear of losing my children, being publicly humiliated (based on childhood to adult incidents), being betrayed, losing everything again, being poor again, not providing for my children, failing God, failing my school, not paying my bills, fear of debt collectors, not having a job, fear of people hating and targeting me for doing the right thing at school, having my heart broken again, being abused, used, mocked, deceived, cheated on, and the list goes on and on...

My daughter's favorite quote by John Wayne is "Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway." Everyday, I have to saddle up and walk, breathe, lead, live, make decisions, hold people accountable, coach, question, support, teach, and, most fearfully, love.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

People will hurt us. Students' parents have done some crazy hurtful things to me and staff; I could write a book just on the erratic, arrogant, disrespectful behavior that I have born witness to and been the receiver of for my 20+ years in the public education system.

Employees have done some pretty hurtful things to me. I have been publicly humiliated more times than I can count by students, parents, and staff. It is the nature of the education beast. For whatever reason, people feel entitled to publicly flog educators (the very people trying to serve and teach their kids while keeping them and other children safe) and there is very little respect for principals by many.

Being a change agent, I stare down the face of adversity every single day. I am not and have never been an embracer of the "system". I have always been an independent, and complacency makes me sick. I love passionately and passionately lead those willing to step out and go with me. I am not for everyone. Which is probably why I evoke such a passionate hate from some.

The Bible warns us that those of us who follow boldly the way of Christ will be hated. I take the moral imperative of education very seriously and my calling as a Christian leader. The lives of children and the sake of our society are at risk, and my job is to love, lead, encourage, teach, and hold accountable every one of those little people that have been entrusted to me as well as the other educators being paid to do the same all the while remembering that I am a servant of the one true King and will trust him to make my path straight. My path is for Him first.

Complacency is lazy and evil. Christ was not complacent. He was a quiet rock of strength and change blended with an accountability that could put you on your face. He calls down strongholds and casts out demons while extending loving arms to the children and feeding the hungry. What an amazing blend of humanity and deity. He changed forever the relationship that we can have with God, and he has set the bar for servant leadership.

I love that man. He embodies everything that I want to be and everything that I want in a man on earth. Is that possible to have on earth? No. None of us are perfect and none of us are Christ though we can each endeavor each day to pick up our cross despite or in spite of our fears and follow him and love like he loves with forgiveness and grace exuding to and from each of us.

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

God's plans are not to harm us. Satans plans, however, are completely against us. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12

I know that Satan has gotten involved in every fear evoking piece of my history. However, he is not my god. He is not in authority over my life. Satan may influence people and use his demons to strike fear all around me, but I will stand, breathe, live, and love through Christ who strengthens me. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

Loving and leading take every ounce of courage that I have, and I clearly don't have enough. I have to have Christ in order to function and even attempt to lead and love again. I praise God for his angels that He sends before me and for the people that He has called to love me through my walk. I praise God for a man in my life that is willing to love me through my fears, insecurities, and healing. A man who humbly sets examples for me that he probably doesn't even realize the power of in my life.

It's scary out there in the world. My heart might get pummeled again tomorrow by someone at my school, on the road, or in my house. I will saddle up anyway. I have someone in me who is greater than he that is in the world. I will stand on God's promises that His plans are for me and not against me. I will trust God and fear no evil. It's a choice, and I have to make that choice every day. I will choose to forgive and show grace and pray that those I hurt will do the same. (Keeping no record of wrong. 1Cor 13:5)

I have always said as a leader that what is best for kids is not always easiest for adults. Accountability, doing something different, learning something new, etc. all require action on my part that might not be easy. Am I going to do what is easy and popular or do what I believe to be right?

It's not easy in the trenches. We are at war with an evil, scary world. We can let this world change our ability to love and serve, or we can reach out to Christ and love through him fearlessly. We might get hurt or hurt others, but God is a healer. God is my safety net and forgiver. I will walk in faith regardless of the fears lurking around me. I will show courage because I am more than a conqueror, and I am forgiven. I will lead and love boldly.

