Aug 30, 2009

A Lesson for Teacher...

Tomorrow is our first day back to school. Yes, I know some of you have been in school for nearly a month already, but since we school lightly during the summer with a few week-long breaks here and there (like going to Hawaii, going to see family in Texas, VBS, etc.) we start a little later in the summer than most public schools do. Call me sentimental, but I am glad to get a little more use out of our pool before we hit the new year.

So we usually start somewhere around the 1st of September. And that would be tomorrow.

Just as a little sidebar here, this is the first year that we have a middle-schooler in our family. I've told you before that the church we love to attend is rather large, so we have a separate building, affectionately called "The Warehouse," for Middle School and High School students to attend Sunday School.

We've never been to The Warehouse. Until This past Sunday.

We got to go because we now have a student out there. Apparently we are to not refer to him as a child anymore, but as a student. Pastor Rick (the middle school pastor) had a kind of open house for parents of all Middle Schoolers. He's a smart man, because he has volunteers cooking pancakes and serving cinnamon rolls, fruit and juice to lure the students into the main assembly.

Smart man, indeed. I'd say he knows a thing or two about this age group.

Anyway, I'm still trying to get over the shock of having a "middle school student." I started teaching Mini me kindergarten when we first moved into this house. It really wasn't that long ago.

Okay, reeling myself back in...

Mini me starts 6th grade tomorrow, Brown Eyes (who is still a child) will be in 3rd, and then there's Lil'bit, who will begin an official preschool curriculum tomorrow. This will be my first time teaching all three at once. Wow.

As is true with all teachers, God has seen fit to teach me a thing or two before letting me loose on His kids to teach them.

And I'm not talking about academics.

My last post about week 6 from the Believing God study mentioned quoting Scripture to combat negative words and attitudes. Beth Moore had discussed the power of our tongue...for both good and bad...and when we find ourselves with negative fleshly words, we can and should purposefully use the Word of God to change our hearts and minds.


How many of you know that when you learn something, or are even reminded of a life lesson, you will be tested on it.

The day after I wrote that post, I became an emotional train wreck. I mean to say that I was a royal grump, and I'm not even sure why that was. I just know that from the very beginning of my day, everything and its dog got on my nerves. Irritation, frustration, and hypersensitivity were my constant companions. From the eating noises of a careless youth of mine (I won't say which one) to the occasional bickering and whining that wafted from their bedroom, I mean I was annoyed by everything.

The thought (or shall I say still, quiet voice inside) kept bringing up in my mind that I needed to wield my Sword, I should stop and utilize the very tools that have been given to me to battle my own flesh.

Do you know I never did? That whole day, I would have that thought and think, "Okay, I will in a minute. I've gotta get done with...." And I never would get around to it. The biggest problem was that I didn't have any Scriptures ready in my mind or immediately available to employ. I was putting it off because I knew it would take time for me to sit down and find what I needed to apply to the situation, and my spirit was willing but my flesh was weak.

So I never did what I had just written about being the best thing to do in such a situation. And because of it, I was viewed by my children to be just a notch below Hitler himself. Okay, maybe not that bad, but a serious grouch anyway. And they got to witness some of the yucky flesh of their momma because I was unwilling to do what I knew I should do.

The very next day, I got up feeling better in attitude, but felt horrible for the attitude I had
the day before.

Normally, when I am dealing with regret, and even repentance, I am rather harsh on myself. And I have a hard time letting it go and moving on in the freedom I really do have in Christ. I usually choose to punish myself with it for a little while. I think I shouldn't get off so easy as just claiming the forgiveness and the relief of the load that comes with it. I should "hang onto it a while."

And that normally would consume any kind of a quiet time with the Lord I'd try to have. I would spend my time with Him telling Him how horrible I was and how I just don't understand how He could pour out His lavish grace on one such as me. I still wonder that, but I don't think the self-loathing is what He's after.

That "morning after," I sat down to tell the Creator of the Universe what a sad spectacle I had been (as if He didn't already know). I repented of my behavior and asked Him to help me with this new day. Then I opened up His Word together with "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers. Here's what the devotional said for that day:

"Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you." John 12:35

"Beware of not acting upon what you see in your moments on the mount with God. If you do not obey the light, it will turn into darkness."

