"The thistle is a prickly flower, aye, but how it is sweetly worn."

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hill Country Lovin'

This past weekend our little family spent the most magical weekend in the Texas Hill Country.  It couldn't have come at a better time, as mental health breaks are a definite need this year :) 

Each year the sponsor church for Jimmy's parents' ministry takes a retreat into Hunt, Texas.  We met the church members as well as Jimmy's mom, sister, niece, and nephew at the camp. We headed through many small towns to the middle of nowhere.  Jimmy and I mostly entertained ourselves by singing 90s songs- and I showed him my ability to hit high notes, Mariah Carey style (kidding).

Jude got to have yet another birthday celebration when we got there where he got some amazing cupcakes, as well as a Ninja Turtle.  My favorite is that Mimi recorded a prayer in the hand.  It is such a blessing to hear that little prayer being said over and over from his bedroom.  And I love just the thought of the Spirit filling his bedroom each time he presses it.

Of course camp included the usual things such as marshmallows, fishing- Jude caught his first fish!, canoeing, and lots of time with new friends and cousins.  We were right on the Guadalupe River, so it made for a lot of fun and was just overall beautiful.  Jimmy and I decided we need to make getaways a regular part of our life.  It is just so good to be able to sit surrounded by nature and pray, read your Bible, and visit with family.

This fishing pole was actually Jude's birthday request.  He was adamant about taking his new fishing pole with us, and even more adamant about using it.  So excited that he was able to catch one!  Love that he is such a little wilderness boy.

On Saturday, we drove out to Lost Maples State Park.  This has always been on my 'Texas to do list' because my parents had mentioned how you can see brilliant fall colors out there.  Unfortunately, it hasn't gotten cold enough yet to see many of the colors.  It was still beautiful to be able to walk through the woods.  There were lots of springs and small wading pools from the river to relax at.  It's such a great park, and would be fun in all seasons.  We really need to go back!

Saturday evening we had a great time visiting with the church members over barbecue.  My personal favorite was the fireside sing along with "Ole Blue", the hymnal.  Jude and I actually have a copy of Ole Blue which I bought at Denton Thrift; we sing from it nightly.  I am 80 at heart, and just think there is such great richness in the old hymns.  Jude's favorite hymn is Standing On The Promises- which we sang.  He is still talking about how awesome it was to sing that at the camp.  In general it was just magical for me to get to sing those old forgotten songs like 'Farther Along'. 

Unfortunately, in the midst of the singing, I got dive bombed by a bee.  Which I then brushed off hastily.  Which then landed on and stung my leg.  I haven't had a bee sting since I was 7 years old.  I had NO idea they hurt so bad!  Luckily, I had my oils.  I used lavender oil, Gentle Baby, and Pan Away routinely every 20 minutes for an hour, and then a few times at night if I woke up and thought about it.  I also kept ice on it.  It swelled up some and hurt like CRAZY that night.  I reapplied the oils a few times that morning.  But I kid you not- I have not had any swelling or pain since lunchtime on Sunday.  You could see the sting on my leg and some swelling, but it didn't hurt.  And you know what is even more amazing- by Sunday night it wasn't noticeable.  AND it never itched- I was told over and over/read over and over about how badly bee stings itch.  Well it's Thursday night and it hasn't hurt since Sunday afternoon and has Never itched!!!!!!  It really helped my body recuperate.  I love my oils!

Anyway, that Sunday after lunch, we all headed home, quite reluctantly.  It is so good to get away.  I need to do that more often.  I just really really love the peaceful sounds of quiet rivers and trees rustling in the wind.  The scamper of squirrels and acorns hitting the ground.  The sunshine through tree tops and children laughing.  The fresh air filling my lungs.  Singing hymns with my family around a fire.  Perfect fall evening.  Take me back.

Monday, October 13, 2014

On My Heart- School, hormones, darkness

What a title right?  This entire fall seems clouded in overall darkness.  I started my back to school time with more difficulties than in any year previous.  Difficulty after difficulty seems to be coming my way with my job.  Mostly, I just cry a lot.  But I also know The Lord is always doing something through the circumstances.  I truly believe there is a purpose in my discontent, and that within a few years I will see this time through the lens of understanding.  Praise the Lord for that!

