" Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are 'patches of godlight' in the woods of our experience."

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Where's peace when I need it?

As I begin this new week, my heart and soul are still feeling the effects of everything that happened last week, included a car wreck on Friday morning. My stomach is in turmoil, thinking about having to teach and also thinking about only having one car for the foreseeable future. I feel like my chest is being crushed on a continuing basis. I don't know how to shake these feelings. I distract myself as best I can during the day, but the moment I am still, all the memories from this last week come flooding back. I see myself crashing, literally and figuratively. It plays over and over in my head like a broken record. I know with time these feelings will go away. That's how it always works. But time isn't passing quick enough for me.

So I sit here and write this blog post. I honestly don't know what's going to happen over the next few weeks and months. My husband and I have a lot to work on and try to change in our lives.

I know I don't deserve it, but I look up to God and I pray, "Please, Lord, I need a break!" I just need one moment of peace in my heart and mind. I can't seem to find it anywhere. I know He is here with me, because I don't think I would be alive right now if He wasn't. But He's not giving me peace. He is allowing me to suffer mentally and emotionally right now for some reason. I have to trust in that. I have to trust in the fact that I know He is here and He is in control. Otherwise, I might just walk away and give up.

It's one of those times when you have to say to yourself, "In two weeks, this will be over." "In a month, you'll be fine." "This too shall pass." There will come a time in the future when all this mess, hurt and pain will be finished. I'll be free from it and things will return to normal. I have to keep reminding myself of that.

"The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Trial of Humiliation

This week I have been struggling with humiliation and embarrassment. I never thought I was the type of person who would suffer so much under these conditions but I have been sick to my stomach and randomly crying.

Most of you probably know that I am a new teacher. I became certified to teach English as a second language in June of this past summer. I didn't begin teaching until the last week of August. I am teaching two classes, both from separate employers. I understand that being a teacher requires you to be scrutinized and observed occasionally. I'm OK with that as I know I still need a lot of help and improvement of my skills. Of course, it's necessary for your employer to make sure things are up to their standards.

I found out yesterday shortly before one of my classes that I would be observed. This caused me to become very nervous. I hadn't planned and prepared as thoroughly as normal and I was having technical difficulties with my printer at home. I didn't get very far into my lesson before the person observing me asked me to stop and then took over my class and began teaching. I was mortified, terribly embarrassed and humiliated. It took all my strength just to keep myself together and not run out of the room crying. After about 30 minutes of this, she then attempted to hand the class back over to me. I had no idea where to begin or what to do, which I expressed to her. She seemed upset that I mentioned this, so I tried to continue. Then at the end of the class, the woman left with only a goodbye.

I cried the entire way home while I was driving. When I got home, I knew I had to talk to her but there was no way I could speak to her on the phone or face to face so I emailed her. I tried to explain that I was very nervous about her being there. I basically bared my soul to this woman that I barely know. However, I never heard back from her. I spent the rest of the evening in a tizzy. When I reached out to her again via text today, she told me she was planning to email me back this afternoon but that was all she said. At this point, I am at a loss. I am still very upset. I am crying and praying, hoping to hear from her soon. I texted her once more to let her know that I was still very upset and I needed to hear something from her as to how she was feeling before tomorrow when I am supposed to teach again and also see her for our weekly meeting. Still I have heard nothing from her.

My emotions have been all over the place the past 24 hours. Yes, I have been praying and reading my Bible. I have received messages, phone calls and texts of encouragement with promises of prayers. I'm very appreciative of all these things. But the embarrassment and the humiliation seem to be determined to follow me around, which is why I am writing this post.

I feel like a complete and utter failure. I am humiliated and sad. I have a permanent lump in my throat and my chest hurts, not like a heart attack but like I am heart sick. My confidence is completely shredded. I don't want to face either of my classes tomorrow. I don't know how to shake these feelings. I am trying to rely on God and pray. No matter what I do, where I go, or how I try to distract myself, I can't shake my heart free of these feelings of inadequacy and humiliation.

One thing keeps coming to my mind - that song I learned many years ago when I was a kid - "He's still working on me to make me what I oughta be." I don't know why this happened or even what I'm learning or going to learn from this except that I am still a work in progress and I have to try my hardest to lean on Him and WAIT for Him. He is coming to save me, even if He's not as quick as Superman. He working on this situation and working on me. That's all I have to cling to right now. I'm hanging on for dear life because if I let go, I might drown.

Transparency

I made a decision when I turned *cough*31*cough* a few days ago. (Just pretend I said 29!) I decided that it's time to be transparent with the world. It's time to share all my struggles with my family, my friends and any others who may venture to this blog.

