Monday, April 25, 2016

FMF - Unite

What joins people together? A common cause? A common dislike? A common love?

Our country - the United States was built on a common cause, dislike and love. Freedom, enslavement and hope of a new country/people.

My husband and I were united together due to a common love - for the Lord, each other, family, our children.

I find myself united with people of similar likes, dislikes, hobbies, beliefs....it is what makes me feel wanted or needed.

My most important union is my unity with Christ. Desiring a relationship with Him to eradicate my sin and be clothed in righteousness, binds me to Him creating a union of other believers as well. Being united in Christ, in His love and for the cause of the Gospel.

Right now, though, I see division in so many ways - in the country, in my family, among friends. It seems we have lost the main reason for our unity.

I do not mind being united for a common cause or even for a common dislike, but I much prefer to be united for a common love.  

We should love others because He first loved us. Love with abandonment. Love without discrimination. Love because He is love.

Colossians 2:2  "My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,"

Philippians 2:1-2 "Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit,if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind."



Linking up to Kate's Blog today for Five Minute Friday and think you should link up, too!
  

Whirlwind

These past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of blessings, activity and sickness.

I am still in awe of the fact that I got into the cohort. I tried to talk myself out of the blessing of it all this weekend. I let fear creep in and doubt surface. I am still struggling a bit, but know that if I can trust God in the small things, I can trust Him in the BIG things. Why is it that way? I am not sure why I seem to be able to trust Him in the day to day, but with the future? Or big things? Not so much. Praying that changes.

Kari is babysitting more and more lately, which is good for her and us, but also a bit tiring, driving her from job to job. She loves the family she is working for, though and I love seeing the look of pride on her face when she pays for something with her own money. It is very hard earned and she deserves it.

Rick and Noah have both been under the weather lately. Rick has a URI and is dealing with coughing/breathing issues due to allergies. He has not been sleeping well and his energy level is so low right now. He needs to rest, but can not sleep because he is coughing or having trouble breathing. I am trying to make sure he has some extra TLC to help him recover faster. Noah was diagnosed with the flu/a viral infection last Thursday. We thought he was dealing with allergies as well, but then his temperature spiked and a fever has been lingering for the last 5 days. We are hoping having tomorrow off gives him one more day to recover before returning to school on Wednesday. I am thankful for a day off for the primaries tomorrow.

We got to spend some time with Devin on Saturday when she was in MD to see Cody, Brianne and Hayden before moving to TX. It was nice to spend the day and have dinner with her. She and Austin and Jayden left this morning for TX. I am not sure when we will get to TX for a visit, but hope it is sooner than later.

Only 8 weeks of school left for this school year! It seems a bit surreal, but I am glad things are wrapping up in middle school for Kari and at my current school for me. I still get a bit anxious when I think about the unknown possibilities of next year, but then I remember that God orchestrated all of it, so I try to rest in that fact. I am sure I will feel better after the meeting on May 18 and once I am placed at my school for the next school year. I know this is what I should be doing, so I just need to stop stressing and enjoy the time I have left at MES.

These next 8 weeks should fly by pretty quickly!

Hope

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name.

Hope

My friend, K always used to tell me to keep a little bit of Hope in my pocket, so I could pull it out and hold onto it when I felt like I had lost all hope. That Hope is a person and that He is faithful and available at all and any times. Sometimes, I felt like there was lint in my pocket more times than Hope, but I would eventually remember her words and turn toward Hope instead of away from Him.


I use the phrase, "I hope....." many times as if to say maybe it will come to pass, but truly, realistically Hope is certain and sure when we remember that Hope is Christ and our hope is in Christ. We can know for sure that He is with us, protecting us, helping us and leading us.


My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name.