But there is darkness beyond just my back to school time.  There seems to be extreme darkness all over the world.  Christians are being violently persecuted the world over.  Darkness has consumed people with such hate.  It's hard to understand where God is in the face of such tragedy.  And of course that's just one facet of darkness consuming the people of the world.  Extreme disease is ravaging the world over.  It approaches even my own backyard at this point.  Growing up, it always seemed like world tragedies were these obscure things 'happening over there'.  Now, we can see how small the world really is as there aren't many world tragedies that aren't creeping here to our well insulated United States.  The Lord has always seemed to have a hedge of protection around our country.  That's clearly not the case anymore.  It's interesting to think about.  The world continues to 'progress' itself farther and farther from The Lord.  And as we 'progress' it gets more dangerous just to be alive it feels.  There aren't much obvious reasons to correlate the two.  It's just the Lord is very clear that when we quit seeking His face, he will remove his hand, his grace.  And when he removes his hand dangers will follow.  Anyway, I don't know the answers being stirred by His Spirit.  I just know His Spirit is stirring circumstances and hearts.  Now is the time to seek His face until He comes- I think it's closer than we think.  It's easy to push that off as crazy talk, but the Bible is very clear that many of us will be caught off guard when Christ returns.  If you haven't done so, choose today who you will serve.  The time really is now.

And yet the Lord continues to be gracious, ever so gracious in our lives.  He showers us with grace upon grace and gift upon gift.  If you aren't a Christian, I beg you to seek Him.  Not because of the usual salvation reasons, just because there is such beauty in viewing the world through His Lens.  I think so many things would pass my vision unappreciated were in not for the Holy Spirit opening my eyes to His Hand.  Little things that make me stop and praise Him- for example- did you know that this year I apparently got my first angry parent email of my career.  I have been blessed to have decent relationships with all my parents over the years, but apparently this year, I had a parent upset with me based off an email I sent to my current class parents group.  This parent replied to ALL with a pretty scathing email.  I think at least 75% of my parents brought this email up in my parent conferences.  And yet God in His GRACE caused that email to somehow never make it to my inbox.  It's not in my deleted mail, it's not in my junk mail.  He literally blocked an email that probably would have emotionally wrecked me.  The Lord watches out for His Children, yall.  How could you ever want to live without His Protection?  He blesses me beyond measure- beyond what I could ever fully understand. 

And He continues to bless my life via oils.  I currently use Fertility Awareness to monitor my body.  Yes it's old school, but I have had really bad side effects with other plans, which is not worth it.  The amazing thing about that method is that you become so in tune with your own hormones and body.  I have been able to understand that I only get one type of headache- hormonal headaches- through this method.  I learned that I ovulate really late- which means I'm low on progesterone- because of this method.  I also learned that this could be due to use of Prozac based pills.  How invaluable is this information?!  I started monitoring this back in March/April, and I am so pleased by what I understand about myself now.  Since then, the Lord has led me to Young Living oils, which he has used to support my emotional system while I weaned off anxiety medication (praise the Lord, I am 100% weaned off now!).  He led me to a friend who shared with me the importance of magnesium, which has helped curb insomnia, hormonal issues, and headaches.  And I have started using endoflex and progesterone plus, both of which are by Young Living.  I have made it through a cycle without any hormonal headaches for the first time probably ever.  (Headaches have been a part of my often life for as long as I can remember...).  And I just noticed in my charting this month that my progesterone appears to be at normal levels for the first time since I started charting!  How glorious is The Lord who heals!  This is such a gracious relief, not just because my daily/monthly life is less of an emotional roller coaster, but also because I have less fears about the future and trying to have children.  He is so gracious!  And y'all, I know there are thousands of oil companies in the world, but this is why I think Young Living is the best- because the plethora of effective products they have just is unable to be compared.  Young Living has blend after blend after supplement after supplement.  It is the oil company of oil companies to me.  I took a long road finding them, but I am so thankful the Lord led me to just the right spot.  He is the Gentle Shepherd who leads me to the right waters.  There is nothing like the personal love I know The Lord has for me.  The way He seeks me out to bless me and take care of me and show me that He is the God who sees me!  Oh that you would look up and see Him too.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  Praise the Lord who commands His angels to protect us, surround us and hedge us in.  Praise the Lord who longs to give good gifts to His children.  I'm so glad Christ came to me.  I'd love to talk to you about oils for sure.  But I'd really love to talk to you about the Lord.  I'm feeling particularly blessed by Him tonight :)

Blessings upon you!