Can I just interject here that I was in darkness, so to speak, all day that day. He goes on:

"Continually bring the truth out into actuality; work it out in every domain, or the very light you have will prove a curse. The most difficult person to deal with is the one who has the smug satisfaction of an experience to which he can refer back, but who is not working it out in practical life. If you say you are sanctified, show it.The experience must be so genuine that it is shown in the life."


Then the Holy Spirit brought to my mind the lesson I learned the day before,
during my Bible study time on my day of wrath. I had watched the video for Believing God week 8, which I will expound on more later, but I have to include this one thing here: Beth said in the video that with most believers, we have a tendency to lose spiritual battles in our mind before we ever begin to fight them spiritually.

In other words, when we say things like "It's not fair" or "it's his/her fault," or we wallow in our own bitterness over a subject, or we beat ourselves up over our mistakes and failures, we are fighting and losing the battle in our minds before we ever actually fight the good fight with the true enemy...we're fighting ourselves more than anything!

That last one, the "beating ourselves up" one, Beth calls it the "how stupid I am!" factor. When we do that, which is what I was tempted to do on the "morning after," is the same as self-loathing.

And then here's where she dropped the bomb: self-loathing is the same as self-worship, because worship is all about focus.

In that still time before the Lord in my repentance and sorrowful countenance, I confessed my sin of self-centeredness to Him, and then told Him that I refuse to worship myself, even in the negative sense of self-loathing.

Well do I believe Him or not? Didn't He die for that sin too? Didn't He throw that self-centeredness into the sea of forgetfulness along with all the others I have yet to commit?

Yes, yes He did. And I refuse to hang onto that anchor anymore beyond giving it to Him.

And I'm glad for this lesson now, at the beginning of a brand new school year, when things start out full of energy and excitement, but can quickly break down into a challenge. I have since written some very applicable Scriptures on some index cards that I am keeping handy so that when I feel overwhelmed by annoyances and irritations, I will listen the very first time I hear that still, small voice whisper, "Wield your Sword, child."

Yes, Lord.

Thank you, Father, for your unending forgiveness and me into obedience for today.

Aug 25, 2009

Believing God -- Week 6

So I finally decided to finish this Bible study.

Did you notice the year on this button? No? Take a look.

Yeah. 2008. Sad, isn't it?

Now I have been in the Word since then, of course, I just haven't been in this study.

But I will say that this past year is probably the longest I've gone without being involved in a specific Bible study per se. I've been doing different things that I had around the house, or just simple personal studies on my own. But I'm telling you, there's just something special about going through the Bible with Beth Moore. Her enthusiasm and zeal are truly contagious!

And I'm actually a bit further in the study than week 6, but I figure I need to pick up where I left off.

So, in week 6 of the Believing God study, Beth opens with this word: "The Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]" Heb. 4:12 amplified.

She goes on to say that we, created in His Image to be instruments in God's hands, are equipped with an implement powerful enough to both build a road straight to our proverbial promised land, or to tear that road completely apart.

James 3:2-12 tells us that our words can keep our whole body in check; the use of our mouth can defile, or if bridled and directed, it can bring a lack of sin. If set on fire by hell, it can set our whole body on a course of natural sin.

Do you ever notice how contagious negative words are? Even when I am saying averse words only to myself, under my breath, it's only a matter of time before I hear that same vile attitude spew from my mouth. And before I know it, one of (or two of) my boys are getting into trouble for their attitude.

On the other hand, most of the time I'm in a pretty good mood, but I'm not so quick to notice when they emulate that attitude. I'm not sure who's really lacking here. But I digress.

Of course, the best way to defeat this grievous cycle is to fight fire with fire...Beth suggests quoting Scripture, the living Word, in place of negativity.

I have to say, it works.

I also have to say I wish I fought the spiritual fight that way more often.

Later in the week Beth states, "The tongue has staggering potential to wreak havoc; yet not coincidentally it also has the potential to reap the stuff of heaven on earth. We can be sure that God and Satan are both vying over our mouths. Nothing threatens the enemy more than a believer with the Word of God living and active on her tongue, ready to apply it to any and every situation."