Toxic People

This phrase has been thrown around a lot lately in my circle of friends and family. I even find myself using it to describe people and relationships in my own life, past and present. It is easy to put a label on someone or something that we don't agree with or understand, but it is harder to truly examine someone or some situation. I truly believe that I have been and am being exposed to toxic people, but I also believe that when I find someone ruffling my feathers or shaking up my comfort zone, I tend to label them as toxic. It allows me to then be the victim instead of owning my words and actions and having to make the necessary changes to my behavior. I come from a long line of martyrs and occasionally find myself gravitating toward victimization even if it is unwarranted.

So, I am more often than not, checking myself and my behaviors. Am I exhibiting toxic behavior? Am I making myself out to be a victim when I really should be owning my actions and apologizing? Do my words and actions match up or am I contradicting myself?

Sometimes I am too hard on myself. Other times I am not careful enough with what I say and how I treat people. I have found myself in a few situations lately where my words have wrecked havoc on my relationships and even though I have been quick to apologize when I realized my error or was called out on my behavior, my apologies have fallen on deaf ears. It is hard to apologize and then when it is unaccepted.....it is even harder on my heart.

By nature, I am a people pleaser and very non-confrontational. I avoid conflict with everything in me. To a fault sometimes. But, lately, I have found myself so tired of being the nice guy, letting people get away with being hurtful under the guise of honesty or letting people get away with wrong, destructive behaviors. I have spoken up and defended people lately and then later had it backfire sending hateful backlash my way. Relationships have ended or been temporarily broken and I have questioned my motives, my words and my actions.

And here is my conclusion.....

Some people are toxic. They destroy people with their words and actions. They cause people to be afraid to be honest with them and make people want to stay away from them. They want to divide and keep people/family/churches/whatever divided. They play the victims instead of owning their own behavior. They do not accept apologies because doing so takes them out of the driver's seat and would cause them to humble themselves. They are selfish and self serving. They expect things from people that they themselves would never do for anyone else. They do not like it when someone sheds light on their BS or makes them responsible for their behavior. They have to be on control of their relationships at all costs. They lie, they manipulate, they hurt the ones they love. They accuse others of being toxic when in fact they are the ones spewing forth so much toxic waste. They are quick to call others out, but do not like it when someone calls them out.

And that is not me. I lean into reconciliation. I yearn for peace and resolution. I want to love others unconditionally and want to be loved unconditionally. I pray for redemption and wholeness. I abhor dishonesty, contradiction and division.      

I can be labeled as many things, but toxic is not one of them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Blinking Cursor

A blank page with a blinking cursor is a bit intimating when you haven't posted in nine months. I didn't intend to stop posting or maybe I did. So, many things have changed in just a short amount of time. And yet it seems like forever has passed.....

Josh is currently incarcerated for a charge he was convicted of in January. He will be released soon and has a job and place to live lined up for when he returns home. He just celebrated his 25th birthday in March and is looking forward to Kaysen and Kiyah turning 6 and 4 in May. He has been drug free for a few months and hopes to be able to celebrate a year of sobriety next February.









Devin and her boyfriend, Austin will be moving to TX next week. Austin will be working with Rick's dad as a Jr construction supervisor. He plans to attend school to obtain his nursing degree as well. Devin will continue to work in the food service business, but desires to go to art school. Austin's nephew J will be moving with them as they were granted guardianship of him last week. Devin will also celebrate her 25th birthday in May!



Cody and his fiance, Brianne were married on April 1. No one knew they were eloping and no one was invited. Devin is devastated. There are extenuating circumstances that made them choose such a surprising and private ceremony. It is sad that we have not been able to celebrate with them. Rick and I have not seen Hayden in three months due in part to our reaction to some behaviors that Brianne was involved in that caused great upset to her relationship to Cody and then in turn to our relationship with Cody. Words have been spoken that can not be taken back and even though apologies on our part have been offered, they have not been accepted. It is hard to be dragged into a situation, defend your child and then have to suffer consequences at the expense of the selfish reactions of the person ultimately to blame for the destruction of several relationships. To be blamed as the reason for the inability to see our granddaughter is so upsetting. I do not understand when an olive branch is offered, but it is not accepted, especially by someone who should be the one asking for forgiveness. We are praying for a reconciliation that only God can orchestrate.