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Lord is my Strength and my Song

"The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation."
~ Exodus 15:2
I read this verse about a week ago during my quiet time.  I have always read through the Bible during my quiet times, and about the time I headed back to school I also landed myself once again in Exodus.  And because The Lord is sovereign over even my 'reading through the Bible', I could not have found a more ummm 'appropriate' time to land with the Israelites in the desert.
This school year is kicking my tail.  Maybe it was the fact that I spent the first 7 school days in the only room in the building with no AC, where it actually felt like the desert.  Actually, though, it's all these little things seem to have collided in my classroom to make something of a perfect storm.  Isn't it weird how rarely it's something majorly catastrophic, but more the daily little annoyances that add up and ultimately break us down? 
Needless to say, I'm honestly broken.  Everyday as I read about the Israelites struggles through the wilderness, I truly empathize and get it.  This verse above really convicted me when I read it.  It doesn't matter how many little annoyances stack up- even if they stack as high as the Red Sea.  I have a song to sing.  I've been redeemed, and I need to sing so! 
Of course, knowing I need to and actually choosing to do it in the moment are totally different things.  Right now, I'm not.  What I'm really doing is crying and trusting that the Lord will draw near the broken hearted. 
And of course He does.  He gives me just enough strength to keep going.  Even if it is truly just one day at a time.  My goals this year look a lot different this year.  (and let's be honest, thus far, I am failing miserably with my goals...)
1. Use a heck of a lot of JOY oil.  Heavens to Betsy- if this oil did not exist, I might lose my ever loving mind.  I am diffusing it all day every day.  I have a much easier time letting the frustrating moments roll off my back if I use it a lot.  What I need to do is train myself to stop when I am overwhelmed.... run straight to my Joy bottle... huff and apply...  Reallllyyyy need to get better about that.
2.  Use a lot of Release oil on the tense spots.  It amazes me how you can just feel tension in your body.  My lower back and shoulders are in knots by 3:00.  Release truly lives up to its name- the tension leaves me and I can feel it.  It's pretty amazing honestly because you can feel the difference so quickly.  I will never stop ceasing to be amazed by oils- thankful for them so much!
3. Never miss a quiet time.  Yes, I wake up at 4:30 each morning.  Some mornings I don't get my makeup on.  All mornings I eat breakfast on my way out the door.  But oh how beautiful are my minutes with The Lord in the still and the quiet.  He nourishes my soul in ways I can't explain.  I feel like I'm on survival mode- but survival mode isn't possible without Him!  I'm so thankful He is personal!  That early alarm clock is worth soo soo much more than an extra 30 minutes of sleep!
4.  I really, really, really need to get back on the 1000 gifts train.  I do add gifts each morning during my quiet time.  But I need to do more- I need to collect the gifts throughout my day.  Sigh.  Someone hold me accountable and text me during the day to ask what I'm thankful for!
5.  Let it go!  Let it go!  While I've gotten really good at letting my tears go and fall at will, I really need to let go of what I thought this year would look like and accept the reality.  Somewhere in all this, my reality is a gift.  Probably because I have prayed for The Lord to give me a gentle and quiet spirit of peace.  Which of course, only comes through trial.  Where your patience is tested.  So I guess what I'm really trying to say is that The Lord has answered my prayers :)  (It's amazing to me that I still pray God create virtues in me- even though I know that process is PainFul!)
6.  Take time to recharge.  I used to be married to my job.  But I know wearing me out doesn't do anyone any good.  This year I'm dedicating myself to not staying late.  (yes, there are days it's unavoidable... but by and large.... I choose life!)  And the truth is my mission is to love God, love Jimmy, love Jude, love my class- in that order.  A life with skewed priorities is going to fail eventually.
7.  Enjoy shared reading!  I don't love every part of my day.  But I love shared reading with big books with this class!  I sort of wish it was at the end of the day so I could look forward to it.  But- regardless, it is the best part of my day!  Viva la shared reading!
What are your tips for walking through the desert?  I need them!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Young Living Giving- and Voices of the Martyrs