No wonder we are supposed to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (see Romans 12:2)...saturation is the only way to have the Word ready at any given moment. Constantly pouring over His Word will create a godly response instead of an ungodly reaction.

It is soooo much easier to type than it is to do. But if we will be diligent, He will be faithful.

By the way, if you're interested in doing this study, you can go to the Lifeway website and register to do the study yourself! You can watch the videos online and print the homework out if you don't already have a book.

You really won't regret it.

Aug 20, 2009

Welcome to FA -- Facebookoholics Anonymous

I have a problem.

It's not an ethical problem. It's not a financial problem. It's a creating-too-much-spare-time problem.

Believe it or not, blogging has not been the hobby that has caused the infraction.

Unfortunately, because Blogger is so much more time-consuming for me than other "spurt-friendly" distractions, my attention has been consistently drawn to another in particular. Many of you will recognize the lower case "f" inside the famously blue box.

Many of you will also share with me in the occasional over-indulgence of such a diversion. Shameful, I know. I feel like I should be doing something more productive, like shucking corn or shelling beans on the front porch. Milking the cow or feeding the chickens. But we don't have a garden, milk cows, or chickens. And since I can't get off Blogger for a minimum of 4 hours once I'm on, alas, I have resorted to facebook for my distraction of choice.

Hello. My name is Chel. And I am a facebook-aholic.

Shocker No. 2:
I quit facebook this week. Yes I did.

It started out innocently enough: a post here, a link there. Then came friend requests from people I hadn't seen or talked to in decades. In short spurts I was able to comment on someone's day without evoking a long conversation. Quick. To the point. Daily interaction with people that I would otherwise have no connection. There were some people I talked to more on FB than I ever did when I knew them in real time almost 20 years ago!

But then, things started to suffer for it. Things I need to do. And things I love to do.

Blogging would be toward the top of that "love to do" list.

It was a trickle-down effect, really. I started out just "popping in" in the morning and then again in the evening. But then I had so many conversations going on, so many quizzes to take, and so many farms to tend that once or twice a day just wasn't gunna cut it anymore, baby! I mean, I had goals to reach!

Eh hem. (pull yourself together, girl)

As I was saying, day by day, click by click, I was steadily eroding my day away without even realizing it. Now, don't get me wrong...I wasn't literally in front of the computer 24/7 or anything. I'd just "pop in" just to see if I'd heard back from someone, and then I'd see a cool quiz, or a great song, or a fun game. Or I'd start looking at people's photos...and we all know what a rabbit chase that can be. Before you know it, you've gone through 243 photos and 14 photo albums!

And then there's the pull. You know what I'm talking about. When you're away from the computer, there's always this thought in the back of your mind, "Wonder what so-and-so is up to today?" or "I wonder if I could find that on facebook?" or "That would be a great status!" So even when I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, I'm distracted. Things just don't get done as efficiently if I'm not concentrating on them. It's just a fact of life.

So then guess what happens? Wednesday comes and I haven't finished laundry that I was supposed to have washed on Tuesday, and three people are out of underwear. And I made my grocery list on Thursday, but I was so rushed that when I went on Friday, I missed a half dozen things that should have been on my list. So I make three store runs over the weekend.

<span" border="0"> - Flair Buttons

So here's my point: I'm adding stress to my life and putting things off...for what? So I can see how many people are playing Mafia Wars? Oh, no wait, maybe so I can ignore another weird and random gift that some goofball thought was funny, like a block of cheese or a briefcase that functions as a fish tank.

Oh, now, before I get all one-sided and everything, I have to admit that some really good things did come from my facebooking experience. I reconnected with some old high school friends that otherwise I might never have found. Some of them I had the privilege to discover that they had fallen in love with the Son of God like I had since high school, and some of them I got to share my new life with them for the first time. That is very good. I was able to encourage several people who are either going through a difficult time or are at a very pivotal time in their faith journey. That's a good thing. And I'll still keep up with them....through email.

I guess if you can keep yourself from getting sucked in so many times throughout the day, then more power to ya. But until I either get a lighter load or more than 24 hours in a day, I'll have to stay away. But the good news is maybe I'll get some blogging done in all my spare time in the evenings!

Oh, and it's Thursday: all my laundry's done, clothes are already ironed for Sunday, and you should see how sparkling clean my house is today.