Kari is just a few months away from being a 9th grader! This year has been her hardest yet as far as drama and such goes. She has chosen to forgo the PVA program for HS and attend her feeder HS. Two girls that were her very best friends will be attending NCHS as well, but a misunderstanding that escalated into a broken friendship fueled by one mean girl's words and actions has dissolved their relationship. She is excited about the possibility of reconnecting with some friends from elementary school and being able to walk to and from school. And not having to stay after school 2-3 days a week. She will also have the opportunity to attend a vocational school and try her hand at culinary classes as well as cosmetology. I am excited that she will be making more dinners and making cutting and dyeing my hair for free =)   

Noah is just a few months away from finishing his first year of middle school! It has been an adjustment period for him that has mostly been positive. There have been a few growing pains and bumps along the way, but he is doing well in his classes. He enjoys being at the same school as Rick and being able to have lunch with him occasionally. He continues to draw anime and hone his video gaming skills. He is hoping to attend art classes again this summer. He is constantly creating with boxes, paper, clay...whatever he can.



Rick is plugging along with schoolwork. There was a delay in his classes in the fall due to a 2 day hospital stay, so he will not be doing his student teaching until the fall of 2016 now. He is hoping to be teaching full time by January 2017. He loves working in the STEM department at LMS and is looking forward to teaching a few summer bridge classes at the local HS. He is an amazing teacher - we can not go anywhere without a student or parent seeing him and stopping him to say hi or chat for a few minutes. He has a true gift and it is so evident with his students and his colleagues. 

I am working as a special education teaching assistant and thoroughly enjoying it. I started attending WGU in July 2015 to redo the classes I needed to be able to have a recognized bachelor's degree and it has been slow going. I found myself frustrated that I was retaking classes I took 20+ years ago. I was not doing well with the online concept of classes, lacking discipline in scheduling and completing assignments. I had failed my first exam ever in my educational journey and was really just struggling. I met a colleague at the beginning of the year that was having the same trouble I was obtaining her teaching certification in MD. The state would not accept her undergrad degree, either. She mentioned a program she was applying for in January, but I did not inquire much about it as I was just struggling to start my next term. She shared with me a few weeks ago that she had an interview set up and after talking to my supervisor, I sent in my application and had an interview set up the same day as hers. I found out this weekend that I got into the cohort! I will be withdrawing from WGU and attending a special education cohort this summer. It is a two year program that will allow me to get dual certification in general and special education, I will be hired as a special education teacher in the fall of 2016 and when I complete the program I will be two classes away from obtaining my master's in education. It is an amazing opportunity that I was so grateful to be given. I have secretly been drawn to special education for the last six years, but just did not see it as a possibility. God had other plans. He always knows our hearts' desires.



And the biggest change has been this new addition to our house.....


We rescued an 8 year old yellow lab in March. Jack has been a wonderfully, energetic addition to our lives. I read somewhere that dogs can do wonders for people that struggle with depression and anxiety and that has been 100% true for me and this dog. He is an old dog with the activity level and heart of a puppy. He is our protector and our goofball, barking at anyone and everyone and prancing through the house to play fetch. He sleeps with Kari and plays in the yard with Noah. After Harrison passed away in December, my parents were uncertain about getting another dog for the house, but Jack was the dog our house was missing. My parents love him as much as we do, although they are not thrilled when they hear his paws bounding on the ceiling of the basement apartment as he rouses the house awake in the mornings or wants to rough house at night.

So, life is short and moves at lightning speeds with its ups and downs and twists and turns. We have changed in the last year since the last post, but are thankful for the growing pains and lessons we have learned. And we are very excited to see what the next nine months hold. 
   



   

Love Yourself

Yesterday was a bit hard on this Momma's heart. I finally took Noah to a PT to have his toe walking issue evaluated. Seems his muscle to...