Life is too hard and too short to try to carry all your burdens alone. That's exactly what I've been doing for most of my 31 years. I don't know why I feel the need to always pretend like everything is OK on the outside when on the inside I am dying. I know someone else out there in the world has went through what I'm going through. If I would open up and share, then I would find help and encouragement from someone who has suffered the same way! What's that old saying? Misery loves company. So maybe someone out there is going through the exact same thing as me RIGHT NOW! Wouldn't it be great to be able to share with them? Have a little pity party and then encourage each other.

More importantly, opening up and sharing is not only helping me, but I hope it will help you too. What's the point in all this anyway if we just bottle it up inside? We are only damaging ourselves by suffering alone. Yes, I know Jesus is there. He fellowships in our sufferings but He also uses other people to speak to us and to help us, since He doesn't usually speak out loud to us! Sometimes what we need is to allow God to speak to us through other people. But how can He do that if we never share or tell anyone what we are going through?

Everyone's lives are messy and chaotic. Terrible things happen every day. We have a tendency to gloss over everything and plaster happy faced emoticons on every status update. But it's not real. I know that if my life is this messy, then yours is too. Why not join me in finding some help and some encouragement in one another?

Also I will also try to share happy things, so we can rejoice together!



Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hope

Hope - it's such a small thing, a tiny seed planted in the heart. At times, it blossoms and grows into a lovely flower. The heart swells with the fullness of the bloom. Things seem better during these times. The fuller the bloom, the happier the heart.

Sometimes, the flower dies. The precious earth that surrounds the seed dries up. The heart becomes dry and cold. Things couldn't be worse. Maybe the heart weeps from a loss or rages from injustice. Either way, emptiness and sadness follow.

It's such a small thing that affects our everyday lives. If the flower is blossoming and healthy, then the monotony of every day life seems easier. The sun shines brighter and the sky seems bluer, even when in fact, they remain as sunny and as blue as always. Tweeting birds appear to share our hope. Even thunderstorms can't dampen the flower. The heart is amazed and refreshed by the storm.

If the flower has died and the heart grown cold, the affect is quite the opposite. All the bright things now seem dull, even though the brightness of the thing has not changed, the heart has changed. Sunny brightness is now a bother, instead of a delight. The sky now appears in sepia tones. Those tweeting birds! Why won't they stop? Thunderstorms are worst of all, no longer amazing and refreshing. The clouds blanket the heart in darkness. The tiny seed is suffocated, perhaps it even dies.

Who can help a dead seed? Who can bring it back to life? Can a seed revive itself? Sometimes, the circumstances of life revive the seed and it blossoms again. Sometimes, no matter the circumstances, the heart stays hopeless.

Is there any way to heal the seed? Can the flower bloom even in the darkest times of life? The answer is yes; there is One who can heal all wounds, revive all hearts - the Great Physician, Jesus. Let Him into your heart. Let Him touch that seed and revive your hope. He is the reason you have that tiny seed of hope. He wants you to always have that flower blooming, during the good times and the awful times. Know that there is always hope! Maybe it is dormant or dead, but it is still there, waiting to blossom again and the Great Physician can help you. Let Him cultivate your hope!


*This blog post was inspired by one of Emily Dickinson's poems. "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul..."

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Broken

My heart is crushed
Cracked open for all to see
Bruised by those closest to me
My broken heart -
I'm losing the pieces - Help!
Too much pain,
Piercing and cutting me apart.

Every day passes normally,
But inside the pain haunts me.
Death would be easier to understand.
I'm dragging around a heavy load.
I try to let it go
I pretend it's not there
But I stumble,
And I feel it crashing into me.

Is this my fate too?
Will this happen to me?
Will I abandon the ones I love?
Will my heart turn to stone?
I can make my own choices.
That's what I'm told
That's what I used to think,
But now...what if it's my fate
To follow in your footsteps?

Can love be forgotten?
Can love leave so easily?
I never believed it - until now.
Your decision makes everything seem pointless.
Does it mean you love me less?
I think it means that I love you less...

So maybe I am like you,
Maybe my fate is the same.
I pray to God it's not,
I pray that He saves me
For I cannot save myself.