 I pray that your heart is loving, your arms are open, your feet are firmly planted on God's word, and that your mind is free from fear. Do not allow fear to have dominion over you. Call on the one who can cast it down and set you free for his yoke is easy and his burden is light. You are forgiven and you are worthy to love and be loved. Amen

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Divorce and Recovery

My world tilted on its' axis two years ago, again. It's been a long road to recovery, and I know that Christ has covered me every step along my journey. I have never felt more on God's path for my life than I do today. I don't recognize my life, but I feel the presence of God in every direction that He sends me.

Divorce is the death of relationship. I had already suffered through that death once and truly believed that it would never happen again in my life. I swore that it never would. The first time, i not only lost the relationship and friendship with my ex but I felt like I lost my entire life in my home town. The healing was tough all around: our families, friends, kids, neighbors, students, etc. When you live in a small town, everyone is involved in your life to a certain extent and often feel the obligation to take sides. It's not unconditional love at its best when you have divorce in the mix. Divorce is hard on everyone in the impacted community.

People also make a lot of judgements and continue to do so. It has been hard and hurtful. Skip to two years ago, and my "perfect marriage" crashed and burned. I was devastated and had to go through the small town involvement again. Good or bad, the community is involved and can wrap around you and love you (which praise God I experienced) or spend a lot of time digging into the "why" and making judgments. Judgments are a waste of time and energy and are sins.

Grief is heavy and overwhelming. Everyone loses something. Someone loses their home, their stuff, access to their kids, maybe the church they attend, community involvement, and maybe even as simple as a favorite pet. Reputations are damaged regardless of the situation because everyone believes their own truths and makes up what they don't know; the bottom line is that you feel like you wear the scarlet "D" on your forehead.

Your perception is your truth, and for some people when they don't like the truth they become experts at creating their own and then manipulating those around them to buy into it. It's very sad. There is nothing easy about it and especially not when dealing with manipulators.

Hurt and pain usually translate at some point into anger. Forgiveness is so hard to find when your heart has broken and especially when your children are involved and then add the community piece. There are tons of books out there, but your process is uniquely yours when you suffer a trauma, especially a public one.

Trauma takes many shapes and forms, but the bottom line is that you have to allow yourself to feel what you feel. Don't let pressure from other people curb your right to grieve even if the choice was yours to separate.  It's the death of a family unit. Grieve it. Then, pray for healing and the removal of the trauma so that you can heal. Guilt may be warranted initially, but then you have to seek forgiveness.

Christ forgives you, right what you can right, and forgive yourself so you can move on. Just because you are divorced doesn't mean that God can't use you. He uses obese, liars, righteous pharisees, hoarders, greedy, selfish, needy, paranoid and fearful, lazy, judgmental, poor, rich, etc. None are perfect no not one. Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. (That means me and you.)

I question myself all the time about the choices that I have made. Regardless of my opinions of people, I know that children need both of their parents to be stable and feel that unconditional love necessary to function as actualized people. Look at Maslow's Hierarchy of needs. I keep myself in check in not getting my personal needs met by my kids (that need to be needed and keeping them needing me is very dangerous for their mental health).

I wanted my kids to feel loved and empowered to be who they are and where they want to be as long as it was aligned with God's will for their lives. I did not want my children caught up in drama, especially drama constructed by other people. They know that I love them. I am here and will get their backs in a heart beat when needed.

Not that we didn't force the kids to step out in life and take some chances when they were scared to put themselves out in the world, but I worked hard at letting them know that no matter what their performance looked like that I loved them. Same with the divorce, no matter how angry, hurt, resentful, or sad they were, I loved them. We would get through it together with honesty and realness; if we had drama then we addressed it with honesty and truth. Keep it real but get a grip quickly.

Working with parents in the public school system, I see a lot of them who "helicopter" at the least sign of distress from their kids and swoop in to rescue with zero accountability for the child, ignore their kids because they are so caught up in their own work or drama or illness, get angry at the least inconvenience to them and their schedule, demand the school handle school things at school and don't want to be impacted at home, and then there are those rational people who you can just tell are real and reasonable and want to work with us to grow an independent critical thinking child into a responsible citizen. No judgment towards any parents because at some point, I have been each of those definitions depending on my own struggles.

