Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"What I'm Reading" Wednesday

I'm going to try to make Wednesdays my day to share with you about "what I'm reading". I LOVE to read, and for Mother's Day, Jeff gave me a Kindle. Yes, I love "real" books, and I hope they NEVER go away (I AM a librarian after all!), but it has been SO nice to just push a few buttons and I have a new book to read! I don't have to go anywhere. With the Kindle, you can download a preview of a book just to see if you really want to buy it or not.

During the school year, I mostly read children's books. I am on a book committee for my district, and we read new books, discuss them, and decide whether we want to add them to our "list" of books that we recommend as "wow" books. But, now it is summer, so I am catching up on some "grown-up" books that I want to read.

I am really into memoirs/biographies right now for some reason. I recently read Shania Twain's autobiography, and it was OK. But, the book I most recently finished was WONDERFUL. It was
Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman:

Mary Beth is married to Christian music singer Steven Curtis Chapman. You might remember that a few years ago their adopted five year old daughter passed away. She was hit by a car in her driveway, and the most devastating thing was that her older brother was the one driving the car. As I read this book I was amazed and inspired by Mary Beth (and her entire family's) incredible faith that got them through this horrible accident. I highly recommend reading this book!

Monday, June 27, 2011

"Just wait"...

I am blown away at how the Lord has "shown up" for me these past few months! I am in awe at His power and His promise that we will find Him when we seek Him with all our heart! I mentioned in my last blog that throughout this whole budget crisis in KISD and the possibility that I might lose my job, the Lord has been saying to me: "Just wait!"

 Whenever I asked Him if I should apply somewhere else, he said. "Just wait!" When I cried to Him, "What should I do? What will happen to me? What will happen to my job?" He would say "Just wait." So, I have been waiting. I haven't been perfectly obediant-as I also said, I did apply in NISD. But, the whole time it has been so clear that His will was for me to wait and trust Him.

Well, tonight at the School Board meeting, the Board recommended that we use the federal stimulus money to keep teachers and librarians (that were at risk of being laid-off ) for one more year. Who would've seen that coming? Not me! Thank you, Jesus! Thank you for telling me to wait! Thank you for being faithful and for showing me that I can trust what you say to me and your guidance that you give me! I am so excited!

You might be thinking, "Well, it's only one more year, and then the lay-offs will still take place." Yes, but a lot can happen in a year. And at the very least, every year people leave the district due to moves, babies, and other job opportunities. Being given this gift of one more year increases the chances that if I am one of the librarians that is not kept, there will still be a classroom position available for me. I love Keller ISD. It is "home" to me, and I don't want to leave. I am thrilled to be given the chance to hang in there a little longer!

Thank you Dr. V, thank you KISD Board, and most of all, thank you, Jesus! :-)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Great Day/Some Stress...

Well, let me start by saying that today was a great day! It started off at church where I got to hear a just-graduated Marine tell about how he led another recruit to Christ at boot camp. Next, Will had another All Star baseball game and they WON!!! Yay! That might not seem like a huge deal, but for Will's team it was. They have played 7 games together this summer, and this was the FIRST one that they won! I have felt SO bad for the boys each time they've lost a game. They've been beaten pretty badly (15-1, etc.) But, today was "their" day, and they won their game! And the best part about it was that each boy did something wonderful that contributed to the win. I have wanted (and prayed) so much for the boys to each have something to feel good about themselves for from a game, and today it happened! Way to go, Keller Blue!

On the way home from the game, we decided to go see Cars 2- cute movie! After the movie, we got ahold of my parents who had just landed at DFW from Cabo San Lucas, so we went to pick them up from the airport and then went to eat dinner at El Fenix. So....great day!

I have a huge prayer request if I happen to cross your mind sometime while you're praying. Like MANY people, I am waiting to find out whether I still have a job next year. I am an elementary school librarian in Keller ISD at Independence Elementary School. Since the TRE (tax increase election) did NOT pass, I stand the chance of being laid-off from my job. I LOVE my job-it is the absolute PERFECT fit for me. I had to get a librarian certificate added on to my elementary education certificate in order to be a librarian (it's actually a Master's degree). There were 8 classes I had to take online with UNT in order to do this. It was a lot of work (and a lot of money), but I did it, and have been working the dream job for the last three years. I DON'T want to lose my job.

Needless to say, I've been a little...stressed! And I am trying SO hard to trust God throughout this whole thing. I KNOW in my mind and heart that God is in control and that He has a plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11). I KNOW that I can trust Him to work out the details. But, I can't stop thinking about it. It is on my mind ALL THE TIME! I wake up thinking about it, and go to sleep thinking about it. I got to the point last night that I just had to pray for the Lord to "clear my mind" so that I could sleep (and He did!)

So, does that mean I'm not trusting Him enough-the fact that I am constantly thinking about it? Is there a difference between "thinking" and "worrying" about something? Throughout this whole thing (which, by the way, started way back in January or February I think), when I have prayed about what I should do to prepare myself for the possible negative ramifications of the KISD budget on my job, I have ALWAYS gotten the same answer from the Lord. He has told me, "Wait. Just wait." Ok, So, I have just waited (not the ideal thing a determined control freak like me wants to hear!).  NISD is the only other district I've applied to, and that was just a couple of weeks ago in a moment of panic! But, I have found peace in "just waiting" up until about two weeks ago.

There are actually two things at play here in this situation. I'm nervous about my source of income being cut-off, and I'm crushed to think that this career I worked so hard for might be coming to a close. If you've ever had a job you loved, you can relate. I know I can go out and get a job that could help with our living expenses. Jeff has a really great schedule as a firefighter and could take on second job if needed to help replace some of my income. But, it's the thought of not being able to do what I LOVE that breaks my heart.