 picture links to Voices of the Martyrs

I have been a part of Young Living since May, and have been sharing it since June.  I mentioned a few posts back about using my Young Living money- since it's technically lagniappe- to give back.  Then I looked at my budget, and realized maybe it's not all lagniappe.  Maybe it's the Lord being gracious to provide extra when my mortgage went up my a lot this year... and I am still paying off stupid medical bills from before I discovered oils...  But I'm still giving some.

Someone was asking me about this recently in reference to tithing and such.  I guess I didn't make that clear before.  I already tithe $270 a month to church as well as $38 a month to Compassion International.  That's $318 a month that I had already established to give which is about exactly 10% of my earnings.  When I said I was going to use Young Living to give back, I don't mean that it's my tithe.  My tithe is already accounted for.  This is extra (lagniappe).  This is me just enjoying being able to give back to The Lord who is truly the one behind growing anything that is happening with Young Living.  And this is more 'fun' than my tithes because I get to pick a different charity each month depending on what is on my heart that month.  

The checks come about a month after I've earned them.  Meaning I've received a check for earnings in June and now in July.  In June I used the whole $50 check to donate money to Catholic Charities of Dallas specifically the unaccompanied minors fund.  Those kiddos were on my heart then, and I got to do something about it!  This month what has been on my heart is Christian persecution within Islamic borders.  I hate what I am seeing.  I pray for God's mighty intervention and mercy on their behalf.  In America, we just forget how lucky we are that we can worship however we want.  This is NOT the case for many countries.  

I have long been a subscriber to the monthly publication of Voices of the Martyrs.  This particular organization goes behind enemy lines bringing needs, aid, Bibles, food, legal help, you name it to Christians who are currently imprisoned or in hiding for their faith.   I've read their publications for years, but just have never had the extra money to really get involved.  Thanks to Young Living, I can.  I was actually able to specifically donate money to help suffering Christians within Muslim counties through their donation page.  This is a huge blessing!  Of course we have all been praying.  But it's hard to know what else to do beyond that.  Young Living (and those of you who have joined my team) are helping me give back to them.  Again, it was $50 donated this month.  (My check was actually bigger, but some of it goes to the extras like Higley references which I buy for people who sign up under me, etc.)  Regardless, the Lord is able to use that to help those in need.  And that's amazing!  Young Living was a life change for me, I get to help people who sign up change their life too, and then donate money to further that life change.  The Lord is good!

For those of you interested, I would love to mentor you on your own journey.  There is opportunity to bless your family and then turn around and bless others.  Soli deo gloria!

Enroller/sponsor 1831568
email me at rinehartash@gmail.com

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Community- and why it makes me love Young Living more

Today I'm thankful for community.  Often when I'm at church, we discuss the power of Biblical community and how walking together helps us grow in our relationship with the Lord.  This is certainly true, and I very thankful for the community group we joined earlier this summer.  There is something special about having a place of belonging and learning.

There are, of course. so many pockets of community in every life that are wonderful.  I'm thankful for the community of colleagues I work with at Savannah.  Just like my community group, it's a place where I belong, where I share what I'm doing as a teacher, and I learn from and am held accountable by other teachers.  This is my second year on this campus, and starting this year I can see how much I've learned from others, from my mistakes, and just the good that is my place there.

And I have the community of my friends and family.  The people who know me closely.  The ones I don't have to explain who I am or what I am because they already know.  This past weekend I met with my former team members/friends for our monthly-ish Chick Fil A play date at 7:30am Saturday.  It's such a sweet time of coffee and conversation while the kids play.