Friday, April 17, 2015

A Brief History of Me


            As a child, I always enjoyed history class. My teacher was engaging and always seemed to bring the stories to life. I believe this is what originally sparked my interesting in learning about different cultures. I was always fascinated when missionaries would come speak at my church and talk about the country they were serving in, but I never thought I could be the person ministering to those people.  I always believed that this was a job meant for those picked by God, and I would not be one of them. However, one summer at a National church conference, I sat and listened to a former pastor speak about different cultures , and about how many people had never heard about God and they did not have a Bible in their language. I was shocked by the numbers, I felt God speaking to my heart, telling me He wanted me to be one of those people who go and tell those who have never heard about Him.
                After that, I signed up for a missions trip for the next summer after I had graduated high school. Then, when I attended college that next fall in Nashville, I decided to minor in Missions. I suddenly felt like I was doing something right. I excelled at my classes, and best of all, I enjoyed them. I took courses like Cultural Anthropology and The Study of World Religions. Because of my minor in missions, I was required to participate in an overseas apprenticeship. I chose to go to France. I stayed with a missionary there, and helped her at the French bookstore she ran in Nantes. This trip lasted for two months, and gave me a real taste of life abroad. I loved it. I had to learn to survive on my own for the first time. This trip inspired me to take as many as possible during my college education.
                A couple years later though, I realized I was in quite a bit of debt, and I still had several college general classes that I had yet to take. So, I moved home to take those classes at a community college near my parents. I met my husband then, and we married a year and a half later. It was then that my life came to a standstill. I was happily married, yet I was not sure how my dream of living overseas and ministering was going to come true. After about a year of marriage, we went to Nashville so I could finish up my degree. Afterwards, we moved back to Arkansas so my husband could finish his.
                During this time, I worked a lot. Occasionally, my thoughts would wander to my previous trips overseas, and I wondered if I would ever get to travel again. I was never quite happy with my job placements. I was working in retail and at daycare centers. Nothing seemed to fit, and I kept switching jobs. So, my husband and I had discussed what I wanted to do with my life. He wanted me to be happy, and said he would be happy to go anywhere with me after he finished his degree. However, I was not sure how we could go overseas. We had student loans, and I did not feel that I was trained to work internationally. Then, one day I remembered my sister had taken the TESL course at TFLI. The course had been required when she and her husband moved to Japan. It sounded like something that would work perfectly for me. I would be able to work with people from foreign countries here or overseas. I still had a couple years to wait for my husband to finish school but at least I had a goal to work towards. I signed up at the local Literacy League to tutor people in English. They did not have a high demand for English teachers, so my first student was a man learning to read. However, my second student was a Hispanic woman wanting to learn English.
                When my husband finished school, he started looking for jobs in Nashville.  It took about a year, but we finally made our way back to this city. We decided I would take the TESL course this summer. Now, I am writing this essay, and I cannot believe that my time has almost come. I am very excited to take this course, and I know this is going to open doors for me.  I hope that during the next few years my husband and I will be able to travel overseas, and possibly move to a foreign country. This course will enable me to finally live out my dream of ministering and helping people, and for that I am eternally grateful.


*This is the entrance essay I wrote for the TESL class I will be taking this summer.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Fear of Death

Just 3 months ago, I was writing posts celebrating Christmas and the birth of Jesus. Such a joyous time Christmas is. It's one of my favorite times of the year. Now just a few short months later, Easter is upon us.

For us, only a few months pass between celebrating a birth and celebrating a death. It sounds so gruesome to think of it as celebrating Jesus' death. But death is a huge part of why Christ came to earth. Without his shed blood, we would be hopelessly lost. Yet death is such a scary thing for us. At least, it is to me, even though I am a Christian. It's something I fight with myself about constantly. Something I have to pray about consistently. I have to ask God to take away my fear of death, to remind me that He is waiting for me on the other side and I have nothing to fear. And yet my flesh is so weak and so scared.

But just think about Jesus up on that cross - think about how much pain he was in, how he was suffering physically and spiritually. And remember He knew when His death was coming. He had lived His whole life knowing He would die for all of mankind. He knew how He was going to die. He knew He would be reviled, spit upon and beaten. Think about that moment when He was all alone on that cross - when He cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Can you imagine be separated from the presence of God? That was probably worse than all the physical suffering he endured.

Remember how He prayed to God before it all happened, "Let this cup pass from me." He was afraid too. He had a human heart like the rest of us. It shatters me on the inside when I think about it. All the things He went through and yet He still went willingly to the slaughter.

Yet I fear death. I fear the end of my tiny human existence....

And I won't have a moment of separation from God like Jesus experienced. The Bible says that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. When I die, He will be there with me from the moment the last breath exits my body and He will be with me for the rest of eternity.

Why am I so afraid? I won't die like Jesus (hopefully). I won't ever be separated from God.That's comforting. Now when I am afraid, I will remember all that Jesus went through, how He faced the same things I will face, even more than I will face. If He can do it, then I can too. If He can walk purposely towards His death, then I can too. And I will be resurrected just like He was.

Remember Jesus' example this Easter and march onward!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

He causes it to come.

Some days are like springtime, warm and fresh,
Gentle breezes blowing, sun smiling down.
Birds singing and flowers blooming,
Everything seems perfect, like nothing can go wrong.
 But dark clouds gather quickly and the sky is torn open
By harsh rain and lightning.
Your perfect day can be ruined in a flash of clouds and rain.