I am going to the Board Meeting tomorrow evening. I just want to hear what they have to say, and find out if they are getting closer to making some staffing decisions. I think there are going to be a lot of other people there, doing the same thing. There are so many of us hanging in the balance right now.

To end on a good note, after we got home from dinner with my parents, I had an email from a principal in Northwest ISD. I have an interview on Wednesday at 1:00 for a librarian position! Please say a prayer for me that it will go well, and that if it is God's will, that I might get a job offer out of it. Thank you so much! :-)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Much Ado About Nothing

A year ago today, God "spoke" to me for the first time ever. Well, maybe I should say that it was the first time that I was truly and completely aware that He was speaking to me. I have been a Christian for most of my life, but it took me until I was 39 years old to "be still and listen" long enough to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what I "heard" was the Father's still small voice.

Before I tell how it happened, please let me say that I did not audibly "hear" a voice. It's hard to explain or to understand unless you have experienced it yourself. And, I bet that it is different for everyone. But, for me, it is a peaceful "knowing"; a quiet, but certain affirmation. A lot of the time, the truth that is being imparted to me takes me by surprise, "What? Really? Are you sure?" I ask. And it's not something that happens all the time-although, wouldn't that be wonderful? To always be so sure of the exact direction in which God is leading you?

Last year during this week in June, I took a week away from my everyday life and surroundings to devote myself completely to experiencing an encounter with God. Think of it as sort of a "retreat" among a few other women who were also seeking some time alone with the Father. On Friday afternoon of that week, I was alone, up in a treehouse (of all places!), praying and "listening" for God's voice to speak to me. It was a warm afternoon, and a little uncomfortable sitting on the wooden "floor" of the treehouse. As I got up to leave, I realized that while I had been praying and listening, I had also been absentmindedly doodling with a stick into the soft and weathered wood of the treehouse floor. I had carved a letter "N" into the floor. Weird! Why an "N"? I could understand an "S" or maybe a "J" (Jeff), but "N" was just random. Oh well. I didn't give it much more thought than that.

Later that day, I returned to the treehouse to once again pray. When I was finished praying, I asked God, "What does the 'N' mean? Does it stand for something?" I began racking my brain for all kinds of "N" words that might be significant (and logical). What could God be trying to tell me? Or, maybe I was just being weird and reading something into the doodled letter that didn't exist. That must be it! "Let me guess, Lord, it means nothing!" Suddenly, I clearly "heard" the Lord tell me "Yes!"
"What? What do you mean it means nothing?" I thought, confused.
And He said to me, "It means "Nothing". There is NOTHING that you need besides me."

At that moment a couple of memories from the week before I left town for this time alone flashed through my mind- so clearly I could almost physically see them. The first was of a billboard near my house that I had passed several times the previous week. It was sponsored by a local church and read: "Jesus + NOTHING = Everything". My oldest son had asked me what that meant, and I had explained that it meant that Jesus was all that we need and that we don't need anything else. He is our everything.

The second memory was a riddle that my oldest son had told us while we were driving in the car. It went something like this:

Will: "What do blind people see and Christians need more than God?"
Jeff: "I don't know, what?"
Will: "Nothing."

In the treehouse, I sat there in awe. I couldn't believe that God had spoken to ME! I have so often heard other Christians speak of all the wonderful things God has said to them, but I never understood it until this day. And the message He was giving me was so simple, yet so hard to grasp a lot of the time. I sat there and let His words wash over me and let the truth of those words comfort me. He's all I need! There's NOTHING more that I need. He will be faithful to supply all my needs, and He wants me to depend upon Him. NOTHING else can make me whole like the presence of God in my life.

Overall, the message I received from the Lord on that day was that He wants me to trust Him. He is trustworthy and I need to just let go and trust Him. I hadn't realized until that day how little trust I had placed in Him throughout my life. I had often been really good at trusting Him with the "small" things, but I'd had a bad habit of trying to take the bigger matters into my own hands.

A wonderful verse that I came away from that week with was: "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 'I will be found by you' declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity.'" Jeremiah 29: 13-14  I had found the promise in this verse to be true. When I sought Him with all my heart, He showed up!

Once I returned home from my "retreat", I bought a bracelet with only one charm on it. And on the charm...the letter "N". :-)

...and a little reminder in my laundry room:

Hello, Blog World!

Ok. This summer I have decided to take up a new hobby: blogging. When I was a teenager and had a lot on my mind, I would write poems to help express what I was feeling and maybe even make sense of it all.

I find myself at this point in my life to have a lot on my mind again. Turning 40 in November brought on a lot of life reflection and examination for me. And some of it has been really...hard. WARNING: this blog is not going to be all smiley faces and roses. My goal is to be brutally honest and to not sugar coat my feelings and thoughts so that I sound perfect. I am NOT perfect. I am a 40 year old "girl" (I can't refer to myself as a "woman"-that sounds too "old") who is on a journey right now.

I'm on a journey to finally fully discover and be  completely happy with who I am. I am on a journey to learning to be thankful and content with where God has me right now (and always). But most importantly, I am on a journey to grow spiritually and to learn to trust God completely with every aspect of my life. I want to KNOW Him more. I want to have a stronger faith that He is in control-no matter what. I want to rest easily in the peace that only HE can give me. There are many things I intellectually "know" about my Lord and savior, but I want to live those beliefs out in my daily life-consistently. I am on a "Faith Journey".

This blog is ultimately for me- a way to express my thoughts and feelings and hopefully learn, grow, and change emotionally as well as spiritually. But, I invite you to come on this journey with me. Holy Spirit has a lot to teach about you?