Friday, May 30, 2014

Sifting through Normalcy

Because it's May and I have not posted one single thing in a few months, I figured it was time to blog.

School is almost over, literally five more days of frizzy with pre-adolescents.  One look into every teachers eyes and you will see that we are all staring at the finish line.  This leg has taken every ounce of energy in all of us.  The kids are so ready to be free from school, books, teacher's dirty looks and visa versa.

As this last week finally arrives, I am so thankful for the year behind, that victory and joy was experienced, and much was learned.  Honestly, I can barely wait to sift through and apply the lessons I learned from the blood, sweat and tears of the path behind me to the year in front of me.  AND I am greatly anticipating the weeks of summer in between to rest, revamp, reconnect, retreat, refresh and refill my depleted mind and soul and NOT think about school!

Something I want out of this summer is a special time with the Lord.  I have seriously been pondering  some kind of "retreat" or special refreshment with Him.  Like any love relationship, I want some special time focusing on Him by turning off all other noises, to intentionally, expectantly listen to what He has to say.

In the midst of this year-long marathon, some rubbing and sore spots have risen in some very normal areas.  I want Him to assist me as I look over these tender spots.

One place I have felt some rubbing is the area of normal life routine, in normal places of occupation.  This feels a little odd to me; I have always envisioned a supernatural life.  Sometimes I feel I am in a whole different world.  What does my faith look like in this normal arena?  How do I share my faith, when, with whom, how?  What can I do to stay sharp, focused and in love with Jesus?  Where is He in this normal life?  He has been my sustenance, and yet... this is new ground for me.  It's challenging at every turn; in a way, this is very good!

Loneliness is another normal sore spot; I have felt it before but it has come with a new side to it this past year.  This past Christmas, I felt He gave me a new perspective of my singleness: to live single instead of living as if someday I would be married.

I love what He gives: Perspective.

 Even so a deep desire for a long-term "bestie"wanes and rises as the daily tide; it's a place in my soul I have laid before the Lord many, many times.   I want someone to share my normal days with, the ups and downs, little and big joys, and most importantly, my love of Christ and living for His Kingdom.  I don't know if he will ever materialize, but I hope so.

It has been my habit to invite Him into that place of desire and yearning.  He continues to meet me, and encourage me in that very vulnerable place, which in itself is an amazing gift.

I love how He meets me again, and again.

I continually seek Him for help to be strong and grateful for what and where I am, to trust His perfect and loving knowledge of me, and His favor to bring that man who is perfect for me, to me soon!

Sometimes, in my normal tender, vulnerable places, my seeking is in tears.  He promises He holds my tears in a jar (Psalm 56:8).  They are not wasted, what a comfort!  Tears are good for keeping the heart supple and soft.

I want Him to be glorified in me, today, in this normal life, in my normal tender spots, in a Special Way because His Plans for me are GOOD and his plans include today! (Jeremiah 29:11)   I trust His purpose and will, will be done.

That is normal for His Kingdom, for He is the Living God!  

His Spirit lives in me through Christ, which is anything but normal.  He called me to be in the world but not of it... so that sets me up for a Supernatural, anything but normal life!

That is exciting!

And I love that... too.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A journey from Anger to Happiness

Hey, did you know its International Happy day?

I did not even know there was such a thing.  You either? Well, I am glad I am not the only one.

It's been a while since I have written a noteworthy post; I know you all were enthralled with the snow day pictures and the New Year's update.  Yet I have not posted anything from the inner workings of Tammie in a while.

Mostly, its because I have been run over by a full time job called teaching.  My days are very long, my work demanding in every way, and the end of most of my days look like me crashing on the couch five seconds after walking in my front door before going to bed a few hours later; very non-typical Tammie.
Sailing is my favorite :-)

So, I figure it was time for a heart-to-heart post: What is God doing post.  Simple, non-detailed answer: A LOT.

So here's to keep'n it real:

First, it's been a very hard year (school timeframe).  The "aha" moment for me in the Fall was, "it's a hard place, not a wrong place."  You can read about that here.  Yet God in His gentle compassion and love did this.

Since January I have faced more challenges from external sources, which have triggered internal frustrations.  Then I got frustrated that I was frustrated.  Then I swung between spewing anger and internal rage causing me to behave unbecomingly, and in my opinion, unacceptable.  Anger is not my friend.  A few years ago I remember (with such clarity now) saying to someone (I have no idea who), "I don't really get angry..."

Time to swallow those words.

Knowing that anger is a secondary emotion I have spent much time examining my soul, asking God to show me what is under this anger.  For several weeks I saw nothing except a cloud of frustration.  Anger is an emotion, emotions are not wrong but it is what we do with those emotions that can be wrong.  "Be angry and do not sin" is a hard verse to apply when you are very tired, human and blind to your own stuff.  Most of us are, and we need help to see behind, beneath and around our anger.