Yesterday afternoon I realized how thankful I was for a new community God graciously brought into my life- Young Living.  I realize that mlm companies can be weird for a lot of people.  And I totally would agree BUT those various levels in that mlm system are my mentors, new friends, and community.  Beginning a health journey like essential oils is so much more than just buying some oils and using them.  To do it well, knowledgeably, and consistently, requires community.  You could try to just buy it and get started.  But I think you'd miss out on so much.  I am so blessed by my access to the Sp.Oil.Ed living community, and the Essentially Speaking community, and the Anointed Living community.  All of these ladies are my various upline levels.  (And all of them live here in my neighborhood which is a bonus!)  And while there are these public forums, by my joining their communities, I received invites into private forums where we can share with each other our successes, ask each other questions, and just generally support each other.  Community- it's really the only way to do life.  And when you are doing something as important as taking charge of your health, community is a must.  I am so thankful for my EO community- and all the communities in my life.

**If you would like to be invited to join the Essentially Speaking and Anointed Living communities, email me at rinehartash@gmail.com.  Sharing with you my oily journey and guiding you is a wonderful privilege and one I am happy to share with all these ladies.

yl distributor/enroller/sponsor 1831568

Sunday, July 27, 2014

On putting my money where my mouth is

I once blogged about giving of the fat of our lives and how that might have looked for me a couple years ago.  My 2012 theme was contentment seeking to reject more wordly things so I could give more.  Many clergy have sought this life through monasteries and such for years, so this is hardly profound.  But it's hard- In some ways, I have rejected some of these things, but other things seem to constantly fill their place.  I daily fight the urge to serve 2 masters.

I've justified that different ways.  For a long time I justified it because I was so busy being Christ's hands and feet to so many needy children at my previous school.  And looking back- as hard as that was and as much as I poured into loving them- I don't think I was completely wrong in that.  But I've since moved schools, so the emotional and physical sacrifice is different.

I also justified that because I was a single mom with a pretty dead beat ex husband.  Doing it all on my own was really hard in every way, including financially.  I worked really hard to give back the ways that I did, and I do think that the Lord understood.  But that excuse is also now null and void because the Lord has provided Jude and I an amazing husband/father figure who provides help for us in so many ways.

Currently, I do tithe to my church most of my 10% that I make.  The rest of that 10% I put towards sponsoring a child through Compassion International.  I do think that's an awesome thing to do.  I'd like to think that's enough.  And then I read books like Radical or Kisses for Katie, and I wonder if it really is.  Is minimum really good enough?  I mean Christ wandered homeless basically to share truth with the world.  Paul was in chains most of his ministry it seemed like.  Am I really being a good steward?  I just don't really know.  I know I've struggled with budgeting- but I don't need *more* money.  I need to use what I have better.  And I do want to do more.  I want to break the chains that tie me to materialism.  I don't want to need what this world offers.

Recently, the Lord has provided this little side job of sharing oils.  Now, lets not pretend that I make much more than some spending cash on it, because I don't.  But I make something- it's nice to have.  It's also not a need.  So I am committing this extra cash to The Lord.  For now, it's not so hard to give this little bits to him.  Maybe one day it will get harder.  But honestly, the Lord created this whole knowledge, opportunity, everything, so it's honestly His business.  Not mine at all.  (this is always the case...)  So anyway, I just want to say publicly so that I can be held accountable- Money I make off of Young Living oils will be given to a specific cause each month.  I'm going to share the cause each month hoping that I can keep myself on top of it.  And who knows- it could be fun to share what The Lord does with this!

So for this month I gave my $50 to Catholic Charities of Dallas to help with the unaccompanied minors entering our state.  If you aren't aware of the increasingly insane numbers of Latin American children coming across our borders with no families, you need to be.  It's incredibly sad to think about the amount of tragedy these children have experience and continue to experience.  I am hopeful to find more hands on ways to help these children.  Really, I'd just like to find a way to give them my extra bedroom!  But for now, I will be satisfied with donating.  (and if you know of a way I can help out more please let me know!)

I am so thankful The Lord provided oils for my healing and pray He can use this small sum to heal others!

If you would like more info about Young Living Essential Oils, email me at rinehartash@gmail.com or find me on facebook at Ashley Sitton to be invited to an online class myself and a friend are doing on July 31st.