Just remember who controls the storm -
Remember He planned it all.
He knows the moment it will stop
And He can tell the sun to return.
He gives sunshine and rain,
flowers and puddles,
lightning and rainbows.
He knows when you need a perfect day
And when you need rain.

 He is with you always in the storm and in the sun.
Don't forget Him during the good times,
Because He is thinking of you.
He gave you the perfect day - Remember to thank Him.
 And thank Him during the storm as well.
Don't be frightened because He is holding you and the storm in His hands.
He knows when you need a perfect day
And when you need rain.


"God thunders marvelously with His voice; He does great things which we cannot comprehend. For he says to the snow, Fall on the earth; likewise He speaks to the showers and to the downpour of His mighty rains....Whether it be for correction or for His earth or for His mercy and loving kindness, He causes it to come."  
Job 36:5,6,13

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Some things to think about...


Winters are not endless,
Valleys are not infinite.
Storms come and go quickly,
Nighttime lasts only a short while.

Winter is brutal but think of the snow, glittering and white. Each snowflake created to be different and special. Think of Christmas and all the lights. Think of hot tea and cocoa shared late at night. Think of the trees that remain green through the cold, like a splash of color meant for you.

Valleys can be treacherous and dark, but think of the green countryside with blooming flowers to see. Think of calming rain showers brought to refresh you. Think of a bubbling brook singing just for you. Think of the view - oh the view of the mountains - majestic and bright, topped with shining snow.

Storms are frightening, wind howling and rain crashing. But think of  how quickly they pass, especially a summer storm. Think of the lovely sun shining soon. Think of that fresh smell of the grass and trees right after their shower. And think of a rainbow glowing in the sky, reminding you of God's promise.

Nighttime is scary, darkness closing in with a fear of things unseen. Think of the stars sparkling above. Think of a cozy bed, with a loved one close by. Think of the moon, giving some light. Think of the sunrise and the sky turning colors - pink, purple, red, and yellow. Remember, joy comes in the morning.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Escape

I hid myself
Built a wall around my heart
I ran, thinking my problems would just go away.
I let the gate slam shut,
Pulled up the drawbridge,
Determined to keep You out.
I needed to escape,
That was my excuse
Time to myself
Time to be free
But instead I bound myself up in larger chains
Confined myself to the darkest dungeon.

But You never left
You were always there
Watching and waiting
Arms open wide
You knew I would return.

I grew weary of my race
Tired of seeking escape
My chains became heavier
As did my heart.

Everywhere I turned,
I saw You.
In the strangest places-
A book, a poem
A movie, a song
You presented Yourself to me.

And each time
My wall began to crack
The locks on my chains began to rust
I felt my heart beat in response to Your love.
Then I realized my mistake
You are my escape
In You I can be free
No more running,
Except straight into Your arms.




Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Power of Self Worth

Women vs. Women. It's something that has been a plague on our society for a long time. It seems with the influx of social media, it has become an even bigger issue. I've been sitting on this blog post for a while, and I think now is a good time to publish it. If you are a woman reading this, please think about the way you act/react to women around you. Women have been the underdog of society for a long time and it's important that we support each other and not tear each other down.

 
Inadequate
Jealous
Lonely
Intimidated
Ugly

For a long time, I applied those words to myself.

I thought I was the lesser person...or the worthless person.

I wasn't as good as you.

Not as pretty.
Not as talented.

I was invisible...

But now I realize that you are the one all those words describe.

You were making me feel this way because you feel these things about yourself.
And the only way for you to feel better
Was for me to feel equally as bad or worse.

But not anymore...

No longer will I be invisible
worthless
ugly
untalented
or inadequate.

You have lost your power over me.

And I feel sorry for you.

You'll never know the power I feel now.
The power of self-worth.

Maybe someday you will realize your mistake.
Maybe you'll realize that you aren't any of those things either.

Neither of us is perfect.
Stop pretending you are.
Know that you are
Worth it
Smart
Pretty
Talented.
and a million other amazing things.

Focus on being your best self.



Thursday, January 29, 2015

Walk by Faith

"Step out of the boat"
He beckons to me.
"Step out on faith
Come follow me!"

But the storm is surging,
The waves crashing
He is obscured
By a wall of rain.

It is too dark
And I am afraid,
I will be swallowed up
By the waves

Yet He still calls.
I see His figure
Walking on the water
"Have faith in me!"

So I step out -
For a moment,
I rest in His gaze
I see him clearly
Through the haze

How swiftly a moment passes!
Peace is torn from my grasp!
I notice the wind and waves
Lightning crashes overhead.

I begin to sink...
 But I don't turn back.
I keep facing Him
I may be crushed in the depths,


But I saw Him
Felt the peace of
His loving gaze
It was worth it.

Then He is there
Grasping my hand
Pulling me upwards
Into His arms

"Be still now
I am here."
As He holds me close
I realize -
My faith has made me whole.