Trauma adds another dimension though. When you have a trauma in your world, your thinking goes total frontal lobe and all of that adrenaline shuts down your high functioning memory and capacity to learn with any real value. If you are suffering a trauma and find yourself not bringing your "A" game to the table, imagine what your kids are feeling. We were in shut down mode around my house for about 3 months. It was ugly. I'm not proud that I shut down and closed into my own pain.

Something that I have learned about community is that honesty is the best policy. Concealing things leads to destruction. To build a loving community, you have to recognize that none are perfect, be honest about how you feel, seek clarification before you assume a negative intent, and be cognizant of the choices that impact the children.

My church family literally circled around our camp and provided that safety and support that we needed. They were amazing at just loving us through the storm without judgment or pressure to not grieve. They stepped in to help me be the mom that I was struggling so hard to be through my grief.

Selfishness has long lasting impacts, and I am no saint. When my kids would argue, I would always ask them who they love more. "You love yourself or your sister more?" Most arguments were because one of them was loving themselves more than anyone else. Is it not true in a marriage?  I have blogged about my own selfishness and still struggle with forgiving the selfishness on both parts that led to my marriage's death.

I think about all of the arguments that I have been involved in in the past. Most were not philosophical differences. Most were one of us basically saying, "I love me more than I love you and will do whatever I want." Which is saying, "I love me more than you and will not change my behavior for you."

Then, you have trauma, hurt, pain, resentment over years, grief, etc. It's pretty much the opposite of Ephesians 5. I am so guilty of just accepting the selfishness and not battling for what I knew was right. The peacekeeper in me is just as guilty in all of it by literally negotiating about sin.

Where does the healing begin? For me, it began with forgiveness after the grief. I took a lot of punches for blogging and posting on Facebook, but I felt like it was better for me to control my own PR by publishing truths for me rather than allowing other people to make things up. God knows my heart, too.

I wanted God to use my grief and my failed relationships to help other people. I don't think that I ever  published anything condemning about my ex, though. I just published facts of what I was feeling or what I was fighting from the world (like creditors).  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I know that I never published what caused my divorce ultimately.

We are complicated beings. I am a mom, girlfriend, principal of an elementary school, survivor from way back, sister, daughter, and friend. More than anything though, I am a child of God who is here to serve. I don't want to cause trauma, drama, or any hurt. That's not my heart, but I want to be real about who I am and what I believe. I want to work with children, parents, staff, and the community to raise our kids.

I have seen the amazing from people in the last 2 years, and I am so excited about where God has positioned me. Everything in this life is to bring us closer to God and serve as part of our ministry to others. I work hard at being Kingdom minded, but it is a work and not something that comes easily. On top of that, most people completely disagree with my mind set. Not everyone is called.

Galatians 6:10 "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."
Matthew 28:19 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them..."
John 14:6 "Jesus answered, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Matthew 22:36-40 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus replied, "Love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself." All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments."

Family, community, all people. Jesus loved everyone. He died for everyone, and He is the only path to God. He didn't have to die more for me because my sin requires more of him. He died the same for us all. We have scriptures to mold our behavior into Christlikeness. Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to love each other. That means forgiving and being selfless. So hard, but so necessary to heal from the traumas we each face. Love God, Love each other, spread the gospel.

Life is tough in His trenches at times, but He will never leave us nor forsake us. I am so blessed to be on the other side of the big "D". It may be permanently tattooed in my history, but Jesus covers the rest.  That "D" on my forehead is gone. It's been washed away. I'm not going to allow anyone to put it back. I am, also, so thankful for the family, friends, church, and community who have loved me through it all.

The enemy doesn't have the authority in my life to rub any sins in my face. I am redeemed, and if you have accepted the grace from Christ then so are you. Have a blessed day, and I am praying for every reader's complete healing from trauma. May no cell in your body remember the pain, hurt, trauma, tears, burdens, etc. I pray you have peace and direction. If you aren't recovering from any trauma, find someone to show the love of Christ to through unconditional love. No judgments, just love.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Disclaimer- My personal views are a part of my core values and do not necessarily in any way represent the views of the school district that employs me. I respect separation of church and state do not preach at school but simply display the love of Christ in me without referencing where my values come from in the school arena.