Young Living enroller and sponsor #1831568

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Why Young Living won my oily heart

Not oil related- but lovely nonetheless

So I am sold on Young Living these days.  For me, there is just so many reasons I feel 100% comfortable with using these in my home.  I came to that conclusion because that's where I felt the research led me.  I really, really encourage all people to do their own research, but I am going to share some of my main reasons for choosing Young Living Essential Oils.

1- Over 20 years of history in the oil business.  I like this because after a generation, one can tell if there are going to be any adverse effects.  Young Living has been around long enough to know if there is a problem with their oils.  I find that incredibly reassuring to know that they have been truly tested over time.

2.  Years of research.  Research which actually other companies quote.  The frankincense's effect on cancer cells research was done (and is continuing to be done) using Young Living frankincense.  This doesn't mean that other company's frankincense is bad.  But there is a certain comfort in knowing that you know that you know this frankincense has been actually studied as helping with cancer.  And that's just one example.  Most of the research is shared as fact by other companies- it's just what I have found is that the research is based on Young Living oils- and other companies are just repeating their info.
*this is actually the biggest reason I went with Young Living

3.  Effectiveness.  Big oils like the immune boosting blends, peppermint, the pain blends were just more effective.  No they don't always smell as sweet or taste as sweet as other brands- but they work better, and I think that's important.  I've also noticed over time that the effects of the Young Living oils seem to last longer than others.  I felt like for pain especially, I had to reapply and reapply and reapply previously.  But with Young Living, the amounts of time between reapplication are longer.

4.  Emotional research + options.  The amount of blends Young Living has for emotional related issues is intense.  Blending oils is a tricky business- and not something an amateur can always effectively do.  With other oils, I had to blend more on my own.  With Young Living, most of them have already been expertly blended for me.  No guessing on the effective and correct amounts of each oil or which oil to put in first (because all these little details make a HUGE difference).  And Young Living is doing an incredible amount of research with emotions and oils- there is an entire kit out new this year about this very thing!  The research and testimonies on it are amazing.  And again, instead of guessing on it yourself, Young Living did the research for you.

5.  Health research + options.  I don't know as much about this, but there are multiple blends Young Living has that target major body systems: heart, muscles, liver, immune system.  I actually tried mixing up my own blend for heart flutters from anxiety.  Which is ok, but it was a total guessing game.  Young Living, again, took the guessing out.  A lot of the oils are ones I put in my blend, but unlike my blend, it is blended with wisdom and knowledge about oils.

6.  Seed to Seal.  This just means that Young Living isn't paying someone else for their oils.  They plant the seeds, grow the seeds, harvest, distill, bottle the entire thing themselves.  Now I am not going to be as die hard about this one simply because I am more of an 'empower the local' person.  And in many ways, this might be the one thing I differ with YL about.  But I will say I like that Young Living is truly an essential oil company in every sense of the word- not just a distributor of oils if that makes sense.

7.  Payment plan.  If you are interested in the business side, I actually think Young Living is more profitable.  For one thing, you make $30 more with Young Living for each person who signs up.  Previously, I would have had to really 'build my pyramid' to do much with it.  Which isn't what I really wanted to do.  I love sharing oils with people, but I have no interest in strategizing some hierarchy plan.  Young Living much more would work for someone like me who likes sharing, but isn't looking to do much with it full time.  I could actually do more than possibly (on a good day) break even!

8.  Research on frequencies.  Young Living studies body frequencies a ton.  I don't understand this completely yet.  However, they studied the frequency of a person who was feeling joy, determined the number, and then set out to create a blend that had the same frequency as a person feeling joy.  Thus you have the Joy blend.  That is amazing to me.  They didn't just blend oils that produce euphoric feelings, there was a mathematical reasoning behind it.  Powerful!

9.  Young Living did it first.  There are plenty of other oil companies now.  Some are perfectly fine and safe.  Some you should use with caution.  But all of them came After Young Living.  And the more I look at other companies, the more I see them compare themselves to Young Living.  Young Living is the standard, the original, and all these other companies are setting themselves up to compete with Young Living.  There might be great things about other companies, but Young Living still started it.  Personally, I prefer the original.