God, in His Grace showed me... Grace and Truth.  Some of His finest ingredients! (John 1:17)

First, He showed me through a conversation with a colleague, that I could apply some grace (not their word but it meant the same thing) to some areas.  I was upholding some high standards; very few were reaching them.  I was working hard to help these be attained, and when those were not met, I would feel the pressure of failure.   I was getting really tired of pushing and pushing others to meet those standards.  My colleague showed me how I could lower the standard a bit and it would make it easier on everyone.  He was right.  I drove home that day rejoicing over grace, as I realized it had been nearly killing ME.

Second, the undercurrent of frustrations in my being were prone to erupt and burn hot like volcanic lava.  I was seeing fruit from the state of my soul, it was not pretty.  So... through a dream and a short conversation God has brought some light.

A small almost unperceivable light, almost too simple, yet has grown brighter and continues to light up my darkness.

The conversation went something like this:

"What vulnerable emotion is under that anger, Tammie?"... my friend asked.

"I am just frustrated at this, at that, at them..." I said.

"Tammie, take your eyes off of those things, those are outside of you.  What's the emotion in you saying, what is the anger guarding and protecting?"

"It seems too simple, but... I am a failure."

I was almost immediately overwhelmed with the emotions that flooded out as I said those four words.  Even now, I feel the tide rising in me.

"What's the Truth, Tammie?" my friend pushed.

It was hard for me to say what I knew I should say, "I am not a failure".  In that moment, it was like the eyes of my soul looked around inside myself.  Everywhere I looked in my soul, on every place, I saw those words etched.

My friend and I ended our conversation.

God and I continued that conversation all through the night.  That statement was like a layer of fat attached to the tendons of my soul, but whatever I did, it was still attached, ugly and immovable.

The next morning, I sat before the Lord in our quiet place and I asked Him to speak to this new knowledge I had gained through the episode the night before.

In the quietness, He whispered not "you are not a failure" but....

"I will not fail you."

It was the most wonderful thing I could hear!   

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
27 For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.

Psalm 73:26-28

 It was not about me, because Yes, I do fail!  But He Gives Grace...

My failures do not define me and through my dream, I realized I don't have to hold onto them!

I am not a failure; I am a Child of God...

By this I know that You are well pleased with me,
Because my enemy does not triumph over me. 

Psalm 41:11

He sees me just as He sees Jesus.  

Now that is something to be Happy About!!

Happy International Happy Day!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Welcome Spring

I snapped this this past week as I was sitting in traffic downtown.  I think it may have been on Thursday, the first day of Spring.  I had my sunroof open, soaking in the wonderful warm weather, blue skies and new season.  I did not mind the 5:00 traffic jam as it let me appreciate the earliest of blossoms on these trees.  I shot this through my sunroof.... straight up into the sky.  

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Details

It's Valentine's day, a day to celebrate love and relationships.  From my red couch to yours, here are a few of my thoughts and endeavors on Valentine's day:

First, I am enjoying another snow day, yes our third day at home because of the massive winter storm.  I am trying not to eat myself out of my house.  Funny how my appetite explodes when gray clouds cover the sky, a chill hits the air and activities are limited to movies, homework and reading.  Not that I mind that...

Today, I woke with a peaceful happy heart and mind.  Joy gushed up upon seeing the sunshine glisten over the snow, especially after two days of cloud cover and lockdown.  I am suffering a bit of cabin fever so I was ready to move!

 I cooked up my favorite pumpkin pancakes for breakfast.  This was a good morning for pancakes; I did not even burn them!

Kitty and Sasha are enjoying me being home.  Kitty is still not use to these colder temperatures.  She is such a baby.  I think she takes after her momma...

Here is where I found her this morning...

It's been a while since I have had multiple days at home without a list of things directing my time.  It has been rather nice.

It's also been a little lonely, and when loneliness comes knocking, haunting thoughts and insecurities threaten to crowd in and clutter my little cozy haven.

I think it is actually good to allow our downtimes to be a time to listen: to know the state of your soul and the tone of His Voice.   The whispers of the soul, and His Spirt come in the stillness.  They can stir up longings, questions and things unresolved; it can be a daunting and difficult experience.  The Lord is our Guiding Light and Solid Rock, "He illumines my darkness." Psalm 18:28

So, yesterday started with some uncomfortable and unpleasant emotions.  My time in the Word stated well what my soul needed to say:

To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.O my God, in You I trust,

Do not let me be ashamed; 
Do not let my enemies exult over me.

Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed;
Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.

Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,

For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day.
Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses,

For they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;

According to Your lovingkindness remember me,
For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.

Psalm 25:1-7

God and I took a journey through my mind, heart and emotions. As the day carried on, He gently walked me over and through the sticky places (slough of despond!?), safely landing me in a solid, spacious place of truth and peace, even laughter(joy!).  Last night as I watched the Olympics, chuckles flowed out over things I found humorous on TV.  I was so thankful for what the Lord had done.  He had replaced the cloak of heaviness with a garment of praise.  
The wrestling of my soul did not really have to do with singleness, though it did have a few touchstones to that area of question.  For that reason, I found this article from Desiring God very encouraging.   
He is a patient teacher.  The Lord's love is unfailing, and unfading;  unlike beautiful flowers that may or may not be received today.  

He is faithful, good, and powerful.  
For that reason... I can post this little song I heard yesterday.  He knows the desires of our heart - whether it be for a husband, a baby, answers to questions or resolution to messy relationships or circumstances - HE IS OVER THE DETAILS.  He knows what He is doing...  
And He is faithful to do what you can't do.

Happy Valentines!

May you find a peaceful, spacious place through any journey you may be on right now, a spot to  dance and celebrate His beautiful strong love for You!

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;  Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness."

Jeremiah 31:3

Thursday, February 13, 2014

3 Snow days!

Hello from Wintery, Icy, Snow covered and now melting Columbia, SC!  What a treat for us!  Thank goodness, the forecasted ice storm turned into mostly snow and sleet for my area.  I never lost power, but I know many did.

Sasha is plum tuckered out from all the running, romping and snow playing she did today.  She is right now curled up on the floor, tucked as close as she can be to my feet and the couch.  I kind of like it except for the occasional dog-stench that rises... so much for that dog-bath she got two weeks ago.

It's the joy of having a critter when you see her so excited over all this white stuff.  It gave me a good reason to get up and out.  This was our second snow day, which allowed me another lovely day to sleep in with no alarm.  I tried being productive - kept the dishes washed and tried reading instead of watching another movie... so getting out was much more

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow For Real!

The snow finally came!   Today, Sasha and I enjoyed a morning romp through the snowy neighborhood.  It's amazing how still and silent a walk through the freshly fallen snow is... it's truly delightful!  Here are a few snapshots:
My Backyard!

My little rosebush 

A Magnolia tree rarely sees this lovely white stuff!

Fence line covered in snow...

Home Sweet Home

My jasmine bush... hope it survives :-)

Not even sure HOW I did this but this "snow falling" affect was not my genius technology skills!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

SNOW day activities (no sighting of snow yet)

SNOW DAY!  But I have yet to see one snow flake fall in my yard.  I am still hopeful... and very thankful for a day at home.  A snow-day, even without snow, is a wonderful blessing.  Today I have hunkered down after cleaning up Sasha's feather mess.  That use to be the swing cushion:

This is what it USE to look like:

So what does one do on a snow day without any snow?

I have actually been quite productive and tackled a few things I have been wanting to do but weren't exactly on the top of my list.  Here are a few:

Renewed my passport!  It's expiring in a few months and I hope to go somewhere on a plane this year.  A few of my hopeful destinations include Uraquay, Ireland and who knows where else.  So, my wishful thinking made me proactive today!  

Print my money challenge for the year.  I saw someone post this:
I thought it was quite the creative plan.  So, I printed it today, finally, and checked off the weeks I have already done!! Woo-hooooo! Success!

Read my "Experiencing God" workbook.  My small group is working through this older Bible study and it's great when I have a little extra time to soak it in.

I slept in, more or less.  I was still awake at my normal rousing time, but I stayed in bed and dozed in an 'out for another two hours.  LOVELY!

Had three cups of coffee instead of my normal 1.5-2.  

Cooked up one of my favorite dishes:
This is roasted sweet potates, with chipotle seasoning,  kale, red onion, garlic... sprouts... it is truly delicious!

I watched a few shows on tv, like "Alaska: the Last Frontier", "The Scarlet Pimpernel", and of course I will probably end up watching at least one episode of "Call the Midwife"

All day I have kept my eye on Accuweather to see where IS the snow??

I took Sasha on a walk this morning.  It was rather chilly but it was good to get out!

I have done a little research for my next unit: Ancient Greece.  I wish I would have brought my teacher's manual home.  Google offers me plenty of sites to learn from... 

Now, is not that the most exciting day ever??? :-)

If I stay motivated I may squeeze in some exercise.  We shall see...

It is rather chilly, and on days like this I wish my house had one of these:

This was from last Saturday, as I was visiting my friend April.

I sure hope to see SOME SNOW tonight.... TTFN!