10.  Research.  I just want to repeat that one.  My research confirmed that this was the right company, and I continue to come back amazed with the research that backs this company up.  Even precaution wise.  Young Living has really introduced me to the importance of using precaution with oils and little ones and which ones can cause an adverse reaction.  I can't imagine not knowing this information!   And I certainly can't imagine sharing these with others without that information!

If you would like to know more about Young Living's kit, scroll back because there are posts and posts on my opinions on the kit.  And if you are interested in learning more, email me at rinehartash@gmail.com or click the link to my facebook page Sweetly Worn Blog

Enroller and Sponsor #1831568

Friday, June 13, 2014

Book Club

One summer a wonderful friend of mine started a book club for all the teachers from Lee Elementary to join.  I'm not even sure how many years ago this was anymore.  Maybe 5.  We've read a lot of books together during the summers.  Stalked a Denton murderers house together.  Eaten a lot of brunch foods together.  Watched each other have babies.  Watched those babies grow up.  Seen babies happen who no one expected to happen.  The original founder moved to Seattle last year, but book club keeps going.  One of our members is moving to West Texas this summer.  A new teacher has since joined our ranks.  I am sure these movements won't be the last both in and out of the group.

Sometimes you are just looking down at your book and thinking about book club and you realized you are blessed to have something that has been a part of your life for close to 5 years.  So thankful for the amazing people I got to know while I was teaching at Lee.  #1000gifts

At book club this week #timemarcheson - I think I was probably pregnant when book club started.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Love Without Borders- Redemption

This Tuesday I wrapped up 8 weeks of pretty grueling Bible study going through the book of Exodus with the focus of Redemption of the Israelites and how it relates to our current struggles.  I completely impulsively signed up for this one Sunday at the church we had really just started visiting.  Completely weird, like all things in my life, but ultimately shows that God is directing me even when I have no idea what is happening.

I signed up because I knew I was getting married in July (2 mos!) and I thought it would be a good idea to fully clean up the 'small, remaining issues' I had from abortion/abusive marriage/divorce.  HA.  I thought I should just deal with my remaining anxiety and franticness that came because I lived in fear for several years.

That's not why I ended up going.  I'm still figuring out why I ended up going, and that is a process I am sure will continue many more days/weeks/months.  But what I do know is this:  I went because I believed a false gospel.  I believed (probably still do believe most days) that while grace saved me, I was expected to be perfect.  I have completely twisted the verse where Christ says 'be perfect as I am perfect' to mean try try try and slave away.  I've hated myself for every mistake, and have completely missed the truth that I can't be the perfect one.  Instead of falling to my knees in worship thanking Christ for His righteousness, I have daily dethroned him trying to beat myself into impossible perfection.  With every failure big or small, I saw disappointment and expected consequences.  I think I've sort of assumed my marriage/divorce happened because God punished me for having an abortion.

But that's not it at all.  He was there the whole time calling, begging me to come back come back come back.  Softly at first.  And then ever so loudly at the end because that was the only way to get my attention.  The whole time though, he adored me.  He saw me covered and perfect.  I may see tainted and failure, but He doesn't.

He sees me as His child.

That's the thought that started all the change of perspective for me.  I have struggled with how easily I lose my patience with Jude.  He is my atonement child- the child God used to save me from total hate and total inability to comprehend God's love following an abortion.  He is the child God used to save me from an abusive marriage.  He is the child God used to save me from dangerous ends when I thought panic attacks were going to drive me over the edge and life was terrifying.  I have hated myself for every time I've wanted to be alone and Jude was there.  I have hated myself for every time I've hurt his feelings when I overreact to something.  The mistakes I make with Jude have made me despise myself as much as having an abortion ever did.  And I know what a precious atoning gift he is- and I hate that I am as ungrateful as the Israelites in those moments.

But He sees me as His child.  He sees me exhausted day in and day out.  He sees me frantically trying to hold 84,000 spinning plates in the air.  I have put 100% of the responsibility of Jude's everything on myself his entire life.  And God sees that.  He sees me as a child whos exhausted and crying because they are over tired.  And just like I don't get angry at Jude for acting like a tired 4 year old, He doesn't get angry at me for acting like a tired momma.  He just wants me to let him take that burden.  Just like I want Jude to calm himself and let me tuck him in bed.

I have had grace for countless children being angry in my classroom because I knew they had rough home lives and couldn't take much more.  I have had grace for jumpy, moving little bodies because I knew they just didn't have it in them to sit any longer.  But it just never occurred to me that God has that kind of grace for me.  He is so intimately aware of my weaknesses and breaking points.  And He doesn't get mad at me for having them- He just wants me to let Him take over from there.

So I'm learning to turn it over.  I wish that made me the mom I want to be.  But it doesn't.  Last night I got home late.  And Jude was exhausted and crying.  And my brain was so fried I sat through a drive through and completely forgot to roll down the window to order.  So I just sat in the line for no reason basically.  So when I made it back around and he punched the straw through the styrofoam cup, I can't say I handled it right at all.  But Grace was there.  And He knew how tired I was and how hard that can be for me.  And while I wish I had handled it different, for the first time I am able to rest in the fact that His mercies are new every second.  And I can believe He didn't love me any less because of that.  And I believe I'm always forgiven.  And for me, that's pretty huge.

He loves me without borders of perfection.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013- year of freedom

2013 ended with a bang for me.  Jimmy and I took a little getaway trip to Corpus Christi.  We walked the Texas prairies, coastal beaches, and got engaged!  I don't think it could have ended better.  Minus the fact I have had strep since Sunday and today is the first day I feel alive.  Overall, it ended well.

As this morning was the first I could form functional thoughts, I was pondering where I was a year ago.  Last year, I chose to focus on "flying free" for 2013.  Last year, I was having a hard time opening myself up to Jimmy.  I was holding so much back.  Last year at this time, I was battling monstrous panic attacks, extreme anxiety.  I started counseling right after the first of the year in hopes that I could be free of the fear that crippled me for so long.

God provided.  I haven't had panic attacks since January of last year.  I went to counseling through the spring and was able to lay to rest so many hurts I had held close for years.  I learned how to set boundaries for myself.  I learned how to use self care effectively, but not selfishly.  I learned how to open up.  I learned how to articulate the things I worried about before they ate me alive.  In a lot of ways, there is great freedom from anxiety.  That being said, I am not free from the need of medication.  Sometimes thats 'a hard pill to swallow' because that isn't what I want.  But at the same time, it certainly keeps me humble, and it certainly keeps me at the feet of God.  I can never wander too far from knowing how desperately I need him.  Although, it's a difficult reality, there is some blessing in those thorns.

In 2013, I made thankfulness a habit.  It was so hard and still is.  Yet, I recognize in the moments that I need to find things to be thankful for.  The good moments never fail to wash over me- this sea of peace and beauty.  The difficult moments- though they are hard and I struggle- I am fully conscious of my need to be thankful and I force the thanks out.  That's such a thought process change for me.  A sign of being free from the circumstances and free to look up.

This last part of the year I've found myself in a new job, learning so much new new new new.  There are certainly growing pains, but those are good.  Overall, I feel so blessed to be where I am.  I love being able to teach such kind, engaged kids.  I cannot stop thanking God for my 22 kids!

I ended the year deeply involved in the relationships in my little family to be.  As I learned to open up, Jimmy and I built deeper foundations.  He is the very definition of shepherd leader, and I am continually amazed by his goodness.  Words do not express the way I learn from his example.  Or the way he helps me breathe and let go.  I just feel like I'm ending 2013 with so many things having gently blown away like dandelions in the wind.  I don't know when I let them go, but I did, and I think it is largely due in part to Jimmy's steadiness day in and day out.

And of course Jude- the light of my life.  He remains hilarious and joyous and affectionate.  He calls me to account with his tears.  He makes me laugh when I'm upset.  He will always be the 'praised' one for me.  He has been my sole source of joy for so many years, and I am thankful for him beyond words.  God knew how much I would need that.  He has been the light leading me forward and helping me get up day after day.